Interview with John Horvat II, Author of Return to Order *
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, author and regular contributor to Crusade Magazine. His writings have appeared worldwide in numerous publications and websites.
For more than two decades, he has been researching and writing about the socio-economic crisis inside the United States that has culminated in the ground-breaking release of his new book Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Order—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go. Recognized as one of the most important books on the subject to be published in the past ten years, Mr. Horvat describes what went wrong in our economic model and what can now be done to put us back on course. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he heads the Tradition, Family, and Property Commission on American Studies.
Mr. Horvat talks about his book in an interview with Crusade Magazine.
Crusade: What is new about Return to Order’s solution?
Mr. John Horvat: Most people, when they think of solutions, they think of systems. They think, “What system can I put in place that will resolve all the problems?” They try to find a one-size-fits-all solution and then impose it upon society.
Our solutions are different in that we want what we call an organic Christian society. Organic solutions take a framework of very basic principles from which solutions can naturally develop and adapt to situations and human qualities.
It is not a rigid system or socialist program that imposes a whole set of rules and regulations upon society. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
What we propose is having recourse to those timeless Christian principles that are wonderfully in accordance with man’s nature and result in a world of applications. These principles are extremely stable since they are guided by natural law which is the same for all peoples and all times. However, they also can give origin to a refreshingly rich and diverse culture and a vibrant economy.
This is what is new (and old) about our solutions. We do not favor those one-size-fits-all systems that never really resolve problems. We favor those adaptive solutions that favor virtue and consider the human side of things.
Crusade: Could you give an example of an organic Christian society?
Mr. John Horvat: An example of how things in an organic Christian society work brings to mind the family. You can’t simply invent a brand new kind of family and then impose it upon a people by saying a family must be exactly this way or that.
No. A true idea of the family is established when in accordance with a few general principles based on natural law and the nature of the family. Using these notions as a foundation, you leave it up to the family to adapt and to develop its own way of being, its own way of operating and its own way of living. From this comes an authentic culture where society develops a very rich life full of spontaneity, vitality and beauty.
This is an organic solution. It’s not a mechanical solution or a rigid system that imposes itself upon people and stifles culture. It does not let government get involved in areas where it should not be involved. Best of all, this organic Christian society is the foundation and properly speaking the heart and soul of a balanced economy that we so need.
Crusade: What’s wrong with our current economy?
Mr. John Horvat: We have an economy that is constantly working itself into a frenzy—what we call frenetic intemperance.
Frenetic intemperance is a term coined to describe a restless and reckless spirit inside certain sectors of modern economy that fabricates a drive to throw off all legitimate restraints and to gratify disordered passions.
Frenetic intemperance is not just greed and ambition, but an explosive expansion of human desires beyond traditional and moral bounds. It leads to economic activities where people resent the very idea of restraint and scorn the spiritual, religious, moral and cultural values that normally serve to order and temper economic activity. It creates an almost irrational element that enters into the economy and leads to frantic dealings, speculation and exaggerated risks.
You can’t solve this economic problem by legislation, regulation and planning. It’s a problem deep inside the soul of modern man. The only real response to frenetic intemperance is a corresponding return to temperance.
Crusade: What is an example of frenetic intemperance?
Mr. John Horvat: You need only look back to the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. It’s a textbook example of frenetic intemperance. Here you have a case of home buyers who took out loans without the means to pay for them. You have bankers who extended loans to people knowing that many of these were risky. You have brokers who took all these bad mortgages and put them into securities. Then investors came and snatched up these securities, many of them knowing that these mortgages were not the best mortgages. Everyone threw caution to the wind and as a result the whole system almost came down.
One of the aspects of frenetic intemperance is that it is a reckless drive to throw off restraints and to gratify desires. These restraints normally temper economy and make it human by keeping it within bounds. With this frenetic intemperance, we see the quickening of the pace of life, the erasing of the human element from economy so that we’re always talking to machines and keeping up a machine-like pace in life. People have been reduced to cogs, so to speak, in a giant economy.