Monday, March 25, 2019

Why Economics Are Not Enough

From Crisis:
Those holding a solely economic perspective often fail to realize that man has another side that is spiritual and superior. Conservatives have long acknowledged this. Barry Goldwater’s classic manifesto, The Conscience of a Conservative, ghostwritten by William F. Buckley’s brother-in-law, Catholic convert L. Brent Bozell, Jr., affirms that every man is a unique and “spiritual creature with spiritual needs and spiritual desires.” This superior side of man’s nature makes us unique and establishes our dignity. This side gives rise to political, social, cultural, and religious activities and sciences that tower above mere material economic production. These endeavors help satisfy our spiritual needs and ultimately lead to our eternal salvation.

The Republican Workers Party suffers from its failure to consider this spiritual dimension seriously. The author focuses on workers and jobs, politics and power, and special interests and privileges. It is a prism that relegates the spiritual to poetic longings for a Christian past with little connection to modernity. However, we must note that the material perspective offers nothing new, and is itself guilty of nostalgia. The author echoes a typical Enlightenment perspective that waxes lyrical about the brutal trilogy of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Prof. Buckley recognizes no specific metaphysical order and notes his disappointment that we have failed to move beyond the times “when people look to theologians rather than scientists to make sense of a confusing world.”

Thus, this dominant materialistic narrative weighs heavily upon the book since economics needs norms outside itself to judge its ethical value. Church teaching is that economics must be subject to and seek orientation from those higher normative sciences like ethics, logic, and moral philosophy which have as their focus all human activity. Economics is a science that is intertwined with all others and should belong to a worldview since it seeks to understand human action. It is no coincidence that Adam Smith taught moral philosophy and not statistical analysis or macro-economics. (Read more.)

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