Friday, September 18, 2020

Aquinas contra globalism

In Book Two, Chapter 3 of his little work De Regno (or On Kingship), Thomas Aquinas addresses matters of trade and its effect on the material and spiritual well-being of a nation.  On the one hand, and at the end of the chapter, he allows that:

Trade must not be entirely kept out of a city, since one cannot easily find any place so overflowing with the necessaries of life as not to need some commodities from other parts.  Also, when there is an over-abundance of some commodities in one place, these goods would serve no purpose if they could not be carried elsewhere by professional traders.  Consequently, the perfect city will make a moderate use of merchants.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The rule of lawlessness

As Aristotle and Aquinas teach us, human beings are by nature rational social animals.  Because we are a kind of animal, we need to be safe from violent attack and we need the freedom to acquire food, shelter, clothing and other material goods and to be able to rely on stable possession of them.  Because we are social animals, we need the cooperation of others in order to acquire these material goods, and we also need the warmth of human relationships and a sense of belonging and loyalty to a larger whole – to a family, a community, a nation.  Because we are rational animals, we need for others to appeal to our reason in order to persuade us of their opinions and favored policies, rather than resorting to intimidation and violence.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Scholastics contra racism

Condemning racism (or “racialist prejudice,” as he referred to it), Pope St. Paul VI affirmed that:

The members of mankind share the same basic rights and duties, as well as the same supernatural destiny.  Within a country which belongs to each one, all should be equal before the law, find equal admittance to economic, cultural, civic and social life and benefit from a fair sharing of the nation's riches.  (Octogesima Adveniens 16). 

This suggests a useful definition of racism, which is best understood as the denial of what the pope here affirms.  In other words, racism is the thesis that not all races have the same basic rights and duties and/or supernatural destiny, so that not all races should be equal before the law, find equal admittance to economic, cultural, civic and social life, or benefit from a fair sharing of the nation's riches.