Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, April 04, 2014

A semi-modest proposal

Dear Internet,

I know, I know. I should be toiling away on further translating the remaining sections of Evangelium Gaudium, but real life has intervened. (Please keep these intentions in your prayers, God has all the details.)

Today I'm writing to you with something larger than a mere idea but not quite as magnificent as a full-blown proposal. The inspiration for same came from a piece on Cdl. Turkson suggesting that business schools form principled leaders.

Which is true, good and necessary.

But also necessary -- and the main theme of this evening's symposium -- is to form such principled leaders to be (watch this, now) wildly successful. This is key.

In the wake of the neo-McCarthyist victory lap over Brendan Eich's departure from Mozilla it seems pellucidly clear to all sensate persons that one of the main ways in which we should be proceeding in the "culture wars" is via an exercise of economic power.

Let's use a military analogy. The main reason that large wars have been won since the mid 19th century has been economic rather than purely military. The North vastly outstripped the South in industrial capacity, Germany vastly outstripped the Allies in the early phases of WWII, and with the U.S. entry in late 1941, the Allies then vastly outstripped the Axis powers.

And so the long day wears on.

In the Catholic side of the thing, there seems to be a rather unfortunate disdain/fear/distaste for amassing large stores of economic power. Every time someone seriously makes a proposal for [eye roll] manifestly provable lunacies such as "Distributism" we are reminded of that. The undertone seems to be that there's something vaguely...Protestant about it.

Problem is, kids, when The Other Guys wield massive economic power, we just stand by. We can't counter. We don't "fight fire with fire," we fight fire with three forks and a can opener.

There was a time when the moral authority of the Church could have been (and was) an effective counter to these problems. However, for reasons that
a) you all bloody well know, and
b) are far afield of the main thrust of this missive, whatever hold which the Church may have had on popular thought has long been dissipated, almost all of the wounds self-inflicted.

That particular ship has sailed, hit an iceberg, sunk, the survivors run aground on the lifeboats.

Cdl. Turkson is right that we must have principled business leaders -- this is simply not going to work otherwise -- but the flipside is that we must also have colossally successful principled business leaders. (Nobody gets an MBA to run the family drugstore.)

Catholic universities (what #1 Son calls Catholic-Catholic universities) simply aren't turning out these sorts of students/graduates. They are successful in turning out good, faithful, orthodox, charitable Catholics who become good, faithful, orthodox, charitable: employees, not a few lawyers, the odd doctor, and -- and this is not a pejorative, so do not go there -- "Professional Catholics."

But that's simply not gonna be even r-e-m-o-t-e-l-y enough.

If you think back to all the victories had against the neo-McCarthyists (not that many, so it shouldn't take very long) you will notice they all had one thread in common: Our Side had, in that particular instance, what analysts call "broad market support." Chik-Fil-A (its lamentable spelling aside), Duck Dynasty, Domino's Pizza have all had the wherewithal to successfully push back.

Capitalism* affords us the opportunity to amass such resources that would make the dark efforts of these neo-McCarthyists moot, their railings a spent force.

Imagine, if you would, a world where one of the largest pharmaceutical companies, or a major media conglomerate, or a leading software developer, etc. are headed and owned by principled business leaders, fully and correctly formed in the full teachings of the Church. Imagine the forceful rebuff the neo-McCarthyists would get when coming up against such an irresistible force.

They could wail like banshees with kidney stones, threaten their usual boycotts, to no effect whatever. (If the ONLY viable solution for a given "market segment" is from a company whose leadership proceed along Catholic principles, you'd find out exactly how malleable the consciences of The Other Guys actually are. For all self-congratulatory braying they STILL haven't boycotted petroleum and switched to E85.)

For a change, the right minded would prevail, and enough victories, of enough size and impact...

Think about it.

* I take this opportunity to clarify -- it shouldn't be necessary, but such are the lamentable times in which we live -- that we are talking about classical Capitalism and not the strawpersons of crony capitalism or laissez-faire capitalism which our benighted opponents try to conjure in their ineffectual attempts at dismissal of same.

Keep in mind that in Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wasn't talking about what "should be" but, rather, what is, as anyone who sold Levi's in the USSR for $50 can attest. You have a better chance arguing against gravity.