Category Archives: Economics (Christian)

How do you solve a problem like the proletariat?


How do you solve a problem like the proletariat?
Keir Martland
19th August 2016

I was particularly struck on reading The Servile State by what appears to be a banal or asinine point:

A man politically free, that is, one who enjoys the right before the law to exercise his energies when he pleases (or not at all if he does not so please), but not possessed by legal right of control over any useful amount of the means of production, we call proletarian, and any considerable class composed of such men we call a proletariat.

Indeed, when lefties come out with such a statement, we are right to ignore them; they usually follow this by advocating state socialism, i.e. centralised control of the means of production by bureaucrats. When someone like Hilaire Belloc writes something like the above, however, I sit up and take note. Belloc, Chesterton, &co advocated not state socialism, nor state capitalism, but distributism, which they saw as the mediaeval economy adapted to modern times. The distributists often have a point, although I’m not necessarily a convert.  Read more

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Thatcherism: What went wrong?


Mustela nivalis

‘“Economics is the method; the object is to change the soul,” Margaret Thatcher declared in 1981, revealing the way in which Thatcherism for her was always about transforming values rather than simply GDP,’ writes Eliza Filby in the Guardian. Filby has also recently published a book about Mrs T., called “God & Mrs Thatcher – The Battle for Britain’s Soul”.

It is clear that in this goal of “changing the soul”, the former prime minister failed (which she herself admitted, apparently: “I cut taxes and I thought we would get a giving society, and we haven’t”). However, her basic idea was not completely off the mark, for the conflict between individual freedom and serfdom is pre-eminently a religious one.

I haven’t read Filby’s book, and if her article is anything to go by, I probably won’t. Filby is not an economist but an historian with a degree from Durham. Predictably, she flunks on the economic causes of Thatcher’s failure.

‘Thatcherism laid the foundations for a culture in which individualism and self-reliance could thrive, but ultimately it created a culture in which only selfishness and excess were rewarded. Thatcher liked to quote John Wesley’s mantra, “Earn all you can, save all you can and give all you can,” and yet it was only ever the first instruction that was sufficiently encouraged.’

Yes Eliza, but why? Why was ‘saving’ not encouraged? And why not ‘giving’ either?

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The “Social Gospel” of the CofE Bishops is in Fact a “Statist Gospel” – And: The Importance of “Sanctions”


Mustela nivalis

Here is a new article by Gary North. In it he attacks a) the promoters of the “social gospel”, i.e. Christians who think that because helping the poor etc. is the moral thing to do the state should do it (as the CofE bishops have said again recently); AND he attacks b) people who oppose this position in a soaking wet, useless way, i.e. those who say “that the Bible doesn’t apply to anything outside of individual salvation and family government.” Specifically, he attacks Matthew Lynn of the Telegraph, who these days criticised the bishops for their intervention in the election campaign. North states that while the “social gospel” is in fact a “statist gospel”, most of those who oppose the “social gospel” are trying to “beat something with nothing”. They are trying to beat a (generally perceived) moral position by saying that there is no ground for a moral societal position in the Bible; that it’s only about the individual and the family. Not so, says North. The Bible is also, and very much so, about society and how to run it. But it mandates not socialism, North states, not even Keynesianism, but free market capitalism. THAT is the true “social gospel”. And THAT is what people opposing the “statist gospel” should be saying. Only they don’t because that would mean opposing the interventionist state, the modern manifestation of “power religion”.

The basis for North’s position that the Bible does indeed mandate a certain way of organising society is to be found all over the Bible. Today I will talk about an important aspect of that notion, namely “sanctions”. In the books of Moses in the Old Testament we find the ground rules laid down by God (or so we are told). Now, there have been some questions raised in this forum as to whether these rules are actually God’s or whether they exist independently of God, just as the rule 2 + 2 = 4. However, this is not the crucial point with regard to organising society. There are other, more crucial points: Is God sovereign? And if not, who is? That’s the ownership question. Another crucial point is this: What happens when the rules are ignored? And what happens when they are adhered to? In other words: is there a point in acknowledging them at all?

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