Michael Novak was a kind, brilliant Catholic philosopher whose majestic 1982 book, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism,” made a powerful case that free men and free markets provided the surest path to liberty and prosperity. Once of the left, he came to believe freedom’s ideals could overcome communism’s evil and was appointed by President Reagan to the board overseeing Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.Read More
This was a tough year for losing friends. At one point, I got so tired of writing obituary columns that I wrote a kind of pre-obituary so the friend in question could read it before his death. Before the civil year ends, let’s remember seven giants who will be sorely missed.Read More
Yesterday, I began considering R. R. Reno’s recent manifesto revoking, or at least greatly qualifying, the approval of free-market capitalism that characterized First Things in the days of Richard John Neuhaus and Michael Novak. The first step in Reno’s argument was the preposterous assertion that we have much more economic freedom today than in the past. I went to almost comic lengths yesterday to prove the obvious proposition that government regulation of the economy has vastly increased in the last forty years or so. Today, I consider some of Reno’s other arguments.Read More
Back in October, R. R. Reno, editor-in-chief of First Things, published a manifesto revoking, or at least greatly qualifying, the approval of free-market capitalism offered by Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Novak, and the other luminaries who made First Things an intellectual force. As may well be expected, this has occasioned strong rejoinders from Samuel Gregg, Michael Uhlmann, and others.Read More
It is a season of rethinking. Old assumptions are being reexamined. Years of economic stagnation punctuated by crisis; rising nationalist sentiment; shocking political developments throughout the world’s richest countries: All of it has left intellectuals of various stripes disoriented and unsettled.Read More
On Tuesday November 7, The King’s College sponsored a debate on the merits of free markets featuring R.R. Reno, editor of the prestigious journal First Things, and Father Robert Sirico, co-founder and president of the world-renowned Acton Institute.Read More
This marvelous book, Pope Francis and the Caring Society, is much needed and could not have come at a better time. Completed in response to Pope Francis’s invitation in Laudato si’ to a dialogue on the economy, the environment, and charity, the book shares his commitment to Judeo-Christian teachings and institutions. In the process, the book’s authors are seeking constructively to engage and educate civic and business leaders and the general public to understand the legacy and meaning of the natural law, moral and economic principles of liberty, personal responsibility, enterprise, civic virtue, family and community, and the rule of law.Read More
Not only are there many forms of capitalism, but intellectuals exert great influence in determining what type of economy we embrace—for better and for worse.
Much, I suspect, to the modern left’s surprise, capitalism has become a subject for intense debate among conservatives. One recent contribution to that discussion is Matthew McManus’s Public Discourse article, “Social Transformation and the Market Economy.”Read More
In his recent essay on the legacy of Michael Novak, First Things editor Rusty Reno has explained to longtime subscribers to Richard John Neuhaus’ old magazine where Reno is going with it and why.Observers such as John Zmirak and Joe Carter have wondered at several First Things pieces that shyly or openly make defenses of socialism.
In his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, John Henry Newman’s first “note” or “test” of genuine doctrinal development, as opposed to false development or “corruption,” is the preservation of the type of the thing being developed. Newman begins with the biological analogy of “physical growth” wherein the “adult animal has the same make, as it had on its birth; young birds do not grow into fishes, nor does the child degenerate into the brute, wild or domestic, of which he is by inheritance lord.”i He then proceeds to give a number of other examples of such preservation of the type of a thing amidst large change, including notions of political or religious office, national character, and political and religious groups. Upon the death of the American philosopher, theologian, and social theorist Michael Novak this past February, I was reminded of Newman’s description of continuity through change as seen in the form of a larger-than-life public figure:Read More