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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

The Church and the Market

At a conference given in Vienna in 1985, Friedrich von Hayek stated that the moral systems and institutions as “Guardians of Tradition” had a decisive influence in the formation of the “extended order” which is characterized by the market. In his last book, The Fatal Conceit, he wrote an important sentence full of controversy: The survival of our civilization “may rest on the question of how people conceive the relation between the moral traditions and a personal God.”

I do not want to comment on that statement, but I would like to concentrate on the question which underlies the statements of Friedrich von Hayek: How do religions and churches interpret the essential institutions of our modern society–in our case the market–and what can they contribute to its function? It is obvious...

Tugging the Entrepreneur Homeward

During the holiday season, business people are routinely excoriated for being greedy and not doing enough for society. In the model of Scrooge before his conversion, they are said to be selfish when they should be looking out for others. Yet in my pastoral experience, I have found this to be untrue. For several years, I have conducted seminars for entrepreneurs, some of whom run America’s largest companies, to help them reconcile their faith with their business life. And what I have learned about these people belies the stereotype.

Consistently successful business people are not self-consumed. In fact, their personal attention, and indeed the whole of their lives, tends to be oriented toward the service of others. Successful entrepreneurs are acutely, and often excessively, interested in the...

Rose Wilder Lane

A pesar de que provenía de modestos comienzos como innovadora, la escritora y periodista Rose Wilder Lane alcanzó la prominencia al final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial como una firme defensora de la libertad. Lane es mejor conocida por su libro The Discovery of Freedom ("El Descubrimiento de la Libertad"), publicado en 1943, que traza una historia del desarrollo de la libertad en los seis mil años desde sus orígenes arraigados en la tradición judeo-cristiana hasta la edad contemporánea. A pesar de que posteriormente llegaría a despreciar su libro – pensaba de haberlo escrito...

Rose Wilder Lane

Sebbene venisse da esordi in sordina e pionieristici, l’autrice e giornalista Rose Wilder Lane salì alle luci della ribalta solo a ridosso della II Guerra Mondiale come strenua sostenitrice della libertà. Sicuramente é meglio nota per il suo libro The Discovery of Freedom (“La scoperta della libertà”), pubblicato nel 1943, che traccia una storia dello sviluppo della libertà nell’arco di seimila anni, dalle sue origini che affondano nella tradizione giudaico-cristiana fino all’età contemporanea. Sebbene in seguito giungerà anche a disprezzare il suo libro - pensava di averlo scritto troppo frettolosamente - quest’ultimo...

Rose Wilder Lane

Although she came from humble, pioneer beginnings, author and journalist Rose Wider Lane came to prominence at the close of World War II as a staunch defender of freedom. Lane is best known for her book The Discovery of Freedom, published in 1943, which traces the six-thousand year development of freedom from its roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition to the present day. Though Lane later came to dislike the book-she thought it too hastily written-it became an underground classic and one of the foundational documents of the modern libertarian movement. She is less...

The Pope's Divisions

The collapse of Communism as a world ideological force occasions not only a thorough reassessment of many of the economic and political presuppositions which were fundamental to the post-World War II world, but also a reevaluation of many of the historical interpretations founded on these same presuppositions and widespread during the same period. In fact, one of the major criticisms of the caste of professional historians and political scientists in the United States is their failure as a group, with a few notable exceptions, to take measure of the ideological stakes in both the World War and the ensuing Cold War. Rather, they introduced–or passively allowed to be introduced–Marxist-Leninist interpretations into the contemporary discourse. Moreover, the conditions of conflict made it all the easier to circulate various...

Christianity, Classical Liberalism are Liberty's Foundations

R&L: Explain the difference between classical liberalism and modern liberalism.

Liggio: Modern liberals have tried to steal the cloak of classical liberalism. Classical liberalism was the dominant philosophy in the United States and England, really, until about the First World War. The war, unfortunately, was a disaster for liberalism, because it disrupted constitutional order. All the countries at war used extreme measures of repression. Even England and America created police states on the model of Germany or their Czarist allies and trampled liberty underfoot. At the same time, they trampled economic liberty by allocating resources through central planning, again modeled on the German desperation as they were cut off by the wartime blockade. In fact, Lenin viewed the...

To Reduce Wealth or Poverty?

This essay–originally printed in Swedish in 1994–was prompted by the 1993 pastoral letter, “On the Rich and the Poor,” from the bishops of the Church of Sweden, formerly the established church. The following was written as a letter in reply, not to attack the bishops or the church, but to clarify what has been distorted by some of the bishops’ formulations.

The bishops’ pastoral letter was given considerable attention in Sweden when it was published, as was this reply. It appears here in English for the first time. The first half appeared last issue; the second half appears this issue.

Man was given freedom and ate of the fruit of knowledge. Only one who is free can do right and wrong. This capacity to will is what separates mankind from the...

Seven Years After the Fall

It was seven years ago that the Berlin Wall fell, liberating all of Central and Eastern Europe in a resounding crash. Now some in Western Europe wish it were standing again, while others in the East wonder what they’ve gained. Corruption has flourished in the ensuing moral vacuum. Not a few people have concluded communism is preferable to anarchy or poverty. The moral and spiritual leaders of the peaceful revolution have little political influence and they struggle to define the Permanent Things in a culture in flux.

It would be presumptuous of us in the West to offer advice, as our culture deteriorates apace. Once self-evident truths, which were the legacy of western civilization, are under full assault. Post-modernism, multi-culturalism, and revisionism dissolve the Permanent Things.

...

The Left on the Run

Economic conservatives–people who hoped the Republican Congress would reduce existing government barriers to free enterprise–are down in the dumps. It appears that expectations generated by the November 1994 election were well above the ability of this Congress to perform. From their point of view, after all the battles on taxes, regulations, the budget, and more, nothing really dramatic took place. Even though the good guys, for once, were in charge of the purse strings, from all appearances, it was business as usual in Washington.

Is this attitude justified? No, because it misses the bigger picture. It’s true that this Congress did not deliver according to promise, and many principled lawmakers are as aware of this as anyone else. But if ideas have consequences, something much more...

Leonard E. Read

Leonard E. Read was the founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, one of the original pro-freedom think tanks. Through his tireless efforts in that organization, as well as through his twenty-seven books, countless essays, and extensive speaking schedule, he was largely responsible for the revival of the liberal tradition in post-World War II America.

Read was born on September 26, 1898, on an eighty-acre farm just outside Hubbardston, Michigan. His early life was marked by hard work and diligent study. As a young man, Read served in the armed forces in World War I, enlisting shortly after the United States entered. After he was discharged, he was eager to go to...

Double Agent for the Greens?

As the readers of this publication are probably aware, environmental regulation is a hot subject for conservatives right now. In the battle to reduce the size and scope of the federal government, we are seeing the first counterattacks to what has been a two-decade-old regulatory jihad by the federal government. And to assist in the revolt, a slew of conservative books and pamphlets have become available detailing not only the quasi-religious, socialist nature of the Green worldview, but also the incredible abuses of law-enforcement power that have followed from the nebulous language of current federal environmental legislation.

No one would enjoy the kind of work necessary to fight this battle, done by people like Rep. David McIntosh of Indiana, who must master the minutiae of federal law,...

There is a Crucial Link Between Culture and Economics

R&L: Do you agree with Josef Schumpeter’s thesis that capitalism is ultimately destructive of both itself and the culture within which it operates?

Berger: I don’t think I can answer that with a simple yes or no. Schumpeter saw certain things very clearly, and certainly capitalism creates certain processes which have negative cultural effects. I would say that capitalism is very much part of modernity, not just the economic system. It is other institutional consequences of modernization, for example pluralism, that have various effects on culture, and that would take a long time to explain.

Whether capitalism destroys itself the way Schumpeter thought is another question. He thought that, among other things, advanced capitalism becomes...

Letter to the Bishops of the Church of Sweden

This essay–originally printed in Swedish in 1994–was prompted by the 1993 pastoral letter, “On the Rich and the Poor,” from the bishops of the Church of Sweden, formerly the established church. The following was written as a letter in reply, not to attack the bishops or the church, but to clarify what has been distorted by some of the bishops’ formulations.

The bishops’ pastoral letter was given considerable attention in Sweden when it was published, as was this reply. It appears here in English for the first time. The first half appears in this issue; the second will appear in the next issue.

“Maybe the science which makes the community everything and ignores the individual, will to a future sober assessment seem as mythological and fantastic...

The Principle of Subsidiarity

One of the key principles of Catholic social thought is known as the principle of subsidiarity. This tenet holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be. This principle is a bulwark of limited government and personal freedom. It conflicts with the passion for centralization and bureaucracy characteristic of the Welfare State.

This is why Pope John Paul II took the “social assistance state” to task in his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus. The Pontiff wrote that the Welfare State was contradicting the principle of subsidiarity by intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility. This “leads to a loss of human energies...