Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Frédéric Bastiat

Frédéric Bastiat nasce a Mugron, nei pressi di Bayonne, il 25 giugno del 1801. Perduti, ancora bambino, il padre e la madre, viene affidato alle cure di alcuni parenti. Studia presso il collegio di Sorrèze. Esce dal collegio all’età di vent’anni. Lavora prima a Bayonne in un'azienda commerciale di un suo zio paterno. Successivamente si ritira in una sua proprietà di camapagna, coltiva la sua intelligenza e fa coltivare i suoi campi.

Nel 1844 Bastiat è in Inghilterra, dove viene folgorato dalla scoperta delle battaglie libero-scambiste condotte da Cobden e da...

Frédéric Bastiat

"The state is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everybody else."

These words by Frédéric Bastiat constitute one of history's most damning definitions of government.

Born the son of a merchant in 1801 at Bayonne, France, Bastiat was orphaned before his tenth birthday. Bastiat was a farmer by trade who became a politician. Hence, his observations about man and society are derived from personal experience and observation, rather than the theories of a scholar.

Bastiat entered the public arena as a result of his support for Richard Cobden and the efforts of his English Anti-Corn Law League. His...

Providence and Liberty

The Foundation for Economic Education has sold, since 1950, approximately half a million copies of its edition of Bastiat’s The Law, in the Russell translation. This makes the book a “best seller,” despite that the Bastiat name is familiar to a mere handful. Few textbook surveys of political philosophies or economic theories mention him; few academics recognize the name.

The situation was even worse fifty years ago. It was a chance encounter between Thomas Nixon Carver and Leonard Read around 1941 that began the resurrection of this brilliant but obscure French politician and journalist.

Carver had joined the Harvard faculty as Professor of Political Economy in 1902. He was a champion of the free market economy during the next several decades, an opponent of...

Talents and Stewardship

R&L: In 1986 you were co-chairman of the Lay Commission which issued a statement on religion and the economy and which was signed by a number of lay Catholics. What motivated you to do this? What were some of the reactions, both positive and negative?

Simon: The Lay Commission tried to take seriously the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, which is that the laity bring a special Christian Wisdom to worldly affairs. Its critics tried to portray the Lay Commission as some sort of dissident movement. That’s nonsense. We simply wanted to express the principles that have guided our lives as Catholics and businessmen. The bishops were going off in another direction, and we felt that it was vital to bring our point of view to bear. We have been pleased to see that the...

The Entrepreneurial Vocation

One may say, without fear of contradiction, that prejudice against minorities is unpopular in modern society. And with good reason: the idea that people are judged merely by the group that they happen to belong to, without any regard for their person or individual qualities, is properly odious to anyone with moral sensibilities.

Yet despite this laudable attitude prevalent throughout the popular culture, there remains one minority group upon which an unofficial open-season has been declared: the entrepreneur. One sees evidence of this prejudice everywhere about us. Consider the books (say of Dickens or Sinclair Lewis), television programs (like Dallas or Dynasty), films (China Syndrome, Wall Street, or even some versions of “A Christmas Carol”), cartoons strips (like Doonesberry...

Christopher Dawson

"Modern society is unintelligible unless it is studied as having deep roots in Christianity."

So penned Christopher Dawson, cultural historian and educational theorist. Born in Wales at the end of the nineteenth century, Dawson held distinguished chairs at University College, Exeter, University of Liverpool, and became the first Chauncey Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic Studies at Harvard University, where he remained until 1962. He died in Devon, England in 1970.

Dawson began his brilliant career with a book entitled The Age of the Gods (1928). In it he maintained that the basis of every culture was formed by religion. This belief in religion...

Illiberal Education

Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education has stirred a hornet’s nest of controversy in the academy for good reason – it is the only book-length attack on the policies that are in vogue at many of this country’s most distinguished academic institutions. The considerable press coverage this book has received indicates that D’Souza says something that badly needs saying and says it well.

There are several disturbing practices and trends at the modern university that D’Souza powerfully describes and critiques: affirmative action policies that mis-match certain minorities with their university that virtually guarantee the future of these students; the emphasis on “multi-culturalism,” which does not advocate cultural pluralism but rather denigrates anything deemed...

Helping Yourself by Helping Others

R&L: What is the connection, in your opinion, between religion and economics?

Templeton: Economic systems based on atheism have failed. Religion teaches the infinite worth of each individual. Religion causes each individual to want to serve others. An increasing part of God’s ongoing creative process is to encourage each individual to be purposeful and creative. The free market system removes limitations and thereby encourages amazing and increasingly varied forms of creativity. Religion teaches love and brotherhood and truth and diligence which tend to cause accelerating creativity and productivity. Fortunes built on force or on inheritance can be harmful; but fortunes built on superior service are beneficial to rich and poor alike.


The Myth of a Value-Free Education

Americans love myths. By “myth,” I do not mean the old-fashioned myths that my generation read in grade school. Many Americans would find reading at that fifth-grade level too difficult these days. What I mean by “myth” is what older generations used to call a fiction.

One of the more influential myths presently affecting the American family is the myth of a value-free education. A value-free education is described as one in which students are supposed to be free from any coerced exposure to the values of anyone.

One way the defenders of value-free education frame their argument is this: they argue that because America ceased to be a homogeneous society a long time ago, the watchword today must be pluralism. In the new setting of today, they insist, we can no longer...

Behind Centesimus Annus

Editor’s Note: Rocco Buttiglione is a professor at the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein and the author of many books and articles on Catholic social thought and the life and thought of Pope John Paul II. He has been a philosophical collaborator with the pope for many years.

It seems that one of the many merits of the new encyclical Centesimus Annus is that it has fostered a much needed step forward in the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the American spirit. This step forward is the consequence of carefully drawn distinctions which make some of the usual misunderstandings of the Holy Father’s intentions difficult or impossible and which compel those willing to criticize the Church’s social doctrine to come to grips with the encyclical’s contents...

K. Wilhelm Freiherr von Humboldt

Karl Wilhelm Freiherr von Humboldt nació en Postdam (Prusia) en 1767. Filósofo, reformador germano de la lengua y la educación, diplomático y humanista, Humboldt realizó importantes contribuciones para el desarrollo tanto de la filología como de la teoría política liberal. Fue Ministro del Interior y fundador de la Universidad de Berlín.

Lord Acton se refirió a Humboldt como “la figura más importante de Alemania”. Sus ideas políticas anticiparon y fueron usadas por John Stuard Mill en On...

K. Wilhelm Freiherr von Humboldt

Described by Lord Acton as the “most central figure in Germany,” Wilhelm von Humboldt began his public career in 1802 as the Prussian envoy to the papal court. He returned to Berlin in 1808 to accept his appointment as the Minister of Public Instruction. In this position, he became the architect of the Prussian educational system and the founder of the University of Berlin; he served in a variety of other governmental offices until his retirement from public service in 1819.

While Humboldt's public career was distinguished, he made his greatest impact through his varied contributions to...

A Century of Catholic Social Thought

This year marks the centenary of the promulgation of Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. Over the next several months there will be a myriad of scholarly conferences, lectures, sermons, masses, etc., commemorating the anniversary of this seminal Church document and the tradition of social thought that it inaugurated. Collections of essays celebrating this anniversary are already beginning to find their way out of publishing houses and into stores and catalogs. More promise to follow as conferences conclude and their proceedings are published.

A Century of Catholic Social Thought is one of the first collections of commentaries published commemorating this year’s anniversary. This volume considers both the historical development of Catholic social teaching and its continuing...

Profits and Morals: A Non-Catholic Assessment of Centesimus Annus

In 1986 America’s Catholic bishops issued a controversial pastoral letter on the subject of the nation’s economy. The cartoonist S. Kelley summed it up best in The San Diego Union. In his cartoon, two bishops were lecturing from upside-down economics textbooks and a blackboard full of obvious nonsense as a parishioner prayed by a pew: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they’re talking about.”

That 1986 document, calling as it did for massive increases in federal spending, redistribution of the wealth and a hefty dose of socialism, was greeted with dissent from economists, clergy and business leaders favorably disposed to the free market. And given what Pope John Paul II had to say a few weeks ago, it will probably go down in history as the high water mark of left-liberal...

A Preferential Option for Liberty

This special issue of Religion and Liberty offers our readers a sampling of initial reactions to the encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II which commemorates the hundredth anniversary of the inauguration of modern Catholic social teaching.

Our prediction is that Centesimus Annus (The Hundredth Year) will have a monumentally positive impact on the discussion of the relationship between religion and freedom. This discussion will revolve around the proper ordering of civil society, the role and limits of governmental intervention into economic activity, and the ultimate source of wealth creation: the human mind.

These are, of course, matters that the Acton Institute is attempting to raise. We are overjoyed with the document.

Yet a...