Such attention from either side is, however, somewhat premature. Rees-Mogg is a “backbencher” who, despite his growing notoriety, has never served in government or held a great office of state. Neither is he an author of political literature, apart from a brief essay (2012) for the Politeia think tank, wherein he defines conservatism as “based on the individual’s free will which ought to be unencumbered save where it harms others.” Yet two primary themes emerge from his life and career. First, he has been extremely successful in international finance and investment, embarking upon a career in the City after university and, in 2007, establishing Somerset Capital Management which, along with an advantageous marriage, has secured him a fortune of tens of millions of pounds. Second, Rees-Mogg is a devout Roman Catholic famous (in some circles, infamous) for his orthodox positions on such issues as gay marriage or abortion, and is father to six children.
To help account for Rees-Mogg’s Christian capitalism, this article shall pursue the most promising line of inquiry: the life’s work of his father, Sir William Rees-Mogg.
British political ideology and allegiance tends to run in families, and to a greater degree than in the United States. The Brothers Miliband of the Labour Party are, for instance, the sons of the distinguished Marxist intellectual Ralph Miliband, while David Cameron is descended from a long line of royalists and Tories. In this respect, the life and doctrine of Sir William Rees-Mogg provides the most probable and penetrating insight into the politics of his son Jacob. Editor at The Times, chairman of the Governors of the BBC and the Arts Council of Britain, and a life peer from 1988, William Rees-Mogg acquired great attainments in both political economy and Christian theology, and fused their precepts together to create a patriotic political theology embracing both self-help and selfless love. He first addresses the moral dilemmas of global political economy in The Reigning Error: The Crisis of World Inflation (1974), wherein he explains that political conflicts including interstate war, revolutionary upheaval, or trade union militancy prompt an increase in the money supply, which in turn produces inflation. This result must be completely prevented, according to Rees-Mogg, because inflation disorders formerly functioning societies such as Rome, Germany, or Britain on a scale sufficient to portend their ruin. “Inflation is the great divider of societies,” he states, “the sharpener of hostilities, the differentiator of interests, the enemy of moderation and the enemy of altruism,” he writes (p. 62). “There is no inflation which has not ended with a corruption of society” (p. 66). Rees-Mogg supports his polemic against the civilizational horrors of inflation with both qualitative and quantitative evidence, but his solution lies in the past.