Category Archives: Christian Social Democracy

Laissez-Faire Capitalism Should Be as Dead as Soviet Communism

The Huffington Post | Arianna Huffington | December 22, 2008

The collapse of Communism as a political system sounded the death knell for Marxism as an ideology. But while laissez-faire capitalism has been a monumental failure in practice, and soundly defeated at the polls, the ideology is still alive and kicking.

The only place you can find an American Marxist these days is teaching a college linguistic theory class. But you can find all manner of free market fundamentalists still on the Senate floor or in Governor’s mansions or showing up on TV trying to peddle the deregulation snake oil.

Take Sen. John Ensign, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who went on Face the Nation and, with a straight face, said of the economic meltdown: “Unfortunately, it was allowed to be portrayed that this was a result of deregulation, when in fact it was a result of overregulation.”

Or Gov. Mark Sanford, who told Joe Scarborough he was against bailing out the auto industry because it would “threaten the very market-based system that has created the wealth that this country has enjoyed.”

If a politician announced he was running on a platform of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” he would be laughed off the stage. That is also the correct response to anyone who continues to make the case that markets do best when left alone.

It’s time to drive the final nail into the coffin of laissez-faire capitalism (Continue Reading at The Huffington Post)

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On Christian Democracy

The AUOCC, being new to the social engagement in the political sphere, is currently in search of its identity. We are clearly traditionalist in our Orthodox Christian Faith. But how is this Orthodoxy to be translated into the “public square”?  How are we to be identified in the various public dialogs?  We are Orthodox Christians who are also concerned American Citizens. We are not The Church. We are therefore free, and obligated, to champion the Church’s teachings in both the common society and its political realm. But in doing so we must respect the plurality of our nation while attempting to resurrect its basic ecumenist Christian foundations.

In the articles we have posted, and expect to continue to post, we find some significant interest in –though on the political spectrum these are wide– as these appeal to our moral conservativism and socio-economic liberalism.  Case in point, in light of what has been written, we offer the following article from Wikipedia:

Christian democracy is a political ideology that seeks to apply Christian (and often specifically Catholic) principles to public policy. It emerged in nineteenth- century Europe, and continues to be influential in Europe and Latin America, though in a number of countries its Christian ethos has been diluted by secularisation.

In practice, Christian democracy is often considered right-leaning on moral and cultural issues and left-leaning on labour and economic issues. In Europe, where their opponents have traditionally been secularist socialists, Christian democratic parties tend to be on the right of the political spectrum, while in Latin America, which has much higher levels of poverty and inequality, they tend to be positioned to the left.

Christian democratic parties generally claim a strong social conscience, in the sense of great respect for the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death, emphasizing the alleviation of poverty, and maintenance of a basic level of societal protection keeping the weak from abandonment and destitution, and the regulation of market forces for the common good (the notion of the “common good” having Catholic overtones). It may also be seen as liberal as it upholds human rights and individual initiative. It may be seen as federalistic and traditional in that it emphasizes sphere sovereignty and the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, and maintaining local and regional cultural distinctives, as well as upholding universal traditions. It may be seen as green in that it advocates positive stewardship of the creation, especially through using renewable energy, and avoiding activities that destroy the environment. Some Christian democratic parties and politicians have taken opposing positions on controversial issues such as abortion and divorce.

Examples of Christian democratic parties include the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), the Christian Democrat Party of Chile, the Christian Democratic People’s Party of Switzerland, and Fine Gael in Ireland.  Continue Reading Here!

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Does European Social Democracy have a Future?

Dissent Online | by Robert Taylor

(excerpted) A  luxurious hotel in rural Hertfordshire on the outskirts of London might seem a surprising venue for a conference of the world’s self-declared progressives. But members of the democratic center-left power elites, mainly from Europe, but with a sprinkling from Latin America and elsewhere, were in residence this spring to discuss the theme of “An Inclusive Globalisation; Promoting Prosperity for All.”

The mood of the well-heeled participants was surprisingly upbeat and complacent. The social democrats of the world seem still to believe they remain a political force to be reckoned with.

It is true that participants like Kevin Rudd, the recently elected Australian Labour prime minister, joined by his counterparts Helen Clark from New Zealand and the Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, could point to the recent electoral success of their respective parties. But many of the policy professionals and functionaries from the ranks of European social democracy were deceiving themselves if they really believed the once confident, optimistic political ideology that did so much to bring about a prolonged period of unparalleled prosperity and peace in the western part of the continent after the end of the Second World War is still triumphant.

The demise of European social democracy has come suddenly and perhaps unexpectedly. As Roger Liddle from Policy Network, the New Labour think tank that organized the Hertfordshire conference, has pointed out, as recently as 2000 no fewer than eleven out of the then fifteen European Union member states had social democratic or center-left prime ministers. Today there are only four.

Electoral setbacks for social democrats in Europe cannot be dismissed as the temporary result of fickle and volatile voters who will return to the fold in due course. The truth is that social democrats are now very much on the ideological defensive. This does not mean, however, that the axis of political advantage has tilted inexorably rightward in any dramatic way. On the contrary, what should concern social democrats is the unexpected emergence of what looks like a serious threat from new forces to their left.   Read Entire Article

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Catholic Archbishop Pens His Own “Das Kapital”

DW-World-de | Deutsch Welle | by DW Staff (cat)

A Catholic archbishop in Germany introduced his own “Das Kapital” — an attack on capitalistic excesses — to reporters Wednesday.

Archbishop Reinhard Marx of Munich is not related to 19th-century communist founding father Karl Marx, but the clergyman’s surname draws wonderment and wisecracks wherever he goes.

 

Despite the similar nomenclature, Marx says readers should not expect a defense of communism in this new book. Instead, the Roman Catholic archbishop who is the most outspoken of Germany’s 27 diocesan leaders in his criticism of big business, says that his work is to some extent “an argument with Marxism.”

 

The book begins as a letter addressed to his “dear namesake.”

 

“The consequences,” he tells the 19th-century ideologist, “of your thinking were disastrous.”

 

Social teaching in a globalized world

The modern-day Marx demands that the whole world adopt a market economy that is kinder to the weak and downtrodden instead of “heaping even more rewards on those who behave immorally.”

 

“That’s not utopia. It’s a necessity for the sake of humans,” said Marx in Munich.

 

The 300-page book, “Das Kapital: A Plea for Man”, deliberately borrows its title from the “bible” of communism in which Karl Marx claimed 140 years ago that capitalism would automatically collapse.

 

With this new book, however, Marx intends to highlight the value of Catholic social teaching in a globalized world.

 

“Capitalism without humanity, solidarity and justice has no morals and no future,” Marx writes.

 

He said we need to take a fresh look at social justice, or the world might veer back to dangerous ideologies such as Marxism.

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Capitalist? Socialist? Distributist!

Catholic News Agency | Political Punch | by Bill Powell

Small is beautiful. Or, the bigger the business, the bigger the bailout.

 

Congress has promised over $1 trillion from our hands to “rescue” gargantuan businesses. When corporations demand the largest free ride in our history, it’s time to rethink economies of scale. Socialism is a silly solution — there, everything becomes one gargantuan business. We need a real solution: distributism.

 

As G. K. Chesterton wrote, “the cure for centralization is decentralization. It has been described as a paradox.” In contrast to both socialism and capitalism, distributism aims for a wide distribution of private property. G. K.’s brother Cecil explained:

 

[A Socialist] desires the means of production to be the property of the community and to be administered by its political officers. A Distributist . . . desires that they should, generally speaking, remain private property, but that their ownership should be so distributed that the determining mass of families — ideally every family — should have an efficient share therein. That is Distributism, and nothing else is Distributism.

 

Capitalism and socialism are theoretically enemies, but for the ordinary citizen, their results are remarkably similar: little or no power. In socialism, power centers in the few who happen to run the government. In capitalism, power gathers in the few who happen to run the largest corporations. They promptly turn socialist — for themselves. Corporate welfare is far older than the recent bailouts; Wal-Mart alone has bagged over $1.2 billion in public funds.

 

What can we do? First, we have to stop thinking in terms of income: How much will this job pay? How big a mortgage payment can I afford? Mere income is unreliable. A gear slips in the Fed, and your 401(k) collapses. You get laid off, and there goes your house.

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Where’s the Party? Canadian Politics & Orthodox Christians

Orthodox Canada: A Journal of Orthodox Christianity | by Fr. Geoffrey Korz

Where’s the Party? A Political Home for Orthodox Christians in Canada
Vol. 2 No.2 – Pentecost 2007

 “My Kingdom is not of this world,” – John 18:36

Most Orthodox Christians across time and place would certainly agree that there cannot be an Orthodox political party. Even the Orthodox empires of Byzantium and Holy Russia were states made up of people of varied faithfulness; the two-headed eagle reflects the correction the Church and its saints often had to give to the state (interestingly, the United States has a one-headed eagle, like pagan Rome).

Canadian political parties all have shortcomings: some will compromise on the care of those who are in need, some will sacrifice critical moral issues like marriage and abortion, and all of them miss the fundamental orientation that this world is only a tip of the iceberg of the universal reality of human life.

All this being said, what would a Canadian political party look like, in terms of policies, for Orthodox Christians to be able to vote for it with a clear (or clearer) conscience? As we approach the next national election, we might consider the following factors, which should inform our conscience as Orthodox Christians as we approach the ballot box:

A multicultural outlook: Most traditional cultures take a similar approach on issues of basic moral issues, like family, support and role of the elderly, abortion, marriage, sexual issues; Christians, along with traditional Indian Hindus and Sikhs, most Buddhists, and to a certain extent Muslims have some common ground here, which does not find its way onto the stage of Canadian politics (most politicians from these backgrounds either hide or dispute the foundational beliefs of their own religion). Authentic, traditional cultures have a moral common ground with each other on many issues than they do with secular, western popular culture. These common issues are the ones usually in Canadian public life.

Solid Moral Tradition: Orthodox Christians would look for candidates and parties who would protect the traditional definition of marriage, and which would allow religious groups freedom from state control on questions such as to whom religious groups should be required to offer rites. Similarly, one would look for leadership that would protect employee freedom of conscience on medical issues (such as participation in organ donation or abortion), or the promotion of sexual immorality in printed or electronic forms.

A Charitable Outlook: Orthodox Christians might look for a government that would match dollar-for dollar the charitable efforts of churches, turning the institutional face of social services into a human face. As Saint John Chrysostom suggests, such initiatives could set up a house of charity in every city, or provide a full 50% tax rebate for all charitable gifts (i.e. one can either pay the government, or give it to support good works).

Free the Workforce: Work time is destroying families, who provide the essential character builder in any healthy society. Institutions can never fill this void, since institutions cannot ever provide love – only human beings can do that, and only voluntarily (e.g. one may pay a public employee more for various good reasons, but that pay does not determine the amount of love they can or will offer). To this end, Orthodox Christians might look for a government that would stop taxation on stay-at-home parents, and dramatically cut taxes for parents who work for limited hours or limited wages. One might strengthen poorer families by offering them more time together, without a tax on any benefits, or on minimal pay, or set a maximum number of hours for the work week, and stick with it (perhaps setting a huge double- or triple-time rate for those working over forty hours). Such leadership could make it easier for lowest paid jobs (the Walmart folks) to organize, while putting strict limitations on the greed that can drive larger unions to paralyze communities in order to obtain higher pay. One might also look for leadership that would make profit-sharing a benefit for private businesses, by offering meaningful tax incentives to companies who share their profits with their share-holding employees, building closer ties within each workplace.

All Politics is Local: It is very difficult to have faith meaningfully influence representatives who are few in number, and far from the people whom they represent. Since Canada covers the largest area of any democratic country in the world (one can argue about Russia), one might look for leadership that advocates more representatives who are paid less, and who make many more significant decisions at a local level. In the spirit of the village church of all times and places, one might seek a government that gave town halls back to local communities dealing with local transportation, safety, and other issues, purchasing services from a common central provider.

Clean up the Country: Sensibly, Orthodox Christians would look for the same standards on air and water pollution as laws for littering, phased in over a few years. Since automobiles are a major source of pollution, allocate most resources to clean-driving cars, and eliminate the tax on them.

As Orthodox Christians, the exercise of conscience at the ballot box is essential, not in terms of achieving an untenable pipe dream of a theocracy, but as an integral part of living an Orthodox Christian life in a country that tries to operate as a democracy. Just as we choose our activities, our friends, our spouse, and even our foods as Orthodox Christians, so too we must exercise our franchise with the same conscience.

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Under Construction

Welcome to the blog site of The American Union of Orthodox Christian Citizens.

Please excuse the barrenness but we just started on 10 October 2008.  Please e-mail us with your suggestions and ideas of what you would like to read here.
What is AUOCCThe American Union of Orthodox Christian Citizens – a grass-roots fellowship of Orthodox Christians who are or wish to be politically active in support of the Orthodox Church in the United States and to influence political elected officials on the issues important to us. The America Union of Orthodox Christian Citizens are very conservative on some issues while on the left on others. As an organization the AUOCC can not be categorized or compared with any existing political party or philosophy. Our foundational guide is Sacred Scriptures and the Patristic Teachings of the Orthodox Church.

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