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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Mapping the Core and Gap with Layers--Like Ogres

Memorial of Ss. Nereus and Achilleus
Memorial of St. Pancras

TM Lutas digs deeper than his earlier post and demonstrates the near-irrelevance of Tom Barnett's analysis of the election of Benedict XVI by developing the notion of different map layers (of connectivity) including, particularly, the "spiritual" layer. This is useful, as far as it goes (and it goes quite a ways--which underscores the general power of Barnett's connectivity model). Lutas, however, undersells not just the interaction between layers, but the fact that there is a common plane of culture, really a system of cultures, where spiritual and politico-economic maps connect [interject the "culture is the engine of history" line here]. Nevertheless, unlike Barnett, his analysis, based on this innovation, shows a keen insight as to how the conventional wisdom will likely be demonstrated as wrong regarding this new pontificate.

It still amazes me how someone as sharp as Barnett gets John Paul the Great so wrong. Once anyone considers the axioms* from where John Paul the Great and the rest of the faculty at the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) began working through the cultural consequences of applying an authentic Christian humanism, it becomes obvious that the economic determinism that goes with wearing politico-economic blinders will lead you astray in accurately analyzing the late pope's legacy. That Benedict XVI is operating from a better map, perhaps even one of his own, will explain why Dr. Barnett will be quite wrong here.

As for Pope Benedict's map, we may be able to get a glimpse of it from a 1985 speech, "Market Economy and Ethics." (cap tip: Acton) Here's the truffle quote:
"The economy is governed not only by economic laws, but is also determined by men...".5 Even if the market economy does rest on the ordering of the individual within a determinate network of rules, it cannot make man superfluous or exclude his moral freedom from the world of economics. It is becoming ever so clear that the development of the world economy has also to do with the development of the world community and with the universal family of man, and that the development of the spiritual powers of mankind is essential in the development of the world community. These spiritual powers are themselves a factor in the economy: the market rules function only when a moral consensus exists and sustains them.
* The four KUL agreements, as noted by George Weigel in Witness to Hope, are:
  1. Radical realism about the world and the human capacity to know it--we can only be free in truth, and the measure of truth is reality.
  2. Philosophy begins with a disciplined reflection on human experience, rather than cosmology, because humans are the only creatures aware of their being, as well as awed by it.
  3. Commitment to reason to illuminate what good men ought to do and avoid the "trap of reflection."
  4. Practice an ecumenism of time--the past is not made disposable by modernity.

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