The National Catholic Review

For the New York Times, Ginia Bellafante has recently written this article relating the Catholic Worker to Occupy.

America readers who are interested in these matters should know that Occupy, in conjunction with dozens of other organizations dedicated to the equitable sharing of social resources, is calling for a General Strike in the United States on May 1.

For more information, see the latest from the Occupy Wall Street website here, or the MayDay NYC website here, or the InterOccupy site for various May Day General Strike cities here. Occupy Catholics are here.

I think that if Occupy is able to make a strong showing on May 1, then its fall 2011 mojo has a good chance of returning, and what happens on May 1st may begin a summer of Occupy resurgence leading through a 4th of July national Occupy convention and into an influence on the fall 2012 elections, while also focusing all along on local, often anonymous, partnership with those in need of jobs, housing, food, clothing, medical assistance, education, and more.

As those who follow the news know, many Occupy sites have been cleared in recent months by newly militarized police forces, and the movement itself has often found its decision-making structures fraught and fragile.

I, for one, hope that May 1st shows Occupy's vitality -- not because Occupy is the only global movement advocating equitable sharing of social resources, but because it is one of a very few global movements with the potential, already partially actualized, to become a hub for a multi-perspective consensus about the economic and spiritual violence enabled by our socioeconomic structures and our own participation in those structures. 

If my unscientific observations are accurate, Occupy has become a place where many people who identify as religious, nonreligious, post-religious, and more can come together to witness to and discover what sort of better world is possible, and how to get there. It is far from perfect; it is an evolving, decentralized experiment. And we'll see on May 1st where we stand. 

Comments

Robert Galvin | 5/2/2012 - 9:08pm
Well, Professor Beaudoin, it's May 2.  Where does that whole experimental religious, nonreligious, post-religious, discovery of a evolving better decentralized world thing stand?
Kevin Murphy | 4/30/2012 - 9:44pm
I, for one, will be rooting for our hometown ''newly militarized police force,'' the NYPD, in their ongoing effort to maintain civility and public safety during these OWS tantrums.  I particularly like Mr. Beaudoin's phrase ''a strong showing,'' which of course means create whatever havoc is deemed necessary and civilians be damned, even if they are part of the ''99%.''   Let's pray that noone is harmed due to a delayed ambulance or fire truck, or injured due to a blocked bridge or being stuck in a tunnel, so Mr. Beaudoin can continue to build his  ''hub for a multi-perspective consensus about the economic and spiritual violence enabled by our socioeconomic structures.''  
Anonymous | 4/30/2012 - 6:46pm
Didn't we already try utopia?
Beth Cioffoletti | 4/30/2012 - 3:26pm
" ...it is one of a very few global movements with the potential, already partially actualized, to become a hub for a multi-perspective consensus about the economic and spiritual violence enabled by our socioeconomic structures and our own participation in those structures."

Amen, amen, amen.  We don't even know what the outcome is supposed to look like, and that is a sure sign of movement of the Spirit.
Vince Killoran | 4/30/2012 - 2:09pm
"For thirty-one magical days beginning this Tuesday, May 1, we take the plunge and Strike! We block the Golden Gate Bridge; occupy a Manhattan-bound tunnel; seize the ports. In 115 cities, we march into banks, erect tents and refuse to leave."
http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/may-2012-insurrection.html

This does not sound very Catholic to me..."

Ocuppying, blocking, refusing to leave. . . now when did that happen in American history?

While I'm at ti this sounds exacly what a Christian should do! Thanks for the information-I want to attend an event or two in my town.
Rick Fueyo | 4/30/2012 - 10:16am
You also confused "capitalism" and "free enterprise", which often happens, to the point that they are used interchangeably, although not correctly.
 
What you are describing is "free enterprise".  Grossly oversimplifying, it is simply a trade of mutually agreed value without outside intervention, although the perfect state of nature is impossible, not the least of which is because you must have a medium of exchange, more commonly known as currency, to get beyond a barter economy. Since the currency must be guaranteed by a third party, generally the government, you automatically enter a third party into the mix in any but the most utopian circumstances.
 
Capitalism, on the other hand, refers generally to the division between capital and labor, and more generally refers to the fact that a third party, i.e. the investor, can own a portion of the enterprise with limited liability in order to provide initial capital in expectation of the future profit based upon the perceived prospects of the described enterprise. It again requires third parties, investors, and even a step removed, capital markets, and another step removed, a legal enforcement mechanism, that, at a minimum, guarantees that the investor will receive part of future return, and can extend all the way to disclosure requirements.
 
I won't speak for another poster, but it is a perfectly fair statement to say that capitalism is not natural in the way that free enterprise is, not the least of which is because it did not develop until fairly late in human history, long after the notion of trade had.
Tom Maher | 4/30/2012 - 10:28am
JR Cosgrove # 8

As Paul Ryan said in his speech at Georgetown University April 26 the preference option for the poor is too often re-inturpreted to be a prefereencial option for big goverenmnt.

Catholic university groups such as the Georgetown University faculty and most Catholic theology departments are devoted to big governemnt and intolerant of any competing ideas of socilal progress that does not exclusively involve massive big governement implimentaions.

Academia genrally in the United States remains highly influence by centruy and a half domiance of Marxist thought and promotion the moral drama of class warfare,  Marxism central theme.  Catholics uncritcally could not resit this frauduent moral drame . It has everything they need, drama, rmoralizing,  ighteosness, judgement and cosmic direction.  Masrxism even though it it is atheistic has all the psycholgical and intellectual elements of a religion.  So numerous academics faculty would uncritically and fully incoperate Marxism into their worldview and teaching. 

This reinterpreted social theology enbracing Marxism is currupting and brings in elements that are nowhere to be found in Catholic social teaching or the Gospel sucha s class warface, punishing the rich, bigf governemnt implementations and party-line exclusivity of though allowing only radical big government social implemetaions.  The individual taelnts, abilities, capablities to transform the world are not allowed or considered worthy, something  that is not in the Gospel.  After all these year of Marsism proven failure we still have large groups of faculty exclusively promioting the false promises of s Marxism as the only possible moral alternative to be considered.  So we get class warefare, social division and  no politcal consenus addressing the problems society faces. 

Reinterpreted Catholci social doctrine have become a corrupting and destructive forces in American politcs becsuse of its uncritcal devotion to and use of failed and morally fraudulent Marxist  doctrines.  Catholci educational should not promote Marxism.
J Cosgrove | 4/30/2012 - 9:51am
''Thanks Cosgrove-you raise the level of dialogue on IAT.''


You are right.  I should not have made that assessment about your comment.  I apologize.
Vince Killoran | 4/29/2012 - 10:26pm
Cosgrove: "One of the more absurd statements I have seen made on this blog."

Thanks Cosgrove-you raise the level of dialogue on IAT. 
Patrick Molloy | 4/29/2012 - 10:20pm
Anarchy begets tyranny.
Patrick Molloy | 4/29/2012 - 10:20pm
Anarchy begets tyranny.
J Cosgrove | 4/29/2012 - 8:38pm
Tom,

There has been news stories circulating for about a week on this as the Occupy organizations plan lots of rallies but want to close down bridges and tunnels in San Francisco and New York.  The nice peaceful Occupy Oakland group are supposedly seeking a confrontation at the Golden Gate bridge.  Hopefully, it will not turn violent.


The funny thing is that these Occupy groups care nothing about the poor.  So what are the religious and Tom Beaudoin supporting them for.  What they are doing will hurt the little guy.  This seems more of a union strategy and as we know they are the upper middle class in New York and the Bay area.  The naivete of the OWS supporters amazes me.  Somehow they think that sticking one's middle finger at people you do not like will solve something.


Amy,

I don't know anyone in the Tea Party or anyplace in the Republican party that wants to take away the safety net in this country.  We can only supply the safety net because of what free market capitalism has provided.  I am not sure the government is the best way to provide this help for those who truly need it.  There are lots of alternativess that may be more efficient.


To use the words of the great conservative Republican president, Bill Clinton.  He said in his state of the union address in 2000 that he didn't view government as too small or that Americans were hurting because there was not enough government programs to help them and he said that the country was the strongest it has ever been.  And Paul Ryan's budget is substantially higher than Clintons in constant dollars, almost 50% higher.  And for that the wonderful people at America and many with SJ after his name have implied he is basically immoral.  The Tea Party would be ecstatic to have Clinton's budget in today's dollars.  They would disappear in a second as there  would be no need for them.


The really distateful thing is how people use rhetoric to confuse the uninformed and lead them to believe that somehow they are being screwed by Republicans.  I see few with consciences on the left.  They seem not to have any shame.


''There is nothing natural or obvious about capitalism.'' 


Trading what one has in excess for something that someon else has that you need or want is not natural or obvious?  One of the more absurd statements I have seen made on this blog.  I cannot think of a human activity more natural and obvious unless one thinks trading should be replaced by taking.  Unfortunately that is natural and obvious too but it doesn't produce as much in the long run as free market capitalism does.
Rick Fueyo | 4/29/2012 - 8:10pm
OWS has already succeeded in changing the political conversation regardin inequality.  in theological terms, seeking to change this nation's recent (30 year) cultural disposition to a preferential option for the wealthy and powerful.
Vince Killoran | 4/29/2012 - 3:36pm
There is nothing natural or obvious about capitalism.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 4/29/2012 - 2:22pm
Tom Maher,

I agree that it is futile to attempt to legislate away the laws of economics. Legislating against capitalism is like legislating against the laws of thermodynamics. Laws can not distribute goods and services to each "according to his needs" because it is a fundamental law of economics that goods and services flow naturally to each according to his ability and determination to acquire them.

Markets are like engines. Attempting to pass a law that distributes goods and services equally is like trying to pass a law that heat should flow spontaneously from a cold reservoir to a hot one.

However, I am not convinced that markets inevitably "improve the quality of life across society." Our present predicament is that there is a substantial fraction of the population to whom free markets, left to themselves, would not distribute basic human necessities: the very sick, the severely disabled, the mentally ill, the very young, the cognitively mediocre, convicts, liberal arts majors, etc. Most of these people have nothing to offer but their physical labor, and technology has left the economy with an overwhelming surplus of labor.

It is not difficult to divert some modest quantity of the energy produced by the capitalist engine to provide the necessities of human life to these people. This is like allowing heat to flow from the hot reservoir to the cold one, using most of the power to irrigate your farm, but diverting a little bit to keep the light bulbs in the house burning.
 
It seems to me (1) the markets do not do this (2) government can do it and (3) Christian morality commands it be done.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 4/29/2012 - 10:45am
Don't overestimate your appeal outside the the coastal liberal enclaves. If Occupy raises its profile in the election season, you may succeed in increasing voter turnout in safely blue states, but only while simultaneously inducing swing state moderates to vote Republican.

Most Occupiers are too young to remember the Soviet May Day Parades, but most reliable voters aren't.
Stanley Kopacz | 4/29/2012 - 10:39am
The main thing to come out of Occupy should be the realization that big business is not our friend as their innumerable commercials are meant to convince us. Big business is our enemy. They have their own agenda which is to soak their customers (or suckers) and exploit their workforce. They pollute and bend the laws to allow their pollution.   Small local companies can be just as exploitative but at least they don't have the resources to buy politicians and they have to meet their customers face-to-face and word of wrongdoing gets around.  Buy local as much as possible, especially food.  Buy from large corporations as little as possible. If you buy a new car, most of that money goes away.  If you pay a local mechanic to keep an old car running, the money stays around longer. New ways for small and local investment have to be found to obviate and hopefully eventually neuter the Wall Street monster.  We in the dwindling middle classes should spend our resources responsibly.
J Cosgrove | 4/29/2012 - 8:26am
There was an article yesterday that tried to compare the Tea Party movement with the Occupy movement.  Here is the closing statemente


''Where Occupiers and Tea Partiers see eye-to-eye is in protest of cronyism. The difference is that Occupiers tend to see cronyism as a product of capitalism, while Tea Partiers tend to recognize it as an abandonment of capitalism. An Occupy blogger offers a glimmer of hope:

I have some reservations about whether the maldistribution of wealth and power can be attributed to capitalism as such.  It also appears that not all participants in the Occupy movements are against capitalism.  And finally, I’m not sure that replacing capitalism with some other form of economic organization is either possible, or necessary to address the problems raised by the movement.

That’s halfway to an epiphany. The only way to maldistribute wealth is to maldistribute power. And the only entity capable of that is government. Once Occupiers come to that realization, they’ll find compatriots among the Tea Party.''


http://pjmedia.com/blog/8-reasons-why-todays-occupiers-are-tomorrows-tea-partiers/?singlepage=true

 
Vince Killoran | 4/30/2012 - 3:41pm
Don't forget sits, swim-ins, pray-ins,etc. (and "filling their jails").

"Christian values of solidarity and an ontology of human equality."

The connections are many w/OWS, especially the emphasis on equality, fraternity, and citizenship.

BTW, civil rights activists were accused of "anarchism, solipsism and delusions of grandure."
Tom Maher | 4/29/2012 - 11:49am
JR Cosgrove
Amy Ho-Ohn

Do you remember the Soviet Union,  the suppossed classless society and the "workers paradicse" had bread lines right up to the tiime it collapsed economically and politclly just over twehnty years ago?  Basics consumer goods such as food were in short supply and where often of poor quality.  Yet nearby the "aparatchiks" , the communist party members who ran the Soviet Union, had their own private stores well stocked with food and everything else of very high quality.  The reality was the society set up to prevent any personal wealth or ownership and fairly distribute all wealth failed to be able to produce and distribute enough basic economic goods such as food while allowing professional communist party members to skim the fruits of other people's labor.  The people living under communist rejected this poorly functioning utopian system over twenty years ago.  As we see in this post western academics promote redistibution schemes that require powerful governments to control every aspect of economic life and have everyone's economic needs taken care of the state. But this utopian scheme in practice was a massive and total failure.  
 
What is it about the Catholic utopian theology and economics that they continue to ignore the  epic failure of governments to be able to create and distribute even basic economic goods let alone create and distribute economic surpluses to improve the quality of life across society as capitlism so ably does?