The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

In E-Mail to Dan Riehl, Shankman Claims ‘Very Mainstream Catholic Theology’

Posted on | March 19, 2011 | 20 Comments

This is a very significant message from Wisconsin pro-union cyberstalker James L. Shankman:

With regards to distributivism, it is very mainstream catholic theology. You could ask James O’Keefe, who says he is personally inspired by G.K. Chesterton. Chesterton is the main political philosopher of distributivism. The last couple pages of What’s Wrong With the World are instructive here. Someone equated distributivism with liberation theology, which is not the case. Distributivism is the stance that the church endorses AGAINST liberation theology, and you can see this in the theology of pope benedict during his disputes with the liberation theologians.

You see from this paragraph that Shankman is not casually or superficially acquainted with the doctrines by which he justifies his radical politics. No, indeed: He appears well-versed in the literature of “distributivism,” cites the works of Chesterton, alludes to Ratzinger. (Although I detect nothing like “distributivism” in Ratzinger’s 1984 “Instruction” against liberation theology, perhaps I’m overlooking something.)  

Now, go back and read my Friday post about Shankman’s religious/economic views, including his citing of Rerum Novarum. Also read the commenters disputing Shankman’s interpretation (or my interpretation) of Catholic “social teaching” on economics. The point is that these doctrines are subject to interpretation, and Shankman’s angry radicalism is an interpretation that many Catholics do indeed adopt. (Richard Trumka, for example.)

“Yeah, but Shankman’s just a kook,” many people will say. Indeed, but the specific content of his madness cannot be dismissed as irrelevant. Kook though he may be, Shankman says that his beliefs are “very mainstream Catholic theology.” If he believes that this justifies his threats — “WE WILL F*** YOU UP” — then I suggest we take his beliefs seriously. Before somebody gets hurt.

UPDATE: Mises on ‘Christian Socialism’


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