Starting the Culture of the Third Millennium – as of April 2020

In a society managed by “economic technocracy,” the loss of 26 million jobs will be catastrophic in a very short time. Pope Francis said: “Our civilization currently appears marked by the long term effects of a society managed by economic technocracy. The subordination of ethics to the logic of profit is sustained by substantial means and enjoys enormous media support. … A new alliance of man and woman would seem not only necessary, but also strategic for the emancipation of peoples from their colonisation by money”, he continued. “This alliance must once again guide politics, the economy and civil coexistence. It decides the habitability of the earth, the transmission of the sentiment of life, and the bonds of memory and hope”.[1]

2) The defining protagonist of what we understand to be a “human” society is the human person. The origin of the notion of “man” as “person” has a Christian root. Karol Wojtyla wrote, “in the early centuries of Christianity, the category of the person was introduced into the teaching of the Church as a means of achieving a somewhat more precise understanding of the revealed divinum. Today, so many centuries later, this category forms a key concept in the contemporary controversy over the humanum. This is not a controversy within the Chruch or within Christianity, or even within non-Christian religions. It is mainly a controversy with atheism, which most often denies the divinum in the name of the  humanum. At the same time, while rejecting a relation to God as constitutive for the human person (who is an image of God), this atheism in its Marxist guise proposes a collective form of existence of the humanum as both the fundamental and the final form. Given this historical context, the category of the person must become a key concept in the controversy over the humanum, a controversy in which Christianity also has a role to play.” [2]

3) And so, I would hold that the present culture is atheist. With the loss of 24 million jobs in less than a month, it is dead and will not be resuscitated. It is a cadaver that is about to bleed. It still has blood in it. It is an old wineskin that has split apart and the wine is about to pour out. The extant Christendom of the previous culture (I am too excited by the virus: we are still trapped in it) prior to the collapse of the world economy notwithstanding the religious activity and semantics, was, and still is, atheist, and this because man was/is considered an object, and not a subject: person. Indeed, we are still in it. Joseph Ratzinger wrote: “The essential problem of out times, for Europe and for the world, is that although the fallacy of the communist economy has been recognized – so much so that former communists have unhesitatingly become economic liberals – the moral and religious question that it used to address has been almost totally repressed. The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man’s original uncertainties about God, himself, and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is still our problem today. Left untreated, it could lead to the self-destruction of the Europen conscience, which we must begin to consider as a real danger – above and beyond the decline predicted by Spengler.”[3]

And so, the virus has done for us – is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves: to be liberated from the previous millennium of the death producing dichotomy of realist “thing” or subjectivist “I.” Both alternatives are atheist. As Creator, God cannot be an Object that is receptor and acted on nor an “I” that is not real. An existing real Creator cannot either. By using “experience” as the legitimate access to the real, he wrote the philosophic underpinnings of the subject, the self, as ontologically real, and therefore of metaphysical value. For example, Wojtyla opened his “The Acting Person” with: “Man’s experience of anything outside of himself is always associated with the experience of himself, and he never experiences anything external without having at the same time the experience of himself.”[4] Such access had been forbidden territory since the Caresian “I”

ealism and/or and confront the possibility of a new way of being, creating a new culture understanding “culture” as  “cultivating” man in a new way, in the way the Church envisaged man in the  Second Vatican Council: the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, “that all may be one. . . as we are one” (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God’s sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself (Gaudium et Sprs #24).  This account of man as person was principally the work of Karol Wojtyla who performed the immense intellectual achievement of rendering the ontological object “man” as previously trapped as “object,” a category of conceptual thought when in reality he is the real dynamic “I” finding self by progressively going out self to another. All of that would have had to be abstracted out to know as universal “object.” Wojtyla handed us the being of this human person as both dynamic and real. Neither Mediaeval nor modern philosophy did not do it. Wojtyla wrote in the preface to the Acting Person: “our approach runs also counter to another trend of modern philosophy. Since Descartes, knowledge about man and his world has been identified with the cognitive function – as if only in cognition, and especially through knowledge of himself, could man manifest his nature and his prerogative. And yet, in reality, does man reveal himself in thinking or, rather, in the actual enacting of his existence? In observing, interpreting, speculating, or reasoning (which are changeable, even flexisble insofar as they are acts…”

As soon as you can accept that you “experience” yourself acting, you must add what you mean by “accepting,” which is, becoming conscious. Wojtyla says in his “Subjectivity and the Irreducible in the Human Being,” that “in order to interpret the human being in the context of lived experience, the aspect of consciousness must be introduced into the analysis of human existence. The human being is then given to us not merely as a being defined according to species, but as a concrete self, a self-experipencing subject. Our own subjective being and the existence proper to it (that os a suppositum) appear to us in experience precisely as a self-experiencing subject. If we pause here, this being discloses the sstructures tha tdeterine it as a concrete self. The disclosure of these structures constituting the human self need in no way signify a break with reduction and the speices definition of the human being – rather, it signifies the kind of methodological operation that may be described as pausing at the irreducible.”

It is at this point that you know yourself not as an object in which everything existential and uniquely person is left out, but as the subject, “John” in whom you can see in and know bottomlessly.

4) The Development of a Work Culture:

It is here with the acting person – or better – the working person, that the new culture has to start. It cannot be built on money or personal success in order to be real. It must start with the entrepreneurship of the working person, working from within and for a family of persons. And he finds himself by the sincere gift of himself in making a “good” product and becoming a “person” in that act, and exchanging that good product as gift for a gift in return.

 

Blueprint For 26 Million People Out of Work: April 2020

 

  1. Evangelical requirements for an indepth transformation: from “Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation – SCDF  Signed: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Need for a cultural transformation 

  1. Christians working to bring about that “civilization of love” which will include the entire ethical and social heritage of the Gospel are today faced with an unprecedented challenge. This task calls for renewed reflection on what constitutes the relationship between the supreme commandment of love and the social order considered in all its complexity. The immediate aim of this indepth reflection is to work out and set in motion ambitious programmes aimed at the socio-economic liberation of millions of men and women caught in an intolerable situation of economic, social and political oppression. This action must begin with an immense effort at education: education for the civilization of work, education for solidarity, access to culture for all.

The Gospel of work 

  1. The life of Jesus of Nazareth, a real “Gospel of work”, offers us the living example and principle of the radical cultural transformation which is essential for solving the grave problems which must be faced by the age in which we live. He, who, though he was God, became like us in all things, devoted the greater part of his earthly life to manual labour.(123) The culture which our age awaits will be marked by the full recognition of the dignity of human work, which appears in all its nobility and fruitfulness in the light of the mysteries of Creation and Redemption.(124) Recognized as a form of the person, work becomes a source of creative meaning and effort.

A true civilization of work 

  1. Thus the solution of most of the serious problems related to poverty is to be found in the promotion of a true civilization of work. In a sense, work is the key to the whole social question.(125) It is therefore in the domain of work that priority must be given to the action of liberation in freedom. Because the relationship between the human person and work is radical and vital, the forms and models according to which this relationship is regulated will exercise a positive influence for the solution of a whole series of social and political problems facing each people. Just work relationships will be a necessary precondition for a system of political community capable of favouring the integral development of every individual. If the system of labour relations put into effect by those directly involved, the workers and employers, with the essential support of the public powers succeeds in bringing into existence a civilization of work, then there will take place a profound and peaceful revolution in people’s outlooks and in institutional and political structures.

National and international common good

  1. A work culture such as this will necessarily presuppose and put into effect a certain number of essential values. It will acknowledge that the person of the worker is the principle, subject and purpose of work. It will affirm the priority of work over capital and the fact that material goods are meant for all. It will be animated by a sense of solidarity involving not only rights to be defended but also the duties to be performed. It will involve participation, aimed at promoting the national and international common good and not just defending individual or corporate interests. It will assimilate the methods of confrontation and of frank and vigorous dialogue.

As a result, the political authorities will become more capable of acting with respect for the legitimate freedoms of individuals, families and subsidiary groups; and they will thus create the conditions necessary for man to be able to achieve his authentic and integral welfare, including his spiritual goal.(126)

The value of human work 

  1. A culture which recognizes the eminent dignity of the worker will emphasize the subjective dimension of work.(127) The value of any human work does not depend on the kind of work done; it is based on the fact that the one who does it is a person,(128) There we have an ethical criterion whose implications cannot be overlooked. Thus every person has a right to work, and this right must be recognized in a practical way by an effective commitment to resolving the tragic problem of unemployment. The fact that unemployment keeps large sectors of the population and notably the young in a situation of marginalization is intolerable. For this reason the creation of jobs is a primary social task facing individuals and private enterprise, as well as the State. As a general rule, in this as in other matters, the State has a subsidiary function; but often it can be called upon to intervene directly, as in the case of international agreements between different States. Such agreements must respect the rights of immigrants and their families.(129)

Promoting participation 

  1. Wages, which cannot be considered as a mere commodity, must enable the worker and his family to have access to a truly human standard of living in the material, social, cultural and spiritual orders. It is the dignity of the person which constitutes the criterion for judging work, not the other way round. Whatever the type of work, the worker must be able to perform it as an expression of his personality. There follows from this the necessity of a participation which, over and above a sharing in the fruits of work, should involve a truly communitarian dimension at the level of projects, undertakings and responsibilities.(130)

Priority of work over capital 

  1. The priority of work over capital places an obligation in justice upon employers to con sider the welf are of the workers before the increase of profits. They have a moral obligation not to keep capital unproductive and in making investments to think first of the common good. The latter requires a prior effort to consolidate jobs or create new ones in the production of goods that are really useful. The right to private property is inconceivable without responsibilities to the common good. It is subordinated to the higher principle which states that goods are meant for all.(131)

Indepth reforms 

  1. This teaching must inspire reforms before it is too late. Access for everyone to the goods needed for a human, personal and family life worthy of the name is a primary demand of social justice. It requires application in the sphere of industrial work and in a particular way in the area of agricultural work.(132) Indeed, rural peoples, especially in the third world, make up the vast majority of the poor.(133)

III. Promotion of solidarity 

A new solidarity 

  1. Solidarity is a direct requirement of human and supernatural brotherhood. The serious socio-economic problems which occur today cannot be solved unless new fronts of solidarity are created: solidarity of the poor among themselves, solidarity with the poor to which the rich are called, solidarity among the workers and with the workers. Institutions and social organizations at different levels, as well as the State, must share in a general movement of solidarity. When the Church appeals for such solidarity, she is aware that she herself is concerned in a quite special way.

Goods are meant for all 

  1. The principle that goods are meant for all, together with the principle of human and supernatural brotherhood, express the re sponsibilities of the richer countries toward the poorer ones. These responsibilities include solidarity in aiding the developing countries, social justice through a revision in correct terms of commercial relationships between North and South, the promotion of a more human world for all, a world in which each individual can give and receive, and in which the progress of some will no longer be an obstacle to the development of others, nor a pretext for their enslavement.(134)

Aid for development 

  1. International solidarity is a necessity of the moral order. It is essential not only in cases of extreme urgency but also for aiding true development. This is a shared task, which requires a concerted and constant effort to find concrete technical solutions and also to create a new mentality among our contemporaries. World peace depends on this to a great extent.(135)

[1] “Of this alliance, the matrimonial-familiar community of man and woman is its generative grammar, its ‘golden bond’, so to speak. Faith draws upon knowledge of God’s creation: He entrusted to the family not only the care of intimacy for its own sake, but also the project of making the entire world domestic. It is precisely the family that is at the origin and the base of this worldwide culture that saves us: it saves us from many attacks, many forms of destruction, and many forms of colonisation, for instance by money and ideologies, that so threaten the world. The family is a base from which we defend ourselves.” [Vatican City, 16 September 2015]

 

[2] K. Wojtyla, Person and Community, Land (1993) 265 “The Constitution of culture Through Human Praxis.”

[3] “Without Roots,” Ratzinger and Marcello Pera, Basic Books, 2006, 74

[4] Karol Wojtyla, “The Acting Person,” Reidel (1969) 3.

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