Monday, January 5, 2009

The Unidentifiable Third Way

Jeff Martin has thrust himself into the Gaza/Israel conflict.

He laments a lot about the conversation surrounding the conversation about the conflict, and I think it's because he's falling into a trap I see many Catholic intellectuals fall into. They assume there is a 'third' way, and then get upset when people suggest that they are wrong. There is a strong psychological tone to this sort of discussion, precisely because this amorphous other way exists only in the mind.

The 'third' in third way refers to the idea that communism has been tried and failed, and supposedly capitalism has been tried and somehow didn't work, so we must have this third or middle way for the betterment of mankind. When applied to war, apparently this means the more powerful adversary, the one who actually has bothered to build a country rather than spend all its money to try to kill its neighbor, must sit around getting bombed indefinitely, and give up land too, so their enemies missiles have less distance to travel.

On economics, of course, what this inevitably means is that well meaning Catholics keep trotting out bad socialist ideas. Capitalism is the alternative way, in the sense that it has not been tried in recent memory. This is precisely the problem of the myth of the third way- what such people propose is actually what we have. We have this mixture, this house built on sand. Trying to save the house merely wastes time and money. This is true of the economy and the faux nation people have been trying to create out of the palestinians.

I've seen similar error about just wages too. Perhaps the tendency is to over estimate what is just in favor of the perceived underdog.

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