Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Maritain/Alinsky Alliance


There are some things which are "shockers," and this article is one of them.

...Alinsky’s radicalism was favored by one of the great heroes of modern Catholic thought: Jacques Maritain. 

It is particularly troubling to consider the spiritual sympathy between Alinsky, a Jewish agnostic/atheist, who was a vulgar ruffian and an agitator of the lowest sort, with Maritain, whom many have assumed to have been a personal bastion of orthodoxy and a lock-step Thomist

Curious?  Read the rest of the brief essay (with a combox response from Alinsky's son!).

The post-writer does pose the right question.

In a point of particular sympathy, Maritain saw in Alinsky’s community organizations the advent of “mediating structures” between the individual and the State that could buffer the individual from domination by the State.

But herein lies the troubling question of Maritain’s Catholic alliance with Alinsky, which would serve as a model for the post-conciliar Church in the U.S. and which should call the whole socio-political strategy of the post-conciliar Church in America into question. How could Maritain not have seen that Alinsky’s community organizations, his “buffers,” were in fact ordered to becoming functionaries of the State, its repressive arms of authority?

In other words, when someone like Obama becomes the President, those "community organizations" de facto lose their independence from the State.  But that objection pales in comparison to this one:

Maritain could not see that Alinsky’s “community organizations” were always meant to be substitute churches which were ordered by their very essence to the derogation of the proper authority of the most important of the natural and supernatural mediating societies, namely, the natural family and the Catholic Church. Maritain could only see in Alinsky’s work the coming-into-being of new guilds, along the lines of the medieval guilds, that could put a check on the greed and radical individualism that underlies so much of the practice of free market capitalism. He thought that these organizations could embody the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, so that the grave social injustices of capitalism could be held in control without tyranical federal intervention. But he failed to realize that these organizations were in fact meant by Alinsky to be stepping-stones to the advent of, and eventual workers for, a centralized power structure...

The problem, of course, is that most US Bishops (and for that matter, most of them worldwide) were taught that Maritain was a 'good guy;' thus the Bishops' uncritical acceptance of Alinskyite organizations and methods.

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