S GUIDE TO COVENANTAL THEOLOGY
In the first place, the very idea that wealth can be produced is a new
Catholic -- as well as biblical -- moral thought regarding wealth
was historically -- and realistically -- framed in terms of the
distribution of and access to an amount of wealth that was, within one
human lifespan, or even several, essentially fixed. For most of human
history, wealth was a zero-sum game. If the cost of light dropped only
ten-fold in 3600 years, that probably means that human beings have
essentially always lived in a world that as a whole was not getting any
richer over any realistic time frame. If you -- or your people -- were
getting richer, it was realistic to assume that someone else -- or
someone else's people -- were getting poorer.
Moreover, it is very likely that the idea of becoming 30,000 times
richer simply doesn't register with any human being. We're probably
set up to react -- and vigorously -- to a fairly small range of economic
wealth or scarcity, since that range was our lot, from time immemorial.
Thus, both our common sense 'natural' economic rules of thumb,
and Catholic moral theory, are simply not set up to handle a situation
in which new wealth is being produced because new knowledge is
being produced. Both our common sense, and Catholic moral theory,
has simply ceded that whole territory to the New Class, to figure out as
best it can.
Catholic thought, at least as a first approximation, appears to be
pretty much irrelevant to the positive activities of the New Class. To a
fair degree the New Class has had to learn, on its own, the positive
value of everything it has ever done. It has had to learn for itself the
positive 'moral' rules proper to its task. The New Class has had to learn
for itself the goodness of transparency within businesses, business
sectors, and whole economies; the value of competition and thus of
some amount of social dislocation; the importance of profit; the
necessity of free and unfettered inquiry, and so on.
Furthermore, the increase in scientific knowledge that is the
ultimate engine of a profound two-hundred-year economic advance is
evidently not the result of mere deductions either from 'common sense'
or from Catholic theology.
To the New Class, the Church must look like a back-seat driver:
always ready to criticize, but unable to do any of the actual work. The
New Class -- not the Church, nor its teachings, nor its theologians -- is
responsible for golden eggs: vast increases in material well-being, not
merely for some fat cat, or even for some fat cat nation, but for the
average worker all over the world.
Since the Church appears (to the New Class) to be irrelevant to any
of the positive activities of the New Class, the Church may look like it
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.