Editor’s note: This essay appeared in Capitalism and the Common Good According Michael Novak: A Law and Liberty Symposium on First Things
In his recent essay on the legacy of Michael Novak, First Things editor Rusty Reno has explained to longtime subscribers to Richard John Neuhaus’ old magazine where Reno is going with it and why.
Though conservatives are often portrayed as strong supporters of the free market, not all of them are. Now and in the past, many individuals have happily embraced the conservative label while expressing strong reservations about, if not outright rejection of, market economies.
Even so I’ve noticed, as someone who identifies very much as a conservative, that skepticism of markets among conservatives has swelled in recent years. The financial crisis of late 2007 to 2009 and the subsequent recession have hardened an attitude—including among conservatives—that free markets are essentially unfair, facilitate unhealthy cultural trends, and leave many people on life’s economic margins.
I met the late Michael Novak as the lone Protestant attending the first Tertio Millennio Seminar. The first year it was a month-long seminar held in Liechtenstein. The basic form continues today, with around ten U.S. students joining around twenty European students. The European students that first year were mainly eastern Europeans; it was just a few years after the wall fell. Joining Novak in organizing the first seminar were George Weigel, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Rocco Buttiglione, and Fr. Maciej Zieba, OP.
The centerpiece of the seminar was focused study of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, Centesimus Annus and, more broadly, Catholic social doctrine and teaching. Several American works were included at the time as well, including a couple of essays from The Federalist and a few selections from Novak’s book, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.
Brian Domitrovic reviews The Battle of Bretton Woods in our Books section this week, and alerts us to a side of Keynes you may not have seen before. Domitrovic notes as well that the strength of the IMF only grows with each international financial crisis. The IMF never lets a crisis go to waste. Mark Tushnet at Balkinization tells us with regard to the Obamacare employer mandate delay that there is no dispensing power violation contra Michael McConnell's claim. Tushnet says it's just really complicated, the IRS issued an order for "transition relief" that most folks don't know about. Comforting. Bradley Smith:…
This edition of Liberty Law Talk is a conversation with Samuel Gregg, Research Director of the Acton Institution, on his latest book, Wilhelm Röpke's Political Economy. Röpke's name is not frequently mentioned in the parade of great free market economists of the twentieth century. This is unfortunate, for those who know Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises may not be aware of this German economist who was as fluent in history, philosophy, and classical languages as he was in economics. One of the leading postwar German thinkers whose ideas guided Germany's free market economic revival, Röpke approached business cycle theory, international…