How usurers made the sexual revolution inevitable, and continue to support it

January 6, 2015 § 33 Comments

In the discussion below, commenter Ita Scripta Est cites libertarian Murray Rothbard on the subject of usury:

Implicit intention meant that if someone really believed his contract not to be a loan, then it was not usurious, even though it might be a loan in practice. This of course paved the way for the practical elimination of the ban on usury.

If this doesn’t bring to mind the progressive “primacy of conscience” maneuver, it certainly should.  If you close your eyes tight, really really believe that what you are doing (or what you support doing) is not morally wrong, and click your heels together three times, then it isn’t morally wrong!  You are still a good person!  Your fundamental option is still oriented toward God because you say so, dammit, and nobody is in a position to deny your purely subjective self assessment.

Sexual revolutionaries have made no innovations in their theological approach: they are just mindlessly following their groins along a path already well established by usurers. Present day progressives are carrying out the paint-by-numbers playbook established centuries earlier by usurers — by the so-called ‘free market’ sort who insist that consensual contracts are presumptively licit.

The first Catholics to insist that wickedness can be transformed into good through a magical invocation of the primacy of conscience were not sexual revolutionaries: they were economic “free marketers”.  Neither the usury prohibition nor the contraception prohibition are limits on human flourishing.  Quite the contrary: both place perfectly reasonable limits on intrinsically fraudulent actions, and ignoring them destroys the lives of the poor more than anyone else.

The sexual revolution is an inevitable, banal concomitant of the (so-called) ‘free market’.

§ 33 Responses to How usurers made the sexual revolution inevitable, and continue to support it

  • jf12 says:

    re: “The sexual revolution is an inevitable, banal concomitant of the (so-called) ‘free market’.”

    The analogue of “Can I charge a reasonable interest?” is “Can I do it until I need glasses?”

  • Your fundamental option is still oriented toward God because you say so, dammit, and nobody is in a position to deny your purely subjective self assessment.

    I always find this really interesting when I encounter it in real life. It has a close cousin, the subjective God assessment, in which the speaker explains to your incredulous face how they felt the Lord leading them to do that thing that He said in the Bible not to do. “The Lord was just really leading us to go into foreclosure on our home because the value had dropped on it so much and to buy another, larger home before the foreclosure hit our credit rating!” (That is an actual conversation I had with someone at church once.)

  • Mike T says:

    I always find this really interesting when I encounter it in real life. It has a close cousin, the subjective God assessment, in which the speaker explains to your incredulous face how they felt the Lord leading them to do that thing that He said in the Bible not to do.

    My favorite one is where God is clearly leading someone to divorce their spouse and remarry. Because Jesus wants them to be haaaapppppy. Despite the obvious fact that Jesus actually called what they want to do the sin of adultery.

    Neither the usury prohibition nor the contraception prohibition are limits on human flourishing. Quite the contrary: both place perfectly reasonable limits on intrinsically fraudulent actions, and ignoring them destroys the lives of the poor more than anyone else.

    The only way I can see how the contraception prohibition helps the poor is encouraging self-control in some of them. For most of them, it’s already a lost battle since many poor people are poor because they have very low impulse control and short time preferences. This is how we get to the under class woman with 2-3 kids by different men and then she finds that only the most marginally marriageable men will ever commit to her.

  • Zippy says:

    The sexual revolution is (like usury and its concomitants) of a piece, and has wreaked havoc in all tiers of society. But the lower tiers of society are first and hardest hit. Just look at (e.g.) divorce rates by SES.

  • Mike T says:

    Contraception gets blamed for the sexual revolution, but the sheer number of abortions and non-aborted unplanned pregnancies would suggest that it was more of an enabler than a direct cause of anything. It certainly provided a cushion for taking the blow from promiscuity’s unintended side effects, but I think its role has been overstated by Christians who want to prove a prior unconditional rejection of contraception.

  • Zippy says:

    Contraception (and abortion as a form thereof) are so manifestly central to the sexual revolution that when folks attempt to reject the point my main reaction is embarrassment on their behalf rather than any impetus to attempt to argue that water is wet.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    On the origins of the sexual revolution let me cite yet another Austrian, this time Von Mises:

    It is not the practice of birth control that is new, but merely the fact that it is more frequently resorted to. Especially new is the fact that the practice is no longer limited to the upper strata of the population, but is common to the whole population. For it is one of the most important social effects of capitalism that it deproletarianizes all strata of society. It raises the standard of living of the masses of the manual workers to such a height that they too turn into “bourgeois” and think and act like well-to-do burghers. Eager to preserve their standard of living for themselves and for their children, they embark upon birth control. With the spread and progress of capitalism, birth control becomes a universal practice. The transition to capitalism is thus accompa- nied by two phenomena: a decline both in fertility rates and in mortality rates. The average duration of life is prolonged.” – Human Action

    Yeah capitalism and Christianity are totally compatible.

  • Ita Scripta Est says:

    I should have noted above that Mises’s (correct) narrative is just another way of saying that liberalism including the kind foisted on the world by our “noble: American founders is directly responsible for the destruction of what was once Christendom.

  • Mike T says:

    Industrialization of agriculture has been utterly essential to the epidemic of gluttony in modern civilizations too.

  • Zippy says:

    My favorite sin : some social ill :: something without which the world will starve : some other social ill

    no fault divorce : sexual revolution :: industrial farming : gluttony epidemic

    So anyone who objects to no fault divorce wants the world to starve, or thinks industrial farming is sinful.

  • Poor people are poor because the poor you will always have with you. Fairy stories people tell themselves about time preferences and bad choices mask Biblical reality that you can do everything “right” (pun intended) and still end up poor and this is still the case today even in the absurdly wealthy United States. Because some will always be poor and how to treat them is not by lying to oneself that if “better choices” could be made there’d be no poors on this earth.

  • Marissa says:

    Contraception has been so utterly pivotal to the feminist movement (they were quacking about it before the first wave) that I can’t understand why anyone would support it on those grounds alone. It would demolish the numbers of sluts and cads in an instant were it to be banned.

  • Zippy says:

    No fault divorce is a back up plan for unwanted marriages in much the same way that abortion is a back up plan for unwanted pregnancies.

  • John K. says:

    Zippy, would you link the modern belief in one’s private judgement turning wrong into right with Protestantism’s belief in one’s private judgement of what the Bible teaches determining what one should believe?

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    @ John K:

    They are both kinds of relativism, but the latter is more self-delusional than the former. SS-type Protestants have (usually) genuinely deluded themselves into believing they are submitting to God’s authority, whereas (most) modernists will freely admit to their relativism.

  • Zippy says:

    John K:
    I basically agree with JustSomeGuy — there are lots of modern mind traps in positivism, subjectivism, relativism, etc so we can see patterns of error everywhere. Sola scriptura is a form of positivism, and positivism on one view is actually a sincere (but misguided) attempt to recover some objectivity in a sea of modern subjectivism.

    In practice though it is true that positivism leads right back around to radical subjectivity/postmodernity.

  • simon says:

    Zippy, you write:
    “No fault divorce is a back up plan for unwanted marriages in much the same way that abortion is a back up plan for unwanted pregnancies.”

    No, the abortion is a back-up plan for unwanted pregnancies in the same way as killing the spouse is for unwanted marriages. The correct analogy to no fault divorce seems to be abandoning the child.

    Also, while it is true that efficient and easy contraception enabled sexual revolution, it does not follow from it that it is bad in itself. I cannot see any slippery slope in allowing married couples to use contraception. Those wanting “free love” are most usually not in a marriage.

    There certainly is *some* paralell in argument between those favoring lifting the ban on usury and those favoring reconsideration of contraception, but while

    Of course, I know that you argue that it is intrinsically immoral as it is deviation from the telos of intercourse.

    But, if we insist that sex must be open to life and at the same time it is not sinful to have a vaginal intercourse when it is certain (or almost certain) that it will be infertile simply amounts to redefine meaning of the “open to life” words in this context to mean only “intercourse resulting in vaginal ejaculation and without physical barriers and without purposefully modifying levels of hormones in the organism”. But this has nothing to do with either openness or life.

    Even this above formulation is problematic, as e.g. lactation properly conducted is a natural contraceptive similar in its effectiveness to the hormonal pills (Lactational Amenorrhea Method, LAM). This argument cannot be countered with the arguing from principle of double effect, as it is possible to feed the baby as well as break the rules of LAM and thus make the conception much more probable. Also, this method is not based on refraining from sex.

    Note that you cannot escape into probabilistical considerations (e.g. that it is always theoretically possible to conceive during vaginal uncontracepted sex and it is not so with a condom), as NFP done properly has lower Pearl index than any contraceptive method. To my knowledge, there has been no proven conception from the third phase of menstrual cycle. This would mean that vaginal sex is as open to life as e.g. oral sex or sex with condoms in this period.

    It would be consistent to claim that sex must be open to life and condemn all infertile sex and done without intention to procreate. It would be also consistent to allow non-abortifacent contraception (in fact, this excludes most pills). But I cannot find consistency in claiming that NFP is open to life whereas using condoms is not.

  • simon says:

    (Apologies for double-posting)

    Zippy, you write:
    “No fault divorce is a back up plan for unwanted marriages in much the same way that abortion is a back up plan for unwanted pregnancies.”

    No, the abortion is a back-up plan for unwanted pregnancies in the same way as killing the spouse is for unwanted marriages. The correct analogy to no fault divorce seems to be abandoning the child.

    Also, while it is true that efficient and easy contraception enabled sexual revolution, it does not follow from it that it is bad in itself. I cannot see any slippery slope in allowing married couples to use contraception. Those wanting “free love” are most usually not in a marriage.

    There certainly is *some* paralell in argument between those favoring lifting the ban on usury and those favoring reconsideration of contraception, but while ban on usury is consistent in itself and with the natural law and revelation, I believe that current ban on contraception is not.

    If we insist that sex must be open to life and at the same time it is not sinful to have a vaginal intercourse when it is certain (or almost certain) that it will be infertile simply amounts to redefine meaning of the “open to life” words in this context to mean only “intercourse resulting in vaginal ejaculation and without physical barriers and without purposefully modifying levels of hormones in the organism”. But this has nothing to do with either openness or life.

    Even this above formulation is problematic, as e.g. lactation properly conducted is a natural contraceptive similar in its effectiveness to the hormonal pills (Lactational Amenorrhea Method, LAM). This argument cannot be countered with the arguing from principle of double effect, as it is possible to feed the baby as well as break the rules of LAM and thus make the conception much more probable. Also, this method is not based on refraining from sex.

    Note that you cannot escape into probabilistical considerations (e.g. that it is always theoretically possible to conceive during vaginal uncontracepted sex and it is not so with a condom), as NFP done properly has lower Pearl index than any contraceptive method. To my knowledge, there has been no proven conception from the third phase of menstrual cycle. This would mean that vaginal sex is as open to life as e.g. oral sex or sex with condoms in this period.

    It would be consistent to claim that sex must be open to life and condemn all infertile sex and done without intention to procreate. It would be also consistent to allow non-abortifacent contraception (in fact, this excludes most pills). But I cannot find consistency in claiming that NFP is open to life whereas using condoms is not. This is the primary objection, not some sort of “fundamental options”, “sensus fidelium” and whatever.

  • Zippy says:

    simon:

    No, the abortion is a back-up plan for unwanted pregnancies in the same way as killing the spouse is for unwanted marriages. The correct analogy to no fault divorce seems to be abandoning the child.

    Good point.

    Apparently you missed the NFP discussions here. Further comments on that topic belong in those threads, after reading the posts and all the comments.

  • Dystopia Max says:

    “Neither the usury prohibition nor the contraception prohibition are limits on human flourishing.”

    If we’re considering humans as a whole, no. They are, however, “limits” on the “flourishing” of certain human types, like those who don’t currently receive government subsistence for all aspects of their lives. Those who do have little need for Usury(though they avail themselves of payday lenders all the time) and no desire for Contraception, though it would very arguably do their population some good, and humanity in general far more good for not having to deal with their numerous bastard children.

    “Quite the contrary: both place perfectly reasonable limits on intrinsically fraudulent actions, and ignoring them destroys the lives of the poor more than anyone else.”

    The power of usury is not generally exercised among the poor so much as on the poor by the rich, much as contraception is generally exercised by women towards men whose children they don’t want and conveniently forgotten when they find men who do. The answer is perhaps less a general argument against both than the active encouragement toward military-style brotherhood, in which Adultery, and its daughters Usury and Contraception, are much more likely to be vocally held in low regard than in the general civilian population, lulled as it is by the fashions of the day and the greater distance from death.

    For if you cannot trust the next man to respect marriage, then you will naturally be pulled toward Usury and Contraception to secure against that lack of trust, as tends to happen during an active war of all against all. Force and fraud are certainly acceptable as wartime tactics-and end in their acceptability once the war ceases, hopefully through victory.

    Attacking them as immoral tactics without addressing the war that called them into being, of course, is the type of useless “middle way” that serves almost no good purpose to anyone, and will confuse rather than focus those who may agree with you in the abstract. I think you’re about due for a philosophical discussion on the Natural Rights of Men.

  • Zippy says:

    My views on “the natural rights of man” and other rights-talk are not a secret.

  • Kidd Cudi says:

    Your “natural rights” are an obligation on me. People so rarely acknowledge this when they are yammering on about the “right to X.” I think I’ll just start saying “I have the right to not hear about your rights.”

    Perhaps “shut up” is clearer, though.

  • Zippy says:

    Kidd Cudi:

    Your “natural rights” are an obligation on me.

    Not just on you, but on a multiplicity of others. Every single individual instance of a right produces a multiplicity of constaints. That’s why insisting on more freedom actually brings about more tyranny.

    It is simple math, really.

  • Not just on you, but on a multiplicity of others. Every single individual instance of a right produces a multiplicity of constaints. That’s why insisting on more freedom actually brings about more tyranny.

    Why can’t people understand this? It only takes the barest minimum of analysis to reach this conclusion, yet it eludes all of the left and much of the right. By way of example, if you say to a feminist, “Your ‘right’ to free birth control removes my right not to pay for artificial birth control for another person” they cannot comprehend it. And the right is not much better when you use their pet “rights” and “freedoms”.

  • Zippy says:

    Sunshine:
    The usual move on the political right is to invoke a question-begging conception of ‘negative rights’ as a way of avoiding the conclusion. The usual move on the political left is scream and cry and insult you to get you to go away.

  • Kidd Cudi says:

    The easiest way to win an argument is to make the other person look bad, and feel ashamed. Logic is rarely necessary.

  • […] iteration of tar and feathers.  Expressing anything less than enthusiastic approval of sodomy is now just as bad as failing to be up in arms and outraged over a 2% import duty on […]

  • […] liberal presentation of usury as something manifest, not in objective behaviors, but in bad intentions; but notably absent is Aquinas’ unequivocal condemnation of profit on mutuum loans — […]

  • […] effort to obscure the specific difference between mutuum loans and other contracts beneath a fog of anti-realist obfuscation and ‘pastoral accommodation,’ digging a memory hole into which to discard bedrock […]

  • Dystopia Max says:

    “That’s why insisting on more freedom actually brings about more tyranny.

    It is simple math, really.”

    “The usual move on the political right is to invoke a question-begging conception of ‘negative rights’ as a way of avoiding the conclusion.”

    Now which one of us is trapped within a legalistic framework and which is trapped within an ideology of legalism and a permanent suspicion of any arguments that may break us out of slavery to the ideologies of the world?

    I’ll keep mine simple: The rights of man are MORE IMPORTANT than the ‘rights’ of women for preserving any civilization that can be called civilized. Men are MORE ADAPTED genetically, culturally, and physically to handling their rights, privileges, and responsibilities when granted them formally. It is SATANIC EQUALISM to deny them these rights based on the misbehavior of a few (the denial of which always seems to make that few become the many.)

    Restore the patriarchy. Any intellectual musings that do not move toward that goal are almost always due to some inevitable compromise with feminism and its fellow-travelers. There will be no repentance if you have no vision to repent to.

  • Zippy says:

    Dystopia Max:

    I have no idea how your comment addresses the OP. But I have written about the major flaw in ‘red pill liberal’ calls to restore the patriarchy here:

    https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/why-patriarchy-lite-is-just-a-stepping-stone-to-feminism/

    Restoring respect for the natural law authority of husbands and fathers is a good thing, of course, but it is worse than useless unless it is accompanied by clear, unequivocal rejection of liberalism in general.

    I’ve explained why a ‘one drop’ rule applies to liberalism — why one drop of liberalism in your political philosophy always ruins the whole batch — many times and in many places. But a recent explanation of the problem from one angle is here:

    https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/forging-the-hammer-of-tolerance-in-the-furnace-of-liberty/

  • […] invades the domain of property, the distinction between persons and property disappears.  This erodes the distinction between persons and objects in spheres beyond property and […]

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