Chafuen on ‘The vocation of the think tank’
Religion & Liberty Online

Chafuen on ‘The vocation of the think tank’

Alejandro Chafuen – the Acton Institute’s Managing Director, International – received the prestigious 2018 “Premio Juan de Mariana” award from the Intituto Juan de Mariana earlier this year. Today at Acton’s Religion & Liberty Transatlantic website, we have posted the full text of his acceptance speech. Chafuen holds special affection for Juan de Mariana, the Jesuit priest and thinker associated with the School of Salamanca.

In his remarks, Chafuen summarized the theologian’s economic and political thought, saying:

He states that God created man naked and weak so that “he would need alien succor and the cooperation and assistance of others” (The King and the Education of the King). Mariana wrote that, from this trade and collaboration among men, “goods as precious and estimable as humanity and laws were born: with these the common life is made more pleasant” (Ibid). But, at the same time, there is nothing that cannot be corrupted. Mariana wrote, “The passage of time and the malice of men introduced such a pile of laws, that already in this day we suffer as much with their multitude as we do from vices.”

Chafuen, whose career has acted as midwife to an innumerable array of think tanks (including the Acton Institute), sketches out what Juan de Mariana might say to modern-day scholars and academics. As always, his words are insightful, inspiring, and incisive – upholding our common commitment to the free market while challenging blind orthodoxy on all fronts. Best of all, Chafuen’s speech is informed by and infused with the faith that made both Mariana and Chafuen the perceptive men of thought, and action, that they are.

You can read his full speech here.

(Photo credit: Alejandro Chafuen.)

Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson (@therightswriter) is an Eastern Orthodox priest and served as Executive Editor of the Acton Institute (2016-2021), editing Religion & Liberty, the Powerblog, and its transatlantic website. He has extensively researched the Alt-Right. Previously, he worked for LifeSiteNews and, where he wrote three books including Party of Defeat (with David Horowitz, 2008). His work has appeared at, National Review, The American Spectator, The Guardian, Daily Caller, National Catholic Register, Spectator USA, FEE Online, RealClear Policy, The Blaze, The Stream, American Greatness, Aleteia, Providence Magazine, Charisma, Jewish World Review, Human Events, Intellectual Takeout,, Issues & Insights, The Conservative,, and The American Orthodox Institute. His personal websites are and His views are his own.