Samuel Gregg: ‘First Things,’ R.R. Reno, and the market economy
Religion & Liberty Online

Samuel Gregg: ‘First Things,’ R.R. Reno, and the market economy

The role of free market economics in the West should not be off-limits for debate among religious conservatives. As Samuel Gregg writes in a new essay, that standard should “provide philosophical and theological guidance about how to ground free economies—and liberal institutions more generally—upon more solid foundations than the peculiar mixes of utilitarianism, autonomy-for-autonomy’s sake, and pseudo-evolutionary theory advocated by some liberal thinkers.”

In a new article, First Things editor R. R. Reno makes claims about the market economy and the writings of Michael Novak with which Gregg takes issue. Gregg’s first refutation “concerns [Reno’s] claims about global capitalism’s alleged triumph. The second involves his critique of the late Michael Novak’s work, specifically Novak’s masterpiece The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982).”

Gregg explains how global capitalism and the free market have not, in Reno’s words, “won” and “become our fate.” Government regulations placed on the market have steadily increased since 2006 and “what we’re presently witnessing isn’t global capitalism’s triumph. Rather, it’s the latest round of a contest that’s been going on for 250 years.” Gregg also defends the writing of Michael Novak, stating that although Reno suggests otherwise, Novak’s defense of the free market economy was “full of reflections about the importance of authority, the common good’s non-procedural demands, and the necessity of living virtuously.”

Gregg concludes in hopes that First Things will pursue a higher “intellectual agenda” in the future.

Read Gregg’s First Things and the Market Economy: A Response to R. R. Reno” at Public Discourse.

Caroline Roberts

Caroline Roberts is a managing editor at the Acton Institute and produces Acton's weekly podcast, Acton Line.