The Tradinista Project: A Brief History

A Brief History of Recent Catholic Political Discourse

In the United States, 2016 A.D. was a dramatic year in political history, with a surge of socialist organizing around the Democratic Primary bid of Senator Bernie Sanders and the unexpected election of President Donald Trump. It was also the year when a group of Catholics made headlines by launching the “Tradinista!” project dedicated to an orthodox synthesis of Marxism and Catholic Social Teaching.  In September 2016, Matthew Schmitz (who at the time supported the project, before changing his positions) published a summary of how the group began (“I Think I’m Not A Contra“), therein describing their fierce opposition to any “defender of free love or free markets.” In an article for the Catholic Herald, Jose Mena, a founding member of the group, stated that their purpose was to “defend traditional orthodoxy and espouse the radical politics in service of the common good.” Despite their initial popularity, due to internal conflicts, the Tradinista project soon fell apart. An archive of their work can be found below.

This project was made possible by what Kevin Gallagher has called “The Eclipse of Catholic Fusionism“. Though there is a long history to “Americanist” Catholicism, he writes that the term “fusionism” refers specifically “to the conservative political movement attempting to combine social conservatism and free-market capitalism… In the eyes of Catholic fusionists, their views were simply the correct application of Catholic principles to contemporary problems: the Church was to stand on the side of political and economic liberty against communism, and on the side of social and moral order against the sexual revolution.” This conservative-liberal version of Catholicism was especially promoted by Michael Novak’s book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982), as well as later organizations such as Acton Institute, the magazine First Things, and the Witherspoon Institute. 

During the dark age of fusionism, only a small number of counter-cultural Catholics kept the flame of truth alive. The writings of such distributist, traditionalist, or otherwise radical thinkers could be found in the Catholic Worker, Caelum et Terra, and the American Chesterton Society. After the Great Recession of 2008 and Pope Benedict XVI’s Social Encyclical Caritas In Veritate one year later, Catholics took a renewed interest in the Church’s economic teaching. The fusionist consensus broke down even further after conservatism proved utterly powerless to prevent the legalization of gay marriage in the Supreme Court cases Windsor (2013) and Obergefell (2015).

This brings us to the present day, when many devout Catholics and other people of goodwill are recognizing the lies of liberalism and the injustices of capitalism. Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ (2015), Andrew Willard Jones’ Before Church and State (2017), Patrick Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed (2018), and Eugene McCarraher’s The Enchantments of Mammon (2019) have become the foundational texts for a new generation of Catholic thinkers. Throughout this time, The Josias, founded in October 2014 “to articulate a truly Catholic political stance”, has served as an excellent manual of translations and academic treatises on “integralism” and other traditional Catholic Social Teaching. (Pater Edmund Waldstein, a Josias editor, has written insightful comments on the Tradinista project here and here.)

Our own work at Tradistae was founded to promote the praxis demanded by these teachings, especially the Works of Mercy. On Pentecost 2019, inspired by the Catholic Worker, we launched a series of Easy Essays to provide short and non-academic writings “to provide straightforward answers to simple questions” about distributism, integralism, and Catholic Social Teaching. You can learn more about us here.


The Tradinista! Archive

At Tradistae, we absolutely reject the ideology of Marxism, which responded to the evil of capitalism with its own evils. Many Encyclicals have discussed the errors of Marxism at length and Our Lady of Fatima specifically predicted and condemned the “errors of Russia” (referring to Bolshevik Communism). Likewise, we reject the label of “socialism” and place ourselves in the distributist tradition, as did Dorothy Day and G.K. Chesterton.

Nonetheless, we recognize the importance of liberation theology, which has guided and inspired many recent Saints, Blesseds, and Servants of God. Therefore, we value the writings of the Tradinista project for their exposition of MacInytre’s Thomism, their commitment to orthodox principles, and their contribution to the on-going project of overcoming liberalism, capitalism, and modernity so that, through the grace of God, we may build a world dedicated to the Social Kingship of Christ. 

Manifesto

The Tradinista! Manifesto
The Magisterial Sources of the Tradinista! Manifesto: Part I
The Magisterial Sources of the Tradinista! Manifesto: Part II

‘A Catholic Socialism’ Series

A Catholic Socialism? Part I
A Catholic Socialism? Part II
A Catholic Socialism? Part III

Other Articles

St. Marx and the Dragon
The President-Elect
Aristotle, Thomas, Marx: A Dialogue
A Radical Politics of Solidarity in the Age of Abortion
What Thomism Has to Do With Marx

COVID-19 Pandemic: Catholic Resources

The following resources have been compiled to help Catholics and all people of goodwill to endure in prayer, repentance, and the works of mercy throughout the coronavirus pandemic. This page will be updated with other resources and links. If you would like to submit an idea, please contact us on Twitter, Facebook, or our contact page.

Mutual Aid Door Drop

During the coronavirus pandemic, it is necessary to practice social distancing. However, this will only increase the intense isolation and loneliness of modern life. Many social and religious gatherings have already been canceled indefinitely. In the spirit of mutual aid and the works of mercy, this survey is created to connect those who can help and those who need help in your communities: Mutual Aid Door Drop Survey

We encourage friends of Tradistae to:

  1. Make a copy of the digital survey linked above.
  2. Edit the form to fit your community.
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  4. Print or write a shortlink or QR code on small pieces of paper.
  5. Slip these notes under your neighbors’ doors or into their mail slots.
  6. Coordinate mutual aid between your neighbors using email, texting, or other digital communication.

Catholic Streaming Resources

The following Google Sheet contains a collection of links and scheduled times for the Holy Mass (in both forms), Liturgy of the Hours, Stations of the Cross, and the Rosary: Catholic Streaming Spreadsheet.

We encourage friends of Tradistae to:

  • Create a holy space in your dwelling to reverently stream the Mass using cloth, candles, statues, holy cards, and/or a crucifix.
  • Watch and pray the Holy Mass daily for the duration of the plague.
  • Pray and receive spiritual communion for healthcare workers, the elderly, and the poor.

Blessings and Prayers in Times of Plague

The Pope’s Prayer to Mary during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Prayers in Time of Epidemic (Latin/English PDF) (extract from the Roman Ritual, Titulus IX, Caput X)
Reflection and Prayer of ++José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles (USCCB President)
“A Word of Hope”: Message from the CELAM Bishops in face of the spread of COVID-19

The Protective Cross of St. Zacharias

The Cross of Saint Zacharias of Jerusalem, approved by the Council of Trent, can be worn, affixed to your door, or drawn with blessed chalk for protection. The letters of the cross are an acrostic for a prayer against the plague, which is translated here and provided in several printer-friendly PDFs formats.

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Free Printable Pamphlets Available Now

What’s the reason behind the 47-year failure of the pro-life movement to end the legalized massacre of the unborn? Based on the teaching of St. John Paul II, we believe that it’s because of an attempt to serve both God and Mammon. By allying with the free-market capitalism of the mainstream GOP, pro-lifers have been supporting the same forces that turn a profit through destroying the family, exploiting the Third World, and commodifying sexuality.

This is a part of capitalism that secular leftists don’t talk about. Unfortunately, you probably won’t hear about it from the pulpit at your local parish either. That’s why we need your help to spread the word. We encourage friends of Tradistae to help share links to Easy Essays and distribute pamphlets to friends, family, local political organizations, and throughout your parish. Starting a conversation about the social encyclicals with your local priest is an important first step. As Peter Maurin reminded us nearly a century ago: “Rome will have to do more than to play a waiting game; she will have to use some of the dynamite inherent in her message.” This is even truer today.

If the Popes are right about the relationship between liberal capitalism and abortion, then there’s only one way to destroy the “culture of death” and build a “civilization of love.” We need to reject capitalism and choose life.

Each pamphlet contains citations for all facts and statistics along with important quotations from St. John Paul II (primarily from Evangelium Vitae). By printing two-sided on a sheet of paper (flip on the short edge), they can be easily folded into a tri-fold pamphlet.

  1. From Margaret Sanger to Bill and Melinda Gates, Abortion is Racist Eugenics: Easy Essay / Pamphlet PDF
  2. For Capitalists, Pregnancy is a Disease, Abortion is the Cure: Easy Essay / Pamphlet PDF
  3. Sex Sells: Abortion, Capitalism, and the Sexual Revolution: Easy Essay / Pamphlet PDF
  4. The Billionaires are Pro-Choice. You Shouldn’t Be: Easy EssayPamphlet PDF

If you’d like to support our work, you can volunteer your time to format pamphlets by contacting us or donate to Tradistae on Patreon.

Thank you. And Godspeed.