An Integralist Manifesto

Note: For a brief definition of integralism, see “Integralism in Three Sentences” by Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist.

But where, amid all this, is justice? son of Ariston, tell me where. Now that our city has been made habitable, light a candle and search, and get your brother and Polemarchus and the rest of our friends to help, and let us see where in it we can discover justice.

—Plato’s Republic

There is a strange spirit which haunts the West. In America, in Europe, and elsewhere, there is a memory of a religious age, when society was united on spiritual principles and when every pillar of civilization was devoted to the same purpose. In our present age of disillusionment, such integralism seems impossible.

Many fear that such unity inevitably leads to tyranny, but this ignores both the present injustices of our times and the many cases in which unity has led to justice. Integralism is not impossible idealism, nor a utopic vision. It is not a perfect society, but a society that strives for perfection.

We believe in uniting around the common good, so that every human being can receive aid on their journey through the inevitable sufferings of life and easily advance towards fulfillment.

We are followers of Jesus Christ and His Church. We are committed to proclaiming the Gospel of Christ as handed down by the tradition of the Church, to a politics of virtue and the common good, and to pursuing the True, the Good, and the Beautiful in our governments, economies, and cultures. Here follows our manifesto:

1. Jesus Christ is the King of Kings.

We believe in the authority and teachings of Christ, entrusted to His Bride, the Catholic Church. Nonetheless, we invite all in sympathy with our beliefs and goals to join us, as our project concerns the common good of all humanity.

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. God, willing the salvation of all people, became a human person. Thus, all people, no matter their creeds or quirks, have an intrinsic dignity; society is obligated to reckon with the incalculable worth of human persons. A special concern is to be had for the poor, and all others in vulnerable conditions.

The Church is the Bride of Christ, and her teaching expresses all the Truth which Christ has revealed about the universal dignity of humanity and about all else that is good and holy for the sake of human flourishing, which is the ultimate purpose of government, economy, and culture.

2. Integralism is the doctrine of the Church.

The saints have always taught that the purpose of law is to guide citizens to virtue. Catholic integralism rejects the invention of the secular and confirms the teaching of the saints. Thus, governments must obey the moral law.

There are several modern political philosophies that corrupt the true purpose of government, but the primary stumbling block to this vision of the common good is the ideology of liberalism in its many forms. Liberalism proposes that governments are constructed by individuals for the purpose of safety and the protection of their rights from one another, which severs politics from its proper goal of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. Liberalism is not a polite or charitable tolerance of diversity. It is civic nihilism, civilly enforced, poisoning all it touches.

In religion, it undermines Truth, reducing faith to personal opinion within a private sphere of social life. In politics, it denies the human purpose towards the Good, reducing political freedom to selfishness. In economics, it detaches wealth from virtue and the common good, encouraging greed and exploitation. In culture, it idolizes the self, isolating people from their communities, disorienting all human action.

Instead of a constant war between religion, government, economy, and culture, these ought to be integrated and unified in Christ. This is the purpose of integralism.

3. Governments should be integralist.

All people should be virtuous, and this includes political leaders. Indeed, rulers are to be servants, models of virtue for those whom they govern. Leaders ought to govern so to guide the people to virtue, for this is the purpose of law.

The Church upholds the principle of subsidiarity. Ordinarily, political authority ought to be decentralized. Thus, totalitarianism is condemned; local communities ought to have as much self-determination as possible, in keeping with virtue.

The Church upholds that false ideas do real harm to both individuals and societies. Yet, in America, all that can be imagined is absolute freedom of expression or a slippery-slope to the thought police. But in fact, virtue lies in the balance between these extremes. For instance, a virtuous society cannot tolerate the blatant dehumanization that occurs in Nazism and other such harmful heresies. Another example is pornography, which preys on addiction and sexuality to profit by dehumanization, especially of women. Thus, the freedom of speech must be restrained in accord with the common good.

The Church upholds the sanctity of human life. Thus, the government must strive to eliminate abortion and alleviate the conditions which cause it. Similarly, the vulnerable, whether they are  poor, elderly, infirm, or otherwise marginalized must be protected from conception to natural death for the sake of justice.

The Church upholds the principles of just war. War must serve as a last resort, not an opportunity to enrich and conquer. Even enemies in battle must be respected, and so-called “collateral damage,” the death of non-combatants, cannot be tolerated. Thus, the primacy of peace must be upheld and military action must be constrained by the Christian tradition.

The Church upholds the duty of humanity to care for creation. Yet, modern society considers nature as raw material to be dominated for comfort and convenience, rather than a gift to be cherished and a garden to be cultivated. This warped view of nature must be rejected, so that the environment will be justly governed. Governments do not only have a negative obligation not to abuse nature but a positive one to protect it. Thus, governments must be good stewards of the earth.

4. Economies should be integralist.

Economies are not a self-contained sector of human life. Nor are they immune to corruption through sin and error. When economics are treated as an impartial science divorced from the common good, the consequences are grave. Thus, economies must be directed by and towards virtue.

The Church upholds the preferential option for the poor. Thus, the needs of those in poverty must be of special concern to the common good. To give to the poor is not merely an act of charity, but one of justice. Since the days of the Emperor Justinian, Christian monarchs have employed these principles within their government. It is our Christian duty to do the same in our republics and democracies.

The Church upholds that communism is a disordered ideology, because it denies the right to private property and subsidiary ownership. Private property is a good to be used for the sake of Christ, a gift given by God so that all may develop holiness and virtue. Marxism is correct to refute the evils of capitalism, but it preaches a false history and a utopian future. In doing so, it denies an accurate vision of human nature, history, and purpose. Communism blindly seeks to correct injustice through atheistic materialism, producing a violent revolution divorced from virtue. Thus, we must reject this reactionary critique of capitalism.

The Church upholds that capitalism is a disordered ideology. While markets have always existed and often contributed to the common good, capitalism corrupts this relationship. It is built on the premise that the self is paramount and that private vice leads to public goods. Contradicting the teaching of the saints, it proclaims that wealth wrought through sin can be honest and just. Capitalism severs economic production from virtue, such that the purpose of markets becomes the unlimited increase of capital. For producers, it teaches unbridled greed; for the consumers, it preys upon addiction and desire. Owners are taught to exploit their workers to maximize profit. While property rights unequivocally exist, such rights are not absolute, for all wealth must be subordinated to the law of God. Thus, we must reject capitalism and seek a moral economic vision.

The Church upholds the social teaching maintained by Popes Benedict XIV, Leo XIII, and Benedict XVI. This tradition led Gilbert Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and Dorothy Day to promote distributism, an account of economics that reckons with the realities of modern markets and the demands of justice. Monopolies, trusts, and other corporate entities may not be permitted to exist insofar as they do not serve the common good. Thus, we support subsidiary ownership, a just wage for workers, and a moral economy.

5. Cultures should be integralist.

Paramount to a virtuous government and economy is a virtuous people. Thus, we must work tirelessly to create a culture that is oriented toward Christ. Chief among this work is fostering communities that truly love their neighbors, especially enemies, strangers, and the marginalized. The dignity of all humanity must be preserved and championed by all persons of good will, so that cultures can be transformed and virtue can thrive.

The Church upholds that Christians must be witnesses to the world. Thus, we must strive for a culture animated by the imitation of Christ. We realize our highest purpose and the common good can only be achieved in and through community, which begins with our daily lives.

The Church upholds that the family is the first building block of society. Few things are more hostile to the poor among us than the disordered conception of marriage and family life, in which marriage becomes a mere contract or a means to self-gratification. The plague of divorce has shattered countless families and cast fathers, mothers, and children into conflict, disillusionment, isolation, and poverty. Thus, we must safeguard and support families through the proper understanding of marriage. Education, legislation, and local communities, especially parishes, should all serve to pass down a culture of virtue to future generations.

The Church upholds the dignity of work and of workers. Labor is often valued only for the profit it produces, which leads to workplace nihilism and an antipathy towards labor. As Christians, we recall that God Himself has toiled by the sweat of His brow, and we must unite in this noble work, remembering the special dignity of labor. So that this dignity might be reclaimed, laborers must foster solidarity with their coworkers. Work must be integrated with, not separated from, other aspects of life. Thus, all employers and employees must model virtue on the job, especially public figures such as politicians, police, and teachers.

The Church upholds the dignity of the poor and the stranger. Yet in the modern West, both poor persons and poor nations are regarded as burdens, scapegoats, or objects of pity. Our attitudes in this regard, and the actions that result from them, must recognize that Christ, a vagrant, is encountered in the poor. Thus, a virtuous beggar does more good for society in an hour of begging than a vice-ridden executive does in his entire life. We seek a universal and loving respect for those in poverty, without which a virtuous culture is impossible.

The Church upholds the dignity of those who are imprisoned, whether by addiction or punishment; even the most heinous misdeeds do not deprive a criminal or addict of that dignity. Yet in our culture, sexual violence against prisoners is so pervasive that it has been reduced to a punchline. It is all too easy and all too common to dehumanize such persons, consigning them to unjust punishment and often perpetuating the cycle of addiction and crime. Thus, we must learn to love even the most despised among us.

The Church upholds the necessity of Truth. In the modern West, the very existence of Truth is often denied. As a consequence, communication has become a mere tool to be distorted for the purpose of influence and the perpetuation of false ideologies, from fascism, racialism, and libertarianism to terrorism, liberalism, and progressivism. So too, science is no longer pursued for the sake of Truth, which has led to grave abuses, resulting in eugenics, racial biology, contraception, pollution, chemical weapons, and the cruel bomb. Knowledge in general is no longer seen as an end in itself but as a mere utility, which prevents virtuous education. Desire for money, power, and glory has usurped the proper purpose of knowledge in all these cases. Thus, we must reaffirm the reality of Truth, which deserves our wonder and our love.

The Church upholds the necessity of Beauty. In architecture, buildings are made to be efficient at the expense of aesthetics. In film and music, base desires for violence and sex are exploited for capital gain. The human body itself is reduced to an object of pleasure to be used and consumed. Beauty has been derogated to mere expression of the self, divorced from the True and the Good. It becomes impossible to judge artwork of any genre because its essential relationship with Beauty and culture is ignored. Thus, we must defeat the ugliness of the modern world with true art, that which seeks to share with others what is True, Beautiful, and Good.

The Church upholds the necessity of Goodness. The endless evils discussed herein are all saturated in a pernicious individualism, the selfish orientation of modern society. Cultures of hedonism teach that sex, alcohol, and life itself are the means for self-gratification. As a result, sexual assault, rape culture, binge drinking, and other vicious behaviors have become normalized and pervasive. In an even more insidious way, the self has become the measure of all things, down to the smallest interaction. Others serve only as an obstacle to the immediate satisfaction of the self and its convenience, from the indignation of road rage and the impatience of checkout lines to the avarice of corporations and the tragedy of abortion. Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, anger, envy, and pride characterize our every action. The great evils of modern governments and economies could not survive if they were not undergirded by these vices and the idolatry of the self. A vicious cycle exists between the governments that permit these evils, the economies which encourage them, and the cultures which pass them down. The escape from this cycle requires the inculcation of virtue and a self-sacrificial orientation toward others. In all things, we must love our neighbors and stand with the vulnerable among us. Thus, our politics are animated entirely by a concern for the poor, the victim, the sick, the stranger, the ignorant, the doubtful, the enemy, the sinner.

6. Theologoumena should not divide us.

Brothers and sisters with a common purpose can genuinely disagree on certain topics of import, within reason. Truth is clear on many absolute principles, but there may be legitimate disagreement on the solutions to the conflicts that arise from new technologies and political circumstances. For that which doctrine does not make clear, the Church has always fostered intellectual diversity with the concept of theologoumena: uncertain beliefs which support the Truth and produce divergent traditions which can coexist without disturbing unity.

This describes the relationship between the East and the West, wherein the Eastern Catholic Churches have different theologoumena than the Roman Church. Likewise, our brothers and sisters can fight for justice together, despite a variety of opinion.

It is essential that these ideas do not splinter those who are united in the Truth, strive after virtue, and fight for the common good. For this reason, we will host discussions for the clarification of thought in which these theologoumena will be presented and discussed.

7. Faith without love is dead.

Love, rather than a mere feeling, is self-sacrifice for the good of others. This Christian love manifests in praxis: orthodoxy in action. Those at the Josias have done thorough research and study with respect to integralist theory and in these things, we defer to them. Thus, the aim of Tradistae is primarily one of praxis. We, as brothers and sisters in Christ, must engage the Church in orthodoxy—both in traditional doctrine and political action—in order to create a polity submitted to Christ the King by inspiring all members of the Church to join us in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

We call all persons of good will to join us in working for the common good of all humanity—for the sake of the poor and the rich, the powerless and the tyrant, the hopeless and the visionary, the ally and the enemy—governments, economies, and cultures pervaded by the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.

We ask you to join us.