Spelunking in the Folios

When I’m not busy being a seminary student, or writing and signing songs, I work in the seminary library — the Jesuit-Krauss-McCormick Library, though in this age of acronyms as names, JKM Library. I don’t do anything terribly glamorous. I’m simply the assistant to the special projects and rare books cataloger. Mostly, this involves lots of grunt work, searching for books, putting them in boxes, and so forth.

It is an understatement to say the library has some significant issues, mostly surrounding how it was put together. The Krauss part of the library, which is the Lutheran part, was assembled over several decades as a number of smaller Lutheran seminaries — like Suomi Seminary and Rock Island Seminary — were glued together. I believe, but I may be wrong, that more than half-a-dozen separate Lutheran seminaries came together to make the Lutheran part of JKM. The Jesuit part explains itself, though Hyde Park’s Jesuit seminary went out of business many years ago. The McCormick seminary is itself a couple of collections glued together. A lot of books brought together over time.

It is one thing to bring libraries together; it is another thing entirely to actually rationalize the collections. And that part was never done. Depending on the cataloging strategies used at each of the predecessor libraries, one book might be at half-a-dozen different call numbers. Which makes dealing with duplicates … interesting. A goodly portion of our collection — most everything before 1980 — was not in our computerized catalog. Which was an accreditation issue several years ago. There was, at some point, a recon of all the material from B (philosophy and religion) through BS (the Bible) and BV (ministry and worship). In a recon, the shelf list card catalogue is scanned and bibliographic records, along with bar codes, are generated from the cards. This is how you can look a book up on Worldcat and find it. But JKM Library did a recon of the rest of the library, BX (church specific) through Z (reference). After the first surge of barcoding, I’ve been going through and cleaning everything up — finding books missed in the first barcoding.

And I just went through the folios, books too big even for the OVERSIZE section. This was a messy section, given how old the books were (letter covers of century old books and older turn to power, and the paper used from the 1850s onward also crumbles and becomes powder). But what was stunning was just how many of the folios, which had been in this library’s possession for many decades, had never been cataloged. Here’s my e-mail report on what I’ve found this week:

All of the folios with barcodes are stacked in the shelves nearest the east wall. There are three exceptions:
  1. The Codex Vaticanus BS64 V2 1868, which had no barcodes, but you catalogued and labeled vol. 3. so I brought the other four volumes in, and they are on the cart with the four oversize volumes waiting to have the labels applied (Bill told me to let Miranda do it).
  2. The British Ordinance Survey of the Sinai Peninsula 1868-69, five volumes. I brought this in because vols 1-3 are labeled such, but the remaining two are labeled maps and plates. On the same cart.
  3. Corpus Inscriptionum Graecum PA3381.B669. The barcode says vol 4, the book says vol 3. SL in book.
A number of folios had no barcode or LOC number (most come from McCormick collection, Virginia Theological Library, and some have an accession #, though some have no acquisition information in the book). I give title, author, publisher and date of publication as best as I could determine:
  1. The Palaeographical Society – Facsimiles of Manuscripts and Inscriptions (Oriental Series) / Edited by William Wright / William Clowes & Sons, Charring Cross Rd. 1875-1883
  2. Three very large folios of maps by the Palestine Exploration Fund, one undated on the cover (at this point, I was tired of breathing dust and trying to untie ancient double knots), one dated 1880 and one dated 1884. In addition, there is a separate book entitled Map of Western Palestine / 1880 / Palestine Exploration Fund.
  3. Voyage de La Syrie / author appears to be Leon de Laborde / Institut de France, edited by Firmin Didot et Freres, 1837. Same author and publisher produced Voyage de L’asie Mineure, 1838.
  4. Egypt, 1890 II by William Blair. Collection of photographs pasted in book with handwritten captions. I could not find publication information.
  5. Description de L’Egypte ou Recueil des observations … 1809, De L’imprimerie Imperiale. We have two volumes, tome premier from 1809 and a second volume of natural history etchings. I could find no date for second volume.
  6. A Complete Genealogical, Historical, Chronological & Geographical Atlas / M. Lavoisme, published by M. Carey & Sons, Philadelphia, 22 May 1821. Third American Edition.
  7. Carte Generale, this appears to be the record of some Frenchman’s trip from Paris to Toboslk in Siberia in maps (though it includes a map of Kamchatka). Barry looked this up on Worldcat and it appears to have been published in 1761 or thereabouts. There are only 13 other cataloged copies of this worlwide.
  8. Illustrated History of Chicago / Chicago Herald / 1887
  9. Chicago Great Central Market / Marshall Fields & Co. / 1921, it has the number D154318.10
  10. Appendix Codicum Celebernimorum Sinaitici Vaticani Alexandrini / Edit. Constantine Tischendorff / First Volume / has number B.30920a
  11. Atlas of Ancient Geography / Dr. William Smith / 1874, two copies (both in equally bad condition)
  12. Rand MacNally Atlas / 1889 / bears number Maps R18 (we have another copy that bears Maps R18 vol.1, and now that I think about it, I may have noted this book twice)
  13. Mitchell’s New General Atlas / 1879
  14. Atlas of Twenty-Four Large Engravings to Hami[lt]on’s Ancient & [Modern] State [of Egypt] / no publication date or information, may have been on cover but rubbed off, letters and words in brackets are attempted reconstructions (I feel like I’m dealing with ancient Sumerian). Sometime 1870 to 1890, but possibly earlier based on nature of engravings.
  15. Untitled Jewish worship book, no easily discoverable publication information (I took it to Esther Menn, who looked it over), was in someone’s collection in 1833 (dated) and used to study Hebrew.
  16. Six volumes of the collected Herald & Presbyterian, late 1880s and early 1890s. Four of these are wrapped in plain brown paper and tied up in string.
  17. Mizraim, Vol II. A collection of prints and engravings of modern and ancient egypt, late 19th century. Probably the largest folio we have.
The following books have LOC numbers but no barcode or SL:
  1. BS18.G493, The Masoorah, three volumes — two hardbound and one softbound (index?). Hebrew.
  2. HA205.A4B and A5Bgl, two statistical atlases of US Census, 9th and 11th.
  3. DF261.C65 A512c Corinth, two volumes 1-1 and 1-2.
  4. N7830.G24 Stori Della Arte Christiani, 1881, 6 volumes.
  5. CC165.S24 Sardis II Part I
  6. PF817.2 J52 (I did not note the title of this one)
  7. BX8901.H531, I did not note the title of this, but call no suggests somethintg Presbyteriany, and it could possibly be one of the newspaper folios)
  8. PJ3801.C822 (I did not note the title), 10 volumes
  9. BS15.G493 (I did not note the title)
  10. BV2830.T3 Maps, Protestant Missions in Latin America, two volumes, giant computer generated maps from the late 1970s or early 1980s. Now, there is a barcode from the previous recon for one book with this title BV2831.T239p Maps.
  11. NA4150.B312, I did not note the title of this.
The following books have SL but no barcode:
  1. DS102.P18, Survey of West Palestine Plates. Red clip in SL.
  2. DT73.M3 C531m / C532m / C532e Eight volumes on the survey of Medinat Habu and Mastaba of Mereruka, red clip in SL.
  3. DT62.T4  N326 Deir El Bahari, 4 volumes, two copies of vol. 1, red clip in SL.
  4. AN2.C532, Chicago by Chicago’s Builders.
  5. PA3401.C822, Corpus Inscriptionum Atticarum &etc, red clip in SL, cards marked removed in 1966.
  6. DS99.H3 R456 Voyage dans le Haouran &etc.
  7. BS764.W29 1910, Facsimile of Washington Manuscript of Deuteronomy and Joshua, Greek.
  8. DT57.E32M, The Temple of Deir el-Bahari. This looks like a part of a major collection of such books at the very same call number in oversize, and not folio.

There’s a lot of detail here. (I didn’t note some titles because, having call numbers, I didn’t know they would be problems.) The notation “red clip” means the book has cataloging issues (such as serial, or not enough information on card to generate a proper bibliographic record). This library has been something of a mess — a few years ago, I discovered a book that had been acquired in 1967 and then set aside to be cataloged and then … was never cataloged. (We are not alone in this; a couple of years ago, a university library in Israel discovered one of our books in their library when they remodeled, the book having been there since the 1970s, and the librarian returned it in the hopes it had not been missed — it hadn’t.)

The books that most interest me are the unnamed Jewish worship book and the giant folio from Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt. The worship book was beautiful once, with locking claps (they fell off long ago) and commentaries within commentaries. I suspect it is much older than 1833. I’ve seen 300-year-old books, we have a few on the shelves. Generally, they are in better condition than 150 year-old books or even 200-year-old books. The cover of this book hasn’t disintegrated or come apart and it looks like it could be that old. It still is beautiful, and I wonder where this book has been — who used it, where was it used, who owned it. And the Napoleon folio, which is a first edition. The engravings of “life” in Egypt are quite lovely. Somewhere along the line, even though the folio was never cataloged, the spine for the first volume was shored up.

It’s kind of stunning just how easily it is to lose track of things. And not keep track of things. Or not even know what you have.

My Idea of a Life Well Lived (Or Why I Tend to Like Scoundrels and Hustlers)

Martha of Ireland (now there’s a name!) at Internet Monk describes what that life is like the first of two posts entitled “Top Ten Things People Hate About the Catholic Church). It is an awesome list. And I agree fully with her explanation of item #4, “The Protestant Work Ethic versus the Catholic Idea of Success,” which posits a far better notion of “holiness” than any tawdry, tee-totaling pietist could ever endorse:

Or, why the Anglo-Saxon race ruled the world (British Empire version or American Pioneer Spirit version) and why all Papist nations are socially backwards, cannot innovate in technology or science and are mired in poverty, superstition, and misery. The Church indoctrinates us to expect pie in the sky when we die, and spends a massive amount of time and effort fixing our eyes on the world to come instead of inculcating the virtues of thrift, sobriety, hard work and manifesting the will of God through our lives in this life. This means we have a feckless, shiftless attitude of contempt to the affairs of the world and are content to run around in rags and beggary, while bribing saints and idols to do magical favours for us. 

The best example I can give of this is to swipe another example from “Brideshead Revisited” in the character of Lord Sebastian Flyte, the aristocratic, handsome, wealthy, socially prominent and attractive figure the narrator meets at Oxford. 

In an ordinary novel (or made-for-TV movie), we’d have a happy ending where Sebastian sobers up, meets a lovely girl (or nowadays comes out of the closet and ends up with a lovely guy), settles down to marriage and family life and buckles down to the successful career that his education and status in society deserve. Or if we were still going with the religion angle, he’d become a wildly successful society preacher saving the souls of bright young things like he was, or a cardinal, or end up as a male equivalent of Mother Teresa (or maybe St. Damien of Molokai, only without the leprosy, because leprosy isn’t glamorous when you’re the one suffering from it). Either way, he’d have a glittering, fulfilling career and a visible and measurable by the standards of the world record of achievement, whether in the service of God or Mammon. 

What does Evelyn Waugh do with him? 

He succumbs to his alcoholism, goes abroad to lead a dissolute life with pathetic little attempts to make some kind of a go of things and finally ends up in Morocco trying to join a monastery because he wants to be a missionary to lepers or cannibals or savages of some description. This is impossible, of course, because he’s not fit for it, and eventually he ends up – after bouts of drinking and falling ill – being taken in by the monks and given a pity job as a kind of under-porter, halfway between being a lay man and being a religious, and (through the character of Sebastian’s youngest sister, Cordelia, telling Sebastian’s uncomprehending friend Charles about where he ended up and in what state), Waugh forecasts his life: unexceptional save for his periodic falls off the wagon and shame-faced return to the monastery, years going by like this, getting older, becoming something of a joke to the novices and tolerated affectionately by the older monks, “a familiar figure pottering round with his broom and his bunch of keys” and “He’ll develop little eccentricities of devotion, intense personal cults of his own; he’ll be found in the chapel at odd times and missed when he’s expected” until his eventual death which will be no more edifying nor uplifting than his life and the best his sister can anticipate for him is that “Then one morning, after one of his drinking bouts, he’ll be picked up at the gate dying, and show by a mere flicker of the eyelid that he is conscious when they give him the last sacraments. It’s not such a bad way of getting through one’s life.” 

Waugh also has Cordelia tell Charles “The Superior simply said, ‘I did not think there was anything I could do to help him except pray.’ He was a very holy old man and recognized it in others.” “Holiness?” “Oh yes, Charles, that’s what you’ve got to understand about Sebastian” and “I’ve seen others like him, and I believe they are very near and dear to God.” 

And that, my dears, is the Catholic notion of success and why we will never get anywhere with an attitude like that.

Some Observations on Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street reminds me an awful lot of the anti-globalization movement that arose in the 1990s. The people are roughly the same, much of their critique of the world is the same (though more deeply rooted this time), and I’m afraid much of what they want is the same too.

My closest encounter with the anti-globalization folks was in 2000, when I was working for BridgeNews in Washington covering one of the annual World Bank-IMF summits. (Such are the privileges of being a financial journalist.) I was Bridge’s “outside” man, covering the demonstrators, who had stated they wanted to blockade the summit and shut it down. In response, the DC police — who seemed to recruit several legions of auxiliaries out of nowhere — showed up in their armed and armored finest. It was a week of continuing stand-offs, the entire center of the District of Columbia shut down. I got pepper sprayed several times by the police (because as a reporter, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time) and because I was a reporter with IMF credentials, none of the protestors would talk to me. I have a bunch of photos from the demonstration. 
As I think about that time, I am reminded of something John Payne wrote recently in The American Conservative about Occupy Wall Street:

As I interviewed some of the protesters that night, I discovered that many of them were not driven by a blind rage against capitalism but were simply trying to assert some modicum of control over institutions they believe are running over them roughshod.

A lot of what the anti-globalization movement was trying to do, I think, was to take the international institutions central to the “world order” — the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization — make them somehow accountable to people other than the global elites who run them. And to better serve the needs of the world’s poor. And it’s not that I think either of these things are on their face bad ideas, but they are impossible ones. The only thing worse than sclerotic, pretend nation-state democracy would be sclerotic, pretend global democracy. There is simply no way to create global institutions that would in any form be accountable to people other than those who run them. The Left’s idea of democracy — deliberations that lead to consensus — combined with the ideological desire to achieve certain kinds of outcomes is a recipe for endless committee meetings (trust me, I’ve been there) combined with a bullying of those who refuse to agree with the “desired” outcome. This can barely get done by a dozen people. (Seen that too.) You cannot do this in a world of (now) 7 billion people. Nothing else would ever get done.

But the protestors weren’t wrong about the global institutions that were the focus of their ire. When I worked in DC, the World Bank had just acquired a brand new headquarters, a building of steel and glass that would have looked wonderful after a thorough pelting by rocks and bricks. (Though I do fondly remember the Bank as the place where I actually ran into Yasser Arafat!) The most I can say for the IMF is that it has an amazing cafeteria in the basement. And don’t get me started on the folly of trade managed by treaty and international regulation….

That week of protests, NPR ran a piece about some of the protestors in DC, and what they sought. One bit of audio included a young man rather sloppily strumming a guitar singing

Why do we have to pay for food?
Why do we have to pay for rent?

I think that more or less encapsulates the economics of what calls itself “The Left” (for lack of a better term) in the West, or at least North America, these days. To call it Marxist would be unfair, because there’s almost no intellectual substance to their economic aspirations. I suspect real Marxists — and I know there have to be a few out there, somewhere in San Francisco and Berkeley and New York — would on the one hand consider this a teachable moment and on the other deride all this as tawdry sentimentality. It’s the sort of primitive communism that animated the likes of the Diggers (look it up). John Derbyshire put it this way in a review of Corey Robin’s book The Reactionary Mind when he describes the economic and social outlook of the Left as:

a shallow and jejune utopianism. Corey Robin wants to cast down the mighty from their seats of power and exalt the meek and humble. He seems to think that the meek and humble, thus exalted, will conduct themselves with heroic restraint. History offers whole Himalayas of corpses as evidence to the contrary.

This is the whole of the Left that I have experienced since sometime in the mid-1990s. No one reads Capital anymore. No one even bothers to read Horkheimer, Adorno and Gramsci anymore (with the exception of Matt Frost). They have read third- and fourth-hand distillations of cultural Marxism penned by third-rate intellects, they’ve read about Derrida and Foucault, and they’ve absorbed the pointlessness of identity politics, and seem to think that the reason the world is the way it is is because cruel and greedy people are in charge instead of kind, decent, compassionate and selfless ones. That fairness and kindness and sharing — their understanding of socialism — would just work if it’s actually tried.

Like so many people educated in the West anymore, they have a critique of power without any real understanding of power because they aren’t really educated in the ideas and methods of power. No one, not even young white men from prominent families, are formally educated in the ways and ideas of power unless they pick those books up themselves. Because universities in the West no longer teach about power (and its too-often tragic outcomes), about the nature of power and the character of those who wield it, they simply teach the critique of power. And learning a critique without learning the thing itself is building a house without a foundation. It will crumble at some point. (I got this foundation-less education at both Georgetown and LSTC.)

And so they critique a world they don’t really understand, and believe their sheer earnestness will fix things.

That, I think, is the whole of this movement. It does reflect an honest frustration with the world — there is moral hazard for those who borrow thousands to go to school but not for those who leverage billions trillions in speculative credit default swaps. The rules are rigged in favor of those with more against those who have less. That allegedly liberal or progressive politicians do little to further real progressive goals once in power. To the extent that Occupy Wall Street (and the anti-globalization movement that came before) shine a light and ask some good questions, then I support them. I won’t join them, but I can sort-of support them.

But to the extent that they want to enact sentimental and unrealistic goals, that they want to attempt to rearrange the world toward utopia, well, the 20th century tells us how that ends. Thankfully, they are so muddled in their thinking that action — real action — will likely not be possible. Since they will all be too busy in meetings trying to find consensus to act.

Another Perpetually False Promise

In response to the Citizens United ruling a year or two ago, a group of Democrat legislators have proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving the government the power to regulate donations and financial support to political campaigns:

SECTION 1. Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on—

  1. the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and 
  2. the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates. 

SECTION 2. A State shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to State elections, including through setting limits on—

  1. the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, State office; and 
  2. the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

SECTION 3. Congress shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

A short report on the filing — the amendment will not pass in this or any other form — quotes Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin:

“By limiting the influence of big money in politics, elections can be more about the voters and their voices, not big money donors and their deep pockets,” said Harkin of the amendment. “We need to have a campaign finance structure that limits the influence of the special interests and restores confidence in our democracy. This amendment goes to the heart of that effort.”

I appreciate that so many people believe money is the problem in politics. And they believe the promise echoed by Harkin here that if you regulate money with the aim of reducing it, you will reduce its prominence in electoral politics. (And I think the Citizens United opinion is intellectually defensible on First Amendment grounds. Not that corporations are “individuals” with “rights,” or that money is speech, but that corporations are peaceable assemblies in which individuals with rights can petition the government for a redress of grievances.)

But a couple of things about campaign finance “reform.” First, I don’t believe it’s about fairness. It’s about hobbling opponents by preventing them from acting. This has been one of the aims of campaign finance regulation since the Federal government started doing it about 100 years ago (it was a stated aim a century ago). Most people I know who support regulations on the financing of political campaigns are progressives in one form or another, and they are angry that their progressive agenda is not or cannot be enacted. And many tend to blame an “unfair process” on this. Because people would vote for progressive policies if they just knew about them or understood them, and they would if candidates for political office could run without being beholden to moneyed interests. So, they seek the rejigging of the process in their favor. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this in democratic system in which the rules are constantly up for grab. But I’d like a little honesty. It’s not about fairness, it’s about creating advantage in hopes that advantage will produce the desired political outcomes.

Second, this promise that someone limiting the role of money and “special interests” (a loaded phrase I do not like, because it assumes that there is a “general interest” and that only that “general interest” is good or morally legitimate) will change politics for the better. And that there is even a way to limit the influence of money. Congress and the states have been at this for 100 years, and doing it in earnest since the 1970s, and yet money has not gotten less important with every new bit of legislation, it has gotten more important. It’s as if attempting to create a dam to prevent the flood has only made the flooding worse. There are numerous theories as to why this is, and I cannot settle on one. I take it as a truism.

But I am convinced there is no magic democratic world in which self-interested money does not play even only a small or minor vole in politics. (And what money is not self-interested?) Harkin’s promise is a false promise, beguiling yet utterly untrue. And yet, like so many promises made by democratic governance (and modernity itself), it is so beguiling it blinds believers to the reality, thinking that just one or two more sets of laws will make the promise come true. It is unfazed by the evidence of the senses, which merely convince the believers to double down and do more to make the promise come true.

It is a good thing the amendment won’t pass. (Though this is the appropriate way to deal with the problem in our system of government.) Were it to pass, it will both fail at what it seeks to accomplish and at the same time give Congress (and the states that follow) far too much power to determine what is legitimate political speech and who can speak (because while money may not be speech, the ability to organize and raise money is). Because in our society, money will always find a way. Always.

On the Clerisy and Occupy Wall Street

I came across possibly the best analysis I’ve seen yet of the phenomena that is Occupy Wall Street, from self-confessed Marxist Kenneth Anderson over at the Volokh Conspiracy. Anderson, referencing Christopher Lasch’s analysis of the protestors as part of a “New Class” of managerial workers, has this to say about the protestors, what has driven them into the parks, and what their demands probably really are:

The problem the New Class faces at this point is the psychological and social self-perceptions of a status group that is alienated (as we marxists say) from traditional labor by its semi-privileged upbringing — and by the fact that it is actually, two distinct strands, a privileged one and a semi-privileged one. It is, for the moment, insistent not just on white-collar work as its birthright and unable to conceive of much else. It does not celebrate the dignity of labor; it conceived of itself as existing to regulate labor. So it has purified itself to the point that not just any white-collar work will do. It has to be, as Michelle Obama instructed people in what now has to be seen as another era, virtuous non-profit or government work [italics mine – CHF]. Those attitudes are changing, but only slowly; the university pipelines are still full of people who cannot imagine themselves in any other kind of work, unless it means working for Apple or Google. 

The New Class has always operated across the lines of public and private, however, the government-university-finance and technology capital sectors. It is not a theory of the government class versus the business class — as 1990s neoconservatives sometimes mistakenly imagined. As Lasch pointed out, it is the class that bridges and moves effortlessly between the two. As a theory of late capitalism (once imported from being an analysis of communist nomenkaltura) it offers itself as a theory of technocratic expertise first – but, if that spectacularly fails as it did in 2008, it falls back on a much more rudimentary claim of monopoly access to the levers of the economy. Which is to say, the right to bridge the private-public line, and rent out its access.

Anderson goes on to say that the difference between these lower elites and the bankers of the upper elite is that the OWS protestors no longer have any social or economic position they can effective leverage in a global market. There is no demand for the skills they have, no desire to employ them at what they want to do, and thus they have absolutely no comparative advantage. And thus no rents to collect. As long as finance continued to produce the kinds of non-overtly subsidized profits that could continue to fund both the non-profit virtue industry as well as fund (and and other the end, pay for) student loans, then more then enough of the young and virtuous could be employed. But not anymore. As Anderson notes:

The asset bubble pops, but the upper tier New Class, having insulated itself and, as with subprime, having taken its cut upfront and passed the risk along, is still doing pretty well. It’s not populism versus the bankers so much as internecine warfare between two tiers of elites.

In effect, a generation of young people has educated itself very specifically, and now with the economy drying up, there is no demand for what they supply.

I think this is a fascinating analysis, and generally correct. It corresponds with some things that I have seen, embedded deeply in a seminary of a socially, politically and sometimes theologically liberal confession. Because what Anderson is describing is the clerisy, that class of educated professionals who have administered industrial democracy since its invention in the latter half of the 19th century. Economist Deirdre McClosky in her book on bourgeois virtues noted that the clerisy were deeply bourgeois in the values and social expectations but were also those group of bourgeois who were completely alienated from the actual production of wealth. They have no idea where money comes from, how value is added, how wealth is produced. Indeed, the clerisy tend to take the means of production, and the production of wealth, as a given.

The clerisy in the West is both secular and religious. But liberal protestant churches (such as the one I am in) are run by the clerisy, by people who effectively have no real understanding of, or much appreciation for, the creation of wealth. The general view of money and wealth for the liberal protestant  seems to be:

  • Money is icky and bad …
  • … But no one should ever have to struggle for money.
Now, there is a reality of any sophisticated, civilized society — that there will be enough surplus economic production to support a class of people who produce nothing of value, or something of unquantifiable value, and in doing these things, contribute to the well-being of the society. Clergy, government clerks, artists, poets, scholars, all of these people are subsidized to one extent or another because they do not “produce” or aid significantly in the production of goods and services. What the clerisy Anderson describes, people yearning to do “virtuous non-profit or government work,” forget is how dependent their work is on the wealth produced and either shared or extracted from others. Whatever the sins of the financiers — and they are legion — you cannot create a large class of people who exist solely on the backs of others. And across the Western world, from California to Greece, governments have found themselves unable to keep the promises made to government workers because they end up being far too costly. Every dollar paid to public employee or retiree has to come from somewhere. 
One of the great puzzles that mass society/social democracy/industrial capitalism has never been able to fully solve has been the puzzle of what to do with the fact that thanks to capital, fewer and fewer people can produce more and more wealth. What becomes of those who are superfluous? If John Taylor Gatto is right, a little more than a century ago, capital tried to permanently organize the world so that there was a place for everyone, and that everyone would find their place. But that arrangement did not hold for very long. Creating do-nothing managerial work, making some the permanent keepers and managers of others — especially earnest, angst- and guild-ridden young people who desire to do good and think the best way, or the only way, to do so is in the context of the therapeutic state — was one solution. But it may be in the process of falling completely apart as well. 
Which gets me to my last point in this missive. Anderson is right that the clerisy does not dignify labor. Indeed, the clerisy — particularly that of the liberal church — denigrates labor. The only work it truly values is work done on computers in cubicles. The only product it truly understands is paper. It does not know what to do with or how to value any other kind of labor. In this, I am with John Robb, that the future belongs not to those who lobby the state, but those who build resilient communities. The protestors are right to bring the sins of finance to the attention of whoever will listen — to borrow a slogan from ACT Up, I’d like to see someone wave a sign that said “Investment banking = death” — in hopes that someone’s conscience will be pricked enough to prompt action. Just don’t count on it.
It is, however, a fool’s errand to expect or demand that not-for-profit virtue work be made available again. It is also extremely arrogant, selfish and self-centered.
The only way for individuals and communities to survive in the coming age is for people to work together, and for individuals to have a real skill and to be willing to do hard work. By real skill, I mean making something you can sell, or fixing something so it can work again. And by hard work, I mean hard work — not in office buildings, not in business casual, not demanding professional credentials, and not producing paper.