Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 19, 2014

Joseph A. Varacalli
Pages 195-214

The Future of the American Experiment and of the Tea Party Movement from the Perspective of Catholic Social Thought and Catholic Sociology

This review essay provides a critique, from a Catholic social thought and Catholic sociological perspective, of two important books that offer divergent interpretations of the direction of American civilization and of the significance of the Tea Party movement/philosophy. Specifically devoted to a critique of the Tea Party movement, by Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson (Oxford University Press, 2012), is written from a secular progressive sociological perspective that assumes the inevitability and desirability of an advanced welfare state. While not specifically devoted to analyzing the Tea Party movement, by Samuel Gregg (The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2013), quite consciously constructs a public philosophy articulating and defending a democratic capitalist worldview that is compatible, as a prudential application, with an authentic Catholic perspective that builds on the work of Catholic theologian Michael Novak (e.g., [Simon & Schuster, 1982] and [Harper & Row, 1984]). Vis-à-vis the Skocpol and Williamson volume, the Gregg volume is more sympathetic to the Tea Party movement, especially with its non-libertarian component. Other volumes are mentioned and incorporated in the review essay insofar as they deal with various cognitive and normative analyses of the present general direction of American civilization and of the Tea Party alternative.