The Just Third Way

CESJ’s philosophy, concepts and applications derive from a new paradigm we call the “Just Third Way.” This global just free market system of political economy (or socio-economics) transcends the power- and ownership-concentrating systems of traditional capitalism and traditional socialism.

The Just Third Way synthesizes the economic justice principles and binary economic concepts of lawyer-economist Louis Kelso and philosopher Mortimer Adler, the social justice philosophy of Pius XI and Fr. William Ferree, the design-science of Buckminster Fuller, and the non-violent activism of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  These principles guide the restructuring of basic economic and social institutions to spread power to each person, offering “win-win” solutions to an age-old challenge  —  whether most people in society will “own or be owned.”

Like the basic elements (A-C-T-G) of the DNA sequence or the binary code (0-1) underlying complex computer languages, the principles of the Just Third Way can be applied throughout all levels of human interaction, from the micro- to the macro-level, but always starting with the human person. All institutions, including the State, are viewed within this paradigm as “social tools” designed to support human dignity and development.

Not Just Any “Third Way”

CESJ is aware that there are many “third ways” being touted today.  In the 1960s Louis Kelso and his associates called his ideas of expanded capital ownership “the third way,” when it was described by scholars at the Soviet Union’s Center for the Study of the U.S. and Canada as “the third alternative to capitalism and socialism” and “El Tercer Camino” (“the Third Road”) in Latin America.

The term “the third way” was later used by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair to advocate a system of “democratic capitalism” — a mixture of political democracy and plutocratic capitalism (whose institutions are structured to keep capital ownership concentrated in the hands of a few while providing jobs and welfare to “the masses”).

In his letter to the Washington Post in September 1988, CESJ President Norman Kurland challenged both the Post’s assertion that there is no third alternative to monopolistic capitalism and redistributive socialism, and the Clinton/Blair approach to that idea. The litmus test, Kurland pointed out, is whether such a system starts with the sovereignty and empowerment of each person, not with the state, the collective or any elite. A true Third Way must be grounded in clearly articulated principles of justice, not arbitrary will, whether of an elite or of the majority.

The need for sound, universal principles of justice is particularly true in economics, to ensure that all people have equal opportunity, full access and full participation in the free market as workers and capital owners.  Since the question of how we finance our future growth determines who will have opportunity, access and the ability to participate fully in the economy, a Third Way that depends on financing future growth and ownership with the past accumulations and savings of the rich, is not a true Third Way, as it enslaves the future to the past.

Thus, CESJ distinguishes our “Third Way” as the “Just Third Way.”