31 Responses to Pragmatic Libertarianism: When Two Wrongs Make a Right

  • JB says:

    Bravo Joe, a brilliant post. I voted for Ron Paul in the Republican primary, not because I agree with his Austrian views, but because pragmatically he was the ONLY one offering real solutions to the REAL problems of the Federal Reserve and debt monetary system, and he is pro-life.

    Like you I am a work in progress. In reality we all are. As a recovering neocon, I have had to rethink my positions on many issues in light of Catholic Social teaching, and had to swallow really hard to change some long held beliefs. In my economic ignorance I voted for Bush twice, basing my vote on his stance primarily on life issues. But to me watching the public swallow Obama’s “hope & change” vomit was like watching the Jews march into the death camps.

    You summed it up best when you said:

    “For the premise that a just socio-economic order will arise from the intervention of the state presupposes that the people who are in charge of the state are themselves just.

    This presupposition, in the United States of America, in 2010 Anno Domini, is entirely false.”

    As Jeffrey Mirus – President of CatholicCulture.org summed up succinctly in his article “Splitting social and life issues? Can’t do it.”

    “…what is Benedict’s message to all those—including many secularized Catholics—who claim we ought to support politicians who embrace the culture of death because they advocate a superior socio-economic policy? Sorry, says Charity in Truth, that pony won’t run. Social development is impossible when its very foundation is rotten. It’ll never happen. Can’t do it.”

    http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?ID=344

    That is PRECISELY my view of the so called “peace & justice” crowd that occupies many positions in Chancery offices that have firmly aligned themselves with the Democrats and in the name of “social justice” and has firmly joined church and state at the hip, to where “social justice” has come to mean federal program. They feel justified (if not compelled) to throw out the Church’s moral teachings as an expedient means to a political end. These “poverty fighters” waving the “social gospel” while actively subverting a whole host of Church teachings on life issues are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    I’m speaking primarily of the “Cafeteria Catholic” Democrats who formed their own Magisterium and saw fit to write the Pope and tell him that THEY decide what’s moral and what the practical applications of that are.

    House Democrats Release Historic Catholic Statement of Principles

    http://delauro.house.gov/text_release.cfm?id=1206

    To be completely fair, the Republicans have done the same thing with their “big tent” theory of abandoning the “social issues” to in order to shed the baggage and deal with “the economy stupid”, not realizing that what needs to be addresses is the “stupid economy”, starting with the Fed.

    Another article that brought great clarity to me in separating the wheat from the ethanol regarding “social justice” was this one:

    The Need to Reclaim Catholic Social Teaching

    http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/mcm/mcm_65socilteaching.html

  • This is a much better explanation. I absolutely oppose liberalism and leftism, and tend towards libetarianism, but I like the phrase about crashing between the twin rocks of individualism and collectivism. I don’t agree with everything in this essay, and I reject being my brother’s keeper – I didn’t cause his problems. I do agree that out of love for God and neighbor I ought to help my brother, but I am NOT responsible for the consequences of his actions. I also hate distributionist economics – you don’t work, then you don’t eat. That’s what Paul told the Church at Thessalonica.

    Anyways – good post. Sorry I’m not so coherent today.

  • Phillip says:

    “…the twin rocks of individualism and collectivism.”

    Haven’t read but I like that phrase. I think the temptation of collectivism is quite easy even for some who are basing their political prescriptions on Catholic Social Teaching. I think this will always be a tension in applying Catholic principles to the real world. How do we balance the individual and the community.

    Printed up to read later when I have a chance.

  • Mike Petrik says:

    FWIW I prefer the word communitarianism to collectivism. The communitarian impulse is a healthy one if not disproportionate or disordered, as is the impulse of individualism. The former reflects our responsibilities toward each other, while the latter reflects the importance of self-responsibility. While they are not incompatible, they are at tension. Striking the right balance is almost always a prudential function, especially with regards to government action and its attendant coercive powers. Only government can create “entitlements,” and entitlements are perhaps the most dangerous expression of the communitarian impulse since it can easily impair the expression of self-responsibility and lead to greater harm and suffering. Examples abound of horrible human costs as unintended consequences of well-meaning social legislation. These mistakes do not excuse us from the appropriate exercise of our communitarian responsibilities, but they should remind us of the importance of prudence and the need to acknowledge that reasonable men of good will can disagree as to how best to exercise such responsibilities and strike the correct balance with individualism, a value that is ultimately grounded in the dignity of the individual person.

  • clay barham says:

    Ayn Rand agreed with the TA Psychologists, that the creative and productive man and woman believe “I’m OK, you’re OK.” They never envy someone else’s achievement. The so-called elite, on the other hand, see others as their inferiors, the “I’m OK, you’re not OK” types. They seem to gravitate to government service, particularly leadership roles where they can manage others, most of whom are their betters. The man and woman of achievement could never live motivated by envy or anger toward others. America grew prosperous because of so many creative “I’m OK, you’re OK” people, who today are faced with rule by those who see themselves as superior elite and whose task is to destroy what achievers built. See The Changing Face of Democrats on Amazon and claysamerica.com

  • John Zmirak says:

    Very well said, Joe! I’m delighted by your development, and I urge everyone to get on board with the project of resisting the evil State we currently live under–whatever our long-term goals are for rebuilding something better.

  • I’m reminded here of the First Things The End of Democracy? symposium that generated a great deal of discussion and controversy back in November of ’96… the issue then was the judicial usurpation of politics, and Neuhaus et al. came under a great deal of fire from friend & foe alike (several resigned from the editorial board) for suggesting that we were/are on a path which will lead to the, well, end of democracy.

    I’d venture to say that not much has changed to move us off that course in the intervening 14 — 14! — years.

    If you haven’t read the symposium — or the follow-up in January of ’97 — I highly recommend doing so.

  • Joe, I’m guessing you found the online archive… just in case, the Nov ’96 issue is here, and Neuhaus is represented by “The Editors” (I’m not sure who actually penned it, but he certainly agreed). There is likewise a column from The Editors in the Jan ’97 issue on the topic.

    More generally, Neuhaus came under fire for allowing such a discussion in FT at all; many found it tantamount to a call to overthrow our Constitutional Republic.

  • Jen says:

    A true, open-minded study of our founding, and the construction of our nation as a *republic of states”, with a severely limited scope of federal power will convince most everyone, right and left, that we can all “coexist” together, peacefully and freely.

    The idea is to have most decision making (social, economic, political) closest to the people…locally.

    If California residents want single-payer healthcare and regulated light bulbs…let them have it! If Massachusetts residents want gay marriage and abortion…let them have it!!! If Indiana residents want unrestricted gun ownership and abortion restrictions…let them have it!!! If San Francisco residents want to fund free housing for their homeless…let them!!

    Why oh why have we let our schools fail to teach our own citizens the fundamentals and beauty of our nation, as defined at our founding!

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    I can’t say I disagree. The idea that we’re going to have some imposition of Christian values by the federal government is an unhealthy fantasy.

    The handful of remaining faithful Catholics need their own Utah, and they need it in a country in which the federal government has been hamstrung.

    In other words, we just need true subsidiarity. We need cooperatives, we need charter and private schools, we need some of the new developments in energy that will radically decentralize power sources, we need a local model that completely rejects individualism and the law of the jungle, but within a decentralized political system.

  • Juri says:

    “…when we are faced with two or more possibilities or options, AND NONE OF THEM CONFLICT WITH GODS MORAL LAW OR THE TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH, we ought to choose the most rational means to a given end.”
    You cannot accept CONDITIONAL truth or logic. By not taking into consideration the possibility of being wrong, you do not allow yourself to become fully aware of the truth. It’s something everyone else does, scientists are open to the truth and admit their faults and learn from them. This is the theological equivalent of covering your ears and saying ‘Lalalala’.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “It’s something everyone else does, scientists are open to the truth and admit their faults and learn from them.”

    All the scientists involved in global warming scams indicate that this is more a statement of a pious hope than a description of current reality.

  • Juri says:

    Over the history of modern science, scientists have accepted corrections willfully and been thankful to learn from other. If currently there is still dispute then it is a work in progress and once there is a proof in favor or opposed that is convincing, it will be accepted. Luckily they don’t get tortured or oppressed for their views anymore, right?

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Actually Juri, scientists helped staff the security agencies of both the Third Reich and the Soviet Union and tortured and oppressed many, including other scientists. Your extending special virtue to scientists is amply refuted by history.

    As to scientific malfeasance in various global warming scams, are you denying that some scientists have been involved in falsification of evidence on this issue?

    Scientists are humans just like the rest of us, and the scientific method is no more immune to human bias and passion than any other activity that humans engage in.

  • Juri says:

    I never did deny the falsifications but those have nothing to do with the scientific method. And it is obviously true that scientists are humans, but they are subject to peer review and must stand the test of this skepticism by their contemporaries in order to be taken seriously. They do not gather to remind themselves of the same belief and to reinforce it almost frantically. They learn. They assess questions that may in fact never be answered, but coming from someone who accepts answers that are not to be questioned, the pathetic WW2 reference is something I would expect.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Ah, Juri, you no longer are arguing that scientists are only interested in the truth by definition? Well, I guess that is a small start anyway. As to your foolish statement that the Catholic Church accepts answers that may never be questioned, you might attempt to read some Thomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine, and a host of other theologians of the Church, to realize, if you have a scintilla of intellectual honesty, just how buffoonish your statement sounds. As to scientists being subject to peer review, that is a useful tool, but a frail protection against groupthink, as the climategate scandals are illustrating.

  • Juri says:

    I have read of both and neither are impressive to say the least. Even Aquinas’ most influential argument relies completely on a preconceived notion. And no, my argument has not changed aside from your brilliant discovery of the factor of time. Furthermore it is possible that questions have been made from within the church, but I think we both know that the results very often took the form of death and torture (those two not being mutually exclusive). I’m glad you mentioned ‘groupthink’, as the church is most likely the largest organization or cult in existence and leads the way in that regard. (I am also glad you are fiercely clawing on to your one argument of the recent “scandal” . . . Catholics should be a little more careful with that word, don’t you think?).

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “I have read of both and neither are impressive to say the least.”

    It doesn’t sound like you have actually read them Juri. I can certainly understand however if you are not up to the intellectual challenge of doing so.

    “Even Aquinas’ most influential argument relies completely on a preconceived notion.”

    Further proof that you have not read a page written by the Angelic Doctor.

    “And no, my argument has not changed aside from your brilliant discovery of the factor of time.”

    Then more fool you.

    “Furthermore it is possible that questions have been made from within the church, but I think we both know that the results very often took the form of death and torture (those two not being mutually exclusive).”

    Ignorance of history as well as bigotry make a poor combination Juri.

    “I’m glad you mentioned ‘groupthink’, as the church is most likely the largest organization or cult in existence and leads the way in that regard.”

    No, Juri, the largest organization of groupthink currently around is the herd of independent thinkers of which I am certain you are a proud member.

    “I am also glad you are fiercely clawing on to your one argument of the recent “scandal” . . . Catholics should be a little more careful with that word, don’t you think?”

    Gasp, Juri, you touched upon the pedophile scandal and now I am struck dumb and cannot respond! (If you bothered to actually read this blog instead of using it as the internet equivalent of primal scream therapy, you would see that particular scandal has been dealt with in great detail here. I of course understand why you do not want to dwell on climategate which amply illustrates the fallibility of some current scientists and their unwillingness to let mere facts stand in the way of their pet theories.)

  • Juri says:

    I refuse to elaborate further on how hypocritical it is for a person of faith to attack a scientist, or any rational person for that matter, on said grounds. Also I believe it is a bit light hearted of you to refer to the child rape in the catholic church as “dealt with”. This is no primal therapy, it is the beginning of what will be an uproar against the lies that are told to children, when they aren’t subject to far worse, and the theocratic bullying that the modern world is subject to by barbaric bronze age cults.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    I refuse to elaborate further

    Translation: I lack the logical ability to refute the arguments that you have made, so I will now stamp off in a huff, tossing generic assaults against religion as a I do so.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “I refuse to elaborate further on how hypocritical it is for a person of faith to attack a scientist, or any rational person for that matter, on said grounds.’

    Actually Juri, some of the most brilliant scientists in history have also been believing Christians. I assume you have heard of Newton and Pasteur for example? Maybe not.

    In regard to the pedophilia scandal I stated that it had been dealt with on this blog in great detail, not that the matter had been resolved. Time to sharpen up your reading comprehension skills.

    In regard to the continuation of your primal scream therapy, you really must try harder than such thread bare insults as “theocratic bullying” and “bronze age” cults. We really expect more from anti-Catholic bigot trolls on this blog.

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