1. Pingback: Catholic Political Thought & John Locke: Part II « The American Catholic

  2. Your quotes do not prove the pope’s acceptance of rebellion, much less the American one.

    Pope Leo XIII, RN, 22: “If the citizens, if the families on entering into association and fellowship, were to experience hindrance in a commonwealth instead of help, and were to find their rights attacked instead of being upheld, society would rightly be an object of detestation rather than of desire.”

    Detestation =/= rebellion

    What’s interesting is that the preceding paragraph discusses how the family is prior to the state, which is a radically different approach from Locke’s individual being prior to the state.

    Pope Leo XIII, Libertas, 46: “Neither does the Church condemn those who, if it can be done without violation of justice, wish to make their country independent of any foreign or despotic power.”

    This of course assumes the premise: namely, that the rebellion was not a violation of justice. Blood over taxes seems highly likely to fail the just war analysis. To prove the point, I too will quote from Libertas.

    14 . . . But many there are who follow in the footsteps of Lucifer, and adopt as their own his rebellious cry, “I will not serve”; and consequently substitute for true liberty what is sheer and most foolish license. Such, for instance, are the men belonging to that widely spread and powerful organization, who, usurping the name of liberty, style themselves liberals.

  3. Michael,

    First, I think it highly unlikely that CST mandates that an intolerable, detestable situation be borne with no resistance or rebellion. I put both quotes together to show that, at least in theory, if the detestable situation rises to the level of despotism, it would be just to work for a new government.

    Secondly, I discuss the difference between individuals and families in Part II. For reasons I make clear there, I don’t think this is particularly relevant.

    Third, you simplistically reduce the American revolution to one of “blood over taxes.” As I said, I’ve never seen a single papal document condemning or even criticizing the American revolution, while I have seen a few that speak of it in a positive light.

    If it were really so terrible, you’d think someone would have said something about it.

  4. “This of course assumes the premise: namely, that the rebellion was not a violation of justice. Blood over taxes seems highly likely to fail the just war analysis.”

    Blood over the right of people to rule themselves does not. The conflict with Great Britain that led up to the American Revolution was all about whether the colonists had a right to rule themselves, or whether they were to be ruled by the Crown and Parliament.

  5. it would be just to work for a new government.

    Not the same thing and you know it. You are arguing to justify a war, and therefore you are subject to the just war criteria. Taking of property without reason is despotic (assuming this really is the case in the 1770s), but this does not automatically trigger war under CST (though it does for Locke).

    Third, you simplistically reduce the American revolution to one of “blood over taxes.” As I said, I’ve never seen a single papal document condemning or even criticizing the American revolution, while I have seen a few that speak of it in a positive light.

    Wow. I can’t believe you made that argument. I don’t think one requires a papal document to condemn everything. I believe many injustices have not been condemned in papal documents and yet somehow remain injustices.

    The conflict with Great Britain that led up to the American Revolution was all about whether the colonists had a right to rule themselves, or whether they were to be ruled by the Crown and Parliament.

    I think the biggest problem is not just proving that the colonists were motivated by freedom and not lesser taxes, but that the colonists did all that was reasonable to avoid war. It seems to me that the colonists very quickly were encouraging war. I don’t think they took all the steps they could to come to a peaceful resolution, which makes the war highly questionable. It’s not impossible to make the argument, but it’s very difficult-in part b/c as a rebellion, it’s hard to decide who the relevant actors are to represent the acts of the rebellion.

  6. It seems to me that the colonists very quickly were encouraging war. I don’t think they took all the steps they could to come to a peaceful resolution,

    The Stamp Act was passed in 1765. Colonial angst dates back to at least this date. The Boston Tea Party occurred in 1773, followed quickly by the Intolerable Acts of 1774. The first shots of the American Revolution were not fired until 1775, and the colonists did not finally declare independence until 1776. Even the decision to finally declare independence came after great debate and much hand wringing. That does not seem to indicate that they acted very quickly or rashly.

  7. Umm, Michael, I don’t dispute that the colonists’ behavior was provocative (but even that can often be justified in the name of justice). However, regardless of who fired the first shot at Lexington (which we still don’t which side did) General Gage at the behest of King George committed an act of war against the colonists that night. The only way you can view it differently is if you subscribe to the idea that a sovereign cannot “war” against his subjects, that no matter how violent or how much blood is spilled it is his right to do it in pursuit of his ends. I reject the later premise.

  8. Michael,

    Did I do something to offend you personally lately? I’m sensing hostility. It’s like you’re going out of your way to be a contrarian.

    Yeah, I made that argument about the popes. No, a papal document isn’t required to condemn something. But when the only things they’ve said about it have been good and positive, when there’s no condemnations, well, I think we can conclude that the papacy never had a problem with the American revolution.

    Is that relevant? Only in the sense that I don’t think its right for anyone to come out with both guns blazing against Catholics who think the revolution was a just war, since we’re in pretty good company. I think at the least it should cause rabid anti-Americans to say, “wait a minute – why did the popes think it was ok?” You don’t have to agree with them. Because it isn’t so much about fact, as attitude. Maybe you haven’t read the rabid anti-American trads. I have.

    Of course, your attitude is a bit snippy also. I’m sorry if I offended you in the past somehow.

  9. Did I do something to offend you personally lately? I’m sensing hostility. It’s like you’re going out of your way to be a contrarian.

    Not at all. I think you’ve been playing really loose with your argumentation, that’s all.

    I’ll try not to be “snippy,” but what document are you talking about? What document declares the American revolution to be a just war?

    However, regardless of who fired the first shot at Lexington (which we still don’t which side did) General Gage at the behest of King George committed an act of war against the colonists that night. The only way you can view it differently is if you subscribe to the idea that a sovereign cannot “war” against his subjects, that no matter how violent or how much blood is spilled it is his right to do it in pursuit of his ends.

    What makes the Revolution in my mind difficult is trying to figure out what exactly started the war. If one argues that the Boston Tea Party, in which the tea was destroyed as well as a few British officials tarred, than that’s an act of unjustifiable violence. However, the Brits than began escalating, and in response so did the colonists, until there was war. I know I’m grossly over-simplifying here, but we have a pattern of unjust escalation such that both sides were probably acting in an unjust war. But it takes a lot of historical argument to do, argument I can’t do at the moment.

    That does not seem to indicate that they acted very quickly or rashly.

    That’s not the standard though. The standard is whether they had exhausted all remedies. Furthermore, whether or not the remedy of war was an appropriate response. I think the answer to both is no, though I think a stronger case can be made for the latter.

  10. Michael,

    Like many things human there are no easy answers for it and while I often provide a qualified defense of the American side I’m not so sure there’s much ambiguity as to when the war truly began. The Stamp Act led to civil disobedience which escalated to the Boston Tea Party (none of which is an act of war by my reason). That led to the Intolerable Acts of which one could possibly be considered an act of war in and of itself (the Port Act – and it would certainly have been an act of war had the colonies been a sovereign nation prior). Couple all that with a fairly substantial military buildup everything was in place.

    Each side knew what the intentions and motivations were of the other. Whatever would appease the other side was viewed unacceptable. I’m not saying this isn’t when it becomes all the more important to to avert hostilities but it is a real thing.

    All that said, on April 19, 1775 when General Gage ordered 600 to 700 troops to assault the colonists’ arsenal at Concord and to apprehend colonial civilians you have the beginning of the war. I am of the opinion that it was indeed just for the colonists to defend themselves and their property. a lot could have been done in the ensuing months to come back to the table so to speak, but frankly, King George would have none of that nor would a particular population of the colonies.