Liberalism, Capitalism & Pluralism: The Catholic Wars Continue

On February 6, The American Conservative published a piece by Patrick J. Deneen titled “A Catholic Showdown Worth Watching.” In it, Deneen outlines the positions of two hostile political camps within American Catholicism: the “liberal” camp and what he calls a more “radical”/illiberal camp. The liberal camp is characterized by its support for free-market capitalism, liberal democracy, a vigorous interventionist foreign policy, and the basic compatibility of the American republic with Catholicism. The radical illiberal camp is virtually the opposite in every respect; it is skeptical of and in my experience quite hostile towards free-market capitalism, contemptuous of liberal democracy, anti-interventionist and views the entire American project as a failed enterprise incompatible with Catholicism.

In my view there ought to be recognition of a third camp: Catholic libertarianism. Of course this immediately lends itself to semantic confusion. After all, some of what Deneen’s “liberals” hold would align with what libertarians hold, and both might lay claim to the descriptor of “classical liberalism.” The important point of dispute between this peculiar lot of liberals and libertarians proper, at least given the specific points raised by Deneen, would be the matter of foreign policy. Catholic libertarians such as Tom Woods and Judge Andrew Napolitano are resolutely opposed not only to American interventionism, but also to the growing domestic security apparatus that poses a threat to individual liberties. Deneen’s liberals, or at least the contemporary names such as Wiegel, Neuhaus, and Novak, may better be described as neo-conservatives. Insofar as the Catholic neo-conservatives share economic views with the libertarians, I will include them as “classical liberals” in the analysis to follow. It may also be argued that Catholic libertarians aligned with the Austrian school of economics and political theory are also quite critical of liberal democracy. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, an Austrian intellectual, has led the way in the libertarian critique of democracy and there is no reason to assume that a classical liberal is necessarily a democratic liberal.

Read the rest here. 

61 Responses to Liberalism, Capitalism & Pluralism: The Catholic Wars Continue

  • One point of clarification: the Deneen article doesn’t use the term “liberal” to describe those who see compatibility between Catholicism and liberal democracy. He seems to go out of his way to avoid that label. In that I think he’s correct; the term is just too confusing.

  • Pinky,

    You’re right of course, but he doesn’t use ANY term to describe them as far as I can tell. They’re de facto liberals, then, given what they’re said to believe.

  • Best wishes, Bonchamps. I like your defense of the American project, within which Distributists can form their voluntary collectives. I read Deneen’s recent article, Corporatism and Gay Marriage: Natural Bedfellows. (note that is Corporatism, not Capitalism.) Before the Distributists retreat to their collectives, I hope they understand that it’s going to be really, really hard to make a living when the ruling regime seeks to punish those who do not profess the beliefs of the regime. In other words, I’m not sure we can all move to a particular location within these fifty (or was it fifty-seven?) states, and live out our lives. Hmm. Time to review the specific examples of the people who came to America seeking religious freedom for the low, low price of carving settlements out of the wilderness. :) Where is our wilderness?

  • As a matter of history, classical liberalism was at great pains to remove precisely the means that had been traditionally used to curb the free market.

    Jefferson, for example, was a great opponent of entails and perpetuities and secured the passage of a bill abolishing them in Virginia. “Entails” or “Tailzies” as we call them in Scotland, were settlements of property to people in succession, with irritant and resolutive clauses, preventing that property being alienated or made subject to the debts of the holder from time to time. In that way, property could be left to A and the heirs male of his body, whom failing to B and the heirs of his body &c

    Like the French Jacobins, Jefferson considered each generation was entitled to redistribute property over which no individual (or group of individuals) had the right of disposal – “whether they may change the appropriation of lands given anciently to the church, to hospitals, colleges, orders of chivalry, and otherwise in perpetuity; whether they may abolish the charges and privileges attached on lands, including the whole catalogue, ecclesiastical and feudal; it goes to hereditary offices, authorities and jurisdictions, to hereditary orders, distinctions and appellations, to perpetual monopolies in commerce, the arts or sciences, with a long train of et ceteras.”

    Likewise, the activities of trade and craft guilds (and later trades unions) were regularly subject to legal curbs, as being “in restraint of trade.”

  • “As a matter of history, classical liberalism was at great pains to remove precisely the means that had been traditionally used to curb the free market.”

    Yes… which is why I am an economic classical liberal.

    “Likewise, the activities of trade and craft guilds (and later trades unions) were regularly subject to legal curbs, as being “in restraint of trade.”

    Which they are. It is hardly fair to harm the interests of consumers, who are greater in number and include all of the poor, for the sake of a narrow set of specialized workers. The common good is served by lower prices, which effect everyone, and not higher wages, from which far fewer will benefit.

  • Bonchamps, thanks for this and your other recent post…I’ve not had the time to fully digest them and the ensuing discussion in “Brace Yourselves: The Dark Enlightenment is Upon Us”, but I’ve been on a similar (I think) line. There are some, following apparently in the Thomist tradition, who posit that Catholic identity is ultimately incompatible with the American experiment. Some others, perhaps not so much Thomist but every bit as much aiming to be orthodox, disagree.

    The folk debating this study it for a living while I’m just arm-chairing here, but I wonder if the answer is related to a discussion by Benjamin Wiker on the founding of America (http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/catholicism-and-the-american-founding), wherein he discusses the different between natural law and natural rights.
    Put simply: the more we focus on natural rights in American politics, the greater the division from a political infrastructure at odds with Catholic thought and social teaching (and hence, incurring the criticism of the Thomists)….the more the focus is on natural law, the less the criticism of the Thomists (who claim to champion natural law) and the closer to Catholic thought and social teaching.

    Prior to this, my only substantive rebuttal was: “What else do you propose? My limited survey of the modern world and the highlights of history produces, as a database programmer might say: ‘Query returned zero rows.'”

    It’s entirely possible that the Thomists are misinterpreting the difference…in another realm, with which I’m slightly more familiar, Albert Einstein famously (and quite incorrectly) rebutted the notion of the Big Bang as presented by Georges Lemaître (a Catholic priest) by saying, “Your calculations are correct, but your physics is atrocious” (For MPS: Vos calculs sont corrects, mais votre physique est abominable). Einstein was wrong on the “Steady State” model of the universe as well as quantum mechanics…maybe the error of the professional Thomists is a similar one…but then again, I’m certainly no Lemaître in philosophy or theology.

  • It may also be argued that Catholic libertarians aligned with the Austrian school of economics

    You don’t want to go there.

  • John,

    I would take exception to the idea that natural rights simply mean that one can do as they please within the boundaries of other people’s rights.

    John Locke’s version of natural rights are rooted in natural law. Natural rights are in fact corollaries to natural laws. We have a right to life, liberty and estate because we have a moral duty to preserve our own lives, those of our families, and even those of our communities.

    The idea of natural rights as a license to do whatever we want within the bounds of other people’s rights is a later idea that I don’t think either Locke or Jefferson subscribed to. Maybe later classical liberals such as Spencer or libertarians such as Rothbard would see it this way, once they’d detached natural rights from Christianity. Spencer’s “law of equal liberty” or Rothbard’s “non-aggression principle” are detached from the Christian version of natural law to be sure.

    I’d close by saying that the doctrine of individual natural rights had less to do with establishing an individual right to do as one pleases than they did with limiting governments. That’s what the classical liberal project was all about – limiting the power of the state. One can argue that this naturally or logically leads to a state of moral degeneracy of sexual license, but I don’t think that is true. The state, after all, continued to expand regardless of the wishes of classical liberals, whose ideal societies only existed on the frontier.

  • Art, briefly what are your objections to Hayek? Any links/references for further consideration would be nice. Thanks!

  • tamsin: “Where is our wilderness?” In the wilderness. The Homestead Act has not been repealed. Indwellers have gotten a court order that they can live where they live…in the national parks and forests. All free lands and waterways belong to each and every citizen in joint and common tenancy In recent years, Clinton tried to put all free lands and waterways under the jurisdiction of the Executive in Chief. The Department of the Interior was ordered to evacuate all indwellers from parks and forests.That failed.

  • “John Locke’s version of natural rights are rooted in natural law. Natural rights are in fact corollaries to natural laws. We have a right to life, liberty and estate because we have a moral duty to preserve our own lives, those of our families, and even those of our communities.”
    .
    Those who would take license with vice against virtue give scandal to the community and must be ostracized. It is the duty of the state to deliver equal Justice, not equality. Man is created equal. Justice must be preserved.

  • Bonchamps,
    .
    You have written an excellent and timely piece on Liberalism in its many manifestations and re-inventions which undoubtedly will inform and educate many.
    .
    As I reflected on your most recent piece together with your other riveting article, “Brace Yourselves: The Dark Enlightenment is Upon Us”, I have come to realize that I would decline to classify myself in any category of Catholicism because to do so might give rise to an appearance of division among the Catholic faithful.
    .
    I recall an article by the respected late prelate Father John A. Hardon, S.J entitled “Conservative or Liberal Catholic” which is instructive. Fr. Hardon cautioned Catholics against describing themselves and the Catholic faith in social or political terms. He recounted a story of a priest who provided the truly “Catholic” response when queried whether he was conservative or liberal:
    .
    “… “I’m a Roman Catholic. I follow the guidelines of the Vatican.” The holder of the Petrine Office is the direct descendent of Peter to whom were handed the keys of the kingdom. His mandate is clear; our duty as Roman Catholics is to adhere to both the letter and the Spirit as the Holy Father delineates them for us, not pick and choose those aspects of Catholicism more to our liking. As 2 John 9 reminds us, anyone who “does not remain rooted in the teaching of Christ does not possess God, while anyone who remains rooted in the teaching possesses both Father and the Son.” http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Church_Dogma/Church_Dogma_003.htm.
    .
    Politics, within the Church or in secular society, must not become an entree for division among Catholics because we are the children of a God who is Love and Unity; there should be no division among the children of Our Heavenly Father.
    .
    I believe that as Catholics, we must meet this great trial which confronts us …this assault against our faith by the secular forces of the world… with a united front. Each of us as individuals must therefore intentionally and bravely exercise our free will to stand firm in defense of Catholicism and our fellow Catholics…even if it causes discomfort or brings mockery upon us. And we must pray for the intervention of the Holy Spirit that those Catholics who are blinded by secularlism will wake up in time and turn away from their error.
    .
    Chuck Colson, a protestant, made a videotape shortly before he died, pleading with all Christians (Catholics and Protestants) to align and stand together in unity against what he knew to be coming against us.
    .
    Mr. Colson reminded us “We are all one in Christ”; his video is worth watching.
    .
    See, link for Chuck Colson video, http://youtu.be/Kuyv-XzHueM

  • Bonchamps: I’m by no means (as I’ve stated) a scholar on the topics like you and many others here are. But here’s the “proof in the pudding” as it were: if there was no difference between the classic understanding of natural law and, as you put it, the corollary of natural rights from Locke / Jefferson, then from where did the “modern natural rights” come?

    Specifically, I have a particular libertarian friend who subscribes to the “modern natural rights” notion…and I hear modern Christian libertarian talk-show hosts espouse the following:

    The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Notes_on_the_State_of_Virginia

    To be sure, I agree more than I disagree with such sentiments…but my level of disagreement is non-zero. I could go to Cardinal Ottaviani and his reaffirmation that “error has no rights” (http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2013/05/the-last-laugh-of-alfredo-ottaviani) and the modern explications of Dignitatis Humanae that have put forth the notion that there isn’t an absolute right of the state to argue against the practice of religion, only when the state is acting in accordance with justice (see this article on whether all religions can deserve equal respect: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/do-all-religions-deserve-respect). Those discussions are probably helpful to my argument, but I use instead another (to lean on the well at Crisis, http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/those-intolerable-catholics-in-lockes-time-and-ours … and I note that some good TAC’ers were there in the comments early on), and I wonder if Locke’s view of government could conceive of someone putting God before Country. In other words, if the State had declared X and a religious view held Y, which trumps? Locke had a rather dismal (if arguably misinformed?) view of “papists” such as us, beholden to the keys on the Pope’s belt over the common good of our neighbors…so how does this sit with an orthodox Catholic understanding?

    Please note: I question not because I disagree with libertarian/natural rights prima facie, but rather, I see the consequences of some of these decisions that modern “natural rights” proponents might favor compared to advocates in favor of natural law. If the “natural rights” advanced by modern types is substantively different from that proposed by Locke and Jefferson, I ask : where, that a layman might understand, is the difference? If there is no difference, then what about the criticism afforded, for example, by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on his dissent on the decision striking down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act. Citing the book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/08/the-supreme-court-and-the-future-of-marriage), Justice Alito affirms a natural law definition against the tide of natural rights that triumphed in U.S. vs Windsor. Where did Justice Kennedy and the rest “get it wrong” in presumably applying the fruits of Jefferson and Locke?

    I’m generally inclined toward libertarian notions but with caveats. I can find enough evidence in Hayek’s Road to Serfdom that settles, for me, that there’s no real difference between Hayek and general Catholic economic sentiment…it’s the rhetoric from those who haven’t read much of either that appears to create the difference. But where it comes to natural rights and natural law, it’s not as clear to me and the consequences are as big as the gulf between my friend and I on the definition of marriage. And I ask as one who seeks to defend the ground I’m on better than what the archetypical parent might say: “Because I said so.”

  • Slainte,

    I’m glad the piece was of some use to you.

    I share your disdain for political labels. I would describe what I hold to be sympathies, not identifications. I call myself a “fellow traveler” of classical liberalism, but I can’t be a die-hard adherent. Liberalism’s critics aren’t wrong to point out its relativist tendencies and the dangers these pose to Catholics. As an ideology that seeks to limit and even oppose the pretensions of the state for the sake of individual liberty and dignity, it is quite useful though. I think it is also indisputable that free-market capitalism is the system that best serves the common good and the needs of the poor – mostly by eliminating poverty through a competitive process that forces innovation, which in turn leads to technology that lowers the costs of production and the prices of everyday goods for average people.

  • Bonchamps: we may be passing comments past the time-delay to post, but I want to also affirm something. I wholeheartedly agree with you here:

    I think it is also indisputable that free-market capitalism is the system that best serves the common good and the needs of the poor – mostly by eliminating poverty through a competitive process that forces innovation, which in turn leads to technology that lowers the costs of production and the prices of everyday goods for average people.

    That’s a more elegant way of saying what I was trying to:

    Prior to this, my only substantive rebuttal was: “What else do you propose? My limited survey of the modern world and the highlights of history produces, as a database programmer might say: ‘Query returned zero rows.’”

    What other system is there that does what a properly-implemented free-market system does (ie, without cronyism and corruption)? There’s nothing yet proposed that’s better. One needs only look at the percent of GDP that the US gives in charity (or any of another statistics) to confirm this. So please read my above comments in the same spirit, that I question not to attack to but understand…especially in light of social concerns, such as marriage and defense of life. My libertarian friend might agree with me economically…but not socially.

  • John,
    .
    “then from where did the “modern natural rights” come?”
    .
    It was a subtle shift of thought, I think, from Locke to Jefferson. The reason that I wouldn’t put Jefferson in with later classical liberals, though, is that he still held that natural rights came from God, and in fact that they could only be “secure” if the people believed they came from God. Non-Christian liberals are often content to invoke reason as sufficient for recognition of these rights, and Ayn Rand takes it to absurd levels. Spencer on the other hand really tries hard to establish that men have a sort of natural “sense” of having universal, equal rights.
    .
    “and I hear modern Christian libertarian talk-show hosts espouse the following”
    .
    Yes, that Jefferson quote. That is an articulation of the “modern” view of rights, yes. But your right to that sort of liberty, even though he doesn’t mention natural laws/duties, still comes from God in Jefferson’s view. So he’s somewhere between Locke and the others I think.
    .
    As for Locke’s attitude towards Catholicism, yes, this too is a big problem. This is where we get into John Courtney Murray territory. Some of these classical liberals were continuing a natural law tradition that the Church had developed, but only in parts, and not in the whole, and they ended up attacking Catholicism. It’s a shame, really. After all, Locke is mostly arguing against absolute monarchy, a repugnant political doctrine that the Church never endorsed. Then Cardinal Bellarmine argued against James I’s claim to “divine kingship” and held that the people had a right to overthrow despotic rulers and establish new governments. The real absolutism came when Henry VIII declared himself the head of a new sect, the Church of England.
    .
    I’d say that Locke’s attitude toward Catholicism has little to do with his arguments in the Second Treatise, though. The proof, I think, lies in the fact that the men who advised Pope Leo XIII in the drafting of Rerum Novarum were drawing upon that very work when formulating the Church’s modern position on private property rights, and, I think, the limitations that reason and justice demand be placed on the state.
    .
    “Where did Justice Kennedy and the rest “get it wrong” in presumably applying the fruits of Jefferson and Locke?”
    .
    They definitely got it wrong with Locke because Locke clearly and strongly reaffirmed natural laws and obligations. Jefferson is a different story. I couldn’t confidently say that they totally botched his views of individual natural rights, but they certainly made a complete mockery of his belief in pluralism, state’s rights, popular sovereignty, and the dangers of an unelected body of judges invested with the (self-appointed) power to decide what the law is on the basis of their own philosophical pretensions and biases. The thing to remember about Jefferson is this: while he may have wanted the maximum liberal demands when it came to individual rights and separation of church and state in his own state of Virginia, he completely respected the right of the other states to maintain their own rules and establishments. His reply to the complaint of the Danbury Baptists didn’t end with a promise to send troops to shut down the established church in Connecticut. It made no promises at all. It was along the lines of, “yeah, I hear you… but…” So while Jefferson the personal liberal may lend some support to the arguments of homosexual radicals (repugnant as they would have been to Jefferson himself), Jefferson the statesman, who held the 10th amendment and NOT the 1st to be the foundation of the Constitution, wouldn’t have supported this federal/judicial theocracy in the least.

  • There is no doubt that the growth of commerce tended to destroy those intermediate authorities that opposed an effective obstacle to the powers of government and what Lord Acton calls conditional obedience guaranteed by the power of a limited command

    Dr Johnson has described this process: “Where there is no commerce nor manufacture, he that is born poor can scarcely become rich; and if none are able to buy estates, he that is born to land cannot annihilate his family by selling it. This was once the state of these countries. Perhaps there is no example, till within a century and half, of any family whose estate was alienated otherwise than by violence or forfeiture. Since money has been brought amongst them, they have found, like others, the art of spending more than they receive; and I saw with grief the chief of a very ancient clan, whose Island was condemned by law to be sold for the satisfaction of his creditors.”

    Again, “The Laird is the original owner of the land, whose natural power must be very great, where no man lives but by agriculture; and where the produce of the land is not conveyed through the labyrinths of traffick [sic], but passes directly from the hand that gathers it to the mouth that eats it. The Laird has all those in his power that live upon his farms. Kings can, for the most part, only exalt or degrade. The Laird at pleasure can feed or starve, can give bread, or withhold [sic] it. This inherent power was yet strengthened by the kindness of consanguinity, and the reverence of patriarchal authority. The Laird was the father of the Clan, and his tenants commonly bore his name. And to these principles of original command was added, for many ages, an exclusive right of legal jurisdiction.”

    That is why, until 1745, no people enjoyed greater freedom from government interference than the Highland clans, its security being their loyalty to their chieftains.

    The rise of the Tudor despotism was made possible by the mutual destruction of the old landed nobility in the Wars of the Roses and was supported by the towns, which had the liquid wealth to purchase charters of privileges. We see a similar process in the rise of Absolutism in France, in the wake of the Wars of Religion and the Frondes; again with the support of the commercial classes, the bourgeoisie or townspeople, characterised, since the time of Augustus by the love of equality, the hatred of nobility, and the tolerance of despotism.

  • “Locke does characterize conjugal unions as “voluntary” compacts between men and women.”

    F P Walton, an eminent authority on the marriage law of Scotland wrote that “The question has often been debated by lawyers, if it is correct to describe marriage as a contract. Some writers prefer to call it a status or an institution.

    The difficulty in calling it a mere contract is this—two people may agree to marry each other, but they cannot agree what sort of marriage it shall be. If they take each other it is “for better, for worse.” They must accept all the consequences and incidents of marriage as it is fixed and determined by law. They could not, for example, agree to be married for ten years, or that the wife should be head of the house, or that the children should not have any rights of succession. All that they can do is to agree to marry. It is the law which lays down what are the rights of the husband, the rights of the wife, the rights of the children; whereas as a general rule in the making of contracts the parties may come to any terms they like. The discussion is not a particularly fruitful one and I only mention it to introduce the elementary proposition so often lost sight of — that there must be matrimonial consent. Whether marriage is a contract or something more, there is no doubt at all that it is entered into by a contract—an agreement to marry.”

    Walton adds that, by the law of Scotland, “when it is proved that the two people agreed to marry {i.e., to marry then and there, not at some future time, which would only be promise of marriage), then they are married, provided, of course, there was no legal impediment.” That is taken from the Canon Law and was the rule of the Catholic Church, too, until the Tametsi decree of the Council of Trent in 1563.

  • “he growth of commerce tended to destroy those intermediate authorities that opposed an effective obstacle to the powers of government”

    The growth of commerce inspired people to fight for their lives, liberties and property in ways they had scarcely done throughout human history.

    “That is why, until 1745, no people enjoyed greater freedom from government interference than the Highland clans”

    I’m quite sure that very few if any peoples enjoyed greater privation, hunger and general want. It is easy to romanticize the clan system, far moreso than it would be to live in such a place. One of my life-long dreams is to visit the Hebrides. Living there the way 18th century cotters did isn’t a part of that, though.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: “”The difficulty in calling it a mere contract is this—two people may agree to marry each other, but they cannot agree what sort of marriage it shall be.””
    .
    God brought the woman, Eve, to Adam and Adam said: “She now is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”
    Ejecting God, our Creator, from His creation is nothing short of stealing.
    The Sacrament of Matrimony is the epitome of sovereignty, consent for a woman to become a wife, for a man to become a husband, each to his office to fulfill his and her vocation. The office of wife for a woman and the office of husband for a man is no less than the office of priesthood of the laity with Jesus Christ as head Priest.

  • Bonchamps

    Life on a Hebridian croft, typically 4 acres of arable land and sixteen of pasture tends not to be one of Sybaritic luxury even today.

    The chieftain would have shared the same hardships of life as his clansmen. His rents were paid in victual or cattle, for which there was no ready market. He spent them on the only form of conspicuous consumption available to him, that is, hospitality. The number of retainers is astonishing and we read of minor chieftains visiting Edinburgh with three or four score horsemen. Their loyalty to their chief and their keen sense of honour, quick to detect and punish any want of respect shown him, led to many famous tulzies, like that in in 1520 between the Hamiltons and the Douglases, known as “Cleanse the Causeway,” when the latter, as Pitscottie records, ” keiped both the gaitt and their honouris”; and
    that in 1551 between the Kerrs and the Scotts,

    When the streets of High Dunedin
    Saw lances gleam and falchions redden,
    And heard the slogan’s deadly yell—
    Then the Chief of Branxholm fell.

    Such men were unlikely tamely to submit to oppression by government.

    If you do visit the Hebrides, on no account miss Islay, which boasts nine distilleries and whose peaty malts, such as Bowmore, Laphroaig and Kilchoman, which all have their own malting floors, are beyond description. I would especially recommend Lagavulin.

  • Mary de Voe

    Yes, as a great judge, Lord Stowell said, “Marriage in its origin is a contract of natural law; it may exist between two individuals of different sexes although no third person existed in the world, as happened in the case of the common ancestors of mankind. It is the parent not the child of civil society. In civil society, it becomes a civil contract regulated and prescribed by law and endowed with civil consequences. In most civilized countries, acting under a sense of the force of sacred obligations, it has had the sanctions of religion superadded; it then becomes a religious, as well a natural and civil, contract; for it is a great mistake to suppose that because it is the one, therefore it may not likewise be the other. Heaven itself is made a party to the contract and the consent of the individuals pledged to each other is ratified and consecrated by a vow to God.”

    I do not think Locke would have disagreed.

  • Bonchamps,
    .
    When MPS states, “…If you do visit the Hebrides, on no account miss Islay, which boasts nine distilleries and whose peaty malts, such as Bowmore, Laphroaig and Kilchoman, which all have their own malting floors, are beyond description…”
    .
    When MPS uses the term “peaty malt” he really means it….keep all lit matches at bay. : )

  • Art, briefly what are your objections to Hayek? Any links/references for further consideration would be nice. Thanks!

    Not to Hayek, but to contemporary Austrian economics as developed by Peter Boettke, Robert Higgs, and others. The theoretical aspect has led to (I am quoting a libertarian more inclined to the Chicago school) “a great deal of meta-economics, but not much economics”. They are dubious about (if not rejecting of) statistical analysis as a tool and tend toward policy prescriptions (e.g. replacing central banking with updated versions of the gold standard) which would have been indubitably disastrous during the most recent unpleasantness (and were disastrous during the period running from 1929 to 1933).

  • The truth is out there.

    The unpleasantness of the Great Depression was not exacerbated by lack of government action or monetary strictures of the dreaded gold standard.

    Here are the government policies/culprits:
    • The Federal Reserve reduced the amount of credit outstanding, and therefore the stock of money, in 1931 and again in 1933;
    • Congress passed and President Hoover approved a major tax increase in June 1932;
    • Rumors that President-elect Roosevelt would devalue the dollar (which he later did) caused the final banking panic; and
    • The national banking holiday declared by Roosevelt on March 6, 1933, undermined public confidence so greatly that 5,000 banks didn’t reopen after the holiday expired, and 2,000 closed permanently.
    • In the 1930s, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act caused a collapse in global trade.

    In January 1934, FDR increased the dollar price of gold from $20.67 to $35, devaluing the dollar by 70 percent and increasing the value of gold that the government now owned.

    Up to 1934, the $20 (I own one) Federal Reserve Note (you call it “dollars”) had imprinted on it “WILL PAY TO THE BEARER ON DEMAND TWENTY DOLLARS.” Today, it says “Twenty Dollars.”

    PS: The central planners and collectivists dread the giold standard because they cannot control us if money is backed by something real.

  • The monetary base was stable, declining slightly during the period running from 1929 to 1933. What changed was a rapid increase in the demand for real balances, which was not met by the monetary authorities (because of the gold standard, in part).

    It is doubtful Smoot-Hawley caused a ‘collapse’ in global trade. The United States relied on its domestic market and only about 5% of our domestic production was exported. We had a similar abrupt implosion in foreign trade in 2008-09 (and manifest in several countries) absent any sort of protectionist legislation.

    ==

    The ratio of federal income tax collections to domestic product in 1932 was quite low. The tax increase was injurious to the economy, but only a small fraction of the economic implosion registered over 3.5 years is attributable to that tax increase. (The economy had actually stabilized by the 3d quarter of 1932 after three years of rapid implosion).

    ==

    One purpose of the bank holiday was to arrest panic withdrawals and identify insolvent banks. Of course the banks did not reopen. They were bust.

  • You think Sir Alan Walters qualifies as a ‘central planner’ and ‘collectivist’??? (His description of advocates of the gold standard in 1984 was thus: “crackers”).

  • Thomas Jefferson once said:

    “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies . . . If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] . . . will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered . . . The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.” — Thomas Jefferson — The Debate Over The Recharter Of The Bank Bill, (1809)

  • Michael Peterson-Seymour.
    “”it (civil marriage) has had the sanctions of religion superadded;”” The sanctions of religion superadded may be removed by civil society.
    .
    The Defense of Marriage Act posits that marriage consists of one man and one woman. Marriage consists of one husband and one wife. The informed consent of one man to become a husband and the informed consent of one woman to become a wife is required. The essence of marriage then is the offices of husband and wife to which a man and a woman attain, an attainment that continues “until death do us part.”
    .
    Some people wish to have civil society normalize sodomy by demanding equality and pretending that sodomy is theirs by “natural right” because they suffer same-sex attraction. This amounts to Abraham Lincoln’s query about counting a dog’s tail as a fifth foot. If one counts the dog’s tail as his foot, one will still have a dog with four feet and one tail.
    .
    If religion is superadded or subtracted, one fully informed husband and one fully informed wife constitute marriage, a marriage between one man and one woman.
    .
    It is a miscarriage of Justice and a crime against civil society that same-sex oriented individuals are being used by militant sodomites to thwart the truth.

  • “Heaven itself is made a party to the contract and the consent of the individuals pledged to each other is ratified and consecrated by a vow to God.””
    .
    All, I say all, contracts, civil and vows as religious, are ratified and consecrated to God and by God. One does not enter into a civil contract to be swindled or lied to. “In God We Trust”

  • Bonchamps: “It was a subtle shift of thought, I think, from Locke to Jefferson. The reason that I wouldn’t put Jefferson in with later classical liberals, though, is that he still held that natural rights came from God, and in fact that they could only be “secure” if the people believed they came from God.”
    .
    This excerpt from Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Church states the First Amendment with its freedom of Religion, then, the “wall of separation of Church and State” after, but only after “…or prohibit the free exercise thereof.” Giving atheism priority over the “free exercise thereof” is establishment of atheism.
    .
    “Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience” Any reference to the HHS Mandate?
    .
    “I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”
    .
    Natural rights exclude the unnatural rights of the sodomites’ agenda.
    .
    excerpt from Jefferson:
    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”

  • Mary,

    Yes, I’m aware of the content of the letter. What actually became of the Danbury Baptists, though? Connecticut kept its established church during the Jefferson presidency. Why?

    “I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That “all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people.” — TJ

    The separation of church and state applied to the federal government, not the state governments. In the early American mind, before the days of “incorporation”, the difference between these two was actually significant.

  • “The reason that I wouldn’t put Jefferson in with later classical liberals, though, is that he still held that natural rights came from God, and in fact that they could only be “secure” if the people believed they came from God”

    That belief was all but universal. In the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen of 26 August 1789, “the National Assembly recognizes and proclaims, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being [« en présence et sous les auspices de l'Etre Suprême »], the following rights of man and of the citizen…”

    Indeed, religion was held to be essential to the social bond and that society was dependent on its sanctions. Rousseau had been intolerant in his theism – “While it can compel no one to believe them, it can banish from the State whoever does not believe them — it can banish him, not for impiety, but as an anti-social being, incapable of truly loving the laws and justice, and of sacrificing, at need, his life to his duty. If anyone, after publicly recognising these dogmas, behaves as if he does not believe them, let him be punished by death: he has committed the worst of all crimes, that of lying before the law.” Robespierre, who described himself as “a pretty bad Catholic” [un assez mauvais Catholique] – something few would dispute – famously declared “Atheism is aristocratic; the idea of a great Being that watches over oppressed innocence and punishes triumphant crime is altogether popular.”

    An established church, from which dissent was tolerated, remained the European norm throughout the 19th century.

  • Professor Deco:

    Dr. Friedman and I bow to your superior analysis and firmer grasp of the factual record.

  • Shaw:

    Dr. Friedman was not an adherent of ‘Austrian’ economics, nor of any policy prescription that contemporary ‘Austrians’ are promoting at this time.

  • Dr. Deco:

    Nor am I.

    I had my “ass in the grass/boots on the ground” in the past 37 years of serial banking/financial crises. I lived the causes and effects. The Congress, Fed and Treasury made them worse.

    “They” don’t listen to guys like me. And, I am not one of them guys that habitually predicts 50 of the past five busts.

  • What’s your point, T. Shaw?

    First you endorse a gold standard (including a kvetch that gold and silver certificates are no longer in circulation), then you eschew Austrian policy prescriptions, which include a ‘currency board’, which is meant to function similarly to a metallic standard.

    You make like I contradict Milton Friedman. Trouble is, my 1st point above is the nut of Dr. Friedman’s thesis about the Depression (seconded by Sir Alan Walters, another monetarist). The rest is (some interpretive statements aside) factual and would not be denied by Dr. Friedman or anyone else who had looked through the statistical manuals.

  • Everyone acknowledges that Peel’s Bank Act of 1844, restricting the note issue failed to address the real problem. Even then, currency notes were the small change of commerce and the Act did nothing to restrict bank deposits and, therefore, bank advances. Accordingly, the Act had no effect on price inflation.

    Neither then, nor subsequently, could any bank have paid its depositors in gold or Bank of England notes, had they all demanded repayment.

  • I so adore these on-topic conversations.

  • Professor Deco,

    I stifled myself. Mr. Bonchamps would have so adored it.

  • Neither then, nor subsequently, could any bank have paid its depositors in gold or Bank of England notes, had they all demanded repayment.

    I think that’s pretty much been true since the early modern period. When people decry ‘fractional reserve banking’, what they are objecting to is what is known more concisely as ‘banking’.

  • Art, thank you for your reply. I was not aware that when the Austrian school is referenced, that there is a “contemporary” school.
    .
    I read both The Road to Serfdom and The Fatal Conceit in recent years. I find Hayek’s argument to be compelling. To put it in moral terms, he shows how we create a Hell on Earth when we try to create Heaven on Earth through the machinery of State planning… and there’s a lot of data from the 20th century to back that up. I’m curious to know if there is a theological? doctrinal? natural law? reason that Hayek’s reasoning should be rejected.
    .
    Bonchamps, this is on-topic insofar as I’m asking about man’s relationship to the State, specifically what choices the State should make for men in the light of our Catholic faith.
    .
    I read your whole Scribd essay before making my first comment.

  • Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were aligned in their concern that the establishment and continuation of a “Central Bank” now known as “The Federal Reserve” would jeopardize the well being of the new republic, the integrity of its Constitution and its concept of federalism, along with the rights and liberties of its citizens. This “bank” issue is a fundamental concern to Liberalism on many levels.
    .
    In 1832, President Jackson rejected a Bill seeking to continue the existence of a Central Bank. In his veto of the bill, he stated:
    .
    “…It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society-the farmers, mechanics, and laborers-who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.
    .
    “….Is there no danger to our liberty and independence in a bank that in its nature has so little to bind it to our country? The president of the bank has told us that most of the State banks exist by its forbearance. Should its influence become concentered, as it may under the operation of such an act as this, in the hands of a self-elected directory whose interests are identified with those of the foreign stockholders, will there not be cause to tremble for the purity of our elections in peace and for the independence of our country in war? Their power would be great whenever they might choose to exert it; but if this monopoly were regularly renewed every fifteen or twenty years on terms proposed by themselves, they might seldom in peace put forth their strength to influence elections or control the affairs of the nation. But if any private citizen or public functionary should interpose to curtail its powers or prevent a renewal of its privileges, it can not be doubted that he would be made to feel its influence.”
    .
    “Should the stock of the bank principally pass into the hands of the subjects of a foreign country, and we should unfortunately become involved in a war with that country, what would be our condition? Of the course which would be pursued by a bank almost wholly owned by the subjects of a foreign power, and managed by those whose interests, if not affections, would run in the same direction there can be no doubt. All its operations within would be in aid of the hostile fleets and armies without. Controlling our currency, receiving our public moneys, and holding thousands of our citizens in dependence, it would be more formidable and dangerous than the naval and military power of the enemy….”
    .
    “…..It is maintained by some that the bank is a means of executing the constitutional power “to coin money and regulate the value thereof.” Congress have established a mint to coin money and passed laws to regulate the value thereof. The money so coined, with its value so regulated, and such foreign coins as Congress may adopt are the only currency known to the Constitution. But if they have other power to regulate the currency, it was conferred to be exercised by themselves, and not to be transferred to a corporation. If the bank be established for that purpose, with a charter unalterable without its consent, Congress have parted with their power for a term of years, during which the Constitution is a dead letter. It is neither necessary nor proper to transfer its legislative power to such a bank, and therefore unconstitutional…”
    .
    “…Nor is our Government to be maintained or our Union preserved by invasions of the rights and powers of the several States. In thus attempting to make our General Government strong we make it weak. Its true strength consists in leaving individuals and States as much as possible to themselves-in making itself felt, not in its power, but in its beneficence; not in its control, but in its protection; not in binding the States more closely to the center, but leaving each to move unobstructed in its proper orbit….”
    .
    “….It can not be necessary to the character of the bank as a fiscal agent of the Government that its private business should be exempted from that taxation to which all the State banks are liable, nor can I conceive it “proper” that the substantive and most essential powers reserved by the States shall be thus attacked and annihilated as a means of executing the powers delegated to the General Government. It may be safely assumed that none of those sages who had an agency in forming or adopting our Constitution ever imagined that any portion of the taxing power of the States not prohibited to them nor delegated to Congress was to be swept away and annihilated as a means of executing certain powers delegated to Congress….”
    .
    “….Experience should teach us wisdom. Most of the difficulties our Government now encounters and most of the dangers which impend over our Union have sprung from an abandonment of the legitimate objects of Government by our national legislation, and the adoption of such principles as are embodied in this act. Many of our rich men have not been content with equal protection and equal benefits, but have besought us to make them richer by act of Congress. By attempting to gratify their desires we have in the results of our legislation arrayed section against section, interest against interest, and man against man, in a fearful commotion which threatens to shake the foundations of our Union. It is time to pause in our career to review our principles, and if possible revive that devoted patriotism and spirit of compromise which distinguished the sages of the Revolution and the fathers of our Union. If we can not at once, in justice to interests vested under improvident legislation, make our Government what it ought to be, we can at least take a stand against all new grants of monopolies and exclusive privileges, against any prostitution of our Government to the advancement of the few at the expense of the many, and in favor of compromise and gradual reform in our code of laws and system of political economy….”
    .
    Source: “President Jackson’s Veto Message Regarding the Bank of the United States” of July 10, 1832;
    See, link: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/ajveto01.asp.

  • From page 168 of the 5th edition (1966) of Karl Popper’s 1945 study, The Open Society and Its Enemies:

    “Aestheticism and radicalism must lead us to jettison reason, and to replace it by a desperate hope for political miracles. This irrational attitude which springs from intoxication with dreams of a beautiful world is what I call Romanticism. It may seek its heavenly city in the past or in the future; it may preach ‘back to nature’ or ‘forward to a world of love and beauty’; but its appeal is always to our emotions rather than to reason. Even with the best intentions of making heaven on earth it only succeeds in making it a hell – that hell which man alone prepares for his fellow-men.”

  • When MPS uses the term “peaty malt” he really means it….keep all lit matches at bay. : )

    I had a friend in college that loved Laphroaig…at the time (maybe they still do it), they had a certificate for a square inch claim to the peat bogs of the surrounding area. I still only partake in Scotch with friends to humor them…but the image of a burning square inch of peat will now assist me when I tilt one back with them.
    .
    Back on topic…Thanks for the replies Bonchamps, MPS and others. So if I understand it correctly, Jefferson would have supported each state’s determination to be as religiously tolerant or not, per an application of the the 10th Amendment.
    .
    Now, from the perspective of Dignitatis Humanae, as presented at Crisis (http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/do-all-religions-deserve-respect), absolute religious tolerance of every religion (ie, the entire spectrum of religious practice) isn’t good. Further, religious freedom can be, under justice, restricted…obvious example: human sacrifice. But then I pose this (from the link):

    The Council fathers also have this to say: “Civil society has the right to defend itself against possible abuses committed on the pretext of freedom of religion. It is the special duty of government to provide this protection. However, government is not to act in an arbitrary fashion or in an unfair spirit of partisanship. Its action is to be controlled by juridical norms which are in conformity with the objective moral order.” For our purposes the first and the last lines are the most important. The first possibly signals again an awareness of the problems that might be caused by false religion. The last tells us that government should be guided in its actions by the “objective moral order.”

    Take the above quote, mix in Jefferson and Locke for a moment…and then superimpose this mixture upon the HHS contraception mandate oppression. If the Gub’ment, through the actions of Sebellius and Holder, is acting in accordance with the “objective moral order” (please note the sarcasm), then aren’t they able to legally and within the realm of justice oppress Little Sisters of the Poor? Of course we reject that interpretation, but what would stop Jefferson from arguing that, or at least remaining silent on the dispute?

  • John,
    .
    Answer 1: http://the-american-catholic.com/2014/01/09/ursuline-nuns-thomas-jefferson-and-synchronicity/
    .
    Answer 2: http://www.thomasmore.org/blog/2012/02/thomas-jefferson-president-obama-hhs-mandate
    .
    The HHS mandate has absolutely nothing to do with moral order. The government doesn’t even make that claim when challenged in court. It is about achieving “gender equality”, a purely political goal. I suppose anyone can say that anything they propose is in the interests of “objective moral order”, though, should they want to.
    .
    Jefferson had zero interest – none, nada, zilch – in forcing people to behave contrary to their consciences and beliefs when there was no compelling, overriding issue at stake, which is precisely the case with the HHS mandate. He was not an ideological sociopath who believed it was his mission to force everyone to contribute to some grand political vision.

  • “It does reject the old Aristotelian idea that the state precedes man…”

    To quote something I wrote on a previous thread, “Aristotle famously called Man a ζῷον πολιτικόν – a political animal, For him, it is as blindingly obvious that people everywhere live in communities as that bees live in hives or wolves in packs.” It is in this sense that the polis logically precedes the individual.

    Now, the good of a human community must be a specifically human good and the Catholic political philosopher, Yves Simon identifies this: “the highest activity/being in the natural order is the free arrangement of men about what is good, brought together in an actual polity, where it is no longer a mere abstraction.”

    It is an old saying that the people make the laws and then the laws make the people. Recall the famous epitaph to Leonidas and his immortal 300 that “they died in obedience to the laws.” For the Spartan, the laws of Lycurgus were no mere constraint imposed from without; they pervaded his nature and expressed themselves in his actions. That is what Montaigne meant, when he says that “to obey is the proper office of a rational soul.” No wonder Sparta has been called “a lightening-flash of freedom, in the dark night of tyranny and crime.”

  • MPS,

    “Communities” are not “the state.” It was blindingly obvious to Locke too that men lived with women, had children, and established households and even communities before there ever was a state, which as a matter of historical fact, I believe is the truth.
    .
    Sparta was as close to a fascist regime in the ancient world as could be imagined, which is why it was adored by totalitarian fanatics such as Rousseau. I don’t say that it had no admirable and formidable qualities, but one wonders how the helots felt about those.
    .
    But none of this is really about history. It is about moral precedence. Man doesn’t simply precede the state in time, but in moral importance. The state exists to serve man and to protect what he has a right to acquire by nature. Men have a right to limit its power over their lives because it is their servant. If man exists to serve the state, well, what can I say – look at the bloody Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, fascist Italy. There’s your state preceding man.

  • “Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State” – Mussolini
    .
    Sign me up for some of that.

  • Bonchamps

    The individual does not exist to serve the state – that is the fascist distortion of what Plato taught – rather the state is necessary to his perfection, to the fulfilment of his nature.

    As Hegel says, “If the state is confused with civil society, and if its specific end is laid down as the security and protection of property and personal freedom, then the interest of the individuals as such becomes the ultimate end of their association, and it follows that membership of the state is something optional. But the state’s relation to the individual is quite different from this. Since the state is mind objectified, it is only as one of its members that the individual himself has objectivity, genuine individuality, and an ethical life. Unification pure and simple is the true content and aim of the individual, and the individual’s destiny is the living of a universal life. His further particular satisfaction, activity and mode of conduct have this substantive and universally valid life as their starting point and their result.”

    This is why Yves Simon says that, in this state [of abstraction], man is “no longer unequivocally real.” To clarify, Simon then adds: “Human communities are the highest attainment of nature for they are virtually unlimited with regard to diversity of perfections, and are virtually immortal.” He is talking not about what God has in mind for us in eternal life but what, in this world, is the purpose of the “highest of the practical sciences,” as Aristotle called politics.

  • MPS, did the German Third Reich understand itself to be the sort of Hegelian state you describe which represents a kind of perfection?

  • “I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That “all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people.” — TJ ”

    ” or to the people”
    .
    “We, the people… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the united States of America.” The Connecticut Baptist Church’s fears have become our daily living nightmare.”
    Some people think that “Church” means the body of people. “Church” means one living human person and he is free to have his Faith and his Conscience.
    Freedom and Justice are predicated on virtue. Those who take license exile themselves to a gulag of their own making.
    The Church of Connecticut was a church that happened to be in Connecticut. If it was supported by taxes, then, unless all churchs and denominations were supported by taxes, it would have been discrimination and taxation without representation. All education ought to be supported as education not as public or private school because all taxes are collected from all people.

  • Being overrun by immoral despots is not American.
    The atheist and the secular humanist are to be tolerated. Atheism and secular humanism are to be exposed as the fraud, the perjury, the lie, that they are. Atheism refuses to acknowledge the existence of God. The Supreme Sovereign Being, our Creator, endows all unalienable human, civil rights. Unalienable rights are endowed by the infinite God. The state, constituted by man, is finite and all rights endowed by the state are finite. Finite human rights have an expiration date, and unless constantly renewed and ratified, they may expire or lose their efficacy. Finite human right, unacknowledged, puts man at the mercy of the state.
    Infinite human rights come from the infinite God. Unending and unalienable human rights comes an unending and unalienable Creator.
    It is the desire of God that all men be free. Our Creator has created man in freedom, freedom from enslavement to every vice and every addiction to every sort of evil. Man is created to be especially free to choose good over the deceit of the devil.
    It is the will of God that man might live in peace with his neighbor. God inspires man to constitute the state that all unalienable rights of man might be shared to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” all future generations, persons still in the mind of God, our Creator.
    It is the duty of the state constituted by man’s free will to deliver equal Justice. Equal Justice may only be established through virtue, through the innocence and virginity of the newly begotten human soul created in legal and moral innocence. Manmade Justice will always bear the mark of finite, imperfect man.
    Freedom of Religion must remain constant so that when the atheist and secular humanist freely choose Truth, the unalienable right to freedom of religion may be theirs to embrace. This is evident in Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Church.
    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”
    Citing the whole First Amendment, including the phrase, ”or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” Jefferson then comments about “a wall of separation of church and state.” The wall of separation of church and state has been abused by the atheist and the secular humanist to remove any free expression of religion, to impose atheism, their own agenda, to bamboozle and tyrannize and obliterate the unalienable human rights endowed by our Creator, God, the Supreme Sovereign Being in Whose image and likeness man is created with a rational, immortal human soul, endowed with free will, intellect and sovereign personhood. Enough of the half-truths of atheism and the skullduggery of secular humanism, if the atheist and secular humanist wish to impose finite civil rights on the souls of men, equal Justice dictates that they are the first to have their finite civil rights enforced by the state and by the state removed, finished. The atheist and the secular humanist want unalienable human rights while imposing their finite and removable human rights on the souls of men. This injustice must be rectified and the whole truth be re-established and re-ratified.
    Jefferson also cites “ the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience.” “ Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties”
    This statement alone is the response to the Obamacare’s HHS Mandate.

  • “Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State” – Mussolini . Sign me up for some of that.”

    Believe me, Bonchamps, you do not want to go there.
    .
    If the individuals all practice virtue and brotherly love, they may constitute the state. The criminal, by virtue of his exiling himself through his crime, ceases to constitute the state. Persona non grata.

  • MPS,
    .
    “But the state’s relation to the individual is quite different from this. Since the state is mind objectified, it is only as one of its members that the individual himself has objectivity, genuine individuality, and an ethical life.”
    .
    There’s quite a miscommunication here, isn’t there? In the minds of classical liberals, “the state” is specifically a body of armed men with a monopoly of violence over a given geographical territory. The way that popes and maybe Hegel too used “the state” was akin to the way that classical liberals may speak of communities or societies. “The state” as organized violence IS optional, DOES exist almost entirely to preserve private property (life, liberty, estate). “The state” as a community of human beings sharing values, culture, technology is society. It too is optional – anyone can go live in the wilderness alone. But I agree that no one will develop in isolation. No classical liberal believes that men can develop or ought to seek to develop as isolate individuals outside of society. What Hegel calls “civil society”, we call the state. What he calls “the state”, we call society. This is semantic confusion at its finest, without a doubt.

  • ““The state” as organized violence IS optional, DOES exist almost entirely to preserve private property (life, liberty, estate).”
    .
    This so called “violence” is called armed forces. Violence is used in the commission of a crime. Armed forces are used in the protection of the community or self.
    .
    But I agree that no one will develop in isolation. No classical liberal believes that men can develop or ought to seek to develop as isolate individuals outside of society .”
    Hermit monks and the desert Fathers grew in holiness in isolation, not without of the state but for the state.

  • Thanks for the comments and clarifications. I would tend to agree that the terms that each philosopher and commenter use are critical for understanding…I can’t help but wonder if much of what many of us have said is the same but with different words. MacIntyre’s After Virtue discussed the fact that when no one properly understands the language of moral philosophy, it’s terribly hard to come to any agreement on anything.
    .
    If I may synthesize and put this into my own language (contributing to the dilemma I just mentioned…O Irony!) and see if I’ve understood properly, the individual man and society exist in an interdependent relationship. Drawing on the notions of how subsidiarity (which tends to focus downward) and solidarity (which tends to focus across the entirety of humanity) need to be a “Both And” and not an “Either Or”, man and society are similiarly (though not identically) positioned.
    .
    An individual (and this is where my limited knowledge of Thomism and the greater Catholic application to theology / philosophy might fail me) is ordered toward the objective goods of worshiping his Creator, pursuit of virtues (Cardinal and Spiritual), and the Great Commission with respect to his fellow man. That inevitably aims work toward a just and good society (I’m using “just” more as I understand Aquinas to mean it, not your average progressive). A just society, in turn, tries to foster an environment in which individuals can achieve their own objective good.
    .
    I think it’s important that MPS discussed the way in which Plato had been twisted…In that same line, C.S. Lewis noted in Mere Christianity, the simple premise of which entity, the man or the state, is more important is, among other things, related to the belief in the lifespan of each.

    Again, Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever, and this must be either true or false. . . . And immortality makes this other difference, which, by the by, has a connection with the difference between totalitarianism and democracy. If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilisation, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual. But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of the state or civilisation, compared with his, is only a moment.

    http://merciarising.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/cs-lewis-state-and-individual/

    I think that this certainly explains why collectivist governments (I find Hayek’s generalization to be quite appropriate, as there’s little net difference between fascists, communists, and any other type of socialist) invariably will make determinations that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or one” and then, in turn, lead to the Culture of Death. In light of that, the Christian alternative would look to Christ’s example, where He would leave the 99 sheep to look for the one which was lost. So, I think it’s fair to say (unless I’ve botched an understanding) that the individual is more important than the state (bad connotation) and probably the society (good connotation). So I think this would find agreement with Bonchamps point in the primacy of the individual. But to MPS’ point, it’s a “chicken and the egg” question; you necessarily must have man and society, even if the “egg came first” (in this situation, the man). Maybe more appropriate to use a plant seed…the seed is essential, but without growing into a mature plant and flowering, it hasn’t reached its proper end (MPS’ comment about assisting to man’s proper end). But this is the break with my comparison to subsidiarity and solidarity…those I regard as “co-equal” compared to the individual and the polis.
    .
    Further, if I’m understanding and translating between Bonchamps accent from a classical liberal and Michael’s of a Catholic theologian/philosopher, an individual who is aligned properly with an objective morality won’t come into conflict with a society aligned the same. To Mary’s point, we have a situation in present times where the societystate is not aligned properly.
    .
    It’s when either the individual or the society stray from the proper moral code that they become unjust, and therefore either the criminal or the oppressive state. A just war undertaken by the state is a proper exercise of its capacity, insofar as it is protecting the good and defending against the bad. When it is turning firehoses on some people, intentionally starving other people, or subsidizing infanticide, it has divorced itself from justice.
    .
    Hopefully that makes sense, as I’m trying to make sure I’m understanding properly…I think I’m still around the “first level of understanding”…I heard it once said that there are three levels of understanding, depending upon your ability to explain a topic or thought to first yourself, second to a friend (who will grant you some leeway) and finally to an enemy (who will find any holes in your presentation and challenge you on it). If, of course, I’m still at the “zeroth level of understanding”, I welcome any nudges, hints or sledgehammers anyone might provide.

  • Mary,
    “Hermit monks and the desert Fathers grew in holiness in isolation, not without of the state but for the state.”
    .
    I think there’s a distinction here, and I’m probably the least best to articulate it given the rambling I just went through. I believe the difference is that in the case of a hermit monk, there’s a relationship to the greater society, but a supernatural one. Whereas in the context of politics / philosophy, the question is more discussing what authority the state has over the individual. An anarcho-individualist, who would reject any state authority, would be supporting a notion of isolation completely different than what a monk might be doing.

  • John by any other name: You said it correctly. Thank you for the clarification.
    .
    “It’s when either the individual or the society stray from the proper moral code that they become unjust, and therefore either the criminal or the oppressive state. A just war undertaken by the state is a proper exercise of its capacity, insofar as it is protecting the good and defending against the bad. When it is turning firehoses on some people, intentionally starving other people, or subsidizing infanticide, it has divorced itself from justice.”

  • Bonchamps

    Thank you for your clarification.

    Certainly, for the ancients, the polis or respublica (the “public thing”) was distinguished from other communities by the fact that it was independent and not subject to any external authority.

    A polity cannot exist without laws, enacted or customary. That is what Simon means, when he says that it is a “free arrangement of men about what is good brought together in an actual polity where it is no longer a mere abstraction.” That is also what Hegel means, when he says that “the state is mind objectified.”

    As a matter of history, many societies have had very limited means of law enforcement, but there was always a clearly recognized difference between self-help in enforcing a legal claim and mere aggression; a creditor would call up witnesses and pronounce a particular formula, when seizing his debtor’s goods or person; magistrates did not adjudicate claims themselves (an invidious task), but appointed an arbitrator, with the consent of both parties and so on.

    For a Catholic, like Simon, ““Beyond the satisfaction of individual needs, the association of men serves a good unique in plenitude and duration, the common good of the human community.” This “common good” is not a separate “being” into which individual persons are somehow subsumed. Rather it is a “good” that recognizes that each citizen also has a transcendent destiny that is not merely political. Moreover, the polity itself exists as a relation of order among men, whose being, whose substance, grounds the polity’s reality, which cannot exist without them. That is where it differs from Fascist and Socialist concepts of the collective.

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .