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Illiberal Catholicism: A Sharp Critique

[Please note: I, Bonchamps, am not the author of this piece. This is a guest post authored by Stephen Herreid that I believe is worth your time as it takes up a topic that has been of great interest to me as of late. Please address your comments to him.]

I’ve written elsewhere of Patrick Deneen’s coming-out as a “radical Catholic.” In his article “A Catholic Showdown Worth Watching,” Deneen issues a clarion call for other radicals to join in his contempt for the “deeply flawed” American project. Deneen essentially makes an argument that conservative Catholics ought to see themselves as having more in common with the coercive left than with the Catholic struggle for religious freedom in America. Why? Because his brand of Catholicism is anti-American and anti-liberty first, Christian and pro-life second.

Following the publication of Deneen’s article at the American Conservative, the pro-American Catholic scholar Peter Lawler was quick to call out Deneen as “repulsively lacking in gratitude” toward an America which has treated Catholics so well. “His article should have been published in The Anti-American Conservative,” he quipped. Indeed, I wonder how we can include Deneen’s anti-American agenda among us while maintaining the moral objectives of Catholicism in America.

Deneen is the most respectable representative of a movement among Catholic “conservatives” that has been justly called illiberal Catholicism, a recently cobbled-together Frankenstein monster whose sewn-up pieces include reactionary European thought and modern American leftism. Those who adhere to this movement differ on many points, but what holds them together is their hostility to religious liberty, the market economy, American Protestants, conservative activism, the Republican party, and the pro-life movement as currently constituted. At a moment when the Church is in very real danger of losing her liberty, when Catholic institutions only retain what fragile protection they have through legal appeals to American ideals of liberty, Deneen’s camp has decided to lend their rhetorical aid to the left’s attack on those ideals. Yes, the current administration is attacking the foundational American principles and laws that protect the Church from persecution. But “America was never well-founded” anyway, writes Deneen, “so either needs to be differently re-founded or at least endured, even survived.” Sure, the federal government is robbing us of our religious liberty precisely by way of an unconstitutional attack on the economic liberty of Christian employers. But after all, Deneen believes that Catholics should be “deeply critical” of the free market. It is fair to ask: What on earth does he hope to achieve?

Perhaps illiberal Catholics are simply bitter at how little influence they have managed to wield over the broader conservative movement—and so they have decided to flounce out of it in a huff. Some of the intellectual authorities whom Deneen cites certainly give this impression. For instance, John Medaille, who proudly announced in 2008 that, “[t]o the chagrin of many of my conservative, Catholic friends, I am voting—have already voted—for Barrack Obama.”

Another source whom Deneen quotes approvingly is Thomas Storck, who in the critical 2004 election, when the voting numbers at the Supreme Court hung in the balance, wrote an article at the New Oxford Review urging Catholics not to vote—even suggesting that after all, “the economic policies of the Democratic Party, by and large,” have historically “comported better with Catholic teaching than … those of the Republicans.” Others of Deneen’s allies reject American democratic politics altogether. Witness Mark Gordon, who boasted that his hero, model and patron, Dorothy Day, refused to vote for fear of granting legitimacy to an essentially illegitimate state.” He went on, “Instead, she was committed to the non-violent overthrow of the state. I understand and even accept the Christian anarchist point about the general illegitimacy of all states.” However, since the state is “not about to wither away,” Gordon sees the need to “’overthrow’ the state” by “[disrupting] its normal working order….”

Now Deneen and his friends are intelligent men. Surely they don’t expect that their rejections of the American founding and the market economy will help rally their non-Catholic fellow citizens to the defense of the Church’s freedom. Those who are inclined to defend that freedom will not be moved by recondite explanations of the flaws in John Locke’s reasoning or be led to a mass rejection of radical individualism. And surely illiberal Catholics can’t believe that by echoing the coercive rhetoric of the left, they can impose a truly Christian political order through the mechanism of a state built to oppress Christianity.

Perhaps Deneen and his compatriots are simply engaged in a kind of tantrum. After all, by dismissing all the good that America and modernity inherited from the Church, and publicizing their private power fantasies about throwing Protestants in prison, could they really be trying to help the Church’s chances to keep her freedom and save people’s souls? This is not how well-formed Catholics acted in England, even under Queen Elizabeth I, and it’s not how our American ancestors behaved when Protestant mobs burned churches. Christ never called us to act like sullen radical Muslims living in America under protest.

This is not the first time that petulant Catholics have seized upon the weakness of their country, and wrenched fragments of Catholic social teaching out of context, to serve their private resentments and their corrosive will to power.

In the late 1930s, as another kind of illiberal regime rose to power in neighboring Germany, some far-right French Catholics vented their impotent rage at the secular Third Republic by writing condemnations of liberal democracy that echoed Nazi rhetoric. Concerning their Jewish president, the moderate liberal Leon Blum, they joked, “Better Hitler than Blum.” When German armies crushed the demoralized forces of France, some of these illiberal Catholics called the defeat “a divine surprise,” and flocked to the regime of Marshal Petain—for the chance to finally wield the political power their fellow citizens would never have voted them. I think that today’s illiberal Catholics smell a similar predator on the wind. They see that the coercive, all-pervasive state is on the rise in America, and they have decided to cast in their lot with it. They have decided to collaborate.

 

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Bonchamps

51 Comments

  1. Deneen believes that Catholics should be “deeply critical” of the free market.

    Hard to be critical, deeply or otherwise, about something you have little to no experience of, isn’t it?

  2. Nice hit piece. You even liberally apply what Leo Strauss called the “reductio ad Hitlerum”.

  3. Not bad, at least not until the final paragraph. The analogy with Republican France really doesn’t fit, as our republic hasn’t suffered that sort of shattering catastrophe–or rather, two of them: the bloodbath of 1914-18 and a lightning defeat at the hands of a foe that was inferior in many ways. That, and the Third Republic was fundamentally illiberal itself in several respects.

    That said, there is something…off about the critics. What they are assuming is that the American system has inexorably led to the current disintegrating tendencies of 21st century Republic. If “Locke Leads To Secular Leftism” isn’t an example of post hoc reasoning, nothing is.

    A more direct attack is to turn the reasoning back on them–namely, that there must be something within Catholicism itself that leads to the current nightmare, given that there are no Catholic countries that have stood against the tide.

    It is true that there are incompatibilities between full-bore Catholicism and American public life, and troubling-to-nightmarish developments within the body politic which augur for more incompatibilities. But to argue that the system itself is the cause–misbegotten from the beginning–is an argument that proves too much, given the general decay of Catholic standing in former Catholic strongholds across the world.

  4. Leon Blum was the prime minister of France, not the president. He was in office for scarcely a year during the period running from 1933 to 1940. French ministries between 1870 and 1959 were generally short in duration (not quite a year on average).

  5. Let me add that I think there are excellent grounds for valid critique of the free market, or at least market capitalism as it is currently practiced in America. In a time where the Chamber of Commerce battles ferociously against conscience rights in the market and work places, there is something seriously amiss. I won’t be socially-conservative cannon fodder for business interests, thank you very much, and neither should any other serious Catholic.

  6. Also, there were some serious Catholics in the various Petain ministries (e.g. Joseph Barthelemy), but Petain himself was a discreet roue (in contrast to de Gaulle). Pierre Laval, the prime minister for most of those years, came out of the subculture in which the Grand-Orient lodges and the old Radical Party found their home. Pierre Peucheu, the interior minister bagged and executed in the Maghreb, was a secular figure as well, drawn from the steel industry’s trade association.

  7. Dale,

    I have to endorse your two comments whole-heartedly — in particular you’ve hit the nail on the head with this:

    A more direct attack is to turn the reasoning back on them–namely, that there must be something within Catholicism itself that leads to the current nightmare, given that there are no Catholic countries that have stood against the tide. It is true that there are incompatibilities between full-bore Catholicism and American public life, and troubling-to-nightmarish developments within the body politic which augur for more incompatibilities. But to argue that the system itself is the cause–misbegotten from the beginning–is an argument that proves too much, given the general decay of Catholic standing in former Catholic strongholds across the world.

    I see this same tendency in the illiberal Catholic attacks on the Enlightenment, tout court. As if the developments in modern medicine and the alleviation of hunger in the West should be grouped together with pornography and abortion and everything must be condemned or your thinking is off. It just doesn’t make sense.

  8. My father enrolled his businesses in the National Federation of Independent Business and did some lobbying at his state capital for a business association founded by the owner of a local muffler and brake shop. They adhered to this view: the Chamber of Commerce and the Employers’ Council cared nothing about small business. They did not comment on the National Association of Manufacturers, but the same deal presumably held there. That was about 35 years ago.

    One thing is that compliance costs do not really hit large enterprises with the severity that they do small enterprises. The other is that the executive corps of large enterprises (and law firms) seems drawn from a haut bourgeois subculture with certain dispositions that even a business case does not trump. You look at the condition of higher education (studded with such people among their trustees) and you realize that donor pressure is what’s got to be behind many of the odd things that the core of the Republican Party does (and such things as the Boy Scouts cave in) and you realize these people are not your friends.

  9. There’s nothing wrong with a critique of the “Enlightenment”. The trouble is their assumptions about the importance of the explicit cogitations of particular people at particular times in shaping political developments, assumption shared by others. Shuffling through Thomas Jefferson’s correspondence may instruct us on understandings and usages common at the time (which may inform our understanding of the text of laws enacted between 1763 and 1826), but it does not answer questions about the evolution of social relations or about the optimal adaptation of political forms to social relations.

  10. “America was never well-founded” anyway, writes Deneen, “so either needs to be differently re-founded or at least endured, even survived.”

    Sounds kind of like a Catholic/pro-life version of William Lloyd Garrison, the radical abolitionist of the 19th century who refused to vote or participate in politics, discouraged his followers from doing so, and once publicly burned a copy of the Constitution at a Fourth of July gathering, calling it “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell”.

  11. Yes, I can see now that making a historically, philosophically, theologically, and magisterially informed critique of the Enlightenment or Zionism or Americanism or neo-conservatism or capitalism (all of these culminating in the wonderful, gratitude-inducing phenomena of indiscriminate drone murders, persecution of whistle blowers, aggressive wars leading to millions of innocent deaths, incessant support of and creation of terrorists, including neo-nazis, to overthrow those regimes that dare to resist their being looted by central bankers, IMF, World Bank, and being colonized militarily by Nato and the USA, banker bailouts and the looting of the middle class, a nascent police state–with the president of the U.S. permitted to detain any citizen at will indefinitely without a trial–NDAA), means, in truth, that one is a secret nazi sympathizer that desires to be one of the top rulers of the fascist, catholic police state we illiberal Catholics are helping to create through such “illiberal” articles.

    I never would have seen all this without the author’s magnificent rhetorical alchemy! Zmirak, eat your heart out!

  12. “This is not the first time that petulant Catholics have seized upon the weakness of their country, and wrenched fragments of Catholic social teaching out of context, to serve their private resentments and their corrosive will to power.”

    Both illiberal and liberal Catholics do this.

    One should be a Catholic Christian – period.

    “My Kingdom is not of this world….”

  13. Thaddeus,

    Do you have a good, historical source that clearly ties the Enlightenment philosophers with the Founding Fathers’ deliberations on the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution?

  14. Philip. Yes I do it’s a book by Christopher Ferrara called Liberty: The God that Failed. It’s a magisterial historical account of the Enlightenment influence on the founding fathers.

  15. People who disagree with my assessment should read Ferrara’s unintentionally hilarious tome. If they have any grasp of American history, as opposed to the conspiracy mongering favored by Ferrara, they will appreciate the book as a monument to the ability of some people to view an eagle and then spend several hundred pages explaining why it is actually a vulture.

  16. It could be endorsed by the Archangel Gabriel and it would remain a farrago of ahistorical nonsense of epic proportions. As a humor book it does have merit. His view of the Revolution as a masonic conspiracy is enough to inspire me to a rousing rendition of the stone cutter song:

  17. Ferrara makes Thomas DiLorenzo look like an actual scholar by way of comparison. Those who can’t even distinguish between different elements of the Enlightenment should not be taken as any sort of legitimate authority.

  18. As usual, I’m with PWPrimavera, above

    We are “poor banished children of Eve mourning and weeping in this vail of tears. Our true homes are in Heaven. And, we need to prayerfully live out our lives loving and serving God and our neighbors. I can little affect whatever the powers that be do in DC or Albany. I can do what I can to to help my brothers and sisters.

    The Commandment says to honor your father and mother. That includes the government.

    That being said: everyone is entitled to their opinions. Plato said, “Opinion is not truth.” Older/wiser men with whom I associated when I was young and active would say, “Opinions are likes anuses (translated from the Anglo-Saxon). Everybody’s got one.”

    I suggest we take opinion and speculation with a ton of salt. And, try to avoid imposing 21st century ideologies into the psyches of 18th century geniuses who (inspired by the Holy Spirit) gave us our independence and a republic, which was subverted by evil dwarves over the centuries.

  19. I’ve never figured out whether the chap who writes these Ezra-Pound-on-mushrooms comments is the professor at Wyoming Catholic College or is someone appropriating his handle. I’ve seen them at Crisis, The Distributist Review, and Front Porch Republic. Some of them were removed at the request of someone identifying himself as “Thaddeus Kozinski”. Needless to say, “the Enlightenment”, “Zionism”, “Americanism”, “capitalism” is a motley collection of idea sets and not one one can imagine a sophisticated student of intellectual history throwing in the kitchen sink together (along with references to bits of military technology, the International Monetary Fund, &c).

    I’ve found some of Ferrara’s published work engaging and well argued, though there are informed people (e.g. Kevin Miller) who dislike it (without details offered). He and Woods were collaborators and presumably friends, so the falling out between the two of them is regrettable. Woods has for a number of years found an institutional home at the von Mises Institute, which trafficks in fringe social research.

    ==

  20. Once again I find myself forced to agree with Art Deco regarding Kozinski’s comment:

    “Yes, I can see now that making a historically, philosophically, theologically, and magisterially informed critique of the Enlightenment or Zionism or Americanism or neo-conservatism or capitalism…”

    Please. As the resident Jeffersonian/classical liberal crank, I can tell you right now that I’ve made plenty of critiques of the Enlightenment and that I reject Zionism and neo-conservatism. Since no one knows what “Americianism” is, it hardly helps to say that I reject that too, but I do (I mean the actual Americanism that Pope Leo XIII actually condemned, not American political thought, which he held in high regard).

    I’ll admit that I think “magisterial” criticism of capitalism is often way off target. So what.

  21. Thank God you wrote this – it needs to be said. Informed orthodox Catholics are more open to the temptation of authoritarianism than most. As we become more frustrated at our lack of progress and marginalization, so the Franco option gets pushed with elevating levels of seriousness.
    That Thomas Pink article in particular really creeped me out – Pink’s very careful to use euphemistic language to make his repellent conclusions go down easier. ‘The Church has the right to use a measure of physical coercion in her pastoral mission’ sounds relatively harmless. ‘The Church can lock you up if you do something it doesn’t like or hurt you until you stop’ would be too on the nose.

  22. Christopher Ferrara….New Jersey lawyer and gasbag.

    Ferrara had a long running battle with the now-retired Bishop of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese , Joseph Adamec (this diocese is east of Pittsburgh). Adamec was insistent on forbidding the Latin Mass in his diocese and Ferrara attended the Latin Mass when he was in Pittsburgh.

    Ferrara writes for The Remnant. Occasionally I picked it up after Sunday Mass. The Remnant is filled with sour, bitter, angry writers. It is depressing to read, so I usually don’t bother with it anymore. The last article I read had an author who was proud of trashing the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving.

    Each issue, there was Ferrara, having some screed bashing Vatican II, the new Mass, etc. Boring, dull and old, but I guess that stuff has a market. I read Rorate Coeli, too and while informative, they are another bunch of gloom and doomers.

    I surmise Ferrara belongs to this rad-Trad cabal who has nothing better to think of that establishing a Catholic confessional state with a Catholic monarch. Every other form of government is/was illicit.

    Europe was run by Catholic monarchs once. How did that turn out?

    The American Conservative is run by Pat Buchanan, isn’t it? Buchanan is a first class crank. He is a lifelong inside-the-Capital Beltway-Washington blowhard.

    Fr. Z has pointed it out many times. Traditional Catholics are often their own worst enemies.

    I look forward to Sunday Mass and I leave happy. Too bad there are too many radtrads who don’t see it that way.

  23. I like to think that I am reasonably up to date on current trends, but this thread has made me aware of several people who were beyond my horizon. Well well, I have some catching up to do. Thanks to all!

  24. If you want a non-nebulous definition of Americanism, here it is by example, right from this combox:

    “And, try to avoid imposing 21st century ideologies into the psyches of 18th century geniuses who (inspired by the Holy Spirit) gave us our independence and a republic, which was subverted by evil dwarves over the centuries.”

    Yes, the Constitution and Declaration are inerrant documents, for they are the result of Divine Inspiration, just like the Bible! And the “church” that these documents produced, namely the original American Republic, (Protestant ecclesiology secularized and politicized here–we need to get back to the early church of the apostles! Not the evil, hierarchical and sacramental Church of the evil dwarf popes!), is the fount of all goodness and grace and peace for it’s members and the world it seeks to redeem, just like the Catholic Church! Anyone who questions this is rejecting the Holy Spirit. Here’s my response to this idolatry:

    http://ethikapolitika.org/2012/11/16/guard-yourself-from-idols-2/

  25. I’ll go with Pope Leo XIII’s definition. Much safer. Can’t go wrong with “Lumen in Coelo.”

    I find Orestes Brownson to be a tonic in this bit of intra-Catholic trench warfare. A dogged Catholic, he loved his Church and nation, including the Constitution of the latter, calling it “providential” (without being God-breathed). He also had no illusions about the flaws within the American system or the American people.

    It would be nice if this dispute could turn into something productive, instead of the Catholic equivalent of baboons flinging s–t at each other.

    Nah–let the anathemas fly. Close up, they almost seem important.

  26. Bl John Henry Newman wrote (in response to Mr Gladstone, no less), “But I have more to say on this subject, perhaps too much, when I go on, as I now do, to contemplate the Christian Church, when persecution was exchanged for establishment, and her enemies became her children. As she resisted and defied her persecutors, so she ruled her convert people. And surely this was but natural, and will startle those only to whom the subject is new. If the Church is independent of the State, so far as she is a messenger from God, therefore, should the State, with its high officials and its subject masses, come into her communion, it is plain that they must at once change hostility into submission. There was no middle term; either they must deny her claim to divinity or humble themselves before it,—that is, as far as the domain of religion extends, and that domain is a wide one. They could not place God and man on one level.”

    Why some people consider Newman a liberal, when he was a high Tory to the backbone, has always puzzled me.

  27. I agree about Orestes Brownson. His view of America is very reasonable. Recall that he says that the American system can only really work if the vast majority of citizens are Catholics.

  28. In a time where the Chamber of Commerce battles ferociously against conscience rights in the market and work places, there is something seriously amiss.–Dale Price

     
    There is an alternative to the free market, Dale. It’s the slave market. What you intuit as “something seriously amiss” is a misguided public’s desire for the unearned (a.k.a. greed). The public, who in the America rule the Republic through the representatives they choose to elect, insists on no conscience rights for businesses. (Can you say “common carrier”?) To achieve that end, eventually the public insists all conscience rights must be swept away. Doubt me? Ask the florist, the baker, and the cake decorator–subversives all! And the public wills that they be punished for their thought crimes.

    Start America’s third Great Awakening. Begin where you are. Nudge your neighbors to attend weekly worship services and return to the One True God. Become a lamp for the Light you wish to see.

  29. Some nasty character wrote this about me, above:

    <<>>

    Tell me more about this, as I seem to have forgotten that I once lived in Pittsburgh where I battled with its Bishop over the Latin Mass. I am gravely concerned that I have forgotten an entire chapter in my life, as it could indicate the need for a neurological workup.

    As for the other negative commenters regarding my book, none of them seems to have read it as they all attribute to me positions I do not take, and one of them accuses me of failing to distinguish between strands of the Enlightenment when that very distinction is the basis of the entire work.

    As for the role of Freemasonry in the American Revolution, I would refer you to that “ignorant crank” Gordon Wood, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his ignorant study of the Revolution: “It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of Masonry for the American Revolution… Freemasonry was a surrogate religion for an Enlightenment suspicious of traditional Christianity. It offered ritual, mystery and congregativeness without the enthusiasm and sectarian bigotry of organized religion….”

    Since you folks seem not to bother reading the books you comment on, I will not provide you with the page cite to Wood, in the hope that you will actually read at least one book under discussion here.

    What Wood observes is the essence of what I really say about Freemasonry and its relation to the age of democratic revolution. I do not argue that the American Revolution was a Masonic conspiracy as such. Actually reading the book would help one to understand this.

    I think “gasbag” more aptly describes the bloviating potshot artists on this site, who haven’t written a damn thing that anybody would even bother reviewing.

    And his real name is indeed Thaddeus Kozinski, by the way, whose own study of the philosophical issues of political modernity has been widely acclaimed. See, The Political Problem of Religious Pluralism: And Why Philosophers Can’t Solve It.

    Don’t bother answering me if you expect a reply. I only stumbled across this hotbed of nastiness in search of something else.

  30. “Don’t bother answering me if you expect a reply.”

    I would no more expect that than I would actual scholarship from you regarding the American Revolution. Tell me where Gordon Woods, for example, supports your ludicrous claim that the Founding Fathers were almost all deists and masons. Stick to venomous polemics and bluster because you have no idea of the actual history of this country.

  31. “Thaddeus Kozinski”, your example of “Americanism” was authored by one “T. Shaw”. I think Mr. Shaw works either as an accountant or loan officer. He makes it his hobby to jerk everyone’s chain, including yours.

    And his real name is indeed Thaddeus Kozinski, by the way, whose own study of the philosophical issues of political modernity has been widely acclaimed.

    Again, I understand there is a professor at Wyoming Catholic College by that name whose done some scholarly publication. There is also someone who uses that name in fora like this who offers strange and venomous non sequiturs. (He has a particular issue with Israel for some reason, to take one example).

  32. Since you folks seem not to bother reading the books you comment on,

    I actually have read the book to which I referred, if anyone cares.

    I think “gasbag” more aptly describes the bloviating potshot artists on this site, who haven’t written a damn thing that anybody would even bother reviewing.

    Ah, but do you know who is behind these pseudonyms?

  33. I only stumbled across this hotbed of nastiness in search of something else.

    While I appreciate you looking for my great diet and barbecue tips, this is the site you are looking for.
    http://bbqdiet.blogspot.com/

    Now I promise I’ll try to be better about updating the blog, but I’ve been real busy. But I ain’t gonna be posting that stuff here, so please stop looking.

  34. I am dense, obviously you were looking for something a little more serious about the founding of our fair republic. Clearly you would prefer picking up my doctoral dissertation, available at this site, although I gotta say I don’t recall getting any royalties from them.

    At any rate, please do enjoy, and I’d be glad to read your scholarly, peer reviewed research on the founding. Quid pro quo and all that.

  35. “Clearly you would prefer picking up my doctoral dissertation, available at this site…”

    Damn that thing is expensive.

  36. Art Deco:

    I too have seen the comments by so-called “Thaddeus Kozinski,” but I find nothing wrong with them at all, and I find the two “Thaddeus Kozinskis” perfectly reconcilable. Is Zionism a real ideology? Is it a good one? Is the government of state of Israel responsible for illegal and immoral behavior? Are there serious flaws in the American Founding the bad fruits of which we are now reaping? These are legitimate questions, it seems to me, and it is even legitimate to make a strong judgment on them (vitriolic?–I see nothing “vitriolic” in any of Dr. Kozinski’s comments), and I can see one making a reasonable judgment against both American and Israeli foreign policy and its neoconservatism ideology from a Catholic and natural-law perspective. For you to assume that such judgments are immoral to make, or even insane, that is, that one should never criticize the state of Israel or Zionism or the American founding, says more about your unreasonable prejudices than anything about “Thaddeus Kozinski.”

  37. I have no clue how you distinguish between real ideologies and fictitious ones.

    That aside…

    Ethnic affinities are quite unremarkable features of human life and not properly subject to criticism for being there (though particular expressions of those affinities may be subject to criticism). I would say that to the fellow who posts under the handle “DarwinCatholic”, who seems to fancy there is something dirty about national states per se. He’s an equal opportunity cosmopolitan, however.

    Not so Israel’s detractors, who seem to take particular umbrage at Jewish particularism. There are some unusual features of Israel’s political predicament, but nothing terribly out of the ordinary about the severity of Israel’s activities in its neighborhood given that predicament. Israel can only make some incremental adjustments to its situation. What Conor Cruise O’Brien said a generation ago still applies: there are no solutions, merely security. Israel’s detractors very seldom have the sort of granular knowledge which would allow them to offer incremental adjustments which improve conditions for one party without injuring them unduly for the other. It does not stop them from hurling the most venomous and ignorant anathemas.

    So, here you have a country of modest dimensions, passably successful in constructing a productive economy, independent and technically sophisticated, possessed of a vital public life, suffering from the ailments of contemporary life but less so than many other affluent countries. It has problems, but Belgium is of similar dimensions and has worse problems. What’s to obsess about?

    I tend toward the school that the explicit cogitations of politicians and patricians are a fairly weak vector in determining the character and utility of institutions, most particularly two hundred odd years down the road, so I suspect the Thaddeus Kozinski of Wyoming Catholic College (and Patrick Deneen, while we are at it) is investing a great deal of effort attempting to master something which may matter but is overwhelmed by other factors.

  38. I too have seen the comments by so-called “Thaddeus Kozinski,” but I find nothing wrong with them at all, and I find the two “Thaddeus Kozinskis” perfectly reconcilable.

    Perhaps it’s because you are the one posting under his name. You may want to familiarize yourself with this concept known as an “IP Address.” Now since you have decided to play cute, you can say goodbye to this blog.

  39. His Holiness Leo XIII was VERY critical of “free market” capitalism. It isn’t actually a free market. Companies have banded together to form oligopolies, forcing out any new competition and fixing prices on goods ranging from internet access to soap. You don’t have to be deeply ctical to realize that the promises of capitalism have no been delivered.

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