The Debate Continues: CST, Markets & Morality

Ethika Politika strikes again: at me, that is, and my recent Crisis piece defending libertarianism from the charge of heresy contra Mark Shea. This time it is not my friend Gabriel Sanchez on the attack, but Gregory J. Guest. It is really quite something to read the sort of things that people assume you believe. The point of my Crisis piece was rather straightforward, I thought: the libertarian rejection of confiscatory taxation is not some kind of heretical argument, but finds justification in Pope Leo XIII’s defense of private property as inviolable and his explicit teaching that charity – the pretext upon which some would confiscate wealth at gunpoint – is not a duty of human justice (except in extreme cases).

According to Guest, however, I am defending an “ideology of license” and thereby our “materialist culture”; that I – and he wrongly shares this view with Sanchez – “discard all “ that doesn’t align with “preconceived notions” about business, government, etc.; that, once again, contrary to much of what I’ve written I do not “afford man a social nature” and that individual contracts are everything (stock anti-libertarian canards); and this is only for starters. Of course none of it is true: the defense of private property rights against the pretense of those advocating violent confiscation has nothing at all to do with an “ideology of license” or materialism. Moreover I’m quite open to as many radical alternatives to the traditional business model as people want to suggest, provided that they can actually persuade people to participate in them instead of forcing them. I do not deny, and no one in the classical liberal tradition has ever denied, the social nature of man; it is our belief in his social nature that justifies our rejection of the modern state, as many of its activities at least imply that we are somehow unable – i.e. that it is not in our nature – to organize our affairs and take care of each other without the threat of violence hanging over our heads. Coercive violence is anti-social; peaceful cooperation, which all libertarians advocate, is practically the definition of society.

But this is really about the Papal encyclicals, and both Guest and Sanchez are fixated on paragraph 36 of Rerum Novarum. All I can do is reiterate: there is nothing in this part of the encyclical that suggests that the state is morally obligated to confiscate my wealth at gunpoint and give it to someone else. Whatever else it may say wouldn’t have much to do with the point of my Crisis article, which was to defend the libertarian position against the confiscation of private property by the state. Guest writes, “[t]he picture that Leo paints is hardly one of the libertarian dream centered on a materialist market.” I’ve already agreed to this. I have never argued that Rerum Novarum was a perfectly libertarian encyclical, only that it recognized as true and good certain core libertarian principles which I believe, if taken seriously, would make for a mostly free economy. 

It is also a bit of a stretch to suggest that paragraph 36 is listing the “extreme needs” mentioned in paragraph 22, precisely because much of the list 36 wouldn’t require confiscatory taxation. Here we’re talking about mediating disputes or perhaps implementing a few regulations. I don’t see anything here about needs that would necessarily have to be met through the violent redistribution of income, which was, after all, my main concern.

Regarding Pope Pius XI and Quadragesimo Anno, Guest is quite right to say that I reject some of its claims. I do not apologize for this. Take this passage, from paragraph 88, for instance:

But free competition, while justified and certainly useful provided it is kept within certain limits, clearly cannot direct economic life—a truth which the outcome of the application in practice of the tenets of this evil individualistic spirit has more than sufficiently demonstrated.

Free competition is what has and continues to drive forward the technological innovations that have improved the standard of living of billions of people on this planet, including the people that Pius XI mentions in this very encyclical who live in the wealthier nations:

Certainly the condition of the workers has been improved and made more equitable especially in the more civilized and wealthy countries where the workers can no longer be considered universally overwhelmed with misery and lacking the necessities of life. (59)

How did this happen? No, it wasn’t the trade unions, which at their peak in the 1950s never represented more than 35% of the work force. No, it wasn’t the government bureaucracy and its thousands of regulations either, which create nothing. No, the necessities of life were produced in great abundance and at cheaper prices by free competition. All of that evil liberalism and capitalism was directly responsible for the vast increase in living standards experienced by tens of millions of workers in Europe and the United States and continues to remain responsible for it today in places such as China and India.

Regarding the libertarian response to the absurd policy of a $15 minimum wage in Seattle, Guest writes: “Simply put, the economic end of higher employment and lower prices is expected to justify the means of lower (possibly unjust) wages.”

It is all too simplistic. I suppose some libertarians may put their argument in those terms, but many of us are content to point out what the inevitable consequences will be. Because Seattle is not (yet) a communist dictatorship, these businesses will still exist under private ownership, and they will respond to the socialist-led initiative by cutting jobs, replacing human workers with computers, moving their businesses out of the city and depriving it of a vibrant economy and public revenues. If the feeling of white-hot self-righteousness burning within their breasts is more important to the voters than a fair economy that works, then they are free to run their city into the ground and turn it into another Detroit. I have no desire to intervene with force on behalf of the great libertarian ideal. I prefer to let people watch as the mad scientist’s experiments’ explode in their faces. It’s been 20 years since the fall of the USSR, so we could all use another lesson I suppose.

That said, it would be easy to make the case that embarking upon a course that will bring economy misery to many people is itself immoral, no matter what sort of language it is wrapped up in or what the intentions of its authors are. Consequences are not everything, but they do matter – just as intentions, while they do matter, are not everything.

Finally, Guest writes: “For someone with an eye to genuine Catholic social thought, the response should rather be focused on how to go about ensuring a just wage.”

Why? The just wage isn’t an end in itself, after all; the idea is to enable average workers who are morally well-behaved to have a standard of living that is dignified (that old evil materialist goal!). So why hyper-obsess over wages?  What if – as free competition and genuinely free trade would accomplish – the prices of basic consumer goods were to fall so that virtually everyone could afford them with the wages they currently earn? I’ll leave aside the fact that this is already the case in the most economically free countries in the world. What if – as would happen with an end to the regime of centralized fiat money – the value of the currency with which wages are paid were to increase in value? There is more than one way to actually accomplish what the just wage would allegedly accomplish, ways that are more fair, rational, and just than arbitrary wage hikes.

22 Responses to The Debate Continues: CST, Markets & Morality

  • Mr. Hargrave,

    One of the newspapers in Pittsburgh is Libertarian. The Tribune Review editorial page favors abortion, homosexuality, legalized drugs and is sympathetic to atheism. It defines Libertarianism in that way, although the editor is a hypocrite in that he favors federal funding of Planned Parenthood. There have been other Libertarian columnists and editors at that newspaper and their Libertarianism can be defined the same way.

    One of the contributors to the Hot Air website, Allahpundit who considers himself to be a Libertarian, is pro gay marriage and is an atheist, silent about abortion and mildly hostile to religious belief. I think he favors legalizing marijuana.

    These Libertarians could be called small government liberals. It is what occurs to many when surfing the Internet and it could be what Mark Shea thinks when he hears the word “Libertarian”.

    I want no part of this ideology. I wanted to ask one of the Libertarian former columnists at the Trib if he liked the idea of a whorehouse next door, a crackhouse across the street and a junkyard next to his backyard.

    I am sure you do not consider yourself to be in league with this bunch, but you do use the same term – Libertarian. This term does have baggage with those who
    despise illegal drugs, abhor prostitution, are sickened by “gay marriage” and find Internet atheists to be obnoxious.

  • Well, let’s look at some the positions you’ve pointed out here, PF. Abortion, gay marriage, marijuana, hostility to religion. Sounds like your typical member of the ACLU, which was founded as a communist front group and still behaves like one today.
    .
    Libertarians are not required by logic to support abortion if they want to remain libertarians. I admire the thought of Murray Rothbard but I’d argue with him for as long as it took to convince him he was wrong on this topic. He was so darned close to advocating for a genuine natural law morality, so obviously respectful of the whole Catholic moral tradition, and yet here he did err quite seriously. But a lot has changed since the 70s when the Libertarian Party got started; we now have the Ron Paul movement and its legacy, which is openly pro-life. So this is an issue on which libertarians are split 50-50 it seems. Trust me, there are many pro-life libertarians.
    .
    I think its insane for any libertarian to be “pro gay marriage” in the sense that they believe the state ought to redefine marriage. If anything, the state should simply get out of marriage altogether. At the very least, they should agree with Rand Paul that the best course is to let each state decide. Rothbard may have been wrong on abortion but he was 100% right about the cancer of egalitarianism. He attacked radical feminism and much of what he said could be applied to the “gay rights” movement, which is totalitarian to the core.
    .
    I’m in favor of legalizing marijuana, so we’ll just disagree on that one I guess. There’s no need for the police to be involved. At this point the “War on Drugs” is just another facet of the military industrial complex, justifying massive budgets, salaries, pensions, departments, etc. It is a waste of money and it perpetuates injustices against non-violent people, often poor and minority. Same with prostitution. You can’t save people from themselves, and prison does NOT rehabilitate. It makes men into savages and savage men into demons. I’d abolish it overnight. Minor criminals can make restitution for their crimes and the murderers and rapists can simply be shot. It isn’t “humane” to keep them in a cage until they’re old men.
    .
    As for the atheism, they can stuff it. Atheists do not monopolize libertarianism and Murray Rothbard developed modern libertarianism out of the Catholic natural law tradition. I’m not saying they’re identical – he diverged from it in some pretty radical ways, but he did take it as his starting point. So any serious and educated libertarian has to acknowledge this intellectual debt and at least stop the obnoxious, historically-ignorant, know-nothing Church bashing if they want to be taken seriously.

  • The problem with papal encyclicals, especially when they delve into economic and political issues is that they tend to be long and fairly complex. They are also bound by the historical events surrounding them at the time when they are promulgated. People with axes to grind will usually pick and choose rather than reading the entire encyclical in its historical context.

    Rerum Novarum was written in 1891 at a time of huge worker unrest and when both anarchism and communism were beginning to take root. The living conditions of workers were often appalling. Pope Leo, while making a full throated defense of property, also wanted to indicate sympathy for the workers and their often legitimate complaints. In regard to paragraph 36 Pope Leo in his final sentence indicates a concern that the State not take more action than is necessary to remedy an evil: “The limits must be determined by the nature of the occasion which calls for the law’s interference – the principle being that the law must not undertake more, nor proceed further, than is required for the remedy of the evil or the removal of the mischief.”

    All governments at the time of Pope Leo had a fairly hands off approach to industries compared to what we see today, and the rights of workers to form unions was often denied. An unanswerable question of course is how Pope Leo would have modified Rerum Novarum if he had lived in our time.

    That is the problem of course when we attempt to read social justice encyclicals in the same manner as a proclamation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Social Justice encyclicals are obviously heavily influenced by the historical context in which they were written, something that does not apply when a Pope is writing about some purely religious topic, rather than about the religious dimension of hotly contested economic and political questions. Such encyclicals can never be ignored by Catholics, but they must be read with the history of when they were written in mind, plus an examination of historical developments since the writing of the encyclical.

  • I wonder why Catholics can’t take a page out of the Mormon’s playbook and go create a state (or I guess take over one today) dedicated entirely to their principles. If CST really works and is great then the state should florish and prosper. It would probably be an even greater evangelism tool as people flock to the land for the work, and join the faith as they find themselves surrounded by the people of God bearing witness to the Truth.

    As it is, I just note with some mirth that it seems the poor of the world end up flocking to the bad ‘ole Protestant nations, often FROM the Catholic ones. Maybe this has changed by now, but it seems to me that when the poor are voting with their feet against the teachings you preach to help them, it might be time for some kind of reexamination.

    Until then the biggest rebuttal to CST strikes me as being that the loudest shouters about it, have no skin in the game it’s supposed to run.

  • “As it is, I just note with some mirth that it seems the poor of the world end up flocking to the bad ‘ole Protestant nations, often FROM the Catholic ones.”

    I don’t think that many Catholic people are flocking to Protestant nations other than the United States, in which the Catholic Church is the largest church. The pathologies in Latin America have little to do with Catholicism and a great deal to do with the embracing of bad ideas, usually condemned by the Catholic Church. The relationship of the Church and the Mexican Revolution of 1910 is a prime example of this. Juan Peron was deposed in the fifties when he decided to attack Catholic schools. The Church, at least until the present pontiff, uniformly condemned liberation theology. I might add that most American mainline Protestant Churches are far more enamored of socialism and state intervention in the economy than the Catholic Church has ever been.

  • It is really quite something to read the sort of things that people assume you believe.

    Be nice re some people if they were listening as well as talking.

  • Hmm… Don makes some good points, though I thought I read somewhere before that Spain had a lot evacuating that nation (though as always, data could be out of date). A time series might also be interesting in these nations to see how people arrive or abandon them based upon how religious the population as a whole is. I’ll admit part of my original comment is directed toward those who say there isn’t anything wrong with illegal immigration because “we’re getting just so many good Catholics”. Don you can probably guess where the logic breaks down there. ;)

    As far as Protestants, remember that it is a diverse field (which is part of why Catholicism ends up being counted as “largest”, even though nonCatholics actually outnumber them). Though there does tend to also be a flight from the statist branches (or at least the regions they rule) to the more libertarian branches. (I also note that the more libertarian Protestants are often also the most obsessed with orthodoxy – to the point some are barely distinguishable from the E.O. churches)

    Wait… Latin America… Spain… Italy… is it me or do Catholics seem to have a knack for falling to remarkably bad ideas for government? There might be an argument for Bonchamps to make there.

  • Apologies to Bonchamps, Penguins Fan et al…I was working on what I hoped was a helpful comment, and then got lost somewhere reading an encyclical to fully reference a point I was going to make, and then decided ’twas best to just sleep on it…so, my apologies that I’m not making an in-depth and what I’d hope to be insightful addition to the discussion. Instead, I get to play the proverbial bean-counter, as I intended to just go relax for a bit rather than read any more blogs and news, yet I saw this one comment by Nate:
    .

    “…which is part of why Catholicism ends up being counted as “largest”, even though nonCatholics actually outnumber them…”

    .
    According to what I’d consider an impartial source (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian#Demographics), Catholics comprise approximately 56% of the Christian population (1.17 billion out of the total 2.1 billion Christians) world wide. Given that your claim about the demographic breakdown of Christians fails numerical analysis, I would hold the rest of your claims with greater scrutiny until you’ve researched them and made proper references.

  • Wait… Latin America… Spain… Italy… is it me or do Catholics seem to have a knack for falling to remarkably bad ideas for government?

    Protestants too. What we call Liberalism used to be called Progressivism, which in turn is an outgrowth of the Social Gospel Movement of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century.
    .
    So I guess it is just you.

  • Also, maybe Bonchamps should have just rejected Mr. Guest’s rejection of a “narrow textualist approach” when reading his Crisis essay.

  • I would take as my starting point St Thomas Aquinas: “Community of goods is ascribed to the natural law, not that the natural law dictates that all things should be possessed in common and that nothing should be possessed as one’s own: but because the division of possessions is not according to the natural law, but rather arose from human agreement which belongs to positive law, as stated above (57, 2,3). Hence the ownership of possessions is not contrary to the natural law, but an addition thereto devised by human reason.” [ST IIa IIae Q66, II,obj 1]

    This is, in fact, self-evident. Possession is a fact; ownership is a legal concept and presupposes a legal system, however rudimentary. It would make no sense to regard Robinson Crusoe on his desert island as “owning” anything. Perhaps, Mirabeau put it best, when he said, “Property is a social creation. The laws not only protect and maintain property; they bring it into being; they determine its scope and the extent that it occupies in the rights of the citizens.”

    Thus, conquerors have systematically disregarded the property rights of the conquered; justifiably so, for they are extinguished with the legal system on which they rested.

  • “before that Spain had a lot evacuating that nation”

    Spanish immigration tended to be to Latin America, and to a much lesser extent France and Italy. In regard to bad government ideas, that tends to be fairly common outside of the Anglosphere, and Scandinavia since the Napoleonic wars.

  • Catholics comprise approximately 56% of the Christian population (1.17 billion out of the total 2.1 billion Christians) world wide. Given that your claim about the demographic breakdown of Christians fails numerical analysis, I would hold the rest of your claims with greater scrutiny until you’ve researched them and made proper references.

    That would be true, John BAON, if Don & I were talking worldwide but we were talking specifically about the USA. I would hold the rest of your comments with greater scrutiny until you’ve made proper efforts to follow context. ;)

    Protestants too. What we call Liberalism used to be called Progressivism, which in turn is an outgrowth of the Social Gospel Movement of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century.

    True. Though while I hold no love for progressivism, is it really comparable to some of the insanity that’s come from those other nations? Hmmm… that is the challenge. It’s rather like trying to choose between fronthand or backhand.

    In regard to bad government ideas, that tends to be fairly common outside of the Anglosphere, and Scandinavia since the Napoleonic wars.

    Fair point. Maybe we can all agree that least no Christians have come up with ideas as bad as secularists have.

    It still bears remembering, though, whenever any wants to bring up that Catholicism has some kind of inoculating effect against civic insanity. Which we’ll probably start seeing far more of given this is a voting year.

  • Though while I hold no love for progressivism, is it really comparable to some of the insanity that’s come from those other nations?

    .
    You must not be aware of the mutual admiration society of Mussolini’s Fascist Party and FDR’s New Deal brain trust. Margaret Sanger would have fit right in at the Wannsee Conference. Both Shaw and Wells lived long enough to see what the fasination with Nieztsche, which they helped to popularize in the Anglophone world, wrought on the continent.
    .
    I’d take Spain under Franco or Chile under Pinochet if I had to, petit bourgeois who just wants to be left alone to live my life and raise my kids that I am.

  • Mr. Schreiber, I would concur with you. Franco and Pinochet were no saints but they were a lot better than the people they replaced.

    Mr. Hargrave, just two comments. Marijuana legalization scares me in that from what I have read, the stuff is a lot more powerful than it was 50 years ago. Harder drugs – cocaine, heroin, LSD – who in their right mind would want to sell that legitimately? Consider product liability law. If Wal Mart were to sell cocaine, what happens when a cocaine addict ODs on the blow he bought from Wal Mart? Lawsuits galore. I have two little boys. Drugs scare the hell out of me. I have a cousin whose son was given crack at college and it screwed up his brain chemistry. He’s bipolar now.

    Prostitution is frequently controlled by organized crime. These people engage in human trafficking and enslaving women. I cannot in good conscience support legalizing it. Far from a victimless crime, it dehumanizes people. I’m not trying to save everyone from themselves – my mother’s family has had numerous alcoholics and my mom’s grandfather died in 1930 at age 48 from alcoholism – but still, prostitution is an ugly business and typically very cruel people profit from it.

    I can agree with most of the rest of what you have to say regarding the role of government in society. I have no time to read papal encyclicals, write articles or rebut the lunatic rantings of Mark Shea. I’ll stick to being a Reagan conservative.


  • That would be true, John BAON, if Don & I were talking worldwide but we were talking specifically about the USA. I would hold the rest of your comments with greater scrutiny until you’ve made proper efforts to follow context.

    I like BAON…that’s kinda catchy.
    .
    However, I’m confused…at one point you are talking about states (Utah), then you are talking about the US, and then you are talking about various nations or regions (Spain, Italy, Latin America…). And since you were specifically alleging that because of Catholics, that the :

    poor of the world end up flocking to the bad ‘ole Protestant nations, often FROM the Catholic ones.

    Whatever context you are following, it’s certainly not limited in scope to the US when you are comparing / contrasting trends in immigration/emigration involving other nations or whether a given faith produces bad political legacies. And the history of Rerum novarum was certainly an international document and not one directed solely at the youthful US.
    .
    Beyond all that…what’s the point of bringing up the demographic split of the Christians in the US in relation to the flight of the poor from Catholic nations that you assert, anyway? Maybe I’m misreading what appears to be an anti-Catholic undertone in your posts just as I misread your characterization of US Christian demographics as pertaining to the world instead. I welcome any clarification you might offer.
    .
    Regardless…I think that I tend to agree with your bottom line with some caveats, irrespective of how we may get there:

    Maybe we can all agree that least no Christians have come up with ideas as bad as secularists have.

    …I may just reduce it further: Man is fallen, whether Christian or not. Bad ideas do not discriminate (to extend on one of my favorite aphorisms apparently attributed to WC Fields), they infect everyone equally. I think the temptation to jump into saying “This group is worse than my group” is fraught with danger. I know that the moment I lump all secularists together that there’s substantively no difference between me and the common racist other than the target of my comments. So then it comes down to the need for Christian charity. And believe me…the militant atheist, as the “pinnacle” of secularism, is at the same time my greatest enemy as well as deserving of my greatest effort at charity.
    .
    Is it plausible that Christians (and as I and presumably Bonchamps, Don McClarey and others would specifically name Catholics) innately have a better handle on objective truth / natural law than secularists and therefore come up with better systems of governance? I think it’s broadly true…but I don’t think it’s a guarantee at all. Look to the Anglicans supporting contraception at Lambeth…or the Baptists who originally supported abortion in the 1970′s…or the Catholics who support the violation of immigration laws…or to the Mormons who favor laws in Utah stripping paternal rights in adoption cases. All of those violate justice in some way, and all are/were held by “non-secularists”.

  • Penguins Fan’s rationale for keeping marijuana illegal –to make sure harder drugs stay illegal– is mine as well. That’s also why I want to keep the death penalty on the books, and, albeit secondarily, partly why I want marriage to remain between one man and one woman.

    One man’s “slippery slope” is another man’s “defining deviancy down.”

    As for the market, that’s free will in action. And I wish we had more respect for both free will and free markets.

  • The difficulty with comparing governance in Catholic and Protestant countries is that it ignores certain other historical factors.
    “Catholic countries” in Europe were, by and large, those that had formed the heartland of the Roman Empire and “Protestant countries” were, for the most part its frontier marches or outside its borders.
    It would be no easy task (although a fascinating one) to disentangle religious influences from the Imperial legacy.
    One recalls Lord Acton’s famous remark that “the Cæsarean system gave an unprecedented freedom to the dependencies, and raised them to a civil equality which put an end to the dominion of race over race and of class over class. The monarchy was hailed as a refuge from the pride and cupidity of the Roman people; and the love of equality, the hatred of nobility, and the tolerance of despotism implanted by Rome became, at least in Gaul, the chief feature of the national character.”

  • You must not be aware of the mutual admiration society of Mussolini’s Fascist Party and FDR’s New Deal brain trust. Margaret Sanger would have fit right in at the Wannsee Conference. Both Shaw and Wells lived long enough to see what the fasination with Nieztsche, which they helped to popularize in the Anglophone world, wrought on the continent.

    No I’m aware because I read Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism. But you might want to be careful invoking individual idiocy as long as people like Pelosi, Biden, or Shea can be hung around Catholicism’s neck.

    However, I’m confused…at one point you are talking about states (Utah), then you are talking about the US, and then you are talking about various nations or regions (Spain, Italy, Latin America…). And since you were specifically alleging that because of Catholics, that the

    Whatever context you are following, it’s certainly not limited in scope to the US when you are comparing / contrasting trends in immigration/emigration involving other nations or whether a given faith produces bad political legacies. And the history of Rerum novarum was certainly an international document and not one directed solely at the youthful US.

    Look, don’t over think it. If we’re honest one of the best tools Mormons have for evangelism is, well Utah. That a hated, despised people could take a nothing patch of land in the middle of nowhere and turn it into something worthwhile. (and yes, this also applies to the Jews and Israel) That (and of course how individual lives are lived) demonstrate to people the wisdom and benefit of that religion and morals in a way far more convincing than any amount of arguments. Pop culture may make fun of Utah for being boring, but they can’t really make fun of it for being poor or wretchedly run (not like poor Don’s Illinois).

    I’m just pointing out (more to those who I know won’t read it but won’t allow dissent on their own blogs) that if Catholics are serious about evangelizing and the wisdom of their social teaching (or whatever other ideas) then go out and demonstrate it. Find a town, or choose a state and build it in accordance to your values. If the values work and are fruitful, then people will be encouraged to flock to the church. Even the secularists grasped that much and went off and tried running a completely atheist village (can’t find link at the moment, but I believe Don previously posted about it on tAC here) – and ended up proving how bankrupt atheism is as a faith when the town fell apart. In short, less the fine folks here (who all show wisdom), but those Catholics who… well like this comment on an article John C Wright wrote:

    “So-called conservatives in the United States seek to preserve and protect the ideals of the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence precisely because they are worthy ideals, not because they are old”

    Worthy ideas written up by Unitarians, Deists and Protestants …

    NOT a single Catholic among the Founding Fathers.

    That is why I advocate for Neoreaction. We need a Catholic Monarchy in the U.S., perhaps starting with a Catholic Dictator.

    Anything less than a full reactionary movement to Catholic monarchy is foolhardy and repeating the same failures of the Founding Fathers (who again, were heretics and fools).

    So I say: go for it. You can’t really have royalty in the USA but find a town and have a mayor-for-life. Locate a dying town or small nation and take it over with a Catholic project. Institute the dictator and establish “distributionism” as the economics of choice. In short: Catholics put your money where your mouth is.

    But if none of it can survive… maybe it would be time to rethink some social tenants. Heck even the libertarians (who Shea is beating up with greater regularity than just about any statist) are trying to acquire some land to run things the way they want to – to put their ideas to the test and see if they can work or not. Where’s the efforts by the people mocking them to form their own ideal set up?

    Of course until Catholics build their own state (Catholic Kansas has a nice alliteration sound doesn’t it?) we don’t really have any way of comparing how a wide acceptance of their mores contrast with a wide acceptance of any other mores except in the case of nations (since even I will admit some comparisons won’t work with Vatican City). Otherwise everything is just theorizing on the level of “who would win between Superman & the Hulk” since we can all throw out claims about “how much better things would be with our ideas”.

    Say what you will, but at least one good end of the Protestant fractures is that we are all keenly aware of competing against the other branches and that we can’t rest on the glories or proofs of others. i.e. The Mormon businessman doesn’t help the Baptist entrepreneur convince investors. The Presbyterian scientist cannot brag about the intellectual framework of an Anglican pioneer.

    …I may just reduce it further: Man is fallen, whether Christian or not. Bad ideas do not discriminate (to extend on one of my favorite aphorisms apparently attributed to WC Fields), they infect everyone equally. I think the temptation to jump into saying “This group is worse than my group” is fraught with danger.

    I think it’s broadly true…but I don’t think it’s a guarantee at all. Look to the Anglicans supporting contraception at Lambeth…or the Baptists who originally supported abortion in the 1970′s…or the Catholics who support the violation of immigration laws…or to the Mormons who favor laws in Utah stripping paternal rights in adoption cases. All of those violate justice in some way, and all are/were held by “non-secularists”.

    True, but to be fair, secularists have filled out the “bingo” card on almost all of the above listed ideas. At least one benefit of a firmly held ideology and societal mores is that you have a brake preventing at least one or two bad ideas spiraling out of control.

  • Nate Winchester

    Well, we have had Catholic states aplenty.
    France, through 40 reigns of its rois très-chrétiens, from the anointing of Clovis in 495 to the Revolution of 1789.
    The Empire from Charlemagne in 800 to the abdication of Francis II in 1806
    The Republic of Venice from about 700 to 1797
    England from 597 to 1533
    I could go on and on.
    Now, different though these polities were, it should be possible to disengage what was Catholic in their political, legal, social and economic practice from what was accidental or adventitious.

  • Nate Winchester wrote:
    .
    “…“So-called conservatives in the United States seek to preserve and protect the ideals of the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence precisely because they are worthy ideals, not because they are old” Worthy ideas written up by Unitarians, Deists and Protestants … NOT a single Catholic among the Founding Fathers….”
    .
    The Founding Fathers of the United States “wrote up” many ideas regarding governance which appear to have been borrowed from the following Catholic authors, to wit, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Blessed Robert Bellarmine.

    For your consideration:
    .
    http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/politics/pg0003.html

    And

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