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Social Justice=More Power to Caesar

 

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

C.S. Lewis

 

 

A fascinating video from Prager University with Jonah Goldberg noting that liberals tend to use social justice as a catch phrase to pursue a new program by government.  In that context the phrase has little meaning with as little substance as saying “I support policy A and policy A is “good”.”

Regrettably, social justice in contemporary Catholicism is used in precisely the same way.  When that phrase is used by Catholics today it almost always means that “I see a problem and this government program is a way to address this problem.  If you disagree you are a hard hearted heretic and do not believe in the Social Justice teachings of the Church!”  At bottom the argument is really not much more sophisticated than that in most cases when the social justice bat is wielded by Catholics, usually, but not always, on the port side of politics, at least on economic issues.  The bleakly hilarious aspect of this is that Catholics, above most other groups, should recall what an enemy Caesar has often been to the Church down through the centuries.  The idea of constantly enhancing the power of the State should be anathema to all Catholics.  Instead, the first impulse of many modern Catholics, especially in issues related to the poor, is to scream for Caesar to do something about it.  This is a betrayal of not only common sense, but the traditional Catholic understanding that we all have a duty to personally help our less fortunate brothers and sisters, and that we cannot simply shuffle off the duty to Caesar.  We also have the problem that anti-poverty programs run by Caesar tend to be immensely expensive, wasteful and counterproductive, but that is a subject for another post.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

43 Comments

  1. “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
    .

    “those” use their conscience to deny us the use of our conscience in determining what and how we, the people, will express our “social Justice.” FREEDOM from conscience is freedom from civilization.

  2. George Steele Gordon: “Intellectuals, especially in the social sciences, have a nasty habit of thinking that, ‘This is the way the world should be, therefore this is the way the world can be.’
    .

    “Sometimes the mind just boggles.
    .

    “The Atlantic has an article this month with the title “Americans Want to Live in a Much More Equal Country (They Just Don’t Realize It).” I am always curious when intellectuals announce that the people (who in the American constitutional system serve as the sovereign power) don’t know what’s good for them (What’s the Matter with Kansas?) or don’t even know what they want.
    .

    “Implicit in all of these revelations, of course, is the firmest, if never directly expressed, belief of the Left: That the average person is too stupid to run his own life, let alone make public policy decisions. Those few, those happy few, that band of liberal intellectuals, must do that for them.”
    .

  3. Of course, that doesn’t really work, because you can have liberty and brotherhood, or you can have equality and brotherhood. but you can’t have liberty and equality without subordinating one to the other.

  4. Arrogating to oneself another person’s free will is a very serious crime against humanity, trespassing the personhood, violating the sovereignty of the victim.

  5. Ernst Schreiber:”Of course, that doesn’t really work, because you can have liberty and brotherhood, or you can have equality and brotherhood. but you can’t have liberty and equality without subordinating one to the other.”

    .
    Mutual respect, each one for the other, can and does make it work. A person does not have to love his neighbor in politics as in religion. And sometimes love does not encompass “like”, but one must absolutely respect himself and his neighbor. Respect gives us liberty and equal Justice. There is no such thing as equality since men are all created differently by “their Creator”. For example: Same -sex practitioners are seeking marriage equality in a court of law. The court of law may only deliver equal Justice, never equality, because equality is something the court does not have the power nor authority to deliver. Equal Justice is giving to each individual what he truly deserves: murder to the murderer, hatred to the hater, love to the lover, acknowledgment of God to God, ad infinitum.

  6. The thing is there are certain social doctrines of the Church that Catholics must adhere to. For example, healthcare is a right according to the catechism and papal magisterium. It would be nice if the Church would elucidate exactly what we have to believe in these areas so as to separate the wheat from the chaff. Probably too much to hope for a modern day syllabus of economic errors.

  7. “For example, healthcare is a right according to the catechism and papal magisterium.”

    There is never a right to a material thing Tom, because such a right is unenforceable. The Church can say that people should make certain that the poor do not go without healthcare, but a right implies enforcement of the right, or it wouldn’t be a right, and the power to compel other people to supply the healthcare for those who lack it. Such powers are beyond the capabilities of the Church, and today we see the welfare states who have sought to do this heading towards insolvency.

  8. I’m not sure how that works Donald in light of Church teaching. Pope Benedict taught in CARITAS IN VERITATE that there is both a right to food and a right to water. Aren’t those material things and essentially the same as the right to healthcare?

  9. Yep and just as unenforceable. Popes can say whatever they please, but they lack the power to grant enforceable rights, and if a right is not enforceable it isn’t a right. The bitter truth of course is that none of us have a right to any material thing. Everything we get in a material way is earned by sweat, either ours or someone else. If we pay for what we get the sweat is voluntary. If the government compels A to give a good to B, the sweat is involuntary. There are many words for that type of situation, but right is not one of them.

  10. What you say makes sense but then we have the clear teaching of the Popes. I would have hoped that Pope Benedict, a brilliant mind, would have considered your points about unenforceable rights. I guess I’m back to my original statement. We need clear teaching in these matters with points like yours considered/debated and then ultimately excommunications for those who refuse to adhere.

  11. “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    Which also explains how harassing Christmas shoppers, badgering school children attempting to sing Christmas carols, blocking commuters from getting to/from work, etc. can all be excused in the name of “justice”… because if Eric Garner, Mike Brown, et al., can’t enjoy Christmas, no one should!

    There is another passage from Lewis’ Screwtape Letters where Lewis, in the persona of the demon Screwtape, explains how a person can be trained to direct their feelings of charity or benevolence to objects that are, for all practical purposes, imaginary, while at the same time treating the real people they see every day with contempt and malice. What some of these “shut it down” protesters are doing is a perfect example: in the name of charity and justice for dead men whom they never met, and about whom they know nothing other than what has been filtered to them though select media sources, they inflict inconvienience (at best) or outright cruelty (at worst) on living people standing right in front of them.

  12. “Pope Benedict taught in CARITAS IN VERITATE that there is both a right to food and a right to water.”

    There are a couple of different ways such a statement can be interpreted. The most logical and defensible interpretation IMO is that it is wrong to needlessly or deliberately interfere with the right of others to obtain food, water, healthcare, etc. via legitimate means. It does not, IMO, necessarily mean that these goods must be actively provided to everyone at government expense regardless of the cost to others.

  13. The “rights” fallacy was famously exposed by Rousseau.
    “Each man alienates, I admit, by the social compact, only such part of his powers, goods and liberty as it is important for the community to control; but it must also be granted that the Sovereign [the People] is sole judge of what is important,” for “ if the individuals retained certain rights, as there would be no common superior to decide between them and the public, each, being on one point his own judge, would ask to be so on all; the state of nature would thus continue, and the association would necessarily become inoperative or tyrannical.”

    His conclusion is well known, “whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; [« ce qui ne signifie autre chose sinon qu’on le forcera d’être libre »] for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence.”

  14. The state does not own the citizen to give the citizen to his own country. The state may acknowledge the free will of the person to choose and guard his free will choice. Man defines his own freedom. Being freed from an overcrowded lifeboat as in J.S. Mills’ philosophy by being thrown into the sea for the common good is not freedom being imposed. Rousseau must have been an atheist because Rousseau believes that the state rules supreme. Divine Providence rules supreme. That is why we have the Second Amendment.

  15. I keep going to the various concordances and search engines, and they cannot find these words in any language in any part of divinely inspired Scripture: “Social Justice” or “Social Gospel.” Did the libdissents have a new Council and mess with the canon of Scripture?
    T.Shaw: Didn’t you implicitly nail the current Admn and their MIT shill re: how they put ObamaDontCare over on the stupid US public – “That the average person is too stupid to run his own life, let alone make public policy decisions’
    Don R. McC: So good, so well done-should be an OpEd in NYT and WSJ and National [not] catholic [not] Reporter[not.
    Nate-Let me know where you are and I will see if I know someone in the area -Guy McClung, Registered US Patent Attorney

  16. “Social Justice” is simply another term for “socialism”. This malevolent system illustrates what secular elitist Jonathan Gruber et al seek to impose – a system of equal misery, equal envy and equal subordination of the “stupid” by godless humanists. No thanks!

  17. I think that a Christian cannot fulfill her/his charitable duties by giving the government/state/Caesar more of other people’s money or more power.
    .

    Orwell wrote that politics are essentially coercion and deceit.

    Washington wrote/said that government is power and, like fire, when controlled is beneficial; but when uncontrolled/unlimited, like conflagration, is highly dangerous.
    .
    The practical matter and experience is that the geniuses who think they know it all generally don’t and everything they attempt is ruined. So, the solution is to limit their power and their potential to mess up everything, including welfare for the poor. E.G., 50 years of Great Society and trillions of coerced transfer payment, and the USA has more poor people than it had in 1964.

  18. Mary De Voe wrote:
    .
    FREEDOM from conscience is freedom from civilization.
    .
    St. Paul wrote in Romans 6:16
    .
    Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
    .
    Freedom from informed conscience is enslavement to sin whose penalty is death.

  19. Donald McClarey wrote:
    .
    “The bitter truth of course is that none of us have a right to any material thing.”
    .
    Correct. What each and every one of us deserve is death for putting the nails in Jesus’ Hands and Feet, the Crown of Thorns on His Head, the stripes on His Back, and the hole in His Side. St. Paul says in Ephesians 2:1-3 – note what Sacred Scripture at the end of this quote says that we do deserve:
    .
    “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”
    .
    It is God’s Mercy that we do NOT get what we deserve: God’s wrath.
    .
    It is God’s Grace that we get what we do NOT deserve: God’s love.
    .
    It is not that a poor person has a right to bread and water and the other sustenance of life. It is that we as Catholic Christians, citizens of the Kingdom of God, have a moral and sacred duty to do works of mercy for the poor out of our individual resources. Never ever is this a duty of Government. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s. If we do not, then we sacrifice on the altar of political expediency our adoption as children of God, and can and should expect to be segregated with the goats at the Final Judgment.
    .
    As far as I am concerned: Mors Atheismo Democratiaeque. Vive Christe Rex!

  20. Don and TomM, may I jump in on your debate?

    Part of the problem is that there are many kinds of rights. We have a right to food, water, and air, but these are not civil rights, they are natural rights. As such there is no obligation under any proper constitution, written or unwritten, for government to provide them. In fact, it can be argued that to write such an obligation into a constitution is wrong, for reasons clear to anyone who critiques all but the mildest forms of socialism. The only purpose of government in the arena of natural rights is to not impede them (e.g., such as diverting food that would have fed 2-3 million starving people for alcohol for rocket fuel during peacetime, as Mao did during the Great Leap Forward; or requiring 20 year army enlistments without marriage, as the later Roman Republic did; or licensing the conception of children, as is currently done in China). A government that impedes a natural right is not legitimate.

    Human rights, such as education and healthcare, are not natural rights since we create them, but the same philosophy applies. Government may not impede them, say, by prohibiting private schools or homeschooling, or by establishing ‘death panels’ for medical review. In a few cases, such as education, it might make sense from a policy outcome viewpoint for government to intervene to ensure by a variety of mechanisms that some education is provided to all, but in no way is it obligated by any philosophy to do so.

    There are even limits to government’s role in the arena of civil rights, where government has an obligation as a provider. For example, we have a right to a free press and to keep and bear arms, but government is not obligated to purchase our word processors or weapons for us. The only place where civil rights affect human rights is on the issue of equal access, and even then we must look at such cases on their unique circumstances to see if we are not misapplying the civil rights regime (e.g., creating a right for equal access to higher education regardless of ability).

    TomM, does that help?

  21. Social justice is to have a proper job.
    Social justice is using what the community has given to you to prosper: an education and social stability.
    Social justice is not getting votes making believe that public money is for everyone. (there is never enough when everyone wants it).
    Social justice is to learn a trade or profession and not be a burden to your neighbors.
    Social justice is stopping being a parasite and help other membersof your community with less gifts than you. The opposite would be being a parasite.

  22. TomD: “Part of the problem is that there are many kinds of rights. We have a right to food, water, and air, but these are not civil rights, they are natural rights. As such there is no obligation under any proper constitution, written or unwritten, for government to provide them. In fact, it can be argued that to write such an obligation into a constitution is wrong, for reasons clear to anyone who critiques all but the mildest forms of socialism. The only purpose of government in the arena of natural rights is to not impede them (e.g., such as diverting food that would have fed 2-3 million starving people for alcohol for rocket fuel during peacetime, as Mao did during the Great Leap Forward; or requiring 20 year army enlistments without marriage, as the later Roman Republic did; or licensing the conception of children, as is currently done in China). A government that impedes a natural right is not legitimate.”
    .
    Thank you TomD. This comment has helped me understand the Ninth Amendment, of having rights not inscribed in the Constitution.

  23. T Shaw wrote, “Orwell wrote that politics are essentially coercion and deceit.”
    I think that Talleyrand, a consummate politician himself, was nearer the mark, when he said, “Governing has never been anything other than postponing by a thousand subterfuges the moment when the mob will hang you from the nearest lamp-post, and every act of government is nothing but a way of not losing control of the people.”

  24. Mary de Voe wrote, “Rousseau must have been an atheist…”
    So far from being an atheist, Rousseau believed that atheists should be banished from society, “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.”
    He held society would fall apart, without a belief in “the existence of a mighty, intelligent and beneficent Divinity, possessed of foresight and providence, the life to come, the happiness of the just, the punishment of the wicked, the sanctity of the social contract and the laws.”
    Rousseau never abandoned the Calvinism of his native city, Geneva, and admired Calvin and Beza as statesmen, as much as theologians.

  25. MP-S: I think your Talleyrand quote defines the “mindset” of many so-called liberals (I have known) who fear the mob and so pay (with other people’s money) the mob.
    .
    A republic (which once we “enjoyed” in the US) cannot exist where rival, hate-filled hordes (egged on by power-grabbing politicians) fear and loathe each other . . . [sigh] Ergo, the woefully deficient supply of ammuntion persists.

  26. Michael Paterson-Seymour:
    “T Shaw wrote, “Orwell wrote that politics are essentially coercion and deceit.”
    I think that Talleyrand, a consummate politician himself, was nearer the mark, when he said, “Governing has never been anything other than postponing by a thousand subterfuges the moment when the mob will hang you from the nearest lamp-post, and every act of government is nothing but a way of not losing control of the people.””
    .
    If the people are not filled with good will for the common good and general welfare, and mob rule is the wisdom of the constituency. it is better to adhere to what Hilaire Belloc loosely quoted said when ridiculed as a papist and rosary bead counter. Holding up his rosary for all to see, he said:”I pray these beads on my knees every night and pray that I do not have to represent you as my constituent.”

  27. Michael Paterson-Seymour: “He (Rousseau) held society would fall apart, without a belief in “the existence of a mighty, intelligent and beneficent Divinity, possessed of foresight and providence, the life to come, the happiness of the just, the punishment of the wicked, the sanctity of the social contract and the laws.”
    .
    How strange then, that Rousseau would reject the remedy instituted by an all-loving God through Divine Providence, the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has been given to man to satisfy his immortal soul. Fulfilled souls make excellent citizens. The Catholic Church also separates the church from the state, which Rousseau seems to have confused here.

  28. TomD: “Part of the problem is that there are many kinds of rights. We have a right to food, water, and air, but these are not civil rights, they are natural rights. As such there is no obligation under any proper constitution, written or unwritten, for government to provide them. In fact, it can be argued that to write such an obligation into a constitution is wrong, for reasons clear to anyone who critiques all but the mildest forms of socialism. The only purpose of government in the arena of natural rights is to not impede them (e.g., such as diverting food that would have fed 2-3 million starving people for alcohol for rocket fuel during peacetime, as Mao did during the Great Leap Forward; or requiring 20 year army enlistments without marriage, as the later Roman Republic did; or licensing the conception of children, as is currently done in China). A government that impedes a natural right is not legitimate.”
    .
    Thank you TomD. This comment has helped me understand the Ninth Amendment, of having rights not inscribed in the Constitution.
    .
    because it is through the individual citizen’s conscience can charity, humane treatment and largess be shared to the needy. It is not government’s duty to define charity for any citizen, although the government may deliver charity, acknowledging that all tax money belongs to the tax payer, even as it is administered by the administration. The tax payer has the final word in how his tax money is used.

  29. Hi, I’m new to this forum (I think), but anyway, you know, I was just reflecting about the whole thing about government/the intellectuals knowing what’s best for you etc. I know that line of thinking has gotten a hard knock in these blogs but in my country we’ve experienced the hardship that can be experienced when the majority or the masses are woefully ignorant and uneducated. We had a political party that governed our country for some 30 years, grew corrupt, and effectively raped the public Treasury of whatever funds were there. This continued until the people, rightfully so in my opinion, voted them out and installed a new government that stood for integrity and good governance. That new government inherited a Treasury that was almost run down to board through the thieving acts of prior corrupt politicians. They began the painful work of re-building the nation and keeping us out of the jaws of recession and economic meltdown. It required much sacrifice on the part of the population – salaries for example were slashed in the public sector in order to at least preserve jobs. In short, after about 4 years the country began to show signs of recovery and began to creep out of the pits of hell. By then election time had come around again and despite the best efforts by the incumbent government to explain to the populace that the sacrifices and pay cuts were necessary to restore the country to some level of recovery, the population would have none of it. All they knew was that this government had caused salary cuts and introduced VAT, etc and so they voted them out after one term in office – before they could fully effect the work of economic and social recovery – and re-voted in the old corrupt party who promptly began to undo all the good work done by the previous party. It was frustratingly sad for those of us who could appreciate the many tough decisions that had to be made by that government to get us back on track, but sorry to say, an illiterate populace threw us back into the dark ages…sigh…so that when T. Shaw, earlier shared that “Implicit in all of these revelations, of course, is the firmest, if never directly expressed, belief of the Left: That the average person is too stupid to run his own life, let alone make public policy decisions. Those few, those happy few, that band of liberal intellectuals, must do that for them.” Well, I dare to say that there is some truth in the saying that intellectuals must sometimes make decisions for non-intellectuals otherwise the world will collapse. A mother wisely makes the decision to give her young child some bitter cough medicine because in her wisdom she can see that the medicine will do well for the child even if the child with its limited understanding only deciphers that her mother is being cruel to her by giving her this awful tasting thing. Ok, well I haven’t hought through all the ramifications of this but I just wanted to share my country’s experience and indicate that sometimes those who are smarter need to make decisions for those who are less smart, not out of any sense of superiority or smug pride, but simply because the other doesn’t have the capacity to make that decision. It makes no sense asking the average plumber (no disrespect intended) to preside over national economic matters, because he is not so competent to act. My guess is that the solution is to try to upgrade the general intellect (and morality) of the masses so that they can make decisions that will augur to their and their generations benefit. Cheers!

  30. Sean J. ” It makes no sense asking the average plumber (no disrespect intended) to preside over national economic matters, because he is not so competent to act. My guess is that the solution is to try to upgrade the general intellect (and morality) of the masses so that they can make decisions that will augur to their and their generations benefit. Cheers!”
    .
    Your guess is wrong, Sean J. Assuming that the general public is ignorant and needs to be augured to their and their generations benefit is outright garbage in and garbage out.
    If Joe the plumber is paying in his tax dollars for something he abhors, Joe knows it. Taxpayers are buying a product or rather being forced to buy a product that will not further their health and/or happiness. If Joe, the plumber makes a mistake out of ignorance, he has only himself to blame. If Joe, the plumber is forced against his free will and better judgement to accept anything that he abhors. it is tyranny. tyranny , tyranny. It is not, however, freedom.

  31. Taxation without representation. That means that when a government hides behind closed doors to avoid telling its citizens what they will be spending our tax dollars on, the government is taxing the people without their informed consent, against their freedom. The government has become a regime of tyrants. oath breakers, constitutional betrayers and thieves.
    .
    For a government to make clandestine imperatives, whether it be Obamacare or amnesty, and use public money is a violation of the public trust.
    .
    When Bill Clinton was president, Hilarycare was put into place. Hilarycare sentenced doctors to two years in prison, federal prison, for any doctor who healed a patient without Hilarycare’s permission. Really criminalizing the act of healing as though Hilary were god. Never telling the doctors that this was going to make them inmates and ruin their careers. It is possible that Hilarycare was going to use the law to impose horrible fines and money penalties rather than real jail time, unless, of course, the doctor gave the court a hard time, but as Hilarycare was written, the doctors were going to federal prison for healing a sick person without Hilarycare’s permission.
    .
    The government does not have authentic authority to criminalize a morally and legally innocent act of humanitarianism. Nor does the government has the authority to make citizens’ taxes pay for this deliverance to hell.
    .
    Taxpaying doctors were the citizens who overturned such evil, when it came to their knowledge.
    .
    Now, we have Obamacare and amnesty. Taxation without representation, penalties without crimes sucking the life out of our nation while the government tells us that the people are to stupid to count their money.
    .
    Let us pray to God that “We, the people” are not to stupid to shake the monkey off our back.

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