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PopeWatch: Libertarianism

PopeWatch views libertarianism as the perfect political philosophy for 15 year old nerds, but when Pope Francis engages in yet another diatribe against libertarianism, it almost makes PopeWatch want to turn libertarian:

Finally, I cannot but speak of the serious risks associated with the invasion, at high levels of culture and education in both universities and in schools, of positions of libertarian individualism. A common feature of this fallacious paradigm is that it minimizes the common good, that is, “living well”, a “good life” in the community framework, and exalts the selfish ideal that deceptively proposes a “beautiful life”. If individualism affirms that it is only the individual who gives value to things and interpersonal relationships, and so it is only the individual who decides what is good and what is bad, then libertarianism, today in fashion, preaches that to establish freedom and individual responsibility, it is necessary to resort to the idea of “self-causation”. Thus libertarian individualism denies the validity of the common good because on the one hand it supposes that the very idea of “common” implies the constriction of at least some individuals, and the other that the notion of “good” deprives freedom of its essence.

The radicalization of individualism in libertarian and therefore anti-social terms leads to the conclusion that everyone has the “right” to expand as far as his power allows, even at the expense of the exclusion and marginalization of the most vulnerable majority. Bonds would have to be cut inasmuch as they would limit freedom. By mistakenly matching the concept of “bond” to that of “constraint”, one ends up confusing what may condition freedom – the constraints – with the essence of created freedom, that is, bonds or relations, family and interpersonal, with the excluded and marginalized, with the common good, and finally with God.

 

Go here to read the rest.  This is a Pope who has no problem with selling out Chinese Catholics to the Chinese Communist government and who has little to say about various squalid Leftist dictatorships around the globe.  Leftist tyrannies are of no concern to this Pope compared to the menace of the hordes of Libertarians descending upon nations to declare upon helpless populations freedom of contract and the limitation of the power of the State.  One of the frightening aspects of this Papacy is how detached from the real world this Pope is, as exemplified last week by his twitter proposal that all weapons be banned.  His ardent distaste for faithful Catholics, who he condemns as Pharisees and Gnostics, is only one facet of what a very strange man now heads the Faith, God help us all.

 

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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.

15 Comments

  1. Of course, no species of libertarianism has had much vigor in American universities for 80 years and soi-disant libertarians in American academe are commonly poseurs who present no challenge to academic establishments. There might be more respect for markets in occidental universities than was the case a generation ago (or two generations ago), but that hardly amounts to ‘libertarianism’. (And you can see where a disrespect for markets has gotten Argentina over the last 90 years).

  2. The irony here is rich…the same Francis who seems to be bent on a course of so radically decentralizing the Church as to place the very definition of Truth in the hands of every individual Catholic, goes on a rant against individualism. Whut???

  3. Of course he can’t argue very effectively against any flavor of Libertarian; the issues with libertarianism are the same as with socialism, starting with being a dehumanized system that attempts to capture a very human good. He can’t even put into words how exactly it’s “wrong”– same way that communism can be understood as a heresy of Christianity, libertarianism is a heresy of communism. It takes most of the stuff, then cuts out a really important chunk and substitutes something else in.
    And then the hard-core supporters of whatever variety will go with the good examples– charity, responsibility for self– and insist that anyone who doesn’t agree with the mutated form is against the pure form, too.

  4. The error of Libertarianism was condensed into a single paragraph by Hegel. ““If the state is confused with civil society, and if its specific end is laid down as the security and protection of property and personal freedom, then the interest of the individuals as such becomes the ultimate end of their association, and it follows that membership of the state is something optional. But the state’s relation to the individual is quite different from this. Since the state is mind objectified, it is only as one of its members that the individual himself has objectivity, genuine individuality, and an ethical life. Unification pure and simple is the true content and aim of the individual, and the individual’s destiny is the living of a universal life. His further particular satisfaction, activity and mode of conduct have this substantive and universally valid life as their starting point and their result.” G W Hegel, Philosophy of Right 258
    That is why the French Catholic philosopher Yves Simon insists that “the highest activity/being in the natural order is free arrangement of men about what is good brought together in an actual polity where it is no longer a mere abstraction. This is, as it were, the inner-worldly purpose of our being on this earth. The polity itself, however, is, or should be, organized in such a fashion that the transcendent finality of each individual person is recognized as operative in him.” Yves Simon’s A General Theory of Authority.

  5. “Since the state is mind objectified, it is only as one of its members that the individual himself has objectivity, genuine individuality, and an ethical life. Unification pure and simple is the true content and aim of the individual, and the individual’s destiny is the living of a universal life. His further particular satisfaction, activity and mode of conduct have this substantive and universally valid life as their starting point and their result.”

    States are merely human creations MPS, no more examples of the mind objectified than a pistol or a cub scout troop. As usual, German philosophy is useless in the real world when it is not simply utter rubbish.

  6. Donald

    “Mind objectified” is what Simon means by “what is good brought together in an actual polity where it is no longer a mere abstraction.”

    It is why Simon says, “that, in this state [of abstraction], man is “no longer unequivocally real.”

    To discuss man, without reference to the Polis is like analyzing the anatomy and physiology of the liver, without reference to the living human body; a perfectly legitimate heuristic exercise, but one which nevertheless reduces the liver to an abstraction.

  7. Much of life has little to do with the State that chance, usually, caused us to live in.

    Unless something is very, very wrong. (Either the culture is sick, or the state is.)

  8. We mean two different things by “polis” and by “state” – of course there is an organic effect, unless something is very very wrong

  9. Aristotle famously called Man a ζῷον πολιτικόν – a political animal, For him, it is as blindingly obvious that people everywhere live in communities as that bees live in hives or wolves in packs. The root of the human community, the polis is the family or household: διὸ ἐν οἰκίᾳ πρῶτον ἀρχαὶ καὶ πηγαὶ φιλίας καὶ πολιτείας καὶ δικαίου – Hence in the household are first found the origins and springs of friendship, of political organization and of justice (My translation)

    This is why Yves Simon says that Man, taken as an isolated individual is “no longer unequivocally real” and that the highest activity/being in the natural order is the free arrangement of men about what is good, brought together in an actual polity, where it is no longer a mere abstraction.

    Now, the Enlightenment denied this. It was a fundamental principle of the Enlightenment that the nature of the human person can be adequately described without mention of social relationships. A person’s relations with others, even if important, are not essential and describe nothing that is, strictly speaking, necessary to one’s being what one is. This principle underlies all their talk about the “state of nature” and the “social contract,” and from it is derived the notion that the only obligations are those voluntarily assumed. It was in this spirit that Bentham says that “the community is a fictitious body,” and it is but “the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it.” The contrast with Aristotle could not be more complete.

    Grace perfects nature. As VII reminds us, we are redeemed in and through our membership of the People of God. Our nature demands community.

  10. “This is why Yves Simon says that Man, taken as an isolated individual is “no longer unequivocally real””

    And that is an untrue statement. There is no more “isolated individual” than Christ on the Cross. Christianity of course transcended the boundaries of races, nations and prior religions that Aristotle, doubtless would have regarded as unbridgeable. Aristotle divided the human race into Greeks and Barbarians. I do not blame him for this. He was a child of his time and place, but we should know better now, and we should also know that those human creations called states are not the be all and end all of human existence.

  11. Donald R McClarey wrote, “those human creations called states are not the be all and end all of human existence.”

    No, they are its necessary condition; language itself is a social creation and, as Wittgenstein reminds us, “Thinking is not an incorporeal process which lends life and sense to speaking, and which it would be possible to detach from speaking, rather as the Devil took the shadow of Schlemihl from the ground..” For anyone who doubts this, Wittgenstein proposes the following experiment: “Say a sentence and think it; say it with understanding – Now, do not say it, just do what you accompanied it with, when you said it with understanding!”

  12. Is he concerned that libertarians may limit the power of the secular state ? but happy to frustrate the accepted Teaching Authority of the Church. He has concern about moral relativism of libertarianism in the world but seems to encourage libertarianism in pastoral and doctrinal application.
    Perhaps he sees himself as more of a political or world leader than as a guardian of the Faith.
    He decentralizes the Church allowing dioceses to apply doctrine in particular ways, rather than insisting on the old consistency that made us One Holy and Catholic

    “”If individualism affirms that it is only the individual who gives value to things and interpersonal relationships, and so it is only the individual who decides what is good and what is bad, then libertarianism, today in fashion, preaches that to establish freedom and individual responsibility, it is necessary to resort to the idea of “self-causation”. Thus libertarian individualism denies the validity … it supposes that the very idea of “common” implies the constriction of at least some individuals, and the other that the notion of “good” deprives freedom of its essence.”

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