Liberalism, Capitalism & Pluralism: The Catholic Wars Continue

Monday, February 10, AD 2014

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

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

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

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

  • Pinky,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    You don’t want to go there.

  • John,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Slainte,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Bonchamps

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

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

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

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

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

  • Mary de Voe

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

    I do not think Locke would have disagreed.

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

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

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

  • The truth is out there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ==

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

    ==

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

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

  • Thomas Jefferson once said:

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

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

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

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

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  • Mary,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Professor Deco:

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

  • Shaw:

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

  • Dr. Deco:

    Nor am I.

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

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

  • What’s your point, T. Shaw?

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

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

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

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

  • I so adore these on-topic conversations.

  • Professor Deco,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • MPS,

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

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

  • Bonchamps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Bonchamps

    Thank you for your clarification.

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

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

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

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

The Majority Dissent

Monday, February 3, AD 2014

John Zmirak breaks down widespread resistance and dissent among Catholics on the issue of contraception in “The Shame of the Catholic Subculture” for The Catholic ThingThe most salient facts of the situation:

On a grave moral issue where several popes have invoked their full moral authority short of making an infallible declaration, 95 percent of U.S. Catholics (the number is surely higher in most of Europe) have rejected the guidance of Rome. They are not “bad Catholics” so much members of a new, dissenting sect – which happens to occupy most of the seats in most of the churches, and many of the pulpits and bishop’s offices, too.

I’m not sure that I agree that they are not “bad Catholics.” To the extent that they have been poorly catechized, this might be the case. Many of us know from personal experience however that there are plenty of people who say that they are Catholics, understand that Catholics must abide by the dogmatic teachings of the Church, and simply don’t. However they rationalize it is really not important to me.

On the other hand, Zmirak makes a convincing case for extending a tolerant and understanding olive branch to well-meaning dissenters (and that does not include all dissenters, mind you); they’re over 90% of the Church, perhaps over 95%, at least in the developed West. H also makes a good point about conservative/traditionalist circles that, while doctrinally orthodox, suffer from ideological stagnation and social isolation. The 90-95% need those who believe that truth is not optional to speak boldly for it, but not in a way that is alienating or unsympathetic to their concerns.

If, for instance, the problem with contraception is that an otherwise willing Catholic family feels it simply can’t handle the financial burden, then those of us who would have them hold to the teaching of the Church should be devising creative solutions to that problem. Perhaps living as self-contained nuclear families in a mass consumer society is not the way to live as Catholics. Perhaps local, voluntary, and bold projects are needed to unite people who wish to live the faith authentically, to share burdens and responsibilities – something beyond the mere handouts so often advocated by leftists. The pro-life movement has had great success with crisis pregnancy centers and other forms of relief for pregnant women; I see no reason why we can’t take it a step further and devise forms of relief for struggling parents.

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33 Responses to The Majority Dissent

  • I do see John Zmirak’s distinction between “Bad Catholics,” who do not follow, whilst nevertheless acknowledging, the moral teaching of the Church and “a new, dissenting sect” that rejects that teaching.

    How they contrive to do so, whilst still considering themselves Catholics may puzzle us, but we should recall Lord Macaulay’s words about another “dissenting sect,” “We know through what strange loopholes the human mind contrives to escape, when it wishes to avoid a disagreeable inference from an admitted proposition. We know how long the Jansenists contrived to believe the Pope infallible in matters of doctrine, and at the same time to believe doctrines which he pronounced to be heretical.”

    Am I alone in finding an eerie similarity between the “Truce of 1968,” as George Weigal calls it, when the Congregation for the Clergy decreed that Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington should lift canonical penalties against those priests whom he had disciplined for their public dissent from Humanae Vitæ and the “Peace of Clement IX” during the Jansenist controversy?

    In both cases, after the Church had been riven by a decade-long dispute, a papal document was issued that was intended to be definitive.

    In both cases, the original quarrel was immediately forgotten and argument raged over the scope of papal authority to decide the question. In the Jansenist case, peace, of a sort, was achieved, when Pope Clement IX brokered an agreement that neither side would argue the question, at least, from the pulpit.

    The “Peace of Clement IX” lasted for about 35 years and ended in 1705 when Clement XI declared the clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence.” Eventually, in 1713, he issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was enormous resistance, with bishops and priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

    Will the “Truce of 1968” end in a similar fashion?

  • Contracepting and receiving the Eucharist will bring eternal condemnation on many catholics.

  • I owned and operated a Catholic bookstore for 14 years. As approximately 40% of my customers were men, it was not uncommon to find Saturday afternoon discussions concerning living a Catholic life. Artificial contraception was certainly one of the topics discussed. Over the years, ten of these men shared that they had a vasectomy and an eleventh one’s wife had a tubal ligation for birth control purposes. Each of them said, in almost the same words,”Now when I make love to my wife, I can’t get close enough to her.”
    By contracepting, they had inadvertantly destroyed the unitive aspect of their relationship. When they cut God from their relationship, the marital act became profane. It does not matter whether the contraception is the result of a vasectomy, tubal ligation, or the use of any other artificial method, the result is the same. Sexual intercourse is sacred, and self-giving, when God is the center of the marriage. Artificial contraception is a most selfish and destructive act.

  • Having taught about contraception (Humane Vitae) at a Catholic High School, where the subject was nervously ignored, even shunned, along with homosexuality, I experienced many adults who rejected the teaching (including religious) and few if any who could explain it. Nonetheless, the high school students were very open and challenged to learn the design, meaning and purpose of sexuality and it had much impact on their thinking. It should be central to marriage preparation, but again, my experience was absolute fear to even whisper it, or simply a polite chuckle for the insiders on how passé it was.
    In the past I used to speak about it at various college, parish and other venues. (Once to a panel of not Catholic medical doctors). Always lively, always surprising, always greatly appreciated and always fruitful. I have long dropped from the scene and raising my family, but have wondered how to reach out again. Not sure I know a way. It certainly is greatly needed.

  • Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said that many people hate what they think is the Catholic Church. Very few people hate what they know is the Catholic Church. So, it is with pure conjugal love and the use of contraceptive. The 95% of Catholics who purportedly use contraceptives must know the joy of life in truly cherishing the gift of his wife in the marital act and the difference of disfiguring that conjugal love with the barrier to life and love that is contraception. Is it possible to be married and not know the difference? Marriage consists in knowing the joy of life in cherishing the gift of a wife in the marital act.

  • Over my sixty some odd years I have come to a realization that is a sad one. In this ‘contraceptive issue’ both those who hold to the teaching of the Church as well as those who ‘dissent’ have lost sight of the fact that God wants us to be happy-eternally happy [eternal beatitude]. We are created for this, ‘wired’ for this. This happiness is complete communion with God, participating in His very Life and Love

    I used the word ‘wired’. Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis are using the term: “human ecology’. In the past we would be speaking of this reality using such phrases as ‘natural law’ and ‘Christian anthrolopology’. However, they all speak of the same reality, the same truth, that we have been created in such a way that we reveal a certain order, law, ecology within us, that simply is. We can later become conscious of what this is and what it implies, but it is that fundamental that it precedes all human constructs, rationalizations etc

    Animals have sex to continue their species. It is a drive within them that is on the instinctual level. Something much deeper, more awesome is present within man and woman. Man and woman unite in love within a bond that is God-given.

    This conjugal love is HUMAN: it has very little in common with what takes place in the animal world. It is not a matter of instinct and or sentiment but an act of free-will, a fundamental expression of the GIFT-of-SELF intended to continue and grow throughout the life of the couple united in this bond

    This conjugal love is TOTAL It is a unique and very special form of human friendship in which the man and woman share everything, with nothing being held back or reserved from the gift of self to the other.

    This conjugal love is FAITHFUL and EXCLUSIVE until death. This at moments and for even certain periods of time might seem very difficult but it is not humanly impossible. People are indeed capable of making and keeping faithful, exclusive promises and commitments which are virtuous, meritorious and bring lasting happiness

    This conjugal love is ‘FECUND’: life-giving. This reveals that marital love does not ‘end’ with the union of the couple. Love, seeking the good of the other, is diffusive. The couple’s love does not end with itself but gives of themselves in the giving of new life

    Some of you may have realized what I just wrote, but most will not. It is the very core of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae. It is both Good News and life-giving. How many Catholics who are dissenting even really know what they are dissenting against. The teaching is far richer than “Thou shalt not”. It is an invitation and a challenge to live a really human, total, faithful, exclusive, life-giving love. I believe many are actually hungering for this ‘vision’ of marriage and love that raises them above the ‘lab rats’ of the Kinsey Report.

    Donald raises an extremely important point in his comments. How can we who believe in this assist those who both struggle with it or perhaps even ‘reject it’? Certainly casting ‘condemnations’ will not help. Every person, every couple are created for, meant for “happiness”. Do we not have the Good News of Jesus Christ, “the Way, the Truth and the Life”? Now how can we share this-not just with our words but our actions and our lives-in this extremely important aspect of life?

  • Zmirak writes: “We need to stop treating people who don’t “get” the Church’s teaching on contraception as if they were clones of Judas, or heretics like Arius whom St. Nicholas rightly slapped.” He frames the issue almost as if people with lots of kids are ostracizing others. As a father of eight children, I can assure you it’s the reverse. The 95% tend to look down their noses at people like me. This includes priests who ask if we’re in some sort of competition to parents at the parish school that we can’t afford who think if we would just sacrifice a little more we can come up with tuition. If you send them to public school you’re damaging your children, and if you homeschool them you’re weird and isolating your kids. Or the people who during the sign of peace comment with some dismay “Um… there sure are… um… a lot of you.” I think if I became Southern Baptist I’d probably have more and better friends at Church.

    While I appreciate much of his work, Zmirak is completely off the mark here. The parents of large families aren’t pushing people who contracept away from Church teaching through snottiness. They are making real material sacrifices and ruining much chance at a social life and while enduring both subtle and overt discrimination by the majority.

  • Alphatron,

    You are to be commended not criticized or condemned. As for Zmirak I did not see him attacking large families-but maybe I missed it. I did see him call for an end of ‘condemnations’ and working toward both sharing the Good News and assisting/gently challenging those who dissent. Donald asked if we do not have a responsibility to actively reach out and assist those Catholics struggling with this issue.

    I would add however that we need to reach out and assist families such as your own. For example, there are parishes in America where the weekly income is over fifty thousand (most will gasp at that) They completely finance their own Catholic schools and members of the parish can send their children there tuition free-all in the parish sharing the ‘load’-sharing all things in common, This is not just an ideal it can happen and is already happening

    I want to keep the focus on the actual article and Donald’s statement but I do think we Catholics owe families such as your own a great deal of gratitude and support.

  • There may be a middle ground for contraception, without changing any of the Church teaching. One possible first step is to convert the pro-abortion/pro-contraception camp, into the pro-life camp, even if they still hold pro-contraception views. Doing this could save millions of babies in utero. The way to do this is to teach the concept that when birth control fails, as it will eventually in a significant number of people, no matter what BC method they use, that they keep the child. This is the attitude used in NFP. In other words, teach that artificial contraception is a sin, but that abortion is murder.
    Otherwise it will be much harder to decrease the still tragically high numbers of abortions, as over ½ million abortions in the US are performed because birth control failed, and ½ million did not use birth control.
    If one has to chose battles, abortion is the one to work on first.

  • I think Alph’s comments very pertinent to the issue, although I did not catch any slight by Zmirack myself. I happen to be one of 17 children and had I not married so late, probably would have had a large family myself. As it is 3, and my wife unfortunately was culturally prejudiced against a large family. But he is quite correct in the negative attitudes expressed even by Catholics, let alone others. And it is directly related to the contraceptive issue, as it is considered “responsible” unlike the “irresponsible breeders” to be anti-life and avoid “too many” by contraception. We say and teach the right things about family, but I never thought we were true to these teachings in actual support for family and marriage.

  • In the Novus Ordo Church we also have encountered quite scandalous responses from ostensible Catholics over 4 kindern (let alone Alpha’s 8). Here in the ever so intellectually profound San Francisco Bay Area, in our parish, we actually had a self-identified Catholic woman of some “rank” and much more chutzpah say to Mrs Phoenix: “Oh, my GAWD, you have four CHILD-REN?! Couldnt you STOP yourself!?” (I kid you not.)

    Suffice to say that the glacial gaze she received from said-same lady of the house had absolutely no effect: The aforementioned woman of social rank and chutzpah proceeded to explain the usefulness of contraception. (Can you spell “t-o-ne d-e-a-f”?)

    At the diocesan approved TLM, a family with several children receives smiling faces and implicit approval, even on bad-hair days. I am sure the notorious SSPX Churches are the same.

  • The original article addressed the isolationism of the more orthodox Catholics. I have likened it to a small circle of people in the center of a crowd, who at their best are facing outward and trying to pull people in, but at their worst can be facing inward and trying to push people out. Of course the more orthodox may be sneered at; that’s just part of following Christ, although it is more irritating when it comes from fellow Catholics. But the priority has got to be increasing the number in the circle.

    This article reminds me of a recent discussion about the Jake Tapper interview, specifically: when did people stop expecting the truth? Actually, now that I think about it, it reminds me of a reply I wanted to make to the Pope Wunnerful article. I think the same thing applies, that people aren’t worried if the Pope says a few things against abortion because, they suppose, he probably doesn’t mean them. We’re at a point in our society, thanks to spin doctors or modernism or whatever, that people don’t assume that the person they’re talking to is being honest. They don’t judge you harshly for lying – I wish they did! – but they just assume that you’re not being honest. My guess is, you show up with a family of ten, they know you’re serious. But most of the time, people just sort of nod along when you talk about morality and assume that you’re as kinky or kinkier than most.

    That’s I think the new hurdle we face. You have to convince people that you really believe what you’re saying. Or maybe it’s not a new hurdle. Maybe people have always just sort of nodded along, just now they’re admitting it to the pollsters. I don’t know.

  • One thing that is not really clear to most people, at least until one talks with the 95% of women who use artificial contraception, is that many are not really engaged in a ‘hard’ dissent with the Church.

    Yes, most feel justified in what they are doing, many feel they have no choice. Yet when you ask them what do they think of the 5% who use NFP, you get variations on what is really admiration. Many if not most of the women who are in the 95% admire the 5% and wish they could be like them. They know sanctity when they see it.

    This is why these women do not leave the Church. Their dissent is a ‘soft’ dissent. They do not question the basic truths that are to be found in the Church’s teaching. They just cannot bring themselves to adhere to it.

  • Let me partially answer my own question. After the SOTU, Limbaugh echoed a lot of the comments I saw under the Tapper thread. He also said that speeches are given to evoke emotions, not present facts. I think that’s a lot of what I’m seeing. People don’t trust each other’s content because they assume it’s spin.

  • Wow! I hadn’t read any of the comments before I posted mine. I really believe these comments are accurate and that there are chutzpah contraceptive Catholics out there. I do believe Mrs Phoenix suffered what she suffered, and I believe that we all suffer with her.

    But, my experience is that they must be in the minority, at least as far as active parish life is concerned, and at least outside of San Francisco. I really believe, based on my experiences, in the facts on my first post.

  • A family of three or four or five or eight ought to be finding nothing but support and affirmation within the Catholic Church. The question remains from the article and Donald’s comments, how can we who believe the Church’s teaching reach out to struggling families, those beyond our own comfort zone etc.?

  • Too many women today are developing breast cancer; it is epidemic.
    .
    The World Health Organization has identified the contraceptive pill as a Class 1 Carcinogen. Ingesting the Contraceptive Pill causes breast cancer.

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/surgeon-birth-control-pill-a-molotov-cocktail-for-breast-cancer/
    .
    Is it really worthwhile for any woman to assume the risk of developing breast cancer and not being available to raise one’s children just to satisfy a cultural zeitgeist that is anti-children. From a purely temporal perspective, contraception is deadly to a woman’s well being and that of her entire family.
    .
    Practical, fact based, health disclosures dissemintated in parishes will assist women who may not be aware of the risks of contraception.
    .
    If one prints out the above linked article and leaves it next to the Sunday bulletins (with your pastor’s consent), I believe you will perform a great service for many women and their families.

  • Actually, Botolph, I am to be criticized because I didn’t start out as a faithful Catholic. I was with the 95% and came around after a few years of marriage. I have the advent of the internet to thank for my reversion. I was able to read the Catechism, and papal encyclicals for the first time. Poor catechesis in my youth left questions unanswered, so I rejected it. I am hopeful that others will come around as well. The Church provides mercy and forgiveness, for which I am grateful. I found nothing but support from orthodox Catholics who bore with my struggles and deficiencies with patience and love. It was the 95% from which I had come who put barriers in my way.

  • Pinky wrote, “He also said that speeches are given to evoke emotions, not present facts.”

    Λόγοσ ούδέν κινεί – Reason moves nothing – Aristotle

    Orators have always known that if one wants people to actually do something, rather than just nod in approval, it is necessary to “call the passions to the aid of reason.” If one wants them, for example, to make war on Philip or impeach Warren Hastings, then inspiring indignation and (moderate) fear is the way to move them to action.

  • “how can we who believe the Church’s teaching reach out to struggling families, those beyond our own comfort zone etc.?”

    A more liberal political site would call for government programs. I think the answer here would be to do it the Republican way. Private donations, say to the local Catholic school, encouraging a multi-student family discount. Support for the parish. Or just talking – “outreach”, I guess it’s called. Become friends with a big Catholic family. There are a lot worse families your kids could be hanging out with. Babysit, playdates, whatever.

  • Pinky,

    I believe it was Chesterton who said Christianity has not been tried and failed, it has not been tried. How about a Catholic approach-first of all renewal of our parishes in which large families would not only not experience what has been reported above, but the person attempting to sneer at them would be the one who would be seen as ‘not with the program’. Certainly as you say, and I had said in the post above, a greater sharing of resources of parishioners etc within the parish etc. so that no family etc will ever be left high and dry, etc

    I would take this further however. Encourage (don’t push) priests to bring the good news that the CHurch indeed has concerning marriage and marital love more to the fore in their preaching, If a Catholic is challenged for having a large family or believing in the Church’s teaching on this subject, turn the table around-ask that “Catholic” on what Catholic grounds do they base their argument. This will get them to begin to think and hopefully begin to see that the basis of their position is an ideology that belongs ultimately to the culture of death [it might not be the same as abortion but behind both contraception and abortion is an anti-life, anti-human ideology-the contemporary form of the god Moloch

  • You’re right about the pulpit. I think a lot of priests are embarrassed to talk about sex, and it makes them come off as embarrassed by the Church’s teaching. I also – pet peeve here – am tired of the way “vocation” has come to mean “please, kids, consider the priesthood”. I respect the priesthood, and it’s important to get kids to think about the consecrated life. But we’ve got to get kids, and adults, to realize that the married life is also a vocation, a lifelong commitment to an important, sometimes difficult, state of witness and service.

  • Pinky,

    I totally agree that being ‘married in the Lord’ is a Christian vocation which also needs to be put out there and prayed for.

  • Pinky: Vocation is following the will of the Lord in one’s life.

  • The trouble with the nuns on the bus is that in trying to become priests, they are not being who they are supposed to be, creating a vacuum, a vacuum that nature abhors.

  • As a man who came to the Church somehwat later in life, after the birth of my kids and a vasectomy, I am genuinely curious about what, if anything, the Church would be able to do to restore my “wholeness?” I do not mean this as a petulant challenge; reversals are expensive (as in there’s no way I can afford one,) and after a time not medically recommended, so what is somebody in my position to do?

  • Wk Aiken,

    If you haven’t already done so, the Sacrament of Penance: “Confession” And if you have not done so, ‘be not afraid’

  • Botolph-

    That I did, the first time just before Easter upon finishing up RCIA; I did not hide the topic then and was granted absolution. I have continued to avail myself of that Sacrament on a regular basis in the dozen-ish years since.

    However, an old and uncomfortable chord was struck by Victor Claveau’s words: “Over the years, ten of these men shared that they had a vasectomy and an eleventh one’s wife had a tubal ligation for birth control purposes. Each of them said, in almost the same words, ‘Now when I make love to my wife, I can’t get close enough to her.'”

    I know that Reconciliation absolves me of sins past, including my ongoing sterile state. But I am now celibate, in a sense, without being called to celibacy by service in Clergy. There is an inherent wrongness to this.

    I will talk to my parish priests. They’re good, trustworthy men; the younger one graduated college in 4 years with a 3.9 GPA carrying 5 majors: History, Chemistry, Physics, Theology and Philosophy.

    And thanks – I do appreciate your concern and input.

  • WK Aiken

    You will be in my prayers

  • “I do not mean this as a petulant challenge; reversals are expensive (as in there’s no way I can afford one,) and after a time not medically recommended, so what is somebody in my position to do?”

    I had a friend in a similar position. I advised him to ask a very good priest I knew. He came back and said that there was no requirement to reverse the vasectomy for forgiveness.

  • Thank you, Phillip. That is comforting. I’ll still have a chat, if for no other reason than to get it off my chest, but it’s good to know others have found answers. Thanks again!

    And thanks, Botolph, for the prayers. It is impossible to obtain too many of those graces.

  • Mr. Aiken,
    .
    I recall some time ago viewing an EWTN television show “Women of Grace” which is hosted by Johnnette Benkovic in which she discusses in detail the issue of vasectomy reversal with a Catholic surgeon who performs these procedures as an apostolate for a very reduced cost. Some of the experiences raised by you and other men in this thread are addressed by Johnnette and the surgeon.
    .
    Here is a link to the tv program:

    Vasectomy Reversal: Taking Care of the Damage, Part 1
    http://www.womenofgrace.com/en-us/media/tv/details.aspx?id=608

    .
    See, “Lifesite News” article pertaining to same:

    “Texan surgeon gives hope to sterilized men seeking wholeness”

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/texan-surgeon-gives-hope-to-sterilized-men-seeking-wholeness
    .
    Hope this is helpful to you.

Brace Yourselves: The Dark Enlightenment is Upon Us

Wednesday, January 29, AD 2014

If you haven’t heard just yet, there is a new political ideology making headway mostly in the online world: neoreaction. A friend of mine, Nicholas Pell, has given the basic rundown of this movement complete with useful introductory links for Taki’s Magazine. It will be worth your time to familiarize yourselves with this movement, regardless of what you come to think of it or may think already, as I believe it will only grow with time. For those who don’t know, by the way, I’m your local, friendly, fringe political theorist 🙂

Though the neoreactionaries appear to be a diverse group, ranging from your familiar traditional Catholic monarchists to godless futurists and trans-humanists, they are united by one common belief: that democracy has failed. It is this singular belief, in my view, that distinguishes neoreactionaries from conservatives, at least in the United States. Many of the other beliefs I have seen expressed by NRs, such as a strong preference for hierarchy, order, rational discrimination, and things of this nature are acceptable to most conservatives who aren’t, say, Huntsmanites. Of course I distinguish conservative politicians, whose expressed views are subject to public scrutiny, from the average voter. 

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149 Responses to Brace Yourselves: The Dark Enlightenment is Upon Us

  • The Constitution for the United States of America is ratified by every state. Any change to the Constitution must be ratified by three quarters of the states. The Preamble, the purpose of the Constitution is unchangeable, immovable, irreducible. Let us go forward with our inheritance. Live the Constitution, Love the Constitution.

  • Wow. Unchangable, immovable, irreducible? It’s not Holy Scripture. I prefer the Constitution to all other arrangements that are possible at the moment. But don’t forget the Declaration of Independence, which articulates even more fundamental truths – namely that any government, if it ceases to protect the legitimate rights of the people, can be and ought to be tossed off.

  • “It’s not Holy Scripture.” The Constitution for the United States of America is the TRUTH, the whole TRUTH and nothing but the TRUTH, so help me God. The “Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity”, all future generations should flow forth from these unalienable rights endowed by our Creator to man, the citizen, who with his sovereign personhood constitutes the state. God, through the sovereignty of the human being, creates Caesar.
    Our posterity, our (constitutional) posterity exist in the mind of God. God, WHO is TRUTH. America is all generations, who have gone before us, in We, the people, all citizens, here and now and all future generations to come who have yet to be brought forth. The future generations come to us in perfect TRUTH, innocence and virginity. God does not make junk or sin or evil, only perfect Justice. The human soul comes to us in perfect TRUTH and Justice. The Supreme Court Justices are the personification of God’s perfect Justice.
    “…namely that any government, if it ceases to protect the legitimate rights of the people, can be and ought to be tossed off.” The Constitution is the measure by which government must be judged or reckoned, or “tossed off”. God made us, God takes care of us.

  • Yeah… I’m just gonna slowly back away now. Though I have to say something about this here:

    “The Supreme Court Justices are the personification of God’s perfect Justice.”

    When they forced abortion-on-demand on the 50 states of the Union, they were the personification of Lucifer’s nether-regions.

  • Also, The Declaration of Independence is also ratified by all of the colonies before the colonies became states.

  • Our problem is not democracy. It’s decadence.

  • “When they forced abortion-on-demand on the 50 states of the Union, they were the personification of Lucifer’s nether-regions.” and they ought to have been “tossed off”. Roe v. Wade denied the human soul endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights, free will, intellect, intuition, genius. Roe V Wade denied to every American male the ownership of his offspring, his seed, giving the child over to the individual who intended to end his life, to scrape the human soul from the womb. Justice Stewart Potter asked Sarah Weddington, the attorney for Roe if the child in the womb might be a “person”. The child was not given the benefit of a doubt, because no one knew. Human rights are predicated on the existence of the human being, an individual substance of a rational nature. Thomas Aquinas’ definition of the “person”
    The Supreme Court is to deliver equal Justice to all persons. In delivering equal Justice to all persons, living, deceased and yet to come, the Supreme Court is the personification of the virtue of Justice

  • Donald McClarey welcomed you back to The American Catholic. Welcome back.

  • Welcome back Bonchamps, I reread you post and it is very good.”neoreaction” Obama wants to be king and the neoreactionists are going to make it happen.

  • Wherever this ultimately leads it would appear that we are in for a rough patch of civil violence.

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  • As Winston Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

  • Thank you for the education Bonchamps.

    “Meathead” has had his way. Such a more peaceful planet these days. Oh by the way…mall shootings / school shootings. Blame it on Church and Democracy.

    God help us.

  • In the U.S.; less than a century of full-blown democracy has resulted in steadily increasing moral degeneration, family and social disintegration, and cultural decay in the form of continually rising rates of divorce, illegitimacy, abortion, and crime. (xiii)

    This reminds me of this post by Sarah Hoyt where she remarks on how everybody (yes, I’ve even noticed it with a lot of Catholics) seems to have some concept of “paradise lost”. i.e. “Today sucks, yesterday was better, tomorrow’s going to be even worse.”
    http://accordingtohoyt.com/2013/10/17/paradise-regained-again-and-again-and-again/

    There was always this bliss and perfect place from which we came tumbling down.

    In the early stages of the turning, humans can’t visualize what comes next and always always treat it as chaos and dissolution, which then goes to feed the myth of paradise lost.

    Really, read the whole thing. Then realize it’s all been downhill after that first week. Yesterday had its sins. Tomorrow will to. We may as well do the best we can to reduce our part’s in today’s.

  • Our problem is not democracy. It’s decadence.

    Our problem is original sin. 😉

  • Unalienable rights can only be endowed by an infinite Supreme Sovereign Being, our Creator. “The rights the state gives, the state can take away.” as said by Thomas Jefferson. Therefore, the rights the state gives may be called “alienable” Unalienable rights, rights that cannot be taken away point to an infinite God. Human rights which must be unalienable since man is not created by the state, point to an un-created Supreme Sovereign Being WHO is existence and exists and may not be blasphemed without denigrating every human being and all of creation.
    In other words, our Founding Principles and our Founding Fathers brought forth this nation, the United States of America on acknowledging an infinite loving God WHOM they called “our Creator”. And furthermore, invoked God’s Divine Providence in The Declaration of Independence and God’s Divine Providence in the Preamble to our Constitution for the United States of America as “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and to our posterity,”
    Atheism has no place here, in America. We, the people, tolerate the misunderstandings of the atheist, but atheism can go to hell where it belongs.
    Any movement such as the “neoreactionaries” better have a firm grasp on theology and the God who created and endowed man, composed of human body and rational, immortal human soul in free will and freedom and endowed man with unalienable human rights for now and eternity, or the movement’s participants better prepare to endure the loss of their immortal souls.

  • ““Today sucks, yesterday was better, tomorrow’s going to be even worse.”” and for atheism to prevent us from invoking Divine Providence is un-American and pure evil. Evil is as evil does. “You will know them by what they do.”

  • ““Today sucks, yesterday was better, tomorrow’s going to be even worse.”” and for atheism to prevent us from invoking Divine Providence is un-American and pure evil. Evil is as evil does. “You will know them by what they do.”

    Uh… I suppose? Maybe?

    Sorry, you went off the reservation there and didn’t leave a forwarding address. No idea what your point is.

  • A republic, if we can keep it.

    The rise of popular democracy, it seems to me, goes hand-in-hand with the rise of egalitarianism and the fall of the Republic, in the United States. Need not be linked, you say? Truly, but I believe that they are.

  • I recently quoted Gibbon from “Decline and Fall . . . “ Here it is paraphrased: “An educated, well-informed populous, possessed of arms, tenacious of property, and collected into constitutional assemblies form the only balance capable of preserving a free constitution against enterprises of an aspiring prince (despotism).”

    The word “republic” is derived from the Latin “res publica.” It means the public thing. Laws that equally affect all the people are good. Those that positively affect some of we the people while adversely impacting others of we the people are bad.

    Life, liberty and property (pursuit of happiness) are inalienable rights given to you by God.

    The progressives believe the government/state owns you and your property.

    The Constitution needed to amended to impose the income tax (not proprtional) on some of the people; along with the Federal Reserve: set up to benefit the money interests and the nation state. These were some salvoes fired in 1913 from so-called progressives’ siege guns which are constantly battering the “walls” of the Republic. The income tax and FR tear at the people’s hold on their property/pursuit of happiness.

    One hundred years after the 1913 impositions of the FR and the income tax, the US is suffering evolving Obamocracy (class war, gender, race-baiting, and sexual orientation politics). They’re daily pitting some of us against the rest of us. In reality, it’s idiocracy.

    The only answer is to limit the idiots’ power.

    That the idiocrats have not destroyed everything is a testament to the strength of the American people and their families.

  • Democracy is a very big problem.

  • T. Shaw.
    Thanks for Gibbons quote.
    Balance!
    The balance is precarious. Maybe it has been for quite awhile. To some it feels as though the wheels are falling off of the cart. Thank you for the clarity.

  • A theme of the 19th century historian, Lord Acton, was that freedom and equality are, perhaps, ultimately incompatible.

    Of the French Revolution, he observed, “The hatred of royalty was less than the hatred of aristocracy; privileges were more detested than tyranny; and the king perished because of the origin of his authority rather than because of its abuse. Monarchy unconnected with aristocracy became popular in France, even when most uncontrolled; whilst the attempt to reconstitute the throne, and to limit and fence it with its peers, broke down, because the old Teutonic elements on which it relied – hereditary nobility, primogeniture, and privilege-were no longer tolerated. The substance of the ideas of 1789 is not the limitation of the sovereign power, but the abrogation of intermediate powers.”

    Now, it is precisely these “intermediate powers” that are the great obstacle to despotism; the Tudor despotism would have been impossible, before the destruction of the feudal nobility in the Wars of the Roses. Henry VIII could sent More and Fisher to the scaffold; the Emperor Charles V could not send John of Saxony or the Landgrave of Hesse to the scaffold. In Scotland, it was no idle boast, when “Bonnie Dundee” or “Bloody Clavers,” depending on one’s point of view declared

    “There are brave downie wassles three thousand times three
    Cry hey for the bonnets o’ Bonnie Dundee”

    It was the clansman’s loyalty to his chieftain that maintained his freedom from government interference.

    By contrast, those who care chiefly for equality are easily persuaded that, if the central power is weak, the intermediate powers will run riot and oppress.

  • The Wilsonian “administrative state” and its progressive “rule by experts” was a pipe dream, borne of the now-derisible naive confidence of the turn of the 20th Century. Industry, science and law were finally taming the brutish natures of man (they thought,) and soon there would need be no more political conflict of any kind. A kind of Platonian Republic would be set in place, whose philosopher kings would be scientific, economic and social experts, and Man would witness “The End of History.” The War to End All Wars was the final cataclysm, and after the imperialist bourgeoisie had expended their bellicose urges once and for all, peace – not necessarily freedom, but that was a fair price to pay – would rule the world.
    .
    We still labor under the works of the acolytes of that self-contradictory dream. The progressives, after WW2 fully compromised by their humanist cousins the communists, are still trying to build “the perfect state” and the only thing in their way is that pesky Constitution and its idiotic “limited government” ideas.
    .
    Democracy, as attested to repeatedly throughout history, works well when the population is educated, resolute, moral, industrious and prosperous. However, as Athens teaches, all it needs is for one lazy but charismatic scoundrel to convince the public that they can vote themselves money from the treasury, and it collapses. Elaine, the Winston Churchill quote is among my favorites, as is another of his: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with an average voter.”
    .
    The progressives have taken advantage of democracy’s Achilles’ Heel, and are attempting to pull an end run around the Constitution. They have convinced too many people that security is favorable to liberty, and any thought of removing the safety caps of Leviathan scares the willies out of soccer moms and pajama boys from Seattle to Miami. Reversing that attitude will be generations in the doing.
    .
    At this point, there’s usually a call to action or resolution of course. Sorry. All I have is Pray the Rosary, spend time with Our Lord in Adoration and take the Sacraments as often as is practical. Our current troubles will work themselves out as the natural balance asserts itself as it has in the past, again and again. We should simply be certain that we are standing on The Rock and not on sand when the waters rise, which they will. Gahenna will receive boxcars of fuel very soon, so we simply need to be sure we are not among it.

  • I’m kind of with Art Deco. Democracy is not so much the problem as it is a system that is quite efficient at garbage in, garbage out. Or, as Will Rogers (I think) put it somewhat: Democracy is that system of government where the people get the government they deserve, good and hard.

  • First of all: All pure democracies have fallen because majority rule leads to tyranny of the majority.

    Second of all: We were never meant to be a democracy! Our form of government is a republic.

    Third of all: The reason our form of government is failing us is because we are not willing as a whole to govern ourselves. Please read the following quotes from John Adams, one of our nation’s founders and second president. I have included the link below for additional founders’ thoughts on why our country is failing.

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
    John Adams

    “Liberty can no more exist without virtue and independence than the body can live and move without a soul.”
    John Adams

    “Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.”
    John Adams

    “[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.”
    John Adams

    “The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.”
    John Adams

    “Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.”
    John Adams

    “Honor is truly sacred, but holds a lower rank in the scale of moral excellence than virtue. Indeed the former is part of the latter, and consequently has not equal pretensions to support a frame of government productive of human happiness.”
    John Adams

    http://www.liberty1.org/virtue.htm

  • I really think we are very lucky to have this Pope at this point in history.
    He has Meathead eating out of his hand.
    Let’s all try to give those poor stupid souls a hand up out of Gahenna, no matter how hard they try to get there.
    It really is very annoying to deal with Meathead, though.

  • Thank you, Barbara, for the quotes from John Adams.
    “First of all: All pure democracies have fallen because majority rule leads to tyranny of the majority.” The majority of one, or “E Pluribus Unum”, “One from Many” is our constitutional posterity, the one who comes to us in innocence and virginity, in truth and Justice raises us all up..
    Walter Yates:
    “Wherever this ultimately leads it would appear that we are in for a rough patch of civil violence.”
    Walter, the violence is already upon us in the form of the lies about the human person in pornography, the eradication of the virtue of Justice, the standard of Justice, of the newly begotten innocent posterity, the pearl of great price in the human body, the human soul, denied by atheism, and the surrender of sovereignty for a bowl of pottage. How much more violence can happen to a people, a sovereign nation before it ceases to exist?
    Bonchamps: “But don’t forget the Declaration of Independence, which articulates even more fundamental truths – namely that any government, if it ceases to protect the legitimate rights of the people, can be and ought to be tossed off.”
    This principle is also inscribed in the First Amendment which proclaims the peoples’ right to petition government for redress, with the connotation that the government is ready, willing and able to address and redress any fault or mistake without imposing absolute autocratic authority abused over the citizen who constitutes its very existence.(Obama care and the HHS Mandate are very good examples of absolute autocratic authority abused)
    WK Aiken:
    “The Wilsonian “administrative state” and its progressive “rule by experts” was a pipe dream”
    Woodrow Wilson’s pipe dream, the League of Nations is alive and well in the United Nations and both as corrupt, imposing atheism, removing any acknowledgment of our Creator, Divine Providence and of man’s soul. The human rights of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights defines man and human rights as coming from the “community” or the state, They say that these rights are inalienable, but without an infinite God to reinforce man’s rights what will a corrupt state do for man except enslave him?
    Michael Paterson-Seymour: “By contrast, those who care chiefly for equality are easily persuaded that, if the central power is weak, the intermediate powers will run riot and oppress.”
    “…those who care chiefly for equality” must busy themselves with equal Justice. There is honor among thieves, therefore, equality can only be made through the virtue of Justice, equal Justice for all. “Those who hunger and thirst for Justice will have their fill.”
    Philip:
    “Balance!” The Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial branches of government are balance. These people represent we, the people.
    T Shaw:
    “Laws that equally affect all the people are good. Those that positively affect some of we the people while adversely impacting others of we the people are bad.” Very well said.

    “Democracy: The God That Failed” If persons are not insulted by that title, they ought to be. Patriotism is a virtue. Politicians are punks. “All I have is Pray the Rosary”

  • Nate Winchester: “““Today sucks, yesterday was better, tomorrow’s going to be even worse.”” and for atheism to prevent us from invoking Divine Providence is un-American and pure evil. Evil is as evil does. “You will know them by what they do.”
    Uh… I suppose? Maybe?
    Sorry, you went off the reservation there and didn’t leave a forwarding address. No idea what your point is.”
    I did not go very far. I see the neoreactionaries as trying to circumvent our founding principles. God is dead. Democracy is dead. If the neoreactionaries called themselves “reactionaries” they would lose the appearance of civility and their true face of the roaring lion seeking to devour souls would become evident, but because they call themselves “neo”, not ye there, people will feel empathy for them and for their cause.

  • Barbara quotes John Adams: ““Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
    .
    One wonders whether the U.S Constitution would have functioned as well in a country whose morality and ethics were informed by Catholicism rather than protestantism.
    .
    Much of the success of the federal republic of America was tied to a strain of enlightened individualism bolstered by a protestant work ethic and an ethos of self reliance encouraged by a uniquely Puritan vision.
    .
    I suspect Adams might have concluded that Catholicism and the Constitution would be incompatible.

  • Mary de Voe wrote, “’…those who care chiefly for equality’ must busy themselves with equal Justice.”

    Of course. As Hilaire Belloc said of the French Revolution, “The scorn which was in those days universally felt for that pride which associates itself with things not inherent to a man (notably and most absurdly with capricious differences of wealth) never ran higher; and the passionate sense of justice which springs from this profound and fundamental social dogma of equality, as it moved France during the Revolution to frenzy, so also moved it to creation.

    Those who ask how it was that a group of men sustaining all the weight of civil conflict within and of universal war without, yet made time enough in twenty years to frame the codes which govern modern Europe, to lay down the foundations of universal education, of a strictly impersonal scheme of administration, and even in detail to remodel the material face of society—in a word, to make modern Europe—must be content for their reply to learn that the Republican Energy had for its flame and excitant this vision: a sense almost physical of the equality of man.”

    But it was not democracy, but the armies of Napoléon that gave a code of laws to a continent and restored the concept of citizenship to civilisation.

  • “Woodrow Wilson’s pipe dream, the League of Nations is alive and well in the United Nations and both as corrupt, imposing atheism, removing any acknowledgment of our Creator, Divine Providence and of man’s soul. The human rights of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights defines man and human rights as coming from the “community” or the state, They say that these rights are inalienable, but without an infinite God to reinforce man’s rights what will a corrupt state do for man except enslave him?”

    Exactly. What they thought would happen and what we now truly labor under are polar opposites. Their naivete and prideful self-deception (or, more accurately, their willingness to be deceived by the Prince of Lies) made their hallucinations seem very real, and their descendants continue to pursue that unreality, at our cost. The awakening will be sudden and painful, as are all awakenings from such stupors.

  • “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?” — Thomas Jefferson

    And then Pope Leo XIII asked, “can belief in God be secure when the government is indifferent to Him, and when ten thousand different denominations all claim equal rights and importance?”

    Good questions, all.

  • MPS,

    Men are not equal. That is why the French Revolution is one of histories greatest mistakes and crimes. It unleashed communism upon the world, men who accurately saw that the bourgeois Napoleonic republic could only proclaim equality in name. Marx and Lenin would see to it that a massive totalitarian state would try to create equality in fact. 100 million corpses and several failed states later, we see the ultimate fruits of Jacobinism.

    Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, et. al;, on the other hand, were quite consciously aware of the benefits of aristocracy. Though America could have no official hereditary aristocracy, Jefferson believed in an aristocracy of natural talent and merit, while Madison sought to prevent the tyranny of the majority – who would violate property rights in the name of “equality” – in Federalist 10.

  • Bonchamps writes, “…And then Pope Leo XIII asked, “can belief in God be secure when the government is indifferent to Him, and when ten thousand different denominations all claim equal rights and importance?”
    .
    “We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little partial, local interests, our projects will be confounded and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, or conquest.” (Benjamin Franklin)
    .
    “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. ” (Benjamin Franklin)

  • Bonchamps: “And then Pope Leo XIII asked, ““can belief in God be secure when the government is indifferent to Him, and when ten thousand different denominations all claim equal rights and importance?””
    Jesus Christ, the Son of the Supreme Sovereign Being, giver of life and our Creator, is a sovereign person, a citizen of the world, a Perfect Person, the revelation of Justice and of God, our Father in heaven. “When one person is denied civil rights, all persons are denied civil rights” I do not know who said that but it is true.
    When the Person of Jesus Christ is denied His freedom, His Justice, equal Justice for all sovereign persons is violated and becomes a sign of vagrancy.

    “Equality” is endowed by our Creator, by God, not the Court of law. “We hold these truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”…in sovereign personhood. Sovereign personhood is from our Creator. Equality is from God. The virtue of equal Justice, on the other hand, is a virtue to be practiced by the court of law and is the only Justice to be asked for and gotten from a court of law.
    The pursuit of Happiness is one of the endowed civil freedoms. It is a companion to freedom of Religion. The pursuit of Happiness is not a guarantee of catching Happiness, but the eternal pursuit of God. One is only free to pursue God. And the state may not “…prohibit the free exercise thereof.”

  • Bonchamps wrote, “That is why the French Revolution is one of histories [sic] greatest mistakes and crimes. It unleashed communism upon the world…”

    In 1848, Tocqueville, in a speech to the National Assembly, declared the precise opposite, “But, concerning the very principle of private property, the Revolution always respected it. It placed it in its constitutions at the top of the list. No people treated this principle with greater respect. It was engraved on the very frontispiece of its laws. The French Revolution did more. Not only did it consecrate private property, it universalised it. It saw that a still greater number of citizens participated in it. It is thanks to this, gentlemen, that today we need not fear the deadly consequences of socialist ideas which are spread throughout the land. It is because the French Revolution peopled the land of France with ten million property-owners that we can, without danger, allow these doctrines to appear before us.”

    This is precisely the Distributist principle that Catholics like Belloc and Chesterton championed.

    Tocqueville added, “The ancien régime, in fact, held that wisdom lay only in the State and that the citizens were weak and feeble beings who must forever be guided by the hand, for fear they harm themselves. It held that it was necessary to obstruct, thwart, restrain individual freedom, that to secure an abundance of material goods it was imperative to regiment industry and impede free competition. The ancien régime believed, on this point, exactly as the socialists of today do. It was the French Revolution which denied this.”

  • de Tocqueville wrote before the full implications of Jacobinism mutated into Bolshevism. Equality in private property is impossible to maintain. We can only be equal in our right to possess property, never in the quantity of it or what we are able to profit by it through the addition of our individual initiative and industry. France has had to contend with radical socialist and communist parties, as has all of Europe.

  • “France has had to contend with radical socialist and communist parties, as has all of Europe.”

    And yet, in no country in Europe is land ownership more widely distributed and I am sure the similarity between Poujadisme and the American Tea Party movement is not lost on you.

  • MPS and Bonchamps,

    Private ownership of property is converted to a conditional license to occupy when a state, through taxation or regulation (eminent domain), has recourse to strip one of “ownership” by reason of one’s failure (or inability) to pay or perform.

    Is this what the French Revolution granted its citizens?

  • Slainte,

    Arguably yes. Though the “takings clause” of the 5th amendment puts sufficient restrictions upon the federal government so that we needn’t necessarily say that we have mere “conditional license to occupy.” Fair value must be paid, after all. Allodial titles to land are now all but extinct, but the 5th amendment is far superior to most other arrangements.

  • Slainté

    “Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except where public necessity, legally determined, shall clearly demand it, and then only on condition that the owner shall have been previously and equitably indemnified” (Déclaration des droits de l’Homme et du citoyen)

  • MPS and Bonchamps,

    The Constitutional and other safeguards protecting the right of private property are quite amenable to change depending on policy makers’ sliding definition of legitimate state interest.

    In the U.S, the “Kelo” decision erased the bright line that made eminent domain “”takings” rare and permitted under very narrow circumstances, ie., infrastructure needs. Kelo opened the door for the state to “take” private properties for the benefit of private developers who promise to increase state and municipal tax revenues. The reasonableness of the compensation offered the citizen who is divested of his “private property” is what the state deems to be fair market value.

    In the U.S. we are on a slippery slope…

    See,
    http://reason.com/blog/2012/10/19/new-york-eminent-domain-abuse-round-up.
    .
    In addition to transferring private property from the aristocrats/church to the citizens, the French Revolution also gave the world “The Committee of Public Safety” with the power to oversee the security of the fledgling republic, and of course, an administrator Robespierre to oversee it.
    .
    Monsieur Robespierre contrued his duty as a mandate to execute anyone who fell under suspicion, including one Thomas Paine who narrowly escaped the guillotine.
    .
    As the Jacobins became the French government, the “Committee of Public Safety” arbitrarily arrested and executed anyone whom they deemed a threat to the Republic’s interest. Thus, was born the Reign of Terror.
    .
    I side with Bonchamps on his evaluation of the French Revolution, MPS. NO to Voltaire and NO to other French “thinkers” who supported the Jacobins and the Reign of Terror.

  • It is not virtuous Justice to remove sanctions from atheism. The atheist denies the self-evident truths and equality into which our Creator created all men. It is not virtuous Justice to remove sanctions from unnatural sexual behavior. The homosexual practitioner denies the self-evident truths and equality into which our Creator created all men. It is not virtuous Justice to remove sanctions from the killing of innocent human beings who are created in equality and the self-evident truths of the reality of the human soul in immortality, reason, sovereign personhood, and free will. The abortionist, the atheist, the homosexual practitioner tell the court that God created some human beings who are less than equal. If all men are created equal by God, then, how is it that our Creator created all men equal except some, without calling God a liar?

  • slainte: “In the U.S, the “Kelo” decision erased the bright line that made eminent domain “”takings” rare and permitted under very narrow circumstances, ie., infrastructure needs. Kelo opened the door for the state to “take” private properties for the benefit of private developers who promise to increase state and municipal tax revenues. The reasonableness of the compensation offered the citizen who is divested of his “private property” is what the state deems to be fair market value.”
    The Fifth Amendment reads “for public use” with just compensation. The court changed the Constitution without the ratification by three quarters of the states’ informed consent, by substituting and contorting the meaning to be “public purposes”. This is unconstitutional. Must We, the people, have a constitutional amendment to return to the original constitution? Will the real America please stand up.

  • slainte: “As the Jacobins became the French government, the “Committee of Public Safety” arbitrarily arrested and executed anyone whom they deemed a threat to the Republic’s interest. Thus, was born the Reign of Terror.”
    The execution of a person for treason without bloodguilt is a crime against humanity. Only for killing a man must a man be put to death. “But when a man kills another after maliciously scheming to do so, you must take him even from my altar (compassion, mercy) and put him to death.” Exodus 21:14. So, without God, this country is becoming Godless.

  • What I am reading about in the Reign of Terror is mob rule. They had fancy clothes but despicable virtue or no virtue at all. Speaking of mob rule Obama and his pen and Andrew Cuomo and their ideal of democracy. Some people want no morality or virtue imposed upon them as long as they are the mob that rules.

  • Slainté & Mary de Voe

    The great Catholic historian, Lord Acton summed up the Terror; “It was prepared by the defeat and defection of Dumouriez; it was developed by the loss of the frontier fortresses in the following July; and it fell when the tide of battle rolled away after the victory of Fleurus.”

    The Committee of Public Safety was, in effect, the War Cabinet, when the Republic was faced, in the words of another Catholic historian, Hilaire Belloc, with “civil conflict within and of universal war without.” Its leader or prime minister was Carnot, the War Minister. Robespierre, who had no executive rôle, was its spokesman in the Assembly or “Leader of the House,” in parliamentary terms. His task and it was not an easy one, was to get the Committee’s resolutions passed, to maintain the Deputies’ confidence and that of the Commune of Paris, which, in effect, held the government hostage. What they were capable of, they had shown in the September Massacres.

    To sustain the war, Carnot demanded a draft of 700,000 men, the requisitioning of supplies to support them and the imposition of a non-convertible paper currency (the Assignats) Most of the victims of the Reign of Terror were draft-dodgers and deserters, hoarders, peasants who concealed grain, black marketeers and currency speculators. A minority were guillotined; most were executed on arrest by drum-head courts-martial.

    Those who enforced Carnot’s policies of summary executions and the burning of villages, to leave the recalcitrant with the option of joining the colours or starving, were men like Kléber, Moreau, Reynier, Marceau, and Ney, who commanded the army of Sambre et Meuse, Hoche, Desaix, and St. Cyr, who commanded the army of the Rhine and Bonaparte and Masséna who commanded the army of the Apennines. Such a constellation of military talent has never been equalled and, for twenty years, these men and their successors sustained a successful war against the whole of Europe. That was the real French Revolution; in comparison, events in Paris were a side-show.

  • MPS and Bonchamps,

    MPS, thank you for your description of the Reign of Terror; the people of the Vendee, however, who rose up to protect against the annihilation of a Catholic France and its monarchy would likely take issue with your praise of Robespierre and company.
    .
    Bonchamps, apologies for derailing your thesis that the French Revolution was a primary cause of modern day Communism. My comment qualifying private property as state property in the wake of excessive taxation and onerous regulation did not advance your conversation.
    .
    I hope that you and MPS will continue where you left off as I believe your thesis is credible.

  • All humans are created equal in dignity, but are inherently unequal in function and ability.

    Liberal progressivism maintains the opposite, hence its tyranny of elitism.

  • Slainté

    Belloc describes the outbreak of revolt in the Vendée: “Four days before the defeat of Neerwinden itself (on 18 March 1793), and four days after the decree of conscription in the villages, a horde of peasantry had taken possession of the town of Chollet in the southern part of this district, Vendée. Three days before the Committee of Public Safety was formed the insurgents had defeated regular forces at Machecoul, and had tortured and put to death their prisoners…”

    It was conscription that triggered that revolt (The rising in Lyon occurred on 20 May following). As Lord Acton laconically put it, “They hated the Revolution, not enough to take arms against it, but enough to refuse to defend it. They were compelled to choose.”

    To argue, as some have done, that the Civil Constitution of the Clergy (Law of 12 July 1790) passed nearly three years earlier, had anything to do with the rebellion is fanciful, although the execution of the king, less than three months earlier on 21 January may have had an influence.

    At all events, The émigrés and their princes had no love for these peasants and stay-at-home gentry and clergy, who took so long to declare themselves; one of their leaders, Puisaye showed Napier a letter in which the Count of Artois (later Louis XVIII) directed that he should be put secretly to death. That was shrewd; a man who had led a revolt against one government could, perhaps, rouse the people against another.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: “”To argue, as some have done, that the Civil Constitution of the Clergy (Law of 12 July 1790) passed nearly three years earlier, had anything to do with the rebellion is fanciful, although the execution of the king, less than three months earlier on 21 January may have had an influence.”” “…the Civil Constitution of the Clergy (Law of 12 July 1790)” the state subsumed the clergy because they were men and citizens, and subsumed the priests because the state and their law denied their human souls, the transcendent and immortal part of their being. It could not but have had an effect no matter how many years later. This is what is going on in American now, the denial and disrespect for the human soul.

  • “Most of the victims of the Reign of Terror were draft-dodgers and deserters, hoarders, peasants who concealed grain, black marketeers and currency speculators. A minority were guillotined; most were executed on arrest by drum-head courts-martial.” You conflate draft-dodgers,deserters, hoarders, from an unjust war with black marketeers and currency speculators. This would put Wall Street to the guillotine, wouldn’t it?
    “draft-dodgers and deserters, hoarders, peasants who concealed grain,” and anyone else who refused Obamacare, and stuck to their Constitutional rights and freedoms.

  • “That was the real French Revolution; in comparison, events in Paris were a side-show.”

    Ah! What convenient way to ignore genocide, which is precisely what happened in the Vendee. I have no idea what motivates MPS’s obscene apologia for one of the most brutal and bloody crimes in human history, nor do I care. All the pedantry and name-dropping in the world, all of the Bellocs and Actons in existence, cannot wash away the crimes of that clique of nun-killing, church-desecrating, Catholic-mass-murdering fanatics. Every future persecution of the Church by secular powers, from the anarchists in Spain to the Freemasons in Mexico and Bolsheviks in dozens of countries, was prepared by the Jacobins and their march through the Vendee.

  • Puisaye showed Napier a letter in which the Count of Artois (later Louis XVIII) directed that he should be put secretly to death. That was shrewd; a man who had led a revolt against one government could, perhaps, rouse the people against another.

    Le Count d’Artois was later Charles X. The Count of Provence was Louis Xviii.

  • MPS, I suspect that while your residence is in Scotland, your heart is in France. I can identify with this.
    .
    So what is the story of the St. Maur family and its place in the French Revolution.

  • Art Deco

    You are right, of course and it was the Count of Provence who wrote the letter.

  • Slainté

    They were Vidames or stewards of the Abbey of Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, presiding over capital cases that could not be tried in the Abbot’s court, because churchmen could not pronounce a death sentence without incurring irregularity for “defect of mildness” (defectus lenitatis). In other words, they were minor provincial noblesse de rôbe.

    Despite their Church connection, they were free-thinkers and liberals before the Revolution; afterwards, they were very devout and supporters of the various coalitions that go by the name of the “Party of Order.”

    The Scottish branch settled in Scotland in the 12th century – After the Reformation, Catholics and, later, Jacobites to a man (and woman)

    I do practice law in France and spend about a third of my time there. I have a little studio apartment on the Left Bank, in the Bl Raspail, near the Luxembourg Gardens. It is an authentic piece of old Paris – My French Law Agent’s wife said she could imagine Toulouse-Lautrec staying there, when he was down on his luck.

  • Bonchamps,
    I have been reading up on the Dark Enlightenment and as you might tell by my blog name; Trebuchet, I may be a candidate for enlistment. I find that I am mostly in agreement with your position that the Jacobins of the French Revolution led by Robespierre and their attempt at democracy destroyed the Republic and has worked its way through Marx and from Marx to Herbert Marcuse and the Frankfurt School founded by Lenin and moved to Columbia University in 1930 by John Dewey (for a full history of the effect the Frankfurt School has had on education and society and how it has destroyed our Republic read “Cry Havoc” by Ralph de Toledano). That is where I disagree with you; in order to save The Republic that this country was founded on democracy must be eliminated. I am in full favor of what the Founding Fathers put in place and they realized that democracy as practiced by the Jacobins was the enemy of liberty and The Republic which they had established here. What is ignored by the acceptable, handpicked historians of the Frankfurt School is that at the time of our Revolution the Founding Fathers had fully intended to make America a Constitutional Monarchy, which England had already become(King George did not cause the conditions that led to the Revolution. He was being poisoned with arsenic and his bastard half brother Lord North, a member of the Illuminati, was imposing the tax and conditions on America that caused the break.), and France under the guidance of Lafayette an Charles Danton was about to become. The idea was to unite these Republics into a form of world governance guided by Natural Law as enumerated in the Pentateuch and seasoned with the Salt of Mercy of the New Testament. It was to be a secular extension of Christendom that had existed in Europe since Charles Martel. But the Jacobins destroyed the Monarchy in France, chased Lafayette to Austria where he spent 5 years in prison, and executed Charles Danton the real architect of the Republic (Danton and Lafayette were members of the same Masonic Lodge in England as Ben Franklin). Also, something not taught in present day histories of the French Revolution is that it was not a popular uprising; in fact as others have pointed out here, the Vendee/Royalist/Catholics were dead set against it and paid dearly to the tune of at least 500,000 murdered by the Jacobins. So how does a small group of radicals pull off such a coup? “Money is the Mothers Milk of Politics” said Lenin. During the Crusades the Hapsburg rulers of the Franco-Austrian Empire were charging a Tax to support the expedition to the Holy Land. Some Frankish cloth merchants approached the Turks and arranged safe passage through the Holy Land to an ancient land considered the gateway to India and the Far East known as Arian part of present day Iran and India. They established a base in Geneva to deposit gold and silver and established the Note of Credit which when presented in their established center in Arian would allow them to draw upon their account in Geneva. These merchants became opposed to paying tax to the Monarchs and the Church but had no problem paying protection to the Turks perhaps because it gave them a monopoly on trade in Europe and they became incredibly wealthy and had no intention of giving it up. For the sake of brevity I must skip over much history at this point but suffice it to say that the founding of America (by a union of Catholic Bankers and Masons; yes that’s right Catholics and Masons) was not in the French Merchants play book and they sought to stop it. The Jacobins were heavily financed by these Merchant Bankers and by their friend the Sultan of Mysore who expected in return the French to drive the English Navy from the seas. The Jacobins did mostly what they were expected to do. As an aside anyone who thinks that the Vendee lands were turned over to the people of France by the Jacobins is wrong; most of the Church and Vendee lands were given to the wealthy supporters of the Jacobins. So here is the upshot. These Merchant Bankers became the enemy of The Republic, of Christendom, of the Monarchy and of Free Markets. These are the things that threaten them most because they would cause the dilution of their wealth and power, especially a truly free and open form of free market capitalism. They financed Lenin in 1917 with 10 million in gold, they helped bring Hitler to power, they control the IMF, the World Bank, the Central Bank of every nation and our Federal Reserve; they’re the Man on the Grassy Knoll and the Occupy Movement. These men and women love what passes for democracy today because it allows them to purchase the votes they need to insure their continued success. I believe it was C.S. Lewis that said “Lucifer sits in the boardroom of every bank”. So if I am a reactionary because I feel there is a need to change the path we are on then, Oh Well. But I do feel the name Dark Enlightenment sounds to foreboding; perhaps:

    Verus Sapientia Illuminatio

  • Trebuchet,

    Democracy cannot be destroyed. There is no practical program for such a thing to occur.

    There is a practical program, however, for the nullification of federal tyranny at the state level (to be addressed, in detail, later on). Popular sovereignty in the context of state’s rights has widespread support, and is the key to resisting the dark forces determined to cast into the fire once and for all Christendom’s tattered remnants.

  • Amendment 5 – Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
    “for public use” and only for public use.

  • MPS, thank you for the background information. What issues were pre-Revolutionary “liberals and free thinkers” concerned about? In other words, what caused the French Revolution….why the blood bath?
    .
    Slightly off topic: Your fellow countryman General Jean Humbert is very well thought of in County Mayo, Ireland and by members of my family. Gen. Humbert rendered assistance to the Irish against England in 1798. Although the campaign was not successful, the towns people, in gratitude, erected a monument in his honour in the middle of town. His memory is still very much alive today.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Joseph_Amable_Humbert.
    .
    It’s curious that so soon after the French Revolution, French troops were active in Ireland….the French apparently viewed Ireland as the back door into England; and England knew it.

  • Bonchamps,
    .
    Why in your opinion was the French Revolution so much more violent and bloody than the American Revolution when both apparently sought to displace old hierarchical/monarchical orders with new orders grounded in Enlightenment principles?

  • Ms. De Voe,
    .
    Eminent Domain has been interpreted more broadly than you might imagine. See, NYS Court of Appeals decision and NY Times Article of November 25, 2009.

    In the Matter of Daniel Goldstein, et al., Appellants, v. New York State Urban Development Corporation, d/b/a Empire State Development Corporation, Respondent.

    NEW YORK COURT OF APPEALS, 2009 NY Int. 180, 2009 NY Slip Op 08677.
    Decided on November 24, 2009, No. 178
    .
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/nyctap/I09_0180.htm.
    .
    NEW YORK REGION | November 25, 2009
    Ruling Lets Atlantic Yards Seize Land
    By CHARLES V. BAGLI
    The last major hurdle to a $4.9 billion development in Brooklyn fell after a ruling by New York’s highest court.
    .
    http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/a/atlantic_yards_brooklyn/index.html.

  • Slainte,

    The simple answer is that the American colonists were attempting to preserve their rights as Englishmen. The French were attempting to destroy and rebuild society from the ground up. The American colonists were fighting for independence – not for the destruction of the old order. The old order could continue to exist in England or Canada or wherever else people were willing to put up with it.

    Not so with the French. Read Rousseau’s Social Contract. “Anyone who says ‘outside the Church, there is no salvation’ ought to be driven from the state.” The French Revolution was about the elevation not just of reason over faith/religion, but the state over all challenges to its authority. Rousseau hated the Church because it divided men’s loyalties – the same reason Hobbes hated it. The Jacobin terror was arguably the first secular totalitarian regime in history, totalitarian because it demanded absolute and undivided allegiance. The profaning of the churches, their desecration, their physical leveling, the genocide in the Vendee – the worst outrages of this revolution, like many that would follow, were against the Church. It is what middle-class Jacobinism, anti-clerical/Masonic nationalism, and Bolshevism have in common, a rabid hatred for this institution that dares to tell men that they have loyalties and duties more important than those they owe to their temporal rulers.

  • Slainte: “Eminent Domain has been interpreted more broadly than you might imagine”
    Interesting that the Courts may take privilege with the Constitution without informed consent of the people for whom the Constitution is written. It is extremely evident in the separation of church and state which words are not in the Constitution and ignore the words “nor shall private property be taken for public use” words which are in the Constitution and all this without ratification by the people.

  • ““Anyone who says ‘outside the Church, there is no salvation’ ought to be driven from the state.””
    Andrew Cuomo’s statement that people who are anti-abortion, pro gun ownership or against gay-marriage do not belong in New York State is so similar that it is chilling.

  • Bonchamps,
    .
    I have read Rousseau’s “Social Contract”. I am also aware that the American and French masons who headed the respective revolutions shared a visceral disdain, if not hatred, for Catholicism.
    .
    I surmised the reason the blood bath occurred in France, but not America, was due to Catholicism’s almost non-exisent role in America. In France, it would seem the effort was to annihilate the Church and those who refused to renounce the faith.
    .
    It seems telling that Ben Franklin, Voltaire, the Marquise de Lafayette, John Paul Jones all belonged to Paris’ “La Loge des Neuf Sœurs”….the Nine Sisters Masonic Lodge.
    .
    Perhaps I am wrong…but having read so much about masonry from various popes, I take the matter seriously.

  • Slainte,

    I don’t think you are wrong. But keep in mind that Anglo-American Freemasonry and Continental Freemasonry are different animals. It is true that Locke wanted to exclude Catholics from religious toleration, but Jefferson, Washington, et. al. saw that this would be absurd. There was already a Catholic colony in America, Catholics had – in spite of Puritan persecution – contributed to the war for Independence, France had come to the aid of the colonies, French soldiers and envoys were among the colonial armies, etc. The milder form of Freemasonry simply holds that all religions are more or less equal, including Catholicism.

  • Bonchamps,
    .
    Final point. You will note in my comment to MPS that I reference General Jean Humbert who landed on the west coast of Ireland in 1798 ostensibly to assist the Irish against the usual British onslaught. What I never realized is the significance of the words General Humbert used in his proclamation to the Catholic Irish.

    To wit:

    “…an excerpt from the proclamation of General Jean Humbert, the French General who led the French and Irish armed forces in the short-lived Republic. The proclamation was made on 22 August 1798, the day the General first landed in County Mayo, Ireland:[3]

    LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY, UNION –

    After several unsuccessful attempts, behold at last Frenchmen arrived amongst you…

    Brave Irishmen, our cause is common. Like you we hold as indefeasible the right of all nations to liberty. Like you we are persuaded that the peace of the world shall ever be troubled as long as the British ministry is suffered to make with impunity a traffic of the industry and blood of the people . . .

    Union, Liberty, the Irish Republic! Such is our shout. Let us march. Our hearts are devoted to you; our glory is in your happiness.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Connacht.
    .
    Quite amazing..Gen Humbert appears to be delivering a masonic message to the Catholic Irish peasants.

  • Mary De Voe writes, “…It is extremely evident in the separation of church and state which words are not in the Constitution and ignore the words “nor shall private property be taken for public use” words which are in the Constitution and all this without ratification by the people.”
    .
    I am equally concerned with the unexpected expansion of Eminent Domain following the Kelo decision. We need to pray for our judges so that they may exercise great care and prudence in their deliberations and rulings.

  • Who gave government officials permission to change the Fifth Amendment from “public use” to public purposes in eminent domain. Government officials are not “the public” and their use is not the “public use”. Who gave government officials permission to change The Constitution for the United States of America without ratification by We, the people, at least three quarters of the states?
    .
    Who gave Andrew Cuomo permission to alter the citizens’ spiritual life? Cuomo was elected to represent the public’s public life. Who gave Andrew Cuomo ownership of New York State? Al Capone went to prison for less than that.
    .
    Who gave Obama permission to alter his constituents’ spiritual life, deciding for us how much tax money is to be redistributed and who shall receive redistribution, who shall live and who shall be aborted, who shall be allowed self-defense and who shall suffer jeopardy of life, who shall be given permission to sully their souls with unnatural sex, and who shall not be allowed to remain innocent and pure, and who shall be given stimulus packages and who shall pay for it?
    .
    Who gave Roe versus Wade permission to own the human life in the womb?
    .
    Who gave government officials permission to substitute unnatural sex for natural sex?
    .
    Who gave government officials permission to euthanize old folks except that we remember freedom?

  • Bonchamps you wrote
    ”Democracy cannot be destroyed. There is no practical program for such a thing to occur. There is a practical program, however, for the nullification of federal tyranny at the state level (to be addressed, in detail, later on). Popular sovereignty in the context of state’s rights has widespread support, and is the key to resisting the dark forces determined to cast into the fire once and for all Christendom’s tattered remnants.”
    You are right; the Republican form of Democracy that was given to us by the Founding Fathers as described in Federalist #10, (addressing the question of how to guard against factions, or groups of citizens, with interests contrary to the rights of others or the interests of the whole community ie; the ACLU) should not be destroyed. It is what has protected us against the pure democracy of Rome which destroyed the Republic and gave them the Emperors and that of the Jacobins which gave France Napoleon, and now our faux democracy as practiced by the Progressives which is on the verge of giving us “one party rule” (if there is such a thing as re-incarnation then I would have to say Robespierre has returned as Obama). However; at the same time I support an uprising as that of Captain Shay who along with other farmers that fought in the Revolutionary Army came home to find that the “Courts” had taken their lands and homes for unpaid taxes during the time they were fighting and sold them (mostly to their wealthy friends who had helped to put them on the bench). Shays’ Rebellion; as it became known, failed and Shay spent two years in prison. When the situation was brought to the attention of then President Thomas Jefferson he had the judges arrested and the lands restored to Shay and the other farmers. So, I suppose that when you used the term “Nullification of Federal Tyranny”, we are in approximation to each other and that rather than a destruction of democracy; a re-balancing of power must take place. Your use of the phrase “Popular Sovereignty” strikes a chord with me and I look forward to your exposition on the subject.

  • The “spirit” of the Vendee did not die; it lived in the heart of Charles Maurras and “Action Francaise” in 1934…
    .
    In a recent article “February 6, 1934: A Royalist Last Stand”, Gary Potter recounts Charles Maurras’ heroic leadership of a group of Catholic men assembled under the banner “Action Francaise” who valiantly, yet unsuccessfully, assaulted French police in Paris’ Place de la Concorde to seize control of Palais Bourbon.
    .
    The goal of Charles Maurras and Action Francaise assault…to restore monarchy to 1934 France and to replace France’s “national Masonic motto of “liberte, egalite, fraternite” with “travail, famille, patrie (Work, Family, Country).”
    .
    “Action Francaise upheld both authority and freedom”…” Maurras saw the family as the heart of society. In fact, family was so important to the men of Action Francaise they wished to be ruled by an identifiable one instead of by corrupt politicians and faceless bureaucrats. As a father is the natural head of his family, so a monarch is head not simply of the royal family but the family of the nation. (As with so much else wrong with modernity, decline of the family as a social institution can be seen to begin with the Revolution of 1789. The nineteenth-century novelist Honore de Balzac recognized this. He wrote: “When it beheaded Louis XVI, the Revolution beheaded in his person all fathers of families. The family no longer exists today; there are only individuals.”)”
    .
    Action Francais claimed “…Decentralization of political power was vital. Napoleon, who incarnated the Revolution, concentrated it in the central government in Paris, where it remains unto this day even as in the U.S. it has been centered in Washington since the War Between the States…”
    .
    “…Restoration of the monarchy in France would have entailed the revival of regional parliaments, professional and workers’ guilds, and similar organic associations. The King’s authority might be absolute but these intermediary bodies, together with the teachings of the Faith, would limit its scope.”
    .
    “As for the Faith, making Catholicism the religion of the state was another of the goals of Action Francaise.”
    .
    “…Maurras saw that men need work, not mere jobs, and it is best done when done where they live. That is, Action Francaise wished France to remain as she still largely was before World War II, primarily an agricultural country. Rootedness was desired, not the restlessness of industrial society…”
    .
    “Despite the defeat in Place de la Concorde on February 6, 1934, these principles of Action Francaise, without restoration of the monarchy, were….enacted into law – by the government that existed in France between 1940 and 1944. It made abortion, for instance, a capital offense and required religious education in state schools with a crucifix in every classroom. This government came into power when the parliament of the Third Republic, acting in the aftermath of the army’s retreat before advancing German troops, voted itself and the Republic out of existence….”
    .
    “why did no trace of Vichy’s achievements remain after World War II?….It was due to one of the worst mistakes a Pope has ever made. Misled by powerful French prelates, notably the Archbishops of Bordeaux and Algiers (then a French city), Pope Pius XI issued a ban against both Action Francaise and its newspaper in 1926….”
    .
    “….it was left to his successor, Pope Pius XII, to lift the ban. It was his second official act as Pope, his first being his assumption of the Throne of St. Peter, but it still came too late…”.
    .
    “….The French political left remembers this as an occasion when “fascists” came close to overturning the institutions through which France has been governed since the Revolution of 1789…”

    Source: http://catholicism.org/february-6-1934-a-royalist-last-stand.html.

  • Slainté

    In the memorable exchange in 1910, in Maurice Blondel’s publication, L’Annales de philosophie chrétienne, between Maurras’s Jesuit defender, Pedro Descoqs and the Oratorian Lucien Laberthonnière. over the affiliation of Catholics with the Action française movement, led by the agnostic positivist Charles Maurras. So far as I know, this exchange has never appeared in English, which is astonishing, as it was what united such disparate thinkers as Blondel, Maréchal, the Dominicans, Chenu and Congar and the Jesuits, Lubac and Daniélou. It was a fundamental moment for the Nouvelle Théologie, much as Keble’s Assize Sermon had been for the Oxford Movement.

    Descoqs argued that Maurras’s political views were independent of his views on religion and that they coincided with Catholic social teaching, so that with proper precautions Catholics could associate themselves with his movement. Maurras’s mistake about the supernatural did not prevent his analysis of the natural from being quite accurate.

    Blondel agreed with Descoqs only on the point that the basic issue was the relationship between nature and the supernatural. In Descoqs’s conclusion he saw a perfect illustration of the theological extrinsicism which made the supernatural simply a superficial addition to the natural order, leaving the latter essentially untouched and related to the supernatural only by an external decree of God. For Blondel nature was made for the supernatural, and a failure to recognize that sublime destiny could not leave one’s analysis of the natural laws of society unaffected. He called himself an “integrist” precisely because religion is comprehensively, inclusively pertinent to the human condition. Even more seriously, Descoqs had allowed Maurras’s insistence on order and submission to evacuate his notion of Christianity itself, to the point that Descoqs was content with:

    “A Catholicism without Christianity, submissiveness without thought, an authority without love, a Church that would rejoice at the insulting tributes paid to the virtuosity of her interpretative and repressive system… To accept all from God except God, all from Christ except His Spirit, to preserve in Catholicism only a residue that is aristocratic and soothing for the privileged and beguiling or threatening for the lower classes—is not all this, under the pretext perhaps of thinking only about religion, really a matter of pursuing only politics?”

  • MPS,
    .
    How did Vatican II resolve the crisis within the French Church arising from competing dual theories of “Nature and the Supernatural”? What did the VII Council conclude about nature and the supernatural?
    .
    Did St. Thomas Aquinas recognize a dualism between Nature and the Supernatural?
    .
    Finally, what is the Church’s present “vision of humanity” post Vatican II…either of the following or some other view?
    .
    Augustineanism….man exists, wretched and fallen, in a state of nature darkened by the temporal effects of original sin with no ability to aid in his own salvation and completely dependent on a distant God. Only through the intercession and unmerited Grace of God is man able to be saved. Nothing man can do on his own initiative may contribute to his salvation.
    .
    Thomism…..man exists in nature darkened by the temporal effects of original sin but through the unmerited Grace of God and the Church, man is saved. Through his intellect and reason, albeit skewed by original sin, man may come to know God and aid in his own salvation.
    .
    Thank you for your perspective.

  • Slainté
    We should bear in mind Para 29 of Splendor Veritatis, where Pope John Paul II stated: “Certainly the Church’s Magisterium does not intend to impose upon the faithful any particular theological system, still less a philosophical one.”

    As for St Thomas, he is quite definite that “the beatitude of any rational creature whatsoever consists in seeing God by his essence” [In IV Sent, d. 49, q. 2, a. 7:] and that “one has not attained to one’s last end until the natural desire is at rest. Therefore the knowledge of any intelligible object is not enough for man’s happiness, which is his last end, unless he know God also, which knowledge terminates his natural desire, as his last end. Therefore this very knowledge of God is man’s last end.” {SCG III, c. 50.] In this he would appear to be at one with St Augustine’s famous opening line of the Confessions, “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

    He is equally clear on the sheer gratuity of grace: “Even though by his nature man is inclined to his ultimate end, he cannot reach it by nature but only by grace and this owing to the loftiness of that end.” [In Boethius de Trinitate, q. 6, a. 4 ad 5.]. He also says, “The nature that can attain perfect good, although it needs help from without in order to attain it, is of more noble condition than a nature which cannot attain perfect good, but attains some imperfect good, although it need no help from without in order to attain it.” [ST I-II, q. 5, a. 5 ad 2] and he quotes Aristotle as saying “that which we are able to do through friends we can in a certain way do on our own.”

    By contrast, all of the Thomists of the 16th century cite Aristotle in this context: “If nature had given the heavenly bodies the inclination to linear motion, she would also have given them the means for it.” [De Caelo, II, 290a] . . . the thought of a “desiderium naturale,” which points in nature beyond nature, would, according to the theologians of the sixteenth century, make salvation a right, and grace would cease to be a gift. The consequence of this was that they superimposed a hypothetical purely natural destiny of man, a “finis naturalis,” onto the actual destiny given in salvation history; and thus the fateful construction of a “natura pura” came into being. The mischief came when this purely hypothetical natura pura was made the foundation-stone of their Natural Law theories. By contrast, Maurice Blondel, insisted that we must never forget “that one cannot think or act anywhere as if we do not all have a supernatural destiny. Because, since it concerns the human being such as he is, in concreto, in his living and total reality, not in a simple state of hypothetical nature, nothing is truly complete (boucle), even in the sheerly natural order”

    For de Lubac and his school, Nature is not a divine seed, but rather an emptiness which is “ordered” to its fulfilment in Christ precisely because it exists as a privation. Nature is no sort of divine seed, or immanent movement toward the supernatural, rather it is instilled with a desire for the supernatural that is born precisely out of its own poverty. Grace is purely gratuitous, precisely because creation is itself a gift – “You have made us for Yourself…” This is perfectly consistent with Lumen Gentium, which avoided the Scholastic categories altogether..

  • MPS wrote, “….all of the Thomists of the 16th century cite Aristotle in this context: “If nature had given the heavenly bodies the inclination to linear motion, she would also have given them the means for it.” [De Caelo, II, 290a] . . . the thought of a “desiderium naturale,” which points in nature beyond nature, would, according to the theologians of the sixteenth century, make salvation a right, and grace would cease to be a gift….”
    .
    Does the aforementioned reasoning reflect the neo-Thomist “Salamanca School”?
    If so, does the “rights/obligation” concept of Natural Law arise from Renaissance era “Christian Humanism”?
    .
    Ie., Human beings have a desire and thus a “right” to know God, which creates a corresponding “duty” by God to convey Grace upon us so that we may attain the end of our desire….or….alternatively the Divine Will is obligated and subordinated to our human will to make Himself known to us.
    .
    If so, this is Hubris.

  • Slainté

    No, the Salamanca School – and all the Neo-Thomists – absolutely rejected the idea of a desiderium naturale, precisely because they believed this was necessary to safeguard the gratuity of grace. Accordingly, they believed that a theory of Natural Law could be developed that left man’s supernatural destiny out of account.

    That was why Charles Maurras’s Jesuit defender, Descoqs a follower of Suarez’s interpretation of St Thomas had allowed the political sphere a wide degree of autonomy and he was prepared to detach “political society” from “religious society.” Laberthonnière retaliated by accusing Descoqs of being influenced by “a false theological notion of some state of pure nature and therefore imagined the state could be self-sufficient in the sense that it could be properly independent of any specifically Christian sense of justice.”

    Jacques Maritain, too, challenged the Neo-Scholastic doctrine of natura pura by insisting that “the knowledge of human actions and of the good conduct of the human State in particular can exist as an integral science, as a complete body of doctrine, only if related to the ultimate end of the human being . . . the rule of conduct governing individual and social life cannot therefore leave the supernatural order out of account” and “Man is not in a state of pure nature, he is fallen and redeemed. Consequently, ethics, in the widest sense of the word, that is, in so far as it bears on all practical matters of human action, politics and economics, practical psychology, collective psychology, sociology, as well as individual morality,—ethics in so far as it takes man in his concrete state, in his existential being, is not a purely philosophic discipline. Of itself it has to do with theology…”

  • Slainté

    Recall the scathing words of the Abbé Laberthonnière to those French Catholics who hoped that L’Action française would lead to “the triumph of the Church in society.”

    “The triumph of the Church in society? That would be excellent. But then, it is necessary to examine by what means our religion permits us to pursue it. Moreover, it has not been promised us. And then, it is not, perhaps, the most pressing of our tasks.

    The Church is like Christ. To go to souls, she is, in her own essence, a soul of truth and kindness. And, if He needs a body to act in the world, it is by His soul and for His soul that His body subsists. And, if we wish His body to be beautiful and vigorous, if we wish it to be radiant, let us labour to enrich her soul with the faith and love of our souls.

    Her power does not consist in giving orders, to which external obedience is required, backed up by threats or favours. Her power is to raise souls to the life above. It is to give birth to and to cultivate in consciences the supernaturalising obligation to live for God and for others, through Christ, and to pass through temporal defeats to a triumph that is timeless.

    Do not indulge in childish dreams, when you have in your grasp eternal realities that invite you. Understand, all you who would triumph and reign on earth – Et nunc, reges, intellegite.” [To a French audience, instantly recognizable as the text of Bossuet’s funeral oration for Henrietta Maria, widow of the executed Charles I of England that everyone reads at school]

  • MPS.
    The words from Abbe Laberthonniere have sung in my being and I am grateful for your contribution, otherwise I may never heard the truest of song.

    “And if we wish His body to be beautiful and vigorous, if we wish it to be radiant, let us labor to enrich her soul with the faith and love of our souls.”
    Yes! Sanctification.

    “It is to give birth to and cultivate in consciences the supernaturalising obligation to live for God and for others, through Christ, and to pass through TEMPORAL DEFEATS to a TRIUMPH THAT IS TIMELESS!

    Outstanding! Thanks for sharing your talents and education. God bless.

  • Philip

    And that is in my limping translation:

    « Et si nous voulons que son corps soit beau et vigoureux, si nous voulons qu’il rayonne, travaillons à enrichir son âme de la foi et de l’amour de nos âmes… c’est de faire naître et de cultiver dans les consciences l’obligation surnaturalisante de vivre pour Dieu et pour les autres par le Christ et d’aller ainsi à travers les défaites du temps, à un triomphe qui n’est pas de temps. »

  • MPS,
    .
    I am reflecting upon your response to my queries and formulating a reply.
    .
    But in the interim, I want to join Philip in letting you know how privileged we are as a group to have you among us; and I am personally grateful for your patience and willingness to share your impressive knowledge of philosophy, theology and even folklore (ie., Sir Boyle Roche : )

  • MPS, I can only assume that when philosophers and theologians go before God upon their death, Our Lord must scratch His head and charitably inform them that they confuse even Him with some of their theories and pearls of wisdom. : )
    .
    That said, I hope I will not worsen your headache, that I confess to be solely responsible for, with my fledgling efforts…
    .
    So the Jesuit Descoqs would have aligned with the Dominican Cardinal Cajetan who proposed an order in which the hypothetical state of “pure nature” would have its own natural end distinct from man’s supernatural end.
    .
    Descoqs and Cajetan would support agnostic Maurrus whose “Action Francaise” movement, while not ordered toward the supernatural, sought to attain temporal ends consistent with the Church’s interests.
    .
    For Descoqs and Cajetan, natural law could thus exist separately from revelation; positive law could exist separately from divine providence; Rawlsian philosophy on social justice might be deemed acceptable because its ends are acceptable notwithstanding that its reasoning is not aligned with the supernatural end of man. All of the foregoing assumes Nature has an end of its own separate from God/the supernatural and this is called extrinsicism.
    .
    But DeLubac and the Neo-Theologians reject the separation of Nature from the Supernatural insisting they are integrated and thus dependent on God and grace as gift.
    .
    Karl Rahner, following De Lubac, sought to integrate Nature and Supernatural but went too far when he declared God to be immanentized in nature.

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  • Slainté

    Bang on! The argument over l’ action française was the catalyst, but the real disagreement was over Natural Law and, beyond that, of the whole relationship between nature and grace.

    Blondel, Maritain and Laberthonnière saw clearly that the Neo-Thomists unwittingly endorsed the liberal privatisation of religion; if the Gospel has nothing distinctive to say about “the practical matters of human action, politics and economics, practical psychology, collective psychology, sociology, as well as individual morality” (Maritain) and unaided human reason is a sufficient guide, religion has no rôle in the public square. It seems to me that the New Natural Law School (Finnis, George & al) have taken up, where the Manualists left off.

    As for Karl Rahner, like de Lubac and other theologians, he was struggling with a profound mystery: the interior fact of soliciting grace and the external fact of revelation which together make up Christianity. It is here, particularly, that the documents of VII are illuminating, in locating, rather than attempting to solve the mystery.

  • An interesting article on the problems with De Lubac’s theory of the natural desire for the supernatural.

    https://www.academia.edu/5312862/Nova_et_Vetera_Article_on_De_Lubac_on_Nature_and_Grace

    I will also have to look up one or two good books that note significant problems with De Lubac’s interpretation of Aquinas.

    The long and short is that De Lubac may have been seriously wrong in that interpretation.

  • MPS,
    Thank you for your guidance; it finally makes sense.
    .
    Two final points;
    .
    I refer you to Gary Potter’s article “February 6, 1934: A Royalist Last Stand” which provides in part,
    .
    “Not as soon, but eventually, Pius XI realized he had made a mistake. He charged Msgr. Alfredo Ottaviani, future head of the Holy Office, with the mission of negotiating a face-saving agreement with Action Francaise that would allow him to lift the ban. Ottaviani succeeded, but Msgr. Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI and an ardent disciple of the French liberal Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, kept the agreement bottled up in the Vatican bureaucracy until the Pope died in 1939. Thus it was left to his successor, Pope Pius XII, to lift the ban. It was his second official act as Pope, his first being his assumption of the Throne of St. Peter, but it still came too late. World War II began less than three months later – not time enough for the rehabilitation of Action Francaise to register in the minds of very many before the hell of war broke loose.” http://catholicism.org/february-6-1934-a-royalist-last-stand.html.
    .
    Why the delay in lifting the ban of Action Francaise until 1939…were the reasons political or theological or was something else at play?
    .
    In the 1950s, Yves Congar, Joseph Ratzinger, Henri De Lubac, Karl Rahner, Hans Urs von Balthasar and others were on a list compiled by the Holy Office (now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) suspected of, or under a cloud of, possible Heresy. Your insight as to why is appreciated.

  • Phillip,
    .
    Thank you for your comments and the article on De Lubac and man’s natural desire for the supernatural.
    .
    I look forward to reading it.

  • Slainté

    The ban on l’ Action française was unusual, in that, not only were a number of Charles Maurras’s books placed on the Index – He had expressed his contempt for the spôoirit of the biblical prophets and even Jesus in certain of his early works – but so was its newspaper, with future editions being prohibited “sight unseen,” as it were.

    The movement had a number of dubious aspects: its “Catholic atheism,” a purely instrumental attitude to religion, as a source of social cohesion and, above all, as the guardian of order, its virulent anti-semitism and integral nationalism and its appeal to violence. Pope Leo XIII, after all, had exhorted Catholic to “rally to the Republic,” explaining that a distinction must be drawn between the form of government, which ought to be accepted, and its laws which ought to be improved, only to be accused by the Catholic press of “kissing the feet of their executioners.” In 1940, alas, too many Catholics, under its influence, rallied, not to the Republic, but to Vichy and the members of its paramilitary wing, the Camelots du Roi moved seamlessly into the Milice, enthusiastically rounding up Jews for deportation. After the Liberation, Maurras was sentenced to life imprisonment as a collaborator. A few of his followers had been shot in the épuration sauvage and others fled abroad. Partly as a result, there was an enormous wave of support for the Communists – the « parti des 75.000 fusillés morts pour que vive la France » [the party of the 75,000 shot, dead that France might live) for its leading rôle in the Resistance.

    The suspicion aroused by the « Nouvelle théologie » had its roots in the Modernist crisis at the beginning of the century. As Blondel had pointed out, “First, the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.” Any deviation from the traditional scholastic model was seen as a stalking horse for the Modernism condemned in Lamentabili and Pascendi.

  • Thank you MPS for sharing your gift of intellect and clarifying so much
    historical and other information about France’s faith journey.
    .
    It does seem that not only France, but the entire world, needs a renewal and
    return to authentic Catholicism. Hopefully this can be accomplished without
    further wars or wrongly scapegoating minority groups. Gary Potter who wrote
    the article about the Action Franchaise event at Place de Concorde that
    occurred 80 years ago today claims that Maurras became Catholic before he
    died.
    .
    Perhaps then hope does spring eternal.
    .
    Pax tecum.

  • “”Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.””
    According to St. Augustine, the faithful participants (the flock) must offer up their hearts to God at the same time the priest offers up his heart at the Offertory of the Mass. Only the priest brings Jesus Christ’s Real Presence to the altar. The flock participates through the priest. It is called assisting at Mass and it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday without, as it were, extenuating circumstances.
    .
    Pax tecum.

  • slainte,

    A good insight into how such an apparently minor philosophical distinction of the natural desire for the supernatural can lead to serious political differences:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/a-catholic-showdown-worth-watching/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-catholic-showdown-worth-watching

  • Phillip,
    .
    Wow, what an interesting article; I appreciate Prof. Deneen and have read several of his pieces on the topic of liberalism.
    .
    Having spent some time thinking about liberalism, I sthink perhaps the great and ongoing battle of the last few centuries might well be the repeat clashes of Catholicism v. the Enlightenment (now known as Liberalism).
    .
    As to individual Catholics, what appears to distinguish the two categories referenced by Prof. Deneen is the degree to which each respective group has ingested, absorbed, and synthesized Enlightenment principles with their Catholic faith. Dineen’s “radical Catholics” seems to exhibit a tougher time holding irreconcilable principles as equally true and acceptable in contrast with the John Courtney Murray American traditionalists who seem to do so effortlessly and without concern.
    .
    How does one reconcile the following principles:
    .
    i. radical individualism with Catholic concern for the common good;
    .
    ii. separation of church and state with a Catholic concept of state which envisions God’s presence in all facets of governing and whose end is God directed;
    .
    iii. religious freedom with a Catholic view that the Catholic Church is the one true Church and no other Church holds the fullness of Truth; and therefore cannot be equal;
    .
    iv. the secular state’s elevation of reason (science) to the exclusion or segregation of faith.
    .
    Our motivation as Catholics living out our faith journey in all facets of our lives cannot be oriented toward enlightened self interest, utility, or beneficial contractual exchange, it must always be about love of Christ and the desire within us to imitate Him and to draw closer to Him through prayer and interaction with others. We Catholics desire Him and it is because we want to be with Him that we strive to act as we ought, and then confess and do penance for those times when we fall short in our efforts. Liberalism is simply incompatible with Catholicism because its ends conclude in a natural end which does not engage the supernatural.
    .
    Politically, I sometimes wonder whether the Enlightenment Revolutions of the 18th century weren’t designed to accomplish the same End merely using different techniques or strategies. The singular End is the conversion of Christianity, and in particular Catholicism, to a single faith system oriented toward a natural secular humanism which denies the supernatural.
    .
    The French Revolution was a head on assault against all things Catholic and Christian which substantially weakened Catholicism in France, while the American Revolution was a more passive enterprise in sowing Enlightenment principles within a Christian culture which progressively and inexorably, over time, wore away and eroded first protestant christianity, and now Catholicism.
    .
    If true, we may now be experiencing something akin to a stepped up effort whereby Catholics, each imbued by a liberal culture with varying degrees of enlightenment ideology will proceed to duke it out with each other.
    .
    As Catholics, it is important to pray for unity among Catholics and christians and for the Holy Spirit to purge from within us false ideologies which compete with the trur faith.
    .
    Fortunately, I think there is a desire within many Catholics to know and be with Christ and to live their lives oriented toward Him…and it will be this desire, with prayer, which the Holy Spirit will build upon to overcome the spirit of this world (nature) and thus unite us with Christ (supernatural).
    .
    Your thoughts?

  • slainte: “The singular End is the conversion of Christianity, and in particular Catholicism, to a single faith system oriented toward a natural secular humanism which denies the supernatural.”
    This is called atheism. To deny the infinite God of Catholicism is to deny unalienable civil rights to Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness. Rights that come from the state may be taken away by the state, and are, as is the state, finite, ending. Unalienable civil rights come from the Infinite God. Man’s soul is immortal and cannot be sustained by finite rights. Man’s home is in eternity with God. Denying the supernatural destroys any hope of an immortal soul to see God in eternity. Denying man’s immortality is despotism and the epitome of totalitarianism.

  • Thank you Mary for a very wise and prescient comment. While writing my comment I was reflecting on the discussion with MPS regarding natura pura and our desire for God, Phillip’s article, as well as two pending political issues, ie., the HHS mandate launched against the Church in the U.S, and most recently the U.N assault against the global Church.
    .
    It does seem sometimes as if the forces are aligned against Catholicism. I tend to agree with you that what is at work is either a form of atheism or possibly pantheism; neither of which acknowledge the supernatural. Not quite sure….but I wish it would all just stop. You summed up the situation very well. : )

  • Philip & Slainté

    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.

  • “radical individualism with Catholic concern for the common good”

    It is not clear to me that the Enlightenment philosophers were all supportive of the concept of radical individualism. There are so many different brands of philosophy from the Enlightenment that ultimately take their most distilled form in the pure materialist philosophy of Marxism. This last is at its core pure collectivism. So in reality there is no one Enlightenment understanding of the person and his relationship to society.

    I think Locke in part captures what is true of Catholic theology (though he is quite off with his epistemology and this corrupts his work.) But he does understand that we are individual persons and that the common good itself cannot compromise the good of individual persons. This because individuals do possess rights. (JPII in Memory and Rememberance commented on the concept of individual rights being an accomplishment of the Enlightenment.) Catholic social teaching does teach the primacy of the person and the ultimate good of the person in ordering society.

    Of course this Catholic position is not a radical individualism as the person is by his very nature called to be in communion with others. As MPS notes from Aristotle, we are political animals. Not that we are to argue policies but that we are to live in society and order it to the good of all persons. This is where some philosophers from the Enlightenment do get things right. That is, we are persons in society and we must order that society that respects the good of all. (By the same token, as MPS notes, there are those Enlightenment philosophers who get things very wrong and as noted, not necessarily from a radical individual perspective but from a radical collectivist perspective also.)

  • This from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church on this tension (if you will) between the person and the common good:

    125. The human person may never be thought of only as an absolute individual being, built up by himself and on himself, as if his characteristic traits depended on no one else but himself. Nor can the person be thought of as a mere cell of an organism that is inclined at most to grant it recognition in its functional role within the overall system. Reductionist conceptions of the full truth of men and women have already been the object of the Church’s social concern many times, and she has not failed to raise her voice against these, as against other drastically reductive perspectives, taking care to proclaim instead that “individuals do not feel themselves isolated units, like grains of sand, but united by the very force of their nature and by their internal destiny, into an organic, harmonious mutual relationship”[234]. She has affirmed instead that man cannot be understood “simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism”[235], and is therefore attentive that the affirmation of the primacy of the person is not seen as corresponding to an individualistic or mass vision.

  • Then there is this:

    “The Church’s social doctrine strives to indicate the different dimensions of the mystery of man, who must be approached “in the full truth of his existence, of his personal being and also of his community and social being”[237], with special attention so that the value of the human person may be readily perceived.”

    Thus we are not radical individuals. Nor are we social beings only. We are persons in community.

  • Finally (at least for now) this on the uniqueness of the person in relation to society:

    “131. Man exists as a unique and unrepeatable being, he exists as an “I” capable of self-understanding, self-possession and self-determination. The human person is an intelligent and conscious being, capable of reflecting on himself and therefore of being aware of himself and his actions. However, it is not intellect, consciousness and freedom that define the person, rather it is the person who is the basis of the acts of intellect, consciousness and freedom. These acts can even be absent, for even without them man does not cease to be a person.

    The human person, must always be understood in his unrepeatable and inviolable uniqueness. In fact, man exists above all as a subjective entity, as a centre of consciousness and freedom, whose unique life experiences, comparable to those of no one else, underlie the inadmissibility of any attempt to reduce his status by forcing him into preconceived categories or power systems, whether ideological or otherwise. This entails above all the requirement not only of simple respect on the part of others, especially political and social institutions and their leaders with regard to every man and woman on the earth, but even more, this means that the primary commitment of each person towards others, and particularly of these same institutions, must be for the promotion and integral development of the person.”

  • Philip

    Marx fully embraces the Enlightenment view of the individual. For Marx, the individual –the basic unit of the social sphere – is, quite simply, the biological entity. In other words, individuals are the “atoms” (in the Greek sense) of which society is composed. He utterly rejects the organic concept of society and the state. He rejects precisely those elements on which Mazzini laid such stress in the constitution of the national community: “They speak the same language, they bear about them the impress of consanguinity, they kneel beside the same tombs, and they glory in the same tradition.” Hence Marx’s hostility to the family.

    Yves Simon, by contrast, whilst acknowledging that “the polity, at its best, is designed so that men bring forth the perfection of their knowing and artistic capacities within an order that allowed them to pass individual lives benefiting from the temporal and spiritual goods made possible by different persons bringing forth differing accomplishments and perfections, yet making them available to each other,” nevertheless insists that ““Beyond the satisfaction of individual needs, the association of men serves a good unique in plenitude and duration, the common good of the human community.”

    This would have been unintelligible to Marx, although his master, Hegel, grasped it very well.

  • The Supreme Court decision of Roe versus Wade made property of the sovereign individual substance of a rational nature carried in a woman’s womb. The finite court took possession of the newly begotten sovereign soul as chattel. The legal and moral innocence of the human soul at conception impacted Justice as less than nothing and imposed atheism on America’s moral law.
    .
    The Supreme Court decision of Roe versus Wade emasculated every man and father in America as well as every woman and mother in America. The constitutional posterity brought forth in fertilization as a son or daughter ordains a woman as a mother and a man as a father.
    .
    The innocent sovereignty of our constitutional posterity constitutes our nation from the very first moment of his existence. His virtue and purity is the standard of Justice for the nation and the Supreme Court.
    .
    Roe versus Wade is Justice aborted.

  • This is by far one of the best discussions I have ever encountered on this sight. Ok people now I know how the ultimate confusion of “democracy” and “republic” has been churned and churned throughout history but never in such readable explainable scholarly vocabulary. Thank You All! I have been trying to educate my adult children in these matters, as to the “what’s why’s when’s and who’s. Some of them get it some of them don’t want to. That’s what’s scary and why we should be being taught the truth’s and not just a bunch of sappy stories. Anyway “what people don’t know won’t hurt them”, right? Like in this little quote from a “devout” Catholic I once knew, “If it doesn’t say in 50 pages or less what I need to know, then I don’t need to know it!” I rest my case(again)

  • “…For Marx, the individual –the basic unit of the social sphere – is, quite simply, the biological entity. In other words, individuals are the “atoms” (in the Greek sense) of which society is composed.”

    But this is the point of calling Marxism a rejection of the individual in favor of radical collectivism. A person does not have dignity apart from his being part of the collective (an atom making up the molecule if you will.) This is what the Church refers to (and as I cited above) in the Compendium as “simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism”. For Marxism is not about radical individualism, but the individual reduced to a part of the organism.

  • Philip wrote, “For Marxism is not about radical individualism, but the individual reduced to a part of the organism.”

    But for Marx, there is no organism, merely constructs; there is no”self” or “individual” greater than the human individual. Families, corporations, nations are not real, in the sense that a man is real. They are, at best, “artificial persons,” not, as they were for the Civilians, “moral persons.”

  • There is no organism in the Aristotelian or Thomistic sense. There is the state though, which is all encompassing and which substitutes for all those other intermediary organisms. And it is the “atom” of the individual who is part of the state in Marixism rather that a person living in community which is the Christian sense. Thus not individualism but collectivism in Marxism.

  • MPS and Philip,
    .
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn lived the majority of his life under Soviet Communism. In 1978, Solzhenitsyn acknowledged that Marxism is a fruit of the Enlightenment precisely because it involves man’s rejection of God in favor of an individualism which insists upon its own self sufficiency and denies man’s true nature as rooted in and oriented toward the supernatural. He also draws conclusions about the likelihood of success for the West in light of its rejection of man’s reliance on God.
    .
    For your consideration, I refer you to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, “A World Split Apart”, a Commencement Speech delivered 8 June 1978 at Harvard University, http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/alexandersolzhenitsynharvard.htm.; see also, http://youtu.be/WuVG8SnxxCM
    .
    “……This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very basis of human thinking in the past centuries. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was first born during the Renaissance and found its political expression from the period of the Enlightenment. It became the basis for government and social science and could be defined as rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the proclaimed and enforced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of everything that exists.
    .
    The turn introduced by the Renaissance evidently was inevitable historical. The Middle Ages had come to a natural end by exhaustion, becoming an intolerable despotic repression of man’s physical nature in favor of the spiritual one. Then, however, we turned our backs upon the Spirit and embraced all that is material with excessive and unwarranted zeal. This new way of thinking, which had imposed on us its guidance, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on earth. It based modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs. Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any superior sense. That provided access for evil, of which in our days there is a free and constant flow. Merely freedom does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and it even adds a number of new ones.
    .
    However, in early democracies, as in the American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God’s creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were — State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic. The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of Western approach and thinking has reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the 20th century’s moral poverty which no one could imagine even as late as in the 19th Century.
    .
    As humanism in its development became more and more materialistic, it made itself increasingly accessible to speculation and manipulation by socialism and then by communism. So that Karl Marx was able to say that “communism is naturalized humanism.”
    .
    This statement turned out not to be entirely senseless. One does see the same stones in the foundations of a despiritualized humanism and of any type of socialism: endless materialism; freedom from religion and religious responsibility, which under communist regimes reach the stage of anti-religious dictatorships; concentration on social structures with a seemingly scientific approach. This is typical of the Enlightenment in the 18th Century and of Marxism. Not by coincidence all of communism’s meaningless pledges and oaths are about Man, with a capital M, and his earthly happiness. At first glance it seems an ugly parallel: common traits in the thinking and way of life of today’s West and today’s East? But such is the logic of materialistic development.
    .
    The interrelationship is such, too, that the current of materialism which is most to the left always ends up by being stronger, more attractive, and victorious, because it is more consistent. Humanism without its Christian heritage cannot resist such competition. We watch this process in the past centuries and especially in the past decades, on a world scale as the situation becomes increasingly dramatic. Liberalism was inevitably displaced by radicalism; radicalism had to surrender to socialism; and socialism could never resist communism. The communist regime in the East could stand and grow due to the enthusiastic support from an enormous number of Western intellectuals who felt a kinship and refused to see communism’s crimes. And when they no longer could do so, they tried to justify them. In our Eastern countries, communism has suffered a complete ideological defeat; it is zero and less than zero. But Western intellectuals still look at it with interest and with empathy, and this is precisely what makes it so immensely difficult for the West to withstand the East.
    .
    I am not examining here the case of a world war disaster and the changes which it would produce in society. As long as we wake up every morning under a peaceful sun, we have to lead an everyday life. There is a disaster, however, which has already been under way for quite some time. I am referring to the calamity of a de-spiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness.
    .
    To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging everything on earth — imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not been noticed at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life. In the East, it is destroyed by the dealings and machinations of the ruling party. In the West, commercial interests suffocate it. This is the real crisis. The split in the world is less terrible — The split in the world is less terrible than the similarity of the disease plaguing its main sections.
    .
    If humanism were right in declaring that man is born only to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot be unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one’s life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President’s performance be reduced to the question how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism.
    .
    It would be retrogression to attach oneself today to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Social dogmatism leaves us completely helpless in front of the trials of our times. Even if we are spared destruction by war, our lives will have to change if we want to save life from self-destruction. We cannot avoid revising the fundamental definitions of human life and human society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that man’s life and society’s activities have to be determined by material expansion in the first place? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our spiritual integrity?
    .
    If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge: We shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era.
    .
    This ascension will be similar to climbing onto the next anthropologic stage. No one on earth has any other way left but — upward.”

    Source for above: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/alexandersolzhenitsynharvard.htm.; see also, http://youtu.be/WuVG8SnxxCM

  • Sorry folks I come to this conversation late. Not sure how it got by me lol

    I have read through the comments and they are vast but perhaps I can offer just a few thoughts

    1) The Enlightenment was ‘the second Reformation’. As the Reformation was a revolution against the Church while keeping Christ, Christian morality etc in the name of faith alone, the Enlightenment was a revolution against Christ (and revelation; and therefore revealed morality) in the name of ‘reason alone’ [‘reason alone’ is an actual quote of Descartes] What was left was the Deist concept (construct) of God and a ‘natural morality’ This led to the third, less widely known revolution in the 1800’s in which Deism, Victorianism, all Appolonian principles were overthrown by the Dionysian revolution led by Marx, Nietzche, and others-even into the arts in such peoples as Wagner etc.

    2) I used to believe that the American revolution was the good revolution and the French revolution the bad one based on the principles which they espoused etc. I am beginning to realize what we are witnessing now in what seems to be the overthrowing of the principles of the Founding Fathers in favor of the French Revolution;s principles is actually simply-the Enlightenment really coming home to roost in America and claiming us as its own-completely

    3.The problem with this is-the whole Modern Age is not only coming to an end, it is all but completely gone-and the Reformation and Enlightenment are manifestations of the Modern Age. Countries etc built on ‘the Enlightenment’ are in for a lot of trouble as are the religious communities founded in the Reformation because if it has not yet happened, their foundations are about to begin rumbling like they never have before
    We are now in the first decades of the Post-Modern Age (which will eventually get a real name for itself)

    4.Because precisely VII is not a break with Tradition etc but is based on the whole of Divine Revelation manifested in Catholic Tradition, it is a sure way of moving toward the future into the post-modernist age. Its optimism is time-bound, but its faith is ever ancient, ever-new. We need to work at really correctly interpreting then receiving the Council if we are to prevent dissipation (aka the spirit of VII crowd) or endless fragmentation (aka ultra-traditionalist side)

  • Slainte,

    FYI – I’m going to be publishing a lengthy essay on Deeneen’s piece and the conflict between liberals and illiberals on Monday.

  • Bonchamps,
    .
    Thank you; I will look for your article. If it is not being published at this forum, either a link or a notice about the publication site would be appreciated.

  • “…Solzhenitsyn acknowledged that Marxism is a fruit of the Enlightenment precisely because it involves man’s rejection of God in favor of an individualism which insists upon its own self sufficiency and denies man’s true nature as rooted in and oriented toward the supernatural.”

    I might say from reading the speech that he does link Marxism and the Enlightenment but that that link is in materialistic humanism (the separation from man of his end in God – something not present in all Enlightenment philosophies.) However, I do not believe he is saying that Marxism is necessarily individualism. In fact from the links of the Compendium I believe we see one of the errors of the recent past in ordering society is a disordered sense the collective (Marxism). One can be a radical individualist or a radical collectivist as both can be the fruits of materialistic humanism.

    In fact the need for such a collectivist impulse in materialistic humanism is the need for something greater than the self. In an authentic Christian humanism this is God. In materialistic humanism it is the collective – at least for some.

  • Phillip,
    .
    When an individual, by voluntary exercise of his free will, completely liberates himself from all Authority, in particular by denying Christ’s kingship through the Church, choosing instead to rely upon his own capabilities, he ends up standing naked and defenseless, first against the barons of industry and capitalism who view him as a factor of production, and then, before the state which views him as a source of tax revenue. Neither entity assigns the rugged individualist any sense of dignity or value beyond his perceived utility at that present moment.
    .
    The individual who pursues liberty to its natural end finds shackles awaiting him. He is consensually bound to accept the shackles because he has rendered himself powerless by casting off the natural protective buffers which are the family, the church, and/or the community. Having freed himself from the latter buffers, he creates his own destiny by denying his membership as a social being.
    .
    The Enlightenment convinces man that through his own capabilities, and without God, he can negotiate and thus perfect himself in and through nature…the reality though is that the natural end of a fallen world is enslavement to that world. It is only through man’s supernatural destiny that he may enjoy true freedom and equal worth before and in Christ.
    .
    Solzhenitsyn describes a humanism which is divorced from Christ, and which is thus an empty promise leading to the inevitable natural end of communism. Catholic humanism conversely exalts man as made in Imago Dei and leads him to a supernatural end which is a share in the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
    .
    Men who are enslaved to communism are in that state because they exercised their individual free will to cast off the very forces (family, church, community) which existed to protect them from that state. When man freely chooses to reclaim Christ in his life, and subordinates his will to that of Christ’s. only then does he have the ability to free himself self imposed shackles.
    .
    Indeed “man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains.” Jean Jacques Rousseau

  • I am not sure that all Enlightenment philosophers see man as capable of perfecting themselves. Perhaps the Continental Enlightenment but certainly not the English.

    Its not clear to me that those who fell under Communism did so by rejecting intermediary groups. Rather, Communism was generally imposed by those with a disordered sense of the human person – including individual rights.

    I will defer to my sense of Marxism as being a radical collectivism to this:

    “…we have to add that the fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism. Socialism likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice, to the unique and exclusive responsibility which he exercises in the face of good or evil. Man is thus reduced to a series of social relationships, and the concept of the person as the autonomous subject of moral decision disappears, the very subject whose decisions build the social order. From this mistaken conception of the person there arise both a distortion of law, which defines the sphere of the exercise of freedom, and an opposition to private property. A person who is deprived of something he can call “his own”, and of the possibility of earning a living through his own initiative, comes to depend on the social machine and on those who control it. This makes it much more difficult for him to recognize his dignity as a person, and hinders progress towards the building up of an authentic human community.”

  • Phillip,
    .
    When man chooses to reject or subordinate God in his life, something will appear to fill the vacuum. As the Church, the family, and the community represent God’s plan to make Himself known to man on earth, man’s choice to set aside or maginalize these things creates within man a privation. To fill the privation, man looks to the things of the earth…materialism, consumerism, new age spiritualism….yet over time it becomes apparent that none of these things fulfill man’s core desire to know and be united with Truth. Man experiences the emptiness of the lack of connection with his source and loses joy in his life; there can be no beauty, truth, or goodness absent the presence of God in our lives.
    .
    On a societal level, when many men reject or subordinate God in favor of assigning primacy to the ways and morality of the world, a progressive devolution occurs within that community of men. I would suggest that the natural end of this devolution is communism. When communism emerges, it is the malignant consequence of a steady and willful refusal to love, honor, and obey God by a pivotal number of people within society. Those who pay the greatest price are the innocent citizens who remain faithful to God and yet are forced to live within a communist society that has been degraded because of its rejection of Christ.
    .
    Phillip, please consider Pope John Paul II’s visit in June 1979 to his beloved Poland.
    .
    Peggy Noonan wrote a piece entitled “We Want God” which provided, in part:
    .
    “….It was the first week in June 1979. Europe was split in two between east and west, the democracies and the communist bloc–police states controlled by the Soviet Union and run by local communist parties and secret police.
    .
    John Paul was a new pope, raised to the papacy just eight months before. The day after he became pope he made it clear he would like to return as pope to his native Poland to see his people.
    .
    The communists who ran the Polish regime faced a quandary. If they didn’t allow the new Pope to return to his homeland, they would look defensive and frightened, as if they feared that he had more power than they. To rebuff him would seem an admission of their weakness. On the other hand, if they let him return, the people might rise up against the government, which might in turn trigger an invasion by the Soviet Union.
    .
    The Polish government decided that it would be too great an embarrassment to refuse the pope. So they invited him, gambling that John Paul–whom they knew when he was cardinal of Krakow, who they were sure would not want his presence to inspire bloodshed–would be prudent. They wagered that he would understand he was fortunate to be given permission to come, and understand what he owed the government in turn was deportment that would not threaten the reigning reality. They announced the pope would be welcome to come home on a “religious pilgrimage.”
    .
    John Paul quickly accepted the invitation. He went to Poland.
    .
    And from the day he arrived, the boundaries of the world began to shift.
    .
    Two months before the pope’s arrival, the Polish communist apparatus took steps to restrain the enthusiasm of the people. They sent a secret directive to schoolteachers explaining how they should understand and explain the pope’s visit. “The pope is our enemy,” it said. “Due to his uncommon skills and great sense of humor he is dangerous, because he charms everyone, especially journalists. Besides, he goes for cheap gestures in his relations with the crowd, for instance, puts on a highlander’s hat, shakes all hands, kisses children. . . . It is modeled on American presidential campaigns. . . Because of the activation of the Church in Poland our activities designed to atheize the youth not only cannot diminish but must intensely develop. . . In this respect all means are allowed and we cannot afford any sentiments.”
    .
    The government also issued instructions to Polish media to censor and limit the pope’s comments and appearances.
    .
    On June 2, 1979, the pope arrived in Poland. What followed will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.
    .
    He knelt and kissed the ground, the dull gray tarmac of the airport outside Warsaw. The silent churches of Poland at that moment began to ring their bells. The pope traveled by motorcade from the airport to the Old City of Warsaw.
    .
    The government had feared hundreds or thousands or even tens of thousands would line the streets and highways.
    .
    By the end of the day, with the people lining the streets and highways plus the people massed outside Warsaw and then inside it–all of them cheering and throwing flowers and applauding and singing–more than a million had come.
    .
    In Victory Square in the Old City the pope gave a mass. Communist officials watched from the windows of nearby hotels. The pope gave what papal biographer George Weigel called the greatest sermon of John Paul’s life.
    .
    Why, the pope asked, had God lifted a Pole to the papacy? Perhaps it was because of how Poland had suffered for centuries, and through the 20th century had become “the land of a particularly responsible witness” to God. The people of Poland, he suggested, had been chosen for a great role, to understand, humbly but surely, that they were the repository of a special “witness of His cross and His resurrection.” He asked then if the people of Poland accepted the obligations of such a role in history.
    .
    The crowd responded with thunder.
    .
    “We want God!” they shouted, together. “We want God!”
    .
    What a moment in modern history: We want God. From the mouths of modern men and women living in a modern atheistic dictatorship.
    .
    The pope was speaking on the Vigil of Pentecost, that moment in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit came down to Christ’s apostles, who had been hiding in fear after his crucifixion, filling them with courage and joy. John Paul picked up this theme. What was the greatest of the works of God? Man. Who redeemed man? Christ.
    .
    Therefore, he declared, “Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe, at any longitude or latitude. . . . The exclusion of Christ from the history of man is an act against man! Without Christ it is impossible to understand the history of Poland.” Those who oppose Christ, he said, still live within the Christian context of history.
    .
    Christ, the pope declared, was not only the past of Poland–he was “the future . . . our Polish future.”
    .
    The massed crowd thundered its response. “We want God!” it roared.
    .
    That is what the communist apparatchiks watching the mass from the hotels that rimmed Victory Square heard. Perhaps at this point they understood that they had made a strategic mistake. Perhaps as John Paul spoke they heard the sound careen off the hard buildings that ringed the square; perhaps the echo sounded like a wall falling.
    .
    The pope had not directly challenged the government. He had not called for an uprising. He had not told the people of Catholic Poland to push back against their atheist masters. He simply stated the obvious.
    .
    In Mr. Weigel’s words: “Poland was not a communist country; Poland was a Catholic nation saddled with a communist state.”
    .
    The next day, June 3, 1979, John Paul stood outside the cathedral in Gniezno, a small city with a population of 50,000 or so. Again there was an outdoor mass, and again he said an amazing thing.
    .
    He did not speak of what governments want, nor directly of what a growing freedom movement wants, nor of what the struggling Polish worker’s union, Solidarity, wanted.
    .
    He spokeof what God wants.
    .
    “Does not Christ want, does not the Holy Spirit demand, that the pope, himself a Pole, the pope, himself a Slav, here and now should bring out into the open the spiritual unity of Christian Europe . . .?” Yes, he said, Christ wants that. “The Holy Spirit demands that it be said aloud, here, now. . . . Your countryman comes to you, the pope, so as to speak before the whole Church, Europe and the world. . . . He comes to cry out with a mighty cry.”
    .
    What John Paul was saying was remarkable. He was telling Poland: See the reality around you differently. See your situation in a new way. Do not see the division of Europe; see the wholeness that exists and that not even communism can take away. Rhetorically his approach was not to declare or assert but merely, again, to point out the obvious: We are Christians, we are here, we are united, no matter what the communists and their map-makers say…..”

    Source: “We Want God” by Peggy Noonan published by The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB122479408458463941.
    .
    So I would suggest Phillip that we can head off and defeat communism locally and globally one man and one woman at a time by freely willing and then renewing our Catholicism and inviting God back into our society.
    .
    Where Christ lives, communism and the privation it seeks to fill perishes.

  • I have no doubt that when one substitutes any god for God, evil will result. Those gods include the individual, sex, money, power or the State. This does not prove that radical individualism is the root of all evil in the World. In fact, from the comments I posted above from the Compendium, the Church cites a disordered sense of the individual (either as radically isolated or as radically collectivist) as the source of social evil. There reference to the latter is to Marxism.

    I also agree with your citing John Paul II. The quote I give immediately above about disordered anthropology that reduces the individual to the communal is his, from Centesimus Annus. He above all of the past century, understood the destructiveness of the person of the collectivism of Communism.

  • Phillip wrote, “…I have no doubt that when one substitutes any god for God, evil will result. Those gods include the individual, sex, money, power or the State…”
    .
    But Phillip, of the things you cite…”the individual, sex, money, power or the State”…only the individual who is made in the image of God has the free will to choose to accept or reject Him, to obey or disobey Him, and/or to place Him above all other things…and that is the ultimate trial we all face in this vale of tears. Will we choose Him no matter the circumstances or the trials we encounter on this earth?
    .
    From the time of the Garden of Eden, woman and man, individually, have answered God’s question mostly in the negative….choosing to obey and rely upon themselves first and relegating God to a distant second. Hence, Original Sin is the manifestation of a inverted radical individualism which causes us to be turned in on ourselves and away from God.
    .
    The Enlightenment encourages the individual to divorce himself from God and to rely upon and look to himself first, not God. Its roots which are grounded in dissent are also found in the revolt that is the Reformation.
    .
    Enlightenment thought perverts what the compendium and John Paul II properly qualify as a well ordered God centered man.
    .
    I think we agree on some points…I just believe that we are not always victims of things being imposed on us…sometimes we contribute to our own maladies by failing to choose properly.

  • Philip and Slainte,

    It is commonly accepted that the Enlightenment begins with Renee Descartes. He is to the Enlightenment what Luther was to the Reformation. While Luther called for ‘faith alone’, Decartes called for “reason alone”. In order to overcome the devastating doubt and uncertainty that followed the Renaissance/Reformation, Descartes sought to establish the firm foundation on the ‘subject’: “Cogito ergo sum”=”I think therefore I am”. In doing so he turned philosophy on its head, making epistemology [what I know] as the foundation rather than metaphysics [what is] as the foundation. Philip, here is the beginning of radical individualism which cuts across all of the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment philosophers/philosophies. It is true, some have a softer version, may I use the phrase, but all have this in common. Further Descartes called for the leveling of all ‘tradition’ by the one using ‘reason alone’. This was done by radically doubting anything ‘received’, traditionally held, or backed by authority etc. The isolated ego (“I”) searched for the truth, reality, or whatever they wanted to do.

    Philip, while I recognize that Anglo-saxon [Locke, Burke] (and American) Enlightenment [Founding Fathers] was not initially as radical as say, the French or German versions, I have slowly grown aware that much of what we see now going on here in America is not imported (as I once thought) from ‘the French Revolution” but is the natural progression of the Enlightenment principles set in place by the Enlightenment Founding Fathers. The major difference between America and say, France, is that the American Enlightenment has never waged a culture war against the Judaeo-Christian culture and civilization established here already in the thirteen colonies (and future states)-it has not ‘waged a culture war’-until now.
    I believe it is going to get pretty intense [and by the way, America has indeed changed so much it will not go back to the way things were-when Obama ends his term in office. There are many out there to take his place and are just as committed to this ‘culture war’ against Judaeo-Christian culture in America

    What is really a complicating issue however, is these progressive forces, arising from the Enlightenment have not yet grasped that we are no longer in the Modern Age (of which the Enlightenment was a very key part). We have moved into a new era, as I have mentioned before-we can call it ‘the post-modern era’ for the time being. With the Post-modern era, the foundations of the Enlightenment are being radically called into question-and with it the Enlightenment-secularist interpretations of our Founding Documents etc. It is only but Americans digging deep into the rich fertile soil of the Judaeo-Christian Western Culture that America has a chance of surviving.

    It is even more ironic, that in this new era, the Church might be the only major force to uphold ‘reason’ [although never isolated] against not only the winds of change, but the forces of anti-reason, anti-logos that are rising

  • No. It is original sin that corrupts all social action. Some in the form of radical individualism and some in the form of radical collectivism which the Church, and most profoundly in the recent past, JP II, saw when it pointed out the errors of both anthropological positions.

    Though I think at some level we are talking of different things. The state of pure nature is not merely an Enlightenment one. It has a profoundly Catholic status also. This was confirmed in Humani Generis. This encyclical sidelined De Lubac and his position for a while. But that is an aside.

    But that is an aside. My point is, that Marxism is a disordered understanding of the proper nature of the human person in favor of a radical collectivism. This disordered perspective is properly diagnosed by the Compendium. One may argue that as all sin is personal, all is the result of a radical individualism. But this does not reach to the reasons for this personal sin – that of a disordered anthropology.

  • Phillip,
    .
    I agree with your observation that the temporal effect of original sin affects everything in nature, including man’s free will, thus promoting an inclination in man toward concupiscence or sin.

  • It is often overlooked that the atheism that has become dominant in the West is not the atheism of Marx or Feuerbach, still less of Nietzsche (although these certainly exist among old-fashioned thinkers like the “New Atheists); it is the atheism of Auguste Comte.

    Maritain described it perfectly: “Iit is neither militant nor argumentative, nor wishful of self-proof — so surely and comfortably installed that it is not even conscious of an adversary (its Adversary has disappeared). It has a quality of ease and naturalness, of proud tranquillity, which makes it unique in its kind. It has no need for Prometheus, it does not insult the gods, and does not raise against God the claim of the enslaved or alienated man — the old slavery and the “long minority of mankind” have spontaneously come to an end with “the irrevocable exhaustion of the reign of God.”

    This atheism does not want an eschatological effort of history, thanks to which the human species will finally reach its divinity… [O]riginally, in the generative movement of Comtian atheism, it is not mankind that is the concern, but Comte himself. And Comte does not feel the need of being God; it is enough for him to be Comte. What happened in him when he became conscious of himself was a simple phenomenon of internal shiftings. He “spontaneously” and “naturally” recognized that the central place which God was thought to occupy really belonged to himself, Comte, and he slipped into that place as into the hollow of his bed, never to move from it.”

    Comte never argued against God’s existence, “because it was already resolved, not by way of rational inquiry and philosophical examination, but in virtue of an ethical private option — in virtue of the wholly personal and incommunicable act of non-faith accomplished at the moment when he deliberated about his own life.”

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: Auguste Comte and Maritain both came before the imposition of atheism as a religion in the public square by the Supreme Court. Next came abortion, that would have been impossible if God did occupy the culture. And all the rest: pornography, the legalization of pedophilia, sodomy, the removal of all sanctions against vice, the disregard for minor children and parental authority and the contempt for Divine Providence.
    Co-existence until atheism could subjugate the people. In the trenches of Pro-Life movement, the atheist will tear one to shreds and leave your cold bloody body on the floor.
    Comfortable atheism?…for the atheist.
    Atheism is a lie, perjury in a court of law. God is existence; the atheist exists, God exists. Now, if the atheist will stop being a public scandal and go quietly back into his comfort zone, himself, the world will be a place of freedom.

  • Botolph, slainte, and Philip (In God We Trust, Philip): “It is commonly accepted that the Enlightenment begins with Renee Descartes. He is to the Enlightenment what Luther was to the Reformation. While Luther called for ‘faith alone’, Decartes called for “reason alone”. In order to overcome the devastating doubt and uncertainty that followed the Renaissance/Reformation, Descartes sought to establish the firm foundation on the ‘subject’: “Cogito ergo sum”=”I think therefore I am”. .
    .
    I hope I get this right. Again, in God we trust.
    .
    Luther’s “faith alone” requires a free will act of man to accept faith. The free will act is the work of man for his salvation, the iota of work required is the free will act to the acceptance of faith and salvation for salvation.
    .
    “Cogito ergo sum”=”I think therefore I am”. . Again, man must make a free will act and consent to thinking, to reason… as a verb. In the use of his free will, man is evidence of man’s immortal, rational human soul, the transcendent human being, making of the atheist a liar of himself to himself.
    In every moment of his existence from fertilization to natural death, man must give consent, the free will act to live. This free will act of consent from one instance to the next, to live, life itself, in the individual, is evidence and proof that man is an individual substance of a rational nature, Thomas Aquinas’ definition for the person.
    .
    Man is proof of the existence of God.
    .
    Atheism has no place, in or our of any comfort zone, that Lucifer gained his own kingdom by refusing God as Saul Alinsky said cannot be, since annihilation is not a kingdom. Annihilation is nowhere. Annihilation is annihilation, constant and forever.

  • “Atheism has no place, in or out of any comfort zone,” In God We Trust. for perfection, not in the computer.

  • Mary de Voe wrote, “Auguste Comte and Maritain both came before the imposition of atheism as a religion in the public square.”

    Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) certainly saw just that: « La République ne reconnaît, ne salarie ni ne subventionne aucun culte » [The Republic does not recognise, nor salary, nor subsidise any religion] – Law of 9 December 1905.

  • Mary,

    Descartes is generally considered the beginning of Modern Philosophy. This as he took a radical departure from Scholasticism and sought to establish a basis for knowledge that was as certain as Mathematics;

    Descartes views human nature as consisting of the dual substances of mind and body. He begins this analysis by noting that that which comes through the senses can deceive. Through Meditation One and Two from the Meditations, he comes to realize that he is a thinking thing. He then begins to develop an understanding of sensory knowledge, first by proving that God exists and does not deceive. From this he concludes that sensory information, while not without the ability to deceive, nonetheless does exist in itself. As it exists and God will not deceive, this sensory, and thus corporeal, reality has a true existence.

    Descartes further argues that those things, which can be conceived of separately, do truly exist separately. Minds are pure spirits without extension. On the other hand bodies are extended in space. Therefore, because of this distinction, they are truly separate substances. There is not an intermingling of these substances though Descartes sees them as intimately united, producing a certain unity. He uses the analogy of a sailor and a ship (Meditation 6). When part of the ship is damaged, the sailor can see this though there is no formal union between them. Likewise, the mind may perceive pain, etc. though there is no union between the substances of mind and body.

    Knowledge for Descartes seems to begin in the self. I doubt all things but since I doubt I am certain that I am thinking. Therefore I can at least be sure I am thinking that I am deceived. So if all other knowledge is in doubt, this at least cannot be doubted, that I am a thinking and as such am a thinking thing.

    Then Descartes goes on to show that there is other certain knowledge – specifically the knowledge of the existence of a benevolent God who does not deceive (Meditation 3). By this proof, which is evident according to Descartes only through mental operations, he can then build upon what can be known. Since this God cannot deceive, then those things that are clearly and distinctly known by the mind are also true. This does not mean that there is no possibility of error as man, because of their finite abilities can produce error even in their mental images when one assents to what is not clear and distinct knowledge. But, that which is clearly and distinctly known is true (Meditation 5).

    Now, he can then proceed to conclude that sensory knowledge itself exists. First there exist faculties for understanding material things. God will not give us such attributes if such things do not exist. We then conceive of such things as objects extended in space such as geometric figures. There are also those images that come to me apart from mental thoughts (i.e. pain). Therefore, since we conceive these things, there must be existing material things. While this knowledge is less certain than mental knowledge, it nonetheless exists apart from my mind.

    Descartes aims to show that science rests on that which is clearly and distinctly known. This foundation is in what is known in the mind and not the senses. He begins by bringing into doubt all the beliefs that come to us from the senses (1st Meditation) He withholds assent from those things that he cannot completely assent to with certainty. As the senses can deceive, as in dreams, they must be rejected as helping us understand what a man is. Ultimately the aim is not to prove that nothing exists or that it is impossible for us to know if anything exists but to show that all our knowledge of these things through the senses is open to doubt. Since we do know that external objects exist, this knowledge cannot come to us through the senses, but through the mind.
    How then do we know things? Again, he starts from the assumption that there is a God who deliberately seeks to deceive. But the very fact that I am deceived it follows that I exist for while I can be deceived about the content of any thought, I cannot be deceived about the fact that I am thinking. But since I only can be certain of the existence of myself as I am thinking, I have knowledge of my existence only as a thinking thing. It remains possible that all knowledge of external objects, including my body, could be false as the result of the actions of a deceiving God. It is not, however, possible that I could be deceived about my existence or my nature as a thinking thing.

    Descartes still has no knowledge of anything outside of his mind. He still has to argue that things exist outside of his mind. He must do this, however, strictly on the basis of the contents of his own mind again as he doubts his own senses.

    He first does this by proving that God exists and possess those attributes that prohibit his deceiving. As God created humans and gave them reason which tells one that ideas come from external corporeal things. If they do not come from external objects, then God must be a deceiver, but he is not. Therefore, material objects exist.
    He now needs to reconcile these two aspects of our nature – mind and body. He does this by separating us into two distinct substances: mind and body. Descartes shows two ways in which mind and body seem to have different properties and as such they must be different things. I can be certain that my mind exists. I cannot be sure that my body exists. As things can be conceived distinctly are different substances the mind and body are separate substance.

    The problem now becomes, if mind and body are separate substances, and what is sensed is less certain knowledge, this would to call into question whether that which exists outside the mind is truly real. As Descartes himself points out, that which is sensed that is not the object of mathematics is questionable. This being so, so much of the world is ultimately called into doubt, and with it, much of what we understand of the world that comes to us through our senses. Can we then really relate to it? How can we go beyond what is merely formed in our mind? And what of social relationships founded on an understanding of another person as sensed and related to through language as a sensed form of communication. Ultimately, we become prisoners of mind, unable to relate truly to that which exists outside of mental states.

    In this way, Enlightenment philosophy can reduce one to the radical individual through a distorted epistomology. However, once this was established, then other disorders of anthropology (the false collectivism of Marxism) emerged

  • MPS wrote regarding Comte: “….Comte never argued against God’s existence, “because it was already resolved, not by way of rational inquiry and philosophical examination, but in virtue of an ethical private option — in virtue of the wholly personal and incommunicable act of non-faith accomplished at the moment when he deliberated about his own life.”
    .
    But didn’t Comte craft a “Religion of Humanity”?
    .
    And what did Science teach him about nature?

  • Phillip wrote: “…Descartes aims to show that science rests on that which is clearly and distinctly known. Since we do know that external objects exist, this knowledge cannot come to us through the senses, but through the mind…”
    .
    Science informed the world, after accumulating its medical data, that Terry Schiavo could no longer think, and therefore in its estimation she no longer “is”. The Courts, in reliance upon scientific findings purporting to measure one’s humanity, permitted Schiavo’s husband to terminate a life deemed no longer to exist.
    .
    Descartes’ elevation of subjective truth over objective truth marginalizes man by assigning him value only if he can perform or think. Man’s humanity as a person with an immortal soul does not factor into this equation.
    .
    Woe to the unborn infant in utero, or the handicapped child, or the elderly stroke victim who might find him or herself unable to be proven to think or perform to the satisfaction of the medical establishment.
    .
    “Cogito Ergo Sum” is the measure of life to Descartes’ progeny…but not to the Catholic Church which recognizes the humaniry of the person from the moment of conception through and including natural death regardless of whether that person can think, or know, or perform.
    .

  • I don’t think that was Descartes’ aim, though that is what moderns made of it. Again, and perhaps strangely, he was seeking for a more certain basis for knowledge. Unfortunately, others took off from his ideas and undermined his purpose. Though this was predictable given his faulty epistomology.

    This to point out, as Bonchamps does in his most recent excellent post, that the Enlightenment project, while flawed, is not uniform in its approaches or errors. Doing so really does no justice to truth.

  • Phillip,
    ,
    I am not a philosopher or an academic. My knowledge of Descartes is from my university days years ago and living with the present manifestation of Enlightenment ideas as they play out in the American culture. I am not trying to undermine or mock truth; I am trying to understand how we got to where we are today with the Church being attacked by secularists. The answer I suspect is in philosophical thought and perhaps, as you have suggested, its subversion.
    .
    Do you know whether Descartes had a good relationship with the Church…was he a faithful Catholic?
    .
    Also …you write very well and communicate esoteric ideas in a very comprehensible way…. not an easy thing to do. Are you a philosopher or an academic?

  • Slainté asked, “But didn’t Comte craft a “Religion of Humanity”?

    He did, indeed, with himself as the High Priest of Humanity, with feast days for heroes of Humanism &c

    As for the knowledge of nature, he posits his famous « la loi des trois états » or “law of the three stages,” In the theological state the human mind explained phenomena by “supernatural agents” and by arbitrary wills conceived in the image of man. In the metaphysical state it explained them by abstract entities and hidden causes (“abstract forces inhering in bodies, but distinct and heterogeneous,” and everything was referred to vital forces, substantial forms, natural essences &c). In the positive state it does not seek to explain them, it observes them as facts and unifies them by laws, and so makes itself capable of rational prediction (it restricts itself to “considering them as subjected to a certain number of invariable natural laws which are nothing else than the general expression of the relations observed in their development”).

    To repeat, in this third stage, everything is to be understood in the light of sense-verified science, with both “wills” and “causes” being replaced by “laws” or invariable relations between phenomena.

    Now, many people today, especially those with a scientific background, who have never heard the name of Comte would treat his “law of the three stages” as a common-place, as a statement of the obvious. They are, thus, completely immune to any metaphysical argument, for their criterion of truth excludes them a priori.

  • Philip

    The problem with the Cogito is this: it only guarantees the thinking that thinks this thought. . In his “I think,” I” is no more a referring expression than “it” is a referring expression in “it is raining.”

    Locke exposed this when he asked, “might not the thinking substance which thought the thought “I did it” — the genuine thought of agent-memory — nevertheless be a different thinking substance from the one that could have had the thought: “I am doing it” when the act was done?” Thus, as Miss Anscombe points out, Locke detached the identity of the self or ‘person’ from the identity even of the thinking being which does the actual thinking of the I-thoughts.

    In other words, the “I” has to be constantly re-identified in every act of thinking and Descartes has no way of doing this

  • “Also …you write very well and communicate esoteric ideas in a very comprehensible way…. not an easy thing to do. Are you a philosopher or an academic?”

    Thanks. I have never been accused of writing well. I have a Masters in Philosophy but am not an academic.

    As far as I know, Descartes was a faithful son of the Church. He just got his epistomology wrong.

  • MPS writes, “…In the theological state the human mind explained phenomena by “supernatural agents” and by arbitrary wills..”
    .
    What sort of theology might a humanist like Comte manufacture and what were its “supernatural agents”? Does this in our times as “Ethical Humanism”?
    .
    When we discussed “Natura Pura”, we wrote about “Natural Law existing separately from Revelation” and “Positive Law existing separately from Divine Providence.
    .
    Pre-Enlightenment and the introduction of “positive law”, were the laws that governed men in western christendom rooted in either/or Biblical Revelation or Natural Law? Were they codified and recognized as such?

  • What Maritain says may ring true. It’s passive men unwilling to believe in anything or, God forbid, act on belief. However, it may be a bit digressive to focus on the Comté as if he sprang from the head of Zeus himself! If we are to put the Comté-Atheist, the Enlightenment and the all that follows to the test, shouldn’t we start by questioning and investigating what came before the Enlightenment and Comté? I believe the first thing that we should take a look at is the one European institute (or corporation) that has not appeared to fail Europeans in the last 1000 years. The one self-perpetuating system that has outlasted all other European authorities and remains unquestioned and uncontested because of its successes.

    Where else do you start but the European universities? What else could have birthed a man like Comté or an age like the Enlightenment? Taken to exaggerations and stripped of practical interests; do not the habits, customs and dogmas of this self-perpetuating system track rather closely with those tendencies found in the post-Enlightenment mind?

    – a rigorous individuation
    -a preference for internationalism
    -an unerotic universalism
    -an acquired taste for novelty
    – a fetish for scientific and quantifiable inquiry
    -a unique (and wildly successful) and easily imitative pedagogy, influenced by non-parental adults and weaker social bonds that are, in some ways, more tenacious and fulfilling than any blood bonds you find in traditional kinships and societies.

    And this is the crux of the problem. The University system created in Europe has been resilient through religious wars and political turmoil; it has survived all sorts of poor hypothesis and fashions; it is malleable, adaptable and constantly expanding into more minute areas of human experience, and has bred success both directly and indirectly to the point anyone who questions this system is at best eccentric and more likely the product of a jaundiced Abecedarian-like mind- rightfully so in many regards.

    Yet, since the nations were given representation in running the medieval universities, our intellectual movements have been ever more fashioned and in agreement with the prejudices that arise from the very habits and methods that make the university system so beneficial. That they perpetually shed anything too provincial, intrinsic or relational is a primary feature in making them successful as centers of higher education as well as harmful to quasi-reactionaries in our Enlightened age.

    So without truly confronting our learning institutions, dark-enlightenment enthusiasts are like flounders swimming up stream insisting to any trout that’ll listen that if they do it hard enough, they may actually catch up to and depredate the salmon population. All the while, the schools of Comté-salmon happily spawn over and over again with nary a thought or discomfort. Yet at the same time, the very notion of an educational confrontation from the D.E. crowd is preposterous. 1) There is nothing that could sensibly (and successfully) replace the university from scratch. 2) Chances are any replacement will end up with the same values and tendencies of today’s corporate universities. 3) Opposition to universities would merely attract the very few specific classes, groups and milieus that gravitate towards inchoate rebelliousness and anti-intellectualism. These groups are woefully unhelpful as they either tend to implode quickly or metastasize into something real unsavory and wicked. 4) Most importantly, it is simply not in the character of a conservative or reactionary to overthrow institutions, much less Christians of those stripes!

    Where does that leave you?

  • Hmmmmm writes, “….Where does that leave you?”
    .
    Interested in your thesis and wondering how you would respond to your own queries?
    .
    Welcome to the discussion.

  • As a layperson. Theology and philosophy are bound up inseparably in the human soul. All mention is paid to the mind, as a thinking brain? Free will and intellect, as I know them are attributes of the human soul. The intellect perceives God and the free will assents to knowing, to loving and believing God. And it was to God Descartes turned.
    Terry Schiavo had her will to live destroyed because some people placed her free will to live in her mind, but not in her soul. Terry Schiavo’s will to live, free will, intellect and sovereign personhood inhere in her human soul. The human soul being immortal cannot be destroyed, therefore, Terry Schiavo’s will to live was denied to her, as was her body and all nourishment. Homocide.
    The unborn, the comatose, the alzheimers all will to live, created equal with those who conspire to deny these persons their will to live.
    Philosophy itself is based on the assumption of man’s human soul. The greatest Philosopher, our brother, Jesus Christ, came to earth to save our souls, and in the Resurrection, our minds, wills, intellects, senses and bodies.
    Thank you for letting me give you a piece of my mind.

  • Mary De Voe,

    Actually Mary, not a piece of your mind but something quite profound

  • Botolph: All for God through Jesus.

  • Mary De Voe said, “….Terry Schiavo had her will to live destroyed because some people placed her free will to live in her mind, but not in her soul. Terry Schiavo’s will to live, free will, intellect and sovereign personhood inhere in her human soul. The human soul being immortal cannot be destroyed, therefore, Terry Schiavo’s will to live was denied to her, as was her body and all nourishment. ..”
    .
    Thank you for your wisdom Mary. We must protect the vulnerable against those who would measure a person’s value by their usefullness to society. All people notwithstanding their ability to think or know or perform are valuable and loved; no exceptions ever.

  • Slainté

    For Comte, the “theological stage” in the knowledge of nature was what anthropologists call “animism.” Thus, Bl John Henry Newman says, “It is the notion of power combined with a purpose and an end …. Accordingly, wherever the world is young, the movements and changes of physical nature have been and are spontaneously ascribed by its people to the presence and will of hidden agents, who haunt every part of it, the woods, the mountains and the streams, the air and the stars, for good or for evil.”

    As to Pre-Enlightenment law, the Roman jurists talk a good deal about the “jus gentium,” the laws common to all peoples and therefore rooted in human nature. One can see how this would chime in with Stoic notions of Natural Law, which was influential at the time they wrote (1st – 2nd century AD) Of course, the focus of their interest was private law – the relations between private citizens.

  • Hmmmmm

    The Universities adopted and popularised the Enlightenment, but none of its leaders operated outside the Universities – Voltaire, Diderot, D’Alembert and the Encyclopédistes, Bacon, Hobbes, Rousseau, Descartes, Hume were none of them academics

  • MPS writes, “….For Comte, the “theological stage” in the knowledge of nature was what anthropologists call “animism.”…”
    .
    So the philosopher Comte wasn’t so much an atheist as he was a worshipper of nature not unlike the pagan Druids?
    .
    The philosopher Kant argued that the essence of religion was leading a virtuous life, and everything else was superstition and delusion. Our Lord Jesus Christ then would be counted as merely a figure of superstition and delusion?

  • Slainté wrote, “So the philosopher Comte wasn’t so much an atheist as he was a worshipper of nature not unlike the pagan Druids?”

    No, the “theological” and the “metaphysical” stages are, precisely, stages through which the human mind has to pass, before arriving at the positive stage, which alone is knowledge.

    For Comte, the only real knowledge is reached in the “positive” stage; In which man does not seek to explain nature, he observes the phenomena – the evidence of the senses – as facts and unifies them by laws, and so makes himself capable of rational prediction (the mind restricts itself to “considering them as subject to a certain number of invariable natural laws which are nothing else than the general expression of the relations observed in their development”). He abandons the quest for “causes,” (a notion that belongs to the “metaphysical” stage. Instead, he says, “I burned 2 g of hydrogen in 16 g of Oxygen and I got 18 g of water and I find that this ratio is constant.” From this, he can predict the result of burning any given quantity of hydrogen in any given quantity of oxygen and he can even go on to generalise this, by trying the experiment with other elements and discover “laws” of atomic weight, valence numbers and the like. Whether these “laws” are necessary, or mere statistical generalisations are metaphysical questions and, for Comte, meaningless questions, for the answer cannot possibly be verified by observation.

    Comte certainly recognised the practical and emotional value of religion; he simply insisted that it could not provide us with knowledge. The popular fact/value distinction goes straight back to Comte.

    As for Kant, he would have distinguished the “Christ of faith” from the “Jesus of history,” rejecting the one and revering the other.

  • MPS writes,
    .
    “…the “theological” and the “metaphysical” stages are, precisely, stages through which the human mind has to pass, before arriving at the positive stage, which alone is knowledge.”
    .
    And is there a correlation between Comte’s evolving mind and Hegel’s evolving spirit?

  • Slainté

    The Romantic Movement was under way and historicism was in the air, but that is the only connection. Comte would have rejected any sort of Absolute; for him, only the empirically verifiable was real. He is remarkably modern and with myriad followers who have never heard of him.

  • Michael PS and Slainte,

    Comte is the “father of positivism”. Am I correct in saying this?

  • Botolph asks, “Comte is the “father of positivism”. Am I correct in saying this?”

    Absolutely.

    Of course, the idea that truth consists in either relations of ideas (logic and mathematics) or matters of fact (empirical science) goes back to David Hume.

    The Vienna Circle, the Logical Positivists and the early Wittgenstein (with reservations) are his modern philosophical descendants, but his ideas have taken hold outside the academy and are simply taken for granted by many who have never opened a work of philosophy. It is part of the Zeitgeist.

    As an heuristic principle, a methodology, in the physical sciences, there is a good deal to be said for it.

  • Mr.Paterson-Seymour,

    Indeed, those you mention may not have been professors in universities. Yet as prominent as those names are, they do not contain the whole era; and with due respect to the French, the Scottish Enlightenment may have been more trans-formative. Were not the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen its biggest proponents? Didn’t Joseph Black, Dugald Stewart, James Playfair, Adam Ferguson, Francis Hutchenson, Hugh Blair, Thomas Brown, Adam Smith, and even Thomas Reid; among others, hold professorships in Scottish universities?

    Of course if we go to the previous age, I imagine the argument could be made that the universities were even more influential.

    Where is the person who not been affected by the teaching of Eramus, Luther, Mair or Bodin?

    I’m aware of your point: in the scheme of grand narratives, how can one point to the universities as the cause when so many prominent individuals (such as the ones mentioned) throughout history were not faculty; were not working for the benefit, progress or furthering the university system; and in some cases, had nothing to do with the communities? Furthermore, it may be faulty thinking to attribute the success of some to their teaching. There are plenty of cases where the thinker was brilliant and came to prominence through the written word but were lousy teachers, completely forgotten and overlooked, stuck in small and remote colleges or taught subjects that were not within their range of genius. These are good objections to my earlier post and one I do not have a ready rebuttal .

    However, many listed were educated through the university system and are not wholly separate from that environment. I do not believe it unreasonable to suggest that we factor in that universities operate like any successful and healthy human organization, developing traits to aid its own preservation and dropping any notions nonessential or harmful to its organizing principles.

Religious Liberty: Necessity or Virtue?

Tuesday, January 21, AD 2014

Hello again TAC! It has been nearly a year since I posted here, and it is good to be back. I have a long one for you this time, but I think you will find it interesting and my hope is that it will contribute to an ongoing discussion about an important topic.

In December of last year John Zmirak, a Catholic author I know and respect, wrote a piece for Aleteia.org titled “Illiberal Catholicism.” In it, Zmirak takes to task a growing tendency among both Catholic traditionalists (bear in mind I consider myself a traditionalist) and various leftists to denigrate liberalism in general and America’s classical liberal heritage in particular. The piece rubbed quite a few people the wrong way, as several hundred Facebook posts I skimmed would attest. There were lengthier responses from some corners of the Catholic blogosphere as well. If I had to offer the thesis statement of the piece, it would be this:

 [T]here is something very serious going on in Catholic intellectual and educational circles, which — if it goes on unchecked — will threaten the pro-life cause, the Church’s influence in society, and the safety and freedom of individual Catholics in America.  The growth of illiberal Catholicism will strengthen the power of the intolerant secular left, revive (and fully justify) the old anti-Catholicism that long pervaded America, and make Catholics in the United States as laughably marginal as they now are in countries like Spain and France…

From there, Zmirak provides us with an overview of the lack of tolerance in Church history that was bound to rankle traditionalists, as well as an endorsement of political and economic liberty that anti-capitalist traditionalists and leftists could not but despise. He also explicitly identified with “Tea Party” Catholicism – what could be more philistine for the enlightened anti-capitalist crowd, traddie or leftie?

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81 Responses to Religious Liberty: Necessity or Virtue?

  • I have always felt this way, but I am conflicted partially. I mean, force and the threat of force when it comes to religious convictions seem to be woefully inadequate just in terms of human nature; there is a big difference between “I believe God is real” and “I believe if I say that I believe in God, this will keep me from getting whacked, or could get me a nice government job.”

    So, I wonder, is religious liberty always and everywhere going to be the best option, even though it (in and of itself) is no more than a concession to human nature rather than something to be sought for its own goodness?

    A lot of the popes I have read on this seem to suggest that the ideal state has no religious tolerance, but I wonder whether the ideal state could exist, and whether this belief falls within the parameters of their statements taken holistically.

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  • At the same time we cannot reject religious liberty in practice, unless we are prepared to be denied the right to publicly exist and profess as authentic Catholics. We must know and profess that our religion is true, and yes, that other religions are in fact false, while simultaneously defending their right to be false.

    Which Judaism and Christianity can do, adhering to the common belief that man is made in the image and likeness of God, and so has free will to choose Him.
    But some religions do not play well with others; I’m thinking of Islam and Leftism, each of which is built to exclude all other ways of finding God (or the Good). To defend religious liberty is necessary but not sufficient when professing Christians cannot profess and still earn a living baking cakes.
    As to the separation of Church and State, I get awfully frustrated when we argue with Leftists over laws, and we accept the Left’s characterization of themselves as rationally guided towards the Good, and ourselves as irrationally driven by God and making everybody miserable to boot. And no, simply repeating the phrase “human flourishing” over and over again does not correct the characterization.
    Eugene Volokh had a recent blog post addressing this problem with how arguments are framed: Your side tries to impose your beliefs; my side seeks justice. Any Catholics of whatever stripe who assist the Left in framing arguments this way are scoring an own goal. Religious Liberty is a mirage until everybody comes clean about having a system of beliefs.

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  • Here, here!!

  • “Religious Liberty is a mirage until everybody comes clean about having a system of beliefs.” Excellent statement of truth, tamsin.
    Films, movies, books, the media, and every politician have agendas. Jesus Christ came to serve God and man. Religious Liberty is about the freedom to come to know, to love and to serve God in thought, speech, press and peaceable assembly.

  • “Which Judaism and Christianity can do, adhering to the common belief that man is made in the image and likeness of God, and so has free will to choose Him.”

    I do not believe that Catholic policy in the age of Christendom denied man his free will. The Church never recognized forced conversions as valid. The Church has always held that a baptism is not valid for a person of the age of reason who does not consent to that baptism. What the Church did do, however, was forbid the public expression of religions such as Islam within Christian lands. I would not recommend this practice today, but can I condemn it as an intrinsic evil in violation of a basic human right? I won’t.

    “I get awfully frustrated when we argue with Leftists over laws, and we accept the Left’s characterization of themselves as rationally guided towards the Good, and ourselves as irrationally driven by God and making everybody miserable to boot.”

    Did I do that somewhere? For my part, I view the left as irrationally driven by radical egalitarianism. It is a civilization-destroying ideology.

  • In order to speak in a complete way about “religious liberty” one must first come to grips with the Tradition concerning “Church and State”.

    Christ Jesus introduced a distinction between state and religion for the first time in human history. Since all governments, and families for that matter, saw a profound unity between ‘authority’ and ‘the divine’, leaders of governments and ‘fathers of families’ were raised to new heights. In most cases, being divinized, becoming ‘gods’ or having ‘god-like’ authority. Even ancient Israel when it finally established their monarchy endowed the king with divine authority-just take a look at Psalm 2 (read in the context of the ancient monarchy). Also recognize the very close association in the Jewish mind of the authority in families with God, in the relationship of the fourth commandment immediately following the first three all of which have to do with the Lord God.

    When Jesus was speaking, both Rome and Jerusalem saw no real separation of religion and state, yet Jesus said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. It might seem that this statement was a coy avoidance of a dispute over giving taxes to Caesar, but the whole question about the coin, and whose image was on the coin-Caesar’s has a deeper meaning. Caesar himself, as a human being is created in the image of God. Thus, the ‘state’ has only certain rights and expectations while the Original-God has the right to all or love with out whole being etc.

    If there were a question about this, then the Lord’s response to Pilate during His trial cinches it. There in John 18, Jesus says that His Kingdom does not belong to this world. Jesus is indeed a king, but not a political king. He reminded Pilate that his authority did not come from Caesar but God Himself yet that power and authority is not absolute. It is both under God and bounded by “truth”: the truth about God and the truth about ‘man’

    The Church Fathers were very clear about this ‘distinction’ [I call it a distinction because I do not want to confuse it in anyway with the supposed principle of the “Separation of Church and State” as it is understood today. This distinction however is closer to the “establishment” clause of the First Amendment.] In the Letter of Diognetus, there is a wonderful pithy remark which sums it up: “we pray for the emperor, we do not worship him”

    In the Arian crisis, there was a profound political implication at work as well in the heresy. If indeed Jesus Christ was not the consubstantial Son of the Father, then all bets were off who represented God’s authority on earth. If the Arians were right, then the Emperor represented God’s authority [there was more than conviction at work with so many emperors fighting the nicene bishops]. However, if Jesus Christ is indeed homoousion [consubstantial] with the Father then He first of all images the authority of the Father and after him, the bishop, most especially the bishop of Rome. The Fathers of the Council understood this implication. That is why they put a permanent reminder into the Creed: “He suffered under Pontius Pilate” They were reminding people for all time that “Caesar” is not God but very much a frail, sinful man.

    Pope Gelasius would further this tradition in his ‘two swords”: the political sword (authority) and the religious sword-with the understanding that there was a separation of the two powers.

    In all of this there was never a hint of equivocation of watering down the ‘true religion’ whether in terms of the Church’s relations with the pagans or the ultimate heretics, the Arians. In the early Councils, the Church (on al sides of the disputes) found the machinations and scheming of the “Christian emperors” problematic to say the least. Their scheming led to the exaltation of the bishop of Byzantium into becoming the Patriarch of Constantinople, second only to the pope (but for political reasons!). In later councils both Nestorians and Monophysites broke with the Church more for the interventions of the Emperor than for the doctrinal language and questions at hand.. More than one Pope was pressured by the Emperor to soften his stand or abide by a decision etc, even one being abducted from Rome and brought to Constantinople in chains. The Church, especially the Church in Rome saw very specific distinctions between the two powers. it would be only later that things got confused and even mushy

    It was Augustine, the great Church Father who really brought in confusion. In order to quell the reactionary schism of the Donatists, Augustine, in exasperation, wrote to the local Roman authority to intervene and to squash the reactionaries. In his letter he gave all sorts of high sounding reasons to do so, and in this way paved the way for the Church from that time forward to use the arm of the political authority to deal with the Church’s ‘problems’. From this heretics were burned, witch hunts took place and pogroms of the Jews found ‘succor’

    So which is really the more traditional?

  • Liberty is God-given.

    A government that infringes on a God-given, human right is illegitimate: organized brigandage. They can take your life and property. They cannot take your liberty or your soul.

    Fear not that which can only destroy your physical life but cannot kill the soul. Fear God who can destroy both body and soul in hell. See Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:2-7.

  • “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” God created Caesar and Caesar’s state through the sovereignty of personhood. Personhood comes before citizenship in order. Caesar belongs to God. Christ was put to death for blasphemy. Separation of church and state will forbid state punishment for sins. The church forgives sins, the state prosecutes crime. As Thomas More said: “then let God arrest him.”
    Atheism undermines the sovereign state, denies unalienable civil rights and the Divine image in man. “Religious Liberty: Necessity or Virtue?” Both, as church virtue and state necessity. Only by admitting to church and state can there be separation in principle of each.

  • Botolph,

    I appreciate your overview of the ancient Christian conception of “church and state.” It certainly isn’t the first issue that St. Augustine may have mucked up either. But I don’t believe that the Medieval/Early Modern view of church and state that prevailed – at least officially – up until Vatican II was in any sense a contradiction of the “two swords” doctrine. Popes from Boniface VIII to Leo XIII reaffirmed this doctrine and always understood the demarcating line between secular and ecclesiastical authority. The question of religious liberty is related but ultimately distinct. Church and State may have different functions, which is what the two swords refers to, but States still have positive duties, among which is the recognition of the true religion.

    I don’t believe that this recognition necessarily entails the sort of repression that Augustine requested. The ideal Catholic statesmen would have discretion regarding the implementation of the doctrine. Religious toleration is compatible with an established religion, in which case the established religion would simply receive preferential treatment while all others would more or less be on their own, to sink or swim according to their merits.

    To put it simply, there’s a difference between the idea and its implementation.

  • Bonchamps,

    You are correct that the Medieval and early modern Church is not ruptured from the earlier ‘two swords’ of the early and Patristic Church. My point was to show that the ‘two swords’ and the accompanying way the Church dealt with its problems [persuading and if necessary calling a Council: basicallly putting into practice Matthew 18] was very different than the way the medieval/early Modern Church dealt with such issues: call in the govt, the troops and the use of force.

    See my point is to put a mirror up for us to see ourselves in a very distinct/different light. A light we used to be, but over the centuries became frustrated with dissent, error etc and began to rely more and more on the other sword to enforce our issues. Until the American experiment prevented it for their own reasons [not theological ones], we believed that this second way of doing things was the only way to deal with our problems. The American experiment ‘shocked’ us into looking at our whole history and soon we discovered this older truer way.

    We still hold that the Catholic Church is the true Church etc but we can deal with our difficulties with our own tools, ‘our own ‘sword”, and not turn to the State to enforce our doctrines etc.

    There are moral issues that are very much in the vanguard in our own day. Let’s take for example Life issues. Is it enough for us to work to change laws and criminal codes in order to end such atrocities as abortion etc. Yes, they are important but the real work is to raise consciousnesses, begin to illuminate clouded and even ignorant minds, melt hardened hearts and seek the conversion-but not forced conversion-of our neighbors. It is then and only then that America will truly be pro-life.

    Error does not have rights. People who are in error have the rights

  • I would distinguish between whether or not it is prudent for the Church to demand the use of force to further some aim on the one hand, and whether or not the Church ought to proclaim a positive obligation on the part of governments to acknowledge the one true faith, or – if dealing with non-Catholic governments – the obligation of Catholics to support, when practicable, the establishment of such a government.

    I make the distinction as well between the minimal and maximum demands of an establishment of religion. Religious toleration is entirely compatible with the minimum demands, which are public recognition of the true faith, legislators who profess the true faith, and preferential tax support (I don’t like the idea of subsidies, but exemptions are fine). Nothing about this arrangement necessarily entails the violent repression of those who adhere to other religions.

    This minimal establishment would be in accordance with what Pope Leo XIII prescribed, in my view.

  • Hello Bonchamps,
    I apologize for the confusion — I think we are in close agreement as regards free will, and reason. My complaints were not directed at you. Your discussion of religious liberty got me started thinking about the larger problem: define religion.
    .
    I wonder if we would be better off defending “conscience” rights rather than “religious” liberty, because the word “religion” is poorly understood, or has been mis-defined, to our detriment in the game of writing laws in this country. Per my link to Volokh.
    .
    I view the left as irrationally driven by radical egalitarianism. Agreed. It is a tenet of their religion.
    .
    Thank you for the excerpts from Pope Leo’s writings. Very helpful!

  • If I may, (do not let my appearances of humility fool you, as I will any how.) Faith is a gift from God to which man responds in thought, word, and deed, in a relationship with God, our Creator. This acknowledgement of God cannot be prohibited by any entity, not man, nor beast, nor demon. “…or prohibit the free exercise thereof.”, a constitutional relationship that may not be prohibited.
    In thought, in prayers and petition in meditation and contemplation. In word, speech and free press. In peaceable assembly, community, church, in the forming human being in the womb. Man and his God are inseparable. The atheist denies his Creator and his immortal soul which is perjury in a court of law. The human person is endowed with unalienable, that is, infinite civil rights by his infinite Supreme Sovereign Being.

  • There is not a word in Dignitatis Humanae that prohibits the recognition and establishment of religion by the state. What it forbids is coercion by the state in matters of religion, whilst fully recognising those limitations that may be imposed in the interests of “just public order.”

    The real threat to religious freedom from the liberal state was well summarised by Lord Acton: “Civil and religious liberty are so commonly associated in people’s mouths, and are so rare in fact, that their definition is evidently as little understood as the principle of their connection. The point at which they unite, the common root from which they derive their sustenance, is the right of self-government. The modern theory, which has swept away every authority except that of the State, and has made the sovereign power irresistible by multiplying those who share it, is the enemy of that common freedom in which religious freedom is included. It condemns, as a State within the State, every inner group and community, class or corporation, administering its own affairs; and, by proclaiming the abolition of privileges, it emancipates the subjects of every such authority in order to transfer them exclusively to its own. It recognises liberty only in the individual, because it is only in the individual that liberty can be separated from authority, and the right of conditional obedience deprived of the security of a limited command. Under its sway, therefore, every man may profess his own religion more or less freely; but his religion is not free to administer its own laws. In other words, religious profession is free, but Church government is controlled. And where ecclesiastical authority is restricted, religious liberty is virtually denied.”

  • “There is not a word in Dignitatis Humanae that prohibits the recognition and establishment of religion by the state. What it forbids is coercion by the state in matters of religion, whilst fully recognising those limitations that may be imposed in the interests of “just public order.”

    And yet, MPS, there was a time during which the Church did insist upon coercion in matters of religion for the sake of souls, and not public order. The implication of DH remains: the Church supposedly ignored or denied a fundamental human right for nearly two thousand years, an utterly preposterous conclusion. Moreover, DH does regard as right and good that which Pope Leo XIII and other pontiffs had designated as an evil that at most was to be tolerated. That line of thinking is an insult to the entire history of Christendom. DH goes too far. Pope Leo XIII found the right spot, acknowledging that the Church may have to conform to the times, but still insisting on the fundamental distinction between right and wrong – as opposed to changing it!

    There is another problem. It’s a thin semantic line, but there are likely many people who would regard the official recognition of a religion by a state to be an act of coercion if it is to go beyond mere words and extend into a minimal policy of a religious test for public officials and tax exemptions and/or subsides. It may be impossible to practically separate establishment from coercion.

  • Bonchamps,

    I will certainly let MPS speak for himself. He is extremely capable. However, I might point out that you have a gap in your own logic.

    You state that indeed the Church did use coercion in matters of religion for the sake of souls and not for the sake of public order. We are agreed. That stems back in the West to Augustine’s ‘request’ that the Roman authorities suppress the recalcitrant reactionary Donatists who were creating havoc for the Church in North Africa. We already established this in another post.

    Yet, what is faith? Is not faith a gift which cannot be prevented from being exercised? Is not faith while fundamentally graced nonetheless be a free human act. How could or can the Church possibly hope to gain unity of faith when the unity is nothing more than coerced conformity? Is faith free or not?

  • Botolph,

    As I previously established, the objective of the Church’s coercion, at least in the Middle Ages and beyond, was to prevent the public expression of non-Catholic religions. The point was not to change a person’s religion by force, but to prevent those of other religions from proselytizing or exerting other influences upon the Christian community. I do not claim that this practice is something that ought to be done in all times and places, but I do reject DH’s necessary implication that it was an intrinsically evil act.

    The Papacy had specifically outlawed forced conversions and would not recognize them. So the question, “is faith free or not”, is not relevant to this discussion. What happens in a man’s head and heart is more or less free, ontologically and morally.

  • Bonchamps,

    If I understand you correctly you are saying that ghettoizing the Jews both physically as in Rome or Warsaw or preventing them from owning property as farmers etc thus ghettoizing them into the financial trades (irony of ironies we did that!) not only was ok but still is IF we had the opportunity?

  • Botolph,

    Is “ghettoizing” the same exact thing as “preventing the public expression of non-Catholic religions”? The answer is quite obviously no. The most prominent example I had mind did not pertain to Jews, but rather to Muslims living in Spain. The Papacy insisted that Catholic rulers forbid the call to prayer and other public expressions of Islam in Christian lands, not for “public order”, which I presume John Courtney Murray would be ok with, but for the sake of souls.

    Distinctions and semantics are 90% of the debate here.

  • Bonchamps,

    I agree distinctions and semantics are indeed at least 90% of the debate here.

    My first comment concerning the pope’s insistance concerning the Moslems of reconquered Spain, is that he probably did not have to insist too hard. The Spanish and Portuguese Catholics had been repressed for centuries and, on the human level, it was payback time.

    You make an interesting point however. The pope insisted that Catholic rulers….. Are you interpreting a pope’s insistence, or even a ‘ruling’ to be Church teaching? [As you say distinctions and semantics are 90% of the debate]. You see I would maintain that what appeared to be ‘set policy etc’ based on tradition (notice the small “t” not the capital “T”) is the same as Magisterial teaching. They are not the same.

  • Botolph,

    I would think that a directive issued through one of the official councils of the Church, in this case the Council of Vienne, would count as Magisterial. Here is the entire paragraph, #25, followed by a link to the text:

    “It is an insult to the holy name and a disgrace to the Christian faith that in certain parts of the world subject to Christian princes where Saracens live, sometimes apart, sometimes intermingled with Christians, the Saracen priests commonly called Zabazala, in their temples or mosques, in which the Saracens meet to adore the infidel Mahomet, loudly invoke and extol his name each day at certain hours from a high place, in the hearing of both Christians and Saracens and there make public declarations in his honour. There is a place, moreover, where once was buried a certain Saracen whom other Saracens venerate as a saint. A great number of Saracens flock there quite openly from far and near. This brings disrepute on our faith and gives great scandal to the faithful. These practices cannot be tolerated any further without displeasing the divine majesty. We therefore, with the sacred council’s approval, strictly forbid such practices henceforth in Christian lands. We enjoin on catholic princes, one and all, who hold sovereignty over the said Saracens and in whose territory these practices occur, and we lay on them a pressing obligation under the divine judgment that, as true Catholics and zealous for the Christian faith, they give consideration to the disgrace heaped on both them and other Christians. They are to remove this offence altogether from their territories and take care that their subjects remove it, so that they may thereby attain the reward of eternal happiness. They are to forbid expressly the public invocation of the sacrilegious name of Mahomet. They shall also forbid anyone in their dominions to attempt in future the said pilgrimage or in any way give countenance to it. Those who presume to act otherwise are to be so chastised by the princes for their irreverence, that others may be deterred from such boldness.”

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/councils/vienne.htm

    That and DH occupy two different moral universes, do they not?

  • Bonchamps,

    I do not accept that the Ecumenical Council of Vienne and the Ecumenical Second Vatican Council are in two different moral universes. I do agree they are facing very different issues and problems and arrived at their positions accordingly.

    If you take another look at what the Council states (in your own quote above) you can ask yourself this question. Is the Council addressing a doctrinal, moral or disciplinary issue. Now it is absolutely true that the three are not totally independent, yet, like each Person of the Most Blessed Trinity they are distinct and have their own mission. I believe we both agree that the ‘statement’ is not doctrinal-no doctrine is in question (except of course the preservation of the Catholic Church and faith) But no specific doctrine is being debated etc.
    I will grant that there is a fine line of distinction between the moral and the disciplinary. In fact for many they seem to be the same, however they are not. Moral teaching fundamentally is the Apostolic Moral Tradition that has been passed down through the centuries etc, needs to be passed on, preserved, protected [for example the Church’s teaching on abortion, marriage, birth control]. The Council of Vienne is not passing on Apostolic Moral Tradition here. Instead, what we have is a very important part of Church life called “discipline’. Canon law is very much rooted in this. It has to do with how Catholic life is or ought to be lived out at that time. Unlike doctrine or moral teachings however, disciplines, canon law while organic nevertheless changes.

    As to the authority of ‘canons’ of Ecumenical Councils, they are of varying levels of authority and in fact some are not even accepted at all. I presume you kneel during the Canon of the Mass [Eucharistic Prayer], yet the canons of Nicea I call for the faithful to stand. There are canons from the Council of Constantinople I (381) that the Catholic Church refuses to accept-placing the Patriarch of Constantinople second in rank among the Patriarchs because he is the bishop of the New Rome while the pope is the Bishop of old Rome [notice nothing to do with Peter etc]

    Councils and all Church documents, like Sacred Scripture need to be exegeted Bonchamps. In a letter to Fr Feeney S.J. in the late 1940’s, the official communique stated that no one should interpret a Church teaching, statement etc except with the understanding of the Church.

  • “I do agree they are facing very different issues and problems and arrived at their positions accordingly.”

    Is that so? I don’t know how you can agree, when I would not hold that the issues they face are so different. They are not. The same issue is before both councils, at least in general if not in the specifics, and they came to two different conclusions.

    I never made the claim that it was a doctrinal statement. What I do claim, because it is quite simply true, is that what the Church called for at the council is in direct contradiction to what Vatican II calls for with respect to religious liberty. Now you can say that this is merely a “disciplinary” matter, but frankly I think that what Pope Leo XIII wrote was more aligned with a shift in Church discipline. Vatican II, as opposed to Pope Leo, distinct from Pope Leo, proclaims a fundamental human right, a God-given right. This goes beyond discipline. I do not say it extends all the way to dogma.

    I also don’t see how it is relevant to invoke disputed canons of ancient councils to question the authority of a canon of a council that is not in the least disputed by Catholics.

  • Bonchamps

    One very important point about the mediaeval practice is that the Church courts always claimed exclusive jurisdiction over cases of heresy and apostasy. The temporal courts could only punish those relaxed to the secular arm. In other words, the jurisdiction of the state over religious opinions was consistently denied.

    Throughout the Middle Ages, such cases were extremely rare. In the year 1222, Archbishop Stephen Langton held at Oxford a provincial council, where a deacon who had turned Jew for the love of a Jewess was relaxed and burned. That is the first instance in English history of someone being handed over to the secular arm and burnt. The next recorded case is the burning of Sawtry the Lollard in 1400, also relaxed by a provincial council as a relapsed heretic, having some years before abjured the same heresies before the bishop of Lincoln. He was a priest and his bishop did not even suspend him after his abjuration.

    Two executions in the 800 years, from St Augustine’s mission in 597 to the Statute De Hæretico Comburendo – I leave open the question of whether Sawtry was burned at common law or under that statute; the sources are unclear. Bracton who begins the series of English law reports, on the basis of the 1222 case, says it is the penalty for apostasy; he does not mention heresy.

    In Scotland, the first person burned for heresy was John Resby, an English Lollard, in 1407. He taught that no one not in a state of grace could exercise any authority, ecclesiastical or civil – Heady stuff. In 1433, Paul Craw or Crawer, [Pavel Kravař] a Bohemian physician and a Hussite, was burned.

    It is only when we come to the Reformation period, nearly a century later that we find a spate of burnings: Patrick Hamilton, a Lutheran, was burned in 1527; in 1517, at the age of 13, he had been appointed titular abbot of Fearn, from which he drew the revenues, but never visited. Henry Forrest was burned in 1533, David Straiton, excommunicated for resisting payment of teind in 1534, Thomas Forrest and Duncan Simson, also John Kyllour and John Beveridge, Dominicans and Jerome Russell, a Franciscan, all in 1539, The St John’s Toun Martyrs of 1543 were; Robert Lamb, William Anderson, James Hunter, James Raveleson, James Finalson and Helen Stirke. George Wishart, a disciple of Calvin and Zwingli, in 1546 and Walter Milne [alias Myln or Mill] in 1558.

    Again, the requirements of public order were very different in societies in which the ecclesiastical and civil orders were closely intertwined and where religious dissent went hand in hand with defiance of the established government. The French King, for example ruled by the grace of God as roi très-chrétien, anointed by the Church with the oil of Clovis and to attack the Church was to dispute his title.

  • Bonchamps,

    I thought you would get my point about the disciplines/canons of the Church not being universal, absolute etc I was wrong you did not pick up on that. Sorry. While I would say that no one is calling for a rejection of this particular disciplinary statement of the Council of Vienne, (therefore not in dispute) it is hardly being called to mind in any way to be revived, renewed etc. It simply was/is a time-bounded discipline.

    Tell me Bonchamps, how do these principles break with Catholic Church teaching?

    “The Sacred Council begins by proclaiming that God Himself has made known to the human race how people by serving Him can be saved and reach happiness in Christ. We believe that this one true religion exists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord entrusted the task of spreading it among all peoples……All are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and the Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it.

    The Sacred Council likewise proclaims that these obligations bind peoples’ consciences. Truth can impose itself on the human mind by the force of its own truth, which wins over the human mind by gentleness and power. So while the religious freedom which human beings demand in fulfilling their obligation to worship God has to do with freedom from coercion in civil society, it leaves intact the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral obligation of individuals and societies towards the true religion and the one Church of Christ…..DH 1

    “The Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that everyone should be immune from coercion by individuals, social groups, and every human power so that, within due limits, no men and women are forced to act against their convictions nor are any persons to be restrained from acting in accordance with their convictions in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others. The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. The right of the human person to religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right.

    It is in accordance with their dignity that all human beings, because they are persons, that is beings endowed with reason and free will, and therefore bearing personal responsibility, are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and to direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth. But human beings cannot satisfy this obligation in a way that is in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy both psychological freedom and immunity from eternal coercion. Therefore the right to religious freedom is based not on subjective attitude but on the very nature of the individual person. For this reason, the right to such imunity continues to exist even in those who do not live p to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it. The exercise of this right cannot be interfered with as long as the just requirements of public order are observed. DH2

  • immunity from eternal coercion

    I think you mean external?

  • c matt

    Yes, the ‘x” got dropped. The word is ‘external coercion”

    Thanks

  • immune from coercion by individuals, social groups, and every human power so that, within due limits, … nor are any persons to be restrained from acting in accordance with their convictions in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others.

    Seems this would prohibit the banning of a public Saracen call to prayer as was done by the Council of Vienne.

  • c. matt

    A key phrase of DH is “within due limits”. This is speaking about objective law based on natural law: for example if a religion practiced human sacrifice, or Islamicist terrorist bombing etc.

    Given that, yes, DH would not allow or call for the silencing of the Islamic call to prayer-just as it would state categorically that Islamic countries cannot forbid Catholics practicing their faith etc

  • c. matt,

    You did not explicitly say so, however are you concerned about what seems to be a contradiction between two Ecumencial Councils?

  • Botolph,

    “I thought you would get my point about the disciplines/canons of the Church not being universal, absolute etc I was wrong you did not pick up on that. Sorry.”

    This really isn’t called for. I most certainly understand the general point. I did not argue, at any point, that canon 25 of the Council of Vienne was a binding dogmatic statement. However, I did think obvious that such a directive could only issue from a Church that manifestly did NOT share the view of religious liberty expressed in DH, namely that “the human person has a right to religious freedom.” The Saracens were human persons. The Church did not recognize their right to such a freedom.

  • It is also obvious that the Council of Vienne was NOT concerned with the “due limits” of public order, but rather sought to prohibit the public expression of Islam for entirely spiritual and cultural reasons. It is deemed an insult to God, a scandal, for this practice to continue. No explicit threat to public order is ever mentioned.

  • My problem with DH is that it proclaims as a right what the Church was only ever obliged to recognize as an expedient privilege. It elevates an arguable necessity, given the way the world had changed, into a positive virtue. I believe that goes “too far”, and, as I stated as clearly as I could, Leo XIII’s position represents the ideal point along that spectrum.

  • It is trite learning that Councils are not infallible in the reasons by which they are led, or on which they rely, in making their definition, nor in their legislation nor in their policies.

    As Bl John Henry Newman points out, “Nor is a Council infallible, even in the prefaces and introductions to its definitions. There are theologians of name, as Tournely and Amor, who contend that even those most instructive capitula passed in the Tridentine Council, from which the Canons with anathemas are drawn up, are not portions of the Church’s infallible teaching” and he notes that “in the Third Council, a passage of an heretical author was quoted in defence of the doctrine defined, under the belief he was Pope Julius, and narratives, not trustworthy, are introduced into the Seventh.”

    Following the 1870 decree on papal infallibility, the Swiss bishops declared, “”The Pope is not infallible as a man, or a theologian, or a priest, or a bishop, or a temporal prince, or a judge, or a legislator, or in his political views, or even in his government of the Church”; the same holds for an ecumenical council. What we have from Vienne is a piece of legislation, pure and simple.

  • Bonchamps,

    This did not come up on the agenda of the Council of Vienne, but the Church of that time did not have a major problem at all with human slavery. In fact, as Thomas Aquinas would argue, it a ‘good’ if and when comparing it to the execution of all prisoners etc. However, over time, thanks be to God, the Church began to recognize that slavery was an evil contrary to the human dignity of each and every person created in the image of God. There is something similar going on here. It is a development, not a contradiction or a break in the Moral Tradition of the Church.

    Does this make sense?

  • Botolph,

    In the sense that what you propose is coherent, yes, it “makes sense.” That does not mean I am obliged to agree with it. I disagree with the idea of “moral progress” and all of its Hegelian implications. History is not a process of God coming to understand himself, nor is it the process of the institution that God entrusted with the promulgation of the Gospel coming to understand itself – as has been implicitly and explicitly suggested by the post-conciliar popes, particularly Paul VI and JP II.

    What of slavery? Historically there were different kinds. I think the Christian attitude towards slavery was always practical and humane, as it was towards all social situations it encountered: it established definite moral rules and guidelines that people in positions of power and of subservience had to obey. It made the absolute best out of a situation that was brought about through both barbaric customs as well as the iron laws of scarcity and economic necessity. The abolition of slavery, and we can add serfdom as well, only became a widespread notion when technology had so improved the productivity of human labor that it became counterproductive to rely on masses of raw human labor power to produce goods.

    All of that said, the Church was far ahead of the historical curve in prohibiting the sort of chattel slavery that came to dominate in the early modern period. The Church prohibited the enslavement of indigenous peoples under threat of excommunication. It continued to allow the enslavement of those who were in a state of war with Christendom, such as the Muslim pirates that would take Christian ships and towns and enslave those whom they did not kill. Such was the norm in the world at the time.

    The conditions under which men live, change. The Church, in her wisdom, adapts to these changes. She did not continue to insist that Christian rulers could take Islamic aggressors as slaves, and I don’t believe she continued to insist that Muslim prayers be silenced. Vatican II’s pronouncements were not required for this. It was never necessary to declare that slavery is an absolute moral evil, nor was it necessary to declare, at least by implication, the prohibition of public displays of non-Catholic religions as moral evils. They are simply practices which no longer serve a useful and prudent purpose, and may therefore be set aside in favor of policies that are.

    So you see, I completely agree with you. These are, in the end, policies. It is not me, but Vatican II, that elevates the discourse beyond a mere policy dispute into an absolute moral discussion.

  • Bonchamps

    Vincent of St Lérins (died c 445) – he of the famous “Quod ubique, quod simper, quod ab omnibus – says in his Commonitórium Primum, “Thus even the dogma of the Christian religion must proceed from these laws. It progresses, solidifying with years, growing over time, deepening with age.” It is no great stretch to argue that the same holds true of the moral demands of the Gospel.

    You are right to point to the social conditions which led to tolerance of the practice of slavery (and you could equally have pointed to the question of usury) In societies where religion was central to social cohesion and to the legitimacy of the ruler, individual rights would tend to be marginalised. It is no accident that, as recently as 1745, in the Scottish Highlands, people were Catholic, Episcopalian or Presbyterian by clans. Even now, in Glasgow, the common term of abuse for Catholics is “Fenian B*****s” In an age when religious dissent was closely associated with political disloyalty, the claims of religious freedom were unlikely to be respected..

    This does not mean that the teaching of Dignitatis Humanae does not articulate the demands of the Gospel

  • There is quite a difference, MPS, between what a 5th century saint may have meant by the word “progress” and what people living in a post-Enlightenment, post-Jacobin, post-Bolshevik world may mean by that word.

  • Bonchamps,

    Actually I am pleased. You are developing what is known as a ‘historical consciousness’ for you wrote,
    “There is quite a difference between what a 5th century saint may have meant by the woird ‘progress’ and what people living in a post-enlightenment, post-Jacobin, post-Bolsehvik world may mean by the word”

    Now that’s progress ! 🙂 Of course now that same sense of differences due to historical context applies to everything-including the Ecumenical Council of Vienne and the Ecumenical Second Vatican Council.

    However, for a more recent witness, how about what Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote in his opus magnus “On the Development of Doctrine”?

  • I didn’t think you had a quality that could exceed your pedantry, but you have proven me wrong with your condescension.

    I have had a “historical consciousness” since I have been conscious.

    At no point before Vatican II did the Church ever imply or declare that her practices were at one point intrinsically evil. The pre-conciliar Pontiffs defended the legacy of the Church. They didn’t apologize for it. That’s the difference between “development” and rupture. One of them at least.

  • And your response is not sarcastic etc?

    Point is this. You do not like/ or even reject Vatican II. What you are doing is attempting to justify that stance. If that is the real issue then we can end this here, because this will go on endlessly. I accept Vatican II as both an authentic Ecumenical Council of the Church and authoritative for the faith of the Church. That acceptance is indeed an act of faith, freely made under the grace of the Spirit.

  • Botolph,

    There has been no sarcasm in my response. I have no need of it, or any other rhetorical aggression.

    You are right: I don’t like Vatican II. But I am not engaging in a pointless Vatican II-bash. The point of my post was to highlight a reasonable course between both the rigid reactionary position of some traditionalists and the Vatican II position on religious liberty.

  • Bonchamps

    Ok fair enough. We obviously do not agree on our approach to Vatican II, I both like andaccept it. However, let me say this to you-something I have said repeatedly in here. I do not subscribe in any shape or form to ‘the spirit of Vatican II’. Although a very amorphous phrase etc., there are those who use it (grant you not all) who actually have not simply misinterpreted VII but corrupted it to the point of destroying it. They have done great harm in the Church. They have given support to a supposed style of being Catholic in which one can pick and choose the doctrines etc one likes about Catholicism. At the same time they have so corrupted and betrayed VII that more traditional Catholics are ‘turned off’ or even ‘scadalized’ by what they believe is VII but is really the ‘spirit of VII”‘s interpretation.

    As to the Declaration on Religious Freedom, it needs to be placed in the context not only of the Catholic tradition but within Vatican II itself. For example, Vatican I and Vatican II cannot be divorced as frequently happens by both ideological sides. Vatican I dealt fundamentally with the ab intra of the Church, giving a solid foundation to an understanding of the Church in which the pope is over the whole Church without interference etc of governments etc and the bishop is over the diocese without interference of govt etc. However, the relationship of the Church ab extra-the relation of the Church with the external world was not described etc and as the Bishops entered into the first session of Vatican II it was understood by all that this relationship of the Church with the world outside it needed to be put forward.

    Therefore we have the four fundamental Constitutions: on Divine Revelation, on the Liturgy, on the Church and on the Church in the Modern World. These are the key to VII, everything else revolve around them. Of course they need to be read in continuity and not discontinuity with the Catholic tradition that preceded them. Like Scripture itself, anything quoted out of context etc will give a very different meaning than when it is read in context etc.

    Thus the Declaration (not a Constitution) on Religious Freedom is to be read in the context especially of Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes. It cannot be read or understood without them. It is rooted in the deep Thomistic contemplation found in Gaudium et Spes which has as its focus and base the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. If one is caught up in the Incarnation one begins to recognize that in a mysterious way, the Incarnate Son of God identified Himself with each and every person from the moment of conception until natural death. This does not mean they are “Christians” nor does it mean they are ‘automatically saved”. It does mean that The Incarnate Son has revealed the dignity of each and every human being, a dignity which is not fulfilled by merely giving or gaining certain rights, but that each person from the moment of conception is called to communion, to participate in the Life of the Blessed Trinity in and through the Paschal Mystery of Christ.

    It is only in this light, not some secularist view of man, that the religious freedom of all people can be seen-because it is in this freedom that they are obliged ultimately to seek the Way the Truth and the Life

  • Botolph,

    I do not share your assessment of Vatican II, though I certainly understand why conservative Catholics feel obliged to hold it. I will say upfront that I do agree with the basic idea that leftists and extreme liberals have run wild with statements from Vatican II. I can agree to the basic proposition that they go beyond perhaps what was intended.

    However, the dense, complicated rhetoric of Vatican II lends itself quite easily to misinterpretation. The fact that so many people have misunderstood what these documents supposedly mean is the first indication that they are riddled with flaws. Ambiguity can be the result of a genuine failure in clear communication; it can also be the result of deliberate design, the ultimate aim being to construct a document that can simultaneously uphold and deny certain controversial positions and ideas.
    You speak of the context of DH. I happen to know that it was authored by John Courtney Murray, that it was barely ratified by the council having met with stiff resistance from men such as Cardinal Ottaviani, and that Murray explicitly and repeatedly relied on Enlightenment thought and viewed it as a significant advance over Medieval thought on these questions. This was not the view of the pre-conciliar popes, as the bulls/encyclicals of Leo XII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, and so on amply demonstrate. It is quite obvious to me that there is a historical context that is just as if not more important than the context of the council itself; for over a century and a half the Papacy waged an unapologetic and unremitting war against ideals that Vatican II would – to put it nicely – adapt itself to or even positively declare. You may say that Vatican I & II somehow shared a unity of purpose, but this would require that you ignore a century of staunch and unapologetic encyclicals by some of the aforementioned popes that, again to put it lightly, in no way support the central themes of Vatican II. Religious liberty is only one of these fronts. Pius IX, remember, declared Papal infallibility in defiance of the entire world; Vatican I was cut short because invading armies caused him to flee into exile.
    I don’t even want to touch the idea that Christ united himself with every man through the Incarnation. That’s way off the topic and would take way too long to address. Suffice to say that I am familiar with the issues and controversies surrounding Vatican II, and that I take the positions that I do for definite reasons. It is difficult for me to regard the proposition that one must begin with continuity as a premise as anything other than an ideological assertion. Continuity is something that must be proven and demonstrated, not assumed at the outset. If you being by deciding that there is continuity, then you will quite naturally overlook everything and anything that could prove otherwise. In what moral universe is this an honest way to read?

  • Bonchamps,

    Ok but I would say the discontinuity is just as ideological a hermeneutic. Don’t you find it curious that the spirit of VII people begin with the very same premise as ‘ultratraditionalists’: a hermeneutic of discontinuity? Not to sound sarcastic but that makes strange bed fellows.

    VII needs to be read not simply in a hermeneutic of continuity but that the type of literature which it takes up is ‘exhortation’. It expresses the ideal toward which the Fathers of the Council desired the whole Church to move. What those (on both sides) who read the documents in discontinuity fail to recognize is that the documents very frequently state a very balanced approach to a subject in order to point the way to the future. Its manner of communication will say: a then on the otherhand b. Why? because both are needed. Catholic seldom means ‘either/or’ and very frequently means ‘both/and”. Reading the documents in discontinuity leads one to take a or b but not both together and in context.

    I too know that John Courtney Murray was greatly responsible for the Declaration on Freedom of Religion. I also know that it was the most debated of the documents. I know as well that Cardinal Ottaviani and Archbishop Lefebvre were not in favor of the final document. However, that is the history of all Conciliar documents down through the centuries. There has always been a minority against any one of the documents of Ecumenical Councils and or against the Councils as a whole. The problem comes with what that minority seeks to do when the majority have ratified the Council etc.

    I want to be clear here. You took up the conversation with me concerning DH. I am not sure if you are new to this blog or not. I can say that some very vigorous conversations and debates have taken place. I basically choose not to argue for the sake of arguing. Some like to do that, I find it a waste of time, although having been on a debating team in my youth.
    If on this and other subjects pertaining to VII you want to carry on a conversation etc about what this document means etc fine. If you are seeking better understanding, fine, I am up for it. However, if you want to just debate, that’s not for me, I find I have much better things to do with my time. Just let me know what you want to do and how you want to proceed or not proceed with me.

  • Botolph,

    “Don’t you find it curious that the spirit of VII people begin with the very same premise as ‘ultratraditionalists’: a hermeneutic of discontinuity?”

    Not really, not anymore odd than extreme reactionaries and Marxists beginning with the same premise of anti-capitalism. It’s the whole “beginning” part that I don’t like. I don’t mean to boast, but I feel it necessary to establish that I have read almost every relevant encyclical of the 19th and 20th centuries in addition to the documents of the council. My aim was to discover whether there was continuity or rupture. My conclusion is that it is not the least bit easy to determine what the situation is with respect to doctrine/dogma – I think only a much larger context can tell us in that case and I’ll leave it alone for the moment – but that it is rather obvious that there is a sharp rupture when it comes to overall attitude and orientation. From roughly the French Revolution to Vatican II, perhaps a few years earlier with the beginning of John 23’s reign, the Church was waging war with the hostile powers of the world. At Vatican II, the war was declared to be over, explicitly, by Paul VI himself in his closing address. It may not be a doctrinal rupture, but it is a significant break with the past all the same.

    “Catholic seldom means ‘either/or’ and very frequently means ‘both/and”.”

    Wisdom means knowing when it means one or the other.

    “You took up the conversation with me concerning DH.”

    My blog post mentions DH. You decided to comment, so, I decided to respond.

    “I am not sure if you are new to this blog or not.”

    I am not. I’ve been posting off-and-on for roughly four years.

    “However, if you want to just debate, that’s not for me, I find I have much better things to do with my time.”

    I respond to almost all posts that are addressed to me. I am willing and happy to share my thoughts on Church history and documents. It seems you really want me to see Vatican II the way you see it, though, and I don’t think that likely. So, its up to you. I doubt I’ll change your mind about Vatican II, but if you want to know why I think the way I do, by all means, ask away. I’d rather have a discussion than a debate. In fact I hate formal debates. Ego-driven nonsense.

  • ROFL Ok you have me. I didn’t pick up on the fact that you were the original author. With that in mind, I did in fact take up the response to your original post.

    You are correct. By the end of VII, the ‘war with the modern world’ came to an end from the Church’s point of view. It was not a ‘surrender” but a new tact, one attempting to find what is good, true etc in what the world is saying and then building on that. That is a decisively Thomist position. It is incarnational. There are those who accept VII etc yet believe that this approach (not the teaching) was too optimistic. That I believe is debatable. I too believe that many aspects which the Fathers of the Council built upon was a very optimistic (perhaps too optimistic) approach to ‘the modern world’, ‘with Islam’, and even other religions (yes there is in all religions the manifestation of the religious impulse however, if they are worshiping false gods they are worshiping false gods. I totally agree that the Church must enter into dialogue rather than wage war on all parties. However in taking up that dialogue we have to be realistic and honest recognizing that all ‘men’ are seriously flawed due to original sin.

    In terms of DH, I believe what it teaches, however, it was really ‘pushed’ by the American bishops who lived in post WWII America and everything was very much in the Church’s favor [as opposed to the laicism of France and Europe]. Now however, America has changed. We no longer live in that country in many ways. Now we live in a culture that is similar to what the Church has been experiencing in Europe for two centuries. I don’t believe the answer is to take up the ‘war’ again, but have a vigorous, virtuuous, holy response which is realistic and not simply idealistic

  • It’s one thing to build on what is good in the pre-revolutionary world. It is a different thing to make that attempt in the post-revolutionary world. I would not deny that the Church had to change her orientation to a certain extent, for she was totally overwhelmed by hostile powers. I maintain that Vatican II went too far – from necessity, to virtue.

    When St. Thomas picked up Aristotle, Aristotle had been dead for roughly 1500 years, and the world had hardly changed. When Vatican II baptized liberalism and humanism, and worst of all, egalitarianism, the liberals and the humanists and the egalitarians were still, and are still to this day, waging their war against the Church. No matter how much the hierarchy gives into their demands, still the world demands more, and more. It remains to be seen how much more will be given.

    As for other religions, again, don’t get me started. Do you want to know what I think was the real impetus behind off-the-rails ecumenism and syncretism? It was Rousseau’s overt threat to the Church, in the closing lines of his Social Contract: anyone who says “outside the Church, there is no salvation” ought to be driven from the state, unless the Church is the state. And since, of course, the Church was not the state or ever would be, well – you get the idea. The original, exclusive, and I believe authentic understanding of EENS was seen by the revolutionary world as one of the greatest obstacles to its supremacy. Rousseau held that no man could be civil and peaceful with those he believed were going to hell. The French Revolution and everything that followed developed this idea greatly, and it eventually infested the Church hierarchy as well. It didn’t affect the Papacy, however, until Vatican II. It didn’t become Church policy to basically twist EENS beyond all measure to the point of gibberish without actually renouncing it until Vatican II. And I believe it did so mostly under duress, though as I have said, they elevated what they once saw as a necessity under the gun into a positive virtue that they were happy to shout from the rooftops.

  • I realize my views aren’t popular on these topics. They’re just personal observations based on my studies, that’s all. I think the Church is suffering and I’m willing to suffer with it. I think its leadership is deeply disoriented and flawed, and I’m willing to accept it – critically, though.

  • Bonchamps,

    I have heard in the past those who believe that Vatican II basically took up the three-fold call of the French Revolution “Liberte, egalite, Fraternite: liberty, equality and fraternity” as the basis and hermeneutic by which one could understand VII. I can see that that would be a major concern for someone like Archbishop Lefebvre, born in France, and seeing the results of the revolution on the Church in France. Yet, the Church is more than France and the French Church. it simply does not make sense that a bishop from another nation, especially not from Europe, and there were many, would even have the French Revolution’s call on their radar screen. What this understanding of VII is is a hermeneutic, A political one at that. I do not believe that one can really come to know the Church or the Church’s decisions and teachings from a secular perspective, a political one at that.

    I understand the ‘fear’ involved on the part of those who see VII in that manner, but not the substance.

  • Bonchamps,

    I am not sure there has ever been a period of time in the Church’s history in which the leadership of the Church has not been deeply disoriented and flawed. As I keep telling my friends, remember it has taken the Church two thousand years to get to where we are today! We are all extremely slow learners, stiff necked, sluggard of heart!

    It is not on the leadership that we base our faith, but on the Holy Spirit continuing to maintain, guide and teach in the Church. The difference is this: the Holy Spirit works in and through the successors of Peter and the bishops in communion with the successors of Peter-not how matter how flawed and disoriented they are themselves. The Pope and those bishops in communion with Him are the apostolic college. There is no other. There is no other place to go.

  • Botolph,

    I can’t say I entirely agree. I think the 19th and early 20th century popes were quite strong and courageous. I think they were true and effective leaders, for the most part.

    On the other hand, in the past, popes have been criticized, publicly accused of heresy, driven out of Rome, etc. The post-Trent centuries gave us a very long succession of exemplary popes. But I am not afraid to say what I think ought to be said about the direction of the post Vat-II Church.

    Also, the fact is that the French Revolution changed the world. Jacobinism set the stage for Marxism and Masonic anti-clerical nationalism, i.e. Italy, Mexico, Portugal, etc.

  • Bonchamps,

    I was not limiting my comments about disoriented and flawed to the popes, pre or post VII popes. I do not share you view of the Pope VII popes, although Pope Paul VI has been roundly criticized from many quarters concerning how he allowed the post-VII Church get out of control. He apparently did not have the personal gifts and or skills needed for that aspect of his ministry. I certainly stand with him in his upholding of Catholic teaching concerning birth control although I myself am not sure that his presentation and arguments were the best.

    Blessed Pope John Paul II was an amazing man IMHO, my guess is that we disagree on him. He certainly had his faults, we all do. However, he was God’s gift to the Church in bringing her out of the chaos unleashed by those running with ‘the spirit of VII’. It is unfortunate that he did not allow the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated to the same extent as Pope Benedict did, but that is Monday morning quarterbacking. His calling for the Extraordinary Synod of 1985 was ‘inspired’ (not full meaning of that term). The assembled bishops gave the six principles by which VII was to be interpreted-principles the Church uses today. JPII’s weakness was that he was a macromanager/leader and not a micro-manager/leader. He did not bring the Curia under sufficient ‘oversight’, and with that certain bishops (only some not all) ‘got through the process’ were ordained etc and well history proves they were not the best etc. However, in his encyclicals, ppost-synodal exhortations, apostolic letters, Blessed John Paulgave us great guidance as we prepared for the turn of the millenium. The promulgation of the Code of Canon Law 1983 and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are not only great riches in their own right but sure and solid interpreters of VII as well.

    Pope Benedict was a much maligned figure by pseudo-progressives in the Church. I really I loved and cherished Benedict. He really firmed up the hermeneutic of continuity in interpreting the Council (there will be no more hesitancy etc in the Church about this) but also re set the whole of the Church based on Divine Revelation, the Word of God and the Liturgy of the Church (spirit of adoration and thanks).
    He was not up for the challenge of the intrigue within the Curia that was both savaging him and undermining his own petrine ministry. He had the courage to step down so that another more capable could finally set that house in order.

    I am generally favorable toward Pope Francis-no much maligned by more traditional sources He had stepped on some landmines in the first weeks of his petrine ministry but seemed to have learned from that. I am generally very favorable about the tact which he is taking up-however, number one, he is not without his faults, and secondly it is really too early to come down with a definitive verdict on him

    For the rest, Bonchamps, I would agree that the French Revolution certainly prepared the way for many other revolutions etc especially te Bolshevist one in Russia, however, I do not see the French Revolution having lasting effect. The Enlightenment, while related is not the same thing, and I do see the lasting effects of that. We are actually at a point in time that while it seems that the Enlightenment is just about at its apex I believe it is actually in its last gasps. We are entering a totally new era of history, one that cannot be easily described or understood, but it is already here in some form. That will be our next challenge.

  • Yes, on birth control I think Pius XI’s Casti Connubii was more to the point. As for JP II, I will leave it at yes, we disagree. There are aspects of his theology that are extremely troubling. However I am at least grateful that he allowed the formation of the FSSP, whose Latin Masses I usually attend. I have great respect for the intellect and learning of Joseph Ratzinger. I have virtually none for that of Francis. His statements on everything from morality to proselytizing to economics have been nothing but irritating and/or myopic. If ever there was a pope to stir my inner rad-trad to fury, it would be him.

    On John 23, Paul VI, and JP II, you may want to research the translated critical biographies of Fr. Luigi Villa. For starters.

  • Botolph and Bonchamps,
    .
    Thank you for an interesting discussion. I am interested in your opinions regarding “The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita” and its effect, if any, on the current age.

  • Bonchamps

    To put VII in context, the church had been in turmoil for at least 60 years before the Council, possibly for a century.

    It was in 1904 that Maurice Blondel wrote, “With every day that passes, the conflict between tendencies that set Catholic against Catholic in every order–social, political, philosophical–is revealed as sharper and more general. One could almost say that there are now two quite incompatible “Catholic mentalities,” particularly in France. And that is manifestly abnormal, since there cannot be two Catholicisms.”

    We have only to consider the rival Catholic supporters of Action Française and Le Sillon, who fought each other in the streets, to see the truth of that at a political level, but with deep theological undertones (Both movements were ultimately condemned by the Holy See).

    Responding to a national survey in 1907, Blondel articulated his sense of the “present crisis”: “[U]nprecedented perhaps in depth and extent–for it is at the same time scientific, metaphysical, moral, social and political–[the crisis] is not a “dissolution” [for the spirit of faith does not die], nor even an “evolution” [for the spirit of faith does not change], it is a purification of the religious sense, and an integration of Catholic truth.”

    This is a view that was shared by the leading theologians of the 20th century: Brémond, the Oratorians Bouyer and Laberthonnière, the Dominicans, Chenu and Cardinal Congar and the Jesuits, Cardinal Lubac, Cardinal Daniélou, Maréchal and Mondésert.

    Blondel diagnosed the root of the crisis: “First, the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.” Hence, anything “that would hinder this spirit of domination, everything that would recall the role of this interior hearing (auditus interior) of which St. Thomas did not fear to speak, would be pitilessly blasted (foudroyé).”

    It was because of this that Cardinal Henri de Lubac said of Blondel that “he is the one who launched the decisive attack on the dualist theory that was destroying Christian thought.”

    The primary task of the Council was to heal this division and why I would venture to suggest that Dei Verbum and Lumen Gentium were its most important achievements.

  • Slainte,

    I have not been ignoring you or your question. I just came back online. Now to your question.

    “Alta Vendita” is a genuine document arising in the 19th century from Masonic circles. It stated that there was a plan to infiltrate the Vatican and take it over. It was hailed by both Pope Pius IX and Leo XIII as genuine and they wanted it to be widely published to show the real danger of Masonry.

    Those are facts that are indisputable. However, with every true story there is a background, history etc. Up until 1870 a relatively large swath of land across the middle of Italy existed which was known as “the Papal States”. The pope was literally a ruler of a sizable portion of land and numbers of people. He had a standing army to defend it, etc. While the actual size of the lands swelled and shrunk according to the historical and political forces of the particular age, they remained in place from the Dark Ages until 1870.

    While the origins of the lands arises from actually many sources, basically as barbarian overlords came to peace with the Church during the Dark Ages they donated tracks of their lands to the popes in thanksgiving for both the Catholic Faith and peace finally achieved. Chief among these were the Lombards, a Germanic peoples who settled down the spine of Italy. A region of Italy is still named after them, Lombardy.

    Over time, what a legend rose which stated that it was the Roman Emperor Constantine who donated the land, thus it became known as Constantine’s Donation. it was a legend which had/has no basis in history. Constantine was generous with plots of land for churches etc but a Constantine would never have dreamed of giving away the unity of his Roman Empire, not even to the Church. However the legend grew and began to believed [this is very important to keep in mind for the specific topic]. In the 800’s a forged document came to be written supposedly a copy of the deed Constantine had given to Pope Saint Sylvester I (the pope at the time of Constantine). That became ‘proof’ of the right of the pope to have what was then known as the Papal States.

    Now there is a real issue at work here. If the pope was subject to any foreign power, which has happened at various points in history, how could he really be independent enough to minister as the successor of St Peter and not be some king’s stooge [See here the development of the distinction between Church and State-even if its form is ‘different’] The popes saw the defense of the papal states to be essential not only as keeping what had supposedly given them but also as the primary means for them to remain independent [You can catch the flavor of this in the Movie The Agony and the Ecstasy: the story of Pope Julius II, the warrior pope and Michelangelo and the painting of the Sistine Chapel]

    Now to the point Slainte. In the 1800’s there was a movement to reunite all of Italy and Sicily, While popular etc., it was led by Italian Masons who already as Masons had no love for the Church. The leader of the Italian unification movement was the Italian Mason, Garabaldi. The only thing finally in their way to Italian reunification were the Papal States. They waged war in every way they possibly could-including planning on infiltrating the Vatican-via the Curia. It was the Garabaldi forces who invaded Rome precisely was the First Vatican Council was in session in 1870. The Council disbanded and never ended until the very first act of the Second Vatican Council. Italy was reunited. The papal Palace and residence in Rome, the Quirinal Palace was taken over as the residence of the King of Italy (at the time) It is now the official residence and work place of the Italian President. On a hill overlooking the Vatican is a statue of an Italian revolutionary pointing a gun at the Vatican. It is the statue of Garibaldi, the masonic revolutionary.

    Although Pope Pius IX wanted the First Vatican Council to back his temporal role as well as his spiritual and to state that any statement he made was infallible, the Council wisely ‘staked’ out the real claim and power of the Church: faith and morals. Vatican I unified the Church and her mission ab intra (on the inside) [the relationship with the world ab extra still needed to be staked out-which happened in Vatican II] Neither Pius I nor Leo XIII nor any of the popes until Pope Pius XI agreed to the seizure of the Papal States, Rome or so much property in Rome which belonged to the Church. That would all be sorted out during the ministry of Pope Pius XI with Mussolini of all people. With Mussolini the Church was given a very great amount of money in payment for the lost lands property etc. The Vatican City State was established (thankfully) to ensure Papal independence of foreign powers [which would happen very soon with the German Nazi occupation of Rome]. With Pius XI and then Pius XII the Church was able to begin laying the groundwork of how best to ‘work with Italy and the wider world [I would especially point out Pope Pius XII radio addresses on the subject of the Church and State]

    So what of the Alta Vendita? The reason for wanting to infiltrate the Vatican were no longer pressing after 1870. As a group, the Masons do indeed remain inimical to the Church. That needs to be kept in mind. They are not “Protestant Knights of Columbus’. However, there are so many conspiracy theories about them that they give Dan Brown the novelist great material for his novels. Since 1870 the Nazis had plans to infiltrate the Vatican as well as the Soviet Union. Were there ever Masons in the Curia? I would be nuts to say there were not-see that is the nature of a secret organization-but enough to take over the Vatican and the Church? ROFL ! I am sure there were some fascist/nazi sympathizers in the Vatican during those terrible years. I am also sure there were communist spies in the Vatican as well-but again, enough to take over the Church?

    The bigger question is this. Would the Holy Spirit allow such a widespread apostasy of the Church so that popes, councils, bishops etc deliberately set out to subvert, substantially change [for example say: the Eucharist is not the Body and Blood of Christ] the teaching of the Church in faith and morals? There are those who fully expect the anti-christ to be a pope? Can that be? NO! Not unless the whole thing is one big lie/hoax. See Slainte, people really do not think their positions, their conspiracy theories through. If what they say is true then the Holy Spirit is not guiding the Church, Christ is not faithful to His promise, is not the Son of God, and frankly then, there is no god. I believe it was Cardinal Newman who said, take one strand of the truth of the Church out and the whole thing falls to pieces (this is what Pope Francis was referring to in an interview but it was not communicated well)

    In the meantime, and I will end with this. Napoleon Bonaparte marched into Notre Dame in Paris and announced to the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris that he would take over the Church in a month. Now the previous archbishop of Paris had apostasized and went over with the revolutionaries. Knowing this full well the Cardinal Archbishop laughed in Napoleon’s face and said. “Your excellency, if the popes and bishops of the Church have not done this in 1800 years you are not going to do it in a month!” Don’t get caught up with a sense that Christ Jesus is not Lord and Head of His Church. He is. And HIs Promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church built on Peter is very real and true.

  • Thank you Botolph for explaining the historical context of the document regarding the Alta Vendita. Freemasonry is often discounted as the stuff of conspiracy theories, yet not one but several popes took its promises very seriously including Pope Leo XIII who urged that the mask of freemasonry should be ripped off. It is not just the goals but the ideas of masonry that was of concern to the popes.
    .
    The French Revolution is generally understood to have been a masonic enterprise which directly targeted the Church, causing blood to run in the streets, and eventually resulted in the insinstallation of the goddess of reason on the high altar of Notre Dame. From this revolution came the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen” of August 26, 1789 which encompassed many principles we would associate with masonry and the Enlightenment.
    .
    Isn’t “religious liberty’ fundamentally a masonic principle, and if so, how does Catholicism and the Council at VII reconcile this with the traditional faith and the warnings of several popes?

  • Slainte,

    Botolph already established what he calls – and I would concur – the “indisputable facts.” The document is a real thing, popes recognized it as a real thing, and so it would be wise to take it seriously. Between MPS and Botolph, you have already read a tome, so I will try to make my own remarks relatively short.

    Where I differ with Botolph is here: the Masonic conspiracy did not end in 1870, the documents of the Carbonari, that is, Italian Freemasonry, did not limit their intentions to the overthrow of the Papal States, that it was not simply their desire to crack the temporal power of the Papacy, but to transform the Church into a Unitarian clearing house for all religions. Abolishing the Papal States didn’t abolish the Papacy, after all. It was still there, stubborn as ever, insisting on the exclusivity of the one true faith. Completely unacceptable to the powers and principalities.

    Botolph asks if the Holy Spirit would allow the Church to be consumed by a Masonic conspiracy. My answer would be to read about what God allowed to happen to the Jews in the Old Testament. Yes, I do believe God could, would, and perhaps has allowed the Church to be viciously scourged by the hostile forces of the world for a number of reasons.

    What I can’t say is whether or not the possibility of Masonic popes = loss of office = sedevacantism = the whole thing is over and is either a lie, or, the end times are immanent and we’ll be seeing Enoch and Elijah. There are sedes who believe they ARE Enoch and Elijah, and I’ve met some of them. It is the ONLY position a sede can take. The end is here and now. Otherwise Botolph would be right; you would have to conclude that the Church is a false institution.

    I think it more likely that the hierarchy is proclaiming bold and strange new doctrines that have not been formally defined as heresies, though they could well be and certainly have the odor of them. I think this ambiguous state of affairs does not easily lend itself to simple and definite conclusions, as so many on both sides of the question would have it. Anti-sedes make a lot of presumptions about what God would and wouldn’t do and what His promises mean and don’t mean; the sedes themselves make a lot of presumptions about what heresy is, whether it applies, what it means about loss of office, etc. All of this presumption, I seek to avoid. I don’t know if we are in the last days, but it seems obvious to me that we are in a time of chastisement, and that we have many wolves posing as shepherds.

    However, if you want some interesting facts, I recommend the critical biographies of John 23, Paul VI and JP II by Fr. Luigi Villa. It seems almost certain that John 23 was a Freemason. At the very least, it is a fact that he was admired by Freemasons.

  • Slainte,

    If as you say that the French Revolution was a masonic enterprise and if as you say that freedom of religion is a masonic principle [I would give a qualitative agreement with the first statement and a negative assessment of the second] how is it that the Catholic Church was persecuted in the French revolution?

    Slainte, we have spoken over a great deal of time. Just step back and think for a second. Is it not in the least a bit suspicious that everything being said against Vatican II etc is related back to the French Revolution as if the Church were merely just one more sociological given which can only run according to socio-political forces. The very fact that secular political terms such as ‘left’/’right’ and ‘liberal/conservative’ are used by those on both sides who read Vatican II as a break in the tradition should give you pause at least.

    Christ has established the new and eternal Covenant in His Blood and promised to be with the Church until the end of the world. He has promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church built on Peter. He promised His Spirit to continue to remind the Church of all that Christ has revealed. As terrible and nasty as the French revolution was and as problematic to say the least that the Masons were and still remain-do you really think Christ would abandon His Church, break His faithfulness to His Bride [Israel was not the Bride], and allow revolutionaries and a secret society take His Church away from Him? That Church either remains the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church or everything we confess in the Creed is rubbish. It is that clear, that important!

  • Bonchamps,

    I actually feel very badly that your own spiritual journey has taken you to this point. I am not being sarcastic nor am I giving you ‘false pity’ [just want to make this perfectly clear] I genuinely am saddened by what you are saying. I feel in a situation as if we were two astronauts and that the tether line you are attached to is fraying and you are drifting more and more into deep space. I want to reach out to you brother, I really do.

    I obviously do not agree with much that you wrote. Let me say this. Ancient Israel and the Church are in two very different eras of Salvation History, established by two very distinct and different Covenants, mediated by two very different Mediators. Christ established a new and eternal Covenant in His Blood, establishing the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as its center and founding that Covenant Community, the Church on the Apostolic College, headed by Peter. We are not looking for a newer covenant, nor another Church etc. Now I can say outright that there has never been a golden age of the Church-that is perhaps the oldest legend, myth even heresy. If anyone wants to dispute this take a close look at Acts or any of the Letters of Paul, or even the seven Letters found at the beginning of the Book of Revelations. The Church has been attacked on the outside by religious and political forces seeking to either exterminate her or control her. The Church has been attacked on the inside by two [not just one] enemies: heresy (the stubborn refusal to accept in faith/teach what the Catholic Church teaches: the great sin against Truth) and schism (the great sin against charity). Sadly with almost every Ecumenical Council of the Church there has been a minority who have rejected what the Church taught or refused to go in the direction the Church was taking-and went there own way. Some into schism others into both schism and heresy. And where is the Church? The Church is that community that remains with Peter and those bishops in communion with him. It is that Church that is One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic and frankly there is no other (although other churches share in a great deal of this they do not share in its fullness).

    There can be no room for nor reason for either presumption or triumphalism among Catholics. To be Catholic is far more than accepting x amount of teachings as true [athough that indeed is important] It is to answer the call of Christ daily to be a disciple in a community of disciples, growing stronger in being witnesses before the world. It means answering the call of Christ to an ongoing and never ending lifelong conversion of life in Christ’s call to us to be holy. It means to grow more and more in communion with the Church in faith, in the sacramental life and in the unity of community under and with the bishops and pope. There is no room for boasting since none of us has ‘arrived” in the Kingdom. I could go on but will stop here.

    However I need to make one more point. Your reading source from Italy states Pope John XXIII was a mason. In fact that would mean John XXIII did not believe in and consciously rejected the Blessed Trinity, the Divinity of Christ salvation in and through His Paschal Mystery etc (I could go on). Yet in a few months time he will be canonized a saint. Every canonization is an act of papal infallibility, declaring without equivocation that the blessed is living in the Beatific Vision etc. So what is about to take place is an absolutely guaranteed declaration of the most solemn teaching of a pope as defined by Vatican I that an apostate rebel is a saint-according to what your source says and you repeated. Do you realize again what this means? If this actually were true the whole thing-the whole thing=and not just for what you are fighting for is absolute rubbish-can you see that?

  • Botolph,
    .
    I am not questioning the holiness of the Church, the integrity or legitimacy of the popes, or that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church and will ensure that the gates of hell will not prevail against her. I affirm and believe all of the foregoing. to be true. I reject sedevacantism as incompatible with the faith and an insult to Truth I do, however, seek to understand how the Church has been attacked historically; the methodologies and ideologies utilized, and whether the same is ongoing today.
    .
    I tend to agree with Bonchamps that God will permit incursions to occur, yet I also agree with Michael Paterson-Seymour that the Church cannot err in matters of faith because of her saving faith, but that she can hold erroneous positions in matters unrelated to the faith, which she eventually will purge and spit out. (MPS please correct me if I have mis-stated your view).

    .
    Do you view “religious liberty” as a matter of “faith” which is infallible or is it a principle which serves some other useful function?

  • Botolph,

    You ask if I realize what it means, if John 23 were in fact a Freemason. I can only reply that I am grateful that I will never know if he was. As for his canonization, believe me, that’s the least of it. It’s the impending canonization of JP II that has many traditionalists on the verge of declaring themselves sedevacantists.

    But if it were true, it would not necessarily make the whole thing rubbish. As I said, the other option is that the end times are here and now, that we are actually living in the Apocalypse.

    I can’t unknow what I know. But I can take comfort in the fact that I don’t know enough to have a definite idea of what the situation really is, nor can I. If I were really convinced of the sedevacantist/end-times narrative, I wouldn’t be getting ready to head out to an approved Latin Mass performed by the Norbertines. I see possibilities and probabilities, that is all. They weigh on me, but they haven’t crushed me.

  • Bonchamps,

    Then my brother in Christ, While we differ over many issue I offer you my hand in communion. I do not believe we are living in the End Times etc. I am not sure how best to proceed in conversation with you but I will not do anything to ‘break’ the communion we still share together.

  • Slainte,

    I think DHs position on religious liberty scandalizes the Church with its implications, but I don’t think it was heretical.

  • Slainte,

    The Church can and has held all sorts of erroneous things over the centuries that are not matter of faith and morals. If anything the Church in more recent years has been more open to admitting this. These are policies, presumptions, contemporary world-views and assumptions (for example the Greek Ptolemaic world view that the sun revolves around the earth). Over time these needed to be and were indeed purged, the gold and silver separated from the alloys-and still is today.

    No new (key word here) ‘doctrine’ or dogma was proclaimed in The Declaration on Human Freedom or the whole of the Second Vatican Council for that matter. However, just because no new doctrine etc was proclaimed does not mean it can be reduced to non-importance etc. In DH [Dignitatis Humanae: Declaration on Religious Freedom] the doctrinal principles are set out in the first two ‘paragraphs’ [1 and 2], in turn they are based on The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World [Gaudium et Spes] which states “The mystery of man becomes clear only in the mystery of the incarnate Word….For the Son of God by His Incarnation did in a fashion unite Himself with every man.” [Gaudium et Spes 22]

    It is in this light coming from the Face of the Incarnate Word of God in which we begin to see the human dignity of each and every person from the moment of conception until natural death. That is the doctrinal foundation etc of GS [Gaudium et Spes] an DH. Putting it simply, the rest of the document is that doctrine applied in various areas of the question of religious freedom.

    The whole of Vatican II was a profound conversion of the Church to the further and deeper implications of the Mystery of the Incarnation and to the truth that the Church as communion is the sacrament of salvation for the world. Jesus Christ is the Light of the Nations and the Church is the means by which that light reaches the nations of the world for the sake of their salvation.

    I see “religious freedom’ as a principle that arises from a deep and penetrating contemplation of the Incarnation of Christ Jesus and what that means in terms of each person’s dignity.

  • Botolph,

    I don’t intend on spending a great deal of time discussing the various “ologies” of the Church – ecclesiology, theology, eschatology, soteriology, and so on. My area of study and expertise is politics. So 90% of future posts will be on topics that I think we can all agree on, as a traditionalist who doesn’t hate America.
    However, if those kinds of discussions interest you, I will always be happy to oblige. I don’t know if we are in the end-times or not. We could be. What I do know is that I need the Mass. I can’t let theories about what may be keep me from it.

  • Botolph and Bonchamps,
    .
    Thank you for your perspectives.
    .
    As France has often been the epicenter of tumultuos events in Church history, I will defer to your responding to MPS’ earlier comment regarding the state of the Church in France pre-Vatican II.
    .
    By the way Botolph, every time I begin to write a comment to you, I pause for just a moment fearful that I might give you a heart attack! : ) Thanks for being a good sport and responding so generously. : )

  • Botolph

    On the question of the Temporal Power, I would only note that, from the Congress of Vienna in 1815, so far from preserving the independence of the Pope, it did much to compromise it, for subversion, rebellion and sheer anarchy in his dominions made him wholly dependent on French or Austrian troops for his protection.

    “For twenty years Napoleon III had been the true sovereign of Rome, where he had many friends and relations…. Without him the temporal power would never have been reconstituted [after the Roman Republic of 1849 under Giuseppe Mazzini], nor, being reconstituted, would have endured.” (Raffaele de Cesare)

    For centuries, the Papal States had involved the Holy See in questionable alliances, during the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines and when the Habsburg-Valois rivalry was fought out in Italy.

    All in all, a very mixed blessing and I cannot but feel a certain sympathy for the Abbé Arduini, when he called the Temporal Power, “an historical lie, a political imposture, and a religious immorality.”

  • Slainte,

    LOL Nah I have a strong heart. However, this might give you a little insight into who I am, or rather what I am like. I took a religious personality test years ago. THe test asked certain questions, how you would respond etc to certain issues etc. There were many biblical personalities such as David, Peter, John, Paul. I came out a perfect Paul-minus the saint part of course. This is not a theological boast etc I can pick up Paul’s Letters etc and know what he is getting at very quickly etc. If you have read Paul you know he could be feisty, pointed in his arguments and sometimes well even crude (I don’t go there thanks be to God).

    Of course I recently took a similar test based on Star Wars personalities and I came out a perfect Yoda ROFL Now what does that tell you lol?

  • Slainté wrote, “As France has often been the epicentre of tumultuous events in Church history …”

    There is an old adage, “The Church is governed from Rome, but does her thinking in France.”

  • I suspect Botolph that you just might be an abbe or a pere or a padre or a frere… : )

  • MPS writes, There is an old adage, “The Church is governed from Rome, but does her thinking in France.”
    .
    But her Heart, my dear MPS, is in Ireland and within the Irish people wherever they may be in the world. : )

  • MPS,

    Thank you for that further clarification. I was attempting to catch the kernel of truth at the center of the Papal States etc. I would concur with your evaluation on the necessary compromises etc that the temporal power imposed on the papacy. While the scene is from a movie, it correlates with reality: I can still see Pope Julius II in all his soldier/knight garb sloping around in the mud amid the carnage of the battles in which he was engaged with the papal armies

    I believe that 1870 was a complete blessing for the Church. At one and the same time She was stripped of temporal concerns (Papal States) with which She had no mission nor business Yet Vatican I staked out her real claim: the realm of doctrine and moral teaching. In the process the papacy went from rather mediocre successors of Peter to-beginning with Pius IX and on, some very great spiritual leaders, even saints: St Pius X, Blessed John XXIII Blessed John Paul II (and I believe soon: Pius XII) (I know some will dispute the latter ones but I definitely include them)

  • Slainte

    Ahhhh the mysteries of the internet lol

  • The mysteries of the Internet are not always so mysterious.
    .
    I really am laughing out loud! : )

  • you are funny lol

  • Botolph wrote, “In the process the papacy went from rather mediocre successors of Peter to-beginning with Pius IX and on, some very great spiritual leaders, even saints.”

    The change has been truly remarkable. From Sixtus V, who died in 1590, to Leo XIII, who was elected in 1878, we had a virtually unbroken succession of popes, who had risen through the ranks of the Vatican bureaucracy and who were, by habit, taste and training, administrators.

    It is not unfair to describe the result as one of assiduous mediocrity. Even in Catholic countries, they had the same impact and the same popular appeal, as the average Secretary-General of the United Nations or President of the World Bank. Pio Nono was popular because he was pitied.

    Thirty popes and not a Leo or a Gregory, a Hildebrand or an Innocent III amongst them; the very suggestion seems absurd. Benedict XIV (Prospero Lambertini) can fairly be ranked with Innocent IV as a canonist and with Leo X and Clement VII for his learning and he appears as a giant in that age of pygmies.

    Meanwhile, the Church was riven by the Thirty Years War, the Quietist controversy, the Jansenist heresy, the Gallican controversy, Josephism, the suppression of the Jesuits, the French Revolution and its aftermath, and the Risorgimento, in none of which can the Holy See be said to have distinguished itself.

Rand Paul Defends the Bill of Rights

Wednesday, March 6, AD 2013

“I have allowed the president to pick his political appointees…But I will not sit quietly and let him shred the Constitution.” — Senator Rand Paul (go here for more quotes)

Update: Senator Ted Cruz reads tweets supporting Rand Paul on the Senate floor.

Rand Paul has been filibustering the nomination of Obama’s pick to head the CIA, John Brennan. He is doing so because of a consistent refusal of Obama, Brennan, Holder and other administration higher-ups to clearly and unambiguously reject policies that violate the Constitutional rights of American citizens, including the right to due process prior to the deprivation of life, liberty or property.

I’ve been skeptical of Rand Paul for some time. I didn’t mind his endorsement of Romney, but I did mind his statements pledging unconditional defense of Israel in the event they are attacked. I don’t think this country should pledge unconditional defense of any country, least of all one with a nuclear arsenal of its own. His position on immigration isn’t quite what I would like either. I want it slowed to crawl and troop deployment on the border. He’s still playing the desperate “do anything to get Latino votes” game, a losing game for the GOP no matter what they propose. But I digress.

At this moment, there is no other prospective candidate for 2016 I would even consider supporting. Though there is still time for another acceptable candidate to emerge, today’s filibuster earns him major points in my book. It may be a largely symbolic gesture, but it is a necessary one. It lets the people of this country know that those of us who still value the Bill of Rights and view those rights as sacrosanct have an advocate at the higher levels of government. The value of this can’t be overstated.

I wish him all the best and my prayers are with him.

Oh, and read my latest post at Catholic Stand 🙂

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12 Responses to Rand Paul Defends the Bill of Rights

  • I like Rand. Am excited that he might have a strong shot at getting the nomination in 2016. And I love this filibuster. BUT … I was right there with Rand until he started talking about revisiting Lochner. What Libertarian claptrap!!!

    The notion that FEDERAL courts can strike down STATE economic legislation as “unconstitutional” based on some hidden gnostic constitutional right able to be divined only by the most freedomy free of the laissez faire Libertarian crowd is repugnant. Because “freedom of contract” certainly ain’t based on anything actually found in the text of the Constitution. The rationale that the Court used in Lochner is the same rationale that leftist judges would later use (and still use to this day) to strike down state laws on abortion (and probably, in the near future, marriage) that they don’t like based on “rights” nowhere found in the Constitution.

  • Jay,

    This issue isn’t as cut-and-dried as you’d like it to be. I might disagree with Rand and others on the use of Lochner, but I do think it is important to argue that without freedom of contract, private property rights are severely impaired. In fact a regime of private property without freedom of contract could easily be defined as fascism.

    With that said, I firmly believe in the 10th amendment. If an individual state wishes to adopt a fascist economy, as we arguably have in California, the Constitution protects this right. My hope is that the economic meltdown of California, as well as the economic meltdown of socialist stinkholes such as Venezuela, will demonstrate and even establish by default the superiority of economies that are more laissez-faire.

    We don’t need to revisit Lochner to do what Rand wants to do. The 5th amendment is more relevant to me than the 14th.

  • Agreed with Jay on Lochner as it birthed the notion of substantive due process, which would be used by later Courts to justify all sorts of federal nullification of state laws, the most notable being Roe and Griswold. Of course Lochner was a much more justifiable decision than either of those, though still wrong.

    All that being said, bravo to Senator Paul on several fronts. First and foremost for the substance of the issue, but also for the useful reminder that Congress should actually try to check Executive now and again.

  • The problem is how “freedom of contract” is to be defined in any constitutionally coherent sense. Besides the fact that the “right” doesn’t explicitly exist anywhere in the Constitution and can’t be bootstrapped onto any other provision outside of, arguably, due process property rights, what parameters are to exist on such a “right”?

    The Constitution guarantees due process of law for property rights – property owners have as much opportunity to engage in the process of lobbying their government on their own behalf as those who would restrict the laissez faire use of that property. That’s the right that’s constitutionally guaranteed, outside of some other constitutional right being infringed (such as an inappropriate use of eminent domain or a violation of the 1st Amendment in an HHS Mandate type of scenario – I know we’re talking about the states, but just using that as an example). Otherwise, there is no substantive constitutional protection of how one exercises their property rights – “substantive due process” is an oxymoron.

    But to get back to the nebulousness of the “right” of freedom of contract, it’s too dependent on the subjective opinions of unelected judges, just like the so-called “right to privacy”.

    I, too, am a strong believer in the 10th Amendment, and like you, I’m perfectly satisfied with each state deciding for itself whether it will provide a climate conducive to prosperity and freedom or whether it will be a socialist hell-hole.

  • But I will agree with Paul – apart from his reference to Lochner (which I HOPE doesn’t come back to bite him in 2016), KUDOS to Rand for this effort to reel in the executive and to bring some semblance of sanity to this never-ending “War on Terror”.

  • Mary Ann Glendon on freedom of contract:

    Consider first that when Holmes was a young lawyer in the 1870s, legislatures had begun producing a new type of statute—primitive regulatory legislation, much of it addressed to conditions in factories. Those whose interests were adversely affected by these laws took their complaints to the courts, with the result that the Supreme Court embarked on its first sustained adventure with the power of judicial review, a power that it had possessed for nearly a century, but which it had exercised sparingly. The behavior of the Supreme Court and other courts in that period (striking down much early social legislation as infringing on economic rights) is now frequently treated in law school classes as showing that the judiciary was in the service of the dominant classes. But there was another dimension to the story. When late-nineteenth-century judges entered the still relatively uncharted areas of statutory interpretation and constitutional review, they really did not know quite how to handle the new situation. It is helpful to keep in mind that as late as 1875, nearly half of the United States Supreme Court’s case load was still pure common law litigation. By 1925, however, statutes figured importantly in all but about 5 percent of the cases. Most judges during those years of transition tended to proceed in the way they knew best—by falling back on their habitual practice of construing enacted law (including the Constitution) in such a way as to blend in with, rather than displace, the common law background where, as it happened, freedom of contract was ensconced as a leading principle. In a series of famous dissents, Holmes, to his credit, tried to point out to his fellow judges that the rules of the game had changed in 1787. But that point seldom got across until the 1930s, and even then it was not fully absorbed.

  • Here, here, Bonchamps! Rand Paul is to be heartily commended, and I hope he emerges as the leader of the GOP in a few years’ time.

    Although I’m not sure I agree with what you’re getting at when you say courting Latino voters is a “losing game” for the GOP.

  • JL,

    I simply mean that there is little, if anything, the GOP can do to win Latinos away from the Democrats. Oh, they might increase their margins a bit, five, ten percentage point by promising open borders, amnesty, and unlimited benefits. But they’ll never out-social democrat the social democrats. If they try they will not only fail to get sufficient Latino votes, they will disgust much of their base in the process.

    Romney didn’t lose because not enough Hispanics voted for him. He lost because not enough whites voted for him. That is a cold, sober fact. I happen to think that second generation and onward Latino immigrants as well as the black middle class have common interests with the white working and middle classes, and so I don’t believe that a specific appeal to “white” interests needs to be made. But an appeal to the middle class that still believes in the rule of law, private property, states rights, most of which is white at the moment, is absolutely necessary for the GOP to survive as a national party.

    Rand, so far, is playing the “how can I out-Rubio Rubio” game. He should forge his own path and stand up for national sovereignty and national interests.

  • Wait… Am I hearing rightly that a Senator thinks Congress has authority to resist a President? What novel legal reasoning gets him to that conclusion? What would be point to electing Ceasar if he can’t do whatever he wants. No, Sen. Paul, that kind of novel, extra-constitutional reasoning won’t wash in this age of enlightenment.

    Hail Obama, King of the Americas! Hail, I say! Hail!

  • I think all he wants is for obama to state that he doesn’t have executive authority to assassinate US citizens on US soil. Due process.

    Why are not the other 99 useless political trash lined up to add their voices?

    That’ a rhetorical question, I think.

  • T. Shaw,
    Good question for we the people to ask of the legislative representatives.

    They spoke an oath of office to uphold the Constitution at least, then celebrated their worldly reward with others falling under the influence of the tempter’s power. The tempter has people fooled into liking being ignorant and trashy.

    Dignity and goodness – at least fairness and order – need more like Rand Paul to defend the Bill of Rights, even, if selfishly, for their own families if the legislators love them. Would be a good addition to their reading list or a work project.

    For the time being, it seems that the contagion needs a name.

  • The Lochner quote will be used against him, count on it, even though he wasn’t saying “restore it.”

    I think the main problem with Lochner is that it was a legal fiction: American employees rarely have actual contracts of employment (though collectively-bargained ones are).

    Instead, they have a status: at-will employment, which can be ended for any reason by the employer without notice. Of course, nowadays there are statutory and occasional common-law exceptions to at-will employment, but I’m going to bracket those for a moment.

    Such a status is that–a status, not a contract. Thus, the idea that state employment regulation interfered with contracts was risible. Not to mention it was invoked to protect some grisly employment practices.

Book Review: Return To Order

Thursday, February 28, AD 2013

Return to Order

Title: Return To Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society

Author: John Horvat II

Publisher: York Press

Publication Date: January 2013

For my first TAC book review, I will be looking at a book that is being seriously promoted by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), Return To Order (RTO) by John Horvat II. I was somewhat familiar with the perspective of TFP prior to reading the book, having attended one of their conferences and read some of their basic literature. Horvat acknowledges his indebtedness to Dr. Plínio Corrêa de Oliveira, TFPs founder and primary theoretician who developed a historical narrative of the rise and fall of Christendom in the grand style I have always enjoyed and appreciated. Whereas Oliveira’s work, or at least what I have read of it, was broadly focused, Horvat’s analysis is specifically focused on the United States.

The premise of  Part I of RTO is that the cultural and economic crisis of the United States is rooted in a spiritual disorder that the author identifies as “frenetic intemperance”, a willful and energetic disregard for limitation and restraint in virtually all areas of life. Unlike many cultural and economic critics, Horvat does not blame “capitalism” for the development and proliferation of this spiritual disorder. Indeed, Part II of the book asserts that the technological progress and prosperity that capitalism has bestowed upon civilization could have been – and should have been – pursued within the cultural context of Christendom. There is no necessary connection between material progress and spiritual decay.

Horvat is firm in his rejection of socialism as a solution to cultural and economic disorder. Though he puts forward an idealistic view of the (capital S) State that I don’t think will ever be recovered, he does distinguish this ideal from the really-existing state, which is managed and staffed by people who loathe the remnants of Christendom and work ceaselessly to purge them from the society they are building.

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21 Responses to Book Review: Return To Order

  • Thanks Bonchamps! Sounds like a fascinating read. Does he cite or do you feel he is in the same vein of thought as someone like Alasdair MacIntyre?

  • He does cite MacIntyre. But since I haven’t read MacIntyre and only know of his ideas through second-hand sources, I can’t say whether or not he is in the same vein of thought. It seems like it. They both see the importance of a shared culture, a cultural/moral consensus. But I’ll leave it to others to point out whether or not there is significant agreement.

  • Thanks. This looks like a book I’ll add to the list. Your point about sectarian strife is well-taken, but I can’t help think there are compelling arguments to be made for alternatives to liberalism, especially from a Catholic perspective. I just started reading Marc Guerra’s “Christians as Political Animals: Taking the Measure of Modernity and Modern Democracy” and I am interested to see what types of conclusions he draws. Additionally, have you read any James V. Schall? He appears to be the preeminent American Catholic political philosopher of the last century. Definitely hoping to get my hands on his primer, “Roman Catholic Political Philosopher.”

  • “There is also a critique of “self-interest”, and a desire that it should be replaced with virtue. But there is always a paradox involved here; is it not in one’s self-interest to be virtuous? Of course it is. It is one’s long-term, ultimate self-interest. So, for that matter, is going to heaven; even Christ exhorts in terms of individual rewards and punishments.”

    I agree with you here, and I think is what you meant, in a way, when you said capitalism could be perfectly compatible with distributism. And I agree– put it must rest upon the proper philosophical foundation, and I’m not sure we have that. There is a difference between the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of Happiness, is there not?

  • Horvat acknowledges his indebtedness to Dr. Plínio Corrêa de Oliveira

    If he can make any sense at all of Revolution and Counter-Revolution, he is a great deal smarter than I will ever be. Paul Zummo, can you comment?

    Just an aside, Sandra Miesel has in the past issued very severe warnings about Tradition, Family, and Property (“a Rad-Trad cult”). I think I would be very cautious about having any dealings with them.

  • I don’t see what the inner-workings of TFP have to do with the validity of the book.

  • I’ve seen TFP defending marriage and praying public Rosaries in the face of incredible hostility. I admire that sort of courage. That said, I’m not a joiner. Not anymore.

  • Dr. Correa was the founder of TFP. The organization and the literature are part of the same nexus

    I do not doubt they defend many good things. Just saying. Sandra Miesel appears to have retired for the most part, but she was always a knowledgeable and authoritative observer of the Catholic scene. I would not disregard her opinion.

  • There are also some excellent proposals. In his analysis of medieval currency, Horvat essentially proposes what Austrian economists such as F.A. Hayek proposed, a system of competing local currencies that would maintain economic harmony and balance. I think this is a remarkable idea

    The currency is not a problem.

  • I think we have to realize something. More important than any political goals is the kind of people we are right now. While all kinds of models exist, they are only as good as the population. In order for any political arrangement to work successfully, people need to be mature and virtuous. This goes for varieties of capitalism, socialism, distributism, and so on.

    It was right for the author to point out that spiritual decay precedes economic, political and all other problems. If the soul of a people is gone, anything we do is mere patchwork. Oswald Spengler, who was not Christian as far as we know, recognized the patterns that ensue once the cultural/religious phase is through. Government is left with the task of management or how to maintain order. He seemed to think, therefore, that the future belongs to socialism. Perhaps they didn’t really lose in 1989-91. While Toynbee and others have held out the possibility of revival through religion, Spengler’s prophecied second-religiousness is as decadent as the oriental cults of Rome’s decline.

  • “In order for any political arrangement to work successfully, people need to be mature and virtuous.”

    Except for political arrangements that take into account, during their construction, that people are often not virtuous. That is precisely what Madison was up to in Federalist 51.

    This is where I part ways with a number of Catholic political idealists. I don’t have a problem with this. I consider myself a realist when it comes to behavior, not an idealist. I begin with how things are, not how they should be.

  • Yes, the realist way says we all, leaders and people, are self-interested and prone to corruption. Therefore contstruct a system with checks on everyone. Limit citizens and government, I suppose?

  • This is good stuff.

    Bonchamps, and I ask this not derisively at all, but what do you think of Madison’s/Burke’s/Tocqueville’s apparent desire for something like an aristocracy, or a virtuous ruling class? It certainly sounds idealist in nature, but I think there are huge problems with a meritocracy and what Tocquville called “the absence of heroic deeds from public life.” If one earned everything they have on an allegedly equal playing field, then what obligation do they have to help out those less fortunate?

    Also, with regards to idealism, I don’t think it’s the case that distributionists, etc believe that all men are always virtuous, they simply believe that society/govt should be conceived in a way so as to encourage the virtues to flourish. As you correctly identified, it needs a MacIntyrian “moral consensus.” I know you recognize the benefits of pluralism, and I don’t contest that they don’t exist, but I’ll repeat it again: there is a difference between the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of Happiness, and the latter seems much more conducive to promoting a society where virtuous living is celebrated and sought.

  • With democracy comes an automatic leveling in things. I think C. S. Lewis decried that. It’s a price you pay for the absence of an aristocracy. Everything has a tendency to assume banality, whether its education, the arts, entertainment, literacy, or whatever.

  • Jon,

    More or less. Separation of powers, checks and balances, etc.

    JL,

    Horvat discusses the need for a self-sacrificing elite in RTO. Even Ludwig von Mises noted the importance of such an elite.

    I’m not sure the manner in which one earns wealth has anything to do with one’s obligation to use it charitably. The fact of the matter, though, is that by using their wealth as capital, the bourgeois elite do help the less fortunate by providing jobs and products for mass consumption at ever-lower prices.

    I will also be the first to acknowledge that the same elite is often in favor of protectionist and interventionist measures to secure their economic position. This is why a laissez-faire policy is best. Far from hurting the poor, it checks the ambitions of the economic elite, who have to compete with fresh and innovative entrepreneurship (prospective elites, you might say) to remain viable. In this economic battle, the consumer of poor and average means is the real winner. Let ambition check ambition, as Madison argued.

    “Also, with regards to idealism, I don’t think it’s the case that distributionists, etc believe that all men are always virtuous, they simply believe that society/govt should be conceived in a way so as to encourage the virtues to flourish.”

    I understand this. I know they don’t think that men are always virtuous. The idealism has more to do with the notion that this condition can be changed. I don’t believe it can.

    “As you correctly identified, it needs a MacIntyrian “moral consensus.””

    If I wanted to write a 5,000 word review of RTO as opposed to a 1200+ word review, I could have critiqued the idea that a moral consensus ever produced a society of solidly virtuous people. What the moral consensus provided were virtues that were commonly acknowledged and striven for, not necessarily lived and practiced. That situation is superior to the one we have now, undoubtedly, but there is a risk of romanticizing and idealizing the past as well as the present.

    I think the best we can hope for are pockets of virtue and sanity, most of which will be temporary.

  • I do not know who Sandra Miesel is. However, if you want to know what the American TFP, you should check their website at http://www.tfp.org/. We need to learn what the Catholic worldview is and how to implement it. I’m fairly well convinced that the idea of the US are not to be adopted as the Catholic World view. The First Amendment leads to one of two conclusions. First, all religious beliefs are of equal value. In other words, the founders founded the US on the principals of the religion of free masonry or naturalism. Second, the US rejects the social reign of Christ. I’m of the opinion that secularism is the unofficial official religion of the US.

  • Vincent,

    With regard to this:

    “The First Amendment leads to one of two conclusions. First, all religious beliefs are of equal value. In other words, the founders founded the US on the principals of the religion of free masonry or naturalism. Second, the US rejects the social reign of Christ. I’m of the opinion that secularism is the unofficial official religion of the US.”

    I disagree with the first point. The 1st amendment does not imply that all religious beliefs are of equal value. It doesn’t require anyone to believe it either. The purpose of the 1st amendment is to prevent the establishment of a state religion along the lines of the Church of England. Such national churches are antithetical to Catholicism, wherein religious jurisdiction lies with the pope alone.

    The founders could have gone the route of officially persecuting Catholicism based upon the common Anglo assumption that Catholic loyalty to the Papacy would undermine the state. They refrained form this – I believe – because they correctly understood that pledging obedience to a religious authority higher than the state was not a vice, but a virtue.

    Many of the founders themselves may have believed that one religion is as good as another, or at least, one Christian denomination. But ultimately they were seeking to avoid the kind of sectarian strife that had ripped apart a mostly Protestant Britain in the 17th century.

    Finally on this point, the 1st amendment does NOT prohibit the individual states from establishing churches! It only prohibits the federal government. At this point we would never be able to have a state church, but they existed into the 1830s.

    As for the second point, yes. I agree. Americans reject the social reign of Christ.

  • “Finally on this point, the 1st amendment does NOT prohibit the individual states from establishing churches! It only prohibits the federal government. At this point we would never be able to have a state church, but they existed into the 1830s.”

    Yes, Connecticut was a confessional state until that point, the last to go. Bonchamps, do you know if there’s any legal precedent that would currently prevent a state from confessing a state religion?

  • JL,

    I think the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment may prevent it. I say “may” because I don’t know for certain. State recognition of a church does not necessarily mean that all other churches/confessions are outlawed or persecuted.

    As a rule, Catholics must strive for a confessional state when and where they can. I do not agree with Dignitatis Humane’s proclamation of religious liberty as a “human right.” (if it is, the Church was ignorant of and suppressing a “human right” for nearly 2000 years – a scandalous and absurd proposition, in my view)

    I agree with Pope Leo XIII’s pragmatic view that what cannot be changed must be tolerated. The 1st amendment is fine, because the FEDERAL government doesn’t need to be religious. But in a majority Catholic state, Catholics would have the obligation to establish a confessional regime (one operating on republican principles per the Constitution, which guarantees a republican form of government to the states).

    It was precisely because of this requirement that John Courtney Murray wrote Dignitatis Humane. He acknowledged it as a problem and DH was his solution. I feel no obligation to agree with him.

  • “Even Ludwig von Mises noted the importance of such an elite.”
    But how does von Mises envision such an institution remaining publicly viable? In a liberal society, it seems like it needs structural support.

    “I’m not sure the manner in which one earns wealth has anything to do with one’s obligation to use it charitably.”

    Not just wealth, but power, influence, etc. I know there is a tendency to idealize the past (just as other people have a tendency to vilify it, for similar reasons), but perhaps arbitrariness of membership in the nobility and aristocracy was a positive. In other words, it wasn’t something you earned by your own effort, but something you were born into, inheriting the roles and obligations that went along with it. (obviously negatives here, not denying that) If there’s a down-side to meritocracy, it’s that it can justify social Darwinism: since everyone has a chance to pull themselves up, the strong will and the weak won’t. The problem is that equality of opportunity doesn’t really exist. Yes, everyone has to play by the rules, but people are given clear advantages based on birth and family. But because we’re so convinced we’ve “earned” everything solely through our own labors, it’s easy to look at others and say “they could fix their situation if they just tried harder!” So yes, I agree with you that one’s charitable obligation exists no matter how they obtained their status, but I also think a meritocracy has a tendency to render inequalities as just, and therefore decrease the perception that one ought to do anything to alleviate the misfortune of another.

    “If I wanted to write a 5,000 word review of RTO as opposed to a 1200+ word review, I could have critiqued the idea that a moral consensus ever produced a society of solidly virtuous people. What the moral consensus provided were virtues that were commonly acknowledged and striven for, not necessarily lived and practiced. That situation is superior to the one we have now, undoubtedly, but there is a risk of romanticizing and idealizing the past as well as the present.
    I think the best we can hope for are pockets of virtue and sanity, most of which will be temporary.”

    I respect your position immensely. You recognize the shortcomings of our present arrangement, but also call for prudent and realistic action within the system as it is. I am, however, just a bit more optimistic that a better concept of society (not an ideal one, just a better one) is attainable. MacIntyre seems to suggest that it will only come about in the ashes of the current one, a scenario we shouldn’t hope for, but one in which we should be ready to act if it comes. Til then, I’ll concern myself with these “pockets of virtue and sanity” you mention. As I said before, I do think the American model, with a proper federalist interpretation, could allow for a state to be a sort of mini-republic that is conducive to this end…so I remain hopefully that everything won’t have to be blown up to achieve something a little less transient than temporary pockets. But it looks pretty bleak as of now…

  • I haven’t read Murray, but through the secondary sources that mention him, it seems he was a little too eager to accommodate the liberal project as not merely tolerable, but the very embodiment of Catholic political thought. Sounds like Orestes Brownson, who I also need to, but haven’t read.

Dorothy Day: Anarcho-Capitalist, Perhaps

Sunday, February 17, AD 2013

A Facebook friend brought my attention to the tug of war taking place over the legacy of Dorothy Day in recent months between pro and anti-capitalists. The Catholic Worker has criticized both the NY Times and Fr. Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute on Day-related matters. Liberals can’t claim her, so it is said, because she was anti-abortion and loyal to Church teaching, obviously never having gone the way of radical disobedient feminism. But conservatives and libertarians can’t claim her either because she rejected capitalism.

Or did she? As best I can tell, she neither practiced it or preached it as a way of life. And yet she did say the following:

We believe that social security legislation, now balled as a great victory for the poor and for the worker, is a great defeat for Christianity. It is an acceptance of the Idea of force and compulsion…

Of course, Pope Pius XI said that, when such a crisis came about, in unemployment, fire, flood, earthquake, etc., the state had to enter in and help.

But we in our generation have more and more come to consider the state as bountiful Uncle Sam.

If you don’t believe in “force and compulsion”, you believe – by logical necessity – that capitalism is at least permissible. At least capitalism as Fr. Sirico, Ron Paul and Murray Rothbard would define it, which is nothing more than private property + free exchange of goods and services. No capitalist along these lines, moreover, could or likely would raise any objection to voluntary collectivist projects such as workers cooperatives or agricultural communes. Voluntary Distributism, which Day supported in her writings, is capitalism.

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126 Responses to Dorothy Day: Anarcho-Capitalist, Perhaps

  • Thanks for writing this, Bonchamps. I have a growing interest in Ms. Day and her cause for canonization. When I was younger and heard mention of her, I think I dismissed her as some “peace and justice” hippy, but that just shows the limitations that impeded my understanding of comprehensive Catholicism at the time.

    I do think she was as equally derisive of capitalism as she was of government-enforced socialism. I just read Merton’s “Seven-Storey Mountain,” and his ideas seem very similar. Day talks about “creating a new society within the shell of the old one.” Her ideas seem to be very communitarian and compatible with distributism.

    http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/daytext.cfm?TextID=175

    That is to say, there should be equity and moderation in society, but it is not the government’s role to enforce such things. It must come from the community. This also is probably what CS Lewis meant when he said in Mere Christianity that the ideal Christian community would probably be “more socialist” than we are now, not meaning that the government would redistribute wealth, but that people (or rather, civic, religious, and social institutions) would moderate themselves. This is what Deneen means when he says that liberty is “the cultivated ability to engage in self-governance.” That is, the community recognizes that their is one telos for humanity and that the virtues required to move individuals and the community toward that telos must be inculcated and grown, virtues that necessarily moderate and temper self-interest. I think this is supportive of MacIntyre’s assertion that a community where human flourishing can occur to the highest degree possible must be founded on “moral consensus,” as opposed to legally enshrined pluralism, which I would argue is the case in America. (For what it’s worth, I don’t think the Founders planned this to happen…it was probably inconceivable back in 1780 when basically everyone was a Christian of some stripe…still, I think they knew better than they built).

    I also hesitate to support so absolutely the idea that capitalism has uplifted humanity. Capitalism is responsible for incredible things, like longevity, increased literacy rates, prosperity, etc. But focusing on these metrics is in many ways the same mistake the “bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth” crowd in favor of government redistribution of wealth are wont to make. Human flourishing is about far more than material advancements. I would argue that it’s about more souls getting to Heaven. Can we say with certainty that capitalism has contributed positively to this end?

    Finally, I think that analyzing Day (and Merton and Chesterton, etc) in the context of the American political spectrum is too confining. She was neither a “conservative” nor a “liberal,” because she more or less rejected the philosophical underpinnings that America was built upon.

    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/1860/dorothy_day_a_saint_to_transcend_partisan_politics.aspx#.USE4caU3uSo

    Have you (or has anyone else) read Orestes Brownson?

  • “It has never really been about the poor, except perhaps to make sure that they stay pacified. It has been about the aggrandizement of the state – the padding of government salaries and department budgets, the purchase of demographic voting blocs, social engineering, and of course, the war machine.”

    you seem to think anything that “expands the state” is automatically bad/sinister. obviously plenty of people have criticized the stimulus but generally even critics haven’t ascribed these basely cynical motives to it. i don’t see any reason to think Obama doesn’t legitimately believe in what he’s doing, whatever we may think of it. the fact that his version of trying to jump-start the economy involves government expansion is a consequence, sure, but that doesn’t make it the point, as though he would’ve acted the exact same if the economy’d been humming along in 2009.

    as far as “war machine” we’re winding down in Afghanistan, so unless some drone strikes on al Qaeda operatives makes us a nefarious Empire i dunno what this means

  • As to Day, I think JL has it more right than Bonchamps. I’m not sure I would agree his description of Sirico’s capitalism as merely “nothing more than private property + free exchange of goods and services.” He is much further from Day than that (and for that matter, from JPII and Benedict XVI.)

    Day was more akin to Chesterton who said something to the effect that capitalism is to private property what a harem is to the sacrament of marriage.

    There is a tendency to equate respecting the right to economic initiative – which Day, Sirico, and Paul support(ed) – with support of the free market and then with capitalism. I’ve never read anything to support the claim that Day went that far. In fact, her writings appear to reject that conclusion.

  • Re: “jump-starting the economy”: The recovery began in June 2009 (most economists say) and yet, three-and-a-half years later the Fed persists in printing $900 billion a year and keeping real interest rates negative, and the US gov still is spending $1.3 trillion more than it receives in taxes.

    Zero Hedge quotes Mort Zuckerman, “Jobs! President Obama has set a record. In his speech to Congress on Tuesday, he uttered the word ‘jobs’ more than in any of his previous four State of the Union addresses. His 45 mentions were more than double the references to any of the other policy ambitions encapsulated in his speech by such words as health, education, immigration, guns, deficit, debt, energy, climate, economy, Afghanistan, wage, spend or tax (the runner-up). If only the president’s record on unemployment were as good. After four years America remains in a jobs depression as great as the Great Depression.”

    Worse, the prices of food and fuel have skyrocketed. So, Obama wants to give a couple hundred billions to boondoggles like Solyndra.

    None of it (unprecedented amounts of fiscal and monetary stimulus) is working (Obama’s is the weakest post-war recovery: compared to Reagan and all the others) because everything Obama does is ideological not economical. Obamacare will take over health; will further retard economic growth; and worsen care for all of us. Legalizing 11 to 35 million will quicken the bankruptcies of medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Dodd-Frank did not correct the causes of the banking crisis but, at best, papered over them, at worst, expanded them.

    Obama is not about econmic growth and development. He is about changing society and enriching his Wall Street backers.

    And, capitalism may not be uplifting (look to Jesus) of society, but it is the only economic system, along with freedom, that maximizes a nation’s and a people’s wealth. It’s not as if the alternatives have not been tested and found wanting, causing not only poverty (misallocation of resources by central planning and/or command economies), but mass misery in all aspects of human life.

    In my travels, I have shopped at a “Giant Food” store which states in its signage that it is “100% employee-owned.” That sounds good to me.

    Obama and his gang are either idiots or they are out to ruin America. I will not judge.

  • “And, capitalism may not be uplifting (look to Jesus) of society, but it is the only economic system, along with freedom, that maximizes a nation’s and a people’s wealth. It’s not as if the alternatives have not been tested and found wanting, causing not only poverty (misallocation of resources by central planning and/or command economies), but mass misery in all aspects of human life.”

    I’m going to alter the original quote, but i don’t think GK would mind:

    “Distributism has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

    I think capitalism is a system, and a system that can work (provided it’s grounded in a pervasive ethical system which is not merely “voluntarily” adhered to, an impossibility in America). That doesn’t mean that other approaches don’t exist or shouldn’t be explored.

  • T. Shaw:

    i wasn’t commenting on how well said policies have worked. i just don’t share the cynicism that Obama is expanding government for purposely malignant purposes. attributing mala fides (and talking about “enriching Wall Street buddies” as though that’s the ultimate aim here) might be a nice way to avoid engaging separate views but it is lazy.

  • JL,

    “I do think she was as equally derisive of capitalism as she was of government-enforced socialism.”

    I haven’t seen it. But then, I haven’t read every word she ever wrote. I’ve browsed her writings at the Catholic Worker archive.

    “Her ideas seem to be very communitarian and compatible with distributism.”

    As far as I know, she identified as a Distributist. But her brand of Distributism is entirely compatible with free-market capitalism.

    “That is, the community recognizes that their is one telos for humanity and that the virtues required to move individuals and the community toward that telos must be inculcated and grown, virtues that necessarily moderate and temper self-interest.”

    Self-interest, properly understood, benefits the community. Selfishness benefits neither the selfish individual or the community. As for a community telos, that only exists in the Church. Unfortunately the two are no longer one. The community wanted a divorce.

    ” I think this is supportive of MacIntyre’s assertion that a community where human flourishing can occur to the highest degree possible must be founded on “moral consensus,” as opposed to legally enshrined pluralism, which I would argue is the case in America.”

    Yes, I’ve heard of him and his assertion. It may be true but it is also irrelevant. It’s not like we have a choice between these two things. Legally enshrined pluralism was and remains the only political alternative to non-stop sectarian warfare. You can’t just create a moral consensus. It grows organically out of a culture. Christianity fought for its place in society amidst a kind of pluralism as well in the Roman Empire.

    “(For what it’s worth, I don’t think the Founders planned this to happen…it was probably inconceivable back in 1780 when basically everyone was a Christian of some stripe…still, I think they knew better than they built).”

    The founders did want a pluralistic society. They basically embraced subsidiarity, as far as I can tell – moral instruction was the responsibility of parents and religious authorities at the local level. It certainly wasn’t the job of the government to create or enforce a “moral consensus.” I don’t know if MacIntyre thinks that it is, but some people I have seen quoting this view of his seem to think so. I think Obama thinks so too.

    “I also hesitate to support so absolutely the idea that capitalism has uplifted humanity.”

    It has materially. That really is indisputable. I didn’t say anything about other aspects of humanity, though. Technology is mostly morally neutral, to be used by human beings for good or evil. It also amplifies both the good and evil we are capable of.

    “I would argue that it’s about more souls getting to Heaven. Can we say with certainty that capitalism has contributed positively to this end?”

    I don’t think it has been a net positive or negative. Capitalism has enabled a lot of filth to be spread. It has also enabled the word of God to reach billions. Roman roads were responsible for the spread of the Gospel in the ancient world. Fiber-optic cables fulfill a similar role today.

    “Finally, I think that analyzing Day (and Merton and Chesterton, etc) in the context of the American political spectrum is too confining.”

    I don’t think I did or would. I do feel obligated to use the words that are in common circulation though, so people understand where I am coming from. Hopefully from there it becomes clear that I’m not talking about Rush Limbaugh vs. Chris Matthews.

  • JDP,

    “you seem to think anything that “expands the state” is automatically bad/sinister.”

    Guilty as charged. The state is an engine of compulsion and violence. I do believe a minimal state is necessary. But with Jefferson, I want to see it shackled by the chains of the Constitution. I want to see it limited to its necessary and legitimate functions. I do think that many evils are involved when the state expands beyond that, especially as it must put guns to our heads and confiscate our labor in order to do so.

    “obviously plenty of people have criticized the stimulus but generally even critics haven’t ascribed these basely cynical motives to it.”

    Ah. Well, let me be clear. I don’t ascribe these motives to this particular stimulus. I think those are the motives of all governments at all times. Is that cynical enough for you?

    If you follow the link I provide, though, you’ll see that it really has nothing to do with speculation about motives. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been invested in economic failures and have subsidized the free-time of unproductive workers. This is a massive injustice on top of being clear evidence of the complete and total incompetence of Obama and his cronies.

    I wasn’t a Mitt Romney fan, but I voted for him largely because of his private sector experience, precisely so this sort of criminal stupidity would be minimized. He at least might have been dependable when it came to investing taxpayer money. If it is going to be taken and spent regardless of what I do, I’d at least like it spent wisely.

    “i don’t see any reason to think Obama doesn’t legitimately believe in what he’s doing, whatever we may think of it. ”

    I think he legitimately believes in expanding the power of the state, that government employees deserve more money, that government agencies deserve bigger budgets, that social engineering is morally justifiable, and that his military policies are as well. No argument from me there.

    “as far as “war machine” we’re winding down in Afghanistan, so unless some drone strikes on al Qaeda operatives makes us a nefarious Empire i dunno what this means”

    I’m not even going to discuss imperialism with someone who seems to think that it is the equivalent of military occupation. You dunno much about it.

  • ctd,

    “I’m not sure I would agree his description of Sirico’s capitalism as merely “nothing more than private property + free exchange of goods and services.” He is much further from Day than that (and for that matter, from JPII and Benedict XVI.)”

    How would you describe it then?

    I’d like to know exactly what he believes that Day would find repugnant. Maybe some quotations to support it.

    “Day was more akin to Chesterton who said something to the effect that capitalism is to private property what a harem is to the sacrament of marriage.”

    You know, this is the second time here someone has said something like “Day’s views were like so-and-so’s views and so-and-so didn’t like capitalism.” Even the descriptions of her articles on the Catholic Worker website try to make her more hostile to capitalism than I ever actually read in her own words.

    As for Chesterton, I’m sorry, but you can’t dismiss everything with a clever quip. We wouldn’t even be aware of his writings if it weren’t for the communications infrastructure built up through saving and investment over the last century and a half. Is that like a “harem” too?

    “There is a tendency to equate respecting the right to economic initiative – which Day, Sirico, and Paul support(ed) – with support of the free market and then with capitalism. I’ve never read anything to support the claim that Day went that far. In fact, her writings appear to reject that conclusion.”

    I don’t see it as “going far.” What does “right to economic initiative” mean? How is this substantially different with the right to own private property and exchange the products of your labor with others without government interference?

    Show me some of the writings. I’ve been looking myself, and I haven’t seen any evidence of this. I’ve seen some statements that might be construed that way, but I haven’t seen anything to the effect of “capitalism is evil and should be rejected.” But like I said, I’ve only really started reading.

  • JL,

    “I think capitalism is a system, and a system that can work (provided it’s grounded in a pervasive ethical system which is not merely “voluntarily” adhered to, an impossibility in America). That doesn’t mean that other approaches don’t exist or shouldn’t be explored.”

    Why “voluntary” in scare quotes? What is it you want to force people to do? I’m not trying to be sarcastic here, I really want to know – if not “voluntary”, then what and why?

    As for other approaches, capitalism has room for a very wide spectrum. The only prohibition is on force and fraud. Don’t use violence and don’t steal, and you can try any approach you like.

  • Now we’re having fun, aren’t we? I look forward to replies.

  • Hi Bonchamps,

    “I haven’t seen it. But then, I haven’t read every word she ever wrote. I’ve browsed her writings at the Catholic Worker archive.”

    I’m no expert on Ms. Day, but it’s out there. Her constant mis-representation as a Communist is largely in response to her critique of capitalism.

    “As far as I know, she identified as a Distributist. But her brand of Distributism is entirely compatible with free-market capitalism.”

    But what about distributism’s central claim that wealth-producing capital and property should be as widely distributed as possible (of course, not necessarily by government mechanizing)? Dorothy Day hated welfare and capitalism because she believed the poor should learn to be self-sufficient, neither beholden to the state nor corporations.

    “Self-interest, properly understood, benefits the community. Selfishness benefits neither the selfish individual or the community.”

    Do you have a good definitional distinction between the two? Were Goldman-Sachs execs not acting in their self-interest when they engaged in dubious lending practices and then bet against the market? They made off quite nicely. I expect the counter is that if the market had been allowed to operate successfully, they would have been punished accordingly.

    “As for a community telos, that only exists in the Church. Unfortunately the two are no longer one. The community wanted a divorce.”

    I’m optimistic that it can exist in intentional communities (recently spent a week at the Abbey of Gethsemani) and someday perhaps in some sort of confessional state.

    Yes, I’ve heard of him and his assertion. It may be true but it is also irrelevant. It’s not like we have a choice between these two things. Legally enshrined pluralism was and remains the only political alternative to non-stop sectarian warfare. You can’t just create a moral consensus. It grows organically out of a culture. Christianity fought for its place in society amidst a kind of pluralism as well in the Roman Empire.

    I would highly recommend reading After Virtue. His argument is serious and not easy to dismiss. Well, I think we do have a choice, but as you point out, one seems associated with the high possibility of sectarian strife. The other, though, is not convincingly better in my opinion. MacIntyre holds up the Greek polis as his model. The limitations are there, but his entire argument is that this type of society is where virtues flourish and humans fulfill their telos. I like to think we could have something like that without the sexism and racism and slavery of Aristotle’s day. Who knows, maybe it’s a pipe dream.

    “The founders did want a pluralistic society. They basically embraced subsidiarity, as far as I can tell – moral instruction was the responsibility of parents and religious authorities at the local level. It certainly wasn’t the job of the government to create or enforce a “moral consensus.” I don’t know if MacIntyre thinks that it is, but some people I have seen quoting this view of his seem to think so. I think Obama thinks so too.”

    I don’t think the founders thought it would be as pluralistic to the extent it is today. They all recognized the need for authentic religion and morality to moderate, as Adams put it, “avarice, ambition, lust, and licentiousness.” As Tocqueville predicted, society is now dominated by formless spiritualities that bend and move to adapt to peoples’ own base wants and desires. It’s not that America is unreligious, it’s that the religions people adhere to are their own personal concoctions, moral therapeutic deism or heresies posing as orthodoxy. Bad Religion by Douthat is an excellent examination of this phenomenon.

    “It has materially. That really is indisputable. I didn’t say anything about other aspects of humanity, though. Technology is mostly morally neutral, to be used by human beings for good or evil. It also amplifies both the good and evil we are capable of.”

    I agree that this is indisputable, but I wonder what the correlation is between material well-being and spiritual well-being.

    “I don’t think it has been a net positive or negative. Capitalism has enabled a lot of filth to be spread. It has also enabled the word of God to reach billions. Roman roads were responsible for the spread of the Gospel in the ancient world. Fiber-optic cables fulfill a similar role today.”

    True, true. I guess it’s easy to romanticize the past and hate the present. And vice versa.

    You and I are both Ron Paul fans, but perhaps for slightly different reasons. I am no libertarian, but I recognize that with someone like Paul as president, we have a real chance of returning to authentic federalism (or at least as good as we’ve ever had), where states can be allowed to operate as mini-republics and the type of religiously oriented communities we saw in the colonial days would be realistic. Plausibly. What do you think of that theory?

  • I’m not sure I’ll find the time to find all the quotes from Day or Sirico, but I think that the basic problem here is that everyone is working with different definitions. Day, like her mentor Maurin, criticized a system where ownership and operation was controlled by those with capital rather than the workers. To them, that was capitalism. Sirico, and it appears like you as well, equate capitalism with economic liberty and the free market.

    The other problem is that too much talk is about the results of these systems rather than the philosophical and theological bases for supporting, opposing, or criticizing them. Libertarians like Paul, and I would submit that Sirico does this as well, start by putting the freedom of the individual contra government as the fundamental principle. Day would never have done that. She put the person, in the context of community, first, and she criticized both government and corporations for failing to respect that.

  • “Why “voluntary” in scare quotes? What is it you want to force people to do? I’m not trying to be sarcastic here, I really want to know – if not “voluntary”, then what and why?”

    My thoughts can be found here: http://abovethespectrum.com/2013/02/15/the-merits-and-limitations-of-conscious-capitalism/

    In a nutshell, if the ethical foundation that everyone from Smith to Adams to Strauss to Tocqeville recognized as necessary to the vitality of capitalism is completely voluntary, people will simply escape it in a liberal society where their right to will always be favored. Eventually, you’ll get to where we are today, where organized religion is pushed out of public life and into the private realm. It’s only capable of doing anything so long as people consent to it, and, as we can see, fewer and fewer people are. Their is no ethical foundation for capitalism to stand upon.

    Have you read much of Patrick Deneen?

  • “I’ve seen some statements that might be construed that way, but I haven’t seen anything to the effect of “capitalism is evil and should be rejected.””

    I don’t think any of us are saying that she said or would have said such a thing. What we are questioning is the jump in saying that her rejection of force and compulsion by government means she accepted capitalism.

    If you haven’t done so, take a look at the publications of the Houston Catholic Worker (http://cjd.org/). They are probably the organization most remains true to Day’s actual views. And yes, there are some articles comparing Sirico with Day.

  • JL,

    “But what about distributism’s central claim that wealth-producing capital and property should be as widely distributed as possible (of course, not necessarily by government mechanizing)?”

    What about it? If it isn’t done by force, then capitalism has no objection. Distribute away. Recombine in any way. I don’t see how any of it conflicts with capitalism.

    “Dorothy Day hated welfare and capitalism because she believed the poor should learn to be self-sufficient, neither beholden to the state nor corporations.”

    How does one become and remain self-sufficient? By working, producing, and exchanging, and also, if one has the willingness and ability, saving and investing. Private property + free exchange. Capitalism.

    No one is beholden to a corporation. We’re talking about voluntary employment, not enslavement or handouts. You provide a service – your labor. In exchange, you get an agreed-upon wage. If this arrangement proves unsatisfactory, it can be terminated at any time. And if alternatives are lacking, that’s where Day and others step in. Create the alternatives. Create the kind of businesses you think should exist. No one in the free market opposes it. But you have to be able to provide people with things that they want.

    That’s what self-sufficiency really consists of, you see. It consists of being able to contribute something useful to society, something that others in society will be willing to exchange for. That’s what capitalism is. That’s all it ever was. Something for nothing – that is social democracy, Keyensianism, Obamunism.

    “Do you have a good definitional distinction between the two?”

    I think so. Self-interest seeking one’s own good, but not at the expense of others, and often in cooperation with them. There may also be competition for scarce resources, but this is actually reduced and minimized by capitalism, not inflated by it. We no longer have tribe wars every month for water and food because we are able to produce enough to feed almost everyone consistently – thanks to technology, innovation, capitalism. THAT was dangerous competition. Two companies slugging it out seems rather tame and acceptable by comparison.

    When you save and invest, you create wealth for others as well. Jobs are created for workers; products are created for consumers; if you do your part well, the jobs become more plentiful and valuable, and the products become cheaper. Everyone wins.

    “Were Goldman-Sachs execs not acting in their self-interest when they engaged in dubious lending practices and then bet against the market? They made off quite nicely.”

    Did they? I read reports that they started carrying handguns to the office every day because of the massive volume of threats they were receiving. They know too that if the system were to malfunction tomorrow, they and their families would be the first to be brutally massacred by an enraged populace, or, if they are lucky, arrested by a provisional government and given a quick execution for their crimes. I don’t think they sleep too soundly.

    There is also the matter of what will happen to their souls when they die. Evil, especially of that magnitude, is never in anyone’s self-interest if we – as you rightly suggest – look beyond the material and the physical.

    ” I expect the counter is that if the market had been allowed to operate successfully, they would have been punished accordingly.”

    There’s that too. But really in a free market they wouldn’t have been able to do any of this. They wouldn’t have had access to cheap and easy credit in the quantities they became accustom to. They would have been bound by a tighter money supply along with everyone else. So there would likely have been nothing to punish.

    Likewise, they’re only still around because of the bailouts. It seems rather insane to me to blame the free market when the government is guaranteeing bailouts to the tune of hundreds of billions – and in fact, if you look at some reports following the secret money – trillions!

    Free markets create incentives to save and invest, to be prudent with one’s wealth and resources. It is government intervention that creates incentives to the sort of horrific recklessness that has characterized the financial class (distinct, in my mind from the industrial class) in recent years. This should be clear. But so many people have the opposite assumption – they think the abuse of freedom led to this mess, and that more rules would have prevented it. It is completely wrong, but it kinda sounds right to people who are completely ignorant of the facts.

    “Well, I think we do have a choice, but as you point out, one seems associated with the high possibility of sectarian strife. The other, though, is not convincingly better in my opinion.”

    How many people, and again I ask in all seriousness, are you willing to kill for a “moral consensus” to emerge? That’s what sectarian strife entails.

    Christianity did not require a moral consensus to reach a critical mass; it established a moral consensus once it had reached a critical mass on its own merits. But there are many, many reasons why I believe that this will not repeat itself. Eschatological reasons, if you want to really get down to it.

    I like what the old Joseph Ratzinger said, before he started talking about global financial regulations and the like as B16. We will never defeat evil, but we can minimize it and keep it at bay until God intervenes decisively and finally.

    “MacIntyre holds up the Greek polis as his model. ”

    I like the Greek polis. I like today’s city-states, i.e. Hong Kong. But we would have a plurality of polities. I’m all for local fascism, as long as I can leave.

    ” It’s not that America is unreligious, it’s that the religions people adhere to are their own personal concoctions, moral therapeutic deism or heresies posing as orthodoxy. ”

    This is true, and deplorable. But I don’t know what can be done about it, other than witnessing for the true faith. Or acknowledging that there is a true faith. Or acknowledging that truth exists. We have to start there, really. That’s how far we are from a moral consensus, and one of the reasons I don’t ever see it happening.

    “I agree that this is indisputable, but I wonder what the correlation is between material well-being and spiritual well-being.”

    I’d say it is obvious that one needs both. There is a minimum beneath which no person should fall materially. But there is no maximum for spiritual well-being. God is infinite. We can never have enough.

    “What do you think of that theory?”

    I like it. If we just respected the 10th amendment and maybe allowed some of the states to split up into smaller states, we could get there (but that would cause all kinds of messy electoral problems, so I dunno).

    We still have Rand. Sigh.

  • ctd,

    “Day, like her mentor Maurin, criticized a system where ownership and operation was controlled by those with capital rather than the workers. To them, that was capitalism. Sirico, and it appears like you as well, equate capitalism with economic liberty and the free market.”

    It isn’t quite so simple. I mentioned private property as well, which capital usually is. But what else is capital? It is usually savings. So unless there is something immoral about accumulation through saving and then investing the savings, there can’t be anything immoral about capitalism as such. Capitalists take enormous risks with their investments. This merits nothing?

    More importantly, though, absolutely nothing prevents “the workers” from saving and investing but their own will. Most workers don’t want the responsibilities or, more importantly, the risks of business ownership and management. If they did, we would see more workers cooperatives. It isn’t like there is a law against them, or as if evil capitalists are conspiring against them. But some workers evidently do want the responsibility, and so we do have some cooperatives and other forms of employee participation in profits. There are also plenty of organizations out there that spread information about these kinds of arrangements.

    So a whole distributist economy is there waiting to be carved out of our “individualist” economy if and when a critical mass of people decide they want it.

    “The other problem is that too much talk is about the results of these systems rather than the philosophical and theological bases for supporting, opposing, or criticizing them.”

    Not when you’re talking to Austrians. For Rothbard and Paul, capitalism is an ethical system. It is based on the non-aggression principle. It is what naturally results when basic individual and natural rights are respected by society and the state.

    “Libertarians like Paul, and I would submit that Sirico does this as well, start by putting the freedom of the individual contra government as the fundamental principle.”

    The freedom of the individual from aggression, period, of which government aggression is a particular and widespread type.

    “Day would never have done that. She put the person, in the context of community, first, and she criticized both government and corporations for failing to respect that.”

    Corporations could respect it more, I have to agree. But corporations are mostly reactive. That’s another thing leftists often fail to comprehend. They exist to meet a demand. Whatever they’re supplying is what they’ve discerned as the popular demand. You can say this is immoral, but really it is the purpose, the function, of a business. The immorality lies elsewhere, i.e. with the demanders.

    I can understand being a critic of American corporate culture. But it is just factually wrong to set it up as an active opponent of distributism/whatever else you want to promote. That would be my main point. The way things are isn’t the “fault” of the corporations.

  • “I like what the old Joseph Ratzinger said, before he started talking about global financial regulations and the like as B16.”

    But Catholics are not free to merely disregard Catholic social doctrine, which is what Caritas in Veritate is, just because they don’t like it.

    “How does one become and remain self-sufficient? By working, producing, and exchanging, and also, if one has the willingness and ability, saving and investing. Private property + free exchange. Capitalism.”

    As noted before, many would question this definition of capitalism, but besides that you seem to assume that a free exchange is just. Check the Catechism. “Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages.” (2434). That chapter also makes clear that the state has an obligation to interfere in that agreement if necessary because it has an obligation to prevent theft and ensure justice.

  • ctd,

    “But Catholics are not free to merely disregard Catholic social doctrine, which is what Caritas in Veritate is, just because they don’t like it.”

    I’m not disregarding it. If it says what I think it says, though, I will criticize it. With plenty of regard.

    “As noted before, many would question this definition of capitalism, but besides that you seem to assume that a free exchange is just.”

    Not every conceivable free exchange is just. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the use of force is required or justifiable to obtain a just outcome.

    “Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages.” (2434).”

    I know exactly what this is based upon. Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum. And the good news is that what he said is also quite compatible with the typical operation of capitalism. Employers have to pay workers enough to live. With regards to support of family, which was the other provision of Leo’s, we have a stickier problem. This is not because of capitalism as such, however – most employers were able and willing to pay family wages and many still are. What problems we have encountered in this area have to do with the pervasive influence of radical feminism and the massive flood of women into the workplace. The assumption on the part of many employers now is that both the husband and the wife work. There is less of a reason, then, for them to pay out family wages. This isn’t something you can blame on the market. This situation resulted from a cultural revolution.

    We also have the issue of global competition, of course. But there the costs of a protectionist regime have to be weighed against the benefits of globalized production and trade.

    Finally, and most importantly, it is a critical and serious error to measure economic justice in terms of WAGES alone. It is worth asking whether or not there are other means by which the basic human needs of the worker can be met. Why, for instance, isn’t inflation as thoroughly addressed by ANY pope? Inflation arguably inflicts far more harm than low wages on people of poor and average means. If inflation were seriously addressed, the material situation of the vast majority of the workers could and would improve without any change in the dollar amount received in wages. The same dollars would be able to purchase more. So why the silence on this alternative?

    It is because one economic paradigm, and not another, has influenced the Papacy. It is because one economic paradigm, and not another, swept Europe by storm. This can happen in areas not related to faith and morals – the Papacy can become influenced by frankly bad ideas.

    “That chapter also makes clear that the state has an obligation to interfere in that agreement if necessary because it has an obligation to prevent theft and ensure justice.”

    The state doesn’t have a magic calculator that can determine the market value of someone’s labor. Justice would be ensured if the state stopped printing trillions of dollars and destroying the value of the dollars held by ordinary people. But no one talks about this.

  • I also have to add that there are many things that you can do to arbitrarily increase wages that would harm all workers and consumers in the long run. When seriously considering the common good, how can one just call for wage increases and ignore all potential negative consequences?

    Is the common good ever served by just blindly promoting a single policy?

  • I wasn’t arguing for responding to injustices by wages alone or anything like that. I was just pointing out one instance in thousands of pages of social doctrine where the Church clearly states (1) that economic freedom between individuals is not itself sufficient and (2) it is entirely proper for the state to intervene in economic matters. Those two principles do not mean that the Church has rejected capitalism, but they do indicate that it rejects the notion that ownership of property and free exchange are sufficient for the protection and fostering of the life and dignity of the human person.

    I am troubled by your claim that the Church’s social doctrine has been shaped by a particular economic paradigm and the area itself is not a matter of faith and morals. There wasn’t much serious debate on the matter before John Paul II, but he nevertheless made it very clear that this was not the case. The Church’s social doctrine, including those related to economics, is an integral part of the Church’s teaching and part of the magisterium. It is not just the opinions of various pope’s responding only to particular issues relevant only to their time and experience.

  • “I’m not even going to discuss imperialism with someone who seems to think that it is the equivalent of military occupation. You dunno much about it.”

    well that’s what it is. or is that too technical? i’m not a fan of conflating liberalism with socialism either for that matter.

    by your metric the only way the U.S. can be non-“imperial” is if it stops caring about the outcome of certain conflicts/does not kill terrorist associates who are a direct threat, for fear of blowback. that’s rigging the argument.

  • Ctd,

    “I was just pointing out one instance in thousands of pages of social doctrine where the Church clearly states (1) that economic freedom between individuals is not itself sufficient and (2) it is entirely proper for the state to intervene in economic matters. ”

    And this is the problem with deductive reasoning. You can start with principles that sound fine in theory and lead to disaster in practice.

    It isn’t possible to separate means from ends either, because these principles are all proposed with ends in mind. WHY is it ok for the state to intervene in economic matters, according to the recent social teachings? For some supposed benefit, for the common good, etc. And yet the facts demonstrate that state intervention in the economy almost always causes more problems than it solves and ends up perpetuating injustices instead of eliminating them. So if you have a principle that doesn’t accomplish what its stated purpose is, this is a problem.

    Leo XIII, who initiated modern CST, was much more restrained in his approach than his successors. He was much more clear about the purpose and the limitations of the state. An almost laissez-faire model could be derived from Rerum Novarum.

    ” Those two principles do not mean that the Church has rejected capitalism, but they do indicate that it rejects the notion that ownership of property and free exchange are sufficient for the protection and fostering of the life and dignity of the human person.”

    There are two different ideas here.

    I don’t believe that ownership + exchange = sufficient for the dignity of humanity, etc. I believe they are necessary. Necessary is not = to sufficient.

    The reality is that much of what the Church has proposed for the MATERIAL well-being of humanity in the 20th and 21st centuries has been rooted in flawed economic theories. This is distinct from spiritual well-being, though frankly, as a traditionalist I would point to quite a few problems there as well.

    “I am troubled by your claim that the Church’s social doctrine has been shaped by a particular economic paradigm and the area itself is not a matter of faith and morals. ”

    Well, it has, and it isn’t. It doesn’t trouble me though. Research how Papal encyclicals come together. Rerum Novarum, for instance, was written under the influence of philosophers and economists who were themselves influenced by Lockean liberalism. Quadragesimo Anno was written when fascist corporatism was at the zenith of its respectability. They are, consequently, two different encyclicals.

    Finally, when you advance policies that you claim will have certain effects, and they don’t have those effects – as is demonstrable in the case of Pius XI and Paul VI, just off the top of my head – we are clearly not dealing with infallibility. We’re dealing with an area in which it is possible for error to creep in, and it has.

  • JDP,

    That’s not all that it is. But I seriously have to stop posting now. We can debate imperialism later. If you still really want to.

  • JDP,

    Y’all either type fast or what.

    Good job: take a phrase and disregard the facts/truth of the comment.

    I don’t believe that Obama thinks he’s doing evi