Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been, A Libertarian?

Friday, February 20, AD 2015

 

Libertarians

 

As faithful readers of this blog know, I have absolutely no use for the late Ayn Rand, a  puerile novelist who got rich on the formula of writing didactic libertarian novels like Atlas Shrugged, and filling them with smut at a time when smutty mainstream novels were still a rarity.  I also have little use for libertarians, the perfect political philosophy for fifteen year old nerds.  However, , at The Stream, is quite correct about a new form of “red baiting” going on in Saint Blog’s today:

 

Today Catholic circles are seeing the exact same tactic, except that now the use of guilt-by-association and false implication is serving the cause of big-government statists. The targets are conservative Catholics who distrust the modern secular state, and the smear-word is not “Communist” but “libertarian,” which is then connected with the thought of Ayn Rand. Welcome to the age of the Rand-baiters.

An entire conference held last summer at Catholic University of America was devoted to such Rand-baiting, to speeches that said, implicitly or explicitly, that Catholics who oppose the expansion of government and the large-scale redistribution of wealth are “dissenters” from Catholic Social Teaching. Listening to them speak one would imagine that opposing the leviathan state was a heterodoxy on par with supporting partial-birth abortion and euthanasia. Austin Ruse wrote a fine response to this conference, which provoked a sneering answer from Matthew Boudway at Commonweal.

Go here to read the rest.  Can we supply an example of this Rand Baiting?  Can we?  (Mark, you are missing your cue!)

I am similarly dubious. When I hear Ryan a) ceasing to pretend that he was never an acolyte of Rand and b) doing more than paying lip service to Thomas and citing more than the word “subsidiarity” to give his rhetoric a veneer of Catholic respectability, I will take his Sister Souljah Moment with regard to Rand seriously. Till then, I’m not buyin’ Ryan. He seems to me to be a particularly odious epigone of the Randian Class Warrior against the weak, dressing his class warfare with a few rags from Catholic social teaching to make it look nice. When the Randian jargon goes and is replaced with actual Catholic social teaching beyond the bare repetition of the sacred word “subsidiarity” (interpreted to mean “individualism and hostility to the state”) I’ll start to trust that he is serious.

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24 Responses to Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been, A Libertarian?

  • Maybe Mark could take the time to carefully elucidate Church teaching on economics. After all, he has made his vocation as a Catholic apologist, and as such he should have the time and opportunity to delve deep into the roots of Catholic teaching. As a full-time apologist, certainly he has the time and ability to read through and thoroughly research documents dating back to the time of Aquinas and well beyond. As someone whose life’s work is calling people to conversion, he could lay out a meticulous and well-documented long essay or even book that deconstructs centuries of writing and distill Church economic teachings to its very essence.

    Alternatively, he could just write shrill blog posts that mock people who disagree with him without making a substantive case as to why the person being derided is wrong.

  • “He seems to me to be a particularly odious epigone of the Randian Class Warrior against the weak…”

    Actually, it seems that the current social justice crowd are the class warriors, resurrecting Marxism with a Christian veneer. Neo-Marxism perhaps. Or perhaps more a Christian materialism.

  • I don’t waste a second reading their crap. That’s why I come to this blog.
    ;
    Your “certain catholic circles” are pathetic. They have nothing but dishonest ad hominems and hysterical shrieks of, in this case, “Libertarian!” That is equally as honest and intelligent as the noises heard from a wind chime in a hurricane. If the crux of the essay is errant, typing in words such as “epigone” doesn’t make it right.

    .
    The catholic/social justice cranks are demonstrably not self-aware. hey fail to recognize that their, and their democrat/statist allies’, agendae are based on envy, hatred, and lies. They aid and abet liberal politics and the state which essentially are coercion/force and deceit.

  • Ayn Rand Objectivists and Libertarians are two different things, although they share some similar points of view. Both points of view are however flawed. That said, I used to consider myself Libertarian until I came to realize that the Libertarian Party in the United States supports abortion and homosexual marriage. I prefer to simply be called Catholic. As such, Caesar is not my God.
    .
    BTW, why would anyone find as admirable an adulterous woman of insatiable sexual need who died of heart disease and lung cancer because she lack the self control to stop smoking cigarettes? The selfishness which she deified was abominable.
    .
    Also interestingly she was a Russian Jew.

  • “Alternatively, he could just write shrill blog posts that mock people who disagree with him without making a substantive case as to why the person being derided is wrong.”
    ***
    He-who-should-be-ignored has become nothing more that a caricature. He’s quite pathetic, really. I almost … ALMOST … want to feel sorry for him because of how far he’s fallen from his apologist roots to become whatever it is that he is now.

  • Sorry to be a repetitive bore on this subject, but the problem that Shea, Dineen, et al do not confront re this subject is that the social encyclicals (esp. Rerum Novarum) are difficult to operationalize. That named seems to assume master-journeyman-apprentice configurations which were disappearing then and are non existent in our time. So what do you do? (You also get the impression that the Pope’s thinking was clouded by the experience of daily life in an ecclesiastical economy wherein everyone has a stipend or benefice which has little relation to marketable skills). This superstructure sits on top of the bowl-o-spaghetti which is papal teachings on usury. I’ve heard some reasonable arguments from economists and medieval historians on the implications of lending at interest in poor agricultural economies where the ratio of cash to real income was low to get a sense of why it was considered a dubious practice in that context. You still have at least one papal encyclical (addressed to the Italian bishops in 1745 or thereabouts, not the whole Church) which explicitly addresses that and denies that interest is licit in any context.

    Keep in mind the sort of thing we’re arguing about in this country would be the pros and cons of various means of financing medical care. It’s difficult to see how papal teachings (even without the lacunae which infest them) can adjudicate disputes that granular. Append to that the tendency of people without much aptitude for mathematics and statistics to think in terms of nominal categories rather than spectra. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party are vehicles for different sets of interests and different subcultures and that is reflected in public policy dispositions. So the fact that Republican legislators are less inclined to advocate or accede to state allocation of one or another resource is transmogrified in the minds of innumerate yappers into advocacy of the nightwatchman state. The innumerate yappers also do not take into account the ways in which our political institutions fuel obstructive veto groups. The federal government is a Fibber McGee’s closet of agencies which were derived from the pet projects of Lyndon Johnson or long departed members of Congress. Has anyone done a tally of which of them would be eliminated by Ryan’s don’t-rock-the-boat multi-year budget plans? Veronique de Rugy has been writing a series on the efforts to shut down one modest corporate welfare sink, the Export-Import Bank and the resistance that’s getting from both sides of the aisle. That’s the reality of public policy in the making.

    In fairness to the yappers, you knock-about in discussion fora frequented by partisan Republicans and there is an abrasive retro-libertarian element therein. These people all have two things in common: they have no familiarity with how much anything costs even in sketchy outline and they are not in positions where they actually deal with policy questions in their professional life. Republican policy is not likely to ever reflect the viewpoints of these types.

    /rant off.

  • Libertarianism is a bit like communism– a really pretty theory that does massive damage when over-applied. For communism, that’s pretty much any time it’s outside of the family; for libertarianism, it’s more not so clear cut. (maybe because there’s so much less control involved?) They both have baseline issues– communism, who decides what is fair; libertarianism, who decides who is a person, and what harm is, and similar things.
    They’re both trying to make messy, personal and complicated things simple, neat, systematic… and they fail, in pure form, because of that.
    ***
    For the howler monkeys– they’re name calling. Don’t give it any more dignity than that. When they bother to make an actual argument, then answer it; other than that, point out the fallacies and refuse to dignify them with more.

  • I’ve never been a libertarian because of their stand on drugs and sex. And I, like Don and several others, I have no use for Ayn Rand because she was a heartless person who exploited the people who followed her. For a devastating portrait of ‘Miss Objectivism’ read Daniel Flynn’s “Intellectual Morons” which also has some spot on looks at several other liberal loonies.

  • Paul: that Rand was Russian Jew has absolutely no impact on her ideology.
    .
    Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:”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.”
    .
    I am fearful that giving government access to taxing the citizens for an agenda such as Social Justice, Obamacare or Global Warming will only bloat the government will little, if any, serious trickle down effect to help the poor. In evidence, there is Obamacare, willing to murder people to balance their idea of who ought to be given the Right to Life and who must be euthanized by our tax dollars. The virtue of charity is a matter of personal conscience of the individual citizen, not of government. Government has already violated man’s individual conscience by denying a man and his personal conscience. So, how is government going to do Justice to Social Justice?
    .
    Another example of government abdicating its obligations after taking our tax money, is how our veterans are being ignored and abandoned after giving their all to defend our nation. Private organizations are helping, but the government has taken our tax money. Taxation without representation. Do not let it happen again.
    .
    Now, that I am a digit with a social security number to the government, the government has little care about eradicating me.

  • died of heart disease and lung cancer because she lack the self control to stop smoking cigarettes?

    Rand died at 77, a perfectly unremarkable life span for a woman born in 1905 (about normal, in fact). I do not think cigarette smoking has ever been considered a healthy habit, but by the time the association between cigarettes and lung cancer was a matter of public record, Rand was 61 years old. I have a fairly proximate relation who quit smoking at age 59. He still died of lung cancer. I’ve consulted actuarial data which tells me I remain at elevated risk for lung cancer (not having smoked in nearly a quarter century). Tobacco’s one of life’s pleasures (which no one indulges in moderation, sad to say).

    It’s conceivable her sexual appetite was ‘insatiable’. I had not heard about anyone other than her husband and Nathaniel Branden. Of course, carrying on an affair with a man 20 years your junior is not something ordinary women in their 50s do…

  • Also interestingly she was a Russian Jew.

    With a social viewpoint and a set of mores quite different from the median among Ashkenazic Jews in the United States. She also intermarried, which was not done in 1929. The significance of her origins is that she was a child of Russia’s small merchant-professional class and her family saw its property (an apothecary shop) stolen by the Bosheviks. That triggered the development of her social thought.

  • Art Deco: “It’s conceivable her sexual appetite was ‘insatiable’.”
    .
    Anything “insatiable” is, in reality, flight from mortality, death.

  • ”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.”

    Fake quote. It has been conning people since 1937:

    http://www.snopes.com/quotes/jefferson/banks.asp

  • Sorry, Mister McClarey. I will be more careful.

  • Everyone gets fooled now and then Mary including me. Fake quotes drive me up the wall and I expose them whenever I see them.

  • Anybody had a chance to read Anthony Esolen’s book yet? I haven’t, but it sounds worthwhile; at least based on this review:
    .

    Like the thought of Pope Leo XIII, Esolen’s thinking is suffused with Christian realism about men and how they live. In his discussion of social life, for example, he summarizes the concreteness of Christian love in a memorable way: “Jesus did not command us to love ‘mankind.’ There is no such reductive abstraction in true Christian morality. Jesus commanded us to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The neighbor is not someone conveniently on the other side of the world. The neighbor is inconveniently here, now. He is the man who never mows his lawn and who drinks too much. She is the woman escaping from her troubled home to meddle in the lives of the victims of her benevolence. He is the man fallen among thieves, right there in the ditch, bleeding his life away.” It is only with this sort of understanding that any sense can be made of how social life works.

    Catholic social teaching has become, certainly in this country, almost completely politicized. Many, perhaps most, Catholics hear the phrase and automatically associate it with the political left. Esolen’s erudite primer eviscerates this distortion by restoring a sound understanding of this area: not left (or, for that matter, right) on the ideological spectrum but Catholic: rooted in the family, in the common good, and ultimately in the source of all Catholic life—the Eucharist.

  • Art Deco wrote, “You still have at least one papal encyclical (addressed to the Italian bishops in 1745 or thereabouts, not the whole Church) which explicitly addresses that and denies that interest is licit in any context.”
    You have in mind Vix Pervenit by Pope Benedict XIV, probably the greatest Canonist ever to sit in the Chair of Peter (his only competitor is Innocent IV).
    He declares that “The nature of the sin called usury has its proper place and origin in a loan contract. This financial contract between consenting parties demands, by its very nature, that one return to another only as much as he has received. The sin rests on the fact that sometimes the creditor desires more than he has given…”
    However, he continues, “By these remarks, however, We do not deny that at times together with the loan contract certain other titles – which are not at all intrinsic to the contract – may run parallel with it. From these other titles, entirely just and legitimate reasons arise to demand something over and above the amount due on the contract. Nor is it denied that it is very often possible for someone, by means of contracts differing entirely from loans, to spend and invest money legitimately either to provide oneself with an annual income or to engage in legitimate trade and business. From these types of contracts honest gain may be made.”
    This is really obvious. A loan for consumption of money or other fungibles (mutuum), like a loan for use (commodatum), or deposit or pledge, is a real contract. The obligation arises from the delivery and receipt of a thing (“res”) and can only be one of restitution (or of repetition, in the case of fungibles). Contrast commodatum with hire (locatio conductio), where a rental is legitimate, for there the title constituting the obligation is different; it is a consensual contract, not a real one.

  • As I’ve said before on this and other blogs, my take on Ayn Rand is that her Objectivist philosophy was basically a massive overreaction to Soviet Communism that went off the deep end in the other direction. She fled Stalinist Russia and despised anything that reminded her of it; and because that regime used concepts like “common good” and “shared sacrifice” to justify what they were doing, she decided that these concepts were bad.

    The two books by her that MAY be worth reading are “The Romantic Manifesto,” which explains her view of art (and articulates why so much modern art leaves people cold) and a collection of essays titled “The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution,” which does a great job of skewering the pretensions of liberals. In these two instances, Rand was the proverbial stopped clock that happened to tell the correct time. Other than that… forget it.

    I’m still waiting for someone to come up with a political or social philosophy that doesn’t take an all-or-nothing approach of “Government is always the solution” or “Government is always the problem.” Is it just possible that we really need a balance between these two extremes and that the balance may need to be periodically adjusted as conditions change? A dash of libertarianism, or government intervention, may be appropriate in some circumstances but totally disastrous in others.

  • Elaine Krewer wrote, “I’m still waiting for someone to come up with a political or social philosophy that doesn’t take an all-or-nothing approach of “Government is always the solution” or “Government is always the problem.”
    Recall Rousseau’s answer: “The question “What absolutely is the best government?” is unanswerable as well as indeterminate; or rather, there are as many good answers as there are possible combinations in the absolute and relative situations of all nations.
    But if it is asked by what sign we may know that a given people is well or ill governed, that is another matter, and the question, being one of fact, admits of an answer.
    It is not, however, answered, because everyone wants to answer it in his own way. Subjects extol public tranquillity, citizens individual liberty; the one class prefers security of possessions, the other that of person; the one regards as the best government that which is most severe, the other maintains that the mildest is the best; the one wants crimes punished, the other wants them prevented; the one wants the State to be feared by its neighbours, the other prefers that it should be ignored; the one is content if money circulates, the other demands that the people shall have bread. Even if an agreement were come to on these and similar points, should we have got any further? As moral qualities do not admit of exact measurement, agreement about the mark does not mean agreement about the valuation.
    For my part, I am continually astonished that a mark so simple is not recognised, or that men are of so bad faith as not to admit it. What is the end of political association? The preservation and prosperity of its members. And what is the surest mark of their preservation and prosperity? Their numbers and population. Seek then nowhere else this mark that is in dispute. The rest being equal, the government under which, without external aids, without naturalisation or colonies, the citizens increase and multiply most, is beyond question the best. The government under which a people wanes and diminishes is the worst. Calculators, it is left for you to count, to measure, to compare”

  • I’m still waiting for someone to come up with a political or social philosophy that doesn’t take an all-or-nothing approach of “Government is always the solution” or “Government is always the problem.”

    I do not think any well thought out conception of the political order working in the broad swath of territory between Robert Nozick and Lenin would say either, and neither extreme would be reflected in the policies politicians actually pursue. You’re confounding social thought with rhetorical tropes. The thing is, much political discussion is self-aggrandizing. You can see this more readily on the portside because a lot of it defaults to vacuous babble about various bogies in lieu of discussing a discrete set of issues. On the starboard, much of it takes the form of jabs and complaints that productive citizens such as themselves are being injured by various and sundry social parasites. There is some truth to that, but you try to get them on the subject of how the quality of public services might be improved and you get a complete blank; the only discussion of public agencies they favor is point-and-laugh that said agency bollixed something up.

  • Rand has her heroic characters clearly attempt to obey the Natural Law. The banker’s books balance. The employers pay wages to the last penny. They don’t lie, cheat, steal, defraud, murder, or vandalize. They earn their wealth from their own hard work. The books would be better without the smut – but I’ve seen similar lacunae for different cardinal sins from “Catholic” authors. She held to “Objectivism” – that the moral law was objective, like CS Lewis pointed out, and that places her and her followers far closer to truth than the moral relativists – including those claiming to be Christian or Catholic. Her reasoning was sometimes faulty, and even rationalizing (she only committed adultery after finding a loophole). But she was aiming at the right target.

    The Bishops have found it more convenient to have the national governments do their job. When appearing before the judgment throne, Jesus will say “When I was sick, hungry, etc., you told me to go to Obama for help!”. So “Catholic” hospitals have to do far more today than burn a bit of incense to the god of Caesar. They have to engage in (unborn) human sacrifice.

    In the movie, “Time Bandits” near the climax, the dwarves go across time to get weapons and aid. Two are futuristic machines, and when the battle starts the Devil says “I control the machines” – one of the dwarves says “he’s right!” and it starts shooting at the dwarves and not the Devil.

    Government is like that. If you keep it simple and direct and appropriate (subsidiarity) the Devil doesn’t have much to seduce and pervert, and the corruption is usually obvious. But centralize and complicate power and the Devil has an easy time. Acton was a christian and libertarian, and what he said is true: Power corrupts.

    That is what the US Declaration and Constitution are about. Limiting, dispersing, and causing conflicts of power. Just enough to do the job Government has the competence and authority to do. And leave the Church free to do things proper to its sphere, and citizens free to go about their business in peace and freedom.

    Ayn Rand understood and got a large part of that right. Too many Catholics today don’t understand any of it. They think that the gospel says to get Caesar to do the works of mercy.

  • tz: “(she only committed adultery after finding a loophole). But she was aiming at the right target.”
    .
    Actually, tz, if Ayn Rand was looking for a loophole to commit adultery, she wasn’t committed to finding the truth. Looking for a loophole to get out of heaven is not very wise and puts her other judgments into question.
    .
    The rest of your post is very interesting and very well thought out.

  • I’d love to hear the loophole. I’ve had plenty of arguments with hostile-to-tradition type libertarians who don’t even want to admit that she did.
    For those who want a thumbnail: she entered the union with her husband with the agreement that they could sleep around– if the other agreed. She then did it against her husband’s wishes, which is an even bigger deal than is obvious because the entire point is that she couldn’t keep even a deal where she’d designed it, entered it willingly, and entered it with full humanly possible knowledge.
    The hostile-to-tradition sorts tend to reject the social contract because they think it’s not fair to expect people to hold up their end of a deal unless they entered it willingly, and they specifically exclude any non-explicit agreements.

  • Folks,

    You really need to understand how Objectivists view selfishness as a virtue:

    http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/selfishness.html

    And here is a time line of Ayn Rand, the Brandens and her adultery, and not just hers:

    http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/bio/brandens.html

    In my apostasy I tried to adopt the Objectivist philosophy. It depressed me to the point where I had a breakdown and almost drank again. In my opinion, because it has so many things in its philosophy which seem true and correct, Objectivism is one step removed from Libertarianism and closer to true evil.

7 Responses to Libertarianism & CST: The Debate Continues

  • My response:
    .
    Sanchez says I’ve done nothing to alter his original opinion of my views:
    .
    “everything that coheres with the libertarian worldview is in; everything which opposes it is out.”
    .
    Let me explain why it looks that way. As I have already mentioned, and as has been mentioned by other Catholic libertarians and even pro-market conservatives, there are two kinds of statements about economics; “normative” or moral statements, and descriptive or technical statements. In my reading of the Papal encyclicals, there is very little, if anything at all, in the way of normative or moral statements that I would toss out. This is because the vast majority of such statements are clearly oriented towards the ultimate ends of economic activity, which is the common good. No disagreement from me on that!
    .
    What I consider “out” are statements of a descriptive or predictive or theoretical nature that are either dubious or simply false. And there are plenty of those.
    .
    Next:
    .
    “As a matter of interpretive principles, I reject Hargrave’s narrow textualist approach which would create a tensions in the encyclical’s text and also put Leo XIII’s instruction out of continuity with post-Leonine developments of Catholic social teaching (CST). Hargrave, oddly, seems to forget that Rerum Novarum launched, not capped, the Church’s modern social magisterium.”
    .
    I don’t believe my reading of RN creates tensions in the text itself. Here Sanchez and I have what I consider to be mostly a semantic dispute that I’m not even going to address in detail here. But I do believe there are tensions between RN and later developments in CST. So what?
    .
    The whole reason we have these debates is to overcome the incessant moralism and dogmatism that the self-appointed defenders of CST often engage in. I am not arguing that all Catholics must be libertarians, but I am arguing that the goals of justice and general prosperity are best served by a market economy. In the minds of more than a few Catholics, this argument itself is heretical. In Leo XIII we have a pope who articulated and defended the first and most basic pillar of a free market economy – the individual, natural and inviolable right to the fruits of one’s labor as their property. In further discussing the relation between the individual man and the state, Leo XIII defends the idea that it is man who precedes the state (a reversal of the old Aristotelian idea), that his rights exist before the state exists, and it is the state that exists to serve man and protect his rights. He rejects the notion that the state has a duty to confiscate the surplus wealth of individuals and redistribute it to the poor (except in cases of extreme need). If all of this causes “tension”, well, one can read it all out of the encyclical, deny that it is there, magically “contextualize” it out of existence – or one can accept that there are tensions, and that this is ok. Who said there had to be 100% consistency on these points? We’re not talking about the Immaculate Conception here.
    .
    I could also go off on a long tangent about a whole host of other “tensions” in the pre and post Vatican II Magisteriums that are a heck of a lot more disturbing than this one, but Sanchez is quite familiar with those already.

    .
    Next:
    .
    Sanchez says I and others blatantly mischaracterize his views about what CST calls for. Well, I never intended to mischaracterize. His views weren’t exactly clear to me, and in some cases I was simply speaking in general terms about what people on his side of the spectrum tend to believe. I have a feeling that if we got down to details, we would probably end up agreeing on a number of issues. If he rejects mass egalitarian projects like Obamacare, onerous taxes on the wealthy, a Leviathan administrative state, etc. then I don’t see that we have many practical disagreements. The key issue for the libertarian is the use of force. As a minarchist I’m not a “pure” libertarian anarchist, but I do reject confiscatory taxation as a violation of the right to private property. I reject the idea that an entity with an absolute monopoly of violence is required to “intervene” in the economy – let alone to ensure that “labor” is somehow exalted over “capital.” Of course I am interested to see how that might be done without “heavy handed, often costly regulatory measures.” Impress me!
    .
    Next:
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    “I would ask Hargrave, in charity as a fellow Catholic, to drop libertarianism’s Manichaean outlook which would have all the world divided into “freedom lovers” and “statists.””
    .
    I haven’t called anyone a statist, not here, in my previous reply, or in my Crisis piece. If I did in a comment box somewhere, I apologize.

  • That picture of Leo XIII is vaguely campy. Why are you using it?

  • There are many reasons why the state may interfere with free markets, other than redistribution of wealth.

    Protectionism, whether in the form of tariffs or subsidies is often proposed on strategic grounds, to ensure security of supply in the event of conflict. For more than a century, French governments protected their iron and steel industries, subsidized agriculture for this reason. They built a vast rail network, 30,000 km of it, with branch lines serving every hamlet. Most of these could never operate at a profit; they were intended for the rapid mobilisation of reserves and it was as much part of the national defences as the frontier fortresses.

    It was Liberals and Radical Republicans, one recalls, who treated universal suffrage and universal conscription as two sides of the same coin and saw in the levée en masse the supreme expression of the republic, one and indivisible

    Adam Smith, one recalls, defended the Navigation Acts, requiring British goods to be exported in British ships on precisely these grounds: they created, in effect, a naval reserve and a ready supply of fleet auxiliaries.

    An Arch-Conservative like Bismark, ran Prussia like an armed camp; every male citizen was a soldier, actual or potential, industry was increasingly integrated into the system of national defence and the distinction between the armed forces and the “Home Front” was blurred.

    One recalls Rousseau, “Each man alienates, I admit, by the social compact, only such part of his powers, goods and liberty as it is important for the community to control; but it must also be granted that the Sovereign [the People] is sole judge of what is important.”

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  • So far all wealth transfer has done is export abortion, contraception and sterilization to men and women around the world, particularly in developing countries that don’t want it. In fact, the recipients of charity must agree to sterilize, Norplant or vasectomies in order to receive food, medicine, water and mosquito nets. It disgusts me. I refuse to support government mandated wealth redistribution until the evils of abortion and contraception are abolished. Let the poor receive hard goods (such as bags of rice) through reputable suppliers only, and not the U.N. and its population councils as it is presently done. I demand that Pope Francis account for where charitable donations go, and give us a sound reason why Catholics should support wealth redistribution in the face of this great evil.

  • This is most certainly an oversimplified assertion, but libertarianism, as it is generally espoused today, is compatible neither with Catholicism nor, for that matter, with the American ethos. Liberty and order, which may superficially appear to be incompatible, must be pursued simultaneously, as neither has unqualified primacy of place in the creation and maintenance of the good society.

    Catholicism and the American ethos define order in a quite different manner, but both acknowledge that order, pursued in a predetermined, consistent and principled manner, is necessary to true liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One of the primary challenges for American Catholics is to resolve the tension between the Catholic view of order and the American view of order.

  • ” . . . but libertarianism, as it is generally espoused today, is compatible neither with Catholicism nor for that matter, with the American ethos.”
    .
    Correct. Libertarianism, as it is generally espoused today, is a corruption fomented by major party hacks and other fascists of varying hue. Libertarianism, as I knew it 30 years ago before it became a threat to the Standing Order, was so compatible with the American ethos that we had trouble even finding contrast to give it substance and definition. It was compatible with Catholicism like nitrogen is compatible with breathing. As it is generally espoused today it is not Libertarianism. To believe that it is, is to swallow the Kool-Aid and join the lockstep ranks of statist lemmings.
    .
    The corruption that Libertarianism has suffered is the same corruption that has pervaded all of American society. All of society and everything relevant to it – in short, pretty much everything – is now seen through the lens of collective politics and government. In this way, the Progressive Fascists have already won the day. This warped, Godless perspective cannot but paint its diametric opposite in anything but the ugliest of shades. The better part, then, it to shatter the lens of corruption and look straight on.
    .
    Once the corrupting interference is excised, Libertarianism is viewed from a human perspective which is the only accurate view: Morals and ethics ought to be taught by parents to their children, informed and reinforced by their chosen houses of worship without question of correctness, even in dissimilarity, among the citizens. Responsibilities ought to be solely the realm of the individual, forged by the necessity of either working in profitable mutual effort or failing. Rights ought to be propagated primarily through their mutual defense even (or especially) in disagreement in order to preserve the integrity of community and nation (“I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Try that on ANY campus of “higher learning” today.) Shortcoming in any of these three areas represents a failure, and it is incumbent upon friend and neighbor to offer fellowship, loving chastisement and opportunity for mutual benefit in its cure. These are the cornerstones of Libertarianism.
    .
    Government ought to be the warehouse in which violence in the name of order is bound, and loosed only in circumstances that render no other solution, and solely for the enforcement of contract or punishment of aggressive criminality. All other activity ought to be the domain of the individual citizen; a vigorous Catholic Church would be sine qua non for a prosperous, charitable and orderly community.
    .
    The Austrian School, and not the Keynesian, is the Libertarian economic model. How this can be called incompatible with Catholicism can only be an act of lack of information. Economics, like Salvation, is the action of individuals and cannot be successfully collectivized. The end result is multitudes in landscape, but a forest is only as healthy as its trees.
    .
    So, whatever is called Libertarianism today, it is not. Libertinism, perhaps, but that would die a quick and painful death in a truly Libertarian society; or Anarchy, maybe, but that’s a simple absence of something, and natural abhorrence to vacuum would rapidly address such inequity, and not for the better. Libertarianism is only as visible as it is nowadays because the epicenter of political thought has moved so far from what it used to be. Libertarians’ most object wish is to be unrecognizable from the mainstream in thought and action. The difference between us and other political stripes is that once upon a time, we were.
    .
    So, apologies for the rant. I’m simply tired of seeing the incorrect application of that term. Winessing the success of the Fascists in its obfuscation, to the point that good Catholic folks can’t recognize the system that would best provide for our optimal social condition, is tremendously frustrating and so I had to vent. I appreciate your kindness and time.

Shea & I: A Follow-Up

Saturday, May 3, AD 2014

The-Pope-and-the-Inquisitor

I have a new piece up at Crisis regarding libertarianism and heresy inspired by a post on Mark Shea’s blog. Since I post there under my actual name, and since the reasons I had for writing under a pen name have largely vanished, I suppose my pen name is no longer needed here, though I will keep it because the Marquis de Bonchamps is still my hero. Anyway, I wanted to post some additional thoughts here for those interested, and since there are (as of 5/3, 11 am Pacific Time) 320 comments between my article and Shea’s reply, there might be a few. So here they are:

1) I didn’t choose the name of the piece – or the picture (above). Shea and I am sure others know that writers don’t often get this privilege when they submit something for publication. It’s not that I wholly object to the title and I like the painting, but I might have chosen something else. It wasn’t my intention to provoke the man.

2) Speaking of which, I haven’t followed Shea’s writings enough to know whether or not he deserves the almost unprecedented levels of animosity directed at him through the com-boxes. I’ve found some of his writing to be agreeable in the past and I have nothing personal against him. It was his claim, not his character, I was seeking to critique. I don’t approve of or condone the savaging of the man on a personal level.

3) Shea, through the com-boxes in his reply (though oddly not in the actual reply), thinks my argument is “silly” because if libertarianism is heretical, it can’t possibly be worth anything (thus rendering my probing questions in the opening of the piece superfluous). And yet in his original post (the second link above), he makes a practical argument against libertarianism and I am still not sure if it is the reason why he thinks it is heretical or if it is just some unrelated tangent. If libertarianism is heresy – end of story, end of debate – why proceed to make a rather half-hearted point against it, in this case, that it is somehow “utopian”? Or is that the reason he thinks it is heretical? He didn’t make that clear, hence the questions I pose in the piece. I also make clear that since I believe that a) libertarian arguments against confiscatory taxation are rooted in true and morally good principles and b) the Church does not reject what is true or good that c) it is very likely that at least what I call libertarianism is not “heretical.” I thought that was rather obvious.

One last thing: another publication will be posting a reply to my piece on Tuesday. I won’t give anymore details for now, but I expect a lively exchange to result.

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24 Responses to Shea & I: A Follow-Up

  • I predict at least 100 comments before midnight! Mark’s strong point has never been political analysis. His calling Libertarianism heretical is rather like me giving an opinion on Bulgarian basket weaving.

  • Where there is truth we should magnify it whether it be from a democrat, republican, or a libertarian. Not shout heresy!
    And I do realize your definition of libertarianism is not necessarily equal to that of the political party.
    Even communists espouse solidarity while ignoring human dignity, common good, and subsidiarity.

  • Mr. Hargrave, you do have a curious attraction to Libertarianism, personally I associate with Tea Party fiscal conservatism while rejecting the Ayn Rand wing of this group. Since there is no Catholic Party how are we to associate ourselves politically?
    I say we have two choices, do what St John Paul II said, or be like JFK.

    Evangelium Vitae
    90. The Church well knows that it is difficult to mount an effective legal defence of life in pluralistic democracies, because of the presence of strong cultural currents with differing outlooks. At the same time, certain that moral truth cannot fail to make its presence deeply felt in every conscience, the Church encourages political leaders, starting with those who are Christians, not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the re- establishment of a just order in the defence and promotion of the value of life.

    JFK renounced his faith in his 1960 political speech, “Whatever issue may come before me as president — on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject — I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.”
    Verses john Paul’s Evangelium Vitae
    90. . But no one can ever renounce this responsibility, especially when he or she has a legislative or decision-making mandate, which calls that person to answer to God, to his or her own conscience and to the whole of society for choices which may be contrary to the common good

  • Best Wishes, Bonchamps.

  • Mr. Hargrove, if I may and respectfully of your many comtributoins, you are far too talented and able to be wasting your time responding to the nonsense and invective spewed from the pen of Mark Shea. But for your link to your Crisis article I would not have otherwise ever read that to which you felt necessitated a response. Mr. Shea, to be kind, is not worthy of the credibility of your effort. Lend him not any platform.

  • Carl,

    I think that the basic premises of libertarianism are compatible with CST. I don’t think CST demands a regime of confiscatory taxation, and in fact such a regime in conflict with the labor theory of property shared by Locke and Pope Leo XIII. The Church thrived in the supposedly bad old days of laissez-faire capitalism in the United States, it grew by leaps and bounds because the rights of individuals to associate and practice their religion were respected.

    I’m not an anarchist, and I don’t think libertarianism mandates anarchism. I find anarchist arguments to make a certain amount of sense but I do believe CST is incompatible with a categorical and absolute rejection of the state. These are prudential matters, in other words.

    I would diverge sharply from the Rothbard wing of libertarianism on the question of abortion, but his critique of egalitarianism is one that the Church can and should appreciate. We ought to have a common anti-egalitarian front, since radical egalitarianism is the menace of our time, threatening private property and the Church alike.

  • I second Cthemfly’s request.

    The ratio of heat to light, emanating from and around Mr.Shea, means nothing good can come of it.

  • I don’t know… Shea’s ego is growing almost out of control and he could use a good thumping.

    At the very least, as much as he puts himself on the “front” of Catholic evangelism then replies like yours are needed otherwise many will assume they have no place in the Church because of Shea’s words and turn away.

  • Cthemfly25,

    I appreciate the kind words. My piece really isn’t about Shea – its about everyone who shares his view, and there are more than a few who do. I think the general charge that libertarianism – without qualification – is “heresy” deserves a response, regardless of who makes it.

    Like I said, I don’t follow Shea closely enough to really vibe with all of the really negative things people say about the man. I just happened upon his brief blog post in my daily reading and thought it made a point that deserved critique.

  • Joe, while I admire you for manning up to answer Mark Shea, IMO, it’s a waste of time to respond to him. His mind is already made up, he doesn’t want to be confused with the facts. His theme song ought to be the song sang by Groucho Marx in Horsefeathers, “I’m Against It!”

  • Shea vs. Joe is the intellectual equivalent of the Washington Generals vs. the Harlem Globetrotters. I’ve had many disagreements with Joe over the years, but at least he clearly demonstrates that he has done his homework and always puts forward strong, well-articulated arguments. For Mark freaking Shea of all people to call his article “silly” is not as much laughable as sad. Frankly I feel embarrassed for Shea when he delves into political theory, because the man is simply out of his depth.

    I know that Joe’s main focus is not on Shea, so I look forward to future pieces where hopefully someone with a little bit more ability to articulate nuance thoughts can rebut him, and then we can all sit back and bask in the glow of spirited, healthy debate. Sadly Mark Shea is not the man for such a task.

  • Government can’t solve income inequality, but it surely can fix it.

  • Bonchamps wrote “the labor theory of property shared by Locke and Pope Leo XIII…”

    I find it hard to credit that Leo XIII shared the property theory of Locke. It would be difficult to reconcile with the teaching of the Catholic Church that If certain landed estates impede the general prosperity because they are extensive, unused or poorly used, or because they bring hardship to peoples or are detrimental to the interests of the country, the common good sometimes demands their expropriation.“

    Historically, the theory of property embraced by every canonist and moral theologian has been that of the Civil Law of Justinian, which defines the origin of property very well. “By the law of nations, those things which we take from an enemy become ours at once.” [ea quae ex hostibus capimus iure gentium statim nostra fiunt – [Lib 2 tit 1] In other words, the land was acquired by the arms of the legions and every acre of it belonged to the senate and the Roman people or their assignees.

    Locke’ s labour theory of property is plainly nonsense, for it would make the acquisitions of a wife, a slave, a son in power, or (in later times) a vassal theirs, rather than belonging to the paterfamilias, or the superior. It is based on a failure to distinguish use and possession (which are physical facts) from ownership, which is a legal right. As the great classical scholar, Charles Rollin (1661-1741), reminds us, “Theft was permitted in Sparta. It was severely punished among the Scythians. The reason for this difference is obvious: the law, which alone determines the right to property and the use of goods, granted a private individual no right, among the Scythians, to the goods of another person, whereas in Sparta the contrary was the case.”

    You can see this principle everywhere enunciated in the French Revolution. Take Mirabeau (a moderate) “Property is a social creation. The laws not only protect and maintain property; they bring it into being; they determine its scope and the extent that it occupies in the rights of the citizens” So, too, Robespierre (not a moderate) “In defining liberty, the first of man’s needs, the most sacred of his natural rights, we have said, quite correctly, that its limit is to be found in the rights of others. Why have you not applied this principle to property, which is a social institution, as if natural laws were less inviolable than human conventions?”

  • “I find it hard to credit that Leo XIII shared the property theory of Locke.”
    .
    Then you have some homework to do. Read paragraph 27 of the Second Treatise. Read paragraph 9 of Rerum Novarum. It’s almost plagiarism. And it affirms the individual, inviolable and natural right to the fruits of one’s labor as their property.
    .
    “It would be difficult to reconcile with…”
    .
    If you really want to square the circle, I’ll put it this way: I have a suspicion that the “teaching” to which you refer about landed estates was written with places such as Latin America in mind, in which a hereditary aristocracy swallowed up large areas of land and claimed it as their own regardless of what they did with it. Locke’s homesteading principle is not a theory of land acquisition, though – it is a labor theory of property. It is labor that makes property. So how could labor be, to use the terms from the “teaching” you so often reference, “impede general prosperity”, be “extensive”, be “unused or poorly used”, “bring hardship”, etc? Rerum Novarum doesn’t just quote Locke on the LTP, after all; it also makes use of his paean to the benefits of labor, which takes the sort of unused land that you are talking about and makes into something beneficial for everyone. One might even argue that the “teaching” to which you refer could be reconciled with Locke’s condition that one can only acquire property insofar as they leave enough for others. If one takes land and uses it productively, they necessarily serves others and improves society; if one takes land and simply fences it off without cultivating it, they aren’t improving anyone’s life and it isn’t clear that Locke would consider such an act to be a natural/moral acquisition of property. So I don’t see a real conflict here.
    .
    “In other words, the land was acquired by the arms of the legions and every acre of it belonged to the senate and the Roman people or their assignees.”
    .
    So this is your answer? Let’s get rid of that whole idea of acquiring labor peacefully through hard work, which benefits everyone else as well – let’s bring back might makes right as the foundation of ownership. This isn’t “the law of nations.” It is the law of the jungle. And this is supposed to be morally superior to peaceful economic competition? Locke did the world a favor and so did Pope Leo XIII when he baptized the labor theory of property.
    .
    “Locke’ s labour theory of property is plainly nonsense, for it would make the acquisitions of a wife, a slave, a son in power, or (in later times) a vassal theirs, rather than belonging to the paterfamilias, or the superior.”
    .
    Actually I find that Locke’s assumption in the ST is that it is male heads of households who will be doing the labor, and that the labor performed by servants employed by them, belongs to them. I see no contradiction here; its the basis of the modern economy. What the worker earns through labor is a wage; what they create belongs to the employer to sell.
    .
    In any case, the whole idea of social “superiors” with an absolute claim over inferiors is gone – and rightfully so. I’m not a radical social egalitarian, but I do believe in equality of individuals before the law, and that includes the right to work, acquire property, and enter into contracts independently and autonomously.
    .
    “As the great classical scholar, Charles Rollin (1661-1741), reminds us…”
    .
    Might makes right, all morals are relative, there is no law of nature. Got it.
    .
    As for Robespierre, did he come up with that before or after, or sometime during his violent persecution of Catholics and other enemies of the state? At this point I don’t care if Europe wants to ignore the natural moral foundations of property. You want to follow Robespierre, fine, have at it. But stop insisting that this is the official teaching of the Church. It isn’t. I’ve proven that it isn’t.

  • I have a suspicion that the “teaching” to which you refer about landed estates was written with places such as Latin America in mind, in which a hereditary aristocracy swallowed up large areas of land and claimed it as their own regardless of what they did with it.

    If I am not mistaken, the order of nobility was to be found in Latin America after 1822 only in Brazil, and was formally discontinued there in 1889. There has definitely been a class of latifundiaries in Latin America, but they are a class in society, not an order of society. Land tenure, security of tenure, seizure of common lands, &c. have all been issues throughout Latin American history to the present day, of course.

  • if libertarianism is heretical, it can’t possibly be worth anything

    Is there an actual theological basis for this notion? Last time I checked, even pagan religions were recognized to have worthy things in them.

  • Bonchamps

    Like Rollin, St Thomas is quite explicit that ownership belongs to positive law: ““Community of goods is ascribed to the natural law, not that the natural law dictates that all things should be possessed in common and that nothing should be possessed as one’s own: but because the division of possessions is not according to the natural law, but rather arose from human agreement which belongs to positive law, as stated above (57, 2,3). Hence the ownership of possessions is not contrary to the natural law, but an addition thereto devised by human reason.” ST IIa IIae Q66, II,obj 1 That is the reason that conquest destroys all titles, for it removes the legal system on which they rest.

    Rollin also refers to the gleaning laws (Lev 19:9-10, Lev 23:22 and Deut 24:19-21) as examples of how rights of ownership can be modified by positive law, for these precepts formed part of the civil law of the Jewish commonwealth.

  • Bonchamps asks, “So how could labor be, to use the terms from the “teaching” you so often reference, “impede general prosperity”, be “extensive”, be “unused or poorly used”, “bring hardship”, etc?”

    A shooting estate that could be used for pasture, open grazing that is suitable for arable cultivation, agricultural use that prevented exploration and extraction of minerals, agricultural land suitable for building development could all be examples.

    Of course, it would depend on the development plan the public authorities wished to pursue, for we know that “It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them; and it is also their task to stimulate the efforts of those involved in this common activity.” (Populorum Progressio 33)

  • “That is the reason that conquest destroys all titles, for it removes the legal system on which they rest.”
    .
    No conquest destroys the right of any individual man to the fruits of his labor. There is no moral basis upon which non-combatants can be expropriated by the marauding soldiers of an invading army. So I have no idea what it is you are trying to prove here.
    .
    “as examples of how rights of ownership can be modified by positive law”
    .
    I really think you are seriously and tragically conflating a whole host of issues here. The labor theory of property, i.e., the explicit teaching of the Catholic Church, holds that labor gives a man exclusive right to a portion of the Earth and that no one is justified in violating that right. It never says that human laws can have no say in the various mundane details of day-to-day matters arising from conflicts between property owners or what have you. There is still room for your precious positive law to operate. The point is that there is a natural law as well with respect to private property, and you absolutely cannot deny it.
    .
    You’ve sure done your best to evade it, though.
    .
    “Of course, it would depend on the development plan the public authorities wished to pursue”
    .
    What WOULDN’T come under the purview of your centralized “development plan”? How many centrally-planned economies have to expropriate their capitalists, lower the standard of living of hundreds of millions of people, commit unspeakable atrocities against them and finally collapse into a rubbish heap before you and Francis stop insisting on directing human behavior with “development plans”?

  • How many centrally-planned economies have to expropriate their capitalists, lower the standard of living of hundreds of millions of people, commit unspeakable atrocities against them and finally collapse into a rubbish heap before you and Francis stop insisting on directing human behavior with “development plans”?

    Oh, oh I know the answer!

    “Until it works!”

  • Genesis 4: 17-19: “Cursed be the ground because of you; in toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, since out of it you were taken; for dust you are and unto dust you shall return.”
    .
    Our Creator gave the land to man so that man could work out his redemption. To take the man’s land would prevent the man from working out his redemption as prescribed by God. Man would be brought to the brink of hell without hope of salvation. Until the day man returns to dust, it is his property, the land which God handed to Adam to toil and sweat over to redeem himself.
    “or prohibit the free exercise thereof.”. Taking a man’s land is a violation of man freedom to respond to God’s word, in thought, word and deed. Peaceable assembly cannot be violated.
    .
    He, who violates God’s word is possessed by the devil.

  • Best comment above:

    “Government can’t solve income inequality, but it surely can fix it.”

    Many another would have expended 500 words to say it.

    Brevity is tne soul of satire.

  • Pingback: Top 10 St. John Paul II Quotes of All Time - BigPulpit.com
  • Bonchamps asks, “What WOULDN’T come under the purview of your centralized “development plan”? “

    That is why Pope Paul VI insists that “they must also see to it that private initiative and intermediary organizations are involved in this work. In this way they will avoid total collectivization and the dangers of a planned economy which might threaten human liberty and obstruct the exercise of man’s basic human rights.” (Populorum Progressio ibid) That is an important safeguard, but does not undermine the fundamental obligation of the public authorities to oversee development.

    Again, in his Letter to the 52nd Social Week at Brest, in L’homme et la révolution urbaine, Lyon: Chronique sociale (1965), 8-9, Pope Paul VI wrote, “as the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good.” When “private gain and basic community needs conflict with one another,” it is for the public authorities “to seek a solution to these questions, with the active involvement of individual citizens and social groups.”
    No one is suggesting that there is not a balance to be struck.

The Real Brutalism: A Critique of Jeffrey Tucker

Thursday, March 20, AD 2014

If you haven’t heard, the libertarian Catholic Jeffrey Tucker has launched a salvo against libertarians he classifies as “brutalist.” What does he mean by this? In his words:

In the libertarian world, however, brutalism is rooted in the pure theory of the rights of individuals to live their values whatever they may be. The core truth is there and indisputable, but the application is made raw to push a point. Thus do the brutalists assert the right to be racist, the right to be a misogynist, the right to hate Jews or foreigners, the right to ignore civil standards of social engagement, the right to be uncivilized, to be rude and crude…

This, in contrast to the libertarian “humanitarians” among whom Tucker counts himself, who believe that:

Liberty allows peaceful human cooperation. It inspires the creative service of others. It keeps violence at bay. It allows for capital formation and prosperity. It protects human rights of all against invasion. It allows human associations of all sorts to flourish on their own terms. It socializes people with rewards toward getting along rather than tearing each other apart, and leads to a world in which people are valued as ends in themselves rather than fodder in the central plan.

It would be difficult to deny that there are libertarians who enjoy crudeness its own sake. But it appears that Tucker doesn’t really know what he wants. How can one favor the flourishing of “human associations of all sorts” and then complain about the ones that aren’t sufficiently polite? Take this muddle of contradictions from the same piece:

So let’s say you have a town that is taken over by a fundamentalist sect that excludes all peoples not of the faith, forces women into burka-like clothing, imposes a theocratic legal code, and ostracizes gays and lesbians. You might say that everyone is there voluntarily, but, even so, there is no liberalism present in this social arrangement at all. The brutalists will be on the front lines to defend such a microtyranny on grounds of decentralization, rights of property, and the right to discriminate and exclude—completely dismissing the larger picture here that, after all, people’s core aspirations to live a full and free life are being denied on a daily basis.

Is this town not a “sort” of “human association” that is operating “on its own terms”?

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100 Responses to The Real Brutalism: A Critique of Jeffrey Tucker

  • Tucker evidently does not see boorishness in siccing lawyers on people.

    I think you or he have conflated libertarian concerns (which encompass property rights and freedom of contract for private parties), with decentralist concers (which encompass local discretion over the legal regime).


    A municipal government is a public authority and people have an investment in their property which functionally limits their discretion in exercising their freedom of association. One can conceive of people who bought property in a locus under one set of circumstances facing dramatically altered circumstances due to novel municipal ordinances. There was a rural township in Oregon which faced this problem in 1982 when the established municipal council was ejected from office in favor of delegates of a con man who called himself “Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh”. What mechanisms can their be and should there be to partition or disincorporate such a municipality? Can a property holder have claims against the authorities (as Richard Epstein has argued re the effect of planning and zoning on property values) derived from the effects of municipal ordinances (e.g. burkas required) on the resale value of his property?

    Conventionally, the regulatory authority of municipal government has been circumscribed, has generally operated in the realm of nuisance abatement, and has been limited to fines for penalties. To what extent are these conventions correct?

  • Tucker’s remarks about a “fundamentalist sect reminds one of the traditional suspicion and hostility of classical liberalism towards corporations of any kind: churches, guilds, universities, orders of chivalry and the rest.

    Witness the French National Assembly’s famous declaration of August 18, 1792: “A State that is truly free ought not to suffer within its bosom any corporation, not even such as, being dedicated to public instruction, have merited well of the country.” As with the corporations, so also with the communes, the towns and villages. Village property—there was a great deal of village property in France—was exposed to the dilemma: it belongs to the State, or else it belongs to the now existing villagers. So too of voluntary associations of all kinds.

    The only type of association that aroused no suspicion was the trading partnership or company. F W Maitland has noted the paradox that the liberal state, “saw no harm in the selfish people who wanted dividends, while it had an intense dread of the comparatively unselfish people who would combine with some religious, charitable, literary, scientific, artistic purpose in view” and subjected them to a strict regime of licensing and surveillance, when it did not suppress them altogether.

    As Lord Acton explains, “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.”

    Thus, Le Chapelier, in proposing his law of 14 July 1792 abolishing guilds, said “The guild no longer exists in the state. There exist only the particular interests of each individual and the general interest. No one is permitted to encourage an intermediate interest that separates citizens from the common interest through a corporate spirit”

    That is the authentic voice of liberalism; “no intermediary body can stand between the individual –armed with his natural rights – and the nation –the guarantor of those natural rights.”

  • “For example, consider the overt ”brutalism” of gay pride parades, in which nude men strut past young girls dragged to the event by their morally-stunted parents. Do we not have a right to protect our children from this Satantic filth? Do we not have a right to be outraged at this obscene transgression of natural moral law and all standards of social decency? Should we not expect a professing Catholic to enthusiastically join us in this condemnation instead of implying that it is we who are in the wrong? ”
    .
    Precisely because our minor children and our yet to be brought into mankind, our constitutional posterity, are created in perfect moral and legal innocence and virginity is the citizen obligated “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity”, our (constitutional) posterity. This is from the Preamble to our constitution which spells out the state’s obligation, responsibilities and duties to the communities of its citizens who have constituted the government; people who look to the government to maintain their values, human rights and founding principles. Enjoying liberty may only be accomplished by defending, respecting and founding freedom for each and every person who is citizen.
    .
    It appears that Jeffrey Tucker has forgotten our constitution, our founding fathers and our founding principles. Tucker’s writing is inciting to riot, disturbing the peace, violating modesty, slandering every good citizen and impugning the virtue of Justice. Peace keeping officers with armed force may be required to quell the insurrection of such undisguised double standard; hypocrisy.
    .
    Jeffery Tucker may be free to say these things but Tucker is not free to escape the consequences; reaping the whirlwind.

  • He shoulda thought of that sooner.

  • “No one is permitted to encourage an intermediate interest that separates citizens from the common interest through a corporate spirit””
    .
    Why does he assume an intermediate interest would separate citizens from the common interest through corporate spirit when it is precisely these guilds, churches, confraternities and corporate interests that grow, or are established to and ought to grow the common good.
    .
    “That is the authentic voice of liberalism; “no intermediary body can stand between the individual –armed with his natural rights – and the nation –the guarantor of those natural rights.”
    .
    Are we to be denied free association in a church or guild? If the intermediary body is the church, then this is atheism imposed, total disintegration of liberty. Denial of reason.

  • Those four people in the above picture are not free to trample upon the purpose of the church, or upon the First Amendment by preventing freedom of worship in thought, word and deed, a person’s response to Faith and his relationship with our Creator. These people are prohibited from “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” They are not free to intrude into the parishioner’s need for privacy, inject their secularism and otherwise cause a disturbance. Appropriating another person’s time and attention without their informed consent is stealing.The openness of the church is for open persons. The welcome of the church is for people who welcome. Halloween, rather picket night is for individuals who destroy others’ peace of mind.

  • Those four women aren’t free –period.

    he noted dryly

  • “Those four women aren’t free –period. he noted dryly”
    .
    One is a kumquat head, one is a grape, one is a gooseberry and the last is a blueberry. All executioners of a fruit salad.

  • Too much of modern libertarianism is fixated on economics, and to the extent it draws its attention away from economics, examines social questions through a (very incoherent) prism of “consent.” Associational freedom is acknowledged, but outside of business transactions, it is viewed like zoo patrons goggling at a particularly strange specimen or exhibit.

    In short, they have a stunted notion of civil society. Too few have any idea of the importance of mediating institutions (especially churches, but also the classic civic and charitable organizations) and the restraints imposed by such institutions. Consequently, they’re left with a rather atomized understanding of liberty. Tucker has a better understanding than most, but he has his blind spots, as here. “Liberty” without the right to be disagreeable, even in big associations, is something right out of Orwell.

  • “That is the authentic voice of liberalism; “no intermediary body can stand between the individual –armed with his natural rights – and the nation –the guarantor of those natural rights.”

    This is not the authentic voice of liberalism – it is the voice of Jacobinism. The Anglo-American classical liberal tradition has always recognized the vital social role of family, church and community.

    Of course you were referring to guilds and trade unions, which are fine when they are limited to collective bargaining on behalf of voluntary participants but which SHOULD be dismantled when they attempt to irrationally restrict trade and labor for the sake of a narrow and privileged class of laborers. An economy that serves the poor cannot tolerate a regime of special privileges for workers or businesses.

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  • Too much of modern libertarianism is fixated on economics,

    And the drug laws.

  • “Of course you were referring to guilds and trade unions,”

    Actually, I was thinking of neither. I was thinking more along the lines of Kiwanas, Jaycees, KofC, the American Legion, the Boy Scouts (at least before the zeitgeist completes their destruction). Even Elks and Moose organizations, Shriners, etc.

    All of which are more or less exclusive, but are also more or less civically-minded and active. They also seem to be fading some, which says a lot about the atomization of society.

  • I was thinking more along the lines of Kiwanas, Jaycees, KofC, the American Legion, the Boy Scouts (at least before the zeitgeist completes their destruction). Even Elks and Moose organizations, Shriners, etc.

    To some extent, I think it’s temporal variation in tastes. However, I have been told by old timers that you began to see the decay fifty-odd years ago with the advance of home-entertainment. He was telling me a story (this in 1988) of encountering a contemporary he’d known for some time who was collecting a Democratic Party petition around the corner from him. The man complained “will you look at this, they’ve got me doing this [at my age]”. The people who showed up for committee meetings skewed old, and there were not many. He offered a guess that monthly attendance of county committeemen (in a city with 240,000 residents) did not make it out of two digits.

    Not too many years later, a shirt-tail relation was telling me someone was trying to get him to join the Kiwanis Club before the actuarial tables chewed that chapter to pieces (he was 28 at the time; the recruiter was an elderly neighbor). The local Rotary tried to recruit me in 1995; I did not own my own business and it was rather embarrassing sitting their eating their food and listening to the retiree who ran it read jokes out of the International’s magazine. Real bad jokes. I begged off. I think Rotary, Lions, and Kiwanis might be less injured by these processes if they had a more distinct institutional mission and some bond that maintained esprit de corps (partially frayed by co-ed membership). It seems to me that the volunteer fire company and volunteer ambulance corps in my area were healthy.

  • “…it appears that Tucker doesn’t really know what he wants. How can one favor the flourishing of ‘human associations of all sorts’ and then complain about the ones that aren’t sufficiently polite?”

    I’m afraid that you are missing the point, Mr. Bonchamps.

    Brutalism isn’t about being impolite. It’s about relishing one’s right to be impolite.

    Conversely, Libertarian Humanism isn’t about being polite all of the time: it’s about striving to minimize social discord to the full extent possible.

    The Brutalist embraces bigotry and revels in the right to expound his bigotry.

    The Humanist seeks social discourse and an ethic that abandons bigotry.

    http://www.libertysetsquare.com/libertarian-brutalists/

  • Dale,
    .
    I was replying to MPS. I should have made that clear. I agree with your initial post.

  • I want to know what you and Tucker consider “bigotry”, first of all; secondly Tucker states that “humanitarians” want to see “human associations of all sorts” flourishing. That ought to be revised, at least, since there are clearly some associations you’d rather see dead.

  • To them, what’s impressive about liberty is that it allows people to assert their individual preferences,

    People do that in markets.

    ==
    to form homogeneous tribes,

    Few associations of any size are completely homogeneous. However, where there are boundary conditions, the tribe in question will homgeneously display those conditions.
    ==
    to work out their biases in action,

    We all have biases, which are manifest in what we patronize and with whom we spend time. A generation ago, Wm. F. Buckley offered he was outraged at the insistence that he justify every inclination. Leon Wieseltier replied that if he were a true intellectual he would give rational reasons for everything. Of course, Wieseltier could never adhere to such a standard (and did not have an editor willing to tell him to not be a pompous hypocrite in print).
    ==
    to ostracize people based on “politically incorrect” standards,

    If you have standards, some people do not meet them. Your implicitly criticizing the standard without saying what it is and how you critique it.
    ==
    to hate to their heart’s content so long as no violence is used as a means,

    Yeah, Stormfront has wide appeal among soi-disant ‘libertarians’
    ==
    to shout down people based on their demographics or political opinions,

    Since when is the ‘heckler’s veto’ a cause of soi-disant ‘libertarians’?
    ==
    to be openly racist

    What is the boundary of that? You do realize that it’s the contention of partisan Democrats that Republican politicians are ‘racist’ when they breathe in and out (because their breathing creates ‘dog whistles’)?
    ==
    and sexist,

    And you do realize that the term is so elastic as to be meaningless? And that it would certainly be applied to any Catholic who asserts the complementarity of man and woman? Someone’s going to be excluded. Why me?
    ==
    to exclude and isolate and be generally malcontented with modernity,

    Because it’s been such a great trip I could not possibly be discontented with it?
    ==
    and to reject civil standards of values and etiquette in favor of antisocial norms.

    Did it occur to you that self-appointed guardians of ‘civility’ often offer ‘standards’ which are shambolic?

    ==

    You chaps have just not worked this out.

  • Bigot:

    a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)

    – Merriam-Webster

    The term “unfairly” is key. In the bigot’s case, the hate or refusal to accept a person or group does not follow logically from rationally sound premises.

    When you have consenting adults engaging in voluntary behavior, not obstructing or infringing on other people’s rights to do the same, and not destroying others’ property or endangering the lives of others, they are in accord with the Non Aggression Axiom.

    The bigot will nonetheless condemn the respective consensual and voluntary behavior, based upon premises that are not derived objectively and rationally, but subjectively, e.g. a religious text or demagogue proclaims the behavior to be immoral, and so it is so.

    The Libertarian Brutalist will expound their bigotry but, distinct from the non-Libertarian Brutalist, also assert their natural right to do based upon how any attempt to curtail their freedom to be bigoted is an infringement of the Non Aggression Axiom.

    So, the main thing that makes Libertarian Brutalism unappealing is not the bigotry per se, but the appeal to the Principle of Non Aggression with the aim of going after those operating according to the Principle of Non Aggression.

    This is inherently contradictory. Thus, it undermines the objectivity and rationalism of libertarian philosophy and projects an image of selective-rationality and subjectivity. This just gives ammunition to the enemies of individual liberty, and reinforces the perceived “validity” of collectivist, illiberal paradigms.

  • A question we must all ask ourselves:

    When you have determined that you hate something, why do you hate it?

    Is the hate based on objective analysis of the problem, and a conclusion that the respective persons/behavior is destructive to Liberty? Or is it based on a subjective opinion?

    Liberalism, in the classical sense, stemming from the Enlightenment seeks to construct a system of ethics and social organization based upon objective axioms, formed from reason and evidence.

    Illiberalism, by contrast, utilizes emotion, appeal to authority, might over right, and fiat dictates.

    To defend illiberal conclusions and modes of conduct by utilizing the classical liberal scheme of natural rights theory is self-defeating and leads to….what?

  • I just took image of the top image:

    What does Pussy Riot have to do with any of this???

  • “Tucker states that “humanitarians” want to see “human associations of all sorts” flourishing. That ought to be revised, at least, since there are clearly some associations you’d rather see dead.”

    News to me. Tell me, exactly, what associations I’d want to ‘see dead.’

  • Whew. I can read Mr Tucker and easily get his point even if he is not perfect in his way of saying it.
    There must be just as wide a range of libertarians within their own framework as there are of any other classifications on the socio political continuum.
    Disclosure: I get Chant Cafe in my daily mail and may not be so angry as Mr Bonchamps because I already like what I read of Jeffrey Tucker.

  • “What does Pussy Riot have to do with any of this???”

    People who screw frozen chickens in public are the real brutalists. That’s kinda the point of the whole thing. Sorry you didn’t get that.

  • “The term “unfairly” is key. In the bigot’s case, the hate or refusal to accept a person or group does not follow logically from rationally sound premises.”

    The whole reason we need to use the language of rights and invoke rights to begin with is because there are ALWAYS going to be different understandings of what is logical, rational, etc. even IF – as I believe – that there is, objectively, a true position. If we know our position is true and our enemies equally believe it to be false, and no argument can persuade them otherwise, then we can ONLY appeal to rights as we defend ourselves in the court of law and public opinion. If you don’t get this, you’ve missed the entire point of classical liberalism altogether.

  • “The whole reason we need to use the language of rights and invoke rights to begin with is because there are ALWAYS going to be different understandings of what is logical, rational, etc. even IF – as I believe – that there is, objectively, a true position.”
    —-
    Of course there will always be people who reject reason and evidence: that’s what allows for the Brutalism. The above quote of yours doesn’t speak to the main issue raised by Tucker. The issue is not whether people will always be logically consistent, it is that we should pursue consistency in our philosophy; that is what defines the Libertarian Humanist. The Libertarian Brutalist is one who is logically inconsistent with the philosophy.
    —-
    Someone who acknowledges the Non Aggression Axiom, and then uses it to demonstrate the soundness of Freedom of Association is logically consistent.

    If that same person then fails to recognize that something like say, being atheist, is also permitted under the Non Aggression Axiom, then they are being logically inconsistent.

    Further, if they go on to say that they wish to establish their society on the principles of Liberty and of Non Aggression, but with the proviso that atheism should not be allowed in this society, then they are also being logically inconsistent.
    ——-
    “If we know our position is true and our enemies equally believe it to be false, and no argument can persuade them otherwise, then we can ONLY appeal to rights as we defend ourselves in the court of law and public opinion. If you don’t get this, you’ve missed the entire point of classical liberalism altogether.”</b"

    —–
    Well the entire idea with classical liberalism was that human beings could discover objective truth.

    Just because an enemy of the truth chooses to claim that no such thing exists, that doesn't make it so, it just means those of us who embrace liberalism have to strive that much harder to make the positions unassailable, hence the Humanism.
    ——
    For example, people in the Liberty camp are going to maintain that property rights are self evident and objectively valid, based on the first self evident truth that we exist, and we are self owners of our bodies. From there you get the Lockean property rights, which I am sure you are familiar with.

    Now, a Marxist may come along and claim that private property is merely an "invention" or "institution."
    ——
    Based on the Marxist's assertion, do we then just scrap the whole idea of the self evident, objective validity of self ownership? No, we demonstrate to him how he is being logically inconsistent. We might do this via something like Hans Hoppe's Argumentation Ethic.

    In the face of inconsistency in logic, and of subjectivity in ethics, we as libertarians strive to make our own arguments ever more logically consistent and objectively irrefutable with evidence, we don’t just give up and say “well, I guess some people don’t acknowledge objective truth, and they use subjective fiat, so we will start being subjective as well.”

  • “People who screw frozen chickens in public are the real brutalists. That’s kinda the point of the whole thing. Sorry you didn’t get that.”
    —–
    I wasn’t aware that Pussy riot was screwing chickens in public. To my knowledge, they were singing some harsh lyrics that condemned the Putin regime, nothing more.
    ——
    Even if they were screwing frozen chickens, this might be off putting to some people, but the problem is not with the action, it’s with the space where the action is taking place.
    ——
    Since they were in a “public” space (open square and national heritage church, i.e. public property), this means that no one passerby or group of passersby have the legal right to tell them to stop what they are doing, unless of course a “public law” is passed.

    —–

    The solution to stopping behaviors being performed in public that people do not wish to see is to privatize property, and to get rid of the artificial distinction between public and private law. Also, to adopt actual Law, as opposed to Legislation.

  • “The truth here, and it is almost unbelievable that Tucker misses it, is that his description of brutalism applies a thousand times more to the libertine left than it does to the traditionalist right. Gay pride parades, “slut walks“, tampon earrings, kiss-ins, public fornication with frozen poultry – the list could go on indefinitely – this is anti-social behavior, this is the ignoring of “civic standards of public engagement”, this is the exercise of “the right to be uncivilized, to be rude and crude” in the name of personal liberty.

    I would agree with you completely that most all of that behavior is rude and crude.
    ——
    Where I have to disagree with you is in your argument that this somehow refutes Tucker.

    ——
    Tucker never said those types of things are what we want to promote. He never said that you have to like them, and he never said that you don’t have the right to be left alone.

    —–
    What he did articulate was that we shouldn’t be forming “homogeneous tribes” and citing Freedom of Association with the ulterior motive of expounding hate on others who are not doing anything to us.

    In a lot ways, you are going after a strawman with this article.
    ——-
    Tucker’s piece isn’t about telling you what you must and must not approve of as social norms; it’s about reminding us that we should strive for logically consistent ethics and that we should use Liberty to allow us to act to our highest aspirations, not our base impulses. In that sense, I think he would agree with you that something like a public orgy or whatever is socially disruptive and profane.

    ——-
    To me, the idea of Libertarian Humanism is basically the Golden Rule: do unto others, Love thy Neighbor, and so forth.
    —–
    Saying “go forth and sin no more” is a lot different than saying “we need to kill the fuckers.”

  • Jack wrote, “the first self evident truth that we exist, and we are self owners of our bodies.”

    Is self-ownership of our bodies really self-evident?

    Dominus membrorum suorum nemo videtur: No one is to be regarded as the owner of his own limbs, says Ulpian in D.9.2.13. pr.

    To the Roman jurists and the later Civilians, the notion that the body of a free man could be owned seemed absurd, for only things in commerce can be owned. There is the further problem that the relationship between the individual and his body is rather one of identity than control.

    Modern civil codes reflect this. Thus, the French Civil Code provides in Article 16 “The human body, its elements and its products may not form the subject of a patrimonial right,” and “Agreements that have the effect of bestowing a patrimonial value to the human body, its elements or products are void”

  • The people in the picture above are in a church. The church is the only place they can, but ought not do that. In our Preamble to our Constitution the purpose is written: “to secure the Blessings of Liberty”, the “Blessings of Liberty” are one concept, not “Blessings” and “Liberty” but the “Blessings of Liberty”. Is there a difference of desecration of a church from the right or from the left?

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: “Thus, the French Civil Code provides in Article 16 “The human body, its elements and its products may not form the subject of a patrimonial right,” and “Agreements that have the effect of bestowing a patrimonial value to the human body, its elements or products are void”
    .
    Abraham Lincoln: “One person cannot own another person.”

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour: “Thus, the French Civil Code provides in Article 16 “The human body, its elements and its products may not form the subject of a patrimonial right,” and “Agreements that have the effect of bestowing a patrimonial value to the human body, its elements or products are void” .
    .
    Compare that with Roe v. Wade.

  • The Libertarian Brutalist is one who is logically inconsistent with the philosophy.

    You keep evading the problem. “Libertarian brutalist” is not a term that defines a coherent concept.

  • Since they were in a “public” space (open square and national heritage church, i.e. public property), this means that no one passerby or group of passersby have the legal right to tell them to stop what they are doing, unless of course a “public law” is passed.

    The land tenure regime really makes scarcely a whit if difference, most particularly in loci with a long history of state seizure of property.

  • “The solution to stopping behaviors being performed in public that people do not wish to see is to privatize property, and to get rid of the artificial distinction between public and private law.”

    Another solution is to arrest and prosecute the offenders for a breach of the peace. Insulting language, accompanied by protracted annoyance is a breach of the peace. Again, in one old case, where a person repeatedly and wilfully left a church in a noisy manner during service, thereby annoying and disturbing the minister and congregation, a verdict finding him guilty of breach of the peace, but negativing malice, was sustained.

  • Somebody help me out here. Jack and Bonchamps have me confused. Which one is Michael Novak and which one is Pat Buchanan?
    .
    And does anybody have an exit strategy in the event that the brutes suck us into a quagmire?

  • Ernst Schreiber,

    I would suggest a ‘surge’ of engagement.

  • I am SO Pat Buchanan. I only disagree with him on free trade. I’m for it; he isn’t.

  • Jack,
    I do not claim that my utter disappointment with Tucker’s priorities refutes his arguments. His contradictions do that.

  • More for Jack:

    “Someone who acknowledges the Non Aggression Axiom, and then uses it to demonstrate the soundness of Freedom of Association is logically consistent. If that same person then fails to recognize that something like say, being atheist, is also permitted under the Non Aggression Axiom, then they are being logically inconsistent. Further, if they go on to say that they wish to establish their society on the principles of Liberty and of Non Aggression, but with the proviso that atheism should not be allowed in this society, then they are also being logically inconsistent.”

    The problem with this whole statement is that not even Tucker claims to be addressing people who inconsistent in this way. His fundamentalism example clearly establishes that the people are in this community VOL-UN-TAR-IL-Y. It means they are free to enter and exit of their own free will, and to submit to the rules of the community once they have FREELY chosen to enter it. This has to be the third time I’ve pointed this out to you. Read the paragraph again. I quoted it in this very blog post! Tucker is attacking voluntary societies. He is acknowledging their right to exist but deriding them for existing, and making it rather clear – to me anyway – that he wouldn’t do anything to help them continue existing.
    .
    “Well the entire idea with classical liberalism was that human beings could discover objective truth.”
    .
    No. You’re completely wrong. That idea had existed for centuries before classical liberalism, the pagan philosophers and Christian scholastics all believed in objective truth. Read Thomas Aquinas sometime. Classical liberalism challenges the idea that objective truths, beyond a few basic axioms required for a peaceful society, can ever be dictated by the state, precisely BECAUSE people who are convinced that they have the truth will justify anything and everything they do to those who they cannot convince. Classical liberalism is about asserting the individual’s right to dissent; individuals also have the right to associate, to from communities, to establish laws and norms of conduct. As long as people are FREE TO LEAVE a community, it does NOT violate the NAP. Tucker’s hypothetical fundamentalist town, he says in his own words, IS a voluntary community. It’s just one that he doesn’t want to defend beyond a cursory mentioning of natural rights, one that he would clearly only defend with reluctance. Only we “brutalists” will be on “the front line” of defense. Read it again. Read it until you get it.

  • “The problem with this whole statement is that not even Tucker claims to be addressing people who inconsistent in this way. His fundamentalism example clearly establishes that the people are in this community VOL-UN-TAR-IL-Y. It means they are free to enter and exit of their own free will, and to submit to the rules of the community once they have FREELY chosen to enter it. This has to be the third time I’ve pointed this out to you.”

    I’m well aware of this. Have you seen how many times I have used the term Freedom of Association in the posts?
    ——–
    “Tucker is attacking voluntary societies. He is acknowledging their right to exist but deriding them for existing…”
    —–
    No, that is just simply not correct. He is deriding those societies which exist based upon principles of intolerance. He is not saying that they do not have the right to be intolerant: he is bemoaning that they are intolerant to begin with. It really is that simple. The Humanist is the one who wishes to abandon the intolerance that is based upon logically inconsistent “proofs,” and/or appeals to emotion, and the Brutalist is one who embraces, relishes and perpetuates this type of intolerance.
    ——
    “No. You’re completely wrong. That idea had existed for centuries before classical liberalism, the pagan philosophers and Christian scholastics all believed in objective truth. Read Thomas Aquinas sometime.”
    ——–
    Where did I say that Classical Liberalism was the origin point for objective philosophy? I merely said that that was the ideal behind Classical Liberalism, not that they created the ideal. You are going after more strawmen.
    ——-
    “As long as people are FREE TO LEAVE a community, it does NOT violate the NAP. Tucker’s hypothetical fundamentalist town, he says in his own words, IS a voluntary community. It’s just one that he doesn’t want to defend beyond a cursory mentioning of natural rights, one that he would clearly only defend with reluctance. Only we “brutalists” will be on “the front line” of defense.</b"
    ——–
    Of course this doesn't violate NAP; who said otherwise? Again, I will say that all Tucker is doing is saying that just because you have the right to be intolerant of certain behaviors doesn't follow logically from any proof that these behaviors are themselves contrary to individual Liberty. Again, let me be clear:
    Tucker is simply bemoaning the existence of intolerance based upon logically inconsistent application of the philosophy of individual Liberty, which he describes as Brutalism.
    ——-
    To put it another way, the whole thesis of Tucker’s essay is: Why do you value individual Liberty? Is it because it gives you and your group the ability to hate, accost and be inconsistently intolerant to your hearts’ content; or is it because you see in Liberty the possibility of everyone’s opportunity for peaceful and civil development to be enlarged? If the former, you are a “Brutalist.” If the later, you are a “Humanist.”

  • Art Deco:

    “The Libertarian Brutalist is one who is logically inconsistent with the philosophy.


    You keep evading the problem. “Libertarian brutalist” is not a term that defines a coherent concept.”

    The sentence of mine that you just quoted did define the concept. So let me get this straight…you post a quote of mine where I am defining the concept, then right beneath it tell me the quote is invalidated because no one has defined the concept.
    ——-
    If this is the type of reasoning you guys employ, I think I have done all the work I can do here.
    ——
    In the end, I don’t need to convince you, and you don’t need to convince me. I think both sides have said pretty much everything that can be said, and we are starting to go in circles. We just have to wait for others to come by and read the articles, read the comments, and then see what they decide makes the most sense. So, may the best arguments win.

  • Mary de Voe:
    —-
    “The people in the picture above are in a church. The church is the only place they can, but ought not do that. In our Preamble to our Constitution the purpose is written: “to secure the Blessings of Liberty”, the “Blessings of Liberty” are one concept, not “Blessings” and “Liberty” but the “Blessings of Liberty”. Is there a difference of desecration of a church from the right or from the left?”

    The reason the Pussy Riot incident is troublesome, legally speaking, is because that church was not just any old Orthodox church.
    ——
    It was in a public square and listed as the Russian equivalent of a “national heritage site.” It was totally open to the public: people routinely stream through there and take pictures. They also routinely set up music or play instruments.
    —–
    Pussy Riot got into hot water with the authorities not because they played music at the site, which other groups had done, but because of the nature of their music.

  • Micahel Patterson-Seymour:
    —-
    “Is self-ownership of our bodies really self-evident?”
    —-
    If you do not own your own body, then who does? If you are not privy to your own thoughts, then who is?
    ——
    Like I said, I am growing weary of this blog. It’s one thing to debate the points of Tucker’s essay, or to work together for explanation of nuances. But it is getting a little ludicrous around here now.

  • Jack,
    .
    No one is asking you to stay. You seem to have a hard time with voluntarism. If you don’t like posting here, leave.
    .
    “I’m well aware of this.”
    .
    No, I don’t think you are. You keep insisting that these communities are “logically inconsistent” because they violate the NAP. A voluntary community does NOT violate the NAP. If a voluntary community says “we do not allow atheists here”, it is not a violation of the NAP because no one has to stay there.
    .
    “He is not saying that they do not have the right to be intolerant”
    .
    You have some serious reading comprehension problems. I JUST said, and said a million times, that Tucker acknowledges their right to exist as they like. You even quoted me saying it! What’s wrong with you?
    .
    “Where did I say that Classical Liberalism was the origin point for objective philosophy?”
    .
    You said it was the main idea behind classical liberalism. It isn’t. If it were, then classical liberalism would not exist as a distinct philosophy. Classical liberalism SHARES a belief in objective reality with Christianity. It’s main idea, it’s main contribution, or at least one of them, is that objective reality should not be dictated by the state, but rather left to individuals and communities to discover and proclaim on their own.
    .
    Of course this doesn’t violate NAP; who said otherwise?
    .
    You, repeatedly.
    .
    This is you: “If that same person then fails to recognize that something like say, being atheist, is also permitted under the Non Aggression Axiom, then they are being logically inconsistent.”
    .
    A voluntary community, by DEFINITION, recognizes that atheism is permitted under the NAP, because it recognizes that anyone is free to leave their community and be an atheist somewhere else. So when you set up these strawmen communities that supposedly don’t recognize the NAP, you’re not even talking about the kind of community that Tucker was criticizing. All that is required for a community to acknowledge the NAP is voluntary exit. That’s it. They don’t have to allow or permit anything else.

  • I am SO Pat Buchanan. I only disagree with him on free trade. I’m for it; he isn’t.

    So you’re position then is let the brutes be as brutal to each other as they want, so long as they aren’t brutal to us, correct?

    And does that make Jack Michael Novak?

  • If you do not own your own body, then who does?

    I’m not a lawyer, Jack, so the term I’m looking for doesn’t come immediately to mind, but I think the point was that we don’t own ourselves free and clear, so to speak. Meaning that we can’t do whatever we want, however much we want, with/to our bodies whenever the fancy takes us.

    My wife has claims on me* My children have claims on me. My parents and siblings have claims on me.

    *In Antipodosis Bishop Luitprand of Cremona has a great anecdote illustrating this point: Some feudal magnate or another has won a battle and intends to castrate the survivors prior to selling them into slavery. One fortunate captive’s wife show up on the scene to tell the magnate he doesn’t have the right to castrate her husband because his testicles belong to her. She means it literally rather than in the metaphorical sense we’ve come to associate with the “the ol’ ball-n-chain” –to substitute one euphemism for another.

  • Bonchamps:

    —–
    “A voluntary community, by DEFINITION, recognizes that atheism is permitted under the NAP, because it recognizes that anyone is free to leave their community and be an atheist somewhere else.”
    —–
    Of course. But the question is why not tolerate the atheist in the community? Where does the intolerance come from?

  • Schreiber:
    —–
    “So you’re position then is let the brutes be as brutal to each other as they want, so long as they aren’t brutal to us, correct?

    And does that make Jack Michael Novak?”
    —-
    I think it just makes you someone that shoehorns every viewpoint into that of two individuals. What’s that about?

  • Bonchamps:
    —-
    “No one is asking you to stay. You seem to have a hard time with voluntarism. If you don’t like posting here, leave.”
    ——–
    It’s not that I don’t like posting, it’s that I have a hard time keeping my patience when people deliberately obfuscate, or come up with inane rhetoricals like: ‘But are we really in control of our own bodies?’ I get the impression that few people on this blog are actually interested in expanding their thinking about this issue.
    ———-
    Oh well. Maybe I’ll write Tucker’s thoughts in a book, bury it in the sand and 650 years later everyone will not only say he was right, but if you don’t agree with my testament, then you are going to burn for it. Or maybe not. Time will tell.

  • Bonchamps:
    —-
    “You keep insisting that these communities are “logically inconsistent” because they violate the NAP. A voluntary community does NOT violate the NAP. If a voluntary community says “we do not allow atheists here”, it is not a violation of the NAP because no one has to stay there.”
    —–

    I totally agree. As does Tucker. What he and I are saying is that intolerance of atheists can’t be based on any logical proof that cites the NAP, because just being an atheist does not, in fact, violate the NAP. The intolerance would have to be based on something else, subjectively derived: like, “my minister said atheists are of the devil, so I don’t talk to them.”
    ——–
    It’s the rationale behind the exclusion I’m concerned with, not the exclusion itself. Is the rationale of the intolerance logically consistent with Liberalism or not? That question is irrespective of if the right to exclude is consistent with Liberalism (which it is, as you keep highlighting).
    —–
    “You said it [objective knowledge] was the main idea behind classical liberalism. It isn’t. If it were, then classical liberalism would not exist as a distinct philosophy. Classical liberalism SHARES a belief in objective reality with Christianity. It’s main idea, it’s main contribution, or at least one of them, is that objective reality should not be dictated by the state, but rather left to individuals and communities to discover and proclaim on their own.”
    —–
    Ok, two things. First, the reason the classical liberals were concerned with any state authority dictating what did and did not constitute knowledge was because this replaced objective knowledge, or the subjective views of the populace, with the subjective dictate of the ruler. Hence Liberty of Conscience, Freedom of Association and all that. So we should be in agreement here.
    —-
    Second, Christianity is not an exponent of “objective reality.” It’s a system of *faith*. People choose to put their faith into a revelation made to them through the scriptures of a testament. This is not objective, self-evidence. It’s subjective choice. You choose to be a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Hindu or none of them. No one can logically prove to you that Mohammed’s revelation is reality, or that Jesus walked on water. You take these things on faith.
    ——-
    I feel that Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason, Part One does a better job than I’ll ever be able to do in expounding on this. So I’ll stop there.

  • Bonchamps:
    ——
    “Classical liberalism SHARES a belief in objective reality with Christianity.”
    —–

    What about Genesis? If Christians are after objective knowledge, why is the Fall of Man about disobeying a directive from a higher entity and ‘eating of the fruit of knowledge’? Why were Man and Woman in grace when they followed orders and were ignorant, and then fell into sin when they sought knowledge?
    ——-

  • What’s that about?

    Thank you for asking Jack. It’s about trying to understand what you two are arguing over by way of using the neo-con vs. paleo-con arguments on the Iraq war as an analogy. Because it seems to me that you’re both deep in the weeds over who the “real” libertarians are. Or who the real brutalists are. It’s all very subjective.

  • I’m willing to come at it from the other end, too. For example:

    Resolved, that Captain James T. Kirk is the paragon of the ideal of a humanitarian libertarianism.

    I’ll leave it to you two to decide who’s arguing in the affirmative and who’s arguing in the negative.

  • “Second, Christianity is not an exponent of “objective reality.””

    Yes. It. Is. Catholic Christianity is, for certain. Again, familiarize yourself with Thomas Aquinas. It is a central tenant of Christian philosophy that there is an objective reality independent of the human mind, and that this reality can be understood through the use of reason.

  • It seems to me that any American community which has gay pride parades also have laws against public nudity, so to me, if people are not arrested and made to answer to that statute, it is the authorities who have failed society. I think it is the police bowing to the majority at the parade, while the true majority (not in attendance) are not being served as is their right. Also, I’m pretty sure Jeff Tucker has never advocated public nudity in any circumstances! His sense of style, if nothing else, would preclude it!

  • If Christians are after objective knowledge, why is the Fall of Man about disobeying a directive from a higher entity and ‘eating of the fruit of knowledge’? Why were Man and Woman in grace when they followed orders and were ignorant, and then fell into sin when they sought knowledge?

    Umm that might have something to do with the fact that the objective knowledge they sought in eating the fruit was the objective knowledge of good and evil.

    To say nothing of the fact that did so as to be as gods.

  • Ed,
    .
    “Also, I’m pretty sure Jeff Tucker has never advocated public nudity in any circumstances!”
    .
    I’m pretty sure I never said he did. I just think that those who do march around nude are better representatives of “brutalism” than the traditionalists and reactionaries that Tucker maligned repeatedly in his piece.

  • Bonchamps:
    —–
    “A voluntary community, by DEFINITION, recognizes that atheism is permitted under the NAP, because it recognizes that anyone is free to leave their community and be an atheist somewhere else.”
    —–
    Of course. But the question is why not tolerate the atheist in the community? Where does the intolerance come from?

    .
    Because the atheist is a brute?

  • Schreiber:

    —-
    “Because the atheist is a brute?”

    —–
    How?

  • Schreiber:
    ——
    “Umm that might have something to do with the fact that the objective knowledge they sought in eating the fruit was the objective knowledge of good and evil.

    To say nothing of the fact that did so as to be as gods.”

    This doesn’t address my question.

    You still have failed to show how Original Sin consisting in disobeying a directive, out of yearning for knowledge, and the partaking of knowledge, somehow demonstrates fidelity to a search for objective knowledge.
    ———
    The bottom line is that Genesis demonstrates the primacy of subjectivism in the scripture: a subjective dictate to not eat of the fruit of knowledge that is subjectively determined to be good or evil by a party aside from the one seeking the knowledge.

  • Bonchamps:
    —–
    “Yes. It. Is. Catholic Christianity is, for certain. Again, familiarize yourself with Thomas Aquinas. It is a central tenant of Christian philosophy that there is an objective reality independent of the human mind, and that this reality can be understood through the use of reason.”

    ———
    Do you honestly think I haven’t read Acquinas? It’s because I have that I make the argument that I do.
    ——
    Christianity is not Acquinas. Acquinas is Acquinas.
    —–
    When you go into a Roman church, you aren’t being asked to take sacrament on Acquinas or his words. So you still haven’t addressed my original point concerning faith vs. objective knowledge:
    ——
    Christianity is not an exponent of “objective reality.” It’s a system of *faith*. People choose to put their faith into a revelation made to them through the scriptures of a testament. This is not objective, self-evidence. It’s subjective choice. You choose to be a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Hindu or none of them. No one can logically prove to you that Mohammed’s revelation is reality, or that Jesus walked on water. You take these things on faith.

  • Jack, you’ve spun your wheels to the tune of 3,600 words.

  • Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    .
    “the right of the people…to peaceably to assemble…”
    .
    “Free association” is not, I repeat, is not peaceable assembly. The peoples’ constitutional right to peaceable assembly does not allow indecent behavior or nakedness or any behavior that would distress an innocent child who has not reached the age of reason expected at seven years and informed consent at the age of emancipation, when the person is capable of caring for himself and defending himself against the brutality and rapaciousness enjoyed and the scandal given by law breakers.
    .

    The Church in the photo above was subsumed into the state as a museum. The church can never be made into public property because as a church, the church is public property. The church belongs to the parishioners and is held in trust for all future generations…held in trust for all future generations, our constitutional posterity. So, it is: In God We Trust.
    .
    God is our objective truth.
    .
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” …from the Declaration of Independence.
    .
    Only an infinite God, The Supreme Sovereign Being can and does endow unalienable rights. Rights that never end are unalienable because they are rights that belong to an infinite God, bestowed on an immortal human soul by “our Creator.” These unalienable human rights are endowed into man’s immortal soul for all eternity. The person’s sovereignty, personhood, identity; the person’s being, once brought into existence, exists forever, for eternity.
    .
    “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
    .
    “Rights that the state gives the state can take away”…Thomas Jefferson
    .
    The state is finite, constituted by “the consent of the governed”. Any rights the state may endow are finite even if they are the most just and most generous. The rights the state gives are finite. They will end. “…deriving the just powers…” not unjust powers, not tyranny, nor totalitarianism, nor communism, nor fascism, nor brutalism, nor license outside of morality, decency or truth.
    .
    The human being is composed of human body and rational, immortal human soul. The atheist, embracing atheism, denies “our Creator”, denies our rational, immortal human soul, and the truth about our unalienable human rights endowed by God. What is secular and human is of God. Without God there is only what the atheist chooses to relinquish to another person who is a citizen.
    .
    Atheism is unconstitutional for the reason of denying constitutional rights to all men.
    .
    Freedom of Religion must remain absolute for the time when the atheist must change his mind and accept God, for the time when the atheist has a relationship with God in the sacrifice of praise and worship in speech, press and peaceable assembly.
    .
    These are America’s founding principles in Truth and Justice. If anyone wishes to deny these, our founding principles to another person, that individual forfeits his own civil rights.
    .
    The human being is an individual substance of a rational nature, of the species Homo Sapiens. Existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights. All persons are created in moral and legal innocence and virginity. It is the duty of the state “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our (constitutional) posterity”, to protect and provide for the innocent and deliver JUSTICE.

  • “Jesus walked on water”.Matthew, Mark, Luke and John gave first hand testimony to the life and works of Jesus Christ and all of the books written cannot hold this testimony.

  • How is the atheist a brute? When the aetheist doesn’t reciprocate the tolerance he demands, instead prefering to insist that the rest of the community tolerate his intolerance for their beliefs,* he’s acting brutishly, is he not?
    .
    *do I really need to list any of the examples everybody ought already know?

  • And you’re right, I misunderstood your question about Genesis. Thanks for expounding. But I fail to see how your objective knowledge/faith-based subjective knowledge distinction is determinative of anything.
    .
    After all, saying a truth is self-evident is just another way of saying everybody should have the same faith in it that you do; whether that self evident truth is that all men are created equal, or that if I should step out of a window on the 20th floor I’ll fall at an accelerating velocity of 32ft per second per second until I reach terminal velocity*.
    .
    *whatever that is –memory of high school physics fails.

  • Jack referred to “inane rhetoricals like: ‘But are we really in control of our own bodies?’”

    Nevertheless, the principle that we do not is embedded in the legal system that governs most of Europe, Central and South America and that has been adopted in cultures as diverse as South Africa, Turkey and Japan.

    I find it difficult airily to dismiss two thousand years of civilised jurisprudence and its underlying ethical principles as “inane rhetoric.”

    Do you really support the proposition that the law should recognise and enforce contracts for the sale and purchase of human gametes, children conceived under contract with a view to their abandonment by their mother or kidneys for transplantation? That creditors should be able to seize and sell a debtor’s remains to the anatomists in satisfaction of a debt? That potential conscripts may mutilate themselves to evade military service? In short, that concepts of ownership applicable to articles of commerce can be applied to free persons?

  • Bonchamps wrote, “people who are convinced that they have the truth will justify anything and everything they do to those who they cannot convince.”

    Jacques Maritain refuted this fallacy, which he rightly declared a barbarous and erroneous assumption: “If it were true that whoever knows or claims to know truth or justice cannot admit the possibility of a view different from his own, and is bound to impose his true view on other people by violence, the rational animal would be the most dangerous of beasts. In reality it is through rational means, that is, through persuasion, not through coercion, that the rational animal is bound by his very nature to try to induce his fellow man to share in what it knows or claims to know as true or just. And the metaphysician, because he trusts human reason; and the believer, because he trusts divine grace, and knows that “a forced faith is a hypocrisy hateful to God and man”, as Cardinal Manning put it, do not use holy war to make their “eternal truth” accessible to other people, they appeal to the inner freedom of other people by offering them either their demonstrations or the testimony of their love. And we do not call upon the people to decide because we are aware of our ignorance of what is the good, but because we know this truth, and this good, that the people have a right to self-government.”

  • Mary de Voe:
    —-
    “Atheism is unconstitutional for the reason of denying constitutional rights to all men.”
    ——
    That would be valid for a an atheist who seeks to impose atheism by force upon others, or presumes to tell others that they cannot be theists. But for the atheist that adheres to the NAP, it is not valid. The atheist in accord with NAP is not violating anyone’s rights.
    —-
    “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” – Thomas Jefferson

  • Ernest Schreiber:

    “And you’re right, I misunderstood your question about Genesis. Thanks for expounding. But I fail to see how your objective knowledge/faith-based subjective knowledge distinction is determinative of anything.”
    —–
    You’re very welcome. Thanks for staying civil about this.
    ——
    I am not attempting to be determinative about anything. I was replying to Bonchamps assertion that Christian philosophy is in alignment with the philosophy of objective truth.
    —–
    All I am highlighting is that ANY system of faith, Christian or otherwise, is just that, “a system of FAITH.” Whenever faith is arrived at through the testaments of others, then, as Paine put it, you are essentially putting your faith in hearsay. This is subjective by definition. I am not determining to say anymore or less than that about it. I am just asking people like Bonchamps to not confuse subjective beliefs with objective knowledge.

  • Ernest Schreiber:
    —-
    “How is the atheist a brute? When the aetheist doesn’t reciprocate the tolerance he demands, instead prefering to insist that the rest of the community tolerate his intolerance for their beliefs,* he’s acting brutishly, is he not?”
    ——
    Well, if the atheist attempts to force other people to give up their theism, or he is intolerant of theists, I am in complete agreement with you.
    —-
    But, I am talking about an atheist who is not intolerant. I am asking: why not extend tolerance to an atheist who is himself tolerant?

  • Mary de Voe:
    —-
    “God is our objective truth.”

    I personally agree with you. I feel that the evidence is sufficient to prove as irrefutable that there is a higher power, Supreme Being, First Cause or whatever you want to call it behind the origins of the universe. I also believe that insofar as this entity lays behind time before time, matter before matter, i.e. beyond the realm of knowledge into the unknowable realm of pre-Big Bang, then it would be correct to call this entity our Creator or the Architect of all that is.
    —–
    All I am concerned about is trying to build a society here on earth where our fellow men and women do not abuse or shun those who choose to not recognize such a Creator, or to do so in their own way, which may lay at odds with our own divergent interpretations. Tolerance must surely be in accord with the laws of the universe, and of the Creator.

  • Art Deco:
    —-
    “Jack, you’ve spun your wheels to the tune of 3,600 words.”
    —–
    I am sad you see it that way. I feel that I’ve profited from interacting with the people on this thread. They have required me to see issues from other vantage points, and I have tried to do the same.
    ——

  • “The atheist in accord with NAP is not violating anyone’s rights.”
    .
    Faith is a gift from God. Religion is man’s response to the gift from God. The atheist rejects the gift of faith from God; the atheist rejects God; and God’s gift of man’s immortal soul. In doing so the atheist rejects every man’s immortal soul.
    .
    —- “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” – Thomas Jefferson
    .
    It does violate the minor child’s uninformed conscience to be told by the very existence of the atheist that he has no immortal soul, no unalienable human rights, no God given love and adoption by God as a child of God.
    .
    What is more brutal than not being prayed for by people who choose to not pray for one?
    Thomas Jefferson lived in a culture of freedom. With the ACLU, atheism has become the cultural norm.

  • Jack: You agree with everybody as long as your atheist is more equal then the rest of the atheists. Sorry Jack, the atheist is not better or above any other sovereign person created by our Creator, simply by virtue of his choice of atheism.

  • “Do you honestly think I haven’t read Acquinas?”
    .
    Since you can’t even seem to spell “Aquinas”, yeah, I’m pretty sure you don’t know what you’re talking about here.
    .
    “No one can logically prove to you that Mohammed’s revelation is reality, or that Jesus walked on water.”
    .
    That doesn’t mean that Christianity rejects objective reality. It asks to have faith that certain things which cannot be proven empirically are in fact true – objectively true, not just subjectively true. Everything we believe to be true is a choice, even if it meets standards of proof you consider reliable. No one has to do anything. We are all free. But Christianity holds that there is a reality that exists independent of the human mind – objective reality. That is a fact.

    Your argument is completely wrong. Just about everything you’ve argued, stated, written, claimed, etc. has been completely wrong.

  • Bonchamps:
    —–
    “Since you can’t even seem to spell “Aquinas”, yeah, I’m pretty sure you don’t know what you’re talking about here.”
    —-

    If a slip of the keyboard is all you’ve got on my argument, I am sorry, I think that means you lose by default.
    ——
    If I said your argument was inane, or inaine….does it really matter?

  • Mary de Voe:
    —–
    “Sorry Jack, the atheist is not better or above any other sovereign person created by our Creator, simply by virtue of his choice of atheism.”
    —–
    How on earth did you get that out of my argument?

  • Mary de Voe:
    —–
    “It does violate the minor child’s uninformed conscience to be told by the very existence of the atheist that he has no immortal soul, no unalienable human rights, no God given love and adoption by God as a child of God.”
    ——
    Yes. That is why I asked why the atheist who is in accord with the NAP cannot be tolerated. I am not talking about an atheist who is busting into people’s houses sermonizing.
    —–
    In the same way, hopefully the theists won’t go door to door shoving their faith in other people’s faces.

  • Bonchamps:
    —–
    “But Christianity holds that there is a reality that exists independent of the human mind – objective reality. That is a fact.”
    —-
    Holding that there is an objective reality is a fact for everyone who is not schizophrenic. So this doesn’t establish anything.
    —–
    Objective Philosophy and Objective Truth are different from accepting objective reality.
    —–
    I can hold that there is an objective reality, and even say I know the objective truth…but if that truth is *arrived at subjectively*, then I am ascribed to subjective truth, not objective.
    ——-
    If a sandwich is sitting on a plate on a table, you and I are both going to recognize that the plate, table and sandwich exists. We are both going to say that we live in an objective reality. Lets assume that neither of us has eaten of the sandwich yet, and cannot see from where we stand what lays between the bread.
    ——
    If you say that the sandwhich is baloney and cheese, because your friend told you yesterday that the sandwich you will find on you table the next day is going to be baloney and cheese, because it came to him in a dream he had had the night before, then you go on to tell me: “I know what’s in it: baloney and cheese.” You are imparting subjective knowledge to me.

    —–
    If I say, “that’s subjective, lets taste it,” I’m after the objective truth of the matter. If I eat of it, and find it’s actually PB&J, we are going to have a disconnect.

  • Bonchamps”
    —-
    “Since you can’t even seem to spell “Aquinas”, yeah, I’m pretty sure you don’t know what you’re talking about here.”
    —–
    As an aside on this, you would know if you had looked at various texts that uniformity wasn’t exactly the order of the day in the middle ages. There is a lot of difference between Germano-Latin and Frankish-Latin, for example. Sometimes the same author would spell a term three different ways in one book, e.g. Ceasare Cesare and Ceasar.
    ——

  • “a slip of the keyboard”
    .
    You did it three times. It just undermines your credibility, that’s all.
    .
    “Holding that there is an objective reality is a fact for everyone who is not schizophrenic.”
    .
    Well, again, you’re wrong. It isn’t a given in philosophy that there is a mind-independent reality, or that it is knowable through the use of reason. These are distinct positions that Christianity takes up, especially in the Middle Ages. It forms the philosophical foundation for the scientific revolution.

  • Bonchamps:
    —–
    “You did it three times. It just undermines your credibility, that’s all.”
    —-
    It’s called misspelling: it happens, especially in English. Like I said, depending on where you are getting your Latin from, you are going to see various spellings, particularly with proper nouns. How’s “Aquino” work for you? But again, the only one who is undermining their credibility is you: if that is what you have to resort to, i.e. spelling errors, to demonstrate that someone’s argument is not consistent, then you might as well forget about it.
    ——-
    The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, http://www.deism.com/images/theageofreason1794.pdf

  • Bonchamps:
    —–
    “Well, again, you’re wrong. It isn’t a given in philosophy that there is a mind-independent reality, or that it is knowable through the use of reason. These are distinct positions that Christianity takes up, especially in the Middle Ages. It forms the philosophical foundation for the scientific revolution.”
    ——
    “Christianity” can’t “take up” any questions: because it is an inanimate ideology. *Christians* can philosophize, “Christianity” cannot do it. Christianity is not personified.
    —-
    Unless, you are now telling me that any time a professed Christian wrote or spoke, then “Christianity” was also writing or speaking. If that is what you mean, have you adopted collectivism now as well? I can’t believe I am even having to explain this, honestly.
    ——-
    “It forms the philosophical foundation for the scientific revolution.”
    ——-
    It was a significant portion of the cultural fabric at the time; a part of the social condition within which science reemerged from the Dark Age. So what? I could say that Islam was the ‘philosophical foundation for the scientific revolution’ of Eurasia (and actually, Muslim scholars were engaging in scientific inquiry and advanced mathematics long before anyone in Christendom): this statement contributes nothing, it refutes nothing, it advances nothing.
    —–
    Having said that, please explain to me how men were threatened with execution for splitting light in a prism, and suggesting that rainbows were formed from the refraction of light. How did this type of environment come about? Does putting a man to death for demonstrating how rainbows form part of the “foundation” that allowed for objective knowledge?
    ——
    And so long as we are talking of St. Aquino, what about his consultation of Aristotle? The thing that set Tomas Equinos apart was his use of the Aristotilean method. Aristotileanism is not Christian, seeing as how it predates the religion by about 350 years.

  • A man is endowed with sovereign personhood by the Supreme Sovereign Being at the creation of his rational, immortal human soul and the conception of his human body. Atheism denies the Supreme Sovereign Being and man’s sovereign personhood. God is three Persons in the Blessed Trinity. Man’s existence is proof of God’s existence. The atheist bears witness to a lie. The atheist is tolerated. The atheist’s lie is prosecuted.
    .
    Pornography is a lie about the human being. The pornographer is tolerated. The pornographer’s lie is prosecuted.
    .
    Abortion is a lie about the existence of man’s rational, immortal human soul and his sovereign personhood. Abortion must be prosecuted.
    .
    Every lie must be prosecuted. Only the truth has freedom.

  • Mary de Voe:
    ——
    “A man is endowed with sovereign personhood by the Supreme Sovereign Being at the creation of his rational, immortal human soul and the conception of his human body.”
    ——
    Couldn’t agree more. The idea with liberalism, Libertarian “Humanism” or whatever you wish to call it is to use that rational part of the soul you speak of to its’ fullest.
    ——-
    “The atheist is tolerated. The atheist’s lie is prosecuted.”
    ——–
    So long as by “prosectued” you mean within the realm of discourse, non-violent persuasion, even condmenation, that’s all well and good. No problem with the NAP. But running the athiest out of town on a rail is something else. The Humanist simply asks that we observe the same codes of treatment we would wish on ourselves. I.e., I don’t want atheists running me out of the community on a rail, so I am not about to do it to them. Likewise, if I live in a fundamentalist community, and I am a fundamentalist, but my son decides he is going to be an atheist, I would hope that the Community Leaders aren’t going to tell both of us that he has to leave. So long as he remains civil and observes the laws of the community, why should he not be tolerated, and be allowed to habitate there?
    ——

  • “Couldn’t agree more. The idea with liberalism, Libertarian “Humanism” or whatever you wish to call it is to use that rational part of the soul you speak of to its’ fullest.”
    .
    Sorry Jack. Rejecting our Creator, our unalienable rights, our freedom of peaceable association is not using our rational soul to the fullest. It is contrary to reason.
    .
    “But running the athiest out of town on a rail is something else.”
    .
    Sorry Jack. The nation has the power to exile any person who causes a call to treason or riot or denies another person his civil rights. The state has a right to ostracize any person who calls to treason or rejects another person’s God-given unalienable civil rights, for in denying another person his unalienable civil rights, he forfeits his own. See Article One, Section Three of the Constitution. for Bills of Attainder.

  • Mary de Voe:
    —-
    “Sorry Jack. Rejecting our Creator, our unalienable rights, our freedom of peaceable association is not using our rational soul to the fullest. It is contrary to reason.”
    —–
    Yes. I agree with you. As I’ve said before, the evidence is overwhelming for the existence of a Supreme Being. I think the atheist is guilty of an intellectual hubris and indeed, as you highlight, NOT taking reason to its full conclusions when we examine the nature of the universe. All I’m saying is I’m not going to run the atheist out of town for that. He/she has the liberty to have an atheist mindset, even if they have to deny reason to get there. To reference Jefferson again, the atheist ‘neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg’ by being an atheist. Therefore, I’m going to advocate for tolerance and say he/she should be allowed to stay in the community, even if I think they are off base. Of course, if the atheist starts accosting me, or getting his friends together and saying the theists need to be exiled, then that is another matter.
    ——-
    “Sorry Jack. The nation has the power to exile any person who causes a call to treason or riot or denies another person his civil rights. The state has a right to ostracize any person who calls to treason or rejects another person’s God-given unalienable civil rights.”
    —–
    Well both examples deal in the idea of the collective as the fundamental, not the individual. Personally, I’m an anarchist. I would like to see property rights protected by private firms that people voluntarily contract with. The problem with both the State and the “nation” is that you are born into both as a matter of circumstance. If I am born into a area of the world that practices strict Wahabi Islam, I don’t want to be subjected to their “power to exile” me. Same thing with a nation of atheists, Mormons, Baptists or whatever.
    —–
    Now, as for inalienable rights, the State aggresses against these same rights it claims to protect: right to property, to fruits of your labor, right to refuse service, etc. etc.
    ——
    The U.S. constitutional republic has done a comparatively better job of safeguarding our rights than other States, but I think we could do even better within the context of a Private Law Society aka Free Society. I.e., private firms for defense of life and property, combined with private arbitration firms that utilize a system of polycentric law to settle disputes.
    —–
    Thanks for the constructive dialogue.

  • Jack: You did not address our constitutional posterity and the duty of the state to deliver truth and Justice

  • Mary, I thought I acknowledged our ‘constitutional posterity’ when I wrote how “The U.S. constitutional republic has done a comparatively better job of safeguarding our rights than other States.”
    ——-
    “You did not address…the duty of the state to deliver truth and Justice.”
    ——-
    Well, as a Libertarian, I cannot assent to the idea that any state/government can deliver truth and justice. Human beings can seek the Truth and discover the laws that will approach Justice, but no group of humans should be invested with the power to claim they and they alone will deliver Truth and Justice. That includes a constitutional republic.
    ——–
    Justice is to be arrived at through those who are held to be objective and wise in judgement in light of Law. Truth is for everyone to seek, and the ‘deliverance’ of such to be via the realm of peaceful discourse.
    —–
    But giving authority to a corporate entity like the State to presume what is Justice and Truth is very dangerous. This is a dangerous power that no society has ever been able to cede to anybody without suffering for it in the end. This is because once the State has such power, it does not allow anyone to question, much less challenge it, and the State makes its’ decisions binding on everyone.

  • George Washington’s constitutional posterity are being aborted at 4,200 per day and the taxpayer is paying for their murder.
    .
    “Justice is to be arrived at through those who are held to be objective and wise in judgement in light of Law. ”
    .
    Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights. Fransisco Suarez from Aquinas.

  • Mary de Voe:
    —-
    “George Washington’s constitutional posterity are being aborted at 4,200 per day and the taxpayer is paying for their murder.”
    —–
    yes…that’s why I said: “The U.S. constitutional republic has done a comparatively better job of safeguarding our rights than other States, but I think we could do even better within the context of a Private Law Society aka Free Society.”
    ——-
    “Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights. Fransisco Suarez from Aquinas.”
    ——
    Yes. The foundation for natural law. Was this supposed to run in opposition to something I had said? I think, once again, we are in agreement, even if you do not realize it.

  • What makes you think I ever left 😉

  • “within the context of a Private Law Society aka Free Society.”
    Lenin promised his followers, useful idiots as they were, FREEDOM, that is, before he laughed them out of his office. Free association is not peaceable assembly. Peaceable assembly is implemented in the service and sacrifice of praise to God.
    .
    “”Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights. Fransisco Suarez from Aquinas.” —— Yes. The foundation for natural law. Was this supposed to run in opposition to something I had said? I think, once again, we are in agreement, even if you do not realize it.”

    .
    What I do not realize is an acknowledgement of the human being’s immortal soul as the creation of God and an acknowledgement of The Supreme Sovereign Being. Worshiping natural law instead of natural law’s Creator leaves me with a very hollow ringing in my being.

  • Mary de Voe:
    ——
    “What I do not realize is an acknowledgement of the human being’s immortal soul as the creation of God and an acknowledgement of The Supreme Sovereign Being. Worshiping natural law instead of natural law’s Creator leaves me with a very hollow ringing in my being.”
    ——
    If people actually respected natural law, then the worship of the Creator would never be in jeoporady. It shouldn’t be an either-or scenario.
    —–
    On that note, I am not sure if anyone actually “worships” natural law. Insofar as natural law is not personified, how would anyone worship it? And again, a zealous, fervent respect and observance for natural rights is not going to in any way endanger theism; rather it ensures that true theism can exist and flourish.

  • Mary de Voe:
    —-
    ” Free association is not peaceable assembly. Peaceable assembly is implemented in the service and sacrifice of praise to God.”
    ——
    I don’t understand what you mean by this: it could be taken to at least 4 different conclusions.

  • Jack: “On that note, I am not sure if anyone actually “worships” natural law. Insofar as natural law is not personified, how would anyone worship it? And again, a zealous, fervent respect and observance for natural rights is not going to in any way endanger theism; rather it ensures that true theism can exist and flourish.”
    .
    You have confused natural law with natural rights. Natural law is what it is. Natural rights are endowed by our Creator to the sovereign person’s immortal, human soul by virtue of his being in existence as a human being.
    .
    You, Jack, exist. Your existence as a human being is proof that God exists.
    .
    “” Free association is not peaceable assembly. Peaceable assembly is implemented in the service and sacrifice of praise to God.”
    .
    The First Amendment is freedom of religion, man’s sacrifice of praise to almighty God which is expressed in thought, (conscience), word (speech) and deed (Press and peaceable assembly) invoking Divine Providence on our nation. (as opposed to mob mentality, inciting to riot, spreading ignorance, perjury, slander, fomenting rebellion, desecration of God and man and property, heresy, their name is legion.)

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New Blog, Ron Paul & Other Things

Tuesday, February 5, AD 2013

Hello TAC. I haven’t been posting here as often as I once was since a) I wanted to get a new blog up and running and b) I am also going to be writing for Catholic Stand, and my first piece is appearing tomorrow.

My new blog is called “Liberty & Dignity.” It is not an explicitly Catholic blog, but it is devoted to a natural law/rights version of libertarianism called “paleo-libertarianism.” I distinguish paleo-libertarianism from other kinds of libertarianism in the following way: the paleo brand explicitly recognizes that liberty is a historical and cultural product as much as it is an abstract ideal, that it requires certain institutional prerequisites and supports, and that taken out of its proper context – like anything else – it can self-destruct. It is close to but not identical with paleo-conservatism.

My first article for Catholic Stand will explain how I believe all of this as a Catholic.

Now, onto the Ron Paul business. Obviously I don’t agree with many of the comments left on Paul Zummo’s post about Ron Paul being an inherently malicious person. At the same time, I found his comments to be wildly inappropriate and politically destructive, much like Todd Akin’s rape comments. His subsequent statements on his Facebook page really didn’t improve the situation either.

I am not too happy with his son either, for much different reasons, but you can read my blog to learn more about that.

Here at TAC and Catholic Stand I am going to continue focusing on the two issues that pose the greatest threat to religious liberty in our time: the HHS mandate and the “marriage equality” movement. I expect it will also be necessary to continue defending free markets and private property as our social democratic government continues its assault on both. Many Catholics still believe that they have a religious obligation to support a welfare state and open borders. These beliefs are toxic even if well-intended.

Well, that’s all for now. Let the comments roll.

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38 Responses to New Blog, Ron Paul & Other Things

  • I preface my comment by noting that I am not an American (although I do live in the United States). That may matter, as I may lack some of the context that another might consider a prerequisite to having an opinion on this matter.

    I am one of those who does admire Ron Paul. In theory, I need not endorse everything a candidate does in order to admire him or her for it is the character of a person, to me, that is more important than the specific views he or she holds (although I don’t want to belittle the relation between the two). Persons may disagree, but I believe Ron Paul is a person of decency and courage.

    Having said this, it is hard not to join those citing the inappropriateness of his reaction. Integrity is not itself evidenced in having consistency, which people often credit to the former Congressman, but rather in having the courage, I think, to reverse oneself when brought before a wrong committed.

    I, for one, will be interested to see how this story develops.

    KW.

  • Ron Paul was too clever by half. Being one of the few politicians left whose thinking is marked by logical clarity instead of bathos or chicanery, it is obvous that he thought he was making a brilliant point, by pointing out the analogy between the proverbial person, armed with a hammer who thinks that every problem is nail, and a soldier who thinks that every difficulty can be handled after a day of letting loose in the range. He was of course insensitive to the dead, but Twitter is a format that positively thrives on stupid thoughts and should therefore be avoided by everyone but twits.

  • Ron Paul’s latest outburst reaffirms what I have always believed about him: that he is a heartless, cruel, and mean spirited nut job, For you to liken his using the tragic murder of an American hero as a pretext to launch another crazy tirade to Todd Akin’s remarks, which were poorly stated at worst, is reprehensible, but not surprising.

  • Reprehensible?

    I find your use of the word reprehensible to be reprehensible, not to mention idiotic – but that isn’t surprising either.

    Todd Akin’s remarks were politically stupid. So were Ron Paul’s. Both were attempting to make a semi-valid point and failed miserably. The comments have that much in common. If you are so over-emotionally hysterical and sensitive that you can’t see that, well, you have my pity. I hope you find the help you need to deal with that.

  • I hope you find the help you need to deal with that.

    Take a chill pill, Bonchamps.

  • Ron Paul’s comments were merely politically stupid? You do a much better job making my case than I ever could.

  • Paleo-libertarian? As if we needed another flavor of libertarian? Good luck with that.

  • Ron Paul has a history of saying stupid things. Akin?

  • Ok.

    Paul Z: I’ll “chill out” (by which I presume you mean, act sufficiently docile) when I’m dead. Until then, I’ll stay warm.

    Greg: I never said the word “merely.” You dishonestly put that word in my mouth. This is a pattern with you. You should work on that.

    JL: lol

    J. Christian: Paleo-libertarianism already existed. It wasn’t widely known, and still isn’t. Maybe I can do something about that. One popular paleo-libertarian is Ilana Mercer:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilana_Mercer

    I’d argue that Ron Paul is more or less a paleo-libertarian, though he doesn’t use that label.

    Kyle: Sure, if you oppose his politics, I’m sure most things he says sound “stupid” to you. This comment, however, sounded stupid even to many of us who don’t typically and reflexively think the things he says are stupid.

    And yes… um… Akin. It was stupid on that level. It alienated potential supporters.

    Is it so hard to understand how these comments have similar consequences? Is this really a difficult concept?

  • Bonchamps:

    I didn’t quote you when I used the word “merely”. It was a characterization (and I think an accurate one) of your description of Ron Paul’s remarks. I thought the absence of quotation marks in conjunction with the context of your remarks made that sufficiently clear. But apparently not. In any event, no dishonesty on my part.

  • No dishonesty?

    You are imputing dishonorable motivations to me without sufficient evidence.

    Your characterization isn’t accurate.

    If you weren’t being dishonest, you were being thoughtless. I won’t hold my breath waiting for a retraction.

  • I mean, its not enough that I think the comments were ill-considered and insensitive. No. I have to hate Ron Paul as much as you do, or I am as hateful and demented as you wrongly assume Ron Paul to be.

    I think I’ll turn down the invitation to the warped and unjust reality you inhabit.

  • Bonchamps:

    Was Ron Paul’s statement regarding Chris Kyle’s murder worse than Todd Akin’s remarks or weren’t they?

  • What do you mean by “worse”, and why does it even matter? Why are you determined to quantify this?

    I’m not bringing them up to compare their content, but rather their effects. The effects are similar. I don’t know if they are quantitatively identical. I don’t think such a thing is even measurable. In both cases you have a political movement that will suffer to some unknowable but definite degree because of one man’s thoughtless remarks. That’s the point. Why in the heck you would attribute bad motives to me for making this point is beyond me. It strikes me as demented.

    You want to know what I think about the content? I think it was an extremely callous way to make a point, and I don’t even agree with the point he was making. I don’t believe Kyle “lived by the sword” like some kind of mercenary, the quotation was inapplicable. Was this “worse” than what Akin said? Objectively, maybe. Subjectively, I don’t think either man intended to harm or offend anyone. Both remarks were thoughtless.

    I’m not wound up about the content. And it doesn’t have a single thing to do with Ron Paul’s views nor does it tarnish the valuable service that he himself has provided this country. It was one stupid comment. To defend the comment or to savagely and eternally condemn the man who made it are equally stupid and risible extremes.

  • In an objective comparison, there is no maybe about the fact that Dr Paul’s callous remark (to use your own word) is far worse than Akin’s. Akin’s comments, while clumsily stated and partially correct in terms of the facts, were not callous. The idea that you are more concerned about the political effect than the content is disturbing. This has everything to do with what he thinks. This not just one stupid comment. This is the same Ron Paul who not only equated our going into Pakistan to kill bin Laden without notifying them to China killing a Chinese dissident on our soil. He also equated our invasion
    of Iraq with China invading us in the 2008 GOP debate. To say this has nothing to with his views is utter nonsense.

    Oh, I do not hate Ron Paul nor have I ever urged you to do so either. I stand by my characterization of him in my first comment on this thread. But I don’t hate him. I dislike him but I don’t hate him.

  • I’ll “chill out” (by which I presume you mean, act sufficiently docile)

    I mean not imputing mental illness to people who disagree with you.

  • Ron Paul was too clever by half. Being one of the few politicians left whose thinking is marked by logical clarity instead of bathos or chicanery, it is obvous that he thought he was making a brilliant point, by pointing out the analogy between the proverbial person, armed with a hammer who thinks that every problem is nail, and a soldier who thinks that every difficulty can be handled after a day of letting loose in the range. He was of course insensitive to the dead, but Twitter is a format that positively thrives on stupid thoughts and should therefore be avoided by everyone but twits.

    Educate me, Ivan. What indication is there that the deceased thought “every difficulty can be handled after a day of letting loose on the range”? How does Dr. Paul, who has a 35 year history of promoting crank monetary schemes and fancies that the dispositions and behavior of the government of Iran is perfectly reasonable because we pass (contextually modest, one might note) subsidies to Israel manifest ‘logical clarity’? Are you saying the logically clear Dr. Paul is a twit because he makes use of twitter?

  • Ron Paul’s latest outburst reaffirms what I have always believed about him: that he is a heartless, cruel, and mean spirited nut job

    How about “silly crank so consumed with his hobby horses that his assessment of just about everything is hopelessly reductionist”?

  • Paul Z,

    Are your blinders so thick that you really believe that Greg was merely “disagreeing” with me in some sort of gentleman’s dispute?

    I love disagreement. I crave it. I hunger for it.

    What I don’t love or tolerate is people questioning my motives and calling me “reprehensible” for not making the exact point they would have made or would like to see made and for assuming I wouldn’t make it. That IS demented.

  • Greg,

    You are way more invested in this than I am. I don’t crucify people over irresponsible public remarks. I look at their entire record. Even if you add in a few other questionable Ron Paul statements, there are still thousands of statements that are right on the money as far as I am concerned.

    And I happen to agree with some of those other comments. I DO believe that the government’s (not “our” – I had nothing to do with it) invasion of Iraq was an aggressive, immoral and possibly criminal enterprise. The only error in comparing it to China is that China hasn’t launched an aggressive invasion of another country, unless you count the thrashing it gave Vietnam in 1979 (and that was only in response to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia, which at least happened on China’s borders and therefore posed a plausible national security threat).

  • What I don’t love or tolerate is people questioning my motives and calling me “reprehensible” for not making the exact point they would have made or would like to see made and for assuming I wouldn’t make it. That IS demented.

    It’s not demented. It’s a different tack than perhaps I would have taken, but it was an opinion.

    Look, I respect your opinions and I’m glad that you haven’t attempted to defend the indefensible. But you need to stop treating every comment criticizing you as a personal attack. So I repeat, chill.

  • I love disagreement. I crave it. I hunger for it.

    Is that why you stuck me on moderation?

    I DO believe that the government’s (not “our” – I had nothing to do with it) invasion of Iraq was an aggressive, immoral and possibly criminal enterprise. The only error in comparing it to China is that China hasn’t launched an aggressive invasion of another country, unless you count the thrashing it gave Vietnam in 1979 (and that was only in response to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia, which at least happened on China’s borders and therefore posed a plausible national security threat).

    I think China sending hundreds of thousands of troops across the Yalu River in 1951 constitutes something in the category ‘aggressive’.

    As for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it is non-sequitur to refer to ‘criminal’ enterprises where there is no penal code. That aside, the President faced real decisions in a context of uncertainty of both situation and outcome. You can remove the sanctions (and allow Iraq to rebuild its WMD capacity), you can leave the sanctions on (which Big Consciences assured us were causing hundreds of thousands of excess deaths a year), or you can eject the government. Not too many pleasant options.

  • Paul,

    When someone says that something I did was “reprehensible”, I take it as a personal attack. I guess that’s just nuts.

  • As for this,

    “Is that why you stuck me on moderation?”

    You don’t want me to list the reasons why I stuck you on moderation.

  • Bonchamps:

    Once again you do exactly what you accusse me of doing. i never ever called you reprehensible. I called you likening Ron Paul’s despicable attack on the late Chris Kyle (and yes he was attacking Kyle not just the war fought in) with Todd Akin’s innocuouos by camparison remarks reprehensible. And it is. Sorry you don’t like it. But I guess ther truth hurts.

  • Oh, and by the way, I also find the fact the fact that you don’t seem to be too disturbed by Ron Paul’s remarks reprehensible. Here is a man you think highly of making a statement that is basically a verbal spit on the grave of a man who put his life on the line for this country, has not retracted such remarks. And it doesn’t disturb you? What else do you call that?

  • I call it a personal attack.

    I really couldn’t care less what you think of me or anything else. I just object to Paul Z’s strange idea that what you are doing isn’t a personal attack.

    I told you what I thought of Ron Paul’s comments. If that isn’t good enough, fine. I’ll be “reprehensible” in your eyes. See if I lose any sleep over it.

  • Oh, and…

    ” i never ever called you reprehensible. ”

    I never said you called me reprehensible. Well, at least not before. I said:

    “When someone says that something I did was “reprehensible”, I take it as a personal attack.”

    For the record, I see it as a distinction without a difference.

  • Ok, I srand corrected. But yes what you did in downplaying Ron Paul’s remarks with the Akin comparison is reprehensible!!

  • I shall probably regret this comment, nevertheless…

    First, most TAC contributors (not all) use their real names, thereby taking personal responsibility and accountability for what they write (whether here at TAC or over at the Catholic Stand or on their own personal blogs), and a fair number of commenters do as well. In fact, even in the case of those who may use pseudonyms, it is easy to find out who they really are. They have no need to keep their identities secret, except in this case. (NOTE: Because I don’t wish to debate an undebatable person, I am maintaining my anonymity in the same way as the author of this blog post maintains his – fair is fair.)

    Second, the type of personal animosity given against detractors in the com box for his own post by a TAC contributor is rare, and it denigrates the reputation of TAC as a blog with a higher standard or quality than that. Perhaps one does not crave debate or disagreement as one claims, except when one can demonstrate one’s victory against those whose manipulation of logic is not nearly as adept or deft as one’s own, thereby raising into public acclaim one’s own intellectual brilliance.

    Third, there are those who under the banner of libertarianism act as though they can reject authority, particularly when that authority does not agree with their preconceived notions to which they hold an almost infantile fist-grasp. They almost seem to feel as though their intellectual brilliance in one or two areas, or their ability to trip others up in logic-debates automatically carries over into other areas, entitling and authorizing them to determine what sources of knowledge are valid in fields where they have never worked nor possess any expertise, and to force that determination on others through ridicule and personal accusation.

    Fourth, I won’t respond to debating this comment. I know where the conversation will go. Personal liberty means accountability, responsibility and respect for authority. Frankly, I am disgusted with the arrogance and disdain for others that is so typical of many (not all) hard-core libertarians I meet.

  • Well, that’s quite an indictment, isn’t it? We could have had this discussion in private, but if you want to air it all out here, that’s fine with me. I know exactly who you are by your email address, by the way, a regular and frequent poster whom everyone will know when we get to the one and only topic you know anything about.

    First, I don’t use a pseudonym because I want to hide my real name from people like you. It is for professional reasons. You want to know my identity, I’ll be happy to tell you who I am and where I live, and where I go for walks, and where you can find me if you want to say things like this to my face.

    Secondly, TAC is free to give me the boot any time. I’m not going to retract my policy of reacting to personal, petty, childish nonsense directed against me in exactly the way it deserves to be reacted to. Perhaps “one” doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about when making assumptions about the personal motivations of “another.”

    Third, I know exactly who you are. I never made any claim to expertise about nuclear power. I mentioned something about nuclear reactors and something about depleted uranium once or twice in passing, providing links to people who ARE experts to support my brief comments – something every blogger does. This caused you to flip out and write a com-box treatise to cover-up your own intellectual insecurities, practically the equivalent of waving your arms and shouting “look at me, look at me, I know things too! I know things too!” You take every opportunity you can get to bring your professional knowledge of nuclear energy into a conversation, even when it has nothing to do with the conversation for the same pathetic reasons. You practically invented out of thin air – “lied” is usually the applicable word though I’m not sure when it is clearly the product of some kind of deep mental distress – the claim that Ron Paul has a problem with nuclear energy when the man has never said a word against it, or if he has, you certainly didn’t provide it. For what? So you could bring the only topic you have a passing knowledge of into a discussion?

    You admitted to me countless times that you don’t know much about political philosophy, that you admired what I had to say on several topics. Were you lying then too? Now I’m “infantile”? Moreover, you count your professional experience in the field of nuclear energy as the reason why you know so much about it. I teach political science for a living. And I DON’T go into “other areas.” I DO link to the claims of experts in their fields. Or are you the highest authority? I wasn’t aware everyone at Fukushima and everyone who studies DU reports directly to you. I’m so glad I know that now.

    Fourth, I’m not disgusted, but rather amused that you took the time to write all this.

  • Is it wrong that I feel sufficiently entertained by all of this?

  • Not at all. I’m entertained by it myself. It’s so absurd and ridiculous that it can only be entertaining.

  • Third, I know exactly who you are.

  • Well, I’m glad to see you branching out Art. For a while I thought the only movie you’d ever seen was Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

    Still, the only thing funny about your post is that you think it’s funny, when it is as bizarrely out of place as your Spicoli references.

  • I’m taking an editorial prerogative and closing this thread.

53 Responses to From “Third Ways” to the First Way

  • You were attracted to what you thought was Distributism, but it really was something entirely different. Distributism does not distribute property to the populace, as if it were government, it is purely an economic system in which profits are shared among all the workers and each worker owns his own equipment.

    I stopped reading after your statement I was once attracted to the idea of Distributism, until I came to the vital question of who would be doing the “distributing” of the private property that everyone was supposed to own, but I assume that whatever your conclusions are, they are probably wrong because it was based on a false premise.

  • Good post. Yes, you hit on the dilemma of Distributism. The only example that I can think of is the Homestead Act of 1862 which ‘distributed’ land if people were willing to work the land. Unfortunately, much of that land was taken from the Indian tribes and a century later consolidated by oligopolistic corporations. In my reading of Christopher Dawson, culture and economic systems evolve over time. There was in the late medieval period a sort of distributism economy at work but this was destroyed during the Reformation. The introduction of usury at that time, rise of the nation state and confiscation of church lands effectively killed the evolution of a more distributive economy by the 17th century and the industrial revolution in the 19th century killed the small agrarian ‘lifestyle’ for good. Chesterton and Belloc were looking backwards towards that ‘lost’ model but you can’t impose distributism….it must evolve over time based upon agreed upon societal and cultural principles.

  • Third Way? Not even close.

    We shall have four more years of wrecking the evil, unjust private sector.

    I think we want to avoid starting out with “how we want ‘things’ to be” or “how we think ‘things’ should be” and analyze what/how things are. When you have a handle on what/how things are, you can form and suggest improvements. I try to make money from knowledge

    At the moment, a gang of unaudited, unelected PhD’s, and their crackpot monetary theories, run the World.

    KK: What does that mean? Is it that each worker is born with his own equipment, or is given it by God?

  • @T.Shaw: Obviously the worker would be given the gift of being able to work from God, but the materials he uses (such as his hammer, or a computer, or whatever) would be purchased from a retailer and not gifted to him by the company or government.

  • let us try to recover the Republic that out founders originally intended and the God our nation once trusted. Neither of your two choices is truly viable. There can be no compromise between good and evil. The Democrat Party should be anathema.

  • kyle,
    In Distributism what happens if a worker chooses not to spend all his profits? May he seek a return from his savings? If so, how?

  • @Mike Petrik: In the Distributist model of the economy, banks are replaced with Credit Unions. Last I checked, CU’s do offer savings accounts with interest.

    If you have seen It’s a Wonderful Life, you have seen Distributist banking in theory. Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey, is the model of Distributist banking while Lionel Barrymore’s Mr Henry Potter is the model of Capitalist banking. Bailey is invested in the people and their welfare, Potter is invested in making more money.

  • Aren’t entrepeneur’s workers who actually work for the wealth they create while they hire other workers at a salary those workers agree to in order to create that wealth? And is not an agree-to amount of the wealth shared from (or paid by) the entrepeneur who works to his subsidiary workers? And is that not the distributionism to which we ought to aspire? You want wealth? Work for it!

    “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat.” 2nd Thessalonians 3:10

    You don’t get to have what isn’t yours.

  • @Paul. I think the difference is the underlying assumptions regarding human nature that inform the different approaches. Distributism would purport that humans are naturally relational, an approach of course originally proposed by Aristotle, interpreted by Aquinas through the lens of the New Testament, and, as far as I know, the current understanding of the Church. Therefore, society is not merely an aggregation of individuals. Indeed, the dichotomy of individual vs. society would be incoherent. From this perspective, a business owner should be just as motivated by contributing to the community (promoting the livelihood of others, producing an actual worthwhile product instead of something that plays off of human weakness) as they are by turning a profit.

    The other approach is derived from the Lockesian concept of radical individualism. Hiring employees is not seen as a “good” in and of itself, but merely a means toward the generation of wealth. Obviously many entrepreneurs do choose to hire people for less than self-motivated reasons (my brother makes a point of hiring people with mental handicaps to work at his restaurant), but that’s out of their own volition, not a product of the capitalist/classical liberal hybrid society we live in. As Tocqueville says, “Americans are better than their philosophy.” But once those other influences begin to wane, as we’re seeing with the replacement of authentic religion with a flimsy sort of humanism, I think we’ll see just how ugly and incompatible with Catholicism classical liberalism really is. If you have a First Things subscription, I’d encourage you to read Patrick Deneen’s recent essay on the unsustainability of liberalism. Good stuff.

  • “Indeed, the dichotomy of individual vs. society would be incoherent.”

    Though the concept of person and society isn’t and Paul’ comment does not contradict that.

    Perfect relation of unity and distinction is present in God in the Trinity. In human nature, especially fallen nature, there will always be some separation if not dichotomy.

  • @Phillip.
    Sure. We are individuals while also simultaneously part of a larger community. Lockesian philosophy seeks to separate the two, presenting the individual as a self-sufficient entity that can stand on its own, free of society, the Church, and the family. We are not and we cannot.

  • “Lockesian philosophy seeks to separate the two, presenting the individual as a self-sufficient entity that can stand on its own, free of society, the Church, and the family. We are not and we cannot.”

    I will agree with that to the extent I have read Locke. I don’t know if other Lockean scholars will agree.

    But its not clear that Capitalism (or the American experiment) is an effort at Lockean philosophy.

  • But as a societal or political regime, it will either rest upon consent or it will rest upon force.

    What societal or political regime, in the end, does NOT rest upon consent or force. In fact, what regime does not rest ultimately upon force? If not for the threat of incarceration or other penalties, which of us would pay taxes to subsidize government programs the ruling class decides we need?

    Even the right to private property has to be protected, in the end, by force. The use of force by the government is not ipso facto wrong. The problem is that the government is run by those with various levels of ability (or desire) to seek the common good. Some mistake their policies as consistent with the common good when in fact they are not. Now whether or not distributism is in fact consistent with the common good, I do not know.

  • Kyle,

    Distributists like John Medaille, Thomas Storck and Chris Ferrara don’t talk about Distributism as a “purely economic” model of a firm. They talk about it as a complete vision of society. If it really were just about employee ownership, well, a) we wouldn’t need a special theory called “Distributism” because its already a widely practiced thing (there are more workers in employee stock plans now than there are in unions) and b) they wouldn’t be talking about guild systems, the elimination of usury, financial regulations and a whole host of ideas that go far beyond the mere advocacy of worker ownership.

    JL,

    No one believes – not Locke, not anyone – by the way, that anyone is a “self-sufficient entity that can stand on its own, free of society, etc.” This is complete nonsense. That people form families and societies is a given in Locke’s state of nature.

  • JL,

    You wrote, “From this perspective, a business owner should be just as motivated by contributing to the community (promoting the livelihood of others, producing an actual worthwhile product instead of something that plays off of human weakness) as they are by turning a profit.”

    I agree and maintain that this must never be mandated by secular law but be taught by the Church. Secular law should (1) ensure a level regulatory playing field that protects public health and safety from industrial / medical / transportational / energy production / aviation activities with a potential for adverse impact on life or limb, and (2) prevent (or punish the doers thereof as appropriate) the initiation of force by one company, entrepeneur or worker over another company, entrepeneur or worker. Fossil fuel accidents like Deep Water Horizons and the Exxon Valdez are cases in point, as well as the Union Carbide toxic gas release in Bhopal, India in 1984.

    It “ain’t” the Federal Govt’s job to enforce distributionism except in those cases where taxes are required for public health, safety and the common defense. That said, local communities may elect to have local laws that provide services for the poor in their communities based on taxing the wealth-producing residents (entrepeneurial or laborer) of such communities. If a particular resident doesn’t like the vote of the majority, then he can move to a community without such mandated distributionism. This is called subsidiarity and freedom.

    I probably would agree to extra local taxes for the poor. But I object to extra Federal govt taxes for the poor. I am all for distributionism at the local level. I oppose it at the Federal level. The only exception are massive accidents like the Deep Water Horizon oil well blowout that killed 5 more people in 2010 than the 6 who who killed by the event at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, and devasted the eco-system in the Gulf of Mexico with toxic sludge that will never ever decay away (unlike Cs-137 that has a half life of 30.17 years). And yes, BP should be subject the “re-distribution” necessary to pay for damages. It’s called “responsibility”.

  • C Matt,

    “What societal or political regime, in the end, does NOT rest upon consent or force.”

    Regimes established by cliques and cadres such as Jacobins and Bolsheviks, for starters – regimes that can only cement their rule through mass murder, ethnic cleansing and the extermination of millions. Those would be the most clear-cut examples. A regime in which all of the productive workers are expropriated by the government to support a horde of unproductive voters in exchange for political power, which is what we have in the United States right now, comes pretty close as well.

    “Even the right to private property has to be protected, in the end, by force.”

    I disagree with that. When you defend your rights, you certainly aren’t engaging in an illegitimate use of force. You’re repelling someone else’s attempt to use force in a completely illegitimate way. Yes, we can play semantic word games and call defensive violence “force”, but really what I am rejecting is the aggressive invasion of other people’s natural rights.

  • “The other approach is derived from the Lockesian concept of radical individualism. Hiring employees is not seen as a “good” in and of itself, but merely a means toward the generation of wealth”

    The generation of wealth benefits everyone. It benefits the poor more than everyone else. When producers are efficient, consumers are rewarded, and most consumers are poor. How is that not a social good? I reject the whole silly notion that production for profit is “selfish.” There isn’t a legitimate profit that is made that doesn’t involve the mutual benefit of at least two parties. In a society in which property rights are respected, you can’t make a dime unless you make the effort to correctly ascertain and provide what people express a desire for. That seems to be a necessary, indispensable requisite for “society.”

  • C Matt,

    I misread your question. My apologies. Everything rests on either consent or force. That was my whole point. People should be clear about which they are advocating for.

  • Bonchamps

    “No one believes – not Locke, not anyone – by the way, that anyone is a “self-sufficient entity that can stand on its own, free of society, etc.” This is complete nonsense. That people form families and societies is a given in Locke’s state of nature.”

    You misunderstand me. Locke argues that these relationships are completely voluntary, not a de facto, organic, intrinsic product of human nature. Individuals form societies simply to protect “natural rights.” They are not necessarily “social” in essence. There is no obligation to the common good. Locke’s views of child-rearing are especially troubling, as its essentially boiled down to a contract that terminates once the child becomes self-sufficient. Additionally, one of the compelling reasons Locke cites that serves as incentive for a child not to severe filial connections is the matter of his inheritance. This is certainly anything but the Catholic concept of the family, which is something we are born into, not to which we voluntarily consent.

  • JL,

    ” Locke argues that these relationships are completely voluntary, not a de facto, organic, intrinsic product of human nature.”

    They are completely voluntary, in the sense that – at least in a stateless society – no one is compelled to enter them by force. No matter how “organic” or “intrinsic” certain arrangements might be, whether or not they are voluntary depends solely on whether or not one is, or is not, forced to enter into them regardless of their will. Through the exercise of free will alone, you could decide not to have a wife, or children. Surely you won’t dispute that.

    “Individuals form societies simply to protect “natural rights.”

    No. They form governments to protect natural rights. “Society” and “government” are very clearly not the same thing, and a certain level of society must be reached before there can ever be a common agreement to a social contract establishing a government.

    “They are not necessarily “social” in essence.”

    Of course they are, if “social” means voluntary cooperation as opposed to forced participation.

    “There is no obligation to the common good.”

    Well, that’s false, since Locke identifies an obligation not only to care for one’s self, but for one’s family and in fact, insofar as possible, every other member of society. The common good is served in the pursuit of legitimate self-interest, moreover, which can only be satisfied by meeting other people’s needs.

    ” Locke’s views of child-rearing are especially troubling, as its essentially boiled down to a contract that terminates once the child becomes self-sufficient.”

    There is an implicit “contract” in any voluntary relationship.

    A truly self-sufficient being would be degraded if it were forced to stay in a dependent relationship against its will, especially one that has become abusive.

    “This is certainly anything but the Catholic concept of the family, which is something we are born into, not to which we voluntarily consent.”

    The capacity to consent begins with the use of reason. We aren’t born with that either, but if we were, family would hardly be necessary. The primary duty of parents towards children is their physical upkeep and their education. Once these tasks are complete, a family will either remain together out of love or disintegrate. We live in a world in which adults coddle children until they are 18 and in many cases for years and years beyond that. In different times and places, self-sufficiency is theoretically possible far sooner than that. The sooner the better, I say.

  • I think Bonchamps point that “everything rests on consent or force” is a very important one. No one has the right to initiate force against anyone else. That said, some will say (for example – there are plenty of other ones, but I will use one familiar to me) that they are being forced to breathe in the toxic refuse of coal fired power plants (which per the CDC kill 33,000 people annually in the US from lung disease due to particulate pollution). But these same people pay for electricity with nary a complaint about where that electricity comes from (because we all know that no electricity kills far more people than electricity from coal). So, are they being forced, or have they consented by virtue of the fact that they have paid for their electric bills? Now there is an alternative, but that alternative, instead of having a 90+ % capacity factor, has a 30- % capacity factor, and here it is:

    http://otherpower.com/

    People consent when they pay. Don’t want it? Don’t pay for it and erect your own wind mill that won’t give electricity 70% of the time. It’s that simple. If I really don’t consent to fossil fuel pollution, then why do I drive a fossil fueled vehicle? Answer: I make a risk trade off between cancer from fossil fuel pollution versus the luxury of getting where I want to go no matter when. Besides, fast transportation to the hospital in case I get sick or injured beats any day of the week not being able to get there.

    Govt has no right to force people to do anything except in the case where public health, safety and the common defense are adversely impacted. Rather, govt’s responsibilty is to level the legal and regulatory playing field. In the example above, if all things were equal and coal fired power plants were held to the same radiation emissions standards as nuclear power plants, then not a single coal plant would be operating (it’s all that uranium, thorium and radium in coal). But if I agree to buy electicity without specifying where the utility provides that electricity from, then I do not get to complain because I have consented – no one forced me. Besides, electricity is better than no electricity. Common good outweighs individual preference.

    It’s called responsibility. Most people want the other guy to pay, and when he refuses, then they cry that they are coerced. Horse manure!

  • kyle: Thanks for your response. What if I had an idea for a new product, but I needed serveral million dollars to get it launched? What should I do? Assume I tried to convince people to work on it in exchange for an ownership interest in the venture, but failed. Would Distributism preclude me from offering ownership interests to cash investors (to pay for the workers)? After all some people may believe in my idea and be willing to accept risk for reward. Is everyone limited to 1% credit union interest? Am I out of luck if I cannot find workers willing to trade work for ownership and the related risk?

  • This distributism of which you people refer has never existed and can never exist.

    It is all too beautiful and too good; and would fall apart before the first sunset. Something that we evil, worldly/work-a-day mules have been dealing with since the day of creation would crop up and knock over the whole thing. [I’ll be amazed if any know from whence I lifted that.]

    Same same with socialism. Except that mass travesty was perpetuated by impatient humanitarians with kalashnikov assault rifles and guard dogs; and jackboots perpetually stomping on human faces.

    The Pilgrims were as virtuous as you can imagine. In 1620, they landed on Plymouth Rock and attempted Christian socialism. It didn’t work, and virtuous people died that didn’t need to starve. They quickly reverted to individual initiative, private property and hard work.

    I’ve owned a home since 1979. I have been meeting mortgage payments since 1979. Truth: George Bailey loaned money at a spread over his cost of funds/what interest he paid on deposits/shares. Now, Capital One is making approximately 230 basis points on my monthly payments. Some may think that unfair, or [gasp] usury. But, without those loans, I woud not have owned my homes wherein I sheltered and raised my three sons. Also, a home equity loan helped me pay for three university educations.

    For my sins, I have worked at high levels (36 years) in financial services. I know mortgage banking and servicing, financial intermediation, financial derivatives and hedges, real estate appraisals, syndicated commercial lending, you name it.

  • I find it rather odd to put it mildly that Locke is here placed in the tradition of Catholic natural law theorists. Locke clearly reject the metaphysics and natural philosophy which underlie natural law theory. His views on faith and reason as expressed in his Essay On Human Understanding should offend any serious Christian. Lastly, the emphasis the author has on the voluntary nature of things in the article and comments clearly places him within the tradition of liberal political thought as opposed to the Christian or classical traditions. Pierre Manent’s book, A World Beyond Politics, quite clearly shows this is one of the fundamental contrasts between modern and pre-modern conceptions of politics, society, etc.

    further reading: http://www.ideasinactiontv.com/tcs_daily/2007/10/are-we-all-lockeans-now.html

  • Mercier,

    Allow me to explain myself.

    “I find it rather odd to put it mildly that Locke is here placed in the tradition of Catholic natural law theorists. Locke clearly reject the metaphysics and natural philosophy which underlie natural law theory.”

    I’ve had this debate before. There are different interpretations of Locke floating around out there, and it is recognized that his corpus contains significant contradictions. I would maintain that the Second Treatise, as a stand-alone text, is a work of traditional natural law theory. I am not convinced that his views espoused in other works mean that the very clear natural law arguments put forward in the ST must necessarily be read as somehow not in or opposed to the natural law tradition. Nor do I find useful or compelling the Straussian method of reading hidden messages in works of political philosophy. It’s possible that the real and final John Locke rejected all of the metaphysical underpinnings of natural law, but they are all present in the Second Treatise.

    ” Lastly, the emphasis the author has on the voluntary nature of things in the article and comments clearly places him within the tradition of liberal political thought as opposed to the Christian or classical traditions.”

    I don’t mind that at all. There is plenty of good in the tradition of liberal political thought, though to be absolutely clear, I reject much of what issued forth from the “Enlightenment.” In fact I find a society based upon the respect of individual rights and liberties to be utterly incompatible with the atheism and materialism that became so fashionable at that time, since both lead (at least the Western mind) to determinism, to a negation of free will, and therefore the total loss of human dignity. Libertarian views are more compatible with the Christian view of the soul and moral responsibility than they are with the stupid beasts produced by atheistic/materialistic evolution.

    “Pierre Manent’s book, A World Beyond Politics, quite clearly shows this is one of the fundamental contrasts between modern and pre-modern conceptions of politics, society, etc.”

    Modern society is a fact of life, not a choice. New technological and social arrangements require an updating in thought. How one does it is the problem. Many are radical extremists who want to tear everything down. The paleo-libertarian tradition of the Austrian school builds upon the very best of our historical inheritance and the Enlightenment. So there are different reactions to the modern world, one a stubborn reactionism that irrationally refuses to deal with changing realities, another an extreme radicalism that hates the past simply because it is the past, and still another that recognizes the inevitability of change but seeks to understand it through the accumulated wisdom of mankind.

  • FYI,

    I find it grotesque to suggest that the neoconservative imperialism of the Bushes is in any way a continuation of the “Lockean project.” The idea that people can be liberated at the point of foreign bayonets is a Jacobin and Bolshevik one, not a Lockean one. The founding fathers influenced by Locke, as the author notes, were non-interventionists who did not believe that it was their mission to secure natural rights around the globe. I’ll say more about the rest of the article later.

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  • I haven’t done a lot of in-depth study of Chesterton’s Distributist ideas, but the impression I have is that he defines “Distributism” as an economy driven by lots of small- and medium-size businesses, and individuals/families working for themselves as craftspeople, rather than by a few big corporations. He never, as far as I know, advocated forcible re-distribution of capital (that would be communism) but simply a more level playing field for the “little guy”.

    One way I can think of to put distributism into action would be for states and local governments to stop playing the “massive taxpayer-funded economic incentives to big businesses” game and implement a fair tax and regulatory environment for everyone. (See my post “The Economic War Between the States” from several years ago). Another way is to insure that all your laws and rules regulating the private sector are 1) really necessary, 2) not excessively burdensome, especially to small businesses, small municipalities and non-profits, 3) explain clearly what affected entities have to do (or not do), and 4) provide some kind of appeal or due process for those adversely affected. Rules per se are not evil; rules that are badly constructed, allow agencies too much discretion to do whatever they feel like and don’t provide any recourse for people who suffer because of them are evil.

    Distributism is an ideal, of course, never to be realized perfectly in this world, but achieving 50 percent or 20 percent or even 10 percent of an ideal goal is better than achieving 0 percent or not even bothering to try attaining it.

  • Such an energetic melange of human thought. What strikes me is how many times we see “perhaps you misuderstood . . .” or “what I really meant was . . .” Would that all the terms and concepts be objectively and identically understood and employed.

    Unfortunately, human ideas, obviously being of human origin, are always incomplete and subject to the mold of the mind that holds them. Vigorous debate is a lovely exercise, and God forbid the day we are “compelled” to refrain from it, but in the end I find I sleep better when I hold on to this first:

    “For it is written:

    ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’

    Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” – 1 Corinthians 1:19-20

    Peace+

  • Distributism might benefit from a name change. Suggestions…

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  • Elaine,

    ” He never, as far as I know, advocated forcible re-distribution of capital (that would be communism) but simply a more level playing field for the “little guy”.”

    How is the playing field leveled? This is my problem. There is no clarity on this. It just happens. It’s “just an economic theory” that “proposes” that more people become owners. I’m only interested in the means by which it happens. No one who believes in capitalism from a libertarian point of view opposes people voluntarily doing whatever they like to create a more egalitarian economic arrangement. It would inconsistent and absurd for them to do so.

    And yet Distributism is always opposed to capitalism, as if it would replace it. If all they mean is that they believe that worker ownership would prove to be more happily and widely embraced than the traditional model of ownership once its benefits become manifest to all, then there is absolutely no opposition at all. There’s no need to set them up as antagonistic. It’s just a competition of models that people are free to try out for themselves.

    And yet I get the sense that it means something quite more than that, though what, exactly, is never made clear.

  • Of course, I should add that it seems that there are different versions of this idea floating around. Your (Elaine’s) post seems to highlight the “small is best” view, whereas in my understanding, very large firms could fit into a “Distributist” model provided they were structured in certain ways.

    I don’t see any reason to glorify small business, or for that matter, skilled labor, as many Distributists do. When you really consider how narrow these interests are compared to the interests of consumers, it becomes more difficult to justify – in the name of the “common” good – a regime that exists to bolster them at the expense of alternatives. |

  • Thank you for the reply. I am pressed for time so I will limit my reply. I am unconvinced that you can limit/compartmentalize Locke’s thought in the way you are doing. However, looking at the Second Treatise alone I am totally unconvinced of its natural law credentials. A good essay that deals with this indirectly through an examination of Maritain’s political theory is “Maritain and Natural Rights” by Frederick J. Crosson in the Review of Metaphysics 36 (June 1983). He draws out some of the contradictions between Lockean natural rights theory and scholastic political theory.

    A small remark on the far bigger issue of the common good. The focus on individual self-interest seems necessarily at odds with the primacy of the common good (see Charles de Koninck The Primacy of the Common Good: Against the Personalists).

    two posts by Pater Waldstein are worth reflecting on that touch on these matters among others: http://sancrucensis.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/against-the-american-revolution/
    http://sancrucensis.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/political-order/

    Also an article from a site I am sure you are familiar with: http://distributistreview.com/mag/2010/11/locke-and-inside-catholic/

    Lastly MacIntyre’s famous closing of After Virtue gives at least a partial answer to what the Catholic should be doing in the face of the modern order:

    It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the Epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. Nonetheless, certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman Imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of the Imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead- often not recognizing fully what they were doing- was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If this account of our moral condition is correct, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another-doubtless very different- St. Benedict.

  • “He draws out some of the contradictions between Lockean natural rights theory and scholastic political theory.”

    Can you spell those out?

    I don’t doubt that there are some points of divergence. I think Locke was doing something new, but I also think it was something necessary given the changing social and intellectual order. Some see Locke as a destroyer. I see him as a preserver.

    “The focus on individual self-interest seems necessarily at odds with the primacy of the common good”

    Well, it might “seem” that way, but I don’t think it is that way. Even the scholastics had a conception of the legitimate pursuit of profit, which necessarily involves meeting the needs of many consumers, dozens, hundreds, thousands or even millions. Locke develops it a bit further by highlighting the social usefulness of productive labor, which does not simply benefit the laborer but also everyone whom he exchanges his product with.

    Of course there is greed. Anything can be taken to excess. But the supposed antagonism between self-interest as such and the common good is just a fallacy in my opinion. Properly understood, they are in fact inseparable. In fact people who are forced to toil for reasons other than self-interest have never been the most productive workers, meaning they have never been the most socially useful and beneficial workers. If “the common good” were really something that people pursued at the expense of self-interest, communism would have a better track record. I think Rerum Novarum makes this all abundantly clear too. The right of individuals to private property is supplemented with assertions that they also have the right to a decent standard of living befitting of their human dignity, and only when that has been attained does the moral obligation (which is never to be a legal obligation, by the way) to give from one’s surplus labor go into effect. Self-interest is not selfishness. A neglected self will probably be of less use and benefit to others than one that attends to its needs and legitimate desires.

    Whatever Catholics ought to be doing is a separate question from whether or not people in general should be forced to participate in social schemes, or whether such schemes derive their legitimacy from the consent of the participants. That’s really what I’m interested in here.

    As for the modern world, as far as governance goes, Locke had the right idea. I don’t have to agree with his metaphysic, frankly, to simply understand the political implications of religious pluralism. You either use force to suppress all the heretics, or you learn to live with them. When the heretics are few, they can easily be suppressed. When they make up a significant minority, enough to resist suppression with substantial force, you have no choice but to negotiate. Eventually some will make a virtue out of necessity, and like Locke (or Hobbes or others) they may even spin a whole philosophy out of it. But the necessity is there no matter what you do with it. I think Leo XIII grappled with this necessity as best anyone possibly could. And I think anyone grappling with it is going to find something worthwhile in Locke.

  • Bonchaps:

    Are you saying that the U.S. led invasion of Iraq was Bolshevistic?

  • @Bonchamps

    Just a few points, because this discussion has died down and you clearly have bigger, fresher fish to fry (for what it’s worth, I’m squarely in your corner when it comes the ideas put forward in your recent article connecting the CT shooting with US-perpetuated violence at large.)

    “The generation of wealth benefits everyone.”

    I’m convinced that the generation of wealth is a neutral. It does not automatically benefit anyone. In fact, it can lead to as many ills as goods, especially if generated in societies predisposed towards excess and self-centered hedonism.

    “I reject the whole silly notion that production for profit is “selfish.” ”

    How we do things matters. In saying this, I’m reminded of a strand of thought from Chesterton. He makes the observation that a young man could be moved to chastity both by thinking abhorrently of the consequences of a sexually transmitted disease, or, conversely, by reflecting on the Virign Mary. Now it’s true that both methods could be effective means of chaste compellance. In fact, the former might even be more effective. But there is no question, at least in my mind, which is to be preferred.

    The same can be said of one’s approach towards business and economics. One can certainly view their own enterprise in a completely self-centered manner, ie “what’s in it for me, how does this benefit me,” without any concern for the common good AND STILL benefit the common good through the economic properties of capitalism you cited. But such an approach is, in fact, wrong and, dare say it, sinful. It’s all a matter of mindset, and I think it is a distinction worth making. Again, what we think matters.

    “They are completely voluntary, in the sense that – at least in a stateless society – no one is compelled to enter them by force. No matter how “organic” or “intrinsic” certain arrangements might be, whether or not they are voluntary depends solely on whether or not one is, or is not, forced to enter into them regardless of their will.”

    We are not taking about “voluntary” in the same sense. Either that or you are fundamentally at odds with Church teaching regarding human nature. One is born with certain obligations to their community and the common good. It is a condition of being a human being. There is nothing voluntary about this relationship. To be sure, someone can decide to voluntarily fulfill this obligation or not, but this says nothing of the existence of the actual obligation. To deny that this obligation exists, that we are naturally relational and not autonomous, is to disregard a cornerstone of Catholic social teaching.

    “Through the exercise of free will alone, you could decide not to have a wife, or children. Surely you won’t dispute that.”

    I won’t, but I don’t think that has anything to do with what we’ve been talking about. You’re referring to a hypothetical obligation that doesn’t exist becausethe conditions for such a relationship were never established. When talking about Locke and the family, I’ve focused specifically on the relationship between parents and children, two parties who already exist and from the moment of their existence (in their respective roles) shared a certain set of responsibilities to the other. That is not a hypothetical, it already exists.

    I said: “Individuals form societies simply to protect “natural rights.”

    You said: “No. They form governments to protect natural rights. “Society” and “government” are very clearly not the same thing, and a certain level of society must be reached before there can ever be a common agreement to a social contract establishing a government.”

    Locke says: “The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property, and the end why they choose and authorize a legislative is that there may be laws made, and rules set, as guards and fences to the properties of all the members of the society, to limit the power and moderate the dominion of every part and member of the society.”

    Emphasis on that first bit. Society and government seem to be different sides of the same coin. One’s the structure and one’s the enforcing mechanism. I don’t disagree with you that it’s basically impossible not to be part of society here and now, but that’s not what Locke is talking about. He’s talking about “the state of nature,” and it is extremely revealing that he believes man begins completely independent and apart from society, and only enters on his own volition to secure his own interests. I’ve said it repeatedly, but it’s impossible to reconcile this premise with anything remotely Aristotelian or Thomistic.

    I said: “They are not necessarily “social” in essence.”

    You said: “Of course they are, if “social” means voluntary cooperation as opposed to forced participation.”

    It doesn’t mean either. It means you are born with responsibilities to society and the common good. Again, whether you choose to carry those out is your own decision to make. But not believing that such a social component of human nature exists doesn’t change the fact that it does, just as denying objective morality does not somehow frees you from committing grave acts of immorality.

    “Well, that’s false, since Locke identifies an obligation not only to care for one’s self, but for one’s family and in fact, insofar as possible, every other member of society. The common good is served in the pursuit of legitimate self-interest, moreover, which can only be satisfied by meeting other people’s needs.”

    Locke contradicts himself, plain and simple. One may, as you point out, serve the common good as some sort of secondary byproduct of his pursuit of self-interest, but this certainly does not mean this is a hard and fast rule. Today’s business practice are rife with examples of individuals serving their own interests at the expense of thousands of others. Locke wanted his cake and to eat it, too.

    “There is an implicit “contract” in any voluntary relationship.”

    Such thinking would explain the appallingly high divorce rates in America. Marriage is not a contract, but a sacramental covenant. Filial relations are far closer to the former than the latter.

  • JL,

    Thanks for the comment. Its nice to have a discussion like this. I’m convinced that much of our dispute is purely semantic, though some of it may actually be over values. We’ll see.

    “I’m convinced that the generation of wealth is a neutral. It does not automatically benefit anyone. In fact, it can lead to as many ills as goods, especially if generated in societies predisposed towards excess and self-centered hedonism.”

    This all depends on what you mean by “wealth” and what you mean by “benefit.” In a free market – and markets are free at least to some extent in this country, in spite of various regulations – production of goods and services for profit, which is the basis of capitalism, does benefit everyone. It makes the necessities of life easier to obtain for masses of poor and average people through competition and innovation, it provides incentives for people to work their hardest, it rewards people for using their money as capital and taking a major risk in doing so as opposed to simply squandering it on themselves. If a man with a thousand dollars uses it to start a business, he is surely doing more for society than if he uses that thousand dollars at the craps table or even if he simply gives it away to people who will just spend it on whatever.

    The Church has always been correct to point out that there are many needs that a market economy cannot satisfy. But a market economy does better what all other economies also try to do. And no libertarian worth a damn opposes the existence of organizations such as the Church to provide many of those non-economic needs. Perhaps it is the decline of the Church and not the rise of capitalism that some people ought to be most concerned with.

    “How we do things matters”

    For our souls, yes. But here I am concerned with the law, with the use of force and coercion. Do you think force and coercion ought to be employed against people who do things that have good effects for morally unsound reasons? I don’t even think it should be employed against many bad choices that have bad effects, and certainly not “bad” choices that have good effects.

    I don’t think it is the role of the state to ensure that we do the right thing for the right reason. It is the task of religion to shape and mold the conscience that informs behavior. It is the task of the state to protect individual human rights. THAT sort of dualism has always been accepted by the Church, in fact, which has always marked out the clear lines of distinction between itself and the civil authorities.

    “We are not taking about “voluntary” in the same sense”

    There is only one sense in which I understand the word. That which is voluntary, is that which is undertaken with sufficient knowledge and consent, that which is undertaken freely, without restraint or coercion.

    “One is born with certain obligations to their community and the common good.”

    This is not disputed, by Locke or myself. If we have a dispute here, it is over what “the common good” is, which I maintain is not harmed, and is served, by self-interested economic behavior.

    “There is nothing voluntary about this relationship.”

    No, there is “something” voluntary about it. We can’t choose whether it exists or not, but we can choose whether or not to carry out our duties inherent in it. In that sense it is absolutely voluntary.

    “To deny that this obligation exists, that we are naturally relational and not autonomous, is to disregard a cornerstone of Catholic social teaching.”

    I have problems with the word “obligation” in general, to be honest with you. I would certainly agree that failing in one’s duty carries with it consequences that most rational people would want to avoid. But the existence of freedom ultimately means that no one is bound, in the strictest sense of the word, to do anything. All obligations are conditional. If you would avoid pain, suffering, or even eternal damnation, you must do x, y and z. But you are always free not to do them.

    That is why I ultimately agree that you cannot derive “oughts” from what “is.” You can only derive “oughts” from “ifs”, and this because of the fact of our total freedom as spiritual beings. I don’t think this is heretical either, if that is where you want to go next (some do, so I apologize if I jump the gun). I’ve at least read enough on the Catholic Encyclopedia to know that certain theologians have argued more or less the same thing.

    “I won’t, but I don’t think that has anything to do with what we’ve been talking about.”

    Of course it does. That’s what I mean by voluntary. You can choose not to do it.

    “When talking about Locke and the family, I’ve focused specifically on the relationship between parents and children, two parties who already exist and from the moment of their existence (in their respective roles) shared a certain set of responsibilities to the other. ”

    Well, shift it a bit. You can choose to leave your already-existing spouse and children, as men sometimes do. The point remains. It is still a choice.

    Now, as for your Locke quote –

    Yes, I have seen that very passage, and I admit that his use of the word “society” there, taken out of context, can seem awful. But the fact remains is that much earlier in the same work, Locke totally acknowledges the existence of society before the government. This is clear to me, for instance, in Chapter 7 of the Second Treatise. The family exists first, “falling short” of a political society as Locke says. Then there is the household in which there are masters and servants, and this too falls short of political society.

    So be careful with the word “society.” Locke speaks of many different kinds of “societies”. As he says:

    ” But how a family, or any other society of men, differ from that which is properly political society, we shall best see, by considering wherein political society itself consists.” (Ch. VII, 86)

    So the family, the household, and the polity – these are all different kinds of “societies” for Locke, and it seems clear to me that it is the political society to which he is referring to in that much later passage you cited in the ST.

    “Again, whether you choose to carry those out is your own decision to make. ”

    That’s all that makes them voluntary. Nothing more or less.

    ” Today’s business practice are rife with examples of individuals serving their own interests at the expense of thousands of others. ”

    When they do so by force (i.e. by relying on government subsidies, prohibitive regulations that destroy competition, tariffs and quotas, and things of that nature) or by fraud (as in the case of some of these big banks and other corporations that are always tied up with the state and its interests), then yes. But on a free market, it is almost impossible to serve your own interests at the expense of others. As soon as “others” see that you’re bilking them, they take their business elsewhere, and if you bilk them badly enough, they will sue you into oblivion. In a free system it is in your interests to make other people happy or at least satisfied. That’s what leftists, socialists, and Distributists simply cannot conceptualize, and its a damned shame.

    “Such thinking would explain the appallingly high divorce rates in America.”

    No, what explains high divorce rates in America is quite simply a radical restructuring of the meaning of marriage in an industrial and now post-industrial information age. It would be foolish to deny the purely secular, social and historical components of marriage, especially in a country that was never a part of Medieval Christendom or an Islamic caliphate. Marriage has been mostly about the convenience of multiple parties, sometimes not even the people getting married. It has been for the parents, for the larger families to be joined, for the communities they lived in, and often economic and political motives have underlined them throughout history. Marriage was almost NOT voluntary in those times, either because people were forced into marriage by their parents or pure economic necessity made it completely irrational and foolish to go at life alone.

    Things are different now. The immaterial and spiritual benefits of marriage less obvious to the masses of materialistic and secular people. That’s the truth of it, and I have no idea what to do about it. I certainly don’t think it is “good” that the family is in such disrepair because we see what devastation that wreaks as well. But understanding why things happen is separate from endorsing them, and they will never be changed unless we can make that distinction.

  • And I realize, by the way, that my view of freedom and obligation takes me out of the traditional natural law camp. But I identify with it because I believe that the negative consequences of disregarding nature’s clear order are almost conceptually the same as the existence of these things called “obligations” that just “exist” independently of our wills. I think “law” can describe both things. We can dispute that in more detail if you like.

  • “How we do things matters”

    Yes, the Church teaches the three componenets of an act are its object, circumstances and intention. If any are evil then the whole act is evil.

    Of course the motivator for all these acts is Love. Capitalized deliberately in that it is those acts motivated the the Theological Virtue of Love that are truly good. This Love in turn presupposes the Truth. For without Truth, there can be no Love. That may even require us to change our positions where faced with the truth.

    Now, few acts, by businessmen, economists or other proponents of their varied positions are so purely motivated. Thus the role of govt. to set limits where appropriate.

  • No one was more insistent on the distinction between the state and civil society than Hegel, a proponent of the organic notion of the state, ““If the state is confused with civil society, and if its specific end is laid down as the security and protection of property and personal freedom, then the interest of the individuals as such becomes the ultimate end of their association, and it follows that membership of the state is something optional. But the state’s relation to the individual is quite different from this. Since the state is mind objectified, it is only as one of its members that the individual himself has objectivity, genuine individuality, and an ethical life. Unification pure and simple is the true content and aim of the individual, and the individual’s destiny is the living of a universal life. His further particular satisfaction, activity and mode of conduct have this substantive and universally valid life as their starting point and their result.” G W Hegel, “Philosophy of Right” 258

    The notion of “mind objectified” is also found in Yves Simon, when he says “The highest activity/being in the natural order is free arrangement of men about what is good brought together in an actual polity where it is no longer a mere abstraction.” It is in the polity that the abstract or notional good is made concrete.

  • Phillip,

    “Now, few acts, by businessmen, economists or other proponents of their varied positions are so purely motivated. Thus the role of govt. to set limits where appropriate.”

    I reject your “thus.” Motivations behind activities that do not violate anyone’s rights are completely irrelevant to the legitimate duties of the state. If someone uses force or fraud in the marketplace, then yes, this should be punished. If someone simply makes a profit because they want a new boat as opposed to really wanting to meet the needs of customers, this is not something for the law to be concerned with.

    Also, who is going to restrain and set limits on the government? Whenever you create a group of “regulators”, you create an agency with coercive authority that can be and almost always is staffed and purchased by the very people supposedly being “regulated.” It is the small business and the fresh entrepreneur who is “regulated” out of the competition, faced with completely prohibitive and unnecessary burdens usually concocted by the already-established players in the market.

    The best limits on the businessman are those set by the wrath of the consumer, who can and will solicit his competitors or take him before a judge the moment he violates their trust or their rights, respectively.

  • MPS,

    Hegel’s political philosophy is totalitarian gibberish, as far as I am concerned. First of all, it is a matter of fact – scientific, philosophic, theological – that we are free to choose. Because we are free to choose, all associations are voluntary. That being said, there are serious consequences that would follow from any individual’s choice to remain apart from society. Thus it is hardly “optional” for most people.

    Moreover, both as a matter of historical fact and morality, man precedes the state. Leo XIII affirms this in Rerum Novarum. Individual men, spouses, families, communities – all of these things exist before there is this coercive authority we call “the state” or “the government”, and that is why it can be said to be a rational creation of man. It exists because, and only because, without it that which men require for their life, liberty and happiness would be insecure. It does not exist to bring us into some totalitarian nightmare of collectivist “unification.” We have seen the Hegelian monster. We saw it under the name of Fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany, Stalinism in the Soviet Union, Maoism in China. We saw it in the mountains of skulls lining the killing fields in Cambodia, and we see it here with the worship of Barack Obama by sections of the American left.

    Against this horror I will stand with Locke and Jefferson, or Hayek and Rothbard any day of the week.

  • I would suggest that membership of the nation cannot reasonably be described as voluntary, inasmuch as nationality is defined by descent and birth, and it is neither revocable nor is it attainable at will.

    A man may lose his citizenship but not his nationality. This follows from the fact that the nation is a unit of common descent and blood and not of voluntary adherence and association – “They speak the same language, they bear about them the impress of consanguinity, they kneel beside the same tombs, they glory in the same tradition.”

  • “Motivations behind activities that do not violate anyone’s rights are completely irrelevant to the legitimate duties of the state. If someone uses force or fraud in the marketplace, then yes, this should be punished. If someone simply makes a profit because they want a new boat as opposed to really wanting to meet the needs of customers, this is not something for the law to be concerned with.”

    Thus, the reason I said “where appropriate.” Not all motivations are to be regulated. The ultimate point is that few act with a pure love of God.

    “Also, who is going to restrain and set limits on the government? ”

    I agree here also, thus my point of noting “proponents of their varied positions.” Govt. is frequently acting without proper motivations.

  • MPS,

    “I would suggest that membership of the nation cannot reasonably be described as voluntary”

    Sure, if you live in North Korea.

    ” This follows from the fact that the nation is a unit of common descent and blood and not of voluntary adherence and association ”

    If it makes you feel better to believe that, ok. It has no bearing on anything I would ever do with my life, though, unless you propose to use force to keep me within the physical parameters of this “nation” of yours. Whether or not an association is voluntary is simply a matter of whether or not you propose to use violence to keep me in it. If you do, you’re a tyrant and a slavemaster and you’ll be treated as such. If you don’t, then you’re holding on to a quaint mythology that does me no real harm and will be happy to leave to you.

    Of course you are well aware that this is not some European “nation” founded by the strongest tribe of roving savages thousands of years ago. This is a nation formed by already-existing polities which were in turn formed by people who fled the very blood bondage you speak of out of their own volition and through their own values.

    Phillip,

    No, the ultimate point is that you aren’t being clear on what you want to regulate and who you want to punish. Elaborate if you like, or don’t. Ambiguity on these topics is what I expect.

  • But that would require the specifics of each case. Regulation itself is a blunt instrument. But even the blunt instrument requires knowledge of the specifics of cases to form a proper choice.

    That is as exact as I can prudently get.

  • So there are no principles or general aims behind your regulatory proposals? The arbitrary wills and values of the individual regulators dictate all?

    And I’m supposed to think this is a fabulous idea why, exactly?

  • No. Most principles are those of Catholic Social Teaching, Though those don[‘t exhaust all political thought. Thus to learn from those and see where there is value.

    Locke has a measure of value. Maritain and Strauss. None exhaust God.

    Like Socrates though, my first claim is that I don’t know the answer to all, but that prudence will demand specifics be known. So perhaps ultimately, I am Socratic. And Aristotelian. And Thomistic.

  • “It has no bearing on anything I would ever do with my life…”

    But the individual’s nationality is what constitutes him; it pervades his nature and expresses itself in his actions

  • A man may lose his citizenship but not his nationality. This follows from the fact that the nation is a unit of common descent and blood and not of voluntary adherence and association – “They speak the same language, they bear about them the impress of consanguinity, they kneel beside the same tombs, they glory in the same tradition.”

    That is characteristic of Europe, but not of societies of migrants (the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, &c).

  • Nationality was and is an essence of experience as a U.S. resident in this city where I’ve lived my life.

    The post is debating force and consent, which is over my head, but the nationality part …
    The city had Catholic and Protestant churches, Catholic and public high schools, Synagogues, bakeries, markets, church dinners, ethnic celebrations, cemeteries and even neighborhoods where people held to their nationality and customs, and welcomed others to events. We were able to learn one another’s customs, and parts of languages or menues. Life and politics weren’t always peaches and cream due to nationality and ethnic things to do with history and religion. My city was dominantly Irish, French, Polish, and some German and English. Next city over was dominantly Irish and Italian and so on. Catholics, Protestants, and Hebrews. Being a child of two different nationalities from neighboring towns was at first (in the 50’s) a novelty to teachers and those at church. The strongest ethnic, nationalistic group I’ve seen is the Puerto Rican migrant community, which began to grow in the 1980’s.

    Anyway, I think nationality is a rich characteristic that makes society interesting.

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The Origins and Role of Government

Sunday, December 2, AD 2012

So we’ve been discussing the proper role of the state on this blog recently, particularly as it relates to the legalization of marijuana. This discussion, in all of its unfortunate snarkiness and nastiness (to which I freely admit having contributed, not that I’m proud of it) is really a discussion on the proper role of the state.

I think it is rather uncontroversial to assert that America was basically founded upon the Lockean social contract theory. We begin with the proposition that everyone has basic natural rights: to life, liberty, and property. In a hypothetical scenario in which there is no coercive authority (the state/government), we must also act as our own judge, jury and executioner. In this anarchic situation, our rights to life, liberty and property are unsecured. In order to secure them, we collectively renounce our right to be our own personal government and transfer that right to a government we establish by contract. Our property – life, liberty and estate – is more valuable and necessary for life than our “right” to do as we please, when we please, to whomever we please.

The terms of the contract are rather simple. They are stated very simply in the Declaration of Independence. Governments exist to protect our natural rights. They don’t exist to make us “better people” – that’s what the Church is for. They don’t exist in order to achieve “social justice” – that is what private charity and free markets are for. The individual American states were founded by people of like-minds who wanted to establish communities that reflected their religious values – Pennsylvania for Quakers, Maryland for Catholics, and so on. The Constitution was created by the states mostly for the purposes of common security.

Government is not a positive good. It is an evil necessary to prevent the greater evils that would result from total anarchy. As such, it must be kept on the tightest of all possible leashes, which is why so many Americans demanded a Bill of Rights as a condition for the ratification of the Constitution. If men in a state of anarchy would be evil, they don’t suddenly become angels because we give them titles, badges, and offices. The evil in our hearts is the evil in their hearts, and the greater the scope and depth of the powers we give to governments, the greater potential for evil we establish.

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60 Responses to The Origins and Role of Government

  • As I understand it, the terms of the social contract are simply that “Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole.”

    From this it follows that the people are sovereign and law is an expression of the general will. The laws are made by those who are to obey them, not by the government, which is to enforce them.

    Thus, by the social contract, each individual gives up only so much of his powers, goods and liberty as it is important for the community to control, but, then, the people is the sole judge of what is important. This must be so, for the people have no master and no judge and decide all questions finally and alone.

    It also follows that the government is the appointee and agent of the people, holding power under an imperative and revocable mandate and accountable to the people for its acts. No one may exercise any power over another that does not proceed from the people.

  • “I think it is rather uncontroversial to assert that America was basically founded upon the Lockean social contract theory. ”

    I am not sure that Lockean social contract theory was the basis of America’s founding. Russell Kirk, among others, makes the convincing case that the Founders were more influenced by Burke, Blackstone, Montesquieu, Hume, and Hooker than by Locke in their design of the Constitution and government. Essays such as this – http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=176&Itemid=259 – while not explicitly agreeing with Kirk’s thesis, at least provide that the Founders read and were influenced by a much wider selection of thinkers than Locke.

  • I think it is rather uncontroversial to assert that America was basically founded upon the Lockean social contract theory.

    Agreed with Jonathan above. Read Kirk, Bailyn, and others who rebut the notion that our founding was all about putting in place Locke’s Second Treatise. If anything, historians of all ideological stripes overrate the importance of political theory at the time of the creation of the new government and overlook how much of it was based simply upon pragmatic principles.

  • “and overlook how much of it was based simply upon pragmatic principles.”

    Agreed. This was the saving grace of the American Revolution as opposed to the disastrous attempt by the French revolutionaries to make the most hare-brained theories a reality. The Founding Fathers were veterans of the political systems of their colonies and were not about to confuse theory and reality.

  • “Saving people from themselves (and punishing moderate users indiscriminately), bringing ‘democracy’ to people who never asked for it (with drones and depleted uranium), and achieving ‘social justice’ (i.e. radical egalitarianism) are not good reasons.”

    I agree. However, it is important to note that lead ammunition is as deadly as depleted uranium ammunition. When one wants to know about the hazards of rocket fuel, one asks a rocket scientist. When one wants to know the hazards of the chemicals used in the petro-chemical industry, one asks a chemist. And when one wants to know the hazards of depleted uranium, one asks a nuclear engineer / scientist. Anti-nuclear energy groups like WISE or NIRS, having a devout interest in smashing all things nuclear, are not repositories of the facts. But the US NRC, NEI, etc., are.

    Now what is depleted uranium? Natural uranium is 99.3% U-238 and 0.7% U-235 (the number of neutrons is different between the isotopes, but the number of protons – 92 which determines chemistry – stays the same). U-235 is fissile with thermal neutrons. U-238 is not, but can be used in fast neutron fission or can be used to produced thermal fissile Pu-239 by resonance absorption of neutrons. To get uranium to the point when it can be used in thermal neutron, light water reactors such as what the US uses, it is enriched slightly to about 3 to 5 % U-235. You can’t use natural uranium in a light water reactor because the macroscopic absorption cross-section in hydrgen in the water coolant over-rides the low concentration of U-235, so the fission chain reaction is not self-sustaining. (Candu reactors in our neighbor to the north use heavy water and natural uranium – same physics and math, just different results – the deuterium in heavy water doesn’t absorb neutrons as well as the hydrogen in light water, but heavy water is way more expensive). Thus, in US reactors uranium has to be enriched by gas centrifuges (which is what iran is doing to get a bomb) or other means. (NOTE: a bomb requires 93+ % U-235; nuclear reactors require 3 to 5%. We know Iran is going for a bomb because they are enriching way beyond 3 to 5%). Now what is left over from the enrichment process is uranium whose U-235 is basically gone (because it has been concentrated elsewhere) and only the U-238 is left. We say this is depleted because the thermal fissile material is depleted. But U-238 could still be used in fast neutron reactors. Furthermore, it has even less radioctivity than U-235. In fact, it has less radioactivity than the bananas you ate this morning which has radioactive potassium in them, and you would get less radiation exposure from being next to a depleted uranium artillery piece than you would from the radium in the concrete and brick that make up Grand Central Station in NYC. Of course uranium dust is a hazard – it’s a heavy metal just like lead. The hazard comes not from its radiation which is miniscule but from its chemistry.

    Now more facts on depleted uranium can be obtained here – please go to the nuclear engineers and scientists for the facts, NOT WISE and NIRS:

    http://www.nrc.gov/materials/fuel-cycle-fac/ur-deconversion/faq-depleted-ur-decon.html

    Please remember that more radioactivity is emitted into the environment by coal-fired power plants in the form of naturally occurring uranium, thorium and radium in the coal (that is burned and becomes ash dumped in ash ponds or released willy-nilly into the air) than by the use of any depleted uranium artillery.

    Now the reason why depleted uranium is used in artillery is because it is very, very dense, more so than lead. So that old KE = (1/2) M V^2 law takes effect: more mass, more kinetic energy. Personally, I think that when we are fighting the enemy, we should use the best materials available and that includes depleted uranium. Now should we have wars of foreign adventurism in lands of Islamic fascism for oil when the depleted uranium can be better used as fuel in fast neutron nuclear reactors to generate low cost, cheap, pollution-free electricity? Of course not.

    I hope this clarification helps.

  • I think it is rather uncontroversial to assert that America was basically founded upon the Lockean social contract theory.

    The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut antedated the Two Treatises on Government by fifty years.

  • Jonathan

    In 1984, Donald S Lutz published his findings that, in American polemical writings, published between 1760 and 1805, Montesquieu accounts for 8.3%. He is followed closely by Blackstone, with 7.9%. Locke comes in at 2.9%, closely followed by David Hume with 2.7. No one else achieves more than 1.5%.

    Moreover, Locke was scarcely cited at all, before 1780, Blackstone seldom before 1770 and Hume very little before 1790. Montesquieu leads in every decade from 1760 and 1800.

    Now, Montesquieu’s leading idea, in contrast to Locke, is that different laws and institutions suit different societies; he also attached great importance to situation, race and, especially, climate. In this, he was a far less prescriptive than Locke; the difference, perhaps, between a jurist and a philosopher.

    This accords with Paul Zummo’s and Donald M McClarey’s assessment of the Founders’ pragmatism.

  • Michael,

    If I understand you, that is not to say that those writers with later dates couldn’t impact the Constitution (of 1787), but only to say that Montesquieu was more influential?

    I have used a list based upon Lutz’s writings, which is here – http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?Itemid=259&id=438&option=com_content&task=view.

    I also think that Kirk argues correctly that the Founders had in their minds the rights of Englishmen, combined with a governmental form based upon Montesquieu and ideas he used from the Roman republic.

  • Jonathan

    I imagine the big idea from Montesquieu was the separation of powers

  • The specific influences of the Framers is an interesting topic but it is on the margins of Bonchamps’ thesis and of marginal value in answering the question posed.

    It is my view that Chief Justic John Marshall significntly altered the Constitution, defining it in exclusively Federalist terms rather than acknowledging the widespread and honest disagreement on form and substance of the debate. That is as it may be. We live under a Constitution defined as much by successive Statist courts from FDR’s administration through the first Clinton Administration.

    Bonchamps’ post digs deeper to ask what the role of government SHOULD be, not what it has become, and I am in general agreement with his central thesis. Of course, one challenge of the thesis is that it is disconnected from reality by a giant chasm.

    Man is generally unwilling to accept collateral damage in the exercise of liberty. This opens a hole through which Statism seeps.

    I am willing to accept the proposition that men live with the consequences of their bad behavior. If a child is harmed by it, even without intention, we want laws to prevent the cause. This is a natural reaction and comes from a good impulse. Unfortunately, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

    Our system of government, in reality rather than theory, is a dance between Statism and Libertarianism; between those who refuse to accept collateral damage and those who believe that collateral damage is inevitable and choose only to alleviate or mitigate he harm caused by their own behavior.

  • G-Veg

    I believe there is a further question.

    A society that values equality as well as liberty will be on its guard against the growth of privilege inimical to liberty.

    Jefferson was certainly alive to this; it was his motive in introducing into the Virginia legislature his law against entails and primogeniture, which he feared would create a landed aristocracy. He warned against “perpetual monopolies in commerce, the arts or sciences, with a long train of et ceteras,” such as the trade guilds of Europe enjoyed and he was suspicious of corporations with perpetual endowments. Hence, his insistence that the earth belongs always to the living, who cannot be restrained by the actions of the dead and he supported the French in their desire “to change the appropriation of lands given anciently to the church, to hospitals, colleges, orders of chivalry, and otherwise in perpetuity.”

    Such concerns will lead men to support a strong central government. As Lord Acton says, “Government must not be arbitrary, but it must be powerful enough to repress arbitrary action in others. If the supreme power is needlessly limited, the secondary powers will run riot and oppress. Its supremacy will bear no check.” The power of the state is necessary to guard the individual from oppression by privileged groups; that is from regulation in an interest not his own.

  • You articulate your point well MPS and I concede that there may be other justifications for Statism. Are these shared by Americans though? I’m not sure that they are.

    Jefferson had an affection for the theoretical underpinnings of the French Revolution that seem fairly unique for his time. I don’t recall reading anywhere that Rousseau’s writings had much currency with the Framers, Federalist or Anti-Federalist. Nor do I recall mention of French revolutionary ideas at the Ratification Debates.

    So, while I think you articulate a point we shoul seriously consider in answering Bonchamps’ query, I don’t think it accurate to ascribe it much currency among the founders of our republic.

  • G-Veg

    Franklin, writing in 1736, 26 years before Rousseau’s Social Contract and 53 years before the French Revolution, voices very similar ideas to Rousseau’s on popular sovereignty: “The judgment of a whole people, especially of a free people, is looked upon to be infallible. And this is universally true, while they remain in their proper sphere, unbiassed by faction, undeluded by the tricks of designing men. A body of people thus circumstanced cannot be supposed to judge amiss on any essential points; for if they decide in favour of themselves, which is extremely natural, their decision is just, inasmuch as whatever contributes to their benefit is a general benefit, and advances the real public good.”

    Such ideas were the common currency of the age.

  • “I am not sure that Lockean social contract theory was the basis of America’s founding. ”

    I consider the Declaration of Independence to be America’s first document, and it is a Lockean document. I don’t discount the influence of other sources on many other parts and aspects of the United States, but when it came time to philosophically justify what the American rebels were about to do, it was to Lockean principles that they turned.

    Of course, there is a difference between who influenced the Declaration and who influenced the Constitution. I never claimed, or would claim, that the Constitution was primarily Lockean. So this isn’t mutually exclusive with the “practical” or “pragmatic” considerations mentioned by Paul and Don.

    As for this,

    “As I understand it, the terms of the social contract are simply that “Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole.””

    Those are the terms of social contract theory in general. But the American social contract is very specific in its articulation of the purpose of government, the reason for which the contract exists. We established the government in order to secure our natural rights. We crafted a Bill of Rights later on to reinforce this contract.

  • “The specific influences of the Framers is an interesting topic but it is on the margins of Bonchamps’ thesis and of marginal value in answering the question posed.”

    Thanks for being the one person in probably 5 million who noticed or would even care to say it as if it mattered 🙂

  • “Our system of government, in reality rather than theory, is a dance between Statism and Libertarianism; between those who refuse to accept collateral damage and those who believe that collateral damage is inevitable and choose only to alleviate or mitigate he harm caused by their own behavior.”

    I think you’re correct, G-Veg. The only distinction which I would draw is that the choice to alleviate or mitigate will almost always be the one which impinges least upon the ability to exercise the behavior as freely as possible. If one examines carefully the laws surrounding Religion and Sexuality (a.k.a. Family Law), one sees your idea borne out. It is without doubt that quick and easy divorce is ruinous to our country, yet we choose to employ armies of counselors, lawyers, judges, etc. to pick up the pieces rather than enact laws that make it more difficult to become divorced.

  • That is fascinating. I am embarrassed to say that I have not read any of Franklin’s writing. Perhaps there is a proviso though? The quote states something that I would not hold to be true. Take Sparta’ norms or Western culture’s abortion on demand theories, for example: how does the principle apply to the dastardly, self serving norms of fallen peoples? Perhaps there is more to the argument.

    Perhaps i can coax you into exploing these ideas more fully. Whether the Framers of our constitution accepted Statisn ideas such as were proposed in France in the 1780s or not, the ideas are relevnt o this discussion since Bonchamps is exploing idels, not merely pragmatic realities.

    I am curious, for example, how these ideas can be reconciled with the predominant wories of the Framers: tyranny of the few or the many.

  • G-Veg,

    You constantly make excellent “points.”

    I recently re-read my freshman Ancient History text chapters on Greece to refresh on the Persian Wars. An interesting factor in Sparta’s political development was that the polis’ council usurped the Spartan/Greek fathers’ traditional discretion to slay, or not slay, infant children. Interesting that we have government sponsordd abortion and soon Obamacare euthanasia/death panels.

    Your most recent comment raises the issue of “tyranny of the few or the many.”

    Over the years (I have a six in front of my age), I have seen the liberals (perennial bed-wetters and eternal whiners), call it “dictatorship of the majority” whenever their plots were legislatively dismissed.

    Whenever I heard/read that pabululm, these words: “consent of the governed” would fly around inside my cranium.

    Two thing: The Framers specifically denied the government the authority to impose taxes on citizens’ income or property; and they never intended the government to have power to take property from some citizens and transfer it to other citizens to buy political power.

    “Consent of the governed” and as St. Augustine wrote, “Government without justice is organized brigandage.” We have duly elected “organized brigandage.”

  • The Framers specifically denied the government the authority to impose taxes on citizens’ income or property; and they never intended the government to have power to take property from some citizens and transfer it to other citizens to buy political power.

    The federal government was debarred from levying direct taxes unless such taxes were apportioned among the states. State governments retained a power to tax as specified in each state constitution. The 16th Amendment extended the power to levy taxes on the income of individual households.

  • G-Veg

    Franklin, writing in 1736, was not considering a Federal constitution, but the government of a state.

    Under any system of government, sovereignty must be lodged somewhere, by which I mean the power to make and unmake all laws whatsoever.

    In an interview with the Catholic News Service (June 14, 1996) Scalia J explained, “The whole theory of democracy, my dear fellow, is that the majority rules, that is the whole theory of it. You protect minorities only because the majority determines that there are certain minorities or certain minority positions that deserve protection. Thus in the United States Constitution we have removed from the majoritarian system of democracy the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and a few other freedoms that are named in the Bill of Rights. The whole purpose of that is that the people themselves, that is to say the majority, agree to the rights of the minority on those subjects — but not on other subjects. If you want minority rights on other subjects, you must persuade the majority that you desire those minority rights. Or else you take up arms and conquer the majority. I mean you may always do that, of course.”

    The ultimate guarantee of freedom is that the laws are made by those who are to obey them; that they are the same for all, whether they protect of punish and, thus, no one can restrict the freedom ofothers, without restricting his own to the same degree. This was well known to the Greeks, who spoke of ???????? [Isonomia = Equal law]

  • I think I better understand your point. How do we reconcile it with Natural Law?

    Abortion on Demand is a good vehicle for exploring this point, to my mind, because, in much of Europe, it is generally accepted as rightly and properly an individual concern, beyond the powers of the State to regulate; hence my Spartan reference eariier. Now, as a Christian, I know, with absolute certainty, that murdering children is inherently evil. In order for a law to be morally and ethically valid, it cannot directly contradict Natural Law.

    So, is your point merely a practical one: that a minority, however righteous, has no power to make the majority do the Good? If so, it is an obvious point and I concede it unequivocally. However, if you are tying ethical and moral laws to majoritarianism, I am afraid you will have to explain yourself more fully since I am do not see the connection.

  • You have it wrong. Drugs are illegal because the people, through their governmental representatives, have said that they need to prevent those who use drugs from , in many ways, harming themselves and others. Now..some doper may ruin his life and never cost society anything (like whenTHE USER needs help in government-provided services like rehab and counselling-which cost you and me!). But often he hurts his family or co-workers or the public, and causes certian problems for which certain action is needed. You talk about this problem in a way that totally misconstruees the REASON drugs are illegal. It is NOT about what the user does to himself. I don’t want druggies free to use in public or without some criminal sanction.
    How much government do you want to eliminate? Should we eliminate the following?
    1. laws prohibiting prostitution?
    2. any governmental agency that examines and protects the manufacture and distribution of food we eat and legal drugs ? Should ANYONE be able to make and package meat and then sell it without inspection?
    3. laws that require testing of people before they get a license to drive?
    4. allow doctors to practice medicine without a license?
    5. legalize heroin?….meth??..
    6. should I be able to demand,” I want 3 oxycontin a day and not the amount that the doctor says he can legally give me?” I mean…my” freedom” to reduce my pain should allow me to do that??
    I love “liberty,””freedom,” and I like to use those words to make whatever I am discussing more palatable, but Mr Catholic, people who don’t use drugs, it has been proven, need some civil protection, from many, many dopers who decide to violate the laws and do things known by everyone from publicized stories from the last 40 years. Dopers do things that harm NOT ONLY themdelves, but others….just like the person who is not tested and licensed to drive. Why shouldn’t I be able to mary without a governmentally-required marriage license??
    I would never vote for Rand Paul….unless he ran against this Catholic-hating doofus we have as President now….

  • G-Veg

    The contradiction at the heart of liberalism lies in its simultaneous assertion of popular sovereignty and universal human rights. In the brief interlude between the absolutist state of the Ancien Régime and modern mass democracies, this was achieved by the separation of the public sphere of state activity and the private sphere of civil society. The state provided a legally codified order within which social customs, economic competition, religious beliefs, and so on, could be pursued without interference.

    But, when the social consensus on which the distinction rested breaks down, as it did with the rise of organised labour and of mass political parties, liberalism has no way of defining or defending the boundaries of this sphere; everything becomes potentially political.

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

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

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  • Don Curry,

    “Drugs are illegal because the people, through their governmental representatives, have said that they need to prevent those who use drugs from , in many ways, harming themselves and others.”

    I don’t remember voting on a federal law prohibiting marijuana. I do recall two states, just recently in the last electing, voting to legalize it directly through ballot initiatives.

    Anyone who votes for the use for force to save me from my own decisions is a moral fraud and my enemy. Protecting society is a different matter. On THAT point alcohol and pot are on the same level. Oh yes, the “long term effects” may differ, but to consider those isn’t to protect society, but rather to engage in social engineering, which is not a legitimate role of the state. Protecting society really means protecting the lives, liberties and property of its members, to which marijuana poses no greater threat (and considerably less of a threat in my experience) than alcohol.

    “Now..some doper may ruin his life and never cost society anything (like whenTHE USER needs help in government-provided services like rehab and counselling-which cost you and me!)”

    This isn’t a compelling argument, since I oppose those government-provided services as well. That’s what private charity is for. I’m all for you and I never paying another cent into such programs and letting churches and other groups deal with it. AA is pretty much a private religious group, as far as I can tell.

    “But often he hurts his family or co-workers or the public, and causes certian problems for which certain action is needed. ”

    So let his family and co-workers deal with him. The family can kick him out on his behind. His boss can fire him. As for the public, then yes, “certain action” is needed. There are plenty of people who use marijuana (and other drugs, I might add), in such ways that they never pose a threat to the public, and therefore they shouldn’t be punished at all for what they do in private.

    I don’t believe in pre-crime. I don’t believe in punishing people because they ingest a substance that MIGHT make them a threat to the public. If I believed that, I would have to be for the total prohibition of alcohol, because it has destroyed far more lives, cost far more jobs, and caused far more public damage and violence than marijuana ever has.

    The punishments of a free society – the loss of family, income, home, friends, respect – are severe enough for people who abuse drugs.

    “You talk about this problem in a way that totally misconstruees the REASON drugs are illegal. It is NOT about what the user does to himself. ”

    Really? Because you JUST mentioned people who are “harming themselves” in this very comment. Why did you do that? In any case, I have clearly addressed and acknowledged the other reasons as well. I don’t find them compelling, except in the case of drugs that have no other purpose than addiction, such as crack and meth. Those drugs we can and should eliminate as a public menace though I don’t think the users should be thrown in prison for possession (just destroy the dealers and their unholy laboratories).

    Now, this will be fun. How much gov’t should we eliminate? Let’s see.

    “1. laws prohibiting prostitution?”

    Yes. All of them. Just like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas advised. Nature and organic society punish sexual abusers enough already. Human law doesn’t need to add to it.

    However, and I’ll repeat this for almost every point on the list, this is under our Constitution a state and local issue, and that I don’t object to states and cities prohibiting it if that’s what they want, as long as people are free to live in a state or a city that decides to allow it.

    “2. any governmental agency that examines and protects the manufacture and distribution of food we eat and legal drugs ? Should ANYONE be able to make and package meat and then sell it without inspection?”

    Get rid of them all. People who sell bad drugs and bad meats will find themselves without customers. Consumers are capable of making their own choices and establishing their own rating agencies to spread information about products. Companies that avoid this voluntary process will find themselves with fewer customers than those that voluntarily submit to it.

    No producer who wants to be successful sells poison and packages it as something healthy unless he’s getting government subsidies. If you sell bad drugs and bad meat on the streets, there are much more efficient ways of meeting out justice. Without governments to force people to buy your products or subsidize your loses, you have no choice but to compete for profits the old fashioned way – by actually giving people what they want on a consistent basis.

    Finally, in spite of all of our wonderful and efficient regulations, tens of thousands of people still manage to die each year due to drug and food complications. It couldn’t have ANYTHING to do with the fact that there is a revolving door between the FDA and the corporate world, though right? The fact is that every time you establish some regulatory agency, all you are really doing is establishing an entity that the largest players in those markets can purchase and staff with their own people to crush the competition, keep new competitors from entering the market, and give legal sanction to defective goods and services. That is exactly what has happened with the US regulatory apparatus. We would all be better off without it.

    “3. laws that require testing of people before they get a license to drive?”

    That’s a state issue. I would oppose federal meddling in the issue, and I don’t rule out the possibility of private/free alternatives, but its really not very high on my priority list. Stopping midnight SWAT raids that resemble the tactics of the NKVD or Gestapo, drone strikes on innocent families across the ocean, and the destruction of religious liberty in the United States rate a little higher.

    “4. allow doctors to practice medicine without a license?”

    I don’t think governments need to be involved here either.A doctor whose practices cause harm to people won’t be in business very long. If the harm is unintentional, he can be sued in court, and if it is intentional, then he can and should be arrested and prosecuted for whatever harm he did. I don’t see why we need an army of bureaucrats who inspect things to be involved in this process.

    On the other hand, there are people who want to practice alternative medicine whom the official licensing establishment would never grant a license to, for whatever reasons. People ought to be free to explore alternatives at their own risk, though. That’s what being a grown up is all about.

    “5. legalize heroin?….meth??..”

    Decriminalize possession in amounts clearly intended for personal use. Perhaps some kind of rehab can be mandated for repeat offenders. I’m all for aggressively going after meth labs and drug cartels, though.

    “6. should I be able to demand,” I want 3 oxycontin a day and not the amount that the doctor says he can legally give me?” I mean…my” freedom” to reduce my pain should allow me to do that??”

    Well, you are free to hurt yourself if that is what you are asking. But the doctor is also free to say “no.” So no, I don’t think we need a bureaucrat deciding how many pills a person can take.

    “do things known by everyone from publicized stories from the last 40 years”

    What sort of things did they do when all these drugs were perfectly legal? And why haven’t all of these laws stopped all of these people from doing all of these terrible things?

    I’m for the protection of people’s rights from would-be violators, including drug users. I am opposed to laws that serve virtually no other purpose but to punish people for indulging in a substance that may or may not cause them to do something else. Moderate users who don’t violate other people’s rights should not be punished along with violent addicts. That’s not justice, it’s coercive Puritanism.

  • Anyone who votes for the use for force to save me from my own decisions is a moral fraud and my enemy.

    Curious as to how you’d vote if abortion were ever on the ballot.

    For that matter, what about legislation regarding rape, murder, arson and all other “decisions” you may make?

    Now I know that you will retort that these are all actions that are much more serious than marijuana use, and you would be correct. Of course then you would be making a distinction – almost saying something akin to “No, that’s different,” which as we learned the other day would be hypocritical.

  • “I am opposed to laws that serve virtually no other purpose but to punish people for indulging in a substance that may or may not cause them to do something else.”

    Has the writer used drugs, and if yes, then is he being being honest about the effect that the use of mind-altering substances has on his behavior? The question is rhetorical. I have the answer for myself. I did, and I became a lying, thieving, conniving reprobate deserving of incarceration, or worse. I have known of no exceptions, though I suppose there may be a few here and there.

    I have often wondered how one can be so very brilliant in some areas, so miss the mark in other areas, and be completely (some would say even pridefully) unwilling to countenance a possible error in judgement. No offense intended. I simply know from first hand experience what drugs do.

  • “But what if the consumers are mistaken with regard to their own interests? Obviously, they sometimes are. But several more points must be made. In the first place, every individual knows the data of his own inner self best—by the very fact that each has a separate mind and ego. Secondly, the individual, if in doubt about what his own true interests are, is free to hire and consult experts to give him advice based on their superior knowledge. The individual hires these experts and, on the market, can continuously test their helpfulness. Individuals on the market, in short, tend to patronize those experts whose advice proves most successful. Good doctors or lawyers reap rewards on the free market, while poor ones fail. But when government intervenes, the government expert acquires his revenue by compulsory levy. There is no market test of his success in teaching people their true interests. The only test is his success in acquiring the political support of the State’s machinery of coercion.” — Murray Rothbard

  • Paul,

    I’m really surprised that you would ask me such questions. Have you never read my posts? Is this the first thing of mine you’ve read?

    “Curious as to how you’d vote if abortion were ever on the ballot.”

    Against it, every time, because it is legalized murder. My guidepost isn’t “freedom to do as I please”, but rather natural rights to life, liberty and property. Abortion violates the right to life.

    “For that matter, what about legislation regarding rape, murder, arson and all other “decisions” you may make?”

    Seeing as how I clearly specified laws that would save me from my own decisions, I’m not sure how much sense laws against raping, murdering and setting myself on fire would make, but I would probably end up opposing them.

    Laws that protect people’s natural rights from the decisions made by others to violate those rights, I’m fine with, and have never suggested otherwise.

    “Now I know that you will retort that these are all actions that are much more serious than marijuana use, and you would be correct.”

    More serious? No. All of those actions involve one person doing harm to another person. What I specifically mentioned were laws that would protect me from myself. Apples and oranges.

    “Of course then you would be making a distinction – almost saying something akin to “No, that’s different,” which as we learned the other day would be hypocritical.”

    And now you’re going to hold me to what someone ELSE alleged?

    Really?

  • Unrealistic expectations about how the individual is going to be responsible. When the individual screws up, it is the victim of his drug use who suffers and the govermnent who pays…since the family has kicked the doper out, and he has no more money because he has sucked it into his nose.Yes freedom!!…liberty !! womnan’s freedom…woman’s liberty.. and so I guess you are for abortion rights. As a Catholic, you must have alot to explain. ..and by the way…why do you think they call it “dope?”

  • Bonchamps,

    Just trying to follow the logic of your absolutism, is all. I am not sure that your explanation really distinguishes drug laws from the other matters sufficiently, but unfortunately I’m not going to have time to pursue the matter for now. But your pro-life bona fides are unquestioned – again, I was just pointing out the difficulties with that statement.

  • Paul P,

    I’ve often wondered how someone who claims to be a Christian and usually displays Christian behavior can, in some instances, be so uncharitable and unreasonable.

    “Has the writer used drugs, and if yes, then is he being being honest about the effect that the use of mind-altering substances has on his behavior?”

    Not that it matters, but yes I have, and yes I am. I did far more damage to myself, others, and society when I was drunk than I ever did when I was stoned. I would say the same without hesitation regarding everyone I knew who used in both substances.

    But who cares? Why do you relate everything back to the way YOU were? Why in heaven’s name would you conflate justice with whatever would have served to stop YOU from being an anti-social marauder? There are plenty of people who use marijuana in moderation. It is wrong to punish them for doing so.

  • The only thing they half-rght (for the wrong reasons) is opposition to the Fed. Bank of England’s Andy Haldane, “. . . the crisis started by the banks was as damaging as a “world war.” It will be central bank policies’ fault that the world will long-term suffer in abysmal economic growth and raging unemployment.

    And, becuz on the list of evils that are destroying America weed is just above “Don’t shoot bigfoot or the aliens will become enraged!”

  • Paul Z,

    “Just trying to follow the logic of your absolutism, is all.”

    Having principles is now “absolutism”? Are you going to look at my defense of natural rights the way secularists look at your acceptance of Catholic dogmas?

    “I am not sure that your explanation really distinguishes drug laws from the other matters sufficiently,”

    The distinction is simply between what I said – laws that would save me from my own decisions – and what you proposed, laws against things that people do to each other.

  • When talking about legalizing marijuana, we need to get the facts from reputable medical sources (e.g., the National Institute of Health, the Center for Disease Control, or the US Surgeon General) just as when we are talking about new nuclear power plants or Fukushima Daiichi we need to get the facts from reputable engineering sources (e.g., the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the US Nuclear Energy Institute, or the International Atomic Energy Agency). The following web sites provide information that indicates that the use of marijuana is hardly harmless or relegated to impacting only the user (which of course confirms my own personal experience):

    http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001143.htm

    https://www.ncjrs.gov/ondcppubs/publications/pdf/marijuana_myths_facts.pdf

  • Don C,

    “Unrealistic expectations about how the individual is going to be responsible.”

    I don’t know what you mean. One way or another, a free society imposes costs upon people who abuse themselves and others. If an individual doesn’t take responsibility, society will deprive him of more and more things until he either straightens up or dies in a gutter.

    “When the individual screws up, it is the victim of his drug use who suffers and the govermnent who pays…”

    How many times do I have to say it? I don’t want the government to pay for anything in this regard. It isn’t like that is necessary. It is a policy. It doesn’t have to exist.

    “since the family has kicked the doper out, and he has no more money because he has sucked it into his nose.Yes freedom!!…liberty !!”

    Yes, that’s what it means. That’s where you can end up. That’s what it means to have a soul – the possibility of choosing evil and spending eternity in hell. Do you curse God for your free will as well?

    “womnan’s freedom…woman’s liberty.. and so I guess you are for abortion rights.”

    You guess wrong. Abortion is murder.

    I don’t believe in libertinism. I believe in natural law. And I believe nature and free society impose sufficient penalties for most bad behavior, and that the involvement of the state is morally unjustifiable and practically unnecessary.

    “As a Catholic, you must have alot to explain. ..and by the way…why do you think they call it “dope?””

    I never said it was good. I just don’t think the state should be involved. But I guess that’s just beyond some of you.

  • “Not that it matters, but yes I have, and yes I am.”

    Someone who is using marijuana should stop driving or otherwise using heavy machinery until one month after ceasing the use of marijuana since the THC molecule remains in the myelin sheath of the neurons for up to a month after the last use of marijuana and can precipitate out, resulting in an unintentional state of intoxication at any time. People who are currently using it are a danger to themselves and otehrs.

  • Paul P,

    “The following web sites provide information that indicates that the use of marijuana is hardly harmless or relegated to impacting only the user (which of course confirms my own personal experience)”

    I never said it was harmless. I believe people should be free to harm themselves, within the limits of other people’s rights. That’s why we are free to smoke cigarettes, eat triple cheeseburgers, and consume alcohol by the gallons. I maintain that marijuana does not pose a greater immediate risk to the lives, liberties and property of others than these substances, and in many cases, considerably less of a threat.

    There’s a lot of hypocrisy here, and a lot of absurdity. Rail against marijuana all day. I don’t like the stuff and I don’t smoke it. I don’t even like being around people who smoke it. But I will always oppose state involvement in what is clearly a private matter.

  • Paul P,

    To be clear – I smoked it back in high school. That was over a decade ago.

  • I mean, heck, I only drink alcohol a few times a year.

    I told you before, I’m addicted to stimulants. Starbucks is my drug dealer. Triple lattes.

  • Bonchamps, thanks for the clarification. In my line of work, I would be relieved of duty immediately if marijuana were detected in my blood, however minute the quantity. And you would want me relieved of duty.

    I am glad you stopped using, as did I. Sadly, I required the baseball bat of the Lord’s grace aisde the head to get me to stop. As for alcohol, it’s not like marijuana and in moderation is harmless while for me it is a poison. But that’s different.

    No, I don’t like the war on drugs and I think the solution is the 12 Steps. But society has to protect itself from the scourge of drug use. So I disagree with your supposition that private use of marijuana harms no one except the user. That’s not true because the behavior it causes almost always harms others. And comparing that to alcohol is like comparing apples and oranges.

  • ” That’s not true because the behavior it causes almost always harms others.”

    No it doesn’t. The behavior it causes is usually sitting around talking about nonsense, watching nonsense on the television and stuffing your face.

    Alcohol, on the other hand, causes people to get loud, obnoxious, sexually promiscuous and physically violent.

  • Darn, I am not going to win this argument. Oh well! As long as there are no reactor operators at the panel using marijuana, or airplane pilots, or surgeons, or train engineers, or navigators of LNG or petroleum tankers, or any of a host of other occupations affecting public health and safety.

  • Having principles is now “absolutism”?

    Sigh. Just forget it.

  • “Alcohol, on the other hand, causes people to get loud, obnoxious, sexually promiscuous and physically violent.”

    That may be (in part) a societal reaction – see here, for instance: http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/1048596839.html or here: http://www.sirc.org/publik/drinking4.html.

    At any rate, congratulations, Bonchamps – this blog post has produced the most diverse (verbose) reactions I have seen to any post on this site in a great while.

  • Paul Z,

    You’re sighing at me – after using the word “absolutism” to describe my positions?

    Was it supposed to be a perfectly neutral and objective description? If so, I’m really sorry for having assumed the negative connotation that almost is almost always associated with the word in modern political and philosophical discussions.

  • Of course, you’re just heaping insult on top of insult by sighing, rolling your eyes like a bored teenager, and assuming I’m just so hard-headed and fanatical that I can’t possibly be reasonably engaged. I’d love nothing more, absolutely nothing more, than to have a frank, open, honest and deep debate about all of these issues and I apologize if I unfairly or unnecessarily associated your word choice with ill-intent.

  • Alcohol, on the other hand, causes people to get loud, obnoxious, sexually promiscuous and physically violent.

    No, people are inclined to be loud, obnoxious, sexually promiscuous, or physically violent; alcohol lowers inhibitions. It is quite unremarkable to imbibe quite a bit over one’s lifetime and imbibe to intoxication and be none of these things.

  • Bonchamps, With respect to all, you aren’t tinkering at the edge of government an everyone else is. Therein lies the problem.

    Unless I am greatly mistaken, you aren’t asking how to change the existing laws and government to allow particular principles to operate. You are proposing a Libertarian answer to the question “what is the origin and role of government?” and inviting us to offer an alternative view. If I have that right, MPS is the only one to have done so and his championing of Statism as the indispensible instrument of freedom through majoritarianism seems to me to be the polar opposite of your proposition.

    I have nothing so clever to say as either of you and, so, am egging you on from the outside of the ring. I should very much like to see a back and forth between ye.

  • Bonchamps…Terrific, just terrific. Your clear, concise, direct responses to the “arguments” of Paul P., Paul Z., Don C. in this comments section have been a real pleasure to read.

    Your defense of the natural law and the principle of non-aggression is heartening and sorely needed among my fellow Catholics. I check this blog for your posts often and then look forward to the comments following them.

    I have to think that your response to Don C. @ 3:57pm would cause any thinking person to sit back and at least begin to question their position on these issues.

    Well done! Please keep it up.

  • Well, I’m not quite sure where you would like us to begin. I accept the terms of the Lockean social contract, but not that of Rousseau. I accept the American Revolution, which was justified on Lockean grounds (again, this is distinct and separate from the crafting of the U.S. Constitution, which owes more to other sources), and I reject the French Revolution, which was the product of Rousseau’s thought. I think Locke was a continuation of the natural law tradition dating back to Aristotle, furthered by Jefferson and others like Sumner and Murray Rothbard while Rousseau was a continuation of Hobbes’ apologetic for tyranny, who was furthered by Hegel, Marx and Lenin. These are different historical trajectories.

    I can’t imagine anything more absurd than the notion of “championing of Statism as the indespensible instrument of freedom.” The state and all of its functions are maintained by the violent confiscation of private property. And even if it is, for a time, run by people who hold the right moral values (as it arguably was during certain times and places during Christendom), it can too easily be placed in the hands of people who hold values that are ungodly and inhuman, as I believe it is now. How can the state guarantee freedom when it is run by people who don’t even appear to believe in the concept of free will? The HHS mandate, for instance, is being forced upon us because – and this is the government’s argument to the federal judiciary – it is in the government interest to promote “gender equality”, and this consideration overrides all others. This is clearly not an instrument for freedom, but rather one of enslavement, robbery and violence for the sake of immoral and untenable ideas.

    Freedom does require certain conditions. Private property rights must be respected and protected. An overarching power is needed to punish those who violate these rights. The Constitution was ratified by the states because individually they would not have the defensive powers they would have combined. But the states forced upon the proponents of the Constitution the Bill of Rights, which is now being fired upon by the Obama administration (as it was under Bush Jr., without a doubt, and as it would have been under John McCain or Mitt Romney or John Kerry or any of the other would-be presidents). Both sides believe in unlimited spending to finance their ideological visions – the Democrats want unlimited domestic welfare and entitlement spending to bring about an egalitarian utopia, while the Republicans want unlimited military spending to bring about global democracy. And yet libertarians are accused of sacrificing everything to “ideology” and not being “pragmatic” enough. No, I’m plenty pragmatic – neither egalitarianism in the United States nor democracy in in the Middle East have a thing to do with my interests or can be supported with means I find morally justifiable or fiscally sustainable. I say the same about the state harassing and punishing people engaged in moderate levels of vice.

    I’ll leave it there.

  • For an alternative to the Social Contract theory, Yves Simon, the Catholic political philosopher and very much in the Thomist tradition, argues for the “ethical state.” “The highest activity/being in the natural order is free arrangement of men about what is good, brought together in an actual polity where it is no longer a mere abstraction.” This is not dissimilar to Hegel’s view of the state as “mind objectified” where the moral order finds its concrete embodiment.

    Since, “Human communities are the highest attainment of nature for they are virtually unlimited with regard to diversity of perfections, and are virtually immortal” and, hence, “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.”

    It differs from the classical Social Contract theory in insisting on the essentially social nature of man and that the individual is an abstraction. Indeed, Simon argues that “in this state [of abstraction], man is “no longer unequivocally real.””

    Similarly, Simon’s teacher, Jacques Maritain argues that Integral political science . . . is superior in kind to philosophy; to be truly complete it must have a reference to the domain of theology, and it is precisely as a theologian that St. Thomas wrote De regimine principum . . . 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 (The Things that are not Caesar’s, p. 128)

    Of course, these are the principles underlying “Throne and Altar” Conservatism.

  • As far as I am concerned, the contenders for political power in the United States are natural law libertarianism and social democracy. This isn’t Europe. There’s no ancien regime to reestablish and no cultural support even in the remotest for such thing.

    “It differs from the classical Social Contract theory in insisting on the essentially social nature of man and that the individual is an abstraction. Indeed, Simon argues that “in this state [of abstraction], man is “no longer unequivocally real.”””

    I completely reject this as nothing but a recipe for totalitarianism. Are individual souls “abstractions” as well?

    I accept that man has a “social nature”, which finds its expression in the free market of mutual beneficial exchange and voluntary cooperation.

    “the rule of conduct governing individual and social life cannot therefore leave the supernatural order out of account”

    When there is no cultural consensus on the supernatural order, the governing of social life can’t possibly take into account any particular supernatural order, even the right one. That’s just a fact, whether I like it or not.

  • small voice from over in the corner It seems like the essence of the contention is whether “people” can be trusted to still do “the right thing” if nobody’s standing over them, making them pursue or eschew whatever actions inform it.

    Liberty assumes they/we can. Statism assumes they/we won’t. Is it possible to stand on one and proclaim the other?

    Is either concept workable given that man is fallen and the evils of his heart will corrupt the authority or freedom anyone pursues?

    I wish I knew. I know which side I prefer, though; taken ad absurdam, The State will shove The Church out like a catbird chick and take millions to perdition with it. Liberty, even in imperfect man, makes room for The Church or dies alone.

    “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

    This, we can trust.

  • WK Aitken

    Well said.

    The great 19th century Catholic historian, Lord Acton said of liberty that “In every age its progress has been beset by its natural enemies, by ignorance and superstition, by lust of conquest and by love of ease, by the strong man’s craving for power, and the poor man’s craving for food.”

    He adds that “If hostile interests have wrought much injury, false ideas have wrought still more; and its advance is recorded in the increase of knowledge, as much as in the improvement of laws.”

  • “Liberty assumes they/we can.”

    Not really. Liberty assumes that “doing the right thing” is only actually right when it is done freely, and that forcing people to do the right thing is not only immoral in the means, but doesn’t even produce a moral end. You can’t be forced to act morally. If you aren’t choosing freely, you aren’t behaving morally. You’re just fulfilling someone else’s desires. You’re a slave.

  • Bonchamps wrote

    “You can’t be forced to act morally. If you aren’t choosing freely, you aren’t behaving morally. You’re just fulfilling someone else’s desires. You’re a slave.”

    This is clearly right. Liberty means self-government, or it means nothing.

    G K Chesterton said, “The citizens not only make up the state, but make the State; not only make it, but remake it… “The idea of the Citizen is that his individual human nature shall be constantly and creatively active in altering the State… Every Citizen is a revolution. That is, he destroys, devours and adapts his environment to the extent of his own thought and conscience. This is what separates the human social effort from the non-human; the bee creates the honey-comb, but he does not criticise it… No state of social good that does not mean the Citizen choosing good, as well as getting it, has the idea of the Citizen at all.”

  • Bonchamps – I see what you mean and it’s why I enclosed the phrase in quotes. It wasn’t necessarily an allusion to charitable or otherwise moral works as much as day-to-day options and civil behavior (overlap notwithstanding,) but your elucidation is spot on. Thanks.

    MPS – would that Dr. Chesterton’s words still rang true in government circles here. Perhaps again, someday.

  • To maintain that there is a “natural order,” governed by Natural Law, consisting of truths accessible to unaided human reason; something that can be kept separate from the supernatural truths revealed in the Gospel is, in practice, to acquiesce in the liberal privatisation of religion and to hold that the state can be self-sufficient, in the sense that it can be properly independent of any specifically Christian sense of justice.

    But there is no such thing as a state of pure nature. “We cannot,” says Blondel, “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 self-contained (boucle), even in the sheerly natural order.” This is why Maritain insists, “The rule of conduct governing individual and social life cannot therefore leave the supernatural order out of account.”

    Thus, in “Immortal Dei,” Pope Lo XIII says, “So, too, is it a sin for the State not to have care for religion as a something beyond its scope, or as of no practical benefit; or out of many forms of religion to adopt that one which chimes in with the fancy; for we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be His will. All who rule, therefore, should hold in honour the holy name of God, and one of their chief duties must be to favour religion, to protect it, to shield it under the credit and sanction of the laws, and neither to organize nor enact any measure that may compromise its safety. This is the bounden duty of rulers to the people over whom they rule.”

Stupid Meme: Libertarianism & “Gay Marriage”

Wednesday, September 26, AD 2012

One of the more annoying memes I am often confronted with is the automatic assumption that libertarians must be for “gay marriage.”I can understand why some people automatically assume such things in good faith, but I can also tell when the leftist media is attempting to exploit an apparent rift between libertarians and conservatives on the right. Whenever I read somewhere that there may be tension between different wings of the American right on an issue such as “gay marriage”, it is almost never a conservative or a libertarian writing it.

Is it consistent with libertarianism to be an uncritical and loud advocate of “gay marriage”? In my view, the answer is no. In fact, it is more consistent with libertarianism, at least in the current political climate and given the way the issue is currently framed, to be opposed to the “marriage equality” movement. The word “equality” ought to be the first indication to a libertarian that something may be amiss, since egalitarian movements are often statist, sometimes outright totalitarian movements that seek to achieve an ideal of equality by sheer force. Communism is the most obvious example, but what feminist and certain racial groups have achieved on college campuses is only a microcosm of what they would like to see in society at large: free speech utterly silenced, opposing views ostracized, careers denied or ruined over the utterance of a heterodox opinion (just view the archives of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for countless examples). To some extent this already does happen in society at large, but only selectively – for now.

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24 Responses to Stupid Meme: Libertarianism & “Gay Marriage”

  • Thank you for your post. Re-define. To call something that isn’t is. What will be the next grab for power. Pedophiles are “minor attracted people”. Life site .com posted a disturbing piece coming out of Germany regarding the move to lower children’s consent requirements, (age). Placing more children in harms way of the M.A.P.
    When will this stop? It seems to me as God is pushed out of the public square, the old foe slithers in. “What’s foul is fair…and what’s fair is foul.” Old Bill saw it coming.

  • Mother and Father becomes Parent A and Parent B.

    only a bureaucratic detail. only. mmhmm

  • Pingback: Dating Subsidiarity Archbishop John Myers Same-Sex Marriage | Big Pulpit
  • Thank you, Bonchamps, for a discerning essay. I am in close agreement with much of what you’ve written here, especially in the third and fourth paragraphs.

    Among some self-identified libertarians in the blogosphere, “the opinion that the state ought to have nothing to say at all about marriage” has great initial appeal. But who was it who said that for every difficult problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious and wrong? And wrong it is; a libertarian should be quick to see that upon considering what individuals have to say about marriage.

    Eventually people will laugh at attempts by judges and legislators to make same-sex sham marriages equivalent to real marriages just as we laugh at stories of attempts to legislate pi = 3.

  • The great 19th century Catholic historian, Lord Acton, pointed out on many occasions that the passion for civic equality and the hatred of noble and clerical privilege is usually accompanied by a tolerance of despotism, whether the absolutism of a Napoléon (whose regime was the consummation of the Revolution, not its reversal) or the tyranny of the majority.

    The egalitarian likes strong government, believing, as Acton notes, “Government must not be arbitrary, but it must be powerful enough to repress arbitrary action in others. If the supreme power is needlessly limited, the secondary powers will run riot and oppress. Its supremacy will bear no check.” Hence, “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.”

  • I think you are neglecting two aspects of this:

    1. Civil marriage is a set of voluntarily assumed obligations. It is also an official delineation of social boundaries as are the property deeds in the county clerk’s office or copyrights registered at the Library of Congress. That delineation guides the resolution of disputes that inevitably arise in a society between private parties. The default mode of libertarian social thought is to conceive of a sharp delineation of state and society in which the latter is put upon by blunderbusses employed in the former. This sort of discourse is found in the writings of people who are critics of license (see William L. Anderson and Joseph Sobran) as those who are celebrants of it. In this mode of thought, the act of civil marriage is reducible to the issuance of a license and the refusal to do so is an unacceptable imposition on the autonomous will of Adam and Steve. That is an adolescent way of looking at the world, but what do you expect?

    2. Advocacy of these stupid burlesques is now a social and cultural marker in certain age cohorts. You do not really believe Reason‘s constituency is composed of people who do not care if they are confounded with evangelicals, do you?

  • With the moving words:

    “Champions of individual liberty should stand on the side of private property rights and religious liberty, and not on the side of those who are quite obviously attempting to use the coercive power of the state to impose their moral vision on the rest of America.”

    You have managed to more eloquently express the libertarian argument against anti-“gay marriage” legislation than you have defended yourself from what appears to be an entirely invented accusation that all libertarians must think and act the same.

    The larger issue of this meme – the concept that all libertarians must agree on gay marriage – well, you are correct there. You don’t have to support it.

    It will, however, make you less of a libertarian in the eyes of many. Take solace, however, as you can simply count it among the dozens of areas where the Christian faith and libertarian ideals do not meet eye-to-eye in the real world.

  • know what? I guess I am so naive as to think about this. If God would have wanted this kind of lifestyle there would be no proliferation of the human race. Without the act of procreation what is the point of anything? Everyway I turn I am learning of the homosexuals in my family. I love them as God loves them, but I cannot nor will I condone this behavior. No one will confront it in this Catholic family. Catholic mothers and fathers sisters and brothers. We are forced to, in every family gathering to put up with behavior that gags me. Married couples at these gatherings are not blatantly affectionate. It almost seems like an assult, or “dare ya” attitude. My grandchildren are exposed non stop. Please God. I don’t care what political direction you take this is, and will be disaster on our race. Without respect for marriage and procreation we are truly lost.

  • There are a number of problems with the essay that I take issue with. You brought up the situation with the photography studio in New Mexico as a warning about the dangers of marriage equality. Only problem is, New Mexico doesn’t allow same-sex marriage. The claim against the owner was one of discrimination in public services, not marriage. The state ruled that businesses that offer services to the public cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (amongst other criteria). Just a reminder, a photography studio is not a church, and people that are religious “chose” to be religious. They weren’t born that way. So for your position to be valid, one would have to argue that ANY choice people make in their lives can be used to justify discriminating against anyone that they want. In a secular society, this is unacceptable. Choosing to become religious does not give you a “free pass” to enforce your religious ideology on the rest of society. Don’t want to provide service to ALL of society? Then don’t open a business in the public sphere. Pretty simple philosophy, huh?

    I also find it interesting that you believe the word “equality” should bring up red flags. The reality is that most states and our government have gone out of their way to foster discriminatory laws aimed solely at gay Americans, making sure that gay people will never be considered equal under the law. (Which is what this is about. Not legal forms.) This is the antithesis of what America represents: freedom, liberty and equality all citizens. Religion cannot be allow to override those ideals. In a secular society, one should ask themselves why our government is enforcing an obvious religious ideology on its own citizens without a rational “legal” basis. Our government shouldn’t be promoting ANY type of religious ideology. When Congress passed the extremely unconstitutional DOMA law, their “rational basis” was that DOMA will help ensure that straight couples will procreate responsibly. Perhaps you can explain how preventing gay couples from getting married will help straight couples be more responsible when having sex? Are the gay couples going to provide condoms to all those straight couples? Are straight couples going to get married in greater numbers because they know that gay couples can’t get married? By any stretch of the imagination, the rationale behind DOMA was drenched in anti-gay animus (based on religious beliefs) and nothing else. These people simply didn’t want to treat gay people as equal members of society. Their position is fundamentally wrong and inherently immoral.

    By the way, the public doesn’t have the final say when it comes to passing laws, the Constitution does. Just because a majority of people vote for something (the express wishes of the voters) does not make them right, or their decision just or legal. Slavery ring a bell? How about the subordination of women? Bans on interracial marriage? People justified all sorts of bigotry throughout our history… and used the Bible to support their position. Enforcing your religious beliefs into our laws pushes us one step closer to becoming a Christian theocracy. Our Founding Fathers escaped religious tyranny. Our society cannot allow that to ever happen here.

  • I’ve pointed this out to the Libertarians on Ricochet who push for homosexual marriage. Their response is the same as about abortion– they make excuses that the thing consistent with their stated philosophy gives the government too much power, and then promote expanding that power, on the stated theory that if anybody can do it, EVERYONE should be able to do it.

    Then, if you pay attention to what college PotLibertarians do and point it out as an example of Libertarianism, they respond it’s inconsistent with their theory– and when you point out that their stance on killing humans up to a set stage of development is also inconsistent, or forcing others to support the lifestyle choice of two adults, you’re suddenly “just being nasty.”

    Can’t win. Either you pay attention to the theory of Libertarianism but aren’t allowed to call them on inconsistencies like promoting expanding gov’t power for their pet views, or you pay attention to what MOST Libertarians one meets think, and you’re accused of lying. For noticing that Ronulans and Liberaltarians (PotLibertarians that somehow always manage to vote straight Dem tickets, and love their college freebies) exist in real life. *headdesk*

  • What is far more disturbing to me, and most moral conservatives, is that libertarians do not support morality. At all. Libertine freedom is the enemy of morality- it is the right to sin. Real moral conservatives, at least Catholic ones, are authoritarian monarchists: They support the Kingship of Jesus Christ and the rule of his Vicar the Pope in all matters of faith and morals. Morality for moral conservatives IS objective; personal likes and dislikes do not change what is right and wrong the way it does for libertarians.

    THAT is why you see people thinking libertarians will support gay marriage, the way libertarians support the right of women to choose abortion, and the right of people to destroy their own lives and the lives of their families with drugs- because at the base, the false liberty of the right to sin is the cause.

  • Igel,

    “You have managed to more eloquently express the libertarian argument against anti-”gay marriage” legislation than you have defended yourself from what appears to be an entirely invented accusation that all libertarians must think and act the same.”

    Entirely invented? Gee thanks. I guess you’ve never read… anything at all. Really? You’ve never come across the standard line, usually from some left of center pundit, that conservatives and libertarians are necessarily divided on the issue of gay marriage? Pundits and commentators make broad and stupid generalizations all the time, especially when it serves their purposes. In this case, the purpose is to deepen the rifts on the right.

    What you call “anti-gay marriage legislation” is NOT an attempt to use the coercive authority of the state to impose a moral vision on America. People who think it is simply have not thought the issue through, and are reacting with pure emotion and irrationality. It is a response to the aggressive and 100% statist “marriage equality” movement. A ban on so-called “gay marriage” doesn’t infringe upon anyone’s legitimate individual rights (is there a natural right, now, to have your romantic preference recognized by the state as a “marriage”? When did this happen?)

    The push FOR “gay marriage”, on the other hand, is an attempt to force private property owners and government institutions to recognize a lifestyle choice as morally valid.

    A libertarian who isn’t opposed to that is either an ignorant fool who knows nothing about the foundations of his own philosophy, or a total fraud who ought to be cast into political outer darkness.

  • Fox,

    I guess I came to my quasi-libertarianism (I hesitate to identify fully with any label other than “Catholic”) through Ron Paul, Murray Rothbard, F.A. Hayek, Judge Napolitano (a trad Catholic like me) and the Austrian school, which offers clear moral reasoning on every issue, even if I don’t agree with it 100% of the time. Of course this is a subset of a broader school of thought. Of course there are other factions within libertarianism. But the kind of people you describe sound like brain-dead fools.

    Ted,

    I don’t think this statement:

    “What is far more disturbing to me, and most moral conservatives, is that libertarians do not support morality.”

    Is fair at all. All of the names I mentioned above are extremely supportive of morality, and are in fact among the most morally conscious thinkers I’ve ever read.

    Of course libertarianism proposes, basically, that individuals ought to have the right to do as they please as long as they don’t infringe upon the basic rights of another person. But then you have Paul, Napolitano, and other very high profile libertarians who argue forcefully that abortion does exactly that, and so does this “marriage equality” movement. Abortion robs a human being of their right to life, and so-called “marriage equality” robs Christians and other individuals who are morally opposed to participating in “gay marriages” of their religious liberty and their private property rights.

    It is absolutely shocking to me that the average libertarian doesn’t see this.

  • Of course this is a subset of a broader school of thought. Of course there are other factions within libertarianism. But the kind of people you describe sound like brain-dead fools.

    They’re usually in college. Mentally, if not still physically. That’d make at very least the fools part mostly redundant…..

    To be more fair, I think they’re usually male liberals who got burnt or at least noticed the damage caused by extreme feminism, and so react by being exactly the opposite…but still on left-wing foundations. Part of why it usually looks like conservatism built by liberals.
    If you don’t have a foundation, you MIGHT be able to build some things; say, anti-abortion, anti-slavery, anti-theft, everything has to be a freely entered agreement. Which causes issues when folks actually do what they desire, and a third party becomes involved involuntarily, especially if their involvement puts a demand on the initial folks involved.

    Being pro-abortion and denouncement of forced child support as exploitation of the guy who willingly had sex in the first place is against the stated principles, but it’s very emotionally tempting if you don’t have a good bedrock.

  • David in Houston,

    Thanks for your extensive comments. I will address what I think are the most relevant parts.

    “The state ruled that businesses that offer services to the public cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (amongst other criteria).”

    The business didn’t discriminate “on the basis of sexual orientation.” The test of such discrimination would be whether the business refused service to a homosexual individual because they were homosexual. That is manifestly not what happened; rather, the business morally objected to participating in a “gay marriage”, a voluntarily chosen activity. There is a world of difference between these two things.

    “So for your position to be valid, one would have to argue that ANY choice people make in their lives can be used to justify discriminating against anyone that they want. ”

    That’s more or less exactly what I believe. I believe it because of a thing called private property rights, as well as freedom of association. I believe these rights are fundamental to a free society, especially when there are a multitude of alternatives available on the free market.

    It is not the job of the state to force everyone to like each other and serve each other. It is the job of the state to protect natural rights.

    “In a secular society, this is unacceptable. Choosing to become religious does not give you a “free pass” to enforce your religious ideology on the rest of society. Don’t want to provide service to ALL of society? Then don’t open a business in the public sphere. Pretty simple philosophy, huh?”

    It’s simple, but it is also absurd. It is absurd to suggest that people with religious convictions don’t have individual rights to free exercise in their capacity as private property owners (such a notion would have been absurd to the founders as well), it is absurd to suggest that refusing service is equivalent to “enforc(ing) religious ideology on the rest of society” when the market provides many alternatives, and it is absurd to suggest that people with religious views ought to be denied freedom of association by being effectively barred from establishing religiously-oriented business.

    No one is forced to hire or shop at establishments with particular views. But freedom works both ways – no ought to be forced to serve people who are asking them to participate in or facilitate events they find morally repugnant. You shouldn’t have the right to force Christians to photograph Satanic rituals, or Jews to cater Nazi banquets, or for that matter, secular atheists to renovate churches if they don’t want to. That’s also a very simply philosophy, one that doesn’t involve forcing people to act against their convictions and doesn’t deprive anyone of an essential good or service.

    “The reality is that most states and our government have gone out of their way to foster discriminatory laws aimed solely at gay Americans, making sure that gay people will never be considered equal under the law”

    Well, this is simply false. Gays are equal under the law, as individuals. There isn’t a single right that straight people have that gays do not have. Gays can even legally marry – someone of the opposite sex, that is. Gays can, through private contract, establish anyone they choose as legal and medical power of attorney, inheritor of their estate, co-owner of their property, joint bank accounts, and so on and so forth. All they lack, and what they are not entitled to by nature or by law, is the privilege of presumption that married men and women have with regards to these legal matters. There is absolutely no injustice here.

    “In a secular society, one should ask themselves why our government is enforcing an obvious religious ideology on its own citizens without a rational “legal” basis.”

    There is a rational, secular basis for supporting traditional marriage and opposing homosexual marriage. That you’ve never come across it or, as I suspect, even looked for it, doesn’t mean a thing. But that isn’t the issue here. I am not asking the government to enforce a religious ideology, but rather to respect the rights of individuals to free exercise of religion, free speech, and private property.

    ” When Congress passed the extremely unconstitutional DOMA law, their “rational basis” was that DOMA will help ensure that straight couples will procreate responsibly. ”

    I’m not a fan of that rationale. But it is unnecessary. The key provision of DOMA is that no state be forced to recognize the validity of a “gay marriage” from a state that legally recognizes it. That is a perfectly just and fair provision that respects the sovereign rights of individual states. It does not prevent the individual states from recognizing “gay marriage” either, as we have seen. This is another illegitimate complaint.

    “By the way, the public doesn’t have the final say when it comes to passing laws, the Constitution does.”

    Have you read the 10th amendment?

    “Just because a majority of people vote for something (the express wishes of the voters) does not make them right, or their decision just or legal.”

    I agree. Sometimes, however, the majority is right. This time, they are. But in any case, it is not primarily about what the majority thinks, though I do think that is important. This is about the defense of natural individual rights to freedom of speech, religion, and private property.

    As for your comparisons to slavery and the like, the Bible was also (quite obviously, for anyone who knows their history) used by those fighting against slavery. No one complained about that as an “enforcement of religious beliefs” on the rest of the country, just like no one complains when left-wing Christians use religion to justify left-wing policies. No, it is only the socially conservative right who wants to impose religious values, only the socially conservative right who can find no “rational justification” for their policy preferences. The religious left, on the other hand, always gets a free pass.

    Finally, “marriage”, the decision to live one’s life with another person, is a CHOICE. It is not an inherited trait like skin color. Governments and individuals have a moral obligation to treat all individuals equally. They do not have a moral obligation to treat all moral choices as equally valid. If you can’t comprehend the difference, then I’m afraid we will always be enemies.

  • David in Houston said “ the public doesn’t have the final say when it comes to passing laws, the Constitution does. Just because a majority of people vote for something (the express wishes of the voters) does not make them right, or their decision just or legal.”

    But, of course, the public always have the final say; they can always amend or abolish any laws, including the Constitution. As Thomas Jefferson said, “no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters too of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please…”

    Law is the expression of the general will, of the living, not the dead. History may instruct and warn, but cannot guide or control.

  • This is an excellent post. Thanks, Bonchamps. I wish I had the intellect to contribute something. But I am satisfied to learn where I can’t contribute.

  • Many libertarians recognize a set of principles or preexisting order that must exist to support liberty. Many others, however, are libertines who adopt libertarianism in an effort to confuse their conscience with their constantly changing, contradicting intellectual-sounding garble to support their temporal whims.

  • Also, most ‘gay marriage’ statutes have nothing to do with what the state does. Many states, before they ever introduced same-sex civil ‘unions’ or ‘marriages’, had reconciled all state-level administrative powers to be neutral to all couples. However, this was deemed insufficient. Hence, states began imposing requirements on the private organizations they regulated.
    Now some states are suing the federal government to force the federal government to accept gay marriage. Already there’s proposals to force other states accept the same sex ‘marriages’ from other states. Sooner or later, and in some small cases already relating to property and adjacent ministries, every private organization will be forced to accept and facilitate these ‘marriages’.

    It’s not an coincidence why some of the biggest heterosexual supporters of same sex marriage are the statists. They envision new powers to regulate speech, regulate custody, regulate transhumanist dreams, attack churches, harm families and then ‘help’ those impacted families. It’s not about people, it’s about the new weapons they can produce.

  • My personal position on the photographer is that I wouldn’t do business with someone that doesn’t want my business. That being said, personal feelings about someone (believing that they are immoral) is not a rational basis to discriminate against them. By the way, I can guarantee that the photographer has provided work for “immoral” straight people in the past. Especially if they’ve ever worked with people like Newt Gingrich, or other adulterers, or gamblers, or alcoholics, or any other so-called sin you can come up with. I sincerely doubt that the photographer questioned other clients to determine if they were worthy of their services. I find it more than a little hypocritical that the only criteria that Christians have for immorality (to use for the basis for discrimination) is someone’s sexual orientation — oddly enough, that’s the ONLY so-called sin that they’ll never have. Must be a coincidence, right? That’s basically the same assessment that the courts in New Mexico found. Simply choosing to become religious doesn’t give you authority to disregard laws that protect the treatment of other citizens. Did you ever notice that the only group of people that are collectively discriminating against another group of people are Christians, and not the other way around. Yet it’s the Christians that are somehow the victims in all of these stories. Funny how that works out. Yes, 80% of the populous are victims of the overwhelming power of the 3%. It truly boggles the mind.

    “Gays are equal under the law, as individuals. There isn’t a single right that straight people have that gays do not have. Gays can even legally marry – someone of the opposite sex, that is. Gays can, through private contract, establish anyone they choose as legal and medical power of attorney, inheritor of their estate, co-owner of their property, joint bank accounts, and so on and so forth. All they lack, and what they are not entitled to by nature or by law, is the privilege of presumption that married men and women have with regards to these legal matters. There is absolutely no injustice here.”

    Gay people can still be fired in 29 states, simply because they are gay. They can also be refused housing on the same basis; and apparently (based on your beliefs) they can be discriminated against by anyone that happens to be religious. Which is what, over three-quarters of the population? — If you happen to have offspring, I seriously doubt that you’d want them to marry a gay person. I’d think you want them to marry someone that they are physically attracted to, someone that they love and want to build a life with, and someone that also finds them sexually and physically attractive. That isn’t possible if the other person is gay, and vice versa. Common sense, right? It’s also a laughable argument: “I’d rather have that gay guy marry my daughter instead of that man he’s been in a relationship for 10 years.” Yeah, let’s destroy two lives just to make sure that gay people can’t legally join together. Seriously? — As for private contracts. There is no logical reason why gay couples should have to jump through legal hoops and spent time and money on something that is automatically granted to straight couples. Immoral straight couples don’t have to hire an attorney to protect their relationships, neither should so-called immoral gay couples.

    “There is a rational, secular basis for supporting traditional marriage and opposing homosexual marriage. That you’ve never come across it or, as I suspect, even looked for it, doesn’t mean a thing.”

    No. Actually there isn’t a rational secular basis to deny gay Americans the right to create a legal kinship (secular marriage) with each other. That is why conservatives want to pass a constitutional amendment to ban it. Because they know that if they don’t, our constitution will support it. If there were a rational basis, we would have definitely heard it during the Prop. 8 trial. Instead, we got inane slippery slope arguments about the threat to “traditional” marriage, and how theoretical children need a mommy and daddy — disregarding the fact that procreation has never been a requirement to getting married. I also didn’t read it in the above essay, which complains that if gay people can marry, then religious people will have a harder time discriminating against them. When put in that context (You won’t tolerate my intolerance), your position is insupportable.

    “Finally, “marriage”, the decision to live one’s life with another person, is a CHOICE. It is not an inherited trait like skin color. Governments and individuals have a moral obligation to treat all individuals equally. They do not have a moral obligation to treat all moral choices as equally valid. If you can’t comprehend the difference, then I’m afraid we will always be enemies.”

    Your position is that homosexuality is immoral, and I’m guessing you also believe it’s a choice. Sorry to say, wrong on both counts. All because you believe a 2,000 year old book says so. Sorry, but that doesn’t prove anything — in a theocratic country, perhaps. But not here. In fact, your entire belief system is built on nothing but faith. Which again means there is no proof of that assertion; and unless our government can prove that all gay people are inherently immoral and a threat to society, they have no right to discriminate against them as a group. As I said before, we do not disenfranchise straight citizens that are immoral. Straight people that have cheated on their spouses still have all of their civil rights, including the right to get divorced and remarried as many times as they want. If you can’t comprehend the obvious hypocrisy going on here, then I agree, I’m afraid we will always be enemies. Liberty and freedom for ALL Americans will always win in the end. The younger generation “comprehends” that (and literally cannot understand why gay couples can’t get married), and irrational animus directed at gay people will be as unacceptable as racism and sexism.

  • David,

    “That being said, personal feelings about someone (believing that they are immoral) is not a rational basis to discriminate against them.”

    Personal feelings can be entirely aligned with objective reasons, so your statement is fallacious.

    More importantly, it is irrelevant. The 1st and 5th amendments secure the rights of religion, speech and property, and that security does not depend in the least upon whether or not a person exercising them meets some criteria of “rationality.” The essence of a free society is that I don’t have to convince you that my beliefs meet your standard of rationality – rather, you must tolerate beliefs you personally feel to be irrational as long as they infringe upon no legitimate right of yours. Clearly these basic lessons of American law, politics and culture are utterly lost on you, which is why liberty is dying a slow death in this country.

    “By the way, I can guarantee that the photographer has provided work for “immoral” straight people in the past. ”

    This, like many of your subsequent statements, is nothing but pure speculation presented as if it were indisputable fact – and is therefore pure rubbish.

    Even if you were correct, however, it wouldn’t matter. How a person exercises their religious beliefs, provided no one’s legitimate rights are violated, is not the business of the state. If a person is inconsistent in their application of morality, that is their own personal issue, and has absolutely no bearing on whether or not they have the legal right to refuse to participate in events they deem morally objectionable. The right to refuse service isn’t rooted in intellectual consistency, but rather in the natural, individual and inalienable right to private property and the civil rights of free speech and free exercise.

    “I find it more than a little hypocritical that the only criteria that Christians have for immorality (to use for the basis for discrimination) is someone’s sexual orientation”

    This is completely untrue. I don’t know what would possess you to even assert such a thing. Homosexuality is the issue because homosexuality is what is being shoved down our throats by radical activists. But there are plenty of Christians who object to the whole gamut of immoral and anti-social behavior, and it is really quite foolish of you to suggest otherwise. Really, think before you write.

    “Yet it’s the Christians that are somehow the victims in all of these stories.”

    Yes, it is Christians who are being harassed, sued, and threatened by radical homosexual activists. There is a documented history of this abuse in the U.S. and in other countries. This is the ugly reality you are completely ignoring.

    “Yes, 80% of the populous are victims of the overwhelming power of the 3%. It truly boggles the mind.”

    It boggles the mind how someone can play so fast and loose with the facts. First of all, far fewer than 80% of American Christians actually take their stated beliefs seriously. Secondly, the gay population is estimated to be 10%, not 3%. Third, some of the most aggressive “gay rights” advocates are straight, secular, left-wing activists, especially the Hollywood types. Given that opinion polls show the nation evenly split on the issue, about 50-50, I’d say that more accurately represents the reality.

    But while the Christians have maybe a few legal defense organizations who are committed to fighting for their rights, homosexuals have the sympathy of the entire media establishment and significant sections of the political and corporate worlds as well (for every Chick-fil-A there are a dozen Targets, Oreos, Starbucks, NBCs, and so on). Just turn on a television, for the love of all that is holy – there is an endless parade of television shows praising and glamorizing the gay lifestyle, and an endless stream of anti-Christian hate, mockery, and vilification. Only the ignorant or the dishonest could possibly say otherwise. You live in a left-wing bubble.

    “Gay people can still be fired in 29 states, simply because they are gay. ”

    I believe in equal protection under the law for individuals. However, I also believe in freedom of association and private property rights. A balance must be struck, I will grant. But that means both sides meeting in the middle on this question – not one side steamrolling over the other by judicial fiat.

    “hey can also be refused housing on the same basis; and apparently (based on your beliefs) they can be discriminated against by anyone that happens to be religious.”

    Well, you’ve misrepresented my views. I stated quite clearly that the discrimination in question had nothing to do with sexual orientation, but rather with an unwillingness to participate in a freely-chosen public event that is morally objectionable. You are pathologically incapable of understanding the difference between these two things. Refusing service to an individual because of some characteristic they possess is not the same as refusing to participate in an event. You’re quite deluded if you think they are the same, an enemy of liberty, and therefore my enemy.

    “That isn’t possible if the other person is gay, and vice versa. Common sense, right?”

    Well, you’re wrong actually. It is entirely possible. It has happened throughout all of recorded history. It leads to difficulties, yes, but in societies in which family and children are duties, and not accessories, it is far easier to accomplish. Homosexuality was rampant among the Greeks in the ancient world, but so was the notion of familial duty. Homosexuality has existed in many cultures but the concept of “gay marriage” has only existed in these very recent times. That isn’t a coincidence.

    Having a sexual orientation does not make it physically impossible to perform sex acts with the sex you aren’t oriented towards. There are few men in the prison system who would ever identify as homosexuals, but there are many who routinely engage in sodomy and other sex acts with other men. The dominant males think of the more submissive males as females. The same thing happens in the other direction – there are homosexual men and women who have, can, and do engage in lifelong sexual relationships with people of the opposite sex.

    But none of this is relevant, absolutely none of it, to the issues I am concerned with.

    “There is no logical reason why gay couples should have to jump through legal hoops and spent time and money on something that is automatically granted to straight couples.”

    And it is absurd to uproot society, dramatically transform the law, and infringe upon the rights of millions of people so that a few legal hoops can be avoided. That isn’t rational or moral. Traditional marriage between one man and one woman is objectively good for society. It deserves pride of place, it deserves prestige, and all other social arrangements ought to be subordinate to it. You can call me a bigot all day long if you like for holding that position. See if I care. I think married men and women are as superior to gay couples as they are to unmarried hetero couples, to polygamists, to voluntary single parents – this is not about singling out homosexuality but rather retaining the justly deserved privileged status of traditional marriage. I’m not a radical egalitarian, I have no moral obligation to become one, and I will die to defend my right not to be one.

    “Actually there isn’t a rational secular basis to deny gay Americans the right to create a legal kinship (secular marriage) with each other. ”

    But that isn’t being denied. You can’t seriously posit the extra filing of forms to be the equivalent of a denial of “legal kinship.” It’s all right there – property, medical, legal, financial, and so on. Any two people can establish these legal relationships and no one objects to it.

    We object to the attempt to MORALLY place them on the same level as traditional marriage by hijacking the word “marriage” to describe them and forcing private property owners to render services to people they don’t consider to be married as if they were actually married.

    We object to the attempt to use the coercive power of the state to enforce a moral equivalence in the minds of the people between so-called “gay marriage” and traditional marriage.

    I just wonder if you are honest and/or intelligent enough to appreciate the distinction between these two very different things. If in the end you are just sour because I won’t recognize “gay marriage” as morally legitimate, then tough s*** – we live in a free society and you just have to deal with it. But I will make clear that I don’t object to any two individuals establishing a legal relationship that for all intents and purposes adds up to the state’s definition of a “marriage.” I will never call it marriage, and I will go to prison rather than treat a gay couple as if they were legitimately married, but I don’t object to the legal recognition of their private contracts.

    “I also didn’t read it in the above essay, which complains that if gay people can marry, then religious people will have a harder time discriminating against them. When put in that context (You won’t tolerate my intolerance), your position is insupportable.”

    No, it is completely supportable by over two centuries of American jurisprudence, the political philosophy of the founding fathers, the Bill of Rights, basic moral philosophy and common sense. I have a right to be intolerant, provided I am not violating anyone’s legitimate rights. But it isn’t even about intolerance. I can and do tolerate homosexuality, and even the existence of homosexual couples who like to pretend that they are “married.” What I refuse to do, and what any serious Christian refuses to do, is engage in, facilitate, participate in any way in what we believe to be blatantly immoral choices. We have this right under the 1st amendment. That is the “support” for my argument, or at least the beginning of it.

    “Your position is that homosexuality is immoral, and I’m guessing you also believe it’s a choice. ”

    This is part of your problem, David. Your guessing, your assuming. You think you know everything and that you have everyone figured out, and this arrogance makes your arguments absurd.

    I do not believe homosexuality is a choice. I don’t believe people are born gay either. I believe it is a psychological condition brought on by early childhood problems. I don’t believe it can be reversed or “cured”, but I do believe it is possible for a homosexual to reject the openly gay lifestyle, as it has been done throughout history.

    Homosexual acts are sinful, of course, as are many sexual acts that take place between heterosexuals. These are always choices. So, for that matter, is the decision to live as if you are married. This is quite clearly and obviously a choice. When one chooses to live as if they are married to a person of the same sex, it is blatantly immoral – and it is immoral for you or the state to attempt to force me to recognize it as something moral.

    “All because you believe a 2,000 year old book says so.”

    How far does this patronizing attitude typically get you in life? You don’t know me or what I believe. I have never once made an argument against “gay marriage” on the basis of Scripture (except to pro-gay Christians, but that’s a different matter). My primary argument is that “marriage equality” is a violent assault on basic American liberties. My secondary argument is that history and sociology clearly demonstrate the superiority of the traditional family to all other competing social arrangements.

    “As I said before, we do not disenfranchise straight citizens that are immoral.”

    What does “disenfranchise” mean to you? I don’t think I am suggesting any such thing.

    “The younger generation “comprehends” that (and literally cannot understand why gay couples can’t get married), and irrational animus directed at gay people will be as unacceptable as racism and sexism.”

    The younger generation is full of barely literate public school drones who couldn’t critically think their way out of a paper sack. It takes more than MTV platitudes and Obamaisms to understand the complicated intersection of moral, legal, and political issues underlying the “gay marriage” controversy. It is you who relies on the power of the unthinking, emotional mob to violently impose your views on others. Just look at how you make presumptions about me, how you have prejudged me and my beliefs. You’re the perfect stereotype of a lynch-mob lackey.

  • Gay people can still be fired in 29 states, simply because they are gay. They can also be refused housing on the same basis; and apparently (based on your beliefs) they can be discriminated against by anyone that happens to be religious.

    It is called ‘free association’, David. People are denied employment for all manner of reasons and denied credit and rental housing for failure to meet arbitrary metrics. They have no cause of action. In recent decades, civil liability has been manufactured which compels people to enter into contracts and other agreements they would rather not, for whatever reasons free people have. With regard to the black population (disproportionately poor, always obtrusive, and systemically abused by officialdom in 1964) there was a sort of justification for this. With sexual deviants, there is no such justification. The proliferation of ‘rights’ threatens liberty.

  • Bonchamps-
    the 10% figure was based on a highly flawed study; 3% seems to be more in line with less biased studies.
    The 10% figure is most often cited, though, especially when the activist wants to inflate his figures.

    Other than that, you’re doing great.

22 Responses to Paul Ryan and Catholic Social Teaching (Roundup)

  • It’s been a while since you’ve posted here Chris.

  • While not perfect, Ryan offers a vision that is not contrary to CST. He does seem to get it wrong when he equates subsidiarity with Federalism. However, Federalism does not seem contrary to the concept of solidarity or subsidiarity and so seems a reasonable position to hold. In fact his error seems less eggregious than the one of equating solidarity with increased state involvement, increased taxes etc. So perhaps a B+ in his understanding. (Perhaps a good a grade as most clerics unfortunately would receive.)

    A solid A however, for offering a position which is consistent with CST and challenges those who believe CST is merely a theological formulation of leftist programs or fringe, quasi-economic theories.

  • In Ayn Rand more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and this to me is what matters most.

    Yeah, because those are two points that are really popular to defend outside of the libertarian circles and the standard Crazy Old Uncle….

    If folks have an issue with Ryan’s claim, please– explain who does it better? Not like ‘capitalism’ as a label is all that old; it’s not like the religious calls to groups over individuals haven’t been co-opted for political aims.

    I’m not going to hold my breath for a Bishop to defend the dignity of the poor when it comes to not being treated like house pets.

  • The best defense of the Ryan budget is this quote from Adam Smith:

    “When national debts have once been accumulated to a certain degree, there is scarce, I believe, a single instance of their having been fairly and completely paid. The liberation of the public revenue,if it has ever been brought about at all, has always been brought about by bankruptcy; sometimes by an avowed one, but always by a real one, though frequently by a pretend payment.”

    We reduce expenditures radically, or ultimately our economy will take a blow that we will be decades recovering from. I guarantee that in such a circumstance the poor will suffer more than any of us.

  • “We reduce expenditures radically, or ultimately our economy will take a blow that we will be decades recovering from. I guarantee that in such a circumstance the poor will suffer more than any of us.”

    This is one way to state the obvious. There is saying I used to hear all the time during my Navy days was that” S@#t rolls down hill.” I would have to say that principle applies here.

  • Note that it is possible to be guided by Catholic social teaching (which, as far as I can tell, is all that Ryan actually claimed) yet arrive at a conclusion the bishops find unsatisfactory.
    This is Ryan’s job – he undoubtably knows more about the facts and constraints of the problems than do the bishops. Many would like a solution that continues to fund entitlements as they are, but actual facts and constraints dictate that it is not possible to do that.
    The comments about ‘failing to protect the dignity of the poor’ sounds like a reflexive response. Many government programs erode that dignity; we are long overdue for an examination of the harmful effects that result. For example, school-lunch programs have expanded so much that they now cover multiple meals per day and almost everyone is eligible. Doesn’t this erode the dignity of parenthood, by removing the responsibility of feeding your own children?
    Many objected to welfare reform, too, decades ago…

  • Well, they didn’t exactly say Ryan is starving little children.

    The bishops don’t understand. The government is the problem.

    Case in point: in the first quarter 2012, the national debt expanded to $15.6 trillion. That is higher than the US gross domestic product for that date; and 1.5-times the percentage growth rate growth rate of the evil, unjust private sector GDP for which the Obama regime needs four more years to compete its destruction. Add to that unfunded commitments at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels and it’s HUGE.

    The national debt and local requirements will impoverish our children and grandchildren.

    Additionally, Re: Matthew 25 (it’s only in Matthew) doesn’t read: “I was hungry and you voted for Obama (fed me), I was thirsty and you attacked a Catholic Congressman (gave me to drink), . . . You get it.

    At the Final Judgment (Matt. 25): if you did it with other people’s money, it was not Charity.

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  • It’s precisely the way he has handled the Ayn Rand story that gives me pause on defending him. It appears to me that he wants to pretend that he never held her up as a model, but the record shows otherwise. When I see Paul Ryan defending life and marriage with as much passion as he defends the dollar, I’ll be more apt to be convinced.

  • [Foxfier] “If folks have an issue with Ryan’s claim, please– explain who does it better?”

    The problem for me is that there’s too much baggage attached to ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to see a Catholic politician promoting it to the extent that Ryan has. Recalling my tortured reading, I found it to be thinly-veiled propaganda piece in which Rand’s own Objectivism is piled on pretty heavily. Egoism reigns supreme. For me, it’s difficult to extract from Rand’s book a “morality of capitalism” that isn’t already tainted by her own philosophy and anthropology. It wasn’t just the left that opposed Rand’s philosophy, but mainstream conservatism as well

    As far as individuals who Ryan might have praised as having articulated an ethic of democratic capitalism, Ryan would have made a better impression if he mentioned F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, or better yet, Michael Novak (The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism) and John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus.

    For Ryan to consistently wax evangelical about Ayn Rand’s and Atlas Shrugged through the past decade, only to suddenly in the past week have an about-face and disclaim that her philosophy is wholly “anti-thetical to his own” strikes me as a bit … “opportune”. Why now? — well, if genuine I’m happy about his sudden revelation.

    That said, with respect to Paul Ryan’s work in Washingon — his budget proposals, his spearheading the critique of Obamacare at the health care summit, et al., I’m supportive. Clearly, he’s one of the few who actually gives a damn about where this country is headed and wants to do something about it. To those who criticize his efforts on the budget, I agree with Professor Garnet: the onus is on them to respond to the challenges that he identifies.

    [Greg] “It’s been a while since you’ve posted here Chris.”

    Thanks. Work has been crazy, but I’m appreciative to still have the opportunity. =)

  • Fully agreed, Don (on Ryan’s pro-life record).

  • Agreed with Lisa and Christopher on their qualms re: Ryan and Atlas Shrugged. I’ve written about the book before, and there is little redeeming about the tome. As Christopher said above, there are plenty of other great works that defend capitalism much more concisely and thoroughly without being morally objectionable. That said, Ryan’s record demonstrates a solid commitment to social issues as well.

  • All I know is that letting capitalism work and a free market system seemed to create enough income for our fairly large family with enough to share with those less fortunate, the pro-life cause, Native American needs. Now since the sewage of government intervention continually seeps into every aspect of our operation we have less money, therefore less time as we have to work more off the farm jobs, longer hours for much less and are so tired we are having a hard time keeping up with any of it.
    surely you cannot think that Paul Ryan’s plan would not take care of those truly in need. That’s what the goal should be. It might be hard for people at first but if the country could get back to work and real earned income came back into the system we might be able to pull out of this. As long as we continue to be socially engineered we haven’t got a chance. I still don’t understand how BO got elected in the first place. Gotta go, have to change light bulbs in the barn, and put soap in the milkhouse sink or we’ll get kicked off Grade A. “rules” ya better not break or the “inspectors” will make your life miserable.

  • Christopher B-
    I didn’t say “articulated an ethic of democratic capitalism,” I specifically quoted the explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism.

    Others may do a better job in covering the technicalities and whys and all the things that are important once you have the idea, but Rand is accessible to those who don’t already agree.
    Terry Pratchett has a running joke about “That is a very graphic analogy which aids understanding wonderfully while being, strictly speaking, wrong in every possible way”. The more I teach folks, the more that makes perfect sense.

    Incidentally? Searching on Bing for “The Spirit of Democratic Populism” brings up zero results.

    The other examples that come to mind are Animal Farm and the various movies that have clones as main characters who are going to be killed for their organs. Inaccurate. Drama over accuracy, and world view taints them…but they humanize a view enough for people to consider the reality.

  • Yes, Rep. Ryan’s about-face is peculiar (to put it gently), but here’s hoping.

    It’s probably giving Rand entirely too much credit to call her “philosophy” a philosophy, though her enthusiasts certainly wax flatulent in their praise of her “insights.” One called her the “corrector of Aristotle,” which makes me profusely thank God that I did not have a beverage making its way to my innards at the time.

    In fact, it’s best to think of Rand as the distaff half of the coin to L. Ron Hubbard, as I said to the misguided Rand groupie. The parallels are interesting:

    both were moderately talented (if woefully unedited) writers. Each wrote science fiction, or at least future-oriented fiction, and each enjoyed considerable success in the 50s. Both developed grandiose notions about their competence outside of the field of fiction writing, and each developed what they regarded as systematic wholistic philosophies for living and interacting with fellow humans. Both still have significant, if decidedly minority, followings today, and have followers who make unsupportable claims about their intellectual legacies and the applicability of their legacies to the problems of today.

    That said (and there was more than the simple motivation to zing Rand), I think it’s a little overblown to worry about someone getting ensnared into an objectivist worldview. It’s idiosyncratic, and only seems to have worked for an egotistical horny Russian emigre’ pulp writer of the female persuasion. Most will cull from it a few bits regarding the dangers of collectivism and move on. The rest can be ignored as they toil away in their cubicles.

  • Christopher B-
    found it, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism;” a political conversion story probably won’t change minds unless they’ve already been prepped to at least consider the idea that they could be wrong, and the emotional impact of a story tends to do that. (Side note: haven’t read any of Rand’s stuff, I can’t stand stories that are sermons before they’re stories, and folks whose taste I trust have told me that’s what she wrote. I just know that’s a strange turn of taste, and I know a large number of formerly unthinkingly leftist folks who are now slightly less unthinking libertarians because of Rand, and some who already went through that stage and are now fairly conservative, or at least think about why they think what they think.)

  • “a political conversion story probably won’t change minds unless they’ve already been prepped to at least consider the idea that they could be wrong”

    Perhaps. (Sorry for the ‘populism’ typo earlier, corrected). But to give some credit to Novak’s work — despite it being non-fiction, it has gone through a number of underground printings and being an inin then-socialist nations in the 80’s (Communist Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc.) and changed a few minds.

    I agree with your point — giving credit where it’s due, Atlas Shrugged has probably change quite a few minds from the left-wing socialist persuasion. Even so, Rand’s “capitalist ethic” insofar as it manifests itself in her fiction seems to me too irretrievably tainted by her pure egoism and materialism, leaving no room for altruisim (or even religion). There’s a reason why mainstream conservativism sought to distance itself from it upon publication (ex. Big sister is Watching You, Whittaker Chambers National Review 1957; or more recently, Paul’s own review).

    In the end, Ayn Rand’s fiction puts forth the worst kind of stereotype of “capitalism” (and the nature of the capitalist) that you could ask for — and insofar as we do Randian’s ethic is lauded as an ideal to be pursued, liberals couldn’t ask for anything better as a target.

    Hence not the kind of work I’d envision a professed Catholic peddling to the degree that Ryan has done over the years, so I’m relieved at hearing of his “repudiation” and hope for the best.

  • (Sorry for the ‘populism’ typo earlier, corrected).

    I insert totally different words related to a topic all the time, especially when I’m talking. Part of why I love typing instead– I can go back over and re-read in hopes of catching really bad examples. Probably some kind of diagnosable thingie, if I wasn’t just fine calling it me being all flutter-brains.

    In the end, Ayn Rand’s fiction puts forth the worst kind of stereotype of “capitalism” (and the nature of the capitalist) that you could ask for — and insofar as we do Randian’s ethic is lauded as an ideal to be pursued, liberals couldn’t ask for anything better as a target.

    Agreed– but it does so in a sympathetic way. I really wish that most folks my age were objective enough to not believe the worst stereotype of “the other side” was accurate, but that isn’t so; having a book that appeals to their existing tendencies while being Kabuki Heartless Capitalism is pretty effective. College libertarians aren’t great to be around, but they beat college anarchists.

  • The World cannot embrace the truth. If it could, capitalism would need no defense.

    Capitalism may be the worst economic system, except for all the others.

    Go to the historical record. Capitalism stands apart from other so-called economic systems. Anti-capitalist nations devolved into hell holes of universal envy and mass brigandage. They had one common denominator: command economy/socialism.

    Capitalism is the cure for poverty.

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  • I believe the criticisms of Paul Ryan and his admiration for Ayn Rand are examples of jumping to false conclusions or at least jumping to “false concerns.”

    Ryan is not inconsistent when he states being influenced by Rand’s economics, yet does not accept her philosophy in toto. Moreover, based upon what Ryan proposes, it should be obvious to even the casual reader that he goes way beyond anything that Rand would approve. How about letting these actions speak for themselves instead of lamenting over Ryan’s appreciation of Randian economic principles?

    As Aquinas was said to have “baptized” Aristotle, if you take all of what Ryan proposes, plus his pro-life and other Catholic stances, etc., you don’t have to conclude that he “baptizes” Rand, but he does find ways to take what Rand teaches (as well as others) and incorporate some of those insights into an approach consistent with Catholic teaching.

    But similar to the fallacy known as Reductio ad Hitlerum, some are jumping all over Paul Ryan in what might be called Reductio ad Ayn Rand despite the fact that Paul Ryan has distanced himself from many aspects of Randian philosophy that does not square with Catholic teaching. Ryan has made the distinctions clear, his actions illustrate this, and yet some people see his admiration for Ayn Rand economics as his defining characteristic, or it is considered to be very troubling.

    Here’s a logic-type question for all those who do not believe Ryan is “Catholic enough” in his economic philosophy because of his admiration for Randian economic libertarianism, and he “should” distance himself more from Rand:

    If Ryan’s appreciation for Ayn Rand is problematic because of some Randian views that do not square with Catholic teaching, then why is it not equally problematic to accept and even praise government involvement in various programs that help the poor to some extent, since the government champions many views that don’t square with Catholic teaching?

    Double Standard?

    DB
    Omnia Vincit Veritas

    P.S. I set forth a series of questions regarding “Moralnomics and the US Bishops” at my blog. If interested, you can check it out at:

    http://vlogicusinsight.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/moralnomics-what-the-us-bishops-fail-to-realize/

It Takes A Family

Monday, February 27, AD 2012

I recently completed Rick Santorum’s It Takes A Family.  I quipped on Twitter that had I read this before the campaign started then Santorum would have been my top Rick pick before that other Rick entered the race (though I still maintain that Governor Perry would have been an outstanding nominee, but no need to go there).  At times Santorum slips into politician speak – you know, those occasions when politicians feel compelled to tell stories of individual people in order to justify some larger agenda.  And some of the book is a little plodding, especially when he gets into wonkish mode (which fortunately is not all that often).  Those quibbles asides, there are large chunks of this book that could very well have been written by yours truly.  That isn’t meant to be a commentary on my own genius, but rather a way of saying I agree with just about everything this man has to say.

The book title really says it all.  The heart of Rick Santorum’s political philosophy is the family, meaning that to him strong families are the heart of any functioning society.  The family has been undermined both by big government programs and by the culture at large.  Santorum mocks the “village elders” who view more government programs as the solution to all problems.  Santorum acknowledges that many of the problems we face don’t have quick and easy fixes, and often no legislative action can be taken.  Santorum offers a series of small policy proposals that are aimed at giving parents and individuals in tough economic circumstances some tools to help, but he also emphasizes the doctrine of subsidiarity.  Ultimately we must rely principally on local institutions, starting with the family.

Santorum understands what even some on the right fail to appreciate, and that is we can’t divorce social issues from economics.  The breakdown of the family coincides directly with economic hardship.  If we want a healthier economy, we need healthier families.  It’s a central tenet of conservatism that is somehow ignored by large swathes of the political right.

His approach to politics can be summarized in a passage on page 341 of the hardback edition:

Continue reading...

10 Responses to It Takes A Family

  • What a contrast from “Dreams from My Father”. I’m voting for Rick tomorrow, May his tribe be blest.

  • By the grace and mercy of almighty God, Rick will be our next President.

  • I completely agree. If I was judging Santorum based on his books and speeches, voting for him would be trivial. The problem is his voting record does fit with what he says. Correction, doesn’t fit enough with what he says.

  • I think you make a good point here Kyle. I had a conversation last night with a Ron Paul supporter, who is a very faithful Catholic. His contentions with Rick are his support for Title X funding for Planned Parenthood (and other organizations who both provide contraception and perform abortions), his support for the Iraq War (which has been declared an unjust war by both JPII and BXVI) and his support for the use of torture. These are not pieces that mesh well with what Rick says and what he writes (and, for that matter, with the teachings of the Catholic Church). If it truly takes a family and public policies should emphasize that priority, why are we spending tax payer dollars on contraception? What assurances has he given us to prove that he will stick to his morals and principles when making public policy. He fell down on those principles when voting for Title X. George Bush talked great before his presidency, too. He didn’t deliver in dealing head on with the great social issues of our time.

  • I had a conversation last night with a Ron Paul supporter, who is a very faithful Catholic.

    Ah yes, Ron Paul supporters. I wonder what his thoughts are on the fact that Ron Paul is on record as saying that social issues should be completely off the table in this election, and that he’s basically serving no other purpose than to be Mitt Romney’s lapdog.

    his support for the Iraq War (which has been declared an unjust war by both JPII and BXVI)

    Are we really going to go down this road again where we act as though support for the Iraq war signals a break with Church teaching? Both of the popes opposed the war, it is true, but in so doing did not speak with the magisterial authority of the Church. They gave personal opinions on the matter. That is all.

    his support for the use of torture

    Only true if you consider the use of waterboarding as torture. I personally do, but it’s not an open and shut case (and NO, this is not an invitation to go down this rat hole again).

    If you’re looking for policy perfection in your candidates, you’re not going to get it. Every single politician is imperfect because all of them, contrary to the belief of some Obama voters, are human beings.

  • Thanks for the response, Paul and I’m with you on all you said. In fact, I mentioned much of this to him as well. Though I didn’t know that RP wanted all social issues off the table during the campaign.

    I guess I want to make sure that what he is saying is really what he’s going to try to give us. Funding contraception (especially giving funding to places that perform abortions) should not be allowable in his administration if he is going to try to shape this country into one that supports and promotes the family as the building block of this society.

    I believe he very well could, I just want to be reassured. His voting record doesn’t completely do that for me, but I also don’t see a better choice in the field.

  • Here’s Jay Anderson’s post talking about Ron Paul’s comments. Actually he called social issues a loser, but the sentiment is the same.

    I understand your concerns. One of the things to keep in mind is that these issues are more visible than they were during the time that Santorum was a Senator. President Santorum in 2013 would likely treat these funding considerations differently than Senator Santorum in 2003.

  • Just promising us one thing TAC, that whoever wins the nomination, if it is other than Santorum, that the end of the Obama regime is favored over internecine sniping.

  • Well, I can’t speak for my other bloggers, though I suspect most will work to defeat Obama. Personally, I have no intention of supporting Romney, but I will likely simply remain mute on the election.

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You Mean Rick Santorum is Not a Libertarian? Burn Him at the Stake!

Thursday, January 12, AD 2012

I’m going to need to recant my placement of RedState at the top of my favorite blogs list.  Now that Rick Santorum has emerged as probably the leading not-Mitt candidate in the GOP presidential sweepstakes, they, along with a few other conservative websites, have gone absolutely bananas over the prospect of Santorum becoming a leading candidate.  Sure, they all hate Mitt Romney, but can we truly tolerate a candidate who says extremist things like this:

This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone.

My goodness.  I can just see Santorum delivering these remarks on a balcony with a hammer and sickle proudly displayed behind him.  Did he also poound a shoe on the podium, because the man must surely be just shy of being an out and out Communist.

Jeff Emanuel has unearthed two more shocking quotes that reveal Santorum’s obvious Stalinist tendencies.

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16 Responses to You Mean Rick Santorum is Not a Libertarian? Burn Him at the Stake!

  • If only his foreign policy was less interventionist, he would be pretty close to the perfect candidate. Certainly better than Romney, but I still have concerns.

  • I, too, am getting tired of “not libertarian” being conflated with “not conservative.” Libertarianism is easier to identify and defend rhetorically, it just stinks on ice when you apply it to all of reality, instead of idealized reality…..

    I don’t think Santorum is very conservative, BUT there’s a difference between “wrong on this, that and the other thing” and “a lefty.” There’s some overlap, of course, but– like Bush– I think his wrong points are well meant. Meaning well doesn’t solve everything, but it beats a cynical desire for power.

  • Maybe traditional conservatism was more paternalistic but with advances in economic understanding, thanks more to Milton Friedman than Ayn Rand, American conservatism has become more economically libertarian.

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  • In other words, don’t use that charity stuff to cede everything to unlimited government.

  • I think there is a genuine fear of more federal expansion disguised as compassionate conservatism. The author’s belief is much of the Santorum’s writings along with his legislative history advocate federal intervention where lower levels of government, or better yet non-government, institutions can do better. It’s not that federal management is always bad, but the “federal government first” attitude leads to expansion of power. I think the author would prefer governance closer to the principle of subsidiarity.

    While he did criticize Santorum’s view of governance, he also complimented him on his desire to want to help.

  • I think Jeff Goldstein knocks it out of the park here:

    GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum defends capitalism, defends Mitt Romney’s earlier engagement of capitalism on capitalistgrounds (as opposed to Romney himself, who appealed for a defense to progressive corporatism), and yet the GOP establishment and its attendant media — as well as an increasing number of sober, pragmatic, “it’s time to rally behind a single candidate” members of the conservative base — tell us that it is Santorum who is unelectable, and throw their support behind the candidate who enacted state-run health care, and who can’t even defend his own engagement in capitalism without retreating to a progressive defense.

    More at the link here.

  • Jeff, I would love to rally around Santorum, but 8 years of compassionate conservatism was hard enough to take. As crazy it sounds, sometimes I feel like rolling the dice with Romney or Ron Paul. And yes, that is crazy! Still hoping for Perry despite his having to work against media mis-portrayals of every word he says. That includes much of conservative media.

  • Read points two and three, because Jeff’s point is precisely that Santorum is not the nanny stater in this contest.

  • My opinion is based on his legislative record. He’s less a nanny stater than Romney and certainly Obama.

  • I just came across this interest article discussing the Santorum & federalism problem. It uses the issue of marriage between homosexuals to illustrate a point.

    http://formidablecourage.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/perry-santorum-and-the-evangelical-dilemma/

  • On economic paternalism, Santorum is mostly wrong. Better to alleviate the destruction of creative destruction than to prevent the whole thing. I understand his point that it has social dimensions but even taking that into consideration, protectionism is more harmful than free enterprise.

    On moral paternalism, Santorum is mostly right. We punish immoral behavior to the extent that it prevents more harm than it creates. We also promote moral behavior in a limited way by keeping it free from impediments. While the state may legitimately actively promote moral behavior, I don’t think the track record is great. In Europe, churches live in a culture of dependency where they get government handouts without having to work.

    Where I’m not sure what role the government should play is in quality-of-life paternalism. Smoking bans, trans fat bans, healthy eating campaigns. I.e., limiting or subsidizing amoral choices. One can argue that this sort of paternalism degrades personal initiative. On the other hand, they’re things I may admit that I am weak at controlling and therefore want some help with. Is there any CST guidance on this?

  • There is no perfect candidate and we can’t dig up Reagan and run him again. I feel like Santorum is the best candidate and I will continue to support him. one thing we must all understand is that Congress must be changed. Congress is the root of our problems. Our elected officials have been allowed to corrupt the system and continue to bankrupt our country and our childrens heritage. Don’t compromise on a Presidential candidate, support the person who best represents our beliefs even if some overpaid pundits say he/she is unelectable. And more importantly get rid of the entrenched Congresmen and send some new blood to Washington.

  • There is no perfect candidate and we can’t dig up Reagan and run him again.

    We’re Catholics. If we can dig up a pope and strip him of his vestments, this should be a small matter. Heck, I can’t see how any corpse could be a worse president that the one we have and most who are running, but Reagan’s corpse might do a pretty impressive job.

    🙂

  • Sometimes, Paul Zummo, rhetorical hyperbole just leaves one looking hyper. I found your defense of Sen. Santorum and his big government conservatism unpersuasive.

    RR’s comments here make a lot of sense to me and RR’s mention of Milton Friedman should remind us all of the Invisible Foot.

    Sometime in the previous century, the federal government went beyond helping localities provide a safety net. Federal provision increasingly became a hammock for those who learned to exploit the system and is now often a sticky spider’s web that traps those who come into contact with it due to a temporary hardship. I have news for Santorum et alia, the Great Depression ended almost 70 years ago. Cease rendering the poor unto Caesar.

  • RL hits it out of the park.

    Any one of the GOP hopefuls is 100% better than that Obama nobody. Two out of three know Obama and his gangsters are very bad news for America.

    Tip to all. Cut the attacks against each other.

    The one with the best depiction of how the Obama wrecking machine is killing America is the most electable.

    Obama must go.

Big Government? No. Big Exaggerations? Yes.

Wednesday, January 4, AD 2012

Now that Rick Santorum has basically tied Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucus, the knives are really out for Rick.  On the one hand, he will undoubtedly experience a surge in the polls and in fundraising.  On the other hand, as every conservative who has ascended in the polls has before, he will face a firestorm of criticism from both left and right.  I discussed this in my post yesterday, and now things have only gone into overdrive.  As someone who reads secular conservative blogs, there is a lot of concern that Santorum is some kind of “big government” conservative.  I think this is absurd, as does a pretty famous conservative figure not known for particularly liking big government types: Rush Limbaugh.  Here’s what he had to say about the big government charge on his program today:

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13 Responses to Big Government? No. Big Exaggerations? Yes.

  • Santorum voted for Medicare Part D. He believes in a bigger government than I do. But that’s not what bothers me most about his economics. Government spending may not be a major concern for him but the political climate has made him change his tune enough to be considered a fiscal conservative. What bothers me is his central planning. It can be called “big government” but it might be more accurate to call it liberal or socialist or market intervention. He wants to pick winners and losers. He’s not a pure capitalist. And I think that’s worse than being a big spender.

  • great observation–” Too often conservatism is dumbed down to being simply anti-government. ”
    that hated entity, the Government….. oh if only that mystical corpus could be what it is called to be– free to do the good!

  • Equating “big government” with only domestic social programs is also a bit of rhetorical ju-jitsu. Another area of big government, particularly from the “conservative” side, is the military-industrial complex of which none other than Ike warned. In that context, Santorum’s foreign policy would seem to fall into the big government category.

  • Yes, Santorum is not Ron Paul. He is a mainstream Republican with regard to foreign policy and the role of the US military. I don’t think his views differ materially from any of the other GOP candidates, aside from Paul, in these respects.

  • As much as I love Santorum on social issues and many fiscal issues, I don’t think he is the best candidate to be chief executive. He is another candidate who believes government is inherently good, and the problem has been government just hasn’t had the right person at the helm. Big government is bad.

    Erik @ Red State stated it well in a piece on Perry…
    “If Rick Perry leaves the Republican race, there will not be a candidate in the field who authentically represents smaller government.While many conservatives don’t mind activist government so long as the ends are conservative, the willful use of activist government for conservative ends leaves in place a government perfectly capable of activist liberal government when conservatives lose.

    There are other issues popping up about Santorum that worry me.
    “In the 104th Congress Sen. Santorum joined all Democrats and a minority of Republicans in voting to filibuster the bill S. 1788, the National Right to Work Act of 1995.”

    He’s also a big supporter of subsidies like ethanol subsidies. (One theory Perry did so poorly in Iowa is his stand against ethanol subsidies.)

    I like Santorum’s victory speech and the answer he gave Shep @ Fox on homosexuality, but he needs to get vetted, which he hasn’t before, before I could support him.

  • is the military-industrial complex of which none other than Ike warned.

    If I am not mistaken, the ratio of military expenditure to domestic product during the Eisenhower Administration averaged around 0.11. As of now, it is about .057.

  • Kyle, while I think the big government charge being levied against Santorum is wrong, I do agree with you that Perry is the better overall candidate. I might post on this in coming days and elaborate, but he is better on federalism issues, on foreign policy, and of course executive experience – and please don’t give me the line about Texas being a weak governor. He has been governor of the second most populous and second largest state in the Union for 12+ years, LT Governor for 6 more.

  • Paul, I referenced “big government” because of the article’s subject, but I prefer Erik’s interpretation as “activist government.” Here are some issues unearthed before the Iowa vote.
    http://www.redstate.com/erick/2011/12/28/no-surprise-iowa-social-conservatives-are-about-to-shoot-us-all-in-the-foot-again/

    I agree. People often confused “Texas governor weaker than governors in other states” as “The Texas governor is weak.” That’s not true.

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  • “He is another candidate who believes government is inherently good,” ? ? ?
    I do think it is good to have government….I don’t think it is a necessary evil, but of course positive if it is in fact good governance

  • Sorry. The way governments have worked in history, I think it is a necessary burden, and I don’t mean the good kind. I mean like the natural requirement of the body to periodically go to the bathroom to expel waste.

    Even God wasn’t very enthusiastic when Israelites wanted to setup a king to join the party of the governed as was in neighboring countries. (1 Sam 8:10-18)

  • From Federalist 51:

    “It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

  • If I am not mistaken, the ratio of military expenditure to domestic product during the Eisenhower Administration averaged around 0.11. As of now, it is about .057

    First, this is government accounting, which is more based on the heisenberg uncertainty principle, mixed in with voodoo, than it is on sound accounting practices. Second, military expenditure is only part of the picture. When US national interests become equated to US corporate interests, the machinery of government (inlcuding the military) merely becomes another tool for market expansion/dominance. It is the cozy relationship driving policy decisions, not merely the expenditures, that represents the dangers.

11 Responses to Somalia, Libertarian Paradise!

  • Very nice Tito. I have never been quite sure how “Conservative Catholics” in this country embraced Libertarianism. Up until very recently (and maybe in the ideal, still), the Church has seemed more ready to embrace Catholic Authoritarian governments that would enforce Catholic moral teaching with laws at the expense of individual freedoms.

  • Tito,

    Bless your heart.

    I wish you had counted to 10,000 before you posted that video. And, I know you did not put it together.

  • No, I didn’t put it together.

    But after listening to Ron Paul wanting our military to withdraw from South Korea, among other things, my enthusiasm for libertarian ideals have matured.

  • I thought this was hilarious! As much as most of the bloggers here prefer to focus on the threat of a bloated, oppressive “nanny state” it helps to be reminded once in a while that the other extreme — no government at all — ain’t that great either.

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  • Pretty amusing.

    Of course, as the blog’s resident pseudo-libertarian, I should note that compared to other African countries (which have governments) Somalia has been doing fine.

  • Has anyone here even read the US Constitution? Powers granted to the federal government are specific and limited. Today however our federal government is so large that it is about to take everything away from the people. We will not have to worry about our states rights or the Bill of Rights as they pertain to religious freedom, noooooo, the Global government will see to that.

    Sounds farfetched ?!? Twenty years ago could anyone here see the demise of this country? We are actually debating Sharia Law and Ginsberg worries about how our laws differs with international laws.

    Wake up people!

  • Blackadder,
    While other states in Africa are having issues, I think you are seriously underestimating how bad things are in somalia. Lets remember, this is country whose multiparty civil war has lasted for twenty years now, that is the home to numerous pirates that have been raiding shipping in the Indian Ocean, sell people of Bantu heritage into slavery….

    In other words, there might be countries that are worse off in Africa, but there are also countries that are much better off.

  • It’s interesting to note that three new countries (not recognized by the international community) have emerged from the shambles of Somalia.

    They are Somaliland, Puntland, and Galmudug.

    I say let them break up if those countries are able to function!

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Apologia Pro Libertarianism Sua

Monday, November 22, AD 2010

There’s been a bit of discussion about the nature of libertarianism on the blog recently, and as the resident pseudo-libertarian, I thought I would re-state where I come down on the matter (this is based largely on an older post I did on the subject, which sadly is now lost in the cyber-ether).

To understand where I am coming from, one needs to make a distinction between political positions held as a matter of moral principle, and those held as a matter of prudence. Take the issue of torture. One might oppose the use of torture on the grounds that it’s not a good way to get information from suspects, or because by using torture on the enemy you risk retaliation by the enemy on your people, etc. Alternatively one might believe that torture is just immoral, and you should do it regardless of whether or not it is effective.

Call the first type of objection to torture “pragmatic” and the second “principled.” (A person might object to torture on both pragmatic and principled grounds, in which case the opposition would be principled, though buttressed by pragmatic considerations). Dividing the justifications for various political positions into principled or pragmatic can be sometimes tricky, but the basic idea is, I hope, intuitive enough.

A principled libertarian, as I use the term, is someone who holds libertarian political beliefs for principled reasons. Taxation is theft, my body, my business, etc. In my experience, when you say libertarian this is what people think of.

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17 Responses to Apologia Pro Libertarianism Sua

  • Excellent, the “will the bloody duck swim?” test – it is, really, the best. As it turns out, most conservative things do work, and most of the time a libertarian attitude towards government power is for the best…but, not all the time and not in all things.

  • BA,

    With your (very helpful) post as the context, how might you articulate the difference between “principled conservatism” and “pragmatic libertarianism”? Your post prompted me to realize that I tend to identify political positions with their fundamental principles, but clearly not everyone does so. Nonetheless… why not just call yourself a conservative?

  • Chris,

    What is “principled conservatism”?

  • BA,

    I’m thinking of conservatism as it’s been articulated by the likes of Kirk, Weaver, etc…. generally-limited intervention by the government, determined along the lines of subsidiarity, etc.

  • BA – answer Burgwald’s point/question first before responding to my random thoughts below.

    Chris’ comments relates to the tension between ideology vs. pragmatism. Was Reagan good (or great) because he was an ideologue or a pragmatist? I would argue the latter, as was other good Presidents, i.e. Nixon, Eisenhower, etc.

    More specifically related to your topic though and what came immediately to mind are the differences between the Mises Inst. and Cato Inst. The Mises Inst. (i.e. Murray Rothbard, Walter Block, etc.) & were/are the ideologues and the folks at Cato & Reason are pragmatists.

    Is Conservative American Political Party’s Two Pillars Strategy based upon the later? I would argue it is. Others would argue it’s not possible for a third party to gain sufficient support therefore it’s the former.

    http://www.thedailybell.com/1311/Nelson-Hultberg-on-Libertarian-Conservatism-and-His-New-Conservative-American-Political-Party.html

    The deeper or more fundamental question for me though is this – Which is true or what is true? Orthodoxy precedes Orthopraxis. Action based upon false or bad principles will eventually fail or not succeed. What are presuppositions and assumptions driving people’s thought and actions? If their world and life view is flawed, so will be their actions. I much prefer truth over error.

    Culturally it’s very American to focus on pragmatism. Focus on utility, focus on what works. This is the very essence of Scientology, but is Scientology true?

    I might add just because you can do it doesn’t mean it’s good.

    Anarchism is a completely different topic. It’s one that I will study more deeply. For the life of me at the moment I don’t see the reasonableness of it, but I want to read the best thinkers for anarchism before I make a judgment. Most Libertarians are probably minarchists, but is this the truest position to hold as a Libertarian? I don’t know…