Monday, October 14, 2019

Re-Thinking The Purpose And Foundations Of Government

I'll let Deneen and others make their case against classical liberalism, but suffice to say that a Catholic is on unsteady ground with anything that makes the individual the focal point of political action and concern. As we discussed various things after a conference on the future of liberalism, Dr. Cross helped me to see that liberalism's major flaw is that it imposes a regime of individual rights upon the family, community, and society which already exist as goods before any attempt at political organization. The idea of the common good cannot exist in any system that denies the common good, in principle, or in practice.

This basic contention should be obvious, but it isn't.

The basis for legitimate authority of government is the natural moral law. Liberalism fails because it purports to be neutral in regard to the moral law. It fails also because it treats the procedural questions of exercising one's liberty as the only consideration. It commoditizes moral claims, because through its economic expression--capitalism--it treats everything as a commodity with a price, including people.

I think the tricking of American Catholics in regard to the compatibility of our political/economic system with Catholicism has happened because of the apparent harmony of subsidiarity with federalism. As you may guess, I think that harmony is only an appearance, not real.

Finally, there is no principled distinction between libertarianism, and anything we might call "conservatism". This is so because there is nothing systemic which obligates the individual to subordinate his individual whims to the common good, because the common good doesn't exist in classical liberalism. "Left" and "Right" are just the presently palatable versions of this same individualism, marketed--fittingly, that--to different segments of the populace.

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