pope francisCatholic Answers’ indefatigable Jimmy Akin recently defended Pope Francis against charges of Marxism leveled by the likes of the irrepressible Rush Limbaugh. In a word, Pope Francis is not a Marxist: on that score, Akin is flat right and Limbaugh flat wrong. The Pope concerns himself about Catholic social teaching and nothing more. Fair enough.

However, the story—notwithstanding its flatness—does not end there. While, as Akin clarifies, Pope Francis avers with unequivocality that “Marxist ideology is wrong,” he also reaffirms the West’s sneaking suspicion that the Pope holds out against capitalism to boot—and by the sound of it, just as steadfastly so. This rekindles the just-now-assuaged concern of many: it’s not capitalism which killed an astronomical amount of millions over the last two centuries, after all.

So what is all this Catholic criticism of limited government and free enterprise—two doctrines long supported, not opposed, by Classical and Medieval thought?

In an uncharacteristically moderate tone, I will mediate between Akin’s position and Limbaugh’s (each of these has my deference…in his own purview) by showing what Catholic social teaching actually requires. Thomas Aquinas, Hans Ulrich Von Balthasar, and Pope Benedict XVI all lend voice to the teaching wisdom of encyclicals topically relevant to the matter, such as Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 Rerum Novarum.

I only assume this is what Pope Francis has been saying…

Here’s the upshot. Three simple propositions of life in a republic (particularly the American one) can be vindicated on the basis of the Natural Law distilled by such Catholic social teaching: 1) extremely limited government (microscopic even) in the context of sacrilized, “natural community” individualism, not a context of isolated, radical subjectivism; 2) subsidiarity based on liberty, not license; 3) capitalism, as long as it rejects consumerism. In each case, one notices, both a proper and an improper instance of a republican element suggests itself. The proper instance of each has its basis in the Natural Law. The close likeness being distinguished presents a cautionary example which subtly inverts the Natural Law. As such, even proper individualism is never more than a step away from devolving to subjectivism; liberty to license; capitalism to consumerism. Perhaps this has been the Pope’s point all along. One hopes.

In short, radical individualism (subjectivism), license, and consumerism follow only upon a wrongheaded conception of the sine qua nons demanded by republicanism and free enterprise.

But before delving into these three positions which may (or may not) contour the Pope’s critique of Western culture, as articulated in a handful of statements over the past six months, a few caveats bear mention. These serve to justify Limbaugh’s fear of papal Marxism a little, since his conjecture was based as much on what the Pope has not said as upon that which he has said.

First off, Limbaugh’s errant conclusion should be cursorily defended on the grounds of categorical logic alone: if one is not a capitalist, then what is he exactly? Any non-capitalist political economy posits one form or another of central planning, or simply, “statism.” Just as Justice Antonin Scalia regularly responds to opponents attempting to reify some sort of midpoint between a jurisprudence of Originalism and one of purely fabricated judge-made law (abandoning the fixed meaning of text for judicial ad hoc, instead): “Originalism is the only game in town.” At least, it is the only game which upholds government by law, not whimsy. The “mid-point” is mythic, imagined, imperium in imperio, “the principle of the excluded middle.” And suggesting otherwise is jurisprudential delusion. Well, similarly, capitalism is the “only non-statist political economy in town.” Suggesting otherwise is economic delusion. If your government takes certain action involving the exchange of commodities, then you have statism. Period. There is no middle ground between an economy run by government and one not run by it. Thus, rejecting capitalism and Marxism together has—as a pseudo-notion gaining alarming momentum in the Catholic world—never gotten off the unintelligibility horn.

Secondly, the above “excluded middle” theory of political economy accrues to the muddled definition of the term “capitalism” itself, now bastardized beyond all recognizability. “Capitalism” involves two concepts, and no more: 1) private ownership of property, or entitlement to benefit; 2) a rule against governmental impairment—proactive or retroactive—of private contracts (e.g. purchase or employment contracts). That’s all. Capitalism doesn’t involve anything more conceptually complex than that, evil oil tycoons and cartoonish swan dives into of troves of riches notwithstanding. And as Akin affirms, the Pope explicitly defends the former aspect of capitalism, holding in Evangelii Gaudium that “private ownership of goods is justified.” Yet, like most conservatives or liberals, he deigns against commenting on the (only slightly) more technical second element, private contracts. But whether he would affirm or deny it, the Catholic Church has long acknowledged the necessity of reasonably unmolested private contracting:

“Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner.” Rerum Novarum, p. 45: May 15, 1891. 

In short, humans should contract with one another fairly. If they don’t, they violate the Natural Law—but the sacrosanct freedom of contract obtains. Thus, Limbaugh’s concern about the Pope’s fusty attitude toward capitalism is fair, or at least understandable, given the concept’s abiding mis-reputation.

And it’s even more condonable in light of the Pope’s comment that he has known “many Marxists who were good people.” While that may be the plain truth, Marxism remains the most numerically murderous human force since the 1800’s. One doubts whether the Pope would similarly neglect to “feel offended” if he were to be confused with a National Socialist, from whose ranks certainly there emerges at least one “good person,” in the attenuated sense in which he uses the term (a loophole for calling Commies or Nazis good, in my humble opinion).

This cues up my third and final caveat in defense of Limbaugh, which will surely be received by many as a slur. Any understanding of political economy that manages to obviate all central planning remains virtually beyond the European or South American imagination. Now, before dialing the sensitivity police on me, please consider that I lived and studied at a Pontifical University in Europe with the best and brightest priests from all over the Old Continent and South America. Most of these priests with whom I studied considered themselves conservative-ish. And yet their conception of political economy failed in each case to escape the misguided, century-old European paradigm, which “spans” the “vast” continuum between nationalized and internationalized socialism, and no further. Thus, one fears that, in the Pope’s mind, left versus right speciously signifies competing conceptions of the nanny state’s administration of “the nursery,” and nothing more nuanced or libertarianized, like liberty versus the State.

Now, a word of caution regarding the above words of caution: these three caveats might easily be mistaken as threatening to swallow my defense (and Akin’s) of the Pope, whole. They do not. It bears repeating: he’s no Marxist.

More importantly still, neither do these defenses run afoul of Catholic social teaching, which (as stated above) firmly condemns the three false corollaries (as it affirms their proper likenesses) of limited government and free enterprise: 1) radical subjectivism or individualism; 2) license; 3) consumerism. Less-than-imaginative conservatives (together with the entire political left) have long presumed wrongly that political and cultural individualism is a bonum in se, that liberty equals license, and that consumerism is synonymous with capitalism.

The Pope rightly criticizes these three predominating elements of contemporary Western culture. Whether Limbaugh likes it or not, the Pontifical critique is probably even justified in designating America (we all know Papal criticisms of “the West” to be of America) the lion’s den: America is standard bearer for free enterprise, after all. One cannot deny it. But one does far better to rename the actual culprits—neither limited government nor capitalism itself—which brought about the devolution of individualism, liberty, and capitalism to their three inverted “pseudo versions.” Done properly, republicanism and its free political economy remain natural and thus, they retain their force for good (or more accurately, their means to control evil proclivities).

I designate the rightful culprits of the triple-substitution to be: the Enlightenment and the Protestant Reformation (the two camps which together formed the American republic). Mainline American conservatives trace their roots to their W.A.S.P. godfathers, the English Whigs, who synthesized Enlightenment and Reformation thought into a thoroughgoing Geist of American republicanism (a.k.a. “Prot-Enlight”), which is “wired Catholic, labeled Protestant, and currently functioning secular,” as I say in my book. (Well…some of the Catholic wiring was lost in the labeling: insistence on the Natural Law.)

Let’s look at each of these two camps, one at a time. But, first, in order to prove that I’m not being “sectarian” here—a neo-counter-Reformation Catholic, of sorts—I declare my firm belief that the average Catholic American in the 21st Century operates on the basis of these miscegenated doctrines of Prot-Enlight Modernism just as much as the present-day Protestants do (although neither of these groups, on account of their religiosity, are nearly as steeped in it as the grandchildren of the Enlightenment, the sec-progs). Irrespective of the phenomenon’s Prot-Enlight etiology, I’m happy to agree with any partisan that it is an American (and lesser so, a Western) phenomenon to be gotten around. It’s all of our problem, not excluding Catholics.

The Enlightenment posited radical individualism by rejecting the notion that duty arises from nature. The movement relegated mankind’s “natural communities”—family, neighborhood, Church—beneath the individual ego, which became the closest thing to a “sacred object” in human life. This was accomplished on the basis of rejecting the Natural Law, that is, by repudiating the proposition that any sense of morality, purpose, or intelligibility proceeds from nature. Curiously—and quite conveniently, I’ll add—most Enlightenment thinkers extricated the concept of “right” from nature (notwithstanding their failure to recognize the Natural Law and natural duty which situated such rights). One should fully recognize the effects of extricating right from duty in the 21st Century: the post-Enlightenment generations expect much and give little back to their communitythe phenomenology of the unchecked, self-interested ego. Accordingly, one finds the Enlightenment’s grandchildren, the sec-progs, narrowly accommodating only the selective groups they’ve deigned to honor.

Natural communities, on the other hand, are no longer seen as the requisite beneficiaries of the individual’s duty, care, or time. Ironically, the post-Enlightenment ego—which insists on its own whimsy as fiat in every other dimension of life—accepts that the state alone should have the power to force man back into community. This final turn ex post Enlightenment is more than a little ironic, given that the State bears the violent power of compulsion, whereas the natural communities only ever held their own preternatural power of persuasion to coax the individual therein.

The Reformation went drastically less far, reducing only the religious community to a radical individualism, whereby the relation to Christ came to be seen as utterly singular. The Reformation, that is, restrained its duty—and community—stripping to that of the sacramental community of faith, retaining family and neighborhood obligations wherever it could. Whereas the Enlightenment, occurring at roughly the same time, encouraged the individual to “opt out” of duty before the fundamental institutions of family (read: abortion clinics, divorce filings, and nursing homes) and neighborhood (read: empty town hall meetings and neighborhood watch committees), the Reformation rejected all this libertinism just as fervently as Catholic Christianity did. However, the “reformed” movement became increasingly atomistic; each new phase of Reformation came to be, itself, “reformed.” As Puritannical worship communities were stripped down closer and closer to single individuals, reform showed itself to be an infinite regression (i.e. today there are 10,000-plus sects and counting!). And whereas the initial Protestant critiques were primarily (valid, needed) structural ones, they quickly grew into doctrinal critiques which radically altered the individual’s relation to Christ and to nature. The religious community of believers, once called “the body of Christ,” lost that much its potency as the collective for the sanctifying and receiving of the sacraments, previously received en masse and in Mass. (Most but not all of the Protestant worship communities would jettison these sooner or later.)

While American Protestantism retained the selfsame humility lying at the heart of the Christian life—arguably more effectively even than American Catholicism—inarguably something new came to replace the quotidian concretization of grace being abandoned with the turn away from the sacraments: the “Protestant work ethic.” Something always gets sacrilized in the place of removed sacraments, like water rushing into refill the void left by removal: even Luther agreed that “God” is, in a cultural sense, whatever one holds most dear. Thus, in the fertile soil of the Protestant work ethic, careerism grew on the supply side, consumerism on the demand side. These fast became “sacred” within the culture of the young, Protestant nation. (If you doubt this, just ask any ten of your working friends to break their Tuesday night routine and to join you for a beer: at least nine will turn you down!) Capitalism thrived, but so did consumerism.

So, the amalgamized Prot-Enlight worldview of Modernism became the American way of life—the exemplar for the West—drawing from the de-naturalized ego on one side and from the de-naturalized view of labor on the other. Taken out of their natural context, ego and labor combined to form a staggering, unnatural new emphasis on careerism and consumerism—petty acquisitiveness—which in turn required privacy beyond all privacy. The West became a place marked by producing and consuming as ends in themselves, where one strives constantly to secure the conditions for the possibility of more producing and consuming: hermetic privacy, methodically calibrated routine, unprecedented new levels of material comfort, unwavering insistence on “a good night’s rest.” (Even the modern Epicurean insists the first night on his rest, such as to prop up his restlessness on the next!)

Strange as it sounds, all these surrogated for the different sort of ease or leisure formerly supplied by the more organic, natural community!

In reverse order, now, I’ll revisit the three aspects of what may be the Papal critique of culture.

The individual enjoys a natural right not to be bound by the state, as the Catholic Church has always maintained through the teachings of Augustine, Thomas, and Suarez. But this right of unboundedness does not divest him of his duty to his family, neighborhood, or Church; in fact, his freedom from the state heightens the duty. (Genuine republicanism is only possible when these natural communities reside at the center of the individual’s life.) After Prot-Enlight Modernism repudiated such natural communities, however, the individual in his radical freedom came to be measured as a producer-consumer, and no longer as a “good man,” “good son,” “good friend,” “good Christian,” or “good spouse,” etc. (This is not capitalism’s fault!) Correspondingly, the duty-abandoned individual came to view his unboundedness, not any longer as liberty—ordered freedom to pursue the true Good (rather than, say, a new house or a good night’s rest)—but rather as license—non-ordered freedom as a sort of end in itself: do whatever you want with your time. Couch all your critiques of areligious libertarianism here, as you like, which fashioned liberty into its own bonum in se (an Enlightenment byproduct—all right and no duty). And finally, in this relativistic state of being, the individual came to view the market of goods and services from an apolaustic, neo-pagan point of view, whereby commodities themselves became an “ism,” something to be almost believed in. (By the way, without the tempering of the natural community to cultivate virtuous aestheticism, the popular taste grew much more smutty.)

In this way, capitalism was conflated with consumerism, liberty with license, and communal, republican individualism with radical subjectivism. And in their removal from the context of nature, they were emptied of their ontological content, becoming their own most vapid perverse inflections—easily caricaturized by the statist agenda, which ever seeks to force individuals back into the State collective.

This seems to be what’s been at work in America—wired Catholic, labeled Protestant, and presently functioning secular. Articulating as much amounts to a critique of the crypto-Catholic culture of republicanism: “out yourself,” as the trend goes. Republicanism, especially in America, needs to re familiarize itself with its own sine qua nons. Thus far, Pope Francis’s message has been more like a crypto-Catholic critique of culture (than a critique of crypto-Catholic culture), whose hushed tones and abashed Catholicity have led some not unreasonable observers like Limbaugh to mislabel it—one hopes—a crypto-Marxist critique of both culture and Catholicism. Only time will tell if the Pope agrees with my hopeful characterization of his admonition to America, as the leading republic of the West, to return to the Medieval principles which once rendered it—forget prosperous—true, beautiful, and good.

Books on this topic may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore

image_pdfimage_print

Published: Jan 2, 2014
Author
Timothy Gordon
Tim Gordon is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. He holds degrees in continental philosophy, ecclesiastical philosophy, literature, history, and law. As a young married student, he studied philosophy in graduate schools in Europe, taught it at Southern Californian community colleges, and then went on to law school. Together with his wife and two daughters, Mr. Gordon presently resides in Central California, where he writes, speaks for Federalist Society, and clerks for Kuhs & Parker. He is soon releasing a book with Catholic Answers Press, entitled Why America Will Perish without Rome: Six Elements of Crypto-Catholicism in our Republic since the Declaration of Independence. Follow Tim on Twitter at @catoandbrutus, for one-lined musings on politics, philosophy, culture, and the NBA.
"All comments are subject to moderation. We welcome the comments of those who disagree, but not those who are disagreeable."
47 replies to this post
  1. Good. I was thinking that maybe what John Adams is supposed to have said about the American republic – that the Constitution fits only a moral and religious people – may be true of capitalism.
    And on the other hand, on many political fronts, liberty and the rule of law is being replaced by permission and “permits.”

  2. I really appreciate your discussion of the confusion of individualism with subjectivism.

    I’ve gotten into trouble, myself, when I try to argue for the necessity of radically individual responsibility: for one’s own life, and for the lives one helps produce. Your discussion helps me understand where the other people were coming from.

    I once expressed concern that programs like Aid to Families with Dependent Children had had negative effects. My concern is that women no longer, as individuals, experienced the negative consequences of having children out of wedlock. A program like AFDC, which was sold to the collective as a way for the collective to care for the children of mothers whose husbands disappeared by death or disease or dereliction, had become a way for the individual mother to evade the consequences for herself and her children of having sex with men who would not or could not help care for children. I embrace the notion that duty arises from Nature!

    But my concern for the negative consequences of AFDC was attacked as radically selfish subjectivism, evidence that I was an evil conservative who would rather poor children starved to death than that I pay more taxes.

    As a mother, I don’t want my own children to starve to death, and I don’t want my own children to have children out of wedlock. But as a mother I absolutely want my own children to experience the negative consequences of their actions as far as possible. “Experience is a dear teacher, but fools [and children] will learn at no other”. Mother says not to touch the stove because it is hot; if you do not believe mother, you should touch the stove because it is quite important for you to find out that what she says is hot, hurts.

    Short of death and dismemberment, as a responsible mother – as an individual mother responsible for the welfare of children I helped to produce, and looking out for the welfare of all children – I think it’s important to suffer some consequences.

    Unfortunately, American society has become so affluent is a crime against humanity, against individual human dignity, that even one poor person in America should live without a cell phone. The bar is set ridiculously, materialistically, high. Well-being for my neighbor is now defined as her well-being as a consumer, rather than as a “good daughter”, as a soul.

  3. I really enjoyed this essay. It was very well written.
    I do think, however, that there is cause for concern when the pope, any pope, finds ‘good’ Marxists. Certainly, a derailed, statist, ideologue has no understanding of human existence, perverts the tension thereof, seeks to obviate human ‘freedom’ (in von Schelling’s sense of ‘freedom’???) and dwells in a condition of spiritual corruption would, certainly, allow us to ask His Holiness what, exactly, he means by ‘good.’
    The next thing Pope Francis will say is that he’s located a ‘good’ Democrat.

  4. Little bit late to speak of America perishing without Rome and seeking to just the folks who apparently in the 1600s-1700s practiced socialism in certain South American countries. They got kicked out of the Roman Church for 70s years, and, after a little razzle dazzle with Napoleon got readmitted to the church. Moreover, it is a little bit late, when the clear majority on the Supreme Court are Catholic, Vice-President who is presides over the senate is a Catholic along with the majority leader, the Speaker of the House is a Catholic as is the minority leader. If we are perishing, then the Catholics are there, very much involved, very much a part of the process. And as to socialism, denial and nay-saying fly in the face of reality as any one who will follow the money trails and do the research. Control freaks like to keep records.

    • Dr. J: how I love an easily dispelled critique. The thesis is that America must return to the Catholic principle of Natural Law, which is the predicate idea of republics…a return to true Catholicism. Not to Nancy Pelosi or however you selectively opt to mischaracterize it (she’s not supposed to be allowed communion). Catholicism has the DOCTRINE to sustain the onslaught of Natural Law principles by Modernity (which includes Protestantism, I’m afraid). I haven’t characterized Protestantism by aligning it with Adolfo Von Harnack or Schleiermacher, after all. However, it is an altogether just to articulate that Protestantism is altogether confounded as to its own position on the Natural Law. The Reformation was a wholesale repudiation of the Natural Law, even though the very Protestant Whigs would bafflingly wage English and American Revolutions in its name within 150 years. Protestant Natural Law” is a contradiction in terms; life/liberty/property of the Declaration and the subsidiarity as the main idea of the US Constitution are simply not intelligible outside a Catholic context…even as, ironically, many Americans have and will sound (not unlike you) as vituperative toward “the papists” as The Butcher, from Gangs of New York. Keep the papists out…but steal all their ideas (even as they violate sola scriptura)! Quite a tortured worldview…

  5. Really, Timothy, so easily dispelled. Ever hear of charades, misrepresentations, and out right acting? Perhaps you might want to read Carroll Quigley’s writings about a conspiracy that he thinks is a good thing (or did until shortly before he passed away, according to one source). I understand that some bishops fell down before the Waldensians and begged their forgiveness for the various inquisition activities as well as the wars. Remember John Milton’s little poem about the Waldensians in a cave? In the 12th century, Reinarius Saccho (I think that is the spelling) commented about those folks having a church in Constantinople and in Philadelphia in the 1200s. And another source told about their sending a committee to check on the church in South India in the 1400s????That is one group with an interesting history, and there were the Lollards, Petrobrussians, Arnoldists, Priscillianists, Paulicians, Donatists, Novationists, and Montanists. I also thought it a matter of interest that the commander of the last Roman Garrison on England was the son of the Novation Bishop of Constantinope, and, after his return to that city, he succeededhis father as the bishop.

    But then we are also aware of the pipe line for the Nazis to South America that the Atheists and others have noted as well as the agreements between the Nazis and the Vatican re: Catholicism in Germany. And, yes, we are aware of Catholics who held out against Hitler.

    It is also amazing to me that there is so much variety in Roman Catholicism’s big fold, and the name of the game is control. Since the Catholic influence was next to nothing and negligible in the American Revolution, it seems a moot question to speak of their influence. Unless one buys the idea that Washington was secret convert to Rome upon his death bed.

    Who cares about Harnack or Schleiemacher? After all, their out-moded efforts were exercises in nullities as is any skepticism that treats the Bible in a jejune fashion. The intellectualism of the Scripture easily defies the greatest minds of the ages, individually or collectively, because the wisdom it reflects is commensurate with its source.

    And I remember the people of my church being threatened with physical violence by our Catholic neighbors a mile or two down the road, because we opposed a state school bus bill and they supported it (it would allow them to transport their children to their schools at public expense. We even handed out their materials at our church, but they did not hand out ours. And they returned to threats, after we performed the good deed of handing out their fliers, etc. Now, nearly fifty years later, the Protestants, et. al., are now seeking funding for their children to go to their religious schools (forgetting their original stands against such a thing). One really has to admire the Catholic Razzle Dazzle in accomplishing such a change of opinion and practice in less than a half century. I dare say the tightening coils have more interesting examples of change and close intimacy planned.

  6. Don’t engage American Cath-Prot relations: neither on point nor a winning argument for you (3 words: Ku Klux Klan).

    More importantly: no, the Declaration and Constitution are Catholic documents meaning the Revolution was the same. Locke, Pufendorf, Sidney, and Grotius (“the whigs”) had to look to Suarez and Thomas to find “natural rights” and a right of revolution in nature. Of course. Natural rights violate sola scriptura and the many other “solas” (a baffling multiplicity: “sola” means “one” does it not?). Do your research: Grotius was honest about the fact that 1 Peter admonished against revolution, even against tyrants. Sorry.

  7. We should be able to agree that where American Catholicism has weaknesses, American Protestantism has GREAT strengths and vice versa. AC has always suffered problems with lay participation (and hence, the problem of the idiotic Catholic, i.e. Pelosi, Biden, Kennedy, etc.–more importantly, over half the lay population is idiotically the same). As is problematic personal repsonsibility in matters of faith. These pseudo-Catholic dolts know neither the Bible (another profoundly admirable Prot quality) nor Magisterial teachings. We, unlike you, comprise an embarrassing voting demographic. Politics, participation, and putting faith into practice are great, admirable Protestant strengths that we lack and desperately need.

    But all of these AC weaknesses are in contra distinction to–not concomitant with–our doctrine, which is our VERY strong point. The whole world could crumble (as it is) and Catholic Natural Law teachings wouldnt change. conversely, doctrine is AP’s glaring weak spot. Protestantism cannot even decide if it HAS a theology, let alone what it is. Natural law is rejected as a prime tenet of Reformation, then not much later forgetfully recurred to; political liberty is affirmed, while both Luther and Calvin agreed that there’s no such thing as a naturally free will; there’s multiple “solas”; there’s 10000 plus divisive sects (and counting); a huge problem affirming science w/o vitiating the entire theology (the Vatican, conversely, has the largest commission on cosmologists in the world). These are strong points for Catholicism. Doctrine and unity.

    If only the strengths of each could be combined. We ought to be able to agree there.

  8. ‘if one is not a capitalist, then what is he exactly? Any non-capitalist political economy posits one form or another of central planning, or simply, “statism.”’

    Come on, are you really so unversed in political economy as to believe this? There are multiple meanings that have been given to “capitalism” over many years, and only under a very narrow range of them would your statement be true. The worker cooperatives of Emilia-Romagna and Mondragon regard themselves as “anti-capitalist,” but also “anti-statist.” Of course, you can DEFINE capitalism so that it includes them, but really, that is a silly way to try to win an argument, isn’t it?

  9. Opus Publicum:

    Thanks for your time and interest. We have much to agree about. I read your article as having three (3) points of departure, with a conclusion that is very, very confused as to the source of limited government principles (which are not “from the 19th Century,” the way most Americans misfigure, but rather from Antiquity and from the Medieval era):

    First, you say you won’t quibble with my two elements of capitalism…then you quibble with it. Capitalism is simply a “non-impairment” legal theory, nothing more: government, in capitalism, foreswears involvement in _______. What extra thing(s) is foresworn, according to you (since you reject my definition as unfairly terse)? Legally speaking, I meant, only two things are foresworn by government: impairment of private property and impairment of private contracts. Both together comprise “capital”. Scour Heaven and Earth for an extra area of law coinvolved by capitalism’s non-impairment: let me know if there’s some MAJOR extra area of law that I’ve been missing as a legal scholar. But it would be rather shocking. Rerum and Quadragesimo both affirm my point, but not as starkly as Thomas Aquinas, whose 5 criteria (I list them below) of good government prescribe the smallest government I’ve ever heard of. (He did so in the mid 1270’s, by the way.)

    Secondly, you quibble with Rerum and Quadragesimo because they embrace labor unions. Neither one stipulates, but both descriptions of unions sound A LOT like PRIVATE SECTOR unions, which are not anathema to the capitalist (employees can do whatever they want). Only public sector unions are.

    Thirdly, you quibble with Pope Leo’s language in Rerum, to the effect that a low wage paid by an employer should be legal even though it violates the Natural Law for its inequity. ???? I don’t know how to respond to this, because it is precisely the capitalist’s position. You see, in the Classical/Medieval language in which these Encyclicals were written, “Natural Law” means “whatever’s naturally right” and “Positive Law” means “actual codified human law.” The Encyclical parses the two concepts precisely as you and I do as economic libertarians.

    **In closing, I’ll leave you with the 5 criteria for good government/law of Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274…since you’re spuriously convinced that the ideas of limited gov’t are NEW), the Church’s greatest Angelic doctor. These criteria prescribe EXTREMELY limited gov, as based on Aristotle’s political philosophy, which was at Thomas’ time already nearly two milennia old:

    1) It must be promulgated by a legitimate ruler for the common good – lawmaking must be checked and balanced;
    2) It must not exceed the authorized power of the lawgiver in a particular society–again, checks and balances;
    3) It must lay only reasonable burdens on subjects according to the EQUALITY OF PROPORTION (i.e. a “flat tax”);
    4) It must be consistent with the principles of SUBSIDIARITY: the lowest unit of society that is capable of accomplishing a needed social function in an adequate manner should be permitted to perform that function (from the family, to the local community, up to the centralized state). This preserves the vitality of the family, private groups, and local communities as well as the centralized state.
    5) it mustn’t be opposed to eternal law.

    Thanks,
    TG

    • “Capitalism is simply a “non-impairment” legal theory, nothing more: government, in capitalism, foreswears involvement in _______.”

      Well, you are free to define it that way. But that is neither the original definition, nor the most common current definition. You should at least recognize that most people are not going to be using the term the way you do

        • It is not a matter of how *I* define it. I am talking about what the common definition is: a system in which wealth is largely concentrated in the hands of the owners of capital, and they employ that wealth to largely control the state and the legal regime.

          • Frankly, I couldn’t care less how the hoi polloi misdefine things. It’s one of the things they do best. Assigning REAL definitions to things (I.e. doing metaphysics) is all that concerns me. Properties that MUST run with a thing for that thing to be what it is. Real definitions are comprised by a list of the essential properties of things, stripped of their accidental properties. The croni-ism you use to circumscribe capitalism is an accidental, not an essential property of it.

          • Well, Timothy, there is a lot more I could say on this topic, but faced with the extraordinary idea that *specific words* have REAL definitions that can be discovered by doing metaphysics, I think it best I remain in flabbergasted silence.

    • I think you may have been a bit hasty in your read of my response to your article. Let me see if I can clear up some confusion.

      First, I didn’t quibble with your two conceptual elements of capitalism; I took them as normative and then proceeded to demonstrate where they appear to be incompatible with the Church’s social magisterium. This is particularly acute with respect to element #2, which demands the freedom of contract. And yet RN, in the passage you quote from it, places a very strict qualifier on that freedom. So, when faced with the principle of freedom of contract and the wages principle derived from natural justice which Leo XIII points out, which takes precedence? There’s a legitimate tension there.

      Second, I don’t quibble with either RN or QA because they embrace unions. I quibble with conservative/libertarian ideology which talks the talk of freedom of contract out of one side of its mouth and then promotes legislative limits to that freedom out of the other side in the form of right to work laws. Perhaps that point is a bit ancillary to my overarching thesis that your definition of capitalism doesn’t square with Catholic social teaching, but I felt it was worth highlighting one of the more egregious inconsistencies one finds among apologists for liberal capitalism.

      Last, I am not sure why you think I believe the idea of limited government is new. My reference to the 19th C. and modern Catholic social teaching was for the purpose of conceptual clarity. In other parts of my blog I draw several distinctions between the various “stages of development” in Catholic social teaching. I wholly agree with the teachings which emerged in the 19th C. have intellectual antecedents going back not to just to the medieval period, but even the classical pagan period (though many of them have been modified in the light of Christian principles). It’s a side point, anyway.

      Anyway, thank you for responding. I would still encourage you, though, to reread what I wrote. It would help clear up some of the confusion here, methinks.

      • Will do. All I can say at this point is that private labor unions do not provide “legislative limits”. Right to work laws figure in in a complex way, don’t they?

  10. Ku Klux Klan? Really? Seems to me that the Knights of the Golden Circle had something to do with the founding of that outfit, and a certain, ahem! gentleman, was a member, and one of his cohorts got to serve for a period of time in the Swiss Guard after their successful effort at eliminating the president that many consider to have been the greatest in American History. Some natural rights are so natural that they just take in the trial of so-called heretics with foregone convictions in the light of methods of torture to encourage their confession. A late friend of mine’s father was once subjected to one of the methods of torture developed according to pop history by the Inquisitors. This was in another nation, one with all of the natural rights afforded them by a state church. It occurred in the early 20th century half a world away.

    And where were your folks in the time of the production of the declaration and constitution? Most of the participants are known as to their professions of faith with a few lacking. But the Republic had a special name by America’s most noted historian in the first half of the 20th century, George Bancroft. He called the US a Calvinistic Republic. Of course, every one gets bombed out of their skulls about Calvin and Servetus and total forget the Inquisition from the 1200s-the 20th century. O, and I understand the organization now exists under another name adopted circa 1900-1906, and the Pope previous to Francis was head of it before becoming Pope.

    Life is fully of Ironies, Mr. Gordon. I was born between the St. Francis River and Rector, Arkansas (Rector is a term I have often heard in my life with reference to an Anglican minister), and a former colleague of mine in the ministry wrote a nice paper about the brother after whom the river was named. Now I am nearing the end of my life’s journey, and a pope is named Francis. And one of his minions is arguing that the nation is all a Catholic work (and I am aware of some factors back there), but I assure you, both my ancestors and predecessors who had anything to do with the founding of this nation were Baptists – not Catholics. In fact, though they really were apprehensive about Rome and its stated intentions about America, they still believed in and practiced religious liberty. Just as my members handed out the materials from our Catholic neighbors a mile down the road, but they, if they believed in religious liberty, threatened my members with physical violence. Some liberty!

    I live about a 55 minute drive from where one of my ancestors served in the Virginia Militia, the second line of battle, the Tarheels were first, and the Continentals were third. General Cornwallis almost lost his army there, but, after firing on his own troops (engaged in a melee with the Americans), the latter retreated, giving him the victory, so to speak, Pyrrhic, I suppose. Most of those folks on the American side, include the Baptists as cannon fodder, the Presbyterians as mid-level officers, and the Episcopalians as the Generals, etc. There were likely some Maryland troops involved, and perhaps a sprinkling of Catholics in other units and not all of the Maryland troops were of that persuasion.

  11. “… it’s not capitalism which killed an astronomical amount of millions over the last two centuries, after all.” Of course. When slaves were taken in Africa and sold in the Americas, that wasn’t REALLY capitalism, was it? When the British were fighting the opium wars or conquering India, that wasn’t really capitalism, either, right? Pushing the American Indians out of the Black Hills wasn’t done for capitalism, either. The banana wars had nothing to do with economics. The only remaining question, then, is whether capitalism has ever really existed.

    No religion has more fanatical followers than the worshipers of Mammon. “The love of money is the root of all good,” after all, right?

    • Howard, your mission is hopeless: Timothy has already told us he has no interest in what actual capitalism has been like, but only in an abstract analysis of certain “essences” by which he will divine what the REAL, although never-existent, capitalism is.

      • Even if I were to assume arguendo that each of these atrocities you list had anything to do with capitalism–you asserted it rather than demonstrated it–what’s REALLY vital to the capitalism detractor such as yourself, is in showing capitalism to have those pejorative properties ESSENTIALLY and not ACCIDENTALLY. I never said a whit of what you said: being an Aristotelian and not a Platonist, I wouldn’t have.

  12. Rush 1, Akin 0.

    Should’a quoted the exact remarks of Rush’s that got weak Catholics into a tizzy. Its only the right thing to do.

  13. OK, Bob, since you asked:

    Let’s say people are complaining that the NYC roads are damaging their cars, what with the potholes, and frost heaves, and metal plates, etc.

    Gordon’s response is: “That is not due to ‘roads’ at all. I have found the REAL definition of ‘road,’ by analyzing the ‘essence’ of ‘road,’ and these things you call roads simply aren’t roads at all: there is nothing in the essence of ‘road’ that necessitates these flaws.”

    When someone responds, “OK, Gordon, you may have some interesting abstraction, that might be worth considering, but when the rest of us English speakers say ‘road,’ we mean these actual roads we have to drive on.”

    Gordon’s response: “I don’t care what the hoi polloi means by the word: I have arrived at my definition by… METAPHYSICS!” (By the way, Mr. Gordon, if you want to show off with foreign terms, it is best not to write “the the people.”)

    So Gordon has an abstraction that may be useful. He loads it down with a bunch of junk like “essences” and “REAL definitions”, but if this amuses him, well, who is hurt? But then he tells us that a word that is been in common use for a century and a half is what really “corresponds” to his abstraction and that we have all been using the word wrong all this time.

    Look, Ludvig von Mises came up with a similar abstraction to Mr. Gordon. He called it “the imaginary construction of the pure market economy.” He used the word “capitalism” to refer to actually existing market economies, with all of their warts, just like everyone else used it. Apparently, according to Mr. Gordon, Mises was wrong: not only is this abstraction useful, somehow it is *essentially* tied to the very *word* “capitalism.” God knows how people who speak other languages even get by in life, since, per Mr. Gordon, they must have the “wrong” word for everything.

    My initial reaction when faced with such utter drivel was just to back away slowly, and beg God for the gift of forgetting I had been exposed to it. But you asked, and so I explain further.

  14. Catholicism in Southern Europe – the tradition from where the Pope comes – is profoundly socialist, in the good sense of the word. Yes, there is a good sense to that word. Notice that there is a distance, a huge one probably, between old Catholic nations like Spain or Italy or even France (Historical Fiefs of Faith) and those places where the evil tentacles of protestantism were allowed to penetrate, like the US, the UK or Germany. There is a somewhat hidden “pseudo-calvinist” wing within the Church that must be immediately wiped out. Just like the marxist wing was wiped out under Pope John Paul and Benedict. Now it’s the turn to clean the Church of right-wingers wrapped under the veil of conservative Catholics. Remeber that this Pope recently said: “I’ve never been a right-winger”.

    Those of us who live in Millenarian Catholic Nations swiftly understand what the Pope is saying. And in no way we ever could misread his message. This Pope, an interesting mixture of Spain, Italy and Latin America talk the truth. Only a cynic can dare to call the Pope, any Pope, a marxist. He who does that has no clue what a marxist mean or what this Pope is saying.

    Americans cannot (or it seems as if they weren’t able to) understand this. The Pope was heavily critized over yonder for his “trickle-down” quote. This concept is almost non existent in Southern Europe. Not even exists a proper translation in Spanish. It’s impossible that the Pope might be thinking in that when he wrote such thing. Luckily, Akin rightly points out how the word used was “derrame”, which resembles “trickle-down” as a pear resembles a watermelon.

    Let me be a bit more clear. This Pope is simply critizicing the usurer-nihilist-selfish side of our current economic system that, said by the way, has nothing of true Liberalism. It has nothing of liberal. I have the impression many people don’t understand what Liberalism means, either. The first point is that: the State is a Liberal invention. Period. Only a nihilist insults the State per se. Americans should read the works of the first and foremost liberals in world history: The School of Salamanca, especially Father Mariana.

    Let wipe the calvinists out from our Church. Luckily, they cannot fool our Pope. It’s fair noticing that Benedict, in one of his latest speeches put financial deregulation at the same level than terrorism.

    • A little razzle dazzle, a little dust in your eye, and the elitist hierarchical minded folks continue their threat to civilization by the tried and true (?) method of promising heaven here and here after, a glorious dialectic that helps to confuse and exhaust the masses to the point of despair and hopelessness, leaving the way for the agents of the control freaks to maintain and extend their manipulative powers. Get rid of the Calvinists, who in many instances, might well be the other side of the dialectic or unconsciously serving that purpose. In any case, Arnold’s poetic summary is so perceptive of the reality that was to come in the 20th century, “And we are here on a darkling plain/Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight/Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

        • Thanks Timothy, but I can’t claim credit. It comes from a movie about a bunch of fellows joining the army and doing a razzle dazzle (their term) that impressed (supposedly) the brass (this movie was a comedy, but I can’t remember the title, one of the problems that comes with age and laziness I guess). O yes, and your irony does not escape notice, but it is only fair to hoist a fellow on his own petard. After all, your razzle dazzle is subtly ironic.

      • It’s far easier and simpler. The question we should ask ourselves is: are we with this Pope or are we against him? You cannot be in the middle.

        He has not touched a single comma in the Catholic Teaching. And he won’t.

        Despite my tone, I think we probably agree.

        Let me cite Isaiah: «Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!». Woe, also, to those who put in doubt the Pope’s words.

        I like to reall how Eutropius claimed that when Viriatus’ assassins asked Q. Servilius Caepio for their payment he answered that “it was never pleasing to the Romans, that a general should be killed by his own soldiers”. Or as it is more commonly known: ROME DOES NOT PAY TRAITORS.

        This Church will always prevail. God guides. I also like to recall the old Meister Eckhart quote in the portal of the Erfurt Church: «Das Licht leuchtet in der Finsternis, und die Finsternis hat es nicht erfasst» (The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not prevail against it).

        PD- My point comes from real Catholic sources (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_of_Salamanca ). There was nothing intrinsically Catholic in the foundation of the US, we all should look deeper and further. Almost everything is in Thomas Aquinas and St. Agustine. The Counter-Reformation is the intellectual path to follow.
        PDD- Despite my critique, I liked the article, and very much this page. I think after all you understand me when I’m referring to the «pseudo-calvinist» wing within the Church. Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin never would have misread Evangelii Gaudium. Neither Chesterton. They fought for a purer Church in the middle of «enemy» territory.

        • Ah! Arriero, I live in or near an area settled by those Scots who supported Bonnie Prince Charles whose aim seems to have been like Charles I, namely, to establish or re-establish an absolute monarch. My wife’s maiden name comes from one the names of a sailor on the Spanish Armada which same was set on the purpose to conquer merry ol’ England and Queen Elizabeth I. Phillip had the backing of the Pope then for his conquest and absolute monarchy ideas. Strange how all of this is being changed. O, by the way, I read somewhere long ago that the idea of checks and balances originated in some monastery in Italy in the 8th century, a few years before Doctor Angelicus made his appearance. In any case, why were so many popes backing the big I little you philosophy of government back in that period? And is there real reason to expect any change out of the folks that brought us the Inquisition for 900+ years? I can’t say that I care for threats of violence, when I afford and recognize the religious rights of those with whom I disagree theologically. I can live with it, but it always leaves me with the feeling that one day that might decide to carry out some nefarious plan to take away my religious liberty and subject me or mine to the same therapy of the Iron Maiden that my friends suffered many, many years ago or worse – like an auto de fe’.

          • Aristo and Dr. J: both of you are missing the point. Boring history and personal anecdotes aside, Calvinist Protestantism CANNOT represent limited gov/republicanism (except by plagiarism): Calvinism rejects natural liberty, teleology, and intelligibility: the 3 preconditions for natural law (and republicanism). How to affirm “a republican form of government,” as our Constitution guarantees, without say LIBERTY, which is “non-existent”?

          • Dear Timothy: This is really becoming hilarious. I mean one can google Calvinism in America and come up with the statement by Horace Walpole that the colonies have run off with a Presbyterian parson and with the list of the various denominations that supplied 90% of the American military forces. Are you telling us the Calvinists had nothing to do with the founding of this nation, that 90% of the military forces were Catholics and encouraged by the Pope and that the latter (whatever his title and names in the period from 1776-1820) never threatened republicanism in America?

          • No, if I were saying any of that, I would have said it. I’m saying what I said: Calvinism is schizophrenic. It rejects human liberty and Natural Law, then decides to vitiate its own theology (because republicanism is sweet) and plagiarizes the source of these republican pre-reqs: catholicism. Please, I beg you, either respond to those aspects of the discussion or…just no more stories, I sweetly, sweetly beg of you.

          • Dear Timothy: You are not very convincing, when one can google the rulers of Catholic countries who are dictators as well as many documents of Rome, etc., which plainly show the reverse of what you speak. Anyone can make a claim to republicanism and checks and balances. Strange that the priests should fall down before the Waldensians 900 years after they began their persecution of those dear people, which same continued for a very long period of time. And I have taken hundreds of notes on the Inquisition of the Middle Age as well as the Spanish Inquisition. Think of the 350 prosecutions for heresy in England alone in the first 17 years of the 1500s. I remember one lay person, though I cannot remember his particular punishment. He seem to have believed that out of the Universities we have free will and the papacy. Since the Brits were not quite so enthusiastic about burning heretics, he might have got off with starving to death in a prison or even released after a time. But some had heavier sentences enforced. Sorry, but your responses are not at all persuasive.

          • Mr. Gordon is right about calvinism. And these are the ideas I want in the Church. No half measures, no harmful complaisance. With respect, but also setting the record straight.

            Just like Pope John Paul was immovable in front of marxism – ultimately, he very well knew it -, or just like Pope Benedict was immovable in front of nihilism – ultimately, he was a german, and God knows where Nietzsche, Feuerbach, Stirner or Marx were born -; now is turn for this Pope to be immovable in front of injustice while fighting against the dangerous materialistic tendencies of protestantism (that relativism was first and foremost revealed by the protestant frontal attack against the Dogma is something long argued by the latest Pope).

            That the foundation of the US has nothing intrinsically Catholic is something I’ve already said, so I agree with you on that point. Could we assess the Foundation of the US from a Catholic perspective? Yes. That’s I think what Mr. Gordon tries to do. But let see another example. The foundation of Spain (1469), for instance, is based solely upon the basis of Catholicism. In fact, I could argue that Spain has only sense as a nation from a Catholic perspective. 1469 was the time when a Catholic king and a Catholic queen gathered together the kingdoms of Spain in defense of the Faith and against which was back then the muslim enemy (There is a wonderful monastery in northern Spain with a statue of the man who stopped Islam from conquering the whole Iberian peninsula: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8b/Don_Pelayo.jpg ). In fact, a big majority of US Founding Fathers were masons – considered «enemies» by the Church – and yes, protestants (specially unitarians. It’s fair noting the exception of Charles Carroll).

            Mr. Gordon’s point on Liberty also takes me back to the «Auxilis Polemic» (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congregatio_de_Auxiliis ).

            And about the Inquisition, let me just say that in a big part it has always been an exaggeration by some – specially english – historians. There was at least the same deaths in protestand countries than in Catholic ones (there are statistics about this point). All this belongs to the Black Legend about Spain, built by envious historians in their attempt to undermine not only the history of Spain (the biggest defender of the Faith under Charles V), but also the facts about Catholicism. Of course, there is also a big misunderstanding of the Spanish Armada (that wasn’t its real name, either) which, by the way, was mainly formed by Portuguese people. But that is another thread that could fill lots of pages. Far before the english arrived to America, Spaniards already had made pacts and agreements with the indians. Some of them incredibly respectful and fair. It is well known that Portuguese were incredible merchants and set up the basis of commerce and, by extent, of capitalism. But has to hear that always repeated mantra of «oh, how many indians Spaniards killed, and how many infidels Catholics burned»…

            Finally, just saying that Catholicism is a dogmatic and hierarchical religión. I say that, of course, as a compliment. Apart, from a theological point of view it has no rival.

          • Arriero: GREAT comments (very concisely helpful to me, actually) on the last three Popes’ mission statements. Thank you. You’re a great deal closer to my position than you think. You seem–unlike most Catholics OR Protestants–to understand what’s really going on, which knowledge puts you in a cabal of sorts. Here’s all that stands in your way: you’ve missed only that there IS NO natural right of life, liberty, or property (the only fundie rights actually guaranteed in the 2 due process clauses of our constitution) accessible to any sort of Protestant. And there is no fourth natural right–one derivative of the violation of the first three–open to Protestantism: no right of revolution. Go study Hugo Grotius, the earliest of the Whig (Prot) heroes. He was honest that Protestantism compelled a rejection of the right of revolution. Samuel Pufendorf came along–the second proto-Whig in time–and studied Grotius mostly…until he “needed” to find a right of revolution IN NATURE. Who did he study? Thomas and Suarez. He admits it. By the time you get to Sidney and Locke, who are both studying Grotius and Pufendorf, they lift Pufendorf’s footnote about the natural rights (esp. of revolution), which has incorporated Catholic thought in a INDISPENSABLE/CRUCIAL way: without a first Prot thinker to borrow from Catholicism, you could never have a Prot breakthrough to natural rights like revolution against tyrants. In THIS way, the Declaration is a Catholic document.

            Similarly, there is no Protestant conception of “subsidiarity,”–a Natural Law defense of the right to liberty, specifically–which is why the “religious right” is so good at ASSERTING states’ rights, but so bad at DEFENDING the moral basis for states’ rights. Subsidiarity is the primary principle of the American Constitution. In THIS way, the Constitution is a Catholic document.

            This is what my upcoming book is about: Republicanism REQUIRES Catholicism. Don’t mistake me, like Dr. J does, as arguing that America’s framers loved or practiced Catholicism. No, they just plagiarized it as they defamed it.

          • Dear Timothy: I find you replies hilarious. Just think. The Calvinists copied it all from your folks writings, and then established the first examples of it that were successful whereas we are still waiting for your denomination to produce some viable examples of the same. Arriero seems to think that the remarkable consistency of your community is what gives it power. Hum, here we have inquisitions, infiltration, no religious liberty, etc. Funny, that the Calvinists should make it work, and its original source folk could not.

          • Father Juan de Mariana largely wrote about tyrannicide. He, under some conditions, arrived to endorse it. This is one of the first stones upon which any successful Republic is built: the right to legitimate revolution. Because against what some might arrive to say, Catholicism is a religion of action. Of action against the evil and an endorsement of Beauty, Truth and Goodness (as defined by Pope Benedict).

            Again, just saying that Francisco de Vitoria, Domingo de Soto, Martín de Azpilcueta, Tomás de Mercado, and Francisco Suárez, were all the first scholars of natural law and of morality.

            Under subjetivist regimes (that’s what protestantism is at the bottom; even Luther ended up despising many of his followers), natural law is indefensible. That’s why Dogmatism is one of the best features that the Catholic Church has.

            The right to property, in fact, is another right of the man first announced by Catholic thinkers. First stone of real Capitalism. And was Aquinas who formulated what I consider the concept that should guide any fair capitalist society: «Never sell anything for more than it is worth». Pope Francis wants this phrase to be put into fashion again. That’s why he heavily critizes usurers and the greedy.

            The Catholic concept of «community» is another pillar upon which any Republican system has to be built. Radical individualism ultimately leads to radical statism.

  15. Well, this has been enlightening as to the Catholic tendency to self-deception. That there are writings among your church that set forth Republicanism, I do not question. However, it is passing strange that there are so few examples of such in practice, whereas the Calvinists that are so demeaned by your remarks have quite a number that they established, including the one we call USA, Having taught American History in State colleges and being aware that there are some Deists, etc., involved, I am yet aware as you do not seem to be that a considerable number were Christians of the Calvinistic persuasion. Even today, there is a “Calvinistic Republic” in Africa which one can google for a fascinating study. And if these are the people you consider to be mentally deficient, what shall we say of those of your denomination who promoted the Inquisition, Philip of Spain and the Spanish Armada, various wars, and a fellow named Hitler? In fact, having lived in the home of a sharecropper in the old South and seeing that man transformed by the preaching of one such farmer preacher as William Warren Sweet identified such a person, if that is mentally wanting, then let us have some more of it as it brought peace and joy to a poor home in the cotton fields of Arkansas. And, knowing that my ancestors had a hand in establishing the religious liberty of this nation, I still prefer their views in Christianity, especially after being threatened for disagreeing over a small thing like a state school bus bill and that after handing out our neighboring Catholic materials on the issue which same materials for our view was not handed out by them. Really quite encouraging to believe as you do, don’t you think?

  16. Mr. Willingham, let me just add that the «Maryland Toleration Act» was the second law requiring religious tolerance in the British North American colonies (and surely in the world) and created the first legal limitations on hate speech in the world. Was a law mandating religious tolerance for trinitarian Christians. Guess what? The Calvert family, who founded Maryland partly as a refuge for English Catholics, sought enactment of the law to protect Catholic settlers and those of other religions that did not conform to the dominant Anglicanism of Britain and her colonies. So now we see how a predominantly Catholic part of the colonies were among the first to enact a real freedom of religion! Of course, trying to protect themselves from the always respectful protestant who never burned anyone at the stake. Do you want to know more? Let’s see: the act was revoked in 1654 by William Claiborne, a Virginian who had been appointed as a commissioner by Oliver Cromwell and was a staunch advocate for the Anglican Church. When the Calverts regained control of Maryland, the Act was reinstated, before being repealed permanently in 1692 following the events of the Glorious Revolution, and the Protestant Revolution in Maryland. Besides, this act was echoed in the writing of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which enshrined religious freedom in American law.

    I repeat it again: nothing in the Foundation of America was intrinsically Catholic during that time. But let me remember also that one of the most succesful Republics in history, far before the US was founded by Protestant aristocratic slave-owners, was Venetia during the XIIth century. In fact, Venetia was always an important place of study among the first english liberals, just like the first roman republic. And as I’ve said, even Luther – the lesser evil compared with all what came later – despised what Calvin, Zwingly and many others were doing. And Philip of Spain was just a man of his time. You cannot redefine history from a XXIth century perspective. On the contrary, I could redefine the South’s history – very close related to protestantism of the toughest kind – with this once «honorable» institution that was Slavery. Catholicism never would have allowed slavery! Because Catholicism doesn’t read the Bible at its opinion, it isn’t a subjectivist religion. And let’s not remember what the honorable english-men did with the Catholics within their frontiers. Orestes Brownson is an American scholar that should be reread. He has many interesting things to say about trascendentalism (he was one of them) and prebyterianism (he was raised as such). It’s worth noting that he was a staunch Douglas Democrat, who supported the Union in the Civil War and polemicized against the Confederacy. He avidly supported emancipation and even made several trips to Washington to discuss the importance of urgency in this matter with President Lincoln.

    PD- Despite my critique of calvinism, I have a good respect for them. I just want to set the record straight and stop the protestant (mainly anglo-saxon) historical revisionism (what I call the «whig understanding of history»). They are who have spread the idea of a time of darkness during the Middle Ages (false!), that Spain did a genocide in American (false!), that the Inquisition was solely stablished in Catholic countries (false!), that Catholicism is a religion imposed by the sword (false!), that the english were the first liberals in history (false!), that America during the time previous to the Independence was a Paradise of tolerance (false!), etc.
    PDD- Spain supported George Washington during the War of Independence. The support that Spain gave to America was crucial to defeat the english-men. That’s something not very well-known and studied in American circles. See for instance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spain_in_the_American_Revolutionary_War . That’s the reality.
    PDDD- Thank you for the interesting conversation. Don’t take my words as a personal attack.

  17. This is a tremendously erudite thread! I have learned a great deal and would hope the authors above would write, here, on these questions. Again, thank you, all, gentlemen!

Leave a Reply