Saturday, September 29, 2012

Free Is Beautiful

The title of a book which The New American's Patrick Krey says "is definitely geared to make Catholics become libertarians [and] might also persuade a few libertarians to become Catholic" — Why Catholics Should Be Libertarians. An exceprt from the review:
    Simply put, England explains, libertarianism is about the non-aggression principle, which “prohibits the initiation of physical force (or the threat of force) against people or property. The use of force is only legitimate in defense of life or property.” This idea applies to both individuals and governments. That means that if something is wrong for an individual to do – robbery or murder as an example – then that is also wrong if a government does it. England points out that every “government relies on the kind of aggression that would be criminal if used by an individual – that is, the initiation of violence.” Sadly, in present times, we have become accustomed to government using aggressive force or the threat of force to achieve its goals. Libertarians, England states, reject “violence as a solution” and “embrace the goal of eliminating all authority that relies upon the initiation of force to accomplish its ends.”

    The supporters of state action on the Left and the Right would be quick to label such rhetoric as the ranting of an anarchist, which, in practice, would produce a lawless society. England addresses such criticism by arguing that order can be accomplished through voluntary, nonviolent means. England reminds readers that authority does not need to come only from an “aggressive government. There are other ways to secure agreement so that orders may be given and obedience expected. Authority based on reciprocity and trust is more powerful than that based on physical coercion.” One idea proposed later in the book is cooperative contractual agreements, which are based on private property rights. These cooperatives, many of which exist today, can take the place of the role presently handled by coercive governments.

    As England explains, a society that is based on voluntary association will not make a “perfect world, but real virtue makes a better world than compelled virtue…. Liberty frees us to live – if we choose – a virtuous life in this world, and a life capable of sharing in the divine life in the next.” England echoes that last point throughout the book. “Only free men can become good men. True virtue requires liberty.” This might be met with grumbling from the conservative wing of Christians who view moral evils as an area for state action, but the author reminds the reader that we should have learned from similar approaches in the past, such as the failure of alcohol prohibition, which have shown us that criminalizing vices do not rid us of social problems and, in the majority of cases, end up making the problems far worse.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

2 Comments:

Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Point one: Catholic social teaching embraces a positive role for the State. One can argue about the scope of that role but the nature of the State in Catholic social teaching is that the State is a positive force, not a product of the Fall, and thus something that would and should exist in human community even if sin is absent. As such, no Catholic can embrace libertarian ideology.

Point two: we live in a fallen world and in that fallen world it is often necessary for force to be used to protect the innocent and punish the wicked. Non-coercive efforts at order will fail as a result of human sin.

Point three: contracts are not a substitute for law, courts, government and the police. Contracts rely on all of those things in order to uphold and enforce them. Ultimately, all court judgments -- even court judgments involving contracts and private agreements of a similar sort -- are enforced by the threat of the use of force by the police/sheriff acting to enforce court orders. As I tell young lawyers, what happens if your client refuses to pay a court fine? They go to jail. What happens if your client refuses to comply with a court judgment? A deputy sheriff eventually shows up with a dog, a taser and a night-stick along with a moving company that then proceeds to remove all of the client's property from his home. If he objects too vociferously, the dog, the taser and the night-stick are there to help him become more cooperative.

I would appreciate libertarianism more if the people who kept proposing it would have a better grasp of human nature and the legal system.

September 30, 2012 at 2:10 AM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

Point one: yes, perhaps, if by "state" one means a Catholic polity on the lines of the Most Serene Republic of San Marino or the Austro-Hungarian Empire, not the welfare-warfare states which now plague us.

Point two: agreed, but said force must be defensive, not offensive or preemptive.

Point three: Kritarchy .

October 1, 2012 at 8:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home