Did you know libertarianism is incompatible with Catholicism?

Me neither!

Fortunately, Holy Inquisitor Mark Shea has cleared it up for us:

Libertarianism is the religious superstition that individualists don’t need the help of society, that the state only does evil, and that your average FOX brainwashing victim on a fixed income will be fine because the 1% totally care about him and certainly will defend him when the Party of Trump robs him of Social Security and Medicaid.

He writes more, but it’s at the same level of detritus as the above.

There are three points I’d like to make about the above gordian knot of silly accusations disguised as a series of indignant j’accuses! against the demon spawn known as libertarians.

First, to claim that individualists don’t need the help of society is hogwash. If anything, the opposite is true. Civilization flourishes through voluntary interaction, not coercion. The economy, which provides the material support for a civilization, flourishes through the division of labor, the nexus of exchange, and the accumulation of capital. Libertarians simply believe that none of these three functions require the state, which is a monopoly of violence in a given society.

Second, regarding the nature of the state, need I remind Mr. Shea of Augustine’s observations on the matter in the City of God?

Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you who does it with a great fleet are styled emperor.” (Book IV, Chapter 4)

I’ll address Shea’s accusation about how libertarians view the state once he addresses how Augustine views it.

Finally, where in the hell does Shea get the idea that Trump wants to get rid of Social Security and Medicare? Because Shea clearly knows, or at least ought to, that Trump has no intention of getting rid of either.

When Donald Trump was elected president in November, it was on the heels of numerous campaign promises. One of those key promises was that he would leave Social Security and Medicare as is. Trump has suggested that America has an obligation to its seniors to honor its commitment to pay their Social Security benefits.

And yet Trump’s assurances about both programs don’t prevent Shea from conflating that a) Trump really really does want to eliminate them, and b) libertarians control Fox (if only), and 5) the 1% really want free markets, when more and more of them have become rich through crony capitalism.

(By the way, Mark, crony capitalism means that big companies use government connections to create laws and regulatory burdens that reduce competition and increase profits. For them. Just so we’re clear.)

Beyond the ridiculousness of the above sentence, there’s one particular string of words, which when written by a more charitable writer would be called a paragraph, I want to address.

Libertarianism is Murray Rothbard’s belief that a child is a parasitic invader with no right to life because it cannot pay its parents for the property and labor it demands in order to be carried to term and raised to adulthood. If they choose to do so, they may. But if they decide to abort it or drive the child to a remote location and abandon it they may do that too. They owe it nothing.

It may come as a mild surprise to Mr. Shea that libertarians, who believe individuals have free will, do not always agree with Rothbard.

I mean, it’s not like Rothbard is a god or anything…

Sure, he wrote profusely, and was a genius when it came to economics and political philosophy. However, my Catholicism (you know, Mark, the thing you claim that I don’t believe) informs my strong disagreement with his view that a pregnant woman has the right to abort her child.

Father Jim Sadowsky, who taught philosophy at Fordham and was a friend of Rothbard, disagreed with him strongly about abortion as well:

But is the infant a trespasser the moment his presence in the womb is no longer desired? Does he have no right to be there? Murray [Rothbard] and Walter [Block] simply assume that the infant has no right to be in the womb. Yet it is by no means evident that their answer is the correct one. To say that x is trespassing is to say that he is somewhere where he ought not to be. But where should a foetus be if not in its mother’s womb? This is its natural habitat. Surely people have a right to the means of life that nature gives them? If the home in which the infant grew were outside the mother’s body, we should all see that to expel him from that home would be to deprive him of the nature-given means of life. Why should the fact that his nature-given home lies within a woman’s body change the situation? What is a woman’s womb for except to house the infant’s body? It is nature that gives the child this home, this means of life. When we cast him out, we are depriving him of that which nature gave him. To do this is to violate his rights.

However, that did not stop Sadowsky from being attracted to Rothbard’s libertarian thinking. As David Gordon wrote in his obituary of Father Sadowsky:

What attracted him to the libertarian point of view was its individualism: libertarianism rejects the notion of a collective interest apart from that of individual persons. In this he found echoes of one of his favorite thinkers among the scholastics, Francisco Suarez, who maintained that political authority rests on consent. If this idea were followed to its full implications, Sadowsky thought, it would lead to anarchism, an implication he fully accepted.

You remember the scholastics, right, Mark? Or did they advocate child killing as well?

Frankly, Shea’s schtick against libertarianism is getting really, really old. It is uninformed, uncharitable, and in the end, boring.

I am going to close this post to repeat my plea.

I don’t mind if Catholics don’t agree with libertarianism. I do, however, reject any attempt to demonize an otherwise compatible political philosophy with Catholicism simply because one decides not to view it and its adherents charitably.

Hopefully, at some point, Mr. Shea will be willing to talk to his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, who just happen to have a different perspective than him, in the manner they deserve.

Until then, talk to the hand.



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