Catholic, Calvinist, and Libertarian

David Brat, the Virginia economics professor who overthrew House Majority leader Eric Cantor in the Republican congressional primary, calls himself a “Calvinist Catholic libertarian.” Let’s hope Pope Francis doesn’t burn him at the stake!  But what could that possibly mean?

Does that make him, in effect, something like a Lutheran, holding to a sacramental spirituality that expresses salvation by grace alone, with a strong emphasis on Christian freedom?  Or is he trying to combine beliefs that can’t be combined?

Or is it mainly a matter of his social and economic theory? Julie Ingersoll explains that, after the jump. [Read more...]

Is the free market incompatible with Catholicism?

The pope’s right-hand man has essentially declared that free market economics is incompatible with Catholicism.  Speaking at a conference entitled “Erroneous Autonomy: The Catholic Case against Libertarianism,” Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, drawing on statements from Pope Francis, said that the free market economy “kills” and oppresses the poor.

His condemnation seemed to conflate Ayn Rand-style libertarianism with free market economics, but it also scored theological points against the assumptions of autonomous individualism.  Many prominent American advocates of free market economic policies–such as Rep. Paul Ryan, Father Robert Sirico,  and Michael Novak–are Roman Catholics.

Catholic conservatives, what do you make of this?  Do these arguments carry any wait for Protestants, or is Protestantism tied up with the same “autonomous individualism”? [Read more...]

Rand Paul’s standing ovation at CPAC and at Berkeley

Republican presidential contender Rand Paul wowed ‘em at Berkeley, for all of that university’s left-wing ethos.  Former labor secretary Robert Reich, now a professor there, observed that not many people can get a standing ovation at both CPAC and at Berkeley.  But such left wing/right wing dichotomies do not really account for Paul’s pro-life, pro-peace, pro-civil liberties libertarianism.  Do you think Rand Paul could forge a left/right coalition? [Read more...]

Responding to Russia

The Obama administration has orchestrated sanctions against Russia for taking over the Crimea from Ukraine.  What we’ll do is target 11 individuals, freezing their assets and not letting them travel in the West.  That’ll  show ‘em!  These Russian officials won’t be able to come to Disneyland, and we know how much that means to them! [Read more...]

Two kinds of libertarianism

A writer who goes by the nom de plume “Hamilton” says that both Republican and Democratic intellectuals and policy makers are essentially libertarians.  (He says that there are few old-school socialists or New Dealers left in the Democratic party.)  But there are two different kinds of libertarians:  the school of John C. Calhoun and the school of Robert Heinlein.

Calhoun was the 19th century statesman from South Carolina who was a major spokesman for state’s rights, limited government, and individual rights.  Heinlein was the 20th century science fiction writer who championed individual liberty empowered by technology.   Calhounian libertarians are socially conservative, religious, and inhabit the Republican party.  Heinleinian libertarians are the socially liberal, tend to be involved in the new information technology, and are usually Democrats.

But Hamilton thinks that Calhoun and Heinlein could form an alliance.  I would  question the authenticity of a libertarianism that defends slavery, as Calhoun did, and that supports the power of one person over another that we see in abortion, as Democratic  libertarians tend to do.  But still. . . .What do you think of Hamilton’s analysis, given after the jump? [Read more...]

The Left-Right coalition

The same Congressional coalition of Tea Party conservatives and far-left liberals that blocked an attack on Syria also came close to reining in the NSA surveillance program.  Washington Post political columnist Greg Sargent sees an on-going alliance coming together. [Read more...]


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