A Libertarian has a Question

Do you agree or disagree with this statement:

The Catholic Church can best evangelize the culture when the State is small and less interfering, than a State that is large and more interfering.”

On the whole, I find it easier to evangelize in the US than in a libertarian paradise like Somalia or Haiti.

The fantasy that a massive, globe-spanning, industrialized superpower like the United States is going to have a government tooled for a small Jeffersonian agricultural economy is just that: fantasy.

The assumption that a large state and even an “interfering” state is necessarily an evil state is… unproven. Both the US and the Soviet Union had large “interfering” states. One was an unjust tyranny. The other did (and still does) a reasonable job of providing for the common good.

Meanwhile, states fulfilling the Libertarian dream of “every man for himself” are third world crapholes.

Certainly I see nothing in Catholic teaching tells us the formula provided by the question is anything like the desideratum. The state should be as larges as it need to be to provide for the common good, not as small as it needs to be to satisfy libertarian dogma. Evangelism got easier, not harder, with the rise of the nation-state in medieval Europe. It remains notoriousl difficult in land dominated by Bronze Age tribes ruled by warlords. And wherever the gospel takes root, civilization (and the governmental mechanisms to institutionalize it) take root too.

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  • Scott

    Does the name Ron Paul ring any bells for you?

    • HornOrSilk

      Yes, he rings as another politician. Quite two-faced who will speak one way, and act another (see all the pork he puts in bills). His newsletters also show how racist he was. And he ignores real social justice expectations of the state.

      • Dave G.

        I’m no Ron Paul fan, but the accusations of racism were typical media witch hunts that any non-liberal democrat candidate has to navigate. He just navigated them poorly.

        • HornOrSilk

          No, they were not a witch hunt. The racism in the newsletters were real, and quite strong, and disgusting.

          • Dave G.

            Yes they were. Going back and digging up newsletters in the past when he has no clear examples of being racist in his actions or speech is common to the modern media witch hunts. If anyone ever wondered how witch hunts of old could happen, just watch the media today. And, of course, it’s usually only aimed at one side of the aisle.

            • HornOrSilk

              They were not going and “digging up the newsletters of the past.” They were ALWAYS there in the forefront. In the 90s, Ron Paul even went forward to DEFEND the statements. It’s not a witch hunt when it has been a constant concern.

              • HornOrSilk
                • anna lisa

                  Thanks for coming up with that. “The Disappearing White Majority” is odious.
                  I had done some Google searches and had failed to find a single smoking gun.
                  But going back to having some Libertarian ideas about big government…
                  I can’t understand why *anybody* would think layers and layers of bureaucracy, that come with the nanny state, could ever be good.
                  Yesterday when I was taking my kids to school there was a story on NPR about the hundred million that Mark Zuckerburg gifted to the New Jersey public school system. ALL. that. money. –and not a wisp o f help to their stats. When I came home I read about the Cristo Rey program, that was begun by one single Jesuit priest with a vow of poverty. It spoke volumes about what happens to culture when government disables people by cultivating a nanny state.
                  And NO I’m not a libertarian. I just think this country is in a fine mess. Big government is a bloated, self serving, gargantuan parasite.

              • Dave G.

                Strange, I only heard about them from major news outlets in the weeks preceding the Iowa Caucuses when Ron Paul suddenly began to surge ahead of the other candidates. And equally strange, once his poll numbers dropped, the stories about his racism dropped, even when he was interviewed by various outlets. No doubt cosmic coincidence.

                • HornOrSilk

                  Strange, they were brought up in the 90s, in 2001, you know, constantly beforehand.

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAniuwIDNkI 1995 as an example. Just because you didn’t know didn’t mean it wasn’t being discussed.

                  http://ronpaulsurvivalreport.blogspot.com/2007/12/faq-ron-paul-and-his-racist-newsletter.html has a long discussion

                  • Dave G.

                    I’m sorry, but I watched the video and didn’t hear it mentioned once. Nothing was ‘brought up’ since it was just Paul talking about his experiences as a Representative in a series that appeared to be talking about former congressmen and their reflections. Could you point to the exact point in the video where he says anything about the newsletters controversies? The person who posted it said it was at 1.50. That’s where Paul said he put out some newsletters. And that’s it. Nothing else is said. So find somewhere in that video where this is ‘brought up’, or retract your statement about this video as proof of anything at all.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      There is nothing to retract. He acknowledged he did the newsletters. QED.

                    • Dave G.

                      And that proves he is a racist? I have a feeling I’m wasting my time. But since I’m not the one who has publicly accused someone of such a grave evil, I’m not going to sweat it.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      2+2=4. 2(he said the newsletters were his work) + 2 (the contents of them)=4.

                    • Dave G.

                      Nope. Not seeing it. Just seeing isolated quotes on websites and sources hostile to Ron Paul. I’ll need to see the complete newsletters. And quite frankly, again, I don’t have the time or interest. As I said I’m not a Paul supporter anyway. I just go by the maxim be slow to judge. And since I’m not the one who has accused, I won’t lose sleep over it one way or another.

                • Kurt 20008

                  Gee, a person gets heightened national media attention when he is a serious candidate for national office. Who would have thought?

                  • Dave G.

                    See comparison of scrutinizing serious candidate Obama above.

            • Kurt 20008

              Witch hunts were not matters of hunting down those with witchcraft in their past. They were hunts of people falsely accused of witchcraft. Paul’s writing are fair game.

              • Dave G.

                And if the same scrutiny was applied across the board that might be a credible response. But it isn’t. So it’s not. Hence the growing uneasiness about the mentality in the media today.

                • Kurt 20008

                  I don’t see any evidence that others have not been expected to explain their past writings.
                  I’ve never understood those folks who believe in the wonderful efficiency of private enterprise to deliver the best product at the lowest cost in order to earn a profit from a successful business but for some reason believe “the media” is a singular exception to this rule where these enterprises just push a private agenda contrary to consumer interest and business sense.

                  • Dave G.

                    Election eve. 2008. Tom Brokaw: we really don’t know Obama.

                  • wlinden

                    And I’ve never understood how those folks who believe “the corporations” are ee-vill and should be “kept out of politics” for some reason believe that “news” corporations are uniquely good and don’t need to be restricted.

  • kirthigdon

    The US regime spreads chaos, death and destruction throughout the world as well as promoting the contraceptive and abortive sodomite porno culture on a world wide basis. The increased death and chaos in Somalia and other parts of Africa has been and is being promoted by the US regime. Note the recent article by Nick Turse.

    http://www.unz.com/article/the-u-s-militarys-new-normal-in-africa/

    This is certainly not my idea of the common good. In some ways the secular liberalism of the US is worse than Soviet communism simply because it is so much harder to get rid of.

    Kirt Higdon

    • Sean O

      Sure
      The secular US
      Is worse than Soviet Communism.

      Hard to tell who suffered worse, the unemployed Americans given jobs in Roosevelt’s WPA

      OR

      the Kulaks given jobs & accommodations in the Gulags.

      Keep up the sharp thinking.

      • Marthe Lépine

        The Roosevelt WPA was a long time ago, almost a century by now. Why do you need to base your comparison on old data? And maybe today’s unemployed Americans are not given jobs any more…

  • Dave G.

    “The state should be as larges as it need to be to provide for the common good, not as small as it needs to be to satisfy libertarian dogma.”

    Award for the day.

    • Sean 0

      But Sir Grover Norquist
      said the Federal Govt should be small enough to drown in bathtub.

      • wlinden

        “Sir” is now a PC epithet?

  • ivan_the_mad

    It is of course a false dichotomy. Evangelization depends upon the evangelist. I suspect that the implied assumption is a large state hostile to Christianity instead of a large state sympathetic to it. If this is indeed a question proceeding from an advocate of libertarianism, the answer is of course that a libertarian society is intrinsically disordered since it holds as the highest good personal freedom since by this it merely means personal license. Look to the Church for the definition of authentic freedom:

    “Finally, true freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with licence to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace. There are many examples of this mistaken idea of freedom, such as the elimination of human life by legalized or generally accepted abortion.” — John Paul II

    It is especially frustrating to see the claim that state coercion is intrinsically bad, when not even five minutes with the Catholic Encyclopedia will quickly disabuse one of that notion: “Hence civil authority is defined as the moral power of command, supported (when need be) by physical coercion, which the State exercises over its constituent members. Civil authority is of God, not by any revelation or positive institution, but by the mere fact that God is the Author of Nature, and Nature imperatively requires civil authority to be set up and obeyed.”

    • CJ

      Since Mark just discovered that Zippy is blogging again, it seems appropriate to link to this post of his:
      http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/there-are-no-free-societies/

      “Ultimately, then, there is no such thing as a “free society” in some general sense. There are only societies where what is permitted and forbidden is aligned with the good, and societies where what is permitted and forbidden is not aligned with the good.

      There are good and bad societies, but there is no such thing as free or unfree societies.”

    • Alma Peregrina

      Agree with you. Just one slight criticism:

      “Evangelization depends upon the evangelist.”

      No, it doesn’t. It depends on God’s grace. THEN on the evangelist. THEN on the person being evangelized. And finally on sociocultural and politicoeconomic factors.

      • ivan_the_mad

        That is an excellent criticism. Thank you.

        • HornOrSilk

          Not entirely an excellent criticism, imo. It’s basically the same thing as a Protestant saying “Grace, therefore, nothing we do.” While God is always primary, to eliminate us, even in evangelism, is to discount cooperation with grace and the roles God has given us as well. You were right, evangelism depends upon the evangelist even if it also depends upon grace; it’s not an either/or, but a both and, even if the evangelist is secondary, he still has a role and affects the way evangelism occurs (or doesn’t).

          • Alma Peregrina

            Yeah… basically there’s nothing in your comment that addresses what I said. I never said that we should “eliminate” the evangelist, never said it’s an “either/or”. I only established a hierarchy, in which “God is primary”… you know, what you said.

            Please stop nitpicking, when the purpose of my comment was clearly not that. I said it’s about God, THEN the evangelist, THEN(…) so the evangelist does matter.

            • HornOrSilk

              Well, the problem is — saying it depends upon the evangelist didn’t say it depended only upon the evangelist. That is the problem: it’s reading “only” into the comment.

              • Alma Peregrina

                No, the problem is that you just love debating about spliting hairs, just for the sake of being right. So I’ll give you that and I will not tire myself anymore responding to you. God bless you and please do keep up that awesome Christ-like evangelism of yours. Ciao.

                PS: Ivan_the_mad: Please do know that my “slight” criticism was not said to criticize you, nor to nitpick in what you said. I really liked your comment, I really did. I only thought I was just bringing something new to the conversation, in light of the misguided view of the libertarian. If I was wrong in doing so, I’m sorry. I do enjoy conversations about these themes, but unfortunately it’s getting really hard to do that without putting my scarce sainthood in danger… So I’ll leave and I do hope I meet you in another combox in the future.

                • HornOrSilk

                  Says someone who was splitting hairs ? Funny that. (And no, I don’t like to debate, or split hairs, but I like to keep things honest; what he said wasn’t wrong, but, like Luther, you assumed an only where there was no only implied).

                • ivan_the_mad

                  I took criticism in the sense of worthwhile commentary on the merits (or lack thereof) of my comment. I thought your criticism an excellent clarification.

                  • Alma Peregrina

                    Thank you, Ivan_the_Mad! :) God bless you!

              • ivan_the_mad

                FWIW, my intent was to illustrate the false dichotomy presented by Mark’s correspondent in implying the success of evangelization as dependent upon the particular form of the civil authority. I do not think Alma read in an “only”, but pulled the thread further than did I to more perfectly propound the same.

                • Alma Peregrina

                  That’s exactly what I meant…

  • wlinden

    Of course, politicians and bureaucrats can be absolutely trusted to decide what “the common good” requires. That is why Mark is such a fervent supporter of Obamacare and the administration’s other programs — oh, he isn’t?

  • Mariana Baca

    Somalia and Haiti are not libertarian (at least not minarchist ones) paradises. Proper libertarianism does depend of a few well enforced laws, like respect for property and life. Having a small government enforce a few crucial laws well allows for greater freedom in other aspects of life. A set of robber barons running the government is not libertarianism. Actually, reading up on this, Somail has enforced Sharia Law. It is the opposite of libertarianism. Haiti has been consistently run by dictatorships siphoning money form the people.

    A disorganised, unstable and corrupt government is not libertarianism. It normally has too much power and wields it in ways that make the populace uncertain and restless.

    There are very few gov’ts libertarians approve of, most are found in very small states, so it is hard to apply those principles to larger countries, but the examples of what people mean are still there. Liechenstein is considered very libertarian and is majority catholic.

    • HornOrSilk

      “Proper libertarianism” as defined by whom? Please, don’t give me this strawman which will also say, there is no true democracy, no true capitalism, no true socialism, and even, no true Catholicism. What tends to happen with libertarians is what we see with Rand: for anything they don’t like, demand no law and to be “left free,” but for anything they need, “I need a law for that.” Sorry, libertarianism is the law of the ego, and it is Satanic because of that.

      • CJ

        Libertarians are not anarchists. Every libertarian I’ve ever read believes that government should act to enforce laws against the initiation of force and fraud. If Somalia were a libertarian state, the government would act against the pirates for initiating force against Captain Phillips.

        • HornOrSilk

          Libertarians are inconsistent, and their ideology is anarchist, which is why, if you press them with their own claims to what they support, they end up unnerved. I mean, if force and coercion is bad, why is it ok when “initiation of force and fraud” are involved? It becomes inconsistent, because the “force and fraud” are also vague terms, allow them to have their cake and eat it too.

          • wlinden

            Let’s see. If (most) libertarians agree on something, they are “brain dead Randroids”. If (some) libertarians do not agree on some things, they are “inconsistent’.

            Can you say “double bind”? I knew you could.

            • HornOrSilk

              No, I said that the follow Rand in the selfishness aspect, and the center of their world is themselves. That is what makes them libertarian: they keep arguing for FALSE freedom to allow themselves to do as they wish. Always. Which of course, when push comes to shove, allows them to push others to get what they want (the other, by not giving it, was just being coercive anyway).

          • wlinden

            If assault and battery is bad, why is it ok when “self-defense” is involved? That is SO confusing and inconsistent.

          • Morris

            Who are “they” and please provide an example of one of “them” getting unnerved. I’d be rather surprised if, for example, Tom Woods got unnerved when discussing with you what he supports.

        • wlinden

          Some libertarians are anarchists. (Oh, are they ever, recalling when Chairman SEK held forth to the NYU Freedom Fen.) Many are not.

          Presumably anarcho-libertarians would hire the protection and defense syndicates to act against pirates. A minarchist libertarian state would issue letters of marque and reprisal against them.

          “Somewhere, there may be two libertarians who agree on everything. But i am not one of them.” — David Friedman

          • wlinden

            Anyway, for more extensive discussion, I recommend Robert Nozick, ANARCHY, STATE AND UTOPIA. The first third (“How to Back Into a State Without Really Trying”) is largely devoted to considering whether the “dominant protection agency” in the area must inevitably evolve (or devolve) into the minimal state. It also includes the famous “experience machine” thought experiment.

        • Catholic Fast Food Worker

          Then how come many well-published & outspoken libertarians don’t support laws that would protect unborn human lives from “the initiation of force & fraud”? I’ve read far too many libertarians who are outspoken defenders of abortion.

          • wlinden

            Take that up with Libertarians for Life (http://l4l.org).

            Then there are those (like onetime Party candidate Andre Marrou) who are pro-life by conviction, but don’t think it should be settled by legislation because (all together now) “Government Doesn’t Work!)

            • HornOrSilk

              And there you have it, “personally opposed, but legal” response, which in other circumstances is said not to be pro-life. Why is it pro-life for a libertarian?

  • wlinden

    And now you appear to be using a random basis for whether to write “libertarian” or “Libertarian”. I suppose that is an improvement, after years of complaints.

  • Morris

    When you say things like “libertarian paradise like Somalia or Haiti” and “warlords” and “every man for himself”, it becomes quite clear that you have no firm grasp on libertarianism. I know you think you do, but Jack Chick thinks he has a firm grasp on what Catholicism is too.

    • http://commonsensecatholicism.blogspot.com/ Kevin Tierney

      No, I think it’s more a recognition that a lot of libertarian thinkers are utopian in their views on human nature. Randian and libertarian paradises by necessity will become despotic wastelands in enough time. It’s why no nation has even bothered trying to govern according to libertarian principles, and even their founding thinkers (Mill) had just as much a tendency towards Leviathan. (Mill really was a glorious contradiction in terms with his thought.)

  • kirthigdon

    Considering both historical and contemporary experience, it’s difficult to see any correlation at all between amount of power in government and evangelization. It took the Church four centuries or so to convert the highly centralized Roman empire. Then you had several centuries of successive invasions of “Bronze Age tribes ruled by warlords” (actually Iron Age) and these were evangelized and converted as they arrived with some of the warlords (or more often their wives) becoming saints of the Church. During the highly politically decentralized feudal period which followed, the Church reached the apex of its influence in Europe. The rise of national monarchies, both a partial effect and a partial cause of the Protestant revolt, severely limited evangelization opportunities for the Church in Europe and tore several countries away from the Church. New opportunities were openned by the imperialistic conquests of Catholic Spain and Portugal. The rise of the more modern type of nation state in the wake of the French Revolution resulted in restrictions on Catholic opportunites for evangelism in countries such as France, Italy, and Germany, as well as much of Latin America, though the latter had already been mostly converted in colonial times. In the US, the Church grew not very much by evangelization as by immigration from nation states which persecuted or harrassed Catholics.

    What of today? The Church is experiencing its most explosive growth in chaotic Africa (tribes ruled by warlords) but is also growing strongly in authoritarian capitalist (formerly Communist) China. In the US it seems to be making slow progress, more due to Hispanic immigration than evangelization, but ground is probably being gradually lost in most of Latin America. But it is in the nation nanny-states of Europe where the collapse of the faith is most advanced. Over all, I really don’t see a pattern to support either Mark’s postion or that of his libertarian questioner. We’re called to evangelize in season and out. If sometimes it’s harder perhaps the fruit will be greater.

    Kirt Higdon

  • Elaine S.

    To claim that Somalia and Haiti are “libertarian paradises” is like claiming that Ethiopia at the height of the 1980s famine was a Weight Watchers’ paradise.

  • http://www.bewilderingstories.com/bios/thomas_r_bio.html Thomas R

    Islam does better in societies with states, I did some research on this, but Christianity did better among stateless (or maybe more accurately “decentralized”), peoples like the Igbo who lived in autonomous villages, than Islam did. This is perhaps to be expected as Muhammad was a founder of a state, the earlier caliphate.

    I am not a libertarian, understand, and the decentralized people I mean would not fit as libertarian. (They might be closer to some kind of anarcho-socialism, but even that’s wrongheaded) But that it’s easier to evangelize a people with a centralized state is not really proven and I think might even be wrong. China had a highly developed state, but despite centuries of missionary work Christianity remains a rather small percentage of their overall population.

    As for real-world places that are libertarian, there is no such place. (Chile would likely come closer than Somalia though) Libertarianism is basically a theoretical notion, not anything practiced anywhere. I personally lean toward thinking it likely can’t be practiced anywhere as something would likely fill in the power-vacuum.


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