Dear Crisis Magazine….

You recently published Joe Hargrave’s defense of the proposition that Libertarianism is not heretical:

Here’s some Libertarian thought from Libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard (the guy Libertarians routinely refer us to as the “sane” alternative to Enemy of God Ayn Rand):

The Catholic anti-abortionist, for example, declares that all he wants for the fetus is the rights of any human being, i.e., the right not to be murdered. But there is more involved here, and this is the crucial consideration. If we are to treat the fetus as having the same rights as humans, then let us ask: what human has the right to remain, unbidden, as an unwanted parasite within some other human being’s body? This is the nub of the issue: the absolute right of every person and hence every woman, to the ownership of her own body. What the mother is doing in an abortion is causing an unwanted entity within her body to be ejected from it: If the fetus dies, this does not rebut the point that no being has a right to live, unbidden as a parasite within or upon some person’s body.

Rothbard on parents and their (born) children: “Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights.”

Also there’s this gem from Rothbard: “Now the man who seizes another’s property is living in basic contradiction to his own nature as a man. For we have seen that man can only live and prosper by his own production and exchange of products. The aggressor, on the other hand, is not a producer at all but a predator; he lives parasitically off the labor and product of others. Hence, instead of living in accordance with the nature of man, the aggressor is a parasite who feeds unilaterally by exploiting the labor and energy of other men. Here is clearly a complete violation of any kind of universal ethic, for man clearly cannot live as a parasite; parasites must have non-parasites, producers, to feed upon. The parasite not only fails to add to the social total of goods and services, he depends completely on the production of the host body. And yet, any increase in coercive parasitism decreases ipso facto the quantity and the output of the producers, until finally, if the producers die out, the parasites will quickly follow suit.”

Of course, by “coercive parasitism” Rothbard means any form of social assistance to “parasites” like the truly indigent, the aged, the infirm, the disabled, orphans, and so on. So, a question: If your mother or grandmother is on Social Security or Medicare, is she a parasite?

HT: Reader Mark Gordon

Good luck reconciling this insanity with the teaching of the Church, Crisis.

What *happened* to you guys anyway?

Some will wonder if I sweep all Libertarians into Rothbard’s camp. Of course not. Libertarianism, like Gnosticism, is not a monolith. And just to be clear: in calling libertarianism (and all ideology, by the way) “heresy” I was using “heresy” in a much looser sense than “formal heresy”.

Arguing that babies are parasites who we can kill at will and parents owe their children nothing = formal heresy. And that’s Libertarianism distilled to chemical purity by Rothbard. But most Catholics, including Joe Hargrave, take the poison in much more diluted form and it gives them an Individualism High without completely deadening their humanity and sanity as it does with Rothbard. Problem is, it also impairs their ability to listen to the parts of Catholic teaching libertarianism dislikes.

So I don’t sweep all libertarians into Rothbard’s camp. I recognize that there is no libertarian magisterium and that people pick and choose bits that they like–and that lots of people influenced by libertarianism are very nice people and very good Catholics.

But I also recognize that all they are doing is selecting bits and pieces from Catholic Magisterial teaching and that the more Catholic you become the less Libertarian you are, while the more Libertarian you become, the more like Murray Rothbard you become.

My solution: ditch Libertarian picking and choosing and just stick with the fullness of Catholic teaching.  All the good stuff, none of the evil, stupid, and crazy.


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