Feb 162011
 

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C.S. Lewis

Earlier today I wrote a post about the Catholic Church’s teachings with respect to the bearing and raising of children, specifically as expressed by Pope Piux XI in his encyclical Casti Conubii. In the course to applying my amateur skills to parsing the text into more widely accessible terms, I found myself disagreeing with the Holy Father on several points related to the relationship between Church and State.

My ideals with respect to Church-State relations flow primarily from the maxim, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity”. What I regard as essentials are introduced in broad strokes via the Philosophy of Liberty. However, while the State arrogates to itself matters proper to the Church or the individual, a faithful member of the Church has a moral obligation to use civic means to prevent the State from participating in or protecting evil. Just how to go about doing that is the subject of much debate, however.

Rather than clutter up my post on family planning with digressions about politics, I’ve decided to write a separate post here. In order to better understand the context of these remarks, the reader is encouraged to read my other post, or at least the full text of the encyclical itself.

All emphases in the quoted text below are mine.

“37. …what the families and individuals are, so also is the State, for a body is determined by its parts. Wherefore, both for the private good of husband, wife and children, as likewise for the public good of human society, they indeed deserve well who strenuously defend the inviolable stability of matrimony.”

This is a rather pernicious conflation of State and society. Lincoln’s paean to a government allegedly “of the people, by the people, and for the people” notwithstanding, the State is not an organic extension of its citizens. It is not an emergent phenomenon generated by natural processes. It is not the product of voluntary society. It is law, and law entails force. That force is negative, not in the sense of a moral evil, but in that its proper scope it inhibits behavior.

Frederic Bastiat describes it this way in The Law:

“What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

“Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

“Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?

“If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.

“Can the law — which necessarily requires the use of force — rationally be used for anything except protecting the rights of everyone? I defy anyone to extend it beyond this purpose without perverting it and, consequently, turning might against right. This is the most fatal and most illogical social perversion that can possibly be imagined. It must be admitted that the true solution — so long searched for in the area of social relationships — is contained in these simple words: Law is organized justice.

“Now this must be said: When justice is organized by law — that is, by force — this excludes the idea of using law (force) to organize any human activity whatever, whether it be labor, charity, agriculture, commerce, industry, education, art, or religion. The organizing by law of any one of these would inevitably destroy the essential organization — justice. For truly, how can we imagine force being used against the liberty of citizens without it also being used against justice, and thus acting against its proper purpose?”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Since Bastiat so eloquently states ideas near to my own, I shall rely on him heavily for the remainder of this article.

Getting back to the relationship between the Church and the State with respect to marriage let’s see what Pius XI says.

Continue reading »

Oct 092009
 

I’m nearly done listening free MP3s of “What Has Government Done to Our Money?” by Murray Rothbard. I find myself becoming increasingly outraged about the fraud committed against the American people through modern banking. I also find myself surprised and angry that I didn’t know more about this before (e.g., via news media) and that activists for social justice either don’t know or don’t care about these problems.

Sound money – ending the Federal Reserves, insisting on 100% reserve banking, and returning to a commodity-based currency – is typically regarded, by insiders and outsiders alike, as primarily a paleoconservative or right-libertarian issue. Buzzwords like “gold standard” and “free market” are instant turn-offs to many on the Left. That must stop, and we must find power in combining our numbers. We must find a way to convince the progressive Left that central banking, fractional reserves, and fiat currency are fraudulent and harmful to society, particularly its most vulnerable, the poor and those on fixed incomes. We must also convince them that

How do we go about doing that? Any ideas?

BTW, if you’re a progressive (or anyone else not previously interested in sound money) who followed a link to this post, please read or listen to “What Has Government Done to Our Money?” and leave a comment to let me know your thoughts. How do you feel about central banking, fractional reserves, and fiat currency? Do you think you could find enough common ground to work with libertarian? Why or why not?

Jun 092009
 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” – Declaration of Independence

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