My latest contribution to The Josias.
Matt Mazewski, in his debut article for Ethika Politika, asks “Would a ‘Catholic Party’ Be Bad For the Church?” In the end Mazewski is skeptical, and rightly so—but only because the vision he operates with is a liberal one. Granted, this is not clear at the article’s outset; scroll down several paragraphs, however, and this is what appears:
From the standpoint of the American [Catholic] hierarchy, the existence of a “Catholic Party” would be bad news for the same reason it would be good news: The bishops would be free to support a single party and its candidates without reservation. For anyone concerned about the politicization of religion, this would be a worrisome state of affairs.
A lot of brainpower is being directed toward making sure that when Catholics hear the expression “Catholic Social Teaching” (CST) they hear “economic liberalism.” Sure, a humane face is put on the project, with calls on the periphery for “ethical entrepreneurship” and a business culture where “the person” is taken into account; but by day’s end the principle that government should stay out of the market is upheld. Gerald J. Russello surveys, and apparently approves of, this re-orientation of CST in his recent Crisis article, “The Latest Debate Over Catholic Social Thought.” And who does Russello hold up as “rich interpreters” of the Catholic social tradition? John Zmirak and Anthony Esolen.
It doesn’t mean much in the end, but my observations on international aviation law have made their way into The Atlantic, Financial Times, and Reuters. I never did make it into the New York Times — that is, not until I started discussing #rabbits.
Does anyone know the official Eastern Orthodox position on #rabbits? Has it developed or just been obscured over the decades?
— Gabriel Sanchez (@OpusPublicum) January 20, 2015
Next goal: Get #friendlyfascism trending worldwide.
In glancing back over yesterday’s post, “Neoconservatism and Conceptual Clarity Redux,” along with some unconnected conversations on social media, it occurred to me how little so many “critics of libertarianism” seem to understand about the object of their ire. In the space of approximately five minutes, I saw Libertarian National Committee vice chair Arvin Vohra, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and Presidential hopeful Rand Paul referred to as “libertarians.” I suppose that makes John McCain and Mitt Romney libertarians, too. Heck, why not just go the whole nine yards and say that every politician, thinker, or individual who does not support big centralized government, an unwieldy administrative state, and poorly designed social-welfare programs libertarians as well. That way yours truly can finally be back in the libertarian fold after so many cold and lonely years away.
Addendum, 1/20/2015: A commenter on this post alerted me that I seem to have misread Wolfe’s point about neoconservatism being one branch of conservatism rather than including the other branches he listed as part of his definition of neoconservatism. Since neoconservatism is, in numerous circles, conflated with various forms of neoliberalism, classical liberalism, and libertarianism, I am going to leave the original post up as it may be helpful to some audiences. However, it appears that Wolfe himself is not making this interpretive error. My apologies for the confusion.
A friend directed me to Artur Rosman’s interview with Gregory Wolfe, editor-in-chief of IMAGE Journal. It’s available at Ethika Politika here. The main topic of the interview—Catholic literature—is one I don’t find particularly compelling, but to each their own. What caught my eye was Rosman’s question about Wolfe’s relationship to neoconservatism and the puzzling reply Wolfe made: “Let’s get some terminology straight: neo-conservatism is a branch of the larger conservative coalition, which includes traditionalists, libertarians, and a couple other exotic species. It loses any value if it is simply used to mean ‘modern conservatives.’”
What our dear Holy Father Francis meant, or might have meant, when he solemnly declared that good Catholics need not “be like rabbits” is, as per usual, difficult to say. Patrick Archbold, writing over at his personal blog Creative Minority Report, finds the Sovereign Pontiff’s words “highly imprudent.” I’ll say. Archbold goes on:
Compassionate conservatism was a thing in the late 1990s and 00s. For the life of me I can’t recall the last time I heard the expression used in a serious conversation. Maybe that’s because compassionate conservatism, like most political orientations packed into a slogan, wasn’t serious. It certainly didn’t help that the expression conjured up an image of regular old run-of-the-mill conservatism as downright mean, even frightening. Anyway, I don’t expect it to return to the forefront of our politics anytime soon, especially not in the era of “Tea Party” conservatism and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, a gross mixture of social libertinism and state-managed capitalism. This is why I am issuing a modest, measured, and above all mirthful call for #friendlyfascism. In a day and age when so many traditionally disenfranchised, even oppressed, groups have “taken back” certain words of derision, is it not time for us, concerned citizens of the United States who have grown indifferent toward, nay, disgusted with the present socio-economic ordo to take back the original F-Word?
My latest piece for The Josias, “A Reflection on St. Pius X and Contemporary Approaches to Catholic Social Teaching,” is now up online. From the reflection:
Lest one assume that Pius X, who continues to hold the reputation of being an arch-reactionary in the minds of many contemporary Catholics, limited himself to attacking radical social movements with nothing to say to those who are today attached to neoliberal/libertarian visions of the unbridled marketplace, it is important to look further at the text of Fin Dalla Prima Nostra which, inter alia, binds capitalists in justice to pay just wages, to not injure workers financially through usury, and to ensure that their family lives are protected (article VIII). In union with his predecessor, Leo XIII, and eventual successor, Pius XI, Pius X’s vision of capitalist/labor relations is a harmonious one maintained through private aid, insurance, trade, and professional associations. Instead of first seeking centralized, state-based solutions, Pius X advocated a fresh form of Catholic Action dedicated to reforming the socio-economic order.
Thomas Pott, Byzantine Liturgical Reform (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press 2010), 293pgs.