13 comments

  1. I hope illiberal Catholicism continues to grow and gain influence but realistically the numbers are overwhelmingly against us. There are many traditional-Latin Mass goers who are not only mild-libertarians but hardcore Rothbardians. I still difficulty wrapping my mind around such cognitive dissonance.

    Perhaps this would be a topic for another post, but I have noticed with the exception of Pater Edmund and the SSPX, that virtually all illiberal Catholics nowadays are laymen. It seems the clergy is especially squeamish on these issue even more so than on others like contraception or even usury. It seems many American clerics have so internalized the thought of John Courtney Murray, Cardinal Gibbons and Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Are they really just concerned about charges of “theocracy!”?

    Reading quotes for Cardinal Ratzinger wherein he praises the First Amendment are disheartening to say the least, and really undermine any kind of illiberal critique. What will it take move beyond this political liberalism?

  2. I think what it will take is, sadly, what we are seeing now: the reality that liberalism has no room for us. We — Catholicism — got into this deal thinking that if we played by the rules, participated according to the norms of liberalism, and didn’t let our “hocus-pocus religion” get in the way of being dutiful consumers, civil servants, etc., we would have a place to call home and no problems to worry about. False. Unfortunately, after spending over a century intoxicated on the liquor of liberalism here in America, it’s going to take some time for us to recover from the hangover.

  3. What’s the goal here? How does this differ from fascism?

    Several of the continental thinkers cited above have either direct or indirect ties to fascism. Is this inconsequential? Are you going to do it better this time?

    1. None of them have any direct links to fascism, unless one subscribes to the Isaiah Berlin School of Historical Revisionism. Besides, don’t you know? Fascism started with Plato…or was it Machiavelli…etc.

      Next.

      1. Jean Ousset worked with Charles Maurras in Action Française. Just to start.

        But, leaving that aside then, what about the first two questions:

        What’s the goal here? How does this differ from fascism?

        1. Because what I — and others — are talking about here is not some neo-pagan conflation of religion and politics with a totalizing state but rather the restoration of Christendom with the state and the Church holding their properly ordained places in the world. There is no racialist ideology nor nationalistic myths animating the concerns of any of the men listed, nor are they at the heart of my own thinking.

          It might be helpful, if you are genuinely interested in this topic, to read the “Integralism” post I link to above. I think that will provide a much clearer picture of what the pressing issues are and what the “goal” — so to speak — is. I would also suggest Dom Gerard’s sermon, which you can find on this blog under the title “Illiberal Catholic Manifesto.” If you feel that either of these texts are fascistic in some way, please let me know. I don’t see it. I don’t see how anyone could see it, but perhaps you are working with a far broader definition of fascism than I — one which basically sees few, if any, alternatives to contemporary liberalism. Or, if I am misunderstanding you, let me know. I am all eyes.

          1. Petro’s question is an interesting one, and I don’t think it can be dismissed so curtly. According to the German historian Ernst Notle, fascism, at its core, was the “counterrevolutionary imitation of the Left.” In other words, it was a revolutionary movement with reactionary characteristics set in opposition to various Left-liberal positions. If we are to move beyond pixelated theorizing about the irreconcilability of Catholicism with liberalism, if we are to work toward the actualization of a just political order, it seems to me that some sort revolutionary-reactionary movement is necessary. Traditional conservatism is no longer an option, because there is very little left of the traditional political and social order to conserve. Given the state of the modern West, something like fascism may be the only way forward. There’s a reason trad Catholics view Franco’s Spain and Salazar’s Portugal the way they do.

            1. I think Notle is over-simplifying things. Fascism was more than just a reaction to the Left, though that was obviously part of its modus operandi and attraction. But like so many political movements, fascism was not monolithic. There are some important distinctions to be drawn from the manifest neo-paganism of National Socialism and the Orthodox-embedded fascism that reigned in Romania.

              Calling for a return to a just order built on Catholic principles is not a call to taking up arms and jack-booting our way to victory. There is an active, evangelistic element to this which cannot be ignored. What is immediately out-of-bounds are nationalistic myths, scape-goating, and other deformations which have nothing to do with the social magisterium of the Catholic Church and the teachings. Not everything counter-revolutionary needs to be violent. Making our voices heard would be a good place to start. Right now we seem to be contenting ourselves with endless discussion.

            2. Calling for a return to a just order built on Catholic principles is not a call to taking up arms and jack-booting our way to victory. There is an active, evangelistic element to this which cannot be ignored.

              Yes, of course. I was referring not so much as to how something like fascism is implemented—although I can see how that was implied—but as to what an (illiberal) Catholic state would look like given modernity.

              What is immediately out-of-bounds are nationalistic myths, scape-goating, and other deformations which have nothing to do with the social magisterium of the Catholic Church and the teachings.

              Insofar as Catholic Social Teaching includes the principle of the common good, it seems to me that questions pertaining to whether or not multiculturalism and diversity serve the common good are not out-of-bounds. James Kalb, one of the foremost contemporary defenders of illiberal Catholicism, has addressed much of this in his latest book Against Inclusiveness: How the Diversity Regime is Flattening America and the West and What to Do About It.

            3. it seems to me that questions pertaining to whether or not multiculturalism and diversity serve the common good are not out-of-bounds

              I bring this up because questioning whether or not multiculturalism and diversity serve the common good is often dismissed as fascist (in derogatory fashion, as if that settled the matter), as propagating nationalistic myths and engaging in scapegoating.

            4. At this point I am not sure it’s a good use of resources to imagine a Catholic state in a (post)modern secular world. I am all for baby steps and those baby steps need to include basic, localized organization and action. And here I am thinking about Catholic worker/professional associations; the collective use of established public forums to defend and advance principles of good order, even on a very small scale (school boards, town hall meetings, municipal elections, etc.); and, if needed, demonstrations. Visibility is key. Of course we’re in the minority right now and lack a handle on the usual levers of power, but that does not justify quietism.

              Let me give you an example of something I am thinking about on a very low level. In Grand Rapids we have a Catholic-owned pharmacy called Kay Pharmacy. They have one location in a rather small city (population just under 200k). Because it is Catholic owned, it does not sell contraceptives. Period. So why aren’t we — the Catholic community writ large — committed to doing our business there, if not exclusively then at least almost exclusively? Is this not the model of a business we want to see grow? Do we not want pharmacies that do not deal in immoral products over, say, CVS and Walgreens? But I suspect Kay struggles to keep going like any locally owned establishment even though it — and other pharmacies built on Catholic principles — should be thriving.

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