Conservative Colloquium

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Posts Tagged ‘conservatism’

Conservatism & Science: Why Politics is Not a Science

Posted by Tony Listi on January 1, 2011

Science is conservative in some respects:

  • It generally changes incrementally and gradually as new evidence comes to mind.
  • It tests everything against experience. Results matter, not just theories or intentions.
  • It inherently looks to the past. Past occurences and observations are the foundation of science. Without faith in the past, science could not function.
  • It sees the world as inherently orderly, functioning according to certain reliably consistent laws of nature.

But science is not conservative with respect to the fact that science is fallibilistic. The foundations can and have been uprooted several times. The notion of science as the slow, steady, and conservative accumulation of knowledge was destroyed by a series of revolutions at the biological, cosmic, and atomic levels. Copernicus, Darwin, Einstein, and Heisenberg in partcular were instrumental in proving that science sometimes radically uproots the current paradigm of empirical/scientific knowledge. Strictly speaking, nothing is ever really “settled” in science.

True conservatism does not allow for epistemological revolutions in moral and political philosophy:

Conservatives do not deny the existence of undiscovered truths, but they make a critical assumption, which is that those truths that have already been apprehended are more important to cultivate than those undisclosed ones close to the liberal grasp only in the sense that the fruit was close to Tantalus…. Conservatism is the tacit acknowledgement that all that is finally important in human experience is behind us; that the crucial explorations have been undertaken, and that it is given to man to know what are the great truths that emerged from them. Whatever is to come cannot outweigh the importance to man of what has gone before. (William F. Buckley Jr. in Up from Liberalism)

Marxists and libertarians of almost all varieties think that politics is a science. But it isn’t, strictly speaking.

Conservatism is a more humane political philosophy because it recognizes the reality of human nature and the influences upon it. People are not mere physical material, mere combinations of atoms and molecules, who react in the exact same way to certain external stimuli, whether economic or political. Sure, human nature in general doesn’t change, but culture and nurture mould the raw material human nature. Also, people are individuals and thus sometimes deviate from nature, culture, or nurture by willful choice. No nation is perfectly virtuous, but some nations are more virtuous than others in certain respects. 

Thus, while there are certainly timeless political principles, their direct and pure application will not yield the same results for every single group of people under any and all circumstances. Prudence cannot be dispensed with, and thus politics should be considered an art ultimately. Of course, just because something is an art doesn’t mean that reason should be ignored. Orderly art requires reason, the faculty that creates order.

Moreover, it is actually the notion itself of politics as a science that has been so harmful to American politics. Science became largely about experimentation and knowledge for its own sake or for the sake of power, unhinged from moral considerations. Regressives applied hubristic, reckless, and immoral political experimentation in America, irrationally disregarding experience and time-tested experience (not to mention constitutional law). The consequences have been devastating.

Science in itself has no moral compass. To say that politics is a science is to introduce the element of amorality (or rather immorality) into politics.

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Posted in Conservatism, Political Philosophy, Science and Politics, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Conservatism, Libertarianism, and Children’s Positive Rights

Posted by Tony Listi on August 13, 2010

Libertarians sometimes complain that Big Government treats its citizens like children (e.g. using the adjective “paternalistic” to describe govt.). They also denounce the notion of natural positive rights, which are rights that compel others to do something, and uphold negative rights only, which compel others to refrain from doing certain things.

The irony of all this is that many libertarians don’t see that these two concepts, children and positive rights, are related. The government should not treat its adult citizens like children because adult citizens have only negative rights and no positive rights. But the inherent logic of this sort of argument seems to dictate that children have positive rights, unless one wants to erroneously assert that no one has positive rights.

Adulthood, legally defined according to age as a matter of prudence, carries with it a moral responsibility to take care of oneself rather than demand others take care of you (which is what children and statists do). Thus one major reason why the welfare state is immoral: it forces some citizens to care for other citizens as if the former were parents and the latter were children when in fact everyone is an adult. Adults are expected to be mature, self-sufficient, cooperative with others, rational, independent. Thus they have no positive rights.

Children are irrational, dependent, and helplessly weak by nature. Yet they are still innocent human beings, persons with human dignity. It is children’s irrational, dependent, and helplessly weak nature that confers upon them natural, individual, positive rights. They have a right to attention and care for their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well being. It is an evil and an injustice for a child to be neglected or abused.

But upon whom do children have these rights to attention and care? Not upon everyone. Not upon the State. And not upon just any random person. It is parents who are obligated to provide attention and care insofar as they are able to; it is upon them that children have positive rights. Why upon parents? Because the parents gave their children life and existence and are thus responsible for their children and their children’s rights. One would think this would be self-evident but apparently not in this decadent era and culture.

It is the concept of children’s positive rights that separates conservatives and libertarians philosophically. From this concept springs the conservative’s commitment to pro-life and pro-marriage public policy. The inherent moral differences between adulthood and childhood cannot be ignored or glossed over when it comes to political philosophy.

The purpose of government is to protect people’s rights, both natural and civil, both positive and negative, as far as it is possible for government to prudently do so. Of course, this purpose assumes an accurate determination of what rights human beings actually have and what differences among human beings really matter.

Not only does the child in the womb have negative rights against being killed, but he or she also has positive rights upon the mother, a right to her body and the sustenance it provides. (However, if the baby actually does pose a threat to the life of the mother, which is extremely rare and usually means the baby would not survive either, one may save the life of the mother by infringing on the positive rights of the child but not the negative rights. One may remove the child from the mother but not actively kill the child through violence.)

The government has a duty to protect both the positive and negative rights of the unborn son or daughter as prudently as possible. Outlawing abortion and prosecuting abortionists seems very prudent. Because the preamble to the Constitution reveals that our founding document was meant for “posterity,” i.e. the unborn, and their rights too, I believe one can make a sound originalist, constitutional argument for federal involvement in protecting the rights of the unborn. But if not, I will take the states’ rights alternative as the next best thing. Even pro-life legislation has to be constitutional to be enacted, for the rule of law according to founding principles (e.g. federalism) is more important than any individual right or single issue.

Once born, how well these positive rights of children are secured is intimately tied to the character of the relationship between mother and father. The purpose of marriage as both a civil and religious institution is to ensure that the relationship between mother and father is best suited for the procreation and raising children. As a civil institution, it has no other purpose. Children are best raised by their biological mother and father (see here also). If the relationship between mother and father is unstable and unloving, the child’s positive rights will suffer in a variety of ways.  Because homosexual relationships are absolutely sterile by nature (not by dysfunction), they do not deserve any legal recognition whatsoever. (And the legalized separation of children from their biological fathers and mothers through sperm and egg “banks” is immoral and should be outlawed. No one has a “right” to a child and such “artificial” children suffer psychologically.)

The government has a duty to protect the positive and negative rights of children as prudently as possible. American society recognizes that children have negative rights, thus the laws against physical and sexual abuse. There are very few things that government can prudently do to secure the positive rights of children without causing greater evil. However, through prudent regulation of the institution of marriage, it can promote more stable, enduring marriages, which in turn will help secure children’s positive rights. Legally defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, repealing no-fault divorce, and treating marriage like a corporation are a few basic, prudent measures government should take to help strengthen marriages and thus better protect the positive rights of children. Because of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, I’m not sure how one can avoid a national marriage policy. But again, if the states’ rights alternative could work, I’ll take it as the next best thing. Even pro-marriage legislation has to be constitutional to be enacted, for the rule of law according to founding principles (e.g. federalism) is more important than any individual right or single issue.

Many libertarians like to say that “liberty is indivisible” and that conservatives are inconsistent for dividing economic and individual/social liberty. But in reality, conservatives absolutely agree that liberty is indivisible. We are not inconsistent; we just have a different view of human nature and rights. It is merely the case that many libertarians are unwilling to acknowledge the obvious and relevant differences between adults and children with regard to rights. This self-evident and empirical distinction among human beings is what libertarianism seems unable to handle morally and humanely.

Posted in Abortion, Conservatism, Government and Politics, Libertarianism, Marriage, Political Philosophy, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Frank Meyer, Libertarianism, and the Family

Posted by Tony Listi on July 24, 2010

 

Frank S. Meyer

Frank S. Meyer’s book In Defense of Freedom and essay “Freedom, Tradition, Conservativism,” are must-reads IMO. His critique of Russell Kirk in his essay “Collectivism Rebaptized” is also insightful and persuasive. Kirk and Meyer have been the most influential thinkers on my own political views but Meyer most of all.

In his essay “Freedom, Tradition, Conservativism,” Meyer argues his belief that conservatism and libertarianism derive from the same Western political tradition and merely represent two different but complementary emphases that have always been in tension:

I am well aware that what I have been saying can be criticized as eclecticism and attacked as an effort to smother principle. But it is not the laying aside of clear belief, either by the libertarian conservative or the traditionalist conservative, in order to present a front against contemporary collectivist Liberalism, that is here conceived. Rather it is the deepening of the beliefs which each holds through the development of their implications in a dialectic free of distorting narrowness…a dialectic in which both sides recognize not only that they have a common enemy but also that, despite all differences, they hold a common heritage….

[E]ach side emphasizes so strongly the aspect of the great tradition of the West which it sees as decisive that distortion sets in…. [T]he complementary interdependence of freedom and virtue, of the individual person and political order, is forgetten.

Moral order, tradition, liberty, and individualism need not be in conflict in a free society though a healthy tension exists among them.

Notably for contemporary disputes among conservatives and libertarians, in his book In Defense of Freedom, Meyer affirms the exceptional and necessary character of the institution of the family (emphases mine):

To this completely voluntary character of associations proper to the free nature of men, there are only two exceptions–the state and the family. Neither can be voluntary because of the human condition itself…. The family is the institution into which children are born and under which they develop as human beings. As far as they are concerned, it is not voluntary…. As far as their parents are concerned, the family is, however, entered into voluntarily; marriage is, in a free society, originally a mutual voluntary act of two individuals–voluntary, even though any marriage worthy of that exalted name is an unbreakable compact and though the family, proceeding from marriage, creates morally indissoluble bonds of parental obligation.

The family is the most important form through which virtue is inculcated in children. But it is not the institution of the family as such that inculcates virtue; it is the persons who constitute the family–father and mother and other close relatives–who in actuality decide the issue of the moral and intellectual direction that children take…. The family as an institution cannot guarantee the raising of the young in the paths of virtue, although the family is a necessary form; only individual persons, acting through the form of the family, can do so.

Frank Meyer embodies my political philosophy: an Austrian libertarian who recognizes the necessary and exceptional nature of marriage and children. Libertarians would do well to temper their ideology of liberty with the same recognition of the unique nature of the family. One cannot expect limited government and liberty in a society where the institution of the family is weak, if not completely destroyed.

Posted in Abortion, Conservatism, Government and Politics, Libertarianism, Marriage, Political Philosophy, Quotes, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Catholicism is Distinctly Conservative

Posted by Tony Listi on January 23, 2010

The Catholic faith teaches that grasping the truth about God, His Church, and His moral precepts is not an ongoing process that never ends. The Holy Spirit led the apostles and the Church built on their hand-picked successors “to all truth” (John 16:13).

While it may take some time for the individual to learn and humbly submit to all these truths, these truths have already been revealed and “handed down once for all” (Jude 1:3). The Christian faith was established with certainty and infallibility long before Martin Luther; it cannot be changed, no matter how scrupulously one studies the Bible. Nothing substantive or fundamental can be added to or subtracted from the early deposit of faith.

Personal Scriptural interpretations and younger, man-made Protestant traditions cannot possibly carry greater weight or be more accurate than the Scriptural interpretations of the early Church fathers and councils long before the Protestant Revolution and its “progressive” and innovative doctrinal additions to and subtractions from the one, traditional Faith handed down by the apostles, the foundation of the Church (Eph 2:20).

However, grasping these fixed, traditional Christian truths as they apply to our individual lives and our striving to live out those truths (i.e. sanctification) is indeed an unending, life-long process. We need constant reminders of the truths that have already been revealed to us and constant reflection on how to apply them to our own lives. We need constant prayer for the grace and strength to practice and live out the fixed truths we already know, so that our faith may not be dead, useless, and in vain.

Therefore, Catholicism is distinctly conservative while all other denominations, to a greater or lesser extent, are necessarily liberal, relativist, fallibilist, and egocentric.

Though he’s talking about politics and conservatism, the following quote by William F. Buckley, Jr. (himself a Catholic) in Up from Liberalism applies very similarly to religion and Catholicism:

Conservatives do not deny the existence of undiscovered truths, but they make a critical assumption, which is that those truths that have already been apprehended are more important to cultivate than those undisclosed ones close to the liberal grasp only in the sense that the fruit was close to Tantalus…. Conservatism is the tacit acknowledgement that all that is finally important in human experience is behind us; that the crucial explorations have been undertaken, and that it is given to man to know what are the great truths that emerged from them. Whatever is to come cannot outweigh the importance to man of what has gone before.

With regard to epistemology, i.e. “critical assumption[s],” Protestantism and modern American liberalism are two sides of the same coin.

Posted in Catholicism, Catholicism vs. Protestantism, Conservatism, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Religion and Theology, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Pope Leo XIII on Private Property, Wealth, Charity, Taxes, and Unions

Posted by Tony Listi on July 9, 2008

Alright all you liberal/socialist Catholics out there, I think it is time to reassess what the Church really believes about private property, wealth, charity, and other economic issues. Tell me what you think about the following citations from Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (bolding mine).

Is there any doubt that the Church is on the side of conservatism?

To cure this evil, the Socialists, exciting the envy of the poor toward the rich, contend that it is necessary to do away with private possession of goods and in its place to make the goods of individuals common to all, and that the men who preside over a municipality or who direct the entire State should act as administrators of these goods. They hold that, by such a transfer of private goods from private individuals to the community, they can cure the present evil through dividing wealth and benefits equally among the citizens. But their program is so unsuited for terminating the conflict that it actually injures the workers themselves. Moreover, it is highly unjust, because it violates the rights of lawful owners, perverts the function of the State, and throws governments into utter confusion.”

Therefore, inasmuch as the Socialists seek to transfer the goods of private persons to the community at large, they make the lot of all wage earners worse, because in abolishing the freedom to dispose of wages they take away from them by this very act the hope and the opportunity of increasing their property and of securing advantages for themselves. But, what is of more vital concern, they propose a remedy openly in conflict with justice, inasmuch as nature confers on man the right to possess things privately as his own.

And owing to the fact that this animal [the human being] alone has reason, it is necessary that man have goods not only to be used, which is common to all living things, but also to be possessed by stable and perpetual right; and this applies not merely to those goods which are consumed by use, but to those also which endure after being used.”

There is no reason to interpose provision by the State, for man is older than the State. Wherefore he had to possess by nature his own right to protect his life and body before any polity had been formed. The fact that God gave the whole human race the earth to use and enjoy cannot indeed in any manner serve as an objection against private possessions. For God is said to have given the earth to mankind in common, not because He intended indiscriminate ownership of it by all, but because He assigned no part to anyone in ownership, leaving the limits of private possessions to be fixed by the industry of men and the institutions of peoples.

For this reason it also follows that private possessions are clearly in accord with nature. The earth indeed produces in great abundance the things to preserve and, especially, to perfect life, but of itself it could not produce them without human cultivation and care. Moreover, since man expends his mental energy and his bodily strength in procuring the goods of nature, by this very act he appropriates that part of physical nature to himself which he has cultivated. On it he leaves impressed, as it were, a kind of image of his person, so that it must be altogether just that he should possess that part as his very own and that no one in any way should be permitted to violate his right.” Hmmm, sounds like John Locke’s view of property and property rights….

And, after all, would justice permit anyone to own and enjoy that upon which another has toiled? As effects follow the cause producing them, so it is just that the fruit of labor belongs precisely to those who have performed the labor. Rightly therefore, the human race as a whole, moved in no wise by the dissenting opinions of a few, and observing nature carefully, has found in the law of nature itself the basis of the distribution of goods, and, by the practice of all ages, has consecrated private possession as something best adapted to man’s nature and to peaceful and tranquil living together. Now civil laws, which, when just, derive their power from the natural law itself, confirm and, even by the use of force, protect this right of which we speak. — And this same right has been sanctioned by the authority of the divine law, which forbids us most strictly even to desire what belongs to another. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his house, nor his field, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is his….”

Behold, therefore, the family, or rather the society of the household, a very small society indeed, but a true one, and older than any polity! For that reason it must have certain rights and duties of its own independent of the State. Thus, right of ownership, which we have shown to be bestowed on individual persons by nature, must be assigned to man in his capacity as head of a family. Nay rather, this right is all the stronger, since the human person in family life embraces much more….”

Inasmuch as the Socialists, therefore, disregard care by parents and in its place introduce care by the State, they act against natural justice and dissolve the structure of the home. And apart from the injustice involved, it is only too evident what turmoil and disorder would obtain among all classes; and what a harsh and odious enslavement of citizens would result! The door would be open to mutual envy, detraction, and dissension. If incentives to ingenuity and skill in individual persons were to be abolished, the very fountains of wealth would necessarily dry up; and the equality conjured up by the Socialist imagination would, in reality, be nothing but uniform wretchedness and meanness for one and all, without distinction.

From all these conversations, it is perceived that the fundamental principle of Socialism which would make all possessions public property is to be utterly rejected because it injures the very ones whom it seeks to help, contravenes the natural rights of individual persons, and throws the functions of the State and public peace into confusion. Let it be regarded, therefore, as established that in seeking help for the masses this principle before all is to be considered as basic, namely, that private ownership must be preserved inviolate….”

Therefore, let it be laid down in the first place that a condition of human existence must be borne with, namely, that in civil society the lowest cannot be made equal to the highest. Socialists, of course, agitate the contrary, but all struggling against nature is vain. There are truly very great and very many natural differences among men. Neither the talents, nor the skill, nor the health, nor the capacities of all are the same, and unequal fortune follows of itself upon necessary inequality in respect to these endowments. And clearly this condition of things is adapted to benefit both individuals and the community; for to carry on its affairs community life requires varied aptitudes and diverse services, and to perform these diverse services men are impelled most by differences in individual property holdings. Therefore, to suffer and endure is human, and although men may strive in all possible ways, they will never be able by any power or art wholly to banish such tribulations from human life. If any claim they can do this, if they promise the poor in their misery a life free from all sorrow and vexation and filled with repose and perpetual pleasures, they actually impose upon these people and perpetuate a fraud which will ultimately lead to evils greater than the present….”

Among these duties the following concern the poor and the workers: To perform entirely and conscientiously whatever work has been voluntarily and equitably agreed upon; not in any way to injure the property or to harm the person of employers; in protecting their own interests, to refrain from violence and never to engage in rioting; not to associate with vicious men who craftily hold out exaggerated hopes and make huge promises, a course usually ending in vain regrets and in the destruction of wealth….”

Therefore, the well-to-do are admonished that wealth does not give surcease of sorrow, and that wealth is of no avail unto the happiness of eternal life but is rather a hindrance; that the threats pronounced by Jesus Christ, so unusual coming from Him, ought to cause the rich to fear; and that on one day the strictest account for the use of wealth must be rendered to God as Judge….” The rich must account to God, not the State for how they use their wealth. Of course, it is easily seen how liberal fascists have trouble distinguishing between the two.

But when the demands of necessity and propriety have been met, it is a duty to give to the poor out of that which remains…. These are duties not of justice, except in cases of extreme need, but of Christian charity, which obviously cannot be enforced by legal action….”

But it must not be supposed that the Church so concentrates her energies on caring for souls as to overlook things which pertain to mortal and earthly life. As regards the non-owning workers specifically, she desires and strives that they rise from their most wretched state and enjoy better conditions. And to achieve this result she makes no small contribution by the very fact that she calls men to and trains them in virtue. For when Christian morals are completely observed, they yield of themselves a certain measure of prosperity to material existence, because they win the favor of God, the source and fountain of all goods; because they restrain the twin plagues of life — excessive desire for wealth and thirst for pleasure — which too often make man wretched amidst the very abundance of riches; and because finally, Christian morals make men content with a moderate livelihood and make them supplement income by thrift, removing them far from the vices which swallow up both modest sums and huge fortunes, and dissipate splendid inheritances.”

But, in addition, the Church provides directly for the well-being of the non-owning workers by instituting and promoting activities which she knows to be suitable to relieve their distress. Nay, even in the field of works of mercy, she has always so excelled that she is highly praised by her very enemies. The force of mutual charity among the first Christians was such that the wealthier ones very often divested themselves of their riches to aid others; wherefore, ‘Nor was there anyone among them in want.’ [Acts 4:34] To the deacons, an order founded expressly for this purpose, the Apostles assigned the duty of dispensing alms daily; and the Apostle Paul, although burdened with the care of all the churches, did not hesitate to spend himself on toilsome journeys in order to bring alms personally to the poorer Christians. Moneys of this kind, contributed voluntarily by the Christians in every assembly, Tertullian calls ‘piety’s deposit fund,’ because they were expended to ‘support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of orphan boys and girls without means of support, of aged household servants, and of such, too, as had suffered shipwreck.'”

Thence, gradually there came into existence that patrimony which the Church has guarded with religious care as the property of the poor. Nay, even disregarding the feeling of shame associated with begging, she provided aid for the wretched poor. For, as the common parent of rich and poor, with charity everywhere stimulated to the highest degree, she founded religious societies and numerous other useful bodies, so that, with the aid which these furnished, there was scarcely any form of human misery that went uncared for.”

“And yet many today go so far as to condemn the Church as the ancient pagans once did, for such outstanding charity, and would substitute in lieu thereof a system of benevolence established by the laws of the State. But no human devices can ever be found to supplant Christian charity, which gives itself entirely for the benefit of others. This virtue belongs to the Church alone, for, unless it is derived from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is in no wise a virtue; and whosoever departs from the Church wanders far from Christ….”

Therefore those governing the State ought primarily to devote themselves to the service of individual groups and of the whole commonwealth, and through the entire scheme of laws and institutions to cause both public and individual well-being to develop spontaneously out of the very structure and administration of the State. For this is the duty of wise statesmanship and the essential office of those in charge of the State. Now, States are made prosperous especially by wholesome morality, properly ordered family life, protection of religion and justice, moderate imposition and equitable distribution of public burdens, progressive development of industry and trade, thriving agriculture, and by all other things of this nature, which the more actively they are promoted, the better and happier the life of the citizens is destined to be. Therefore, by virtue of these things, it is within the competence of the rulers of the State that, as they benefit other groups, they also improve in particular the condition of the workers. Furthermore, they do this with full right and without laying themselves open to any charge of unwarranted interference. For the State is bound by the very law of its office to serve the common interest. And the richer the benefits which come from this general providence on the part of the State, the less necessary it will be to experiment with other measures for the well-being of workers….”

Rights indeed, by whomsoever possessed, must be religiously protected; and public authority, in warding off injuries and punishing wrongs, ought to see to it that individuals may have and hold what belongs to them…. The capital point is this, that private property ought to be safeguarded by the sovereign power of the State and through the bulwark of its laws. And especially, in view of such a great flaming up of passion at the present time, the masses ought to be kept within the bounds of their moral obligations. For while justice does not oppose our striving for better things, on the other hand, it does forbid anyone to take from another what is his and, in the name of a certain absurd equality, to seize forcibly the property of others; nor does the interest of the common good itself permit this. Certainly, the great majority of working people prefer to secure better conditions by honest toil, without doing wrong to anyone. Nevertheless, not a few individuals are found who, imbued with evil ideas and eager for revolution, use every means to stir up disorder and incite to violence. The authority of the State, therefore, should intervene and, by putting restraint upon such disturbers, protect the morals of workers from their corrupting arts and lawful owners from the danger of spoliation….”

[I]n the case of the worker, there are many things which the power of the State should protect; and, first of all, the goods of his soul. For however good and desirable mortal life be, yet it is not the ultimate goal for which we are born, but a road only and a means for perfecting, through knowledge of truth and love of good, the life of the soul….” Hmmm, I assume preventing the poor from stealing from the rich would be good for the souls of the poor, no?

Let it be granted then that worker and employer may enter freely into agreements and, in particular, concerning the amount of the wage; yet there is always underlying such agreements an element of natural justice, and one greater and more ancient than the free consent of contracting parties, namely, that the wage shall not be less than enough to support a worker who is thrifty and upright….”

But in these and similar questions, such as the number of hours of work in each kind of occupation and the health safeguards to be provided, particularly in factories, it will be better, in order to avoid unwarranted governmental intervention, especially since circumstances of business, season, and place are so varied, that decision be reserved to the organizations of which We are about to speak below….”

We have seen, in fact, that the whole question under consideration cannot be settled effectually unless it is assumed and established as a principle, that the right of private property must be regarded as sacred. Wherefore, the law ought to favor this right and, so far as it can, see that the largest possible number among the masses of the population prefer to own property. If this is done, excellent benefits will follow, foremost among which will surely be a more equitable division of goods.…”

[I]f the productive activity of the multitude can be stimulated by the hope of acquiring some property in land, it will gradually come to pass that, with the difference between extreme wealth and extreme penury removed, one class will become neighbor to the other. Moreover, there will surely be a greater abundance of the things which the earth produces. For when men know they are working on what belongs to them, they work with far greater eagerness and diligence.”

But these advantages can be attained only if private wealth is not drained away by crushing taxes of every kind. For since the right of possessing goods privately has been conferred not by man’s law, but by nature, public authority cannot abolish it, but can only control its exercise and bring it into conformity with the commonweal. Public authority therefore would act unjustly and inhumanly, if in the name of taxes it should appropriate from the property of private individuals more than is equitable.

Finally, employers and workers themselves can accomplish much in this matter, manifestly through those institutions by the help of which the poor are opportunely assisted and the two classes of society are brought closer to each other. Under this category come associations for giving mutual aid; various agencies established by the foresight of private persons to care for the worker and likewise for his dependent wife and children in the event that an accident, sickness, or death befalls him; and foundations to care for boys and girls, for adolescents, and for the aged….”

Inadequacy of his own strength, learned from experience, impels and urges a man to enlist the help of others. Such is the teaching of Holy Scripture: “It is better therefore that two should be together than one; for they have the advantage of their society. If one fall he shall be supported by the other; woe to him that is alone, for when he falleth he hath none to lift him up.” [Eccl. 4:9-10] And this also: “A brother that is helped by his brother, is like a strong city.” [Proverbs 18:19] Just as man is drawn by this natural propensity into civil union and association, so he also seeks with his fellow citizens to form other societies, admittedly small and not perfect, but societies none the less….” Brothers know each other personally. Societies are local, small, and intimate. How the heck can a Christian claim impersonal Big Government thousands of miles away in Washington, DC is brotherly love?!

Although private societies exist within the State and are, as it were, so many parts of it, still it is not within the authority of the State universally and per se to forbid them to exist as such. For man is permitted by a right of nature to form private societies; the State, on the other hand, has been instituted to protect and not to destroy natural right, and if it should forbid its citizens to enter into associations, it would clearly do something contradictory to itself because both the State itself and private associations are begotten of one and the same principle, namely, that men are by nature inclined to associate….” Hmmm, and what if government social programs destroy the will, initiative, and resources of private charitable groups by trying to assume to itself their functions and resources? Where will charitable groups get money if the State taxes the rich heavily?

Certainly, the number of associations of almost every possible kind, especially of associations of workers, is now far greater than ever before. This is not the place to inquire whence many of them originate, what object they have, or how they proceed. But the opinion is, and it is one confirmed by a good deal of evidence, that they are largely under the control of secret leaders and that these leaders apply principles which are in harmony neither with Christianity nor with the welfare of States, and that, after having possession of all available work, they contrive that those who refuse to join with them will be forced by want to pay the penalty. Under these circumstances, workers who are Christians must choose one of two things; either to join associations in which it is greatly to be feared that there is danger to religion, or to form their own associations and unite their forces in such a way that they may be able manfully to free themselves from such unjust and intolerable opposition….”

Finally, there are not wanting Catholics of great wealth, yet voluntary sharers, as it were, in the lot of the wage workers, who by their own generous contributions are striving to found and extend associations through which the worker is readily enabled to obtain from his toil not only immediate benefits, but also assurance of honorable retirement in the future. How much good such manifold and enthusiastic activity has contributed to the benefit of all this is too well known to make discussion necessary. From all this, We have taken auguries of good hope for the future, provided that societies of this kind continually grow and that they are founded with wise organization. Let the State protect these lawfully associated bodies of citizens; let it not, however, interfere with their private concerns and order of life; for vital activity is set in motion by an inner principle, and it is very easily destroyed, as We know, by intrusion from without.” Hmmm, sounds like the principle of limited government. Now, what political philosophy espouses this principle too??

It is clear, however, that moral and religious perfection ought to be regarded as their [unions’] principal goal, and that their social organization as such ought above all to be directed completely by this goal. For otherwise, they would degenerate in nature and would be little better than those associations in which no account is ordinarily taken of religion. Besides, what would it profit a worker to secure through an association an abundance of goods, if his soul through lack of its proper food should run the risk of perishing? “What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?” [Mt 16:26] Christ Our Lord teaches that this in fact must be considered the mark whereby a Christian is distinguished from a pagan: “After all these things the Gentiles seek — seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be given you besides.” [Mt 6:32-33] Therefore, having taken their principles from God, let those associations provide ample opportunity for religious instruction so that individual members may understand their duties to God, that they may well know what to believe, what to hope for, and what to do for eternal salvation, and that with special care they may be fortified against erroneous opinions and various forms of corruption.” Hmmm, could these errors and corruption be liberalism and its disregard for private property rights? Judging from the rest of the encyclical, yes!

Through these regulations, provided they are readily accepted, the interests and welfare of the poor will be adequately cared for. Associations of Catholics, moreover, will undoubtedly be of great importance in promoting prosperity in the State.” He means moral, religious regulations, not government regulations. The context is clear. Also, promoting prosperity is good! How else can we provide for the poor??

The foundation of this teaching rests on this, that the just ownership of money is distinct from the just use of money. To own goods privately, as We saw above, is a right natural to man, and to exercise this right, especially in life in society, is not only lawful, but clearly necessary. ‘It is lawful for man to own his own things. It is even necessary for human life.’ [Aquinas] But if the question be asked: How ought man to use his possessions? the Church replies without hesitation: ‘As to this point, man ought not regard external goods as his own, but as common so that, in fact, a person should readily share them when he sees others in need. Wherefore the Apostle says: “Charge the rich of this world…to give readily, to share with others“.'” [Aquinas; Tim 6:17-18] Correct me if I’m wrong, but it doesn’t look like Scripture says tax the rich and force them to share with others! It says that religious leaders, who are not to be political leaders, should encourage and command the rich to do so.

For, no matter how strong the power of prejudice and passion in man, yet, unless perversity of will has deadened the sense of the right and just, the good will of citizens is certain to be more freely inclined toward those whom they learn to know as industrious and temperate, and who clearly place justice before profit and conscientious observance of duty before all else….” Notice that the pope has faith in free people who know others intimately in community. Why can’t liberals do the same thing?

They are conscious of being most inhumanly treated by greedy employers, that almost no greater value is placed on them than the amount of gain they yield by their toil, and that in the associations, moreover, in whose meshes they are caught, there exist in place of charity and love, internal dissensions which are the inseparable companions of aggravating and irreligious poverty. Broken in spirit, and worn out in body, how gladly many would free themselves from a servitude so degrading! Yet they dare not because either human shame or the fear of want prevents them. It is remarkable how much associations of Catholics can contribute to the welfare of all such men if they invite those wavering in uncertainty to their bosom in order to remedy their difficulties, and if they receive the penitents into their trust and protection….” Hmmm, again, I don’t see any advocacy of Big Government. I see encouragement of private associations of Catholics (like at St. Mary’s).

First and foremost Christian morals must be re-established, without which even the weapons of prudence, which are considered especially effective, will be of no avail, to secure well-being.” What?! We can’t steal from the rich first and then be moral? What a shame.

“Let this be understood in particular by those whose duty it is to promote the public welfare. Let the members of the Sacred Ministry exert all their strength of mind and all their diligence, and Venerable Brethren, under the guidance of your authority and example, let them not cease to impress upon men of all ranks the principles of Christian living as found in the Gospel; by all means in their power let them strive for the well-being of people; and especially let them aim both to preserve in themselves and to arouse in others, in the highest equally as well as in the lowest, the mistress and queen of the virtues, Charity. Certainly, the well-being which is so longed for is chiefly to be expected from an abundant outpouring of charity; of Christian charity, we mean, which is in epitome the law of the Gospel, and which, always ready to sacrifice itself for the benefit of others, is man’s surest antidote against the insolence of the world and immoderate love of self; the divine office and features of this virtue being described by the Apostle Paul in these words: “Charity is patient, is kind…is not self- seeking…bears with all things…endures all things.” [1 Cor 13:4-7] Notice that it is the Church’s duty to promote the public welfare. Notice that the well-being of the poor is to come “chiefly” from charity. Notice that real charity requires “sacrifice [of the self] for the benefit of others,” NOT making others sacrifice for others.

Posted in Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Catholicism, Christianity and Politics, Government and Politics, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Religion and Theology, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Fascism is Merely Heretical Communism, Like Liberalism

Posted by Tony Listi on May 29, 2008

How many times have you heard a liberal call a conservative a “fascist” or “neo-fascist”? The Left apparently thinks that only right-wingers can be fascists. But the truth is that fascism is wholly a product of the Left, not the Right, side of the political spectrum. Only liberals can be fascists because modern American liberalism is a product of communist and fascist ideology.

This can be most clearly and immediately seen by examining the term “Nazism,” which is actually short-hand for National Socialism in German. The Nazi Party was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Socialism is an ideology of the Left! Communism is global socialism, and fascism is national socialism. The ONLY real difference between the two is one of scope and geography.

Mussolini: Communist Heretic
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini, dictator of fascist Italy and conventionally labeled the father of fascism (the term “fascism” is Italian in origin), was a lifelong socialist and follower of Karl Marx. He was named after two socialists: Amilcare Cipriani and Andrea Costa. His father was a stalwart socialist who was a member of the First International and served on the local socialist council. His father read him passages from Das Kapital (I know that’s what I read when I want to put myself to sleep, haha). Benito started early in his socialist activism: he called himself a socialist while in high school and became the secretary of a socialist organization at Forli at the age of 18.

In his youth, he carried a medallion of Karl Marx. He also became close friends with Angelica Balabanoff, a longtime colleague of Lenin. In fact, Lenin and Mussolini were mutual admirers. Lenin wrote, “Mussolini? A great pity he is lost to us! He is a strong man, who would have led our party to victory.”

Mussolini seriously began his political career as a left-wing journalist and intellectual. He was very well read in socialist theory. He wrote countless socialist tracts and articles that both examined and translated socialist literature. In 1911, he became the editor of La lotta di classe (Class War), which served as a mouthpiece for the Italian Socialist Party. In 1912, he attended a Socialist congress.

Leading socialist Olindo Vernocchi said, “From today you, Benito, are not only the representative of the Romagna Socialists but the Duce of all revolutionary socialists in Italy.” This was how he received the nickname Il Duce, literally “the leader.” He was the Duce of Socialism!

Leda Rafanelli, an anarchist intellectual, wrote “Benito Mussolini…is the socialist of heroic times.”

Mussolini joined the formal leadership of the Italian Socialist Party and became editor of its paper called Avanti! , which would become socialist gospel for a whole generation of socialists. Lenin would comment approvingly of Mussolini’s efforts in Pravda.

Mussolini’s break with strict, dogmatic socialism would begin with the outbreak of World War I. His support of the war contravened the principle of international solidarity and the elimination of national borders (nationality itself to be precise). He saw it as a practical necessity, but he received a backlash from hardline believers. He responded, “You hate me today because you love me still. Whatever happens, you won’t lose me. Twelve years of my life in the party ought to be sufficient guarantee of my socialist faith. Socialism is in my blood.” Again, he countered, “You think you can turn me out, but you will find I shall come back again. I am and shall remain a socialist and my convictions will never change! They are bred into my very bones.”

Mussolini did not move to the right or radically change his political philosophy. He merely rejected one tenet of orthodox Marxism: class must come before nationality or any other group identity. “I saw that internationalism was crumbling,” Mussolini later observed. “The sentiment of nationality exists and cannot be denied.” He thought it was “utterly foolish” to believe that class consciousness could trump national loyalties and culture. Thus was born national socialism, a modification from traditional socialism only in the sense that it was less ambitious in scope and recognized that the natural power of nationalism could be harnessed as a means to socialist ends. Thus Mussolini said that its was “necessary to assassinate the Party in order to save Socialism.” It was this little heresy that would divide Europe’s socialists. And the Italian people would choose national socialism (fascism) over international socialists and communists.

And thus Mussolini came to power as a very popular dictator. He proceeded to create a totalitarian state (a term that he coined) as communism requires: “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” There was hardly a difference between it and the Soviet Union with regard to policy. The State would control everything and had the final authority.

Before his death, he selected a socialist journalist to record some of his last thoughts and wishes: “I bequeath the republic to the republicans not to the monarchists, and the work of social reform to the socialists and not to the middle classes.”

Hitler: Man of the Left
Hitler wrote approvingly of Italian fascism in Mein Kampf: “The appearance of a new and great idea was the secret of success in the French Revolution. The Russian Revolution owes its triumph to an idea. And it was only the idea that enabled Fascism triumphantly to subject a whole nation to a process of complete renovation.” He realized the necessity of having an idea that would arouse the masses.

For years historians have tried to portray Nazism as the polar opposite of Communism. The role of industrialists has been exaggerated while the clear and substantial socialist aspects of Nazism have been ignored or downplayed. Nazism did not destroy the communist Left in Germany; it merely replaced the communists on the Left side of the spectrum in Germany. The fact of the matter is that the working classes (the bloc that typically supported the communists) comprised a substantial part of the Nazis electoral base. German Nazism and Italian Fascism were both populist movements that attracted support from all levels of society. Moreover, the industrial sector came to support Hitler much later than the working masses. Businesses hopped on the band wagon when they saw it was in their best interests.

Like any good leftist, Hitler was a revolutionary and exploited anti-capitalist rhetoric in his rise to power. He despised the bourgeoisie, traditionalists, aristocrats, monarchists, and all believers in the established order. Because he wished to remake German society entirely, he was no conservative! He wrote in Mein Kampf, “Either the German youth will one day create a new State founded on the racial idea or they will be the last witnesses of the complete breakdown and death of the bourgeoisie world.” He rejected traditional Christianity; he wanted to revive Germany’s so-called pre-Christian authenticity, or in other words, to create a modern paganism. He was well read in German mythology and pseudo-history. His idols were Georg Ritter von Schonerer and Dr. Karl Lueger.

He rhetoric mirrored Lenin’s: “Our bourgeoisie is already worthless for any noble human endeavor.” Once he was entrenched in power he clarified his opposition to communism thus: “Had communism really intended nothing more than a certain purification by eliminating isolated rotten elements from among the ranks of our so-called ‘upper ten thousand’ or our equally worthless Philistines, one could have sat back quietly and looked on for awhile.” Hitler didn’t disagree with the German communists in principle or policy, especially with regard to economics; he was enraged at their undermining of Germany with strikes during WW I and antiwar mobilization. He thought they were part of a coalition that had stabbed Germany in the back. Indeed, Hitler often spoke with grudging admiration of Stalin and the communists. Hitler studied Marxism, which both fascinated and repulsed him, appreciating its ideas but becoming utterly convinced that Marx was the architect of some Jewish plot.

Hitler entered the Nazi Party because of a talk given by Gottfried Feder entitled “How and by What Means is Capitalism to be Eliminated?” The party stood for everything he believed in, and thus started his career as the party’s best salesman. The Nazis campaigned as socialists.
What exactly did the party stand for? Its platform included:

“We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.” Sounds like nanny state liberalism.

“Abolition of unearned (work and labor) incomes. Breaking of rent-slavery.” Can you say death tax and rent control?

“We demand the nationalization of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).” That doesn’t sound free market.

“We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries” Hmmm, a “windfall” profits tax?

“We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.” Sounds like FDR’s Social Security, no?

“The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program…. The comprehension of the concept of the State must be striven for by the school as early as the beginning of understanding. We demand the education at the expense of the State….” Sounds like a government monopoly on the schools. Isn’t that what Democrats are for?

“The State is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.” Hmmm, you think Hitler would have banned trans fats?

“…a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: The good of the state before the good of the individual.” This is what liberals mean when they say “the common good.”

“For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power in the Reich.” Centralization of power in the national government? Does that sound right-wing to you?

Read the platform for yourself. There is nothing conservative about it.

Racism was not an element of fascism originally in Italy. Anti-Semitism was an innovation of Hitler’s. Mussolini considered it a silly distraction. But Hitler’s identity politics was powerful and successful (hmmm, which modern American political party practices identity politics?). Of course, anti-Semitism is by no means a right-wing phenomenon. We should not forget that Stalin and Karl Marx himself hated Jews. Jews were seen (and are still seen today to some extent) as the archetypal capitalists. Thus it was only natural that the Left, including Hitler, should hate them!

Nationalism isn’t inherently right-wing at all either. Consider Stalin, Castro, Arafat, Hugo Chavez, Che Guevara, Pol Pot, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. The only reason nationalism came to be seen as right-wing is because the communists, who were internationalists, labeled the fascists as right-wing. Why the heck should we be adopting the political lens of communism in order to find out what fascism really is?!

Nazi ideologist Gregor Strasser was straightforward about it: “We are socialists. We are enemies, deadly enemies, of today’s capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money, instead of their responsibility and their performance, and we are determined to destroy this system whatever happens!”

Hitler dedicates an entire chapter in his Mein Kampf to how the Nazis can appropriate socialist and communist imagery, rhetoric, and ideas to attract leftists to the party. The Nazis made use of the color red deliberately: “In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man.”
Hitler would often exaggerate his identity as an “ex-worker”: “I was a worker in my youth like you, slowly working my way upward by industry, by study, and I think I can say as well by hunger.”

Fascism and communism are kindred spirits. As communist ideologue Karl Radek noted, “Fascism is middle class Socialism….”

(Reference Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg)

Posted in American Culture, Culture War, Fascism, Government and Politics, Intellectual History, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Socialism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Freedom Creates Diversity, Government Creates Uniformity

Posted by Tony Listi on May 16, 2008

Diversity is inextricably linked to freedom. Economic freedom naturally produces a diversity of income levels. Freedom of speech naturally produces a diversity of speech and opinions. And so on.

Uniformity is inextricably linked to coercion of some sort. Government is inherently an instrument of coercion that reduces freedom.

Therefore, because conservatism is for limited government and thus a champion of freedom, conservatism  (NOT liberalism) is the true proponent of responsible diversity!

Global economic inequality is merely economic diversity; each country practices different economic theories (capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.) and are free to do so. Seems liberals do not like economic diversity and that is why they despise economic freedom.

Capitalism, because it is inherently a system of freedom, creates a greater diversity of goods and services than any other economic system (a diversity relative to consumer demand). Because capitalism is based on voluntary exchange, it creates a just diversity.

Now conservatives are NOT devotees of every kind of diversity. Unlike liberals, we are not worshippers of the Idols of Difference and Change. Rather conservatives uphold a value system and a moral code. Therefore, a diversity of moralities is abhorrent to conservatism. Serial killing and living in peace, or homosexuality and heterosexuality, may be merely “diverse lifestyles” according to liberalism, but conservatism upholds and proclaims these differences to have absolute normative value. One is bad and one is good. Now, for the conservative, it is a matter of prudence whether certain tenets of his moral code should be imposed on society. The law is a teacher, but sometimes its good intentions can create more harm than good.

Posted in Government and Politics, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rush Limbaugh, Divorce, and Contraception

Posted by Tony Listi on April 20, 2008

I’ve always been a fan of Rush, but nobody’s perfect. For quite awhile, I’ve vaguely sensed that he seemed to lean more towards the libertarian side of conservatism than the traditional, Christian side.

http://www.americandaily.com/nucleus/plugins/print/print.php?itemid=1736

By Matt C. Abbott (06/21/04)

I couldn’t help but (figuratively) shake my head when I heard the news. Rush Limbaugh, famed conservative radio talk show host who has millions of listeners and millions of dollars, is getting another divorce. Number three, to be exact. Aye.

I’ve been listening to Rush for several years now, and while I don’t agree with him on every issue, I do agree with him on many issues. He’s pro-life, albeit not overly outspoken about it. He doesn’t subscribe to the homosexual agenda. And he seems to recognize the libertine nature of the mass media.

Not too bad for a soon-to-be thrice-divorced rugged individualist, no?

Yet, the fact that Rush can’t seem to get his marital life in order is quite troublesome, especially considering the multitude of liberals who now are accusing him of hypocrisy because he has defended the institution of marriage against the onslaught of homosexual activism. Not that these pro-homosexual marriage liberals have a leg to stand on, but still…

I obviously don’t know what caused the break-up of Rush’s marriage(s), but I do think there is an oft-overlooked, indirect factor in many broken marriages: the use of contraception.

So does Dr. Janet E. Smith, Chair of Life Issues at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. In a popular and published lecture titled Contraception: Why Not?, Dr. Smith discusses why the divorce rate doubled between 1965, when 25 percent of marriages ended in divorce, and 1975, when 50 percent of marriages ended in divorce (same as today).

Dr. Smith cites the research of social scientist Robert Michael, who concluded
“that as the contraceptive pill became more and more available, divorce became more and more popular.” In fact, Michael attributed “45 percent of this increase [in divorce] to increased use of contraceptives.” Why is this so?

There are three reasons, according to Michael. First, his statistical data showed “that those who use contraceptives have fewer children and have them later in marriage…those who have the first baby in the first two years of marriage and another baby in the next couple years of marriage, have a much longer lasting marriage than those who don’t.” (Rush has no children.)

Dr. Smith observes that married couples who have children “become better people…almost instantaneously.”

Secondly, Michael found that “since contraceptives have arrived on the scene, there is much more adultery than there was before.” Observes Dr. Smith: “People have been tempted, for the history of mankind. It’s easy enough to think about wanting to have an affair but wanting a child out of wedlock is another story. But if most every woman is contracepting, then most every woman is available in a certain sense and there is no real reason to say no. Adultery is absolutely devastating to marriages.”

The third explanation, says Dr. Smith, is “that women are financially more independent. They do have fewer children. They do go into the work place. And, again, when they have difficulties in the marriage, it’s much [easier] to say, ‘Take a walk,’ than it is to work it out because they need their husband for one fewer reasons than they did before.”

Dr. Smith also says that widespread pre-marital sex and cohabitation has contributed to the increase in divorce. Obviously, those who fornicate often use some type of contraception, and, if that fails, they can always have the unborn child killed through abortion.

“So contraception hasn’t made for better marriages,” concludes Dr. Smith.

Indeed. Now consider that the divorce/separation rate for married couples who use Natural Family Planning – that is, periodic abstinence from sexual intercourse – is less than one in eight, according to Brian Clowes, Ph.D. of Human Life International (www.hli.org).

Sadly, many married couples are either ignorant of Natural Family Planning methods or have been duped into using contraception by the abortion industry, the pop-culture, and not a few “mainstream” doctors.

It boggles my mind, too, that so many health-conscious people will buy all kinds of “natural” products so that they don’t have to put “chemicals” into their bodies, but seem to have no qualms about using artificial and even poisonous means of contraception. Not to mention that most so-called contraceptives are actually abortifacients, that is, they can and do cause an early abortion by preventing implantation of the living human embryo into the uterine lining.

Look, I do realize there are several factors that can contribute to a divorce. But I would submit that if married couples would use Natural Family Planning instead of contraception, far fewer of them would end up in divorce court.

Perhaps even Rush would still be married.

(For more information about Natural Family Planning, see http://www.ccli.org and http://www.popepaulvi.com.)

Posted in American Culture, Christianity and Politics, Culture War, Feminism, Government and Politics, Politics and Religion, Sex | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Fred Confronts the Liberal Huckabee

Posted by Tony Listi on January 11, 2008

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Huckabee: A Looming Disaster for Conservatism

Posted by Tony Listi on January 6, 2008

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=M2IxYWMzNGNkNGY1YTY3YTQ2NTU4YjI3OTY5YzQyMTg=

In the wake of Thursday night’s Iowa Caucus victory for Mike Huckabee, National Review Online asked a group on Right-minded commentators: What does Huckabee’s victory mean for conservatism?

Richard Brookhiser
Preacher cleans rich guy’s clock in Iowa – what a story! No wonder it filled the headlines – in 1988, when Pat Robertson finished ahead of Vice President George H. W. Bush (Bob Dole came in first that year).

Evangelicals began engaging in Republican politics in the late Seventies. Dinesh D’Souza’s biography of the late Jerry Falwell gave an early and amusing account of the process. In a meeting with Falwell, Paul Weyrich came up with the name Moral Majority, but thought it was too peppery. Falwell jumped on it. In crowded fields, an evangelical champion, if there is one, can shoot to the front. 1988 was a cattle call, just like this year: Bush, Dole, Kemp, DuPont, and even Al Haig, besides Robertson.

In one important respect, Huckabee’s supporters have made a wiser choice than their soul-mates 20 years ago. Their man has been a governor and a lieutenant governor. Unlike Robertson (and the host of tyro candidates who have run recently) he would know the way to the bathroom.

Expect much hand-wringing about religious politics, but remember that this is a religious country, whose believers have often picked sides in our electoral battles. For decades Catholics made their home in the Democratic party; Ray Donovan, Reagan’s Secretary of Labor, used to say that the two pictures on the wall of his home growing up were of FDR and Pius XII. Black Protestants are Democrats now, and two of them have sought the Democratic nomination (Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton).

Iowa is early days, and Huckabee will now get a full mauling; Ed Rollins will know just what to expect. But jockeying is the sign of lively coalitions, and the delight of connoisseurs.

I just wish he wasn’t such an eye gouger.

– Richard Brookhiser is a National Review senior editor.
Daniel Casse
I don’t know what Huckabee means for conservatism. But it promises a helluva party for the angry Left. Since Thanksgiving, the New York Times has been positively giddy about the possibility that the GOP was firmly in the hands of a genuine Bible-thumper. “They’re arguing about Jesus again,” was the plain meaning of the half dozen front-page “news analyses” the paper feverishly put together on the Huckabee surge. People for the American Way appears to have an entire team posting news about Huck’s progress, including a story crowing “We Like Mike.” And why not? They are scripting the fundraising video, likely set to the music from Jaws, as we sit here. Ditto the American Civil Liberties Union, where they are probably studying his “Silent Night” ad in Iowa as if it were the Zapruder film. Can you imagine the gleeful warnings about Huckabee’s American that you will be hearing on the Air America Guatemala cruise in February? Liberal interest groups haven’t had such an enviable fundraising opportunity since George W. Bush raised the arsenic level in kids’ drinking water. The Democratic direct-mail barons are doing handsprings. “I Like Mike,” they are shouting. School prayer. Back-alley abortions. Supreme Court nominees. Christian Nation. For them, happy days are here again.

– Daniel Casse is a senior director of the White House Writers Group.
John Hood
Both major political parties in the U.S. are coalitions. Right now, the Democratic coalition is energized and coherent. The Republican coalition is dispirited and divided. The outcomes in Iowa illustrate these conditions – though history and common sense tell us that they did not necessary predict the eventual party nominees.

Look at Mike Huckabee’s solid win over Mitt Romney. Of the five major GOP candidates, two are running as the candidates of optimism and reassurance: Romney and Thompson. They seek to hold together and mobilize the traditional triad of fiscal, social, and defense conservatives. For Huckabee, McCain, and Giuliani, the strategy is entirely different. Each in his own way rejects key positions and elements of the triad in an attempt to pull new voters into what they see as an inadequate GOP base.

While the pessimists’ goals are similar, only one can prevail. In reality, Huckabee and McCain are effectively operating as agents of Giuliani. Romney’s modest performance in Iowa may set up McCain to sting him in New Hampshire, seriously weakening if not destroying Romney’s early-state strategy. Since I believe neither Huckabee nor McCain has the resources, issues, and temperament to win the nomination, the beneficiary is obvious.

Fortunately for Mitt Romney – and defenders of the current conservative coalition – Obama’s Iowa win will likely set off a huge and exciting battle in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, thus potentially pulling independents away from the GOP primary and undercutting McCain a bit. The game’s not yet over. But Giuliani is now back in it, thanks to Huck.

– John Hood is a president of the John Locke Foundation.
David Limbaugh
Most expected Huckabee to win Iowa, but his actual victory is somewhat sobering. I believe a Huckabee nomination would be a major step backward for conservatism, given his liberalism, apart from social issues. It’s true that George Bush isn’t completely conservative either (e.g. spending and immigration), but he has strong conservative credentials on the “big three”: taxes, national security and social issues (judges). Huckabee is weak on immigration and only a sure thing on one of the big three.

The question, then, is whether Huckabee’s Iowa victory substantially increases his chances of capturing the nomination, without which it will have no impact on conservatism.

It seems the Iowa caucus system and demographics were made to order for Huckabee’s identity politics. Very large percentages of the Republican voters are self-described evangelicals. New Hampshire presents a different picture, but Huckabee’s impressive win might increase his stature enough to make him more competitive there and elsewhere. He has the advantages of likeability, charisma, and eloquence and could capitalize on the respective weaknesses or perceived weaknesses of the other candidates.

Romney, once thought by pundits to be a strong favorite, looks much more vulnerable having been beaten by a grossly under-funded and recently second-tier candidate. If tonight starts him on a downhill path, the question is whether one of the other candidates – Go Fred! – will fill the void.

I still think Huckabee is very much a long shot to win the nomination. While large percentages of Republican voters are Christians, they are also conservatives and eventually, Huckabee’s dubious conservative bona fides and record should sink his bid. But I admit that could be wishful thinking on my part.

– David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His book Bankrupt: The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today’s Democratic Party was recently released in paperback.

John J. Pitney Jr.
Huckabee’s victory highlights a populist strain in the GOP. Populism has a long history and variety of features, but we can roughly define it as the union of traditional moral values and “little guy” economics. It’s God vs. Gomorrah in the bedroom, David v. Goliath in the boardroom.

Thursday night was hardly the first time that populism had left its mark on a GOP nomination contest. In 1988, Pat Robertson placed second in the Iowa caucuses, ahead of George H. W. Bush. Four years later, Pat Buchanan won a surprising 40 percent in the New Hampshire primary. In 1996, Buchanan came close to Bob Dole in Iowa and actually beat him in New Hampshire.

Robertson and Buchanan faded quickly, in part because of their demeanors. Robertson seemed weird, while Buchanan looked mean. Huckabee could last longer because he comes across as sane and nice.

More than mere image, Robertson and Buchanan suffered from limited appeal to orthodox conservatives. According to the Club for Growth, Huckabee takes “profoundly anti-growth positions on taxes, spending, and government regulation.” For Huckabee to succeed where Robertson and Buchanan failed, one of two things must happen. Either he must mislead GOP voters into thinking that he is an economic conservative, or those voters must stop caring. Either way, a Huckabee victory would be very bad news for conservatism as we know it.

– John J. Pitney Jr. is Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College.
Pat Toomey
Huckabee’s win in Iowa is a temporary setback for conservatism. Fortunately, the celebratory mood at Huckabee headquarters will likely end soon. Huckabee is a social conservative, but otherwise liberal populist who managed to capture a plurality of the vote in a large and splintered field in one of the most socially conservative electorates in the union. But there is little chance of this plurality growing into the majority Huckabee needs to take the nomination. In fact, it often seems like Huckabee goes out of his way to anger the other elements of the conservative movement instead of courting them, dismissing his critics who believe in economic freedom and a strong national defense as members of the Washington establishment, Wall Street millionaires, and secular elitists. Huckabee is going to need some of those critics if he is ever to win 50 percent of the vote in any primary. Iowa has a history of voting for candidates who do not go on to win their parties’ nominations, and there is a very good chance that will be the case here. Huckabee is a fringe Republican, and does not represent the conservative movement on economic policy, domestic programs, law and order, and foreign policy. It is hard to imagine a candidate so out of step with most in the conservative movement assuming the stage in Minnesota in eight months as its leader.

– Pat Toomey is president of the Club for Growth.

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