Lord Acton is generally acknowledged to be the first Catholic libertarian.
In 1932, the Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton expressed concern that many people were according the government with a trust and reverence that ought to be reserved only for God. Chesterton’s admonition was not only prophetic, but rooted in the deepest mainspring of Christianity’s past; he was echoing words spoken by the prophet Samuel nearly two thousand years ago.
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A well-established body of Christian scripture and tradition rejects the rule of limited human beings in favor of God’s majesty. In the words of F.A. Hayek, “Individualism, in contrast to socialism and all other forms of totalitarianism, is based on the respect of Christianity for the individual man.” Christians are, for the reasons I’ll explore here, especially predisposed to becoming passionate libertarians – and libertarians would do well do bear this in mind in their outreach.
Worship of the state is statolatry, and it is idolatry, the worship of a false idol. Statists are idol worshipers who desire mastery and domination over other people.
Piers Morgan is not a libertarian, and he is not a Catholic – he is a Protestant. Penn Jillette is a libertarian and has a much better grasp of Catholicism than nominal “Catholic” Morgan. And most Catholic libertarians are big fans of Penn.
But radical libertarians do not assume that humans are wired only to be selfish, nor do they reject cooperation. The opposite is the case. In fact, one of those radical libertarians — me — just this summer published a book arguing that (see if this sounds familiar) “cooperation is the height of human evolution.”
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The idea that the libertarian tendency is identical to the sophomoric cult of egotism found in Ayn Rand novels is more than outdated — it was never true in the first place. Miss Rand’s fiction is part of the libertarian intellectual universe, to be sure, but so are Henry David Thoreau and Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and Jesus. Citing as examples of libertarian extremism Ted Cruz, the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist, and Rand Paul, [Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu] argue: “It assumes that societies are efficient mechanisms requiring no rules or enforcers, when, in fact, they are fragile ecosystems prone to collapse and easily overwhelmed by free-riders.” Of course societies are complex — that is one reason why you want multiple, competing centers of power and influence rather than a single overgrown Leviathan blundering around your fragile ecosystem. As for the claim of “no rules or enforcers,” I have spent a fair amount of time around Senators Cruz and Paul, have debated Mr. Norquist, and have observed the elusive Koch in its natural habitat, and I have not yet heard one of them make the case for anarchism, which is what is meant by “no rules or enforcers.” Senator Cruz, like most of those with a Tea Party orientation, is intellectually devoted to the Constitution, which is many things but is not a covenant of anarchy. Senator Paul is an admirer of Grover Cleveland. Mr. Norquist believes that our taxes should be reduced. Anarchy should be made of more disorderly stuff.
Libertarianism is a very big tent, big enough for Andrew Napolitano, Penn Jillette, Ron Paul, Kevin Williamson, and millions of other people. You may be a libertarian and not realize it; see these:
- Libertarian Purity Test, by Bryan Caplan
- The World’s Smallest Political Quiz
- The Political Compass
- Ideology Selector
- Nolan Chart Survey
See, “Ask a Libertarian 2012“
Tags: Andrew Napolitano, Ask a libertarian, catholic libertarian, F.A. Hayek, false idols, G.K. Chesterton, Hayek, idolatry, jzBvex-AxJ8, libertarian, Lord ACton, Penn Jillette, qihQ9lG5U60, statist, Statolatry