For a person so thoroughly and aptly identified in ideological terms as this Pundit, involved contemplations about one's proper political description only seem natural by account of my age. Surely, the philosophical are right to forever ponder the Truth to the extent they have discovered it, and what it amounts to, but I have known many wise people who do not significantly change the way they label themselves over a period of many years: my father the liberal Democrat of seven years ago is the same my father the liberal Democrat I know and love today. And this is to speak of a gentleman like myself, who keeps abreast of current affairs, has opinions on almost every issue which usually, though not always, follow the party line, and who counts the pages they read annually in the several thousands.
As you may know, I am by nature a contrarian. Somewhat as a reaction, I admit, to the views prominent in this bluest of states in the Union, I have adopted in my yet short time the views held to be most obnoxious and intolerable by my friends and family, and even when I am in a soundly traditional, Catholic environment, as I am now on this blog, or when I visit Saint Benedict Center (rare, happy times!), what do I more revel in than to debate a fellow Traditionalist over non-Magisterial minutiae? However, in my latest internal dispute I have for once erred on the side of moderation and the mainstream. The great debate is, which am I, a fiscal conservative or a libertarian?
As an overastute reader might have noticed, I added a link to the [mostly anarcho-] libertarian website LewRockwell.com to the "Allies" column on my sidebar. Br. Andre Marie, M.I.C.M., a Distributist, introduced me to the site, which he frequently reads, and after a time I fell in love. Good old Lew Rockwell and his gang are mostly Catholics (even including the esteemed, associate editor of Latin Mass magazine and author of The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, which I really plan on reading someday) who, despite half-justified attacks on the Christian fundamentalist Right for supporting the Iraq War and for being nationalists, stand with the Catholic Church on every moral issue of our day, at least whenever they come up. My, and their brilliant writing cannot be described, except that the refutations of the socialist interpretations of Rerum novarum, et cetera (what we call "social justice") are so clearly correct that they suggest a provenance from the lips of marble statues of immortals. Such a is the ready defence of laissez faire economics needed to alleviate the moral crisis Professor William Luckey, chairman of the department of political science and economics at Christendom College outlines below:
"The fact that Catholic economic teaching, put forth as unchanging and required of belief, did not square with what Austrian [a laissez faire school] economists know to be true, has created an agonizing crisis of conscience for such economists."
I have debated with just a few Distributists in my time, and have seen a few more of their lengthy tirades against Capitalism. LewRockwell.com, and especially Thomas Woods, are very thorough in all of their arguments for Capitalism and against the theories of Belloc and Chesterton. Now, because I agree with the free market people does not mean I oppose any plans by Distributists to maintain their own rural communities, and their rights to craft laws for those communities which would limit or illegalize usury- as our Founding Fathers correctly reasoned, our Republic is benefitted by a diversity of interests. But I will take them to task over the greatly inhibited ability of their ideas to create wealth, innovation, and a higher standard of living for all. I have heard so many Distributists, especially at the otherwise fantastic New Oxford Review, blame the propogation of immoral music, books, and other evils to Capitalism. To me, this seems like blaming the ocean for the sinking of a flimsy ship (and weren't pornography, prostitution, and other evils just as common and notorious in the French Old Regime and other pre-capitalist societies?). Whether or not the common people can understand the difference between market worship and appreciation of what the market can do, libertarians hold almost to a man the latter, lesser veneration. The economy may be better served by nonintervention (A), while the public morality may require the government to get in on the game (B). The only reason A would necessarily exclude B as a corollary would be if the often hedonistic wealthy control the media. This may still be the case, but because of the internet (which has ended the Mainstrean Media's monopoly on the press, but which many Traditional Catholics despise to this day) that monopoly is quickly collapsing. Yes, Capitalism may have its modern roots in European liberalism (with earlier origins in the Spanish Scholastics), but amidst all the revolutionary nonsense, I feel this is the one thing they got right. Economics cannot be properly understood in pure Aristotlian/Thomistic thought, because of the unchangeable nature of the market. We must face it: it is not coincidence that Capitalism has coincided with the arrival of a swath of immensely conventient inventions, from the cotton gin to the light bulb to the iPod- and of course pop music! Even if both economic systems are valid, only Capitalism can claim to have made the lives of common people immensely less strenuous.
Those are the benefits the libertarians have given us. Now on to the fatal and undeniable flaw. If one accepts that small government is not to be sought out only for its benefits, but out of moral righteousness and opposition to government overtaxation, one is necessarily and logically forced to accept the school of thought pioneered by economist Murray N. Rothbard, anarcho-capitalism. Observe from the latter's own example:
They: What is the legitimate basis for your laissez-faire government, for this political entity confined solely to defending person and property?
I: Well, the people get together and decide to establish such a government.
They: But if "the people" can do that, why can’t they do exactly the same thing and get together to choose a government that will build steel plants, dams, etc.?
I realized in a flash that their logic was impeccable, that laissezfaire was logically untenable, and that either I had to become a liberal, or move onward into anarchism. I became an anarchist.
As one might expect, however tempting it may be to think anything would be better than secular democracy, anarchy of whatever brand is not only inconvenient, obviously lawless, and impossible to maintain for too long without the strongest party enslaving his weaker brothers, but inconsistent with Church teaching. Socialism is not the answer, and yet small government is by far the most desirable solution- it must be supported in another manner. Lucky me, I ran across the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Civil Authority, and it supports the notion that the State may legitimately tax the people in order to carry out its legitimate functions, which do not extend into the realm of socialism. This strikes one as clearly a conservative principle, not libertarian. After all, the latter is a distinct school of thought, which in its lukewarm forms is illogical (and often, as in the Cato Institute and Libertarian party un-Christian), and in its radical form is unacceptable and effectively leads to extreme leftism (although Rothbard calls himself a man of the Old Right, he is clearly a leftist because he sees admires the French Revolution, which is when Left and Right were defined. Conservatism, of course, has since its inception been counter-revolutionary, derived from ancient, revealed truths, and has always seen the anarchists as the enemies of society.
However befuddled this discourse has become by the Writer's limited memory, disposition to digression, and possible, minor inconsistencies which likely have slipped in, I can safely say that I am just a fiscal conservative of the far Right- with libertarian tendencies!
Saint Augustine Guide: the Ron Paul campaign!