Catholic Libertarianism — Getting started

Featured

Resources for the Catholic who wants to learn about liberty and libertarianism, the most just system in a fallen world and the only political philosophy that takes human dignity and free will seriously. First, a quick overview at Liberty.me by Mark Cavaliere: “Catholic libertarians? How is that even a thing??”  Then drill on down through these links:

Without Liberty, there is no virtue and no charity

Abortion and the Right to Life

Taxation and the State

Why not every sin should made a crime

Economics and Catholic Social Teaching

So, if the world is already going to hell in a hand-basket, wouldn’t a freer, voluntary society simply make it even harder to live a virtuous life and harder to raise a family in an way that pleases God and makes saints?

MYOB-Cookie

Join your Catholic libertarian friends at the Facebook Catholic Libertarians community.

Let’s give a warm libertarian welcome to . . .

Anarcho-Ichthus-favIn may last post, I discussed some labels used by different libertarians. Shortly after writing that post, I was on-line in a Q&A session of Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom (check it out here), and I posted a question for Tom: “What is your take on Left-Libertarianism?” Here is what he had to say:

There are two aspects to [left-libertarianism] that would distinguish it from plain old libertarianism, maybe what you might call right-libertarianism of the sort that you see with somebody like Hans Hoppe . . .

WoodsIn some ways it’s just a matter of emphasis, . . .  They would say that we get so caught up focusing on defending capitalism that we forget that the system we have now is not really capitalism. It’s a crony system; and so half the time we are defending practices that we ought to be condemning or we are not sensitive enough to this; or we spend too much time allegedly talking about programs that benefit the poor and how we’ve got to get rid of those . . .

The left-libertarian will often be critical of corporations, which they believe are being given special privileges by the government, which I don’t actually think is the case . . . or they think that if it weren’t for various government interventions business firms would be a lot smaller . . .

They are trying to appeal to the left by saying . . . if you want to have smaller scale economy and not such an industrial concentration, then in a pure free market that is what you would have. I’m not so sure that is the case. Maybe it is; maybe it’s not. Peter Klein says there is a whole literature on this. It’s not generally referred to by the left-libertarians.

The other thing is they tend to subscribe to what they call “thick” libertarianism, as opposed to thin. Thin libertarianism would be to say that a libertarian believes in the non-aggression principle; that you shouldn’t initiate physical aggression against a peaceful person.

But the “thick” libertarian would say: OK, but that’s not enough though; we have to favor opposition to all types of oppression, so we have to be feminists, have to be anti-racists, we have to be all this laundry list of other things. There may be merits in all those other things. That’s not the point.

The point is: Is that necessary to make you a libertarian? They would say there are other forms of oppression out there in the world and these other forms of oppression feed into statism in one way or the other, so it’s not enough just to go after the state.

I’m a “thin” libertarian. Why should we increase barriers to libertarianism? As long as you believe in the non-aggression axiom, who cares what you believe in otherwise? As long as you are not going to use violence, THAT’S the thing.

C.S. Lewis wrote, in his preface to Mere Christianity, that “mere” Christianity, in contrast to its many varieties, whether Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant:

 . . . is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in.

Lewis’s “rooms” are the different Christian churches, but I believe his metaphor works better for libertarianism than it does for Christianity. “Mere” libertarianism (“thin” libertarianism) can be likened to Lewis’s great hallway. In the hallway, the non-aggression principle is accepted as the minimum standard of conduct necessary for a peaceful society. Of course there are many rooms off the hallway, beckoning to anyone who believes there is more to life than simply not-being-a-busybody. That would include just about everybody.

Left-libertarians have many admirable goals. There are people who want to encourage small, local or worker owned-businesses. There are back-to-the-land people, union people, religious people, atheists and socialists, and whatever, all of them wanting to live their lives–as best as they can–by the light that they have, united and limited by a common desire for peace.

In this sense, we are all “thick” libertarians in that we believe we are here for something more than just being “left alone,” but if we are forced to agree on the “thick” part, then we are doomed before we start.

As Tom Woods says, “Why should we increase barriers to libertarianism? As long as you believe in the non-aggression axiom, who cares what you believe in otherwise? As long as you are not going to use violence, THAT’S the thing.”

Let’s not turn anyone away from the great hallway. And then, as C.S. Lewis appealed: “When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall.”

Ama-gi

Tom Woods, Catholic libertarian, scholar & street fighter

The liberty movement grows everyday drawing in people who are discovering that government is not their friend. Some are limited government constitutionalists, some minarchist libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, voluntarists and agorists. Some are polite, cultured intellectuals. Other are vulgar, over-the-top podcast shock-jocks.

One man who commands the respect of liberty lovers across this whole spectrum is Tom Woods, Jr. Tom is a bestselling author with a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and his master’s, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Tom Woods is also a Catholic family man who lives in Topeka, Kansas, with his wife and four daughters. He is former editor of The Latin Mass Magazine and has written numerous books on history and economics including, The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy and How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.

Tom is a treasure in the liberty movement, a scholar who makes the case for liberty at a popular level and doesn’t mind getting getting dirty in the trenches. Read Tom’s Why I am a Catholic Libertarian.

Visit Tom’s blog at www.tomwoods.com.

I also recommend Tom Woods’s Liberty Classroom if you are interested in getting a better grasp on history and economics from a liberty-oriented perspective. Video & audio courses on Austrian Economics, World and U.S. History and Introduction to Logic will push your debating skills into the red. The price is cheap for these university level offerings. $99 bucks–all you can eat for a year.