Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giuliani’s Roman Catholic influences
Distorting philosophical truths to promote a kind of fascism... not frightfully original
The first, which he would have found at almost any religious school, is a tendency to view politics and history as a moral contest between good and evil. That is sharply in contrast to a secular post-Enlightenment view of individuals — from presidents to petty thieves — as products of historical forces greater than themselves.
Truth: It’s not all society’s fault (yes, blacks can be guilty of racism, like when a group beats up one man in revenge as happened in Jena); people are responsible for their actions, an idea that classical liberalism (also from the ‘Enlightenment’) retains from tradition including Catholic thought.

False conclusion: It’s the state’s job to combat all evil, personal and social. It’s not heretical but simply wrong and doesn’t work, like it’s not heresy to believe the moon is made of green cheese or in geocentrism or a flat earth (BTW the ancients knew the world is round), or that demons cause thunderstorms. And the church historically is libertarian about prostitution for example. IIRC St Thomas Aquinas taught that trying to outlaw all vice is a bad idea.
Second, Giuliani was exposed to a specifically Catholic (as opposed to Protestant-individualist) view of the relationship between authority and liberty — one that dates from Aquinas’s Christian Aristotelianism, was spelled out in Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical on the Nature of Human Liberty, and still enjoys currency today, even in the wake of Vatican II. Catholic thinkers do not see liberty as an end in itself, but as a means — a “natural endowment” — by which to achieve the common good. For that to happen, individuals have to be encouraged to use their liberty well; and that is where authority comes into play.
Correct, unlike radical individualism in principle. (But individualism can work: the law of God is written in the heart of every man and all can agree on the golden rule/harm principle of libertarianism.) But... which authority? It’s not a state matter. Vatican II was right here: freedom promotes flourishing.

Again, to give the awful Ayn Rand her due, a politician’s metaphysical problems aren’t my problems, but Giuliani’s religious-neocon critics have a point that his inconsistency with this seamless garment (ha) of thought (or Catholicism is a package deal) regarding life issues shows he’s no spiritual son of the Schoolmen.

From GetReligion.

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