Thursday, February 28, 2008

What moral rules bind the state?
Lew Rockwell in a 2002 article re-published this week at the Anglo-Catholic online journal Thursday Thoughts
After all, we are dealing with a religion that makes three hard-and-fast claims concerning morality: moral rules are unchanging, people must adhere to them or face judgment, we all fall short of the ideal, which is why we all must depend on the mercy of God.

How much easier if the Catholic Church held to more common notions of right and wrong. If the church, for example, claimed that the meaning of morality changes with the times and circumstances, it would be easier to wriggle out of the claims of hypocrisy.

The state, on the other hand, advances no clear principle by which its effectiveness, honesty, and usefulness can be judged. No moral rule binds the state, not even those it enforces against us.

... as measured by common standards of morality, the state fails by its very nature. It is the greatest thief, the biggest murderer, the most notorious counterfeiter, the most brazen liar – and in every case, it can depend on a class of intellectuals to say that there is nothing wrong with this.

What bothers many Catholics about the current troubles in the church is how much they resemble the goings-on of the state, and the extent to which the bishops have come to believe that they could get away with anything in the same manner that politicians do.

Because the state does not believe that it is subject to any law, it is unscrupulous at its very heart, it never finds itself guilty, interprets all failures as a case for more money and power, and becomes increasingly severe in its judgment of the rest of us.

Some libertarians, like some of the old-style classical liberals, claim to see a similarity between church and state. But there is a radical difference, besides the obvious one that the former is a voluntary institution and the latter is a coercive one.
Also from 2002:

Catholic social teaching and economic law: an unresolved tension
By Thomas Woods

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