Libertarianism and Catholic Social Teaching

Sharp stuff from Opus Publicum:

There seems to be a self-satisfied sense among some proponents of CST that libertarianism is synonymous with insanity, and that is simply not true. There are, I believe, serious philosophical and empirical shortcomings to be found within libertarianism, to say nothing of the fact many (though not all) of its tenets clash with the plain dictates of CST. However, this simpleminded view of libertarians-as-madmen or, worse, libertarians-as-demons should give all of us pause, at least to the extent that we still consider ourselves Christian. And at the very least, it’s worth keeping in mind that not all libertarians—even Catholic libertarians—are committed to the same set of policy preferences. If someone cannot tell the difference between the views of Jeffrey Tucker and Tom Woods on the one hand, and Samuel Gregg and Michael Novak on the other, they probably don’t have any business critiquing Catholic libertarianism.

Not that noting this will likely matter. As I have discussed elsewhere on Opus Publicum, there are a number of young (and some old) Catholics concerned with CST who seem to be numb to the reality that CST neither ordains nor makes much room for socialism. Of course, what is recognized as “socialist” often depends on who is doing the looking; Anarcho-Capitalists are far more sensitive to such things than, say, a Distributist. Still, it should be clear to all with eyes to see that CST imagines a state regulatory apparatus of a far more modest size than what we now see in the United States and Europe. And even though CST does not support the absolutization (or even the near-absolutization) of property rights, the Church’s social encyclicals express reservations about overtaxing and overregulating the economy. What some of these pro-CST Catholics don’t seem to realize is that the further they drift toward unabashed socialism, the more easily their positions are susceptible to withering critiques from the libertarian camp.

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