Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Social materialism, John Locke and the neo-liberal "Catholic" apostasy following the publication of Evangelii Gaudium

 "...the eternal law of God is the sole standard and rule of human liberty, not only in each individual man, but also in the community and civil society which men constitute when united". 
Leo XIII, Libertas

We do not admire men such as Martin Luther or John Locke. The former, was the first very prominent revolutionary Christian who proposed that the prince did not govern with concern for his religion; the life of the citizen became separated from the life of a Christian. Modern individualism was born. The latter, could be said to be the father of modern individualism and Liberalism. Americans should become aware of the degree that his ideas permeate the foundational documents of their nation-state. 

The protestant mindset instigated by Luther, paved the way for naturalism and Liberalism. There would be no shortage of men who would eventually come to define the Age of the Enlightenment (truly a new Dark Age); men such as Descartes, Locke, Rousseau would distinguish themselves. Serious Catholics should read and study Humanum genus (On Freemasonry) and Libertas (On Liberty) by Pope Leo XIII to understand the roots of Liberalism, and how anti-Christian and anti-human it is. 

"Now, the fundamental doctrine of the naturalists, which they sufficiently make known by their very name, is that human nature and human reason ought in all things to be mistress and guide. Laying this down, they care little for duties to God, or pervert them by erroneous and vague opinions. For they deny that anything has been taught by God; they allow no dogma of religion or truth which cannot be understood by the human intelligence, nor any teacher who ought to be believed by reason of his authority. And since it is the special and exclusive duty of the Catholic Church fully to set forth in words truths divinely received, to teach, besides other divine helps to salvation, the authority of its office, and to defend the same with perfect purity, it is against the Church that the rage and attack of the enemies are principally directed". Leo XIII, Humanum genus

Pope Leo develops this theme identifying that naturalism in the domain of morality and politics is termed Liberalism - that is, the liberty to do as one pleases, without reference to membership in Christ and His Church. 

"What naturalists or rationalists aim at in philosophy, that the supporters of liberalism, carrying out the principles laid down by naturalism, are attempting in the domain of morality and politics. The fundamental doctrine of rationalism is the supremacy of the human reason, which, refusing due submission to the divine and eternal reason, proclaims its own independence, and constitutes itself the supreme principle and source and judge of truth. Hence, these followers of liberalism deny the existence of any divine authority to which obedience is due, and proclaim that every man is the law to himself; from which arises that ethical system which they style independent morality, and which, under the guise of liberty, exonerates man from any obedience to the commands of God, and substitutes a boundless license. The end of all this it is not difficult to foresee, especially when society is in question. For, when once man is firmly persuaded that he is subject to no one, it follows that the efficient cause of the unity of civil society is not to be sought in any principle external to man, or superior to him, but simply in the free will of individuals; that the authority in the State comes from the people only; and that, just as every man's individual reason is his only rule of life, so the collective reason of the community should be the supreme guide in the management of all public affairs". Leo XIII, Libertas

Locke, imbued with this  spirit of naturalism or rationalism, may be considered the fountainhead of British and French rationalism. The French writer, Vialatoux, writes of the influence of Locke: "when we study Locke, we find clearly formulated the postulates which constitute the foundation of modern social life, and are the hidden, though mostly unsuspected, animating principles of our institutions and of our modes of thought and action" (Philosophie Economique, pp. 125-126). There is no lack of neo-con Catholics who try to claim Locke as compatible with, for example, the Church's teachings on property rights. Though there may well be accidental similarities - for Locke still adhered to a few traditional theses, and was a semi-sensist, the fact remains that his books were on the Index, reflecting the Church's assessment of his political ideology. 

"...there can be no genuine solution of the "social question" apart from the Gospel"
Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus

It may be distressing for some American Catholics to appreciate that men such as Jefferson devoted their intellectual lives imbibing the confused spiritual legacy of John Locke and the French philosophers, such as Jean Jacques Rousseau. This may, in part, account for some of the more hysterical tirades against His Holiness following the publication of Evangelii Gaudium. In truth, the Pope's forthrightness on economic liberalism merely burst the carbuncle of "silent apostasy", long festering in the minds of these dissenters; for whom the Catholic Faith has long been a pick-and-choose social "feel good" variety of superficial piety. These de facto apostates have chosen Liberalism over the Gospels

Pius IX, in Quanta Cura prescribed as condemned the errors of naturalism: 

For you well know, venerable brethren, that at this time men are found not a few who, applying to civil society the impious and absurd principle of "naturalism," as they call it..."

Though many protestant and Catholic "libertartians", actually (as Adrian Pabst terms them, neo-liberals) bemoan the rise of the temporal power of the State, they are unable to see that the transfer of the interpretation and application of moral law to the State has seen an enormous increase in the latter's power (Absolutism); or, in reaction to this, a rebellious attitude leading to the chaos of moral individualism. The rejection of the Catholic Church's right to interpret the moral law leads to serious consequences. In economics we have the result of the absolutism of Socialism or the individualism of Capitalism, both evils, feeding off each other. 

The French Revolution, modern Britain, and the rest of the English speaking world, is heavily imbued with "Enlightenment" individualism, so much so, that with Pope Francis' recent reiteration of Catholic social teaching vis-a-vis economics, there has been a veritable explosion of bile and hatred spewed upon the Vicar of Christ, even to the degree of addressing the Supreme Pontiff as a "communist".

Let us take a brief look at Locke's idea of the State, economics and social life, contrasting them to the teachings of the Church. As a protestant, Locke did not regard the State as a well organized natural society, with fallen man redeemed through membership in Christ. Rather, Locke, a nominalist, broke any harmonious union between intellect and sense, with objective reality, and gave primacy to sense over reason, sectioned off social life from morality and Christ, and posited individualism as primary in his social teaching. (Students of history will see Luther as the fountainhead of Locke's ideas). Locke's political theory led inevitably to a denial of universal order, and a limit to objective knowledge for persons. We see the results today in the near total moral chaos and collapse of western society. The State is merely an artificial creation of autonomous individuals. The State has no duty to God; it is an association of mutual assurance of free proprietors to safeguard themselves against material loss. 

In Letters concerning Toleration, Locke wrote: "... the commonwealth seems to me to be a society of men constituted only for procuring, preserving and advancing their own civil interests. Civil interests I call life, liberty, health and indolence of the body, and possessions of outward things such as money, lands, houses, furniture and the like..."

"Let us consider what a church ought to be confined within the bounds of the church, nor in any manner be extended to civil affairs; because the church itself is a thing absolutely separate and distinct from the commonwealth..." 

"... for the political society is instituted for no other end, but only to secure every man's possession of the things of this life..."

The State, according to Locke, has no duty to God, society is sectioned and individualism is enthroned as the greatest good: non serviam. It therefore comes as no surprise that these neo-liberal apostates adhere to the false doctrine of "religious liberty". Contrast Locke's view of the moral obligations of the State to the Church's:

"The State cannot limit itself to "favouring one portion of the citizens", namely the rich and prosperous, nor can it "neglect the other", which clearly represents the majority of society. Otherwise, there would be a violation of that law of justice which ordains that every person should receive his due". John Paul II, Centesimus Annus

Following Pope Francis' authoritative reaffirmation of Catholic social teaching vis-a-vis economics, a number of neo-liberal Catholics, such as Daren Jonescu proposed the following buffoonery: "St. Thomas Aquinas, whose conception of natural law, justice, and the role of reason in ethics paved the way to the Enlightenment, and the development of the natural rights theory which grounded modern liberty". Not content with that, Jonescu declares the Pope a Marxist, the Church having turned to a version of communism. Jonescu's attempt to twist Rerum Novarum to nefarious ends fails utterly, for critically - amongst others things - he refrains from commenting on the fact that Leo XIII commences the encyclical within the context of his earlier social encyclicals, such as Libertas and Immortale Dei. Those encyclicals firmly condemn the false jurisprudence and naturalistic rationalism that Jonescu claims to flow from Aquinas. In our day, Pope John Paul II, in Centesimus Annus, linked Socialism and Liberalism to the same destructive root: practical atheism and a false anthropology: "The atheism of which we are speaking is also closely connected with the rationalism of the Enlightenment, which views human and social reality in a mechanistic way".

A more restrained attack on Pope Francis, but equally erroneous, is by a Paul Rahe, evidently an admirer of Locke, who wrote as follows: "Limited government – i. e., a government limited in its scope – was the solution ultimately found, and John Locke was its proponent. Even a former U.S. judge has had his two pennies to contribute in an op-ed in The Washington Post.  Andrew Napolitano, in a manner as ignorant as it is arrogant, after constructing and demolishing the usual strawmen, indulges in historicism and "infallibility" to dismiss Catholic social teaching; Napolitano also can't quite deduce the mind of the Pope: is he a communist or a fascist!? The eminent theologian, Napolitano, scoffs at the Pope's remarks that the poor are waiting. Yes, they are. Perhaps Napolitano has never heard of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul; maybe he should consider going on a few home visitations. Perhaps Napolitano has never visited Miami, where the juxtaposition of obscene wealth and extreme poverty is an abomination. "Are there no poor houses...?" to quote Dickens.

 In a more subtle and devious manner then the aforementioned writers, the other week, neo-liberal Catholic, Raymond Arroyo, on The World Over, tried to wriggle dissent off the hook by asking his guest, Bishop Morlino about an Apostolic Exhortation's degree of "infallibility"; if a Catholic had to accept Church teachings on economics, like "moral" teachings . The answer is yes; economics are under the moral law (c.f. No. 34, Centesimus Annus; No. 15, Caritas in Veritate). Sadly, Bishop Morlino was evasive. Thus, perhaps thousands of Catholics had spiritual poison poured into their souls. As with Napolitano and others, Arroyo is constructing the "infallibility" strawman, opening the flood gates for dissent on Catholic social teaching. We have seen this type of dissent with the supporters on contraception and abortion. It is no wonder that these sexual and life sins are so popular in an individualistic culture of death, much like economic exploitation is. 

It is clear in the minds of the popes that the Church has a right and duty to intervene in the life of a nation and the State with regards to economic issues that pertain to the dignity of the person and the common good. The State has a positive duty to intervene where charity has proven insufficient to provide for the poor. However the principle of subsidiarity dictates that it also has a duty to back off where lower levels of government or individuals in free association are able to provide for the poor. The difficulty is that the State cannot be relied upon to be its own moral compass and it cannot negotiate this fine line without guidance. Hence the necessity for the Church to be involved in civil and economic matters. The Church has a positive duty to inform the State when they have not gone far enough and when they have gone too far.

"The State must contribute to the achievement of these goals both directly and indirectly. Indirectly and according to the principle of subsidiarity, by creating favourable conditions for the free exercise of economic activity, which will lead to abundant opportunities for employment and sources of wealth" John Paul Ii, Centissimus Annus

Following the recent economic crisis (which is far from over), Pope Benedict XVI issued his authoritative encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. As Pabst pointed out, it was denounced by neo-liberals, such as the "un-authoritative" George Weigel. This forgotten encyclical, rejected by dissenters on the "left" and "right", (who respectively clamor for either statist intervention, or capitalist fundamentalism) reiterates the Church's position of a free market and State guided by natural law for the common good. Of note, in No. 15, the Pope identifies the link between teaching on life issues (e.g. Humanae vitae) and social doctrine. One cannot have one without the other. 

"The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that “a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalize". Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate

To conclude, it may be fitting to have a faithful layman's conception of Catholic teaching on economics, politics and the moral law:  

"the truth is that Liberalism does not merely consist in withdrawing economics for subordination to politics, but in the further step of withdrawing politics (and economics) from subjection to the moral law.... the end of politics becomes the material prosperity, the power and success of the State, and everything that may procure that end...the end of economics becomes the acquisition and limitless increase of riches, material riches as such, and everything that may procure such an end..." (Jacques Maritain, Religion and Culture, Sheed and Ward,  pp. 25, 26). 

Barona and Freyr

Recommended reading: 

Quanta Cura, Pius IX
Humanum Genus, Leo XIII
Immortale Dei, Leo XIII
Libertas, Leo XIII
Rerum Novarum, Leo XIII
Quadragesimo Anno, Pius XI
Quas Primas, Pius XI
Centesimus Annus, John Paul II
Veritas in Caritate, Benedict XVI

Evangelii Gaudium, Francis


Lawrence and Susan Fox said...

Excellent Work Gentlemen. The evil that John Locke and Martin Luther worked on our world were very clearly elucidated. Their sin has become institutionalized. Now I know who to blame when I am told online to keep my preaching inside the church, i.e. "Stay on the Reservation."

Regarding: "The difficulty is that the State cannot be relied upon to be its own moral compass and it cannot negotiate this fine line without guidance. Hence the necessity for the Church to be involved in civil and economic matters. The Church has a positive duty to inform the State when they have not gone far enough and when they have gone too far."

The church yes, but which part of the church? Will the state listen to the Pope when they don’t even understand him? They have listened to The U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops who have delivered the laity into the very Mouth (abortion and euthanasia in Obama “Care”) of the Beast. Or will they listen to the little faith-filled Catholic in the pew who votes and speaks? Then many faith-filled Catholics in the pew are desperately confused on this matter demonstrated by the plethora of Obama stickers on the cars of mothers picking up their kids from Catholic schools. Meanwhile, based on what you wrote, I think we are walking around under totalitarianism not based on the moral law. I’ve been feeling that way for some time.

So I asked my 25-year-old son for his input on this issue, and he thinks bishops etc. need to stay away from influencing legislation and politics. Instead the Church “needs to do its job," according to James Fox.

“The leaders of the Church are called to be Shepherds of Christ’s flock. This calling is given to them by their ordination and as such the graces given to them pertain to instructing the People of God in the faith and in holiness.” In this manner, the People of God will understand their faith, and be able to change the institutions of government. The institutions of government will reflect the holiness of the People of God. “Legislation is not their domain,” James said. “They don’t have the grace for it.”

Could he have uncovered the Elephant in the Middle of the Room? Is the problem with government related to past priests and bishops not having the humility to seek holiness for themselves, and then failing to inspire the same for their flock?

God bless you from the Foxes, James and Susan

Barona said...

I have been speaking out about the rise of neo-fascism in the "West" for a long time. The American bishops need to steel themselves - and not only them - for a serious confrontation with State Absolutism. Barack Obama's idea of government - and not only his - are, in many ways very similar to Mussolini. Gramsci, the Italian Marxist, though jailed by Mussolini, really approached the State and State power in a very similar manner to his jailer. There really is only a superficial difference between fascists and marxists. Marxists are fascists.

Freyr said...

This is what our bishops are called to do.
India: Police arrest bishop for defending Dalit Christians
The Archbishop of Delhi was taking part in a protest to put an end to discrimination against Dalit Christians. A number of priests and nuns were beaten during the demonstrations