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Libertarians Are Not Our Friends


Why Catholics should un-fuse themselves from a movement that rejects what they hold crucial

a post on the site of the Foundation for Economic Education, of which he’s a distinguished fellow, which proclaimed the court’s decision a wonderful thing. The writer bragged that “libertarians formed the vanguard of the fight for equal marriage based on the arguments Justice Kennedy articulated and the Supreme Court accepted today.”

Third, in a startlingly sophomoric article, libertarian hero Judge Richard Posner calls Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissent “heartless,” which is pretty much the nicest thing he says about moral conservatives. The only legal ground for the law against biracial marriages the court overturned in 1967 “was bigotry,” he says, and “The same is true with respect to same-sex marriage.” Laws against same-sex marriage offer “no offsetting benefits at all beyond gratifying feelings of hostility toward gays and lesbians.” Roberts’ and Alito’s arguments he treats as self-evidently stupid.

I could give more examples, but these should do, especially Posner’s. He’s a leader of that movement, one of libertarianism’s superstars, and he thinks the Catholic moral understanding contemptible. Tucker, a second or third-tier leader, think Catholics speaking on this matter — or at least Chad Pecknold making an unexceptionable argument — “effing brownshirts.” And the venerable Federalist Society just doesn’t seem to think Catholic concerns matter, even when these would seem to be their concerns too.

Catholics can ally themselves in specific political matters with libertarians, though not — and I think definitely not — in a broad, ongoing, and “fused” movement. We can certainly benefit from their arguments. I’m now reading with a group of friends Friedrich Hayek’s classic Road to Serfdom and finding much of it helpful — but am also finding how different is the mind behind it from the Catholic or Christian mind. (To be accurate, Hayek wasn’t a libertarian, but he is a libertarian guru and patriarch.) But given its ideological commitments, which have helpfully come out in the debate over same-sex marriage, I suggest three rules for the Catholic relation to libertarianism:

Libertarians are not our friends.
They may be allies, but they are not our friends.
They may also be enemies.

*  *  *  *  *

I might point to some other articles of mine related to this subject:
The Childish Ayn Rand
 and Do Not Speak Well of Randianism; Blaming the Poor; The New Catholic Economics ; and Free Market Catholics Are Losing Their Faith (in Capitalism).

David Mills, former executive editor of First Things, is a senior editor of The Stream, editorial director for Ethika Politika, and columnist for several Catholic publications. His latest book is Discovering Mary. Follow him @DavidMillsWrtng.


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