Pope Francis and His Warped View of Libertarians

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Pope Francis and His Warped View of Libertarians

Posted in : Theology and Political Philosophy on by : Michael Maharrey

Pope Francis has warned the world.

Beware of libertarians!

In a message sent to members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences meeting in the Vatican, and reported by Breitbart, the Pope characterized libertarianism as “anti-social,” and said it exalts a “selfish ideal.”

“A common characteristic of this fallacious paradigm is that it minimizes the common good, that is the idea of ‘living well’ or the ‘good life’ in the communitarian framework.”

According to Breitbart, the Pope went on to say that libertarians believe relationships that create ties must be eliminated, “since they would limit freedom.” In this way, only by living independently of others, of the common good, and even God himself, can a person be free, he said.

Francis does not understand the core of libertarian thought. The libertarian philosophy does not preclude community, or even striving for “common good” – whatever that might be. Libertarians simply reject that idea that  people armed with clubs and guns shouting orders at everybody else will create a peaceful, prosperous society.

The non-aggression principle lies at the heart of libertarianism. It rejects the use of coercive force. It rejects the notion that I can hit you in order to advance my conception of the common good. It rejects the belief that I can point a gun at you and force you to participate in my “community.”

In essence the NAP mirrors the Second Great Commandment – love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Libertarian thought does not require eliminating relationships that create ties, and in and of itself, the libertarian philosophy does not require “living independently of others.” Some libertarians may hold these views, but fundamentally, libertarianism only demands that human interactions, ties and relationships should be voluntary.

In fact, libertarianism mirrors Christian ethics and the way God deals with his creation. He does not force his sovereign will upon humanity. John Locke succinctly expressed this idea in A Letter Concerning Toleration.

“If, like the Captain of our salvation, they sincerely desired the good of souls, they would tread in the steps and follow the perfect example of that Prince of Peace, who sent out His soldiers to the subduing of nations, and gathering them into His Church, not armed with the sword, or other instruments of force, but prepared with the Gospel of peace and with the exemplary holiness of their conversation. This was His method. Though if infidels were to be converted by force, if those that are either blind or obstinate were to be drawn off from their errors by armed soldiers, we know very well that it was much more easy for Him to do it with armies of heavenly legions than for any son of the Church, how potent soever, with all his dragoons.”

If God doesn’t force us into his kingdom, why should some people wearing expensive suits or funny uniforms be able to force people to adhere to and advance their conception of society? And an even more fundamental question question: what gives any person or group of people the right to impose their conception of the undefinable “common good” on everybody else?

In the real world, libertarians develop all kinds of relational ties, and join and support all kinds of communities. They relish free associations. Some even belong to the Catholic Church. Libertarians philosophy does not reject communitarianism wholesale. It simply asserts community is not coerced.

The Pope said he “cannot fail to speak of the grave risks associated with the invasion of the positions of libertarian individualism.” Somebody needs to point out to Francis it’s not the libertarians who threaten to plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust. Seems to me the statists are the ones who pose the grave risk.

Photo by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

One thought on "Pope Francis and His Warped View of Libertarians"

  • Jimb April 29, 2017Reply

    Very well said! I’ll be keeping this one.

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