Wednesday, April 13, 2005


A collection of links concerning the nature of conservatism Is Catholicism better described as liberal or conservative? Edward Fesser answers that it is the later over at The Conservative Philosopher. I'm inclined to agree, with the caveat that much depends on how one defines 'conservative':
At the end of the day, then, the teaching of the Catholic Church on economic matters is essentially conservative, and even when the popes in their prudential judgments about such matters have seemed to be endorsing “liberal” policies, those judgments have not rested on liberal principles, have not been presented as infallible, and have not bound Catholics to support any specific legislative measures. The bottom line is that it is simply false to suggest, as is so often done, that conservative Catholics “dissent” from the Church’s teaching as often as liberals do. A faithful Catholic can legitimately hold that capital punishment is justifiable in some circumstances or that a raise in the minimum wage is a bad idea; but a Catholic faithful to the binding teaching of the Church can never hold that abortion or euthanasia can justifiably be legalized or that there can possibly be such a thing as “same-sex marriage” (since, on the Catholic natural law understanding of marriage, marriage is inherently procreative and thus heterosexual as a matter of conceptual necessity). A liberal who takes the latter positions is necessarily at odds with 2,000 years of Catholic tradition. A conservative who takes the former positions is not necessarily at odds with the Church at all. There simply is no parity whatsoever.
This is a useful article for anyone curious about what the church holds and why, especially on things like a 'living wage' and the death penalty. The church's position on those issues often gives people difficulty in squaring it with modern ideology. In The National Review, Dorinda C. Bordlee says that JPII "knows what women want:"
It seems that far from liberating us, the radical feminist idea of what women want — uncommitted sex (pleasure) and abortion rights (power) — has facilitated the sexual exploitation of women on a scale far grander than men could have ever thought up by themselves. It’s time to reevaluate. So, what do women really want? A world-renowned philosopher and human-rights advocate has unmasked the simple answer. He is known as Pope John Paul II and he has consistently written and spoken out for over half a century on the human dignity of women (based largely on his study of a Jewish philosopher named Edith Stein, who later became a Catholic nun before she was martyred at Auschwitz). The bottom line of the Holy Father’s profoundly insightful study of what he calls the “genius of woman” comes down to this: Women want to love and be loved. That’s it.
Also at The National Review, a point about legal originalism that ought to be blindingly obvious, but isn't:
... originalism will lead to "conservative results" ... only if, and to the extent that, elected legislators enact conservative positions into law. Conversely, originalism will lead to liberal results when elected legislators enact liberal laws. And, of course, the free play that originalism gives to the political process on these issues will allow the electorate the flexibility to change its collective position over time.
I've made that point before, but I never seem to be able to do it in that small of a space. Paul Cella has an article at TCS about Edmund Burke, who is rightly a giant in conservative literature:
I have been struck on occasion by the amusing and almost fanciful spectacle of some modern liberal or progressive having recently discovered Burke -- that is to say, having recently decided to actually read him. The discovery leads the progressive in question to speak with pomp and solemnity, almost as a scold: for the discovery is like that of a prosecutor coming upon a clutch of useful physical evidence -- better, as they say, than witness testimony. Perhaps he has uncovered the large fact that Burke (himself an Irishman) lent his considerable eloquence and intellect to the cause of Irish emancipation; maybe he has been amazed to learn that he prosecuted a prominent imperial abuser of the subjected Indians; more likely our progressive has stumbled upon the vivid fact that his sympathies were with the unruly American colonists. In short, our progressive has discovered the whole huge truth that Edmund Burke was way ahead of most of the progressives of his own day in endorsing progressive causes. And this truth is demonstrated best, we might say, by the fact that Burke's friends and admirers were simply dumbstruck when he so decisively and so forcefully judged the progressive cause of the day -- still indeed, perhaps, the progressive cause, as I have said, of the entire modern age -- to be a titanic catastrophe. Like most great conservatives, Burke had no antipathy for genuine human progress; what he despised, and spared no effort to expose, was decline and barbarism masquerading as progress. He knew the secret truth: that a society usually must be civilized before it can really go bad; that great civilizations do not so much fall backward into barbarism, as march headlong into it with eager gleaming eyes and sophisticated sermons. Barbarism masquerading as progress is often the proud boast of a society grown morally rotten. Do not expect, dear reader, that when America goes bad -- as some of us fear she is perilously close to doing -- it will be recognized as badness. Nay: it will be cheered as glorious progress; and its denouncers themselves denounced as reactionaries.
Bill at Bill's Comments has compiled a great list of quotes about taxation, including this one from Winston Churchill: "We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." Indian state of Maharashtra considers a bill telling farmers not to have more than two children or they will have their water supply cut off. If your hair isn't standing on end after reading that, you're probably not conservative. If you like Country music, and use or have access to WinAmp, give Classic Heartland a whirl. I like new Country just fine, but it's great to hear the oldies (60's and 70's) now and then.

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