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Catholics, Libertarians, and Statism


This is the final segment of my series on Catholics and Libertarians, which I have written in response to a conference at the Catholic University of America entitled “Erroneous Authority: The Catholic Case Against Libertarianism.” The other six segments are posted at the end of this article.

So, the question naturally arises: What are statists and statism?

A statist is a person who looks to the state as his solution to the problems that confront him in his life. The state is his everything.

It forces him and everyone else in society to be good, caring, and compassionate. That’s what the welfare state is all about.

It protects him from himself, which is what the drug war is all about.

It protects him from immigrants, which is what the war on immigrants is all about.

It goes abroad to kill, torture, maim, incarcerate, execute, and assassinate people in faraway lands in the name of protecting our rights and freedoms. It also funds pro-U.S. foreign dictators, in the name of maintaining “order and stability” in society and protecting our “national interests.” That’s what the warfare state is all about.

The state is like a parent to statists. That’s why they sometimes refer to their system as the paternalistic welfare state.

But the state is much more than a parent to statists. It is also their god, a false god that they have elevated into an equal partnership with their other God, the real God.

Why do Christian statists favor mandatory charity in the form of such welfare-state programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, corporation bailouts, and education grants?

They’re clear as to their reason: Because, they say, people cannot be trusted to do the right thing and voluntarily help others who are in need. Therefore, statists say, they have to be forced to participate in a collective welfare state system to ensure that they do act in a caring, compassionate manner toward others.

What Christian statists are essentially saying is that God made a mistake when He vested man with free will. If God had known that people would choose not to help the poor, needy, and disadvantaged, He would never have vested people with free will.

But fret not, statists say. The state, acting in partnership with God, will correct God’s mistake by instituting a system of mandatory charity, one in which everyone will be forced to participate, one that will convert everyone into a caring, compassionate person.

God and Caesar—free will and force—working hand in hand to help the poor, needy, and disadvantaged. That’s the statist system, a system based on a partnership between the god of the state and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Meanwhile, the state wages a cruel and vicious war against some of the poorest people in the world, thanks to one of statism’s favorite government programs — immigration controls, a system under which Caesar — the organized means of coercion and compulsion known as the state — punishes people for exercising their God-given right to pursue happiness by sustaining and improving their lives through labor and mutual exchange.

How do the statists reconcile their devotion to mandatory charity with their war on immigrants? They don’t even try. Their hypocrisy ranks right up there with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, hypocrisy that Our Lord never ceased to condemn.

Unfortunately, that’s not all that comes with statism.

There is also the drug war, by which statists incarcerate, fine, and destroy people who are guilty of being drug addicts. Rather than treat drug addiction in a humane manner by encouraging people to seek treatment and rehabilitation, statists instead resort to the force of Caesar, jailing and fining and destroying people for their addictions.

Even worse, by making drugs illegal, they induce countless people, especially the poor, to involve themselves in the drug trade. Oh sure, on Sundays they’ll pray “Lead us not into temptation” while on the other six days of the week, their beloved drug war tempts thousands of people into trying to make a quick score. And when they’re caught, the statists celebrate another ruined life that they can send to the penitentiary.

They ought to be ashamed of themselves. With their support of the drug war, they are morally responsible for all the natural and foreseeable consequences of drug laws — the drug cartels, the drug gangs, the gang wars, the violence, robberies, muggings, assassinations, kidnappings, thefts, bribery, asset forfeiture, mandatory minimum sentences, racism, and all the rest.

Not surprisingly though, you’ll never find even one single statist confessing responsibility for all this horror. Their position is steadfast: God will not hold us responsible for the evil consequences of our programs. He will judge us by our good intentions.

And then, succumbing to the grave sins of envy and covetousness, statists advocate that Caesar use his power to forcibly seize the wealth and income of those who have more in order to give it to those who have less. In the process, they produce economic conditions that doom people to impoverishment.

Just as bad as their socialism is their fascism, whereby they use Caesar’s regulations, such as minimum wage laws, to condemn poor people, especially African-American teenagers, to permanent unemployment. But to manifest their concern for the poor, the statists eagerly advocate a life of welfare for such people, a life that can more easily be controlled and manipulated by Caesar.

Meanwhile, the glorification of their idol is best manifested in the warfare state, the overseas empire of military bases, and the national-security state apparatus that statists have grafted onto our governmental system, without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment.

You especially see such glorification at national sporting events, where officials go out of their way to exhort people to glorify America’s massive standing army, the CIA, and the NSA and the rest of the national-security state, which, they tell us, is just keeping us safe (from the enemies that their foreign policy produces) and supposedly protecting our rights and freedoms.

Yeah, as if there isn’t a swarm of contractors and sub-contractors making lots of moolah off this crooked and corrupt militarist, imperialist system.

But that’s not the only place you see the glorification of the military, the CIA, and the national security state. You also see it in churches across America, where people in the congregations are exhorted to pray for the troops, who are, we are told, are bravely killing people thousands of miles away in the defense of our rights and freedoms.

Demonstrating the statist partnership between Caesar and God, Christian statists even place the American flag right there in the middle of church for all to behold and glorify, along with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What’s surprising is that they don’t begin church service with the Pledge of Allegiance, especially given that it was authored by a died-in-the-wool, self-professed socialist.

Has anyone in any U.S. church ever been exhorted to pray for the people who the troops have killed, maimed, and tortured? Not that I’ve ever heard of. The people who are being assassinated, bombed, killed, shot, incarcerated, and maimed aren’t people. They’re vermin, gooks, ragheads, or whatever. They don’t count. They’re dead because they got in the way. They resisted the illegal invasion and occupation of their country. Why, when it comes to foreigners, we don’t even count the number of dead. That’s because they don’t count as human beings.

Just ask the people of Iraq, a nation that never ever attacked the United States or even threatened to do so and whose society is now a wasteland of violence, death, destruction, civil war, and dictatorship. Does anyone know for sure how many Iraqis have been killed? Nope. Oh sure, we made enormous sacrifices for the Iraqi people because we love them so much. We just didn’t love them enough to keep track of how many we were killing in the process of making their society a model of freedom, prosperity, and harmony.

No one in those churches that glorify the troops ever prays for the victims of the troops because that might imply that the troops are doing something bad by killing those people over there. Why, in the mind of the statist, that’s heresy or at least treason, certainly unpatriotic. Remember: The national-security state is their daddy. It is their god. It is their idol. It is their everything. It doesn’t kill people wrongfully. It doesn’t kill people just for regime change. It only kills people in the defense of our rights and freedoms.

Meanwhile, they continue to support their brutal dictatorships, such as the one in Egypt. They say it’s for “order and stability,” something that they, not surprisingly, deeply value in American society as well.

Catholics, like everyone else, have a choice.

They can embrace statism, along with all its horrors. But in doing so, they should recognize that they are choosing a philosophy that is in direction contradiction to God’s laws.

Or they can choose to embrace libertarianism, which is entirely consistent with God’s laws.

But of course, that’s what free will is all about — making choices and living with the consequences.

Catholics, Libertarians, and Coerced Charity by Jacob G. Hornberger
Catholics, Libertarians, and the Drug War by Jacob G. Hornberger
Catholics, Libertarians, and Immigration by Jacob G. Hornberger
Catholic, Libertarians, and Foreign Aid by Jacob G. Hornberger
Catholics, Libertarians, and Foreign Policy by Jacob G. Hornberger
Catholics, Libertarians, and the Poor by Jacob G. Hornberger
Catholics, Libertarians, and Statism by Jacob G. Hornberger



This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.