"Wherefore We must interrupt a silence which it would be criminal to prolong, that We may point out...as they really are, men who are badly disguised." Pope St. Pius X, September 8, 1907, Pascendi Dominici Gregis

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Catholicism and Actual Anarchy

Instead of reading Freedom and the Law by Bruno Leoni, it would be shorter to listen to this recent Tom Woods podcast

about the legal system that prevailed in Ireland in the middle ages. This is a discussion of an actual historical example of the type of legal norms we have been advocating.
Notably, the Catholic faith was at the height of its power during the time of this "anarchic" legal system, while with the rise of the modern nation-state we have seen the demise of the Church. This has much to do with the state seeing itself as absolute and with the rise of secular rationalism having the apparent ideological justification to undermine any institution that competes with it for allegiance.
When the interviewee mentions Anglo 'common law' as part of the downfall of the former Irish legal system, he is referring as far as we can tell to ossified version of common law we have today that came into being with the rise of the absolute monarchy in Britain. The origin of common law is almost parallel to the Irish system he discusses, and Bruno Leoni's book makes this clear.
Also, when the interviewee broadly attributes the demise of the Irish legal system to the Vatican, I think he likely does so without a full or proper understanding of the Church.
Many modern natural law theorist remain unjustifiably anti-clerical, while much of the political thought in the Church remains overly dedicated to the absolute Catholic monarchies the Church supported with the rise of the modern nation-state, which is understandable given the context of the mortal threat posed by enemies of the Church such as Napoleon. However, the Church does herself a disservice in the modern age ignoring the fact that, as with the noble Pagans such as Aristotle, much of modern natural law theory has been most effectively carried forward by secular Jews such as Mises and Rothbard. There are a few Catholics such as Tom Woods, Lew Rockwell, et al that recognize this. Also, it is notable that the very school that embodies the most cogent natural law tradition, the Austrian school, was born in one of the most resolute absolute Catholic monarchies. Too many traditional Catholic intellectuals I think are stuck anachronistically in this particular time period, and do not realize that the Universal Church was much more robust under a decentralized, non-nation state political regime. When the leaders of the Church finally get their collective act together again it almost certainly will involve a return to a politics based more soundly on natural law and a bringing back together of the Church with the most recent advancements in natural law theory.

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