The Problem with Political Ideologies


The three popular ideologies today seem to be conservatism, progressivism and libertarianism.

None of the three ideologies is in perfect harmony with Catholic social teaching.  Here is how.

Progressivism or as it is commonly known as liberalism has many problems.  It takes away the concept that there is absolute and objective truth which comes from God alone, or it makes it seem like God changes His mind all the time.  Their rhetoric is that what may have been acceptable some decades or centuries ago may no longer be acceptable.  Progressivism views the state as the arbiter of truth as opposed to God and the Church; this means in the progressive mind the state is free to fund abortions, blasphemous art galleries or schools that aggressively lure people away from Christianity for example.  It seeks to label anybody a bigot who is not aboard with their social engineering program.  Because of these reasons, progressives believe in the absolute separation of Church and state; many go as far as to keep God out of public speeches.  So progressivism hypocritically tries to create its own set of rules while rejecting God and His set of rules; they reject the “dogmatism” of the Church for their dogmatism.  It rejects that abortion is intrinsically evil (rf. CCC 2271) but is actually a right; the same goes with the intrinsically disordered homosexual acts (rf. CCC 2357).

Libertarianism is seen as the leeway between progressivism and conservatism.  Frequently this means the person is fiscally conservative and socially liberal: they want the government to stay out of their wallet but they also want it to stay out of the bedroom.  Civil libertarians dread the Church’s role in society like a vampire dreads the crucifix: like the progressives, libertarians want a total separation of Church and state.  This flies in the face of what Saint Pius X for example taught: “That the State must be separated from the Church is a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error” (Vehementer Nos, n. 3).

Conservatism tends to emphasize a particular nation over others.  For example, among American conservatives, the United States is seen as the city on the hill, a biblical reference to the Kingdom of Heaven.  This quote “city on the hill” in reference to the U.S. was popularized by Ronald Reagan in his speech.  How neoconservatives and paleoconservatives think may differ on this issue.  Like libertarianism, conservatism is overly skeptical about efforts to protect the environment, serve the poor and of labor unions.  This is why some conservatives have falsely accused Pope Francis of being a socialist, having no idea that the very same ideas have been embraced by Christian democrats for almost 200 years.  Leo XIII called for labor unions, mentioning “History attests what excellent results were brought about by the artificers’ guilds of olden times” (Rerum Novarum, n. 49); this was a critic of socialism, by the way.  Saint John Paul II blamed our ecological problems on consumerism (rf. Centessimus Annus, n. 37).  Again he taught that nations must have a “preferential option for the poor” in their policies (rf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 443).

Many people worship progressivism, libertarianism or conservatism; they put politics before faith and if you’re not with them, they anathemize you.  I have seen this cause divisions during this election among Catholics who otherwise got along in their defense of the faith against anti-Catholics.  It’s time we stop putting our political labels before our faith; it’s time we stop letting are faith be influenced by our politics and let our politics be influenced by our faith!

Progressivism emphasizes charity but scoffs at obedience.  Libertarianism scoffs at the necessity for both while keeping them both as private things.  Conservatism emphasizes obedience but scoffs at charity.


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