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    • Pingback: Addressing Liberal Catholic Critics of Paul Ryan

    • Pingback: Liberal Catholic Critics of Paul Ryan Misread Catholic Social Thought | Catholic Canada

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      Perhaps Ryan (unlike the Manifesto Crowd) is also aware of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

      I am also very suspect of the Manifesto Crowd. While they trip over themselves when it comes to Church teachings on social justice and bend them to conform to their own particular political agenda, they are selectively unmoved by Church teachings on matters such as abortion, contraception and safeguarding our religious liberites from the assault by leftist government.

    • Pingback: Liberal Catholic Critics of Paul Ryan Misread Catholic Social Thought « News for Catholics

    • Ib

      This is simply a thoughtful, modest and engaging post that illuminates the problems with the recent liberal Catholic manifesto, All on Our Shoulders. The uncharitable spirit that pervades that document, betrays the signatories desire simply to torpedo one political candidate and thereby throw support to the other. It is a given that these signatories, mostly professional academics making a living out of producing new scholarship on the Roman Catholic theological tradition, cannot defend the other candidate directly since his record defending and enacting the slaughter of the innocents, supporting intrinsically evil notions of marriage, and attacking religious freedom, is indefensible from within the tradition they make a living out of. However, by publically attacking his opponents’ positions, they conduct a de facto, if indirect, political endorsement of the egregiously indefensible candidate.

      Anyone with ears to hear should know these signatories should never be treated with trust again until they repent of this foul deed.

    • http://twitter.com/jfmarlin Jim Trout

      Since I only have time for a quick response, I’d like to make this point: For at least some people, individualism means that a man relies primarily on himself to take care of himself AND OTHERS. He sees a problem, determines the solution, and acts. Often, if not usually, he acts in concert with his family and his community to accomplish his goal. Often, he does this in a leadership role. In this view, individualism is not opposed to compassion and community, it is opposed to apathy and dependency. The individual does not leave it up to others to solve the community’s problems, but takes action due to his own motivation and based on the expertise he has gained relying on himself to solve problems, in concert with other members of the community.

      • http://twitter.com/jfmarlin Jim Trout

        I realize I must add to this. While a man should strive to be self-reliant, he must not fall into the trap of thinking he can be self-sufficient. He must realize that he owes his life to God, and that he is an instrument of God. He must also realize that he has weaknesses, and that achieving God’s goals and his own goals depends on his humility to ask God and his neighbors to help him recognize his weaknesses and others’ strengths, and to support him where he needs it. He must act, but not act alone, and realize that he is merely interpreting a script not written by himself.

      • Indeed


        Check out my post a short while ago; it looks as if you and I are making the same point. There’s “individualism,” and then there’s “individualism.”

    • Indeed

      Pretty well written.

      I do wish, though, that people would remember that there is individualism, and then there is individualism. I suspect the author does remember this, inasmuch as he puts the term in quote-marks; but a clarification of the difference between the two flavors would be helpful in any discussion that mentions Ayn Rand.

      So, again, there is “individualism,” and then there is “individualism.” Some definitions:

      DEFINITION #1 “Individualism” in the popular American sense:
      A belief that a person is morally responsible before God for personally avoiding sin and personally doing good, including personally assisting those in need; and, that one cannot thoughtlessly foist these duties on a larger collective and thereby dispense oneself of the need to fulfill them as an individual.

      The term “individualism” in this sense also includes a strong assertion of human dignity against coercion by the state or other collectives, the assertion that rights are God-given to individuals not privileges assigned by the state, a disapproval of group-based prejudices (because all individuals in a group can differ), and a moral commitment for capable adults not to infantilize themselves by compelling others to care for them when they could, with reasonable effort, have cared for themselves.

      In this definition no judgment is made or implied about the value of voluntarily-joined associations of others; whether a criminal gang or a boy-scout troop, they are assumed either to be good, or not good, according to their particular merits. However, the above definition does assert a high view of human dignity which may be incompatible with some forms of human government (e.g. communism) which take a low view of human dignity.

      Thus, an “individualist” in the American popular sense would typically commend a person for voluntarily joining a scout troop, the Rotary club, or other beneficial expressions of Solidarity. They would see the choice to do so as a morally right expression of individualism, and not as a rejection thereof.

      Likewise, an “individualist” in the American popular sense would typically commend a person for being a generous almsgiver. They would not see this as a rejection of individualism, but rather as a person taking moral responsibility for what he does with his time, talent, and treasure: A living-out of individualism.

      DEFINITION #2: “Individualism” in the Randian Objectivist sense:
      An incomplete and self-referential moral system in which “that which is right” is equated to the desires of the individual, seen as necessarily in opposition to (or competition with) those of other individuals. In this sense, “individualism” is the assertion that it is morally right to get what one desires/needs, without regard to what anyone else desires/needs, except insofar as the disregard of the needs of others would have deleterious effects on long-term access to one’s own desires/needs. “Selfishness,” for want of a better word, is seen as a virtue to be pursued; however, the phrase “enlightened self-interest” is used to differentiate between short-sighted selfishness and a more clever pursuit of one’s desires which exercises self-control and strategizes for delayed-but-increased gratification.

      Among Randian Objectivists, and certainly in the writings of Rand herself, there is a sort of “horror of the mob” which devalues even voluntary associations of persons and asserts a heroic character to the individual alone against the world, unencumbered by the obligations of love and relationship.

      GIVEN THESE DEFINITIONS, it is obvious that “individualism” in the second (Randian) sense is contrary to the teachings of the Church.

      But, it is obvious that the first (popular American) understanding of the term is not…although persons who do not have the Church’s teachings in mind could misuse or exaggerate it so that it became contrary to the teachings of the Church, and claim to live by the first definition of individualism while doing so.

      It is unfortunate that in some encyclicals, the term “individualism” (and the similar term “unbridled capitalism”) is used only in the negative, anti-Catholic fashion, without an acknowledgment that a positive, compatible-with-Catholicism usage of the same words exists.

      (In the case of “capitalism,” the term “unbridled” helps to make the distinction: No “rule of law, free-market, human-dignity-respecting” capitalist would call himself an “unbridled capitalist”; indeed, he would look at what the Church means by “unbridled” capitalism and typically say that it was not capitalism at all, or call it by another term; e.g. “crony capitalism” or “kleptocratic capitalism.”)

      But whether or not the encyclicals bother to clarify such distinctions, we should. If someone claims “individualism” as a good (or bad) thing, he should be required to define his terms. And then we ourselves can determine, apart from inconsistently-used labels, what it is that he’s talking about.

      • Indeed

        I should probably add that people who adhere to the first (American popular) form of individualism can find arguments in the writings of Ayn Rand which strongly support their own critiques of dignity-squashing forms of collectivism (e.g. communism).

        It is probably for this reason that people who adhere to the first (American popular) form of individualism sometimes find themselves admiring Rand. Paul Ryan is in this category, likely enough.

        For of course the forms of collectivism which oppress the individual are equally opposed by both forms of individualism, and indeed by the Church; and both kinds of individualists (and the Church) can use Rand’s arguments to criticize those dehumanizing forms of collectivism and applaud her full-throated opposition of them.

        However, this falls under the category of “testing everything, and keeping what is good.” There is plenty in Rand’s writings which neither the Church nor the popular American form of individualist will embrace. The enemy of my enemy may sometimes be my ally, but it may be a temporary alliance. There is nothing suspicious or self-contradictory in Paul Ryan’s standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Rand in opposing a soul-crushing welfare state, then turning around and opposing Rand herself when she advocates atheism, opposes even healthy forms of Solidarity, and claims that selfishness is a virtue.