despotism / tyranny

The New Secular Puritan Covenant

Thanksgiving brings back memories for Americans of the Pilgrims and Puritans, carrying out their “errand into the wilderness” to build a “city on a hill,” surviving that first bleak Massachusetts winter of 1620-21. As a kid, I remember that cutting out Puritan hats from black construction paper and taping them to the school windows was [...]

The Many Assaults on the Rule of Law

A central principle of the American Founding—in fact, one that great thinkers have held as central for any democratic republic—is the rule of law. We often hear the phrase that we are a nation in which “the rule of law and not of men” prevails. This is another way of saying that law—applicable equally to [...]

Contemporary Tyranny and Catholic Social Doctrine

The usual view among Catholics is that public authority should look after all aspects of the common good. As a result, the social encyclicals have proposed a variety of responsibilities for government. The variety has grown with the range of problems under consideration, from the condition of industrial workers in Rerum Novarum to the comprehensive good of [...]

Catholics and the Revolutionary State

To what extent should Catholics support an essentially evil government? The question is unaccustomed. The Church views government as natural and necessary, and normally favors obedience even to tyrannical governments as long as the specific command is not at odds with divine or natural law. That’s why Paul told Christians to honor and obey Nero’s [...]

Faces of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty used to be the face America projected to the world. A gift from the people of France in 1886 and an emblem of how Americans saw themselves and how they wanted to be seen by the world. Liberte eclairant le monde is the name given the statue—"Liberty enlightening the world." The [...]

The Dangers of Contemporary “Authoritarianism”

Matthew MacWilliams, in a January 17 post on Politico, expatiated on the “one weird trait that predicts whether you are a Trump supporter." That variable turns out to be "authoritarianism.” The author relates the results of a late December 2015 poll he conducted in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts. Controlling for different variables, he contends [...]

The Plot to Kill Hitler and the Vindication of Pius XII

During the debates leading up to the 1983 pastoral letter of the bishops of the United States on nuclear weapons, “The Challenge of Peace,” the great churchman Archbishop Philip Hannan of New Orleans said that many of the bishops were uninformed. I paraphrase, because the archbishop himself used much more colorful language, honed by years of [...]

On Resistance: What are the Options?

What do Catholics do when late-term abortion is declared “sacred ground,” and “gay marriage equality” is treated in our fundamental law as a basic requirement of justice and decency? We should stand our ground, of course, but that’s easier said than done. Man is social, and today he must find ways to live with others [...]

A Tocquevillian Argument Against Contraception

The recent high-profile controversies touched off by the HHS Mandate have elicited excellent debate regarding the meaning, importance, and application of the American idea of religious liberty. They have not, however, elicited any substantial debate regarding the rational grounds for opposing the use of contraception in itself. In the numerous conversations I have had on [...]

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