Crisis magazine veers towards libertarianism

“Inside Catholic” seems to have reverted its name to “Crisis Magazine”.  I don’t know if there’s any story behind the name changes.  Perhaps someone can fill me in on this.

More troubling is their increasingly uncritical embrace of the libertarian “tax cuts for the rich will solve all the world’s problems” school of thought.  First, there’s Father Orsi’s plea for a flat tax.  Why would anyone not filthy rich prefer a flat income tax to the current progressive tax? It’s supposedly “better for the soul”.  Like unfortunately many Republican-leaning intellectuals, he’s worried about those 47% of citizens who pay no federal income tax (the spongers!).  Of course, he only mentions federal income taxes for a reason.  The lower classes carry a large part of the state and local tax burden.  Social security is explicitly regressive, and sales taxes are implicitly so.  Let us call this agitation for a flat tax what it is:  class warfare.  It’s a call to put a crushing burden on the lower classes and enrich the already wealthy.

Now, being a heartless bastard, taking from the poor to give to the rich is not a thing that would bother me in itself–call it a feudal due and I might be all on board–but I do nurse a grudge.  For decades, the Republicans have treated us Christian patriarchists like nuts who need to be kept at a distance.  So, “Christ and family” is too disreputable, but “soak the poor” is something the nation can get behind?  If we’re going to be condemned as extremist nuts (as these self-proclained von Mises fans surely will be), why can’t we at least be so condemned in service to the truth?

Then there’s John Zmirak’s latest lecture on economics, an encomium to the omniscience of the price mechanism.  Now, we reactionaries are no friends of the centralized command economy (although I note that Zmirak is even opposed to more decentralized price controls, e.g. by guild monopolies), so what bothers me here are less his conclusions than his arguments.  They are two:

1) The “moral argument”:  Controlled economies presupposed a class of rulers who are supposed to be morally and intellectually superior to the masses.  But there’s no evidence that rulers are better than subjects.  Therefore, we shouldn’t have price controls.

What a bunch of BS.  Note first of all that one could make similar arguments not just against economic planning, but against any form of authority whatsoever.  It’s based on a false belief about the grounds of authority.  What conservative, authoritarian, social democrat, or socialist after Plato has premised his argument for rule on the belief that rulers are morally superior to those they rule?  Of course, virtue is important for rulers, but it’s also important for subjects.  Rule by merit is an ancient and a modern dogma, but it had little place in the civilization of Christendom.  Rulers rule because even order enforced by imperfect men is better than chaos.  So little do we believe in the necessary superiority of rulers that we give crowns out based on accident of birth.  Similarly, it’s just sophistry to say that government control/manipulation of the economy is an exercise in wicked elitism.  It may still not be a good idea, which brings us to his second point.

2) The “practical argument”:  The economy is way to complicated for it to be controlled effectively.  Nobody has the information it would take to do it right.   This information is effectively provided through prices (assuming they are not manipulated by government fiat):

That is what prices are — irreplaceable, accurate data about what millions of individuals prefer on a moment-to-moment basis, transmitted constantly from every consumer and producer in the world to a decentralized database, which almost instantaneously starts up the process of responding to those preferences. Each time you go to Amazon to buy, say, a Catholic humor book (hint, hint), you are sending the bookseller, the publisher, and the author a thank-you note in the form of money. Or, if you prefer, think of it as a vote. It’s a vote you likely earned by providing some good or service to someone else — who in turned earned his votes by serving still other people. This is the origin of the astounding organic order that emerges from the apparent chaos of economic life, when men and women are left essentially free to express their personal preferences and trade the labor they’re willing to do for the goods they wish to buy.

Now, I think this view actually captures some truth.  Also, Zmirak isn’t a total libertarian fanatic.  He agrees that prices don’t capture the extreme negative side effects to some people’s choices (e.g. pollution), and the government is right to step in and directly discourage this sort of thing.  What was most interesting to me, though, is how he fails to address the most obvious objections to his argument.  Prices may be a vote, but by that measure some people have a lot more votes than others, so doesn’t this give a distorted view of “what people want”?  Also, the housing market crash is still fresh in most of our minds.  Here the price of a house was based not on how much people wanted houses for themselves, but because the price was expected to increase into the future.  So the price mechanism started feeding back on itself, rather like if people were to base their votes on how they expected other people to be voting in the future.  Then voting would cease to tell very well what people really want.

The biggest problem, though, is the irrelevance of all of this.  The Democrats want to corrupt our kids, but none of them are planning on instituting socialism in any shape or form.  If the Republicans want to jump off the Tea Party cliff into complete irrelevancy, there’s no reason we should follow.

Eastern Europeans horning in on Jewish victim racket, New Republic editor complains

We all know that it’s a lot easier to be an anti-semite than it used to be.  It used to be that denying the Holocaust earned you this title.  Now, it seems that even regarding the murder of a greater number of gentiles as a crime of equal magnitude is a sign of nefarious intentions.  In this article, James Kirchick reviews Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands:  Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, which sounds like a very interesting (if deeply unpleasant, due to the subject matter) book about the parallel mass-murders of Stalin and Hitler in Eastern Europe during the 30s and 40s.  By their accounting, Hitler murdered 11 million, Stalin 6-9 million (only counting noncombatants, I believe).  That’s 6 million Jews, 11-14 million gentiles.  But, Kirchick and Snyder assure us, the Jewish victims were special.  Why so?  As Snyder notes, the extermination of the Jews had special features.  No doubt.  I’m sure every mass murder is unique in its own way, but what feature makes one so much more important than others?  He suggests that it was the deliberate attempt to eliminate a whole ethnicity, as opposed to an equal number of unrelated persons, that makes the Holocaust so hienous.  I’m not sure how Snyder and Kirchick can reconcile this with the egalitarian individualism they presumably share.  The claim that decimating another ethnicity is worse than directing comparable violence against one’s own is hardly self-evident.  One could easily argue the reverse, that mass murder of one’s own co-ethnics is particularly perverse.  Myself, I say murder is murder.

What especially irritates Kirchick is Eastern European nations presenting themselves as victims just because, well, Hitler and Stalin murdered millions of them.  This is just a dodge, he tells us, to direct attention away from the collaboration of some of their number in anti-semitic massacres.  These countries have failed to “come to terms”, as the saying goes.  No doubt Kirchick would be happy to point them to some Jewish groups who would be happy to help them “come to terms” by accepting their money and groveling.

So, why are the 6 million “unique”, i.e. so much more important than the 11-14 million?  I can’t shake the impression that the real reason is that those 11-14 million were only goyim.  I hasten to point out that this is not a distinctively Jewish sentiment–in fact I’m sure that many Jews would be horrified by such a notion.  Christian Zionists and neoconservatives are often the worst offenders.  One can’t shake the feeling that they regard Jewish lives as being more valuable than gentile lives.

Weiner, etc; how the press is failing to do its duty

Once again the press has failed in one of its most fundamental social duties, namely to conceal (when possible) the personal moral shortcomings of those in authority.  Authorities represent the moral order; revealing their sins demoralizes the public and weakens the social sanction against these sins.  Now, when they are exposed, the only thing to do, to reaffirm the moral consensus, is to condemn and ostracize the politician.  How much better, though, if we were never made aware of their indiscretions?  The public doesn’t have a right to know, and it’s better if the public doesn’t know.  If we must have journalism–and how much better it would be to do without it altogether!–it should be like what we had in the sixties, when the press refrained from discussing President Kennedy’s adulteries.

Also, I can’t understand why some conservatives like Larry Auster are angry with the press for not pushing President Obama on his birth certificate and for ridiculing those who bring up the subject.  Suppose the worst suspicions were true.  Suppose Obama were somehow not a valid citizen, so that the last presidential election was invalid.  Why would we want to provoke a constitutional crisis by revealing such a thing?  What good involved here would be worth compromising the legitimacy of the State?  It seems like for once the media was behaving responsibly, that is conservatively.

Of course, I still want them abolished.

Catholic neocons reject social kingship of Christ, Blosser responds

It seems that George Weigel, Joseph Bottum, and (if they are to be believed) Richard John Neuhaus embrace the Rhonheimer heresy–namely that Jesus Christ has no authority over the United States as such, only over individuals in their ever-shrinking private lives.  Such are the depths of impiety to which Founderolatry leads.  The Pertinacious Papist has an excellent response here.

Get ready for the collapse

I’ve been having a good time lately reading Collapse: The Blog, written by “Proph”.  It’s the best place on the web to get the right-Hegelian perspective on things, which is a perspective I respect a lot.  For those who don’t remember my taxonomy, Proph’s main point is our need for a functional “social creed”:

The gist is simply this: a coherent and functional society is governed by a social creed, which is a conception of that society’s purpose and every person’s place within it. A properly functioning social creed assigns all people status within the community and function within the greater society; it orders the pursuit of that society’s constitutive values (in the case of Europe, freedom and equality; in the case of America, more likely freedom and equality of opportunity); and it explains complex socical phenomena, like war and recession, that otherwise appear irrational and psychologically threatening.

Proph works from a historical perspective provided by the work of P. F. Drucker.  Drucker sought to explain the rise of fascism as the result of the general public losing faith in its social creed.  Creeds have changed from time to time.  The medieval creed of Spiritual Man was replaced by the Renaissance creed of Intellectual Man, which was replaced in turn by the creed of Economic Man in the eighteenth century.

The Society of Economic Man was essentially a mercantile society — a preindustrial and agrarian society of farmers, merchants, and skilled craftsmen. It assigned status on the basis of economic productivity and wealth and assigned function as contribution to economic progress. Likewise, the Society of Economic Man was able to rationalize deleterious social phenomena like war, recession, and unemployment as the price to be paid for economic progress leading to freedom and equality.

Here is where Drucker/Proph diverge from the majority of culturally right-wing critiques of econocentrism.  Commonly, the ascendancy of economic values over all others is blamed (if blame is intended) on industrialization.  Proph points out that capitalist/economist ideology is actually premised on a mercantile or agrarian society; industrialization made it obsolete:

Industrialization, however, effectively destroyed the economic society. The industrial worker and the industrial manager had no place in the Society of Economic Man, and its failure to integrate them gave rise to alienation, atomization, and despair. With its necessary structural inequality — namely, the requirement that industry be rigidly hierarchical in order to function — industrialization definitively proved that economic freedom and equality were unachievable. And, worse still, by belying the axiomatic assumptions on which economic society was predicated (such as the belief that monopoly was best achieved by minimizing production and maximizing price, a belief rebutted by Henry Ford’s successful model of low-cost, high-volume car production), industrialization stripped man of his rationalizations for the operation of society, turning once-logical phenomena like unemployment and recession into threatening and irrational forces against which he could do nothing but cower impotently. It turned the Society of Economic Man, orderly and logical, into a society governed by demonic forces whose operations were were unknown and unknowable, and which was spinning out of control toward some dismal fate beyond man’s capacity to discern.

But unlike the collapse of the Societies of Spiritual and Intellectual Man, nothing came to replace to the Society of Economic Man. No functioning, coherent, legitimate Society of Industrial Man ever emerged. Fascism was a brief attempt to transcend economic conceptions of society entirely, to order society along non-economic terms, but it failed in its attempt to establish a Society of Heroic Man based on war, violence, and conquest because, as Winston Churchill aptly observed, “it is impossible to build up a society on a basis of lives, which are meant to be sacrificed.”

The fascists failed to create a new social creed.  The libertarians are reactionaries (Proph doesn’t use this term in a complimentary way, like I do) sticking to a defunct creed that makes no sense in the postindustrial world.  Proph himself proposes a “post-capitalist economics“, where stability and full employment are valued over economic growth.  He’s also brought a right-Hegelian perspective to the possibility of America falling under military rule after the coming economic collapse.  He neither desires nor abhors the possibility, but considers how our future soldier-rulers might go about trying to create a social order that would be meaningful to its inhabitants.

I must credit Proph for actually getting to work thinking about how his “post-capitalist” social order would work.  I still need to do my homework on my “neofeudalist” social order.

What can turn nice Western Muslim boys into bomb-wielding terrorists?

Surprise!  It’s the same thing that turns non-Muslim boys into bomb-wielding terrorists.  How did it not occur to me before?  For those who haven’t guessed, here’s some hints:  it starts with a “U”, and I work at one.  Is it any wonder that an environment that makes kids think it’s cool to go around wearing T-shirts with pictures of psychopathic mass-murderer Che Guevara might make it more likely that a minority of these kids will act on their own mass-homocidal impulses?

Remembering antisemitism, and nothing else

From the Tablet:

Books about anti-Semitism are depressingly numerous. New studies of the subject appear in a constant stream, focusing on anti-Semitism in this or that country, in literature or politics, in the past, the present, or the future. In 2010 alone, readers were presented with Robert Wistrich’s A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism From Antiquity to the Global Jihad and Anthony Julius’ Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England, which between them offer 2,100 pages of evidence of how much people used to and still do hate Jews.

Here’s another theory.  Maybe it’s that Jews dominate academia, and they’re disposed to self-pity and/or they see advantages in playing up their victim status.  Notice how no amount of groveling on the part of gentiles will ever be enough; as long as the Jews can keep churning out books about how put upon they are–or ever once were–it will be “evidence of how much people used to and still do hate Jews”.  So, which theory is true?

Ask yourself why people are writing books about antisemitism, and the answer will be clear.  If most people really were filled with a murderous hatred of Jews, I doubt the Jews would be so reckless as to get up in front of us and tell us how rotten our culture is because we don’t like them enough.  That’s only something somebody does when they’ve got power behind them, and their audience doesn’t.

We Americans seldom notice what a “Jew’s-eye” view of history we’ve been taught.  We give far more attention to the fortunes of this one people than to much vaster multitudes.  For example:  the tendency to regard McCarthyism and the Stalinist Terror as comparable events, and to regard the former with greater horror than the Chinese Cultural Revolution.  (The Cultural Revolution just liquidated China’s educated class; it didn’t inconvenience any Jewish movie makers.)  The Jewish Holocaust must never be forgotten (and must be commemorated everywhere), but there’s no need to remember Hitler’s Slavic gentile victims or the 100 million victims of world communism.  The wrongful conviction of Dreyfus is a greater outrage than the mass murder of Catholic clergy, nobility, and peasants by the French Jacobins and the Spanish republicans.  An antisemitic rant by Chrysostom or Luther is more lamented than the Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre.  Ironically, the relentless focus on Jewish suffering lets Christians off the hook too easily, because it ignores the beastly way we have often treated our own coreligionists through the centuries.

Today, Arts and Letters Daily links an editorial at Jewish Ideas Daily (JID) expressing outrage Yale is terminating its “Interdisciplinary Initiative for the study of antisemitism”.  That’s right–Yale had been shelling out money so that Jewish groups wouldn’t have to fund their own ethnic advocacy propaganda.  Now Yale has decided to pull the plug.  I suspect the JID writer is right about the real reason:  the Initiative started pestering the wrong kind of gentile.  Obviously, Yale had funded this enterprise as a way of helping Jews bully Christians.  When the Initiative started attacking Muslims, a new favored victim group, Yale decided things were getting out of hand.  Jewish victimology can, of course, continue in the history and sociology departments, but it will not have a special source of funding.  JID calls this “ignoring antisemitism”, and it may well seem so, given what they’re used to.

Historians who don’t like the past

Through Arts and Letters Daily, I came across this Slate essay by history professor James Lundberg on Ken Burns’ celebrated documentary The Civil War.  Now, for me, seeing reruns of The Civil War is the best thing about having PBS.  (When Julie is old enough to watch Sesame Street, I suppose that will change.)  Dr. Lundberg credits Burns’ documentary with inspiring a lot of interest and enthusiasm among his students for this period in American history.  For some reason, though, this annoys him.  The Civil War, he says, is sentimental and misleading.  I was pretty sure from the start of the article that I knew where he was going to go with these accusations, but I read on anyway just to be sure that academics are as predictable as I expect them to be.

Lundberg’s complaints basically come down to three points.

  1. The Civil War made Americans feel good about themselves.  By focusing on the heroism of soldiers and intriguing personalities of the leaders on both sides, the show was “patriotic”, “tidy”, and “romanticizing”, basically everything modern historians hate.  By framing the war as a story of how America acheived national unity, it deepened the sense of national unity in its audience.  Now, fostering patriotism, high regard for ancestors, etc used to be considered a good thing.  I can certainly understand the view that the historian’s purpose is solely to the truth, whether that truth affirms or demoralizes the national community.  What I have trouble sympathizing with is historians actively prefering to demoralize rather than affirm.  I’ll return to this point.  It’s interesting that for all the complaining about Burns’ film being misleading, there is no accusation that he got any facts wrong, that his examples were unrepresentative, or anything like that.  The complaint is all about framing and emphasis.  Burns doesn’t emphasize enough that the Confederacy was EEEVIL!!!
  2. The Civil War treats Southerners as human beings rather than hate objects.  The documentary certainly doesn’t take the Confederate side.  It deliberately abstains from choosing a side at all, and extends a humane compassion to warriors on both sides.  Surprisingly, modern historians think this is an awful thing to do.
  3. Shelby Foote, the Southern novelist and historian who basically steels the show as a commentator in The Civil War.  Professional historians hate him.  This may seem odd, since Foote’s work is respectable in the sense that it hasn’t been accused of significant error, plaigarism, or the like.  What he is accused of is telling lots of anecdotes about historical figures, being popular, not focusing on root causes, and–of course–showing sympathy to Southerners.

Consider the following:

In the first episode, “The Cause,” Foote nearly negates Burns’ careful 15-minute portrait of slavery’s role in the coming of the war with a 15-second story of a “single, ragged Confederate who obviously didn’t own any slaves.” When asked by a group of Yankee soldiers why he was fighting, the Rebel replied, “I’m fighting because you’re down here,” which, according to a smirking Foote, “was a pretty satisfactory answer.” In similar fashion throughout, Foote asks us to put aside the very troubled political meanings of the Confederate Lost Cause and join him in an appreciation of both its courtly leaders and its defiant rank-and-file soldiers.

So, Burns spent 15 minutes on slavery–basically giving the Northern side of things.  Then Foote spends 15 seconds telling a story that illustrates the South’s  motivation, and that “nearly negates” the Northern case?  The Union’s case must have been pretty weak then.  It would seem that proper balance according to a modern historian would be to not present the South’s motives and justifications at all.

Lundberg seems to think more hostility toward the Confederacy would have been the brave, honest, “challenging” thing to do.  I can’t imagine why.  The Union won, and the ideological descendents of the Radical Republicans are now our rulers.  It hardly seems daring to flatter the establishment.  I don’t see anything wrong with taking the Northern side, as most non-Southern Americans have done for a long time now.  We used to be more generous in our partisanship, though.  It used to be acceptable to say that the South was wrong, but General Lee was an admirable man and his soldiers fought with real gallantry and distinction.  Today, such sentiments are seen as signs of ideological impurity.  Not only have the Radical Republicans been rehabilitated from the attacks of pro-Southern historiographers (which was right–the RRs were brave and idealistic men too), but we are all told to embrace their pitiless self-righteousness as well.  I do not think this has been a gain.

The really interesting thing about this episode, though, has nothing to do with the civil war at all–the war itself or the documentary.  I hate to pick on Lundberg, who makes a number of gratious concessions to a work he so plainly despises, but he illustrates very well the peculiar way that historians see their relationship to the public.  Historians don’t have the problem we scientists have with getting the public interested in their subject.  No astronomer hates Carl Sagan for getting people interested in astronomy.  Physicists and astronomers are even happy to have interest inspired by science fiction, no matter how mangled the science gets in that venue.  History is genuinely popular with the public; history books often top the nonfiction bestseller lists.  One would think that professional historians would be pleased by this, but in fact they regard popular historians like Stephen Ambrose and Shelby Foote with distain, if not active hostility.  Why is this?

Basically because popular historians are giving the public what they want, which is an imaginative connection to their ancestors.  This is the reason nonacademics read history.  They want to know what kind of people their ancestors were.  They want to share in their ancestors’ struggles and hardships.  They want to understand themselves as forming a continuity with those that went before.  Thus the popularity of World War II books.  Most adults my age (35) are like me:  both my grandfathers fought in that war.  Learning about the war is a way of getting closer to our grandfathers’ generation, in our own imagination if not in any interpersonal sense.  Root causes of the conflict are beside the point.  It’s about community more than causes, and an anecdote can be worth a dozen tables.

Historians look at this interest and see the filial piety that lies beneath it, and they despise it.  The historian, at least the modern historian, relates to the past in a very different way.  The past was a time of oppression and evil from which we are being thankfully delivered.  The only people with whom it is legitimate to sympathize are designated victim groups (negroes, Jews, gypsies, nonhomemaking women, sexual deviants) or their spokesmen.  Mistreatment of victim groups is considered the core truth about any society, and the record is scoured for such mistreatment.  Academics almost imagine that groups only exist so that they can define outsiders toward whom they can direct their hostility.  The purpose of popular history, then, should be to share this sense of alienation from the past with the general public, to make the people hate their traditions and ancestors as much as the historians do.  A popular history that indulges a filial interest in the past is therefore inherently deceptive.  This is true even if the popular work doesn’t defend or justify its subjects.  It is enough that it fails to condemn them with sufficient energy.  Man’s natural tendency to love his forefathers must be actively fought.

I’m pretty sure this is how historians feel; I’ve seen many cases.  They never express clearly what it is they object to, although putting together their complaints the real issue is always plain enough.  Reporting the courage of soldiers on both sides of a battle betrays a sinister agenda of “patriotism” (or “nationalism”, depending on how worked up the historian is at the moment) and “national unity”.  Neutrality is a sin, at least when writing about conflicts where liberal orthodoxy has declared one side good and the other evil.  Even those with the right attitudes don’t get a pass if they don’t inject them forcibly enough into their writings.  In the end, the issue comes down to this:  there are still men in this world who don’t hate their fathers, and historians feel that a main point of their profession is to convert these men.

What really makes history

I suspect that things like marriage customs are ultimately more important in the formation of a people than the more visible things like constitutions and ideologies.  In support, here’s an intriguing claim from hbd chick, quoted by Steve Sailer:

No, being tribal is not necessarily the natural state of affairs, but it IS biologically driven. as is being non-tribal. 

Europeans used to be tribal, but that’s because they used to marry their cousins, too, just like the afghanis or iraqis or saudis or libyans of today. the church put an end to all that and then some — it also put an end to all sorts of endogamous practices like polygamy and marrying your dead brother’s wife. first- and second-cousin marriage was banned in 506 a.d., and by the 11th century the church had banned marriage up to SIXTH cousins. 

This forced exogamy resulted in, as steve describes it, “broad but shallow regional blood ties.” almost all of european (and western) history hinges on these loose genetic ties. the whole evolution of european societies from tribes to city-states (think of the venices and the hamburgs of europe) to the nationalistic movements — this was made possible because extended family ties were continually loosened over centuries of european history (from the fall of rome onwards). the broadening of political structures (tribe, city-state, national-state) mirrors the underlying broadening of the genetic ties.

Yes, I know, lots of exceptions in the Middle Ages and afterwards.  Still, the fact that something that is a rule in much of the world was an exception–albeit not a very uncommon one–in Europe is bound to leave an impression on a people.

Error has no rights

Just because the pope says something doesn’t mean it’s not stupid.  Consider the following:

The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in the God revealed to them in Jesus Christ, and as such they also died for freedom of conscience and for the freedom to confess their faith.

In fact, there’s not reason to think that the martyrs believed they had a “freedom” or a right to confess their faith, because it is theirs, independent of what that faith might be.  It was not their rights they were upholding, but God’s.  God has the right to be served and worshiped according to His specifications.  It would be better to say that the martyrs died for God, rather than for their faith in Him, lest people come to imagine that their faith is a sort of personal property that other people are bound to respect.

There is nothing contradictory about thinking it wrong for the State to outlaw the true religion while thinking it right to outlaw false ones.  To imagine there is, one must accept the liberal neutrality principle, that the State can’t favor one set of beliefs over another.  This belief is far from obvious.  In fact, it’s so counterintuitive that it is only applied in the case of religion.  If two men were talking to children, one encouraging them to drink milk, and the other to drink poison, the law would have no trouble discriminating between the two beliefs, regardless of how sincerely held they both were.  Now suppose instead of bodily harm, the issue were spiritual harm.  Suppose one man was giving children advice that would lead them to heaven, and the other was giving them advice that would lead them to hell.  Suddenly, conscience is supreme and the State can do nothing.  It is said this is because we value freedom so highly, but that’s obviously not true.  We have no problem restricting freedom in the case where bodily harm is at issue.  The real reason is what the nineteenth century popes said it was:  religious indifferentism.  (Since then, of course, the State has ceased to be indifferent, and has become positively hostile to the true faith.  Today, the man giving children godly advice would be accused of child abuse, while the one giving wicked advice would be designated a “sex educator” and get paid by the school.)

Father Rhonheimer (you’ll remember Father Condom) tries to argue that Vatican II’s declaration on religious liberty was continuous in some deep sense with Catholic tradition.  I’ve usually been sympathetic to this claim, but Rhonheimer if anything seems to prove the exact opposite.  In his reading, Vatican II has rejected the ideal of a confessional State, essentially rejected the claim that national communities as such have any duty to the truth, and indeed rejected the social kingship of Christ.  We are to collectively, but not privately, to embrace religious indifferentism.  This is worse than heretical; it’s irrational.  Whatever the truth is about God and man, surely it’s axiomatic that men should conform themselves–both as individuals and as a group–to this reality.  It’s perfectly fine to say that individuals have rights, and there are means that should not be employed–because they are immoral–to maintain a Catholic confessional State.  The tradition will back you up there.  But if you’re a Catholic, you must believe that Christ is not only rightful king of each and every American; He is rightful king of America itself.