Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Liberalism Defined

An anonymous chap took me to task for using a definition of liberalism at odds with his own.
Said chap provided a few definitions of the term "liberalism" from a dictionary (he didn't say which one, though it turned out to be http://www.dictionary.com/), all of which paint a more or less rosy picture of said phenomenon.

In keeping with my policy of not publishing comments from anonymous authors whom I do not recognize -- this is, after all, a blog whose audience is primarily family and friends -- I kept the original comments to myself. I will say, though, that I was quite pleased to learn from my anonymous reader that "we love reading this blog, your posts always makes us smile." Perhaps I am dealing with a consortium and not a chap? But I digress.

Anyway, I will happily take my anonymous critic up on his invitation to "pick a dictionary, any dictionary, define the word."

For the accurate, non-rosy, and reasonably exhaustive explanation of the evil known as "liberalism," please see this entry in the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia. The explanation is not as brief as the pallid definition given in http://www.dictionary.com/, but it covers the pertinent meanings of the word "liberalism."

Here is a brief recap of the points relevant to my previous commentary.

* The word liberal is derived from the Latin liber, free, and up to the end of the 18th century signified only what was "worthy of a free man."

* Later the term was applied also to those qualities of intellect and of character that were considered an ornament becoming those who occupied a higher social position on account of their wealth and education. Thus liberal got the meaning of intellectually independent, broad-minded, magnanimous, frank, open, and genial.

* Again Liberalism may mean a political system or tendency opposed to centralization and absolutism. In this sense Liberalism -- known as corporatism -- is not at variance with the spirit and teaching of the Catholic Church (though it is at variance with the form of liberalism being practiced by the current occupant of the White House).

* Since the end of the eighteenth century the word has been applied to certain tendencies in the intellectual, religious, political, and economical life, which implied a divorce of man from the moral, spiritual, and Divine order. It asserts an absolute freedom of thought, religion, conscience, creed, speech, press, and politics. The necessary consequences of this are the abolition of the Divine right and of every kind of authority derived from God; the relegation of religion from the public life into the private domain of one's individual conscience; the absolute ignoring of Christianity and the Church as public, legal, and social institutions; the putting into practice of the absolute autonomy of every man and citizen along all lines of human activity; and the concentration of all public authority in one self-referential, self-aggrandizing "sovereignty of the people." A fundamental principle of this type of Liberalism is the denial of all true authority, for authority necessarily presupposes a power outside and above man to bind him morally.

This last is the form of liberalism that I described as a sin because it lauds the notion that no one -- not even God -- can tell a man what to do. For further elaboration on why this is a bad way to go, see this page.

1 comment:

Patti Petersen said...

You have posted an excellent expose of liberalism, Sean. Kudos on a job well done! The bare fact is that liberalism as it is defined by the Church and known now in society equals chaos and leads to hell. In civil society it leads invariably (as we are seeing now in America) to a "might makes right" mentality and the enslavement of the people.