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Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Thomas Woods is an increasingly influential  player on the Catholic Right. In this and a subsequent post, we will consider how his world view is   incompatible with both Catholic Social Justice principles and American history.

Over the years, this column has looked at the many facets of the Catholic Right, including neo-cons, paleo-cons, Bill Donohue, Opus Dei, and more. We now come to the Neo-Confederate Catholic Right, a peculiar variation of libertarianism, which focuses almost exclusively on economics while maintaining most, if not all of the social conservative culture war issues such as opposition to reproductive rights and marriage equality. Indeed, this movement employs the long discredited states' rights theory of nullification -- the notion that any state has the right to ignore any federal court order or law which that state has deemed unconstitutional.

Among the Catholic Rightists beating the drum for nullification are Pat Buchanan, Thomas DiLorenzo, Thomas Fleming and Thomas E. Woods, Jr.  All four advocate states' rights, a seething resentment of Abraham Lincoln, and as Rachel Tabachnick recently highlighted, Woods is a key member of the pro-secession League of the South, Traditional Catholicism (save possibly DiLorenzo) and Austrian-school, libertarian economics.

Woods is a convert to the type of Catholicism sought by many on the Catholic Right. As such, he is a vocal proponent for a return to a pre-Vatican II mindset. He is extreme in his economic libertarianism as well as secession and nullification.  While nullification has a long and dark history on matters of race in the U.S., it is also looming as an issue for reproductive rights and marriage equality.

It is therefore no surprise that among Woods' admirers is the influential Opus Dei priest C. John McCloskey. The former Ivy League-Wall Street laissez-faire apostle-turned-prelate has himself ruminated on the appeal of secession to achieve theocracy.  In his infamous futuristic dystopian essay 2030: Looking Backwards he gleefully imagines a violent separation from the United States:

The tens of thousands of martyrs and confessors for the Faith in North America were indeed the "seed of the Church" as they were in pre-Edict of Milan Christianity. The final short and relatively bloodless conflict produced our Regional States of North America. The outcome was by no means an ideal solution but it does allow Christians to live in states that recognize the natural law and divine Revelation, the right of free practice of religion, and laws on marriage, family, and life that reflect the primacy of our Faith. With time and the reality of the ever-decreasing population of the states that worship at the altar of "the culture of death," perhaps we will be able to reunite and fulfill the Founding Fathers of the old United States dream to be "a shining city on a hill."

What McCloskey describes as "by no means an ideal solution" has a more accurate, more commonly-held description: Treason.

And yet there is more than a hint of hypocrisy in McCloskey's admiration of Woods - especially his libertarian economic outlook.  Catholic writer Angus Sibely has observed, Woods is a devotee of über-libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard. A closer examination of Rothbard beliefs reveals why this is problematic.

First, Rothbard is the father of anarcho-capitalism, the basis of Woods' economic philosophy.  It is such an extreme philosophy that even law enforcement and the courts would be privatized; taxation would be replaced by either private payments or insurance settlements. Rothbard is on record saying "the entire theory of labor unions is deeply flawed." As Angus Sibley explains, it is the very antithesis of Catholic economic teachings:

Most practical methods of reducing inequalities are repugnant to libertarians. Labor unions are hated because they obstruct the worker's freedom to agree his own contract with his employer. ... Redistributive taxation (higher tax rates on higher personal incomes) "is a mode of disguised expropriation of successful capitalists and entrepreneurs" according to Mises, while his admirer Murray Rothbard stated that "Taxation is Robbery" and that "the libertarian favors the right to unrestricted private property and free-exchange".

Hayek rejected outright the principle of distributive justice: "the results of the individual's efforts are necessarily unpredictable, and the question of whether the resulting distribution of incomes is just or unjust has no meaning."  Catholic teaching flatly repudiates such nonsense. Leo XIII (Rerum Novarum, §45) spoke of "a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner", and he strongly commended (#49) workers' associations, of which "the most important of all are workingmen's unions." John Paul II (Centesimus Annus, §20) observed that "unions... are indeed a mouthpiece for the struggle for social justice, for the just rights of working people."

But what is all-too-conveniently glossed over by Woods, McCloskey and others -- is Rothbard's shocking and idiosyncratic view on abortion.  It is a view that is consistent with extreme libertarianism, but is very far from any other pro-choice thought I have ever heard. Rothbard's view suggests a deep fissure on the conservative spectrum that they would rather we not see.

Most fetuses are in the mother's womb because the mother consents to this situation, but the fetus is there by the mother's freely-granted consent. But should the mother decide that she does not want the fetus there any longer, then the fetus becomes a parasitic "invader" of her person, and the mother has the perfect right to expel this invader from her domain. Abortion should be looked upon, not as "murder" of a living person, but as the expulsion of an unwanted invader from the mother's body. Any laws restricting or prohibiting abortion are therefore invasions of the rights of mothers.  [Emphasis added]

We need to understand why Woods and McCloskey's Neo-Confederate philosophy of nullification and secession is so appealing to some on the Catholic Right so we can not only better answer them, but sharpen the contrast with just alternatives. Those tasks will be tackled in subsequent posts.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow (4+ / 0-)

    That's much more radical than Roe v. Wade.  Wow.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Sat May 04, 2013 at 05:16:16 AM PDT

  •  this is really quite an odd development (7+ / 0-)

    but it does seem the Opus Dei types, the NAR folks and neo-Confederate League of the South advocates are all finding common cause.  This is interesting to me as the neo
    Confederates and NAR have long had an animosity towards Catholics, dating back to the post Civil War era.  The NAR folks have long had an animosity towards Catholics as being idolators and Papists.

    It is interesting to see how people will pervert their own religious tenets to accommodate their mundane concerns

    •  This is exactly why we have separation of (3+ / 0-)

      church and state. As soon as they get around to creating a theocracy, the various incompatible sects and the 'schisms to come will enter into a period of sectarian warfare for souls (or at least their money).

      These people can only achieve this through the rigid indoctrination and forced ignorance of the next generation, otherwise reality, science and reason will further reduce their ranks. As their pond continues to shrink, they will become more radical in their frenzied flapping.

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Sat May 04, 2013 at 06:29:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  entlord (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ahianne, SeaTurtle

      I have a report coming out from PRA pretty soon that begins to address the points you raise.  There is some historic stuff going on, able to go largely unseen in plain sight.

      Watch this space.

      •  tx so, so much FC, for your indomitable strength (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Frederick Clarkson, unclebucky

        in continuing, for so many years, to research and to continue to report on all this perversion.  That's all I can call it.

        The double speak by these groups is breath-taking.  They talk about freedom, yet what they advocate would be the most paralyzing and UNFREE situation for all concerned.

        To this supposed Theo-Utopian fantasy by McCloskey, I ask:

        The outcome was by no means an ideal solution but it does allow Christians to live in states that recognize the natural law and divine Revelation, (1) the right of free practice (2) of religion, and laws on marriage, family, and life that reflect the primacy of our Faith.
        1. Yeah, as interpreted by whom?  And in the answer to that question lies the problem.....
        2.  Yeah, 'free' as long as you do exactly what we tell you; this is authoritarian fascism dressed up as libertarianism.

        As you do, the truth must be unearthed and spread far and wide and then that is even not enough.  Since as you say, so much flies under the radar, experts such as yourself, need to explain to us the history and context of what is going on to fully appreciate the what is being attempted.

        I cannot agree with you more on your conclusion.  

        TREASON.

        We Must DISARM THE NRA The next life you save may be ONE OF YOUR OWN!

        by SeaTurtle on Sat May 04, 2013 at 11:08:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. Treason. These groups, not just in... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SeaTurtle, Frank Cocozzelli

          the article.

          Any of states' rights, sovereign citizen, religious freedom from "oppression" groups....

          ARE TRAITORS.

          We should treat them as such.

          What did my Dad fight for in WW2, so that we have to have our OWN fascist takeover?

          Meh. Opus Dei.

          Ugh. --UB.

          "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Randian Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

          by unclebucky on Sat May 04, 2013 at 03:30:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  thank you I will (4+ / 0-)

        I can observe the NAR and Neo Confederates locally here; the Catholics are relatively new to me but I have been following the other groups for some decades now, back in the days when their mode of spreading the word was with ditto sheets and
        Falwell was relatively new to the scene.

        Thank you for the important work you do connecting the dots for those of us observing from a mole's eye view of the world.  

        Listened to local minister on local religious station where he said the goal of his brand of Christianity meant to change the world view of everyone else, to be uncompromising until the entire world came to his worldview.  It surprised me somewhat to hear such naked admission of his ultimate goal as usually it is dressed up in nice phrases and religious quotations to make it more palatable

        •  unbelievable. but not surprising. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Frederick Clarkson
          meant to change the world view of everyone else, to be uncompromising until the entire world came to his worldview.
          They would be the first ones to scream bloody murder if, lets say 'athiests' adopted the same authoritarian 'my way or the highway' tone, and would rightly call it fascistic thinking.

          But this stuff doesn't surprise me anymore.  Saddens me.  Makes me not so optimistic for our future.  Etc.

          But what overrides that for me, is the I believe in the utterly cleansing power of TRUTH.  Although it make take a while for that Truth to be heard and accepted, I believe that Truth will always win out.  It is the suffering in the meantime that is so awful.

          So, I thank all those who bring the Truth out.

          We Must DISARM THE NRA The next life you save may be ONE OF YOUR OWN!

          by SeaTurtle on Sun May 05, 2013 at 07:31:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think we will be hearing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          entlord

          a lot more such frankness in the near to mid term. They have sufficient strength to be unambiguous with their followers about what their goals are and what is expected of them.  That does not mean that they will succeed of course, but I think it is important to take careful measure, as best we can, of what capacities they have and what capacities they don't.

  •  I am much more worried about Catholics owning (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    hospitals than these clowns' opinions and the war over who reflects the "right kind" of catholicism. You say the catholic traditions favor social activism/economic fairness, and these people say the opposite. So who is right? It is a never ending argument and won't be resolved within the structure of the Roman Catholic church or the Vatican or within one Catholic church or the other in the US. Just how are you going to "stop" these right wing Catholics in a land of free speech, and why do you think there is strategy that will change their minds?

    Here's the bottom line in my view. Until people stop belonging to the Roman Catholic church as headed by the Pope and the Vatican, and continue to tithe to that institution, constant articles voicing indignation over these people, Opus Dei, etc. etc. is similar to whistling in the wind. If the Catholic church as it now stands is hobbled financially, then its political power and influence on our government (and world) will wane and it won't matter at all what these jerks say

    •  and since "your view" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ahianne

      is a non-starter, it is moot.  I'll take Frank's careful research on important factions and trends on the Right over your advocacy of ignorance.

      •  It would be nice if just for once you could (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        unclebucky

        address my points specifically and not resort to your favorite position of calling anyone you don't agree with "ignorant", but of course, I don't believe in miracles anyway.  

        •  I did address your point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bronx59

          It is a non-starter to expect mass defections from the Catholic church. And your effort to invalidate Frank's good work is IMO, an effort to suppress knowledge and understanding of our current situation -- and thus advocacy of ignorance.  You are not the only one who does this kind of thing. And people do this for a range of reasons that are no better supported than yours.  

          But that said, there are certainly people who are well informed who disagree with me about all kinds of things. But you are clearly not among them. At least as indicated by your online behavior, which is all I have to go on.

          •  I don't make efforts to suppress anyone's opinion (0+ / 0-)

            or any kind of knowledge.  The fact that you view my or other opinions in this way is the crux of your problem. You don't like and don't tolerate views from those who aren't wearing the religion glasses. And when someone holds to their opinion and isn't convinced by yours, you always melt the conversation down into accusing them of ignorance. At least, that is what I have observed based on your online behavior not only with me but with others, which is all I have to go on.

            Actually there are mass defections from the Catholic church happening without any help from me. Many of these people have realized that financially supporting an institution that is a bad actor and has no chance of changing is not a rational thing to do.

            Are Opus Dei or any of the Protestant right wing groups going to disappear because of either being "outed" or criticized by writers who belong to and support the same institutions and rever the same texts?  I would say that is just as much of a non-starter as anything I propose. Knowing about the players in the religious right and what they are up to is important in a way, but the cast of villians is so vast and always changing, I would rather see action on things we can do something about..... like the catholic systems taking over our hospitals. Hence the beginning of my comment. I'm sure that if Frank has an issue with my suggestions, he'll let me know. Hopefully without suggesting that I am ill-informed, which is simply an arrogant thing to say.

            If I had called Frank ignorant or you ignorant for the positions you have taken in your diaries, then I would deserve a dressing down. But I don't name call, and you need to stop it.

            •  It is obvious (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SeaTurtle, Bronx59, Frank Cocozzelli

              that you are ignorant; that ignorance is a value you hold dear; and that you express it by seeking to invalidate the efforts of those of us to seek knowledge and to apply it.  I have seen you do this often.  Maybe you don't realize how offense and counter-productive it is.  If so, I hope you will consider it sometime.  Because this has nothing to do with atheism and I encourage and invite you to prove me wrong by acting in a knowledgeable and respectful fashion.

              While it is true, as you say, there are many who are leaving the Catholic Church, it remains by far the largest Christian body in the US, has vast holdings; and profound influence. That is likely to remain so for at least the foreseeable future. I am aware of zero evidence to the contrary, and note that you have presented none.

              Unlike you, Frank values his church and seeks to reform and bring out the best of the tradition.  Many of us value the knowledge and depth of understanding that Frank brings, even if you do not.  If you think the issues involving Catholic hospitals are important, that is something on which we probably agree. I even written a bit about the subject. Since you think there are things that can and should be done, I hope you will take the time to write about it. I, for one, will be very interested in what you have to say. If you diary about it, I will recommend it whether I agree with you or not. It will be my way of welcoming you to the conversation.

              As for your charge about me: There are lots of people I know, like, and respect who, as you put it, do not view things through the lens of religion. And unlike you, they are knowledgeable and respectful of others.  Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't. Just as it is with my religious colleagues. I like and respect people for who they are and not because of what they believe or do not believe, even as such things are sometimes an important part of their identities.  

              •  You really don't see it, do you? (0+ / 0-)

                You start your reply by telling me that I am not only ignorant, but actually value ignorance, and then you go on to talk about how you want "respect" for your views and how respectful you are of others views, even when they are different. You really don't see the hypocrisy in that, do you?  

                I have said nothing and done nothing to try to invalidate your views or Frank's views or anyone elses, but you continue to see certain types of counter discourse or suggestions for solutions that you just plain don't like as an opening to declare people ignorant, disrespectful or dishonest (as you did recently with a poster called theDon).  

                There are ways to deal with people who present ideas that you disagree with or find distasteful. Most diarists either argue the points made or simply ignore comments that they feel they are making no headway with. Most seem to understand the concept of "agree to disagree", but you don't.  You feel the need to get personal and make sweeping judgements of people when they resist coming around to your point of view.

                As for my comments on the Catholic church, I stand by the idea that if more catholics stop enabling this institution with their money, it will eventually lose those "vast holdings" and "profound influence".  It may not happen in my lifetime, but anything I can do to encourage it, I will do. Even if it involves planting that idea in occasional blogs about the Catholic Church.  The intention of my comments are to get people to maybe think about the consequences of their continued association with a corrupt institution that I feel is NOT going to change (and there's a lot of evidence for that view).  It is not intended to insult individual personal beliefs.  If I wanted to do that,  I'd call people like Frank "ignorant" for holding his religious beliefs and call it a day.   But that's not my MO. It's yours.

                •  You are a troll, Fishtroller01 (0+ / 0-)

                  You contribute nothing to the site except for your own sneering, ill-informed, and opportunistic comments. .

                  I get it that you don't want Frank and me to write about the things that we do, in the way that we do. That much is clear.  But don't piss on my leg and tell me its raining.

                  Let's take a quick look at your first comment in this thread, and note your characterizations of the serious, significant actors Frank writes about as "these clowns" and "jerks."  The tone and the substance of your comment is aggressively dismissive and derisive towards the diarist, what he has to say, and the value of the knowledge and analysis he offers. You claim, with zero substantiation that nothing can be done about the things Frank has mentioned. You claim to think so is just "whistling in the wind."  And you know this, how, proud ignoramus?

                  You sneeringly toss off your ill informed opinion as truth, and like a thug declare it to be "the bottom line."

                  I am much more worried about Catholics owning (1+ / 0-)

                  hospitals than these clowns' opinions and the war over who reflects the "right kind" of catholicism. You say the catholic traditions favor social activism/economic fairness, and these people say the opposite. So who is right? It is a never ending argument and won't be resolved within the structure of the Roman Catholic church or the Vatican or within one Catholic church or the other in the US. Just how are you going to "stop" these right wing Catholics in a land of free speech, and why do you think there is strategy that will change their minds?

                  Here's the bottom line in my view. Until people stop belonging to the Roman Catholic church as headed by the Pope and the Vatican, and continue to tithe to that institution, constant articles voicing indignation over these people, Opus Dei, etc. etc. is similar to whistling in the wind. If the Catholic church as it now stands is hobbled financially, then its political power and influence on our government (and world) will wane and it won't matter at all what these jerks say.

                  I notice that you avoided the invitation in my above comment to contribute to the discussion by writing something about the issues involving Catholic hospitals about which in this thread you say you think things can be done.  Given your lack of response, I can only presume that you did not because you don't actually have anything to say -- except to try to further bully people into only talking about what you want them to talk about.  That does not work with me and I know it also does not work with Frank.  And I can promise that I will notice if you behave like a dick on my diaries. And knowing Frank, I am sure he will as well.  
                  •  Whew! I hope you feel better now... (0+ / 0-)

                    We have more insults to add to your vocabulary of hate towards opinions you don't like...sneering, opportunistic, proud ignoramus (my personal favorite), thug and dick. Your've actually over-used "ill-informed". You might want to work on a replacement for that one.

                    You also might want to inform all the others who only comment on this site and don't write diaries that they are contributing NOTHING to the site. I find it fascinating that you confer to me a power to "bully" people out of their opinions. If I had that, boy, I could really fix the whole world, couldn't I?

                    Are you sure that Frank approves of your techniques of debate here?  He has politely disagreed with me at times, or simply ignored my comments as he seems to be doing here. I guess he doesn't feel as threatened by my views as you do. For all I know he could be thinking that I am the one whistling in the wind, which is OK with me!

                    Be happy Fred, and have a good day!

    •  ft, it doesn't work the way you describe (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Frederick Clarkson

      the politics/money is at the heart of the rcxch's breathtaking influence all over the world.  As I undertand it, they rely, since Mussolini's 'gift' to them, more on their investments and holdings and the totally secret transactions of the Vatican Bank.

      The income from parishoners is chump change for them.  Google just the property holdings of the rcxch in London.  It is impossible to find out the full extent of them, since they work with as much secrecy as possible and hold a lot of it in shadow corporations.

      But their activists, such as mentioned in this excellent diary, are the ones who can and do a huge amount of damage to the body politic.

      So, you have it backwards.  This problem will not be solved by the laity doing much (except maybe a pr problem,) but the financial hence political influence resides in the princes and king of the longest reigning absolute monarchy in the world.  And these guys mentioned are the operatives for the monarchy.

      And please, be more respectful of the huge amount of work that Frank and others do on this subject.  It is tough stuff to unearth given the secrecy and it is difficult to understand until you master a lot of information about the church.  Most of these pioneers in courageous journalistic investigation of the churches, have been practicing members and it is very hard to face the utter corruption and disallusionment of religions when one has been a believer.  But, I think it is only from the inside, that one can truly understand what has happened.

      So, ft, this work does matter.  And does matter is defending our democracy and all the freedoms we have gained and would like to maintain (which they are systematically trying to demolish,) and other freedoms that we would like to achieve as well.

      We Must DISARM THE NRA The next life you save may be ONE OF YOUR OWN!

      by SeaTurtle on Sat May 04, 2013 at 11:20:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You bring up good counter points to mine about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        the financial issue. Perhaps the laity leaving and pulling their funds won't diminish the power of this institution, but it may diminish the personal moral issue of supporting an institution that is so incredibly and unchangingly corrupt.  Plus the PR on such a withdrawl of support might be worth its own weight in gold.

        I do sometimes get frustrated with the whole writing genre on the wars within catholicism and protestantism between the left and right because they tend to miss the ten ton gorilla in the corner... the fact that they are all joined at the hip by continuing to hold on to reverence for the scriptures that support both sides. That fact makes it all a never ending battle. That is why I expressed the "whistling in the wind" comment.  It was not intended to devalue the diarist's efforts to dig up hard to find facts, it was a note of exasperation in feeling that the efforts won't make a dent in the unmovable mountian of the Roman Catholic church.

        I actually don't wish for the unsavory right wing players in the Catholic church to be stifled.  I hope they continue to push their views and power in the world and in the US. The reason?  I think that most people react negatively to such suppressive and controlling type views and end up turning their backs on the institutions these people represent.  It is happening to the southern Baptist movement and maybe it will happen to the Catholic church as well.  Their own right wing may become the poison pill that brings it all down.

        By the way, thanks again for replying to my comments respectfully.

  •  Sometimes there's a need to collaborate with evil (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Ahianne, billymcc

    ...or at least there's a Catholic moral traditionaround the cooperation with evil.

    Catholic moral tradition elaborates four basic principles that help us navigate a morally complex world. Each of these principles involves varying degrees of cooperation with evil. The principles are (1) double effect, in which a single action has two foreseen effects—one “good” and intended, the other “evil” and tolerated, such as the removal of the fetus in an ectopic pregnancy to save the life of the mother; (2) tolerance, in which we judge, following the Gospel principle of the wheat and the tares, that certain evils must be endured for the time being lest a greater evil ensue from our efforts to weed out the malefactors, such as tolerating legal abortion even if we disagree that this should be the case; (3) compromise, in which we in some way actively participate in actions or sinful social structures that have a clear morally evil component, such as purchasing goods made under exploitative labor conditions in foreign sweatshops; and (4) the lesser of two evils, such as counseling the use of clean needles among drug addicts.
  •  Traitors like Father John McCloskey, with his... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle, Frank Cocozzelli

    Regional States of North America need to be daylighted. By our military, by our veterans, by our patriots and by our citizens.

    Another article...
    http://www.talk2action.org/...

    I was in a South American city a while back, attending a birthday celebration of the relative of my friends.

    On the wall, I noticed a little "shrine" with votive candles and "souvenirs" or something. I walked up to it, seeing the photo of this priest, Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. I stared at it for a bit.

    SUDDENLY, a hand was on my shoulder!!!! It was that of my friend, who said to me, "ah no entiendes todavía... Son Opus Dei. No digas nada, OK? Te explicaré mañana. Mira, hay keke de chocolate!"

    Yeah. Opus Dei is trying to grab the power slowly. Our Supremes, at least one or two, are influenced by them. And there are other Catholic fifth column workers.

    Badness is still to come if we don't watch out.

    Meh. Opus Dei.

    Ugh. --UB.

    "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Randian Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of West Dakota!"

    by unclebucky on Sat May 04, 2013 at 03:27:25 PM PDT

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