We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The key to winning battles…

This article on White Rose is rather interesting and really rather heartening…

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties says it will prosecute any priests found distributing or quoting the Pope’s anti-gay document for hate crimes.

I have long feared incremental statism more than revolutionary statism, because revolutions are easy to notice and thus easy to shoot at and, more importantly, get support from other people when you do. Incremental diminution of liberty however falls within the ‘boiling frog’ syndrome. By the time people notice, it is too late.

Now I really do not care what the Catholic Church has to say about gays or whatever… that is matter for practicing Catholics, not a well and truly lapsed one like me. But I am rather interested in anything which could well cause a major collision between civil society and the state.

You see, what I see here is that sooner or later, the Irish state is going to find itself confronted by a Catholic Priest who loudly proclaims in unambiguous language what the state defines as ‘hate speech’ by strongly depreciating homosexual relationships… and the state will be faced with in effect prosecuting someone for being a Catholic and following ex cathedra Catholic doctrines to the letter.

And then all of a sudden, when it becomes clear that the state has decided it will give itself a force-backed say in what gets said from the pulpits of Catholic Churches, millions of people who are voluntary members of a civil non-state social organization called The Roman Catholic Church are going to have to look long and hard at how they see the state. I could not ask for better grounds on which to draw up an army for that particular fight.

I think rather a lot of them will come to the conclusion that…The state is not your friend.

More and faster please.

17 comments to The key to winning battles…

  • …except that there are good grounds for seeing the Roman Catholic Church as a state too.

    It incorporates a sovereign nation (the Vatican City, in other eras the Papal States), it preserves the language and much of the code of a transnational empire (the Roman Empire) whose rather lively ghost it still is – a mega-state still nostalgically mourned by some of the most anti-libertarian types in Continental Europe. On top of this, the Catholic church is highly organised, heirarchical, bureaucratic, and propagandist.

    Not to wildly approve of the Irish Republic (or the Church of England) or any nation state or large religious organisation, but to describe the Catholic church as a voluntary association of part-timers, as if it was no more than a group of ramblers or butterfly collectors, is a little bit disingenuous. The Vatican is considerably richer and more influential than many multinational corporations, and (I would suggest) is, unlike some of them, like some others of them, stateist to the core.

    How anyone could call a group which carried out the Holy Inquisition or could say, as the Jesuits say, “Give us a child until the age of seven, and he is ours for life” (both of these complementary approaches were studied keenly by other monolithic personality cults such as the communist and fascist cults of the century just past), a non-state to be preferred to a state baffles me.

    The Catholics have done, and still do, a great deal of good work, and have achieved many wonderful things (as have some states). And if anything is, they’re a state too.

  • I have yet to pay a penny in tax to the Catholic Church… and if I choose to, as I do, I can ignore it’s ‘laws’, so no, unless you live in Vatican City, the Catholic Church is not a state. Sure, it lobbies for legislation, but that does not make other lobby groups ‘a state’ either.

  • Dale Amon

    If there is a place on Earth not to pick a fight with the Catholic Church, Ireland is it.

    Boy is the fur gonna fly in Dublin. It seems highly likely a priest will stand up against the State. You do not last long in Irish politics by going head on with the Church.

    I’m sure some politicians will hold up the Shield of Europe and proclaim loudly it is not our fault… but I do not think that will be enough to satisfy the enraged flocks.

    If we’re lucky, this is more than a Church vs State battle. It could well be the Catholic Church and the Irish State vs the dev\ European Union.

  • Ron

    A question I’ve asked before but am not aware of having been given an answer.

    Supposing Iain Duncan Smith becomes Prime Minister (with solid Eurosceptic credentials) and the Pope/Vatican then tells him as a Catholic he must support the introduction of the Euro in the UK. (Note the Pope strongly encouraged the Poles to vote Yes).

    Which way would he jump?

  • R C Dean

    The worse the better, eh, Perry? Where I have heard that before?

  • FeloniousPunk

    Ron –

    That’s the same line that was used by JF Kennedy’s opponents when he ran for President. The Vatican did not dictate policy to him, as it turns out. The Middle Ages are long over, the Vatican doesn’t dictate foreign policy to Catholic heads of government.

    mark –

    I’m a Catholic (though tending much toward the lapsed side), and I can tell you that I hold citizenship in the USA not the Catholic Church. The Church is not a state, no matter how hard you try to stretch it.

    On the article – shocking, but I agree this is just the sort of fight that could finally get the public riled up about the authoritarians in Brussels. At last.

  • Guy Herbert

    The Vatican does try to dictate domestic policy, though.

    I think Ron’s answer comes in the reaction of British Catholic MPs to the letter they recently got from the Pope telling them they must vote against gay marriage. They were not pleased. To the point that several of them turned up on TV to say they represented their constituents’ interest not the Pope’s.

  • The Catholic church is not a state, except within the tiny confines of the Vatican. I think that this argument goes to the heart of a misunderstanding abut Libertarianism. People imagine that libertarians or “social individualists” are against every type of collective action. The key point is that Libertarians are against coerced collective action. A voluntary collective, such as is the Catholic church is fine because no-one is forcing you to join it or preventing you from leaving it. This misunderstanding also unfortunately leads statists to design the state in the image of their favourite type of collective, conveniently forgetting that a collectivist state is necessarily coerced.

    As for wishing for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties to over reach, I don’t think it’s a case of “the worse the better”, nobody is wishing for a bloody conflagration. As an Irish citizen (and indeed a lapsed catholic) I would also like to see these self-appointed guardians of political correctness over-reach (as I would the even worse Equality Authority) as it might force people to wake up and realise the sort of drift from freedom we have suffered by stealth in the last few years.

  • Dave O'Neill

    Technically a practising catholic is expected to pay, if I recall correctly, 10% of their hourly wage a week to their church. Often this is done in conjunction with a covenant so the Inland Revenue pays that portion of tax paid to the government to the church.

    Sounds like a tax to me.

    With regard to Ireland, if I recall correctly, until historically quite recently the Catholic Church was part of the government regardless of the part in charge.

  • Sounds like a tax to me

    Then you do not know what a tax is.

    If you tithe money to the Church, it is because you want to. The thing that makes a tax a tax, as opposed to a donation, is that is it mandatory. If you can simply elect not to pay without having the sanction of law come down on you, then it ain’t a tax.

  • Frank McGahon: Quite so. We are not at all against collective action, just against having collective action imposed on us when it is not necessary. Samizdata.net is an example of non-coercive collective action.

  • “Technically a practising catholic is expected to pay, if I recall correctly, 10% of their hourly wage a week to their church. Often this is done in conjunction with a covenant so the Inland Revenue pays that portion of tax paid to the government to the church.

    Sounds like a tax to me.”

    I don’t know where you get the idea that modern day catholics pay a tithe to the church but even if they did, so what? It’s still not a tax. If you contribute to the charity of your choice that’s a voluntary contribution. You can decide to withhold that if you want, likewise with a tithe to the church. Tax, on the other hand, is not voluntary. Try withholding it and see how far you get.

    Now, if you were talking about Germany, that’s a different story, German law requires that you state your religious affiliation and will tax you directly based on that and distribute it to the relevant church. As far as I’m aware it is very difficult to get them to accept a designation of “atheist”.

    Separation of Church and State has taken a while in Ireland. It wasn’t so much a technical link but the Catholic church used to hold considerable sway over people’s opinions. Not so these days.

  • Dave O'Neill

    Last time I sat through a sermon on the subject, my parents parish priest was pretty vocal about how little choice you had if you wanted to be a member of the church community.

    He was a bit of an old radical though.

  • Technically a practising catholic is expected to pay, if I recall correctly, 10% of their hourly wage a week to their church. Often this is done in conjunction with a covenant so the Inland Revenue pays that portion of tax paid to the government to the church.

    Sounds like a tax to me.

    If you do not pay the 10%, will armed men come to your house and throw you in jail?

  • I have to admit, the tax question is a good criticism as far as my Catholic-church-is-a-state claim goes.

    Despite Perry’s remark sounding a lot like Stalin’s “how many divisions does the Pope have?” question, he’s right on the use of force right now, and I must concede I overstretched that.

    It is a wannabe state and a has-been state however, and has experience and the will it takes to outwait opponents. I find it hard to believe it will not again one day have either an army (one century, two centuries, three centuries in the future?) or the will to deploy mercenary armies as during the Italian Renaissance. It certainly still has an intelligence service.

    This is not necessarily a bad thing – it might be an improvement if there were more religiously motivated …. what can I call them, proto-states? krypto-states? Or it might be worse.

    But when Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenthy was tortured by the communists, and took refuge for almost a decade in the US Embassy, he made a will which took effect once he had died peacefully in exile in Vienna. His last will and testament speicified his ashes could not be returned to Hungary until all the red stars were taken off the buildings there.

    There speaks a man from an organisation with the confidence it can outwait anyone. I idly wondered if there had ever been some foolish young Marxist tortured by a Catholic regime who could have made a will specifying his remains could not be returned to his country until all those crosses had been taken off the buildings?

    Even after all the hideous things that were done to Mindszenthy in the cellar of Andrassy street number 60, I can’t help but see that wish in his will as a tiny bit authoritarian itself. One rival state to another?

    I’m afraid I think the Catholic church will be able to employ force again one day, and will. It really isn’t like the National Trust or the football association. Doesn’t that phrase “give us a child until the age of seven and he is ours for life” send a little bit of a shiver down libertarian’s spines here? We are talking about an organisation that has been a state, would like to be one again, one waiming to control minds, and which retains the apparatus and self-belief needed to wait out the interval.

    I’m with Dale Amon on this one – the Republic of Ireland may win this battle but it is unlikely to win any war with such an experienced and entrenched opponent.

  • Dave O'Neill

    If you do not pay the 10%, will armed men come to your house and throw you in jail?

    Nor will they in the UK, at least the armed bit. You could have all your assests seized and be declared bankrupt, as the Inland Revenue did by accident last month, but that’s another story.

    I’m just going by personal experience about the kind of guilt trip a practising church going Catholic is put under to pay up.

  • Cydonia

    Dave O’Neill:

    After you’ve been made bankrupt for not paying your taxes and the bailiffs come round to take your house and your possessions from you, what do you think will happen if you try to resist?