Catholics and Libertarians

By: David Gordon

Can a Roman Catholic be an Austro-Libertarian as well? Christopher Ferrara in a book called The Church and the Libertarian says that one cannot. In Ferrara’s view, Austrian  economists deny that the moral law applies to the economy. Instead, Austrians say, strictly scientific laws govern the economy and these limit what the State or the Church can do. Minimum wage laws, for example, tend to cause unemployment, like it or not.

Ferrara challenges this contention. Economic laws are not absolute but must be subordinated to the moral law. For example, a worker must be paid a “living wage” that enables him to raise a family. To deny this, he thinks, is to reject Catholic Social Thought, and to do that is to put oneself outside the Church.

Tony Flood, who is both a believing Catholic and sympathetic to the thought of Murray Rothbard, who was a friend of his, subjects Ferrara’s book to close examination and finds it lacking.  In his book, Christ, Capital and Liberty: A Polemic Flood argues thatAustro-libertarian thought is compatible with the key teaching of the Church,  In contending that it is, Flood draws attention to the writings of the great Jesuit Father James Sadowsky, S.J., a distinguished Catholic philosopher and theologian who was also a Rothbardian in his political philosophy.

Flood analyzes in detail the errors in Ferrara’s book. In one case, for example, Ferrara included in a quotation from Murray Rothbard words that were not Rothbard’s but in fact were from a polemical discussion by Kevin Carson, a writer of different views altogether

Flood has ably shown that Ferrara’s assault on Austro-libertarianism is baseless.

 

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