Thursday, April 05, 2007

Paleoconservatism is not a cuss word

One of the things that truly infuriates me about Mark's constant claims that ideology is bad and that he puts no stock in it (see here, here) is that I don't think that it follows a priori proven from Catholic teaching that secular political ideologies are somehow intrinsically evil, which seems to me to be what Mark keeps asserting. If there was ever a dogma defined to that effect, someone please let me know. Some ideologies are good, some are bad, all are ultimately imperfect, but I am uncertain as to why that last point somehow disqualifies one from believing that one is the best way to improve the common good now. Indeed, there have been numerous political ideologies over the century (such as the Christian Democracy movement) that the Catholic Church has prudentially supported over the last several decades. Moreover, it is always good to know the intellectual traditions of where the political views that one has actually comes from and it seems to me that the argument that one need not have political views only Catholic teaching leads to a sacralization of politics that the Church in present does not favor.

What makes it all the more grating is that Mark in the same breath that he condemns all ideologies simultaneously adopts the positions of a particular species of conservative ideology called paleoconservatism. He clearly doesn't understand all of the particulars of it (otherwise I suspect his arguments would be better) any more than he does neoconservatism, but if you look at the actual substance of his arguments rather than his self-identification I think that you would be extremely hard-pressed to define his current worldview in any terms other than paleocon. While I disagree with paleoconservatism on multiple points, I do not have a problem with someone being a paleocon. What I do have a problem with, however, is Mark attempting to claim that he follows no ideology while simultaneously holding to positions that cannot meaningfully be separated from a very real ideology that he then presents as the teaching of the Catholic Church even if it is only on prudential matters. Then again, given the degree to which he sacralizes prudential Vatican foreign policy decisions, I am not at all certain that he makes much of a distinction between prudential matters and the ordinary teaching of the Magisterium anymore.

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