by Patrick Krey
Randy England, a Catholic writer and criminal defense attorney, took it upon himself to write a brief primer on libertarianism for Catholics. It should be understood up front that England is not talking about the Libertarian political party or electoral politics but about a political philosophy and how one views government action. In an interview with The New American, England explained his motivation for writing the book. “I wrote Free is Beautiful so that Catholics may understand that libertarianism is the political philosophy most compatible with Christianity and the only one that takes human dignity and free will seriously.”
Free Is Beautiful: Why Catholics Should Be Libertarians is definitely geared to make Catholics become libertarians, but England’s argument might also persuade a few libertarians to become Catholic. This is the third book England has written, and it shows. His style is very easy to read and maintains one’s interest, as he clearly explains what libertarianism is, as well as what libertarianism is not. He also makes the case for how libertarianism is perfectly in line with Catholicism. England separated his book into two parts, with part one focusing almost entirely on explaining why libertarianism is consistent with Christianity and part two further explaining how libertarianism relates to the rest of society.
Simply put, England explains, libertarianism is about the non-aggression principle, which “prohibits the initiation of physical force (or the threat of force) against people or property. The use of force is only legitimate in defense of life or property.” This idea applies to both individuals and governments. That means that if something is wrong for an individual to do — robbery or murder as an example — then that is also wrong if a government does it. England points out that every “government relies on the kind of aggression that would be criminal if used by an individual — that is, the initiation of violence.” Sadly, in present times, we have become accustomed to government using aggressive force or the threat of force to achieve its goals. Libertarians, England states, reject “violence as a solution” and “embrace the goal of eliminating all authority that relies upon the initiation of force to accomplish its ends.”
The supporters of state action on the Left and the Right would be quick to label such rhetoric as the ranting of an anarchist, which, in practice, would produce a lawless society. England addresses such criticism by arguing that order can be accomplished through voluntary, nonviolent means. England reminds readers that authority does not need to come only from an “aggressive government. There are other ways to secure agreement so that orders may be given and obedience expected. Authority based on reciprocity and trust is more powerful than that based on physical coercion.” One idea proposed later in the book is cooperative contractual agreements, which are based on private property rights. These cooperatives, many of which exist today, can take the place of the role presently handled by coercive governments.
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