Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… What Happened To American Liberalism?

February 13, 2017 Featured Today No Comments

By STEPHEN M. KRASON

(Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly] in Crisis. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists.
(Among his books are The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic; Liberalism, Conservatism, and Catholicism; and the forthcoming Catholicism and American Political Ideologies. The last two books mentioned evaluate American liberalism and conservatism from World War II to the present from the standpoint of Catholic social teaching.)

+ + +

In an obscure article entitled “Catholics and Liberals: Decline of Détente,” in America magazine in 1974, the eminent Catholic scholar and historian James Hitchcock discussed a profound change that had occurred in American liberalism and argued that its new thinking put it increasingly at odds with Catholicism. Hitchcock was one of a number of writers at that time tracing the transformation of liberalism and one of the first to address its implication for Catholics.
Hitchcock said that the “new liberalism” was openly secular — the older liberals were not much interested in religion, but kept their secularism to themselves — and was riding the tide of the 1960s sexual revolution. It also had become increasingly intolerant. Hitchcock identified some of the especially troublesome elements of today’s liberalism coming into play even then.
He talked about its moral relativism becoming evident and aggressive. He mentioned its hostility to traditional religion and push to make religion a strictly private affair. He also noted the fact that, despite it’s talking so much about individual rights, it didn’t give much attention to religious liberty. He said that the new liberalism itself had become a kind of substitute religion, whose stances became absolutistic and moralistic and which didn’t tolerate much dissent from within its ranks.
Hitchcock said it promoted a “new morality” — a term that had already come to be associated especially with the sexual revolution — and the civil law was now going to the sole determiner of morality, or at least of the morality that would govern social affairs. He said it saw the Catholic Church as the major obstacle to the triumph of the new era of permissiveness that it sought and viewed the Church as repressive and tyrannical.
Not only was the civil law — shaped without reference to any higher standard — to be the shaper of morality, but Hitchcock also said that the new liberalism was quite ready to use legal coercion to achieve its goals. Among the things some of its adherents were promoting were sharply limiting family size — no doubt in response to their belief that there was a population crisis — with compulsory contraception, sterilization, and abortion if needed.
They also talked about changing the nature of marriage and radically restructuring the parent-child relationship because they viewed the traditional exercise of parental authority as “authoritarian.”
Mainstream American liberals hadn’t imagined these things before then.
Hitchcock also emphasized the new liberalism’s lack of civility, willingness to polarize in the name of ideological purity, and readiness to ditch the normal procedures of representative government — “the democratic process” — so it could further its agenda without popular support through the courts and the manipulation of opinion and thought through the media and the schools.
Hitchcock held that the liberal transformation occurred as a result of the influence of the New Left of the 1960s. The “old liberalism” — which reigned from the New Deal until JFK — finally succumbed when the “McGovernites” seized control of the Democratic Party in 1972. What was striking was how most of the old liberals just moved with the new tide. The ones who didn’t, like Michael Novak, Irving Kristol, and Norman Podhoretz, came to be called “neoconservatives” and moved over to the Republican Party.
In many respects, neoconservatism was nothing more than the pre-1960s old liberalism — that is, the lib eralism of the New Deal, Fair Deal, and New Frontier.
It’s not so much that Hitchcock and the other analysts who saw what was happening with liberalism were prescient as much as they just correctly understood the trends. What is striking is the straight line that American liberalism has progressed in since Hitchcock’s 1974 article. While as Paul Kengor has noted, liberalism doesn’t typically have a clear picture of where its thinking will lead, its basic outlook on major public questions was clearly in place almost 50 years ago and was bound to lead to what we witness today.
Even though the new liberals of 1974 weren’t too interested in religious liberty, they weren’t making the kind of headlong assaults on it that we’re seeing today with such things as the HHS mandate, medical personnel being forced to take part in abortions, pregnancy care centers — which were set up as abortion alternatives — being told to refer for it, business owners being punished if they won’t provide services for same-sex “weddings,” and county clerks imprisoned for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
We also didn’t see a leftist U.S. solicitor general admitting to the Supreme Court that if it gave same-sex couples the equal protection right to “marry” which he sought, it would indeed threaten religious liberty — and also intimating that traditional believers have it coming to them.
As far as abortion went in the 1970s, most new liberals seem to have been satisfied with an accommodationist position: Abortion was legal, but they didn’t expect government to fund it. They also talked about abortion being made legal and safe, but rare. Now they positively celebrate it, and want government to make it free and accessible everywhere.
They haven’t yet pushed for compulsory “family planning” and the like, but they hardly raise a peep about forced abortions in China. They are also eager to push for physician-assisted suicide, which all too often means forced death for the aged and infirm. They, of course, ignore the fact that legal abortion really represents a prerogative to kill the innocent just because of their young age.
So a “live and let live” orientation of sorts still prevailed in the liberalism of the 1970s, despite Hitchcock’s mentioning its becoming absolutistic. Millennial liberalism, on the other hand, is tied rigidly to ideological imperatives. No amount of facts, evidence, and reasoning seems to be able to pry it away from them. More, it seems as if the reference points for today’s liberal ideology are the broad assortment of leftist interest groups on a whole range of public issues.
A good example was the uncertainty about how leading liberal politicians and even environmental groups would come down on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), until it was clear that the “correct” environmentalist position was to be against it.
If the attitude of not permitting dissent was already visible then, it’s become pervasive now. There were still many pro-life Democratic politicians in the 1970s. Now it’s said that on any given vote in Congress, one or two Democrats might support the pro-life side.
The liberal bluster about changing marriage that Hitchcock mentioned culminated, of course, forty years later with Obergefell v. Hodges, so that its meaning — for all practical purposes — is completely open-ended as far as American law is concerned. Liberalism’s overthrowing of parental authority was happening at that very time with the passage of the Mondale Act. It set in motion the national child protective system (CPS), which in the name of a false claim of a national child abuse crisis opened the door to massive state intervention into the family and the forcible substitution of the childrearing preferences of social service operatives — that is, government bureaucrats — for parents.
The 1970s also brought us no-fault divorce, the personal and social consequences of which we are finally only beginning to take note of. To be sure, it wasn’t just avowed liberals who supported divorce and the CPS. However, they spearheaded these movements and the liberal mindset dominated the thinking about them.
Liberalism’s ready willingness to polarize that Hitchcock saw in 1974 has since become a staple of American politics. I believe that the new liberalism has mostly been responsible for it; the positions that conservatism has taken — with the ensuing ideological gulf — have mostly been in reaction to it. We saw this most vividly with Obamacare. This major public policy initiative — which was transformative of American health care and laid the groundwork for copying the European social democrats’ single-payer system — was pushed through Congress without a single Republican vote.
Hitchcock’s claim that the new liberalism furthered its agenda by ignoring representative institutions and instead relying on the courts and media manipulation certainly has become the norm in the intervening decades. While its beginnings may have been legitimate with the Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision in the era of the old liberalism, this is now done without limitation or scruple.

More Extreme And Repressive

As far as the lack of civility goes, it has continued and grown. One has to look no further than the outrageous protests in the aftermath of the November election, the vulgar rhetoric and behavior of the Women’s March, the violent actions of leftist anarchist groups in conjunction with these protests, and the sit-ins and disruptive demonstrations by Democrats in the House of Representatives chamber.
While the new liberalism has often claimed that it represents American ideals and resents being called “un-American,” its moral relativism, positivism (that is, nothing higher than the civil law), lack of civility and thus concern about building a community of friendship, lack of respect for the role of the family, hostility to religion and religious liberty, and unwillingness to accept any limitation on personal freedom make it profoundly at odds with the American Founding.
The new liberalism that supplanted the old in the 1960s has come to us unabated from that time. The only difference is that its characteristics and tendencies that Hitchcock perceptively pointed to have become ever more extreme, ideologically unbending, repressive, and intolerant.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Cardinal Burke: Catholics must let Christ reign as King in face of ‘apostasy’ within Church

ROME, May 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholics must consciously place themselves under the “Kingship of Christ” in the face of enemies of the Church today attempting to “infiltrate the life of the Church herself and to corrupt the Bride of…Continue Reading

President Trump to cut Planned Parenthood funding

The Trump administration is announcing its intentions to cut a significant amount of taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses. The proposed regulation will also better protect victims of sexual assault, incest and rape because it will require that…Continue Reading

Bishop Tobin is right: the Catholic Church must stay true to itself

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, who is the Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, in the United States, has tweeted, and it is a mighty tweet, a gem amidst the dross and banality of Twitter. The Bishop has written:

Alfie Evans laid to rest today with no coroner’s investigation, no toxicology report

LONDON, May 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The question of what caused the death of UK toddler Alfie Evans may never be known. The UK High Court refused today to order a post-mortem examination of the toddler’s remains at the request…Continue Reading

Google and Facebook Censor Pro-Life Free Speech Ahead of Ireland Vote to Legalize Abortion

This has been coming on in Ireland for months, really since the outlines of the wording for the May 25 referendum to gut protections for unborn children were released. Simon Harris, the Minister of Health, and others, committed to overturning…Continue Reading

Bill Nye the Science Guy Headlines Fundraiser for Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz

Bill Nye “the Science Guy,” a man who became famous for teaching children about science, has anything but children’s best interests at heart. Nye is an abortion activist who spoke Tuesday at fundraiser for Planned Parenthood in Texas. San Antonio…Continue Reading

Pope Francis one week after Alfie Evans’ death: ‘all possible assistance’ must be given to dying

May 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis spoke out on Sunday in favor of providing complete health care to dying patients, in an apparent reference to the case of Alfie Evans, a child who died in a British public hospital…Continue Reading

Abortionist to be jailed after killing woman in botched late-term abortion

QUEENS, New York, May 4, 2018 (Operation Rescue) – In a move that shocked the court, abortionist Robert Rho accepted a previously offered plea bargain and admitted his guilt to Felony Negligent Homicide immediately after the judge announced that the jury had…Continue Reading

Cardinal Pell, Vatican treasurer, to become most senior member of Catholic church to stand trial on sex charges

Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s treasurer, has become the most senior Catholic figure to face sexual assault charges after a court in Melbourne committed him to stand trial on historical offences involving multiple victims. After being asked for a plea, 76-year-old…Continue Reading

Michigan Catholic School Revokes ‘Modesty Poncho’ Prom Plan for Female Students

A Catholic high school in Michigan has ended a plan to make female students wear “modesty ponchos” at prom if they are dressed inappropriately. After some parents and students at Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Mich. said the “modesty…Continue Reading

Archdiocese of Baltimore plans to build first new Catholic school in city in more than 50 years

After years of shuttering schools amid declining enrollment and budget constraints, the Archdiocese of Baltimore is planning to build its first new Catholic school in the city in more than 50 years. So far, the archdiocese has raised about $13…Continue Reading

As much as $100,000 taken from collection plate at Holy Name Cathedral, police say

Chicago police are investigating whether former security guards at Holy Name Cathedral may have played a role in the theft of up to $100,000 from the historic church’s collection plate, according to preliminary information from police sources and the security company.…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Pope Francis names 14 new cardinals from five continents

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Sunday he would elevate 14 churchmen from five continents to the rank of cardinal, picking candidates that work with the poor or where Catholics are in a minority and putting his stamp on the group that will elect his successor.

Cardinal Burke warns upcoming youth synod may release ‘new storm in the Church’

ROME, May 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – There is a risk that the upcoming synod on youth will bring “more difficulties” for the Church, Cardinal Raymond Burke said at the Rome Life Forum today, noting there have already been allegations of manipulation. “What can we expect about and after the new synod in October?” he was asked. “A new storm in the Church? A new ambiguous exhortation? More dubia?” “I think simply from a point of human…Continue Reading

Chile’s bishops resign en masse over sex abuse cover-up

VATICAN CITY (AP) — In the biggest shake-up yet in the Catholic Church’s long-running sex abuse scandal, every active Chilean bishop offered to resign Friday over what Pope Francis said was their “grave negligence” in investigating abuse and protecting children. The bishops announced at the end of an emergency Vatican summit that all 31 active bishops in Rome had signed a document offering to resign. Francis can accept the resignations, rej

Iowa attorney general refuses to defend heartbeat abortion ban

DES MOINES, Iowa, May 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Democratic attorney general of Iowa is refusing to defend the state’s new ban on aborting babies with detectable heartbeats, citing his personal opposition to the duly-enacted law. “Attorney General Tom Miller has disqualified himself from representing the state” in the inevitable court battle over the law, Iowa Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson announced in a letter Tuesday. “The

This Governor Just Gave One of the Most Passionate Pro-Life Speeches

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds promised to passionately defend the rights of unborn babies Saturday after signing the earliest abortion ban into law. “We are No. 1 in the country when it comes to protecting life,” Reynolds told the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition during its annual event, Newsmax reports. “I believe all innocent life is precious and sacred, and as governor I pledge to you to do everything in my power to protect life.” Earlier this…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

The Consequences Of Relativism… A Desperate Call From The Youth Of America

By ALBERTO M. PIEDRA Recently I read an article entitled “From the Heart of a Young Father” written by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap. It appeared in First Things in April and it is worth receiving wide support and shared by as large an audience as possible. The article relates the anguished cry of…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Reconstructing The Entire Social Order

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY An Economics of Justice and Charity: Catholic Social Teaching, Its Development and Contemporary Relevance, by Thomas Storck; Angelico Press, 182 pages. Buy from Amazon.com; $24.00 hardcover, $16.95 paperback. An Economics of Justice and Charity looks at Catholic social teaching from the time of Pope Leo XIII, that is the end of…Continue Reading

The Vote On The Eighth Amendment . . . The Pro-Abortion Elites Are Active In Ireland

By BILL DONOHUE (Editor’s Note: Catholic League President Bill Donohue commented May 14 on Ireland’s upcoming referendum on abortion.) + + + In 1983, Ireland passed the Eighth Amendment outlawing abortion in most cases. Its future will be decided in a May 25 referendum. Activists from both sides have drawn support from inside and outside…Continue Reading

What Greatness Requires

By DONALD DeMARCO In a world such as ours, where mediocrity and confusion reign, where leaders mislead us and governments deceive us, the need for greatness is particularly critical. What is greatness, we may well ask? If we are not clear about the nature of this esteemed quality, how easy it is to settle for…Continue Reading

Minnesota Gov. Dayton Vetoes Ultrasound Bill

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton on May 16 vetoed the mainstream pro-life measure that would ensure pregnant women access to their ultrasounds prior to an abortion. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state’s oldest and largest pro-life organization, is deeply disappointed with the governor’s action. “Once again Gov. Dayton has yielded to the…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Oneness Of God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Solemnity Of The Most Holy Trinity (YR B) Readings: Deut. 4:32-34, 39-40 Romans 8:14-17 Matt. 28:16-20 In the first reading today, Moses addresses the people of Israel, challenging them to think about what they might believe about God and about themselves in relation to God. The problem for the Jewish people, having come out of Egypt,…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… A Weird World Far From God

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “Some say the Catholic Church has to become more like Protestants (e.g., married priests, women priests, abortion, gay marriage) to survive. A new ABC Poll shows that Protestant membership has declined 14 percent in the last 15 years! We Catholics had better look before we leap.” Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence, R.I.,…Continue Reading

Replies To Objections To The Mass

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 29 In this article, we respond to objections against the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which non-Catholics are wont to raise in order to attempt to justify their many different doctrines about the Eucharist. They do not agree among themselves on a great many points of doctrine — see how many thousands of sects,…Continue Reading

Blessed Are The Merciful

By DON FIER In last week’s consideration of the fourth Beatitude: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [justice], for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6), we saw that those being referred to are souls who intensely desire that their wills are in accord with God’s will. They want what God wants, and their desires are always satisfied.…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. While preparing for her Confirmation, my niece had to memorize the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, but not all of them were the ones I learned at my Confirmation. I recognized three of them — Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge — but the other four were different. Can you explain this? — M.C., via e-mail. A. For the last…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Ivan Merz

By CAROLE BRESLIN Our Lord paid the laborers the same wage whether they worked from early morning or began in the afternoon. The rewards were the same (Matthew, chapter 20). So too are the rewards for serving the Lord with zeal and perseverance. St. Augustine, converting at the age of 33, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Francis of Assisi — all…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Bede The Venerable

By CAROLE BRESLIN In northern England — what is now known as the county of Tyne and Wear — on the Wear River sits St. Peter’s at Monkwearmouth. About seven miles away are the ruins of St. Paul’s Parish, which contain the oldest stained-glass window in the world. Both churches played an important role in the development of Christianity in…Continue Reading