23 August 2012

Two very important articles by Dr John C Rao

The first, here, should serve as a general primer on the project Dr Rao seeks to pursue through a Catholic lens, and this more recent one is Dr Rao’s missive concerning John Dalberg-Acton, Lord Acton, and the toxicity of the enduring elements of his thought upon Catholic doctrine and certain sections of the Catholic body politic. Both are worth reading in full. I tend to think that Dr Rao’s treatment of Acton, though cursory, is pretty much dead-on: the distinction to be made between power and authority is an important one, particularly today, and it is precisely that distinction which Acton and his acolytes tend to most muddy for self-serving reasons. What Lord Acton sought to achieve by limiting ‘power’ (and authority), was the expansion of licence, which actually does more to encourage corruption than authority wielded justly can. As Dr Rao quotes Jesuit theologian Carlo Maria Curci:
And the truth is that this freedom, as any other unlimited liberty not circumscribed by anything, is nothing other than the privilege agreed upon for the strong to assassinate the weak. In this case, the freedom of the strong is offended, since he is given the arbitrary ability to abuse his faculty, and the freedom of the weak is offended, as he remains the undefended victim of the abuse.
There is quite a bit of truth to Dr Rao’s thesis. Ronald Reagan was swept into office on the premise that ‘government is the problem’, the idea that government lacked authority to govern justly over a capitalist order (an idea which Lord Acton would have approved, and which his cultists still mantrically regurgitate). The actual result of his policies, after all moral authority (for example, that to direct tax money toward programmes for the destitute, the young and the mentally ill) was stripped away, was the expansion of government and the bloating of the public debt: not on welfare programmes for the needy, but on military contracts, missiles and fancy satellite-based defence systems which were completely unworkable. ‘The beast’, as it were, was not starved, but rather bloated: force-fed with junk food and prevented from getting the exercise that it needs. Only when we truly engage with the question of authority rather than the brute power with which the Actonians tend to equate it, can we imagine and then create a government which understands its limits and acts within them.

No comments:

Post a Comment