Listening to this now, this subject is something of a hobbyhorse of mine.

I'm a few minutes in, so forgive me if you cover this already: One of the flaws here is the classically liberal conception of "rights". It imitates "natural law" and fails to have the force of natural law. To illustrate, here's a quote from something I've written elsewhere:

[[In the United States, the public treat Rights as something we have and which the government cannot take away. “I have rights!” is the refrain. What they are saying is “I have the ability to speak freely!” or “I have the ability to own a gun!” and the government is disobliged–metaphysically incapable–from mitigating those rights in any way. This is also what people mean when they talk about things that aren’t explicitly enumerated rights: “Healthcare is a human right” or “We need to give so-and-so full rights”.

There are obvious exceptions to this claim. “I have the ability to speak freely!” except when what you say is “fire” and where you say it is a crowded theater. “I have the ability to own a gun!” except if it’s fully automatic. I am sure none would find those limits controversial. We agree that shouting “fire” in a crowded theater would be disastrous; that restricting ownership of automatic firearms is sensible. So when we are talking about rights we are really talking about operating within a fence the government has made for us. “I have rights!” translates to “I have the ability to speak freely!” which now means “I agree to abide by restrictions on my ability to speak as long as they appear sensible!” which doesn’t make a great rallying cry. We could push this just a little bit further to say that the government disagrees that shouting “fire” in a crowded theater is a good thing to do; therefore when I say “I agree to abide by restrictions on my ability to speak as long as they appear sensible,” what I really mean is “I agree to only say things the government approves.”

How rapidly “I have the right to free speech” becomes “I agree to government sanctioned speech”]]

The problem is this conception of rights as natural law. If we conceived of them as privileges it makes a lot more sense. We have the privilege--permission granted by the government--to practice our religion as we see fit, as long as it doesn't spill the banks of government sanctioned behavior.

And that's the tension you are talking about so far in this podcast. My POV is that Church and State *cannot* be separated, and I would rather the government were expressly catholic so if people behaved badly they are at least behaving contrary to a discrete and definite set of values. I think the whole concept is condemned as the heresy of Americanism. I hope you discuss Americanism at some point in this podcast.

I am politically reactionary, which presents a pov orthogonal to the way you seem to have framed this discussion. Forgive the long comment. Enjoying the podcast and you're talking about a subject I'm enthusiastic about! Great conversation!

Expand full comment