As Gillespie points out, many libertarians are indifferent or even hostile to religion. Napolitano, however, merges a common defense of individual liberties most libertarians can get behind with his life as practicing Catholic and an advocate of Natural Law (he’s pro-life). He mentions a tradition he sees stretching from Aristotle to Aquinas to John Locke to Thomas Jefferson onward to the present day. On his view, our freedoms come from our humanity, and our humanity is cast in God’s image. God is free and so humans are free, and thus humans derive their free will from God and the Natural Law. This freedom acts a strong line of defense against the interests of the anti-theists, and the oft state-building secular, progressive Left who will seek to enshrine their ideals within the power and expansion of the government (from abortion to public assistance to the growth of definitions of liberty that also include women and black folks).
Clearly our commonwealth and Constitution create no religious test for office, and do so in order to get around the constant religious strife and persecution going on in a Europe which so many fled (including the Puritans, the Calvinists, the Huguenots and the waves of 19th century onward Irish/Italian Catholic immigrants with which I’m more familiar).
Napolitano then ends up using a broader defense of liberty against both conservatives and liberals who seek State power to further their interests and who can violate due process, and probably brings him back around to the libertarianism he’s known for.
Surprisingly interesting discussion.
***And as regards making laws that enslave some, Napolitano mentions a higher law of Aquinas’ ‘right reason.’ Here’s a quote from J.S. Mill, whose utilitarianism is often used as the best argument I’ve heard for the freedom and opportunity of women and minorities:
“The likings and dislikings of society, or of some powerful portion of it, are thus the main thing which has practically determined the rules laid down for general observance, under the penalties of law or opinion. And in general, those who have been in advance of society in thought and feeling, have left this condition of things unassailed in principle, however they may have come into conflict with it in some of its details. They have occupied themselves rather in inquiring what things society ought to like or dislike, than in questioning whether its likings or dislikings should be a law to individuals. They preferred endeavoring to alter the feelings of mankind on the particular points on which they were themselves heretical, rather than make common cause in defence of freedom, with heretics generally. The only case in which the higher ground has been taken on principle and maintained with consistency, by any but an individual here and there, is that of religious belief:…”
******I should add that I don’t view taxation as theft as long as those governing maintain the consent of the governed (which requires vigilance and participation on both sides). I believe the government does have a role to play in the common defense, local government in local education, in some financial regulation, and in securing private property. I don’t think it follows that such a defense naturally advocates the progressive vision (and more importantly what so often lies beneath it given human nature, especially in big cities: union bosses forcing membership, graft, waste, some corruption, federal bureaucrats in every localized educational setting, distorted markets and the distressing incentives of the Welfare State…it is a road to financial and political dysfunction we can’t afford).
Related On This Site: Another Catholic, fighting Obamacare’s statism: From Youtube Via Althouse-’Paul Ryan: Hiding Spending Doesn’t Reduce Spending’…
How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?…where black liberation theology and academic postmodernism meet religious impulses and Natural Law Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”…Repost-William Stern At The City Journal: ‘How Dagger John Saved New York’s Irish’…more progressive silliness.Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’
Leo Strauss and the philosophy of Natural Right (which includes some hermetic, Nietzschean baggage). He will likly make you think about the consent of the governed and the threats to it, the uses and misuses of reason, and man’s relationship with nature. Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’…Via An Emailer: Some Criticism Of Leo Strauss?…Some Tuesday Quotations From Leo Strauss…From Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’…
I’m not sure the Chicago School has put its finger on many causes and problems of poverty quite like religion can, but they very much point out the mistakes and problems of the progressive, statist, and liberal banners of social justice and rights based governance which interferes with the individual. Very much worth reading: A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’…Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’…Repost-From Fora Via YouTube: ‘Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions’
Using J.S. Mill, moving away from religion?: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder
Singer takes utilitarianism and runs with it: Peter Singer discusses Hegel and Marx