That truth should be silent I had almost forgot.
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 1, Scene 2
September 19, 2002
Tomorrow, the world
By RONALD N. NEFF
Every time I talk to someone about rejecting political action as a strategy for achieving liberty, the person I am talking to wants to know what I suggest as an alternative. I admit that I am often impatient with this question. After all, once a course of action has been demonstrated to be both immoral and impractical, it would seem that the case for not following it has been made.
Once you discover that turning north off a road takes you in the wrong direction, you still want to find the right direction, of course. But if the driver says, "Well, I don't know the right direction," it would be pretty stupid for one of the passengers to say, "Well, since you don't know the right direction, I guess we should go north." Or: "Well, until you come up with the right direction, I say we go north." Or: "If you're going to resist going north, you're just a pessimist offering no hope to the rest of us."
Pretty stupid, yes. But that's what I get.
I have been saying that I am flattered that so much wisdom and insight is imputed to me that I should have worked out all the answers to all the strategic questions by now. I've also been saying that what we really need is for all those guys with government jobs and all those guys who are working on government solutions to problems to get out of those undertakings and apply their intelligence, their talent, and their time to the strategic problem that I have not been able to solve.
Until now. Now you can all keep your government-related jobs. As they say, Eureka! I've found the solution that has eluded me so long. Hold the applause. And I want to say at the outset that I'm still open to suggestions from everyone else. I'm sure there are refinements I haven't thought of yet.
Surely, if I have demonstrated nothing else, I have demonstrated that there is at least a problem with political action. In fact, lots of problems. Maybe my readers all disagree with me about the significance of those problems, and maybe they have solutions to them. That's not the point. The point is that there are problems that libertarians cannot ignore.
The solution I am going to offer has no problems. Not of a libertarian sort, that is. Instead of working in the field of politics and government, I'm suggesting that we abandon it and work in a voluntary field. A field no one can object to our working in, at least not on the basis of possible violations of people's rights.
Instead of trying to take over the presidency, or Congress instead of all of us libertarians moving to some county and taking it over I propose that we ...
... take over the Church.
Specifically the Catholic Church, since it has a nice hierarchy that presents a juicy and tempting target.
Here's the idea. We all start working in our parishes to get on committees and in teaching positions. Maybe a bunch of us move into a single parish. The younger ones of us start preparing to go to seminary.
Little by little, libertarians will get into the priesthood. From the pulpit they can teach Friedmanite economics. Spiritual directors will encourage their charges to quit expropriating their neighbors and to stop using force to get their neighbors to do things they don't want to do. And eventually there will be libertarian bishops. The bishops will help promote more young libertarians to the seminaries and get them plum assignments. Before you know it, there will be 50 Ron Pauls in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and libertarians will control it. (Think what a difference 50 Ron Pauls in the USCCB would make!) And some of them will even be cardinal electors when a pope dies.
Why stop there? The women can get into the convents and women's monasteries. They can get the teaching jobs in the Catholic schools. Some of the men can get into men's monasteries. Some of them will become priors and others abbots.
Those of us who are not in the priesthood or in the religious orders can support those who are. Dissolve the Libertarian Party, and use the organization to collect money to publish Libertarian Catholic weeklies and to support the seminarians who have to forgo getting good jobs. Maybe we'll even be able to buy EWTN. If not, we'll start our own network.
Compared with running for election, this will be a snap. For one thing, it's all done on the basis of appointment. No ballot drives. No petitions to collect signatures. No having to raise money every two years for another election. Moreover, you only have to fool a few people to get through seminary and into the priesthood. In elections you have to fool thousands or millions. And once you're a priest or a bishop you've got the job for life. No losing to pesky primary challengers with famous names.
Yes, I'm sure this is the way to handle it. It gives us worldwide respectability, worldwide influence, and even worldwide power the kind of power that can only be exercised over people who have willingly submitted to it. It's the perfect libertarian venue.
But, I hear someone say, this will never work. There are "filtering" committees. The existing hierarchy protects itself. The socialists ensconced in the Catholic Church now will see through this plan. They will never let us get into the seminaries. Maybe one or two will slip through, but never enough to matter. And the ones who do get through will be put in parishes or dioceses with little influence.
Besides, my critic will continue, we don't all really believe in what the Church stands for. Some of us are Lutherans; some of us are even atheists. We'd have to pretend to believe things we don't, or else make compromises or quietly acquiesce in matters that violate our principles.
Oh, yeah. I see now. I guess my plan won't work after all.
Explain to me again why engaging in political action will work.
© 2002 by WTM Enterprises. All rights reserved.
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