Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Political Note

I spent the last two days helping out a friend on a political campaign. He won. This politicking reminds me that common political terms are used differently in the United States than in the rest of the world.

What Europeans call "socialist", we call "liberal".

What they call "liberal", we call "conservative".

We don't have European-style "conservatives". [Almost!] Nobody here is calling for a monarch, titled nobility, and an Established Church.

I think I like the European use of the words better, they are certainly more accurate. While the American Left correctly appeals to our liberality in addressing problems, their solutions are always socialist. Likewise, building mega Wal-Marts and buying expensive sports cars is hardly conservative.

Certainly these terms are used rather euphemistically in the U.S. Socialism is a dirty word, and there is so much confusion within the U.S. over conservatism. Perhaps this is because we have a two-party,"big-tent" system of government, and want to avoid the use of divisive terms, or perhaps because our government was created from liberal principles from the start, and that our religion is so highly denominational that there is no objective "old system" to conserve.

The European use of these political terms could perhaps help sort out differences within Catholicism.

Liberal American Catholics are, of course, Catholic in name only. Many of these are indeed socialists, and one of the main goals of socialism is the elimination of religion, and certainly socialistic Catholics appear to be attempting just that. Most other so-called liberal Catholics are simply heretics. (Note: For the record, I do not consider myself a good Catholic).

Conservative American Catholics, who fully subscribe to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, practice an Evangelical Protestant form of worship, and who live typical American lifestyles, are of course liberal. The term "Neo-Conservative" is confusing, because it is a synonym for the term Neo-Liberal. (Note: For the record, my "lifestyle" certainly appears liberal; my claim to be a trad Catholic is very tenuous.)

Traditional Catholics have the best claim to the term conservative, especially if they live highly traditional lives.

Historically, we had Catholics who could be considered liberal, and those who could be considered conservative, who nevertheless remained orthodox, while we also had reformers and traditionalists who were heretics and schismatics.

We should remember that the virtue of liberality is a requirement for the canonization of a Saint. We should also remember that Tradition is one of the pillars of Catholicism. Liberality and Tradition can and must organically coexist in the Church, heresy must be converted or rooted out, and schism must be healed.


  1. Mark, glad you qualified the "no monarchist" comments.

    Glad to hear your man one. Mine lost (I wasn't campaigning for him, but I did hand out anti-cloning literature yesterday. It was hot).

    I was a political "conservative" in the sense of Russell Kirk for the longest time; I haven't described myself as conservative since at least before 2002. Likewise, I haven't described myself as a conservative Catholic since then either. I plainly state that I'm a reactionary or a counter-revolutionary when I'm asked, adding that "there's nothing left to conserve."

    And for the record, I don't consider myself a "good" Catholic, either.

  2. Curmudgeon,

    My friend won the primary, and he will be unopposed in the general election in November. However, he plans to continue campaigning anyway, and will put lots of his energy into defeating the cloning amendment.

    Actually, there are plenty of Throne and Altar conservatives among Canadian readers.