Writes Michael Sean Winters of the left-wing National Catholic Reporter:
James Hohmann, at Politico, makes the case that libertarianism is going mainstream. This is the scariest development in contemporary American politics and members of both political parties need to be on the alert, especially Catholics. You may find yourself agreeing with this or that policy, but the problem with libertarianism is at the root: When they say “human person,” they understand that differently from the way orthodox Christians do. This is why Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical Quadragesimo Ano[sic], referred to libertarian economics as a “poisoned spring.” When you get the fundamentals wrong, everything that flows from it tends to be wrong. Focusing only on individual freedom as the first and foremost goal of politics, and understanding the human person in a hyper-individualistic way, demeans everything we Catholics believe about the common good, human flourishing, and the range of human values in any given culture. Libertarianism may be going mainstream, it may not, but it is dangerous in the extreme.
Libertarianism holds exactly one political position: no one may initiate physical aggression against an innocent person. That’s it. From this insight that we ought not try to solve our problems through violence, libertarians are accused of being atomistic individualists, etc., even though this obviously does not follow from the nonaggression principle. To call this lazy thinking is, I suppose, the duty of charity, although I could think of many, far more appropriate words for it.
I have addressed the Pius XI matter, and the issue of economics and Catholic social teaching more generally, in my book The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy. (Gerard Casey discusses the matter here, urging me to be even tougher than I was already being.)