Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Anarchristianity: A Personal Synthesis of Many Influences

It's more important for me to resist the temptation to put off launching this blog another day than that its first post be memorable.

All right, then, to anticipate an obvious question: I've had the e-mail handle "anarchristian" since 1996. I have less reason than ever to disown it. My personalist theistic metaphysics and the anti-state libertarian ethics (I believe) it entails are encapsulated in this combination of two Greek roots, anarch- and christ-, whose juncture is the letter chi ("X").

It is my conviction that the theoretical dependency runs both ways: in the interest of achieving the deepest possible coherence (not merely logical consistency), a personalist theist ought to be a free-market anarchist and vice versa. The very thought of it will irritate some in both camps. I hope to provide a balm for them in future posts.

Murray Rothbard, among whose friends I was privileged to have been numbered for the last dozen years of his life, was the greatest libertarian theoretician of the 20th century. We must, however, not only continue to mine his work, but also to criticize it when necessary. One neglected area of criticism was his idiosyncratic use of the natural law tradition.

He had his reasons for uncoupling that tradition from the Christian personalist metaphysics that informed the mind of its classic writers, as though it were dispensable window-dressing. I have not, however, seen much interest on the part of Rothbardians in what those reasons were. It is one thing to say that one can rationally demonstrate a proposition without reference to God. It is quite another to be satisfied with a theoretical life that is agnostic about God at its foundations and in its superstructure and consign, however benignly and tolerantly, God-talk to the private sphere.

Rothbard was so satisfied, and that marked him as thoroughly modern. We are, however, living through "the fag-end of the Enlightenment," to employ the late Fr. Francis Canavan's charming phrase, and any theory that hopes to meet the issues of our day must either transcend modernity's dualisms or join the other flickering embers in history's ashtray.

More on this to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment