On marriage, and its regulation by the state, I observe, that after we have reduced the state once again to its natural functions, and therefore its entitlement programmes to zero, and therefore its taxes to something people might voluntarily pay, we won’t have quite so many problems in family law. For in the absence of the state’s encumbering help, people won’t be able to afford to live so irresponsibly. However. …
This can only “work” (i.e. not involve mass starvation) if we have a society that is basically sane and stable, and can provide the welfare services the state is now supplying, once again through extended family and local outreach. And this we will not have without plain public recognition of Family and Church and Natural Order. (I mean, general recognition, but the state must reflect that general recognition.)
To my mind (which is going out in the snow in a moment with my body), we have totally, er, mucked the order of consensus we had before the hippie-commie-great-society revolution of the 1960s. Putting it back together will take a lot longer than busting it apart did.
Secular semi-libertarians — the actual rank-and-file of the conservative parties throughout the contemporary West — might be with me through a project to diminish the state, but as I plead, that would be irresponsible if we don’t have a plan to replace current state functions.
To, for instance, “de-regulate” marriage, when there is no other broadly recognized authority to regulate it, would be an example of “irresponsible.” I am not a libertarian, nor in principle even a “semi-libertarian.” I do want the state to be “involved” — but not so much in giving orders, rather in transmitting them wisely. That is to say, the state should be “involved” in obeying powers higher than itself, expressed in natural and divine law, and interpreting them in light of the diurnal.
The more thoughtful of “them” (the rank and file of my fellow rightwing loons) might be willing to tag along half way. Their problem, from my angle of view, is that while natural law can be rationally distinguished from divine revelation (yer Ten Commandments, &c), only Catholics or very “high church” Christians seem to get that (along with a few Orthodox or “extremely conservative” Jews). My explanation being that one must see at least some short distance into the “divine” to see where the frontier with “natural” is posted.
My problem is to enunciate the distinction to people who can’t possibly understand it.
In principle, the Church has always understood that only the natural law can apply to non-Catholics, and that it is morally wrong to molest them beyond, let’s say, a little holy teasing. (Or as the Mahometans say, in those poignant moments when they are forced into the defensive, “There can be no compulsion in religion.”)
In practice, I have often observed, Catholic politicians can go rogue. (And not only rogue “Pelosi,” but rogue “Torquemada,” which though it might be nearer to my taste, still lacks the wonted subtlety.)
So that in reconstructing “constitutions” we must not only recover what was often got right in the Middle Ages, but avoid from the experience of the last five hundred years what mediaeval statecraft often got wrong.
I’m not talking here, incidentally, about a Catholic takeover, which, I observe, is not imminent. I am talking about thinking through politics in light of my Catholic Christian being.