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Preparing for Catholicism's Preeminent Role in the West after Democracy Collapses?

Kevin Vallier's analysis of Patrick Deneen's newfound Statism in this podcast episode is really interesting.

Deneen wrote Why Liberalism Failed. It got a lot of press, especially after Obama included it on his 2018 reading list. Obama liked his insights but disagreed with Deneen's conservative conclusions.

Enter Adrian Vermeule, an official from the Obama White House, who converted to Catholicism in 2016 and joined the Catholic integralist movement.

And apparently converted Deneen to the idea that the Deep State is fine and bureaucracy, noble, as well as convinced Deneen of the goodness of economic planning. That's apparently the gist of his book, Regime Change: Toward a Postliberal Future, in which he puts forth his "overall  project to commandeer the administrative state for leftist economic and social conservative ends."

But is that what's really driving Deneen: a facile faith in soft Socialism and the coercive governing apparatus required to support it?

Professor Vallier doubts it. He believes Deneen and Vermeule are true believers, twice: sincere Catholics and sincerely convinced that western democracy is going to fail. They think Catholicism is the only non-terrifying thing that will be capable of filling the resulting void and they're trying to mold public discourse in that direction.

But does Catholicism support Socialism? No, in fact, it strongly condemns it. But it also doesn't support capitalism and, in fact, has strongly condemned it for its excesses. So does Catholicism condemn Socialism outright and capitalism only for its excesses? I'm not sure, but I don't think so. Catholicism supports social welfare programs, which, I believe, ineluctably slide a society toward Socialism and the Big State, so I think it's safe to say that Catholicism only condemns Socialism for its excesses, hence Deneen and Vermeule can believe in the State and remain Catholics in good standing.

But are Deneen and Vermeule right? As a man who has stood in line at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for hours, I can most assuredly confirm that they are wrong: the administrative state is evil and can't be joined with Catholicism any more than a virgin can be joined with a whorehouse: one of them are going to get tainted.

I say the above half-jokingly. It represents my gut impression and my intellectual biases, but I remain intrigued by Deneen, Vermeule, and the whole integralist project.

Acton Line – The New Catholic Integralism
Listen here: From the Acton website: Kevin Vallier, political philosopher and associate professor of philosophy at Bowling Green State University, joins Dan Hugger to discuss Catholic Integralism and his forthcoming book All the Kingdoms of the World: On Radical Religious Alternatives to Liberalism, which publishes with Oxford University Press in September. What is Catholic Integralism and what is its relation to Catholic Social Teaching? What […]

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