Liberalism Is a Rival Religion, Not a Neutral Arbiter Among Religions, Part X

The great Patrick Deneen again:

The "radical" school rejects the view that Catholicism and liberal democracy are fundamentally compatible. Rather, liberalism cannot be understood to be merely neutral and ultimately tolerant toward (and even potentially benefitting from) Catholicism. Rather, liberalism is premised on a contrary view of human nature (and even a competing theology) to Catholicism. Liberalism holds that human beings are essentially separate, sovereign selves who will cooperate based upon grounds of utility. According to this view, liberalism is not a "shell" philosophy that allows a thousand flowers to bloom. Rather, liberalism is constituted by a substantive set of philosophical commitments that are deeply contrary to the basic beliefs of Catholicism, among which (Catholics hold) are the belief that we are by nature relational, social and political creatures; that social units like the family, community and Church are "natural," not merely the result of individuals contracting temporary arrangements; that liberty is not a condition in which we experience the absence of constraint, but the exercise of self-limitation; and that both the "social" realm and the economic realm must be governed by a thick set of moral norms, above all, self-limitation and virtue.


  1. Presumably, the "radical" liberalism school would also reject their compatibility on this basis as well in which Catholics believe liberty only exists to demonstrate conformance and obedience, caricature being available to both.

    1. Wow, I wish I had some idea what you just said!

  2. It has become obvious that I need to read this Patrick Deenan! It's awesome that he contrasts liberalism with Catholicism, but I suppose that it is a natural thing to do given how contrary they are in their understanding of the individual.

    Plus, I'm a Catholic, so there you go. =) Thanks for another great suggestion, Gene!

  3. I'm not sure I agree with the dichotomy, which seems a bit off to me, but this seems relevant, and not flattering to the 'liberal' side.


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