On Liberalism and the Fall of the Empire
As conservatives continue to lament the court decision on same-sex marriage, we hear ever more desperate cries of doom and gloom. And none are crying louder than Catholic officials who are trying to paint the crumbling of their church as the destruction of America itself. This article by Fr. Dwight Longnecker was cited by Catholic commenter planks length in my previous post on this topic.
Longnecker plaintively moans:
Hello America! One of the most severe warnings that has come out to last week’s Supreme Court ruling was that from Justices Roberts and Scalia who observed that the will of the American people had been usurped by a handful of non elected lawyers.They are referring, of course, to the majority in the Supreme court who affirmed equality for all couples, including same-sex, in their ability to marry in the USA. And what of the will of the people? It seems that a solid majority of Americans favor this decision. So who really wants to usurp the will of the people? It is Roberts and Scalia who are in the minority, both in the Supreme Court, and of the population in general. But the most surprising thing about this statement is that any constitutional scholar should understand that the constitution is intended, at least in part, to protect the rights of all people against the "tyranny of the majority". It is not the job of the Supreme Court to uphold the will of the people, but to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans.
But in this case, it appears that a minority of justices on the Supreme Court who speak on behalf of a minority of the people would like to usurp our freedom and impose their will, and their religious beliefs, on the rest of us, in violation of the constitution that they are supposed to uphold. Shameful.
Longnecker goes on to quote an unnamed contributor who rails against the liberalism that he thinks is at the heart of all the evil that befalls us today.
The term “liberal” was taken from Liber Pater (the free Father) Roman deity of viticulture and wine; fertility and freedom. Liber Pater was the patron deity of Rome’s plebeians.and is synonymous with the Greek Dionysus/Bacchus.This guy has no idea what he's talking about. Liberalism was not named after any Roman god, and it has nothing to do with the debauchery of Bacchus. This article will provide a better view of liberalism, and it includes the etymology of the word. And despite the right-wing rantings of Scalia, Roberts, and their conservative followers, it is liberalism that seeks to free people from capricious dictates of unelected government. A central principle of liberalism is that government should be by the consent of the governed.
In Italy during the 2nd Century this cult’s orgiastic rites, and its excesses were so infamous that the senate even tried to ban it.
Liberals today are the modern plebs, and is based both politically/socially on a philosophy advocating the freedom of the individuals including intoxication;abundance, and sexual gratification which is hedonism, ie. the seeking of pleasure.
Nor was it the Roman plebeians who were noted for their debauchery. That was more common among the upper-class patricians, who had the money to spend their time in drunken parties and orgies, while the plebes worked hard for a meager living and lived in squalor. But Longnecker isn't going to let facts get in the way of his efforts to cast the problems of the world in the light of his conservative views.
Longnecker goes on to blame the fall of the Roman empire on the liberals who practiced such evils as homosexuality, pederasty, and abortion. It may be common practice among right wing religious zealots to blame liberals for every bad thing that happens, but perhaps he should learn some history if he wants anyone to believe him. And perhaps he should take note of the fact that the fall of Rome was coincident with the rise of Christianity. Now I wouldn't be so bold as to claim that Christianity was the only reason for the fall of Rome, the way Loncnecker blames it primarily on liberals, but it is something that he should be aware of as he re-writes the history of the world to fit his conservative viewpoint.
He rounds up his revisionist rant by pointing out supposed similarities in modern society to the supposed liberalism of Rome that caused its destruction. It is the decline in family values, abortion, and homosexuality that will be the undoing of America, he warns. And let's not forget immigration. As if the barbarian invasions of Rome were anything like the equivalent of Latinos looking for jobs. He ends by saying "Those who ignore the tragedies of history are bound to repeat them." Here's some news for the good friar: You, sir, are woefully ignorant of history.
It was the spirit of liberalism that guided the founding of the USA. It was the liberal policies of the 20th century that made the US the greatest economic power in history. It was the rise of conservatism toward the end of the 20th century that ushered in the decades-long decline that we have witnessed since then. What really bothers Longnecker is that his church is losing its grip on power and influence. That's the falling empire that causes him so much grief. Liberalism is not the enemy of society, it is the liberator. And the liberation of society comes at the expense of the church.