IntegraLeft

JMJ

CATHOLIC TWITTER HAS BEEN going over (rehashing?) what seems to be an old argument this week:

To be honest, I don’t know. This argument is going on in a column on my Tweetdeck called “I’m learning” into which I throw everyone that’s arguing about politics so that I can learn more about a Catholic approach to politics. What I’m clear on so far is that the argument that we must vote for Trump is specious – if not heretical – since Church teaching clearly says otherwise:

What I am not clear on, however, is this idea that in order to support integralism I must be fascist. Actually, this all seems to be a problem with history. The church today seems to have a problem with history.

For example: while many missionaries of the last two centuries brought many souls to Christ they also participated in political oppression. The church seems to be incapable of recognizing this. St Junipero Serra defended indigenous people from the Spanish military and brought them to Christ, it is true. But he also kidnapped them to keep them “safe”. And his kidnapping was part of the Spanish Empire’s way of colonizing this part of the world. Missions helped clear the land so that the military could move in and distribute the uninhabited property to the wealthy Spaniards. Yes, St Junipero kept folks safe. But he, himself, was part of the machine that was making the environment unsafe for the indigenous persons. The Catholic Church has a problem admitting this.

Another example is Christopher Columbus, who likewise set up a system that enslaved indigenous people while talking piously about their salvation. I have no doubt that he in fact worked and even prayed for their salvation. But he also enslaved and oppressed them. He was part of the machine that did this. Again, the Catholic church has trouble admitting this.

The fact that both of these men are not only Catholics but celebrated American forebears, creates a conflict of history, hagiography, and political mythology that Modern Catholics refuse to untangle.

I think the same is true with Integralism. There is a history. That does not define our present however, nor our future.

At its root, Integralism is simply the idea that the state must be subject to the final end of man which is his salvation.

Catholic Integralism is a tradition of thought that, rejecting the liberal separation of politics from concern with the end of human life, holds that political rule must order man to his final goal. Since, however, man has both a temporal and an eternal end, integralism holds that there are two powers that rule him: a temporal power and a spiritual power. And since man’s temporal end is subordinated to his eternal end, the temporal power must be subordinated to the spiritual power.

Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist.

Anything the state says which is in conflict with man’s salvation is null and void. The best state would be the state which cooperates with the church to the final end of man. Some Integralists have argued in support of a fascist state. I recognize that and it would be a lie to say otherwise. Does that, however, mean that all Integralists must be fascist? I refuse to accept that premise. Any theorist that says this or that political or economic theory will help us forward Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is making an Integralist argument if he is saying this is for man’s salvation.

So I argue that a person who is claiming socialism is more in line with the church’s teaching than capitalism is essentially making an integralist argument.

Further a Catholic Integralist could argue that while the church should rule over the state in terms of political authority, the economy of that state should be Socialist, for example. I think we are limiting our political imagination when we accuse one side or the other would being the end-all and be-all of a certain political stripe. Does the DSA exhaust all possible options for Socialism? Does the “absolute Divine-Right monarchy” of a Catholic kingdom require a capitalist economy? I don’t think so. I wonder what a socialist monarchy would look like. In fact, since Pharaoh owned all of Egypt was not Egypt simply an unjust socialism?

Is not the demand to use Catholic Social Action to reform society a Catholic Integralist request? Is not the Catholic Worker Movement Integralist at heart?

Is there something I’m missing? I don’t know the answers that’s why this is is par of I’m learning. You’re welcome conversation in the comments below or on Twitter or on the blog’s Facebook page.

Author: Huw Richardson

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He has worked in tech (mostly) since 1999 and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.