In Britain, the 1980s are still today remembered for the titanic political conflict which took place between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. The two epitomic figures of the blazing ideologies were Tony Benn and Margaret Thatcher (Our Lady of Finchley). Both were profoundly Christian people, and yet their individual crusades for true justice led them to be dichotomously opposed to one another in political terms. Tony Benn branded her "a great ideologue", but declared her underlying philosophical problem to be that, "She measured the price of everything, and the value of nothing." When asked if Thatcherism had left a nation divided, Our Lady said: "[The trade unions] were out to use their power to hold the nation to ransom... to stop power from getting to every house in the country; power, heat, and light, to every housewife, every child, every school every pensioner. You want division? You want conflict? You want hatred? There it was! It was that, which Thatcherism if you call it that, tried to stop." I shall now outline what I, Cosmas, perceive to be the Gospel underpinnings of Thatcherism, and why I think that Liberation Theology, even if it were resurrected in a changed form, would be intellectually flat.
The words of Lord Himself have always seemed a very good place to start when discussing matters of morality, so here indeed I shall start. In Mark's Gospel, the Lord is asked by a rich man what he must do to inherit life eternal. The man tells the Lord he has obeyed the commandments always, and yet the Lord tells him one thing is still lacking; he must sell his possessions and give to the poor. Jesus then declares, "How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God."
Jesus, Creator and Redeemer of the rich man, did not exercise any authoritarian power over him in order to bring about an objective good, and to take down any impediments to the entering of the kingdom of God. We must then ask, why not? A simple answer may be that He knew that the rich man would do as he had requested, so force was not necessary, but this is not a sufficient answer. In Luke's gospel, Christ gives us the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. It was Lazarus's love of wealth which ended up with him being cast into hell, and yet, Our Lord did not take the wealth from him.
The true answer is that the removal of will is an objective evil, and we cannot dilute this principle in any way. It is for this reason that the Lord allowed Eve to eat from the tree. Allowing Eve free will caused an objective evil, but it was truly necessary that this felix culpa was a product of Eve's choice.
The Bible teaches us then, that God would rather suffer an objectively bad situation, than take away a person's act of will. There remains no basis for the Christian to claim therefore, that it is morally acceptable for a government to take from a person beyond the amount necessary for the provision of public goods. It may not happen. Communism is a heresy because it takes this taxation principle to the extreme and says the individual may own nothing. Cardinal Ratzinger talks about how when politics tries to do the work of God it becomes demonic, and this is what he meant by such a seemingly dramatic statement. The fruit of our free choice is made clear to us by the Lord in Matthew 25:34-36: "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me."
As ever, I think I can prove beyond all reasonable doubt that God is on my side and not Damian's, but, as promised, I shall criticise the intellectual foundations of this left-wing nonsense.
The principle underlying tax and spend economics is that redistribution of income can cause a morally better world. Those who hunger can be given food, those who are sick can be made well. This is true. It assumes however that the redistributors are: capable of identifying want, incredibly fair, not corrupt, etc etc. The list of necessary qualities could be taken much further, and none of them would one be able to connect with Ed Miliband or David Cameron!
The wealth/income redistributors are known to be none of these things by history, hence the development of modern democracy. Surely this is better and nullifies my criticism? Alas, not. The (im)moral principle underlying democracy is that C is morally obliged to carry out the will of A and B simply because the outnumber him. This has led to indefensible outcomes such as the 50p tax rate and government ministers with a few more perks than your average 'servant'. With only two near identical major parties capable of forming a government, an uneven distribution of people per seat, an election once every four years and so on and so forth, there is very little case for even establishing that the British parliamentary system displays so much as the smallest correlation between the will of the majority and the economics which occur.
Bearing in mind all of these issues with any left-wing ideology (I'm counting the modern Conservative Party in there), and our Lord's words in the gospel, is there any room left for some kind of liberation theology in the Catholic Church today? I think the answer's a resounding 'no'.