The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, an ultra-traditionalist Catholic group that yearns for the creation of an “organic Christian society” modeled on feudalism, said in an online post on Tuesday that the uncivil culture war that is “especially vicious now over the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy” is grounded in Kennedy’s “distorted” view of individual liberty.
TFP’s John Horvat cited a passage from Kennedy’s ruling in the 1992 Casey decision, in which the court upheld Roe v. Wade’s recognition of a woman’s right to choose and abortion while also upholding restrictions on the exercise of that right: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
For Horvat, that Kennedy passage “codified the sixties’ ethos that said individuals should do-their-own-thing.” Said Horvat, “This anything-goes concept of liberty has shattered America.”
“Liberalism’s radical agenda has hollowed out the unifying principles, intermediary institutions and above all the religious convictions that give meaning and purpose to life,” wrote Horvat. “It has atomized society and minimized the influence of leaders and true elites. The result is the present state of disillusionment and fragmentation.”
The solution as Horvat sees it: a return to the Christian civilization of an earlier time, a theme explored in his book, “A Return to Order.”
In his recent column Horvat said that there have always been a “significant number of Americans” who resist America as “a land of modernity, immorality and frenzied lifestyles”:
These Americans do not feel comfortable in this stressful, immoral and inorganic world. They yearn for calmer times with a more reflective pace of life. They even admire, with distant longings, the remnants of a Christian civilization they never knew.
These Americans have vague Christian notions of God, family and country for which they are willing to sacrifice. They acknowledge God’s blessings and grieve for the nation. They nurture a selfless love for America, especially in times of crisis. Indeed, liberals fear this kind of American much more than the fifties model that shares their philosophy.
The real uncivil war must involve these unarticulated Americans that will play an ever greater role in the nation’s future.
The focus of the debate cannot be the shattered America embracing variations of Kennedy’s liberty from which nothing can be expected. It must instead be oriented toward that Christian America from which all is possible.