Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another Reason not to Take Libertarians Seriously

Lew Rockwell on Anglicans:
There have been many arguments made against [Rowan Williams], but now his critics in Africa especially are making a libertarian one: that while the Pope is chosen by his private peers, the Anglican leader is chosen by the State.
Yes-- and what a disappointment that has turned out to be. Williams was plainly picked to be the man to safely lead the church into the pleasantly liberal future. Instead, he has forsworn liberal advocacy entirely, angering everyone who wants Canterbury to be a bully pulpit. Politicians do not always get the people they want in these appointments, as one saw in the Warren and Burger courts, to take American examples.

And as far as Anglican origins are concerned, it comes back to the same issue: the papacy of the time did not see itself as in any way distinct from politics. I shied from saying "state", as the development of such an entity was a feature of the era. But in any case the separation of the English church was not simply an act of Henrican willfulness, nor of theological innovation, but also a reaction to the manifest political and secular corruption of the papacy. Its current relative purity is a direct result of the forced powerlessness which its excesses brought upon itself.

Augustine's throne confers even less power than Peter's; but the African notion that Parliament stands in power above it is an argument of convenience. The GAFCONites are angry at Williams because he refuses to simply hand over governance of the church to their junta; but not only is the communion at stake, but his own church as well. The recent developments at General Synod had an ugly, American color to them. The Church of England has to be saved from the same forces that are destroying ECUSA. Williams is plainly not Parliament's agent; he represents a genuinely Anglican position that the GAFCONites assail in their rush to purity.

And Rockwell's remarks are a classic example of the failure of libertarians to understand how pervasive power is. It is anyone's guess who would have been chosen had the question been given to the English bishops rather than to Tony Blair; but Cantuar's meager authority in the communion was given to him by the communion, not by Parliament. Rockwell is apparently willing to take the GAFCONite complaints at face value, because they fit into his political theories; that is all.