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One of the key principles of Catholic Social Teaching is the principle of subsidiarity. In this article on the Distributist Review web site, Richard Gallenstein argues that Libertarian Catholics sometimes erroneously equate “subsidiarity” with “small government.”

Why Libertarians Are Wrong About Subsidiarity Part I

By / 1 October 2012
I find it rather annoying when libertarian Catholic friends of mine get so excited when I say that I know about subsidiarity. It is kind of insulting when they jump on the opportunity to tell me that their economic/political system is the one that upholds subsidiarity the best. Libertarians like to talk about subsidiarity because they think that it automatically and necessarily means small government which they have a pre-conceived ideological dedication to. An ideology that has its roots firmly planted in the enlightenment, not in Catholicism. So they take it, distort it, and thus try to jam the square peg of libertarianism into the round hole of Catholicism. They distort it because they take the definition and they interpret it with two of their previously held (and held higher I might add) ideologies, which are: Capitalism, as understood in the Austrian/Chicago schools of economics, is the best economic system (or is consistent with Catholic Social Teaching), and government is intrinsically bad and has no role in civil society. Here I will refute the first assumption by showing that when we remove the first assumption and replace it with Catholic teaching, we get a very different interpretation of subsidiarity. I will use regulation of business as a helpful example and context for this discussion.  …

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