Plumb Lines

January 28, 2010

Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, Fecondite

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthew Schmitz @ 11:18 am

Via Schaengold, I thought these photos of pro-life French socialists were great:

Another one of their signs said, “Le capitalisme c’est la mort. La revolucion c’est la vie.” Stiff stuff, but it’s telling that these people look so exotic to American eyes.

The reason, I think, is that today America has no socially conservative left worthy of the name. Take magazines like Commonweal or Sojourners. They have many good people working for them, of course, but most of their prominent representatives–people like Jim Wallis and Doug Kmiec–are various kinds of abortion apologists. Instead of calling for revolution and opposing capitalistic abortion practices, they spend most of their time justifying the pro-big business, anti-life Democratic Party.

A few blue dogs are better: people like Bart Stupak but not, alas, my own senator, Ben Nelson. Maybe the closest to the ideal of these French marchers is Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, a Republican and leading pro-lifer whose leftist views on economic and fiscal issues prompted Tom Delay to strip him of his committee chair.

Leftist rhetoric is likely to become more important to the pro-life movement as things like fetal farming and the industrial use of embryos become more prevalent. One possibility I can see would be the Front Porch Republic spawning a new kind of Pro-life left, one that takes the Christian socialist critique of a William Morris or John Ruskin and weds it to today’s concerns about bailouts, abortion and motorcycle repair. Procreons sans entraves!

-Matthew Schmitz



  1. Actually, I suspect these people looked pretty exotic to French eyes, too. Perhaps more exotic.

    On the religious left in this country, as on the irrelgious right, some support Roe and others oppose it. Among those who oppose it, some are occasionally willing to vote for candidates who do not oppose Roe, just as the National Right to Life Committee is occasionally willing to support those who do (See Brown, Scott). Being a single-issue prolifer doesn’t always mean one is more serious about abortion; it may mean — it often does mean — that one is less serious about everything else.

    Speaking as a man of the left but not a liberal, I don’t see why there should be any more honor in being a prolife socialist or social democrat or Ruskinian than in being a run-of-the-mill prolife liberal. If liberals are wrong (and they often are), it’s not because their political philosophy prevents them from being genuinely prolife. We prolifers are a tolerant bunch. We’ll even make room for prolife capitalists.

    Speaking as a Commonweal editor, I think it’s unjust to call Douglas Kmiec an abortion apologist, just as it would be unjust to call the members of the National Right to Life Committee abortion apologists on the basis of their support for Senator-elect Scott Brown. Not all of the arguments Kmiec adduced in support of his endorsement of President Obama were good ones, but none of them warrant the accusation that he’s proabortion.

    Comment by Matthew Boudway — January 28, 2010 @ 7:04 pm

  2. Fantastique post M. Schmitz.

    I have a hard time imagining pro-life conservatives who would allow the importance of free markets to trump the sanctity of life in order to allow a fetal farmer to turn a profit without government intervention. Call this instinct “leftist” if you will, I would just call it a reasonable ranking of conservative priorities.

    My guess is that it is far easier to make room for Morris and Ruskin on the right than to make room for pro-life principles on the left, due to the American left’s systematic eradication of this position, resulting in the self-inflicted paucity you lament.

    Comment by millinerd — January 29, 2010 @ 2:04 am

  3. […] I’m grateful for the comments by Matt Milliner and  Commaonweal editor Matt Boudway on my previous post on pro-life socialists. The first point I’d like to address is Matt B.’s claim that I am wrong to call Doug […]

    Pingback by Doug Kmiec and the Catholic Left « Plumb Lines — January 29, 2010 @ 11:28 am

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