Catholic bishop, together with a professor of politics, investigates the problems of liberalism, the 'society of small tyrants'

Catholic Bishop Robert Barron described the problems with the modern understanding of freedom last week as a “society of petty tyrants” in an interview with Patrick Deneenprofessor of political science at the University of Notre Dame.

Barron and Deneen, during an interview broadcast Friday on Word on Fire's “Bishop Barron Presents,” contrasted a vision of freedom that seeks to remove any limitations on individuals with what they described as the old, Platonic and more Christian understanding of freedom.

“We've all become our own little tyrant,” Barron said. “Now there is not one tyrant. We are all a tyrant, because look, it is my will, it is my desire. And as long as I don't harm you, I have the freedom to do whatever I want.” And then you have a society of petty tyrants who have no sense of cohesion or a real common good.”

Bishop Barron stands on stage at his talk at Word on Fire Studios. (Word on Fire Ministries)

Philosophers from ancient Greece and the Christian tradition, Barron said, show that “the purpose of government is really to make us good, and it has something to do with virtue. And that freedom is not, as you say, simply doing what I want… It is actually a kind of disciplining of your desire to enable the attainment of virtue.”

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Deneen is the author of “Why Liberalism Failed,” which former President Obama praised in 2018. Although Obama disagreed with many of the book's conclusions, he said it offered “compelling insights into the loss of meaning and community felt by many in the West.” “

The book argues that liberalism failed because it succeeded, that the understanding of freedom as freedom from obstacles has led to the collapse of society at every level, including the family and social institutions.

At another point in the interview, Deneen denounced the disconnect between America's elite, those who have more political and economic power than most of the country, and ordinary citizens.

Patrick Deneen and Robert Barron

Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester interviewed political philosopher Patrick Deneen (Fox News)

“I think today's elites who emerge from institutions like mine mix very little with ordinary people,” Deneen said.

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That disconnect is partly related to the political divide, which populists condemn as elites versus “deplorables,” but “there's also a kind of open-minded form, which is not having any contact,” Deneen said.

It involves going “from the upper middle class to the upper class suburbs, to the best schools to Notre Dame, living with your college graduate friends in Brooklyn and then living in a rich suburb and retiring in Florida ', and never interacts with 'ordinary people'.

The solution to the divide and the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a few people could require structural change at some point, Deneen said.

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Deneen argued in his 2023 book, “Regime Change: Toward a Postliberal Future,” that America is moving toward a fundamental transformation. His book advocated a “peaceful but forceful overthrow of a corrupt and corrupt liberal ruling class and the creation of a post-liberal order in which existing political forms can remain in place, so long as a fundamentally different ethos informs those institutions and the workforce that populates the population.” . important offices and positions.”

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