Several years ago I attended a dinner party in Paris held by my wife’s friend Sophie. As a functionaire (government worker) and based on an economic formula considering family size and income, she was allowed reduced price social housing. In this case a wonderful apartment along the Canal Saint-Martin. But it waits for another article to unravel the complexities of French socialism.
What I do intend to describe is a short conversation I had with Sophie. In fact, she is a philosophy teacher in a high school. This is another aspect of French culture that would be worth exploring, that all children pass through a philosophy class in high school. Anyway, I don’t remember the details now but certainly from talking to my wife, Sophie found out that I was a christian and libertarian. She questioned me in front of the other guests on the assumption of the incompatibility of these two beliefs. Of course, this is the common confusion of libertinism, essentially the freedom from moral or sexual restraints, and libertarianism. But also of Christianity as simply a set of moral and sexual restraints. My off the cuff response, paraphrased from an aging memory, went something like this:
Christianity and libertarianism are not incompatible at all. Jesus is the historical starting point for the respect of the individual and his freedom, that is for all individuals regardless of classification; thus beginning the process of converting slave to serf to citizen. Libertarianism is the political belief that reflects this respect for the individual person.
As I recall Sophie accepted this reply without rebuttal and I am sure this exchange was forgotten by all save myself.
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