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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Ratchet Phenomenon

Diogenes has an excellent post on the "ratchet phenomenon" of liberalism and its effect on both the world and Catholicism. He explains:

"A ratchet is a device that permits a wheel to rotate in one direction only. The mechanism allows change, but it can only "advance." This advance has been mythologized by the Left as a synonym of improvement (preposterously, since you can advance toward calamity as well as toward triumph). Yet the Lefties designed the Social Change Machine we all use -- conservatives as well as liberals -- and political "progress" (or "moving forward," or "advance") has come to mean change in the direction built into the mechanism."

Diogenes provides several examples of the ratchet phenomenon. While reading John Allen's column over the weekend, I thought of another. The U.S. Bishop's are currently debating whether to accept a revised, but more traditional, translation of the Mass. (The revision is requested by the Vatican in Liturgiam Authenticam). 56% of the bishops polled prefer not making the change. Cardinal George explained this result: "
There are those who have been quite critical of the [older] translation, but who are now saying that we don't want to disturb the people, especially in the situation of weakened episcopal authority we have now."

In other words, liberal bishops who had no qualms about "disturbing the people" with post-Vatican II changes, now don't want to "disturb the people" with further change. Of course, the proposed change this time is not a liberal proposal, but a traditional one.

The ratchet phenomenon.

Another obvious example of the ratchet phenomenon is liberals' selective love for stare decisis. After modernizing the law to suit their ideology, liberals declare that stare decisis prevents their favorite Supreme Court decisions from ever being overturned. This is liberals' primary defense these days of Roe v. Wade. You'll notice, however, that stare decisis did not prevent the liberals on the Court from overturning Bowers v. Hardwick when it declared in Lawrence v. Texas that states may not criminalize sodomy. Once the liberal changes to the law have been made (as with abortion and sodomy), however, the ratchet phenomenon once again comes into play in an attempt to prevent those changes from ever being reversed.