Monday, December 30, 2013

Is Libertarianism a Christian Political Philosophy? A Response to Kenneth Gary Talbot

Is libertarianism (or anarchy, or whatever it is you want to call what I am promoting in the short term) a Christian political philosophy?

No, it is not.

Nothing—whether a model for society or a birthday cake—that does not have Jesus Christ at its center is Christian. Only what consciously glorifies Jesus as Son of God, ruler of the world, and giver of life is Christian. When I support “anarchy,” it is only as a strategy for the short term: my long-term goal is theocracy, by which I mean that Jesus will visibly rule the world according to biblical law for centuries—the millennium—before the consummation of all things at the second coming. I believe that during the millennium men will be ruled by God’s Word and law in their hearts, from the individual to the societal level, not from the top down by a putative omniscient, omnipotent state. My advocacy for anarchy and against statism is aimed at Christians who act as though they believe that God’s Kingdom can be brought about by top-down behavior modification by today’s secular powers rather than the heart-first transformation described in Romans 12:1–2.

So I’m not sure why Kenneth Gary Talbot bothered to post his article Libertarianism vs. Theocracy. Isn’t the question of whether libertarianism is a Christian political philosophy a no brainer? After all, many if not most Christians who sympathize with libertarianism have come to do so through the writings of Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and other atheists; just as no salt spring can give fresh water, atheist economists and social theorists cannot produce a Christian view of society.

Or is the question irrelevant after all? If liberals, conservatives, and libertarian anarchists are all human, we all share the desire to be as God, determining good and evil for ourselves independent of God’s will. As a sinful human, don’t I think my sins look horrible on others but OK on myself? Perhaps I need to be reminded that I can condone rebellion against God as easily as can my conservative and liberal brethren. So yes, the short answer is a no brainer, but the question is worth asking because I can easily forget that answer.

So let’s look at the question. Talbot seems to be asking it because he objects to secular libertarian sexual ethics.

Humanistic libertarianism … warps its own position too commonly by replacing the power of the state with the power of the individual to be lawless sexually; homosexual freedom has become basic to all too many libertarians.

We theonomic postmillennialists who presently identify ourselves with libertarianism do indeed need to deal with the conflict between the sexual ethics of God’s rule and libertarianism’s lack of aggression against sexual promiscuity.

The question is theological, not economic, sociological, or even political: how will sexual misconduct be dealt with in the millennium, and how do we get there from here? When Christ rules visibly through his people, what will be the legal status of prostitutes, others who engage in heterosexual activity outside of marriage, adulterers, and active homosexuals? Will Christians continue evangelizing them—which includes loving them, serving them, and calling them to leave their lives of sin—as we do gossips and alcoholics? Or is the truth that we have only been “loving such people as fellow sinners” for now because we’re not allowed to kill them, but once our grandchildren acquire sufficient political power, they will execute them? Or is it OK to promise not to use the sword on them and to woo them with the quality of our own lives?

I would suggest the latter, and I see an example of just that taking place in our own time. As I write, the “affordable health care” act is proving to be an embarrassment to all but its most ideological supporters: many who supported it or took a “wait and see” attitude are being unpleasantly surprised by their health insurance costs becoming unaffordable. Meantime Christian health-share organizations like Samaritan Ministries and Christian Care  are seeing membership growth beyond anything they had anticipated. These two groups require their members to be members in good standing of Bible-preaching churches; an official of Samaritan Ministries told me in personal correspondence that it is the Christian character of SM members and even more importantly the element of prayer that makes SM work. In his view others might start organizations with similar structures—SM would be happy to help them do so—but they will be less effective.

What is now happening in health care could be expanded to protection of property, education, transportation, and every other aspect of daily life: Christians “building better mousetraps,” some of which benefit only Christian members, others open to the public, some even to known sexual deviants. I see no reason why those institutions open only to church members in good standing could not be a cut above those open to nonbelievers by virtue of the blessing of God on his covenant with his people.

If we will not be commanded in the millennium to execute sexual deviants—and I think this possibility is worth a serious look—I see nothing that would prevent sexual deviants from starting their own health-share and other organizations. It would then be up to us to build the better organizations that deviants would be willing to give up their deviance to join. Their ability to come to Christ and so qualify to join would be up to God, but I would expect him to be able to work through us better if we were offering to serve them than if we were threatening to kill them.

The only alternative I see is to acknowledge publicly that God hates fags and adulterers implacably, and the proper way to “evangelize” them is to let them know that if we ever gain political power, we will use the omniscient, omnipotent surveillance-police state to pursue them to the ends of the earth and kill them. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but even if top-down, command-and-control, might-makes-right, end-justifies-the-means government hadn’t proven itself much worse than any social evil it supposedly exists to oppose, it seems to me I’ve got enough of my own sins to deal with that I don’t have time to hound others to death for theirs.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Christmas Truce: What a Joke!

You know the story of the Christmas truce: on Christmas Eve, 1914, German troops started celebrating Christmas. The British joined in, eventually the trenches emptied, and for more than twenty-four hours nationality took second place to shared humanity. Eventually, however, "sanity" was restored, and the boys went back to shooting at each other.
A sympathetic account of the incident is here.
The story of the Christmas truce is about as heart wrenching as it gets. Trenches on both sides were full of men who had been conscripted -- i.e., they were slaves -- on the basis of lies: not only "you'll be home by Christmas" but "the war to end all wars" and "our nation is in mortal danger." It was the father of lies, not God, that had those men in those trenches.
Further, commanding officers on both sides were under orders to shoot "deserters" -- anyone who remained in the trenches when orders were given to attack. I don't know about you, but I'm guessing that when those guys got out of the trenches, they were shooting to protect their lives -- Mom, apple pie, and country were far behind just staying alive -- and remembering the Christmas truce as they shot, hoping that the guys shooting at them felt the same way.
"Shoot first and ask questions later" is the modus operandi of any military power that thinks it can get away with it. If power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, there is no clearer symptom than the tendency of stay-at-home warmongers to send other people's kids off to war instead of working things out diplomatically.
The author of the article linked to above doesn't state the obvious conclusion to the first part of the article: Government destroyed the peace of Christmas. The war went on for almost four more years, and the horrific number of deaths he mentions mostly took place after the Christmas truce.
A hodgepodge of cultural and religious values provides no basis for law – except the raw power of the pre-Christian past.
All Americans have a huge stake in Christianity. Whether or not we are individually believers in Christ, we are beneficiaries of the moral doctrine that has curbed power and protected the weak. Power is the horse ridden by evil. In the 20th century the horse was ridden hard, and the 21st century shows an increase in pace. Millions of people were exterminated in the 20th century by National Socialists in Germany and by Soviet and Chinese communists simply because they were members of a race or class that had been demonized by intellectuals and political authority [Emphasis mine - HW]. In the beginning years of the 21st century hundreds of thousands of Muslims in seven countries have already been murdered and millions displaced, because their religion does not submit to Washington’s hegemony.
Power that is secularized and cut free of civilizing traditions is not limited by moral and religious scruples. V.I. Lenin made this clear when he defined the meaning of his dictatorship as “unlimited power, resting directly on force, not limited by anything.” Washington’s drive for hegemony over US citizens and the rest of the world is based entirely on the exercise of force and is resurrecting unaccountable power.
If we fly the flag of raw, unaccountable power in our sanctuaries, we can expect "the republic for which it stands" to obliterate our peacemaking efforts as the Brits and Germans made a mockery of the Christmas truce.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Government: The End of Basic Human Decency

Would you consider me a good neighbor if I were to come into your house and tell you that you had 105 days to account for every dollar you had had anything to do with for the last year or I would break into your house in the middle of the night and haul you off to a cage?
Under what conditions would you want me asking you how much money you made last year and what you did with it?
Yet this is how government funds its activities every January first: forcing its agents into others’ private lives the way no good neighbor would think of doing, demanding answers that will be checked by April 15.
What good could government possibly do that would make up for this breach of human decency? And if the end could never justify this means, what would?
How does treating one’s neighbor this way differ from enslaving him? How much of my tangible assets and my privacy and my freedom do I have to lose before I am a slave? If someone else decides where the line is, am I not thereby already his slave?
Now we have our tax money—money the government extorts from us after asking us questions no decent person would ask us—going to have our rulers watch absolutely everything we do. As one commenter put it, if this is what they tell us they’re doing, what are they doing that they’re not telling us about? How long before we are being watched in the shower?
I have a hard enough time understanding how people who resent the idea that a supreme being would watch everything they do would be OK with fellow mortals doing the same thing. I find it incomprehensible that Christians would support these violations of human decency in the name of him who commands us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Of Policemen and Court Stenographers

Take a quick look at these articles from my local newspaper. Do you notice anything interesting about them?
I do.
In the first article I count sixteen instances where either the police or the affidavit they filed are cited, and eighteen in the second article. I don’t see one instance in either article where the defendants or other eyewitnesses are given an opportunity to present their side of the story. Why is this?
Do the defendants have any right to be heard? I hear you say no, a human being was beaten. He’s in the hospital and unable to work. There is no doubt who beat him. So who cares what the defendants have to say? This reminds me of a famous trial from long ago:
The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked.  "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" They all condemned him as worthy of death. (Mark 14:63-64)
I’m not equating a bunch of inebriates with the sinless Son of God, but isn’t there a biblical principle being violated here when only one side of the story is presented?
The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. (Prov 18:17)
Though nowhere stated in so many words in Scripture, one can hardly argue with the stated custom of the Romans:
It is not the custom of the Romans to hand over any man before the accused meets his accusers face to face and has an opportunity to make his defense against the charges. (Acts 25:16)
So why is there no interest shown in the other side of the story in Lansdale’s newspaper of record?
OK, you say, but this is a newspaper article, not a court of law.
To which I reply, how many people will bother to find out how the defendants respond in the court trial? How much of their testimony will The Reporter include in its account? If the paper gives thirty-four times as much weight to the policemen’s testimony that it gives to the defendants’, will the defendants have been given a fair trial in the court of public opinion? If not, does it matter?
I heard about this assault a few minutes after a Christian brother told me that on Sunday morning as he was driving to a worship service he was detained by a policeman, who ran his paperwork through the system and then told him he needed to slow down.
Let’s take a look at this all-too-common situation. He was traveling on an almost empty road, one recently opened and so well paved, which could easily and safely accommodate a lone car at 70 mph. My miscreant brother was doing something in the 50s, inconveniencing absolutely no one, putting absolutely no one in danger, and so causing no one any harm.
Yet he was stopped and detained by a policeman. While he was allowed to continue having lost only his time, had he not been properly obsequious, he would have been given a ticket.
Put another way, a man whose salary is extracted from taxes and who, as a member of a labor union, can go on strike and prevent anyone from providing what true service he does provide for less payment (and does so at all times by virtue of taxing money from people who might otherwise use that money to buy the services of another), has the discretionary power (and the approval of society) to extort money from people who have not endangered or even inconvenienced, let alone injured, anyone.
You say the government owns the roads and so can dictate the terms under which people use them. To which I reply that that “ownership” is a function of taxation, eminent domain, and armed enforcement, which are what they are: violations of the property rights of the less powerful by the more powerful. If you say that the more of these things a society has the better off it is, then we have no basis for conversation: your side is winning, and I hope you enjoy your victory. But if God agrees with you, I would say heaven will be better than hell only because it lacks flames that do not consume: at least “our God is a consuming fire.”
Let’s take the notion of broad discretionary police power over those who have harmed no one to the incident at the bar, even the official version of which shows the dangerous level of injustice our society is willing to tolerate.
In act one, Richard Noboa’s car “nearly hit a Lansdale police car” as he backed out of the bar’s parking lot; had the police car belonged instead to a Mundane, the driver would probably have considered Noboa a jerk and left it at that. But being policemen, the occupants of the car—I find it strange, though consistent with propaganda practice, that they are never named, though the “perps” are—took it upon themselves to chase down the driver and detain him. That a man with glassy eyes and a down zipper would have been driving with less than his full skill set is true, but it is also statistically probable that he would have made it home without causing an accident.
In act two, the policemen conduct a sobriety test, which Noboa fails. Having established that Noboa was in no shape to drive, the police could have gone to the bar and urged members of his family to drive him home. One of the policemen could have offered to drive the car himself. Or they could have confiscated the car keys and either given them to someone who could pass the sobriety test or taken them to the police station five blocks away and promised to give them back to Noboa when he was sober. These are but three of the options a Mundane could have exercised.
Instead, in act three, they “attempted to place Richard Noboa inside the vehicle.” Did they do so calmly and gently? Or, knowing they could do so with impunity, did they “give the goddamn motherfucking spic what he has coming to him”? I don’t know. But is there no reason to ask if the beating were a reasonable, if not excusable, response to the treatment Richard Noboa was undergoing? Unfortunately, our intrepid reporter Michael Goldberg doesn’t tell us the “perps’” side of the story, so unless we hunt them down, we are left to conclude that it doesn’t matter what they were thinking—they beat up a police officer.
Again, tax-fed labor union members in uniform abduct a man who has to that point not harmed anyone, presumably to begin a process that will cost that man thousands of dollars and time in jail. There is good reason to at least ask whether they were treating the man decently at the time. The course of action they were taking, however prescribed by law it may be, was more violent than others that were available to them (and that would have been the only options available to Mundanes).
Add to this the editorial slant of The Reporter, which always favors big government: the police are part of the government, and what they say is not to be questioned. We need them today, so the saying goes, to protect us from the likes of Richard Noboa; we need to reinforce their legitimacy in cases like this because they will need popular support when they go after gun owners, hemp growers, Bible thumpers, or whoever the next bogeyman is.
And their version of reality is not to be questioned. This doesn’t concern you?
It may well be that the men who beat the policeman attacked without provocation. Certainly the Noboa family gives little evidence of being good neighbors. If so, they deserve to make restitution for his injuries, his medical care, and his time off work. But don’t bet that that will be their punishment: expect rather that the taxpayers will be forced to pay to incarcerate the assailants as well as to recondition the policeman. That is, the best we can expect from the current “justice” system is injustice. More important, though, is the likelihood that innocent people have been, are currently, and in the future will be railroaded into similar “convictions,” first in the court of public opinion and later in the “real courts.” (Can you say, “Jim Crow”?)
Note that we already have tax-paid agents—that is, agents whom we have no option to not pay—whose job it is to arrest people whose actions have harmed no one: not only those who drive illegally but those who grow certain plants (including otherwise legal plants), or produce or trade or consume certain substances (again including otherwise legal substances), or visit certain voluntarily produced Web sites. If “what’s yours is yours” does not operate in those cases, what logic or precedent stops those agents from arresting people who own, read, or teach from the Bible?
Once such people are arrested, the “journalists” of the mainstream media will dutifully parrot what the police tell them, rarely if ever allowing the accused to defend themselves. Then the court system will sentence them to unbiblical punishments. And when, dear brother in Christ, it comes to be your turn, your neighbors will read the paper’s one-sided account, nod in agreement, and turn to the sports page.
The famous anti-Christian skeptic H. L. Mencken wrote, “The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”
I have nothing good to say about a man who would drive drunk. But I find the system supposedly designed to protect us from such as him to be much more dangerous in the long term.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Anarchy Versus Democracy and Chaos in One Easy Lesson

The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel,
who overpowered him.
So the land had peace for forty years,
until Othniel son of Kenaz died. (Jdg 3:10-11)
After Othniel overpowered the Arameans, the land had forty years of peace. There was no king in Israel, so it wasn’t a monarchy. There was no ruling clique, so it wasn’t an oligarchy. The rich had no special privilege (i.e., “private law”), so it wasn’t a plutarchy.
That leaves anarchy as the only meaningful description of the social structure of Israel during those forty years of peace.
Today’s US Christians consider anarchy a dirty word, a metonym for chaos because of the belief that where there is anarchy there is by necessity chaos. Yet the Bible passage in the epigraph states just the opposite.
Instead of anarchy, my brethren pursue democracy or a republic: a democratic republic truly ruled by “we, the people”; a people’s democratic republic. (Where have I heard that phrase before?)
I have lived for sixty years and have never seen a forty-year period of peace, or even a ten-year period of peace. Instead, for every one of those years the US has been on war footing: I was born the year the Korean War “ended” with a truce; yet for every year of my entire life US soldiers have been dying in the border area between the two Koreas. Moreover, President Truman sent “advisors” to Vietnam in 1950, and the US was at war there until 1975. In 1979 the US embassy and spy station in Tehran was taken over, and the nation was on tenterhooks until Inauguration Day 1981. In the 1980s the US was supporting Saddam’s Iraq in its war against Iran, after which the US turned on Iraq. The late 1990s brought US involvement in the war in Kosovo, and the twenty-first century has been entirely consumed with the Global War on Terror.
War and democracy seem to be inextricably linked. President Wilson rallied the nation into a war that he promised would “make the world safe for democracy” but instead set the table for the Bolshevik revolution, the starvation of the Kulaks, the Rape of Nanking, the Korean “comfort women,” two horrific battle theaters, the Holocaust, the Iron Curtain, and the Cultural Revolution. Maybe that was what Wilson meant.
In short, if you want chaos, reach for democracy. If you want peace in the land for forty years, anarchy is your best bet.