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.

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