Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Theology Of Libertarianism, OR “On The Origin of the Speci… …al Interests.”

Last September NPR ran a tribute to Charles Darwin on the celebration of his 200th birthday. I greatly appreciate his work and the scientific nature of his studies. He was a brilliant man and I believe he was a non-biased scientist. He himself was amazed by the impact of his book “On the Origin of the Species.” It seems to me that he was just as surprised as others by his conclusions. I am not going to vilify him. He is a fact of history.
The tribute interested me as they described the levels of impact his publication had on British/Western culture. I read that Darwin was “reluctant to publish” because of the way he thought it would negatively influence the status quo of the Church/State relationship in England. The biggest surprise being that he was buried in Westminster Abbey, right next to Sir Isaac Newton. Three years before, when I saw that stone in Westminster Abbey, I wondered: “just why he would be buried here? Didn’t he offend the Church?” Apparently not. There was a hint to why in the NPR account as they showed how his theory of the survival of the fittest resonated with the British Culture on a subconscious level.
In my opinion, Westminster Abbey is not focused on worshiping the God of the Bible. Although, there is a recent addition directly above  the Western Entrance (the primary entrance) of the abbey that has statues of 20th Century martyrs. One is not a Christian at all. One is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and one is a woman. Kudos for that! But that is not what the Abbey seems to be about. In my opinion, it is a tribute to, and and attempt at justifying, British Imperialism “in the name of Christ.” The oldest tomb is of King Edward. It dates back to the 11th Century. King Edward, The Confessor’s legacy was as a Saxon, displacing the indigenous population with brute force. To me, Westminster Abbey proclaims “The Doctrine of the Empire” not “the gospel of the Kingdom.” Luke 4:18-19 explains The good news of the Kingdom. They killed Jesus for preaching this message.
So, the tribute confirmed a suspicion that I had been researching since I went to Westminster Abbey. I contacted NPR and asked the question; “Did the concept of (Social) Darwinism resonate with the Imperialistic, Colonial mindset of the British Empire? Did it justify Imperialism?” (No answer).
In the 5th edition, Darwin changed the title of his work to: “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured (sic) Races in the Struggle for Life.
You know where that went. The title change tells it all. The Eugenics and Aryan propaganda of the Hitler regime was based on the concept of Social Darwinism, the concept that society also evolved. If you want to be truly alarmed, follow this link and the links at the end of it. You will see how the Aryan race ideology is resurfacing in the American so called white identity movement and its ties to Tea Party people. (But wait until after you finish this.) It will scare you as to where the current political rhetoric is heading.
To be fair, John Hoogland does discuss the evolution of altruism as a benefit from natural selection. But the fact is, it has never been played out in human society. Human society has almost always denigrated to the justification of the survival of the fittest. It is humanity in its worse context.
So, the theology behind Libertarianism is Social Darwinism. if you want to imagine how it plays out, read Robert Heinlein’s science fiction series. Read especially “Friday” and “The Cat who walks through walls.” Or, some more recent books from the Political Science Fiction genre: William Z. Williamson: Freehold. Libertarianism contradicts NT Christianity in the fact that it sides with the Pharisee who says to Jesus: And just who is my neighbor?” (The parable of the Good Samaritan.)
I posit this question to believers: How can we reject NT Christianity in favor of a political system that justifies ignoring the plight of the poor? When Paul sought to reconcile his gospel to the Gentiles with the Gospel to the Jewish people, and the Jewish leaders of the Christian faith, didn’t they say only one important thing: “Remember the poor.” Libertarianism believes that the free market will always correct itself. (Of course, it has no explanation for slavery, the need for unions, child labor laws etc.) The free market cannot be trusted. The free market creates Oligarchies and Monopolies that control the supply and demand of a society. Just look at the $5 per gallon gas prices in 2008 and Sub-prime mortgages scandals (I know they say the Democrats forced them to lend to the poor –there is a clinical term for that).
The fact is, we need a government big enough to protect us from special interests whose conscience is “if it is good for me, then it is good, regardless of how it affects others.” I love the principles of business given in Proverbs. You can sum it up in one statement: “Just business practices must be a “win-win” for both parties.
Competition in the market place does drive us to excel. But when competition is designed to destroy the other, it is harmful. Let business compete ethically by doing good, by doing better, by improving product, not by figuring out ways to control the market for ourselves or harm the competition, the poor, the planet, the third world and the infidels.
To end this rant. Isn’t it ironic that the Conservative right, citing the Christian religion, uses Darwin to justify their politics? Isn’t it sad that these politics are so unlike the teachings of Christ?
People who love me dearly are concerned that I am leaving Christ behind in my advocacy on behalf of the poor. I want to remind everyone that Jesus spent 3 days redeeming humanity so that they can be reconciled back into God’s family and 3 years teaching the religious folk to be kind to the poor and marginalized. Which is more important to Jesus? Neither. The good news must include both. Remember, Jesus gave His life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, but THEY TOOK HIS LIFE to silence Him because He confronted their abuse of the poor.
So ask yourself: Do you believe in the Good News (Gospel) of the Kingdom of God, or do you believe in the Doctrine of the Empire?


Jim Wetzel said...

"Remember the poor." So far, so good.

Does this mean, "point the gun which is government at your neighbor's head and force HIM to remember the poor?" And yes, government is a gun. The gun isn't always right on the surface, in plain view. Often, it's as innocuous as "pay your taxes." Try not paying your taxes; this leads to your assignment to prison (rape gulag). Try declining to go there, or declining to stay there. Hi, there, Mr. Gun!

No, I think provision for the poor is supposed to be a voluntary act. I think each person is supposed to be free to discharge his responsibility to the poor, or not. But, Jim, if people are fallen and corrupt and selfish! If people aren't forced to care for the poor, they won't! Some will; some won't. One could as well say that if God was so foolish and naive as to create people with free will, why, it's predictable that they'll choose to sin. They'll do every kind of evil! Well, He did, and we did. That was almost, uhhhh, kind of libertarian of Him, sort of, maybe?

As for needing government big and powerful enough to protect us from the malefactors of great wealth: I'm no Marxist, but I do think a little class analysis is a useful tool for thinking about this. We're always being invited, by both sides of the false political duopoly, to think of Big Business and Big Government as being polar-opposite adversaries, to be carefully balanced, one against the other. But in a class sense, the people involved in both are the same group, averaging much wealthier than the common run of Americans, and sharing the same backgrounds and interests. To "big" business, regulation is quite welcome. For one thing, they're invariably involved in writing it; for another, huge corporate structures are equipped with the paper-shuffling people and other resources needed for compliance. Regulation is just one of the tools whereby they suppress competition from smaller businesses that are less well-equipped to operate in a regulatory environment. I would suggest instead that the corporate and government worlds are manned by people of the same class, and that they take care of each other. Who's left out in the cold? Whom do they NOT take care of? The poor. (Which, on their scale, certainly includes both you and me.)

And no, I'm not a libertarian, by the way; they (the ones who form the party of that name) are, in my estimation, a miserable bunch of sellouts. They'd love to get elected to something, anything; and in a way, I'd like to see that happen; they deserve it. I'd be tempted to call myself an anarchist, except that I really don't care for much of the company I'd be keeping. I'm just a person with a lively distaste for cops, soldiers, legislators, and such people who love to tell other people what they can and can't do.

Thanks for indulging me in a comment.

Revnerd said...

Jim, Thanks for your comments. I especially like in the 4th paragraph: "...the people involved are on in the same group...." That is a salient point.

My son is a cop and I believe in his calling. But, since he is undercover, I'll tell you a story that supports your perspective. However, it will have to be privately instead of on the web.

However, I wonder if "...point the gun to your neighbor's head..." is a false dichotomy because it appeals only to the extreme.

Here is the thing, government and taxes are inevitable. A just government, with taxes, is also biblical. In a representative democracy, we have an obligation to influence justice in government.

Will it work? Doubtful. As you say, both represent the same class.

But in the book "What is the Matter With Kansas?" we read how Christians elected representatives because they would legislate most of the current social safety net. This happened largely because we are a Christian nation that should care for the poor.

Now, move forward 60 years to today's rancor. What I react to, in the dialectical responses, is the rhetoric that implies that a social safety net is socialism (again, the logical fallacy of "false dichotomy" because it leaves out the middle and assumes the extreme). And what seems to me to make it worse is that Socialism is somehow anti-Christian -or that capitalism is the only biblical economic system.

The truth is, heavily mixed capitalism is the OT system of law. The OT law was a great attempt at a just government.

Thanks for kind words in saying what you have said. Blessings to you.