Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
John, in a previous essay, you justified the irrelevance of the choice of the governmental system if the people were all perfectly moral. I will concede your point. In the extreme example where men behave as angels and gods, the most totalitarian system will be as adequate as the most anarchic state. But, as you will readily agree, regardless of man’s desire to be perfect, he will never be, even at the most mature of ages and most diligent in seeking. The vast majority will fall short of perfection, and possibly even the entirety of mankind will fail at perfect duplication of the Character of God and Mind of Christ in their daily lives. And certainly, at any moment, many citizens will be a significant distance from sainthood, since childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood is inherently a time of ignorance, foolishness, errors in judgment, and untamed passion. Thus, the state will always have in its populace those who are imperfectly capable of implementing the principles of our Constitutional Republic, and some of those may rise to positions of leadership.
As you note, the best governmental, and non-governmental solution to organizing society must be organized around the imperfections of men. But, the further men are from the perfected Mind of Christ, the more they will tend to implement forceful solutions upon the populace since the pathological, antisocial, narcissistic personality types typically seek and obtain power.
An immoral people (men choosing to pursue the lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, and pride of life without restraint or resistance) tend to have a complex of aberrations of personality. (Note: I define aberration as anything diverging from the mind of Christ). The leaders of such people tend to be tyrants since the nature of aberration is being unrestrained in the invasion of the boundaries of their neighbors. Power hungry leaders (or leaders with no other tools other than laws, judgment, and enforcement) will use the violations of a minority of individuals as an excuse/justification for placing the nation in legal chains. Their motivation may seem high minded, presented as a program to prevent the masses from destroying themselves, each other, and their environment.
One form of the Libertarian solution is to let this potpourri of good and evil people come to an equilibrium using various social feedback methods (market, mini-government, ethics-based communities,…) and let the feedback people receive from their own actions to teach them what works, and allow the various communities to rise or sink to their own level of function based on their particular ethic and system of administering feedback. This may work. It has never been tried in modern times.
Anarchy was possibly tried in antiquity, before Noah, where things did not turn out well then. Under that system people became so wicked that God destroyed the world by flood. I don’t think society would quickly revert to this level of depravity if we suddenly released all the laws from America because there are many people who are committed to goodness. I believe Libertarianism would work reasonably well as long as the society has the boundaries of the Judeo-Christian ethic as its moral base. But, as you note, most any other system of government would work on such a well behaved group. So, the issue is more about what system minimizes the restrictions, governmental regulatory overhead, and tax burden to support that public infrastructure. I believe that combination of the Constitutional Republic, capitalism, and the Judeo-Christian ethic will produce that minimization of governmental burden, while maximizing happiness, freedom, and prosperity.
I believe any other organization will ultimately produce a less free, less happy, less prosperous social outcome. I do not know if the purely Libertarian solution will converge into the place of maximal freedom and happiness, just by allowing the system to evolve by the market feedback mechanisms superimposed upon an anarchic society. My feeling is that it would not, simply because the human psyche is so set in its ways once adulthood arrives that unless each generation was brought up in goodness, and trained and disciplined in its ways, I don’t think the social feedback systems would be adequate to prevent invasion or shape excellence once adulthood has arrived.
An important point is that maximum freedom is not achieved by the absence of laws. By analogical illustration, the maximal freedom of the car is experienced when restraining its wheels and body on the road and away from other vehicles and objects. Violating these laws results in damage to the car, life, property, and impairs its ability to continue to move. Thus, anarchy is not the freest society. Rather, a rightly organized society, one that reflects the actual rules that man must live by, is the most free society.
In any case, the societal/government organization that I continue to argue for is the Constitutional Republic, and that organized around the personal and group principles applied as metaphors/analogies/applications of principles illustrated in the Holy Bible.
As the Founders organized our Constitution, we have what may be the near-perfect compromise between minimal law and maximal freedom. The Constitution allows for the coexistence of a weak central government and states rights. Both freedom and law can be given in this system. The law will necessarily be more specific in the cities, but the individual has more control over the local laws, such as local ordinances, and successively lesser control at the level of the counties, states, and nation. Government so organized would naturally codify the broad principles in the higher governmental legal/judicial/executive legal codes, and more specifically in the local codes.
A state/county/locale which wishes to allow an almost complete Libertarian solution could do so, and sanction activities that are antithetical to the Judeo-Christian ethic to express themselves as they wish (porn, abortion, homosexual expression, polygamy, incest, pedophilia, sexual etcetera, drugs, pagan worship, idolatry, Sharia…). Likewise, a state may choose to be separate from such expression, have every right to put up walls of law, and expressions of force as needed, to protect against those who would encroach into their holy cities. And finally, a state may allow a mix of strong rule-based and libertarian systems. The polarization between states, counties, and cities provides its own feedback that may produce a deeper polarization or homogenization. Regardless, there can be little moral objection about being subject to the majority vote when living in a city/county/state of one’s choice, since influence and relocation is always an option.
My point is, that if we are going to organize ourselves as a Constitutional Republic, with laws, strata of organization (i.e., family, city, county, state, nation), that the maximal freedom (integrated over the full spectrum of the experience of life and all its facets) will be experienced within the boundaries of a prescribed set of laws, where those laws are inspired by the Judeo-Christian ethic, and the people choose to consciously try to follow those precepts. And while the people and laws are both imperfect, the structure of the Constitution produces sufficient checks, balances, and interaction between government, groups, industry, and individuals that the averaging effect is a maximal experience of freedom, happiness, and prosperity. I believe all other implementations of government will be sub-optimal in their production of freedom, happiness, and prosperity.
The video link above is of Sid Roth interviewing a fellow (Rick Joyner) who had a dream (actually he had many prophetic dreams that came true). In this one dream, in particular, he was in a house, and he saw America in its many different enterprises, symbols, cultures, and landscapes outside of its windows. And while in the house he continued to see small fires burst up through the floor, which were stomped out by his guides who were showing him the house. As he was leaving the house, another small fire burst up through the floor. He went back inside, smothered the fire, and noted a hole had burned through, through which he could see under the house. The entire foundation was on fire, and this was the source of the small fires that he had seen breaking through.
The analogy is obvious. Our moral foundation is being burned and our entire civilization will collapse if we do not return to our founding principles, which are the Kingdom principles. It isn’t the pagans, atheists, Islamists, communists, new agers, humanists, Satanists, cultists, or eastern religions that are the problem. It is the people of the Church of Christ that must stand up and say yes and no, and do so with wisdom. As a Christian nation, those who claim to follow Christ, we have stood only weakly on the principles of the Judeo-Christian ethic. I believe this timidity and poorly articulated direction springs from the lack of a strong philosophical conviction as to the proper application of Christian principles to secular life. This is what the body of my writing has been an attempt at elaborating.