The State vs. Stateless Societies
By: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
Background: John H is a Libertarian turned “Anarcho-Capitalist”. When asked the difference, John is fond of saying, “About 6 months.” The Libertarian desires a a society that allows men the freedom to make contracts between consenting adults, and judges behavior according to the “Non-Aggression Principle.” The Libertarian becomes an Anarcho-Capitalist as he realizes government inherently interferes with these prime tenents of Libertarianism. Thus, John advocates for a Stateless society – a world without nations, without government, where people choose their actions and associate with others by contract, providing all the services of government, but without the authoritarian power of government forcing actions authorized by a majority.
TLA: The conflict between the Libertarian and Democratic State begs the question, “What is the best method of making a decision for group action?” You passionately believe the best societal organization preserves the individual’s right to choose non-aggressive and loving contracts between consenting adults.
You believe the modern State, with its democracy-based and police-enforced laws and regulations violates your libertarian ideals and your God-given freedom. The State diminishes your happiness by forcing you into compliance with majority-imposed laws to which you morally reject.
The individual should choose his work, associates, culture, and the legal principles governing his group. Every community should choose its own laws and judges, and enforce its standards with private police, and provide all other community services through private contracts and voluntary participation.
You believe the Democratic State is a crude tool of social organization that forces participation in majority decisions, thereby dening men to exercise non-aggressive and loving actions of their choice. You believe the Stateless Anarcho-Capitalist society is superior, in that it allows men the granularity of individual choice vs. the blunt tool of democratic majoritarian mandate.
You believe the Stateless system provides greater productivity and happiness by giving men the freedom to work more creatively. You believe individuals, businesses, and industry are more productive and happier when given the opportunity to exercise their free will and negotiate for their best interests in the company of people with common values. You believe the individual experiences the highest quality of life when he can exercise free will in the marketplace of ideas and merchandise. In a free-will world, he will suffer or prosper according to his actions, and is most motivated by the self-chosen reward.
The ensemble of principles of free will choice resonate deeply within the human heart. Given the powerful motivators internal to the human psyche unleashed by the dissolution of the State, how can the Democratic State compete with the manifestation of the idealized Libertarian utopia?
The Constitutional Republican State can function better than the Stateless Libertarian world, but only when men rule themselves according to the Law of God. Such a society must be composed of a majority of Godly men, mature in guiding their hands, hearts and minds according to Biblical Law and the Love of God. Such men submit to the principles of Godliness and the people benefit from their self-disciplined compliance with His ways. The individual is sovereign over his own body-space, only if he is submitted and obedient to God’s law. Natural law contrains the man against his will, unless he complies with the way of Godliness. Such citizens fear God, and willingly submit to the laws of nature and nature’s God. Ignoring or rebelling against God’s Laws subjects men to suffering. The Stateless society can also work in a nation of mature Christian men, but the lack of an organizational focal point diminishes its efficacy.
You emphasize that people make poor choices in terms of judging the requirements of God’s Law as revealed in the Bible, and then impose their interpretation of scripture upon others. You, therefore, advocate just letting people learn from the feedback of life. You worry that imposing the laws of the Bible on people will cause suffering because of the errors that men make in their interpretation of God’s law. So, even though the Bible is right, you argue that the State should not impose Biblical law upon people, because man’s law will contain errors, and inflict its own type of suffering.
I agree with your concern about the fallibility of men in judging divine intent from Scripture. Nevertheless, we must crystallize the society and its legislative code around Truth. Legislating based upon man’s tastes and desires, wants and feelings, will almost certainly produce suffering. Standards-based upon man’s native instincts of right/wrong and the Biblical patterns can diverge greatly. The standards embedded in each man’s heart shapes the group behavior, and can bring the Kingdom of Heaven or hell on earth. Men can only institute righteous Republican government when they agree individually to live according to the constraints of the Biblical worldview. The group mandates merely codify the principles of individually chosen Godly conduct.
The Kingdom of heaven can come on earth by:
- The return of Christ to earth to rule and reign. When he comes He will impose God’s Law on earth
- God is the ruler of each life and heart when every man commits to implementing the Word, will, and way of God in his life. The success of this prescription depends upon adults guiding their lives by a mature interpretation of the Bible and teaching their children to follow the way.
Many/most people don’t read scripture and interpret its words in the context of its entirety, and many only listen to someone tell them what the Bible says and means. A Christian matures by reading the Bible, repeatedly, and considering each verse deeply in the context of the whole, and the mature Christian applies its commands to his life and thereby develops Godly character.
The Left, the rebel, the lovers of the flesh interpret the Bible opposite to its intention. The Bible reveals the absolute standard of good and evil, but the man of the flesh calls good evil and evil good.
The Biblical Libertarian incorporates and applies the Law of God in his life and government. In Christ is the greatest possible freedom, which means living by His principles and following the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The government should be a small part of life and legislate, judge, and administer according to Biblical principles.
The codification of Biblically-based standards into the laws of a nation provides a foundation for a nation conducting itself as a Godly government. Such legislation stabilizes the group’s moral ethic and gives conscious cultural recognition to the Biblically-based wisdom of a people. The implementation of such a Biblically-based government is stable in judgment and flexible in its adaptation to the circumstances of the current world. It allows for freedom within the limits of Godliness, allows for practical/adaptive change as recognized by the group, while maintaining the backbone of Biblical standards which limit and allow the acts of men.
JH: What is wrong with letting those who see the truth, follow the truth, and letting those who do not follow the truth be left by the wayside, where they will probably not survive?
This is the Darwinian process of morality. Offer Christianity, extol its virtues, and live its example. Wise people will observe, learn, and emulate it. Idiots will do what idiots do – falter and go extinct. It’s the way of the world, apparently. Why do you see an impetus to drag everyone along, even using force against their will? If they choose extinction, isn’t that their free will to do so? Didn’t Jesus and the original Christians ask for voluntary adherence? They didn’t force others to follow them, right?
I had a visit with two libertarians last weekend and spent the whole afternoon walking and talking. It was a beautiful hike and a great talk. I came to learn more about my own views, and perhaps I grew somewhat. I think I am coming to regard the libertarian mandate of the “non-aggression principle” as just as flawed as the communist imposition of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”. I think mankind is so self-deluding that we will justify any aggressive action as moral. Even Hitler considered his actions moral – he was merely eliminating pests and filth from the people he held dear.
I think the unique libertarian distinction is the elimination of democracy and elimination of the State, which uses your own money to enslave you, and uses other people’s money to go to war that only the leaders want. At the very least, if each of us is limited to our own resources, and the resources of those we can enlist voluntarily, then we will be greatly curtailed in our aggressive urges. We won’t eliminate them, but at least, if I want to prevent others from doing whatever they do, I am limited to using my own resources to intervene and force them, not use the resources of my victims against themselves (as is done with the State).
Example: If my daughter is captured by Islamists and falls prey to Stockholm Syndrome, and begins to agree with her captors and wants to live an Islamic life, I may decide, in my own interests and in the interests that I BELIEVE are my daughter’s interests, to INTERVENE, KIDNAP HER, AND ATTEMPT TO RESTORE HER SANITY.
That is NOT a libertarian position! But it is a flawed human self-deluding position that humans naturally justify! In doing so, I would be limited to my own resources! I cannot vote and force the losers to PAY TAXES to support my cause. Many people will commit an aggressive act and justify it on moral grounds. That is not libertarian. But it would be an element of a free society. I see that now. I did not see it before. Of course, we will also defend ourselves from such aggression by others, and we will feel equally high minded and moral in defending ourselves.
TLA: John, you have taken a large step away from mainstream libertarianism with your rejection of the Non-Aggression Principle as an absolute standard of judging morality. You are correct, inside of their own perspective, people can justify any action as moral.
This begs the question, “How can we define morality?”
It appears you are struggling to find a solid standard upon which to define morality. You have chosen honoring free will as your solid moral ground. Your illustration of the terrorist kidnapping your daughter as an example of how seriously you have taken this principle.
In effect, you have taken the position of radical non-interference with the choices of another person as the ultimate good, their sovereignty of self-determination as the standard to honor above all others, and free will as the highest principle in God’s Law.
But, the elevation of free will to the pinnacle of the moral-standards hierarchy is immediately contradicted by experience. We can project that Hitler thought it a positive moral good for the group to kill Jews.
I note the combination of Free Will (allow all to do as they will), the Non-Aggression Principle (do not initiate force against another person), and the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) together produce a reasonable approximation of a workable moral standard.
The actual absolute moral standard is, “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” The trio of free will, NAP, and the Golden Rule is very close, missing only the loving of God as the context of all moral action.
Free-will/choice/self-determination is an important principle, as it gives significance to our choice between good and evil. Free will is the context for action. By itself, Free Will is neither good nor bad. Free-will allows us to choose our actions, and the choice of actions reveals the state of our heart and soul. God desires that we choose His way. Our choice of actions determines our direction – toward fellowship with God, or away from Him.
God wants us to use our free will to choose to love Him. Loving God implies and entails emulating His Way by following His Law. Without purity, we cannot be in His presence. We see this principle illustrated in from the Sermon on Mount, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Unless we are cleansed of sin, we cannot fellowship with Him intimately.
The Golden Rule requires loving our neighbor, and one of the principles of love is advocating for his soul. By challenging, correcting, and encouraging him to right action we have served our friend greatly. Confronting a fellow traveler on his judgment of right action is an act of love.
God has a plan for the creation, to create a universe populated by souls with whom he could love and share a relationship. But, that relationship is meaningless if it is automatic, forced by structure, design, or natural law. If He imposed His will and way upon every soul, He has retracted His gift of free-will. We can assume we have free-will, and we are responsible for our actions. The mechanism by which God implements free-will is miraculous, and we must take the fact of free-will as axiomatic.
I agree with your emphasis on the importance of free-will. You are correct, free-will is important, it is the principle that allows meaning in life. Without free will, we are merely gears in a machine in the play of another.
As humans, we appear to have free will, but the mechanism of free will is a mystery. From the materialist perspective, we are matter and force, sequential, cause-effect machines, which exclude the possibility of free-will.
If free will exists, it is a miracle and inherent to the structure of the creation. The question underlying this concept is whether God can create consciousness which can exercise free will. In another thesis, I have developed the metaphysical sequence by which God created every point of the creation with free-will. Thus, without repeating the development, we shall take as axiomatic the hypothesis that man does have free-will.
Thus, the question is not whether a man has free-will (he does), but rather, what he chooses. In normal life, a man makes decisions based upon evidence, tastes, and standards. The question confronted by the libertarian consideration is whether it is ever right/correct/moral to force a man to comply with our demands?
You have presented a hypothetical situation, where your daughter was forcefully abducted, and during her captivity a new belief was implanted within her. The question is, “Is it wrong to abduct her forcefully and confront her with the (il)logic of her captors and allow her to confront her error?”
In short, the answer is yes, it is moral, and loving to forcefully kidnap her again. She was unable to make a free will choice in the captive situation, and is now living in a permanent hostage state with invisible captors. By intervening with force, we take break into the stronghold of the captors and free the captive.
Another aspect of this question is, “Whose life can we intervene in?” In general, those who trust you and would authorize your involvement. Because of the trusting relationship between you and your daughter, you have standing in her life. You have the right to enter into her life as a family member, friend, or intimate partner to advocate strongly for her sanity.
Obviously, you have the right to confront her ideology when she consents to such discussion and consideration. But, the question you have raised is whether we have the right to kidnap and rescue her from her captors when she desires no such rescue due to her altered state. At its essence, we are advocating for her return to loving the God of the Bible. In other words, this authorization for intervention is not symmetrical or universal. It is not OK for mafiosa parents to kidnap their children who were in protective custody, to bring them back to a life of crime.
By contrast, consider the case of the unrelated individual. In general, we do not have the right to detain and confront the random man on the street and challenge the basis of his thoughts, speech, and actions. Thus, the level of commitment, connection, and trust we have with the victim influences our authorization to intervene intimately. We have the right to challenge a man’s values and choices if we have procured permission for the challenge. This principle underlies the sequence of the rapport, confrontation, and change progression in the counseling intervention.
Again, we are honoring your daughter’s free will by confronting her, by asking her to examine the process to which she was subjected and challenging her to examine if those choices were justified by logical sequiturs? Obtaining permission to challenge her is the critical component. By challenging her to think logically about the premises and conclusions preceding her decision to change religions. We are not forcing her to change her mind by challenging her logic.
Rather, the confrontation is a challenge to the forceful acceptance of her captor’s belief system. In short, love confronts destructive thoughts, words, and actions, (and, all ideologies that oppose the Way of Christ are destructive of the Soul) and attempts to convince a man to remove his Soul from the fire. Intervention in a respectful, logical, adult consideration of values, worldviews, decision processes, honors your daughter’s free will. And, by challenging her on her new beliefs, we are expressing our love by helping her process her commitment to a new religion.
The Non-Aggression principle and the principle of honoring of free will underlie the libertarian belief that no one has a right to forcefully impose their will upon another person. By extension, this implies that God should not impose His will on anyone. And, in fact, God does not forcefully change the state and mind of a soul, but he does exert force on a man’s life circumstances. God has established natural law, and natural law imposes itself upon the individual. Thus, God exerts forces on a man to change his will and way, to turn him toward Godliness. In like manner, we should attempt to serve those we love by administering an analogous force and thereby forcefully confront the evil a man has embraced.
The fact that natural law imposes itself upon a man opens the door to the possibility of good/right/authorized force exertion upon another man. Obviously, natural law exerts a God-authorized force upon a man. Using the action of God on man as our precedent, we have the authorization to act on a man in the same way God acts. In short, God acts to oppose and correct men, and we are His hands extended in this world. God’s will and way IS the law, and He enforces it with natural law and by the miraculous organizing of consequences. The Bible provides a template of the types of violations that God may judge. Thus, using God as our pattern, we may confront various violations of His law with appropriate force to cause a man to confront the error in his moral standard. Of course, we risk being wrong in our judgment of God’s will. In which case, we risk being subject to God’s corrective action.
So, in summary, in your example, your daughter was kidnapped and subsequently rejected her family’s values and adopted the terrorists’ religion. Should she be captured and deprogrammed? My answer is yes. She was taken by force and subjected to indoctrination, not by her choice. She was unable to rationally consider the logic of their indoctrination and adopted their beliefs based upon coercion.
Her adoption of the religion of her terrorist captors was not a free-will act. Leaving her in such mind-captivity without a fight against the evil of her captors is to surrender the battle to the enemy. She was subjected to an unGodly belief system by force. To capture her, and subject her to the consideration of reason, and the analysis of her new beliefs is an act of restoring her free will.
Any person, forced into subjugation to a lifestyle, philosophy, or belief should be given the opportunity to reprocess the decision, and in some cases, the confrontation may require the use of physical force. The appearance of her making a free will choice to adopt her captors’ religion is deceptive. She was forcefully programmed and adopted a new religion/belief/loyalty/family, based upon a forced indoctrination. Upon erecting the bars and walls on her mind, she was released and appeared free, but she was still a captive. Taking her captive by force, and confronting her decisions, giving her alternatives, countering her objections, gives her the opportunity to make her decision and restore her free-will.
Regarding people who have adopted false religions from life interactions. The same force should be applied to them as that which programmed them. Life circumstances give people the opportunity to choose the content of their character.
Men should freely choose the content of their minds, hearts, and bodies. God intends that men be free to act within the boundaries of His Law. The continued embrace of unprocessed indoctrination does not fit into the pattern of God’s intention for men. God’s method for releasing a captive mind is to administer consequences to the errant soul. Life presents lessons in the man’s life who strays. He is always free to heed or reject these lessons.
Thus, the key pattern, the strategy used by God to restore the wayward Soul is by administering consequences. God continues to bring consequences into the life of men, both positive and negative to awaken the sleeper to turn from his ways. He desires righteousness, and if we act in concert with His will and way, we move His Kingdom forward.
Thus, we need not respect as final the choices a man has made under the duress of threats, captivity, and seduction. Rather, all such decisions should be confronted and processed. The counselor may judge the programming as good or evil. Either way, the victim of kidnapping and programming should be given the opportunity to confront her logic and reprocess her decision using multiple perspectives and lines of reason. Arguments confronting the implanted belief system, and administering life consequences that confront the implanted acts and beliefs, are appropriate. Properly processed, a man chooses his path in the moment and long term based upon an open examination of the relevant facts and factors. He should revisit decisions made from a single perspective or testimony.
Of course, confrontation of a decision with talk, advice, and argument does not interfere with a man’s free will. Argument and examination are the essences of the method by which God changes people’s minds. God brings life-experience into people’s lives. The law, the environment, the way of God confronts their decisions and choices.
Which brings us back to the question, “When is a forceful intervention into a man’s life justified?” In general, force is justified when his actions materially affect the lives of his neighbors. If a man’s actions threaten to violate the space or ideology of his neighbor, he should be restrained and confronted with corrective counsel, and aversive training such as fines, incarceration, labor. Men should respond with corrective force to violations that correspond to God’s law.
TLA: Here is an article that I read today. The replacement of Godly character with Leftist values in our children and society will eventually overtake the society in Godlessness. It is for this reason I fear for America.
In response to your question about whether a society is better organized as a State or Stateless, there is a factor that makes the State a better system. The State, organized as a Constitutional Republic, can only function as an optimal societal organization if it is instituted in a mature, Biblically-Christian culture. We don’t need angels to rule us in government, we just need mature Biblical Christians populating a society for the State to work well as the organizing governor of the group.
We cannot isolate ourselves from evil, and we can’t escape from it. It infects everyone, everywhere. The question is only how well we contain it as individuals and as a group.
As you note, your perspective is a Darwinian selection of the fittest. The ones who do not love the truth, either die, change, or rebel against the forces of life.
I rewrote the first sentence from your last email, since it seemed like it didn’t state what you wanted to say overtly enough to be unambiguous.
(Rewrite of a sentence): “What is wrong with letting those who see the truth, follow the truth, and letting those who do not follow the truth be left by the wayside, where they will probably not survive?”
Did I capture what you were trying to say properly?
JH: You said it correctly but from a more paternalistic and “less respectful” perspective. I would say “ …left by the wayside, WHERE THEY CHOOSE TO BE” instead of “ …left by the wayside, where they will probably not survive”. I think the ultimate respect for another human being is to recognize their sovereign right to decide for themselves based on whatever information they themselves deem necessary. Conversely, I think it is paternalistic *and condescending* to impose one’s own judgment call on the sovereign actions of others. “They probably will not survive” would be YOUR or MY judgment call, not theirs! Or, they may even agree with us and still choose their action despite the risks. Isn’t that their choice to make? Aren’t we giving them the *ultimate respect* to keep our opinions to ourselves and respect their sovereign human dignity to choose for themselves?
TLA: I think it is important to let people choose their consequences, but warn them. In the case where their choice will harm others, they should be restrained with force. Letting a man suffer his own consequences vs. forcefully restraining him gets complicated when their choices affect my world in subtle ways, where it is not obvious that harm is being done. The problem is that all choices have an effect on the world, it’s simply a matter of degree. There really is no such thing as a victimless crime.
There is no contract between consenting adults which has no effect on the larger world. A man’s actions are either Godly, or they are not. No one can hide their actions completely from the world. So, the decision of whether a community allows, or does not allow a behavior is based upon the community’s judgment of the magnitude of the degradation of the community by that behavior.
By not intervening, at least with words, we are assuming that the individual and his actions are disconnected from the group, and thus will have no effect on the group felicity. Or, we assume the detrimental effects are insignificant or others can compensate.
Allowing the individual to go down the path of self-destruction, knowing that it is a violation of God’s Law and that destruction awaits him, without warning him clearly and in strong terms, is the equivalent of hating him.
But, there is no private action. With a sufficient population of violators, the degradation of the individual will seep into society and have a noticeable detrimental effect on quality of public life. In particular, some of those men with character distorted by the habitual and committed violation of God’s law will occupy the offices of government. Such men do not have the foresight, insight, and standard of Godliness by which to properly judge, legislate, and administer. Such men are subject to the temptations of the flesh and are subject to the corrupting influence of monetary gain at the expense of the public good.
Thus, a Constitutional Republic with a government of the people will be subject to the influence of would-be-tyrants and thieves. Men who cave to the tastes of the flesh in one area of life have a weakness of character in resisting the flesh, and/or the discrimination of Godliness. Such men are susceptible to the corrupting influence of women, gold, and power. As such, these men can be bought, and their representation of the group can be used for self-enrichment at the group expense. UnGodly men and immature Christians bring foolishness, ignorance, and corruption into the guidance of society. At its roots, the State and Constitutional Republic are at risk when governed by immature men.
Your point was what to do with people who did not listen to the truth. In a survival of the fittest worldview, we should just let the individuals who flounder and rebel, experience the result of their own errors. Either such men learn from their pain or die from the consequences of their life of unrepentant errors.
One of the overriding principles of Christianity is loving neighbor as self. And, this includes the warning, counseling of him in the avoidance of his error. In a society of mature Christians, such a man would be recognized and barred from public service or removed promptly upon revealing his character.
JH: YES! I totally agree with “the warning, counseling of him in avoidance of his error”. That means expressing my own opinion. Whether that person chooses to listen is up to them! Remember, there is always the very unlikely and remote possibility that OUR JUDGMENT IS WRONG and THEIR JUDGMENT IS CORRECT. In any event, isn’t freedom defined by the right to be stupid? If we are forced by others not to make mistakes, we are not free.
TLA: I don’t think the best definition of freedom is defined as the right to be stupid. There are many times when we do things that are stupid, and we suffer. That isn’t being free, that is going off the track of life into a ditch. There is a moment of freedom in choosing the path of destruction, choosing to go down the unGodly path. But almost immediately the options of life become limited for a period of time. The maximization of freedom comes by sustained conduct of life along the path of Godliness.
The most meaningful definition of freedom is, “I have the freedom to do anything that is right, good, and Godly.” This is would be the most applicable definition to the phrase, “God-given rights.”
I recognize that you are pushing against the group/State telling the wayward soul to do/not do XYZ behavior, and forcing prohibition or action, as determined by legislators and bureaucrats. Of course this can be abusive. But, when the laws of the State are Godly, as are its judges and administrators, then the State is a reasonable surrogate for God. The State acts as God’s guide and enforcer. As such, the State serves as a living standard to God’s rule on Earth. And, because men are being shepherded by the efforts of mature Biblically Christian men, the benevolent, wise, and Godly State, enhances the cooperation between men. When men are united in purpose, and their hearts are committed to excellent action, they can accomplish great things.
If the nation is composed of Leftist atheists, the Constitutional Republic is vulnerable to usurpation by evil men, who use the power of the state for themselves. The same is true of every other form of government. Each system has its own deficits. A socialist system is already a covert oligarchy of government officials who decide many/all aspects of your life. Thus, an Anarcho-Capitalist society, where the strong survive, may function as a workable system. But, a pure Anarcho-Capitalist system has never matured or established itself.
Thus, the debate gets ambiguous in the case of a non-Christian or immature-Christian nation. There are advantages and disadvantages to both a Stateless world and a State-controlled world in these cases.
JH: The advantages and disadvantages depending on whose perspective we are speaking from! If we are speaking from the controllers’ perspective, certainly having others obey us is advantageous. If we are speaking from the subject’s perspective, being dominated by the controllers is never advantageous unless the controllers happen to demand the same behavior that the subject would choose himself. There are no other perspectives other than those of the individuals in the situation.
TLA: You are certainly correct in your assertion of the desirability of a submissive populace from the point of view of the controller. But, I intended to speak from the perspective of the governed. The purpose of the Constitutional Republic as was given to us by the Founders, was to ensure the free exercise of the God-given rights of the people. The question is whether the group would experience more or less happiness in a State-regulated world or in an anarchic world.
In a generally secular/humanist/non-Christian society, the type of men who seek office are most likely those who have not disciplined themselves in the principles of Biblical Godliness. Such men are less likely to be mature in resisting the temptations of the flesh. By nature of the power inherent to government, the power of the State temps leaders/bureaucrats/officials/administrators to use their positions to satisfy their own selfish passions to enrich themselves. Such men rule for the thrill of power or otherwise govern for their own benefit. Being governed by such men will almost certainly cause hardships for the people of such a nation.
This is in contrast to the men who should be chosen to serve in government when the general culture of the nation/State is based upon Christian values, ethics, morals, standards, and worldview. In such a population, the electorate should choose their most mature Christian men as their representatives. The character of the State is personified by those who administer, legislate, and judge.
If the body of laws from its history are based upon Biblical/Godly values, the legislature considers new legislation based upon new social circumstances, and appeals for reinterpretation and reconsideration of old legislation based on Biblical principles. The purpose of the legislature is the codification of right/Godly/Biblical responses to those social/economic situations.
The judiciary judges disputes about situations as per the standard of the legislation and the administration carries out the mandates of legislation. When the government is populated by mature Christian men, legislation is based upon Godly/Biblical principles, and the power of the State is checked by the three branches of government. The society so governed can realize the benefits of a Godly State, which are the same as living in the Kingdom of God.
The problem is that group behavior affects the individual’s milieu, environment, ecology, and wellbeing. In other words, the individual’s happiness cannot be separated from the behavior, attitudes, and moral tone of the group. The question is, what is the best way to affect group behavior? If the good behaviors embodied in the individual are not adopted/ normalized/ enforced in the group behavior, then the individual will suffer. Ideally, every man would follow the truth and wisdom of the Bible, but that will not necessarily happen, even when men are unconstrained by the State. Those who break God’s law will suffer the consequences of their choices, and the group will also suffer because of the man who violates His law.
In general, men follow a lower law, the pulls of the flesh, and they argue strongly for others to follow their basic natures. The problem with the State, is that men of low character can rise to positions of power and may prevail in their pressure for legislation to normalize such behaviors and prohibit punishment for the same.
Of course, this is a major deficit of the State. If there was no State, evil people could not legislate against good behavior and authorize bad behavior. So, the problem from this perspective appears to be law/the State, since that is the tool used by evil people to suppress goodness and normalize evil.
JH: Well said! I will add that dictatorial power appeals more to evil people than to righteous people. A righteous person doesn’t need power to be happy. An evil person gets their jollies by dominating others. They are more driven to achieve positions of power, especially if their power hunger is driven by hatred of righteousness.
TLA: Power-hunger is one of the passions of the flesh, and literally anyone can fall prey to its seduction. The hungers of the flesh are like a lion at the door, always ready to pounce on the unprepared and undefended man. But mature men, committed to Godliness and service, know the standards of Godliness and can resist the temptations of the flesh (money, women, and power; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life). The electorate of a Godly society can recognize such men, rejecting those who use appeal to vanity to manipulate others and submit to the temptation of self-enrichment at the expense of others. A society without Godliness at its center will likely elect vain, power-hungry men, being deceived by their disguise, or voting for such men because of their familiar spirit.
And, this is of course a true deficit of State rule. But, the cost of the lack of a centralized/public standard of enforced prohibition of bad behavior is the lack of the creation of a body of goodness which can stabilize and guide the individual throughout his development from immaturity into a mature/righteous citizen/soul. And of course the Libertarian would argue, that such standards should be taught in the family.
JH: Or anywhere else where the individual sees value in gaining guidance. It could be a counselor, school, church, family, unrelated father figure.
TLA: Yes, the whole society can, and should, train its citizens in right behavior. But, the optimal society embodies the Christian belief/worldview. Only a populace with these beliefs/values deeply embedded into the character of the individuals, and reflected in the laws of a society, can properly implement the State.
But, as important as society is in training the individual in right action, the nuclear family is the center and most important carrier/educator in the implanting and nurturance of personally embraced Godliness. The larger society supports and teaches the child the application of Godly principles in the larger societal context. But, without a Godly family embedding the principles of faith, service, justice, love, and belief in appropriating the role of Jesus Christ in restoring our relationship with the Father, the foundations of the society will be weak. Without a Godly culture, the good seed planted by the family will be uprooted by the example of a society that models and exhorts toward selfish satisfaction of the hunger and passions of life.
The problem an individual can have in his growth as a moral being is that he can come to a place of realization about life-principles where he believes he has found the absolute moral pinnacle in his worldview – only to find he was blinded by his own concepts and limited personal experience. Every individual is necessarily limited in his perspective. The adoption of the Biblical standard of life is the rock we can hold onto. Humility in learning wisdom is an important trait.
JH: Absolutely agree!
TLA: All of us can grow and mature in Godliness throughout life, and many people learn very good lessons and morals from simply observing/experiencing/learning from life. Nevertheless, there is a difference between the man who is raised in the humility of Godly Biblical instruction his entire life, and the man who only learns the principles of life from his experience and the lessons of living in the world. I believe it is possible for the man raised in the faith, taught by wise and experienced parents, living in a Christian society, to come sufficiently close to the embodiment of the principles of Godliness that he can be trusted as a State or national governor. Such men of Godly maturity are the only ones who should be elected to govern.
I do not believe we need to defer to angels or wait for the Lord’s return for Him to rule and reign on earth before we can have a good and Godly State on earth. It will require hard work, a huge renewal of the hearts of men to restore the faith our nation once had in the Bible and the Christian God. And, once established, it will take vigilance to maintain it. The flesh is eternally hungry, and it tempts us to indulge inappropriately.
If there is to be a State, then the ideal is the establishment of a righteous State, a purely Godly government which can divinely establish the limits of actually good behavior. (The self-judged “good” behavior of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot are clearly unGodly. But, politicians who are trade influence for money, or stand for legislation that opposes the Biblical standard are likewise unGodly, and their belief and acts will degrade the nation and inappropriately limit freedom.)
Your point is that such a State cannot be established by men, and that it will always be flawed, with evil embedded with good, thereby producing a de facto imposition of evil on innocent men by the protocol/law-bound leviathan State.
JH: YES !!!
TLA: And, while it is true that no man is ever perfect, the question is whether a man, or group of men checking and challenging each other, can be adequately mature, righteous, and Godly to administer, legislate, and judge the affairs and people of a state. And, I believe the answer is yes. Our government was appropriately and wisely established with 3 branches, each of which considers an important and qualitatively distinct domain of human action. The division of government into equally powerful branches allows men to evaluate the work and judgment of the other branches from a distinct perspective. Under such scrutiny, errors of intent and bias will likely be detected and corrected.
If the laws and culture of a nation are based upon Christian principles, and if the people are raised and disciplined on Christian principles, then administrators dedicated to living Christian principles will populate the government. When government is properly populated with Christian men serving in the 3 branches of government, they will all check and challenge each other’s judgment, to ensure that Godliness pervades all aspects of the governmental process. The self-approval of tyranny and self-benefiting acts of a man or group will seldom prevail in the milieu of such mutual scrutiny.
And, of course, you are right, some injustice will always be embedded within any State that man imposes upon himself. But in a fully/deeply Christian nation, the errors will likely be small, and time will illuminate the error, and men committed to righteous administration, legislation, and judgment will correct the error, resulting in a small length of time when the erroneous act suppressed the appropriate rights/happiness/acts of the people.
But, you have taken the extreme polar position of declaring that the State is the problem, and that man cannot establish a State where goodness/justice/freedom can prevail. Instead, of establishing the State and risking State-imposed consequence, you prefer to live in a State-less, Anarcho-Capitalist world where each man suffers the consequences of evil as a result of his own choices.
JH: Or enjoys the success of their goodness rather than suffering the injustice of State-imposed consequence.
TLA: I understand the attraction to anarchism since it seems as though the State is regularly/predictably hijacked/ by evil because of the seduction of power and misplaced enthusiasm for one’s personal moral view, etc. The question is whether the extreme rejection of the State and authority-based law and adoption of anarchism, is the correct/best worldview, that will produce the best possible outcome on earth?
JH: I don’t know that “best” is ever possible. I think it’s more a question of which is better. Which is the least flawed? Which will result in the least oppression and imposition by the will of others?
TLA: This is exactly my point. I believe the Godly/Christian State will produce a superior outcome. You look at Stateless anarcho-capitalism as the least flawed system. Your bias is against control because you have seen the abuses of power been done in the name of democracy. You have been deeply disappointed by men who have perverted the words and vision of the Founding principles and twisted their intentions to support a socialist vision for society. You have seen how the democratic will of the majority has force unwilling people to support policies and expenditures antithetical to their own values and interests. You feel that the Stateless AC world would make that magnified abuse impossible, and therefore it is the better system, since it allows for freedom, and prevents abuse by the power of the State.
I look at the Republic, as it was envisioned by the Founders, and I see a system that can literally manifest the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. I see the flaws you notice in the State and acknowledge that they all are real possibilities, and they have all regularly manifested. But, I see the possibility of men living in a Godly State in a nation fully committed to living according to the Biblical standard of Godliness. I see the quality of the Christian Republic being higher, as it allows the maximum possible freedom.
I don’t think a judgment as to the better choice of State/no-State is trivial. There is no obvious royal road to societal efficiency, maximum liberty, and justice. The radical anarchist/anarcho-capitalist world has the obvious flaw of human taste/nature being drawn toward satisfaction of personal flesh desires.
JH: I don’t think so. I think our human nature is for certain people to be drawn to those failings. Some people are never drawn to those failings. Others may be drawn, but possess the will and character not to succumb.
TLA: It is this universal pull of the flesh, and our inevitable failure to properly control those flesh-hungers to which I refer. All men are tempted to satisfy the hungers of the flesh – this is the nature of humanity. We were created as animals, and the hungers we feel were all designed to give us the native instinct to survive as individuals and a species. The problem is in the improper satisfaction of that hunger, the improper/unGodly actions that the hunger drives us toward. Some do better in controlling their actions in response to the temptations of their hunger, but no one is perfect, and all can fail in the next moment.
We see that principle in verses such as, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” and “There is none righteous, no not one.” This concept, of all men violating the appropriate/right/Godly standard of hunger satisfaction is at the center of Jesus’ teachings. It was for the rescue of men from the terms of that debt/contract that Jesus was incarnated and sacrificed on the cross. His death was a spiritual transaction that paid the blood debt man owed to that dark realm. That is the origin of the concept of the Faustian bargain – men get boost by sin, but the cost is their soul. By claiming that gift, the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus blood, we are freed from the debt if we pledge our allegiance to righteousness. Jesus’ death was necessary to cleanse us from the stain of our spiritual debts. Only pure spirits can be in the presence of the Father.
I agree that some do a better job of consistently saying no to excess/inappropriate satisfaction of the flesh. But, there is no one who is perfect in his avoidance of error. I don’t think we can separate out the wolves from the sheep fully, because there is a little of both in us all.
My point is that all men have the nature of being drawn to the satisfaction of the flesh. It is not possible to be otherwise (we all are drawn to satisfy the drives of breath, sex, hunger, warmth, shelter, life, repulsion from pain, attraction to pleasure, companionship, control, pleasure…). There is no one who is not subject to these hungers. The hunger for satisfaction of the flesh desires is not the issue. All hungers, and all satisfactions of them, have their proper place and time. The issue is the proper/right satisfaction of the flesh-hunger. As you note, some are better than others in their control.
In both the Statist, and Anarcho-Capitalist societies, men are drawn to satisfy these hungers. We cannot escape fully from men who yield to their improperly regulated hunger. It is a spectrum of weakness, some are better regulated than others.
In the anarchic world, there is an inherent lack of a formal societal codification of ethics of enforceable law. There is no clear society-wide lines of restraint and enforcement, so the nation/world becomes a patchwork of jurisdictions with possibly wildly disparate standards of behavior, judgment, and enforcement.
Ideally, the standard around which counties, states, and nations are crystalizing is Godliness, but that standard could be anything in a totally anarchic world. A nation which is dedicated to establishing the Biblical standards of Godliness has a higher chance of codifying and enforcing them than a society that is relying on men’s best intentions to develop a system of optimum laws without a guide.
Some granularity in interpretating the Biblical code is good, especially in terms of local conditions and specific circumstances. Both absolute individuality and homogeneity are bad in moral judgment. The median that incorporates two desirable principles is usually the optimum when they are combined. The states, with their individual county jurisdictions, provide for variety.
The hope of that radical Libertarian world is that those who follow the ways of error will self-extinguish, or congregate together in enclaves of like-minded degradation, or be punished by the more enlightened/truth-followers or those who can afford defense and offense, or otherwise receive their just consequences.
JH: Maybe not “the hope”, but the “likely outcome”.
It seems like people who submit to evil, animalistic, low-life behavior spring eternal. I’m not sure that those who follow degraded paths will self-extinguish. But, if society were to follow Paul’s rule to the Thessalonians, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” this would rapidly extinguish the problem of sloth.
We all hope the world will manifest as we desire it, and we all believe that if the world changed as we hoped, that it would be much better. But, it is hope because the experiment has not been done. In my opinion, with a nation populated by men of Christian character, an excellent, corruption-free, tyranny-free, and injustice-free Constitutional Republic, is the likely outcome.
The radically anarchic world proposal is interesting, dynamic, and interactive. It includes much internal feedback and experimentation with individual and group behaviors. The problem I see with this system and its evolution is that I don’t see it reaching a high, or steady-state, of optimum goodness. The number of variables and forces acting in the system is so great that I see this system being in a continual state of significant oscillation. This may be a good thing, to have variety, and be free to choose whatever, and have no one tell you want to (other than those who can afford to impose it on you), but it isn’t obvious that this is the best organization of the group.
JH: Really well said, and you are getting me to start thinking…
But first, let me say that I see a free society as clearly superior in the following particular respect. That, regardless of the degeneracy and depravity of any others, THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO BE GOOD always have the ability to break free from the evil people. Always, always, always!
TLA: I have concerns about your statement, “Those who choose to be good in a free society people always have the ability to break free from the evil people.” The problem is that moving one’s colony, family, job, housing… is not easy. The cost of relocation is high. There is a cost barrier to exercising one’s freedom to escape the evil surrounding them. To move, there is a loss of support on all levels. Typically people have to re-start their lives in many ways to escape an evil culture. Those who choose to be good and break away from evil must pay a significant price, and that price may be too high for the amount of current pain. Thus, even when the option to move is possible, exercising that option will always be a cost-benefit analysis – what is the cost of staying in the evil, compared to the cost of moving away from it. Many will choose to stay in an evil situation, just because the cost is so great to leave.
JH: And that is the ultimate good of a stateless society. But in a statist society, no matter how Godly most people become, there is still the chance that the evil will gain power and oppress the good people.
TLA: Sadly, evil will likely invade or follow the man who leaves one community to go to another in a Stateless society. At some point, and at some level, evil is always attempting an invasion into the Statist and Stateless society.
JH: So, we are weighing one situation where the righteous ALWAYS have a means to escape and live free, against the opposite situation where the evil MIGHT (and probably more than just MIGHT) gain power over the good people and oppress (perhaps extinguish) the good people. This balance, with good people ALWAYS having an escape route, comes out in favor of pure freedom, in my view.
TLA: I see the problem of escaping the contact and influence of evil people as a universal problem. The pilgrims came to America and established a Godly society, and to a large extent, America grew from those roots, and that original seed influences the national spirit, even to this day. It isn’t that clear to me that it is possible to escape the influence of evil. There is always a Judas, even among the 12. There is always the temptation and taste for excessive satisfaction of the flesh hungers among every human, which can influence a faction of any community. Such factions which prey upon the sheep of the community are a threat to both the State and Stateless communities.
As per my taste, I would rather have a world where I was free to operate within the limitations of action associated with Godly law. There is still a degree of instability/flux and uncertainty with regards to the social order because of changes in technology, resources, climate, and the influx of children/new immature souls who must be trained in right-action. I am willing to sacrifice the degree of absolute freedom for the security of a world which has encoded Godly law, which is enforced upon me and all others. I recognize the vigilance giving someone else authority over me requires. I don’t think that is widely recognized in our current culture.
JH: Brilliant. Really well said, and perhaps the best thing I have ever seen you write!!
TLA: There is a cost of making that acquiescence to external control. There is the possibility that evil/selfish/self-deluded people will take the reigns of power and institute unjust administration of righteous laws, and legislate unrighteous laws, and judge unjustly in the prosecution of offenses. These are the types of violations of unGodliness against which we must be vigilant. It is this to which Jefferson referred when he said “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”
TLA: Thus, the eternal debate between liberty and the existence/rule of the State. Eternal vigilance against unGodliness is the price of the stability and order of the State. No vigilance against the excesses and perversions of the State is required of a world without the state. Only vigilance against the violation of neighbors and groups with sufficient resources to fund their particular form of space violation/aggression is necessary in an anarcho-capitalistic world.
JH: YES !!!
TLA: Maybe it’s only a sense of tidiness or simplicity, but focusing on the State as the opponent, seems easier than focusing on the writhing mass of humanity and all their possible coalitions to advance self-interest. The use of my resources by the State to prosecute me is of course a concern, and this single issue can be of overwhelming significance. Nevertheless, the State is a point of focus, an identifiable enemy against which to be vigilant. The group debate can be influenced by individuals of good character, and victories won can be established as standards for future reference and applicability.
What this debate illustrates is the extreme degrees of freedom present in this world. We can choose to be Statists or ACs, and there are points plus and minus on both sides. I believe the State in a strongly Christian has a high likelihood of producing a good living environment for the people. And, you believe the AC system is better because people will be held to account locally when there is no government to function as the intermediary to justice.
JH: Tom, that is awesome!! And you just made me grow and reach a new conclusion. Let me run this by you…
Someday the technology will exist for people to reasonably expect to leave the earth for other planets and establish themselves, either in orbiting man-made structures or by colonizing other worlds. Once this technology is widely available, it will last for eternity, for the rest of mankind’s existence. Living off-planet will be a viable choice for everyone. At some point, the number of days of human existence having that technology will FAR EXCEED all of the days of human history up to that point. We will describe human existence in two fundamental eras: The brief LANDLOCKED era of being stuck on earth, and the unlimited EXPANSION era of humanity spreading out into the universe.
But there was also an earlier EXPANSION era! All of human history up until the last couple of centuries was also an EXPANSION era because there was always a place on earth to settle and escape from civilization. So, our current LANDLOCKED era is quite short and unique in all of human existence!!
I think the answer about the state hinges on this perspective. When we are no longer landlocked, we will be able to live in a free society. People will be able to leave earth and be free to their own standards. Goodness won’t need to co-exist with evil.
TLA: This appears to be our major point of contention. I do not believe it is ever possible for man to not coexist with evil. Man can act out the ends of evil one moment, and goodness the next. Children can be born who have controlling, manipulative, surreptitious natures and their passion to satisfy the flesh will not necessarily be well controlled by the discipline of parents and the group. Such seeds can form communities of like-minded souls, and create their own potent form of evil. Without strong and effective parenting and Godly community standards, these tares will grow and contaminate the purity of the harvest.
Such growth of bad souls, and bad colonies of souls, is not the province of only the State or the Stateless community. Both groups are subject to the same consequences of uncontrolled passion. In other words, the common solution is men of right moral understanding banding together to enforce the standards of Godliness on the community. If the Stateless community has a strong and right commitment to Godliness, that system can work as well as the State.
In other words, I see the issue not as to whether the State or Stateless societal organization is better, but whether a society chooses to organize itself around Biblical Godliness or some other standard. I think it is easier to implement a State governed by the principles of Biblical Godliness than an amorphous Stateless group, hence I think the State is a better organizational unit than Statelessness.
JH: But, as long as we are landlocked on earth, it is as if we are all locked, shoulder to shoulder, inside a small room with potential lunatics who might destroy us. We cannot live “freely” in a room with insane and potentially violent people. As long as we are landlocked in a small room with evil, we will always need to struggle against EVIL for our survival. It may not be moral to dominate others! It may not be wise to have a political structure where evil might dominate! But our ability to achieve raw power over the insane, during this brief landlocked period in human history, is the best excuse for the temporary existence of the state that I can think of.
TLA: It is, and will always be, necessary to dominate evil in the Stateless community as well as in the State. Evil is ubiquitous, inherent, and unavoidable. It can arise in any person at any time. It must be defined, its practitioners identified, and their behavior extinguished by effective punishment, and the soul retrained in right action and control of passions. It is impossible to leave evil behind by escaping to virgin territory. It is only possible to advocate and educate for good behavior in each community/group and administer effective consequences and training for bad behavior. To my mind, such is the definition of a Godly State, and such is the Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.
What do you think?