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Thread: Convince Me: anarchy is a legitimate political position for a Christian

  1. #11
    Child of the One True King Raphael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by firstfloor View Post
    Government of the people by the people is a popular myth. First, you have to notice when you are being taken advantage of. The governing classes through ownership of the media and other institutions control your thoughts Ė to make you think all is well, or at least, the politicians are on the case to fix things. In fact, itís not all well, and they're not on the case. What they are doing is stuffing their own pockets as fast as they can before they get kicked out. Public service is for wimps, they say.

    The only answer is rebellion on a grand scale. Take your country back. Nationalise everything. Pay no compensation.

    If Jesus were alive now, he would lead the charge against the White House and cut off Trumpís ridiculous hairdo.

    Is that convincing enough?
    No, this is just a vaguely coherent rant, and I specifically asked that current American politics be kept out of this thread.
    Strike 1.
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  2. #12
    Professor KingsGambit's Avatar
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    I tend to think that it is not as the Bible indicates that rulers are ordained by God to maintain order, "God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer".

    I think there's one decent argument one could make in favor of Christian anarchy: 1 Samuel 8, where the Israelites ask for a king and God warns them (through Samuel) what a king would do. I don't think this argument succeeds, though, because the system of government in question wasn't anarchy, but rather theocracy (literally). Verse 7 suggests God actively leading the country. No modern day country would be a theocracy with a covenant such as that which Israel had, so the situation could not be identical today.
    For what was given to everyone for the use of all, you have taken for your exclusive use. The earth belongs not to the rich, but to everyone. - Ambrose, 4th century AD

    All cruelty springs from weakness. - Seneca the Younger

  3. #13
    tWebber Starlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raphael View Post
    Probably the closest to the term I'm meaning is that used by former TWeb owner Dizzle who is a member of the Libertarian party in the US who is also an anarchist.
    Hmm, okay. Personally I am quite sympathetic to Chomsky's anarchy, but regard Dizzle's US Libertarian anarchy as a bad joke (as does Chomsky).

    Anarchism is usually considered a far-left ideology and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflects anti-authoritarian interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism, mutualism or participatory economics.
    I note that very much reflects Chomsky's views, not Dizzle's.

    for the purposes of this discussion we will go with the rather broad definition from here:
    [hypercite=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism]Anarchism is a political philosophy that advocates self-governed societies based on voluntary institutions. These are often described as stateless societies, although several authors have defined them more specifically as institutions based on non-hierarchical or free associations. Anarchism holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful.
    Okay, if you're going to define anarchism in this anti-state sense, it would seem to me pretty hard to interpret the bible as anti-anarchy. Throughout the Torah, the Israelite tribal society could be described as anarchic - there was no formal state, no taxes, to the extent that law codes were given and enforced at various times they were religious in nature rather than governmental. The move to a governmental system only comes with the institution of the monarchy in the books of Samuel/Kings beginning with the appointment of King Saul. Prior to that there's a mishmash of different systems that are pretty anarchic and localized. (And this becomes especially true if you accept the critical scholarly reading that the "Mosaic" law codes reported in the Torah are actually a reflection of law codes written ~800bc through to ~500bc during the monarchy period rather than actually at the time of Moses)

    I think that often democracy is a term used to the point where it looses a lot of meaning
    Wow, really? I would have thought democracy was one of the simplest and most straight-forward terms in politics. People vote, people get elected.

    I mean, you can have somewhat weird forms, like the very first 'democratic' practices in Greece that worked by random selection, like we do with jury service today, but most people wouldn't think of that as being "democracy" because it doesn't involve voting.

  4. #14
    tWebber Starlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    Especially when it is used to refer to a representative Republic.
    I was listening to some youtube videos of Chomsky talking about anarchy and democracy this week, and one of his comments that stuck with me about democracy, was that Aristotle and Madison had opposite views. Both thinkers acknowledged that democracy was about participation of the populace, and Aristotle's view was that this was great and more of it was to be encouraged, while Madison thought it was bad because it would upset existing class hierarchies (the average [white male] person would demand the right to buy properly and vote for politicians to pass such laws and the existing wealthy land-owners wouldn't be able to continue to hoard it all for themselves and continue to reap the benefits associated with their monopolies over land ownership).

    In Chomsky's explanation, Madison hoped that by having a Senate where the senators we appointed by the powerful and not by the people, that the Senate would be able to act on behalf on the class interests of the rich and powerful and block the will of the people that was represented by the congress. Obviously the 17th amendment in the early 20th century which changed Senators to be elected by popular vote undid this.

    In that sense, Chomsky would Aristotle as an anarchist (in this area of thought at least) in that Aristotle wanted a greater distribution of power to the populace, and he sees Madison as representing the opposite (that power should be kept away from the populace in order to maintain existing hierarchies).

    Of course, this once again raises the question of "is 'democracy' 'anarchic'?" and how you define those terms matters. In Dizzle's US Libertarian view, democracy is not anarchic because it is about how you elect the State and the US Libertarian goal is a Stateless society. In a more traditional anarchic view, democracy is anarchic because it gives power to the masses and removed the hierarchy of rulers (monarchs, emperors, aristocracy, etc) having great power over the ruled masses (serfs, plebs, etc).

  5. #15
    tWebber Starlight's Avatar
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    I was thinking about Dizzle's Stateless type of anarchy a bit more. Obviously if you remove the State you've got to either replace the things the State does with other institutions that do them, or you don't have those things.

    I was thinking we can break down the things the state does into two general categories:
    1. Laws
    2. Spending

    Passing laws that set out The Rules is a major function of the State, and those laws range from obvious things like Don't Murder and Don't Steal, to more complex things like processes and certification procedures to ensure food safety, to commercial compliance laws designed to ensure a functioning and free market, etc. Because >99% of people will obey >99% of the laws the State passes, the State is able to have large effects on the behavior of the population while only spending a relatively small proportion of its budget (~5% in NZ) on compliance costs (police, courts, prisons etc). In other words the State is able to get a lot done just by announcing that things are law, and in response the populace will do them.

    In a Stateless society you've got to somehow replace the State's position as a declarer of laws with some other institution that has some sort of enforcement power, or not have laws (which seems problematic if you don't even have "No Murder", but is also problematic if you can't have rules that prevent people dying of food poisoning due to poor preparation processes etc). Obviously a big question is, if such institutions exist in a Stateless society, who has power over them and who gets to decide what they do? A lot of the US Libertarian descriptions I've seen appear to me to revert to Feudalism where it boils down in practice to having a number of super-rich effective-Lords who rule the area around them and set the laws for the people in their domain.

    The other main function of the State is spending money on things, that are understood to be for the public good. In NZ, the big-ticket items of government spending, which constitute ~15% of the budget each are:
    1. Healthcare for all
    2. Education for ~16 years per person
    3. Superannuation payments to support elderly people
    4. Various benefit schemes to support the poor, sick, unemployed, disabled etc.

    So ignoring for a moment the thousands of little things the government spends tidbits of money on (ranging from building roads, to maintaining national parks, to preserving cultural and heritage sites, to national defense, to advertising NZ internationally as a tourist destination etc), those are the big ticket items that would disappear or need replacing somehow if you removed the State from the picture. So you get things like US Libertarians cheering letting people who don't have healthcare die. As you and I have discussed previously, Raphael, we both support extending the current NZ government's healthcare budget to include some things it currently doesn't happen to cover for historical reasons (e.g. dental care for adults). But if we were to look at moving to a Stateless society, we're no longer talking about some nuanced discussion where we weigh pros and cons of slightly increased or slightly decreased government spending, we're talking about throwing out both babies and their bathwater and abolishing the entire government-funded healthcare system for everyone that the country has had for 76 years. We're also talking about getting rid of the education system that the country has had for a century, leaving the old people who don't have family to look after them or money to support themselves to starve/go homeless, leaving the disabled people who can't fend for themselves to die etc.

    I don't think that the US Libertarian crowd that you're calling anarchists, have any answers to those issues that a reasonable or kind person could take seriously. But I don't necessarily understand your question of how being a Christian would impact on this view. It doesn't take being a Christian to not want to live in a feudal society where a few rich lords dictate the rules for those around them and the old and the sick die on the sides of the roads (if any roads exist because the State isn't there to create them). Obviously Christians are supposed to be loving and compassionate and so wouldn't want a political system like that, but by exactly the same token I would say that Christian love and compassion should motivate Christians to take economically left-wing positions in politics, and I don't see you agreeing with that, so I'm confused as to why you would think to draw the line against the US Libertarians.

  6. #16
    tWebber Rational Gaze's Avatar
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    Anarchism in relation to human government. The Bible is pretty clear that, when human government and God's law come into conflict, we obey God. All law and moral values are ultimately derived from the very being of God Himself. Without God, there is no value, no morals, no human rights. Anarchism rejects human government, since all human are fallible, and government inevitably infringes upon the rights of its subjects. I don't know if I would call myself an anarchist though, since it is at least theoretically possible for their to be a state based on voluntarist principles. But then there is the question of whether it would be a state.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
    (if any roads exist because the State isn't there to create them)
    I don't want to insult your intelligence by suggesting that you actually believe what you just said.

  7. #17
    tWebber Starlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rational Gaze View Post
    I don't want to insult your intelligence by suggesting that you actually believe what you just said.
    Are you in the "we won't need roads because we'll all have jet packs" group of libertarians?

  8. #18
    Professor KingsGambit's Avatar
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    I'm about as anti-libertarian as one gets and I still think the roads argument is a poor one. People will make do to accommodate economic necessity in their circumstances, as did the residents in the Kowloon Walled City.
    For what was given to everyone for the use of all, you have taken for your exclusive use. The earth belongs not to the rich, but to everyone. - Ambrose, 4th century AD

    All cruelty springs from weakness. - Seneca the Younger

  9. #19
    tWebber Starlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    I'm about as anti-libertarian as one gets and I still think the roads argument is a poor one. People will make do to accommodate economic necessity in their circumstances, as did the residents in the Kowloon Walled City.
    Am I right in thinking Kowloon actually had zero roads and just had garbage filled alleyways?

    I think there's a lot of serious problems with Libertarianism as I outlined in my second to last post. Roading is only about 5% of the government expenditure, so it's only a tiny one of many things they'd have to explain how to replace or not have in their feudalistic dystopia.

  10. #20
    tWebber Darth Executor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
    Throughout the Torah, the Israelite tribal society could be described as anarchic - there was no formal state, no taxes, to the extent that law codes were given and enforced at various times they were religious in nature rather than governmental.
    "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

    There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

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