Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Libertarian Taliban

Ayn Rand's insights on the libertarian movement are proven true day by day. If one had doubted that the crisis of libertarianism could have gotten worse, well, it freaking well can.

You've probably heard of round squares and married bachelors. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… a totalitarian libertarian!

Christian Reconstructionist Gary North, who wrote one of those fashionable critiques of Ayn Rand, is in with the Mises Institute crowd and hangs out with the Austrian School people. Cool, innit? So far, so good. There's one "but" though - this guy is… a theocrat. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in the literal sense of the word - it's not a metaphor. In North's libertarian paradise, society would be run by the churches:

In this structure of plural governments, the institutional churches serve as advisors to the other institutions (the Levitical function). (…) Thus, each of the three covenantal institutions is to be run under God, as interpreted by its lawfully elected or ordained leaders, with the advice of the churches.

"Freedom" in that society would only be granted to the believers, while the sinners, North argues, would not enjoy the fruits of liberty:

Protection, in this theocratic perspective, is not by state controls but by the might of the "Great God", who is "Our King." (…) Man the sinner, however, is a slave, and his freedom is in essence a freedom to sin.

George Grant, another Reconstructionist, clearly outlines what exactly these Christian Bolsheviks are after:

"World conquest," proclaims George Grant, in what by Reconstructionist standards is not an especially breathless formulation. "It is dominion we are after. Not just a voice... not just influence...not just equal time. It is dominion we are after."

North elaborates on the means that would be used to achieve "dominion":

In winning a nation to the gospel, the sword as well as the pen must be used.

This self-styled libertarian has no qualms about cracking down on the freedom of speech and freedom of religion: 

As a tactic for a short-run defense of the independent Christian school movement, the appeal to religious liberty is legitimate. Everyone who is attempting to impose a world-and-life view on a majority (or on a ruling minority) always uses some version of the liberty doctrine to buy himself and his movement some time, some organizational freedom, and some power. Still, nobody really believes in the whole idea. Politics always involves establishing one view of the 'holy commonwealth,' and excluding all other rival views. The Communist Party uses the right of free association to get an opportunity to create a society in which all such rights are illegal. The major churches of any society are all maneuvering for power, so that their idea of lawful legislation will become predominant. (…) Everyone talks about religious liberty, but no one believes it.
So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God. "

This Pol Pot of the libertarian movement also says a presumably "libertarian" Inquisition would eradicate heresy and sin:

The State must protect Christian civilization from rival religious views which would destroy the state. (…) Pornography and abortion will be illegal. God's law will be enforced.

Greg Bahnsen, another Reconstructionist, is not mincing words either:

"When someone tries to undermine the commitment to Jehovah which is fundamental to the civil order of a godly state--then that person needs to be restrained by the magistrate...those who will not acknowledge Jehovah as the ultimate authority behind the civil law code which the magistrate is enforcing would be punished and repressed,"

According to Christian Reconstructionism, the practice of non-Christian religions would only be allowed in "the privacy of your own home" but they would not be publicly practiced, and proselytism would be prohibited.

North also wants the Christian KGB to enforce a single moral system:

There is no doubt that Christianity teaches pluralism, but a very special kind of pluralism: plural institutions under God's single comprehensive law system. It does not teach (…) a pluralism of moralities (…).
The Bible tells us which acts are to be prohibited from the public places. (…)

Man, it gests nastier. What we have here is a Christian Taliban. North advocates the capital punishment for women who undergo abortion and those who advise them to do so, as well as for cursing parents and blasphemy:

"When people curse their parents, it unquestionably is a capital crime," he writes. "The integrity of the family must be maintained by the threat of death." Likewise with blasphemy, dealt with summarily in Leviticus 24:16: "And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him."

Reconstructionists also support the death penalty for homosexuality, heresy, apostasy, premarital sex, adultery and juvenile delinquency.

As an aside, there are three kinds of religious fanatics in the US. Fundamentalists seek to isolate their communities in medieval-style ghetto worlds "protected" from the benefits of science, progress and civilization. Evangelicals advocate moderate involvement in politics to bully and coerce innocent people into complying with the ramblings of a 1st century Galilean madman. Reconstructionists, which are the worst of the three, seek to usher in a "Kingdom of God" on Earth by basing the entire political and social structure on the archaic scribbles of Middle Eastern barbarians.

Why is the Mises Institute coddling a Christian jihadist? If I may venture a guess, this has something to do with many libertarians' explicit or implicit rejection of reason as the ultimate foundation of knowledge. Reconstructionist Andrew Sandlin puts it quite clearly:

"Reason itself is not an objective `given' but is itself a divinely created instrument employed by the unregenerate to further their attack on God." The "appeal to reason as final arbiter" must be rejected; "if man is permitted autonomy in one sphere he will soon claim autonomy in all spheres....We therefore deny every expression of human autonomy--liberal, conservative or libertarian."

If we do not want to revert to medieval barbarism or, worse, be literally stoned into the Stone Age by the likes of Gary North, we must take an uncompromising, hardcore stance on the relation of reason to faith. Faith - any faith in any degree whatsoever - is a rejection of reason, and even a tiny bit of mysticism (such as going to church on Sunday) provides an opportunity for a North-style Taliban. In questions of ideology, no centrism or moderation has any long-term chance. Ideas, when followed to their logical conclusions, tend to lead to a radicalism of one kind or another. It is up to you to be a radical for freedom or a radical for medieval savagery. No compromise between faith and reason is possible.

P.S. The quotes are taken from here and the books cited here.

1 comment:

Reasonsjester said...

Interesting. I'll have to give this a full read and I'll get back to you.