Category Archives: Christian Anarchism

Willful Ignorance and the Limits of human reason (without Divine Revelation.)

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Today I want to make my rebuttal of a friends defense for Larkin Rose’s expressed position on God/ Deism.
Larken Rose Recognizes the fingerprint of Intelligence within the incredible design of living things yet appears ambivalent towards any further thought or discussion about the ramifications of this Revelation.
He reminds me of the late A Flew… the once High priest of Atheism who in the face of the discoveries of Modern science esp the complexity of living things abandoned his Atheism for belief in Intelligent design… yet never made the full traverse to Bible believing Faith in THE LORD.
Flew was an honest thinker yet ran out of Time…whereas Larken Rose still has time to discover the truth… yet his attitude appears to me to be that of a Man who does not really want to go down that road…and I question his motives.

I argue why Deism may once have been forgivable/ understandable in the distant past, yet is inexcusable today, and that now Reason and Logic are on the side of the Theist.
While both entail the belief in a Creator God, what distinguishes Deism from Theism is that Deism rejects Divine interventions in the affairs of Men… No Miracles to circumvent the laws of Nature… and esp No Divine special Revelations to mankind.
It will be necessary for me to skip over large portions of history and related material for the sake of brevity such as the Deism of the 18th century.
(I will have to do a separate Blog post on these important aspects of this topic at some later date, and insert a link to it here)

Watch Larken Rose Here…

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Ten or more years ago I was asked to debate Hamilton based Atheists for the existence of the Christian God.
One of my opponents was Garry Mallett from Act.
Now The only reason I have mentioned this debate is because the 2nd part of my argument was the logical assumption that *If there is in fact a God (in the Full context of the word) and that he made us human beings…as Rational, conscious beings… that it would be a reasonable assumption to think that surely he would communicate with us some how… who he is… why he made us…etc rather than just leaving us Ignorant about such things.

That was my premise for why it is rational to at least consider the possibility that the Bible’s claim to be the Divine Revelation from the Creator of the Universe to be a plausible possibility at least… and that the honest thinking person having first concluded that the Universe and Living things are best understood as the products of intelligent design… that following upon that, that The Bible answers the questions that naturally flow on…. The *Who* is this Great designer of the Universe… and what message does he have for us… his Conscious Rational Moral Free Agent Creations… and most importantly… that such a Revelation is precisely what the rational mind would expect from the God who is there… rather than silence.

This is an argument that places Theism as superior to mere Deism and in fact renders belief in Deism today to be a cop out…poor reasoning at best… mostly willful ignorance.

Deism and Theism both draw upon what has been described as ‘Natural religion’… Ideas about God derived from looking at Nature… looking at what has been described as ‘The Book of God’s works’.
Yet Theism makes an additional claim that we have a second Book that we may also gain direct and infallible knowledge about God.. The Book of his actual words.

Deism/ Natural Religion is great up to certain point, yet severely limited as it can never tell us Human beings *who God is*… only that he is there… and that he is super intelligent and super powerful, and that there is some sort of Objective moral law which We Human beings ought to at least try and live by… that gives our Moral sence some legitimate foundation and purpose… rather than simply being some sort of illusion… mere sentiment… mere feelings.
An Idea such as ‘Kharma’, or ‘Reaping what you sow’… These are the sorts of ideas human beings have arrived at via contemplating nature… ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you’ … ‘Be Good’… we know that’Theft is evil’…because we hate it when someone steals from us… so dont steal from others… yet still none of this has anything higher than our own opinion to rest upon… or the opinion of ‘wise others’… and is therefore not impervious to arguments of evil men that assert that all such moralizations are vacuous.
Dark minds may posit the question… Maybe the Deity is Malevolent?
Do not Floods and Earthquakes signal that our creator is far from a caring God! ????
Is the only Moral Rule …contrary to what the wowzers would have us believe…that the Strong may subject the weak?
Are they trying to subject the strong to whiles of the weak?
What the heck is really going on?
Deism cant definitively answer this… yet it gives those whom cling to it a certain self-justification for not being Nihilistic… for claiming they are Moral and good. (something that is necessary because of what the bible describes as our innate knowledge/ consciousness of Good and evil)

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:…”
St Paul. Romans 1:20.

Yet Deism says *Nobody can claim to really know*.

Now I love many of the Great heathen thinkers of classical times, whom both believed a God exists, and that Humanity should be moral, and because of the times and places in which *they lived* I accept that they really had taken ‘Natural religion’ to its highest forms and that they had no ‘Rungs upon which they could possibly ascend higher and closer to God’, and that they were Good, wise, Moral men…In the context of how good any man might be under such circumstances. (Separated/ aliens from Israel, mostly living before the advent of Christ)
It is at this plateau that many of the Great Heathen moral thinkers had arrived.
The Stoic Marcus Aurelius is supposed to have said…

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Though Aurelius lived post-Christ and had ‘herd’ about the Christians and held negative opinions about them, I am not sure to what degree he had any real first hand communications with them, or any familiarity with the Old testament/ Book of Genesis, thus I tend to consider his situation as very similar to that of the *Pre-Christ* Gentile thinkers… Aliens from the Divine revelation.
He was a very interesting thinker…God will judge him.
Here is an interesting link to this Topic

Now As a Christian Theist who believes the Bible, I know there are Mountains of the most vital truths missing from this Natural/Deistic Faith position because I have the Divine Revelation… The Holy inspired and preserved words of God Almighty himself esp the Facts That Humanity is under a curse because of our Sin, and that our Sin separates us from God and puts us in danger of His Judgement and Damnation.
*It is possible*… because it is so obvious… without the aid of scripture to apprehend by the power of reason alone Humanities fallen/ sinful condition… our wickedness… our depravity… our Cruelty…. and perhaps from this a rationale may be conceived of the need to somehow appease the anger of the God(s)… for justice sake… all sorts of weird Ideas have been proposed… *Yet via reason it would be impossible to conceive of the doctrine of Christs virgin birth, and substitutional atonement for our sins, and resurrection*…from nature alone.
Indeed many Naturally minded people find these Doctrines repugnant… which leads to my main contentions for this blog about Deists living today in western civilization… and their willful ignorance/ rejection of the Divine Revelation… the Bible in which all these doctrines are laid out in the most Logical fashion from the very beginning in Genesis.

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As I have said Deism is severely handicapped to what degree it can reveal the nature of God to us… limited in its certainty of moral precepts, etc, none the less *Today*…far from these limits as being considered by trendy thinkers as pitfalls… these people actually *enjoy* them!
Most of these are people *Today* … follow a trend that became fashionable from the end of the Great reformation who… for various reasons…good or bad… *hate organised religion* (which tends to be where Theistic claims of having ‘Divine revelation’ are most prevalent) … they also enjoy what they see as ‘the Freedom to do as they please… the only moral restraints being their own conscience… and esp that Deism can make no emphatic claims of Divine Judgement for moral failures… it cant even emphatically state the validity of any Human Judgement derived from Nature.
They will say that ‘Reason’ is the only Authority they will subject themselves to, and as they have reached to limits of Reason… they cannot be subject to any higher Moral authority or law.

Philosophers love to quote Hume … “you cant get an ‘Ought from an Is”.
Its Funny though that ordinary people seem to be able to do just that without much trouble appealing to sentiment… they are not moved by arguments that say we can have no confidence in these… in fact to my thinking …the rational approach to this mystery of consciousness to the ideas of Good and evil is not to say ‘We cant ever know’… but instead to set out *in faith* on a Pilgrimage to discover some means by which our sentiments can find Objective validation… It is a quest of discovery for the Divine revelation from the Intelligent Creator whose existence is testified by his Natural handiwork.
And It is an Irony that in a work by the great skeptic himself David Hume called ‘Dialogues concerning Natural religion’ in which there is a debate about the existence of God, in which Hume deploys his skeptical arguments in the person of ‘Philo’, yet stunningly… in the final analysis his Book ends by giving the victory to the Theist ‘Cleanthes’!

My contention at the Debate was that not only did the Deity Communicate his existence and expectations of Humanity via Prophets and the written word… He intervened into Human affairs in the Most personal manor…. He visited us… and Walked among us… God was manifest in the flesh.

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“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:…”

Now when you add up all the components I have briefly discussed above you ought to be able to grasp why it is that I myself am a Theist… a Bible believer… That the fact that we westerners have easy access to the King James Bible and the book of Genesis therein, that willfully seeking to remain ignorant of the Divine revelation is inexcusable… and why it is that I have a pet dislike for modern Deism… esp its corruption/heresy of what I call Christian Deism which I see as a pathetic retreat from true Christian Theistic faith…caused by a weakness in faith and Bad reasoning… in the face of Atheist sophistry. (Topic for another Post)
I actually struggle to contain my contempt!
I need to take 5… and chill… and remember that it is only by Gods grace that I myself am a Christian at all.
I need to remember *How alien* I once was… How utterly incapable of apprehending the existence of God let alone the truthfulness of the Bible!

It is with all this in mind that I decided to keep calm and write this post..
Recently A friend of mine tried to justify the Deism of one of his Favorite thinkers Larkin Rose, which I had critisised as being pathetic… because he refused to make the most basic inference that Intelligent design demands *GOD* and that from this obvious conclusion… if he was an honest thinker… would demand he then begin a personal pilgrimage to discover *Who* this Grand designer is.

My friend began to repair to the arguments *of Classical Deism* and the limits that Logic faced in that direction… as if that excuse… which of course appears quite valid when looking back to heathen lands… and times before Christ… aliens to the Divine Revelation, Yet This blogpost is my express rebuttal to that argument when applied to modern thinkers like Larkin.
It is invalid for Thinkers today to simply rest on that ancient Plateau… because they live post Christ and have access to the Bible and history.
This makes them fully culpable for rejecting Jesus Christ.
Socrates on the other hand was not privy to the Bible… and I even conjecture that he would have become a Christian had he been given the opportunity… so many of his conclusions about Divine things being in perfect harmony with the scriptures… that he never had opportunity to read.
I say that If Socrates would have considered the Gargantuan explanatory power for the first chapters in the book of Genesis…plus all the rest… the Biblical explanation for the existence of Evil…The explanation of why God has separated himself from mankind… why we die… why there are Natural disasters, etc etc that it is very possible that he would have realised that this divine revelation gives a great logical basis for Biblical theistic faith when one applies it to the world about him.
That in fact the Bible *Is the Revelation* of the Intelligent designer of everything…his message to us his creatures… esp telling us *Who he is*… and what is *Really* going on.

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So I question why it is that though Larken Rose sees through the delusion of atheistic evolution, he still is apathetic towards discovering *Who God is* and challenge him to Read the King James Bible… to really contemplate it’s message… and that in doing so he would no longer be in a position to argue that Logic ends at the plateau of Natural religion.
The Bible is a logical extension from the Plateau at the top of the Mountain… upwards out of the stratosphere all the way… a direct line of communication to the Deity… a logical vindication of Bible believing christian Theism.
Of course Satan and his minions have been attacking the Bible, and via sophistry undermining faith in its veracity as The Bible is the Ultimate Fortress of God for the believer. It is the Ultimate Lighthouse in the storm of life Shining its beams upon the treacherous Rocks of peril, and a Guide of Safe passage… salvation to every soul who sees its light and navigates into the Harbour of God’s love and Grace.
Satan is the enemy Of God and Men’s souls…The Father of Lies… it was by cunning craftiness that he was able to deceive Eve, and get her to disbelieve Gods word and to Eat of the forbidden fruit, and he has been at this game the whole time… Deceiving… yet the word of God remains like a Rock

Happy Resurrection Day!
Tim Wikiriwhi.
Protestant, 1611 King James Bible believer, Dispensationalist, Christian Libertarian.

The last paragraphs of Humes Dialouges concerning Natural religion…

If the whole of Natural Theology, as some people seem to maintain, resolves itself into one simple, though somewhat ambiguous, at least undefined proposition, That the cause or causes of order in the universe probably bear some remote analogy to human intelligence: If this proposition be not capable of extension, variation, or more particular explication: If it affords no inference that affects human life, or can be the source of any action or forbearance: And if the analogy, imperfect as it is, can be carried no farther than to the human intelligence; and cannot be transferred, with any appearance of probability, to the other qualities of the mind: If this really be the case, what can the most inquisitive, contemplative, and religious man do more than give a plain, philosophical assent to the proposition, as often as it occurs; and believe that the arguments, on which it is established, exceed the objections, which lie against it? Some astonishment indeed will naturally arise from the greatness of the object: Some melancholy from its obscurity: Some contempt of human reason, that it can give no solution more satisfactory with regard to so extraordinary and magnificent a question. But believe me, Cleanthes, the most natural sentiment, which a well-disposed mind will feel on this occasion, is a longing desire and expectation, that heaven would be pleased to dissipate, at least alleviate this profound ignorance, by affording some more particular revelation to mankind, and making discoveries of the nature, attributes, and operations of the divine object of our faith. A person, seasoned with a just sense of the imperfections of natural reason, will fly to revealed truth with the greatest avidity: While the haughty Dogmatist, persuaded, that he can erect a complete system of Theology by the mere help of philosophy,
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disdains any farther aid, and rejects this adventitious instructor. To be a philosophical Sceptic is, in a man of letters, the first and most essential step towards being a sound, believing Christian; a proposition, which I would willingly recommend to the attention of Pamphilus: And I hope Cleanthes will forgive me for interposing so far in the education and instruction of his pupil.
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Cleanthes and Philo pursued not this conversation much farther; and as nothing ever made greater impression on me, than all the reasonings of that day; so, I confess, that, upon a serious review of the whole, I cannot but think, that Philo’s principles are more probable than Demea’s; but that those of Cleanthes approach still nearer to the truth.

Read the whole Dialogue here (It is fabulous! 🙂 )

More from Tim…. The Rock of Divine Revelation.

Death of an Atheist. Follow the evidence.

Rapturous Amazement! The Advance of Science Converts The High Priest of Atheism to Deism. A Flew.

Car Crash.

How can a Good God exist when there is so much evil in the world? (part1) Atheist Nihilism.

Christ’s work of Salvation on the Cross… The Great Equaliser.

Dispensational Truth. 2Timothy2vs15, Ephesians 3vs1-9

The Irony. Why I follow St Paul… Not Jesus.

Whole lotta Larken

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Larken Rose, author of The Most Dangerous Superstition, is my favourite anarchist thinker.

Larken posted this on his Facebook page yesterday. It’s highly germane to my previous post damning the MSM so I decided to copy and paste it below.

The world is really damn big, and there are a lot of people on it. No kidding, right? But the near incomprehensible number of humans on the planet allows for massive manipulation and deception. To wit, if I could merely choose which events and stories you hear about—even if everything I tell you is completely true and accurate—I would have massive control over your perceptions, control over your thoughts and fears, and therefore a lot of control even over your actions. If, for example, I made sure you were told about it—and saw the gruesome images—every single time someone was injured by a chainsaw (which happens about 80 times a day), you would think it was an intolerable, shocking epidemic… a crisis! If you weren’t very good at statistics and critical thought, you might even be joining the call to have chainsaws banned, or at least licensed and heavily regulated.

As another example, if I made sure you heard about it, in lurid detail, every time someone with red hair mistreated an animal, and you were exposed to that day after day, over time you would—whether consciously, subconsciously, or both—start to think that redheads are all sadistic animal torturers. Just due to the sheer numbers of people on the planet, there could be a news channel that reported only redheads mistreating animals, without repeating the same story twice, and without ever running out of stories (provided they had a way to find all those stories). For those who want to check the math, there are estimated to be somewhere around 100,000,000 redheads in the world. If even one out of every 100,000 of those was nasty to an animal at some point, that would give our “Redheads Being Mean to Animals Network” around three unique stories a day, for a year, never mentioning the same individual twice. (After a year you could probably start over with the list of people without the viewers noticing.)

The point is, if YOUR perception of any group—any race, religion, nationality, fans of a particular band, people who wear a certain fashion, people born in a certain month, etc.—is based on what you see on a screen, or hear on the radio, keep in mind that you are allowing someone else to mold your opinions for you. And if your view of that group doesn’t match your own direct, firsthand experiences, then you are probably being lied to, and someone is probably intentionally instilling fear or hatred in you in order to serve their own agenda.

Take it from an anarchist, living in a world of people who are being taught to fear anarchists.

A quick question for the reader. What is YOUR perception of anarchists?

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Allow me to mold your opinions for you.

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Yeah nah. You can mold your own opinions.

Meanwhile, I pick my fights, and defending the preferred labels of the political tribes with which I’m affiliated from what I and other tribe members deem to be misuse isn’t my battle.

There’s an insuperable problem with the terms ‘anarchy’, ‘anarchism’, ‘anarchist’ that isn’t going to go away. Simply put, the trouble is that the term ‘anarchist’ (e.g.) is an auto-antonym. Check out the Collins English Dictionary definition.

1. a person who advocates the abolition of government and a social system based on voluntary cooperation
2. a person who causes disorder or upheaval

I’m a person who advocates a social system based on voluntary cooperation and the abolition of government, but I’m not a person who causes disorder or upheaval. So, am I an anarchist or not?

What do you say I am?

I say I’m a voluntaryist.

I tried voting but it didn’t work

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My pet issue has always been cannabis law reform. I’ve always voted for cannabis law reform.

In 1996 I voted in the first New Zealand general election held under the MMP voting system. Naturally, I gave my party vote to the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, who gained 1.66% of the party vote. Their result was simultaneously disappointing and encouraging. Disappointing, because it fell well short of the 5% threshold required to gain seats in Parliament under MMP. Encouraging because it was a solid base of support on which to build.

So in 1999 I voted for the ALCP again. But this time their share of the party vote fell by about half a percentage point to 1.10%. Instead of voting harder, people were realising that a vote for the ALCP is a wasted vote under MMP. But in a sudden plot twist, former ALCP candidate Nándor Tánczos entered Parliament as a Green Party MP and started making noises about cannabis law reform.

Clearly, I hadn’t been paying attention. Here was a party with a serious cannabis law reform policy that was actually in Parliament. So in 2002 I voted Green. Nándor was returned to Parliament and the Greens gained two more seats. Meanwhile, the ALCP’s share of the party vote fell again to 0.64%.

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Then I discovered what seemed to be my natural political home, the Libertarianz Party. I became their Spokesman on Health and stood for Parliament for the first time on the Libertarianz Party list in 2005. We gained a solid 0.04% of the party vote. Meanwhile, the ALCP’s share of the party vote fell to a record low of 0.25% and Nándor lost his seat. The Greens had lost interest in cannabis law reform and the dreadlocked skateboarder was now being seen by some as increasingly out of favour. He’d been moved down to 7th place on the Green Party list and the Greens were now down to 6 seats. But Green Co-Leader Rod Donald died tragically in late 2005 which meant that Nándor got to re-enter Parliament for one final term, during which he achieved the cannabis law reform movement’s one and only small success, new licensing rules for industrial hemp.

After the 2005 election I came out fully as a drug user and became the Libertarianz Party’s Spokesman on Drugs. In 2008 I stood again on the Libertarianz Party list and also as the Libertarianz Party candidate for the Mana electorate. I got 64 votes. The Libz gained 1% of a percentage point, skyrocketing to 0.05% of the party vote. Meanwhile, the ALCP rebounded from their record 2002 low and got a 0.41% share of the party vote. Nándor quit Parliament and went away to cleanse his soul. After the 2008 election I jumped waka and joined the ALCP.

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In 2011 I stood for Parliament again, this time on the ALCP list and as the ALCP candidate for the Mana electorate. Of course, by this time I fully realised that my chances of ever getting into Parliament on a cannabis law reform ticket were close to zero. I now regarded what I was doing as an exercise in educating the public and getting the cannabis law reform message out there, and my electoral results as a barometer of my success in that regard. I was simply taking a stand and speaking out against the injustice of the War on Drugs. I’d figured that I’d get more bang for my buck, as it were, campaigning under the ALCP banner instead of the Libz banner, and I was right. I got 334 votes as an ALCP candidate, up from 64 votes as a Libz candidate, and the ALCP’s share of the party vote went up 0.05% to 0.51%, its best result since 1999. The Libz once again barely registered with a mere 0.05% of the party vote, and soon after called it quits and disappeared from the New Zealand political scene.

Significant and sensible cannabis law reform started to happen elsewhere in the world. On 1 January 2014 cannabis law reform activist and Iraq war veteran Sean Azzariti became the first person to legally purchase cannabis for recreational use in Colorado. I was sure in my own mind that this could only bode well for the ALCP’s electoral prospects here in New Zealand. In 2014 I stood for Parliament again, again on the ALCP list and as the ALCP candidate for the Mana electorate. I got my best result yet with 403 votes as the ALCP candidate, but the ALCP’s share of the party vote dropped back down to 0.46%, much to my surprise and chagrin. And, also much to my surprise and chagrin, John Key’s National Party was returned for a third term. Worst of all, National’s lapdog Peter Dunne was returned as Associate Minister of Health, thereby ensuring that there would be no cannabis law reform for a further three years.

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I’ve become very cynical. To me it doesn’t seem like a very big ask to be allowed to grow and use a harmless medicinal herb. I’ve been advocating for safe, sane and sensible drug law reform for three decades and seen nothing happen except some farmers who were prepared to jump through bureaucratic hoops being allowed to grow industrial hemp.

I’ve participated in our democracy, at some considerable financial and emotional cost to myself. And achieved precisely nothing in terms of legislative gains. Meanwhile, arch-prohibitionist Peter Dunne, in league with Satan, pushed through the Psychoactive Substances Act. Instead of drug law reform, New Zealand got landed with peak prohibition. What a total fustercluck.

I’ve always voted for cannabis law reform but I’ve never gotten what I voted for. Insanity is voting for the same thing over and over and expecting a different result every time. But I’m not crazy, just a bit of a slow learner. I tried voting but it didn’t work. So now I don’t vote. I’m plotting to overgrow the government instead.

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I am an anarchist

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What’s the difference between a minarchist and an anarchist? About 6 months.

That’s the joke. Well, I suppose it’s funny. Because it took me 12 years to make the transition (and we’re still waiting on my co-blogger Tim).

But, all joking aside, what’s the difference between a minarchist and an anarchist?

(You may or may not like the following definitions. But they’re the ones I’m using. 🙂 )

An anarchist is a person who believes in, advocates, or promotes anarchism. Anarchism is

a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups

A minarchist is a person who believes in, advocates, or promotes minarchism. Minarchism (also known as minimal statism) is

a political philosophy and a form of libertarianism. … it holds that states ought to exist (as opposed to anarchy); that their only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud; and that the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts.

Minarchist and anarchist are both species of libertarian. They’re both for freedom. But a minarchist is a minimal statist, whereas an anarchist is against the state entirely. That’s the nub of their disagreement.

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So why am I an anarchist? Because I’m a libertarian! Quod erat demonstrandum.

Here’s the argument in a nutshell. A libertarian is for freedom and thereby against all forms of compulsion or coercion. The state is that organization that acquires its revenue by physical coercion and achieves a compulsory monopoly of force and of ultimate decision-making power over a given territorial area. Therefore a libertarian is against the state as a matter of principle.

The argument above is valid, but of course its conclusion is only as good as its premises and these are open to question. Is a libertarian necessarily against all forms of compulsion or coercion? I’ve argued elsewhere that libertarians are huge fans of initiating force. All freedoms are good but some freedoms are better than others. Is freedom from minimal state (minarchist) coercion a genuine freedom of the right kind? I say so, but a minarchist might beg to differ.

And what about Murray Rothbard’s definition of the state? Is it correct? Does it rule in organisations that are not states, or rule out those that are? For example, suppose that a hypothetical minarchy one day decided to abolish compulsory taxation and fund its minimal state activities by voluntary donations only. Would it still be a state, or would it now be an autonomous collective of some sort, such as an anarcho-syndicalist commune? The latter, according to Rothbard, since it is in the nature of a state that it acquire its revenue by physical coercion.

I reserve the right to secede from New Zealand, either alone or in free association with like-minded others. (I already declared that I am a governing authority.) In my next post I explain why I am an anarcho-statist.

For now I leave you with a couple of Stephan Kinsella classics, viz., his account of what libertarianism is and his explanation of what it means to be an anarchist.

because the state necessarily commits aggression, the consistent libertarian, in opposing aggression, is also an anarchist.

I ask any diehard minarchists who are still minarchists after having read both of Kinsella’s essays to read them both again before commenting.

You’re gonna get what’s coming

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You’re gonna get what’s coming.

Well, you would if it were up to me.

I have always believed that the ideal society is a meritocracy.

A meritocracy is a society in which each individual gets what he or she deserves. Anything less than this is unjust.

But that’s not saying very much. In fact, it’s not saying anything at all, unless accompanied by an account of what it is that each individual deserves. Preferably such an account will be a full-fledged moral theory, but let’s go pre-theoretical, and assume, just for the sake of my argument here, that each and every member of society deserves at least a roof over their head, a bed to sleep on, clean running water and enough to eat. Even our worst criminals are guaranteed this. (Oh, and ultra-fast broadband, of course, that most fundamental of all human rights.)

There are two main types of moral theory, viz., deontological and consequentialist. (Or three main types, if you count virtue ethics.)

Deontology (or Deontological Ethics) is an approach to Ethics that focuses on the rightness or wrongness of actions themselves, as opposed to the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of those actions (Consequentialism) or to the character and habits of the actor (Virtue Ethics).

(It’s all much more complicated, of course. Consequentialism is almost synonymous with utilitarianism, and as we all know utilitarianism is wrong, wrong, WRONG! Because Ayn Rand said so! And so did the man whom she described as “the most evil man who ever lived”! And so say I! Woe to him who creeps through the serpent-windings of utilitarianism. But, again just for the sake of my argument here, let’s not damn utilitarianism. Notwithstanding that it’s damnable.)

There are two main types of political ideology, viz., capitalism (by which I mean free trade without government intervention) and socialism (by which I mean free trade plus progressive taxation).

Now oversimplifying (somewhat more than) somewhat, capitalism is a deontological political ideology (whereby you get to keep everything you earn) and socialism is a utilitarian political ideology (whereby you get to keep a proportion of what you earn, the rest is redistributed by the state, ostensibly on the basis of need).

Capitalism basically says that you deserve to keep the fruits of your own labour, and to hell with the consequences. So capitalism is deontological in theory. And it can be considered as a species of voluntaryism. So it is virtuous in that sense. But it makes no explicit provision for caring for the poor and leads to ever-growing wealth inequality so is vicious from the point of view of utilitarianism.

Socialism, however, isn’t any better in practice. In fact, it is worse because its attempts at wealth redistribution (to achieve a more just distribution of wealth as per whatever measure of desert is used) only serve to achieve a different unjust distribution of wealth, usually by overtaxing the middle classes. (Let’s face it, the ultra-rich do indeed have more wealth than they can possibly need so are not actually any worse off if they pay a higher tax rate, and I am who to say.) So the middle classes get doubly screwed by a mixed economic system, first by unfettered capitalism and then by capitalism’s fetters.

So capitalism wins the day but it is still a badly flawed system.

Which is why I am neither a socialist nor a capitalist. I am an anarchist looking for a flavour of anarchism that has both the virtues of capitalism (it must be an entirely voluntaryist system) but yet serves to more or less guarantee that there is at least an adequate (albeit perhaps very basic) standard of living for all.

Footnote. Non-utilitarian versions of consequentialism are less vile. What if the moral basis of property rights is rule-consequentialism? Food for thought would be a great way to make a living.

The Bible. What is it good for?

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As is his wont, my King James Bible believing Dispensationalist libertarian Christian co-blogger Tim tagged me in his post (of the above image) on Facebook. 🙂

Be sure to get your doctrine from the Bible, not the traditions of man! (Colossians 2:8)

I really do appreciate the pro-tip. It’s just that there’s a whole lotta problems with this instruction. At least one of which renders Tim’s advice utterly useless!

One problem is that the cited verse, Colossians 2:8, does not even mention the Bible.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (KJV)

See! What this verse is really saying is be sure to get your doctrine from Christ, not the traditions of man! I agree! But let’s be clear. There’s no mention at all of the Bible in this verse. And I’ve made it quite clear in previous blog posts what my view is. It is that Jesus is inerrant, but the Bible isn’t. The Word of God is inerrant. His scribes, not so much. Yes, that’s right. I basically equate the Bible with “the traditions of man”. I don’t equate the Bible with Christ. The Bible as we know it hasn’t even been around a couple of thousand years yet. Whereas

In [the] beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (DARBY)

Believe it or not, another problem is that the KJV mistranslates this particular verse. And don’t believe it or do, so does the NIV. But of course! 😉

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ. (NIV)

Which is why I always have recourse to Young’s Literal Translation for times like this when it matters exactly what the Bible says.

See that no one shall be carrying you away as spoil through the philosophy and vain deceit, according to the deliverance of men, according to the rudiments of the world, and not according to Christ (YLT)

It’s clear that “spoiled” is a KJV mistranslation of “spoil”. Yet at least the NIV has the good grace to provide a footnote (see above) to the effect that it has construed “the basic principles” (rudiments) as “the elemental spiritual forces” of this world.

But here’s the fatal flaw with Tim’s advice—be sure to get your doctrine from the Bible, not the traditions of man!—which renders it useless. Which Bible?

Tim’s telling me to be sure to get my doctrine from the Bible, but which one? As we all know, Christians (e.g., Protestants vs. Catholics and Orthodox Christians) can’t even agree on which books belong in the Bible, let alone which translations of the canonical books are themselves canonical.

Which Bible? Tim will, of course, answer the Authorized King James Version of 1611. Which is a fair answer to a fair question. But if I accept this answer, one thing’s for sure. I’m now getting my doctrine from the traditions of man, and from the traditions of one man in particular, viz., my co-blogger Tim Wikiriwhi! And not necessarily from either the true Bible (if, indeed, there even is such a thing) or Christ.

It comes down to this. When all is said and done, we must decide—each of us individually must decide—in what and/or in whom to trust.

I trust in Jesus, the Son of God, whom I know from the first-hand accounts of his ministry by the original gospel authors, from his work in the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ, from his work in my own life, and from personal encounter.

I trust in the deliverances of my own God-given moral compass when (not often, just occasionally) they conflict with what’s in the Bible.

So the Bible. What’s it good for?

Why, it’s profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works, of course! 🙂

theological_disputes

Land of the free

A yellow and black "Private Property Keep Out" sign attached to a barbed wire gate stretched across a dirt road.

Property rights are restrictions on freedom.

If you don’t agree that property rights are restrictions on freedom—if you think instead, for example, that property rights are a prerequisite of freedom—then either you haven’t been paying attention, or you’ve been reading too much Rand, or, at any rate, you’re using the word ‘freedom’ in a particular sense of the word that’s packed with presuppositions—and freedom might as well be just another word for nothing left to lose because with our differing conceptions of freedom now in play we’re all ready, set, go to miscommunicate spectacularly.

Other people’s property rights are restrictions on your freedom, and your property rights are restrictions on other people’s freedom. Is this not obvious from the textbook definition of property?

Property. That which is peculiar or proper to any person; that which belongs exclusively to one. In the strict legal sense, an aggregate of rights which are guaranteed and protected by the government. … The term is said to extend to every species of valuable right and interest. More specifically, ownership; the unrestricted and exclusive right to a thing; the right to dispose of a thing in every legal way, to possess it, to use it, and to exclude every one else from interfering with it. That dominion or indefinite right of use or disposition which one may lawfully exercise over particular things or subjects. The exclusive right of possessing, enjoying, and disposing of a thing. The highest right a man can have to anything; being used to refer to that right which one has to lands or tenements, goods or chattels, which no way depends on another man’s courtesy.

As wrong as it sounds on the face of it, libertarians are actually all in favour of giving up a little freedom in order to gain … what? Property rights, that’s what. Your freedom ends (where my property rights begin). Property rights are restrictions on freedom.

Ownership is the central concept in political philosophy. Every political ism (capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.) is defined by its theory of property rights. Every political ism says what belongs to whom, and who belongs to what. So it’s important to think about this topic until you actually get it.

Thomas Hobbes is the founding father of modern political philosophy. In a Hobbesian state of nature, everyone is perfectly free. And life is total shit. Why? Because

In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently, not culture of the earth, no navigation, nor the use of commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

To extricate ourselves from such a dire circumstance as perfect freedom, we need to (hopefully) agree on a few rules (and abide by them and enforce them). The first and most obvious one (subject to caveats later, but we’ll get to that) is the non-initiation of (physical) force. The NIOF principle. My freedom ends where your nose begins. And vice versa.

Voila! with this one simple rule, we have property rights, in the form of self-ownership. Your ownership of your body, your property rights in your body, are restrictions on other people’s freedom to do what they please with your body. With this one simple rule, the NIOF priniple, in place, you now own your body because you remain free to do as you like with your body, but no one else is now free to do as they like with your body.

The general point here is that all property rights correspond to a set of restrictions on the freedoms of non-owners. Property rights in tangible goods mean that owners of said goods are free to determine the use of such goods, and no one else is. Get your hands off my stuff! Intellectual property rights mean that owners of ideas can copy them, but no one else can. You wouldn’t download a bear!

Thus the central question of political philosophy is, what property rights should people have? Or, what restrictions on people’s freedoms should there be? And these amount to exactly the same question.

syrian-refugees-salopek

Still awake?

This post is the first in a new series about property rights. And in it I want to take a look at the issue of land ownership. This is topical because the issue of land ownership is closely tied to the issue of national borders. Should we allow unrestricted “open borders” or should we control border traffic to a greater or lesser extent?

To the greatest extent, says Lew Rockwell in his article Open Borders Are an Assault on Private Property. I beg to differ, emphatically. So does Kevin Carson of the Centre for a Stateless Society, in no uncertain terms. How Low Can Lew Rockwell Go?

Wide awake?

Did you notice my equivocation on the central question of political philosophy? I said above that

Every political ism (capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.) is defined by its theory of property rights. It says what belongs to whom, and who belongs to what.

but I also said above that

the central question of political philosophy is, what property rights should people have?

What property rights do people have? Is one question. What property rights should people have? Is another question. And why should people have those particular property rights and not others is another question altogether. It is mandatory pedantry to point out that these are three separate questions. If we confound these three distinctly different questions then we’re all ready, set, go to miscommunicate spectacularly.

Notice how loose-talking Lew mixes it up.

In order to … reach the appropriate libertarian conclusion, we have to look more closely at what public property really is and who, if anyone, can be said to be its true owner. … Certainly we cannot say public property is owned by the government, since government may not legitimately own anything.

Rockwell is quite wrong in what he actually says. Certainly we can say that public property is owned by the government. Firstly, does government have property rights in government-owned land? Yes, government-owned land is owned by the government! But, secondly, should government have property rights in what is currently government-owned land? Rockwell says no, government may not legitimately own anything. I won’t argue with that. Thirdly, why may government not legitimately own anything?

To be clear, the central question of political philosophy as such is the second of these questions. What property rights should people have? Or, what restrictions on people’s freedoms should there be? As noted already, these amount to exactly the same question. But I think it’s more instructive to focus on the question’s second formulation. So now let’s get down to business and ask it with respect to land ownership.

Comatose yet?

With respect to land use, what restrictions on people’s freedoms should there be? Exactly what forms of land ownership are available in the fabled land of Anarcho-Libertopia? And what is their justification?

I’m only going to point in the general direction of beginning to answer these questions. Suffice it to say, I have a nuanced view. The idea that there should be restrictions on land ownership, or even that people shouldn’t be allowed to own land at all, isn’t new. For example, geolibertarianism is a Georgist school of thought within libertarianism. The New Mutualists are their anarchist counterparts. So I’m in very good company.

So now let’s look at what Lew Rockwell says to discredit himself. How low does he go?

Now if all the parcels of land in the whole world were privately owned, the solution to the so-called immigration problem would be evident. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that there would be no immigration problem in the first place. Everyone moving somewhere new would have to have the consent of the owner of that place.

When the state and its so-called public property enter the picture, though, things become murky, and it takes extra effort to uncover the proper libertarian position.

What we believe in are private property rights. No one has “freedom of speech” on my property, since I set the rules, and in the last resort I can expel someone. He can say whatever he likes on his own property, and on the property of anyone who cares to listen to him, but not on mine.

The same principle holds for freedom of movement. Libertarians do not believe in any such principle in the abstract. … I cannot simply go wherever I like.

Rockwell totally plumbs it.

He gets it totally wrong. True libertarians absolutely do believe in freedom of movement as an abstract principle. We’re freedom-fighters and we believe in freedom! Derp.

Land ownership is a restriction on people’s freedom of movement. Any such restrictions on people simply going wherever they like must be justified.

The problem with unrestricted land ownership is that by buying up all the land surrounding someone’s else’s slice of heaven you can effectively lay seige to that person, cut off their vital supply lines, and kill them. Only a moral monster would give the green light to, let alone actively encourage and enforce, a system that allowed such perverse and depraved outcomes. Sadly, we in the West (that is to say, our governments) have shown ourselves to be exactly this depraved, by turning away refugees at our national borders, condemning them to take their chances back in their homelands from which they were already fleeing for their lives and the lives of their children.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

From here, observes Carson from his vantage point on the moral high ground

Rockwell continues to elaborate on an argument whose basic assumptions are — I say without equivocation — mind-numbingly stupid.

As both Franz Oppenheimer and Albert Jay Nock argued, the land of the entire world will never be universally privately appropriated by legitimate means. The only way in which every single parcel of land can come under private ownership is through what Oppenheimer called “political appropriation” and Nock called “law-made property.” And it’s no coincidence, as both of them argued, that universal appropriation of the land is a prerequisite for economic exploitation. Only when people are cut off from the possibility of homesteading and subsisting on previously vacant land, and employers are thereby protected against competition from the possibility of self-employment, is it possible to force people to accept employment on whatever disadvantageous terms the property owners see fit to offer.

That says something right there about the kind of people whose wet dream is an entire world without an unowned place to stand on, without some property owner’s permission.

Today the Rothbard-Hoppe-Rockwell kind of people that Carson rightly vilifies for their despotism in the guise of libertarian purity call themselves ancaps. And they’re fair game. You can read the rest of Carson’s demolition of Rockwell’s “wretched turd of an article” here.

So what forms of land ownership (restrictions on other people’s movements) should we allow?

In the first chapter of the Book of Job, God convenes a meeting with his angels, and Satan shows up.

The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” (NIV)

Satan freely roams the earth, going back and forth on it. How should we restrict Satan’s movements? Because no one wants Satan trampling all over their cabbages. But we don’t want to restrict anyone’s freedom of movement unnecessarily. So where do we draw the right lines when it comes to restricting land use? And how do we justify drawing the particular lines that we determine we should?

Well, as I said, I’m only going to point in the general direction of beginning to answer these questions. But let’s go right back to Hobbes and his state of nature, and ask why we would restrict our own and anyone’s freedoms at all?

It’s so that we can have a place for industry, and the fruit thereof. It’s so that we can enjoy culture of the earth, navigation, the use of commodities that may be imported by sea, commodious building, instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, knowledge of the face of the earth, account of time, arts, letters, and society. Without continual fear and danger of violent death.

In short, we justify having property rights (restrictions on our freedoms) on consequentialist grounds. We allow such property rights as we do for the greater good of the greater number in society.

That’s my conclusion and I don’t like it much either. I welcome your comments. 🙂

We are at war with the ruling class

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For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (KJV)

We are at war with the ruling class.

We want freedom and prosperity. They want power.

We have empathy. They have psychopathy.

In evolutionary game theoretic terms, it’s a Hawk-Dove game. And Western statist democracy is an evolutionarily stable strategy.

There is only one way to progress to a freer, more prosperous society. And that is to upset the Nash equilibrium. Who’s with me?