Revisiting the Christian and State Relationship.

Archive for the ‘Hans-Herman Hoppe’ Category

Prayer of a Christian anarchist

The prayer of a Christian anarchist is much like the prayer of the mainstream Christian. But not exactly the same.

FOR MYSELF. I always start by praying for myself, because my own spiritual need is the number one point at issue. I am hungry and thirsty for Christ, but I am also adept at sinning. I know that Jesus came to save me from my sin (Matthew 1:21), and that part of my role in the divine purpose is to bring glory to God. Seventh-day Adventist Ellen G. White writes, “Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend” (Steps to Christ, p. 93). This I endeavor to do. God is my friend and He wants to visit with me.

FOR REPENTANCE. Instead of praising Him with my lips (the kind of “praise” which He hears in abundance from those who do not do what He says), I want to praise Him with my heart. My first plea is that He will create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me (Psalm 51:10). This is a plea for the gift of repentance; I need this gift from Him; I need to turn ever more to Him. Unless I seek with desire such turning it will never happen. Give me the desire, O God, to be the most authentic follower of Jesus today that I can be. Why? Because God’s kingdom is on display in me. Others will be impressed (or unimpressed!) by the claims of Christ, very largely based on my daily sermon—the life I live in interaction with them.

FOR MY FAMILY. In my prayer, I pray next for my spouse and children. And yet, my primary expectation is that, while I am “arming” God to justly intervene positively for them in their lives, really this part of my prayer is a plea for God to transform me so that I am a godly spouse and parent to them respectively.

FOR MY CHURCH MEMBERS. Since I am a pastor, the next portion of my prayer is for my parishioners. The shepherd knows his sheep, and the pastor knows his parishioners. For some of them, the only person on planet earth who prays for them today, may be their pastor. I pray for them.

FOR THOSE IN AUTHORITY. I also pray for “kings and all those in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2). Today, this mostly means praying for presidents and legislators of republican democracies (which as Hans-Hermann Hoppe so carefully sets forth in Democracy—The God That Failed (in my opinion, one of those very few “MUST READ” books), means that we are praying for the leaders of a civilization pointedly in decline). My prayer is not that they will excel in violence, usurpation, exploitation, slippery politics, military conquest, and empire, but for their personal conversion and salvation. I also pray that while they are perceived as being “in authority” they will take a minimum of steps that would lead to wars, to economic disaster, or to the repression of believers.

Because the anarcho-capitalist vision is the way things are naturally set up to run in God’s creation, I pray for the realization of a just society and the advancement of these principles that will prepare us for our eventual life on earth after this age has closed and the next begun. That is, I want to live by principles of holiness and peace with all men (Hebrews 12:14). My Bible says not only in Tanakh but in New Testament that you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). This is Austrian economics in one short phrase, after all.

I do not know if we will get there during this age, but I think with Ellul that “the anarchist fight, the struggle for an anarchist society, is essential” and that “the more the power of the state and of bureaucracy grows, the more the affirmation of anarchy is necessary as the sole and last defense of the individual, that is, of humanity” (Jacques Ellul, Anarchy and Christianity, pp. 19, 23).

This is not a prayer for revolution, which replaces one repression with another. “Anarchy” in the sense of “Christian anarchy” does not mean chaos, but simply the refusal to seek power over others, and the insistence on obeying God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Those who should be the most consistent in praying for those in authority should be us—we who recognize the state as an enormous engine of exploitation and destruction. And yet, all of this is overruled by the asking that God’s will be done. If His will is to throw down the state altogether, then go for it. Jesus is Lord.

FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO SHARE CHRIST. The Christian seeks opportunities to share Jesus with others. If we seek them, if we, through concrete acts, actually make a dent in our local community, God will open the way and grant us opportunities to interest others in His things. If He is in it, He will help us to be efficient, facilitating our work for those whom He has already prepared in some measure to receive our life and teaching.

My daily prayer is not invariant; it is not a rote, always mind-numbingly the same. But the above is the general pattern. Possibly the reader will also find it useful. After all, taken all together, it is little more than an expression of the prayerful desire, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth” (Luke 11:2).

Free today

I am free to be a man today because I choose it. The libertarian ethos says that I take responsibility for myself, that I take responsibility for creating community. Some see it as demeaning or destructive of community. By rejecting socially accepted norms one is said to be rejecting community.

On the contrary, in recognizing the long list of rules and redistributions undertaken by a few designated looters, and in bypassing those, I am bypassing an unhealthy, mushroom laden swamp. If I see through the illusion, then why would I continue to participate in the illusion?

I reject today the idea that the modern democratic state is a mark of progress. Not so. As Hoppe points out, we are living in a period when the form of the state is especially decivilizing (Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy—The God That Failed, pp. 1-43). It creates unhuman and unnatural behaviors in people. Instead of depending on family and church, we learn to trust in the state (Hoppe, pp. 98, 183, 184, 197) and its money-creating magic wand. We don’t learn from each other or experience each other; instead, we wait for our government checks and trust in agency this and agency that to address needs.

I reject today that in a coercive setting the majority vote is just. Why should the majority impose its will on a minority? Why would we count that as being right? Why would I participate in that? God gave me free will; why wouldn’t I seek to exercise it for myself? I reject that community is formed by imposition.

I reject the grand illusion painted by the media, merely a water-color cartoon painted in shades of groupthink. Why would anyone soak their brain in the stale juices of Rush Limbaugh or Regis Philbin? I was given ears to hear for myself and I need not the mind of a “truth detector” or a glib entertainer to tell me about my world or to create in me their world.

I choose to see those things as background-radiation, not to be taken seriously, not to be mentally ingested. Like weeds along the side of the road, that world is here today, gone tomorrow. I choose not to live in that prison with its soft felt bars. One who sits in a cell lined with rich Corinthian leather is still not free.

Freedom, however, makes me human. As an anarchist, I am free from the need to seek power or manipulate it. Eller is right: “sinful humanity is simply incapable of exercising impositional power without being corrupted by it” (Vernard Eller, Christian Anarchy, p. 40). I don’t want to be corrupted by it. Now I see that and refuse to respond to its siren call.

The nonconformity of Christian anarchy—the refusal to recognize or accept the authority of the arkys of this world—is done in the name of “freedom.” And this is not the same thing as “autonomy”—that being the secular name for freedom, not the Christian. No human arky can create or grant freedom; the idea of “government,” of “imposed arky,” is essentially contradictory to that of “freedom.” Yet, just as truly, the simple elimination of arky creates, not freedom, but only “anarchy”—which is not the same thing. No, Ellul suggests that there is for us no once-for-all liberation, but that our freedom is to be found only in the act of wrestling it from the powers. “It exists when we shake an edifice, produce a fissure, a gap in the structure” (Anarchism, p. 23) . . . . Arkys don’t really care whether you love them or fear them; what they can’t stand is being ignored” (Eller, pp. 19, 20).

There is where I am. I recognize that I am free to ignore them. The news they construct I need not listen to; I am free. The laws they construct and enforce by coercion are of little moment; when the bottom falls out most of that will fall by the way. The media they pump across the satellite network is an artificial reality, a world of their own generation; I stand outside of it. I am free. I wait neither for the latest pronouncement by CNN or Drudge. I am not ignoring the real world, but living in the real one, the one formed by my own concrete actions.

Which brings us back to community. There is a community in the gap, in the fissure, already. There, people interact directly with people, they help one another freely, without imposition. They need no state to make this happen, no impositional authority, no logo on the side of a vehicle, no statute to force them to be good. Every plant that God has not planted will be uprooted (Matthew 15:13), and He did not plant that weed, the state (1 Samuel 8).

All of this is only a beginning, but it is an important beginning. Because I am a Christian, I am free today. I find richness in going around the edifice, in producing a fissure, in living in the gap rather than the leviathan structure. I am free within the matrix. I serve Jesus, the Lord of freedom. I belong to another world.

Servitude, Texas secession, and training for the new earth

A new Rasmussen poll of Texans shows the following:

Thirty-one percent (31%) of Texas voters say that their state has the right to secede from the United States and form an independent country.

However, the latest Rasmussen Reports poll in the state finds that if the matter was put to a vote, it wouldn’t even be close. Three-fourths (75%) of Lone Star State voters would opt to remain in the United States. Only 18% would vote to secede, and seven percent (7%) are not sure what they’d choose (http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/states_general/texas/in_texas_31_say_state_has_right_to_secede_from_u_s_but_75_opt_to_stay, accessed 2009-04-17 15:36Z).

The United States (that is, today’s United State) had its beginning in a war of secession. America did not fight to take over Britain, but to secede from it. Texas, for that matter, seceded from Mexico in 1836 and eventually, joined in the war in defense of Southern secession (incorrectly called the Civil war). So, Texas joined a secessionist nation (USA) and itself seceded twice. And in 2009 69% of Texans do not affirm the right to secede?

They are confused.

What brings on wars of secession? People want to determine for themselves how they will live, and another group wants to exercise lordship over them. Which calls to mind Scriptures such as (Mark 10:42-45; Luke 22:24-26). James warns that the cause of conflict rises from unconverted people seeking material wealth and control (James 4:1-4).

When people acquire control over other people, they exploit them. No matter how good their intentions, that is the end result. Sale warns that “when governments become centralized and enlarged beyond a certain limited range, they not only cease to solve problems, they actually begin to create them” (Kirkpatrick Sale, Human Scale, p. 98). We do it to ourselves.

He who thus domineers over you . . . has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own? How does he have any power over you except through you? How could he dare assail you if he had no cooperation from you? What would he do to you if you yourself did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves? (Etienne de la Boetie, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, p. 52, op. cit. in Hoppe, Democracy, p. 90).

Yes. We do it to ourselves. But bigger is not always better, and offering others grants of power over ourselves means to vacate those same God-given powers to others. Genesis one shows that God granted dominion to both Adam and to Eve (Genesis 1:26-28). Humans were never granted dominion over each other, but over the creation. Jesus came to release the captives (Luke 4:18). He came to return to us the grant of power that Adam forsook (6:16). Adam disobeyed and became servant of Satan, and all of his descendants are born weak (Romans 5:6).

How readily we surrender what little freedom we have! How quickly we hand dominion off to someone else—other than God and other than ourselves. How fearful is the idea of freedom. Deep down we prefer to slink on in bondage, to be identified with evolution from slime before being identified with being made in the image of God. The Lord is always trying to lift us up, and we are always trying to bow ourselves down. We place ourselves in subjection to others.

Surely Hoppe is right when he argues that political competition is a far more effective device for limiting a government’s natural desire to expand its exploitative powers than are internal constitutional limitations (See Democracy—The God That Failed, fn. p. 110).

If you insist on having a state, then there should be many small states to choose from. They can compete for citizens by the arrangements they make.

Secession is only a temporary solution. The creation of a state inevitably creates a territorial monopoly, an exploitative platform. In 2009 the state functions as a redistributor of wealth, taking from some and giving to a select group of others. The taking, for many from whom it is taken, is involuntary. However, the receiving of the taken money is also voluntary. Accepting Caesar’s money means accepting Caesar’s servitude.

There are options other than the state. Will we ever get there? Maybe. More likely, not. At least, not before the return of Christ. In the new earth we anticipate a return to Edenic liberty, to living under the direct lordship of God. In essence, it will be an anarchist state of existence, freely at one with Him, directly in communion with Him, and no intervening engines or agencies of exploitation.

If that is a situation that we are presently in training for, then we ought today to be moving personally toward that ideal. And not only personally, but perhaps events will so order matters that we will have more practice in self government in this life. We want to get out from under the illusions, distortions, and exploitations of the state. We want to grow our characters by living in a realistic New Testament environment where we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:4-10).

Pirates and Christian self-defense

Some question how the Christian anarchist should respond to acts of violence against himself, his family, or his property. The Bible suggests answers. Here, then, briefly, some of that material…

A Bible line

First, since the Bible offers the unambiguous prohibition, “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15). we have a clear endorsement of property rights. Property can be owned and owned property should not be stolen.

In Exodus 22:2-4 a person is permitted to use deadly force to defend his property if the thief breaks in at nighttime. If the thief is killed, the property owner is not subject to any sanction. If a thief is caught during a daytime robbery, the property owner must not kill him. In this text, it is, however, implicit that the thief is captured by the homeowner. The captured thief must make restitution for his theft.

In Matthew 21:33 Jesus spoke a parable in which the landowner planted a vineyard and then put a wall around it and built a watchtower. That is, he homesteaded his property and then built protective defenses for it.

In Matthew 24:43 Jesus describes a property owner protecting it against thieves. His watchfulness if a lesson of good stewardship.

In Romans 12:21 we are to overcome evil with good, which harmonizes with Romans 16:20 in which through His believers, Jesus crushes the serpent. In Ephesians 6:10-18 most of the armor is defensive in nature, but the sword is offensive. Christians are admonished to put on the whole armor of God.

In 1 Timothy 5:8 the Christian is expected to provide for his family. This is a Christian duty. If this means providing food and clothing, must it not also mean providing security? Is it not a duty to protect one’s children from child abusers and other criminals? Certainly so.

In Proverbs 25:26, the righteous who gives way to the wicked is described as a corrupt spring.

Back to Ephesians, at 5:25 husbands are to love their wives self-sacrificingly. The example given is Jesus dying to preserve the purity of His church. John 15:13 says that the greatest love is demonstrated by laying down one’s life for another. This indicates that the husband should defend the purity of the wife.

We lock car and house doors to prevent theft. These are sound and appropriate precautions in a sinful world. If we are not to defend family or property then to be consistent we should remove the locks. Jesus used physical force to drive merchants from the temple (Matthew 21:12; Mark; 11:15).

There is counsel in the gospels to submit to certain injustices, but those discussed are never private property issues between private thieves and private individuals. By no means is the above study exhaustive; it is a small sample. Still, it seems to this writer that there are sufficient grounds to conclude that one may defend his person, family, and property.

Hoppe sums up the position of Mercier de la Riviere, in part, as follows:

Man is capable of recognizing the laws leading to his greatest happiness, and all social ills follow from the disregard of these laws of human nature. In human nature, the right to self-preservation implies the right to property, and any individual property in man’s products from the soil requires property on the land itself. But the right of property would be meaningless without the freedom of using it, so liberty is derived from the right to property (closely adapted from Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy—The God That Failed, p. 226, fn12).

A society of free people is built on the foundation of private property. Jesus came to bring liberty to the captives (Luke 4:16-21). If this is all true, then Jesus came to introduce the condition of things that makes possible true freedom. Still, we recognize that the present period is a temporary situation between man’s Fall and his full restoration. Be that as it may, it must be understood that God is on the side of His law: Thou shalt not steal was good for Moses and it is good for us today.

Pirates

A pirate is a private party, a thief or band of thieves. The property owner, (or, in the case of piracy, often a service provider transporting goods), has every right to defend his property or the property he is transporting from theft. Paul warned those who would not work that they would not eat either (2 Thessalonians 3:10). One must, if he can, be active to be a Christian. Paul’s counsel could be paraphrased too, in the case of piracy, “if you don’t defend your business, then you will go out of business.”

Shipowners should not be inhibited from defending their vessels and merchandise. Instead of burdening citizens with the economic cost of maintaining expensive navies, let merchants defend their vessels and cargo either themselves or by hiring private defense forces.

The coercive state and its path to self-destruction

Michael S. Rozeff observes—rightly—that “A non-coercive government can be reformed. People only need to stop using its services. It then either shapes up and responds to people’s needs or it loses out to alternative means of governance . . . . government based on coercion cannot be tamed. Coercive governments can and do commit suicide.” Rozeff indicates that the United State government is in the process of self-destructing. See here:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rozeff/rozeff288.html

Of course, this has been true for a long time. Rozeff points out, however, how far advanced the process now is.

One is left to ask just how moral is a government that strips its citizens of wealth and knowingly drives a bus filled some 306 million riders off a cliff. Each new administration patches the broken cart together with more duct tape and bailing-wire so that it will last another four years. Eventually the time arrives when no means can forestall the collapse.

Hans-Herman Hoppe pointed out this problem in his masterwork Democracy—The God That Failed. Hoppe claims that the state is a territorial monopolist that systematically violates property rights. The agents of the state will, inevitably, use its monopoly to expropriate wealth to itself. In particular, a democracy like the United State will drive its population into a situation of minimal long-term decision-making and as it centralizes power to itself and grows it will bring about an increasingly serious process of decivilization. If the progress is not arrested, the end result will be civilizational catastrophy (Democracy, pp. 70, 102).

So there we are. The state has bent its energies to leading millions of people to be dependent on it. But a time is approaching when, mathematically, the whole game must implode and leave behind catastrophic societal upheaval. The experiment of limited government, powers checked by other parts of government, a supposedly representative democracy, is on the point of demonstrating itself a failed experiment. Because so few are prepared to think outside the box and envision a non-state solution, they will remain unprepared for the approaching collapse. One is reminded of the divine warning:

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord! And yet he is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers and against the helpers of those who work iniquity. The Egyptians are man, and not God, and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together. For thus the Lord said to me, “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey, and when a band of shepherds is called out against him is not terrified by their shouting or daunted at their noise, so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight on Mount Zion and on its hill (Isaiah 31:1-4 ESV).

Those who trust in the despoiling system will not be helped by it when it falls. Those who recognize that the powers of the world operate under only usurped power (Luke 4:5-7; Ephesians 6:12; 1 John 4:19) will trust in the Lord and reestablish themselves under His authority. He will watch over them.

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