Friday, November 28, 2008

The omnipresent state

On a previous post, I posed a question regarding libertarianism. The question was directed at members of the UK Libertarian Party as, although I agree with many of their policies, they over look a crucial point in my opinion.

The question was this.

How do you stop libertarianism descending into libertinism?

As I understand it, the assumption is that the rule of law will prevent this happening, but as I have tried to point out the rule of law has not stopped the rise of libertinism in our current society so there is nothing to suggest that it would do in a libertarian society. On the contrary, everything points to the likelihood that it will get worse with more and more people indulging in destructive hedonistic behaviour.

I'll be honest - it was not an entirely off the cuff question. I know how you can prevent libertarianism descending into libertinism, but I also know that in this day and age most people won't like the answer.

Because the answer is Christianity.

Most people won't like it because far too many people on the conservative side have signed up to the ideology of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci - cultural Marxism - without even realising it.

Gramsci recognised that the biggest barrier to the advancement of Marxism in Europe was Europe's Christian heritage and culture. Marx knew this too, but it was Gramsci who refined the method by which this Christian dominance would be overturned - secular humanism. I won't go into the details of what secular humanism is but basically it is a religion which rejects spiritualism.

Of course, not everyone who rejects God is a secular humanist; many on the right still believe that there is a role for God in society and few conservatives are as aggressive in their assertion of secularism as, for instance, Richard Dawkins, but they still accept the basic principle without realising that it is a tool of the very thing they are supposedly opposed to - cultural Marxism.

I'm not trying to convert anybody. What you believe in respect to God is entirely up to you. The point I actually want to make is in respect to the rule of law.

The rule of law is often misinterpreted to just mean compliance to the law - but it is far more than that. It is a belief that we are all equal in the eyes of the law and that no one is above the law and that includes the state.

But - and this is a big but - who defines what is law? If the state is the ultimate judge of law then the state is no longer subject to the law - the law is subject to the state. This is critical to understanding the role Christianity plays in the rule of law, because the rule of law only works when people believe that they will be judged on their actions - even if they are never caught or convicted by any state authority.

I'm not suggesting that we have to be governed by the Church - God forbid with our current Church leadership!!! What I am suggesting is that it is important to recognise the vital role of religion in the function of society - particularly in the application of the rule of law. This is why I do believe it is important to teach children Christian principles within the context of a Christian God (as opposed to Christian principles in the context of secular humanism).

As adults we can all accept or reject God according to our own conscience, but most of us have done that only after having a sound grounding in Christianity from our parents or from school. A whole generation of children have grown up without that and we are seeing the way that lack of Christian upbringing is presenting challenges to society.

I know I don't explain this very well. It is clear in my own mind, but I do have trouble putting it into words. Essentially I am saying that the rule of law will not work in the absence of a belief in some all seeing omnipresent God. That is why, back in the days - not that long ago - when most people believed in God, they didn't need CCTV cameras.

So to anwer the question - how do you stop libertarianism descending into libertinism? - in the absence of an omnipresent God you need an omnipresent state - but of course the state can not be everywhere or see everything no matter how many CCTV cameras they erect or secret policemen they employ.

Nor can they see into your mind, your heart or your soul.


North Northwester said...

The trouble is how to get it back without a conversion experience?

For people like me (woolly-headed tree-huggers who can believe six impossible things before breakfast), it's possible to believe in the literal existence of your God, but to choose not to follow Him.


I want a Britain more as it was in my childhood and yours, - a bit more like the USA [sans 0 and The not-Reverend Wright], with all the deference to and reverence for those Christian teachings and morality that led to the abolition of slavery and softened the subjection of women. [A long way to go there, yet, I fear].

But I don't worship (as in follow or pray to) your God. And there are millions of people like me who want the older, gentler society back, but we just don't feel it's right to bend the knee.

Should I feign piety and be a churchgoer for cultural warfare reasons?

I'm wholly with you on your analysis, Stan, but I'm utterly at a loss on how to restore the god life as you describe it without widespread fakery of a faith that's just not there.

Stan said...

I think the vast majority of people were like you before it all went wrong, nnw. There wasn't a need for everyone to be a church going, God fearing believer for the system to work back then - so why now? The reason, as I tried to point out, is secular humanism which far too many conservatives accept while failing to recognise it as a tool of the very thing they apparently despise - cultural marxism.

Should you feign piety? No. Apart from anything else, God would see through that - but if we are to restore the sort of society we want you have to reject the belief that secular humanism can replace Christianity as the basis for morality in Britain. It doesn't mean that everyone has to accept Christianity - but they do have to accept that Christianity is the basis on which our society depends.

As I said in the post - I find this very difficult put into words that are clear and concise or which doesn't alienate people who, although they would also like the sort of society we both wish to see, they remain committed atheists.

Atheism is fine - I don't mind if people don't follow my God - but I do object to people pushing secular humanism forward as an alternative. It isn't and the state of our society today proves that to be the case.

If I had to try and say what we need to do, I'd say that you don't have to follow my God, but you and everybody else who wants the sort of society you describe must allow the conditions to arise in which Christianity is allowed to flourish even if it is at the expense of secularism.

What is certain is that if not Christianity then something else will take its place to become the basis on which our society defines its morality - and the likelihood is that that will be Islam.

North Northwester said...

Thank you, Stan, for that.

I'm surrounded by secular humanists at work and in my social life and they really, really can't see how revolutionary 'love thy neighbour as thyself' was.

They take it as a given that all people are benevolent by nature and if nurtured in some variety of non-competitive or otherwise Leftist world, all will be well between folk.

All they see in Christianity is the 'evil' nuns who educated them - or their parents - and all those gun-toting Right-wing American Protestants.

Well, yey for gun-toting Right-wing American Protestants: they're my kind of people in many ways, they don’t ‘flush’ their Downs-syndrome children and yey for the centuries when nuns and monks were the nurses who comforted and cured the sick.

Yey for the Anglican evangelicals and Quakers who fought the slave trade, and the Royal Navy and Marines who closed down the slave ports and sank the slave ships and the Christian reformers who put steel into the American leadership in their Civil War [and who formed the armies of both sides, alas] and all those mediaeval clerical educators who influenced, century after century, our savage kings and earls into chivalry and eventually into some kind of civility so that noblesse-oblige meant something other than 'do as you're told peasant, or die.'

What my friends and colleagues can’t see – won’t see – is that their sincere wish (by statist/collectivist action and usually via Labour Party policies) for their neighbours to be treated well derives in large measure from gospel teachings. People are, I think, inherently potentially sociable, but that can also mean clannish and exclusive and you can get bigotry that way. So how do we arrive at a civilisation where people are prepared to work in dangerous foreign countries to nurse to health and educate someone else’s children? Where do we find people who get into a cockpit when maybe they will die protecting Moslems who would otherwise be slaughtered by Christian (!) Serbs?

It’s almost as if they’re physically hurt every time someone mentions how Christians have made the world a better place as a result of their beliefs. William of Ockam with his individual rights and arguments towards limiting governmental power? Don’t make up for the obscurantist persecution of Galileo. All those nuns and monks over millennia caring for the sick at huge risk of infection: didn’t count against the crimes of the Inquisition. The Royal Navy West Africa Squadron hunting down slave ships? No compensation for the massacre at Amritsar. Such people can’t; just CAN’T allow themselves to see the good side of Christianity.
The miles-wide killing fields of atheist, anti-clerical Germany and Russia, China and Cambodia? Something in the water; nothing to do with political theories that posit the theory that people are little more special or blessed and worthy than clever meat. Meat meets the butcher all too soon.

And so it goes. Now that’s sales resistance.
I can’t even persuade my friends to watch Amazing Grace or Amistad. Sigh.

Of course I didn’t really intend above to imply faking piety was an option, but right now in the culture wars, I feel that it’s 1940 and our side is Belgium.
Maybe Czechoslovakia.

What I’m looking for is a mechanism or mechanisms beyond blogging and arguing with my colleagues (not so easy in the dark heart of the Welfare State, but semper fi) to protect and promote what is left of the gentler, more considerate Christian world of my youth.

Paul Johnson wrote something to the effect that it was part of the British genius to convert theology into morals and morals into manners. I guess that that genius has wandered off somewhere.

So, I’ll keep on doing what I can, wherever I can, but counter-subversion, I suspect, is tougher than subversion. Maybe subversion of our own? Secular humanist jokes? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

You don't need religion, you need to effectively enforce the laws that are in place. If criminals think there is a high chance they will be caught and be given a meaningful sentence crime will reduce. At the moment, the chances of being caught are slim, and when you are, you'll get 10 slaps on the wrist before you get finally get a 10 day community service order.

Stan said...

"You don't need religion, you need to effectively enforce the laws that are in place. If criminals think there is a high chance they will be caught and be given a meaningful sentence crime will reduce."

Obviously you completely missed my point. As you correctly note, observance of the law diminishes with the possibility of being caught and that in turn weakens the rule of law. It also increases the likelihood that more people will break the law knowing that they will not be held do account. However, if that rule of law is backed by the belief in an all-seeing, all knowing God then that means more people will believe if they break the law and even if the state never catches or punishes them then they will still, ultimately, be judged for their crimes.

This works not only for "the law" but also for the moral code. I.e. - even though it is not against the law to commit adultery, fewer people would do it if they believed in Christ, God and the 10 Commandments. That in turn would mean less incidences of family breakdown and the problems that brings.

As I said at the post, in the absence of an omnipresent God you need an omnipresent state. Which would you prefer?