Archive for the ‘anarchism’ Tag

I Like Mine With Flash   5 comments

Welcome to the blog hop and the question “What’s my favorite decade so far and why?”

Now, there are two ways to answer that question because there are two ways to read it.

First, have you checked out Stevie Turner’s blog yet? You definitely want to read about her favorite decade.

What’s my personally favorite decade that I have lived?

Well, they all have had their good points and bad points. That decade when you’re a kid is pretty cool, except that you are a kid, and there were a couple of natural disasters in my community, so …. Mixed bag. Teens are cool. I was a teen, which is a very mixed bag of glorious and suckiness, so … my dad died, high school had lots of temptations to be stupid but that was also the decade I accepted Christ and survived being stupid. My 20s had some excellent times — college was a great experience, I met my husband and got married — and some sad times — my mom died and I discovered marriage and the Christian life can have some rocks. My 30s were when I had my kids, so glorious, but mixed in with what we term “the unfortunate years”, a very dark time in our lives when we learned that God uses everything for the good of the people He has called through Christ, but that it’s not always a walk in the park under nice street lights. My 40s were sort of cool. I had a great job and Brad and I both experienced a measure of economic success … and then we decided there’s more to life than making money — a decision that had some challenging consequences. We raised a wonderful and highly entertaining daughter and got our son to the cusp of being a teenager. My great job turned sucky, so …. Mixed bag.

My 50s are going well. I have a job comparable to that great one and I have published two novels. That’s all great but the world is bent, so I don’t expect perfection. The wonderful daughter has become a gypsy bluegrass musician, which is both exciting and terrifying in equal measures for a parent. The son is an amazing young man … so far ….

So best decade for me is … not definable. They all had good parts and bad parts and I couldn’t vote for one as “THE BEST”. If I believed in horoscopes, I’d blame it on being a Libra, but I’m just not that definitive.

But let me tell you what my favorite decade in recent history is. I wish I’d lived in the 1920s.

Why?

I like my decades with flash. The music was cool, the dancing was hot, the clothes swung to the beat, and the cars had style. I like that the government of the day thought they could control folks and tell them how to live their lives, but Prohibition actually brought about an irreverent “I did not consent, I will not comply” mood for the decade. The 20s was the decade that defined my life even though I wouldn’t be born for more than a quarter century because my father was a teenager in the 1920s.

The 1920s were a time of social change and wild financial speculation. It was also when science fiction as we know it came into its own. Fritz Lang’s science fiction epic, Metropolis, was in theaters. Czech writer Karel Capek invented the word “robot,” and a group of US amateur fiction writers founded the influential pulp magazine Weird Tales featuring dark, bizarre stories of undersea aliens by a young H.P. Lovecraft. In New York, the Harlem Renaissance was in full swing, bringing poetry, fiction and jazz from the African American community into the mainstream. Slavery was becoming something that only your grandparents could remember. Women had gotten the vote and were working as journalists.

The 1920s was the beginning of youth culture and college hijinks. Young people of the era discovered a stark generation gap with their parents. Kids who had grown up with technologies like telephones, movies, and electric lights were accustomed to a radically different world than people who grew up with horse-drawn carriages and gas lamps. Why not recreate culture since times were changing so fast that each new generation seemed to grow up on a different planet from their elders?

I see a lot of parallels to our own era — which might explain why the 1920s are so in vogue these days. Think Downtown Abbey. But mostly, I just like the whole mystique of it — all the flash and all that jazz.

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Posted August 26, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Anabaptist Foundations   3 comments

We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther and Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel under ground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor, I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with Government, and we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of men.

Charles H. Spurgeon (New Park Street Pulpit, Vol 7, Page 225)

My spiritual antecedents were Alpine anabapists, similar to the Brethren, Amish or Mennonites. Spurgeon pretty much explains it, but William Cathcart makes the bold statement that all Christians in the 1st Century could rightly be called baptists (little b intended). So it’s not too surprising that when the catholic (little c intended) church was co-opted by the Roman Empire in the 4th century, that some Christians drifted to the edges and just didn’t participate in the Roman Catholic Church. They chose not to join the “catholic” (meaning universal) ecclesiastical system because they recognized a lack of adherence to early Christian standards. These “protestants” pop up in Roman Catholic history from time to time as heretics who refused to baptist babies.The Waldenses, Wyclifites, Hussites, and Brothers of the Common Life are examples. The Roman Catholic Church had plenty to say about them, none of it good.

Couldn’t these people get with the program? Society had decided that it needed a record of every man, woman and child in the Holy Roman Empire and the most convenient way for government to manage that was through the Church. Baptize your babies or we will destroy you as heretics!

Anabaptists were persecuted by the Romans, the Protestants and even the radical Anabaptists. They were also the original anarchists. They were loosely organized and focused on spiritual rather than civil reformation. They existed quietly for the most part, taking no part in government because they didn’t believe any human ought to have authority to control the consciences of others. That included government and any sort of ecclesiastical body beyond the local church or individual Christians meeting together for discourse.

We are not, contrary to popularly-taught history, descended from the radical Anabaptists that formed during the Reformation. Radical Anabaptism actually more resembled a cult than Christianity. Zwingli sought to create a reformation of the churches that would please the nobles. Thomas Munzer advocated for popular insurrection. The Alpine anabaptists rejected that. They insisted that the Church of Christ must first be a congregation of believers with hearts of faith, spiritual insight, obedient wills and real religious experience. They rejected compromise with the world and the reduction of Christian standards to the level of nominal, secular membership. They wanted a church consisting of only the faithful.

How that played out in practice could be seen in their baptismal rites. Infants could not exercise faith, so anabaptists rejected infant baptism as an empty legalistic ritual. The only practices worthy of the Christian church were those directly related to personal faith.

Although there is some evidence that suggests anabaptists existed at least since the 10th century Waldenses, history records that in 1523, Grebel baptized Blaurock as part of a community of brethren that began to grow distinctly away from the main Zwinglian Reformation. This community appears never to have been part of the Zwinglian organization. They grew up separately … or existed already, quietly, in deeping with their belief in not taking part of secular government. The Lutherans called them “rebaptizers” (ana – baptists), though the Alpine believers actually rejected that name because they didn’t see themselves as baptizing again. They believed that dunking infants in water could not rightfully be called “baptism” since there was no personal faith involved on the part of the recipient. They had a very strong Biblical basis for this. Adult baptism as a sign of fellowship in the pure church of Christ was the one and only baptism — not a second baptism at all. But the name stuck all the same.

These early anabaptists had some clear doctrines:

  1. The church should be entirely modeled on the New Testament, copying the apostolic pattern.
  2. The visible Church is composed only of believers, separated from the unbelieving
  3. This state of purity in the church was to be preserved by a rigorous use of discipline
  4. The Church must be completely severed from all entangling alliances with the State
  5. All Christians have the same functional rights and authority as the clergy.
  6. The Gospel is a “new law” to be followed literally and obeyed.
  7. Christians are to conduct their lives by the authority of conscience.

The first three and the 5th principles are discoverable in the Bible; in fact, it is virtually impossible to come away from an honest reading of the New Testament without those four principles principles.

The 4th principle stemmed from a history severe persecution by the State on behalf of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anabaptist organizations. They felt there must be no kind of government compulsion in spiritual matters. The churches would live, grow and enlarge their fellowship through faith and experience. The churches could influence the character of those who form the State, but its authority is an indirect influence of the conscience. In the sphere of religion, the State has no authority. Conscience is absolutely free.

The 6th principle explains the historic refusal of Amish and Mennonite to take oaths, participate in wars or take human life. The 7th principle speaks to our relationship with God Himself. The conscience is an inner sanctuary where the voice of the living God is heard. If the laws of the secular government do not ask me to violate the laws of God, good, but when they do … more on that later.

Those early anabaptists were persecuted and died for what they saw as eternal truth and everlasting righteousness.

Could we be that serious about our faith today, Church?

Abuse of Power with Becky Akers   1 comment

Christian AnarchyBecky Akers and I are continuing our conversation on anarcho-capitalism and how it is or could be compatible with Christianity. Welcome back, Becky.

Becky: Thanks, Lela, it’s good to be here again!

Last week you said in closing, “Christians like the idea of liberty, but we’re afraid of too much liberty. We know human nature is not a lovely thing since the Fall, so we believe that government is necessary to prevent human nature from riding the society off the rails.”

You’ve raised an essential point, one that not only keeps many folks from embracing anarcho-capitalism but also troubled the Founding Fathers. You reflected the latter’s quandary when you paraphrased James Madison’s “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Some anarcho-capitalists damn the Founders because of such sentiments. I’m not one of them. Recall that Madison lived before the Nazis, Marxism, Waco, Ruby Ridge, the Pentagon and NSA. Recall as well that the philosophy of liberty has grown and developed since the eighteenth century just as our knowledge of nutrition or physics has. The Founders didn’t benefit from the Austrian school of economics; they knew nothing of Bastiat or John Stuart Mill. If they had, Madison would more likely have said, “Because men aren’t angels, government is hellish.”

Lela: Those are all fine examples of government out of control and Waco, Ruby Ridge and the NSA do certainly indict the US government along with the other examples. I’m not sure they are strong enough arguments against all governments everywhere.

Becky: Well, we can also look at “good” Christian governments, such as England’s during Queen Elizabeth’s reign or Spain’s during the Inquisition. Or the United States’ administration in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when it passed and enforced laws condemning many people to chattel slavery. Or Israel’s government under beloved King David, who fought a civil war when the northern tribes preferred a different ruler and later compelled prisoners of another war to lie on the ground while his men slaughtered two out of three. Or… alas, the examples stretch endlessly, given that men aren’t angels, and even more so when the State’s power strengthens their evil.

Which brings us back to your original question and a first, very obvious response; I’ll try not to belabor it though the State offers such an enticing target! It’s best encapsulated in that old Latin proverb, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?, i.e., Who watches the guards? We’ve all heard or read endless stories about cops’ brutality, political corruption, bureaucratic sloth, judicial absurdities, etc. And where do these horrific “public servants” come from? Yep: those fallen human beings we so distrust! There’s no difference between them and us except our naive idea that picking up a paycheck from Uncle Sam turns sinners into heroes ready and willing to save us from danger.

Lela: Okay, I can buy that. All human beings are fallen and their essential nature does not change when they are hired to do a job.

Becky: And even if we could magically ensure that the State employs only “good” people, folks who would never accept a bribe, who would work hard and consistently put the public’s good (whatever that means) ahead of their own interests, there’s still government’s innate incompetence. Again, I won’t belabor this despite its being another big, fat bull’s-eye because we’ve all experienced it. But let me emphasize that it is indeed innate, built into the political process, and unalterable regardless of “reforms” or tweaks. Why? Because government’s nature deprives its employees of critical information.

Lela: How so?

Becky:  When an entrepreneur provides a product or service, he gleans enormous amounts of information from the market (and the freer from the State’s regulation that market is, the more accurate its information). We haven’t time to explore this exhaustively; indeed, economists have written whole tomes on the topic. So let me cite just one example: prices. They tell an entrepreneur how much people value his product (does anyone out there want haggis for lunch? Will a haggis restaurant in the business district succeed? Or do most workers choose hamburgers and pizza?), which varieties of it they prefer (do more people order a whole haggis, or do they prefer it sliced?), etc. The entrepreneur must please his customers or suffer bankruptcy—and thanks in part to the information prices give him, he can decipher his patrons’ desires. (Entrepreneurs who fail at figuring out such clues go bust. Behold the market’s built-in regulation to rid us of unsafe or inefficient products and services!)

But taxes replace prices when we’re dealing with government. And taxes continue to support government’s “products” and “services” no matter how much their “customers” loathe them. For example, the TSA never has to worry about pleasing passengers: Congress will continue renewing its budget—and stealing the taxes for that budget from us—no matter how long the lines at checkpoints are, how offensive the TSA’s gropings, or how many iPads its thugs swipe.  The TSA has absolutely no incentive to improve its “service” because its “revenue” doesn’t decline despite its assaulting, harming and inconveniencing “customers.”

LELA: Okay, that makes sense.

BECKY: Ditto for cops, the CIA, the NSA, and all the other “policing” bureaucracies that supposedly protect us from bad guys. Even if all cops and bureaucrats were devout Christians, they would still lack the information they need to function competently. Private investigators who can’t solve a murder or find stolen jewelry won’t attract clients. Christian cops who can’t do either may be righteous and compassionate, but they’ll continue to fail at locating killers and missing diamonds because our taxes keep them and their inefficient methods afloat year after year.

To the State’s inherent corruption and its incompetence at protecting us, we must add that governments also specialize in rendering their subjects defenseless. Sometimes that’s as obvious as confiscating guns. Other times it’s as subtle as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, among other evils, forced airlines to seat anyone who bought passage, regardless of how menacing or bizarre he seemed, and thereby exacerbated the skyjackings of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Lela:  This sounds like a topic to pursue more fully. As a Christian, I believe we all stand equal before God, which would say to me that airlines, lunch counters, churches and other public venues shouldn’t be segregated by race.

Becky: You’re right that we all stand equal before God—but not one another. Some older folks who savor peace and quiet don’t enjoy kids; construction companies seldom hire the elderly as employees. The owners of Hooter’s Restaurants don’t appreciate ugly women; neither do the readers of Playboy Magazine. I doubt that Hillary Clinton has ever patronized Hooters or thumbed Bill’s copy of Hustler. Some black people don’t like white people and vice versa.

But this topic cries out for a much longer discussion: may we return to it next time?

Lela:  Yes, that would be fine. I want to give the topic its full due, so we can come back to it.

Becky:  Meanwhile, let’s consider your question’s corollary: who will protect us from predators in an anarcho-capitalist world? Government by its nature cannot provide protection—but freedom affords other, far superior safeguards.

Lela:  Such as?

Becky: First, let’s remember that government creates many of the dangers that frighten us. For example, the Drug War and all other prohibitory laws never rid us of a particular bugaboo; they only drive it underground with all the attendant violence and crime.

LELA:  Prohibition emboldened and increased organized crime because the demand for booze didn’t go away; it just became illegal to supply it. I’m with you so far.

BECKY: Exactly!

I was discussing anarchy with a fellow Christian recently; perhaps because he’s the father of three teens, he’s particularly concerned about heroin’s availability and abuse in a free world. “We need more laws against it,” he moaned, “more cops to stop the traffic in it!” I reminded him, however, that the places under government’s direct control are the ones where “illicit” drugs flourish: public schools, which the State forces kids to attend; prisons; inner cities, which, between subsidized housing and food stamps, are pretty much federal plantations. Abolishing government eradicates the breeding-ground for an overwhelming majority of the perils that now terrify us.

LELA: I don’t buy that yet. I agree that government sets up the conditions in which drug use is most attractive, but without public schools you have the illiterate offspring of people who cannot afford to send their kids to private schools; without prisons, we’d have criminals loose on the streets continuing to commit crimes like theft, rape and murder. It seems to me that illiteracy would actually drive criminality. While I agree with you on subsidized housing and food stamps, I know many people, including Christians, who would say we’d be relegating those people to starvation and homelessness.

BECKY:  Lela, the most literate generations in American history coincided with the decades that enjoyed the lowest amounts of government: only patchy requirements for very basic schooling existed in some areas during colonial days, yet out of that freedom rose the scholars who fought the American Revolution (and I’m not limiting “scholars” to the intellectual giants of the first Continental Congress, either, such as Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin. For a sample of the widespread erudition then, peruse the journals or letters of ordinary soldiers. These “uneducated” men wrote and reasoned far more elegantly than doctoral candidates today). Since “education” became “compulsory” (what an oxymoron!) in the mid-19th century, levels of intellectual attainment have plummeted across the board, year after year.

As for prisons, even with them, we have criminals loose on the streets – until we elect them to political office, that is. Prison is not the only response to crime; in fact, it’s among the worst (which explains the State’s infatuation with it) since it twice victimizes the innocent: first, the thief, rapist, or murderer preys on them, and then the State does, forcing them to pay for their predator’s food, lodging and guards. Freedom offers far better alternatives, ones that make victims whole instead of looting them to “punish” the offender.

Finally, Christians—or anyone else—who insist that it’s OK to steal as long as we use the proceeds to feed and house the poor violate Scripture’s clear command against theft.

But to return to the subject of how we’ll protect ourselves in a free society: you may have noticed that I’ve frequently specified “political government.” That’s because there are other kinds, and you might choose to submit to one in an anarcho-capitalistic world. Homeowners’ associations are somewhat analogous, except in a free society, the variety of their prohibitions and requirements would expand vastly to satisfy every preference. Scared of teenaged vandals spray-painting graffiti on your garage? Choose an HOA that prohibits children. Hate loud rock blasting from your neighbor’s DVD-player? Rent from a landlord who loves classical music and terminates the lease of anyone disturbing his tenants’ peace.

LELA: Okay, I see where you’re headed with that. We’re running out of time for this week, but I want to come back to the topics I highlighted, particularly the idea of non-state governance. I think Christians ask the state for help with some particularly “good” things … like eliminating institutional racism and arresting people who are legitimately harming others … and I’d like to explore the alternatives.  So we’ll come back to it next week.

 

Becky Akers is a free-lance writer and historian who has written two novels about the American Revolution, Halestorm and Abducting Arnold.

Stay Tuned for Christian Anarchy   Leave a comment

Becky Akers and I continue our conversation about how anarchism and Christianity reconcile.

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment.

https://aurorawatcherak.wordpress.com/conversation-with-an-anarchist/

Biblical Anarchy 2   3 comments

LELA: Becky Akers and I continue our conversation on anarchy and Christianity. See earlier installments on the Conversation with an Anarchist page.

BECKY: Hello again, Lela. We parted last time on a question that had long puzzled me: how to reconcile Romans 13 and I Peter 2:13-17 with the rest of the Bible. Those two passages seem to extol government and urge not only our compliance but our enthusiastic support. Yet a myriad of other verses condemn the State’s wickedness, as we saw last week.

LELA: Thanks for coming back, Becky. I’m definitely stumped by the apparent contradiction. As a Baptist, I find my church tries very hard to take the entire Bible into context. I know a couple of pastors who are cool in their attitude toward government and/or military conflict, but most Baptists are straight up statists who consider me a radical for advocating for state secession and federalization and they base that stance on those two verses. How do you resolve it?

BECKY: Yep, the apparent contradiction between those verses and other passages, such as Judges 9, I Samuel 8, Psalm 2, etc., troubled me greatly. So did the silliness of asserting that “rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.” [Romans 13:3] This is obviously untrue of any and all political governments: even a cursory examination of history shows the diametrical opposite, let alone our own experiences with politicians and bureaucrats. Meanwhile, Christians are worse than fools to believe or to preach such lunacy. So how could God, writing through Paul, allege such an absurdity?

LELA: Especially since Nero was emperor of Rome at the time. It would seem patently obvious that Christians had a great deal to fear from him even if they were doing good.

BECKY: Especially if they were doing good! Well, Lela, I searched long and hard for an explanation. I read a great many commentaries from other Christian anarchists—and some who were not so Christian.

LELA: I’ve noticed that in researching this topic that a fair number of anarchists claiming to be Christians just dismiss the verses they don’t like – claim they were added by Constantine or the Catholic Church.

BECKY: Exactly. But true Christians never presuppose that the Bible is just another book from which we pick and choose what we wish to believe. It is the Word of God in its entirety, even those parts that mystify us or confuse our puny, finite minds. Ergo, I immediately ruled out anyone who denied the Bible’s authority, who pooh-poohed either passage as not really inspired or as some government’s later interpolation, or who dismissed these verses as Paul and Peter’s disingenuous attempt to placate their Roman persecutors.

LELA: I totally agree. I don’t know how someone can call themselves a Christian, but ignore the parts of God’s word they don’t agree with. That standard often makes for some complications, but it’s the only way to be true to my faith, I think.

BECKY: Anyway, after crashing into lots of dead ends, I finally found this masterful treatment of Romans 13 and I Peter 2. The author makes an excellent case for their wildly inaccurate translations from the original Greek – and though I don’t read Hebrew, as I mentioned previously, I studied both Greek and Latin as my major in college. So I was able to verify his thesis that the Greek words used in these passages do not typically pertain to government; rather, they refer to other “authorities,” such as our biological fathers, owners of property, etc. (I am over-simplifying here and urge folks to read the article rather than rely on my inadequate summary.) Indeed, the usual translations, whether King James or more modern ones, err so egregiously that they invert the meaning, upholding the State instead of its private and far superior alternatives.

LELA: My Greek is not as good as yours. I have to rely on helps and on friends who have studied Greek. I went to the Net Bible’s Greek interlinear of Romans 13 and cross-referenced with Strongs and found that it is a voluntary giving in for the purposes of cooperation. There’s an element in the word “exousia” (translated governing authorities) of the power of choice or liberty. In 1 Peter, I found similar ideas of voluntaryism with the idea that the king (or ruler of the people) is to be estimated (or judged) by the people. I’m pretty sure that the Christians of Paul and Peter’s time would have estimated Nero as a crazy man who wanted them all dead. At some point we’re going to have to talk about whether we can adequately estimate the value of a ruler through elections, but let’s continue with the Scriptures for now.

BECKY: Restoring their true content to these two sections of Holy Writ shows us yet again that our omnipotent, omniscient God does not contradict Himself. (And now, the third verse of Romans 13 makes utter sense, too: our fathers, tutors, and other familial and social “rulers” do indeed reward us when we do well!) The Lord utterly opposes evil, even from politicians and government. And His revelation bears this out in all its chapters, including those that fallen sinners have (deliberately) mis-translated.

Meanwhile, in addition to the Bible’s outright condemnations of political government, Scripture also implies that the State should not exist. We find some of the most egregious implications against the State in the Ten Commandments.

Too many Christians read these laws as if the Sixth and Eighth end with the words “unless thou wearest a badge and a polyester costume that the State issueth.” Yet “You shall not murder” and “You shall not steal” are pretty much absolute. They permit no exceptions, nor do they read, “You shall not murder unless the State says it’s OK because those little brown people over there in Iraq might be terrorists” or “You shall not steal unless the government lusts after the ‘revenue’ from the traffic tickets you write hapless drivers.”

Let’s think about that for a moment to understand how truly radical it is. If the Lord – and we, His followers – hold the State to the Eighth Commandment, if indeed no one, not the IRS, not the Congress or president, no bureaucrat, no politician, no cop or judge, can legitimately, “morally” force anyone to hand over his wealth, then taxation will screech to a halt. Government cannot function, cannot even exist, without the taxes it steals from us. The State will disappear.

Likewise with war, which is nothing more than organized, State-mandated mass murder. Randolph Bourne very wisely observed that “War is the health of the State.” Other philosophers have noted that wars allow governments to grow exponentially, that legislators who pass “emergency measures” while bullets are flying do not rescind them when peace is declared. New taxes, new bureaucracies, new infringements on freedom – war allows the State to foist all these on its subjects.

But if we take the Commandment against murder seriously, if indeed no one, not the Pentagon, not the Congress or president, no bureaucrat, no politician, no cop or judge, can legitimately, “morally” murder another person, even a foreign one, then war will end. And the State will shrink dramatically if it doesn’t completely vanish.

Until that glorious day, however, many churches and Christians act as if the Ten Commandments are mere suggestions, and ones they can safely ignore at that. Far from rebuking or shunning members of their congregations who volunteer to murder on government’s behalf, they praise them. And while I have gagged at plenty of sermons about how “honest” Christians will never cheat on their taxes, I have yet to hear one on how honest Christians will oppose official theft and all the evils politicians buy with our money, from abortions to the White House’s lies , lavish living , and orgies .

In case the Ten Commandments’ prohibition of the State’s life-blood doesn’t convince readers that political government is incompatible with the Bible, I’ll look at another of our Lord’s implications next week, Lela. Hint: many people consider this one “golden.”

LELA: I look forward to that.
Becky Akers is a free-lance writer and historian who has written two novels about the American Revolution, Halestorm and Abducting Arnold.

 

 

Halestorm and Abducting Arnold, the revolutionary novels. Buy them before they’re banned!

Visit the books’ website.

Interview with Becky Akers   1 comment

Today’s interview is with Becky Akers, author of Halestorm and Abducting Arnold, two works of fiction based on a refreshingly different take on American history. I heard Becky interview on Patriot’s Lament, a Saturday morning radio program on KFAR AM 660 (Fairbanks Alaska) that explores anarcho-capitalism and a lot of other liberty subjects. I liked what she had to say so much that I tracked her down and asked her if she would let me interview her.

 

Tell us something about yourself, Becky.

For starters, Lela, I’m honored to talk with you today! Thanks so much.

As for the salient facts, my favorite meal is dessert and my favorite sport, reading; I adore storms—meteorological ones, that is; you can usually find me at either my computer’s keyboard or a piano’s; and if we could choose where and when we’re born, I’d have picked Boston in 1758.

 

How long have you been writing and what was the first story you wrote?

When I was 8 or 9, I sobbed my way through Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling. I then baldly and boldly plagiarized it to write my first story. I learned later that authors call this “inspiration.”

 

Yeah, fan fiction at the behest of my bored friends was where I honed my early writing skills. What are you passionate about in life?

Chocolate and Chinese food!

I’m down with both of those, but …

Oh, wait: you mean something inedible, don’t you? Of lasting value, even eternal significance?

 

FirestormDefinitely!

In that case, I am most passionate about Christianity—the Biblical version, thank you, not the man-made knock-off that presents God as a sort of celestial vending machine: “Insert prayers and good deeds, receive that new car.”

Because I am a sinner Christ saved via His infinite grace and mercy, gratitude alone compels me to obey Him. Politically, that translates to anarchism, by which I mean there should be no State, no government, no political class of sinful, fallen men thumbing their noses at the Almighty while lording it over the rest of us.

 

Having listened to Patriot’s Lament for two years now, I know the answer to this question, but I have to ask it anyway for readers’ benefit —

Aren’t anarchists all Marxists?

To be precise, I am an anarcho-capitalist. Anarcho-capitalists are true anarchists, as distinguished from the communists the American government mislabelled “anarchists” in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Communists cannot be anarchists: they need a strong central government, so strong it’s totalitarian, since their philosophy compels citizens to sacrifice their own interests to the “common good.” No one voluntarily does that, hence the armies and wholesale slaughter that ever attend Marxism.

By contrast, anarcho-capitalists do not go around blowing things up, nor do we wear red berets. We uphold the individual and his inalienable rights; the free market—a truly free one, with no regulations but its own, self-correcting ones; voluntary interactions and transactions; peace. We love liberty, just as the Bible does: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free…

 

Are you saying that the Bible supports anarchy?

Any Christian who loves his Lord must abide by the Ten Commandments—and that perforce makes us anarchists since the Law prohibits two of government’s essential hallmarks: stealing (even if we rename it “taxation”) and murder, which remains murder even if we call it “war.” Nor do I note any exemption in Holy Writ for those wearing badges or merely following orders. If you worship Jesus Christ, you had better be serious about your morality and about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. And since none of us want others to steal from or murder us, how can we support government when it routinely commits both crimes?

Finally, the State is Satan’s citadel – I’ve written about this extensively; those whom this concept intrigues may want to start here or here – so I oppose it in its entirety. I’m not interested in “reforming” or “limiting” government, any more than I would be interested in reforming or limiting cancer. I want to abolish human government because it directly opposes itself to Almighty God, vying with Him for our devotion.

 

 

Talk about Halestorm.

Halestorm is the first novel for adults to follow the adventures of Captain Nathan Hale, the American Revolutionary (and devout Christian!) who supposedly said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” before the British Empire hanged him for espionage.

It’s an utterly thrilling story, full of suspense, breathtaking drama, and even humor—not because I’m such an enthralling writer but because Nathan was such an enthralling guy. Yet most historians dismiss him as a failure, a bumbling amateur, or, at best, a children’s hero. I’m not sure whether they do so because he was only 21 when he hanged or because of his wholehearted commitment to liberty—in other words, his idealism and integrity. Apparently, to earn historians’ favor, you have to be a power-hungry cynic and sociopath like the average politician.

I was indeed a child when I first learned about Nathan—so young, in fact, that I can’t remember whether I read his story for myself or whether someone told me of him. But his courage and defiance of tyranny captivated me. I’ve loved him ever since. And I hope other adults who pick up my novel because it’s exciting will come away from it admiring Nathan and his principles, too.

 

 

ArnoldNow, let’s get to the meat of the matter. Abducting Arnold takes an alternative view of the Benedict Arnold treason incident. You don’t see Arnold as a traitor, but actually cast him as a hero. That’s certainly not what I learned in high school.

No, I daresay it isn’t!

When I started the massive research for Abducting Arnold, I held the conventional view of him as an irredeemably wicked traitor; I figured that my novel would exhaust the list of synonyms for “dastardly” and “coward.” But within a few months, I had to radically change my view –and my plot’s outline!—, based on the evidence.

My first inkling that everything we “know” about Arnold is wrong came when I understood the scope of his career. During the war’s first two years, Arnold won astounding victories against huge odds for the Patriots: he was a hero’s hero who succeeded at the impossible time after time. He froze, starved and bled for the Cause, even sustaining a wound that crippled him for life. He was completely devoted to the principles of liberty.

Then, eighteen months after his most outstanding victory, he had sided with his former enemy, the one he had fought so vehemently and successfully, an empire inimical to freedom. Why?

 

I always heard that the British paid him. Isn’t that the reason he turned his coat?

No – though, as you note, most historians either imply or state outright that Arnold profited handsomely from his treason. But he actually lost money: I added up his accounts and documented, as much as is possible two centuries later, that he forfeited a considerable amount. And he knew he would.

Arnold was also allegedly the touchiest, most vainglorious and egomaniacal general around: another extremely popular explanation for his treason is that he prized his own military brilliance even if an ungrateful country and Congress didn’t, and he craved revenge for their constant criticism and abuse.

Unlike the money motivation, which is flat-out wrong, this second explanation is a mixture of truth and fiction. Arnold was indeed brilliant—to my mind, the most brilliant tactician and commander on either side of the war. And without a doubt, neither his fellow Patriots nor Congress ever came close to appreciating his genius. But Arnold reacted the way other officers in his situation did – because surprise, surprise, he wasn’t the only general Congressional politics savaged. Nor were his responses unreasonable and hysterical, as so many historians insist.

 

So if Arnold didn’t commit treason to reap a fortune or out of pique, why did he?

Trying to answer that question led me to a set of politicians known as the Radical Patriots. Though they’re virtually forgotten today, the Radicals were extremely powerful during the Revolution, and they pulled a sort of coup d’état in Philadelphia, where they first seized power. Basically, they were Progressives—as communist in their economics and as humorless in their fanaticism as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama today. They loved government, the bigger the better, which, of course, was precisely the opposite of other Patriots. Radicals weren’t fighting to live free; they were fighting to rule their fellows in place of King George III’s administration.

Arnold was one of the only real Patriots to understand what the Radicals were up to. He tried to thwart them, to save the Revolution for liberty from them. His failure at that led directly to his deal with the British, for reasons I dramatize in Abducting Arnold.

 

Why do you think we don’t learn this in school?

I’d say primarily for two reasons.

First, winners write history. Arnold’s side lost. Not only that, but though the Radical Patriots faded from power after the Revolution, much of their philosophy not only survived but triumphed. It continues to curse us today. Telling the true story of Arnold, of why and how he opposed the Radicals, would undermine the modern welfare-warfare state.

And second, Arnold enrages statists.

There is no greater crime to people who love the centralized American government than to question or mock it, refuse to take it as seriously as it decrees, or prefer a different one; look at the hatred heaped on Ed Snowden (who, by the way, is often compared with Arnold. As he should be: he’s intensely heroic and principled, like Arnold). Arnold “betrayed” America because his allegiance wasn’t to Congress or the Continental Army or his home state of Connecticut or George Washington or to anything but freedom. And when he saw the Radicals rising to power while imposing a dictatorship that put George III’s in the shade, he turned his back on the American government, such as it then was.

Statists must blacken Arnold’s name, must depict him as evil incarnate, lest kids learn to love liberty and recognize Arnold for what he was: one of freedom’s most magnificent champions.

 

To truly understand what Becky is discussing, read the book. It’s meticulously researched and an entertaining read.

 

Links – to books:

Halestorm– http://www.amazon.com/Halestorm-ebook/dp/B008YF7H9A/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1358872730&sr=8

 

Abducting Arnold — http://www.amazon.com/Abducting-Arnold-Becky-Akers-ebook/dp/B00H6J50T4/ref=zg_bs_6361463011_19

 

Websites:

https://beckyakers.wordpress.com/

 

Facebook, etc. 

 

Nope – eschew “social media” like the plague and NSA-infiltrated trap that it is.

 

What Flavor of Coercion Do You Prefer?   2 comments

I live in a state of extremes … and I am not referring to the weather. Alaska was founded by people who embodied a pioneer spirit. Yeah, so was Oregon, but while Oregon was founded by those pioneers 140 years ago, Alaska was founded by those pioneers within my life time. In many ways, it is still being founded, mostly by people who left the Lower 48 to … get away from the Lower 48. You know, cities, nanny states, nosey neighbors. They came here to be free to pursue their own interests. As my husband says “To be somewhere where trees stretched to the horizon and the only person there was me.”

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many Alaskans are anarchists of one variety or another. Most of us fled the Lower 48 “sustainable development” policies requiring unlimited government intervention and have embraced anarcho capitalism. I like parts of it, but I see the flaws in it as well. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,” James Madison wrote. “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

It’s pretty obvious that political-economic theory in America is going off the rails. Although I find resonance with conservative political and economy theories, I also like the idea of being left alone to do as I like. Which way to go?

First, anarchism is a political philosophy that speaks to the proper relationship between the individual and government. Well, actually it says there is no proper relationship between the individual and government because there should be no government. Forget the administrative state; anarchists believe there should be no state. To those of us who do not have an automatic knee-jerk reaction against that idea, it appears to be a simplification of libertarian philosophy. It is the principle of liberty taken to a logical and ill-advised extreme.

Anarchists speak a lot about force and how force by government is evil, and yet this is why people form governments in the first place – to use collective force to prevent the initiation of force against individuals by other individuals or groups of individuals. For a free market to work, the actions of one person do not restrict the proper liberty of another, including his liberty to act morally. The production of economic goods may not violate anyone’s rightful freedom. Your enjoyment of your rights may not be endangered by my misuse of mine. If that standard fails, then the market must be regulated by some institution outside of the market, for the market is unjustifiable if it allows the violation of individual rights. For most of American history, our market required no outside regulation beyond the exception of coercion.

Coercion is the action of government against criminals and foreign aggressors for the protection of the market and society. It’s the “If men were angels” argument. Clearly, not all men are angels (indeed, most fall far short of that mark), therefore, group coercion must sometimes be exercised to protect individual liberty.  Criminals prefer dishonest ways over honest, so the existence of a power to prevent and punish this by force has value, provided it is restricted by moral principle that forbids its use against people who have not themselves used force against others. Exercised improperly, then coercion violates rights of innocent people (or the right of the guilty to have their guilt objectively demonstrated before suffering punishment).

Coercion is necessary, but it must be kept in its place in social discourse. The market, because it operates to benefit individuals or groups of individuals, is not best suited for this. For coercion to be both effective and controlled, it must exist outside of the market and the sway of subjective values. It must operate solely from appropriate predetermined moral principles and without taking into consideration any individual or group desires.  Universally, this institution is called government.

The market is not best suited for all of the services offered by government because the market is both inhabited by men (who are not angels) and free. All exchanges are meant to be voluntary. A person trades his time, effort, money or goods for those of another only if the other is willing. The market doesn’t work under other conditions. Consider, for example, the law of supply and demand. What would happen to prices if one did not have to pay for a good at a price acceptable to the seller, but could take the good by force, giving nothing in exchange? The law of supply and demand does not apply to thieves. The economic analysis of the market assumes that the use of force does not occur, that all exchanges are mutually acceptable to the parties involved.

The assumption is legitimate, for in free market theory there exists an institution outside the market which protects the rights of individuals, and therefore ensures that the principle of voluntary exchange will be observed. This institution may work well or badly, but its functions are not a subject of economic law; it is the concern, rather, of political and legal theory. The government codifies and enforces the rules of the market; it protects the existing framework of rights and liberties that men must respect in action. Economic theory then tells us what happens as individuals act within that framework to acquire the things that they value. Economic laws are to political laws as principles of strategy are to the rules of the game.

Anarchists hold that force would not be used and coercion would not be a feasible alternative to voluntary exchanges. But they cannot assume this in describing the market as they would have it. The anarchists would place governmental services in the market, to be offered by entrepreneurs on the basis of their expectations about the preferences of others. At best, they can attempt to predict what is likely to come about from the interplay of human interests. If we ask how our rights are to be secured to us in the anarchist system, the anarchist can only answer “it’ll work out.”

The anarchists, then, have their work cut out for them. They must show how, by the mechanism of the market, things work out in such a way that force is not used and all will proceed on the basis of economic laws; but economic laws are true only when all exchange is voluntary and the cost of using force is prohibitive. That’s circular reasoning because there is no reason why anyone should follow the rules in the first place.

Anarchists insist that if we needed protection from criminals, we could form protection agencies from the free market. What is to prevent protection agencies from banding together to destroy the competition and form a monopoly over protective services? Oh, but monopolies don’t form in a free society!. That’s only because anyone is free to compete with large firms and, by underselling them, cut into their market share and persuade consumers of the value of his goods. Why would the large protection agencies restrain themselves from driving out the competition by force? Look at the criminal underworld of the United States as an example of how that might happen, and has already happened. The assumption that competition would necessarily exist is not looking so good, is it?

Coercion is not, of course, the only means by which men deal with each other. Wherever men find themselves without government, so as to prevent a slide into chaos or to recover from that slide, they have formed new governments. Or, in the anarchist terminology, they have formed monopolistic “protection agencies.” Anarchism lives on its opposition to government, but every government that exists is a refutation of anarchism; for it belies the anarchists’ prediction that if only we can send government away it will not come back.

Again, anarchists complain that governments are immoral because they initiate, or would initiate, the use of force against anyone forming a rival “protection agency.” Yes, they would. And how is this any more immoral than two “private” protection agencies duking it out for supremacy? The anarchist provides no means for how society or the market place would prevent this. By rejecting the social institution through which men attempt, by positive action, to insure themselves of certain conditions necessary for social existence, he can only argue that these conditions will come about by natural law, so that we need do nothing ourselves. This argument ignores the difference between coercion and economic goods on the market. It relies on circular reasoning, that coercion would not occur because free people would not seek to coerce others, which is historical unsupportable. The anarchist advocates for a society free of violence among men, while rejecting the only means of achieving that end.

Posted October 7, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy

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