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Becky Akers on Racism   Leave a comment

Lela: Welcome back! Becky Akers and I are continuing our discussion of how an anarchic world would deal with racism and bigotry since there would be no government to enforce civil rights. Becky, my mother, an American Indian, suffered some segregation issues – difficulty renting apartments, denial of job opportunities — so I’ve always viewed the Civil Rights Act as a necessary government action which means I can be a human and not some sort of subhuman racial minority. Which brings us back to my original statement – government would not be necessary if men were angels. If men and women are bigots, how do the people they want to oppress get justice in a world without government?

 

Becky: Lela, I attended a women’s college that was so heavily Jewish it offered a kosher dining room. We schicksas, as its patrons called us, were forbidden to so much as throw our trash into the kosher garbage cans. Imagine the bigotry when even your wastepaper isn’t good enough!

 

Christian AnarchyLela:  That’s awful, but vaguely understandable given Jewish kosher regulations. I wouldn’t choose to be that cut off from the normal course of society and I couldn’t treat people with such contempt, but I understand it in principle. But that sort of attitude is exactly what scares me.

 

Becky:  Yep. So it’s understandable that you and a great many folks hope the State will force people to show better manners. But let’s remember who codified and enforced the racism that your mother suffered: government.

 

Lela:  Did it come from government or was it people in community who hated/feared Indians and wanted their land and asked government to support their decision to steal and abuse? That’s sort of off topic, but it is interesting to consider which came first — racism growing from the sinful hearts of fallen people or the government codifying and enforcing that racism.

But, back on topic — does anarcho-capitalism offer a better solution than civil rights legislation?

 

Becky:  Anarcho-capitalism offers far better methods of combating racism than that sin’s prime proponent, the State, ever could.

 

For over 75 years after the Constitution’s ratification, the Federal government and many states legislated and enforced chattel slavery. And those governments’ atrocities against American Indians are so heinous and infamous that time, space, and a queasy stomach prevent my rehearsing them here. Does it make sense to look for salvation from racism to the very agency that bolstered—and continues to bolster—it?

 

Lela: From someone who gets to look at it from both sides — whites did some evil things to the Indians, but some of my Indian ancestors admitted to the evil they did to white settlers. There was evil done on both sides and I can’t justify any of it. I can understand the sentiments that created the conflict, but I can’t justify the sins committed.

 

My family came to Alaska about 1946 just after Alaska became the first place in the United States to make Jim Crow-like discrimination illegal. My mom immediately noticed the difference from her experience in Washington State. My dad was with his first wife, a Creole, at the time and he always talked about the “miracle” of anti-discrimination laws. I grew up never really knowing legalized racism and thank God for that.

 

Becky:  But let’s ask another question: why were Jim Crow laws “necessary”?  Why go to the bother of legally banning black people—or, in Alaska’s case, native peoples—from movie theaters, housing, etc., if white people are by and large racists? Because clearly most proprietors of movie theaters, landlords, restaurateurs, etc., disagreed with discrimination. Then as now, these folks wanted as much profit as they could earn. And that means subjugating one’s prejudices against other colors to favor one: green.

 

Lela:  That’s a perspective I had not considered before. It would explain why Alaska’s anti-discrimination law was passed in 1945 and within a year my dad and mom (in separate parts of Alaska) noticed a difference. I always sort of imagined the owners of the Juneau Hotel grinding their teeth as Roy and Katherine Peratrovich celebrated its passage by dancing in their ballroom with their white patrons, but I never met any older white Alaskans who said they were absolutely horrified at its passage either. And it is true that the discrimination laws were written to “protect” white privilege because whites were a minority compared to Natives at the time. So, you think money is an anecdote to bigotry?

 

Becky:  Yes, I do. I think the free market in general is one of God’s greatest blessings to us because it lifts more people out of poverty by far than any other economic system. And specifically, it is bigotry’s most tireless enemy, as the State tacitly admitted every time it passed another law against a commercial transaction or behavior based on race.

 

Now, does this mean that everyone everywhere will welcome everyone all the time in an anarchic world? No, of course not. Let’s always remember that anarchy does not yield utopia, nor should we want it to: utopians like Hitler or the Khmer Rouge number among the most ruthless murderers in history. Whatever our social or political systems, we will still be fallen sinners living in a fallen world. But anarcho-capitalism offers the most opportunities for peace, prosperity, and freedom from bigotry’s burdens to the most people.

 

Lela: I’m still stuck here, though. I’m not looking for a utopia where everyone gets along and nobody has any evil thoughts. That won’t happen until we’re with Jesus in heaven and I honestly believe there will be some seriously embarrassed Christians when that day comes.

 

Becky: Amen. Seriously embarrassed.

 

Lela: From a statist perspective:  those that society deems “less-than” can perhaps “buy” their way into an accepted status in stateless anarcho-capitalist society. The converse is that “less-thans” are almost always poor in material wealth because of lack of opportunity. So again, don’t we circle back to needing the state to protect civil rights?

 

Becky:  Lela, much of the “lack of opportunity” you lament results from the State! For example: government requires many professionals, such as hair-braiders or morticians, to undergo expensive training totally irrelevant to their needs and to buy a license before they can practice their trade. Poor people almost always lack the time, money and resources to comply with the State’s demands; this isn’t “lack of opportunity,” this is outright tyranny! And it wouldn’t exist in an anarchic world.

 

There are other problems with anointing government Our Protector Of “Civil Rights” (I’ve put that term in quotes because I vehemently disagree with “civil rights,” as I explain here, here and here. “Civil rights” is a recognized political philosophy based on Marxism rather than mere shorthand, as most people assume, for “warm, fuzzy laws against nasty old bigots”). First, let’s remember government s inherent incompetence and corruption. Neither fault goes missing among those writing, passing, and enforcing regulations against discrimination. A Chinese landlord in San Diego, CA, may bribe the bureaucratic bean-counter who finds no Korean tenants in his five apartment buildings, but he’s unlikely to increase his profits in a heavily Asian area if he continues to indulge his racism.

 

Lela:  Okay, that makes sense. In a territory where most people were Alaska Natives who were starting to get educations and incomes (Roy Peratrovich was a lawyer, for example), it didn’t make much sense for businesses to refuse to sell to them.

 

Becky:  Remember, too, that we can’t control the unintended consequences or direction of any legislation, including that of “Civil Rights.” Who would have predicted in 1964 that the State’s ordering hoteliers, airlines, landlords, movie theaters, etc., to accommodate all patrons regardless of ethnicity would lead to the persecution-sorry, prosecution of Christian bakers and florists 50 years later for refusing to supply cakes and flowers to homosexual “weddings”?

 

Lela:  I definitely agree there. A law upholding the Christian principle of anti-discrimination (James 2 comes to mind) has become an excuse to deny religious liberty — to force private individuals to participate in and publicly sanction sinful behavior.

 

Becky: Lela, you’ve articulated a powerful principle there concerning the State. It always twists “well-intentioned,” “Christian” legislation into a horror straight from the pit of Hell. “Compulsory education” is another case in point: Protestants concerned about the huge numbers of Irish Catholic immigrants to mid-nineteenth century America pushed for laws compelling everyone to send his kids to “public” school–which they assumed would always be Protestant. Imagine their horror if they could see the State’s schools today, with pornography and the deliberate destruction of innocence, a.k.a “sex education,” unhealthy drugs and violence rampant, Darwinism not only preached but fanatically believed, and indoctrination in Marxism replacing any actual education.

 

Lela: In effect, the Civil Rights Act now discriminates against Biblically-faithful Christians. So how did that get twisted around?

 

Becky:  The Civil Rights Act arrogated the property owner’s rights to the State; in effect, a restaurateur no longer owns his diner because government now tells him how he may or may not use that property. If you doubt that, let me ask whether you own the bottle of aspirin you bought 2 weeks ago and placed in your medicine chest. If you do own it, can I prohibit you from opening it? Of course not! You can open it or not as you see fit, right?

 

Lela:  Yes.

 

Becky:  And if I said, “I prohibit you from opening that!”, wouldn’t you laugh at me? Wouldn’t you say, “Look, I have a headache, and anyway, it’s my aspirin! I’ll open it when I dang well please! It’s none of your business!” So with other kinds of property. If the State can tell me the uses I must make of it, I do not own it: the State does. And once we have ceded government the authority to dictate how some property-owners must use their property (restaurants must seat black patrons; landlords must rent to families with little kids though they disturb other tenants), we cannot legitimately, logically protest when it forces other property-owners to use their property as bureaucrats and politicians desire.

 

Lela:  Okay. I can see that. In fact, I’ve had conversations with people on this blog who argued the same thing from the statist position.

 

Becky: Lela, it’s supremely ironic that so many folks believe the State saves us from the consequences of bigotry: it’s among the worst of discriminators, if not the worst! Go to almost bureaucracy’s website and you’ll find a page like this one, listing the ways in which the agency favors some people over others, based solely on sex, race, etc.

 

Lela:  Right. Those pages (in print in those days) were always a conundrum for me because I could legally claim minority status, but I was raised to celebrate all of my heritage, so I didn’t. In high school, I started checking “other” and writing “human” on the line. I hope some bureaucrats were confused by that.

 

Becky: Good for you! The upshot is that government doesn’t prohibit discrimination and bigotry; instead, it promotes both in the varieties that bureaucrats and politicians prefer.

 

Lela: I’m part-American Indian, but I have blue eyes and curly hair, so I have a choice whether to look white or Indian (and have experimented to see if there is a different reaction; there is sometimes with some people). In principle, I can say that private individuals and companies have a right to choose who they associate with, but if I’m honest, as an Indian, that would mean my freedom would be curtailed by their freedom. It’s not as simple as saying “well, just move somewhere and associate with your own kind” because my own kind is as much Americans of Swedish and Irish descent as Americans of Indian descent. To me, freedom is being able to move within all of those groups without having to change my appearance to “pass”. I don’t care what’s kicking around in the private recesses of some rude person’s mind because their thoughts don’t hurt me, but if their actions deny me freedom … then I start to see a need for government to protect my freedom.

 

Becky: We need to return to our definition of  government,  Lela, which I’ll paraphrase as “physical compulsion, up to and including lethal compulsion, and the authority some people (ie, politicians, bureaucrats and their enforcers) claim to initiate that compulsion against others.” Are you saying that if a landlord refuses to rent to you, government should ultimately kill him?

 

Christian AnarchyLela:  No! Rudeness should not carry a death sentence.

 

Becky: Let’s also specify what we mean by “freedom” (which I’ve used throughout our conversation interchangeably with “liberty”), since you fear that bigots’ actions deny you your freedom. The dictionary defines ”liberty” as “freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.” As an anarchist, I’d remove “arbitrary or despotic.” And for the purposes of our discussion here, I’d also delete “or control” since we’re dealing with political freedom and there are other sorts of “arbitrary or despotic…control” (my mother-in-law, for example!). Ergo, liberty is “freedom from government.”

 

When we consider both these meanings in the context of your sentence, we see that however despicable or cruel the “rude person’s” treatment of you may be, he is in no way denying your freedom. Unless he is a politician or bureaucrat acting in an official capacity—and in an anarcho-capitalist world, we’d have neither of those sub-species—he is merely insulting, offensive, and inviting the judgment of God. Indeed, his abuse is so egregious that when you tell me about it, Lela, I organize a boycott of his business. I shun him personally, too, as do readers of the articles I write against him. Pretty soon, he either gets the message, or he’s one lonely, broke racist.

 

Lela:  Now we’re getting to the crux of the conversation! Reasoning from a statist position, the lack of a state means there’s no way to influence others, but you’re suggesting there are alternatives to the state that work just as well or better.

 

Becky: Much better!

 

Lela: We’re running out of time today. Would you be willing to return to discuss this further?

 

Becky: I’d be honored to do so!

 

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

 

 

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Becky Akers retuChristian Anarchyrns to discuss the role of government in perpetuating institutional racism.

Interestingly, this coincides with Starbuck’s Race Together campaign, which I (and my husband Brad) take exception to on the grounds that it is itself racist.

Join Becky and I for this timely discussion.

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Christian AnarchyThis week, Becky talks about the flaws of government and we encounter some hot-button issues for me.

Allure of Power with Becky Akers   6 comments

Christian AnarchyLELA: Becky Akers has returned for more discussion on how Christianity aligns with anarchism, which is not a mainstream notion among Christians, although you will find elements of it in anabaptist traditions. Welcome back, Becky.

BECKY: Thanks, Lela. Last time we closed on a note that should utterly damn the State for every Christian: our arch-enemy, the one who mocks our Lord and gloated over His agony on the cross, who accuses us to God while seeking our destruction and eternal damnation, is the driving force behind political government. Satan owns the State. And he not only brags about that, but our merciful God recorded the conversation for us. Clearly, He wishes us to understand the State’s true nature lest political slavery ensnare us, as it has so many Christians over the centuries.

LELA: I think I know where you’re headed with this.

BECKY [smiles]: And here I consider myself a woman of mystery.

Political power is very, very alluring. Any power is, of course: strength, influence, the ability to get things done—all immensely flatter our fallen natures. “Look what I can do!” we say, whether it’s bench-pressing 500 pounds, chairing a meeting, or forcing people to do things our way. That last is particularly intoxicating, and I think it explains the State’s appeal, not only for politicians and bureaucrats but for their multitudes of victims who admire and, worse yet, cheer their depravity.

The Biblical prescription for changing the world relies on persuasion, reasoning, setting a Christian example, and, above all, waiting on the Holy Spirit to work, one heart at a time. This is slow, tedious effort. It’s often overlooked, usually unappreciated, and hardly glamorous. We don’t make headlines when we tell the cashier, “Here, you gave me back a dollar too much in change.” We don’t earn a Nobel Prize for remaining faithful to our spouse. Visiting shut-ins and prisoners, caring for widows and orphans, doesn’t make for scintillating press conferences. And the results of such patient example-setting, persuading, etc., are frequently obscure or, when noticed, disappointing. You teach boys in Sunday School for 15 years; you don’t know that one of them would have died of AIDS, three would not have attended seminary, and another 14 would have divorced but for the Scriptural precepts they studied with you. But you do learn that the kid who mouthed off in class any time his family bothered attending church becomes a serial killer when his mug-shot stares at you from Newsmax.

LELA: Christian work is a slow, labor-intensive process of loving rather than forcing. And it is a very voluntary process, with all the difficulties associated with a volunteer process.

BECKY: Exactly. Contrast that dissatisfying, boring method with the dramatic results that government—i.e., organized, physical force—achieves. Politicians pass a law, and bingo, behavior changes overnight. Bureaucrats begin regulating a new industry and entrepreneurs ten times cleverer than they must now obey them. A cop stops you at a checkpoint; you smile nervously and kowtow because the consequences of his displeasure can ruin your day or even your life.

That’s intoxicating stuff. Who doesn’t want results from his effort? Who doesn’t want all and sundry acknowledging his authority, even cringing at it? Compulsion achieves, and quickly. It succeeds where persuasion, reason and prayer fail, or seem to.

LELA: Which explains the rise of the Religious Right in the 1980s and onward … feeling like they were failing to influence society sufficiently by voluntary means, they sought the aid of government to achieve their goals.

BECKY: Yep. Like so many otherwise devout Christians, they fell into Satan’s trap of statism. Such believers tragically, inexplicably ignore the devil’s clear announcement of ownership in Matthew 4.

We’ve all heard or read this passage hundreds of times. Satan appears to a Jesus weary and weak from forty days of fasting in the wilderness. He famously tempts Him with three different ploys; let’s consider the final one:

 (Verse 8) Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; (9) And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Lela, when you offer to give me something, you must own it first, correct? Now of course, you could proffer your neighbor’s cat or his boat—but I’d certainly protest, “Hey, wait a minute, you can’t give me that! It isn’t yours!”

LELA: The old saw that the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale? Yeah, you would hope people wouldn’t fall for that … at least nobody rich enough to afford it.

BECKY: Ah, but notice that our Lord doesn’t contest Satan’s ability to “give” him the “kingdoms of the world” (and the word “kingdom” in the original Greek is the same one for “government” that was so conspicuously missing from the passage in Romans 13. Its root is “basileus,” meaning “king” alone, unlike our use of “kingdom” for a whole country, including the people over whom a king rules. Our vernacular would better translate it as “politicians” or “government.” Satan is referring here specifically to the various political rulers over the terrain he and the Creator are surveying).

LELA: Strong’s says it’s the authority to rule not the kingdom itself.

BECKY: Exactly. Christ here tacitly agrees that Satan reigns in and through the world’s governments when He refuses to buy them by worshipping the devil.

This isn’t our only proof of government’s Satanic overseer. Let me ask, Lela: who tortured our Lord to death?

LELA: We did.

BECKY: That’s right: our sins nailed Him to that cross. But what was the actual agency of His death? The Roman government. Indeed, the Gospels emphasize that only government had the requisite force and legal authority to commit this murder. The religious establishment, much as they hate Christ and crave His death, is impotent: it takes the State to torture and impale an innocent Man.

And as it does so, its utterly demonic, hellishly brutal nature is highlighted for anyone with eyes to see. Pilate admits that Jesus is entirely innocent—yet he condemns Him to flogging. The kangaroo trial, the ridicule and degradation, the unconscionable cruelty of forcing the condemned to carry his own cross: these reveal the State in its true form, stripped of the fancy rhetoric, the flag-waving and appeals to “patriotism,” that usually cloak its horror. (I further explore the Crucifixion’s testimony of the State’s Satanic possession here.)

Christians ought to despise political government solely for crucifying our Lord. My gracious, if the State falsely accused our child, our parent, or our spouse and then electrocuted him (a quick and merciful death, compared to crucifixion), we would loathe the politicians and bureaucrats responsible, would we not? Would we ever trust government again, let alone pledge it our allegiance? Yet we prattle about God’s “ordaining” government and our “Christian” duty to “honor” the State when it fiendishly tortured our Savior to death. Where is our loyalty? Where is our decency? Where is the love, let alone worship, we owe our God? What unspeakable ingrates most Christians are as they cede the adoration and obedience due Christ to the very entity that crucified Him.

Lela, the State violates the Golden Rule, flouts the Ten Commandments, and infuriates our Lord by preying on the poor. It savagely murdered the Son of God while its owner laughed; it is the devil’s dominion. We should long ago have declared eternal, relentless war against it. Instead, Christians venerate the satanic State. They justify their idolatry with faulty translations of two Scriptural passages while deliberately ignoring a host of others, preaching and practicing subservience despite “the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.” Why?

LELA: Honestly, I think 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 society off the rails. It’s what James Madison said about “if men were angels, government would not be necessary.” I think we also realize that while many Christians could live under the authority of Jesus Christ and get along without government rules, many of our neighbors live outside the law of God and we fear they would take advantage of freedom to oppress those around them, including us. I admire anarchism for the message of liberty, but I hesitate to fully embrace it because I’ve seen the hearts of human beings. So I invite you to come back for more discussion on the subject.

 

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 returns to discuss the allure of power. See you tomorrow.Christian Anarchy

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