Church, State, Socialism, Society, and Laws

“Hey, I’m Good With Socialism”

This came from a Democrat co-worker who was unaware that anyone other than Hillary Clinton is running for the Democratic Party nomination.  When I told him that there was the Socialist pretending she’s not really a socialist, and the Socialist who at least admits he’s a socialist – he asked who the second one was, and I told him Bernie Sanders.  This is the same person who years ago asked me point blank, “Well, what’s wrong with Socialism?” (which I’ve feebly addressed before here and here.)

I gave him a one line answer which I’m sure he did not understand, and it was this: “It is incompatible with human nature.”

I am alarmed at the number of Bernie Sanders bumper stickers I see around this town.

But I was listening to Bill Whittle on one of his Stratosphere Lounge episodes this morning, and Bill did what we should be doing more of… he gave us an example everyone can understand.  And then my mind, as it tends to do, took that stick and ran with it

“The first lie of Communism is that if it’s a cold night out and we’re in the plains of North Dakota, and it’s thirty-five degrees below zero, and we hear bleating out in the barn, and it turns out that one of our cows is sick — [] that one of us will go out there at four o’clock in the morning in thirty degree below zero to take care of a cow that doesn’t belong to us. That we would, in fact, all pitch in and work for the collective as hard as we would work for ourselves. And it just ain’t so.” – Bill Whittle

Socialism is basically Communism Lite.

The idea of socialism is that if one of us does go out in the thirty degree below weather to take care of the farmer’s cow for a fee that the State gets to say how much of that fee that man gets to keep because somebody else didn’t get as big a fee for something he did for someone else, or because somebody else gets no fees for anything because he essentially does nothing — because it’s somehow not fair that they have less.

Capitalism is the idea that the man who goes out in the thirty below weather to take care of the farmer’s cow at 4:00 am will be paid a price he feels is worth his time and trouble — the caveat being that if the farmer is not willing to pay his price, the man does not get paid at all (nor does he have to go through the trouble). This encourages a negotiation — often unseen — where the farmer has incentive to pay what the vet would consider a fair price while the vet has an incentive to charge a price closer to what most farmers would consider fair.

In other words … it’s what people do naturally.

People also steal and maim and kill naturally. And these things are, of course, wrong. People are also naturally lazy and would like it of other people would just do the things they want done. Forcing people to do that is also wrong. And people love and empathize and help each other, and these things are, of course, right. And right and wrong are the concern of morality.

So what is morality, in general? C.S. Lewis broke it down like this:

“Morality, then, seems to be concerned with three things. Firstly, with fair play and harmony between individuals. Secondly, with what might be called tidying up or harmonising the things inside each individual. Thirdly, with the general purpose of human life as a whole: what man was made for: what course the whole fleet ought to be on: what tune the conductor of the band wants it to play.”

The first one is is that which we are concerned with enough that we institute Governments to enforce in a free society. The others are the realm of psychology and religious philosophy and practice — not that the first is not a concern of religion, it’s just the one that falls to the realm of the state.

But we need all three to make a society work, and the other two will necessarily inform some decisions in the realm of the first.

Harmonizing the things inside ones’ self is highly subjective, and the idea of what man was made for is also relatively subjective.  What the man taking care of the cow in thirty below weather does to make things right in himself — he may choose to do it for free if he feels that helping this man out is the right thing to do …. maybe to tidy and harmonize things within himself because he believes it is what he was made for. So who gets to decide these things? The simple answer is that it will either be the individual (or voluntary clusters of individuals) … or the state.  Leaving it to the individual is what we call “religious freedom”.

It is not the realm of the state to guide the soul. And while it is necessary for souls to guide the state in a free society, the soul, must in turn, be guided by something else. This is why, in the Preamble to our Constitution we have the words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights” .  By their creator.  Not by themselves.  Not by any human being.  And not by the state.  And it lays out the three basic rights: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness [a paraphrase of Adam Smith’s “Property”]

And it is why John Adams wrote to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The state needs guided souls.

But isn’t Socialism or Communism doing what Jesus said to do?

Well, no.  He would say to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’ s; and to God, the things that are God’ s. And Paul would say that we might give ourselves a pattern unto you, to imitate us.For also when we were with you, this we declared to you: that, if any man will not work, neither let him eat.

But when the state takes control of this guidance, it imposes its will on the individual conscience – and rights and duties are thus defined by the state. This is totalitarianism.

When the individual (or groups of voluntary individuals — which is still up to each individual in the end) does it, we have the closest thing to a free society we can have. The freest society we could have, where everyone just does whatever they want, however, is anarchy – where might and deception ultimately trump all else. This is why we institute the state – to help ensure that people play nice.

This kind of society, a free society, can only work, however — when there is a sufficient measure of homogeneity of moral opinion among the population. And the best proven practices to foster a homogeneity in moral opinion would be religious institutions. And a society can have multiple religious institutions and remain a cohesive society depending on the degree to which those religious institutions are similar – including the degree to which those who do not necessarily formally subscribe to any of those institutions have similar moral outlooks. And this is because you necessarily need a large concensus on the things which the state is tasked to enforce in order for them to be viewed as just and moral among the general population.

When these moral ideas are hashed out by individuals with relatively homogeneous moral guides, you can have a relatively free society. If any those institutions are given authority over the laws of the state, you have a religious theocracy. It is no different if the state becomes the arbitor of morality. In effect, the state will have become The Church, and your separation is out the window.

Laws (in a free society) are expressions of a society’s shared morals. They express things that will and won’t be allowed and what we will do with people who people who do things that are expressly not allowed – what is considered bad behavior.

Now the more laws a society has, the less free it is. This does not mean we should have no laws. But it does mean, if we value liberty, that we should be judicious about creating new ones.

Good religious institutions will in general foster a more well behaved population insofar as the population makes use of them. But it is of course no guarantee that any individual, church-goer or not, will live up to that institution’s standards, much less that of the society in which it exists. There will always be bad actors.

This idea that outlawing bad behavior gets rid of it — this is the root of the constant clamoring for new laws.

Laws give us a legal framework for confronting bad actors. It doesn’t, in general, stop bad actors from acting. Knowing there are consequences — the confrontation — that’s a deterrent. And deterrents are good. But even they don’t stop it. What stops it is a person who is willing and able to stop it — and it helps a lot if he has the law behind him to support his actions.

Multiculturalism is a lie.

Diversity is not a virtue in and of itself. A certain amount of diversity is a symptom of a free and just society. But it is not the cause. People want to come live in a place where there is a free and just society. Where there is tyranny, people must be forced to stay. “Which way are the boats headed?” is a good indicator. But when a free and just society begins to adjust its rules more to accommodate anyone who comes than the people coming adjust their worldview to that of the society they have come to, that society is not long for this world. It will be taken advantage of by bad actors from both within and outside of that society, and both its freeness and justness will erode either toward anarchy, which leads to totalitarianism by the brutish, or to totalitarianism by the demagogues who will be brutish in their pride.

The various flavors of Marxism are the prideful theories of people who believe they know what’s is best for everyone. Not everyone agrees on what’s best for everyone, which is why it must always be applied at the point of a gun. In addition, their are very often used by demagogues to gain power for whatever reason they choose. They are seductive ideas on the surface. But as Bill’s example of the farmer’s cow on a cold North Dakota night, it is wholly incompatible with the reality of human nature.

nature /ˈnāCHər/ 2. the basic or inherent features of something, especially when seen as characteristic of it.

Loading Likes...

3 thoughts on “Church, State, Socialism, Society, and Laws

  1. Severian

    But isn’t Socialism or Communism be doing what Jesus said to do?

    I love it when liberals trot this one out. I know, I know, ignorance of history is liberalism’ flux capacitor, but for pete’s sake, Moonbeam — this is the “Social Gospel,” the new hotness among the vaguely Protestant waaaay back in the 1870s. If that’s the way your theology is trending, kiddoes, I’d urge you to think it through — Social Gospellers were big on temperance and down on fornication. Your parties just got a whole heck of a lot duller…..

    …. if, of course, you’re actually worried about what Jesus did or didn’t command. Which I really kinda doubt.

    By their creator. Not by themselves. Not by any human being. And not by the state.

    This is the fundamental paradox of modern leftism. They’re all in on group identity, enforced through the state. But… where did these groups come from, comrade? They’re certain that race is a social construction (though gays were apparently born that way), and if that’s the case, aren’t all these rights you claim for various groups also social constructions?

    I forget the precise Latin term for this, but I’m pretty sure a group consisting entirely of Xes is nothing more or less than a group of X. One crow is a crow, two crows is a pair of crows, three crows is a murder of crows… and no matter how many crows you add, it’s still a murder of crows — not a group of flounders, or a group of Harley enthusiasts, or a designated hitter. Right?

    Thus a group of social constructions is, itself, a social construction. As are any “rights” you choose to assign to said social construction.

    Without a Creator, in other words, “rights” are merely the social construction of the dominant group. Which is why Lenin, Mao, et al had no trouble shooting deviationists, saboteurs, wreckers, etc. — they’re outside the social construction, with no rights the state (itself, logically, just another social construction!) is bound to respect.*

    *n.b. Marx would’ve laughed himself into an aneurysm at the phrase “social construction.” Marx thought that capital-H History itself justified anything the communist state did while in the process of whithering away. He knew this, because Hegel said so, and Hegel knew this because reasons. Whether our modern lefties’ beliefs are more or less retarded than Marx’s and Hegel’s is a question above my pay grade, but it never hurts to remind anyone who will listen that leftism rests on mystical mumbo-jumbo considerably more obscure and self-contradictory than the rantings of a primitive desert sky-god.

  2. philmon Post author

    And this ^^^ … is why I love engaging Severian. It’s the thoughtful insight served up with a sense of humor infused with just the right amount of salt and vinegar.

Comments are closed.