Friday, June 04, 2004
What is Christian Libertarianism (Geocities rescue)
These essays are a product of years of study and thought about the problems of this world and some possible solutions. They are a presentation of my personal philosophy and the nexus of four key beliefs systems that I feel are stronger in combination. They are Christianity, Cooperativism, Libertarianism and Internationalism.
The essays on Christianity reflect my own faith journey. They come from a Christian perspective because that is what I know. This does not mean I exclude fellow liberals from other religious or moral traditions, including and especially Judaism, which is the source for all of the teachings of Jesus. I relate my Christianity as a social ideology based in the teachings of Christ that all can join in, whether Christian or not. I am going to attempt to claim the ground that the Christian Right seeks to claim for itself. I refuse to let them have a monopoly on God.
For me, the core difference between the religious right and the religious left is how God is defined. The religious right, including many in my own Catholic faith, hold fast to the idea of an angry God who demands perfection in every detail. In doing so, they justify themselves as the righteous voices of an angry God. Those who oppose their view of God are outside the bounds of faith and damned to eternal Hell. Religious conservatives look at man as basically evil and fallen, doomed to hell without the church, which stands between man and an angry God. To reach heaven in this church, the anger of God must be satisfied. This has led to a self-important church focused too much on the things of this world, such as monetary success and political power.
The Right’s view of God as angry is a reflection of their own anger at those they disapprove of, but this anger has little to do with God. However, as long as we allow the religious right to define God in terms of their anger, that anger dominates public policy. It also leaves many that are otherwise saved by a gentler theology in the wilderness of unbelief. In essence, the harshness of the conservatives is counter-productive because it keeps people away from God. Many do not see a God of anger as a God of Love, which leaves them outside the comfort of God's mercy which the church provides in the here and now. The horrific vision of an angry God leads many to go so far as to deny the very existence of God. Let us redefine God as a lover of mankind, who rescues us from the self-imposed exile of suffering. Seeing God in this way allows a renewal in the relationship between God and people, justifying our call to constitute a polity of service to others and of human freedom.
I address some interesting questions that may help non-Christians understand Christianity from a different perspective. The Jesus I present is a humanist, rather than an absolutist, and His sacrifice is put in terms that the average seeker can understand, rather than as a grand mystery. My Christianity is infused with a healthy dose of humanism, which leaves room for liberty that the group dynamics of dogma do not allow. It is also infused with the Cooperativism of the early church, which was abandoned when it became the state church of the Roman Empire. Such an infusion defeats the atheism of Marx and Lenin and allows Christianity to reclaim the high ground in the battle for workers rights.
The Cooperativism presented here is a free market alternative to state Socialism. It strives for the same type of worker equality that Socialism strives for, but attempts to surmount the allocation problem inherent in state control. The goal of Cooperativism is the equality of workers at the corporate level, rather than the political level. It is also described as Inter-Independence, working in an interdependent manner so that each worker is financially and environmentally independent. My Cooperativism is also internationalist, so as to avoid nationalism and protectionism, which so often taint the struggle for workers’ rights. Previously, this topic was called corporate socialism. I have since learned that this term is in use by Ralph Nader to describe corporate welfare. This is not that. I use Cooperativism to describe the free association of workers for their common independence in a way similar to the way Silas Allen, my great-grandfather, used the term when he helped start the cooperative movement.
My Libertarianism is richer than that which is practiced by those on the right. It is more than a reaction to governmental power; it is an affirmation of individual rights in all organizational settings, from the church to the office to the condominium association. If right wing Libertarianism were to ever succeed, big government would surely be replaced as an oppressor by big business. I will not replace a tyranny where I at least have a vote with one to which I must bear allegiance or starve. I will not give up on liberty in the workplace and on the rights of workers as individuals to economic justice. My Libertarianism is also tempered with Internationalism. I stand for the rights of people everywhere, not just those within our borders. The isolationism which Libertarians propose reminds me far too much of the isolation of the 1930s, which allowed tyranny to hatch on a global scale, leading to world war. Finally, my Libertarianism is tempered by my Christianity. While I believe in freedom, I do not believe in moral license or the freedom to ignore the suffering of others. Freedom and liberty serve the cause of human dignity; they are not an end to themselves.
My Internationalism is in the service of people, not national or economic interests. Current international bodies are collections of sovereigns. I believe Internationalism is more than that. I stand for the exporting of the values of liberty, tolerance and human dignity to all nations who would relate with us, and for the election of a sovereign legislature by all people who share these views. Such an Internationalism guarantees the rights of workers and stamps out slavery with overwhelming force where ever it again rears its ugly head, whether in sweatshops or in forced prostitution. Such an international government is a limited government, whose main focus is to protect the liberties of its citizens from tyrannical local government (even when democratically elected) and exploitive employers and lenders.
This should be an interesting journey. I hope you enjoy it.