A Year Without Holiday Festive Cheer?

Christmas Markets: Their Long History and Changing Future

 

The Conversation
Dec 2020

From Germany

Wooden huts with twinkling fairy lights, festive hubbub, and the aromas of roasted chestnuts and glühwein – this picture-postcard setting is recreated annually across UK towns and cities in December. This year, however, most Christmas markets have been cancelled, meaning that 2020 will be a year without urban festive cheer.

But even before the pandemic, Christmas markets in the UK were at a crossroads – despite their growing popularity and economic relevance. Rising costs, concerns over authenticity and safety issues looked set to change how we experience these markets.

Our research has examined the rise of Christmas markets to their current status as global cultural commodities. Their adaptability across historical and social contexts, as well as their ability to incorporate different cultural meanings, has enabled Christmas markets to thrive over the centuries. Now, though, Christmas markets will have to continue to adapt – responding not only to the COVID-19 pandemic but also to concerns over cost, safety and authenticity.

Christmas Markets Past

Christmas markets were first recorded in medieval Germany. They marked the pre-Christmas season, and provided a space in which strict social hierarchies disappeared. Peasants and farmers could purchase boots, housewares and equipment, while high society could pick up handcrafted jewellery, toys, wigs or wood-turned items.

By the 19th century, though, the rise of department stores had made the markets less profitable. They became rowdy fun fairs and fell into disrepute.

Throughout the 20th century, consecutive German governments attempted to reinvigorate Christmas markets. Nazi Germany – and later the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) – used the markets’ ability to cater to a variety of tastes and needs to serve the parties’ respective political, social and cultural purposes.

In particular, they were intended to increase patriotism and social cohesion. The return of the Christmas market to Nuremberg in 1933 was marked by a grand opening ceremony, which promoted nationalism and the celebration of German traditions.

The first German-format Christmas markets in the UK were started in Lincoln in 1982, and in Birmingham in 1997. They reflected a wider trend: many European cities saw the success of Christmas markets in Germany, and began hosting their own. Since then, this format has successfully travelled the globe, marking the Christmas season and enhancing community spirit.

Winter Economy

Now, Christmas markets make a significant contribution to the UK’s winter economy. They attract visitors from out of town, create temporary jobs and increase sales for local shops and cafes. Over the last 35 years, they have grown in number, size, duration and footfall.

In Manchester, the market has gone from a few stalls to over 180 in recent years. Birmingham alone hosted 5.5 million visitors in 2014. Estimated visitor spend at Christmas markets has doubled between 2015 and 2017, reaching a total amount of Pound 500 million. Markets in the UK have become travel destinations alongside their European counterparts.

However, the markets are not without their critics, and a range of factors meant that – even before the pandemic – the markets were set for change. Visitors have criticised their lack of authenticity, complaining over the mass-produced Christmas decorations and gifts, and fairground rides dominating the markets.

Christmas market traders have contested increasingly unaffordable pitch fees. The dynamics between traders inside and outside the market have also generated tensions with city councils. Brexit poses further difficulties to organisers and city councils who are already expecting that exchange rates, import and export regulations and administrative burdens will negatively affect the participation of operators and traders from the European Union.

Safety has also been a concern after the terrorist attack at a Christmas market in Berlin in 2016. Markets such as those in Birmingham and Manchester have increased their emphasis on security, which restricts free visitors’ access and changes markets’ aesthetics and atmosphere.

This year, COVID-19 means that German-format Christmas markets will be largely absent from the festive calendar. They relied on international traders and hundreds of temporary workers, explaining their postponement until next year. Some Christmas markets that showcase local artisans and crafts have moved online, such as those normally held in Bath and Oxford.

A few – such as in Cardiff and Aberdeen – will go ahead, following stringent health and safety measures. They will emphasise activities that do not require interaction, such as watching the Christmas lights switch-on, rather than socially shared experiences.

New virtual markets have emerged as platforms for artisan makers, supporting small businesses during COVID-19 restrictions. People might also recreate Christmas-market themed parties at home, or via Zoom, with friends and family. These adaptations will provide some experience of festive cheer. However, they will not be the publicly and socially shared experience that has been part of Christmas markets since their inception.

Although we don’t know what life after the pandemic will hold, it is likely that some of this year’s adaptations – such as online presence, promoting local over international traders and prioritising safety measures – might become permanent features of the Christmas market format. They respond to pre-pandemic concerns as well as COVID-19 restrictions.

We believe that UK city and town centres will be transformed again in years to come. Christmas markets will return, stemmed from people’s desire for a socially shared festive experience. Their survival will result, once again, from the ability to adapt to changing times and circumstances.

***

Authors:

Aurlie Brckerhoff – Research Fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University | Cristina Galalae – Lecturer in Marketing, University of Leicester.

Article from: https://www.germanynews.net/news/267166517/christmas-markets-their-long-history-and-changing-future

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Today’s Anti-Capitalists Are Closer to Fascism Than They Think

Today’s Anti-Capitalists Are Closer to Fascism Than They Think

Fabrizio Ferrari

On the back of the economic crisis brought about by the covid-19 pandemics, we are witnessing—once more—so-called economists, historians, and pundits attempting to proclaim the failure of capitalism. Their criticisms of the capitalistic organization of human cooperation and coexistence are various, but there are three strains of ideological attack against capitalism which seem to me to occur more often than others.

There is an element about anti-capitalism that is often neglected: even though anti-capitalism is usually associated with socialism and leftist movements, we can find the very same anti-capitalistic mentality in the fascist ideology. As Thomas DiLorenzo pointed out in his latest Mises U lecture [6] on the topic, fascism is just a particular kind of socialism—just like communism itself is. Hence, the fact that fascists and communists share the same contempt for capitalism should not surprise anyone.

The best way to understand the anti-capitalistic mentality of fascism—and how close the arguments of contemporary anti-capitalists are to those of Benito Mussolini—is to read Mussolini’s 1932 essay titled “The Doctrine of Fascism [7],” written together with Giovanni Gentile [8] (the acknowledged philosophical ideologue of fascism).

The attack Gentile and Mussolini carry out against capitalism is (at least) threefold, and its underlying rhetoric is no different from the one of contemporary anti-capitalistic and allegedly anti-fascist movements. First, Gentile and Mussolini advocate a greater role for government in the economy. Second, they condemn both methodological and political individualism, asserting the importance of collectivism and collective identities. Third, they blame “economism” and the role economic constraints play in shaping human behavior, deploring materialism and advocating governments that transcend the praxeological and sociological laws of economics.

Arguing for Ever More Government Intervention

The first step anti-capitalists take when it comes to arguing in favor of bigger government is to belittle freedom and classical-liberalism. In the paragraph titled Paragraphs are not titled in the original version: titles have been added to make the essay more readable. “Rejection of Economic Liberalism – Admiration of Bismarck,” Gentile and Mussolini write that “fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of [classical] liberalism, both in the political and the economic sphere.” Doesn’t that have a familiar ring? Is it so different from the calls of many leftists for rethinking neo-liberalism and capitalism?

A couple of paragraphs later (“The Absolute Primacy of the State”), the two fascists—commenting upon what they believed to be the epitomic failure of capitalism, namely the 1929 world recession—assert that economic crises “can only be settled by State action and within the orbit of the State.” Does that differ so much from the advocacy of contemporary “liberals” (better: social democrats) for interventionistic policies and their attempts to put capitalism under stricter governmental control?

If it wasn’t clear enough, just a few lines earlier (at the very beginning of the same paragraph), Mussolini and Gentile show what they mean, in practice, by their contempt for classical-liberalism. In fact, they blame the classical liberal minimal state for “restricting its activities to recording results” stemming from economic dynamics, instead of “directing the game and guiding the material and moral progress of the community.” Where, again, is the difference from leftists promoting greater interventionism? Or calling for a bigger government, able to steer markets so as to foster their own idea of social justice?

In the end, when it comes to economic affairs, both modern (leftist) anti-capitalists and “classical” fascists are in favor of a highly nonneutral state.

Fascism Eulogizes Collectivism and Despises Individualism

The viscerally anti-individualistic philosophical approach of fascism is clearly laid out throughout the whole essay. For instance, in the paragraph appropriately titled “Rejection of Individualism and the Importance of the State,” the fascist ideology is explicitly labeled as “anti-individualistic,” insofar as fascism “stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State.”

Again, doesn’t this kind of rhetoric have a familiar ring? Is it so different from contemporary anti-globalization advocates and anti-capitalists arguing against, say, economic globalization, because—in their illiberal perspectives—it benefits only capitalists and entrepreneurs, neglecting the needs of the collectivity and the ultimate well-being of the nation? Can’t they see how close their interpretation of modern sociological and economic phenomena is to the fascist viewpoint?

Should an entrepreneur refrain from freely trading with global partners just because the alleged interest of his nation (or collectivity) would be to preserve domestic national employment? Classical-liberals would definitely answer no, whereas anti-capitalists, anti-globalization activists, and fascists would all together answer yes.

In the end, when it comes to balancing the interests of individuals against the interests of collectivities and the nation, many modern anti-capitalists are no different from “classical” fascists.

Fascism: Anti-materialism and Omnipotent Government

Lastly, many contemporary (leftist) anti-capitalists share with the fascist rhetoric both a sort of utopian anti-materialism and a kind of mystical idea of the mission that states and governments are vested with.

As a matter of fact, the idea that a state should not passively accept the outcomes of freely chosen economic interactions and voluntary exchanges is widely held by modern (leftist) anti-capitalists. Analogously, in the last lines of the paragraph titled “Rejection of Economic Liberalism – Admiration of Bismarck,” Mussolini and Gentile blame classical liberalism for the “agnosticism it professed in the sphere of economics and…in the sphere of politics and morals.”

In other words: fascists, just like modern anti-capitalists, cannot accept that welfare-maximizing human beings naturally seek to engage in exchanges that each person thinks will make him or her better off. Instead, anti-capitalists would like to substitute “morally superior” choices forced on consumers by the state.

Conclusion

As Cicero stated, “Historia magistra vitae.” Knowledge of history is helpful to avoid past mistakes. When it comes to anti-capitalism, all its branches share more than their promoters are willing to admit. More precisely, every anticapitalistic ideology promotes government interventionism, contempt for individual freedom, anti-materialism, and a mystical view of government’s role and nature. They all start with anti-capitalism; they all end with dictatorships, slaughters, wars, and misery.

***

Source URL: https://mises.org/wire/todays-anticapitalists-are-closer-fascism-they-think

Links
[1] https://mises.org/profile/fabrizio-ferrari
[2] https://mises.org/topics/progressivism
[3] https://mises.org/topics/socialism
[4] https://mises.org/austrian-school/political-theory
[5] https://mises.org/library/todays-anticapitalists-are-closer-fascism-they-think
[6] https://youtu.be/V_NvazLOYIo?t=1980
[7] http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wffmaster/Reading/Germany/mussolini.htm
[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Gentile

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Charles Spurgeon vs Karl Marx: (Regeneration vs Revolution)

Spurgeon vs Marx

 

By Larry Alex Taunton

 

Karl Marx, an apostle of evil, and Charles Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers,” were evangelists with messages that couldn’t have been more different—and they lived in the same city at the same time.

My next book (after this one) will focus on two men whose graves I have visited many times. The first lies in North London at Highgate Cemetery. Among the fifty-three thousand graves there, one finds a few notables: Michael Faraday, inventor of the electric motor, and Adam Worth, the real-life basis for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s evil Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes stories, are two. Most notable of all is the resting place, a monument really, of Karl Marx. Though Prussian, Marx lived in London the last thirty-four years of his life. There he refined his radical secular ideology and produced Das Kapital, setting loose upon the world ideas that have wrecked half of it and now threaten to wreck the other half.

The second lies in South London at West Norwood Cemetery. Among the forty-two thousand graves there, one also finds a few men of renown: Paul Julius Baron von Reuter, founder of the global news organization of the same name, and Hiram Maxim, inventor of the first portable fully automatic machine gun, are interred here. Perhaps more illustrious than either of these is the grave of Charles Spurgeon. The “Prince of Preachers,” Spurgeon was the nineteenth-century’s British equivalent of Billy Graham. He pastored what was allegedly the largest church congregation in the world.

It is extraordinary to me that both Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) lived and worked in the same city at the same time. Both were, in a sense, evangelists contending for the souls of men with their competing visions of humanity. Moreover, each was at the height of his powers at the same time as the other. While Marx was preaching salvation through bloody revolution, Spurgeon, on the other side of the city, was preaching salvation through the blood and grace of Jesus Christ.

The London of Marx and Spurgeon was the center of world governance and epoch-defining ideas. With Queen Victoria’s missionaries to civilize it and her ministers, armies, and navy to rule it, the British Empire was at its zenith so that the sun literally never set upon it. Whether it was David Livingstone searching for the source of the Nile or Charles Darwin penning On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Britain was at the forefront of all that was considered progress.

But the Britain of this era convulsed with the problems endemic to massive social change. So much so, that an air of revolution lingered like some ominous storm gathering on the horizon, threatening to engulf this peaceful kingdom as it had intermittently done on the continent since the French Revolution in 1789.

The island nation was in the throes of the bare-knuckled phase of the Industrial Revolution which brought with it a special kind of human degradation. The urban poor crowded the slums and populated the novels of Charles Dickens. Child labor laws were in their infancy. Black factory smoke choked the air and coal dust filled lungs.

It was into this combustible atmosphere that Karl Marx stepped. The man with a beard so wild that it might have landed him on a Kansas album cover were he born a century later, had revolution on his mind when he moved from Paris to London in 1849. Of course, revolution had always been on his mind. Marx had sought the overthrow of governments throughout Europe, and in the ensuing turmoil of 1848, he was forced to flee the continent.

Once in London, Marx spent his days at the British Museum preparing his magnum opus, Das Kapital, a critique of capitalism that could fill a sizable pothole. Although he fashioned himself as a scholar, he was more of a dilettante, a dabbler in scholarly activity. A scholar begins with a tentative thesis and allows the facts to dictate his conclusions. He is, in other words, committed to the truth. In sharp contrast to this methodology, Marx—like “woke” media and “woke” policies and “woke” academia—began with a conclusion and worked backward from it, facts be damned.

“Communism abolishes eternal truths,” he declared openly in The Communist Manifesto (1848). “It abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis …”

In another passage of that dangerous little book, he says:

Abolish the family! The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital…. The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parent and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour.

Much as Mein Kampf (1925) would be a bald statement of Hitler’s intentions should he ever attain power, The Communist Manifesto is likewise clear in stating the objectives of communists (i.e., socialists) should they ever attain power. No one could justly say he was not forewarned. (So, it is, too, with Black Lives Matter, where one finds all of this restated in oblique terms on their website.)

Lazy and like socialists of any era, Marx did not mind accepting monetary handouts from wealthy capitalists while criticizing the means by which they had acquired the wealth. (Black Lives Matter, a Marxist organization, has received almost $2 billion in corporate contributions.) Marx was allergic to work, it seems, and never held a steady job. Even as he extolled the evils of capitalist industry, there is no evidence he ever visited a factory at any point in his miserable life. His mother bitterly complained that she wished that her son would “accumulate capital instead of just writing about it.”

In the spirit of other would-be revolutionaries before and since, Marx was a Manichean who divided the world into two camps: the Revolution and its enemies. These were simply identified as those who agreed with this dogmatic Prussian and those who did not. The former were considered intelligent and enlightened; the latter were berated in racist and anti-Semitic rants. Marx attacked one opponent as a “Jewish nigger.” One can well imagine Marx fitting right in with the modern “cancel culture” Twitterati. He saw capitalism as a poison perpetrated on humanity by Jews and he hated them for it, though it seems anti-Semitism came naturally to him. To read Marx’s personal letters or published works is to encounter a bitter, evil mind concealing a hate in what he (and others) promoted as a noble vision of humanity.

But a noble vision it is not.

That vision of human dignity and salvation found expression in the preaching of Charles Spurgeon who burst upon the London scene in 1853. Spurgeon was merely 20 years old when he was appointed pastor of a congregation at the New Park Street Chapel in south central London. Soon, his earnest, passionate messages were attracting enormous crowds, requiring services to be moved to the largest public gathering space in London, the Royal Surrey Gardens Music Hall. A letter published in The Times describes what would become a familiar occurrence for the next three decades:

Fancy a congregation consisting of 10,000 souls, streaming into the hall, mounting the galleries…. Mr. Spurgeon ascended his tribune. To the hum, and rush, and trampling of men, succeeded a low, concentrated thrill and murmur, of devotion, which seemed to run at once, like an electric current, through the breast of every one present, and by this magnetic chain the preacher held us fast bound for about two hours. It is not my purpose to give a summary of his discourse. It is enough to say of his voice, that its power and volume are sufficient to reach everyone in that vast assembly; of his language that it is neither high-flown nor homely; of his style, that it is at times familiar, at times declamatory, but always happy, and often eloquent; of his doctrine, that neither the ‘Calvinist’ nor the ‘Baptist’ appears in the forefront of the battle which is waged by Mr. Spurgeon with relentless animosity, and with Gospel weapons, against irreligion, cant, hypocrisy, pride, and those secret bosom-sins which so easily beset a man in daily life; and to sum up all in a word, it is enough to say of the man himself, that he impresses you with a perfect conviction of his sincerity.

So popular was he that in 1857, at the request of Queen Victoria, the twenty-three-year-old Spurgeon electrified a crowd of twenty-four thousand at the Crystal Palace with his sermon about the first day of creation.

Although there is no indication that Marx and Spurgeon ever met, one was almost certainly aware of the other and the irreconcilable nature of the messages each proclaimed. Both achieved fame in his own lifetime, and while Spurgeon’s fame eclipsed that of Marx during the 1850s and 1860s, Marx’s message of secular salvation gained in prominence after the publication of the first volume of Das Kapital in 1867, and especially after the failure of the Paris Commune in 1871. And it is in this post-Paris Commune period that Spurgeon begins to take note of Marx’s philosophy if not the man himself.

It would be wrong to say—as many preachers do—that addressing matters of politics falls outside of the purview of the clergy. Of no other sphere of life do they say it. Regardless, Spurgeon certainly didn’t agree with this sentiment. Christianity isn’t merely an accessory to a man’s life; it should define it. Thus, a man’s politics are simply the outward manifestation of the convictions of his heart. Socialism, Spurgeon knew, was much more than an economic or political question. It is a spiritual question, if only because it denies the very existence of the spiritual. It is, as I have written elsewhere, atheism masquerading as political philosophy.

Spurgeon had, in fact, noted the dangers of socialism remarkably early in his ministry. In 1855 he warned of communists who wanted nothing less than “the real disruption of all society as at present established.” He asked the gathered, “Would you desire reigns of terror here, as they had in France? Do you wish to see all society shattered and men wandering like monster icebergs on the sea, dashing against each other and being at last utterly destroyed?”

But it is in the post-1871 period that he speaks more frequently and with greater urgency on the subject of socialism. In a sermon on Psalm 118 in June 1878, Spurgeon made a tentative prediction to his congregation:

German rationalism which has ripened into Socialism may yet pollute the mass of mankind and lead them to overturn the foundations of society. Then “advanced principles” will hold carnival and free thought [i.e., atheism] will riot with the vice and blood which were years ago the insignia of “the age of reason.” I say not that it will be so, but I should not wonder if it came to pass, for deadly principles are abroad and certain ministers are spreading them.

In a sermon on Isaiah 66 in April 1889, Spurgeon, recognizing that many had confused the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the cheap, secular knock-off proclaimed by Marx and his ilk, thundered from his pulpit:

For many a year, by the grand old truths of the gospel, sinners were converted, and saints were edified, and the world was made to know that there is a God in Israel. But these are too antiquated for the present cultured race of superior beings! They are going to regenerate the world by Democratic Socialism, and set up a kingdom for Christ without the new birth or the pardon of sin. Truly the Lord has not taken away the seven thousand that have not bowed the knee to Baal …
The latter-day gospel is not the gospel by which we were saved. To me it seems a tangle of ever-changing dreams. It is, by the confession of its inventors, the outcome of the period—the monstrous birth of a boasted “progress”—the scum from the cauldron of conceit. It has not been given by the infallible revelation of God—it does not pretend to have been. It is not divine—it has no inspired Scripture at its back. It is, when it touches the Cross, an enemy! When it speaks of Him who died thereon, it is a deceitful friend. Many are its sneers at the truth of substitution—it is irate at the mention of the precious blood. Many a pulpit, where Christ was once lifted high in all the glory of His atoning death, is now profaned by those who laugh at justification by faith. In fact, men are not now to be saved by faith but by doubt. Those who love the Church of God feel heavy at heart because the teachers of the people cause them to err. Even from a national point of view, men of foresight see cause for grave concern.

The reference to bowing knees is prescient given the events of our own time. But it must be noted where Spurgeon lays blame for the state of things. Like Francis Schaeffer a century later, he places it squarely on the men of his own vocation. As if to assail the heresy that would infect the pulpits of the Western world, Spurgeon speaks directly to the political climate. Indeed, if there were lines proscribing the lane in which he as a clergyman was to remain, he refused to acknowledge them. Like a charioteer in the Circus Maximus, he thrashed the fleet-footed horses carrying the Gospel he preached right across every lane of human endeavor, especially those that presumed to exalt themselves above God as socialism surely does.

Apart from Kim Jong-un, I have met and engaged the most famous atheists of this age. Like every one of them, Marx belonged to that category of men that Romans 1 calls “haters of God.” One simply does not set up idols and altars if he is anything else, and that is precisely what socialism is: a false god set up against the one true God in a great act of defiance, offering men a counterfeit version of salvation. Marx himself was not unaware of how easily some confuse the authentic for the false, and he sought to exploit it. “Nothing,” he wrote in The Communist Manifesto, “is easier than to give Christian asceticism a Socialist tinge.”

For this reason, Spurgeon combated Marx and his ideas just as the Apostle John had once opposed Cerinthus — and Augustine had used his formidable intellect to confront Pelagius.

“Great schemes of socialism have been tried and found lacking,” Spurgeon inveighed in another sermon. “Let us look to regeneration by the Son of God, and we shall not look in vain.”

It is very likely that the preaching of Spurgeon, and others like him, prevented the violent Revolution in Britain that Marx sought. Ironically, that revolution would come in the unindustrialized Russia of 1917, when Vladimir Lenin would, at the cost of millions of lives, implement Marx’s unworkable ideas. That is in no small measure due to the fact that there was no viable church to critique the undeliverable promises of socialism.

According to Russian historian Orlando Figes, when Marx’s Das Kapital was approved for publication in Russia by the censors who forbade almost any political expression, the ideas therein were released into an ideological vacuum. By contrast, those same ideas were (rightly) subjected to withering attacks in Britain by those who saw them for what they were. In this sense, Christianity served as a bulwark against the barbarism that has accompanied Marxism everywhere—everywhere—it has been implemented.

Today the battle continues, but the battlefield has expanded to the entire world. Marxism morphs as it goes, disguising itself until it reaches our own time in the sheep’s clothing of racial equality and so-called “social justice.”

The Gospel, however, remains remarkably unchanged. Its power to transform societies is one of the most underrated benefits of Christian belief. Through the inward transformation of the individual, there is a corresponding outward transformation of society. This is what I call “The Grace Effect.

No greater scam has been perpetrated on so many for so long than the lie that socialism, once adopted, will reorganize society along the lines of a utopia for all. Such political solutions have always failed, and this one has nothing but a history of catastrophic failure.

As Spurgeon so eloquently put it: “To attempt national regeneration without personal regeneration is to dream of erecting a house without separate bricks.”

***

Article From: https://larryalextaunton.com/2020/07/karl-marx-vs-charles-spurgeon-an-epic-struggle-for-the-souls-of-men-in-19th-century-london/

Larry Alex Taunton is an author, cultural commentator, and freelance columnist contributing to USA TODAYFox NewsFirst ThingsThe AtlanticCNN, and The American Spectator.  In addition to being a frequent radio and television guest, he is also the author of The Grace  Effect and The Gospel Coalition Arts and Culture Book of the Year, and The Faith of Christopher Hitchens. 

You can subscribe to Mr. Taunton’s blog at larryalextaunton.com.

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The Rise of Christian Education as War Against Humanism

We Are At War

By R. J. Rushdoony

Although done without publicity and fanfare, a war against Biblical faith is under way all over the world, in varying degrees. The civil governments are in the main in the hands of humanists, whose passionate hatred of Christianity is intense.

This, however, is a disguised war. The Soviet Union, as a leader in the humanistic vanguard, began its history with a brutal and open assault on Christianity. Later, for strategic reasons, this gave way to another approach, attack by indirection, a method adopted from Nazi and Swedish practices. The Soviet constitution guaranteed freedom of religion to allay fears and criticisms, but it made this “freedom” totally subject to licensure, permits, regulations, controls, etc. In other words, the state supposedly granted a right while at the same time ensuring that it would be nonexistent. In practice, thus, there is no freedom of religion in the Soviet Union

In the United States, there is a concerted effort to accomplish the same goal by the same means. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion. While the United States has no church establishment, Christianity has been from the earliest days the religious establishment, i.e., the determiner of law and morality in the United States. But, as John W. Whitehead points out in The Separation Illusion: A Lawyer Examines the First Amendment (Milford, MI: Mott Media), the U.S. Supreme Court decided by 1952 that “God was dead, and His church was dead.” The remaining task was to dismantle the church and Christianity and to make way for the new established religion, humanism. Now that war against Biblical faith, designed to control, dismantle, and eliminate it, is under way.

It is a well-planned war. When virtually all fifty states embark on a common program, in unison, and appear with federal directives in hand, it is no accident. Of course, they declare themselves innocent of any attempt to control a Christian school, church, missions, agency, or organization, but this is the practical results of their requirements. These efforts are directed at present mainly against small or independent groups, those least able to defend themselves. Meanwhile, major church groups are not disturbed or upset. Legal precedents established against these smaller groups can later be applied against all others.

These demands take a multitude of forms: attempts to control church nurseries, the various religious uses of church buildings, zoning regulations, etc. Christian schools are told that they must pay unemployment compensation, seek accreditation by the state, use state textbooks, teach humanism, and so on. Catholic orders and Protestant missionary agencies are told that they must pay unemployment compensation also. The National Labor Relations Board seeks to unionize parochial and Christian school teachers, and so on and on. Now, too, there is a demand that Christian schools be integrated at a percentage set by the Internal Revenue Service, this despite the fact that such schools have not been involved in segregation. In another case, a church is being taken to court for firing a homosexual organist. In one way or another, all are being told that they must wear the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:16–18).

Fighting this battle is not easy nor cheap. The great pioneer and leader, whose victories in the Yoder and Whisner cases represent legal landmarks, has been and is Attorney William B. Ball, of Ball and Skelly. Mr. Ball is active in a number of cases currently, and during the summer of 1978, for example, was involved in cases in Kentucky and North Carolina. Attorney David Gibbs has formed the Christian Law Association (Cleveland, OH) and is also actively involved in cases in many states. The C.L.A. Defender is a magazine which reports on some of these cases and is available to supporters of the C.L.A. But all these men cannot continue without support. They are working long hours, and often sacrificially. Numerous new cases are arising weekly. Attorney John Whitehead of the C.L.A estimates that in a very few years, perhaps two or three, $500,000 monthly will be required to fight these cases!

The price of resistance is high, not only in money, effort, and abuse, but in many other ways. One pastor, facing the possibility of jail, spoke of the very real threat of gang rape by homosexual prisoners who looked forward to assaulting a preacher. It also means the animosity of the compromising churchmen whose conscience disturbs them and who therefore lash out against the courageous men who make a stand. I know that, when I support any who resist, I am usually given “friendly” warnings by these compromisers that it would be inadvisable for a man of my stature to associate with such men, and I have no doubt that these resisting Christians are warned against associating with the likes of R. J. Rushdoony!

But “the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Sam. 17:47), and those who are the Lord’s will fight in His camp: they will not seek terms with His enemies.

One reason for the intensity of the battle is this: the growth of the Christian school movement is far greater than most people realize. If it continues at its present rate, the humanists fear that, by the end of this century (not too far away), the United States will have a radically different population, one made up of faithful and zealous Christians. Humanism will then perish. Moreover, the birthrate for humanists has been low for some years now, and the birthrate for various minority groups, even with the “benefits” of welfarism, is beginning to drop markedly from its earlier high ratio. But the people involved in the Christian school movement have a high birthrate. The Christian schools are producing the better scholars, who are going to be the leaders twenty and forty years from now. This is for them a threat, and a crisis situation.

But this is not all. Humanism is failing all over the world. The politics of humanism is the politics of disaster. Because humanism is failing, it is all the more ready to attack and suppress every threat to its power. The issue is clear enough: humanism and Christianity cannot coexist. Theirs is a life and death struggle. Unfortunately, too few churchmen will even admit the fact of the battle.

The battle is more than political or legal: it is theological. The issue is lordship: who is the Lord, Christ or the state, Christ or Caesar? It is thus a repetition of an age-old battle which began, in the Christian era, between the church and Rome. Lord means sovereign, God, absolute property owner. For us, “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:11): this was the original confession of faith and the baptismal confession of the Christian church. Now, too often, the confession, whatever its wording, seems to be a pledge of allegiance to a church or denomination, not to the sovereign Lord, Jesus Christ. Thus, our great need is to confess Jesus Christ as Lord, our Lord and Savior, Lord over the church, state, school, family, the arts and sciences, and all things else. If we deny Him as Lord, He will deny us. “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32–33). To confess means to acknowledge and to be in covenant with, to stand for in a position of testing or trial. The question thus is, will the church of the twentieth century confess Jesus Christ? Will it be His church, or the state’s church? And whom will you and I confess?

The issue is lordship. Because we are not our own, but have been bought with a price of Christ’s blood, we must serve, obey, and glorify God in all our being and our actions (1 Cor. 6:20). We cannot live for ourselves: we are God’s property, and we must be used by Him and for His Kingdom. All too many churchmen are like the likeable and earnest young man, very active in a sound church, who insisted that he was “entitled” to enjoy life. A powerboat and waterskiing were his goals, and, in view of his support of, and faithfulness to the church, he felt “entitled” to enjoy these in due time without having his conscience troubled by the Christian school battles, and tales of persecutions at home and abroad. In brief, he wanted Christ as Savior but not as Lord. He wanted Christ to provide fire and life insurance, so that he could live his life in peace. But if Jesus is not our Lord, He is not our Savior. If we are not His property and possession, He is not our shield and defender (Ps. 5:12; 59:9, 16; etc.).

The philosopher Hegel, the spiritual father of Marx, John Dewey, and almost all modern humanists, saw the state as god walking on earth. The humanist is a very dedicated and religious man: he cannot be countered by lukewarmness. (Our Lord’s indictment of the lukewarm is especially severe in Revelation 3:14–16.) The humanist’s church, his lord and savior, is the state. The salvation of man requires that all things be brought under the lordship of the state. Hence, the current moves against churches, Christian schools, and Christian organizations is a religious move, designed to further the humanistic salvation of man and society.

Because these attacks on Christianity are religiously motivated and are religiously grounded, they cannot be met by merely defensive action, or simply by legal action, although defensive legal action is urgently necessary. Our Lord is greater than Caesar: He is King of kings, Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16), and the Creator and Governor of all things visible and invisible (Col. 1:16). We must take the offensive as His ambassadors, His army, and His bringers of great and glorious tidings of salvation, to bring every area of life and thought into captivity to Christ the Lord. Of Christ’s victory, and of the defeat of His enemies, there can be no question. What is at issue is which camp we will be in.

We are at war, and there are no neutrals in this struggle. The roots of humanism are in the tempter’s program of Genesis 3:1–5, man as his own god, knowing or determining good and evil for himself. Those who claim, in the name of a false and Neoplatonic spirituality, that they want to rise “above” the battle, are also trying to rise above Christ and the meaning of His incarnation. To stand for the Lord is somehow unspiritual and unloving in their eyes. They are like the fourteenth-century monks of Athos, who “rose above” the problems of their day and found spiritual ecstasy and visions of God in contemplating their navels. When Barlaam condemned this practice, these loving, spiritual, navel-watchers arose in a fury (of love, no doubt), called a synod, and cited and condemned Barlaam and his party as heretics! So much for being loving and spiritual! We still have, in other forms, our navel-contemplators all around us, very much around us, but not with us. All well and good: let us donate them to the enemy. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

***

Article from: Faith & Action: The Collected Articles of R. J. Rushdoony from the Chalcedon Report, 1965-2004, pp. 583-587

Reposted September 15, 2020 @ Chalcedon.edu. https://chalcedon.edu/resources/articles/we-are-at-war

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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1960’s Flashback: (Without the Kool Far-Out Music)

How The 1960s Riots Foreshadow

Today’s Communist Weaponization Of Black Pain

By Katharine Gorka

Many would have us believe that the riots and violence sweeping across America’s cities this year are spontaneous. But history and current evidence tell us otherwise.

Leaving the White House grounds recently, I knew I would encounter protestors. You could hear them throughout the evening, trying to disrupt. Most of the protestors were to the east and north of the White House, so staff directed us to exit out the west gate. A security guard offered to accompany me and my husband south to Constitution Avenue to meet our Uber driver, and we went safely home.

We heard numerous stories the next morning of guests who had been threatened and endangered. One friend with whom we had walked out of that west gate actually decked a foul-mouthed biker. The biker had veered too close to our friend’s wife while shouting threats and obscenities, and the husband then acted as a man might reasonably be expected to — he punched the guy.

Elsewhere, dozens of angry protestors surrounded Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and his wife Kelley as they left the White House grounds. Eventually, more police officers arrived and escorted the couple to the safety of their hotel.

Sen. Paul later reported: “After we got back to our hotel room and some safety we heard something frightening. The ‘protesters’ were staying on our floor — including the room next door to us. They were talking about their mob activities and even saying they thought we were here on this floor. We had to develop a 3 a.m. plan with the Capitol Police to get to safety.”

Paul asks, “Who are these people? Who paid for their hotel rooms? Who flew them in?” What he saw that night led him to conclude, “It’s organized. It’s paid for. It’s violent.”

Several days later, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced the Justice Department had launched an investigation into the organization and funding of the violent protests that have wracked cities across America for months. On Sept. 10, 50 members of Congress signed a letter, calling on Attorney General William Barr to investigate the groups responsible for the ongoing attacks against our republic.

How Do Communists Start a Riot?

This calls to mind a similar moment 60 years ago. President Dwight Eisenhower had planned a state visit to Tokyo in August 1960, but a series of demonstrations and riots by Japanese communists against the visit led the president’s security team to cancel. DeWitt Wallace, founding editor-in-chief of The Reader’s Digest, asked two pivotal questions: “All the newspapers say these are communist-inspired riots. How do we know? If you’re a communist, how do you start a riot?”

Wallace’s questions ended up on the desk of a 26-year-old journalist from Georgia named Eugene Methvin. Starting his research at the Library of Congress, Methvin looked up books on riots. He could find only one — a U.S. Army field manual from 1882 that had been written in response to the 1879 C&O railroad strikes.

In 1960, there were no riots in the United States, only in foreign countries. But that quickly changed. By 1965, America’s cities were imploding. By 1968, there had been more than 150 riots or major disorders. In 1967 alone, rioting left 83 people dead and 1,800 injured.

Methvin did come across a pamphlet published by The Senate Internal Security Subcommittee entitled, “Communist Mob Violence Around the World.” It had been written by the committee’s research director, Ben Mandel. Methvin described it as “the first published study of Communist techniques of ‘riot diplomacy.’”

Mandel knew about the topic because he had been a card-carrying member of the Communist Party. Indeed, he had been the one who handed Whitaker Chambers his Communist-Party card in the 1920s. Mandel referred Methvin to Steve Posony, who had fled Austria when the Nazis took over in 1938. Posony taught history at Georgetown and advised the deputy director for intelligence in the U.S. Air Force.

With Posony and Mandel as guides and mentors, Methvin spent the next 10 years trying to answer Wallace’s questions. They are essentially the same questions we should pose today.

How To Turn Civil Unrest Into Riots

How do we know those are Marxist riots in our streets? That one’s easy: because the organizers tell us they are. In a 2015 interview, Patrice Cullors said she and Alicia Garza, co-founders of Black Lives Matter, are “trained Marxists.”

The second question is more challenging: If you are a Marxist, how do you start a riot? Or, as Methvin posed the question: “What turns an ordinarily trivial city street arrest incident into a gargantuan explosion of mass violence?” After 10 years of research, Methvin found the answer, and he published it in “The Riotmakers.”

He opens with the Newark riots of 1967, which were eerily similar to the riots following George Floyd’s death. From the windows of two public housing buildings on the evening of July 12, 1967, police were seen dragging a struggling man upstairs into the police station. Rumors quickly flew that the police had beaten and killed the prisoner.

Protests began and soon erupted into riots. Over the next four days, 26 people were killed as a result and many homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed. Within 10 days, riots had broken out in 43 cities across the United States.

Methvin dug deep to understand the cause. One factor he identified was the “Tractor Revolution,” the mechanization of agriculture after World War II that pushed poor blacks and whites into northern cities. While many of those poor whites were able to transition into industrial jobs, Methvin saw that blacks faced numerous obstacles such as poor education, union racism, and housing discrimination, which kept them out of the suburbs and thus out of reach of the industrial jobs.

Other factors playing a role were: the welfare policies of the 1960s, which had started to erode the black family; rampant corruption in Newark’s government, and epic overcrowding. Newark was a tinderbox. Tens of thousands of black Americans were underemployed, undereducated, alienated, exploited, and resentful.

Spontaneous or Incited?

Methvin asked: Would Newark have erupted into violence spontaneously, or did someone light a spark? He found multiple sparks.

Three years prior to the summer riots of 1967, Tom Hayden had arrived in Newark. White, bored, and unhappy, the 25-year-old from Royal Oak, Michigan was on a mission to upend the comfortable world he had been born into.

Hayden was a leader of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). He had co-authored the manifesto that lifted them out of obscurity, the 1964 Port Huron statement, which begins: “We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.”

Methvin describes the statement as “warmed-over Marxist analysis of American society, with a pinch of Lenin’s Imperialism, the Last Stage of Capitalism, and a heavy flavoring of anarchistic utopian idealism.” The statement called for a new left which “must include liberals and socialists,” and which would “start controversy across the land.”

‘We Are Actively Organizing Sedition’

What exactly was SDS’s work in Newark? While it might have been ennobled with the aspiration of rectifying the unjust and inequitable treatment of Newark’s black population, in essence, it sought to foment war. The immediate goal was revolution.

Three months before the Newark riot, Hayden took a local protégé, Jesse Allen, to Puerto Rico to meet with members of the pro-Castro “Movement for Independence.” While there, according to Methvin, Hayden denounced the Newark slum as a colonial possession of the United States. Just weeks before the Newark riot, SDS National Secretary Gregory Calvert revealed: “We are working to build a guerilla force in an urban environment. We are actively organizing sedition.”

To lead their guerilla force, SDS brought in Hassan Jeru Ahmed, a militant activist with a long criminal record who formed a battalion of “Black Beret” mercenaries and organized a campaign of agitation. Newark was flooded with anti-police propaganda and instructions for making Molotov cocktails, which included this directive: “Light rag and throw at some white person or white person’s property.”

The SDS spent three years exacerbating grievances, heightening tensions between black and white, demonizing the police and local government officials. They provided the training, the tools, and the weapons for violence. The riots that ensued, killing 26 and causing millions of dollars in damage, were in no way spontaneous.

The month after the riots had finally ended and the buildings had stopped smoldering, The New York Times Review of Books published an article by Hayden, in which he wrote:

The role of organized violence is now being carefully considered. During a riot, for instance, a conscious guerilla can participate in pulling police away from the path of people engaged in attacking stores. He can create disorder in new areas the police think are secure. He can carry the torch, if not all the people [sic], to white neighborhoods and downtown business districts. If necessary, he can successfully shoot to kill.

Communist Incitement Buried

Methven cites the numerous investigations and court cases that found similar patterns of deliberate instigation in riots across the United States: in Rochester, Cincinnati, Baltimore, San Jose, Toledo, Philadelphia, Watts, Detroit, Chicago.

Young, bored, white college students decided to conduct their revolutionary experiment using black people as the trigger.

In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, including Hayden’s well-publicized admission of SDS’s tactics and the open calls for violence by Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, appointed by President Johnson, concluded in what is known as the Kerner Report that racism was the primary cause of the riots.

Historian Sean Wilentz calls out the profound bias in that conclusion. The experts and analysts who made up the Kerner Commission were not unified in their conclusions.

Those who ultimately held sway justified the riots “not as signs of oppressive poverty and social breakdown but as righteous political protests against racist institutions, in particular the police. The events in Watts, Detroit, and elsewhere were not riots…they were rebellions; instead of seeking to quell the outrage in the nation’s inner cities, responsible government officials needed to awaken to the racism so deeply and systematically embedded in American life, and then attack it head-on.” Sound familiar?

Young, bored, white college students, seduced in their ignorance by the dysfunctional dream of Marxism, decided to conduct their revolutionary experiment using black people as the trigger. But at tremendous cost. The riots of the 1960s had a long-term negative impact on both the value of black-owned properties and on black income and employment.

Riots ‘Unambiguously’ Hurt Black People Most

Robert Margo, a professor of economics at Boston University, and William Collins, of Vanderbilt University, concluded: “the riots were unambiguously negative. They reduced incomes of African Americans’ employment, and they reduced housing values. In the case of housing values, it was broader; it actually affects overall housing values in cities, but the impact is primarily felt by African Americans.”

The Kerner Commission spent seven months looking into the cause of the riots and concluded, simply, it was racism. Methvin spent 10 years looking into the same question and came to a very different conclusion.

He fully acknowledged an array of negative factors affecting blacks in many American cities, but Methvin also demonstrated, incontestably, that the explosion of discontent into violence and rioting was not spontaneous. Indeed it was the direct result of planning and interference by white college students under the sway of Marxism.

Their meddling not only did nothing to help black people, it set many of them years back. As Margo concludes, “whatever was done afterwards was not enough to compensate for the damage and whatever economic consequences came after that.”

These Riots Are Not Random Or Spontaneous

Many of today’s leaders and mainstream media outlets would have us believe that the riots and violence sweeping across America’s cities this year are spontaneous. But history and current evidence tell us otherwise.

As Lora Ries and Charles Stimson of The Heritage Foundation pointed out in a recent report, “Video evidence and arrest records demonstrate that some rioters…have moved from city to city to cause violence using repeated tactics. Their movement and the places they go are not random. Rather, this appears to be part of an organized effort to cause chaos and destruction across the country…”

Similarly, Mike Gonzalez recently wrote in City Journal:

The protests that sprang up in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis seemed like spontaneous outpourings of grief and anger. They weren’t entirely. Though many who joined their ranks may have been moved by outrage at the images of Floyd’s death, those operating behind the scenes have prepared for this moment for a long time.

Gonzalez cites Melina Abdullah, of BLM’s Los Angeles chapter, who told an interviewer that the demonstrations in that city had been strategically planned: “We built kind of an organizing strategy that said, build black community [to] disrupt white supremacy.”

The New York Times also cites the role of Black Lives Matter: “One of the reasons there have been protests in so many places in the United States is the backing of organizations like Black Lives Matter. While the group isn’t necessarily directing each protest, it provides materials, guidance and a framework for new activists.”

Not Just Parallels, But Direct Links

Not only are there strong parallels between the riots of 2020 and the riots of the 1960s, but there is a direct link between the organizers. As Gonzalez points out, one of the three BLM founders, Patrice Cullors, spent a decade working as a radical organizer in the Labor/Community Strategy Center, which was established and run by Eric Mann, a former member of the Weather Underground.

They bombed the State Department, the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, the California attorney general’s office, and a New York City police station. The Weather Underground was formed in 1969 as a militant wing of the Students for a Democratic Society. They sought “the destruction of U.S. imperialism and [to] form a classless communist world.” In seeking those ends, they bombed the State Department, the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, the California attorney general’s office, and a New York City police station.

Andrew McCarthy recently documented ties between the BLM Global Network and the Weather Underground. Kyle Shideler has also exposed the ideological roots of BLM’s obsession with white privilege, which can be traced directly to the terrorists of the Weather Underground.

As the United States now finally embarks on a serious effort to uncover whether, as Rand Paul charges, the current rioting is planned and organized, they would do well to rediscover the ground-breaking work of Methvin. He exposed the very real injustices faced by black Americans, but he also exposed the way those injustices were exploited by those who had been seduced by the lies of Marxist utopia.

Through painstaking research, Methven was able to uncover exactly how those radical organizers turned despair and frustration into violence. We can also now see, with the benefit of hindsight, that the social demolition of the revolutionaries only hurt those it aspired to help.

To Truly Help Black People, Reject BLM

Why is this all of this so vitally important? Because right now, many well-intentioned Americans believe they are helping black people by putting Black Lives Matter signs in their front yards. A number of corporations believe they are helping stamp out racism by donating millions of dollars to Black Lives Matter. Middle schools and high schools across the country are using a curriculum developed by Black Lives Matter to teach children that America is riddled with systemic racism.

But in fact, Black Lives Matter is not about helping black people. It is about using black people to achieve the co-founders’ revolutionary, ideological aims. BLM wants to overthrow the American system of deliberative democracy and ordered liberty and replace it with their Marxist hell. The sooner Americans wake up to that reality, the less black people will suffer as a result of their current exploitation by the radical left.

***

Katharine C. Gorka is the director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Civil Society and the American Dialogue.

Article from The Federalist: https://thefederalist.com/2020/09/14/how-the-1960s-riots-foreshadow-todays-communist-weaponization-of-black-pain/

 

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BLM’s Blueprint for Protest-Terrorism

To Destroy America

By Mike Gonzalez

September 2020

The protests that sprang up in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis seemed like spontaneous outpourings of grief and anger. They weren’t entirely. Though many who joined their ranks may have been moved by outrage at the images of Floyd’s death, those operating behind the scenes have prepared for this moment for a long time.

Indeed, the leaders of the Black Lives Matter organizations fueling this summer’s disturbances were trained by self-described Marxist revolutionaries who have long used the plight of black Americans as justification for overthrowing America’s constitutional order. They frankly admit that such “organizing” is the key to their goal of world revolution. Our political leaders owe it to themselves and to their fellow Americans to understand this blueprint before rhetorically embracing, let alone implementing, the radical changes that the protesters and rioters are demanding.

The goal of upending the American system is, moreover, also evident among the consultants now conducting “anti-racism training” within major corporations and foundations. These facilitators of anti-white struggle sessions disdain the capitalist system and seek its replacement—and the mainstream media cheers them on. In a July New York Times article on the BLM movement, Douglas McAdams, professor emeritus at Stanford, wrote: “It looks, for all the world, like these protests are achieving what very few do: setting in motion a period of significant, sustained, and widespread social, political change. We appear to be experiencing a social change tipping point—that is as rare in society as it is potentially consequential.”

But who initiated this demand for change? After the initial protests following Floyd’s death, public outrage was channeled—by trained activists working from a playbook—into manifestations that often grew riotous. The Black Lives Matters Global Network and Movement for Black Lives organizations have been the nerve center of the protests. They have been laying the groundwork for years, carefully cultivating a network of groups that could organize protests when the moment came and amplify the message through social media.

Consider the BLM Global Network. The three women who thought up the BLM name in 2013, and then added the hashtag, later founded the global network. They remain in charge. As the New York Times Magazine explained, “while much of the nation’s attention drifted away from Black Lives Matter, organizers and activists weren’t dormant.” One of the three founders, Alicia Garza, said that “the movement’s first generation of organizers has been working steadily to become savvier and even more strategic over the past seven years (Beginning during the Obama Administration) and have been joined by motivated younger leaders.”

As the Times report elaborates, “One of the reasons there have been protests in so many places in the United States is the backing of organizations like Black Lives Matter. While the group isn’t necessarily directing each protest, it provides materials, guidance and a framework for new activists.” Deva Woodly, a professor at the New School, told a Times reporter that, “those activists are taking to social media to quickly share protest details to a wide audience. . . . These figures would make the recent protests the largest movement in the country’s history.”

Melina Abdullah, of BLM’s Los Angeles chapter, told an interviewer that the demonstrations in that city had been strategically planned: “We built kind of an organizing strategy that said, build black community [to] disrupt white supremacy.” Their targets, she said, were the neighborhoods where “white affluent folks” lived. “That’s one of the reasons the marches and the protests were in Beverly Hills.”

A Los Angeles Times story emphasizes the central role that the BLM organization played, saying: “The unprecedented size and scope of recent rallies speaks to how Black Lives Matter has transformed from a small but passionate movement into a cultural and political phenomenon.” Weeks after Floyd was killed, BLM members were “continuing to channel their outrage and grief over his killing into a sustained mass campaign for profound social change. The group has political sway that would have seemed unimaginable just a few months ago.”

In a 2015 interview, Patrice Cullors, another of the three founders, said that she and Garza were “trained Marxists.” Abdullah, of the Los Angeles BLM chapter, was born a red-diaper baby—“Raised in the 70s, in the picket lines of Oakland, by activist parents,” as the interviewer put it. Her paternal grandfather was Gunter Reimann, a member of the German Communist Party. Garza cut her organizing teeth as director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), founded by Marxists Garth Ferguson, Patty Snitzler, Regina Douglas, Brian Russell, and Steve Williams. To Williams we owe the concept of “transformative organizing,” which insists “that effective organizing for social change cannot simply be based on an apolitical and highly specific analysis of what is possible in the short term.”

Cullors trained for a decade as a radical organizer in the Labor/Community Strategy Center, established and run by Eric Mann, a former member of the Weather Underground, the 1960s radical faction identified by the FBI as a domestic terrorist group. The “Weathermen” explained in their 1969 foundational statement that they were dedicated to “the destruction of U.S. imperialism and the achievement of classless world: world communism.” The ties between the BLM Global Network and the Weathermen run deep. National Review’s Andrew McCarthy revealed in a recent exposé that Weather Underground supporter Susan Rosenberg, whose 1984 sentence of 58 years in prison for possession “of 740 pounds of explosives, an Uzi submachine gun, an M-14 rifle, another rifle with a telescopic sight, a sawed-off shotgun, three 9-millimeter handguns in purses and boxes of ammunition” was commuted by President Bill Clinton, serves as vice chair of the board of directors of Thousand Currents—the radical, grantmaking institution that until July sponsored the BLM Global Network.

Rosenberg was also sought on federal charges that she aided the 1979 prison escape of Joanne Chesimard, a Communist now living in Cuba, and whom Cullors quotes approvingly in her book When They Call You a Terrorist. (Since July, the Global Center has become “a project” of the Tides Center, another donor and supporter of the hard Left and its ideas).

Mann, who served 18 months in prison for assault and battery and disturbing the peace, remains committed to overthrowing the American system and achieving world revolution through organizing. He calls his Strategy Center the “Harvard of Revolutionary graduate schools,” or “the University of Caracas Revolutionary Graduate School.” The Center’s purpose, he told a seminar at the University of California, San Diego in 2008, is “to build an anti-racist, anti-imperialist, anti-fascist united front.”

Mann says that the Center must teach people to organize strategically because “people think they can join an organization, and go out, and change the most dictatorial country in the world by just showing up. We don’t think so. Organizing is a skill, is a vocation.” During the Center’s “six-month, intensive training program,” classes offer a mix of theory—Mann’s wife teaches a class on “problems of imperialism, women’s studies, strategies and tactics”—with street activism, where students are held accountable. “How many people did you organize? How did it go?”

They also teach how to raise funds. “If we’re going to build a revolution, you gotta ask people for money . . . the poor must pay for their own liberation, so we need to teach you to ask for money,” Mann told the students. “I spend my time organizing mainly young people who want to be revolutionaries,” Mann said. If you’re not in organizing, “your life is meaningless,” and you risk becoming a “bourgeois pig.”

The challenge for students, Mann told the class, was to ask themselves, “Am I making decisions to change the system? Am I being tied to the masses?” Universities serve as vital centers of recruitment and radicalization. “The university,” Mann explained, “is the place where Mao Zedong was radicalized, where Lenin and Fidel were radicalized, where Che was radicalized. The concept of the radical middle class of the colonized people, or in my case the radical middle class of the privileged people, is a model of a certain type of revolutionary.” The goal for students, he told his class, was to “Take this country away from the white settler state, take this country away from imperialism and have an anti-racist, anti-imperialist and anti-fascist revolution.”

In their 1969 declaration, You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows, Bill Ayers (Friend and collaborator of Barak Obama), Bernardine Dohrn, John Jacobs, and other revolutionary leaders of the Weather Underground spoke of black people not so much as the reason for their push to destroy American society and institute world Communism, but as a means to achieve their goals. American blacks were considered a colonized subject of the United States, along with the people of Vietnam and Bolivia—another victim of U.S. imperialism. Their liberation was secondary to the general struggle; seeking black liberation for its own sake was just a form of bourgeois nationalism. “No black self-determination could be won which would not result in a victory for the international revolution as a whole,” the document affirmed.

These are the ideological sources for what could be the largest radical movement in American history—one that could lead to real policy changes. One component is street pressure, driven by the likes of Mann and Cullors. Another takes place in plusher environments, such as Fortune 500 companies or the halls of Congress. Consultants like White Fragility author Robin DiAngelo told 184 Democratic legislators in a conference call in June that their policies hurt black lives. DiAngelo told The New York Times that “capitalism is so bound up with racism. … [it] is dependent on inequality, on an underclass. If the model is profit over everything, you’re not going to look at your policies to see what is most racially equitable.”

Up to now, the American system has resisted socialism by offering prosperity and opportunity. Our politicians today need to understand what they’re facing from the BLM movement and what is at stake. The “white settler state” of Eric Mann’s [demented] fevered mind is in reality the American constitutional order. The imperialism that Mann, Rosenberg, DiAngelo, and others imagine is the American free-market system that has been the most successful weapon against poverty ever devised. Political leaders of either party feeling pressured to adopt BLM policies or even just mouth the rhetoric should spend some time examining the movement’s intellectual sources—and its political goals.

***

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The Absurdity of the Syndicalist Society

Syndicalism

By Ludwig von Mises

[This article excerpted from Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis.]

As political tactics Syndicalism presents a particular method of attack by organized labour for the attainment of their political ends. This end may also be the establishment of the true Socialism, that is to say, the socialization of the means of production. But the term Syndicalism is also used in a second sense, in which it means a sociopolitical aim of a special kind. In that sense Syndicalism is to be understood as a movement whose object is to bring about a state of society in which the workers are the owners of the means of production. We are concerned here with Syndicalism only as an aim; with Syndicalism as a movement, as political tactics, we need not deal.

Syndicalism as an aim and Syndicalism as political tactics do not always go hand in hand. Many groups which have adopted the syndicalist “direct action” as the basis of their proceedings are striving for a genuinely socialist community. On the other hand the attempt to realize Syndicalism as an end can be carried on by methods other than those of violence recommended by Sorel.

In the minds of the great bulk of workers who call themselves socialists or communists, Syndicalism presents itself, at least as vividly as Socialism, as the aim of the great revolution. The “petty bourgeois” ideas which Marx thought to overcome are very widespread—even in the ranks of the Marxian socialists. The great mass desire not the genuine Socialism, that is, centralized Socialism but Syndicalism. The worker wishes to be the lord of the means of production which are employed in his particular undertaking. The social movement round about us shows more clearly every day that this and nothing else is what the worker desires. In contradistinction to Socialism which is the result of armchair study, syndicalist ideas spring direct from the mind of the ordinary man, who is always hostile to “unearned” income obtained by someone else. Syndicalism like Socialism aims at the abolition of the separation of worker from the means of production, only it proceeds by another method. Not all the workers will become the owners of all the means of production; those in a particular industry or undertaking or the workers engaged in a complete branch of production will obtain the means of production employed in it. The railways to the railway men, the mines to the miners, the factories to the factory hand—this is the slogan.

We must ignore every freak scheme for enacting Syndicalist ideas and take a thoroughly consistent application of the main principle to the whole economic order as the starting point of our examination. This is not difficult. Every measure which takes the ownership of all the means of production from the entrepreneurs, capitalists, and landlords without transferring it to the whole of the citizens of the economic area, is to be regarded as Syndicalism. It makes no difference in this case, whether in such a society more or less of these associations are formed. It is unimportant whether all branches of production are constituted as separate bodies or only single undertakings, just as they happen to have evolved historically, or single factories or even single workshops. In essence the scheme is hardly affected if the lines drawn through the society are more or less, horizontal or vertical. The only decisive point is that the citizen of such a community is the owner of a share of certain means of production and the non-owner of other means of production, and that in some cases, for example, when he is unable to work, he may own no property at all. The question whether the workers’ incomes will, or will not, be noticeably increased, is unimportant here. Most workers have absolutely fantastic ideas about the increase of wealth they could expect under syndicalist arrangements of property. They believe that just the mere distribution of the share which landlords, capitalists, and entrepreneurs draw under capitalist industry must considerably increase the income of each of them. Apart from this they expect an important increase in the product of industry, because they, who regard themselves as particularly expert, will themselves conduct the enterprise, and because every worker will be personally interested in the prosperity of the undertaking. The worker will no longer work for a stranger but for himself. The liberal thinks quite differently about all this. He points out that the distribution of rent and profit incomes among the workers would bring them an insignificant increase in incomes. Above all he maintains that enterprises which are no longer directed by the self-interest of entrepreneurs working on their own account but by labour leaders unfitted for the task will yield less, so that the workers will not only earn no more than under a free economy, but considerably less.

If syndicalist reform merely handed over to the workers the ownership of the means of production and left the system of property of the capitalist order otherwise unchanged, the result would be no more than a primitive redistribution of wealth. The redistribution of goods with the object of restoring the equality of property and wealth is at the back of the mind of the ordinary man whenever he thinks of reforming social conditions, and it forms the basis for all popular proposals for socialization. This is not incomprehensible in the case of land workers, to whom the object of all ambition is to acquire a homestead and a piece of land large enough to support him and his family; in the village, redistribution, the popular solution of the social problem, is quite conceivable. In industry, in mining, in communications, in trade, and in banking where a physical redistribution of the means of production is quite inconceivable, we get instead a desire for the division of the property rights while preserving the unity of the industry or enterprise. To divide in this simple way would be, at best, a method of abolishing for the moment the inequality in the distribution of income and poverty. But after a short time, some would have squandered their shares, and others would have enriched themselves by acquiring the shares of the less economically efficient. Consequently, there would have to be constant redistributions, which would simply serve to reward frivolity and waste—in short, every form of uneconomic behaviour. There will be no stimulus to economy if the industrious and thrifty are constantly compelled to hand over the fruits of their industry and thrift to the lazy and extravagant.

Yet even this result—the temporary achievement of equality of income and property—could not be accomplished by syndicalization. For syndicalization is by no means the same for all workers. The value of the means of production in different branches of production is not proportional to the number of workers employed. It is unnecessary to elaborate the fact that there are products which involve more of the productive factor, labour, and less of the productive factor, Nature. Even a division of the means of production at the historical commencement of all human production would have led to inequality; much more so if these means are syndicalized at a highly progressive stage of capital accumulation in which not only natural factors of production but produced means of production are divided. The values of the share falling to individual workers in a redistribution of this kind would be very different: some would obtain more, others less, and as a result some would draw a larger income from property—unearned income—than others. Syndicalization is in no way a means of achieving equality of incomes. It abolishes the existing inequality of incomes and property and replaces it by another. It may be that this syndicalistic inequality is regarded as more just than that of the capitalistic order—but on this point science can give no judgment.

If syndicalist reform is to mean more than the mere redistribution of productive goods, then it cannot allow the property arrangements of Capitalism to persist in regard to the means of production. It must withdraw productive goods from the market. Individual citizens must not dispose of the shares in the means of production which are allotted to them; for under Syndicalism these are bound up with the person of the owner in a much closer way than is the case in the liberal society. How, in different circumstances, they may be separated from the person can be regulated in various ways.

The naïve logic of the advocates of Syndicalism assumes without any further ado a completely stationary condition of society, and pays no attention to the problem, how the system will adapt itself to changes of economic conditions. If we assume that no changes occur in the methods of production, in the relations of supply and demand, in technique, or in population, then everything seems to be quite in order. Each worker has only one child, and departs out of this world at the moment his successor and sole heir becomes capable of work; the son promptly steps into his place. We can perhaps assume that a change of occupation, a transfer from one branch of production to another or from one independent undertaking to another by a voluntary simultaneous exchange of positions and of shares in the means of production will be permitted. But for the rest the syndicalist state of society necessarily assumes a strictly imposed caste system and the complete end of all changes in industry and, therefore, in life. The mere death of a childless citizen disturbs it and opens up problems which are quite insoluble within the logic of the system.

In the syndicalist society the income of a citizen is made up of the yield from his portion of property and of the wages from his labour. If the shares in the property in the means of production can be freely inherited, then in a very short time differences in property holding will arise even if no changes occur among the living. Even if at the beginning of the syndicalist era the separation of the worker from the means of production is overcome, so that every citizen is an entrepreneur as well as a worker in his undertaking, it may so happen that later on citizens who do not belong to a particular undertaking inherit shares in it. This would very quickly drive the syndicalist society to a separation of labour and property, without the advantages of the capitalist order of society.1

Every economic change immediately creates problems on which Syndicalism would inevitably be wrecked. If changes in the direction and extent of demand or in the technique of production cause changes in the organization of the industry, which require the transfer of workers from one concern to another or from one branch of production to another, the question immediately arises what is to be done with the shares of these workers in the means of production. Should the workers and their heirs keep the shares in those industries to which they happened to belong at the actual time of syndicalization and enter the new industries as simple workers earning wages, without being allowed to draw any part of the property income? Or should they lose their share on leaving an industry and in return receive a share per head equal to that possessed by the workers already occupied in the new industry? Either solution would quickly violate the principle of Syndicalism. If, in addition, men were permitted to dispose of their shares, conditions would gradually return to the state prevailing before the reform. But if the worker on his departure from an industry loses his share and on entering another industry acquires a share in that, those workers who stood to lose by the change would, naturally, oppose energetically every change in production. The introduction of a process making for greater productivity of labour would be resisted if it displaced workers or might displace them. On the other hand the workers in an undertaking or branch of industry would oppose any development by the introduction of new workers if it threatened to reduce their income from property. In short, Syndicalism would make every change in production practically impossible. Where it existed, there could be no question of economic progress.

As an aim Syndicalism is so absurd, that speaking generally, it has not found any advocates who dared to write openly and clearly in its favour. Those who have dealt with it under the name of co-partnership have never thought out its problems. Syndicalism has never been anything else than the ideal of plundering hordes.

***

  1. lt is misleading, therefore, to call Syndicalism “workers’ Capitalism,” as I too have done in Nation, Staat und Wirtschaft, p. 164.

Author:

Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig von Mises was the acknowledged leader of the Austrian school of economic thought, a prodigious originator in economic theory, and a prolific author. Mises’s writings and lectures encompassed economic theory, history, epistemology, government, and political philosophy. His contributions to economic theory include important clarifications on the quantity theory of money, the theory of the trade cycle, the integration of monetary theory with economic theory in general, and a demonstration that socialism must fail because it cannot solve the problem of economic calculation. Mises was the first scholar to recognize that economics is part of a larger science in human action, a science that he called praxeology.

Article From Mises Institute: https://mises.org/wire/misessyndicalism?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=bdc838c443EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_08_28_02_44&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-bdc838c443-228630977

 

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Kamala Harris, the Good Samaritan, and Christian Socialism

Kamala Harris, the Good Samaritan, and the Christian Socialism Oxymoron

A Commentary By Mark Hendrickson

August 2020

The Salt Lake Tribune reported last week that U.S. senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris frequently cited the New Testament parable of the good Samaritan on the campaign trail when she was vying for the presidential nomination.

Good move! Who doesn’t admire the good Samaritan? That parable (Luke 10:25-37) is a favorite of Christians, and it’s so well known that many non-Christians admire the Samaritan’s generosity and charity.

Sen. Harris (D-Calif.) (according to the same report) also acknowledges “liberation theology” as having informed her world view. There’s a fundamental problem here: Liberation theology is incompatible with the moral precept taught in the good Samaritan parable. Progressive politicians and adherents of liberation theology overlook one absolutely crucial aspect of the good Samaritan story.

In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus clearly illustrated the two forms of Christian charity: direct and indirect. The Samaritan compassionately helped a total stranger, first directly—by personally tending to his injuries and comforting him—and second, indirectly—by deputing an agent to act on his behalf, in this case by giving an innkeeper money to pay for the needs of the wounded man during his convalescence.

Has Sen. Harris been that kind of a good Samaritan? We don’t know if she has personally ministered to strangers in need. In today’s world, it’s far more common for busy people like Harris to engage in indirect charity—to delegate charitable deeds by giving donations to private organizations (churches, community groups, etc.) that have the facilities and personnel to help those in need. In fact, the federal government allows us to deduct such charitable donations, so by looking at candidates’ tax returns, we can see whether they have been good Samaritans.

How generous has Sen. Harris been in her indirect charities? According to Business Insider, “during several years of her time as California attorney general, Harris reported no charitable donations” (although, more recently, she and/or her husband, whom she married in 2014, gave 1.4 percent of their combined 2017 income of $1.9 million to charity in 2017).

Thus, when Harris avers “that we are all each other’s brothers and sisters,” she apparently feels that she doesn’t need to donate to charities in one’s capacity as a private citizen (like you and I do). Rather, she is speaking in a collective political sense. She’s talking about government redistributing wealth. That’s where the liberation theology comes in. Liberation theology, like Christian socialism, seeks to blend Marxist policies with Christianity.

Now let’s revisit the good Samaritan parable for a moment and conduct a thought experiment. Let’s imagine that the Samaritan, having spotted the badly wounded man, sees several prosperous travelers walking by. Let us then suppose that the Samaritan is a big, strong man capable of intimidating others. Then he accosts the travelers and threatens them with his staff unless they give money to pay for the wounded man’s care. The man in need would still receive the help that he so desperately needed, true, but would we hold the Samaritan in such high regard today? Not likely.

And why? Because of his use of force. That is the crucial difference between socialism and Christianity. Socialist “giving” is compulsory. Christian giving is voluntary. The former relies on force imposed from without. The latter acts from grace within. “Christian socialism” is literally an oxymoron: There is no such thing as “compulsory charity.” When politicians use the powers of the state to give financial assistance to others, they are proposing to do so using other people’s money, not their own. That’s a false, counterfeit charity, quite the opposite of the good Samaritan’s genuine (i.e., voluntary) charity.

It’s, quite rightly, against our laws for an individual to use force to take money from others no matter how worthy the cause for which the funds are appropriated. Then how can we justify government using the threat of fines or imprisonment to take property from some to give it to others? In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “It is strangely absurd [to suppose] that a million human beings, collected together, are not under the same moral laws which bind (or liberate) each of them separately.”

If Kamala Harris makes the good Samaritan a campaign theme, I hope some alert person will point out to her that the Samaritans’ actions were voluntary, and that he helped the stranger using his own time and money. (Another question for Sen. Harris: Don’t you believe in the separation of church and state?)

By all means, friends, be charitable. Just don’t mix charity with compulsion. That is the Marxian way, not the Christian way. [Nor the way of Jesus (Gospelbbq)]

[For a more detailed discussion of “Christian Charity and the Welfare State,” see my Institute for Faith and Freedom commentary. For an explanation of how Orwellian social justice perverts traditional justice, see my previous column, “‘Justice’ Is the Word of the Year, and ‘Social Justice’ Is Its Orwellian Opposite.” Finally, the great moral philosopher/classical economist Adam Smith gave a brilliant exposition of how to reconcile justice and beneficence (charity) in his “Theory of Moral Sentiments,” which I review in an Institute for Faith and Freedom commentary.]

***

Mark Hendrickson, an economist, recently retired from the faculty of Grove City College, where he remains a fellow for economic and social policy at the Institute for Faith and Freedom.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Article from The Epoch Times: https://www.theepochtimes.com/kamala-harris-the-good-samaritan-and-the-christian-socialism-oxymoron_3463455.html?ref=brief_Opinions&utm_source=morningbriefnoe&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mb&__sta=vhg.uosvmhkxblfhgposbgblmlt%7CBIQ&__stm_medium=email&__stm_source=smartech

 

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The Implications and Development of Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty

By R. J. Rushdoony

One of the great moments of history occurred at the time of the Reformation, but its significance was too little appreciated then, and its implications were not developed. Frederick III, or Frederick the Wise (1463–1525), was Elector of Saxony (1486–1525). He founded the university, Wittenberg, where both Martin Luther and Melanchthon taught. Luther and the Elector may never have met. Although Frederick gradually came to accept certain Lutheran doctrines, he remained a Catholic to the end. His long protection of Luther was not motivated by agreement. What were his motives?

At this distance, it is not easy to say. Certainly, if we limit it to self-interest, we are distorting history. True, there were problems of jurisdiction. The Elector’s area, Thuringia and Saxony, was a domain one-ninth the size of England. In it were a hundred different monasteries, and parts of six different bishoprics. Five of the bishops lived outside the Elector’s realm. Thus, a different law prevailed for these ecclesiastical domains. It would be easy to conclude that self-interest led Frederick the Wise to defend Luther: he could then control the church as easily as the state if his were a unified realm.

Such a conclusion presupposes a desire by Frederick to control Luther, something he did not do. Luther was more ready for a magisterial power in the church than was Frederick. Frederick protected Luther; he did not seek to control him. This point is all the more important when we recognize their religious differences.

The protection, however, went both ways. In a letter of 1522, cited by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, in Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man, Luther at a critical point, offered the Elector his protection. He wrote:

This is written to Your Grace that Your Grace may know I am coming to Wittenberg under a much higher protection than the Prince-Elector’s. I have no mind to ask for Your Grace’s protection; nay, I hold that I could protect Your Grace more than he could protect me. Moreover, if I knew that your Grace could and would protect me, I would not come. In this, no sword can direct nor help; God alone must act in this matter, without all care and seeking.

Therefore, he who believes most will protect most; and because I feel that Your Grace is still weak in the faith, I cannot by any means think of Your Grace as the man who could protect or save me.

“Protection” was thus made a theological fact. In terms of Deuteronomy 28, it was grounded in God’s blessing on faith and obedience. As Rosenstock-Huessy noted so incisively, “Thomas Paine offering George Washington his protection would seem ridiculous.” Both the protection and the freedom which concerned Frederick III and Luther had become theological facts. A Catholic prince and a Protestant reformer had come together to establish an important Christian relationship, one with deep Biblical roots, and long strands in church history, which established a fact too little appreciated in the days that followed.

In the United States, the First Amendment to the Constitution represents a development of this faith. This amendment was added at the insistence of the clergy. The amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition for a redress of grievances.” We miss the point of this law if we fail to note that each of the original ten amendments, as well as subsequent ones, is a single body of thought and law, a unified whole, a single subject. We are not talking about three, four, or five things here (freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, or petition), nor one (freedom). After all, other amendments deal with freedom as well, and, if freedom were the key legal concept, the first five amendments could have been made one amendment.

The unifying fact in the First Amendment is a man’s immunity in his faith and beliefs: the freedom to express his beliefs in religious worship, in speech, press, assembly, and petition. This law was framed by colonial men for whom these things were matters of faith and principle. There was therefore for them a necessary unity in this statement: instead of five rights they saw one fact. Their separation today means their diminution. It means also the steady decline of freedom in every aspect of the First Amendment.

Thus, the purpose of the First Amendment was to bar the state from entrance into, or powers over, the principled or religious stand and expressions of law-abiding men in worship, instruction, speech, publication, assembly, and petition. When Protestant Luther said to Catholic Elector-Prince Frederick III that he, Luther, was Frederick’s protection in his (Luther’s) free and independent move and expression of faith, and Frederick accepted that fact, and acted on it, a major step was taken. Freedom of religion was then not a privilege created and granted by the state, but rather something radically different. It meant rather the protection of the state by the freedom of faith. The stronger and more faithful that free exercise of faith, the greater the protection of the state. As Luther audaciously declared, “He who believes most will protect most.” The stronger that free faith is, the stronger the state and society.

The freedom of religion as earlier Americans understood it, meant that the ministry of grace had a Levitical or instructional duty to set forth the counsel of God for every area of life. The church was separate from the state, but not religion. Through the ministry of instruction, God’s law-word concerning every area of life and thought was to be set forth.

Decline set in when the church limited the scope of God’s Word to the church, and when the state began to extend its powers over the family, the school, economics, and more. Today, current court cases see claims by state agencies which would entirely eliminate the First Amendment immunities for religion.

This dereliction of the press in this situation is particularly distressing. The press itself has been the target of various court decisions which seriously curtail or limit the freedom of the press, or, at the very least, place it under a cloud. Of course, all these decisions have a “good” purpose; every restriction placed upon freedom claims a good cause, to curtail or restrain abuses. All serve rather as restraints upon good motives, not evil ones. Evil places no value on, nor attention to, restraints; criminal codes already provide a legitimate recourse against the evil misuse of freedom. Attempts to restrain pornography and libel have had minimal results; the law-breaker is a specialist in circumventing the law, whereas the legitimate publication feels the restraints which the law-breaker is impervious to.

Moreover, laws seldom are limited to the purpose of the legislators. As Charles Curtis noted in A Better Theory of Legal Interpretation, “Language, at any rate in legal documents, does not fix meaning. It circumscribes meaning. Legal interpretation is concerned, not with the meaning of words, but only with their boundaries.” Those boundaries are almost always extended to unrecognizable limits. As a result, attempts to eliminate “abuses” in religion or press wind up creating new and worse abuses of power by the state.

The press has been defending itself from the encroachments of statism, but on weak and limited grounds. It limits its First Amendment concern too often to four words thereof, and it neglects the portion which cites free exercise of religion. All over the United States, churches, Christian schools, and parents and children have been on trial. The attacks have come from a variety of state agencies, especially departments of education, zoning, welfare, and the like. Federal attacks have come from the Internal Revenue Service, the Labor Department, the National Labor Relations Board, the White House, and more. The press has given minimal attention to these things, although they represent a major reversal of American policy. The press has become a commercial enterprise as part of large conglomerate enterprises reaching into a variety of manufacturing areas, all valid efforts, but, in the process, it has forgotten the religious nature of its immunity. The freedom it has enjoyed has not been a federal grant but a religious principle. The change of its status is due to a shift in faith.

If man’s faith is in the state, then the state is the protector of man’s freedom, and the author thereof. Then, in every area, we are dependent upon the state: the state giveth, and the state taketh away: blessed be the name of the state!

The national favorite of the United States, “America,” still celebrates in song an older and theocratic faith. The last stanza of Rev. Samuel Smith’s song (1832), declares:

Our father’s God, to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light:
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King.

Protection, in this theocratic perspective, is not by state controls, but by the might of the “Great God” who is “our King.” The brightness of the land is not in regulatory agencies but in “freedom’s holy light.” This phrase is an echo of the premise which undergirds the First Amendment, the relationship of freedom to faith.

But this is not all. Article II, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution requires an oath of office from the president. Such an oath is now a meaningless and even blasphemous fact. However, to the framers of the Constitution, an oath was a Biblical fact. To them, an oath was, first, a covenant fact, i.e., of a covenant between the state and God, and second, a theocratic fact, an oath of loyalty to the sovereign. In the Constitutional Convention, an objection was actually made to adding anything to the oath such as “and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The fact of an oath, Wilson held, made this addition unnecessary; it was, however, still retained. Third, an oath invoked the covenant blessings for obedience, and curses for disobedience, as declared in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26. An oath thus invokes a judgment from God rather than man as the basic judgment. It sees God, not the state, as the Author of all blessings, including liberty.

Today, we are in a time of judgment, because men have sought, all over the world, both freedom and blessings from the state rather than from God our King. As a result they have gained slavery and curses.

In the humanistic, statist conception of things, freedom is not a privilege and a blessing from and under God, but either a human right, or a state grant. Man the sinner, however, is a slave, and his freedom is in essence a freedom to sin. The love of slavery has more clearly marked human history than the love of freedom. Mankind has largely been in chains throughout history, because men have preferred security to freedom. Men have often rebelled against the limitations imposed by slavery, but even more against the responsibilities imposed by freedom.

Freedom is not a natural fact but a religious principle, and the decline of freedom is an aspect of the rise of false faiths, false forms of “Christianity,” as well as other varieties of faith.

This century has seen, moreover, the divorce of freedom from faith, with great damage and decay on both sides.

When Luther offered his protection to the Elector Frederick, he had just come out of hiding at the peril of his life. His reappearance was an act of faith, and one which Frederick matched.

For all too long, those who have believed the most have been Marxists, Keynesians, fascists, and humanists generally. Their “freedom” has been slavery, for “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Prov. 12:10). Now, however, as the faith of Christians strengthens, battles are underway for the freedom of Christian schools, churches, and families. Religious liberty is only a product of religious understanding, growth, and faith. If Christians lose their freedom, they will only have themselves to blame, and their indifference to the Author of true liberty, the Lord our King. (May, 1980)

***

Article from: https://chalcedon.edu/magazine/religious-liberty

(Reprinted from Roots of Reconstruction [Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1991], 51-55).

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

 

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Is It Possible for Christians to Worship False Gods?

How Christians Worship False Gods

By Mark R. Rushdoony

My father used to refer to the danger of abstract theology. When I first heard him use that term, I remember thinking the concept of abstract theology seemed itself a bit abstract to me. I have since come to realize it is, in fact, extremely common.

Abstract Thought

Abstract thought is a thought process where ideas are separated from real objects. If we said, “George Washington was a patriot,” we tie the term patriot to the life and service of the first president. If, however, we say, “A patriot is one who…” we sever the term patriot from a real person and make it an abstraction which demands definition. Abstract thought simplifies communication because it leaves concrete details ambiguous, vague, or undefined.

Abstract thought can be very helpful. We do not always want to speak of the individual trees in a specifically defined area, so we use the term “the woods.” The more general the collective term, the more vague it becomes. A case in point would be the commonly used term “nature.” Nature is often credited (thanks to evolutionary thought) with oversight, wisdom, design, and governance. These are all part of man’s definition of his own abstract which he has called “nature.” The problem with abstract thought for the Christian, however, is when it is applied to theology or to God himself.

Examples of Abstract Theology

The rationalist sees truth as an abstraction which man must decipher and define. This means the human idea of “truth” is over everything. Even if truth is used in reference to God, truth as an abstract principle is put over God. Men can then shamelessly ask, in so many words or not, “Is God’s Word true?” They can do this because they have defined truth and can say, “This is truth, and this is God’s Word.” In reality, they are not holding up truth, but their own abstract definition of what they have declared truth. The comparison is not between truth and God’s Word, then, but between man’s word and God’s Word. By assuming truth is an abstract concept separate from God and His revelation of Himself, man’s definition of truth then dictates to God and stands in judgment on Him. Man’s definition of truth has then become a law of man to which God must conform.

Creating abstract ideas to which we hold God is common to modern thought. One of the reasons men of all religions and ideologies can refer to “god” is that all they have in common is the term “god.” Each may be defining “god” in his own way by his own criteria. The evangelical churches are also very prone to speaking of God in terms of attributes they have defined.

For example:

  1. “God is good.” I have no problem with this as long as “goodness” is defined in terms of what God is. If, however, we have any human-conceived standard of goodness to which we hold God we have subsumed God to our abstract notion of goodness. To the extent that our abstraction of goodness differs from the God of Scripture, we have redefined Him and have created a false god after our own image, or at least our own definition.
  2. “God is fair to all men.” When we were all children, one of our favorite lines was, “That’s not fair.” What that means to a child is, “I’m not getting what someone else is getting.” Those who grow out of such thinking do so when they learn life is not fair, it is hard and rewards go to those who excel. Those who do not grow out of such thinking develop a socialist entitlement mentality. God, however, is not a socialist; He gives to some and denies to others; He saves some and condemns others; He makes of one a vessel to honor and of another a vessel to dishonor. When the disciples asked why a man was born blind Christ answered that it was so the works of God could be manifested in Him (John 9:3).
  3. “God gives all men an equal chance at salvation.” This is the result of taking an abstract modern political model (equality) as the right of all men and then demanding God recognize that right in the moral realm of salvation. Scripture, of course, teaches no such thing. God is not democratic; He is the “Lord,” or “Master” of man.
  4. “God is love, so He would not send anyone to hell.” This begins with John’s statement (1 John 4:8) and draws a completely unwarranted inference from it. God is love, but John’s point was that we learn what love is from God, so “His love is perfected in us” (v. 12). Learning love from God and His revelation of Himself is far different than creating an abstract concept of what love means, then holding God to that concept and dictating what He would or would not do based upon this humanly defined paradigm called “love.” Such thinking makes the abstract “love” a principle that constrains the nature of the God we profess and His behavior. By assuming we can define love rather than God, we have taken John’s words and defined a false god.
  5. “The God I believe in would not predestinate people to hell.” This is my very point. The God of Scripture does predestinate; if you believe in a god that does not predestinate, you believe in another god, one of your own imagination. You have created an abstract god, one divorced from the Sovereign Creator Who revealed Himself in Scripture and in Jesus Christ. This abstract god, as your creation, is now held accountable to your standards.
  6. “Our God is an awesome God.” As true and as powerful as these words are, they can be used in different ways. How is God awesome? Are you defining awesomeness as God’s love, mercy, grace, and promises and then saying, “This is why God is awesome”? If so you have created a limited definition of God, an abstract concept and used it to describe Him as awesome. On the other hand, when you say those words, are you proclaiming that God is awesome for all that He is? Are you saying God is great and good in everything He does, even in His justice, His law, and His judgment? Scripture tells us to fear God; fear is a healthy respect for something that is very real. Otto Scott once said, “God is no buttercup.” When men think and speak of God only in terms of those aspects which they find pleasant, they have created a false god, an abstract idea of a god, one divorced from the person of the God of Scripture. We cannot pick and choose the aspects of God we prefer; God is real and we must praise Him for all that He is.

Jesus Is Not an Idea

When John said Jesus was the “Logos” or “Word,” he was not inventing a new term. Logos was a word already in general use. To Greek philosophers, the logos was the mind of the cosmos, it was an abstract idea.

What John did was to use the word, not to represent the impersonal cosmos, an idea, but a person, Jesus Christ. Logos for John emphasizes the incarnation of the person of God whereas the Greeks had emphasized the idea, really the intellect of man (because it was men who discovered and explained the mind of the cosmos). This is why John said, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). The antinomian who sees John as contrasting the inferior law to the greater grace and truth miss John’s emphasis entirely. John’s point was to contrast how Jesus Christ was qualitatively different than Moses. The latter may have communicated God’s Word to man, but John’s thrust is to say Jesus was in His person the Word, and grace and truth were part of His incarnate nature. The very next verse (1:18) has John saying that Jesus was the declaration of the Father. Moses only spoke words from God. Jesus was the Word—God in human flesh.

God is not an idea; He is a person. He identified Himself to Moses as “I am that I Am” (Exod. 3:14), that is, the self-defining One Who is not limited by human description. When He gave the law, it was given by a person: “I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt” (Exod. 20:2) and in His law declared His very name was to be kept holy (20:7). The reaction of the Hebrews to this very real person was one of fear, and they begged Moses to be their mediator (20:18–19). This, then, is the first remedy to abstract theology, remembering that God is not an idea we define but a person, and one that must not be taken lightly.

The second remedy is to remember God was incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is very real, so real we will one day stand before His judgment seat.

A third remedy in avoiding abstract ideas of God is to acknowledge the authority of His Word. A silent god is one in need of definition and one who needs man as a mouthpiece. The God of the Scripture says, “Thus saith the Lord.” God defines truth. We understand truth only to the extent we understand God’s revelation of Himself.

The Real Nature of Abstract Theology

All thinking about God based on abstract ideas of God is idolatrous. They violate the first and second commandments because they first create (even if only conceptually) a false, fictitious deity, one separated from the self-defining God of Scripture. Such false gods are then worshipped as the true God. When we call these false gods by the name of God, we violate the third commandment and we use His name in vain.

Some of the popular televangelists of recent years are obvious examples of such worship of false gods. Often they preach a gospel of humanism and falsely call it Christianity. They speak of positive thinking, joy and blessing, but some have freely admitted they do not preach sin, obedience, or judgment lest they turn people away. God for these men is an idol they have defined, one who serves man’s purpose. Such men quote the Bible often, as many evil men have over the years, but they do not believe or teach the every Word of God. Their abstract ideas of God make Him and all His Word dependent on man’s thinking; man’s word then becomes the authoritative word.

God’s Word reveals God, not man’s words about God. If the God you worship is not the God Who defines Himself in Scripture, you are worshipping a false god, one of your own imagination.

***

Article from: https://chalcedon.edu/magazine/how-christians-worship-false-gods

Mark R. Rushdoony graduated from Los Angeles Baptist College (now The Master’s College) with a B.A. in history in 1975 and was ordained to the ministry in 1995.

He taught junior and senior high classes in history, Bible, civics and economics at a Christian school in Virginia for three years before joining the staff of Chalcedon in 1978. He was the Director of Chalcedon Christian School for 14 years while teaching full time. He also helped tutor all of his children through high school.

In 1998 he became the President of Chalcedon and Ross House Books, and, more recently another publishing arm, Storehouse Press. Chalcedon and its subsidiaries publish many titles plus CDs, mp3s, and an extensive online archive at www.chalcedon.edu.

He has written scores of articles for Chalcedon’s publications, both the Chalcedon Report and Faith for all of Life. He was a contributing author to The Great Christian Revolution (1991). He has spoken at numerous conferences and churches in the U.S. and abroad.

Mark Rushdoony lives in Vallecito, California, his home of 40 years with his wife of 42 years and his youngest son. He has three married children and nine grandchildren.

 

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