May 11th, 2015

Coming out of the closet . . . as an anarchist

If you follow me on social media, have read several other posts on this blog, or are friends with me on Facebook, perhaps you’ve seen some of my posts and began to wonder.  Is he, you know, one of those? Well let me confirm your fears:

I am an anarchist.

Unlike other closets, coming out of this closet hasn’t become fashionable, and likely won’t be for quite some time. (Although it’s certainly more socially acceptable than it was when pioneers like Lysander Spooner, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Murray Rothbard came out.) There aren’t a bunch of political pressure groups demanding that society be forced to treat people like me a certain way. (Wouldn’t that be ironic?) And it isn’t like my coming out of the closet won’t cost me anything. It’s probably a bad career move. Employers Google prospective employees, and there aren’t many firms that are willing to hire an anarchist.

There are other more potentially dire consequences of me outing myself. I actually took the Ron Paul bumper sticker off the back of my car several years back because it increased the chances of my young children getting shot by cops. (See here, here, here, and here.) If the state were to come and take me away some day, all it would need to say was that I was a suspected anarchist. No further explanation or justification required. So why would I reverse course and put it out there on my indelible permanent internet record in my own words that I am an anarchist?

My journey hasn’t happened suddenly.  I certainly wasn’t born this way. As late as my junior year of college (where I was studying music education and planning on working in a government school), I was a friend of the state, not an enemy of it. I initially supported the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I voted for George W. Bush. Twice. (I know; I threw up in my mouth a little when I wrote that.) The fact that I wasn’t born this way is one of the reasons why I’m coming out. If I were persuaded that I was wrong about the state; then maybe others can be too. People are propagandized in the ways of anarchophobia (fear of anarchy, not spiders) from a very young age. Anarchophobia is proclaimed in the schools, the news, the churches, talk radio, the movies, and just about everywhere else. Because of all this misinformation and indoctrination, it’s important to define and clarify what I mean when I say I’m an anarchist.

When the average person thinks of what an anarchist is, the image that comes to mind is probably one of “whiskered men with bombs” assassinating some 19th century political figure. This is not what I’m advocating.  My concise definition of anarchism is the belief that the use of coercive force by the state is not a legitimate means to solve any given problem. To be more specific, I would label myself an anarcho-capitalist. By implication, anarchism calls for an abolition of the state altogether, believing as Tolkien did that “the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.”

Think of all the problems that you encounter in your own life.  How many of them do you actually solve by using coercive force? Not many, unless you work as an enforcer for the state. Nearly your entire life is already anarchic. The United States of America have been officially anarchic regarding religious practice since the adoption of the first amendment.  Irrespective of your religious beliefs (or non-beliefs), do you think things would be better if some bureaucrat were dictating them and using coercion to enforce conformity? How about some state central-planning board decreeing whom you could date or marry? Don’t all jump at once. If you think a date costs a lot now, just wait until it’s free. And think of the waiting list!

In project management and business analysis, there is a concept known as net present value (NPV). To simplify, you anticipate the costs and discounted future revenues of a project. If the NPV of a project is negative (costs exceed benefits) you don’t embark on the project. I assert that the state has a negative NPV. It does more harm than good, and you are better off without it. Think about yourself, and the people you know. No matter how screwed up your lives are, you can still run your own lives better than the state can run them for you. And the problem grows worse on a larger scale, not better. This same problem of distributed knowledge and expertise is why central economic planning can never work.

Pragmatic arguments are all well and good, but they’re not enough. The moral arguments against the state are more important. If the initiation of force is wrong for you and me, does it become right if 21% of the population (65.9M/314.1M voted for Obama in 2012) authorize it? Does the morality change if you increase it to 50% plus one person? Even if everybody else in the world got together and unanimously agreed on a decree to kill you and take your stuff, it would still be wrong.

There’s a lot more to say regarding anarchism (answering objections, how it harmonizes with Christianity, strategic considerations, further arguments against the state, etc.) but these topics will need to wait for future posts. I just couldn’t continue to pretend to be somebody I’m not and decided that now is the time. Maybe some people dealing with similar inclinations in the future might read this and be empowered to speak up themselves. There may be different reactions among my friends and family, ranging from support and tolerance to shunning or staging an intervention. I don’t expect you to understand me, but hopefully those who care about me will learn to accept me for who I am.

I’m out and I’m proud.

November 8th, 2014

The “Pro-Life” Movement’s Political Strategy Will Never Solve the Abortion Problem

It has been almost 42 years since the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling, Roe v. Wade, which struck down state prohibitions on abortion.  Since then, about 55 million children have lost their lives via government-sanctioned infanticide.

Both supporters and opponents of infanticide have set their sights on either acquiring or maintaining a majority of justices in the U.S. Supreme Court who hold their view. As an ardent opponent of murdering children, I believe the fruit of this approach speaks for itself.  I have noted elsewhere that the Republican Party has used Pro-Lifers as pawns by advocating a Supreme Court solution to this problem.  The Republicans in the Federal Government have every political reason to avoid ending abortion by using tactics bearing uncanny similarity to those Lucy uses on the gridiron while the Pro-Lifers exclaim “AAUGH!” in surprise for the sixty-eighth time. The cynic in me knows that the Republican leadership wants to keep the Supreme Court Approach as the only option so that the one-issue voters continue to vote for whomever National Right to Life tells them.  National Right to Life (it seems) has become quite content with simply being a Republican Party front group. The organization’s own existence also depends on keeping abortion a national political issue forever.

 

Lucy and the Football a.k.a. The Pro-Life Movement and Republican Party

It is time for the opponents of infanticide to adopt a vastly different strategy. First let’s ask the hypothetical question of what would happen if the Right to Lifers actually got their way and not only overturned Roe v. Wade but also managed to put a national ban on abortions in place. That would solve the abortion problem for good, right? Wrong. Abortion was a social problem before 1973 and would continue to remain a social problem if it were banned. Here’s why:

  1. In order to enforce an abortion ban, you would need a surveillance state as intrusive and pervasive as the one featured in Orwell’s 1984.
  2. If you were to bring an abortion case to trial, you would only need one person on a jury to disagree with the anti-abortion law to nullify the law and hang the jury. I doubt that even the most zealous one-issue voters would want to abolish trial by jury altogether for the sake of effectively enforcing an abortion ban.
  3. It would do nothing to solve the sin problem that drives abortion.

This third point strikes at the very heart of modern political conservatism and shows that it is just really the same as progressivism only with different pet issues. Is it not the core of progressivist mindset to believe that social problems (poverty, lack of education, child labor, international affairs, drunkenness) can be solved by passing a law? In what meaningful way are the conservatives in 2014 different than the progressives in 1914? Can you think of a single social problem that has ever been effectively solved by passing a law? There isn’t one.  Sure, states will come along after the church or the market have solved a social problem like polygamy or child labor, pass a law, and then take credit for solving the problem (where their law either has no effect or makes matters worse in reality).

Instead of thinking like (and being) in-the-box conventional Republicans, the pro-life crowd needs to start thinking like (and hopefully becoming) outside-the-box entrepreneurs, libertarians and anarchists. In his 1992 best seller The Way Things Ought To Be, Rush Limbaugh had a chapter tilted (paraphrased from memory when I was 12) “Abortion: Our Next Civil War.”  The conservatives seem to think that overtly coercive and political solutions are the way to solve social problems. A person with this mindset might be surprised to find out that every other country in the world was able to end chattel slavery without a bloody war being fought. The effective solutions to ending slavery were not primarily political, and do not need to be political.

It’s one thing to identify a problem, but it’s harder to offer solutions and alternatives to the problem.  I will attempt to offer some suggestions and ideas below, but my suggestions should just be seen as a start of brainstorming possible alternatives rather than a comprehensive list.  Don’t be afraid to think of solutions that sound crazy or might not work. Here are a couple of ideas:

Ideas to Get at the Root Cause of Abortion and Solve the Problem: Because abortion is at its root a sin problem, it will never be fully solved on this side of glory. The solutions below will also not likely solve the problem in one generation. God is entirely sovereign and this will happen on His timetable, but these are the only real solutions to sin-based problems.

  • Prayer: There is no substitute for this. I think if American Christians just sat one election out and used the time they would otherwise spend voting and campaigning to pray for an end to this evil, it would accomplish far more than all the time and money spent on all the elections since Roe combined.
  • Relational evangelism: The only real sustainable and long-term solution to abortion as a social problem is to have hearts, souls, and minds reached and won for Jesus Christ. The ultimate root cause of abortion is sin, and the only way to solve a problem caused by sin is to have lives radically transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many crisis pregnancy centers are already doing a good job at this, and there are people in churches all over America and the world who have made outreach to pregnant single women a priority. Do so more and more!

Practical Ideas to Reduce the Number of Abortions and Save Lives: These strategies and ideas will not solve the root cause of the abortion problem as the ones above would.  These are shorter-term solutions to curtail the carnage and find non-coercive alternatives to murdering babies.

  • Privately-funded “compensated emancipation”: One of the primary strategies that helped solve the slavery problem was the strategy of compensated emancipation. On an issue as divisive as abortion, a government solution will flat-out never work here, and it would be just as wrong to plunder those who support abortion to fund this as it is to plunder opponents of abortion to fund Planned Parenthood. So here’s the question, would the Pro-Life crowd actually care enough to help pay women to not abort their babies? It may sound crass, but for all but the most ardent Abortion True Believers there would be a price at which they would choose not to kill their own babies. If a desperate woman walks into an abortion mill and gets pressured by evil sociopaths that abortion is her only alternative, she is more likely to make that decision, but if she is given another alternative that compensates her and spares the life of the child, she might just choose that.
  • Underground adoption: If you are waiting on the government to reform the adoption process, stop holding your breath. Bureaucracy is as bureaucracy does. Do we care enough about these unborn children to break some laws? Will you try to get a new Führer elected or will you hide some Jewish people in your house? There are already enough undocumented people in the United States that it shouldn’t be hard to hide in the crowd. Spend the money that you would otherwise use to navigate the red tape of the official approved adoption process and use it to compensate the mother as the previous idea suggests.  I think there are hundreds of thousands of Christians if not millions who would be willing to adopt these children. Just nullify the establishment.
  • Let somebody find a way to earn a profit by actually preventing abortions: There is obviously a demand for avoiding abortion. If there were a way to coordinate the demand for avoiding abortion with the needs of women and make a profit doing it, then you would improve your chances of success. With the avenues available today like crowd-funding and social media, there has never been a better opportunity for global connectedness between people who have unmet desires. I can feel the onslaught of self-righteous anti-market objections coming before I even post this. Before you lecture me that it is somehow wrong, immoral or inappropriate for somebody to make a profit saving babies, you need to answer me a question: If you were given the option between a world where people made profits saving babies from abortion and current scenario where 55 million babies have died while those who oppose abortion have been pursuing a coercive political non-solution to the problem, which would you choose? Irrespective of what a problem is, the market is far better at finding viable solutions than a central planner will ever be.

Conclusion:

Abortion is a reprehensible tragedy, that is funded and enabled by a reprehensible state. Looking to said reprehensible state for a solution to a problem that it has made much worse over the years, is not a winning strategy. Jesus Christ is building His kingdom and the gates of hell will not stand against it. This kingdom is not built by seizing the reins of political power, but by people who were dead in their trespasses and sins encountering Jesus Christ and being indelibly transformed. The faithful witness of the church combined with the ingenuity of the marketplace and maybe some civil disobedience will move the needle in the right direction.  Trusting in the state to solve the problem will get you.. well… refer to the picture above.

October 8th, 2014

I Once was Lost but Now am Found

I had the privilege of serving as a substitute preacher for Brian Phillips and filling the pulpit last Sunday at Holy Trinity Reformed Church in Concord, NC. My sermon was on Luke 15, which contains the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (better known as the prodigal son).  I have included a link to the sermon below. I may share some of the insights from preparing and studying the text as separate posts in the future.