The Power of one, or how to screw the people and make a deal.

That visit to the pub and a few beers has not come under too much threat yet other than the need to be under the limit if you intend to drive. Tossing a few bucks into the pokies for a flutter while you are at it is about to become a whole lot more complex though.

Our Prime Altruist Julia Gillard has announced that she is determined to push through gambling restrictions, which she calls reforms, (sounds better, doesn’t it?) on poker machines. This she claims will “ease the suffering of families hit by problem gambling.” She has not explained why if gambling is a problem, she is only dealing with one form of it, but we know why.

Yesterday in “A great week for the nanny state, killjoys and wowsers,” I observed:

Take for a start, Gillard’s pet Green Independent, Andrew Wilkie who is obsessed with problem gamblers to the point of wanting us all forced to set a limit on our wagers on the pokies. This under normal circumstances would be dismissed as eccentricity, but the Gillard government is depending on his vote to drag her sorry arse across the line. The Greens after all have what their Senator, Christine Milne described as a power sharing agreement with the government.

In her statement today, she makes it clear that all pokies users are to be “reformed” because of the obsessive demands of one man.

“I made an agreement with Mr. Wilkie; I intend to honour that agreement,” she said.

“That kind of problem gambling causes human misery. I don’t think we want to see anybody profiting on human misery.

“Of course people like to have a bet; but I don’t think they like to see their fellow Australians suffer.”

Quite touching really, I mean all that integrity and honour on display as well as the concern about human misery. She fails to mention though that she is honoring etc because she is relying on Wilkie’s vote to keep her in power. As for the “profiting on human misery” bit, she seems to forget the degree to which governments profit from taxes on gambling. A little hypocrisy there.

There is in the report however a bit of comic relief. It comes from the WA National Tony Crook, who after a truly exotic display of footwork exclaims:

“Clearly the issue about punter welfare is critical and I take the PM for her word on that.

“I’m all for people taking responsibility for their own actions. The question is, how do we go intervening and managing people’s actions?”

Punter welfare is a completely new concept in Australian politics. Who says the Nationals have no original ideas? 🙂 The last bit is a doozy though. “All for people taking responsibility for their own actions,” followed by the need to “go intervening and managing people’s actions.”  Only the LNP could see that as logical.

As a matter of interest, I recall JH saying that he joined the LNP as a result of talking to David Russell. John is reputedly a fan of poker, and it is worth the question, did he join as result of Russell explaining to him the LNP policy on ‘punter welfare?’ 🙂

39 thoughts on “The Power of one, or how to screw the people and make a deal.

  1. Tony Crook sits on the crossbenches as an independent, so I don’t think you can attribute his views to the LNP…

  2. Another peice of gold:
    “said he would also be working with Attorney-General Greg Smith to ensure those charged with being drunk and disorderly would not be able to escape punishment by appealing against the penalty through the court system.”

    Yes – how dare a serf get justice in a court of law!

  3. I seem to remember that when he was elected the LNP and in particular Barnaby Joyce were claiming that he was one of theirs and he had no right to decide to be independent.

    It may be a little unfair, but his thinking is familiar and in line with a lot of Nationals I have met over the years.

  4. This is another consequence of the downgrading of Christian beliefs. Christianity posits individuals as being responsible for themselves- funnily enough the doctrine of Original Sin means that we can’t be reformed from outside, so it is no use trying!
    If you don’t accept this dogma, then people can be made perfect here on Earth- if the right people get into power! So secularism is responsible for the belief in redemption through Social control. We see the outcome of this all around us- this is another manifestation in a belief in perfection here on Earth.

  5. Does anyone really believe Wilkie would support Abbott over Gillard under any circumstance, or if a by-election was called in his seat a Lib-Nat would pick it up?

  6. Nuke,

    Then please explain why fundamentalist Christians have been strong advocates of social control and engineering via the State? For instance, the Australian Christian Lobby’s campaign against introducing an R18+ rating for video games? After all, if we’re all murderers at base, then a few games of Grand Theft Auto can’t possibly make us any worse (or at least banning violent video games won’t make us better than thus won’t stop school massacres).

    Calvinist Christians generally share your understanding of Original Sin… they possibly even go further than you. And yet they are historically consistent advocates of social control via the State. They believe humans are unable to be good without direct divine intervention… and yet Calvin’s Geneva was scarcely laissez-faire even on social policy.

    Even moderate churches, historically, have often advocated conservative social policies.

    So unless you want to say your interpretation of Christian doctrine is the One True Faith, and thus all those Christians aren’t true Scot… I mean Christians, then please explain how belief in Original Sin can be a bulwark AGAINST social engineering?

    After all, the Enlightenment denied Original Sin and also gave birth to Classical Liberalism as we know it.

  7. Jim,

    the LNP is a Queensland-only entity. It is still a coalition in WA and federally. But one single member of it is no reason to make blanket judgments about the entire Coalition, let alone the LNP (which, as stated before, is Queensland only!).

    There are plenty of members of the National Party, “Liberal” Party, Labor Party, Green Party, and every other political party in Australia (except possibly the LDP) whom I completely despise and consider the intellectual equivalent of a brain-damaged seagull. So this should NOT be interpreted as a defense of ANY of Tony Crook’s positions.

    All I’m saying is that Tony Crook’s use of the phrase “punter welfare” says nothing at all about any other specific member of the LNP. That said, since I wrote the first draft of the LDP federal gambling policy, I do clearly disagree with Crook. I’m also a blackjack player myself and probably gamble much more than John does.

  8. “the LNP is a Queensland-only entity. It is still a coalition in WA and federally.”

    Not true in WA since the last WA election where the nats won the balance of power and decided to use it to break off from the WA Liberal Party.

    This is why Wilson Tuckey lost his seat to Tony Crook.

  9. Yobbo,

    Thanks for the correction and the info about WA Libs and Nats not being in coalition any more.

    That said, my point still stands that Tony Crook’s position necessitates nothing about the LNP.

  10. Regretably, some Christians have engaged in social engineering, but others have embraced political freedom! Calvin is not my role model, by the way. His brand of determinism seems to refute free will. Thankfully, Calvinism is not the only brand of Christianity, and Protestantism, with ideas like the Protestant Work Ethic, has contributed enormously to a productive society.
    Usually, the state of your soul is between you and God, in Protestant theology- therefore, individuals need to act according to their individual consciences. Contrast this with Mohammedanism, which believes in Communal attitudes, and espouses Communal action. Jesus encourages sinners to leave other sinners alone- Mohammed encourages the finding and burning of sinners. Good Christians would be good neighbours, because they would be treating their neighbours as they would like to be treated. (NOTE- I said ‘good’, not average!) Good mohammedans would make for bad neighbours, as they would believe in the rightness of democratic, communal, control, and would always be spying on you to see if you were sinning.
    You tell me which you would prefer.

  11. Nuke,

    Replying to your post.

    Basically, your concept of “Christian” seems to be “Christian that agrees with my understanding of Christianity.”

    Whilst it is true that some Christians have embraced individual liberty (historically speaking this has been a minority position amongst Christians, though), your entire case is still contingent on people accepting the kind of Christianity you believe in; what you call “good” Christians.

    As I am not a Christian I do not wish to engage in defining what I “good” Christian is. Irrespective of this, your case does rely on a No True Scotsman and is very ahistorical.

    Not only has the majority of organized Christianity acted in a way which contradicts your proposition, but you have failed to address counter-examples I have provided. Again, the Enlightenment denied Original Sin and was the birth of Classical Liberalism.

    Additionally, your basic syllogism is a non-sequitur. Your argument is that if someone denies Original Sin they will come to the following reasoning –

    Premise) The moral character of humans can be improved.

    Conclusion) The State should be used to improve the moral character of human beings.

    This is a non-sequitur. Whilst some people HAVE made this non-sequitur, many Christians have made it as well. To go from that premise to the conclusion, you need to accept other premises such as “the role of the State is to improve human moral character” and “an individual’s moral character can be shaped by forces external to the individual” and possibly even “an individual cannot improve their moral character by themselves.”

  12. “Basically, your concept of “Christian” seems to be “Christian that agrees with my understanding of Christianity.””


    Wouldn’t that be how you define ‘Objectivist’, per se?

  13. It is true that sometimes Christians have been tempted to force people to be ‘good’, by using the power of the state to impose standards, but this seems to be a common human failing, practiced by everyone, everywhere! I fail to understand why you blame Christianity for it!

  14. I don’t blame Christianity for it.

    What I dispute is your proposition that Christianity is a bulwark AGAINST it.

    You’re quite correct than social engineering and the use of the State to inculcate “virtue” is not unique to Christianity.

  15. No, not really.

    For one, Apples to Oranges. Christianity is a MUCH older body of ideas than Objectivism and Christianity has many, MANY subgroups simply from an historical level.

    Objectivism has existed for about 50 years and there is only ONE split which occurred purely on the basis of philosophical disagreement; the Peikoff/Kelley split, wherein which the former accused the latter of subjectivism and the latter accused the former of intrinsicism.

    I side with Kelley, but the point is that comparing Objectivism to Christianity is a false comparison. Historically speaking, “Christianity” has a MUCH wider variety of disagreement, much wider variety of philosophical subgroupings (some within the same denomination), and simply a much longer historical record.

    So, would I accuse an Objectivist that disagreed with my understanding of Objectivism as being a Not True Objectivist?

    Short answer is that “it depends.”

    First, when we talk about the “essentials” of Objectivism, we have to realize there is no final settled list. There is no Objectivist “catechism.” Not even Galt’s Speech. There have been proposed lists of the essentials of Objectivism but these have usually been tentative.

    Second, I would regard some people as Objectivists that much of the “orthodox” Objectivists would not consider Real Objectivists. For instance, I think Nathaniel Branden counts as an Objectivist. He still defends Rand’s ethics and metaethics, he’s still a libertarian and his main disagreements with Rand are related to her admittedly simplistic understanding of Psychology.

    I would probably also regard Chris Matthew Sciabarra as an Objectivist even if he 1) does not use the label and 2) understands Objectivism in a very dialectical “Russian” fashion. I suspect his differences are ones of language and formulation rather than actual disagreement.

    Now, as for orthodox Objectivists, I do happen to believe many of them are incorrect in their understanding and practice of Objectivism. However, I can’t say that is true A Priori. Many Objectivists only know the orthodoxy and many Objectivists are (regrettably) woefully undereducated about philosophy and as such cannot formulate Objectivist arguments in conventional academic terms (I had this problem too when I first started taking philosophy courses).

    In short, before I were to judge an “orthodox” Objectivist I would need to know more about their context than simply the fact they are orthodox Objectivists, before I could say whether or not I think their understanding of Objectivism is correct.

  16. My contention was, and still is, that Christianity thinks in terms of individuals, and individual salvation. By contrast, Atheistic Communism talked in terms of class warfare- and when they took over Russia, they treated people according to their class, not their actions! The Tzar and his family were treated as irredeemably evil, and killed.

  17. Nuke,

    Perhaps your version of Christianity does so. But “your version of Christianity” is not a particularly common one going by historical records. There have been plenty more collectivist Christians than individualist Christians.

    You are entitled to believe your version of Christianity is correct. As I am not a Christian I will not argue for or against that proposition. What I will object to is your proposition that the “downgrading of Christian beliefs” causes nanny-statism; your specific understanding of “Christian beliefs” has not been “downgraded” because it was never widely adopted in the first place.

    Not only have you not discussed my point about the existence of secular individualism, you now bring up the existence of secular socialism. Of course, there are Christian socialists too, even if you’d disagree with their interpretation of Christianity. But the point is that irrespective of the fact that Marxism was atheistic, there is no necessary connection between atheism and class analysis (or between Christianity and methodological individualism).

    Hayek and Mises were both Agnostic and both were methodological individualists. Ayn Rand was a militant atheist and argued methodological collectivism was Platonism and thus wrong.

    But if we’re going to talk about class warfare that treats people according to their class rather than actions, why not look at Calvinism. Calvinism does precisely this; it divides humanity into classes (the damned and the elect), argues that the damned are irredeemably evil, argues that individual virtue is a product of a specific external force (God granting his grace to said individual and thus enabling the individual to be virtuous) thus denying individual credit for being morally good… it seems that one VERY prominent and influential kind of Christianity does exactly what you accuse Marxism of doing.

    Yes, you are well within your rights to argue that Calvinism is an incorrect theology. But if you’re talking about society “downgrading” Christian beliefs, you need to look at the SPECIFIC Christian beliefs that society is downgrading; you can’t assume that everyone else’s concept of “Christianity” is YOUR set of Christian beliefs.

  18. Andrew,

    Christianity has nothing to do with the power of State.

    True, the ambitious-type likes to enter themselves into Christianity, for the sake of politics.

    But I don’t think that could be done in the spirit of compassion, of Christ, as I understand him.

    Let alone, or as well as, in the same spirit of liberty.

  19. This shows what happens when you marry state and religion together- the power corrupts the wielder! These are all good arguments for separating religion and politics.
    I honestly don’t know of any practicing Calvinists today. But I can point out several Communist, and therefore atheist, countries. One of them is China, which is going through a militant phase. I find that very worrying.

  20. Nuke,

    China is no longer Communist in the sense that we use the word. And many Chinese people are religious, although it is true that freedom of religion does not exist in China. Your point, that Communist states (which are officially atheist) have been fantastic bloodbaths, is correct. However, you are assuming that atheism logically implies communism. To be blunt, this is stupid. There are plenty of atheists that are not communists and it does not follow that if the Christian god does not exist, Marxism is true.

    But that’s a separate issue. My primary problem is you are employing an absolute double standard. You demand that Christianity be judged on YOUR understanding of Christianity, INDEPENDENTLY of real-world examples of Christian states and other Christian groups. THEN, when we start talking about atheism, you bring up examples of states which implemented ONE atheistic philosophy.

    In other words, you start with a Frozen Abstraction of Christianity (i.e. you substitute YOUR understanding of Christianity (the subclass) for Christianity in general (the wider class)). Then you proceed rationalistically, making deductions from your own Christian beliefs (which are not those of many other Christians) and then declaring “Christianity” to be classically liberal.

    Then when we switch to atheism, you again commit the Frozen Abstraction fallacy (substituting the subclass (Marxism) for the wider class (Atheistic Philosophies)). After that, you use empirical examples of the subclass to disprove the wider class, and don’t spend any time on theoretical analysis.

    No offense, Nuke, but your methodology is beyond ‘flawed.’ You switch between methodologies (either extreme rationalism or extreme empiricism) depending on which will help you reach your pre-ordained conclusion and your logic is fallacious.

    I am more than willing to concede that there are some subtypes of Christianity that are at least compatible with libertarianism. Whilst I would disagree with their defense of libertarian principles, I wouldn’t consider them enemies of liberty per se.

    I am also willing to concede that some atheistic philosophies (such as Marxism) are anti-libertarian.

    But you apparently are unwilling to be so charitable in conceding that some atheistic (or at least religion-indifferent) philosophies are compatible with libertarianism, or that some subtypes of Christianity are anti-libertarian.

    If you don’t know any practicing Calvinists today, then you simply aren’t looking. A good example of a Calvinist church is Westboro Baptist Church. Although yes, many other Calvinist churches disagree with Westboro.

  21. John,

    The operative phrase in your post is “as I understand him.”

    Like Nuke, you are committing the Fallacy of the Frozen Abstraction and substituting the subclass (Christianity as you understand it) for the wider class (Christianity as a whole).

    Your own understanding of Christianity may be perfectly compatible with liberty. Fine.

    But your understanding of Christianity is quite clearly in a distinct minority position. The majority of Christian denominations, theologians and even practicioners have been very much anti-liberty.

    You’re free to argue your version of Christianity is the correct one; I would not be in a position to judge that. However, it clearly isn’t an influential version of Christianity. If it were, self-righteous clergy wouldn’t be the ones screaming “there outta be a law!” every time someone does something they dislike.

  22. My point was the separation of Church and State allowed for individuals to have beliefs separate from, and inimical to, the State. If you join the Church and State together, you have problems. If you outlaw religion, then you gather all power into the hands of the state, and nothing will stop power-hungry individuals from enriching themselves at our expense- they literally won’t know any better.
    Whereas Christians are always on the lookout for that symbol of super-statism called the Anti-Christ, and therefore are more likely to be wary of expanding governments, and its’ attempts to regulate people, and intrude on what they are doing.

  23. Nuke,

    I’m 100% in favor of the separation of Religion and the State.

    Whilst I am an atheist, I do not believe that atheism should be enforced by the State, or even encouraged by the State. I am in favor of a SECULAR State, not an Atheist State. Religion, or lack thereof, is a matter for individuals, not States.

    At no time have I ever defended or promoted outlawing religion. I have no idea how you came to the conclusion that I somehow support banning religion. I disagree with and dislike religion but I don’t believe the law should be used to ban it.

    As for your comment about “Christians are always on the lookout for that symbol of super-statism called the Anti-Christ,” this statement only applies to a subset of Christians (Rapture-ready Evangelical types). Again, you’re well within your rights to argue they are the “correct” kind of Christian but yet again you’re treating a subclass as if it were the wider class.

    Additionally, if you really think Evangelical Christianity is somehow a bulwark against expanding governments, how the hell do you explain the George W. Bush Administration? The W. Bush administration was more heavily influenced by Evangelical Christians than any previous administration, and it presided over the largest expansion of government power in the US before Obama (yes, larger than LBJ or any other pre-Obama Prez).

    How do you explain all the Evangelical lobbying for more laws, more censorship, more controls, more empowerment of the Federal Government?

    Can you provide an explanation OTHER than appealling to the No True Scotsman fallacy?

    Maybe if more Christians, indeed more Evangelical Christians, shared your understanding of what Christianity requires, you’d have a legitimate case. However, at present, your argument is both logically invalid and empirically unsound.

  24. I thought the Bush administration was more heavily influenced by 9/11 than any other event, myself. I am not sure what his term of office would have been like without that defining event.
    The unfortunate fact is that if people seek political office, we should all automatically be on guard against such seekers, even if they call themselves Christians, and even if they think they are. human pride and ambition tend to get out of control.

  25. Nuke,

    What I said was that evangelical Christians were more influential during the W. Bush administration than in any previous administration.

    I never said that Evangelicals were either the only or strongest influence. Clearly there were others (Straussian Neoconservatism was another obvious influence).

    However, their influence was consistently in an anti-liberty direction.

    Say they’re Not True Christians as much as you like, but the fact is that “Christianity As Understood By Nuke” is NOT a very common form of Christianity. As such, your initial claim (that the social abandonment of Christian beliefs results in more calls for social engineering) is false, because that initial claim assumes “Christianity As Understood By Nuke” is the default form of Christianity (i.e. the form which society has been abandoning).

    A simple glance at the historical record shows “Christianity As Understood By Nuke” is extremely rare and that most forms of Christianity have been pro-social-engineering and anti-liberty.

    Thus, the social abandonment of Christianity hasn’t been the social abandonment of “Christianity As Understood By Nuke.” Therefore, the social abandonment of Christianity can scarcely be called a cause of increased belief in social engineering.

  26. Andrew,

    By my observation, a lot of people are like nuke. My ingrained “genetic” Catholicism is good for me. It is live and let live. What you’ll find is that people like nuke aren’t loudmouthed demagogues. They just try to do good deeds and get on with their lives. If Catholics for example fall back on the economically illiterate social justice of the church, it reflects their own economic illiteracy, not a confirmation that they toe the line on every issue. Catholics certainly don’t, despite the reputation!

  27. And I reaffirm my initial point, and will expand it- it is ONLY in countries with a strong Christian element that freedom has developed, BECAUSE of the Christian elements, such as an emphasis on individual conscience, and the right to a life apart from the state! It is not an accident that it was in the Christian West that science developed. So long as there is a strong Christian element, without a merger with the state, then that country has more chances to be free than other countries, and more likelihood that it will respect individual rights.

  28. .,

    You are completely correct that the majority of real-world Catholics in the West are Cafeteria Catholics. I do not mean to imply that every individual Catholic is somehow pro-social-engineering and anti-liberty.

    However, the Roman Catholic Church, as an organization (i.e. the Ecclesiarchy) is arguably the WORST form of Christianity in terms of advocating Statism and Social Engineering! And, whether you like it or not, they control the definition of “Roman Catholic” and can excommunicate people that they consider to have rejected the essential points of Roman Catholicism.

    To my knowledge, it is true that specific policy preferences are not expressed in the Catechism. Irrespective of this, the Ecclesiarchy’s members (who are indeed more rigorously trained in Catholic philosophy and theology and the like than the laity) have repeatedly and consistently expressed Statist political preferences. And lets not forget that the Roman Catholic Church has a very long and sordid history of being Statist to its very core.

    None of this reflects on individual Catholics. Many of them are completely sane and reasonable individuals. Additionally, Catholic philosphy hasn’t been all bad; the Scholastics arguably did a lot of the groundwork that permitted the Enlightenment to take place, and I respect Aquinas and Abelard (although Abelard moreso; his epistemology is proto-Objectivist).

    But empirically speaking, it seems that for a Roman Catholic to accept politically libertarian positions, they must dissent from a lot of the Ecclesiarchy (even if this dissent is technically on non-essential matters). Ergo, the less orthodox they are in their Catholicism, the more likely they are to be libertarian.

  29. Nuke,

    A strong Christian element didn’t save Russia… or is the Russian Orthodox Church Not True Christians?

    “An emphasis on individual conscience” and “the right to a life apart from the State” are neither unique to Christianity nor universally embraced by all kinds of Christianity.

    “So long as there is a strong Christian element, without a merger with the state…” only makes your case weaker, since that statement PRESUPPOSES an existent anti-Statist sentiment, and most kinds of Christianity have NOT contained an anti-Statist sentiment.

    “It is not an accident that it was in the Christian West that science developed.” Incorrect. Many civilizations were actually more advanced than Europe during the Dark Ages. Both China and the Arabian civilizations were more advanced at the time, so to say these civilizations didn’t have ‘science’ is completely false.

    Many kinds of organized Christianity have a long history of being anti-science. The Vatican once accused anaesthesia of being sinful on the grounds that God intended man to suffer. Or is Catholicism not truly Christian?

  30. Russia was a combination of Church and State, one of those abominations that I have written against! And the Catholic Church has a long history of trying to be joined to whatever state it is in, as the official religion.
    And I didn’t say that other cultures didn’t have a form of science. I used the word ‘developed’ to mean systematically develop. Other cultures seem to lack a Francis Bacon, or a roger Bacon, both of whom articulated how science should develop.
    Whilst I concede that China first had a decimal system, they also invented the bureaucratic type of government! A home goal there! And the Arabian government simply worked because it was a unified empire which facilitated trade- for a time. Then the four schools of thought codified how to interpret the Koran, and that ended science as we know it. Having advanced technology doesn’t mean you have a systematic scientific establishment- it was lucky break of one century being improved by lucky break in another century, as often as not.

  31. Well yes, I’m not a ‘wider-class Christian’ as I am instead: a Christian.

    People who shout-out ‘Christ’ the loudest tend to crowd a Christian out of the visible sphere. No matter.

    Like William Hazlitt, not Henry, I define liberty as ” the of love others and power as the love of self “…this doesn’t really matter. Only that it matters to me.

    Sure, I feel tempted to make the world in my image, as many Christians face, but the trick(faith?) is to silently reject.And then go about helping the blind, sick and injured.

    I can’t speak for Christian leaders, they seem to manage well enough without me, but there are many, as you say ‘self-righteous’ pietist folk around. Perhaps simply because talk is cheap and fear-mongering has no barriers to entry.

    My ‘version’ of Christianity has been Quaker. However even they are moving away from their Christian Anarchist roots toward left-wing political liberalism, as I understand it. As you say, they keep saying “there outta be a law!”.

    Thanks for the response.

  32. Yes, Thomas Paine was a great hero of liberty and Atheism.

    Also, I agree that Christianity is in no way shape or form politically liberal. It is economically liberal however and that’s all that matters to an Individualist like me.

    Christianity hates the State. Christians however, like everybody, hate and love everything as it suits: that’s the burden we all bare.

    As you go on to say in your comment to Nuke below…

    The seperation of Church and State is vital to allow neither the supremacy over the other.


    You must join us in stopping the supremacy of the Church after we kill the State, alright?

    For what it’s worth I can see Atheists living very happy lives, just as I did.

    …You are welcome to my ‘Christian Theocratic Kingdom’ to freely trade, talk and travel. Just don’t phyically abuse my own faith, flag and family in my home, manners they call them.

  33. As a Christian, I am for anti-state liberty.
    And for pro-church liberty. And for pro-atheist liberty, since no individual can freely give themselves or not to Jesus Christ if the State stands in the way.

  34. ” Ergo, the less orthodox they are in their Catholicism, the more likely they are to be libertarian ”

    … except the School of Salamanca, Lord Acton, G.K. Chesterton, Lew Rockwell, Leo Tolstoy, Dorothy Day,Ivan Illich, Ammon Hennacy, Nikolai Berdyaev, Carlists and others…liberal Catholicism isn’t widely known for an anti-state position, arguably they are doing the State’s
    dirty work from the inside.

  35. John George Archer,

    Let me go through your points here…

    First, you are a member of the Society of Friends as you said above. Many Christians would claim that Quakers such as yourself are not Christian. I neither agree nor disagree with that proposition, given I am not in a position to give a reasonable definition of “Christian.” But Quaker theology is IIRC somewhat heterodox (I believe it removes a lot of the theological elements that I object to in mainstream Christianity). That said, I don’t regard Quakerism as particulary dangerous. Its one of the safer Christian denominations by my standards.

    You also say that Christianity is not politically liberal, but it is economically liberal and that’s all that matters to an individualist like yourself.

    Ummm, are you using “liberal” in the US sense of the term? Because if by “liberal” you mean “classically liberal” or “libertarian” then you cannot be economically liberal without being politically liberal.

    And yes, I am more than happy to prevent the supremacy of the church, trust me on that.

    As for my statement on “more likely to be libertarian when they are less orthodox in their catholicism,” the first error you make is in using the Scholastics as examples. You drop historical context; what was orthodox for catholicism back them is different from what it is now. Second, it was a generalization and a statement about probability. Naturally there are contrary instances. Although as for Lew Rockwell, he and some other Mises Institute personnel seem to have a socially-authoritarian streak (Hans-Herman Hoppe is a big example here). This isn’t true for all affiliates of the LvMI though.

    And IIRC, wasn’t Tolstoy a socialist?

    Again, whilst I concede there are quite a few libertarian Christians, the overall impact of Christian beliefs and principles has been anti-liberty and plenty of Christians are anti-liberty and most kinds of Christianity are anti-liberty. Pro-liberty Christianity has been rare. Thus, the idea that classical liberalism is founded upon Christianity and if Christianity dies then so does classical liberalism strikes me as very false.

  36. Nuke,

    The point I am making is that pro-liberty Christianity is historically very rare, so the idea that classical liberalism is based on Christian principles is fallacious. I know you accept separation of church and state.

    You are true that the West was the first to fully formalize the scientific method as we know it, but I still doubt that Christianity per se can be credited for that. Christianity-as-understood-by-Nuke is clearly compatible with it, but Christianity-as-understood-by-Nuke isn’t exactly a common school of thought.

    You may also be conflating correlation with causality; “Europe was a generally Christian continent, Europe developed the scientific method, therefore European civilization’s scientific method was due to Christianity” (the after-this-therefore-because-of-this fallacy).

    There’s also an important point about historical development; knowledge accumulates over time with new knowledge building atop old knowledge. As stated before, and conceded by you, several non-Christian civilizations developed precursors to the Western scientific method. In short they made several steps that probably helped the West on its way (lets also look at Aristotle’s formulation of the laws of logic. Aristotle wasn’t Christian).

    In short, the Scientific Method wasn’t ENTIRELY developed in the Christian West. Several precursors and prerequisites were developed outside of it.

    This doesn’t diminish the achievement of the Scientific Method but it does show that there were plenty of non-Christian sources that were relevant to its formalization.

  37. George John,

    I used to find the social justice rammed down my throat highly unappealing, even as a lad when I was a centre left Paul Keating fanboi.

    Something twigged. I would gladly give money to the poor or for Caritas. But the Church wasn’t trying to replace Government wrt care for the indigent, it was imposing. It didn’t feel right.

    Of course the institution of the church is Statist. It was the dominant power in Europe for over 1000 years. More powerful than any national or imperial Government until the reformation.

  38. Nuke,

    The Stuarts are the prime example of why not to combine Church with State.

    Charles I could have had an alliance of the Scots Kirk & Catholics, Irish Confederates and English Royalists if he proposed an alliance to defeat Parliament were he to become a constitutional Monarch guaranteeing the rights of all religions in his three Kingdoms. Instead he lost his head and the minority unpopular puritans ruled.

    The Irish and British didn’t get something like this in toto until 1832.

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