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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/2486/democratic-despotism/

Democratic Despotism

September 16, 2004 by

The road to serfdom—-in both Norway and America—-is no coincidental detour, writes Ilana Mercer, but rather a well-charted destiny. As Hans-Hermann Hoppe has observed, the failure of democracy is rooted in its very nature. Coercive majoritarianism, nominal ownership of property, a highly centralized and authoritarian state with ever-expanding distributive and other powers, over whose decisions “The People” exert little control-—these have inevitable consequences. Full article


Dennis Sperduto September 16, 2004 at 8:54 am

Egalitarianism, as Rothbard so accurately observed, is a revolt against nature. As such, it is irrational and as this article notes, achieving egalitarianism or some diluted version of it requires government orchestrated compulsion. Amazingly, the large majority of individuals either don’t understand or understand but don’t care that in almost all cases in which they advocate government action, they are stating that society should be organized by violence, as opposed to voluntary cooperation. Oppression is oppression, and it makes no fundamental difference whether it is imposed by a monarch, dictator, or democratic majority.

Peter Taylor September 16, 2004 at 11:33 am

I agree that democracy is insufficient to prevent the oppression of minorities, or even the majority (when elected representatives forget their mandates). In a mature liberal democracy, the majority will not try to impose their will on others. Everyone will be allowed freedom to do anything which does not infringe the freedom of others. With the qualification that minority rights must be upheld, I cannot think of a better system of government than majority rule. I am fed up of reading the Mises’ Institute’s attacks on democracy, because they are so negative. If you do not like democracy, please suggest a better system. In practice most other systems of government have been tried, and all are far worse than democracy. Are you anarchists at heart?

And on Ilana Mercer’s particular point that “Norwegian sovereignty is constrained by the EU and its burgeoning jurisdiction, and by international covenants and bodies such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights …… (and that) …..under the crag of global government, however, lies a perfectly constitutional transfer of powers. Article 93 of Norway’s (democratic) Constitution allows the Norwegian government to place Norwegians under the control of the EU and its democratically deficient European Commission, the latter not subjected to limits imposed by the Storting (the Norwegian parliament) or the courts”, this is rubbish, since Norway is not a member of the EU. I quote Article 93 below in full. It does not mention the EU.

“Article 93 [Transfer of Sovereignty Rights to International Organizations]

(1) In order to safeguard international peace and security or to promote the international rule of law and cooperation between nations, the Parliament [Storting] may, by a three-fourths majority, consent that an international organization to which Norway adheres or will adhere shall have the right, within objectively defined fields, to exercise powers which in accordance with this Constitution are normally vested in the Norwegian authorities, although not the power to alter this Constitution. For the Parliament [Storting] to grant such consent, at least two thirds of the Members of the Parliament [Storting] shall be present, as required for proceedings for amending the Constitution.
(2) The provisions of this Article do not apply in cases of membership in an international organization, whose decisions only have application for Norway purely under international law.”

Dennis Sperduto September 16, 2004 at 12:25 pm

I myself am not an anarchist. The point I was trying to convey, is that when majoritarian democracy violates the economic and civil liberties of minorities, oppression, tyranny result. The innate and inalienable economic and civil liberties of all are possibly best protected when they are first recognized to exist, and then when government’s sphere of action is extremely limited. This natural rights argument ultimately rests on each person being the sole owner of his or her own person.

Harry Valentine September 16, 2004 at 1:13 pm

The state-run public school systems in both Norway and in America have succeeded and overwhelmingly so . . . to brainwash most of the population into believing in the alleged benefits of democracy. Only a very tiny percentage of the population may even suspect that democracy has degenerated into a political charade, one that will ultimately lead to totalitarian government. Citizens rights are freedoms will gradually, almost imperceptably be eroded and curtailed in the name of national security, and to a point where the right to freedom of speech may become a meaningless concept.

Can America’s degeneration into evolving into a totalitarian state, be reversed?

Harry Valentine

NamedForRep.Ron September 16, 2004 at 2:53 pm

“If you do not like democracy, please suggest a better system.”

A better system…of what? This is somewhat like constantly changing channels when there is nothing good on. It’s all the same old crap…you keep channel-surfing…getting nowhere…while the answer is obvious: turn off the television and live your own life, instead of trying to figure out a better “system” of who shall control whom.

Paul D September 16, 2004 at 3:01 pm

“I cannot think of a better system of government than majority rule. … Are you anarchists at heart?”

In the sense that “anarchy” means “no ruler”, I personally think it’s a lot better than mob-rule. I believe strongly in laws that protect all the rights of the only minority that matters: the individual. Moreover, I think that with a good set of laws, no legislature is needed, nor is an executive ruler needed to hand down edicts and enforce his whims on the populace.

Laws should be enforced at the local level, so that participation is voluntary (you can always leave), and if the laws are just and applied fairly, it doesn’t really matter if the people enforcing the laws are elected, apointed, or chosen by geneology. A “democratic” leader given unjust laws to enforce and the ability to pass more is just another kind of tyrant.

Just my opinion as a libertarian. If you wanted to know what people here think is the ideal government, that’s my idea.

Daniel Coleman September 16, 2004 at 3:03 pm


Not enough people in the United States show appreciation for the fact that our country was established as a Republic, not a Democracy. Plato’s original criticism of Democracy (in his Republic) holds true to this day: it breeds a loathing among its members for one another, and turns into the oppression of the minority by the majority.

The principle behind our Republic was to protect basic and fundamental rights from a tyranny of either a monarch or the majority. By articulating precise boundaries of power, and by specifically stating that the Federal government could do no more than these, the founding fathers hoped to ensure that a majority of citizens could never rise above basic principled rights. Once a country calls itself a “democracy”–and means it–there is nothing to stop them from taking away rights from individuals that would otherwise be protected with a more limited form of government.

Don’t believe me? Income tax, mandated affirmative action policies & quotas in non-government institutions, welfare, social security (“security”), the Patriot Act, extensive gun control laws. All of these are flagrant violations of our basic human rights: to do as we please, as long as we aren’t violating the rights of others.

Years ago our rights to property, liberty, free speech, and to bear arms would have seemed secure from such infringements–especially from the Federal Government, which of course has no constitutional basis for disturbing us. Yet this is Democracy at its finest: ignoring the pleas of the few for the “good” of the many.

Curt Howland September 16, 2004 at 3:33 pm


I can suggest a better system: Unanimity.

It’s a simple concept. Every day, I associate with only the people I wish to associate with, do business where I wish to, fund projects or withhold funds as I agree or disagree with them.

You do it to, every day.

The “free” market works in Unanimity on a continuous basis very successfully. The writers on Mises, which you chose to read without compulsion, point out how voluntary interaction produces better results consistently over coerced interaction.

Democracy sucks just like every other form of government because my saying “no” has no effect. I cannot withdraw my consent because my involvement is forced. That democracy cloaks this force in the lie of “consent by voting” merely makes democracy more fraudulent than other forms of government which are more honest about their usurpation of authority.

I prefer an honest tyrant. Him I can shoot.

Chad Bull September 16, 2004 at 5:34 pm


A constitutional republic, such as the US’s, is much better than a democracy. However, it is only as good as its writers. The US’s is as good as it gets thus far. Unfortunately, it is as vulnerable to man’s fallen nature as anything else. Our founders attempted to restrict the ability of men to abuse the power of the government and they did an admirable job.

However, as we as a nation have become more ignorant of what is going on around us and less responsible, power hungry men have been able to take advantage and are slowly destroying the once fine system in order to centralize authority. They pay no heed to the law as written and, except for a few organizations, we do nothing about it, because we are ignorant of the law and irresponsible.

Our prosperity and technology as compared to the rest of the world is a testament to the system that was given to us. Our apparent demise is a testament to our own ignorance and lack of responsibilty. It’s not too late, however, the system is still in place and we can force the buggers out, but only if we educate ourselves and others and then act accordingly.

Fallen man needs government to protect himself, his family and his property from other men. No matter what that government is, whether it is at the end of the barrel of a gun or it is an organized system as derived by men of character and responsibilty, we need government. A world without government is a myth. Just as is the notion that man is basically good. Look around the world. Even the most cursory inspection will prove this a figment of the imagination.

Unredeemed men will always attempt to take from others. A gun is a good start at protecting oneself(government), but if the mob wants your “stuff”(democracy) you won’t have enough bullets to stop them. We need government, but only one like the one we were given here in the U.S.. While it is not perfect, it’s been the best in history. We have failed it, it has not failed us.

An excellent explanation of the differences between republics and democracies is at the link below.

Republics and Democracies
by Robert Welch(Link)

Steven Kaen September 17, 2004 at 12:39 am

“A world without government is a myth. Just as is the notion that man is basically good.”

Chad, let me get this straight. You want a morally bankrupt entity to be the enforcer of morals? I find that to be rather illogical.

acudoc September 17, 2004 at 1:33 am

Paul D., you and Frederic Bastiat are talking my kind of government. He came to the conclusion 156 years ago that law should have as its sole purpose the protection of individuals from physical attack, theft and damage to property, and breach of contract.

Basically then, there would only be three laws.
A Bastiat constitution would enter the Guinness Book of World Records as an example of a founding document having the fewest number of words.

A well-known Scottish philosopher (whose name escapes me) noted a couple of hundred years ago that democracy could only work until the populace realized they could vote themselves all the benefits they desired out of the public coffers. I think it is safe to say we’ve reached that point…

Duodecimal September 17, 2004 at 7:43 am

There’s actually debate on the origin of that quote. The Scott it’s normally attributed to is Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee. However, primary source attribution is lacking.

Chad Bull September 17, 2004 at 8:19 am


You have a valid perception. However, you may have misunderstood the meaning behind my statement.

“A world without government is a myth” means that no matter what label you give it, anarchy, democracy, self rule, autonomy, republic, there is some sort of government in place.

Someone in your house sets the rules for everyone to abide by. Even though you probably have not given this a label, there is a government in place. Somebody has the monopoly of force in your household. Somebody enforces the rules that everyone in your house lives by.

There are many microcosms of anarchy in this world. The “lawless” streets or ghettos are an example of this. “Lawless”, however is a misnomer. “Bubba” or someone else is setting the rules. He is ruling through intimidation and brute force. He is able to take property at will. He has the monopoly of force. You may be able to stop “Bubba” by yourself, but what if he enlists the help of his buddies? You will be forced to get your friends and overpower “Bubba”. You now have the monopoly of force and have formed a type of government.

Whether you want to admit it or not, I’m sure that you are happy that a local police department exists to assist you in protecting your family from “Bubba”. You are primary, they should be secondary.

Because man’s nature is corrupt and he has the tendency to hurt others and take their property, he needs rules to follow and someone and something to enforce those rules. Self is primary, but when interacting with others there has to be a mutually accepted form of government to restrict someone else’s ability to hurt you or your property.

As you correctly pointed out, government is made of men and it too will take on their character. That’s why government also has to be given rules rules(Constitution) to abide by and someone(educated responsible citizens) or something to enforce those rules.

As long as fallen man is making these systems, they won’t be perfect, and subject to failure and abuse, but we have no alternative. We have to make them work.

Our Founders gave us a good start, but as a whole, we have not put in the effort to make it work. We have been lazy, arrogant and uneducated and have allowed a few “Bubbas” to abuse the system.

Curt Howland September 17, 2004 at 9:10 am


I think you’re mistaking “government” with “governance”. Every interaction is “governed” by the rules under which the interaction takes place. There is always “governance”.

“GovernMENT” is an autonomous entity which wields the monopoly on the initiation of force. As has been proven over time, that entity abides no rules on its actions and will subvert any rules to serve its own ends.

Only a “government” can therefore create chaos (often misnamed anarchy) by arbitrarily changing the rules which govern other peoples interactions. No other entity can unilaterally change the rules without negative repercussions to its own interactions because no other entity can initiate force with impunity.

Anarchy is merely “without a ruler”, not “without rules”.

Francisco Torres September 17, 2004 at 10:53 am

From Paul Taylor’s posting:

“In order to safeguard international peace and security or to promote the international rule of law and cooperation between nations, the Parliament [Storting] may, by a three-fourths majority, consent that an international organization to which Norway adheres or will adhere shall have the right, within objectively defined fields, to exercise powers which in accordance with this Constitution are normally vested in the Norwegian authorities, although not the power to alter this Constitution. For the Parliament [Storting] to grant such consent, at least two thirds of the Members of the Parliament [Storting] shall be present, as required for proceedings for amending the Constitution.”

Basically what it says here is that the Norwegian goverment, through Parliament action, can give permission to an alien bureaucratic institution to act as it pleases within the boundary of the Norwegian Constitution… You know what this will lead to, to wit: that Norwegian individuals will be subject to a whole body of new laws and restrictions imposed by a totally foreign political entity, just so “international peace” is kept.

Now, let us say that some international political body to which Norway is adhered decides to impose a ban on bicycles, all in the name of international peace… And the Norwegian Parliament decides in a 3/4 total vote to accept such restriction. What would the Norwegians think about such an imposition, that their Parliament has gone mad? That such imposition is akin to tyranny? You bet. Absurd? “Can’t happen here”?

Why could not happen? Let us say that instead of bicycles, they lobby for a sales tax on gasoline so as to make people lower their CO2 emmisions. This in order to benefit the breathable air in Europe, try to lower the effect of global warming and what have you. In short, keep the international peace. Is that easier to stomach? Would such an imposition be more reasonable thn a ban on bicycles as per my example above?

But what would the difference be, Paul? ANY decision, any policy, any new law or restriction imposed from the outside would be a reduction in the freedoms that people enjoy, no matter the intentions behind it. And to think that the Norwegians OWN goverment could (an can) BOW to such impositions by way of a 3/4 Parliament vote is enough to make a thinking person cringe in horror. Who the hell ARE THEY to allow this? How DARE they even THINK of having the power to do this? After all, someone voted for that particular law.

In my opinion, this is no different in escence to USA’s Patriot Act: a potential restriction of individual’s basic rights, created by people of questionable ethical standing.

Best regards to all,
Francisco Torres

Francisco Torres September 17, 2004 at 10:55 am

(From my posting above)

Sorry, meant to say PETER Taylor, not Paul. My mistake.


Chad Bull September 17, 2004 at 12:03 pm


I have to respectfully disagree with your definition of “anarchy”. You are mistaken about;
Anarchy is merely “without a ruler”, not “without rules“, and chaos (often misnamed anarchy).

Here is the definition from Webster’s Dictionary, Second Edition, 1996:

anarchy, n. 1. a state of society without government or law. 2. confusion; disorder

Government can be either the law(autonomous) or of the law(created and restricted by the law) as is ours.

Our government is becoming autonomous as it often no longer follows the law. We are allowing this to happen, because we are failing to hold our representatives to the law.

Dennis Sperduto September 17, 2004 at 12:42 pm

A distinction should be made between laws that are created and imposed by humans, and those that, at least as the followers of natural law believe, are based on each person’s status as a human being. I believe that Jefferson, in his brief summary of natural law contained in the Declaration of Independence, referred to this second type of law as those of “Nature and Nature’s God”. These laws are antecedent to, and do not depend on government for their existence or validity.

Steven Kane September 17, 2004 at 1:38 pm


I believe you have fallen prey to the myth that the government is the only entity keeping society from chaos, disorder and destruction. If society really tended towards this the government would not be able to stop it anyways. There would not be enough police officers, national guard or even military to go around. Just look at how long it took the inept state to stop the L.A. riots of ’92, let alone riots all across the nation.

I am not saying that there is no society that tends towards chaos and destruction, theoretically we could devise such a society. But in any of these societies you will not witness an altruistic government swooping in and saving society from all the looting and pillaging. Why? Because first of all it cannot. In order for the government to do so it would have to build a force large enough to outnumber the looters and pillagers. But if the non-looters and non-pillagers outnumbered the looters and pillagers, the society would not tend towards chaos in the first place. In other words, a government that is able to enforce order cannot be born from a society that tends towards chaos to begin with. This is simply a false start.

What natural order promises is to end the pillaging and looting of the state, allowing a society to achieve whatever ends its individuals value most, no more and no less. Hence, the claim that those who believe in natural order believe that it will bring utopia is a straw man. Natural order would not bring chaos, nor would it bring utopia, but in any case it would bring greater prosperity and a much more peaceful society. This is simply due to the fact that the burden of the state would be lifted from it, and the greatest medium of exploitation in history would end.

Chad Bull September 17, 2004 at 4:12 pm

Where is this natural law and how do I identify it? Is there a book I can read? Why won’t anybody follow it? Where can I read about these promises. Sounds a lot like a religion of faith to me. Is there any proof that natural law exists. How can we organize so that everyone can figure it out at the same time, and then live in peace and happiness forever, and ever. Amen.

I have not fallen prey to any myth about government. You are right Dennis, Government is not our saviour. God is the only thing that keeps us from living in total chaos. He is the Saviour. Government is simply one of His tools, and like I said before, it is representative of the people who form it. We consistently screw it up, because of our fallen nature.

Curt Howland September 17, 2004 at 4:15 pm

Chad, As nice as that dictionary might be, “an-” is “without”, “archy” as used as a sub part means “rule by…”. Oligarchy, rule by elite, for example.

So anarchy is “not-ruled”.

If you have a better word for it, I’d love to hear it.

Since chaos fits the description bill for “disorder and destruction”, I will continue to use it that way.

Lastly, by your definition, “without rule of law”, anarchy is what we have right now since the laws are changed continually by our overlords. I cannot know what the income tax laws are going to be next year, nor what kind of firearms might be illegal, because (in the US) we live in a world where the governments word is law and they live by no law at all.

Only a government can create “lawlessness” since it is the only entity that can unilaterally change the rules on a whim.

Yes indeed, “we” are failing to hold our overlords accountable for breaking the rules. It will only get worse, because judges know what side of the butter their bread is on.

Chad Bull September 17, 2004 at 8:05 pm

Let me understand this Curt. You won’t accept the dictionary definition and universally accepted meaning of a word. How can someone have a reasonable discussion with terms like these. If the definition of a word, or its universally understood meaning doesn’t fit your argument then you feel it is ok to omit the parts that you don’t like? You make the definition fit your argument. This is exactly the thing that you don’t like about government. It is rationalism and relativism at its ugliest.

Also, saying that government can create chaos, is like saying a hammer can build a house. They are both tools incapable of doing anything without human manipulation.

plowman September 17, 2004 at 9:11 pm


I like your critique of Curt’s comment, since there is obviously a generally accepted connection between the words “anarchy” and “chaos.” However, I do think in a strict sense, Curt has accurately defined the word. The distortion of words is an illness of society, and unfortunately the true meaning of the word “anarchy” has been obfuscated by millenia of statism. But you are right that in the common understanding of the word, it is inseperable from the notion of chaos. This is unfortunate, but easily explained. The very notion of a society existing without “The State” is the single most dangerous thought an individual can think (i.e., dangerous to the statist order).

However, there is tremendous value in a least postulating the existence of a society in the absence of the state, and whether that is called anarchy or anything else, it is a necessary concept in political philosophy.

I do not think your analogy above is correct. You are right in saying that a hammer cannot build a house, but it is true that government can create chaos. You assume that the government is an inanimate object (“The State”) which is somehow separate from human action, but it is not. Government is human action, and consists only in the actions and interactions of human beings. Government is more like building (the verb) than it is like the hammer. You are assuming a static notion of government – that it is something real that exists outside of human action, but this is false. In fact, this is the very error that gives plausibility to the moral legitamacy of the State – that it is somehow above or outside of human action. But government is in reality no more than the actions of individual governors and the acceptance of their actions by the governed. It is never simply a tool that escapes the realm of man.

Once it is understood that the State is not some mere apparatus of man, but rather consists in man and his actions, the very notion of statehood begins to crumble. Human action and human existance are not static things, but rather are things that happen in space and time. I think human beings long for stasis, since the trials of existence prove insurmountable on every front. But do not dispair and give into false notions on account of fear!

The notion of “The State” is inconsistent with logical, moral, and economic considerations, whereas its absence is not. Whether the absence of the state is anarchy, anarcho-capitalism, private property society, private law society, economic democracy (a new term I’ve been playing with) or anything else, it should at least be considered.

V Harris September 17, 2004 at 10:34 pm

Ilana Mercer quotes from Randy Barnett’s masterful book “Restoring the Lost Constitution,” but fails to mention the single most important element of Barnett’s work: “The Presumption of Liberty.”

The Supreme Court has long held a theory of “the presumption of Constitutionality” in which acts of government are presumed Constitutional, thus relieving government of a burden of proof when creating law.

In what may be the most elegant solution yet proffered to our predicament of governmental abridgment of rights, Barnett proposes that the Court rebuke the ‘constructed’ principle of the presumption of constitutionality and adopt in its place the presumption of liberty.

Barnett writes in his book, “As a practical matter, we must choose between two fundamentally different constructions of the Constitution, each resting on a different presumption. We either accept the presumption that in pursuing happiness persons may do whatever is not justly prohibited or we are left with a presumption that the government may do whatever is not expressly prohibited. The presence of the Ninth Amendment in the Constitution strongly supports the first of these two presumptions. The Constitution established what Steven Macedo has called islands of governmental powers ‘surrounded by a sea of individual rights.’ It did not establish ‘islands [of rights] surrounded by a sea of governmental powers.’ The Ninth Amendment is sometimes dismissed as a mere ‘rule of construction,’ but this in no way undermines its supreme importance. For it directly refutes the second of these presumptions and affirms the first: the Presumption of Liberty.”

Barnett has given us a clear road map by which to return to a state of individual liberty protected by a ‘limited-powers’ republic — insist that the Supreme Court presume we have *all* natural rights, and so compel government to prove that it is both ‘necessary and proper’ whenever it seeks to restrict those rights (i.e., prove constitutionality).

Whenever we bemoan the loss of individual liberty to the state, we should also strive to describe the process of wresting them back. Barnett has provided us with a brilliantly simple — yet monumentally important — step toward regaining our liberty: insist the Court abrogate the presumption of constitutionality and embrace the presumption of liberty.

V Harris

Chad Bull September 17, 2004 at 10:55 pm


You said,

“Government is human action, and consists only in the actions and interactions of human beings.”

I disagree.

Governing is a human action, not government.

Government is the phyical manifestation of man’s attempt to govern. It is the tool that he uses to govern. Government is a combination of papers containing written laws, clubs and guns to enforce those laws if necessary, vehicles, etc and most importantly people.

While you can’t hold government in your hand, it most certainly is physical.

Governing is indeed an inherent part of man’s nature. It is a key element in dominion. Fallen man has it in his nature to dominionize the earth to his standards. Redeemed man desires to dominionize the earth to Christ’s.

V Harris September 17, 2004 at 11:09 pm

My post sounds somewhat negative about Mercer’s article — which I did not intend. The article is excellent, and I only wanted to add the above comments about Barnett’s book as one proposed solution in the US to the “Democratic Despotism” Mercer describes.

V Harris

Anonymous Coward September 17, 2004 at 11:48 pm

Chad: there’s often a difference between the common meaning of words and the technical meaning. Your dictionary gives the common meaning. The technical political meaning of “anarchy” is precisely “without a chief”, regardless of the common use meaning of “chaotic” (in its common meaning, which also differs from the technical meaning!)

Steven Kane September 18, 2004 at 2:03 am

Chad: I suggest you read Hoppe’s: “Democracy: the god that failed,” here

Also get “In Defense of Anarchism”


“In Defense of Anarchism” was written by Robert Wolff, a philosophy professor at Columbia University. He promised his class that by the end of the semester he would prove that democracy is the only morally justifiable political system. He failed in doing so, and discovered instead that only anarchy could be morally justified. Wolff uses philosophical principles pioneered by Kant.

Chad Bull September 18, 2004 at 9:39 am


I think democracy is terrible as did our founders. That is why these mostly Christian men gave us a constitutional republic. They understood man’s fallen nature and his desire to despotically govern others.

What is this system of morality that you refer to. Can I get a copy?

May I suggest that you read the King James version of the Holy Bible. It has the blue print for economics, law and government. It spells out morallity rather than allowing “rational” man to endlessly flail hither and thither looking for answers in himself, changing meaning whenver he figures out that his last system did not quite work out to his reason or expectations.

May I also suggest that you read Gary North’s chapter on Economics in “Foundations of Christian Scholarship”(Link). It respecfully challenges and successfully dismisses human reason and experience as the sole basis for all arguments in post-Kantian scholarship. It is a concise, but thourough argument. I mention this because I think that is what we continue to come back to here, man’s autonomy.

Steven Kane September 18, 2004 at 11:22 am


A republic would fail as well. Economist James Buchanan showed in his groundbreaking work on public choice theory that the government will never cease stepping out of bounds unless there are strict limitations imposed upon it. The Constitution was one such attempt to impose those limitations. Well what happened? It was essentially nullified. The Constitution says no direct taxes shall be levied, yet we have an income tax and payroll taxes. The Constitution explicitly says that the currency of the United States government shall be gold and silver coin, yet we now have nothing but paper.

In Democracy: TGTF Hoppe talks about this as well. He explains why we will never achieve minarchy.

The system of morality I refer to is Kant’s. One of the main concepts when it comes to Kant is his “categorical imperative.” This is where Kant formalized the Golden Rule, and showed that you cannot arbitrarily assign different moral codes to different groups of people. In other words in order for a principle in society to moral it must be applicable to everyone. Hoppe uses Kant’s categorical imperative in his book “A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism,” http://mises.org/etexts/Soc&Cap.pdf.

I do not think that theological morality is a good foundation for government. The problem with theological morality is that it is great for people who believe in a particular religion, but not so great for those who do not.

If North rejects reason, I’m afraid I have to reject his arguments, for if he rejects reason then he must reject his own argument (assuming he used some kind of reasoning to arrive at his conclusion). Of course, there are critics of Kant, but to me and many others his philosophy makes sense.

V Harris September 18, 2004 at 11:54 am

Chad Bull wrote: “May I suggest that you read the King James version of the Holy Bible. It has the blue print for economics, law and government.”

What does it say about natural rights such as private property (including self-ownership and self-determination), right of contract, voluntary transactions, self defense, etc?

Chad Bull wrote: “It spells out morallity rather than allowing “rational” man to endlessly flail hither and thither looking for answers in himself, changing meaning whenver he figures out that his last system did not quite work out to his reason or expectations.”

What does it say about the human rights of, say, the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites or Jebusites? Has this ‘moral’ position remained to today?

V Harris

Chad Bull September 18, 2004 at 12:44 pm


North does not reject reason, just the source.

There is no reason outside of God. Man’s reason is ever changing and relative. It is without order.

Respectfully, if you think what you are preaching is not a religion, then you are mistaken. Humanism is a religion,where man is his own god. It takes immeasurable faith to believe and be a follower of this religion. There’s no proof other than experience and that is different for each individual, so in reality there is no truth or order other than what each individual says it is. This is chaotic. Even so, I then have to accept these multitudes of truths as THE truth inorder to believe that this religion is valid. This takes blind faith. I’m even confusing myself desrcibing it.

You might enjoy reading North as he takes to task the very men that you mentioned, but he does not discount them. He is respectful and is in agreement with much that is represented. He simply takes issues with the source of man’s knowledge and how that issue alone puts holes in some theories and leaves them with the only defense: “that’s just the way it is”(my words).

I can’t begin to do North justice, or come close to making his arguments, its a bit above me, so please don’t hold him to my defenses.


God’s law is applicaple to everyone, whether we like it or not. Admittedly, we may not understand it fully, as we are incapable to fully understand God, but it is still applicable to all and we are responsible to it.

His is a world of order, our’s is one of chaos. We continually rebel against God and live in our world, by our rules rather than His. This is the fallen nature of man. This is why we can’t get along. This is why men abuse government. Each man has his own “reason” for his actions and he can rationalize them through himself and his experience.

Until men are completely sanctified, when Christ returns, we will always have this struggle. Governments will always fail in various degress and man will abuse other men. However, we still have to make the best of it and follow God’s order to the best of our ability.

He’s given us His Word, we just need to study it and try to understand it. Will we get it right? No, but if followed as nearly as possible it will make life easier and men will be able, at times, to live together without total chaos until it is time to rebuild that which is ruined again by man. Slowly, though, it will get better.

Don’t despair about my mentioning of Christ’s return. His is not a message of wordly defeat as the dispensational, premillennialist Christians of today would have us believe. The world is not going to be destroyed when Christ returns. This world, although it may not seem as such, is getting better as more men are becoming redeemed, justified and sanctified and taking dominion of the earth as Christ commanded. He will eventually return to take His place physically as King. When this happens man will have the knowledge and wisdom he has always desired. His body and mind will be perfect, but will not be outside of God and certainly not equal.

Thus ends the sermon for now. Amen ;)

I think this eventual perfection in mind and consequently “life” is what Kantian type philosophy suggests. This might be a bit of a sophomoric description, but it is basically how I understand it.

plowman September 18, 2004 at 1:07 pm


I don’t think a club, gun, or piece of paper covered with ink are manifestation of government. Without a human hand, the club and gun lay dormant just as does the hammer that does not build the house. As for laws, only through human action can they be followed, broken, or enforced.

I am interested in your last comment, “Fallen man has it in his nature to dominionize the earth to his standards. Redeemed man desires to dominionize the earth to Christ’s.”

Can you explain more?

I recall from Genesis man being given dominion over the land and animals of the earth, but I am not well versed enough to evaluate this comment. It doesn’t seem obvious to me that implementing a system of violence and coersion (aka, the State) even towards the lofty goal “dominionizing the earth to Christ’s” would stand up to moral considerations (particularly not Christian ones).

So what are you suggesting? Also, does having something in one’s nature provide grounds for acting on those inclinations?

plowman September 18, 2004 at 1:30 pm


I think you might enjoy reading some Kant, and you might find that his arguments are more agreeable than you might think. His primary work, “The Critique of Pure Reason,” stresses that there are limitations to human reason, and that it cannot be used outside of the realm of experience. This doesn’t make it useless, but rather from it spring the grounds for faith and morality.

You say that man’s reason is relative and without order. In fact, reason IS ordering and relating one concept to another by way of inference. There would be no order whatsoever to the mind without reason, and its use is as natural as it is inescapable. Again, what Kant argues is that we should not fall victim to the temptation to utilize this faculty beyond the realm of experience. We can not cognize God, the Soul, or the Universe, but rather these things are properly objects of faith.

Also, to steer things back to the thread of the discussion; can you imagine a human society without coercive goverment? I do not think political philosophy should begin with the assumption that there must be a “State,” since it is clearly an evil (though possibly a necessary one). I think if we follow through with economic thinking, it is possible that all of the functions of law and order can be provided by the free market.

Chad Bull September 18, 2004 at 3:40 pm


There is a lot to cover here.

Thank you for your civil appraoch. These discussions can become quite “lively”. Fortunately, I have not started drinking, that’s when things usually get bad. Maybe I’ll have a beer or two later though.

I think there is a bit of a disconnect on some points, but we are actually not that far apart. The source of all knowledge, morality, and in fact all things, is the big issue. This is no small difference mind you.

Let me try the line by line approach on a few of your questions.

Without a human hand, the club and gun lay dormant just as does the hammer that does not build the house. As for laws, only through human action can they be followed, broken, or enforced.

I agree.

I am interested in your last comment, “Fallen man has it in his nature to dominionize the earth to his standards. Redeemed man desires to dominionize the earth to Christ’s.”

Here goes the layman’s Reader’s Digest version.

All men have the desire to dominionize. It is part of our nature. The difference is, who’s standard(law) will be used. Unredeemed man will use his own reason and desires as a standard. He does not have the desire or the ability to undertake it in any other fashion. Redeemed man(saved), on the other hand, has been given the desire, by God, through grace(gift of Christ), to take dominion by God’s standard. Although a man may be redeemed, he is still incapable of adhering to God’s standard totally, because of his nature. Dominionization is an on going process. As the process of sanctification(purification) continues in each redeemed man and in all saved men throughout time and history, dominionization by God’s standard grows closer to perfection until finally all of Christ’s enemies are defeated and He returns. How long will this take? I don’t know.

It doesn’t seem obvious to me that implementing a system of violence and coersion (aka, the State) even towards the lofty goal “dominionizing the earth to Christ’s” would stand up to moral considerations (particularly not Christian ones).

There are many standards of morality. God’s is the only unchanging and true one, however. Do Christians, like every other man, screw it up and misunderstand it? Of course, we have already discussed the fallen, imperfect nature of man. None the less, the standard(law) is there. It is perfect and constant.

Violence is not the prefered method of doing anything, but when necessary it must be used. If someone comes to rape your wife and kids, I certainly hope you are willing to give the rapist the business end of a shotgun to save your loved ones.

This protection of your family is the base level of government. Your family is the base level of dominionization. Mulitply these in and to society, then you will see the need for civil government. It is one part of dominionization. Is it misused? Absolutley. Is it misunderstood? Absolutely. This doesn’t negate its necessity, it just means it is as imperfect as man.

In regards to your next thread, I believe the majority of your argument is addressing and relying on the idea of basing faith in man.

I think that I have belabored the error in using man and his reason as the foundations of any system.

I say that God is the starting point for everything. There is nothing outside of God, not even your argument. Your argument and your abilities are a reflection of God, as we are made in His image. They exist because He made them and made you aware of them. One either accepts this or does not.

Christian morality is often misrepresented and mischaracterized these days. The majority of today’s Christians are much different than those of our founding era. I think a set of balls is the primary difference though. “Christianity” has become a wishwashy, limp handed amalgamation of feel good, emotional, unconditional love, don’t offend anyone or get involved in anything outside of church, uninformed mess. It’s barely Christianty at all. It for the most part does not properly reflect God as it should. This is primarily due to the injection of dispensational theology into the seminaries. This took place about the time of the end of the Civil War. This is important to note, because it has changed the face of Christianity. Our Forefathers had a far different understanding of why we are here. There actions and our history reflect this.

These websites are a good place to research this line of thinking if you so desire. You’ll have to copy and paste as I could not get the link button to work.

Chalcedon: http://www.chalcedon.edu/

Institute for Theonomic Restoration

JPRCC: http://www.jprcc.org

The last is mine and by far the least of the three.

Snorre September 19, 2004 at 7:13 am

I wonder where Mercer got the idea that the Progress party is anti-statist. I tend to put them on the same side as Labour and Socialist left, since they tend to ally with them whenever the Storting is trying to decide how big the state should be. However, they’ll ally with Right to cut taxes. (The Progress Party line is that we should’t be so tight-pursed with the oil money. The oil money, as of now, is mainly put into a fund which is to do what it can to salvage the pension system when the age shift comes, and also used to cover up any deficit in the national budget.)

rtr September 20, 2004 at 12:02 pm

Mises on God, Religion, and Faith (all quotes, very long), analysis and its relation to Demi(o)cratic Despotism to follow:

msHmA: Part 1, Chapter I. Acting man in paragraph 1.I.57

“The panmechanistic world view is committed to a methodological monism; it acknowledges only mechanistic causality because it attributes to it alone any cognitive value or at least a higher cognitive value than to teleology. This is a metaphysical superstition. Both principles of cognition—causality and teleology—are, owing to the limitations of human reason, imperfect and do not convey ultimate knowledge. Causality leads to a regressus in infinitum which reason can never exhaust. Teleology is found wanting as soon as the question is raised of what moves the prime mover. Either method stops short at an ultimate given which cannot be analyzed and interpreted. Reasoning and scientific inquiry can never bring full ease of mind, apodictic certainty, and perfect cognition of all things. He who seeks this must apply to faith and try to quiet his conscience by embracing a creed or a metaphysical doctrine.”

msHmA: Part 2, Chapter VIII. Human society in paragraph 2.VIII.9

“According to the doctrines of universalism, conceptual realism, holism, collectivism, and some representatives of Gestaltpsychologie, society is an entity living its own life, independent of and separate from the lives of the various individuals, acting on its own behalf and aiming at its own ends which are different from the ends sought by the individuals. Then, of course, an antagonism between the aims of society and those of its members can emerge. In order to safeguard the flowering and further development of society it becomes necessary to master the selfishness of the individuals and to compel them to sacrifice their egoistic designs to the benefit of society. At this point all these holistic doctrines are bound to abandon the secular methods of human science and logical reasoning and to shift to theological or metaphysical professions of faith. They must assume that Providence, through its prophets, apostles, and charismatic leaders, forces men who are constitutionally wicked, i.e., prone to pursue their own ends, to walk in the ways of righteousness which the Lord or Weltgeist or history wants them to walk.”

msHmA: Part 2, Chapter VIII. Human society in paragraph 2.VIII.13

“The essential problem of all varieties of universalistic, collectivistic, and holistic social philosophy is: By what mark do I recognize the true law, the authentic apostle of God’s word, and the legitimate authority. For many claim that Providence has sent them, and each of these prophets preaches another gospel. For the faithful believer there cannot be any doubt; he is fully confident that he has espoused the only true doctrine. But it is precisely the firmness of such beliefs that renders the antagonisms irreconcilable. Each party is prepared to make its own tenets prevail. But as logical argumentation cannot decide between various dissenting creeds, there is no means left for the settlement of such disputes other than armed conflict. The nonrationalist, nonutilitarian, and nonliberal social doctrines must beget wars and civil wars until one of the adversaries is annihilated or subdued. The history of the world’s great religions is a record of battles and wars, as is the history of the present-day counterfeit religions, socialism, statolatry, and nationalism.”

msHmA: Part 2, Chapter IX. The role of ideas in paragraph 2.IX.14

“Praxeology and economics are not qualified to deal with the transcendent and metaphysical aspects of any doctrine. But, on the other hand, no appeal to any religious or metaphysical dogmas and creeds can invalidate the theorems and theories concerning social cooperation as developed by logically correct praxeological reasoning. If a philosophy has admitted the necessity of societal links between men, it has placed itself, as far as problems of social action come into play, on ground from which there is no escape into personal convictions and professions of faith not liable to a thorough examination by rational methods.”

msHmA: Part 2, Chapter IX. The role of ideas in paragraph 2.IX.29

“The problems involved are purely intellectual and must be dealt with as such. It is disastrous to shift them to the moral sphere and to dispose of supporters of opposite ideologies by calling them villains. It is vain to insist that what we are aiming at is good and what our adversaries want is bad. The question to be solved is precisely what is to be considered as good and what as bad. The rigid dogmatism peculiar to religious groups and to Marxism results only in irreconcilable conflict. It condemns beforehand all dissenters as evildoers, it calls into question their good faith, it asks them to surrender unconditionally. No social cooperation is possible where such an attitude prevails.”

msHmA: Part 2, Chapter VIII. Human society in paragraph 2.VIII.12

“The historical role of the theory of the division of labor as elaborated by British political economy from Hume to Ricardo consisted in the complete demolition of all metaphysical doctrines concerning the origin and the operation of social cooperation. It consummated the spiritual, moral and intellectual emancipation of mankind inaugurated by the philosophy of Epicureanism. It substituted an autonomous rational morality for the heteronomous and intuitionist ethics of older days. Law and legality, the moral code and social institutions are no longer revered as unfathomable decrees of Heaven. They are of human origin, and the only yardstick that must be applied to them is that of expediency with regard to human welfare. The utilitarian economist does not say: Fiat justitia, pereat mundus. He says: Fiat justitia, ne pereat mundus. He does not ask a man to renounce his well-being for the benefit of society. He advises him to recognize what his rightly understood interests are. In his eyes God’s magnificence does not manifest itself in busy interference with sundry affairs of princes and politicians, but in endowing his creatures with reason and the urge toward the pursuit of happiness.*3 ”

msHmA: Part 2, Chapter VIII. Human society in paragraph 2.VIII.21

“Universalism and collectivism are by necessity systems of theocratic government. The common characteristic of all their varieties is that they postulate the existence of a superhuman entity which the individuals are bound to obey. What differentiates them from one another is only the appellation they give to this entity and the content of the laws they proclaim in its name. The dictatorial rule of a minority cannot find any legitimation other than the appeal to an alleged mandate obtained from a superhuman absolute authority. It does not matter whether the autocrat bases his claims on the divine rights of anointed kings or on the historical mission of the vanguard of the proletariat or whether the supreme being is called Geist (Hegel) or Humanité (Auguste Comte). The terms society and state as they are used by the contemporary advocates of socialism, planning, and social control of all the activities of individuals signify a deity. The priests of this new creed ascribe to their idol all those attributes which the theologians ascribe to God—omnipotence, omniscience, infinite goodness, and so on.”

msHmA: Part 2, Chapter VIII. Human society in paragraph 2.VIII.75

“Society, assert the supporters of this doctrine, is not the product of man’s purposeful action; it is not cooperation and division of tasks. It stems from unfathomable depths, from an urge ingrained in man’s essential nature.”

msHmA: Part 2, Chapter X. Exchange within society in paragraph 2.X.5

“It is the essential characteristic of the categories of human action that they are apodictic and absolute and do not admit of any gradation. There is action or nonaction, there is exchange or nonexchange; everything which applies to action and exchange as such is given or not given in every individual instance according to whether there is or there is not action and exchange. In the same way the boundaries between autistic exchange and interpersonal exchange are sharply distinct. Making one-sided presents without the aim of being rewarded by any conduct on the part of the receiver or of third persons is autistic exchange. The donor acquires the satisfaction which the better condition of the receiver gives to him. The receiver gets the present as a God-sent gift. But if presents are given in order to influence some people’s conduct, they are no longer one-sided, but a variety of interpersonal exchange between the donor and the man whose conduct they are designed to influence. Although the emergence of interpersonal exchange was the result of a long evolution, no gradual transition is conceivable between autistic and interpersonal exchange. There were no intermediary modes of exchange between them. The step which leads from autistic to interpersonal exchange was no less a jump into something entirely new and essentially different than was the step from automatic reaction of the cells and nerves to conscious and purposeful behavior, to action.”

msHmA: Part 7, Chapter XXXVIII. The place of economics in learning in paragraph 7.XXXVIII.49

“The paramount role that economic ideas play in the determination of civic affairs explains why governments, political parties, and pressure groups are intent upon restricting the freedom of economic thought. They are anxious to propagandize the “good” doctrine and to silence the voice of the “bad” doctrines. As they see it, truth has no inherent power which could make it ultimately prevail solely by virtue of its being true. In order to carry on, truth needs to be backed by violent action on the part of the police or other armed troops. In this view, the criterion of a doctrine’s truth is the fact that its supporters succeeded in defeating by force of arms the champions of dissenting views. It is implied that God or some mythical agency directing the course of human affairs always bestows victory upon those fighting for the good cause. Government is from God and has the sacred duty of exterminating the heretic.”

msHmA: Footnote: nn3

“3. Many economists, among them Adam Smith and Bastiat, believed in God. Hence they admired in the facts they had discovered the providential care of “the great Director of Nature.” Atheist critics blame them for this attitude. However, these critics fail to realize that to sneer at the references to the “invisible hand” does not invalidate the essential teachings of the rationalist and utilitarian social philosophy. One must comprehend that the alternative is this: Either association is a human process because it best serves the aims of the individuals concerned and the individuals themselves have the ability to realize the advantages they derive from their adjustment to life in social cooperation. Or a superior being enjoins upon reluctant men subordination to the law and to the social authorities. It is of minor importance whether one calls this supreme being God, Weltgeist, Destiny, History, Wotan, or Material Productive Forces and what title one assigns to its apostles, the dictators.”

msHmA: Part 2, Chapter VIII. Human society in paragraph 2.VIII.36

“Theocracy is a social system which lays claim to a superhuman title for its legitimation. The fundamental law of a theocratic regime is an insight not open to examination by reason and to demonstration by logical methods. Its ultimate standard is intuition providing the mind with subjective certainty about things which cannot be conceived by reason and ratiocination. If this intuition refers to one of the traditional systems of teaching concerning the existence of a Divine Creator and Ruler of the universe, we call it a religious belief. If it refers to another system we call it a metaphysical belief. Thus a system of theocratic government need not be founded on one of the great historical religions of the world. It may be the outcome of metaphysical tenets which reject all traditional churches and denominations and take pride in emphasizing their antitheistic and antimetaphysical character. In our time the most powerful theocratic parties are opposed to Christianity and to all other religions which evolved from Jewish monotheism. What characterizes them as theocratic is their craving to organize the earthly affairs of mankind according to the contents of a complex of ideas whose validity cannot be demonstrated by reasoning. They pretend that their leaders are blessed by a knowledge inaccessible to the rest of mankind and contrary to the ideas maintained by those to whom the charisma is denied. The charismatic leaders have been entrusted by a mystical higher power with the office of managing the affairs of erring mankind. They alone are enlightened; all other people are either blind and deaf or malefactors.”

msHmA: Part 2, Chapter IX. The role of ideas in paragraph 2.IX.23

“Dissension with regard to religious creeds cannot be settled by rational methods. Religious conflicts are essentially implacable and irreconcilable. Yet as soon as a religious community enters the field of political action and tries to deal with problems of social organization, it is bound to take into account earthly concerns, however this may conflict with its dogmas and articles of faith. No religion in its exoteric activities ever ventured to tell people frankly: The realization of our plans for social organization will make you poor and impair your earthly well-being. Those consistently committed to a life of poverty withdrew from the political scene and fled into anchoritic seclusion. But churches and religious communities which have aimed at making converts and at influencing political and social activities of their followers have espoused the principles of secular conduct. In dealing with questions of man’s earthly pilgrimage they hardly differ from any other political party. In canvassing, they emphasize, more than bliss in the beyond, the material advantages which they have in store for their brothers in faith.”

Collin Wolfe September 20, 2004 at 2:04 pm

I think Ilana should have renamed the essay, “When Democracy becomes long in the tooth.”

While the shift in power from local power to federal power is obvious, few see the wrong doing in absolutism when done by a large body of people. IE the federal government. Absolutism is still violence whether acted out by one or by many.

A key difference in comparing an early republic to a bloated democracy is the level of overtness or participation beyond recognized borders.

Expectations change as a nation grows-that’s a given. Trade talks may give way to more forceful measures of governing. Does one believe the world’s biggest military complex is there for show?

I think Ilana is comparing the man and the ape as the evolution of a nation. Internal corruption is a cyclical thing. The man recalls past mistakes, takes a minimalist view and bases an economy of real tangible things.

The ape promises something for nothing, has an aptitude for paper assets, and bases wealth not by the creation of real things but by idea of fractional banking. When prior debts are called upon negotiation may be replaced with delusions of empire. Democratic despotism then ensues.

A minimalist philosophy only unites people when they have seen first hand the failings of a waste ridden system. Too many generations have past since the failings of the Weimar republic. People have forgotten the ills of inflation and how it acts as a driver toward federal despotism.

One day the world will wake up and see democratic despotism as a symptom of a failing empire. I just hope the violence stays on wall street and not spill into the street.

Dennis Sperduto September 20, 2004 at 2:06 pm

My reference to Jefferson’s mention of the laws of “Nature and Nature’s God” was not intended to initiate a discussion regarding religion and the economic and social order. It was only an attempt to demonstrate that the founding fathers of Jefferson’s viewpoint and their modern day adherents believe that individual economic and civil liberties are inherent in our status as human beings. Again, these laws are antecedent to, and do not depend on, government (or for that matter any religion ) for their existence or validity; they ultimately rest on each individual being the owner of his/her own person. Any government which violates these liberties is unjust and deserves to be replaced. I believe that Jefferson’s personal religious beliefs can most accurately be described as deistic rationalism. Mises was not an adherent of natural rights/law. Mises, as rtr’s posting indicates, while being a trenchant rationalist, was a utilitarian.

rtr September 20, 2004 at 2:07 pm

Democracy is necessarily a subset form of Despotism. Other subset forms of Despotism include theocracy, collectivism, socialism, monarchy, and statism. Any attempted reasoned persuasion, or justification, of any and all forms of despotism, must necessarily resort to theocratic faith that is a priori beyond the limits of human knowledge and understanding (logic and reason). This appeal is always and only made to justify violent non-defensive action towards other individuals. Any use of reason (the tacit admittance that it exists) means it can be shown that these institutions are contrary to human logic. All forms of despotism are such as the individual human agents of them employ as means violent coercion of other human beings to attain the ends of the individual human agents of the despotic form at the sacrifice of the existence in part on in whole of those whom such violent actions are perpetrated against.

“There is action or nonaction, there is exchange or nonexchange; everything which applies to action and exchange as such is given or not given in every individual instance according to whether there is or there is not action and exchange.”

All action between individuals is either one of two forms. The action is peaceful voluntary exchange, or it is violent coercive theft. One either morally believes that theft is bad, or it is not bad or even good. All forms of theft, including rape and murder, necessarily employ violent means. This is the fundamental distinction and evolutionary existence or non-existence of all morality, in all of its shapes and forms. All morality boils down to this fundamental emotional/theological/intellectual reaction to theft, rape, and murder. This is so because all human action is of one or the other form. Morality is simply a sphere of subjective judgment regarding human *action*. One holds it as either “good”, “bad”, or “indifferent” (the absence of morality). This is the ultimate given for the “moral” categorization of rational purposive action of individuals and “government”, and thus avoids the regressus in infinitum of prior causality in the establishment of morality/justice.

The only form of government which is not despotic is that which is derived from and establishes laws only regarding the defense of property (the self and its extensions), its establishment, its delineations, and protective enforcement of all action which is of voluntary exchange, and the infringement of all action which is of violent nonexchange (self defense).

Democracy regards only the majority as “society” and thus does not deem non-members (the minority) of non-society (animals) as deserving of the protection or unhindered ability to conduct action of peaceful exchange, and it morally praises the violent coercive theft of these “animals’” life and property. The fundamental aspect of all Despotism is that it regards some less than full percentage of humanity as not deserving of the ability to action which is of the character of peaceful voluntary exchange. Thus, democracy, the rule of the majority, is necessarily despotic.

Chad Bull September 20, 2004 at 4:16 pm

Some of you may be interseted in the linked article excerpted below.

You need to read the article to make sense of the title.

Authentic Libertarianism
by Gary North(Link)

Now, for all to see, here is my answer. I have written approximately 8,000 pages of Bible commentaries on 11 books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus (3 volumes), Leviticus (4 volumes), Numbers, Deuteronomy (3 volumes), Matthew, Luke, Acts, Romans, First Corinthians, and First Timothy. These commentaries deal exclusively with economics. You can download any or all of them free of charge. For their web addresses, send an e-mail to commentaries@kbot.com. You will receive an instant-reply answer. Eric, this includes you.

What I found is this: the concept of the rule of law was Mosaic, not Greek (Ex. 12:49). The concept of private property is supported in the Decalogue’s laws against theft and covetousness. The Mosaic economic law as a whole was pro-market, pro-private ownership, pro-foreign trade, pro-money-lending (Deut. 28:12). The New Testament did not break with most of these laws, and the few that it did break with, such as slavery and the jubilee land law, made the resulting position even more market favorable.

It is my goal in life to do what I can to persuade people to shrink the State. The messianic State is a crude imitation of a religion of redemption. It makes the State the healer and, ultimately, the savior of all mankind. This messianic religion is what the early church battled theologically and risked martyrdom to oppose. Christians refused to toss a pinch of incense onto the altar symbolizing the genius of the emperor. For that seemingly minor resistance to State power, they were thrown to the lions. Both sides knew the stakes of that contest. Christianity was a dagger pointed at the heart of the messianic State.

It still is.

Chad Bull September 20, 2004 at 4:38 pm

At the risk of putting everyone over the edge here, I must try to correct a common misconception about Jefferson and many of our Founders. They were not primarily deists. A majority were, like Jefferson, Christians. Jefferson was opposed to the trappings and failings of Christianity as an institution, not opposed to Christ and His Law. Here are some quotes from Jefferson. Take them for what they are worth:

Thomas Jefferson(Link)

In a letter to Horatio G. Spafford, dated March 17, 1814, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.”

“A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian; that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”

“I have always said, I always will say, that the studious perusal of the sacred volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”
Jefferson declared that religion is: “Deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support.”

“To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others…”

“I consider the doctrines of Jesus as delivered by himself to contain the outlines of the sublimest system of morality that has ever been taught but I hold in the most profound detestation and execration the corruptions of it which have been invented…”

Curt Howland September 20, 2004 at 7:17 pm

Chad, I don’t care if the Founding Fathers were martians, and so long as private property is respected it doesn’t matter. Their writings and commentaries on the human condition contain much wisdom. What we do with that wisdom is what counts.

I am not Christian, and your quoting the Christian bible makes no more difference to me than someone else quoting the Bene Jeserit cookbook out of Frank Herbert’s _Dune_.

Government sucks. At least we agree on that, and so long as private property is respected we don’t have to agree on anything.

Chad Bull September 20, 2004 at 10:02 pm

It’s a little trite to say you don’t care if the Founders were martians. They did more for freedom and economic prosperity than any of us could ever dream. The freedoms and prosperity that we still have left are specifically due to their religious convictions and subsequent actions. They acted while others did not. Why? They stood on the Biblical principal of dominion, not humanistic relativism.

Don’t try to fool yourself into thinking that what you profess is not a relgion. It most certainly is.

Your not being a Christian makes not a bit of difference to God’s order and law. It applies to you just as it applies to me. Otherwise there would be no order at all.

Curt I respect your opinion. It seems to be an educated one from what I have read here and on your other posts. However, my point all along is that it does indeed matter from where our reason and “natural” law comes from.

If it comes from humanism and man’s reason, which is relativistic, then it is everchanging and subject to the whims of man. You can never know positively what is right or wrong. There will always be that hint of doubt in your mind because you know men are fallible. You can see here on this website how many differnet variations of opinion and reasoning there are.

Some men say that the idea of private property is wrong or evil. What makes them any more wrong or correct than you? Is it because you have it figured out and they don’t?

God’s law always supports private property. It’s not a matter of whimsy or the preferred idealism of the day. It’s not the right thing, just because.

It right and makes sense because, it’s structured, its fair, its just and most importantly it’s unchanging, as it’s part of God’s unchanging order.

What makes something in your system, law or reasoning unchanging? It is, just because it is? What happens if tomorrow you figure out that it isn’t? Was it simply that the day before your reason was flawed and the next day it wasn’t?

Your last statement makes my point in spades:

“Government sucks. At least we agree on that, and so long as private property is respected we don’t have to agree on anything.”

I’ll let you figure out what I mean.

V Harris September 21, 2004 at 8:51 am

Chad Bull wrote: “Gary North wrote: What I found is this: the concept of the rule of law was Mosaic, not Greek (Ex. 12:49). The concept of private property is supported in the Decalogue’s laws against theft and covetousness. The Mosaic economic law as a whole was pro-market, pro-private ownership, pro-foreign trade, pro-money-lending (Deut. 28:12). The New Testament did not break with most of these laws, and the few that it did break with, such as slavery and the jubilee land law, made the resulting position even more market favorable.”

If Gary North were blogging here, I’d ask him if the treatment the ‘seven nations’ (listed above in my previous post,) received at the hand of Joshua, the agent of God, met with the private-property principles he discovered in the Bible. The second question I’d ask is if he finds any scripture that indicates similar treatment of certain other ‘peoples’ is revealed to happen in the future, and will that action meet with Biblical private-property principles?

Since God ‘owns’ everything, his revealed word is all that is needed to justly evict one tenant, like the seven nations, and let to another tenant, like Joshua, yes? How convenient that the eviction notice was revealed to, the notice served by, the dispossession affected by, and new tenants became, Joshua et. al. Hmmm.

And similar just evictions are yet to occur? Hmmm.

V Harris

Curt Howland September 21, 2004 at 9:21 am

Chad, the “founding fathers” were fallable just like everyone else. In order to secure face-value payment on the scrip they had bought up at a discount, they instituted the Federal Constitution. This was a deliberate act, as can be seen that it was done while Jefferson was conspicuously out of the country running errands.

Their individual actions and writings contain much wisdom. As a group, once the war was finished they went straight back to finding ways to get special favors on the government teat just like people have done throughout history.

The various endemic limitations on tyranny of the majority that the social order of their day imposed, for example voting only by male land owners, has been eroded. We are faced with a system continually trying to perpetuate itself by buying votes from special interests. That is the nature of democracy.

That’s it. Deal with it.

Chad Bull September 21, 2004 at 5:08 pm

Curt you have made my argument for me again.

“We are faced with a system continually trying to perpetuate itself by buying votes from special interests. That is the nature of democracy.”

Democracy is not doing these things, men are. Democracy cannot have a nature. It does not exist without man. I have never heard of democracy buying a vote or knocking on someone’s door and taking their property. Men do this. It is the nature of man, not the nature of democracy. Democracy is the tool of destruction, not the operator.

We cannot get rid of the guilt of our fallen nature by casting it onto a word or idea such as democracy. It seems that this is a consistent pattern with some writers here. They cannot imagine themselves of a fallen nature. Therefore, it must be some external force that is the problem, “We are not bad, democracy is.”

Democracy is nothing but an idea or word until man acts.

There is only one way to get rid of the guilt of our fallen nature and that is through Christ. I must emphasize, however, loss of guilt does not remove responsibility and accountability.


I am not equipped to make a defence of Joshua’s relationship or interaction with God. Furthermore, I am not in a position to pass judgement on God either.

If you are suggesting that men misuse and abuse the Word of God to their benefit and to the detriment of others, then bingo, you have accurately portrayed the nature of man.

That’s all that I will write on this topic, unless someone has a specific question.

Aha, I think I heard someone out there say, “Thank God for that!”

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