Reexamining Ideas and Thoughts

The recent frustration with American politics led people to reexamine their ideologies. Christians are doing the same. Capitalism, and the Republican ideologies have been considered to be closer to Christian ideals, but people start having more doubts. And Democrats do have certain values that are more biblical, but the unbiblical ideas are more apparent. We all know that capitalism and socialism are both earthly human thoughts that originated from the sins of the fallen. It is the historical context that brings capitalism look more biblical somehow.

A reexamination is needed.

I have come across the ideas that libertarianism is another ideology close to biblical ideas, using the Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation framework.[1] I do not really know now.

It is good to compare all the thoughts around.

Conservatism

Conservatism has two distinct senses today. As the doctrine of Conservative parties in Britain, Europe and North America, it combines an enthusiasm for capitalism and the free enterprise economy which is best described as ‘neo-liberal’ with an appeal to the patriotic sentiments of the electorate and an emphasis on social order and moral discipline which is more in tune with traditional conservative values. As a philosophical doctrine, conservatism emphasizes ‘the politics of imperfection’. Philosophical conservatism emphasizes tradition, authority, law and order, and the impossibility of achieving anything resembling the Utopias which radicals have longed for. Human nature, in the eyes of most conservatives, is too imperfect to allow society to dispense with the guidance of tradition and the government of firm authority. Mankind is too short-sighted and too passionate to agree on one answer to the question how best to order our social and political affairs, let alone to do everything that it would demand. It is better to emphasize known duties, to accommodate individual diversity by letting individuals use their own property in the ways they sit fit, to preserve the authority of the state by limiting its role to national defense and the policing of the market place, and to strengthen institutions such as the family, schools and churches as a means of securing a sound public morality…[2]

Liberalism

A political philosophy whose origins lie in the Renaissance and Reformation, which acquired firmer roots in the 18th century and its greatest coherence in the 19th. Since then it has remained a massive influence on the values of democratic societies, although truly liberal political movements and parties have lost ground. Although protean in nature and not easily reducible to a set of general propositions, liberalism springs from a vision of society as crucially composed of individuals (rather than, for instance, classes), and of their liberty as the primary social good. This liberty is to be defended in such rights as those to free political institutions, religious practice, intellectual and artistic expression. Particularly in the 19th century it was also held to include the right to property, a free market and free trade and in all to require the careful limitation of government to those activities which preserve rather than inhibit individual freedom.

Liberalism has been less coherent in the 20th century. Doctrines such as fascism and variants of Marxism challenged it by respectively stressing the principles of state power and equality. Changing patterns of economic organization and state activity also demanded a reappraisal of its relevance, American liberalism, as exemplified in the new deal and great society, adapted by accepting the state as an instrument to alleviate economic inequalities and protect the rights of minorities. More generally, liberalism’s difficulty in accommodating a more positive state and the inequalities of capitalist societies has led to the term more often loosely connoting such values as tolerance, rationality, privacy, minority rights, participation. In recent years, however, major attempts have been made to apply older liberal economic ideas to the present. These are confusingly labelled both as neo-liberalism and an essential element of new right thought.[3]

Neo-Conservatism

A recent American variant of conservatism propagated by members of the nation’s intellectual elite, often through journals such as The Public Interest and Commentary. Neo-conservatives differ over many issues, but are to an extent unified by a common temperament and vision. Many are former radicals and from Jewish and Catholic backgrounds. Disillusionment with Soviet Communism encouraged some to re-evaluate the cities of capitalist democracy; others were threatened by what they saw as the turbulence and philistinism of the 1960s and driven to a concern with social stability and cultural values. Neo-conservatives tend to see themselves as sophisticated realists with an informed pessimism about the limitations of human nature and a sceptical view of the potential of the state either as an economic manager or an agent of social progress. They tend to defend capitalism as a system which promotes democratic political forms and individual freedoms as well as affluence. Neo-conservatism also asserts the need for society to share a firm set of values, perhaps to be drawn from non-fundamentalist religion. In foreign policy contradictions abound, but the emphasis lies on ‘realism’, a constant distrust of the Soviet Union, and a rejection of the human rights policy of the Carter administration.[4]

Libertarianism

The doctrine that no state can be legitimate which sets out to do more than enforce individuals’ rights; extreme libertarians hold that no state whatever can be legitimate, and that we are not obliged to obey any authority to which we have not given our actual, and not merely our hypothetical, consent. Unlike orthodox conservatives, libertarians believe it is no part of the state’s duties to enforce private morality; prostitution, drug taking and sexual perversion not involving harm to others are all within the individual’s right to do what he chooses with his own resources. Conversely, libertarians are skeptical of the nation state’s tendency to possess large military forces and to spend huge sums on so-called defense. Libertarians differ from 20-th century liberals in disbelieving in social justice and in thinking the welfare state is simply robbery under the cover of law. The intellectual charms of libertarian doctrine are greater than its impact on practical politics has thus far been.[5]

Certainly, none of these thoughts are totally biblical. Humans, though fallen, are God’s image bearers, and we have to live out our public Christian life. “As the Creator’s image-bearers, we too are infused with a deep instinct to bring order and substance, what we might call an industry of service and product, making the earth inhabitable through technology and innovation and filling it with God’s images to his glory.”[6]

[1] Greg Ayers, “‘Called to Freedom’: New Book Explores the Compatibility of Christianity and Libertarianism,” Blog, Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics, last modified August 18, 2016, accessed August 24, 2016, https://tifwe.org/christianity-and-libertarianism/.

[2] The Harper Dictionary of Modern Thought, ed. Alan Bullock, Stephen Trombley, and Bruce Eadie (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1988), 167-168.

[3] Ibid., 475-476.

[4] Ibid., 566-567.

[5] Ibid., 476-477.

[6] Scott Redd, “Biblical Theology Is Public Theology,” Sunergoi, last modified June 10, 2015, accessed August 24, 2016, http://sunergoi.com/?p=572#.V75noj4rJaE.

  • Ayers, Greg. “‘Called to Freedom’: New Book Explores the Compatibility of Christianity and Libertarianism.” Blog, Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics. Last modified August 18, 2016. Accessed August 24, 2016. https://tifwe.org/christianity-and-libertarianism/.
  • The Harper Dictionary of Modern Thought. Edited by Alan Bullock, Stephen Trombley, and Bruce Eadie. New York, NY: Harper & Row (1988).
  • Redd, Scott. “Biblical Theology Is Public Theology.” Sunergoi. Last modified June 10, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2016. http://sunergoi.com/?p=572#.V75noj4rJaE.
  • Feature image taken from the webpage of Architect of the Capitol (AOC): https://www.aoc.gov/dome/faqs.
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