Thoughts on economics and liberty

Category: Philosophy

A theology article from 1975 which confirms that the Pope and the Church have breached the basic message of the Bible

Came across this: Man’s Basic Freedom and Freedom of Conscience in the Bible Cooper, Eugene J. Irish Theological Quarterly , Volume 42 (4): 12 – Dec 1, 1975

The article can’t be shared – which is a great pity, since this document shows clearly that the Church has breached the basic principles of the Bible.

EXTRACTS BELOW

Jesus assimilated the Golden Rule into his moral message. In Matthew’s Gospel one finds both the positive and the negative expression of the Golden Rule. In the more generally expressed form the Golden Rule is stated positively: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ (Mt 7: 12). The concrete form, where the Golden Rule is applied to judging and justice, is expressed as a negative admonition: ‘Do not judge, that you may not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you’ (Mt 7: 1.2). The latter statement refers to the danger of judging according to human standards. This insight is related to the wise old saying, errare humanum est — to err is human. It is one of man’s limitations that he makes mistakes. But here in Matthew’s Gospel it is more than a case of repeating ancient wisdom. The allusion is to the Kingdom of God. The Christian should not sit in judgment on his neighbour because he believes in God the Father, who is the only and ultimate judge.

The statement ‘Do not Judge’ underscores basic Christian liberty, even in the case of an erring conscience, and excludes the possibility of condemnation as a sinner. Whether or not one’s neighbour’s action is a sin, it is up to the judgment of the sole judge, the Father. Paul expresses the same thought: ‘I have nothing on my conscience, yet I am not thereby justified; but he who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, pass no judgment before the time; until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the things hidden in darkness and make manifest the counsels of hearts; and then everyone will have his praise from God’ (1 Cor 4: 4-5).

Since the conscience is the ultimate norm, a condemnation of the decision as sinful from anyone else is excluded.

LIMITS TO FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE

Paul gives one concrete example of the limits placed on freedom of conscience in his first letter to the community of Christians at Corinth. Chapters eight to ten of this epistle are concerned with a controversy in this early community regarding the eating of meat sacrificed to idols. The meat, used as offerings in pagan rites, was later sold on the open market in Corinth. The Christians were divided in their opinion as to whether they could buy and eat such meat in good conscience. Some said, the meat has been used in pagan rites and therefore cannot be consumed by Christians. Others were of the opinion that, since Christians knew there was only one true God and no idols and did not believe in the idols of the pagan cult, they could in good conscience eat such meat. Paul’s answer is that both those who in conscience cannot eat the meat (referred to as the ‘weak’ in Romans 14: 1-2) and those whose conscience allows them to eat the meat sacrificed to idols (the ‘strong’) do well, for both are following their respective consciences. For each must act according to his conscience. Yet he demands of the strong in conscience that they should take consideration of the weak and not give scandal. Paul states the right of each to follow his conscience, but then speaks of the obligation of love of neighbour.

In the situation described by Paul in his letter to the community of Corinth, there were two main rules of conduct. Each of the two — eating meat sacrificed to idols and not eating it — found a large group of followers, so that one could say there were two mutually exclusive patterns of behaviour, both practised by Christians, which led to the conflict Paul was asked to resolve. This is similar to today’s situation within the Church. The individual Christian can today more easily find a group of Christians who share his views on a particular aspect of morality or Christian practice. Whether in the realm of liturgical practice or in the strictly moral matter of family planning, one can find adherents of contradictory practices, each group calling itself Christian. Although one can appeal to all to compare their decision of conscience and moral behaviour to the norm of divine revelation in the Bible, the Scriptures offer no concrete solution in the way of a decision for one particular manner of behaviour in a plural situation. Paul himself did not decide that one group was behaving immorally, but requested the one group to be considerate of the other and to avoid scandalizing them. He did not prohibit their eating the meat.

LOVE IS THE FOUNDATION AND LIMITATION AT THE SAME TIME

By way of summary it can be said that the foundation for Christian freedom of conscience is man’s basic freedom and need for freedom of movement and a private domain of free self-determination. This basic freedom is reinforced by the belief in liberation from sin, death and evil through the Spirit in the Christian message. The individual has access to the objective True and Good through his subjective, however limited, faculties of recognition (reason) and the experience of being able to choose freely (free will). Baptized in the Spirit, the Christian lives in a bond with Jesus Christ as a son in the Son. This bond with Christ does not give the individual Christian any private illumination or revelation as to what is true and good, yet it is an important aspect of his formation of a decision of conscience, namely the Christian dimension of God’s Dominion and Kingdom, which enters every decision. His knowledge of the Christian message, for example, his knowledge of the morality of Jesus, and his life in the believing community are aids to the formation of his conscience.

It is evident that the individual Christian must take the life and opinion of his fellow Christians into consideration when making a decision of conscience. He may include the way of life and opinion of a few associates and friends. Should he discover that these share his opinion as to his choice of a Christian response to a moral question, he may refer to Matthew’s statement, that where Christians are gathered together in Christ’s name in the effort to seek God’s will, then God is with them, not in the sense that their decision is infallible, but in the sense that their striving to find God’s will is to be taken seriously and their decision must be regarded as a contribution to the general search for a Christian answer to a new moral problem. At the same time, the reverse is true. If the behaviour of a fellow Christian is regarded as non-acceptable to the community and even as sinful, one must first of all enter into dialogue with him and talk about his manner of behaviour. An individual’s response to a moral question may be regarded as wrong by the Christian community, which has the obligation and opportunity to take part in his further formation of conscience. The tradition of the whole Church must also be consulted and taken into account in the formation of the individual decision of conscience, but the experience of the whole Church may often be expressed in abstract, unified norms for all which do not adequately take into consideration the concrete situation of decision of the individual.

 

 

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We are doomed as humans to live in a perpetual state of hysteria and insanity

We suffer from a fundamental human condition: we are all easily scared. We are easy to scare and difficult to unscare.

This is not news. Thousands of years ago, the Indian Upanishads described how a stick can sometimes look like a snake. When bush-walking the Yarra, I keep my eyes peeled for black, poisonous snakes (my wife has actually seen a few – she’s part of a walking club). I’ve not yet sighted any such snake but I often find that my brain treats with suspicion the curved black tree branches lying on the ground.

We frighten easily: that’s our defensive response evolved over millions of years. And it is more rapid and stronger than our rational response. It doesn’t matter whether we have four PhDs. We will still remain human.

That’s why billions of people across the world have fallen for Jinping’s fake videos and gone into hysterical panic and most still remain in a state of insanity.

And that’s also why when an “expert” tells us that GMO will kill us, or that the Earth will roast from man-made climate change, or that covid vaccines will kill us all with ADE, we tend to believe such people instantly. Refuting them is much harder and can take months, if not years of hard work.

Julian Simon wrote about many such scares in his book, The Ultimate Resource. Except for a (very) few, most scares are false. In many cases the product/issue of concern is not entirely benign (e.g. DDT, nuclear power) but its overall benefit far exceeds the cost it may impose on society.

In the end, hysteria and fear are our natural human condition so we had better get used to it. This situation – where we live our life in a perpetual state of madness – is going to get more and more common in this age of social media and rapid dissemination of news.

 

also

https://t.me/sanjeevsabhlok/2223

and

https://t.me/sanjeevsabhlok/2224

 

 

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Can a classical liberal ethically function inside a government department?

A question received:

Is it unethical to work for the government for pay in a department that is clearly unrelated to the protection of life, liberty and property? If possible, could you give an opinion on the above mentioned question with a justification of your view?

MY RESPONSE

I wouldn’t say that working in a government department the functions of which are unrelated to the first order functions of government makes one’s actions unethical. If one actively supports the expansion of such functions or engages in personal corruption, ethical questions could become involved.

More importantly, even in roles that involve first order functions, following orders that breach human rights (something that happens quite a bit in real life) or engaging in corruption would be unethical. For instance, the actions of police officials in Victoria to brutalise young people in the name of “public health” are not just unethical, they are criminal.

Ayn Rand was different. She opposed big government but she did not hesitate in recommending corruption to businesses. E.g. https://www.sabhlokcity.com/2016/05/im-downgrading-ayn-rand-her-active-promotion-of-bribery-is-a-major-blot-on-her-philosophy/  – she wasn’t looking at it from the perspective of government functionaries. What are classical liberals supposed to do? Are they to abjure government jobs entirely? Obviously not. And if not, then what’s the role they should play? She did not think about this question and took extreme shortcuts in her recommendations. There was no scope for any honest and decent government functionary in her mind. And that appears to be the case with alleged “classical liberals” like Alex Tabarrok as well.

Many libertarians treat the government as a black hole with purely evil properties. The fact is that without good government there is no possibility of a prosperous human society. Singapore focused on core functions of the government and proved how quickly people can benefit.

Government functionaries play a critical role in society – whether they are able to perform their functions properly or not depends on the elected government of the day. I had no choice but to resign both my government roles – in India and Australia – since the overall framework of human rights and decency had got perverted. But I was happy enough in Australia performing my functions till March 2020 when the government became fundamentally evil.

I’d argue that the classical liberal can work inside the government in any role so long as he/she doesn’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

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Further notes on civil disobedience

I had raised some basic issues here a few days ago. I found a few minutes to undertake some background research. Here are some findings.

Above all, civil disobedience is entirely different to ordinary disobedience/ protest.

The idea of civil disobedience has a long history including the work of Gandhi which preceded Henry David Thoreau’s work by a year. The work to master the implementation of civil disobedience took Mahatma Gandhi many decades.

Civil disobedience is likely to lead to significant anguish and even injury for the volunteers. The volunteers must be mentally prepared to be injured by the police. The police are the instruments of the state and often consider that they are doing their duty. They can sometimes be excessively brutal in the performance of their “duty”.

Volunteers must be ready not only to be arrested but to be jailed – often for long durations. The government will try to record a criminal prosecution against the volunteers’ names, thus disrupting the volunteers’ future career. The sloppy record of Australia’s lawyers during the covid pandemic also means that there may not be an adequate defence of the civil disobedience volunteers in the courts.

In the light of this, the only reason why someone may choose to become a volunteer is because they firmly believe that a forthright challenge is needed to the authority to recover a semblance of humanity.

Three key principles of civil disobedience.

The first principle is that you maintain respect for the rule of law even while disobeying the specific law that you perceive as unjust. [Source]

The second principle of civil disobedience follows from the first: you should plead guilty to any violation of the law.  [Source]

the third principle of civil disobedience: you should attempt to convert your opponent by demonstrating the justice of your cause. [Source]

NOTES FROM TALAT AHMED’S BOOK

BASED ON Talat Ahmed’s 2019 book, Mohandas Gandhi: Experiments in Civil Disobedience

An illustrative act of civil disobedience: the Salt March

In 1930 Salt March, when [Gandhi] walked 240 miles from Ahmedabad to the coastal town of Dandi with 78 male volunteers. Under the 1882 Salt Act, the British had a monopoly on salt, levying a tax that all had to pay. Upon arrival at Dandi on 6 April 1930, Gandhi issued a statement to the world’s press saying that, although the government had not interfered with the march, ‘the wanton disregard shown by them to popular feeling and their high-handed action leave no room for doubt that the policy of heartless exploitation of India is to be persisted in at any cost.’ The only interpretation he could put on the non-interference in the march was that ‘the British Government, powerful though it is, is sensitive to world opinion’ which would ‘not tolerate repression’ of civil disobedience ‘so long as disobedience remains civil and therefore necessarily non-violent’. He would now test whether the government would ‘tolerate the actual breach of the salt laws by countless people’.4

Gandhi picked up a lump of muddy salt and declared ‘With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.’5 After boiling it in seawater to produce illegal salt, he implored his followers to do likewise ‘wherever it is convenient’.6 The effect was dramatic as 2,000 people bathed in the sea at Dandi with Gandhi to pick up salt and so declare the salt laws broken.7 Mass civil disobedience spread throughout India as millions broke the salt laws by making salt or buying illegal salt.

Built upon the principle of love and kindness

Civil disobedience “recognize[s] the eternal law of love, inherent in humanity”. – Leo Tolstoy.

“in the final analysis, his [Gandhi’s] intentions were not to overthrow the system but make it kinder.”

Moral foundations, even puritanism

Following from the above is generally an appeal to moral superiority of the position adopted by civil disobedience participants. Without such moral superiority being repeatedly demonstrated, there is little possibility of the underlying demand for change being accepted by the broader community.

In Gandhi there was  puritanical streak which catapulted him to the highest ranks in Indian society which admires such an approach even if it is hard for many people to abide by the expected standard. In n August 1921, Gandhi declared:

“We must understand thoroughly what self-purification means. Give up drinking alcohol, smoking ganja and eating opium. Give up visiting prostitutes …  Today India lacks the power for peaceful, civil disobedience of laws … But this power will not come through drinking and debauchery. Therefore give up drinking, give up debauchery. This has a very deep meaning. If you would rather have nothing to do with dirty things, you should become pure yourselves.”

The objective is to change public opinion

“No feats of heroism are needed to bring about the greatest and most important changes in the life of humanity … All that is necessary is a change of public opinion”. – Tolstoy.

The objective of civil disobedience is to press upon the general community the reasons why a particular law is immoral and therefore worthy of being disobeyed.

The CRITICAL role of imprisonment in civil disobedience

Thoreau proclaimed that “under a government that imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison.”  Gandhi and King would go to jail for much longer terms and willingly accept the punishment for breaking the law. [Source]

“Jail, no bail” was a rallying cry of the American civil rights movement. Gandhi reasoned that if the government’s jails are overwhelmed, and the government would have to compromise or collapse.

Martin Luther King Jr said about Gandhi’s strategy:

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon … a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it … He [Gandhi] struggled only with the weapons of truth, soul-force, non-injury and courage … Nonviolent resistance had emerged as the technique of the movement, while love stood as the regulating ideal. In other words, Christ furnished the spirit and the motivation while Gandhi furnished the method.

Specific roles chosen by volunteers of civil disobedience

This may appear outdated, but “at major protests” in Gandhi’s movements, “women were expected to nurse the male satyagrahis when they were struck down by police charges”. The issue here is that there needs to be preparation among the volunteers and allocation of roles – some would take the beatings by the police, others would tend to the injured.

Not the slightest scope for violence

“In the aftermath of the Chauri Chaura incident, on 12 February 1922, Gandhi called a halt to the Non-Co-operation Movement and suspended civil disobedience. Gandhi undertook a fast for five days as penance for what he considered a violent crime committed in his name. He was arrested and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment but released in February 1924 on health grounds”.

Only the strong can participate

“The aim is probably to become aware of the violence inside us; the result, however, is that only those who are psychologically strong can participate in these exercises.” [Source]

Strong preparation

“There is a significant difference between a course that is a direct preparation for civil disobedience” [Source]

This suggests that once a leadership has been identified, a systematic way must be found to build a training program for volunteers.

Plan, plan, plan. A half-century after the street struggles in Birmingham, no American movement has yet surpassed the strategic mastery of the civil rights movement. Civil rights leaders were fighting a war — nonviolently, but a war nevertheless — and they planned it as such. They mapped out protests to create escalating drama and pressure. They ran training schools for activists, teaching them how to ignore provocations to violence, among other lessons. [Source]

Advance notice to the Police and other preparation

See this.

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