Archive for freedom

I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of my friend Jeffrey Tucker’s new book Bit by Bit: How P2P is Freeing the World, and I wanted to share thoughts on the book with you. As you may recall, Mr. Tucker is a long-time friend of LCC and his work was highlighted in Doug Stuart’s recent blog post as well. Here is my brief review on Amazon.com:

Jeffrey Tucker is a fantastic essayist whose work I have admired for nearly a decade. This latest book collects a number of his most excellent pieces over the past few years discussing how technology is enabling more and more liberty in the world. For example, the technological innovation of the Bitcoin system is easily one of the most exciting developments for freedom in the past few decades, and Mr. Tucker explains why in a concise yet erudite manner.

The essays in this piece are quite fun to read, but do lack a bit of cohesive flow over the course of the book. Overall, I recommend that one reads it one essay per sitting, taking a moment each time to reflect on the joy that Mr. Tucker builds into his work.

My favorite piece in the book is about how capitalism is ultimately an act of love and community. This unique take on something most of us take for granted is illuminating and exciting. I cannot recommend this single essay enough to you. Many of these pieces can be found online throughout the web and especially at Liberty.me. I recommend that all readers take a look at Mr. Tucker’s regularly updated blog there and continue learning from him.

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voting_emma_goldmanToday, being the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, is election day. Aside from the fact that I don’t vote, and therefore couldn’t even vote for myself, there are a number of reasons why I could never be elected to office—any office: federal, state, or local.

Not in any particular order, here are twenty-five of them.

1. The war on drugs is a monstrous evil that has destroyed more lives than drugs themselves. It should be ended immediately. All drugs should immediately be legalized, not just marijuana. Everyone in prison solely on drug charges should be released immediately.

2. U.S. foreign policy is reckless, belligerent, and meddling, and has been for over 100 years. The United States should strictly adhere to the foreign policy of Thomas Jefferson: “Peace, commerce, honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none.”

3. Since the Constitution does not authorize the federal government to have anything to do with education, there should be no federal student loans, Pell grants, Department of Education, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, school breakfast or lunch programs, Head Start funding, math and science initiatives, etc. On the state level, there should be no public schools. Education should be a market service just like car repair and haircuts. However, since every state has a provision in its constitution for the operation of K-12 schools, they should have as much local control as possible.

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This article was jointly written by Doug Stuart and Jessica Hooker.

In Stoker’s original article, she outlined three objections to the compatibility of Christianity and libertarianism, with subsequent expansions in later posts. Our previous posts addressed her first two points, and this article addresses her third point. Read our first post here, and our second post here. A substantial amount of time has passed since the aforementioned posts were originally written, so we encourage you to review them for additional context.

The first biblical story about humans is about human action and consequences. Whether one takes the story of Adam and Eve as historical-factual or non-literal, the narrative in Scripture functions as more than a mere explanation of why sin exists or where humans come from. This origin story frames the questions about divine-human relationship: “How shall we relate to God?” and “What are God’s expectations?” (among others). Far from playing the part of Divine Puppeteer,  God bestowed Adam and Eve with the dignity of choice.  God had spent six days creating the good world in which God placed God’s crowning creation—mankind—and from our perspective God would have been justified in thwarting any attempt to mar that world.  If God was willing to give them such a level of freedom that could—and ultimately did—result in cursing a perfect world, how much more freedom are we then given in the small things? We may even wonder why God placed a tree in the garden whose fruit could bring such sadness and destruction into the world.

3) Libertarians value freedom so heavily because we believe in non-aggression; that is, that peaceful action is the only permissible way to treat others. The common good can never be reached through violence or coercion. 

In the freedom to choose right or wrong, good or evil, humanity has a considerable amount of freedom in both big and small. Stoker is right in that the explicit freedom spoken of in Scripture is about freedom from sin and freedom to righteousness. But this far from negates libertarian free will! Throughout the Scriptures we see God imploring humanity to choose the way of life. Israel was beckoned at the beginning of Joshua, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” They were free to reject God’s covenant, free to reject God’s justice, and free to reject God’s blessings for doing it “God’s way.” It is here that we find an inherent integration of our Christianity and our libertarianism. God did not create us puppets on a string, controlling our every move, making us do right. Nor did Jesus implore us to preach the gospel, and—if people reject it—declare ourselves, by proxy through the state, masters of their morality. We are never called to make Jesus Lord of other people’s lives. One of the aspects of Jesus’ Parable of the Sower is that absent the story is the forceful “plowing under” of the seeds, a common and expected practice in his culture. Jesus was saying (in part) God’s Kingdom comes peacefully, not forcefully. We can not force it to happen!

This is where we believe Stoker ultimately misses the mark.  Throughout her series on Christianity and libertarianism, her arguments have hinged upon using force to coerce people to behave a certain way—her way.  She has stated that “Justice in the world actually occurs when people engage with others in a just way,” yet has failed to illustrate how it is just to forcibily take from those who have to give to those who have not.  Coerced charity is not charity at all.  Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is no better than doing the wrong thing for the right reason—it’s just the words that are reversed.

The prophet Micah tells the people of Israel, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, NIV).  Challenging words, indeed.  But here again we see the same thread we’ve been following through our previous two posts: the freedom to fail, to mess up, to choose wrongly or irresponsibly.

It is nearly impossible to read the narrative of the New Testament without considering the backdrop of the Exodus narrative in the Old Testament. Being released from bondage in Egypt was more than just slavery per se, it was—and still is—imagery that characterized the whole of human existence: bondage to powers that enslave us. Most Christians consider sin that which enslaves all of us. In this sense, the meaning of the Exodus narrative is fully captured in the climactic event of the entire Christian story: resurrection of Jesus. God has freed humanity from the bondage of sin through a new exodus, a new creation. We are thus freed from sin and the effects of sin. The Truth—Jesus—will set us free. We are set free for freedom. Stoker would rightly point out that the biblical writers were probably not thinking of what we call “Enlightenment freedom,” but there is no escaping that the gospel according to Jesus is freedom from all that enslaves, not simply our sinful nature or eternal destination. While this connect far from “proves” libertarianism, it certainly demonstrates compatibility with it.

Stoker concluded her first post with explaining why the state is the best means by which our collectively pooled resources are able to render help to those in need. It’s truly ironic, because where the Bible describes those who need rescue from oppression and slavery, it is from oppressive empires, which is exactly the type of institution which enslaves those whom God cares most about! God heard the cries of God’s people in Egypt, and responded by mocking, shaming,  and ultimately demolishing the Egyptian gods as they knew it. Stoker herself even recognizes the inherent power-over nature of the State, giving further credence to the libertarian claim that power easily corrupts! She cannot have both the State monopolizing the distribution of resources while at the same time chastising the institution of private property as “participation in state power.”

Comments on Stoker’s website have been disabled, but she is reachable on Twitter or via email. Please be kind and respectful if you write to her.

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Two articles came to my attention today that are well worth reading. The first comes from Judge Andrew Napolitano as an Easter reflection called Hope for the Dead. He suggests an intimate connection between the ideal of freedom and rising from the dead:

“When the government takes away our free will, the government steals a gift from God; it violates the natural law; it prevents us from having and utilizing the means to the truth. The moral ability to exercise free will to seek the truth is a natural right that all humans possess, and the government may only morally interfere with the exercise of that right when one affirmatively has given it away by using fraud or force to interfere with the exercise of someone else’s natural rights.

We know from the events 2,000 years ago, which Christians commemorate and celebrate this week, that freedom is the essential means to discover and unite with the truth. And to Christians, the personification, the incarnation, the perfect manifestation of truth is Jesus.”

Read the full article by the Judge here.

The second is by John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute and is entitled Jesus Lived in a Police State. He finds many similarities between how the Roman state acted around the time of Christ and how the US government behaves today:

“Just as police states have arisen throughout history, there have also been individuals or groups of individuals who have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age. Nazi Germany had its Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The gulags of the Soviet Union were challenged by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. America had its color-coded system of racial segregation and warmongering called out for what it was, blatant discrimination and profiteering, by Martin Luther King Jr.

And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for civil disobedience that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him. Yet for all the accolades poured out upon Jesus, little is said about the harsh realities of the police state in which he lived and its similarities to modern-day America, and yet they are striking.”

Read the full article here. Have any great articles you want to share? Let us know in the comments.

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Enjoy this great video from the Foundation for Harmony and Prosperity on the basic social principles of human flourishing. While not explicitly Christian, it is easy to see how it all fits together.

This is a great video to share with friends about why the non-aggression principle is so fundamental to how the world should be.

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