Paul's Passing Thoughts

From the Reformation to the Third Reich: Protestantism’s Impact on Western Culture – Part 7

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 14, 2017

The following is part seven of a nine-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s fifth session
at the 2014 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for introduction
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part eight
Click here for conclusion


The Rise of National Socialism and the Assault on Capitalism, Continued…

Capitalism has become a byword in the United States, actually a byword globally. Rarely do you hear anyone speak openly about being a capitalist, and that is because there is an-all out assault to destroy capitalism. And that assault is largely led by the fact that most people have no clue what it is. No one has ever explained it to them. Capitalism is not specifically economics, and most people are only vaguely aware of what economics are.

There is a common mis-conception that there are forms of capitalism and that various governments practice various forms of capitalism. This is actually not true. There is only one form of capitalism. In the 18th century, a group of French economists called the Physiocrats identified that wealth was the product of individual production. John Locke arrived at a similar conclusion – that property was the product of human labor; his reasoning power and his action to organize whatever his substance is.

The Physiocrats said that the nature of production is the source of wealth, and they came up with the term “laissez-faire capitalism”, which literally means “let them do as they please.” They identified correctly that individuals will solve their own problems with their own production and that the government should not be anywhere close to it.   This was a profound contrast to the traditional explanation of a nation’s wealth, e.g., it was either the wealth of kings, the country’s gold reserves, the country’s arable land. They were the first to formulate that government should keep their hands off of economic transactions.

This is where the issue of “forms” of capitalism comes into play. Capitalism is like the definition of water. The chemical formula of water is H2O. Now you can add a lot of things to H2O, and you can add some tasty things to H2O. You can add some sugar and some Kool-Aid, and you still have water, but you also have now Kool-Aid. And you can drink it. But if you are in the Jim Jones cult and you add something else, suddenly water becomes poison. And my metaphor is apt with capitalism. As John Locke correctly identified, it is a man’s labor that produces prosperity. A man produces to advance and sustain his life, and that production is his property alone. There is no distinction between the man and that which he produces.

When you start out as a farmer in a basic economy, you have a seed of corn, you plant a seed of corn, and you have to wait 12 weeks for that seed of corn to come up and actually have a harvest. Now if you are only planting one seed and getting one ear of corn out of your cornstalk, you are going to be hungry.

But let us assume you have the ability to produce thousands of seeds of corn and then have a specific harvest. Now you spend all of your time planting that corn and then specifically getting that harvest. But corn is not shoes, and it is not shirts, and it is not beef. So you have to have a means by which to get these other things. The only peaceable way to get those other things is to trade, and the nature of trade means without force.

There is no compulsion in a free economic transaction. The parties are willing, and the parties decide on the values that they want to trade. That’s it. This concept is only possible in a politically free environment. Capitalism is the product of liberty, and this is crucial to understand.   It is the individuals who enter into social contracts, and it is the government that is given the limited permission to act. It is only within that environment that people are free to trade. There is no compulsion, and when I say compulsion, I mean force. I mean violence. Just because you want to eat, your necessity is not the guy who has food. You do not get food from him by compelling him to give it to you. If you were by yourself out in the middle of nowhere and you were hungry, you would still have to work to feed yourself.

Conversely, just because you would go to a guy who already has the food does not mean he compels you to come to him to get food. The responsibility of your survival, of individual survival, is the responsibility of the individual. The peaceable way to make that happen is to exchange value for value. In a social context, there are many people offering value into this environment, and you have the ability to pick whatever you want or not. The absence of compulsion, the absence of violence, is the central theme.

There are only two kinds of markets: compulsory or free. In a compulsory market, you have no choice about what can be bought or sold. There is no choice about the disposal of property, and there is no recognition of private property. In the United States we do not have a capitalism economy. We have a mixed economy because we have compulsion. We have to ask the government permission to take action to exchange our goods and services. This is not a capitalist economy.

The other kind of market is a free market. This presumes private property. The definition of private property is the right to an action, the right to dispose of that property or the right to retain that property. A free market then is simply two people willingly exchanging values. A free market is never present when there is fraud, which is a misrepresentation of reality, where you have specifically deceived the other party about the nature of reality. A free market is never present when there is force or implied force, which is extortion.

So a free market only exists where there is private property and free individuals. Free individuals produce value, and they must be entitled to their private property, and private property by definition means they can dispose of it as they see fit.

Next we have to have a root discussion of money. You have to understand what money is and what money is not. You don’t work to get money. You work to create money. Consider once again the seed planting example. After you harvest your field you now have a big sack of corn. Your neighbor may need corn to feed to his herd of cows so he is willing to trade you a sack corn for one cow. The problem is you may not need a cow, what you need are new tires for your tractor. Obviously, cows are not tires.

In this situation, trade becomes an inefficient means of exchange. In addition, payment in kind is impractical at a distance. What is needed is the creation of a medium of exchange, and this was the emergence of money. You needed a means by which you could represent a bag of corn or a cow or tires for the tractor.

Furthermore, when you are done harvesting your corn you now have tens of thousands of seeds. What you do not eat between the end of harvest and the beginning of next season is your excess. This is work (production) that is now stagnant. It is not doing anything. It is not producing anything. This excess prosperity is called capital. You need that excess prosperity to continue through time which allows you to plan for your next action of prosperity, your work to produce more.

Well, in an agricultural environment the distance on your production is your growing cycles, maybe a year. But the more industrialized you get, the longer your production cycle, your sight line, has to be, so you need larger and larger holds of production held in store. This is the root of capital. It is production held in a static state that you have the ability to then distribute down through time so you can produce your next action.

Well, of course, for lots of reasons, gold and silver became the standard means by which you could actually take a cow and exchange it for corn, and that coin then began to hold value. Over time, a particularly productive person might accumulate lots of coin. That coin represents capital, but that accumulation of capital is not producing anything. At the same time, this productive individual has no reason to give up this capital unless he has some incentive to put his gold at risk. In a capitalist society there is a fundamental need to take capital (static production) and then give it the opportunity to be put into production either by the holders of the capital directly or by other people who want to take the risk. This is the basis for interest or usery.

Now in a free market, in a capitalist culture, you have no guarantees. The government is not there to penalize you, and it is not there to advantage you. If at any point the government enters in and compels or restrains economic action, we are no longer talking about capitalism.

The single greatest expansion of prosperity occurred between the 18th century and the 19th century. And the reason the greatest expansion of prosperity occurred is precisely because John Locke correctly defined the exact requirements for government. The United States of America, and for a very brief time Great Britain, put into practice the logical result which was “laissez-faire” capitalism. This time period is called the Industrial Revolution. Man set out to solve his own problems, and wealth exploded.

There is a common misconception then when someone gains wealth it is because he took it from someone else, as if there is a giant pie, and every time someone takes a piece there is less for everyone else. There is no pool out there somewhere called “wealth” from which people partake. Wealth is created when individuals produce. Therefore when production increases, so does wealth. Man creates his own level of prosperity. He creates it every day he applies his work product.

The assault against liberty and capitalism and the production of wealth started almost immediately. It specifically started with doctrines that were designed to:

  1. Eradicate reason from man
  2. Place man back in state control

This two-fold philosophical assault against wealth is what led to the rise of Hegel and then Karl Marx. These men crafted an immoral justification for the destruction of capitalism. But here is the thing. You cannot destroy capitalism without destroying liberty, and you cannot destroy liberty without destroying capitalism. Since capitalism is merely free individuals acting to exchange values willingly, the moment you put the government in charge of either side of the equation, either production or person, you are destroying liberty.   This is exactly what happened at the turn of the 19th century.

Even though the First World War did not go well for Germany, it still became an enormously successful industrial nation. They had some totally inept leadership. The Weimar Republic was a joke. In their minds they were still Prussian. They were still sort of under monarchy and tried to throw that off somewhat.

Following WWI the rest of Europe decided to pile on the German people and really make them pay for it. Over time that began to wear on them. With economic collapse right on the horizon, you can begin to understand why the German people consistently discussed the issue of greed. They resented other people’s prosperity, and this is central to the rise of National Socialism.

Here are some excerpts of what became the National Socialist platform, originally published in 1920. This will give you some sense of what they are after. As you read through these, pay close attention to what they advocated, and contrast that with John Locke, and liberty, and the United States.

“12. In view of the tremendous sacrifices in property and blood demanded of the nation by every war, personal gain from the war must be termed a crime against the nation. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.”

Now think of what this really means. They are saying sacrifice is an ethical ideal, and because some sacrificed, anybody who prospered from their sacrifice, equating their profit with sacrifice, must necessarily have all of what they created confiscated. This completely eliminates the reality that the government is what went to war. The government is what caused the death and destruction, and in order to fight the war, the government asked businesses to create this production.   Now they are blaming profit for their problems when in actual fact it was the government’s fault.

“13. We demand the nationalization of all enterprises converted into corporations.”

“14. We demand profit sharing in large enterprises.”

Where have you heard that in modern American culture? The endless determination to denounce big business as if the people who do not work have a moral right to the product of somebody else’s work?

“15. We demand a large-scale development of old age pension schemes.

“16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound middle class, the immediate communalization of large department stores which are to be leased at low rates to small tradesmen.

“17. We demand the most careful consideration for the owners of small businesses in orders placed by national, state, or community authorities.”

This is the absolute eradication of private property. For people who have been successful, the nature of their success necessarily means that the government should somehow penalize them for their success. The communalization of large department stores. The reason that large department stores appeared is because they became better at delivering the best quality products for the best price to the most people. How many times have you heard people say that Walmart is somehow fundamentally evil? Yet everybody benefits because Walmart gets you the products you are willing to pay for at some of the best prices anywhere. Your life is better, and yet somehow because Walmart cannot be fleeced every five minutes for its money there is something fundamentally evil about that.

“18. We demand land reforms in accord with our national needs and a law for expropriation without compensation of land for public purposes, abolition of ground rents and prevention of all speculation in land.”

This is talking about the seizing of property.

“19. We demand ruthless battle against those who harm the common good by their activities…”

Now watch what they define as harm.

“…persons committing base crimes against the people, usurers, profiteers, etc., and are punished by death without regard to religion or race.”

In other words, bankers. Bankers were Jews. Jews had capital. Profiteers, people who made money. Give over your profits or we are going to kill you.

When it came right down to it, they could declare anybody they wanted to be a profiteer, and that is exactly what they did. That was the real focus of the Jewish hatred, centralized in their ultimate covetousness. They wanted prosperity, but in their view the way to get prosperity was to seize it from most people who had created it or to kill them. The presumption was that if somebody else has it, if I do violence to them, I can get it.

“The Party as such stands for positive Christianity, without associating itself with any particular denomination. It fights against the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a permanent revival of our nation can be achieved only from within, on the basis of Public Interest before Private Interest.”

Take note of that: “Public interest before Private interest.” Man is first and foremost the property of the State. You have no private interest. Your only interest is your specific responsibility to the collective. These are the founding ideas that brought forth Adolf Hitler. He is not the cause. He is merely the extension of a logical body of ideas. And at the root, what causes good men to do nothing? Change the definition of good.

I just produced for you from start to finish how they defined good.   At the root, they said man is not entitled to his own life. He is not entitled to his work product. He must sacrifice his life on behalf of the collective. They changed the definition of good.

“You didn’t build that.”

That is not your property. The government has to give you permission. You want to understand what actually happened in the rise of National Socialism? You want to understand why the Church was so specifically involved in the rise of socialism? Because the Church fundamentally believed the exact same things. They ultimately believed that man had no business with himself.

The reality is that socialism is not a kinder, gentler economic organization, and I frankly don’t care how you parse it up. I don’t care whether you say it is communism, socialism, or fascism. Ultimately, the end result is about who owns man? As long as the state owns man, there is no liberty. And if there is no liberty, there is no production, and if there is no production, there is no prosperity.

To be continued…

Click here for introduction
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five
Click here for part six
Click here for part eight
Click here for conclusion


From the Reformation to the Third Reich: Protestantism’s Impact on Western Culture – Part 5

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 11, 2017

The following is part five of a multi-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s fourth session
at the 2014 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for introduction
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight
Click here for conclusion


Editor’s note: I realize up front that this next article is long, but the content is powerful and emotional, and I do not want to break up the continuity or diminish the sense of John Immel’s passion in this segment.


The Inspiration of John Locke

Aristotle had become re-institutionalized into Western thought. We now fast-forward about 500 years to the Age of Enlightenment and the Renaissance.   Reason has become effective and successful. Man’s life on earth is effective and successful, and we are trending towards where the seeds of political liberty are finally starting to emerge.

The continental rationalists started with Descartes. Descartes started with doubt. He said to himself, “I think. Therefore, I am.” This is an unfortunate formulation because it is effectively a primacy of consciousness formulation. It starts with consciousness first and then presumes being. It presumes existence. This, of course, causes all sorts of problems. Subsequent thinkers like Spinoza and Leibniz take these concepts and run with them. It produces some real conflicts in philosophy.

Finally we arrive at John Locke. John Locke is an empiricist, and he says exactly the opposite. He says, “Wait a minute. It is not reason that is first. It is actually the nature of human experience and perceptions by which we encounter the world.” So that sends us on the right track. It sounds very similar to Aristotle, but it is not Aristotle.

You must grasp that during this time period there are no options in Christianity. You have Catholicism, and you have Lutheran-Calvinist orthodoxy. There are other variants of Christianity out there, but for the most part, they are so politically and socially insignificant as to really not be an option. We are also still within the framework where being an atheist is punishable by death, and that prevails, depending on the country, well into the 19th century. So you really don’t have a genuine secular alternative, meaning a State not wrapped around religious orthodoxy.

Well, people are finally starting to become bold. They can tell that there must be a dramatic shift, and the fundamental problems and conflicts that they are identifying are directly tied to church tyranny and political freedom. Locke is the philosophical apogee of the Enlightenment and the advocacy of reason, and as we will see shortly, the assault against reason starts almost immediately after Locke. Fortunately for us, by the time of the American Revolution, John Locke was a household name, and the concept of natural rights had spread throughout the colonies.

The brilliant thing about John Locke was his political philosophy. Locke wrote a few books. His most influential was The Second Treatise of Government. I do also do recommend you pick up A Letter Concerning Toleration. I’m going to give a few excerpts from that one because it will give a sense of how Locke is arguing against church-statist control.

“Since you are pleased to inquire what are my thoughts about the mutual toleration of Christians in their different professions of religion, I must need answer you freely that I esteem the toleration to be the chief characteristic of the mark of the true Church. For whatsoever some people boast of the antiquity of places and names, or the pomp of their outward worship; others, of the reformation of their discipline; all, of the orthodoxy of their faith – for everyone is orthodox to himself – these things, and all others of this nature, are much rather marks of men striving for power and empire over one another than the Church of Christ.”

There could be no greater truer aphorism. Everybody assumes that their own definition of Christianity is right. Everybody assumes that. And I find it fascinating that he points out that we cannot make orthodoxy the premise by which we have religious toleration. Here is another excerpt.

“In the second place, the care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate, because his power consists only in outward force; but true and saving religion consists in the inward persuasion of the mind, without which nothing can be acceptable to God. And such is the nature of the understanding, that it cannot be compelled to the belief of anything by outward force. Confiscation of estate, imprisonment, torments, nothing of that nature can have any such efficacy as to make men change the inward judgment that they have framed of things.

“It may indeed be alleged that the magistrate may make use of arguments, and thereby, draw the heterodox into the way of truth and procure their salvation. I grant it; but this is common to him with other men. In teaching, instructing, and redressing the erroneous by reason, he may certainly do what becomes any good man to do. Magistracy does not oblige him to put off either humanity or Christianity, but it is one thing to persuade and another to command, one thing to press with arguments, another with penalties. This civil power alone has a right to do; to the other, goodwill is authority enough.”

I want you to notice he is correctly making the distinction that authority and force are the same thing. Governments are tools of compulsion. When you hear men making the argument that they have the right to ask you to submit to their authority, they are really declaring the right to use force against you to compel you to a given outcome.

Locke is making the correct assessment that the nature of government compulsion should not be mixed in with religious conviction. This is an evolution of thought. You have lived with this for so long in your lives that you honestly have a hard time conceptualizing it not being true. In all of my subsequent discussions with people, whenever we disagreed, whenever we’ve come at these things at different ways and from different frameworks, one of the things that I find so impressive is how genuinely indignant people are that they shouldn’t be entitled to their own opinion. We are absolutely daughters and sons of the Enlightenment! Until the Enlightenment, such a notion did not exist – it was nowhere – that one has the right to be an independently thinking creature in one’s own behalf. This is absolutely the product of the Enlightenment and more particularly of John Locke’s arguments.

Here’s another quote from A Letter Concerning Toleration.

“The care and salvation of men’s souls cannot belong to the magistrate; because, though the rigor of laws and the force of penalties were capable to convince and to change men’s minds, yet would not that help at all to the salvation of their souls.

“For there being but one truth, one way to heaven, what hope is there that more men would be led into it if they had no rule but the religion of the court and were put under the necessity to quit the light of their own reason, and oppose the dictates of their own conscience, and blindly to resign themselves upon the will of their governors and to the religion which either ignorance, ambition, or superstition had chanced to establish in the countries where they were born?”

That’s a wordy way of saying men should be entitled to the rights of their own lives, and the nature of their religious convictions should be determined by conscience. You take that for granted. In the United States of America, we have a hard time conceptualizing religious wars because our Founding Fathers were brilliant. They approached the nature of government with the expectation of the separation between Church and State.

As a result, the result of our religious disagreements in the United States are church splits for the most part. One group in the church wants the color of the carpet to be pink. Another group says they want it to be blue. They get fussed, and they decide, “You know what? I’ll start my own church. Doctrinally blue is better.”

Well, that’s the sum, and it frankly doesn’t matter how egregious the doctrinal fight. At whatever point of disagreement, everybody goes, “Well, I’m just going to start my own church.” And they do, which is why in America religion has exploded with flavors of denomination, and in almost any given city you can see where first church became second church that became third church that became fourth church on all four corners – it was essentially the same people and the same orthodoxy. This is directly tied to the fact that the American Church has never had access to genuine civil power.

I made this point earlier. A secular government is a free government because a secular government should be agnostic. Its interests have no interest in religious orthodoxy it. It is not interested in a doctrinal standard, and I understand why Christians find that truly scandalous, but you must hear me here. Your freedom is directly tied to a secular, agnostic government. Now, that is different than a government that professes atheism and chooses to oppress alternate positions. That is actually the reverse form of political tyranny. What I am talking about is a government that gives no advantage and gives no penalty based on religious conviction.

Here is another excerpt from Lock. I find this example humorous.

“Let us suppose two churches – the one of Arminians, the other of Calvinists – in the city of Constantinople.

“Will anyone say that either of these churches has right to deprive the members of the other of their estates and liberty because of their differing from the same doctrines and ceremonies… (while the Muslims laugh to see with what inhuman cruelty Christians thus rage against Christians?)

“One of these churches has the power to treat the other ill. To which of them does this power belong and by what right?

“It will be answered, undoubtedly, that it is the orthodox church which has the right of authority over the erroneous or heretical. This is, in great and specious words, to say just nothing at all. Every church is orthodox to itself; to others, erroneous and heretical.

“So the controversy between these churches about the truth of their doctrines and the purity of their worship is on both sides equal; nor is there any judge, either at Constantinople or elsewhere upon earth, by whose sentence it can be determined.

“If it could be manifest which of these two dissenting churches were right, there would not accrue thereby unto the orthodox any right of destroying the other. For churches have neither any jurisdiction in worldly matters, nor are fire and sword any proper instruments wherewith one convince men’s minds of error, and inform them of the truth.”

At the 2013 TANC Conference, Susan Dohse did a fantastic job of explaining Augustine and his use of violence as a doctrinal standard to compel men to the Church. I invite you to go back and review what she said. What Locke is saying here is in direct defiance of Augustinian ideology. It is in direct defiance of Calvinist ideology. Both men presumed the right of the Church to compel rational compliance.

Locke’s arguments become foundational for what ultimately becomes the secular government of the United States; the belief in the expectation of the division between religious conviction and political power. In his book, Second Treatise of Government, Locke opens his work with a definition of terms. He summarizes his initial thoughts:

“Political power, then, I take to be a right of making laws with penalties of death – and consequently all less penalties – for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defense of the commonwealth from foreign injury; and all this only for the public good.”

Now he is defining his terms about the nature of what political force is, what is the legitimate purpose of government. It is specifically for the defense of the property and the “public good.” Now I want to make this distinction. When I say “public good”, most people confuse this with the collectivist assertion of “common good”. Locke doesn’t mean this. When Locke says for the “public good,” he means the good of individuals.

The State of Nature
This becomes a common phrase in the Enlightenment. Thomas Hobbes used it, Jean Jacques Rousseau used it, and so it is ambiguous and inconsistent. For Hobbes, state of nature meant that man is basically a barbarian and that the nature of his barbarity needs restraint. So because of that need for restraint, government’s function is designed to handcuff man in his most base passions. This idea is echoed by Edmund Burke when he said that it is through government that man forges his fetters by virtue of the fact that he really doesn’t have self-control. This a very Hobbesian position.

Rousseau has a very similar concept of the state of nature, but he doesn’t think man is a barbarian as such. He thinks that the state of nature is man’s highest ideal. Man in his natural form is the height of the perfect predator in nature. He still thinks that the function of government is to restrict man, and therefore man gives something up when he enters society.

Here’s Locke’s definition. To understand political power correctly, man must first understand the state of nature. Man is perfect, so he is free, meaning man is at liberty to act as he pleases. He acts to dispose of his own possessions, and he acts to dispose of his own person. Think of it this way. If you live on a desert island by yourself, you are at liberty to organize your desert island to your own benefit, and it would require of you your highest and best reason to do so. Your very survival would be dependent upon your ability to organize your environment to your advantage, and you are perfectly free to dispose of everything that you create and your entire person to that end. The state of nature is a state of equality. All the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal. All the men are born to the same advantages of nature.

Now expand the example I gave so that now we two people on the same desert island. The exact same state exists between both men. They both have the ability to act and to dispose of themselves in the exact same fashion. That is their natural right. Locke goes on to say this means that God would not and could not appoint some men to subjugate others, and he says that the law that governs the state of nature is reason. Reason teaches all men that all men are equal and independent.

Now notice how this goes. Man’s existence requires his survival, and his survival requires that he successfully manages his own environment, that he specifically sets out to organize that environment such that he disposes all of his work product in service to that survival. All men exist in this state, and the reason they do so, the reason they are successful in this state is because the only way they can survive is by reason.

Notice how Locke is making the equation: Existence → survival → liberty → work → reason. All are integrated.

The state of nature is a state of liberty, but it is not a state of license. The law of reason says that since no man may harm other man’s life, health, liberty, or possessions, there is no subordination among men that authorizes one to destroy another. Inasmuch as man preserves his life, he must also seek to aid the preservation of another’s liberty, health, limb, and property. Notice that Locke’s state of nature requires man to acknowledge exactly the same thing in another man that he demands for himself. Reason, the law of nature, wills peace and the preservation of man.

Therefore, the law of nature puts in everyone’s hand the right to punish the transgressor of reason and to hinder the violation of reason with violence. Without the power of retribution, the law of nature would be in vain. In other words, without the ability to recompense the irrational, to give retribution to the irrational, reason could never thrive and survive. The law must have power to preserve the innocent and restrain offenders. If any one may punish evil, then everyone must be qualified. What any may do in prosecution of the law, everyone must be able to do to prosecute the law of reason.

Man’s power over another is not arbitrary or absolute. Individuals cannot vent their passions against a criminal without limitation. Retribution must be in proportion to criminal action. Violence can only be used to obtain reparation and restraint. But if criminals abandon restraint and reason, and declare themselves outside of the law of reason, these criminals become dangerous to men of reason and peace. So the dividing line of violence is when the un-reasonable and irrational initiate violence against reasonable and peaceful men. They trespass against the peace and safety of the whole of humanity. This abandonment grants mankind the right to destroy the one who abandons the law of reason, to make him repent of his actions, to deter him in continued action, and to make an example of those who would follow in his footsteps.

Every man has the right to punish the offender and executioner of the law of nature. The man who has been injured by a man who abandons the rule of reason not only has the right of punishment but also the right to obtain reparations. Furthermore, all people who respect justice may join the injured party to assist in recovering his restitution. The man who murders or commits unjust violence and slaughter has declared war against all mankind and may be destroyed just like you would kill a lion; a tiger with whom man cannot have society or security.

Locke is standing the historic philosophical perspective on its ear!

He is centralizing the entire right of man to exist for the sake of himself, and he is arguing directly that the nature of man’s existence demands that he be able to resist with violence all who wage war against his peaceability.

Locke says that punishment must be proportional to the crime, but the punishment must be sufficient to make continuing in the same action an ill bargain. This leads to Locke’s next point.

The State of War
This is a state of enmity and destruction intended by one man against another by word or action. The state of war is a deliberate intentional design to take a man’s life or property. When a state of war is initiated, the innocent has the right to destroy that which threatens his destruction just like you would kill a wild beast, because they have no commitment to common law or reason. The man who seeks to place another man in his absolute power has initiated a state of war. The man who seeks to place another man in his absolute control seeks to make him a slave. Slavery is merely the same as a state of war.

This was revolutionary. The determinism of Augustinian and Calvinist doctrine placed men in a specific relationship to their Creator. Their Creator appointed them their position. The justification for slavery was that it was your ordained place. Locke’s argument here says this is not true. Slavery is really an act of war. It is the possession of another man’s life that is not yours to possess. The nature of reason and the nature of peace eliminate slavery.

Of course, most of you who have done any work at all with American history know that slavery was one of the hardest things against which we fought. The universal justification for slavery was church doctrine. Modern Calvinists like to pretend that they have always been on the side of peace and prosperity and the brotherhood of all men. That is all nonsense. For centuries the right to enslave was considered an orthodox position. And the same argument that everybody used was when they would point to the fact that Paul consecrated the state of slavery when he told Philemon to go back to his slave master. And it frankly doesn’t matter that he ultimately told the slave master to take it easy. Ultimately, what Paul did is confirm that slavery was, in fact, something ordained by God. That’s one among many of the arguments.

The argument that inspired the Methodists and the Unitarians was this argument: natural rights. And this argument from John Locke was the inspiring force that started the Church to rethink the idea behind slavery.   Back in the 1700s, if you weren’t Calvinist orthodox or some variation of Calvinist orthodox, there were very few options, but the Methodists and the Unitarians happened to be two of them, and they rejected the fundamental translation making this argument. It took about 30 years to persuade the bulk of the colonies that slavery was in fact immoral.

The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth and not to be under the will or legislative authority of men. In society, the liberty of man is not under any legislative power except what is established by consent. Freedom from absolute arbitrary power is so fundamental to man’s life that he may not part with it, not even by consent.

Did you hear what I said?

Man cannot give up. It is so fundamental, this thing that man is, these natural rights and this reason is so fundamental to who he is he can’t even give it up by consent. Man may not enslave himself to anyone because no man can give more power than what he has. This is a brilliant argument. Slavery is a little more than a state of war sustained by legislative means. It is merely the relationship between conquered and captured.

Private Property
Locke’s definition of private property is an essential evolution of thought. He correctly establishes the roots of private property. Private property is the product of labor. Individuals employ their industry to create the substance of their lives. Man in the state of nature must work to survive. Man’s survival is directly tied to his labor. This makes man’s work a direct function of his life. This makes what he works at his property, and it must be private. Seizing man’s property then is the same thing as seizing his life. In an evolution of thought where it has always been assumed that the state is the political and social primary, where man is disposed to the will of the state, to correctly identify the location for the nature of work product, life and property was a profound advance.

Consider our discussion of the soul-body/mind-body dichotomy from the previous conference in 2013. The ability to take man and divide him in half and distribute those halves across whatever world you want to distribute them. For instance, John Calvin basically says that you have no right to complain about the nature of your existence. Who cares if you are persecuted? Who cares if the government comes and takes whatever they come and take? Ultimately, your treasures, your life, your values are all stored away in some other place, but here on earth you just have to suck it up, and that is your specific Christian responsibility.

That is Calvin’s argument. But notice he succeeds in doing this based on the soul-body dichotomy. He can say that your physical self is actually immoral and irrelevant. Your spiritual self is this thing that gets magically transported someplace else. By dividing man, he can make the moral justification that tyranny is morally acceptable.

The Dark Ages was rooted in this dichotomy. This was the justification for the church to seize earthly production. Man’s focus should be in the afterlife. Man’s material existence is morally inferior which means man’s industry is morally questionable.

But Locke is one of the first philosophers to successfully make the mind-body/soul-body integration. correctly identifies that man is indivisible from his work. He correctly integrates human existence by identifying reason as the root of man’s production and production as the root of man’s life. Thus, man’s life and man’s property are corollaries of the same existence. This is profound and powerful. I want to dance every time I consider this! This is an amazing philosophical achievement.

The standard objection to private property has always been that private property prevents some men from actually getting resources. In tribal cultures this had some validity because tribes did not have the concept of private use, but in fact they held everything in common. This social dynamic historically produced lack. But Locke applies reason to the process of wealth creation. He correctly identifies that man creates his own level of prosperity. Wealth is not static because wealth is the product of labor, and labor is expansive.

I want to read you a prolonged section from Locke.

“This is certain, that in the beginning, before the desire of having more than man needed had altered the intrinsic value of things, which depends only on their usefulness to man’s life; or had agreed that a little piece of yellow metal, which would keep without wasting or decay, should be worth a great piece of flesh, or a whole heap of corn; though men had a right to appropriate, by their labor; each one unto himself, as much of the things of nature, as he could use: yet this could not be much, nor to the prejudice of others, where the same plenty was still left to those who would use the same industry.

“To which let me add, that he who appropriates land to himself by his labor does not lessen, but increases the common stock of mankind: for the provisions serving to the support of human life, produced by one acre of enclosed and cultivated land, are ten times more than those which are yielded by an acre of land of an equal richness lying waste in common. And therefore, he that encloses land and has a greater plenty of the conveniences of life from ten acres, than he could have from a hundred left to nature, may truly be said to give ninety acres to mankind: for his labor now supplies him with provisions out of ten acres, which were but the product of an hundred lying in common.”

Notice his reason, that the nature of labor expands human prosperity, and he is exactly right. Man must successfully use his resources as effectively as possible. Private property demands of the man his highest and best reasoning capacity, his greatest efficiency. This is what has always elevated the rise of man’s natural material wealth. Private property is at the heart of increasing and never-ending prosperity. Locke correctly identifies that things laying in common actually do not have the optimal uses, but private property expands human resources because of labor and ownership.

Paternal Power
Locke correctly identifies that men do not give up rights when they join social contracts. They do not give up liberty to gain security, and this is actually a very important concept. It was very common for people to say that men needed to give up something to join society. Like I said, this was Hobbes and Rousseau and pretty much every other philosopher on the other side of this argument. The presumption is that I am only in restraint because there is no government compelling me to some given action, and that for me to enter society, to enter political agreements, what I’m really giving up is the nature of my own liberty. Locke says, “No. This is wrong.”

Remember the Augustinian and Calvinist doctrine of subordination. Government’s function is to restrain men. Government is compulsion to moral action, but Locke says not so.

“So that, however it may be mistaken, the end of law is not to abolish or restrain but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom, for liberty is to be free from restraint and from violence of others, which cannot be where there is no law. But freedom is not, as we are told, a liberty for every man to do as he lists: (for who could be free, when every other man’s humour might domineer over him?) but a liberty to dispose, and order as he lists, his person, actions, possessions, and his whole property, within the allowance of those laws under which he is, and therein not to be subject to the arbitrary will of another, but freely follow his own.”

I want you to notice the part I emphasized above. The nature of liberty is to be freed from restraint or violence. The reason I enter into political agreements is because I want to secure for myself security. I want to emphasize this point.

Locke is brilliant here. The legitimate function of government is to defend the individual from all encroachments. The function of government is to secure man’s freedom. Man’s freedom is expressed in his action to dispose his life and property. Government’s limited function is to defend man in that freedom or pursue restitution or retribution for those men who enter a state of war.

Notice how does progression works. Man is the sovereign political unit. Man creates private property. Man needs a means to defend himself from the irrational, so he voluntarily enters into agreements with other men with the exact same premise. They consent to government to gain liberty, not to lose it. Government’s function is no longer fetters. Government’s function is defense. It is the defense of the individual who is living his life in the pursuit of life and prosperity and happiness. Now you can begin to understand where the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the Constitution got the substance of their arguments.

The Beginnings of Political Societies
It is here that Locke identifies the correct order of social relationships. Historically, it was assumed that State was the social primary. Men were born into the State, and their lives were disposed of at State will. Locke says this is backwards.

“Men being by nature all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without consent. A man can only divest himself of natural liberty, and put on bonds of civil society, by agreeing with other men to join and unite for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living amongst another, in secure enjoyment of their properties.

“This any number of men may do, because it injures not the freedom of the rest; they are left as they were in the state of nature. When any number of men have so consented to make one community or government, they are thereby presently incorporated, to make one body politic, wherein the majority have a right to act and conclude the rest.”

Here is his progression. Man is first a free and sovereign agent. Man labors to create property to satisfy his survival and enjoyment. He seeks social relationships to expand his freedom. His consent is to social contacts, and government is by consent of the governed for the express purpose of defending his life, peace, and property.

Legislative Power
The extent of Legislative power cannot take from any man any part of his property without his own consent. The reason man enters into political agreement is to sustain and enjoy his property, so he cannot then enter society and then have society expropriate his property. Thomas Paine echoed this concept.

“It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights. It operates by contrary effect – that of taking rights away. Rights are inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those rights, in the majority, leave the right, by exclusion, in the hands of a few…They…consequently are instruments of injustice…The fact, therefore, must be that the individuals, themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, enter into contract with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.” ~ Common Sense, chapter 5

Dissolution of Government
Since government is by consent, the government is dissolved when the legislature takes upon itself the power to make laws that people do not appoint them to make. This is very important. A legislature does not become autonomous and sovereign by the fact that it was created. The people sustain their political sovereignty. When a legislator acts in this fashion, the people have no obligation to obey the laws. They can refuse to obey as an act of refusing to be subjugated. And the logical outworking is everyone returns to the state of nature, at the pleasure of his will as he was before contract.

So rejecting the legislature, an unjust legislature, is not chaos. It is not anarchy. It merely means that man reverts to his original state of nature. This would be the answer to a runaway bureaucracy that is neither elected nor subject to the people like when Congress decided to start giving legislative power to bureaus in the United States. Just an observation.

  • Governments are dissolved when a single person sets up his own arbitrary will in place of laws, like presidents who pass endless executive orders.
  • Governments are dissolved when a single person hinders the legislature. When this person suspends legislature, he is in effect putting an end to the government the people instituted.
  • Governments are dissolved when one man seeks to alter elections and thereby change the legislature to which the people consented.
  • Governments are dissolved if the “prince” (Locke’s word) or the legislature deliberately delivers the people into the subjugation of a foreign power.

The people entered into political agreement to be governed by their own laws. They cannot be transferred into a government that was not authorized by their own consent.

Americans, hear me…

It is treason for any member of the American government to act to deliver the American people into the hands of the United Nations!

We did not authorize the existence of them to govern us. Our constitution is unique and proprietary. We have the right to define our own body of laws.

Here is Locke’s summary. When legislators and agents of the government act against the trust of the people by invading their property, they, the government agents, are the ones who are initiating force, and they are the ones who are the rebels. They are the ones committing treason against the people. Never lose sight of the fact that men enter into civil government to exclude force from social interaction and to preserve their individual property and peace and unity. So those representatives of government who use force in opposition to the laws are the rebels against the state of nature. They are hiding behind the pretense. They claim authority to justify their actions, but they are the ones who bring back and initiate the state of war. They are the ones who have overthrown the government.

This is a profound and important distinction. The government of the United States is for the people and by the people. The fact that we elected legislators does not make them the politically sovereign unit. The State in the United States is not sovereign. The people are sovereign, and they grant limited function to the legislators, the state governments, the federal government, and the judiciary.

We have catastrophically lost this concept in the United States, and I want to draw your attention because this point is specifically and expressly made in the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they that are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed – that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to those ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it and to institute new Government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing the powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.” ~ from, The Declaration of Independence

Please notice the emphasized part. This is John Locke. This is at the root of our government. The United States government is not the political sovereign. The people are the political sovereign, a people committed to reason, peace, life and prosperity and property. When governments use force in direct violation of the express social contract, the government is committing treason.

Now you can have some sense of scope. Now you’ve seen the evolution from the disaster that was Augustinian ideology to the evolution of thought that began to inspire men to believe and commit themselves to trust in reason and for man to begin to solve his own problems. Then comes John Locke, and he successfully identifies the core elements of political liberty.

This was huge, and it was this event that created the sense of life in the Enlightenment. Generations of European Christians accepted the premise of human depravity as self-evident, as have all socio-political organizations founded on the metaphysical premise that man is a sinner who inhabits a fallen world.

By the late 18th century and early 19th century, this social assumption had been dealt a mortal blow. People were living through the greatest expansion of liberty and knowledge and prosperity the world had ever seen. Men had the proof that life was filled with opportunities, that the future could be bright because the future could be built. Every technological advance, every disease, every pain, every new level of mass prosperity was one more example of the fraud the Church had perpetrated on humanity. It was a conclusion born from seeing the world’s harsh and brutal environment mastered and ordered and pacified.

The Medieval Age had no such contrast. The world of gargoyles and superstition and brutality was all anyone had ever known. So there was an internal logic to the Church’s ban on reason and science. All the world knew was despotism and dogmatism and the poverty that those twin destroyers bring. But the 17th century was the beginning of the Enlightenment and the full immersion of Aristotelian thought into the minds of men, and by the time history arrives in the 19th century, man was without excuse.

The Roaring Twenties roared for a reason. Man was fruitful. Man enjoyed life. And for the first time in world history, man could see a vision of life that held endless possibilities. It seemed that man was on the verge of solving the world’s problems. Man woke up seven days a week and saw man’s ability to triumph. He went to church one day a week to be told he was a sinner, life was hopeless, and man’s highest ethical ideal was death. But man knew there was a disconnect. Something was wrong with this picture.

The men of the Enlightenment could see the living contrast between the American form of government and the despotism that had dominated the whole of Europe. Indeed, anywhere medieval doctrines have dominated American life, they could see the manifestations of slavery, poverty, and war.

Church doctrine condemned the whole of man’s existence, but man’s existence was very obviously not the impotent, ulcerous, cancerous sore described by the preacher. America’s founders knew that the Church must be separated from the State, and for only the second time in human history, there was a truly secular state. The state was agnostic, giving no advantage to statements of orthodoxy. Man was free to follow his conscience. Man was free to create and prosper, and the greatest political achievement man had ever known led the world into the greatest expansion of peace and prosperity the world had ever seen.

Government’s only function was the defense of the individual in pursuit of his life, liberty and happiness. The shining light on the hill, the amazing beacon of hope, the culmination of the Enlightenment thought and political organization, was the United States of America.

To be continued…

Click here for introduction
Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part six
Click here for part seven
Click here for part eight
Click here for conclusion