Monday, July 09, 2007

Radical Islam vs. Statism

We are all evil people. Even Western culture, despite our Constantinian heritage. What makes Radical Islam a threat is its marriage of religion to the state. It sanctions the use of force as a means for achieving religious solidarity. The Western tradition finally rid itself of this same fault in the adoption of constitutional limited governments with reliable sensible laws. The pinnacle was reached in Blackstone’s Commentary on the English Common Law which was read by enough Americans that de Toqueville would say later, “The Americans are all lawyers.” The Anabaptist and Leveller traditions brought over from Europe separated Church from State in such a way that liberty reigned.

Radical Islam is not capable of conquering the world. It imposes economic structures which limit the capacity for growth and sustenance. There is a reason many societies governed by Sharia law have low productivity and concentrated wealth.

The rest of the world also lives according to a pagan concept of time and law. Many see their lives as static and fatalistic. They don’t think there is anything they can do to improve their lot, indeed the law frequently prohibits it. They look to those who hold power over them in fear but also for their sustenance. This is worship.

We should not be surprised then, that there are frequent wars among these peoples who do not believe in expansion of wealth, but only in its redistribution by power. The varying packs of wolves will always fight for a greater portion of the sheep.

A mistake is made when we ally ourselves to one pack of wolves or another. We often do so in the name of the sheep, but it is really to the detriment of another flock. When we fought Hitler we doomed Stalin’s sheep. When we fought Japan we left many more to the whims of Chaiman Mao. Better to let the wolves fight each other, and if possible to rescue some of the sheep away from the dogfight.

But we must keep our own dogs leashed lest they go wild. When we encourage warmongering we pit our Labradors against Mastiffs. We ought not to be surprised when they become more violent and occasionally bite our children’s hands. When we let them tug too hard at the leash and pull us around by regulating our industries we should not be surprised when we fall down for trying to hold on to them. When they eat too much of our taxes in the name of social welfare we ought not to be surprised when the make messes and vomit on the rug, leaving the poor with little dignity and the taxpayer in regret.

We ought to work to limit the role of the state in every way. But first we must take up the responsibility for the least of these ourselves. It is the unique and exclusive role of the church. If we fail in it we ought not be surprised when the state assumes our responsibilities.

Again, Islamic power is no worse than the potential of pluralistic secular power. We must work to keep our own dogs tame.

Nathanael Snow

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