Left, Thinking He’s Right
Which is why I found it both provocative and stimulating to hear Doug Wilson’s recent post on the political spectrum. For those who don’t know, Doug and I share a surname, but not much political common ground: he thinks European leftie Christians are loopy, and harangued Obamacare on the basis that it would create an American NHS, whereas I think America could really use an NHS, along with stricter gun control laws, higher petrol prices, more taxes, more environmental constraints, and all sorts of other unworkable loony left ideas. But it’s good to read people who disagree with you, particularly when (as with Doug Wilson) they are biblically grounded, thought-provoking and frequently hilarious. And the other day, he wrote the following reflections on Ron Paul, libertarianism and Luke 12:42-48:
If a man is given rule over others, this means that he has been given the power of coercion. If he is a godly man, he is going to be extremely wary of using that power in ways that violate the spirit and tenor of the wishes of his master. If he takes it upon himself to beat the others, help himself to the wine cellar, and to generally carry on as if his master was never going to return, then he is a fool … Coercion is a big deal, and so it ought not to be applied without warrant. This principle applies to everyone who has a position of rule that could be abused … Sometimes rich people are excessively humble, but that is not the sin that Scripture generally warns them away from. In a similar way, those with power are repeatedly told not to be greedy, overbearing, cruel, autonomous or idiotic. They are not generally warned about the dangers of excessive libertarianism in their rule. I grant that there is such an excess, but this ‘rule over others’ car generally veers toward the oppressive ditch when you let go of the wheel, not the laissez faire ditch. If we go into the business of aligning front ends, we need to learn at a minimum which direction the alignment usually requires.
As I say, I would imagine I disagree with Doug Wilson on the vast majority of political issues I can think of: education, healthcare, taxes, the environment, wars, capital punishment, gun rights, waterboarding, and pretty much everything except abortion. (Oh, and the invasive, rather silly and very shut-the-stable-door-after-the-horse-has-bolted airport security routines that have caused my toothpaste and shaving foam to be confiscated several times in the last year.) On the issues, I say tom-ah-to and he says tom-ay-to. But on the foundational question of what the authority of the state is ultimately there for, and how it should and should not be used – well, somehow I’m left, thinking he’s right.