Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Shake the Dust off Your Feet

This post will go in a different direction.  In my earlier posts regarding this book (here and here), I believe the stage has been set – the theory of the case: what happens when a folk-religious society and a universal religion collide?  How does this collision alter the characteristics of each of the two traditions?  In future posts, I will examine the particulars of the folk-religious German tribes meeting with the universal Catholic religion.

But today, a detour.  This examination has brought to the fore some thoughts about libertarianism as a universal religion; it is here where we will spend some time.

Universal Libertarianism

Matthew 10:14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

We will come to this verse shortly; I offer it here only to suggest that this is kept in mind while reading the post.

We are told by some libertarians that the NAP is for all – regardless of background, tradition, culture, religion, etc.  It is universal.  That observation and historical analysis offer a mountain of evidence to the contrary is irrelevant: we just need to teach them, show them, be logical, demonstrate the economic benefits, etc.  Once we do this, they will see the light.

All this time we’re talking and sharing our Rational View
A billion other voices are spreading other news

-        Peaceable Kingdom, Rush

Or maybe not.  Others, myself included, believe that a certain cultural soil is beneficial, if not necessary – a tradition conducive from which liberty may blossom.  I have found the best example in what is referred to as Western Civilization, and specifically in the law and tradition of the Germanic Middle Ages.

The author places Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and several mystery cults in the category of universal religions.  These are characterized as revealed, prophetic, or historical religions. These are religions with specific doctrinal beliefs – these religions are doctrine-centered.

Universal religions offer access to an existence that transcends that which is normally associated with a biological view of human life – for example, eternal salvation:

According to most universal religions, this existence is attainable by all mankind through initiation into a community of belief and adherence to a universal ethical code.

You will find here a commonality with those who believe in a universal libertarianism: such as these offer an existence that transcends that which is normally associated with a biological view of human life.  Universal libertarians ignore the fact that humans are human – born into a tradition, culture, community; defining “liberty” (if they even care to at all) in a very different way than that offered by the libertarian understanding of the non-aggression principle.

This universalism goes further, to include…

…attitudes of general indifference or opposition toward the sociobiological principle of group survival through in-group altruism.

…a rejection of the world-accepting sociobiological principle of group survival through in-group altruism.

Again, a characteristic certainly inherent in many that can be described as universal libertarians.  Yet, how can “in-group altruism” be acceptable to a libertarian of any type?  One answer is offered by E. O. Wilson, when asked:

“How can altruism, which by definition reduces personal fitness, possibly evolve by natural selection?”  He responds: “The answer is kinship…”

Kinship – the foundation of “nation”; in other words, a natural (sociobiological) part of being human.  A similar response is offered by Mises (here) and Rothbard (here and here). 

Like other universal religions, the early Christian church was an artificial kin group, membership available to the individual without regard to sex, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.  Of course, it was held together in the body of Christ…which gave it an advantage over other universal religions – but I am getting ahead of myself.

To establish a religion that is to be accepted universally (voluntarily or by force) requires a world empire.  According to Ernst Troeltsch, this has been achieved in the past via several factors, to include:

…the destruction of national religions, which was a natural result of the loss of national independence; the mingling of races, which led to the mingling of various cults…

And in this we can see that individualism and universalism go hand in hand; a time of societal decay, massive population dislocations and relocations.  From Everett Ferguson:

Individualism may seem a paradox alongside universalism, but the two are corollaries.  The breaking of traditional patterns of inherited conduct in the enlarged world of the Hellenistic age threw men back upon themselves and gave opportunities for individual expression.

Absent these “traditional patterns of inherited conduct,” we are left with dictate to determine our patterns of conduct.  And who or what will dictate?  Of course, a universal state will happily step in to fill the void.  And we will find that such individualism will result in the most collectivist universalism known to man.  Just ask Cultural Marxists about their plans.


Having expanded on the idea of a world-rejecting universal religion, I have compared this to the desires of universal libertarians.  Am I equating one with the other?  Do I denounce Christianity for such universal hopes as I do libertarians?  No and no.

Christianity has something going for it that libertarianism – or any other man-made religion (or supposedly other-worldly religion) – doesn’t have: Christ, the Son of God.  Oh yeah…and God.

So now…you are wondering: what was the point of the verse with which bionic began this post?

Even Christ, in all His glory and with the might of God the Father behind Him, knew that not all would be open to His universal religion.  In light of this, you might think universal libertarians would be a bit more humble (and realistic) in their expectations.


From Elwin H. Powell:

Despite “a rising level of material comfort, and times of relative tranquility like the 2nd century A.D….beneath the splendor of imperial Rome was that ‘profound malaise common to aging nations,’ as Jacob Burckhardt said….

It is when society is in decline that universal religion finds its most fertile soil.  One may ask today: in the decline of western society, do we hold hope for universal libertarianism to spring forth, or will it be some other – perhaps destructive – universal religion that takes root? 

Or, if we are shown extreme mercy, a return to our Christian roots and traditions?


  1. Excellent. Not only did Jesus know others would not be open to Christianity, He knew they would openly oppose Him. And persecute Him. And His followers. His followers should expect it.

    "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me." - John 15:18-21

    And may He show us great mercy and favor so that we may return to Him and His desires for us.


  2. Hmm, not sure about this universalism...

    I als wonder how libertarianism relates to christianity. At first glance it seem to me that Christianity does not exclude libertarianism, but this not true for the reverse.

    Faith does not reject logic, but logic rejects faith.

    1. Rien,

      So, you put your faith in logic, huh?

    2. A synonym for faith is trust.

      You can trust logic but can you be certain you have all relevant data to perfectly inform your logic? In all matters?
      I do not trust you.
      I have no faith in you.

      Not enough data.

    3. Ron, could you elaborate?

      I am not sure what you mean by that.

      My personal perspective is that I have called myself a libertarian in the grey past. I no longer do though. In a sense I think that libertarianism is a kind of ultimate attempt to logicify religion. I.e. I can see how (christian) religion leads to libertarianism, but not the reverse.

      Keep in mind that I have not clearly formulated these thoughts, they are still evolving.

    4. Rien,

      Faith requires (and implies) belief. Ultimately, every human thought relies upon belief, including logic (and reason, too). You must believe that your faculties are capable of "logicifying" (awesome word, btw). We are finite beings.

    5. Thanks Ron,

      I disagree with that. But this is a deep issue. It has to do with the post-modernistic denial of absolute certainty. And greater minds than mine have argued for it. Still, I remain unconvinced.

      Philip K. Dick — 'Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.'

      In the same sense, there is a meta quality to logic. Logic seems to exist independent of the believer. It is 'outside' of us. Unfortunately we can observe it only a limited time, so we cannot be sure that it is is eternal and remaining. However for the time being our best bet is to act as if it is independent, universal and eternal.

      I even know some people who take this to be the "irrefutable proof of the existence of god".

    6. On what basis you accept Dick's trust worthiness? Are you a witness, can you personally verify all claims of fact by other people?

      By having faith/trust in them?

    7. Epistemology (Listeni/ᵻˌpɪstᵻˈmɒlədʒi/; from Greek ἐπιστήμη, epistēmē, meaning "knowledge", and λόγος, logos, meaning "logical discourse") is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge.[1]

      Epistemology studies the nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief. Much of the debate in epistemology centers on four areas: (1) the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to such concepts as truth, belief, and justification,[2][3] (2) various problems of skepticism, (3) the sources and scope of knowledge and justified belief, and (4) the criteria for knowledge and justification.

      The term 'Epistemology' was first used by Scottish philosopher James Frederick Ferrier in 1854.[lower-alpha 1] However, according to Brett Warren, King James VI of Scotland had previously personified this philosophical concept as the character Epistemon in 1591.[5]



  3. Partly up to Bishops to preach Subsidiarity as an antidote to their Open Borders to Universal (“free”) Healthcare.

  4. This article reminded me of the recent "Skin in the Game" by Nassim Taleb. I think you would enjoy the chapter about religions, in which he explains how the big religions have gorwn by, among other things, something he calls the "Minority rule".
    It's the same weakness of a democracy, which allows the existence of communist parties. But democratic parties aren't allowed under communism. So, under free speech laws, one can actively combat the institutions that permit it without consequences. This asymmetry of risk/payout is what makes a small minority exercise great power in centralized systems and why democracies become totalitarian eventually (Plato knew this already).
    It's a really good book.

    1. From what I can tell, Taleb is one of the most learned men alive. The entire Incerto is great.

      The opening quote of Skin In The Game admiringly refers to Ron Paul as "a Roman among Greeks."

      BM, please keep it up. I'm learning a great deal with your line of thinking.

    2. I finished the book last week. Its a good read. Not "up there" with Antifragile, but (almost?) as good as Fooled by Randomness