Thursday, May 06, 2010

Amoral Reason for Limited Government

I've often wrestled with many of the moral arguments in favor of small government. Though I value the Declaration of Independence as much as the next American, the idea of personal and property rights being given to us by God has never sat right with my understanding of depraved humanity. Just recently I discovered two different types of libertarianism. The first, Deontological libertarianism, is the idea that acts of force are always immoral, whether by man or government. The other, Consequentialist libertarianism, states that liberty leads to the most prosperous outcome and should for that reason alone be supported. Whether it's drugs, foreign aid, or sustainability, I think that the collective decisions of the market will create a better outcome, and for that reason alone I advocate for it.


  1. Bryan1:39 PM

    Let me see if I understand everything going on here.

    God would like to have on earth, a society in which brother-love and the love of God guided all actions. Since man is fallen, that is impossible and any attempts to create a socialistic/theocratic utopia would be corrupted by man’s base instincts.

    A free market on the other hand speaks directly to the sinful, selfish nature of mankind and the result is wealth and cooperation. Ironically, these things look good, but in fact are not good because they are done out of loathsome self-love drawing people further into temptation and away from God.

    The free-market society and the socialist/theocratic society are actually equally depraved. Thus, people will choose the free-market society because we are so self-loving and materialistic. The deeply ironic thing about the nature of our sin, is the more we engage in the market, the less we kill each other, the more we cooperate, the longer and healthier we live, the less we love God. So in spite of living better, we are in fact living more sinfully now than ever.

    We must assume, being depraved, an individual values the most depraved consequences and thus would advocate the society that relieves the most of his earthly pain.

    So, if my understanding of depravity is correct, being depraved makes all consequentialists arguments lead to the most sinful outcomes. Thus, the temptation to be consequentialist must be avoided by people who are attempting to maximize God’s will here on earth. The earthly costs and results should not be considered, because they are unimportant and will ultimately lead to further separate us from God.

    Or have I missed a vital point?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I apologize for the delayed response, I was thinking about doing a full post on this idea, but that doesn't seem to be happening.

    I think you misinterpret what a non-fallen world would look like. I'm not convinced it's socialist. I think God is a creator and we are made in his image. Creation and production are worship. Though this is all speculation, I foresee heaven being some version of capitalism, only without the problems of fallen producers and consumers. After all, the market is helpful in allocating resources, even in a sinless world.

    While I agree the market is able to harness the sin of man for good, I don't think this makes the market bad. Sure "loathsome self-love" are a driving part of the market, but that doesn't negate the great things produced. In fact, as I posted before, I actually think the market encourages virtuous behavior.

    God cares about what happens on Earth, even issues of non-salvation. He cares that billions of people have been lifted out of poverty. He cares that society has gotten less violent. He even cares that our lives have become more enjoyable. Even if those are more because of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, he cares.

    It is for that reason that I'm a libertarian. It helps people and people are valuable.

    As for the "BOOM!", I'm not sure what just exploded.

  4. Alyssa, by "boom!" do you mean that Bryan was zinging or attacking Harrison in some way in his comment? If so, that's not how I read it. I personally thought it was a very thoughtful response.

    This is a fascinating conversation. I have to say that in my opinion, a sinless world would look socialist. Harrison, you would probably disagree with me here. But because we do not live in that world, I think democracy and capitalism do the best job of providing accountability and distribution of resources in a fallen world, helping to ensure that one sinful man/woman does not become a tyrant, forcing his will on others. Democracy is the worst system, but it is better than all the others. As Chesterton said, capitalism is the mysterious dogma that selfishness will do the work of unselfishness.

    I have to say I disagree with this sentence: "The deeply ironic thing about the nature of our sin, is the more we engage in the market, the less we kill each other, the more we cooperate, the longer and healthier we live, the less we love God." I do not think that the market is the cause of all those things. I do not think that the more we engage in the market, the less we love God. I think that many of those things are God's redemption at work in the world. I agree with all of the things Harrison listed that God cares about. I would go even further, I would say whenever redemption occurs, God's hand is behind it.

    I hope this helps you understand what I believe, Bryan. If you'd like to discuss it any further please feel free to give me a call or send me an email. Same goes for you, Harrison and Alyssa!

  5. I was trying to get some attention to this post because I really enjoyed/agreed with what Bryan said. No sort of explosion or zing. Just trying to bump the post to get more comments!

    I know we'll all disagree no matter how many emails we send. I'm with Bryan on this one. But, Justin, because I happen to like you and because I want to say my own nonChristian bit, I'll send you one.


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.