Jun 28, 2012

Feudalism, Anarchy and Libertarianism

[from HRH Jonathan]

Anarchism is an interesting way of looking at the world. “Governments can only oppress,” says the Anarchist, “there is no need for governmental power and authority, so all it does is control and limit.” Now, there are problems with this philosophy which I will address below. Another fascinating political philosophy is Libertarianism, which is closely related to Anarchy. “Freedom and the respect of individual rights is the highest good,” says the Libertarian, “governments should only exist to defend those things, and stay away from other people's business.” There are problems here, too, of course. Then I come along and, in the articles immediately below this one, declare that a better paradigm of government is Feudalism, where you can enter into citizenship only by agreement, and can remain free of any government by just not swearing an oath.
Feudalism,although a newer word, is the way things worked before, and it is the way things should work now. Interestingly, it can easily be interpreted through the modern eye as a form of Anarchism or Libertarianism, which it is not. I think that it is important to show how it is not Anarchism or Libertarianism now, before people start getting the wrong ideas. Because Anarchism is foolishness, and true Libertarianism in its fullness cannot be reconciled with the Catholic position.
First, a little background on the arguments I am opposed to here. Anarchism is the belief that all government is inherently evil and disruptive. They say that it exists only to allow the few to exercise power over the many. There are many different flavors of Anarchism. Some say that there would be no need for law if capitalism could go unrestricted, others say that Communism can only rise from a state of anarchy, and still others hold that any regulation of human freedom at all, even the outlawing of such things as prostitution and hard drug use, is an inherent evil.
Libertarianism is closely related to this, often being little more than a half-step between Anarchism and sanity. Most hold that government should only exist to safeguard the rights of the people, and place no limits upon the people they are the government of. Others believe that government should be entirely voluntary, which is basically what we at Edan believe, but almost never manage to separate themselves from the pure freedom beliefs of Libertarianism at large.
Now, both of these things (but Anarchism in particular) make no sense when looked at through the great lens of history. If anarchy is the proper state of man, then why has government developed everywhere? If government is the only thing holding us back, then why did the Huns produce no great advances in science and art? If total freedom is the natural state of man, then why has Anarchist thought only existed for about 300 years? Everyone was free to choose to not be a part of a country or society, but almost no one did. Because anarchy stared people in the face each and every day. Everyone in ancient times knew the cost of anarchy, and no one was willing to pay it.
Simple common sense is even more destructive to Anarchism, and to a lesser extent Libertarianism. If there should be no government, only corporations, then who would defend those corporations from pirates and thieves? Security companies? What would be stopping those security companies from killing off their competition to form a monopoly? Would that really be market forces at work? If freedom is all that the government should provide, then what about the good of the people? Would you really allow slavery, indentured prostitution, and monopolies to form? And no, the Market will not prevent those things from coming about, it never has. If government will only ensure freedom, then what do you do when over-fishing or environmental destruction are perpetrated? Only a central authority can keep a business from doing those things, and the market actually naturally drives towards those things, not away from them.
But above all, what is most important is what the Church has to say about these things. She has always said that there must be a government to safeguard the people, and has never said that all governments should be disintegrated, so Anarchism is out. But what about Libertarianism? There are many people who try to be both Catholic and Libertarian, but I say that this is impossible. Let us consider, for example, marriage. The Church teaches very clearly that the only thing that is marriage is a union between 1 man and 1 woman, yet Libertarianism says that it doesn't matter what kind or number of people is involved, its none of the governments business. How do you reconcile these 2 points? The Church teaches very clearly that prostitution is an evil that should not be stopped whenever possible, yet Libertarianism says that it is just another form of business, and the government should have nothing to do with it. How do you wed these perspectives? And if you say you are a Libertarian, but only believe that business should be unregulated, you are not truly a Libertarian, but rather a free-market capitalist. Real Libertarians believe that nothing should be regulated. No matter my personal thoughts on the matter, it is quite possible to be a pure capitalist and a Catholic.
But still, there is the question, how does this mean that Edan does not espouse Anarchism or Libertarianism? I said it myself, all government aught to be voluntary, so how am I not one a believer in one of the two philosophies I've spent the article fighting? The answer is quite simple, Feudalism is not an attempt at no government, or as little government as possible, and it was not founded because freedom is the highest good. Feudalism is merely a different sort of government. It may be purely voluntary, but it runs on the assumption that everyone will be a part of something. Throughout most of history, this assumption has been perfectly correct, because the average person knew the terrible price that would have to be payed for perfect freedom. When anarchy is a stone's throw away from you, you understand why there is government. So Edan embraces Feudalism because it is a better form of government, and hates Anarchism because it is but foolishness that will perish at the first sign of reality.
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