My Disenchantment with Church and State—Part 2 The State

Stephen WellingtonCulture, Mormon, Mormons, politics 33 Comments


Perhaps I should blame Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Amy Goodman or John Pilger for my enlightenment. Or perhaps I should thank the neocons, George Bush and Tony Blair for waging an illegal war, as judged by the UN, in Iraq and destroying my naive ideal of the United States & UK. I am only 25 and had never experienced the fears of recession or seen, first hand, the duplicity of my own government before. As time went on, I began to read, download, and read more. Why was the world I knew as a student and a young man at secondary school not the world I was seeing and learning of?

I learned of the injustices of; the Palestine-Israeli conflict, of my governments dealings in Diego Garcia, Guantanamo Bay, the Iran-Contra scandal, the funding of Al Qaeda by MI6 and the CIA, the 1933 white house coup by fascist bankers, the Gulf of Tonkin mistake, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, Globalisation, the death of Aldo Moro by the CIA, Operation Northwoods, Operation Gladio, the Rex-84 program, the criminal bungling on 9/11 on the part of the US government, support for Pinochet, support for Saddam, support for Suharto of Indonesia, Operation Ajax, the Gaza Bombshell and most importantly the IMF and World banks’ dealings in creating a world of subordination.

These are just a few of the Anglo-American government atrocities of the last century. The British government is responsible for much over the last 300 years. Corporate crimes and foreign government atrocities are also enormous.

I searched for answers and felt that anarchism…anarchosyndicalism in particular was the answer that satisfied me. Where free-markets are truly free and society is fairer and more equitable. Where society is ordered horizontally NOT vertically. Where the possibility of power abuse is limited. Where coercion must be justified. A world where people are free to cooperate without state compulsion or interference. I think that politicians and big businessmen stand in the way of this. As idealistic as this ideology is, I think it is the dream that was partially captured by Apostle Peter, Joseph Smith….and…ummm…John Lennon? And many other idealists.

In terms of relating my disenchantment with church and state together, C.S. Lewis has said:

“I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor…And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic, held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated.“

I agree with C.S. Lewis and see it as important that authority is always tempered by appropriate countermeasures. Perhaps I am being cantankerous but I think our society, as it currently stands, lacks those countermeasures, considering the rampant abuse of power by corporate, banking and political elites and the looming recession ahead.

I am a Mormon/Christian anarchist, in the fashion of Leo Tolstoy. I believe that government sovereignty shoud flow from the people, not from God, not from corporations, and definitely not from politicians.

“Aren’t anarchist’s those people that want to destroy everything and kill people” I hear you say? This is a common misconception similar to believing that all muslims are involved with terrorism.(But this is a whole different topic of discussion all together.)

Anarchism is democratic and egalitarian. It is a political and moral philosophy but yet it is not a patent solution for all human problems and no utopia of perfect social order as it rejects absolutes and definite final goals. It is a beginning of a journey we will never attain. Yet we know we want freedom to cooperate without coercion.

States are violent in direct correlation to their power. I concur with Frederick Douglass that power concedes nothing without a demand. In our case, the demand has come from the common working man and middle class.

Anarchism is historically more non-violent and peaceful then violent. It abhors coercion and, as an ideology, it considers the life of a human being of more value then corporatism or capitalism does.

And we know that Christ said, “The worth of a soul is great”…I think Christ values it more than Nike, McDonalds, England, China, Walmart, and America.

Comments 33

  1. Stephen,

    Sorry, we’ll have a gay prophet with two female counselors before the UK becomes anarchosyndicalist/libertarian/whatever it is you are proposing.

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  3. Stephen,

    nice post. I’ve read Chomsky and Zinn, but not Goodman or Pilger. Any pointers to start with for those two?

    Does this mean that you are a republican with a small r as far as the monarchy is concerned? My pals in the Scottish National Party and Sinn Fein are 🙂

    I think the dominant image of anarcho-syndicalists for those of my generation are those muck-encrusted intellectual English in Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail who are trying to convince King Arthur that political power arises from a “mandate of the masses, not some farcical aquatic ceremony”! I know Bakunin in the early USSR was knocked off for leaning too much in that direction as well. I’m fuzzy on how warmly Trotsky received anarchist ideas…

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    yes John…that Monty Python sketch is hilarious and insightful.

    Amy Goodman runs the website Democracy Now (click here) and has a current story at the moment from David Rose in Vanity Fair showing how the US backed Fatah and encouraged civil war in Palestine in 2007. The Neocons deliberately misled Congress and discouraged democracy! Amy is not anarchist but is pro human rights and democracy and runs the best radio show on the planet.

    John Pilger’s War on Democracy can be found here. It has won several awards and shows how the US empire has discouraged democracy in Venezuela and South America for the last 30 years+.

    If you want more let me know…

    I think you mean Tolstoy not Trotsky. Tolstoy founded Christian Anarchism…an extremely peaceful and non-violent group of Christians in Russia that were surpressed by the Communists. Tolstoy and his followers laid the groundwork for present day views of human rights and abhorrence of state aggression.

    Yes…this means I do not think we should have monarchy personally…as I think it is an unjustifiable and oppresive institution…but ultimately I think the people should decide.

  5. Mormon democrats are only liberal out of social pressure, not out of sincerely held beliefs. Or so I’ve been told.

    Also, Jesus doesn’t care about NIKE because he wears TEVAS with socks.

  6. Noam Chomsky? Amy Goodman? Heard ’em. Read ’em. Won’t comment on ’em. Won’t comment on anything from this post for fear of being run out of the Bloggernacle on a rail. Oddly enough, my views on much of this stuff, though moderate by any objective standard, are heterodox out here. So, I’ll just congratulate you on the thought that has gone into this post.

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  8. Magmeister,

    As far as politics go, our lad Stephen is the only actively blogging Mormon anarchist Chomsky loving Brit in the whole Bloggernacle (that I know of)! He has bribed me with Branston pickle (hopefully the small chunk version) so my opinion may be biased, however. He is unique, not representative of the political views of the Bloggernacle, whatever those would be.

  9. Stephen, welcome aboard the Mormon anarchism bandwagon! This is becoming a more common occurrence (meeting other Mormon anarchists, that is.)

    John Nilsson, Stephen may be the only actively blogging Mormon anarchist Chomsky loving Brit in the whole Bloggernacle, but he is not the only actively blogging Mormon anarchist. There are two other actively blogging Mormon anarchists: myself and quantumsaint. (I have the honor of being the catalyst to quantumsaint’s switch to anarchism.) There is also The Mormon Worker, a Mormon anarchy bi-monthly newspaper published out of Salt Lake. They’ve got their own online blog, of sorts, too.

    Back to Stephen, feel free to read the Anarchism/Anarchy category of my blog for Mormon anarchy articles that may give you additional insights into our religion’s radical roots.

  10. Amy Goodman…runs the best radio show on the planet – are you serious? That statement speak volumes about your thinking. Your white-anglo guilt is dripping. I got over mine a few years after reading ‘Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee’ in 6th grade. After years of working with whites, blacks and native americans, I have formed a few opinions:

    1. Every culture has positive/negative elements. Painting a culture with a broad brush is simplistic and generally not accurate.

    2. Organizations are rarely competent enough to pull off grand conspiracies.

    3. Human interaction is generally complex – for example, the answer to the question, are the Israelis or Arabs at fault in this conflict, the answer is yes.

    3. If perfect knowledge was avalable – we probably wouldn’t have supported Saddam Hussein.

  11. LDS Anarchist — don’t discount the Brit part of the Stephen Wellington package. I had the opportunity to talk to Stephen on the phone Friday for two hours or so. It was delightful! You can sell anything with a cute accent like that.

    John Nilsson — At a certain point in that phone conversation with Stephen, I launched into, “We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week…but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting…by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs…etc.” Poor Stephen. 🙂

    Stephen — Like the business guy in the Graduate, I have one word for you. It’s not “plastics.” It’s branding. “Anarcho-syndicalism” has got to be the worst brand name since Oldsmobile. You could be giving away free biscuits, but if you called them anarcho-syndicalism, nobody is going to want any. 😀

  12. I think the fact that you were so sheltered in your youth explains your apparent overreaction and also the difficulty you have in parsing out the difference between more legitimate criticisms and criticisms that have little basis or are hyperbolic exaggeration of facts.

    Furthermore, historical context and motivations are important to understanding these events. Most of which hardly deserve the term “atrocity” particularly in comparison with typical governmental actions. Additionally counter factual assessments must be made, as the actual outcomes must be compared to other probable outcomes if our actions were different. Comparing the unhappy mistakes of our history with simply how we think things ought to have worked out is inaccurate, because it assumes full control was in our hands and ignores the actions of others.

    Furthermore, in regards to anarchy, to quote Indigo Montoya “I do not think that word means what you think it means”.

    Anarchy simply means the absence of systematic government. Now in a world full of righteous people, this would probably be a good thing. But as people by nature seek power and dominion over others, anarchy usually means “law of the jungle” which is rather bad for most people.

    Capitalism is inherently immoral. However, it does come with a strong sense of property rights which is quite better for the weak and poor of the world than most other economic systems. I find it disturbing how often attacks are leveled on Capitalism in the name of the poor and downtrodden, and then once all the protects of private property are weakened to get at the bad and amoral corporations, those in power start seizing the property of the weak and poor and giving it to powerful and rich. In the end the poor and downtrodden are worse off than before.

    Similarly, I fully understand that democratic government is intrinsically evil. It just happens to be the least evil of all forms of government that we can make work in this world full of imperfect people. True Christian Theocracy would be the best theoretical form of anarchist society as it has God making the decisions, and the is based on persuasion rather than force. (Government = Force). However, the millennium will come on the Lord’s schedule not ours, and humans tend to make things much worse and preform their greatest atrocities when in the devote themselves to some attempt to create a utopian society, because they inevitably resort to force when they discover that persuasion fails to work fast enough for them to see the results.

    The biggest giveaway of your confusion, is your depiction of the Iraq war as illegal, which is simply without foundation. First of all, there is no actual worldwide law making body. Which means that illegality according to the UN is a monumental fiction. Often a useful fiction, but not based on any moral foundation. (As opposed to say democratic government which claims the delegation of authority by the citizens, or even kings or theocracy which claim divine right, the UN has no reasonable moral claim to authority).

    Secondly, Iraq repeatedly fired upon American planes patrolling the no-fly zone as outlined by UN directives. That’s an act of war, pure and simple. There may have been other motivations, but that is irrelevant to a question of legality. So all this talk of illegalities is silly, as all the traditions of relations between foreign powers (which is what we really mean by “international law”) include the idea that “if you shoot at our guys, that means you want war, and we get to shoot you and take your stuff”.

    Finally it’s a way of implying a false answer to the pertinent question, which is: Was the Iraq war moral?

    Whatever the flawed nature of the reasoning for war, or of the implementation of it, I find it impossible to argue that invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein was immoral. Now it might very well have been boneheaded and stupid. It might have cost more lives than it saved, but stupid is not the same as immoral.

    Finally, your call for change through non-violence is either duplicitous or naive. As you claim to be wanting to change the actual system of government, but that can only be accomplish through violence- or in actuality you want to preserve the current system and just make sure that the people controlling the system are people who agree with you, and are using this talk of changing the system to make it sound like you have greater plans than you actually do.

    In short your ideas are rather fuzzyheaded and probably sound nice and feel great because they allow you to feel part of something bigger than yourself, but in any concrete term they are just a bunch of college-age fantasies.

    My suggestion is to spend your time worrying about more concrete things like having kids, how good the local schools are at teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, and how often you do your hometeaching. These concrete steps do more to change the world into the utopia you desire than making “demands” about economic and foreign policy in the political system.

  13. To sum it all up in a briefer version:

    You need to become more disenchanted with your disenchantment before you are truly enlightened.

    Don’t worry though- disenchantment seems to progress at an exponential level as you age.

  14. Dude, you have some issues here.

    Although I agree with some of your beliefs because abuse has certainly happened, and happens in the church with corrupt leaders, I have to disagree with many others.

    For example about the IMF ‘dealings in creating a world of subordination’ isn’t quite true. No one forced Peru, Brasil or Argentina to reach the levels of debt that they had -but both Brazil and Argentina have now paid off the entire IMF debt and both hold good foreign currency reserves now. (Argentina’s bonds are another matter nowadays). Some African nations are close to payoff as well.

    Also the British have done some terrible things in the past. Here by 5th/6th grade we are taught about how terrible they where and how they ‘exterminated’ an entire race of people -the tasmanian aboriginal- and I use to think that this was the worst ever until I found out about the Spaniards in Peru. But overall you’d have to agree that those countries which followed British common law are better off and have more freedoms than those which didn’t, and those that had common law once but turned to dictatorship, like Zimbabwe, are in trouble still with freedom.

    And certainly Bush/Blair did wage an illegal war –but aren’t they paying for it? Blair with his job and legacy and Bush with lost US treasure and lives? And the US did support all dictatorships from Chile to Brazil because at the time these governments where right wing who fought communist insertion; sure they abused the war, dirty war, but today those nations are in relative peace compared to the Columbia where the once communist now run cocaine, and kidnappings.

    Look I don’t want to write too much here, but I really suggest you take another look at some of these things and at least recognize that you are free to criticize your government and not end up in jail. Also you could possibly end up working for one of those ‘evil corporations’ -who only chase the almighty dollar, not malice, although abuse does happen from time to time but isn’t it up to the governments to regulate this and prosecute the bad ones –which they do from time to time.

  15. Cicero -nice choice of name but I guess you’re a cicero lawyer?

    Anyway there’s an obvious mistake in what you wrote about the Iraq War.
    Its that Bush, and his henchmen, waged a preventive war which IS illegal in international law, but which they tried to pass off as a preemptive strike -which is also illegal for all reasonably minded students for international law.

    But as to international law? well the US is a signatory to the UN Charter, and Geneva convention and maritime law……. it is bound to uphold its principal although there is no punishment involved in violating international law if you are the US presidency, although if you are a Milosevic then sure, the court in the Hague will throw you in jail for years for a preventive war which violates international law.

    Your neoconservative, extreme right wing view of this totally illegal and immoral war will last for only a few more years. The rest of the world knows it and hopefully soon all the US will know it; but then Bush still has to face God and answer for all those deaths caused in that illegal war (unless he can dance his way out of it with that ridiculous dance he did last week!)

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    Thank you for your response.

    Your understanding of anarchism as being a system without government is wrong

    Anarchism literally means from greek “Without chiefs, bosses, or rulers”. Government is fine as long as it justifies itself. Your response is typical of the conditioning we see in those who are towing the “party line”.

    Your paraphrasing of a quote by Winston Churchill in regards to democracy, as witty as it is, is casuisic. Just becauses we vote doesnt mean we live in a democracy. There are certain problems with the system that can be changed.

    I also disagree to the fact that I was sheltered in my youth as a young man. I think your attempt at psychoanalysis is poor. I am simply saying that there are ways of thinking and things that should be taught that are not done so in schools. That is a matter of fact…not mere sheltering.

    The Iraq war was immoral and illegal despite your casuistic arguments. It defied the UN charter and the General Secretary Kofi Anan said that it was Illegal.

    If you bothered to read any of the internal documents and memo’s that were floating around you will discover that the py plane was used as a pretext to war. I suggest you read the Bush-Blair memo of 2003.

    Here is a summary:
    “It has become controversial for its content, which shows Bush floating the idea of painting a U-2 spyplane in UN colors and letting it fly low over Iraq to provoke the then-leader Saddam Hussein to shoot it down, providing a pretext for America and Britain’s subsequent invasion. It also shows the two making a secret deal to carry out said invasion regardless of whether weapons of mass destruction were discovered by UN weapons inspectors, in direct contradiction with statements Blair made to Parliament afterwards that Saddam would be given a final chance to disarm.”

    In the 9 months leading up to the war, starting in May 2002, US and UK planes flew 22,000 hitting 391 targets. Would you not go to war if someone had done that to you? Who is the aggressor here I ask?

    Even the British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said that going into Iraq with the intent of “regime change” is illegal under international law therefore American and Britain would have to provoke Saddam in a manner that would legally support military action by laying the proper pretext. The Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who sought to prosecute Pinochet, has called the invasion a War Crime and has sought to have Bush and Blair arrested aswell. Benjamin Ferenccz, a chief Nuremberg trial prosecuter, has said that both Bush and Saddam should be tried for starting aggresive wars and defying the Nuremberg Principles.

    Claiming that Iraq shot down a few drones which justfies the war considering all the bombing we did is completely…..well my mind boggles at such illogicality!

    The Iraq war, and Afghanistan war, were stragegized before 9/11 ever happened. These wars were not about defeating terrorism or the fact that America “wants to promote democracy”. If you believe those two things then I am completely awestruck. You are the one confused…not I!

    I would suggest that Fox News is not the place to learn about reality. As John Hamer and I were discussing the other night…reality has a liberal bias…as unfortunate as that is for perceived conservatives…that is true.

    I am not naive in wanting to promote non-violence. I do understand…if you had read my post entitled “Is There A Cause for Which you Are Willing to Kill?” you would see that I recognize that there are situations in which fighting is justified morally. HOWEVER…I think that hatred should be fought with love until all situations require this to change. The only way a lasting solution will found is if it is positive and gradual. But movement in that direction must be made.

    Your assumptions for what anarchism is and stands for astounds me again. Your thinking display shallow thinking and global inattentiveness.

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    And as you have quoted from a fictional character in from the Princess Bride I will counter with someone from reality, Canadian economist John Kenneth Galbraith OC…

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

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    Carlos, thank you for your reply. I completely agree with you and am grateful to live in a country whereby free thought and speech are sacrosanct.

    The economic turmoil in Argentina during the 1990’s is partially the result of politicans and leaders who did not have the best interests of the people at heart. They privatized much and the IMF came under heavy scrutiny because of it.

    In creating a New World after the Second World War the US and the UK met at Bretton Woods to discuss a new economic model for the world. As a result they produced the IMF and World Banks. The 2 chief economic advisors were the Brit John Maynard Keynes and the American Harry Dexter White. Keynes, having predicted the uprising of the Germans back in the early 1920’s, favoured a model that focused more on econommic growth. He was trumped by the Americans and Harry Dexter White who were more concerned with creating a system of incentives where the economic growth of countries was more reliant upon America. Keynes feared that placing too much emphasis on the payment of debt by the borrowing country would be deflationary and harmful to the borrowing country. Dexter White showed less concern for the people of these countries and produced a system whereby any economic imbalance was a problem only of the deficit country. This meant that the West would be more concerned with austerity and unable to effectively fight poverty. In all of this you must ask…why they did such a thing. I think the decisions for the constructed system of Bretton Woods was self interested…more so then the model Keynes proposed which was never adopted. This model as subsequently been changed due to global imbalances of trade especially during the stagflation of the 1970’s. But the skeleton is still there.

    Carlos…and are you then supposing that countries like Kenya arent opposed to freedom in light of what has happened recently? I completely agree that we must look at both sides of the coin and be logical and objectionable.

    Thank you for your post again and providing a valid counter post.

  19. Stephen,

    Yes, I know how the IMF started. But still the point is that any country which borrowed in US dollars simply wasn’t forced to. They asked to borrow US dollars through the IMF.

    And the Argentina case is a great example because while the IMF encouraged privatization they also continually warned them of the consequences of having a pegged exchange rate simultaneously with large fiscal & trade deficit but those warning not only went unheeded but today the best political line is that the IMF was to blame for the meltdown of 2001!

    Today there is so much excess US dollars floating around the world that a confidence crisis in the dollar would cause havoc inside the US (until they too decide not to pay back any bonds). But that currency excess is a direct consequence of IMF/WB ideology hence even ‘Dexter’ will eventually cause some pain to the US too, even if his motives were different back in the 40’s.

    I’m not sure what you mean with Kenya. Today they’re in a political mess but it should soon clear, then we have to see what they do then with freedom and debt.

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    You are right that the IMF cannot be totally blamed for the meltdown. I think the underlying blame is on the governments for excessive spending and corruption. The government at the time aligned to the neoliberal Washington consensus, of trade liberalisation, labor deregulation and privatisation of state companies because it would provide them and their crony friends with wealth. They showed a blatant disregard for the people and an irresponsibility to the investors.

    When we takl about “countries” borrowing US dollars we have to seperate the state from the people. Often the leaders of these countries are all to willing to borrow the money whilst making the people pay their debt so that they can benefit from the working class. The borrowing is not wrong per se….it is that the lenders, the IMF and WB, lend it knowing they are encouraging corruption and governments that do not fully serve the purposes of the people.

    Thanks for your responses. They are very insightful. I think your judgements about the IMP and Dexter are right.

  21. “The Iraq war was immoral and illegal despite your casuistic arguments. It defied the UN charter and the General Secretary Kofi Anan said that it was Illegal.”

    Steven, tsk tsk. The United Nations is hardly a morel or legal arbitor. When they only allow deomcratic nations join then we may have a winner. Right now its merely collection of nations the majority of are tinpot dictators. I find it ironic that the majority of these nations who deny democracy at home, demand a vote a the UN table. I find their resolutions wanting.

    Anybody who has read Chomsky, should I be afraid? Seem like every leftist dictator cozies up to his ideas. I haven’t read a work of Chomsky so maybe I’m ignoranct, but his guilt by association does bother me a bit.

    My problem with anarchy is that classic leftist anarchy was the inevitable conclusion to Marxism after the state wielded control to distribute capital through revolution. Are we talking about this vehicle to anarchy? because if we are, count me out. Maybe we’re all cultural revolutionists now, thanks to Critical Theory and Marcuse, so it’s about destroying fundamental institutions such as the family so that the state can fill the vacuum-a less violent way to run the Marxian dielectic. Are we talking about this rout? Again, count me out. My biggest problem with anarchy isn’t what it is, its the vehicle it takes to get us there. I would rather focus on religion where true transcendentalism can change people and make them able to impose their own systems of checks and balances, and not politics. The Millennium will be goverened, I gather, by the individual who is transcended and self-actualized. This rout to classic anarchy, I believe, would be the best.

    I also agree that the branding of anarchy means that the term “anarchy” has got to go. It has been hijacked by Satanists, punk rockers, nihlists, narcissistcs, metalheads, and all those that are the purveyors of Marcuse’s Critical Theory af cultural revolution. . . hmmmmmm, that’s not a coincidence is it?

  22. “Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labour movement.[1] Syndicalisme is a French word meaning “trade unionism” – hence, the “syndicalism” qualification. Anarcho-syndicalists view labour unions as a potential force for revolutionary social change, replacing capitalism and the State with a new society democratically self-managed by workers.”

    Ahh, you mean like worker managed firms, somewhat like Yugoslavia under Tito. Works well whenever technology is static (e.g. small electric steel forges with 100-200 employees run this way all over the United States, or did).

    See also and

    Interesting, it has been a while since I’ve encountered a member of this group.

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    Peter- Yes tin pot dictators that are supported by the United States and Great Britain like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel etc. Left wing dictators cozying up to Chomsky? Name me more then Hugo Chavez and then I will take that seriously. You should read some of his material before you start thinking he is the type who wants to run a communist dictatorship in your backyard, which he never would.

    Yes agree with you that the branding of anarchism does not do it any favours as the word, like Mormonism, has been dragged through the mud many times. By people that think chaos is fun but dont realize the suffering that it would cause and have never lived in a state like Iraq.

    Destroying the family? Compulsion to redistribute capital? Have you not read anything I wrote? Anarchism is not about destruction…it is about rebuilding. For example…make cooperatives not corporations the economic model for society. That would be more inclusive for the poor and ecourage free trade rather than “managed” trade that continues to keep the poor….poor!

    And lastly Peter…say what you like, but the defiance of the Nuremberg Principles, Geneva Convention, and the UN charter is pretty darn illegal for me! Wasn’t that what Saddam, Milosovich, and Pinochet were arrested for? I agree with Carlos on this one completely. That when a democrat is elected the zeitgeist will change and Bush and Blair will go down in history as war criminals. They are considered such in Europe already!

    Stephen Marsh…EXACTLY!! Thank you for that extra information. I didnt know about Yugoslavia. In Wikipedia it says:

    “Yugoslavia was once a regional industrial power and economic success. Two decades before 1980, annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaged 6.1 percent, medical care was free, literacy was 91 percent, and life expectancy was 72 years. [1] But after a decade of Western economic ministrations and five years of disintegration, war, boycott, and embargo, the economy of the former Yugoslavia collapsed.”

    I personally feel it is a more ethical, effective and moral model than capitalism, though not some utopian ideal. Thanks again Stephen.

  24. From all the discussions above, I notice there is very little interest in looking at what the gospel has to say on many of these topics. Now, consulting scripture will not always lead us to the same conclusions, we all have different world views and experiences and different knowledge, but i think doing so would be positive. in my view, the scriptures encourage us to have a society in which there is no war, and in which there are no poor. We can certainly argue about how to go about that, but i think we can all agree that there is too much war in the world, and too much poverty. that tells me that there is alot of progress that needs to be made, and that looking closely at how our economic systems, and systems of government are working, is important to make any progress. Additionally, doing so is our responsibility as Mormons. For some reason there is the view that issues like gay marriage and abortion are moral issues, while war and poverty are not. In my view preventing war and preventing poverty should be some of our major Gospel undertakings, in addition to home teaching, attending church, etc.

    In regards to international law, much of it was written and agreed upon by delegates from the UN member states as a direct response to the things hitler did, in particular invading countries pre-emptively. It doesn’t mean that international law is God’s word, but it does provide a good guide to help us think about what is right and wrong. Hitlers activities led to millions of people being killed unnecessarily, and therefore if anyone else appears to be engaging in similar behavior, such as Bush’s calls to invade Iraq pre-emptively, or current suggestions to bomb Iran pre-emptively, we should take a close look at whether this is really necessary, moral, etc. One important aspect of Anarchism is that it encourages to look at closely at the activities of those in authority, and lay the burden of proof on them as to whether going to war is right. Had the US media done that in 2002, the war would have been averted, as people would have seen that all the Bush administrations justifications to go to war just don’t hold up. Many lives could have been saved if the US media and the US population in general had approached the issue this way. Instead, the media simply repeated Pentagon press releases mindlessly, assuming that those in power would never say anything that wasn’t true. Joseph Smith suggested that power tends to corrupt, and that those in power tend to abuse their authority, and therefore this anarchist principle should be a corner stone of any Mormon attempts to evaluate questions of war, and to evaluate whether we should or should not support a particular war, or even oppose it.

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  26. “Peter- Yes tin pot dictators that are supported by the United States and Great Britain like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel etc.”

    Touche, but doesn’t that reinforce my point about the lack of democractic underlyings of the UN? Finally, there if there is no punishment affixed, then there is no law, thanks to Alma. If the UN would affix a punishment, then its resolutions may have some weight, but I’m not hopeful. From my experience it has been a repository for anti-American and anti-Semitic sentiment at least in my lifetime. Yes, America has waged its dubious covert operations. I’m sick and tire of that. I’d like to see us built watchtowers here at home and let the world go its merry way. I didn’t support the preemptive Iraq war, although I came to that conclusion late. I think America is right on many things and other countries in the Middle East and China are wrong. I want to win. I think we’re better. I don’t believe in multiculral gobbletygook that every system and every culture and every belief is equal. Egalitarianism has its limits, and I think Western society has crossed them.

    “Destroying the family? Compulsion to redistribute capital? Have you not read anything I wrote? Anarchism is not about destruction…it is about rebuilding. For example…make cooperatives not corporations the economic model for society”

    Brother, we are on the same page if your preaching cooperatives. I think this is were capitalism is doomed to the dustheap, I’m just worried about social statism replacing it. If your talking small-societal cooperatives, I’m there. That’s my ideal state. I was going to write a post on it soon.

    “And lastly Peter…say what you like, but the defiance of the Nuremberg Principles, Geneva Convention, and the UN charter is pretty darn illegal for me! Wasn’t that what Saddam, Milosovich, and Pinochet were arrested for? I agree with Carlos on this one completely. That when a democrat is elected the zeitgeist will change and Bush and Blair will go down in history as war criminals. They are considered such in Europe already!”

    I don’t know about Blair, but dream on if you think Bush will be touched. By the time he’s out of office, Iraq will probably be seen as a success. Harry Truman did worse things to the Japanese and he’s now considered a great president.

  27. RE: #12:

    I agree with Cicero. Anarchy is a terrible name for your political movement.

    Furthermore, the Iraq war isn’t immoral and isn’t illegal as for liberating Iraq, just as Cicero says. However, the question really is, who’s interests are served by the Iraq war? It wasn’t to stop terrorism. It wasn’t to stop Saddam (although that was its effect). It wasn’t to liberate Iraq, although that was also an effect.

    The simple fact is, the Iraq war does not serve the interests of the United States at all. It serves the interests of the Military Industrial Complex which seeks to protect its interests through perpetual war. And the Military Industrial Complex will continue to seek for whatever other righteous cause it can exploit that is legal and moral in order to manufacture more bombs and ensure more Halliburton-esque contracts.

  28. “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

    This statement proves nothing other than that JK Galbraith was skilled at polemics. There actually is a body of research that seeks to find correlation between political affiliation and charitiable acts, and the conclusions don’t justify this. In fact, if you believe Galbraith’s statement is literally true, it just proves you are delusional, which makes your comment about reality being biased in favor of liberalism pretty funny.

  29. Post

    #26 – Peter…yes that is primarily what I am talking about…cooperatives as the mainstay of the economic system.

    I also think along the sames lines with you, that although I would like to see them tried (and we differ on that), he will most likely not be touched.

    #27 – George….the political philosophy of anarchism is often mistaken with the chaotic definition of anarchy. This is in the forefront of the mind of the public when they think of “anarchism”. The ironic thing is that it often proves to be completely the opposite. During WW2 the anarchist had the power to take over Spain…but they didnt because it went against what they believed about coercion…subsequently Franco moved in, fought the socialists, and won. I agree a name change would be good…such as “co-operatists”, or some new fangled word that encapsulates the political philosophies of anarchism whilst shedding the semantic relation with chaos. It is rather like Mormonism in the sense that the word has been dragged through the mud and people relate all sorts of meanings to it that are wrong or the dialectical opposite. Being a MORMON AND an ANARCHIST…doesnt really put me in good stead does it? I am glad we could come together over the cooperatives. I am interested to see what your ideal would be about that.

    #28 – Mark, I am glad someone read my long winded waffle. I would be interested to see that body of research that you mention and give it an analytical critique. Could you please post a link to it? At the end of the day I would like a society based upon the scientific findings of what is good for human behaviour about improving us as human beings. I am not fundamentalist and am open to all forms of scientific evidence as appear.

    A recent article by the now deceased archetypal conservative, William Buckley, shunned populism, whilst condemning Lord Conrad Black’s actins. The definition of the word populist literally means…”democrat: an advocate of democratic principles” or “Populism, by its traditional definition, is a political doctrine or philosophy that aims to defend the interests of the common people against an entrenched, self-serving or corrupt elite.” The Neoconservatives are definitely not populist and fit into the definition of an entrenched, self-serving and corrupt elite very nicely.

    It is good that you correct me in painting all conservatives with the same brush.

  30. Stephen, Mark was probably referring to the research of Arthur Brooks, a professor of public policy at Syracuse University. He found that Americans who self-identify as conservatives and Republicans give substantially more to *secular* charities than do self-identified liberals and Democrats, even after controlling for all demographic variables available to him (wealth, education, age, race, gender, etc.). Of course, because American conservatives and Republicans are much more likely to attend church than liberals and Democrats, the disparity in generosity is exacerbated when religious giving is included.

    He’s also found that conservatives and Republicans are substantially more likely to donate blood and volunteer, even after controls are held constant. The book summarizing his research is “Who Really Cares?”

    As for your post itself, your analysis (and William Vanwagonen’s, too) presupposes the moral legitimacy of international boundaries, national sovereignty, and self-declared national leaders like Saddam.

  31. Very fascinating study…thank you for referring me onto that. Speaking for myself, I pay a regular tithing, attend church regularly, donate money to charity through my masonic fraternity even though I am a student, always try to buy fair trade, and am going this afternoon for a blood donation actually. So, speaking for myself, I try to do all of those things.

    Anarchism is unique in the sense that it takes both conservative values and liberal values and blends them together. Social Libertarianism basically…freedom to cooperate. There are many schools of conseravtivism but the branch I am most drawn to is that of the classical conseravtive such as Friedrich Von Hayek, Milton Friedman, Adam Smith and Thomas Pain.

    According to Richard Hudelson in Modern Political Philosophy he says “Classical liberalism is not to be confused with the ideology that is commonly called “liberalism” today in the United States, as “classical liberalism” is actually closer to being a tendency of “conservatism” in the U.S.”

    Now, my attack on conservatives is more aptly aimed at Neoconservatives who I feel…by wiretapping phones, have socially irresponsible policies, cronyism, and jingoism are not the conservatives I respect.

    And dont mistake Anarchism as being “liberal”…it assumes that people ultimately want freedom to cooperate with eachother. In Mormonism we believe in the inherent goodness of the individual as Thomas Monson has said in GC. Anarchism takes this and runs with it allowing people the freedom to create or maintain society as they wish without coercion by illegitimate power. It doesnt mean, as a political philosophy, chaos, destruction, or removal of all morality…not at all. Much of the argument over anarchism is about the human nature.

    Don’t get me wrong…Saddam was a despot and what he was doing to the people was awful. But he was put into place, supported and maintained by the CIA up until the Gulf War. After that the US and Britain bombed Iraq and the Iraqi people whilst also putting them under sanctions(which hurts the poorest people) for 10 years before invasion. This is a difficult issue hear…and I am glad to see him gone…but the means do not justify the end results…because the result in this case is hatred for Americanism all around the globe…something neither you nor I want.

    William nor I do not presuppose the moral legitimacy of any leaders that are coercive, despotic and totalitarian. Anarchism is about challenging coercive and unjust authority. We are the first to denounce Saddam, Mugabe and all other dictators. However…we do agree with the moral legitimacy of international law when created and agreed to by the people and the leaders of the countries that the people elected. Just as we agree to uphold national and local law although it may be coercive…that is where civil diobedience comes in.

    Yes….the Iraqi people should be listened too….BUT THE US ISNT LISTENING TO THEM!!! Polls have shown they want US troops to leave their country, and to let them control their oil Matt, be careful that you are not the one presupposing here.

  32. Hi Stephen –

    It was great to come across your posts, and find someone like-minded (quite a rarity, unfortunately!). As has been already commented, there are not many Chomsky-loving Mormon bloggers out there – especially not English ones. I consider myself to be an Anarchist, or at least, a Minarchist, with my politics growing out of a general feeling that as you have said, leadership tends to corrupt. I have a strong faith in the inherent goodness of humanity (formed in the Image of God), and that the corrupting influences of our Western Culture causes many social ills that would be remedied by a societal structure that is based more in communities, and is without the pressures of wage-slavery and advertising propaganda. ‘The Kingdom of God is within us’, I would echo. These same feelings lead me to consider myself a Liberal, as I believe in the potential of our societies to be so much (almost infinitely) better than they have been in the past. It’s difficult for us to even imagine what the society of heaven might be like – and for that reason, I don’t cling to the political methods or structures of past man-made societies.

    I’m a student of English Literature at the moment (coming up on my final few months of Undergrad!), and my studies have had a great impact on my thinking – particularly in relation to ideas of imperialism and hegemony in general. I agree with most of what you’ve said in this post, and I sympathise with your post outlining your journey with disillusionment in relation to Church hierarchy. It’s been quite a ride for me, too – one that has been always surprising, yet rewarding, and not to be regretted. ‘Eden’ is an excellent analogy.

    In short, I wanted to congratulate you on being so vocal in your ‘journey’ (as Chomsky would term it!). As many of the comments have shown, there is considerable hostility (largely through ignorance) towards unusual LDS political viewpoints, of all varieties. Ironic, for a Church that insists official political neutrality! I’ll enjoy reading more of your posts, and hope we’ll get the chance to chat sometime – Britain is a relatively small place, especially in the Church.

    All the best, Andy.

    (BTW – I served with your sister in Portland, OR. Small world!)

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