NOTE TO SELF, BASED ON QUAKER TESTIMONIES OF INTEGRITY, SIMPLICITY, PEACE, EQUALITY, AND COMMUNITY:

1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.
2. Do what you say, say what you think, think what is true.
3. Subtract superfluities from your life, speech, desires and thoughts.
4. Don't initiate aggression against the persons or property of others, nor support people who do, including the people who "constitute" the government.
5. Respect life and natural law.
6. All people are endowed by their Creator with equal and inalienable rights to the earth and to the fruits of their own labor, and a "Citizen's Dividend" funded by a "Single Tax" on the unimproved value of land and other natural resources would be the fairest way to protect these rights.

For supporting materials, see the Archive and the Recommended Reading and Videos section at the bottom of this page.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What's with the sword-swinging angel on the front cover of your new blog?

It does seem odd that a blog that bills itself as leftist and libertarian and Quaker would choose an image to represent it (at least for the time being) that connotes militarism and Roman Catholicism.

The first explanation is that I have a lot of respect for Catholicism. There's something to be said for its uncompromising upholding of moral ideals in the face of today's pervasive moral relativism. (Libertarians recognize with Lysander Spooner that "vices are not crimes," but the majority of us also recognize that that fact doesn't make them anything other than vices, which may pollute not only the individual's body and soul but society as well.) I also recognize that the Roman Catholic institution was responsible for carrying the Gospel message up through the centuries to the time of the Protestant Reformation, and that it remains today the most visible embodiment of that message, the "City set on a hill," and I agree with the assessment of Paul Johnson at the end of his History of Christianity that despite all of the Church's lapses and abuses Western Civilization would have been far worse off without it. Finally, the Catholic Social Teaching, as expressed by, among others, Pope Leo XIII, John Paul II, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and especially Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement, has been a beacon in the darkness, a check on the pretensions and propaganda of communist and capitalist alike. The respect I have for the Church will of course be correspondingly diminished if the current Pope actually goes out of his way to promulgate an encyclical preaching everyone's moral duty to pay whatever taxes are demanded by the State, as it has been reported he will do in the near future, unless in the same breath he takes the trouble to preach also that many taxes are unjust and therefore illegitimate.

The second explanation is that St. Michael is a patron of mine of sorts. I remember a conversation I had with a very nice liberal professor back in law school. I told her I had a reputation of being very conservative, but went out of my way to express good will towards all and recognition of my own utter lack of qualification to judge anyone. She asked what my astrological sign was, and when I told her I was a Libra, she said that made sense, that I struck her as someone who strove to be balanced and see both sides of an issue. I responded, quite Libra-like actually, that I thought that was true to an extent, but that on the other hand I was also born on the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel (September 29th), and that I had more than a little of the crusading spirit about me! (Indeed, during my first several years out of law school I used my law degree to embark on a legal crusade that challenged a certain politically-explosive segment of the governmental, medical, and scientific establishments, the outlines of which can be readily found by anyone interested via a Google search of my name. The government won that campaign and stopped the truth in its tracks, at least for now. If it hadn't, you would have heard about it.) Along with the circumstance that I was born on Michaelmas, there is also the consideration that the scales of justice traditionally represent not only my astrological sign but also my profession, and that they just look more colorful and dramatic when wielded by an Archangel, as they are in the attached image.

The third explanation is that, while war and preparations for war are an abomination, the martial image reminds me that we should be at least as energetic and courageous in waging peace as big business and its government lackeys are in waging war and exploiting the poor and powerless. As many before me have explained, the Christian injunction to "resist not evil" means in context that we should not try to fight fire with fire or hopelessly return evil for evil, but that we should fearlessly combat evil effectively with all of the good we can muster, that we should return good for evil. In my younger and foolisher days, I served the government for six years in the U.S. Navy, before I woke up halfway through the Naval Academy and resigned my commission as a midshipman. There were at least two good things about military life: the camraderie and the spirited potentially sacrifical effort on behalf of something bigger than one's self. The problem was that the camraderie was based on slavish obedience and the sacrificial effort was on behalf of something that, though "bigger" than the self, is no good. The challenge for men and women of good will is to create the same kind of camraderie in the spirit of liberty rather than slavery, the same spirited effort in the service of good rather than evil. The battle-cry of St. Michael in his contest with Lucifer, "Quis ut Deus?" ("Who is like unto God?"), destroys the pretensions of all usurpers, all those people and things that claim authority over our lives, and shows us the way to that selfless camraderie and that spirited effort.