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Refugee issues

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Re: Refugee issues

Postby kaufmannphillips » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:51 pm

Thank you, Steve, for your time and thoughtfulness in responding.

You ask how I arrived at the view that love is a personal duty. My answer was given in my post: love requires voluntary sacrifice, which, by definition, cannot be forced on others. On this point, you wrote:

I think groups of people very often - and very naturally - become communal organisms. Such an organism thinks together, emotes together, acts together. This does not mean that all the constituents of the organism are in total agreement.


True. And insofar as the ones in disagreement are forced to make the sacrifices that the majority impose on the group, none of the individuals are actually acting out of love. The reluctant is acting under compulsion, not out of love. Nor are the seemingly generous majority acting in love in compelling the reluctant to do the "generous" thing.

Let them do the loving thing themselves, and they will be acting in love. If they force another man to be more generous than he is willing to be, then they are being selectively, and hypocritically, "loving." They are feigning a generosity that really involves their giving away someone else's extorted money, not merely their own, and they are being unloving to the man whose money they are taking by force against his will.


:arrow: Allow me to seek clarification - do you, or do you not, believe that a communal organism may have a duty to love? I imagine you might consider a Christian communal organism to have this duty. Do any non-Christian communal organisms?

Also - would you consider a communal organism to be loving if most (but not all) constituents were living in a loving way, voluntarily? About what percentage of the whole would have to be doing so, for you to characterize the communal organism as loving?

:arrow: Is a disciplinarian not acting out of love when they force somebody to behave in a suitable way? May they not be motivated by a loving desire to inculcate positive patterns of behavior, and/or to prevent the reverberating effects of negative behavior?

I think a disciplinarian may act out of love for the recipient of the discipline, and out of love for the persons whose lives are affected by the recipient's behavior.

:arrow: There is no hypocrisy on the part of the disciplinarian, so long as everybody understands what is going on.

Is it hypocrisy to make a child say "I'm sorry" when they may not feel much in the way of contrition? No, because the intent of the exercise is not to playact. The intent of the exercise is to mold the child through learned patterns of behavior, and to mitigate damage to the social fabric that might ensue if the child were let to behave in a sincere and sociopathic fashion.

Most everybody has experienced an episode where a misbehaving child, forced into apologizing, was obviously not fully sincere. But when the intent is disciplinary, most everybody will recognize that the event was not merely an exercise in hypocrisy.

:arrow: The generosity of the majority is not in bestowing the money of others. The generosity is in the time, effort, and social capital expended on shaping the conduct of the communal organism, including the disciplining of others.

You asked where I got the idea that compassion cannot be exhibited without the sacrifice of someone's rights. I also answered that in my post. If a needy man is to have the money you have earned, then you must be deprived of it. You can deprive yourself of it, and that is compassionate of you. However, if it is taken from you at the point of a gun, that is injustice. Only you can voluntarily surrender your rights without injustice

But then, I accept some presuppositions that you reject—namely that there is such a thing as private property rights, a right to life, and a right to act according to one's own convictions.


Of course, I prefer to shift the discussion and nomenclature from "rights" to what is right. I think that shift opens the mind and heart to discernment. An appeal to "rights" often serves to shut down discernment (much like appeals to scripture, sad to say).

But I would say that personal property, conservation of life, and freedom of choice are frequently right paradigms. Not in every situation or in every respect, though.

Perhaps you would not disagree? I suppose it comes down to mental posture. A person who prefers the notion of "rights" would like to enshrine these paradigms, and acknowledge caveats. I prefer not to need caveats. And there is a difference in psychological gravitation: "rights" have a strong gravitational force leading to conformity - one that often defies reason - and that can be a pitfall.

I know you don't believe in private property rights, because you advocate socialism, which grants some individuals the right to confiscate the honest earnings of others, for redistribution contrary to the will of the owners. I believe in private property because both Judaism and Christianity, which teach that it is a sin to steal from another, assume that a given piece of property is owned by the one stolen from, and not by the one doing the stealing.


:arrow: Your line of complaint can be levied not only at socialism, but also the Constitution of the United States, which empowers Congress to levy taxes to provide for the general welfare (Article 1, Section 8). Previously, you considered not believing in the Constitution to be some sort of demerit against potential refugees.

Of course, as you know, neither Judaism nor Christianity have a fundamental objection to taxes. Neither equates taxation with theft, and neither asserts that welfare is an illegitimate application of government funds.

And your argument, as stated, is tendentious. When the State is comprised of elected officials, then it is not simply a matter of individuals confiscating, etc., but rather the chosen agents of the national community, performing the role of community management. Persons who are unwilling to accept this management have the option to seek a different community that is more in line with their preferences.

:arrow: I believe that our economic system functions in ways that are grossly unjust. As such, I find an appeal to "honest earnings" to be preposterous. People are routinely rewarded at rates that do not bear a reasonable (or right) correspondence to what they are putting into the system - some are rewarded to absurd excess, and others are tragically shorted. Because the economic system is so poor in this respect, it becomes necessary for community management to intervene and compensate.

I know you do not feel bound to follow the teachings of Jesus, but I do, and His words also confirm my belief in private property. Jesus put a statement in the mouth of an employer, which is presented as if it is irrefutably axiomatic: "Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?" (Matt.20:15).

Even the apostles, who encouraged a communal spirit in the early church, affirmed that property is privately owned, until it is voluntarily given: "While [your land] remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control?" (Acts 5:4).


:arrow: The parables are slippery, and one must be cautious about arguing from them. (I imagine you do not need me to explain that to you!)

The employer's remarks may have more to do with God's prerogative than humans'. After all, in another parable servants are called to account for their handling of a master's resources. Are humans answerable for how they use the property in their hands, or not?

:arrow: The apostles' remarks may not telegraph universal property rights, but rather the shape of the immediate case. And the apostles, like most biblical figures, cannot be assumed to be word-perfect at all times (or for all times).

As for the right of a man to follow his own convictions (Romans 14:5), this right extends only so far as his living by his convictions does not allow him to trample the rights of another man. You identify "rights," simplistically, as what is "right." Such a definition would permit any State, charged with upholding "rights" to impose any arbitrary standard of right and wrong, and enforce that standard by force of law.

Not all will agree about what is "right" in certain cases. Is it right for gay people to redefine the historic definition of marriage? Is it right to kill inconvenient human babies in the womb? Is it right to stifle the free expression of opinions in the public square which other persons may find offensive? Is it right to economically punish the rich for having used their talents and opportunities more successfully than others have done with theirs? Can the State simply make a call on such ambiguous issues, over the protests of more than half of the citizens, who feel that human rights are thereby being trampled?

I am convinced that it is "right" for all men to follow Jesus. My Muslim friend thinks it is right for all men to follow Mohammed. If any government, in pursuit of establishing the "right" thing, should mandate that all men follow Jesus, or that all men follow Mohammed, this would be tyranny. It violates the right of every man to follow his own convictions, so long as his doing so infringes on the rights of no one else.


:arrow: People will disagree about "rights" as surely as they will disagree about what is right. But a community benefits from the imposition of certain policies that establish common behavior and common endeavors. This is especially germane when it comes to ambiguous issues, where consensus is unlikely to be reached without arbitration.

In a representative democracy, the State is a tool of the national community to arbitrate and impose various policies.

:arrow: It is beneficial, and right, to afford constituents of a community significant opportunity to adhere to their own sense of right and wrong. But it is impractical and unhealthy for a community to refrain from imposing any policies upon constituents who happen to find them objectionable. To do so would place the life of the community in the hands of countless petty tyrants, unelected and unaccountable.

Individuals should not presume to be the court of arbitration, when they are part of a community and their decisions routinely affect other stakeholders besides themselves. Living in community, one's choices and behavior are no longer only one's own prerogative.

:arrow: Redistribution of wealth is not equivalent to punishing the rich, and it is histrionic to frame the issue in such terms. Virtually nobody has punitive motives for redistributing wealth.

:arrow: I will note that in the Hebrew bible, constituents of the Israelite community were not afforded the privilege of worshipping other gods. If Israelite judges imposed this on an individual who thought it right to worship some other deity, was this tyranny?

"Justice" is the upholding of genuine "rights" (because "injustice" is the violations of a man's legitimate rights); and every government is commissioned by God to enforce justice. A man's "right" is that which is rightfully "owed" to him. Because a man has a right to his property, I owe it to my neighbor to respect his claim to that which he has earned or honestly obtained. Because a man has a right to his life, I owe it to my neighbor not to kill him. Because a man has the right to the reputation he has earned by his choices and conduct, I owe it to him not to slander him. These are the human rights that inform the commandments, "Do not steal," "Do not murder," "Do not bear false witness against your brother." This is where I get my idea of rights—from the Bible that your religion's predecessors produced.


I think you are liable to eisegesis here. "Rights" do not emerge as a philosophical concept until more than a thousand years after the bible was written. Ancient texts may display a sense of justice, a sense of human dignity, and a sense of right and wrong, but they do not pin these sensibilities to a "rights" paradigm.

If one wishes to adopt a paradigm for interpreting the bible that is contextually appropriate, I think my appeal to what is right can muster the stronger case, coupled with a sense of fairness (an element that, for what it's worth, might not receive so prominent a place in my personal philosophy).

When rights are properly understood, it follows that no man has a right to violate another man's right: ...


To my mind, "rights" are a dogmatic invention. Like many human inventions in the psychological realm, "rights" can be powerful, inspirational, satisfying, compelling to many human minds. But such things do not demonstrate that a dogma is true.

A government that upholds the rights of all citizens needn't (and mustn't) violate the rights of anyone in doing so. King Ahab learned this in the affair with Naboth's vineyard: The State has no more right to confiscate private property, which is not owed to it, than has anyone else.


Neither the State not the property holder have any "rights" = no "right" to seize and no "right" to retain. ;)

Again, your reading is eisegetical. There are many elements of misconduct in the episode, and one has no need of a "rights" paradigm to make sense of how certain elements were not right.

By contrast, a government that interprets one man's rights in such a way as to violate another man's rights (like socialism and communism do) has created a definition of "rights" (and, therefore, of "justice") that is arbitrary and divorced from divine revelation.


"Rights" are an invention of human philosophy, naturally arbitrary.

You have intermixed the concepts of "justice" and "mercy" in such a manner as to remove any essential difference between the two concepts. Both the Old and the New Testaments list them as separate virtues (Micah 6:8; Matt.23:23).


If you can manage the apparent difficulties with unity and diversity when it comes to the Trinity and the nature of Christ, then doing the same for the virtues should be no harder task, conceptually.

------------

Thank you again, Steve, for your time and thoughtfulness.
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Re: Refugee issues

Postby steve » Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:40 pm

Hi Emmett,

You wrote:
Allow me to seek clarification - do you, or do you not, believe that a communal organism may have a duty to love? I imagine you might consider a Christian communal organism to have this duty. Do any non-Christian communal organisms?

Also - would you consider a communal organism to be loving if most (but not all) constituents were living in a loving way, voluntarily? About what percentage of the whole would have to be doing so, for you to characterize the communal organism as loving?


A community can be more-or-less “loving” in a degree correlative to the number of people in it who are living lives characterized by love. But responsibility to love does not lie in collectives—which do not have a singular will, and so do not bear singular duties. I do not believe that God will judge individuals by the degree of love expressed by others in their community. Every person bears his own load of responsibility for being loving (Gal.6:4-5). He does not bear the responsibility of forcing his neighbor to be loving (which cannot actually be done), regardless how much he may desire such a circumstance.

I have defined “justice” as the consistent honoring of human rights—the right to life, the right to property, the right to earned reputation, and the right to the harmless pursuit of one’s convictions.

While you say that human “rights” are a philosophical “concept” not known in biblical times, one could say the same thing about formal logic, or the role of microbes in infectious disease. Regardless when such things were “conceptualized,” “discovered,” or “philosophized” about, they have been realities (even if unexplored or unknown) since the dawn of creation. Human rights are, as I pointed out earlier, the basis of moral law, and of justice, in the Old Testament. They were certainly codified in the Torah, but even before the Torah was given, it was unjust for Cain to deprive Abel of his life.

Your rejection of this truth does not encourage me to trust you with my life, property or reputation. Come to think of it, those “compassionate communities” like the Soviet Union and Mao’s China also could not safely be trusted with their citizen’s lives, property of reputations. One’s definition of justice matters. It is based on one’s understanding of God-given rights.

If I lived in a small community with a disproportionately large homeless population, of whom I was one, I might think it would be loving for every homeowner to take in three or four strangers as housemates, whether they wish to or not. I might even get the city council to agree to such a proposal, so long as all the homeless will come out to vote. Thus, the homeowner, by government's "loving" mandate, loses the right to the property which he has earned by his own labor, and the man who has done no work has gained equal access to the home, whether he is a considerate houseguest or not. By your standards, this town would be an example of a “loving community.” However, if the majority of homeowners found the proposal odious, unsafe for their children, and resulting in damage to their property, then the arrangement imposed upon them would be anything but a loving one.

The problem with talking about the need for a community to be loving is that it raises a seemingly unanswerable question: “Loving to whom?” Any “love” that is not based upon justice inevitably must be selective—granting mercy to one group while doing harm to another.

Since you do not believe in private property, this example will get nowhere with you. However, most people who invest the majority of their waking hours and their labor in the earning of honest wages to obtain a family home, would think it strange to learn that you think they have no more intrinsic right to what they have earned than has a man who refuses to work, because he can make a greater “wage” hourly by standing at a freeway on-ramp with a sign—and then, when he gets his money, does not choose to spend it on housing, but on drugs and alcohol. I realize that not all homeless people fit this stereotype, but a large percentage do, and these would be included in the number to whom you would grant as much right to the homeowner’s property as the homeowner himself.

Is a disciplinarian not acting out of love when they force somebody to behave in a suitable way? May they not be motivated by a loving desire to inculcate positive patterns of behavior, and/or to prevent the reverberating effects of negative behavior?

I think a disciplinarian may act out of love for the recipient of the discipline, and out of love for the persons whose lives are affected by the recipient's behavior.


Yes, discipline is counted an act of love. However, not every person has the right to discipline another—no matter how loving their intentions may be. There is an innate right of parents to discipline children, and for governments to discipline criminal behavior. The Christian recognizes the biblical teaching about these things. However, no parent is within his rights to punitively discipline an obedient child, nor is any government ordained to discipline law-abiding citizens. To own property is not a crime in a free society, so the government that “disciplines” the property owner for no other reason than that the owner owns property, is an unjust system.

The State is not the parent of its citizens. The rights of parents in molding the character of children are much broader than are the rights of the State to enforce whatever behavior the few in the ruling position may prefer. Even the parents—charged with more power over, and broader duties toward, their children, only have such authority while the child is young. They cannot discipline or control their adult children.

The State that imagines itself to be in the position of a parent or a nanny, charged with molding the character and values of its subjects, as if they were children, is an oppressor, since its subjects never outgrow its domination, and are never granted adult responsibility.


Of course, I prefer to shift the discussion and nomenclature from "rights" to what is right. I think that shift opens the mind and heart to discernment. An appeal to "rights" often serves to shut down discernment (much like appeals to scripture, sad to say).


Appeals to scripture may seem wooden and illiberal to those os a certain mindset, but what you are neglecting to admit is that those who do not appeal to scripture will necessarily appeal to some alternative standard for their dictates. In most cases, the alternative standard is simply what the dictator imagines to be correct, assuming himself to be the most insightful ("discerning") of all living beings—divine or human. All others are expected to see the excellence of this one's subjective opinions—and why? Simply because they are his, and he has total confidence that they, therefore, must be correct and binding on all but the most foolish of knaves.

It is more humble to bow to an established, and righteous, standard revealed by the Creator, than to imagine oneself more insightful than God, and to favor one’s own sentiments. “There is a way that seems right to a man…”—but there I go again, shutting down discernment by thinking that scripture has something valid to say! You and I differ on the role of the State because I feel bound to follow God’s revealed directives while you grant the State whatever powers you may subjectively approve—having no higher authority than yourself to authorize your opinion.

A person who prefers the notion of "rights" would like to enshrine these paradigms, and acknowledge caveats. I prefer not to need caveats. And there is a difference in psychological gravitation: "rights" have a strong gravitational force leading to conformity - one that often defies reason - and that can be a pitfall.


I believe all men ought to submit to God’s commands that we “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” These three policies do not defy reason. They are there most reasonable of all possible approaches to relationship within community. The first duty on the list means something as surely as do the second and the third. Without an understanding of human rights, justice is meaningless. If I do not recognize your rights, I will not know whether my instinctive behaviors toward you will be just or unjust. If I do not recognize your right to your own bicycle, my stealing it will not register as an offense against justice. If no one recognizes your right to your bicycle, then there can not be any basis for prosecuting my theft, nor for requiring me to make restitution after I leave it out to be run over by a truck. In other words, there can be no basis for criminal law at all.

Your line of complaint can be levied not only at socialism, but also the Constitution of the United States, which empowers Congress to levy taxes to provide for the general welfare (Article 1, Section 8). Previously, you considered not believing in the Constitution to be some sort of demerit against potential refugees.


I believe the framers, in using the term “general welfare,” meant “that which benefits the whole of society and all its citizens,” rather than, “That which benefits some to the detriment of the rest." There is little doubt that the framers were firm believers in private property rights, so it would be absurd to think that, in their thinking, the “general welfare” of the population was served by the tyrannical stripping of one group of their lawful property to benefit another group, who had no intrinsic claim to it. If you think this serves the “general welfare” then we will remain in disagreement (which is no doubt a predictable outcome, in any case).

Of course, as you know, neither Judaism nor Christianity have a fundamental objection to taxes. Neither equates taxation with theft, and neither asserts that welfare is an illegitimate application of government funds.


The New Testament says we should pay taxes to the government for services performed. Those services include the protection of innocent people and the punishment of criminals. This is the legitimate role of government, and, insofar as the State is performing this God-ordained task, we owe our share of the expenses incurred in that work. The assumption is that I am paying a wage for a service from which I benefit. There is no suggestion in the New Testament that the government should be paid to do things that provide nothing to the taxpayer.

The Old Testament is a different case, because Israel was a theocracy, and God reserved the right to dictate the minutiae of what people could eat or drink, what they could touch or not touch, where they had to be on special days of the year, how much they would give to the support of the cultus, and what could or could not be grown on God’s land. God still has these rights over every Christian believer (though He does not today impose them as laws). However, God has not sanctioned the secular government’s intrusion into such matters of personal and private conduct.

And your argument, as stated, is tendentious. When the State is comprised of elected officials, then it is not simply a matter of individuals confiscating, etc., but rather the chosen agents of the national community, performing the role of community management. Persons who are unwilling to accept this management have the option to seek a different community that is more in line with their preferences.


Two responses:

1) I have already stated the difference between my view of legitimate “community management” and yours. As I said, I have no problem with paying “the chosen agents of the national community” for performing their legitimate duties. If I agreed to pay my neighbor $20 to mow my lawn, he could legitimately demand payment once he had done the work. But if he showed up with a bill for $500, because he had decided to plant a few extra trees in my yard, which I did not want or need, I would think he had overstepped, and that I owed him nothing for the unauthorized labor.

2) You write: “Persons who are unwilling to accept this management have the option to seek a different community that is more in line with their preferences.” This seems like a very callous attitude to take toward refugees. While it may be possible for them to leave their homes, and flee to the West, I doubt that you would say that the availability of this option justifies the governmental policies in Syria from which they are forced to flee.

It is true that Jews had the option (early on) of leaving Nazi Germany, if (for some reason) they disliked the policies of the Third Reich. However, this hardly diminishes the injustice of the system that forced them to make such a costly and heart-wrenching choice.

It is easy to say, “Persons who are unwilling to accept this management have the option to seek a different community that is more in line with their preferences”—very easy to say! It is considerably more difficult for most people to actually expatriate—as you and I would soon discover if we were unjustly driven from our homeland. This is, no doubt, what those celebrities, who said they would leave the country if Trump was elected, have also found. They would be more in a position to make such a move than would the rest of us, yet, they must have decided it would be too inconvenient. It is very inconvenient to relocate, unless you are choosing to retire overseas.

How easy to say, “If the place where you were born, where your family and life-long friends live, where you have employment, and speak the language, should become intolerable due to oppressive government policies, just leave!” While expatriation may be an option for some, it is very unjust for anyone, by tyrannical oppression, to force another to do so.

On the other hand, when a society has, since its inception, been governed on the principles of its founding documents, and certain modern persons in the society, disagreeing with those documents, wish to transform that society into one of an entirely different kind—if those revolutionaries find their policies successfully resisted by those who are loyal to the older system, thinking it more just, it may be that the innovators are the ones who should be encouraged to seek new domiciles.

I believe that our economic system functions in ways that are grossly unjust. As such, I find an appeal to "honest earnings" to be preposterous. People are routinely rewarded at rates that do not bear a reasonable (or right) correspondence to what they are putting into the system - some are rewarded to absurd excess, and others are tragically shorted. Because the economic system is so poor in this respect, it becomes necessary for community management to intervene and compensate.


There is such a thing as “dishonest earnings,” but this does not render the appeal to “honest earnings” preposterous. I lived in near-poverty most of my adult life, working in various low-wage jobs, much of the time, to provide for my family. I find it preposterous for you to suggest that the money I earned and my family lived on does not constitute “honest earnings.” You work at a job also. Are not your earnings “honest”? Aren’t most working people’s earnings “honest”? If a person is referring to honest earnings, why do you find it "preposterous" to refer to them as such?

Would you say that the incomes of people living on the dole constitute “honest earnings”? Whose?

That a few very rich people seem to be paid amounts way out of proportion to what we think they are worth fails to take into account that highly-paid people are generally paid what someone thinks their services or products are worth. The fact that you don’t place such a value upon them does not mean that others, the ones who pay them, should not be permitted to place such value upon them. Most of the multi-millionaires I have known have earned their money very honestly. Perhaps you have known some who were gangsters, or involved in shady dealings on the side? If so, they do not represent all rich people. Unlike you, I do not begrudge them their wealth. I assume that I, or anyone else, could have made similar money, had I their talents and motivations, and had people placed such a value on my services.

The largest percentage of money given to assist the poor comes from some of the wealthiest men and women. The poor who are benefited by their generosity are probably very happy that these people have so much to give away, and would not share your resentment of a system by which they were able to earn it. Others, who are not poor, but middle class, are also happy that people richer than themselves have enough money to be able to employ them and support their families as well.

Your statement about the corruption of the system applies, no doubt, to a relatively small number of individuals who are, essentially, criminals that have learned to exploit the system to their own advantage. It sounds as if you would prefer a system where all the wealth was controlled by the criminals in governmental office, as in communist societies. Given the choice, I would prefer that the criminals not be wielding the State power, so that they might be susceptible to prosecution, when caught—rather than to take everybody’s freedom and property away, leaving everyone but the rulers in poverty. But to each his own. You can move to North Korea or Venezuela, if you like that system. Let one country, at least, remain on the planet for those who value freedom and justice.


The parables are slippery, and one must be cautious about arguing from them. (I imagine you do not need me to explain that to you!)

The employer's remarks may have more to do with God's prerogative than humans'. After all, in another parable servants are called to account for their handling of a master's resources. Are humans answerable for how they use the property in their hands, or not?


The parables of Jesus are true to life situations in human affairs that, in some sense, parallel spiritual realities. In this particular parable, the landowner’s words are central to the point: As the landowner has the right to be as free and discriminating in the dissemination of his wealth as he may wish to be, so also is God free to do as He chooses with His gifts. There may be many subordinate points in the story that do not bear an exact parallel to the point being made, but the main point is that the landowner’s claim is obviously correct—showing that God’s corresponding claim is equally valid. To miss this point is to mistake the very purpose of the parable.


People will disagree about "rights" as surely as they will disagree about what is right. But a community benefits from the imposition of certain policies that establish common behavior and common endeavors. This is especially germane when it comes to ambiguous issues, where consensus is unlikely to be reached without arbitration.

In a representative democracy, the State is a tool of the national community to arbitrate and impose various policies.


Yes, and in a representative democracy, even the Christians have a right to an opinion. We can critique what we regard to be unjust, and even vote against these injustices. Everybody is entitled to make his own case, endeavoring to persuade others of its merits—which is what I am doing here (and what you also are doing here).

If people like me fail to persuade a majority in the society, then we will have to either live under the tyranny of the majority, or find somewhere else to live, as you have said.

It is beneficial, and right, to afford constituents of a community significant opportunity to adhere to their own sense of right and wrong. But it is impractical and unhealthy for a community to refrain from imposing any policies upon constituents who happen to find them objectionable. To do so would place the life of the community in the hands of countless petty tyrants, unelected and unaccountable.


Your own subjective definition of justice—sans any reference to human rights—has misled you on this point, in my opinion. A citizen is entitled to find any government policy “objectionable,” if it does not suit his tastes. However, he has no basis for overthrowing or decrying a policy as unjust, unless it is found to violate his, or another man’s, rights. Since just policies (by the definition I have advocated) will never violate anyone’s rights, no one’s objections to them should be thought to have a validity binding on the conscience of any other man.

Individuals should not presume to be the court of arbitration, when they are part of a community and their decisions routinely affect other stakeholders besides themselves. Living in community, one's choices and behavior are no longer only one's own prerogative.


Unless one is living in a socialistic commune, or a dictatorship, his behavior on everything that harms no one else is indeed his own prerogative—regardless how many meddlesome busybodies may think themselves more competent to order his behavior for him.

“Redistribution of wealth is not equivalent to punishing the rich, and it is histrionic to frame the issue in such terms. Virtually nobody has punitive motives for redistributing wealth.”


Most victims of robbery would still count themselves to be victims, regardless in what light the motives of the thieves might be represented to them.

I will note that in the Hebrew bible, constituents of the Israelite community were not afforded the privilege of worshipping other gods. If Israelite judges imposed this on an individual who thought it right to worship some other deity, was this tyranny?


Yes, but not an unjust tyranny, since God has the right to demand whatever He may wish of His creatures. Secular States do not have this ethical right. Are you suggesting that, if the United States (in violation of its own Constitution) were to mandate that all citizens attend and support a Christian house of worship, that you would think this a valid use of government power? Your example of Israel (and failure to note the difference between a theocracy and a representative democracy) would seem to imply approval of such State policies.


Neither the State not the property holder have any "rights" = no "right" to seize and no "right" to retain.


And your authority behind this counterintuitive doctrine is…what, exactly?

Again, your reading is eisegetical. There are many elements of misconduct in the episode, and one has no need of a "rights" paradigm to make sense of how certain elements were not right.


I am being eisegetical? Are you being exegetical? If you are arguing against my reference to the seizure of Naboth’s vineyard as an example of government overreach, are you suggesting that the passage, rather, agrees with you, that Ahab had every right to confiscate a private citizen’s ancestral property, but was only wrong in allowing Jezebel to commit murder in the seizure? Certainly, the subtext of the passage is on the side of Naboth’s legitimate right to refuse the sale of his family inheritance. Only an exegesis of convenience (by a socialist) could miss this obvious fact.

There is really no point in continuing this dialogue—at least from my side. I have bigger issues calling for my time. I accept, as guiding principles, certain New Testament truths—including the separation of church and state—which you do not accept. You confer on the State every power by compulsion that the New Testament enjoins on Christians through voluntary charity. We will not get any closer to an agreement without a prior paradigm shift on your part or on mine. I am not finding any reason in your arguments to move from mine—and I doubt that you are more inclined than I am.
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