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Monday, February 16, 2015

The Big Picture: Politics & Religion, Part 1

Let's start with some definitions. (I really don't care if you agree with my definitions; I am merely defining my terms so that there's no confusion about what I mean when I say certain things.)

There are lots of different terms that float around in political discourse: leftist, right-wing, socialist, communist, fascist, tyranny, freedom, liberty, pro-this, anti-that, libertarian, liberal, conservative, centrist, statist, choice, control, big government, laissez-faire, wing-nut, moonbat, single-issue...the list goes on and on. One thing that many of these terms have in common is that they attempt to describe things in terms of a linear spectrum, usually represented by "left" and "right" at opposite ends of that spectrum.

I reject this simplistic and misleading construct, and prefer to use my own paradigm. And that paradigm is best described with a visual I created:

Each "side" of the sphere roughly represent what people generally call the "left" and the "right," but the extra dimensions add context and show important relationships.

At the bottom, we have anarchy -- the ultimate absence of any governing structure. At the top, we have totalitarianism -- the opposite of anarchy -- where the government controls everything and is everything. The labels are pretty self-explanatory, but it is useful to note that the further up the sphere you move, the closer the "left" and "right" get to each other, until they become indistinguishable for all intents and purposes. In practice, totalitarianism is totalitarianism, regardless of the flavor.

The sweet spot for most liberty-minded people is somewhere near the bottom of the sphere, though not so far down that you slip into anarchy and lose such basic concepts as the social contract, minimal social safety nets, and the simple order requisite for maintaining shared infrastructure and mutually-agreeable discourse (arbitrated to the minimal extent necessary).

Based on the way they wrote the Constitution, and the things they said in their writings, the founding fathers/framers liked to hang out right down there near the bottom, where personal liberty was greatest, but without going so far down that they sacrificed civility. They put systems in place to prevent our governance from creeping up either side of the sphere toward totalitarianism, because they rightly placed a high value on natural (God-given) rights, and understood the nature of man and the horrors of tyranny.

Keep in mind, mine is a three-dimensional model, so there can sometimes be "crossover" from one side of the sphere to the other, in terms of certain characteristics -- but generally speaking, these roles are fairly set. For example, economic libertarianism may be found in the lower left sometimes, and fascism can be found in the upper left sometimes. And aspects of socialism can exist on the upper right. Crony capitalism exists on both sides of the upper sphere. Secular humanistic morality lives in the lower left, while Judeo-Christian morality hangs out on the lower right -- but they can also trade places sometimes (depending on who you are, because everybody's different).

Toward the bottom, we have greater freedom; toward the top, greater tyranny. Tolerance for others exists toward the bottom of the sphere; intolerance at the top (it's important to remember this is the case on both sides). Near the bottom (excepting anarchy), we have a moderate social safety net; toward the top, utter dependence on the state. As you move up from the bottom, you trade liberty for security; autonomy for conformity. On the left side, the security usually takes the form of false financial security; on the right side, it's false military security. Tolerance for others is stronger in the lower right than the lower left. Intolerance for others is strong in the upper sphere on both sides (the left is intolerant of religion and any opposing or non-conforming views; the right is intolerant of differing belief systems).

So, instead of using the term "leftist," or any other confusing term like "fascist," I will be using a new term: anti-agency. Those who wish to destroy agency by either implementing ultimate government control (making us captive to authority) or by eliminating all governing structure (making us captive to chaos and self-destructive addiction) are anti-agency, or, anti-agents.

Okay...definitions done.

Now, why do my north and south poles look identical? Because if Satan can get us to either one of those locations, it serves his purposes just as well. His goal is to limit or destroy our agency. If the social structure is too oppressive (totalitarianism), or non-existent (anarchy), agency is severely limited, damaged, and removed.

Essentially, we have only two camps: those who favor agency, and those who oppose it. Sounds a lot like two other camps you may be familiar with, dating back to before the world was.

In the next installment, we'll take a look at some of the implications of these concepts in terms of spiritual ideas...since the war over agency that started in heaven continues in force today.

[Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with any political party.]

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