Conservatives, Republicans, Christians, and Two Tens

Lew Rockwell and his institute are often a beacon of liberty, but sometimes…  sometimes they show themselves (rightly or wrongly) as a bunch of bigoted humanists and anything BUT lovers of liberty.

Case in point:

Free-dumb: The conservative’s definition
Source:,  by Brian Wilson
“Mr. Conservative would have us believe Freedom extends only as far as the Conservative Right’s theocratic yearnings permit. For Conservatives, the 10 Commandments may take precedent over the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Fine with me if Conservatives choose to believe thus but when you envision America a ‘shining city’ that can only exist with enforcement — emphasis on FORCE — of your personal belief system over mine, when mine poses no threat to yours but yours does to me, we are no longer allies per se.” (03/26/13) (Quote from Freedom News Daily – thanks, guys)

Nathan: First off, let me risk complete alienation by suggesting that Mr. Wilson has never bothered to read the Ten Commandments or compare them to the Ten Amendments. Secondly, his adoration of the Ten Amendments makes me assume he is NOT a self-governor, but instead a minarchist.  (I must admit that I don’t think I’ve ever read or heard any of his stuff until today, but his vitriol and anger certainly shine through in this article.  As does what either is a pretended intellectualism (based on his choice of words) or a lack of internalized education (he is, apparently, a refugee from the mainstream media). Third, Mr. Wilson appears to be one of those persons who generalizes everything and attacks people nearly blind with anger.  But I want to address his specific objects of ire in this rant.

Conservatives, as a rule, are NOT my favorite people or group (though slightly less irritating than their competitors, the liberals and transnational progressives), especially not the “neo-con” breeds.  But they are distinct, as a group, from Republicans (albeit with some overlap of people who claim to be both):  they share some traits and aspirations, but not a majority.  And certainly, Conservatives are not all stamped out of the same mold, as Mr. Wilson seems to assume.  But at the same time, there is no reason or logic to equating ALL “conservatives” with the “theocrats” and assuming that Conservatives are christians (or that christians are conservatives).  He shares this intense need to pigeonhole everyone with the statists and bureaucrats and “isms” that he moans about.

But to the point he makes in the last couple of paragraphs:

Why SHOULD religionists, that is specifically those who claim to be either Jewish or Christians NOT value the Ten Commandments more highly than the Ten Amendments? They believe the one came from God and the other from the hands of very fallible men.  But that point aside (I suspect he is not a believer in anything), the facts of history are that the Ten Amendments would not exist had not the Ten Commandments existed about 3100 years earlier.

I do wonder if he (like too many people) thinks that the Ten Amendments CREATED these liberties, instead of just being a (failed) attempt to preserve and protect liberties which had been recognized millennia before (even if you believe in natural law and not a Creator). The Ten Commandments are not some fevered dream of “theocratic” tyrants: they express basic relationships, not just between God and man, but between men (and women).  In them we find, more than in ANY other document of antiquity, the clear statement of the foundations of freedom: life, liberty, and property.  We find in them the basis for what we modernly call “the zero-aggression principle” which is, after all, a limited restatement of the “Golden Rule,” which is to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  The Ten Commandments – even for those who do NOT believe in God or do NOT believe that He should govern in the affairs of men – still expresses basic freedoms.

We know, for example, that the entities which are most likely to trigger that very first Commandment, “thou shalt have no other gods before Me,” are far more likely to be men: specifically rulers and “leaders” of the state, than to be idols of metal or stone.  And that worship of graven images are more likely to be statues of “Dear Leader” or pictures of some man who has assumed at least semi-divine status, than a golden calf or a Olympian god or goddess (admittedly, we seem to have worldwide worship of Olympian athletes today second only to worship of Dear Leader or whatever title the rulers assume or are awarded).  Or we are content to worship (or at least revere) the coins and paper bills that almost always have the head or bust of some great and glorious past or current head of state.

We can continue on down the remaining eight – even the keeping of the Sabbath makes it clear that no one (save the Creator) can demand your constant, unremitting labor.  At least not demand it morally. (Remember, the tasks prohibited on the Sabbath extended even to care of the family.)  The rights of owning property, the rights for ALL people (not just men or elders or children) to life and liberty, even indirectly, the right to a fair trial and confronting your accusers, are all traced back to this.  You may speak of Hammurabi’s Code or the Twelve Tablets of Roman law, but nothing compares and can be traced so directly as the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ, both on the foundation of the Ten Commandments.

Of course, the Ten Commandments, like the Ten Amendments, are (a) routinely ignored, and (b) null and void today.  In the case of the Ten Commandments, they were replaced by the New Covenant established by the death of Jesus of Nazareth – and then abused and ignored and “enforced” by people who thought they knew better.  In the case of the Ten Amendments, there was no provision for enforcement beyond that statement “Congress shall not infringe” – which was routinely disobeyed in the very FIRST Federal Administration (see “Whiskey Rebellion” followed by Alien & Sedition Acts) and today is as dead in spirit as it is honored in lip service.  To claim that the Bill of Rights is in effect today in the formerly United States is to refuse to face reality.

Human liberty cannot and will not work unless built upon a foundation of morality.  That morality does not HAVE to be built upon the Hebrew foundation of the Ten Commandments or the Christian foundation of the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’  New Covenant; it can probably be built on a foundation of Shinto ancestor worship and honor or some conception of natural law.  But in history, the societies which valued and had the most liberty were those built on the principles expressed in the Bible.  That those societies later decayed (whether we are talking of the last days of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, or the Maccabees’ Judea or any other society) is a fact of human nature and history, and not evidence that the ideas of liberty are a failure.  Even a future purely libertarian (self-governing/anarchist free market) society will certainly decay into some form of statism, democracy, and ultimately even outright tyranny.

But tirades like Mr. Wilson’s delay the establishment of a society in which human liberty is sustained and increased, because he refuses to accept that people who view the universe with eyes clarified by a belief in God and the Bible can love and support and defend liberty as much (or even more) than he does.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
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