- guard against the Depravity of Man
- by resigning from office.
In the last 150 years, a remarkable theological shift in doctrine has occurred.
Some of the older orthodox writers on the history of doctrine might have reported it
had they been alive to witness it, but none of the moderns have commented on it.
1900 years, with increasing frequency after the Reformation and leading up to the
American Revolution, the Augustinian doctrine of "the Depravity of Man"
has been a premise in reasoning leading to the conclusion that the powers of the
State must be limited: that a separation of powers must be
woven into constitutions, and the path to power riddled with the landmines of checks
Because man's fallen nature meant that he could
not be trusted with centralized political power.
George Washington is reported
to have said,
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force.
Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. . . .
It is for this reason that libertarians do not trust "the government."
They are often portrayed as being "anti-government."
But it is this "anti-government"
attitude that made America the freest and most prosperous nation in history.
How do libertarians respond to the accusation that they do not have enough trust
in government? John Adams wrote in 1772:
There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be
to trust no man living with power to
endanger the public liberty."
Should libertarians have more confidence in their government? Thomas Jefferson,
Confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism.
Free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy, and
not confidence, which prescribes limited constitutions to bind down those whom we
are obliged to trust with power.… In questions of power, then, let no more be
heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains
of the Constitution.
James Madison warned the people of Virginia (1799):
the nation which reposes on the pillow of political confidence, will sooner or
later end its political existence in a deadly lethargy.
Madison added in Federalist No. 55,
[T]here is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree
of circumspection and distrust. . . .
Trusting government, having "confidence in government," is un-American.
British historian Lord Acton put it this
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great
men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not
authority; still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of
corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies
the holder of it.
The exercise of political power is problematic. We should assume that "great
men" -- that is, powerful men -- men who wield the force of
"the government" -- are morally corrupt. This assumption should be
considered confirmed if he increases his own power during his time of
"Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The
Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good
intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to
govern. They promise to be good masters ... but they mean to be masters."
The New Depravity
To be sure, while Christian
theologians were using the Depravity of Man to support the state, many
others were using Enlightenment premises on the goodness and perfectibility
of man to attack authority and community.
After the Civil War, following the great American theologian Abraham
Lincoln, the Depravity of Man became the Benedict Arnold of dogma. The doctrine
became a turncoat premise in syllogisms buttressing an increase in the
paternalistic powers of the State. Whereas Man's "depravity" earlier meant
that man could not be trusted with power (whose corrupting influences Lord
Acton saw residing in man himself), the modern doctrine indicts the fallen and
untrustworthy masses ("the People") and supplicates the sinless and
infallible State for social salvation. Because the
masses are depraved, you see, the centralized state needs more power to control
- Because criminals are depraved, we need a Police State.
- Because Muslims are depraved, we need a Garrison State at home and offensive
Thus, when libertarians propose massive cuts in
government programs -- or even anarcho-capitalism
(the complete abolition of the oligarchical monopoly of violence, with all necessary
goods and services produced by competing enterprises in a freed
market) -- many folks say, "I just don't have enough faith in human nature to
be a libertarian." This is an example of this complete shift in the
understanding of "the depravity of man." What such non-libertarians are
saying is, "I have complete faith in the goodness and uncorrupt nature of
politicians to reign in the depravity of the voters who elected them."
do not trust the goodness of those holding a monopoly of force. The depravity of man
is better held in check by being forced to work for businesses which compete for the
voluntary patronage of consumers in a society where the majority of people reject
violence as a solution to personal or social problems. ("Zero-Aggression
Here are links to both sides of the coin: first,
why the Depravity of Man formerly and rightfully meant the need to limit the State,
not increase its scope; and second, why the doctrine of Man's Depravity does
not cancel out the fact that man is created in God's Image, and that God intends to
save man's culture, not just his soul.
and Social Order
||Given freedom (the absence of
government), the depraved man will steal your money.
||Given government power, that same
depraved man will only tax you "responsibly," taking only what is
needed for "the public good," or "the general welfare."
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts
men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and
not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of
corruption by authority. There is no
worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
|In 1994 “criminals”
committed 7,885 bank robberies, taking $28
million. That same year, “government agencies”
seized $2.1 Billion
forfeiture proceedings,” often without “probable
cause,” and often not returned even when innocence was proven.
steals hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
money is a form of theft. Trillions
of dollars a year.
As long as men are depraved, there will be more
theft when depraved men are given the power of "the State."
will be less theft under "anarchy," as long as parents have the
right to homeschool their children and teach them "the
Laws of Nature and of Nature's God."
|Given freedom, the depraved man
will lust after your wife.
||Given a job with TSA,
that same depraved man will behave as a gentleman, professionally evaluating
your wife under her clothes through a sophisticated X-ray machine, and ensuring
public safety by groping her private parts to vindicate her honor as a
||As long as men are depraved, they should not be
given power over women through government agencies.
||Given freedom, a depraved man will
kill other human beings.
- Given government power, a depraved man would never
- • send a drone against anyone without due process,
- • bomb a nation of human beings "back
to the stone age" because their "leader" would not
"cooperate" with a United Nations order,
- • lie on the witness stand to get a conviction for the
|World Governments have murdered an average of
10,000 human beings every single day
of the year for the last 100 years without just cause.
These figures do not
include abortion, which are a coordinated
So-called "anarchists" (that is, archists
operating without government approval) only succeed in killing about that many
people every year.
have killed around 200 million of their "own"
citizens. Wars against the citizens of other nations have killed an equal or
greater number. That's half a BILLION
murders in the last century, committed by governments.
As many as
90 million people were murdered in World War II,
which ensured that Poland could be given to Stalin, and China could be given to
Mao. 76 million human beings were murdered under Mao. Could Japan have been
worse for the Chinese? Could the complete absence of organized governments have
been worse for the world?
|Given the freedom of anarchy, a
depraved man will enslave another human being.
Given government power, that
same depraved man would never
|Government -- not so-called
"anarchists" -- are responsible for the greatest deprivation of human
||Because we've been trained to fear
"anarchy," we give massive lethal power to "archists," who
ban the Ten Commandments from government-run schools,
and engage in more sin, wickedness, violence, death, and destruction than a
Free Market would ever allow unorganized "anarchists" to commit.
government is idolatry.
Government is The
Most Lethal Idolatry in Human History.
The Cost of "Selective Depravity"
R.J. Rushdoony defines "selective
According to the doctrine of selective depravity, most men are naturally good,
but some men are diabolically evil. These depraved men have been variously defined
in various eras: priests, pastors, communists, fascists, capitalists, bankers, the
masses, the blacks, the whites, the Jews, Germans, Japanese, the Americans, and so
A whole segment of mankind must be exterminated, if this doctrine be
held, or at the very least brainwashed into submission.
But if one segment of mankind must be
exterminated or brainwashed, this requires another segment to be exterminators or
brainwashers. This segment, of course, are not "depraved." They are holy.
They are sanctified. They are elite. They are progressive.
call of the consistent opponent of socialism (the "anarcho-capitalist") to
abolish all exterminators and brainwashers is said to be "unrealistic" and
"impractical." Doing away with "leadership" to "maintain
order" is to ignore "the depravity of man." It is to assume that all
men are "naturally good."
we are told, would allow "evil to take over."
are seven billion human beings on this planet. The overwhelming majority of these
seven billion people work day in and day out to feed their families. They are people
just like you. You might be able to convince them that we could never do without
"the State" and its police and "national security" apparatus.
we have crime today (with the State), we are told that we would have more crime
without the State.
Is that true?
State prohibits local public school teachers from teaching
students that God says "Thou shalt not steal." How does this reduce
By its actions, the State
says that violence is the answer to our
problems. We are subtly inculcated in the view that violence is
"practical" and "realistic."
what if we are all taught from birth that violence is never right? What if we were
all taught to take Jesus seriously, and never vote for politicians and their
machinery of violence?
still be criminals, of course. And Jesus says we are to love them, and not to kill
them. So there would be crimes.
much would society have to pay for crimes if society refused to pay for "The
In 1994 “criminals” committed 7,885
bank robberies, taking $28 million.
That same year, “government agencies” seized $2.1
forfeiture proceedings,” often without “probable
cause,” and often not returned even when innocence was proven.
statistics could be marshaled to show that criminals from "the government"
cost society a hundred times (100x) more than criminals in the "private
sector." If we weren't paying for "the State," we would have more
than enough to amply compensate victims of crime.
The belief that criminals
are "depraved" but politicians are not, and that people who respond to
criminals in ways prohibited by Jesus are not as depraved as the criminals
themselves, pushes society into poverty.
next: Campaign Finance, Corruption and the Oath of Office