Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Noam Chomsky: Anarchy and Spiritual Transformation

You'd only know this if you know me well, but I believe that anarchy is the only form of government of which God truly approves.  Noam Chomsky, one of the great intellectuals of the 20th century, agrees.  I knew that already, but I'm writing about it now because I watched a documentary about him the other day, and then I thought, "hey, yeah, let me tell my fans about this."  One day I might actually pen an essay or a book on the subject.  Essentially, anarchy is the natural result of my thoughts and beliefs.

Noam Chomsky says that anarchy would require a spiritual transformation (what Chomsky means by "spiritual" here is up for debate); and, likewise, anarchy would encourage a spiritual transformation.  The former statement is easier to agree with: clearly, if there were no government--and, of course, a government's initial sole purpose is to protect its citizens--then a spiritual transformation would be required, otherwise people would go crazy and theft, murder, and abuse would hit all-time highs.  When there is no government to protect its citizens, when we cannot rely on the police, firefighters, or military, the people must perform those duties on their own.  And if the people decide to put together a little police force, that is a government.  So we must rely, then, on the good nature of all people to not require a police force; on the good nature of all people to help in times of need.  That, certainly, means that we need a spiritual transformation. 

Isn't it the goal of religion, though, to usher in a transformation so drastic--a new heaven--where all people are holy and good?  Where there are no more tears and no more pain?  I do not believe that "no more tears and no more pain" means that people won't die anymore, that people won't broke their bones or lose young loved ones.  Instead I believe that when the new heaven is established there will be no more human-instigated tragedies.  All people will be holy and good.  That is the hope for all of us when we accept the foundation of any religion, that one day we and others will be free from all evil and harmful desires and instead be motivated by good and righteous intentions.  If such a world were to ever exist, what need would there be for a government?  None.  We could live safely and rightly in anarchy.  In fact, if the new heaven, if the world where all people are motivated by a pure love for one another had a government of any kind, it would be a contradiction in terms.  You cannot have a government, which lays down rules and restrictions and consequences and then enforces them, and also say that everyone is motivated only by an agape love for one another, and the unconditional love for one another is the path of sanctification that we are on (John 13, 1 John 4).  So, yes, the hoped-for spiritual transformation of all religion and anarchy are bed partners.

The harder part is determining what to do now.  Until that spiritual transformation comes to life and we can safely live in anarchy, in love for one another, what are we supposed to do?  Can we justify supporting anarchy now?  A lot of my friends would say no simply because we rely on the government to pave our roads and such, and hey, I like to cycle.  How would I feel if I had no roads to ride on?  Well, that's simple: individuals and communities are rather resourceful and capable of a lot; we need not rely on governments to pave our roads.  If a community really wanted a road, the community could form together to pave roads; then other communities could do the same; then the roads could meet up if the communities liked each other (and the supposition is that if we are living in anarchy then the communities would like each other); then we'd have a network of roads without a government stepping in at all.  That's supposing the communities like each other, which probably wouldn't be the case if we jumped right into anarchy today.  Instead of liking each other, the communities would probably try to take advantage of one another or simply kill out the other community to maximize benefit.  So again, what are we to do?

Noam Chomsky claims that a libertarian society would result in greater spiritual transformation.  On one hand, I agree with him.  If individuals and communities are suddenly forced to rely on themselves more, then they will find that they have greater power and potential than they once thought.  Indeed, individuals do have greater power and potential than we give ourselves credit for.  I mean, my goodness, we are creations of God!  The sooner we get that into our heads, the better.  On the other hand, I don't know to what extent Chomsky actually thinks that if we were to move toward a more libertarian society, acts would occur that would then justify the existence of governments.  In other words, if people did start going crazy and abusing one another, many of us would say, "See, why'd we ever give up those governments?  We need them!"  That's not a spiritual transformation.  And the chaotic world that might ensue is one that, frankly, I am not courageous enough to live in.

What are we to do?  Here's my answer: we need to believe what we believe more.  If that seems like a tautology, think again.  Many of us believe in certain gods or Buddhist-type religions... and then don't actually live into those beliefs.  My friends, "to believe" is a verb that is better written in the tense (I won't bore you with the official language), "I am believing."  I am believing suggests a lifestyle, a constant happening of belief, where what you believe is what you are believing all the time and all that you do and are doing is shaped around that believing.  We can say, "I believe," and then go off and live a life contrary to those beliefs if we want.  But then we are not believing.  If we believe what we believe more, then we will be believing.  And if we believe what we believe more, then we might actually believe, and see, that real spiritual transformation can occur and is occurring. 

In the Methodist tradition, we are justified before God simply by saying, "I believe in Jesus Christ," but we are not sanctified by doing so.  Sanctification is the path, or the goal, of holiness, of spiritual transformation, whereby we take on the mind of Christ more and more and actually are able to love like Christ, to be like Christ in love, more and more.  Justification should satisfy us, because in being justified before God we are aware of and thankful for God's love, mercy, and grace.  And yet there is so much more to life.  Let us go on towards believing.

We should not be satisfied with a world where a great spiritual transformation is required before we can live in anarchy.  Anarchy, because it represents the new heaven, should be our goal; the spiritual transformation required should be our goal.  What should we do about it?  Be believing; create the spiritual transformation required in ourselves, and by doing so, inspire that transformation in others.  But we cannot simply believe, we must be believing.  Noam Chomsky is right, though I disagree with his means--only our believing through God can bring about anarchy, the new heaven.

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