Friday, June 21, 2013
The Libertarian God
As a movement within the falsely binary world of American politics, it's tended to lump in squarely with conservatism. Freedom, as Libertarian Janis Joplin would sing it, is just another word for nothing left to lose, nothing, baby, if the market ain't free.
It has drawn some of its energy from those who define freedom as being permitted to hang on to old and bitter ways of being. Don't tell me I have to accept you! I'm free to hate you as much as I want!
Politically, it draws much of its financing from those who want restrictions on their power removed. The counterbalances on the power of our corporate oligarchs chafe, and they think that crying "freedom" and "liberty" will distract the masses from the reality of their new masters. They're largely correct.
That's certainly how it gets pitched out there by those who see it as a regressive force in our national dialogue.
But there's more to it than that.
For while the libertarian tends to recoil at regulation, they are equally not fond of corporate bureaucracy. Yeah, long lines at the DMV annoy us, as do tax returns that seem to require a working knowledge of C++.
But we also don't like being trapped in an endless cycle of menus when we call about that lemon of a computer, charged a fee every time we breathe, and being [treated poorly] by our health insurer as they repeatedly reject claims to pad their profit margin. We don't like Digital Rights Management, either. Seriously. Don't tell me I can't share music with my own children.
The libertarian, ultimately, is no more fond of the monopolist. The Koch brothers will realize this eventually.
In that, there's an odd sameness between libertarians and anarchists. Left wing? Right wing? It doesn't matter. Neither worldview is comfortable with the concentration of power, and the oppression and social fragmentation that such concentrations of power have always created.
I've often mused about the essentially anarchic nature of Christianity, about how the fundamental ethos Jesus lived and taught involves not just rejecting those who would have power over us, but also refusing to coerce and manipulate others. Love, the Deep Love that is God's own Self, does not do that. It is not a covenant grounded in threats and oppression. That's the nature of grace, after all, and the essence of the Law of Liberty.
That anarchic view of what Jesus taught harmonizes well with the theology I've been writing and reading lately. As I researched and wrote The Believer's Guide to the Multiverse, I found that many of the Jesus folks out there who were fascinated by the nexus between Christian faith and quantum cosmology were conservatives, but conservatives whose faith had taken them to a place as open and devoid of oppression as the most free-range progressive.
Meditating on the great, abundant, generous freedom of being, I find myself thinking of my Creator as a Libertarian Sovereign. Or an Anarchist King. God, utterly and absolutely free, will not oppress or coerce.
It's peculiar, paradoxical thing.