Permanence and Change in Social Systems - RR132B3
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Let us begin with prayer: Our Lord and our God, we thank Thee that Thou art our Redeemer. We thank Thee that Thou hast beset us before and behind with Thy mercies and has given us the privilege of serving Thee and glorifying Thee. Make us ever mindful how rich we are in Jesus Christ so that in all times and in all places we may with gratefulness and thanksgiving serve Thee with our whole heart, mind and being. Grant us this we beseech Thee, in Jesus Name, Amen [00:01:05]
Our subject this morning is Permanence and Change in...
Our subject this morning is Permanence and Change in Social Systems. A very interesting article was written not too long ago in American Antiquity, the journal of the society for American archeology, by Mark A. Gordon. In that stimulating study, that is provocative but which I cannot agree with, Dr. Gordon declares, and I quote, “We find that the development of Western world views closely reflected its own changing social structure. The idea that nature was fixed permanently by God during the creation gave way to the idea of a constantly changing, evolving, world. And, at the same time, the fixed class system of European society gave way to an industrialized society characterized by class mobility.” Unquote. Now what Dr. Gordon is saying is that under Christianity the world had a frozen aspect to it. Once Darwin appeared on the scene and the idea of creation was replaced with the doctrine of evolution then fluidity, adaptability and change readily came into the world picture. This is a very common perspective. Is it true? Has progress been accelerated? Has man’s moral boundaries been enlarged as a result by this ostensible fluidity that has come in? Now, as we go back through history we find, of course, that fixity and flux are ideas which are apparent in virtually every system of thought; fixity, or permanence and flux, or change. In the Hellenic perspective of the Greek philosophers the world of fixity, of permanence, was the world of ideas. The world of change, of flux was the world of matter. As a result because matter was the world of flux the change that took place there was, in terms of Greek thought, continuous and cyclical. So that their perspective of history was of a cyclical view, an eternal recurrence of the same thing. Now, where ever we have this idea of cyclical history, which we also have in modern thought again and which Friedrich Nietzsche thoroughly expounded, you have instead of an incentive to change you have a break on it. [00:04:44]
Because if all things as they change are endlessly...
Because if all things as they change are endlessly the same you have the eternal reoccurrence of things then the cynical proverb, “The more things change the more same they are” is true. And, as a result there is no great incentive to progress. In fact, progress becomes impossible. And morality has no place because instead of a growth being possible the Hellenic worldview said that there was only a cyclical return. As a result the only hope of man then was to fix the world of flux, the world of change, by means of ideas. And of course Plato’s republic is an attempt to create a fixed, unchanging, society. Now in medieval society the influence of both Neo-Platonism and Aristotelianism led to a similar attempt to arrest society, to inhibit social change, to impose ideas upon society, concepts which would control flux or change so that through a hierarchy of ideas and values imposed upon the world of flux a permanent order could be created. Now, in Hegelianism again you have in the modern world the same concept. Rather than a philosophy of change what Hegelianism says is that the idea must govern reality, that the rational is the real. In other words, the world of flux, the world of matter, the world of change has a nonreality and therefore the rational, the idea that we impose upon that, must arrest it, and must give it a shape or a pattern. Instead of an idea of change you have an idea of arresting change. All the potentialities of Hegel’s philosophies came to focus in Carl Marx. Because Carl Marx, as he faced the world out there, said, “The point of philosophy is not to understand the world but to change it.” But, when he said change he meant to arrest it, to impose the idea, the real, which is the rational, upon this world of matter and to create the ideal social order in which change would now be arrested. [00:07:53]
So that, as one modern scholar has termed it, Robert...
So that, as one modern scholar has termed it, Robert Seidenberg in his book Post-historical Man, the goal of socialism is to create a post historical man, a man beyond change, beyond history, in which everything that man does is so programmed that he is like the ant in the ant hill and the bee in the bee hive. It is interesting by the way that the bee hive is a very common symbol not only among some socialists but a symbol of Free Masonry and also the Mormon Church. It represents a very ancient standard of what is ideal. Thus, the idea of Dr. Gordon that somehow Christianity represents an arresting of development whereas all these non-Christian philosophies as they come to focus in Darwin and in the post Darwinian world represent a philosophy of change, is totally erroneous. After all consider what the two most important movements today in the United States among liberals and radicals are? They are ZPG and ZEG: zero economic growth and zero population growth. Both ideas represent an attempt to arrest society and to say we can have no more economic growth and we can have no more population growth. We must have a static situation. Let’s look again at a key part of Dr. Gordon’s statement. The idea that nature was fixed permanently by God during the creation gave way to the idea of a constantly changing, evolving world. Is this true? Where is the fixity and where is the flux? Now, this is extremely important to understanding the modern world because if, in terms of the retradition which still governs us in our secular thinking, the world of flux is the world of matter and the world of ideas is the idea of fixity, or permanence, then what you are in effect saying is that the area that must be conquered, must be abolished, is the world of matter. You must arrest this in the name of this. So that no matter what the variation that is developed it is antichange, antigrowth. [00:11:12]
But, if your fixity is in God, God is the eternal,...
But, if your fixity is in God, God is the eternal, the permanent, the unchanging, the “I am the Lord, I change not” and God creates a creation which is temporal, it is in time, time therefore being change, then it is impossible to have this being. It is immediately abolished because it is only when you have this kind of scheme that you can have a philosophy of progress, a philosophy of change. The very idea of progress ????buried??? to the contrary is basically a theological idea. You cannot have progress if you have a cyclical view of history. All you have is an eternal return. And, if you have a cyclical view of history you cannot have ethics, which brings us to our central concern. In a cyclical point of view all things endlessly recurring, it makes no difference what is right and wrong because the eternal recurrence determines and all things have and equal validity or an equal lack of validity in that recurrence. There is no growth. There is no progress. There is no hope of finding a goal because in a circle, a cyclical view of history, you are endlessly repeating the same thing and all things have an equal value. But, in a linear view of history beginning with creation and terminating in the second coming there is development. [00:13:21]
There is a development both of sin, the fall and its...
There is a development both of sin, the fall and its consequences, and the development in the covenant. So that we must say Dr. Gordon, to the contrary, it is the modern perspective that inhibits change and progress and it is only the Biblical perspective that makes progress possible because it alone has the concept of time which validates development. Every other world view, every other philosophy destroys the meaning of time because it calls for ideas to enter into the world of matter, the world of time, and arrest time, annihilate it. Destroy its meaning and obliterate the significance of the temporal process. As a result we must say, as a matter of fact, that a sound history would say that there was more mobility in the world of 1000 A.D. then in the world of 1976. Our world today is less mobile and more controlled. We have all kinds of events taking place but everything is working to arrest the events, to freeze, to halt, to control and all the political efforts in every part of the globe are aimed at a control of human events that will arrest progress or, say, stand still until we ordain a change. Now, mobility is always in relationship to an idea of permanence. If the absolute is in man as it is in humanism the goal of society is to arrest the world of flux in terms of an idea that man has. But, since man is in time you have a contradiction because for us in terms of a Biblical point of view man cannot through his mind, through his rationality, put himself up into the world of fixity and the world of permanence and from this level arrest this level so that the effort of all of modern philosophy, of all humanism throughout the centuries, to arrest the temporal process, to freeze it, to create the end of society is a total loss. [00:16:18]
It is a fallacy...
It is a fallacy. Now, as the Bible speaks of this temporal process it gives us quite an arresting vision of it. In Psalm 24:1-5, those are very familiar words to you but perhaps you have read them over and over again and become oblivious to their meaning, “1The earth is the LORD's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.2For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.3Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.5He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” Now we have here a very telling philosophy of history, God’s own perspective and what philosophy and history involve. What these verses declare first of all is that God is the Sovereign, He is the Creator, and all things are subject to Him and move in terms of His decree. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” So that there is not a thing in all creation that is an exception to His will. As our Lord declared it not a sparrow falls apart from your Father, the very hairs of your hair are numbered and are known by God so that God has an absolute knowledge of every fiber of your being and an absolute predetermination of every aspect of all creation to the very hairs of our head. [00:18:17]
Now, what the psalmist David then declares is that...
Now, what the psalmist David then declares is that the earth, the creation, the area of time is founded upon the seas and established upon the floods. This is a very dramatic bit of imagery. Can you imagine a more unstable foundation? Here we have the juxt of possession of terms that seem almost deliberately contradictory; to establish something on the floods, and on the seas? Obviously this involves a certain contradiction and yet God says that human life now is so established. That it is not only a world of time but an especially shaky, unstable world of time. Moreover I do not think it is at all fanciful to see here a reference to the flood. “He had founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods.” Then, “who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” Again, I do not think it is fanciful here to see a reference to Mount Ararat and Noah. Here is a world of time, a world of movement, a linear process that moves in terms of God’s degree. And those who are unable to move in terms of the Lord are, as they seek to establish themselves upon the flood, overwhelmed and destroyed by it. But those who ascend into the hill of the Lord and are able to continue the movement forward in time, who are they? “He that has clean hands and a pure heart. Who has not lifted up his soul unto vanity nor soul deceitfully.” The faithful will find their Ararat as it were, by faith and by obedience to the covenant law of their God. The obedience of hands, heart, soul, lips, thought, action, faith and works. [00:20:42]
And finally, he shall receive the blessing from the...
And finally, he shall receive the blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of His salvation. The faithful thus shall receive God’s blessing and prosper as they move forward in time. Now, briefly, what these verses are telling us is that progress, development in history, is in faith and obedience to the covenant God. That history is inescapably movement, that that movement involves floods that destroy those who are against God the Lord, the Creator. David presents us therefore not a philosophy of escape from change but mastery over change, mastery in the world of time by means of faith and obedience to the law of God. Mobility thus changes not away from the law of God such as in Darwin or in humanism but it is mobility in terms of it. Now the Bible tells us that man has through the century attempted to arrest history, to bring it to a stop in terms of his idea. And, the classic example of this is the tower of Babel. Man attempting to build the kingdom of man in defiance of God and saying, “Go to now and let us build us a city.” Let us establish a sotto kingdom, not the kingdom of God but of man and let us dominate history, “whose top shall reach unto heaven.” And of course it was a signet, a step ladder pyramid, a symbol common to ancient religion and common to this day such as in Free Masonry, where by means of degrees a man ascended until he reached the highest degree and became a man god. Arrested, controlled history became one of the arrestors, one of the philosopher kings whose function it was to say, “Thus far and no farther” like a King Knut saying to the waves, “Stand still and go no further.” [00:23:37]
Of course for the builders of the Tower of Babel it...
Of course for the builders of the Tower of Babel it ended in judgment. But that dream of the arrest of history is now very much with us. One of the basic aspects of the modern age is the idea of revolution. Now, the thesis of revolution is not merely that the old order must be overturned but that the old order being overturned a new order will automatically be ushered in. This is so basic to Karl Marx that the Marxists had no program for the day after revolution. By their faith the minute the old order was overturned all this, the ugly process of the world of flux would disappear and utopia would come in. Ideas would immediately begin to dominate history and there would be paradise on earth and all men would suddenly realize, as in the last chapter of the book of Revelation where it speaks of the tree having at the same time blossoms and fruit, potentiality and actuality, being one and the same continuously, so Karl Marx gives us an idea of the day after the revolution the world of the post-revolutionary man, in which a man can be in the morning a sheepherder and in the afternoon a brain surgeon and in the evening a concert violinist. Now Marx actually believed that this could be a possibility because the principle under which he operated was the Hegelian principle, the idea as the real. Therefore the rational is the real. The idea is that which alone has reality that you could once destroy the process then the idea takes over. As a result, immediately after the revolution, it was apparent that utopia had not arrived and the Bolgavic’s faced a very serious problem. What had happened to Karl Marx theory? Why was utopia not there? They immediately had food problems, a famine began to happen and they would have gone under except that Herbert Hoover stepped in with his famine relief. [00:26:38]
They had rioting...
They had rioting; they had all kinds of serious disturbances and disorders. They very hastily improvised and they took from Daniel DeLeon, American socialist, the idea of a Soviet structure for society as a temporary stopgap. The Soviet structure has no foundation in Karl Marx it was borrowed wholesale from Daniel DeLeon. This perfect order in which the rational becomes the real cannot take place until the world revolution, until we have destroyed ever area of development, until the revolution becomes so total that indeed the idea now can govern, the idea predominates. Thus, as they faced the area of economics, ??Lenning?? said that in the communist society in the world of the world revolution we will no longer need gold. Gold being the instrument of freedom in a world of control economics couldn’t do without gold. And in such a world we will take all the gold that exists and use them to line the public urinals as a symbol of our contempt for the world of freedom, by which he meant the world of flux, of change. [00:28:28]
But, until then, he said, we must use it because outside...
But, until then, he said, we must use it because outside the boundaries of our country there is a world of freedom, a world of flux, a world which has not yet come under the influence of the idea and until it is possessed and captured and dominated by the idea we still must use this instrument of change, of freedom, of the prerevolutionary world in foreign trade. And so, Lenning ordered, and his successors followed through with a massive mining program and gold mining is a big scale activity in the Soviet Union. As a matter of fact gold is priced so much by the Soviet’s that if you can smuggle a coin into the Soviet Union, I don’t advise it, a gold coin, you can get a double price for it almost at once. And so much gold smuggling has been going on by gold miners there that they have now instituted the death penalty who tries to smuggle it out. It constitutes a reactionary philosophy on the part of the miner. Why a reactionary philosophy? These miners have never read Marx, they don’t know anything about classical economics, and they have no knowledge of the Western world. What makes them counter revolutionary? Why simply because in pricing gold and attempting to smuggle it out they are pricing something that is tied to freedom and change whereas the world of ideas has said that anything tied to that world can no longer have any function within our realm. Thus, the gold today, you see, of the philosopher kings with their Idea is a world revolution. When the world revolution is achieved then temporal process will be abolished. When temporal process is abolished freedom of course is abolished and the world is then beyond good and evil because good and evil have no place in a world where neither time nor freedom function. A few years ago I was one of the three speakers at a forum held in Northern California with Dr. Dragovich of the Hoover Institution and a Mr. Paulson and myself presided over by state Senator Bradley. And it was a forum on education. [00:31:47]
I spoke out very strongly against state schools and...
I spoke out very strongly against state schools and for Christian schools and for freedom in education. When the meeting was over it was quite a heated and wild affair. It was an auditorium packed full of people, a great many of them state school teachers who were intensely outraged by everything I had to say, and so a great deal of the heat was directed in my way. This one school teacher, I think she said she was a fourth grade teacher, came charging up with blood in her eye and she told me I was a quack and I was simply trying to mislead the people when I talked about freedom. She summed it up in this sentence, “In the modern world freedom is obsolete!” A very interesting statement. Now, a great many people standing around, some very pious elderly women in particular gasped and were horrified. But, they shouldn’t have. That woman was both knowledgeable and logical. Why? Because, first of all, if society is a scientific experiment, scientific socialism, then you cannot allow freedom in an experiment, you destroy the validity of it. And if moreover, she continued to say that in a scientific world you take, and she was using the jargon of modern thought, an idea in order to arrest the uncertainty and the instability of temporal processes. Then of course freedom is obsolete. But then what you have to say next is that man is obsolete next. Having abolished freedom you abolish good and evil, you have a world which is beyond good and evil because moral choice, moral decisions is no longer within the province of man, man becomes a programmed creature. Man then is also obsolete. [00:34:28]
This is precisely what a book of just a few years ago...
This is precisely what a book of just a few years ago by Harvard, a scientist, did in fact say, B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity. According to B.F Skinner man has to be a programmed creature. And Dr. Dalgoto and others are in agreement that the best way to handle man is either through electro therapy or chemical therapy or through electrodes in the brain to control people so that you have a totally planned society in which from cradle to grave every person is programmed to do exactly what they are programmed to do. Then there is no good and evil. There is no moral decision because man is now obsolete, he is just a shell who is programmed and performs on orders from a central switch board. Then temporal process is to all practical intent nullified and reduced to nothingness, insignificance. And of course if at the same time you can create man at will in the laboratory or clone people, take someone and out of some of the cells of his body build a duplicate, an endless duplicate, so that cloning today is an area of tremendous research, you can say why John Jones or RJ Rushdoony or Greg Wallace or the rest of you are unnecessary because we can take a few cells of your body and reproduce you endlessly and we can make of you robots so that we can do what we please with society. We can create a society that has fixity, in which the Idea triumphs and in which the world of time, of process, of change is abolished. Now there is no mistaking the fact that this is the direction of temporary research. A very good friend of mine a few years ago, a very important scientist dealing with classified work which he enjoyed but troubled his conscience, it killed him finally, he died of cancer, he told me once, he said, “Rush, if the people of this country what we were planning to do with their tax dollars and the billions we were spending they would line us all against the wall and shoot us.” I told him, “I doubt it. They would probably be horrified for a day or two and then forget it and continue to watch TV and be totally unconcerned with what you are doing until there is a theological change.” [00:37:48]
Now, what we must say thus is that in the modern world...
Now, what we must say thus is that in the modern world view there is warfare against God because there is warfare against time, against process, against the idea of change. So that while they declaim against the Biblical perspective as it was ostensibly being arresting of progress what they mean in actuality is, the trouble with the Biblical perspective is not that there is this order of time, of creation but that here there is something unchanging in God, that there is a mandatory law, a mandatory structure, a mandatory direction to history that they reject. So that, the modern perspective is anti-historical; it dreams of post historical man, man beyond history. It dreams therefore of making man, in effect, the new god of creation only a very select and limited number of men who will control the switchboard and we will be expendable. In terms of our faith the fundamental prayer of all Christians is the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in (history).” Now very clearly this prayer requires change. It says that the world as it is is a world that is out of tune with God and His Word and therefore the world must be progressively conquered, must be progressively changed, conformed to the Word of God so that the Lord’s Prayer is a mandate for change. Modern man’s prayer is in effect that man’s kingdom come and that man’s will be done and that man’s will is that his Idea replaces God’s degree. That man’s predestinating counsel that will arrest history replace God’s creation which moves from the creation of all things in six days to the second coming of our Lord. As a result we are today confronted on all sides not by a philosophy of change, although it claims to be that, but by an Idea that aims at arresting history. And in terms of Scripture this is impossibility, all it incurs is death and judgment. History is a long story of societies that have attempted to arrest process, time, and change. India, Egypt, Rome, right down to the present. Man apart from God has sought to freeze history in terms of his Idea. And God the judge has destroyed all such attempts. Are there any questions now? [00:41:46] Yes.
Rushdoony: Contemporary existentialism, is it based on a rationalistic view? Yes, contemporary existentialism is the child of Hegel. The rational is the real. So, what finally is the real in existentialism? Myself, my existence, nothing else. So it pursues this to its end conclusion so that there is no reality other than myself, I as autonomous man am rational. Now I will be referring to something later this week and it won’t hurt to repeat it now. For Jon Paul Sartre in his Being and Nothingness and in other of his writings, it is necessary for him to wage war against the ideas of Fraud. Why? He cannot tolerate the idea of an unconscious or a subconscious in man because if an unconscious exists in man then man is not pure Idea, than there is something of brute factuality in man, something of the meaningless world of matter which is within man. And so Sartre is at great pains to wage war against the idea that man is not totally Idea, although that is not his terminology but he says there can be no subconscious or unconscious in man. But then of course he restricts you see the idea to the single unit, myself, or himself. And because it is so restricted Sartre has a tremendous problem. He is a socialist but he knows that logically he cannot vindicate his socialism. Why? For me my neighbor is the devil. He cannot be god and I god and so how can you have socialism which requires the unity of all man if I am the Idea. So Sartre has to say, and he does come right out and say it very flatly in the latter pages of Being and Nothingness, that between two men presumably both existentialists, one who is prime minister and the other a thorough going wine o, an alcoholic; who is the better existentialist? Why, the wine-o. Why? Because the alcoholic acts without reference without anything in reference outside of himself and the prime minister no matter how existentialist his philosophy he is still thinking of the totality, the welfare of society and of all men and therefore he is not a consistent existentialist. One thing you have to give credit to Sartre and ??Kamoo?? for. Both were tremendously consistent men, they were logical. I wish we Christians were as consistent to our faith as they were to their premises. [00:45:35]
Rushdoony: The Canaanite in the midst of the covenant people were required to obey. And very clearly God did not say to those outside the covenant people they were free to rob, to steal, to commit adultery, to disobey My law. God was still their Creator and their Judge.
Rushdoony: The only way to look at the covenant, and I am trying to answer your question in the broadest and the clearest terms possible, is to say that all men in the sight of God are either covenant keepers or covenant breakers. There are no Ah-covenant men you see, no men that are outside of the covenant. All men in Adam are either covenant keepers or covenant breakers, no exceptions. Nobody, no man that was ever born who can say, “I have nothing to do with God’s covenant.” He is either a covenant breaker or a covenant keeper because he is a child of Adam. And he is either in Christ covenant keeper or in Adam a covenant breaker. We cannot view mankind apart from the covenant.
Rushdoony: Well, there is in a sense a dialectical tension at times but yet he does ultimately resolve it in that he says, “Man has no essence, he makes his own essence, he declines his idea so that at this point he brings them together and even then it doesn’t hold together because he says the essence of God really is that he is a being whose passion is being god. But this is, (correction: man is a being whose passion it is to be god). But he says man is a futile passion so it collapses.
Rushdoony: As VanTil says, “Rationalism and irrationalism.”
Rushdoony: The spiral…well, why don’t you answer that Greg, you are an expert in that area…
Rushdoony: Well, that would just seem to be a variation of the Biblical perspective. Now, many humanists have attempted to hold this but it collapses, you see. You cannot maintain a perspective of progress without the foundations. Another example of this. I know that many people today who are Christians feel that they have to damn the idea of lez a faire. The idea of lez a faire is nothing as Jacob Viner has shown in a very compelling study, a secularization of the Biblical doctrine of providence. Lez a faire is the operation of providence in history. It says there is a government, or as Adam Smith says, “an invisible Hand” in all of history. Well, when did the doctrine of lez a faire collapse? It collapsed and is today virtually dead except a handful of people who hold it without any real roots. When Darwin appeared on the scene. Because when Darwin appeared on the scene he abolished God and he abolished nature as anything but the realm of chance you see. So, you have no God and you have no natural law in which you could ground your lez a faire and therefore lez a faire was obsolete and the invisible Hand of God had to be replaced by the very visible hand of the state, socialists. So it is that the doctrine of progress has collapsed as of late and a number of scholars are busy showing that the cyclical view is the only one that is tenable and the doctrine of progress is a myth. Why? Because without the theological foundation it is an impossibility. And when man gets a generation or so away in terms of ideas, from a theological foundation whether his view is from lez a faire or from creation a view of progress it collapses and he reverts to the pagan view. [00:55:55]
Rushdoony: As a matter of fact the 19th century saw the great transfer of power from monarchs and from huge land owners and from merchant barons into the hands of the middle class. And so contrary to the present perspective it produced a tremendous burst of freedom. It produced as one of its products the greatest, most massive missionary movement in all of history. It had a tremendous impact on history. It was when, with Darwin, you begin to see the collapse of that perspective that you saw especially after Darwin’s book in 1859 a gradual recession of that idea, of the hidden hand of providence, as basic in human affairs.
Rushdoony: First of all it wasn’t capitalism. After the war if Northern Aggression what you had was the rise of the robber barons. Now the robber barons were without exception social Darwinians. They formulated this over and over and over again. What they took was this new theory and applied it to society. They were social Darwinians and they regulated utilized the state. .. What you had is nothing but a development from about 1860 of social Darwinism in our political and economic spheres, not capitalism.