Colloquy in Reconstruction Economics - RR161C6

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Colloquy in Reconstruction Economics
Course: Course - From the Easy Chair
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 6
Length: 1:00:59
TapeCode: RR161C6
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
From the Easy Chair.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission

Dr. R. J. Rushdoony, RR161C6, Colloquy in Reconstruction Economics, from the Easy Chair, excellent colloquies on various subjects.

[Rushdoony] This is R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 50, Tuesday, August the second, 1983.

Today it is our privilege to have a very good friend of Chalcedon here, John Stafford. John has a very, varied background and a most interesting one. As of yesterday he finished his work with the department of interior and I am going to ask John to describe something of his work there, something of his background. He has been i the military, I investment, in quite a few things.

John, it is good to have you here.

[Stafford] Thank you, Rush. It is really beautiful here in Vallecito. Well, with the department I was director of the office of hearings and appeals. I came about a year ago and when I was getting comfortably ensconced in Florida, but had decided to take off a year’s sabbatical and go to seminary. And I actually turned the job down a couple of times until I found out I could go to seminary at night at Dominion Theological Institute in McLean, Virginia based at McLean Presbyterian Church. So I did welcome the opportunity to come up and work in the Reagan Administration, work for Jim Watt who is just a fabulous fellow and, as you know, a staunch Christian. And the job I had was in the office of the secretary. I had a staff of 125 people of which 42 were administrative judges and administrative law judges, about 20 attorneys and then a number of support people and basically what we did in that office was to make decisions fro the secretary that he didn’t have time to make, most of them were of the important and not a lot of routine decisions, whereas the secretary himself is concerned with more urgent and politically tinged decisions. I believe we did upwards of, oh, 4000 or more a year and it is a... it is a pretty fine office. And I was actually quite pleased with the high quality of the professional bureaucrats that I had working for me. But, of course, as is true with any bureaucratic organization, be it in the public sector or the private sector, there were some problems and some institutional barriers which we tried to overcome and it is quite a... a frustrating fight, but I like to think we did fight the good fight and hopefully accomplish some small modicum of good. [00:03:21]

[Rushdoony] I understand to improve efficiency you

[Rushdoony] I understand to improve efficiency you were trying to make some very extensive cuts that would have saved the taxpayers some money, but you ran into a bit of trouble there.

[Stafford] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Do you wan to tell us about it?

[Stafford] Well, there probably isn’t a justification for more than about 75 or 80 people in this office where there are actually 125 budgeted. But there is just no way that with the civil service regulations being what they are and the political realities internal to the department and external, that would really allow you to do that. So I was pleased to have tried to save about a million dollars out of a little over five million dollar budget and actually returning to the department 400,000 outright by taking some other actions, avoided spending another, well, three or 400,000 dollars. So, you know, we fought as good a fight as we could and I guess the frustrating part is that you are just not really free to have the kind of management control you normally would have in the private sector and really should have in the government sector.

[Rushdoony] Anne Burford remarked that it is illegal for someone to return budgeted money and this poses a further problem, does it not?

[Stafford] Well, I didn’t have that particular problem, because Jim Watt is so smart using the budget to drive his policy. And so what we didn’t use he could reprogram to do the things that he is trying to do there within the department. But in terms of turning it back to the Congress I don’t know whether it is illegal or not, but I am sure that the vast majority of the people in Washington would be against doing anything like that and I just was further sensitized, I guess, not so much shocked or amazed, but further sensitized to the ... you might all it a fantasy reality of Washington, that the people there do live in a fantasy world. They seem to think that... or believe that money does grow on trees, that there is a cornucopia of ever increasing amounts of money and it is just their obligation to spend it and they don’t think of it in terms of being the tax payers’ money or individual citizens having to dig into their pockets and forego various things in their lives that they would like to have to come up with the tax revenues to support these programs. They just think of it in terms of... well, the money is there and there is more going to be more and it is up to us to spend it. [00:06:34]

So they are interested in spending it

So they are interested in spending it. And their whole orientation is towards spending and they don’t have the feeling that this is money which in any way is held in trust or that should be handled very carefully because it is other people’s money. They consider it to be their money.

[Rushdoony] Let me throw in something here parenthetically. Before going to Washington, John published an investment letter which was the most expensive one in the country and had a very select clientele and John is knowledgeable in this field.

John, I think our people would be very interested if you told us something about the economics of the drug industry today as it affects the monetary situation of this country.

[Stafford] Right. I don’t hold myself out really as an expert in anything. I ... I consider myself a student of a number of different things and one of which is the area of money and monetary policy. And to do that you have to be familiar with the banking system and how the federal reserve operates. And, of course, one of the things that drives interest rates is what the federal reserve is doing with the money supply or particularly, not so much M1, M2, et cetera, M3 through M15, which, by the way, have been growing at astronomical rates contrary to everything that you hear from the official spokesmen of the federal reserve over the last two years, really, since late October of 1981. And one of the things that I look at very carefully for guidance on the economic and financial markets is net free or borrowed reserves. In other words, how liquid is the banking system. And if you have, for instance, six billion dollars in net borrowed reserves that is generally associated with very high interest rates. And we did have that two or three years ago where the banks were in a net borrowed position of about six billion dollars and that was associated with a prime rate of upwards of 20 percent.

Recently the prime rate has dropped down closer to 11 and a half or 12 and in some places even 10, 10 and a half and this coincides with a net free reposition in the banks, banking system of about... I think they got somewhere around two or the 300 million dollars in the plus side. [00:09:19]

So the liquidity of the banking system is a very important

So the liquidity of the banking system is a very important thing. Well, where does liquidity come from? It comes from a lot of different sources. But one of which is deposits which are placed with individual commercial banks which, by the way, I don’t think really are in the free enterprise system. They really have become, because of excessive regulation and mutuality of interest interlocked with the government arms of the government. So I look at them the same way as I would any government agency, not as a private institution, even though they still pose as private institutions.

In any event, I guess a... a sort of a... a hard way of saying it would be that whether they know this or not or whether they want to be or not, the people in the federal government have a vested interest in the continuance of the drug trade, because so much money is being raised thought hat enterprise, illegal enterprise and placed in the banking system on deposit with the various banks, this is particularly true. I saw some statistics about two years ago when I was down in Florida. And we are very sensitive to the drug problem down there, which showed that there were so many tens of billions of dollars being put on deposit with the so-called commercial banks in Florida that there was a huge surplus of something like three billion dollars in free reserves in the federal reserve southeast district. And that was primarily due to the fact that the huge amounts of money were being laundered through banks in Florida and what the result of that was that instead of the... that the entire U. S. banking system was being liquefied by the existence of this money in this one particular district, so that if this... one way to say it, I guess, would be that if this were not true, we might, perhaps, have had 25 or 30 percent prime rate rather than a terrible 20 percent prime rate back two or three years ago had it not been for the existence of this drug money. And that probably would have either brought down the banking system, or had an even greater negative impact and it probably would have had produced a much more sever recession than the one that we actually had.

So we have gotten ourselves, I guess the way to look at this, in a... in a terrible box. We are caught between a rock and a hard place which is what I was talking about I my September seventh, 1981 letter in particular. And the... we really have... don’t have too much room to maneuver. [00:12:22]

[Rushdoony] So we are very dependent economically

[Rushdoony] So we are very dependent economically upon the drug trade.

[Stafford] Yes. Sad as that may be.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Which means that to endanger that drug trade would be to endanger the banking system and the economy generally.

[Stafford] Right. That is a ... a reality. It is an unpleasant reality and it is one that a lot of people wouldn’t admit to, but the way I see it, it is a fact, just as the fact that the greedy and incompetent bankers and the... I call them the nine brothers who for years have been in bed with the seven sisters of the big banks in New York and elsewhere, Chicago and here on the west coast, that these bankers through greed, incompetence and stupidity lent out all this money to the third world and, therefore, the administration is placed in a position of going to the Congress and asking for 8.5 billion in additional contributions to the international monetary fund, because they say if we don’t the whole system might start coming apart.

[Rushdoony] Which it would.

[Stafford] Well, it may or it may not. I don’t think that it necessarily would, because I think that if you removed greedy and stupid and incompetent businessmen who are being subsidized in many ways by the government from the economy, that this would allow entrepreneurs and people who are smarter and better to do the same job if that job did need to be done at lower cost and that would have a beneficial effect on the economy even though the immediate effect for a few weeks or a few months might appear to be negative. But sometimes the best thing ... as a matter of fact, I think most of the time the best thing to do is to bite the bullet...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Stafford] And... and do the right thing regardless of what appeared to be the short term consequences. So I think that either some of these people are just unknowledgeable about past economic history or have frightened themselves or are deliberately frightening... trying to frighten everyone else into thinking that this is the only way that we can go when, in fact, I believe that if we did the right thing, especially if we trusted in the Lord, Proverbs 3:5-6 is my favorite Scripture verse, that if he saw us doing the right thing, he would take care of us. [00:15:04]

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Rushdoony] Yes. That is what I hoped you would say, John. Well, you know, there is no proverb that birds of a feather flock together. So you have got the federal government, the third world countries and the drug dealers I bed together economically.

[Stafford] I am sad to say it is true.

[Rushdoony] And the one who is paying the price is the good citizen who still goes on paying his taxes.

[Stafford] Exactly.

[Rushdoony] Because we are having ... well, how extensive is the sub rosa economy that is avoiding taxes, that is under ground in one form or another? Do you want to discus that?

[Stafford] Well, briefly, I am not really an expert I this area. I just have read about it over the last few years. I was in Europe a number of years ago and I know that at that time this was sort of the norm. And so as I understand it, our situation is sort of retarded time wise, vis a vie Europe. I understand that upwards of 50 or 60 percent of the Italian economy takes place in the underground, upwards of 40 to 50 percent of the French economy and I have seen some statistics ranging anywhere from 15 to 25 percent of GNP in the United States takes place in the so-called under ground economy.

I would think that the important thing is to recognize the trend and the direction that this is going rather than, you know, arguing over what exactly the percentage is today. I don’t think that is particularly important. But I do see this growing because as the government becomes more and more lawless and we have more and more of what we have had the last 50 years in particular of government of ... of men, not laws, that more and more people will at least, as Francis Schaeffer has pointed out in the Christian Manifesto and many of his talks, have the development, the continuation of the passive revolt, generally against government and hopefully it will be smart enough and with the Lord’s help to take effective action soon to do the right thing so that we don’t go all the way down that path toward active revolt. I think that that would have terribly negative consequences and I think just as the Civil War was an unnecessary war, that that would be unnecessary to have violence in this country in terms of active revolt. [00:18:03]

So, again, if... I think if we have the guts to face up to the realities and of the situation in all of these different areas and then once having done that say, “Ok, let’s take intelligent and effective action to... to deal with where we have gotten ourselves, that I have great faith in the common sense and... and... and integrity of the American people and I see lots of good signs, actually. I have been accused over the years of being a doom and gloomer, but that is not true. I am... I am... I am a... a perennial optimist. It is just that I am also a realist so I tell people quite openly what I see the truth to be, the reality to be and encourage them to do the right thing and as in my own life it sometimes takes years to be willing to face up to something and maybe even further number of years to belt up the guts to actually take effective action. So in that sense, I am patient, but I have had to learn that in my own life. But I think that is really the key and, again, in the long run we are talking about prayer and trusting in the Lord. In the short run I think there are a number of things that we could do which would be a ... a ... not only good effective action, but also send a signal that we were putting on the armor as Ephesians six is talking about and preparing for the battle. And one thing that... on that point, that is going on right now, I think is very important is to stop the IMF funding bill in the house. And I see where the administration and the leadership of the... of the house are scrambling around now trying to see how to get that bill though the house because they found that there is substantial opposition to the point, hopefully of a majority against it. And anything that your subscribers can do or the good citizens of the United States can do to stop this monstrosity and rip off of the American tax payer, I think, would be very beneficial, not only in terms of the actual event itself, but also in terms of the signal that it would send that... that we are making a major shift in the right direction.

[Rushdoony] The thing that is interesting to me is, of course, all over the country further funding of the IMF and of the third world countries is very unpopular. But I did not expect Congress to react negatively to it. So I think your suggestion that those who listen express their feelings strongly on this issue is a very good one, because it will spell the death of the dollar, ultimately and its damage to our future will be very, very great.

You did... yes. [00:21:17]

[Stafford] On that point there are a couple of other

[Stafford] On that point there are a couple of other angles which aren’t even being discussed in terms of this IMF bailout. One of which is that it is not only a threat to the sovereignty of the countries which are being bailed out. But it is also a threat to the sovereignty of the United States and its continuance if we still are one as a constitutional republic. And I say this in light even of the letter to the Wall Street Journal from a gentleman in Guatemala who was begging the people to do what we have just suggested here I the United States because he didn’t want the people of Guatemala and the government of Guatemala to become more dependent on the IMF.

I mean, it is a direct threat to their own sovereignty and independence. And to the extent that the IMF does become de facto, if not de jure a world central bank, that is a threat to the sovereignty of the United States as well. So, you know, it is not just an economic and financial event. It is also an extremely important political event going to the very question of ... of ... of really imperialism if you want to talk about that. And, you know, who is running the show? Whether it is the people of each country who can maintain their own diversity and uniqueness of their system or whether it is going to be some group of self alleged, self appointed elitists who are going to try to tell everybody else what to do according to their humanistic plan.

[Rushdoony] You cited as a text for our time certain verses in Proverbs. Do you want to comment on those verses?

[Stafford] Well, I just... I know that they have been extremely important in my own life, Proverbs 3:5-6 as I remember it from, I think, the NIV is... it says, “Trust in the Lord, lean not on your own understanding. Walk in his ways and he will make your paths straight.”

So you can even look at that and ... in four parts even though, of course, it is completely connected together. The first part, trust in the Lord, again, I am a fairly new Christian of just about three years even though I was raised a Roman Catholic and I think a very fine education for the better part of 20 years through the Catholic schools. But then I lapsed, fell away for many years and I am just three years ago last June I found... got right with God as Dr. Kennedy down in Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church likes to put it. [00:24:02]

And without going into my testimony this particular

And without going into my testimony this particular verse was very important to me and in 1980 I had a tremendous lesson for a year in this area of trust and then my seminary studies have shown me and my Genesis and Ephesians class and John class in particular that that really is the underlying basis for the relationship between God and man and, really , the... the theme of the old and new covenant. Trusting in the Lord. And if you look at the great patriarchs of the Old Testament in particular, they were men who trusted in the Lord. Abraham with his son Isaac and the sacrifice or the potential sacrifice, Noah who, you know, went on building this stupid ark on dry land for 100 years or so, Job. In each case these men did what God said because they believed God and in every case there were tremendous blessings and, of course, the contrasts were, you know, Adam and right down the line where they turned away from what God said and did what they thought was best and, of course, that always leads to evil and chaos. I think it is really, perhaps the ... the underlying difficulty in all of human history that we try to not do what God says. We try to shove him out of the picture and put ourselves up and try to do what we think is best. And that, I think is the main reason that we have this chaos and disaster and lack of peace and brotherhood and understanding that so many people complain about.

Doing what ... what God says we should do, I know, your ministry has been very much geared to his and the many books that you have written, the Institutes and others have really stressed this point, Rush, that just do with God what God says and trust him to take care of the rest. And I have always had a high view of the sovereignty of God. And the more I learn the higher and higher it gets and fortunately the more humble I get and to see that the God really does have total control and our job is to get our pride and ego out of the way so he can do his work. And as my old pappy used to say, yours is not to question why. Yours is but to do or die.

[Rushdoony] Your father was in the military, wasn’t he?

[Stafford] Yes. He is a retired marine colonel as is my uncle and also my cousin just got back from nine months in Beirut, was promoted to lieutenant colonel and given three years in London with his family which I think is a pretty decent thing to do considering the tough action that he had to deal with in Beirut.

[Rushdoony] And you yourself have been in the military. [00:27:02]

[Stafford] Yes

[Stafford] Yes. I have a long career. As a matter of fact, I was in three different branches of the service if you include my air force R O T C at Maryland, the navy, air force and the marine corps. And we lived on an army base as well when my dad was CO of the marine barracks that guards the national security agency.

I can’t understand why everybody is getting so all worked up about the national security agency, because, you know, I have known about them for 20 or more years. But I am retired from the marine corps reserve with 21 years longevity even though I don’t have the 20 years necessary for a pension. At the time that I retired as engaged to a woman with four children and had my business going and I ... on the one hand, on the temporal level didn’t feel that I wanted to be called back to serve as many of the men were after World War II for Korea to really interrupt my life just at the time it was about ready to hopefully get planted and stable. And also I felt I was vice chairman of the Reagan finance committee during the 1980 campaign, that one of the best reasons for electing Reagan over Carter was that either under Reagan or Carter we may well go to war, but at least under Reagan we had a chance to win. And I... but at the time, this was January of well... December of 80... of 79 and January of 80 when I retired, all the polls showed Carter winning and so I just didn't want to serve under Carter in an active duty military role.

So there were a number of reasons, but ... but I did put in my 21 years plus I felt that really I had another 18 or so as ... as a marine corps junior as they call them in the family. So I had figured I put in the better part of 39 or 40 years and I was... and that was... that was fine.

I still go to the congressional marines breakfasts and so forth and so on and the {?} parades and keep my hand I with marine corps activities, the marine corps ball every year in November, but I am basically done my service.

But I think I did learn a lot not only from my father, but from my marine corps training about preparing for battle and defending what you think is important in life and I am finding that without consciously thinking about it, a lot of these principles, I am able to apply in Christian work and in the financial field. I know other was a book that I just bought another copy of recently by Gerald Lowe. It came out during the 50s and I guess it was passed around, given by Merrill Lynch to its customers in the 60s. It was called The Battle for Investment Survival. And think really that concept applies in many areas of our life. Nutrition, I think Adele Davis really makes this point about good nutrition here in the battle for ... for good health. And the financial world you re certainly in a battle. And as Paul tells us in Ephesians six, in particular and elsewhere we are in a battle as far as our spiritual life is concerned.

So many different areas in which these concepts of ... which some people might label as pure military really have much wider application. [00:30:33]

[Rushdoony] You also went to law school somewhere

[Rushdoony] You also went to law school somewhere along the line.

[Stafford] Oh, yes. I slipped that in. I never really wanted to be a lawyer, but I figured law school was a good place to ... to learn. I really wanted to go to Notre Dame and take theology and philosophy and I had given serious consideration to the priesthood over the years, especially when I was blessed sacrament school in Washington, DC, Chevy Chase circle back in the 50s and then at Saint Anselm’s Abbey school taught by the good Benedictine fathers in the 50s, but then I ... I had discovered girls and as I went to the CYO dances I realized I could never be a priest.

But yes, it is true that ... that I did end up at law school at the University of Washington and as I was telling you the other day, I am thinking about suing them for educational malpractice, because the year that I got there they brought in a fellow who was from an eastern Ivy League genre or of that genre and I think that was the year they eliminated Blackstone and brought in H L A Heart, Sachs and all these secular Humanist types, legal positivists. And I knew there were doing something to my mind, but at the time I didn’t have the tools to know exactly what it was all about. So I was at a great disadvantage, but over the years the Lord has helped me work through that and I think I am finally falling in with a good crowd here among the Christian Reconstructionists. But I know you have got some ideas or plans relating to helping people like me had your work been available and I had known about it 20 some odd years ago when I started law school.

[Rushdoony] Well, you know, if you had gone to Notre Dame law school you would have gotten both theology and law.

[Stafford] That is right. Exactly. I would have gotten a combination.

[Rushdoony] Which, of course, is the necessary combination and that is why we are in trouble today, because theology and law have been separated.

[Stafford] Right.

[Rushdoony] And theology and life have been separated. It has been made an abstract subject, unrelated to the every day world.

[Stafford] Exactly, which has got to lead to total disaster as this professor Paul Kurtz and I were discussing the other day at the Institute on Religion and Democracy meeting. And it was actually a fairly gentle interplay. I kept asking him why he would do things the hard way and eliminate a great source of help, to wit God, from his daily activity. You know, why not invite him in to help? And I guess it goes back to that same old thing that befell Satan and befell Adam that our own pride just keeps us from a willingness to do that. [00:33:34]

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Rushdoony] Yes. Those of you who are listening, how don’t know who Paul Kurtz is, he is head of the Humanist Association of the United States. And as John and I were discussing last night these Humanists believe in the greater miracles when they believe in evolution. That is the greatest miracle anybody ever imagined.

[Stafford] Exactly.

[Rushdoony] And it is a myth.

[Stafford] It is a myth. And we have just been systematically deceived and still are being about the evolution, about evolution. And, you know, something that is really bad that is part and parcel of that is the disingenuine... disingenuousness of the people who are involved. They are just... they are not really telling the truth. The... the fact is that the theory of evolution is no more than a theory and perhaps not even a hypothesis. Whereas if you watch public television either Cosmos or any of these other series...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Stafford] ...on Darwin or the one they had just this past winter, they talk about it as established fact. And that is really crazy, because from what I can tell there has never been any proof of any missing links between a change of species. And so I have come around to the view, after sort of going along for so many years with he evolutionists, because I never really took the time to think about it specifically for myself. I am taking the view now that I want to believe the Bible for so long as ... as no one can prove it wrong. And that is my starting point. And so far I don’t see anything that proves Scripture wrong. Let’s say the creation. And, in fact, what I have been learning and it was just at Philadelphia Bible College two or three weeks ago for a seminar put on by the Institute for Creation Research and that is that if anything, especially archaeology is proving up the Bible. We are finding out that the prophesies that were made hundreds of years in advance, even a thousand or more years in advance, say, about the destruction of particular cities are being found out to be absolutely uncannily accurate by the scientists who are doing the digging. [00:36:05]

[Rushdoony] Now that as of today you are a free man

[Rushdoony] Now that as of today you are a free man as far as Washington, DC is concerned, I understand you are planning to write a book.

[Stafford] True. I do want to finish in the month of August my seminary studies at Dominion Theological Institute. I have been taking a full load of four courses for this summer semester and then next fall I am currently planning to go up to Grove City College and work for a doctorate probably in Christianity and civilization. {?} has been after me about doing an economics for a couple of years. Mostly it is an opportunity to, again, take a sabbatical and do a lot of the reading that I would like to do. But I do have seven book titles that ... of books that I would like to write and one of which I have actually put some time and effort into and established an outline and actually filled it out in a few places and that book would be called The Age of Irresponsibility. And so {?} a standard thesis they suggested that I write a book and I think that would be the book that I probably would write, because I think that, oh, at least in the temporal sense, if not more, it might be the underlying theme of the modern age and particularly the century, just almost a total lack of responsibility on the part of we as human beings in so may different areas of life.

I am reminded of the comic strip Pogo and where Pogo, of course, is quoted, famous for his, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Stafford] And I think we have become our own enemies because we have failed to be responsible and again, I appreciate the work that you are doing because you are showing people the scriptural and theological basis for how to be responsible and then going beyond that and saying, “Let’s actually do it,” rather than just talking about that as an abstract concept which, oh, we couldn’t possibly implement in the modern age.

We can and we must.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Well, you know, irresponsibility is a product of the fall, of original sin. We are told in Genesis that when man sought to be his own God, determining good and evil for himself, his immediate reaction when confronted with his sin was irresponsibility. Adam told God the woman though gavest to me...

[Stafford] Yes.

[Rushdoony] ... to be with me. It is your fault. You gave her to me. She did give me and in did eat.

So it is God’s fault and the woman’s fault.

[Stafford] Yes. [00:38:59]

[Rushdoony] And Eve said, ...

[Rushdoony] And Eve said, “The serpent did give me, poor innocent thing that I am. How was I to know? I was deluded. The serpent did give me and I did eat.” Both were irresponsible. And the deeper a society gets into sin the deeper its sense of irresponsibility. So here we have an irresponsible world in an irresponsible age.

You know, in two or three of my books, including a forthcoming one on salvation and godly rule, I deal with the will to fiction that is so much a mark of our age.

[Stafford] Right.

[Rushdoony] We have never had an age that is saturated itself more in the world of its imagination through...

[Stafford] Exactly.

[Rushdoony] ... novels and through television, through films. We live in a dream world. More marriages are broken, I believe, by imagination than by reality.

[Stafford] Absolutely.

[Rushdoony] I picked up something that summed it up very well, The Spousal Gap of The Spouse Gap. And it said something I had encountered over and over again. One of the problems in so many marriages, a reason for discontent, for adultery and other things is the ghostly lover, that is the imaginary person they want. And the real man and the real woman never meet their expectations.

[Stafford] Exactly.

[Rushdoony] People face the world with this irresponsible imagination and the world never meets it and they run more deeply into their imagination so that we are par excellence an age of irresponsibility. I think that is an excellent subject to deal with.

[Stafford] Well, thank you. I think you actually had a book out that... since I bought so many of them, but haven’t had the chance to read them all yet, Flight from Humanity.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Stafford] And maybe you could come out with one that is entitled The Flight from Reality.

[Rushdoony] Good subject. Maybe some time I will. I have a book that I finished a few years ago. We haven’t had the funding to publish it yet entitled The Death of Meaning.

[Stafford] Yes. Right.

[Rushdoony] You see, our world by abandoning God has abandoned meaning. What I do is to trace how this has happened in philosophy with its implications for every day life.

[Stafford] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And with The Death of Meaning responsibility no longer has any meaning.

[Stafford] Exactly.

[Rushdoony] So ....

[Stafford] Why bother to be responsible if it doesn’t matter?

[Rushdoony] Yes. And when you have a belief that every man is his own God—and that is what every person outside of Christ believes, that he is his own God—right.

And Sartre said that his problem was not God, it was his neighbor. [00:42:22]

[Stafford] Yes

[Stafford] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Because if he was God, then his neighbor had to be the devil.

[Stafford] Yes. Scape goating again.

[Rushdoony] Yes. So everybody withdraws from themselves. And I think it is in this forthcoming book I describe hell as a place of total isolation. No one talks to anybody else. Each one is his own world.

[Stafford] And that is in stark contrast to the fellowship of the trinity and why the trinity is so important.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Right. Total communion.

[Stafford] Right.

[Rushdoony] And our goal, total communion with the triune God and with one another. And Sartre, you know, wrote something about hell entitled No Exit.

[Stafford] Ah, yes.

[Rushdoony] It is a play. And all these people are sitting around in hell. They are talking to themselves. They wonder if the door is locked and if they can open it and go out, but all they do is talk to themselves. No one does anything. No one tries the door. No one communicates. They are talking at each other, but they are only talking to themselves.

[Stafford] Well, this is... I haven’t really thought this through, but even though I am a Christian I am a fan of the Eagles rock group and they have a...

[Rushdoony] We will forgive you.

[Stafford] Ok. And they have a... a song called Hotel California and being here in California I have been thinking about this. There is a verse in there I think at the end it says... they go to the night clerk and he says, “You can check out, but you can never leave.”

[Rushdoony] Yes. Very good.

[Stafford] At the Hotel California.

[Rushdoony] Well...

[Stafford] Well, going back to this concept of irresponsibility, I didn’t... I wasn’t even aware of it, but apparently it has been brought to my attention. There is a book out which connects irresponsibility with mental illness and says, really....

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Stafford] ... that the root of mental illness is irresponsibility. It is just another way of saying it.

[Rushdoony] Exactly. What we call mental illness is irresponsibility and an attempt to escape from reality, because it doesn’t meet your hopes. So you run away from facts. You run away into the recesses of your own mind and try to escape those things that you don’t want to solve.

And, of course, people are doing that without going into mental illness. They are doing it by getting wrapped up in any number of activities and things which have, as their function, escapism. And, of course, fiction, TV, films, rock music. I couldn’t avoid getting that in.

[Stafford] I only listen to the Eagles once every two months.

[Rushdoony] Well, since you have convinced you are forgiven. [00:45:30]

[Stafford] Right

[Stafford] Right. Well, I think that is absolutely true. I guess this is one of the reasons I have been somewhat of square peg in a round hole in... in my life, because I have just never been that interested in any of those things that you mentioned, especially fiction. I just have not been a reader of fiction... I... just about everything I put my hands on is historical or ... or non fiction. And maybe there is even too much of an imbalance in that direction, but still that is the way I have been oriented.

[Rushdoony] Well, fiction can be a confrontation with reality, but as fiction has developed it is anti Christian and anti reality, therefore. So modern fiction is very evil in that respect. Now a work of a novel like Crime and Punishment is a tremendous confrontation with reality, because here you have a student in Crime and Punishment who is an unbeliever, who believes that the idea that God has given man a conscience and that man is inescapably accountable to God, all this is fiction. He kills an old woman. His belief is her life is worth no more than that of a louse or a flea. Technically he believes it is meaningless. Actually, if anything, it is a plus. He has eliminated someone worthless from society, but his conscience bothers him. And that is the thing that horrifies him, his conscience bothers him. And he cannot take the fact that he feels guilty. He has an encounter with a girl, Sonja, a prostitute who has been driven into prostitution by the poverty of her family. She knows she is a sinner and by that awareness she is stronger than he is.

Well, now, that is not fiction in the modern sense. It is a novel, but it is a novel that gives us a confrontation with reality. I know that when I read it in my university days another student I knew, a philosophy major, a militant Atheist was also reading it and he was so passionately involved with Raskolnikov, the student murderer, and so convinced that Raskolnikov’s thesis was right that he was thinking as Raskolnikov. He had vicariously killed that old woman with Raskolnikov, because he believed it is right and good. [00:48:45]

We are walking down the street one day discussing some

We are walking down the street one day discussing some of these ideas after lunch and we rounded a corner and there was a cop standing there. And Dick ducked back around the corner. He had so thoroughly identified himself with the murderer Raskolnikov that he reacted like a murderer and he began to swear and he said, “I am going to quit reading that book. I am going to quit reading that book. I am getting out of that course,” which he did.

[Stafford] Wow. That is pretty powerful.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Stafford] Well, I guess the... what you were saying is this sense of conscience is a tremendous threat to our desire to put a ... an overly high value on reason and rationality.

[Rushdoony] The thing that man cannot ever escape no matter how much he tries is the fact that he is created in the image of God. And all his being is revelational of God. Everything in man cries out in its witness to God.

In several books by men who left the Soviet Union as well as in conversation with one or two whom I have met, the thing that comes through is that some of these particularly vicious KGB men and prison camp torturers and the like when they start drinking their conscience begins to scream out because their self control goes and with it their consciences telling them what they are. Very, very powerful witness.

[Stafford] You know, that is interesting what you just said. It triggered a thought. I think it was in The Free Man some months ago that I read a piece that had to do with the importance of names and how totalitarian states always try to substitute numbers for names. And maybe what they are trying to do along with that story you told me about the three nuns is to try to eliminate any obvious aspect or characteristic of ... of man that would be a revelation of his creator. If you strip him of...’

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Stafford] ... all of these things which speak of God it is way of bolstering your own Atheism. And, again, in my classes I hadn't recognized this before, I am beginning to learn about the great importance of names and naming...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Stafford] ...and how God, you know, uses that and works with that, I mean, changed Abraham’s name. He... Jesus changed Matthew’s name and so forth and so on. And in doing that I guess along with the thought that I first expressed, there is the further thought that the people who are... are doing this are trying to substitute themselves for God. [00:51:55]

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Rushdoony] Yes. Exactly. And, you see, besides trying to eliminate the identifying mark of names which goes back to Genesis and the fact that God created man in his image and named him...

[Stafford] And that he then gave him the right to name the animals.

[Rushdoony] Exactly.

[Stafford] ...which was an exercise of dominion and control.

[Rushdoony] Right. So now with DNA research and the genetic reengineering of man that they plan to do, they have openly stated in some instances that they are going not be the new gods, that they are going not remake man. So their Atheistic insanity is very, very plainly stated.

[Stafford] Oh, I think we are... you know, facing threats from a number of directions and I think just as in the military you have to G2 the opposition. You have to know, you know, what your enemy’s capabilities are, his intensions, where he is coming from, what his plans are. And I always use this concept that the world is divided into various groups of people, two of which are those who like to tell other people what to do and those who don’t. And I generally fall into the latter category except when it comes to something like abortion or murder or theft where I think God has said that, you know, man should take measures to control his fellow man for the protection of the innocent.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Stafford] Not even so much for judgment which is God’s, but of the protection of the innocent. And I see these people some well meaning. They are just not knowledgeable. They haven’t had the good fortune that we might have had to been raised in a particular way and, you know, learn what we have learned of... of God’s principles. But they have just decided to put their ideas into practice and the fact that they use force to do that and the fact that they are pushing other people around and forcing them to conform to their ideas just is not ... doesn’t seem to be important to them. The ends justify the means and the end, in their view is... is a good one and therefore who are the victims to complain? [00:54:21]

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Rushdoony] Yes. Well, with this kind of aggressive action all around us, I think we have to let people know that they cannot be armchair Christians.

[Stafford] Right. Absolutely.

[Rushdoony] They have got to be in the battle. We are in the critical period of all history, I believe today. We have a world wide economic crisis looming. We have a world wide religious confrontation between anti Christianity and the Christianity. We have a world wide military confrontation, perhaps, just ahead. We have a world wide political confrontation as various elitist forces all over the world believe they know better than the rest of us and they are going to rule for us. Everywhere you look you see things coming to a head.

[Stafford] And they have sold us on this Relativism concept so that we are put in an inferior position of initio where we are afraid to oppose them because we have been told that there is no clear distinction between good and evil and who are we to ... to say no to them, because maybe their ideas are just as good as ours.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Stafford] And I don’t mean to be partisan, but just recently I saw George McGovern on television. I think it was the CNN network and he was saying that we couldn’t oppose the Communists or try to stand up for good in Central America where they are having these revolutions because we had a revolution of our own. And he didn’t seem to see any distinction between a good revolution such as we had in the United States and a bad revolution such as the one in Nicaragua when the Communists took over by force and talked about the right wing dictatorships in Central America implying that there was one in El Salvador, completely ignoring the fact that they had a general election in which the current regime was overwhelmingly voted in to office and the people went to the polls I spite of actual and ... and potential threats of violence and death.

So when we can’t even see the distinction between good and evil or where even a ... how should I say this without being uncharitable? A ... a person associated with the church who is a professor at Harvard Divinity School would go on CBS morning show a few months ago and say that Ronald Reagan was wrong, speaking to the, I think, National Association of Evangelicals pointing out that the Communist regime in Russia was evil and that it had to be opposed. And this person—I won’t name him—was saying that, you know, who can tell what is evil? We have to be charitable and... and have tolerance for people of different persuasions. [00:57:46]

I mean, this is the grossest idiocy that I have ever

I mean, this is the grossest idiocy that I have ever seen. And I noticed that the gentleman who is the co anchor on the CBS morning show was going to overboard to give this fellow plenty of time, to give him leading questions, to take maybe five minutes with him, whereas someone with an opposing view, which they didn’t even bother to put on, might have gotten 15 or 30 seconds. So it is not even a liberal or leftist bias of the press, I think, that we should be concerned about and try to change, but also their incompetence, because I am sure that this particular anchor person just doesn’t know of what he speaks and probably hasn’t done any studying in this area even though he gives the appearance and pretends to be knowledgeable enough at least to question the guest.

[Rushdoony] I was interviewed once by a religion editor of a major newspaper who was similarly sure that no one could say what was right and wrong. But a little later he was very sure that Jerry Falwell was all wrong.

[Stafford] Well that reminds me of the evolutionists, the... the scientific methodology does prove up the Bible. It doesn’t prove up evolution and yet they stick with evolution and stick with the scientific methodology. And they can’t see their own... the internal inconsistency of their own position.

[Rushdoony] Well, John, we are going to have to wind this particular Easy Chair up now. But I think what we will do is to continue for another hour and make it our Easy Chair number 51 and give you an opportunity to go into some other subjects. How people can protect themselves economically, how to prepare for what is coming, because preparation of the future is a must.

[Stafford] Absolutely. I have taught this in my investment seminars which are entitled, “Investment strategy from a political perspective,” for the last three years or so and I guess, again, maybe it is an old military principle to be forewarned is to be forearmed. [00:60:13]

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Rushdoony] Yes. Well, thank you, everybody, for listening in and two weeks from now you will hear the rest of what we have to say here. Thank you and good bye.

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