Chapter Two: Government Under God





à Christianity and Government


We are all unique and valuable in the eyes of God because we are created in His image



Forms of Government


à Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini, deputy leader of the Council of Experts--perhaps the most powerful institution in Iran--publicly warned [in May] that the country was on the verge of insurrection.

à “The Iranian regime has recently provided chemical weapons to the Palestinian terrorists, and in honor of Khomeini's anniversary it has just contributed 314 missiles to Iranian-sponsored terrorists in Afghanistan. Iran's intention to assault our soldiers is not a secret; hardly a day goes by without a leader of the regime pronouncing it. While some of the details of Iranian terrorist activity in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region are not known, we know enough to justify serious action against the regime in the name of self-defense.”

à Book is wrong that Elizabeth I is an absolute monarch (p. 20)

à Book is wrong that Hitler was a traditional dictator (p. 21)




Classical Discussion of Government





The Republic

à the precursor of present-day Socialism and Communism?

à debt-ridden America?

à adapted from Marc Stier’s Plato Notes

Plato on Democracy (excerpted from Marc Stier’s Plato Notes)

      1. The soul of a democratic person is purely appetitive in nature. He or she
        1. Seeks to satisfy his bodily desires of all types: food, sex, drink, shelter
          1. Not just those desires that are necessary to life
          2. But also for comforts and luxuries
            1. Including poetry and music that, we saw above, are in part, sensual pleasures
        2. Is changeable and flits from the satisfaction of one desire to another.
          1. A democratic person is attracted to all kinds of appetitive goods.
            1. They all provide pleasures of different kinds
            2. And the democratic person does not want to miss anything
          2. A democratic person is undisciplined
            1. His or her spirited part of the soul is weak.
              1. He or she finds it very unpleasant to
                1. resist any desires.
                2. Accept any difficulties or unpleasantness
              2. And does not have any vision of an ideal or distinctive or higher life that would lead him or her to sacrifice some pleasure or accept some discomfort
            2. So, a the democratic person will pursues a new activity only to a certain point. For pleasure in most activities, after a time, makes some demands upon us
              1. Many activities can be understood in a way that makes them charming and pleasant at first.
              2. The surface charm and pleasure can, however, become boring after a time.
              3. To keep them from becoming boring, one must advance in the activity, developing one’s skills and abilities along the way.
              4. But the advanced learning this can sometimes be difficult and challenging. It requires discipline to overcome these difficulties and meet the challenges.
              5. Democratic people, however, lack this discipline.
            3. Examples of such activities include:
              1. Studying a subject
              2. Learning about one of the arts or becoming an artist
    1. The political aims of democratic people:
      1. Their most important aim is for freedom
        1. They want freedom to engage in any activity to satisfy their desires.
        2. They want to be free from both
          1. Legal compulsion from the government, which threatens them with punishment
          2. Political and social condemnation from their friends and neighbors, which threatens them with derision
        3. For democrats, all desires are equal.
        4. Thus democrats seek to undermine the political and social norms and expectations that lead people to satisfy certain kinds of desire and stay away from the satisfaction of other kinds of desires.
          1. Democrats are, and encourage people to be shameless because they think that no one should be ashamed of satisfying any of their desires.
          2. Democrats call shamelessness courage, because it helps to undermine political and social norms and expectations
          3. Thus Jerry Springer, Oprah Winfrey, and Geraldo Rivera are, for people with a democratic soul, the shock troops of freedom today
      2. Their secondary aim is money.
        1. A democratic citizenry likes to receive benefits from the polis, but does not like to pay taxes.
    2. Does democracy serve everyone?
      1. How it hinders the aims of
        1. The rich
          1. Democratic cities often try to levy high taxes on the rich so as to redistribute money to the poor.
        2. The spirited
          1. Spirited citizens want the polis to attain great things. This requires citizens to sacrifice the satisfaction of their own desires in order to serve the common good
          2. Democrats do not want to do this, however.
          3. So democratic citizens are reluctant to follow the ideals proposed by more spirited people
        3. The philosophers
          1. Seek to encourage young men and women to recognize that:
            1. There are truths beyond common opinion
            2. And a better or worse way to live.
          2. But democratic citizens deny both of these claims
      2. How democracy helps
        1. The Rich
          1. It gives them freedom to make money
          2. It gives the poor the resources to buy what the rich make
        2. The spirited
          1. It gives them an opportunity to attain their own ideals and to win a following. Although this is difficult, it is not impossible
        3. The Philosophers
          1. It provides freedom
    3. Can a purely democratic political community survive? Is it possible for a political community to be indifferent to the ideals, or lack of ideals, of its citizens? A democratic citizenry can undermine a political community
        1. Because democratic citizens are motivated by appetitive pleasures and are undisciplined, they will not be willing to do some of the difficult and sometimes painful things that are necessary if a political community is to survive and prosper. For example, they might be reluctant to
        2. Fight in wars
        3. Take care of their children, which requires a great deal of effort and sacrifice on the part of parents
        4. Develop new forms of business and economic activity, which can be difficult and risky
      1. Democratic citizens undermine the income and wealth of political communities
        1. They seek much from the political community in benefits but are reluctant to pay taxes
          1. This can lead to a political community becoming financial overextended
        2. They might tax the rich so heavily that the rich are unwilling to invest their funds in new productive activities.
      2. A democratic citizenry undermines the culture of a political community
        1. They reject forms of art and entertainment that are the least bit difficult or challenging


The Laws

à notice that it is still government giving to people, not people having right to property (Locke, Jefferson) as a natural right




à Criticizes Plato’s utopianism

à Insight from Aristotle: technology will lead to the downfall of slavery

à Is Plato the first Democrat and Aristotle the first Republican?

à James Madison (Federalist No. 51): If people were angels, no government would be necessary


à seems to agree with the Bible on this point




·        Three branches of government – executive, deliberative (Senate), and legislative (several popular assemblies)

·        Polybius [200-118 B.C.] (see handout)

o       Middle Republic is a “mixed” government

§         Assemblies – democratic element

§         Senate – oligarchic element

§         Magistrates – royal element




Some “isms”



à Michael Novak, “The Moral Heart of Capitalism” (16 August 2002):

“…building a good corporation is a noble human calling. It is a calling heavily weighted with moral obligations…In the matter of corporate responsibility, the stakes are high: the liberation of the poor through jobs and the creation of new wealth; the success of democracy and human rights [as we learned in Eastern Europe, people are not satisfied with democracy if all it means is voting every two years, while their daily economic condition does not improve]; and the project of building civil society — that network of artistic creativity, good works, and medical research that self-governing citizens choose to initiate by and for themselves. The corporation is the main creator of the wealth that makes the works of civil society achievable…In the daily life of a capitalist system, things of the spirit — like trust — are more real than money. When they are missing, money itself loses its value.”




Sidebar: How the Puritans Learned Capitalism


(Excerpted/based upon Robert A. Peterson, “The Pilgrims in Holland” Freeman [November 1988])


·        Once they were free, the Dutch embraced much of what we would call a free market philosophy and set up a limited government. In the early 1600s, Holland was the most liberal society in Europe.

·        Petitioned Leyden gov’t to settle there, and permission was granted

·        No government handouts

·        Offered the Pilgrims freedom to worship and to succeed or fail in the Dutch marketplace.

·        Britain's King James, hearing of the Pilgrims' arrival in Leyden, sent a letter of protest to the town authorities. Jan Van Hout, secretary of the City of Leyden, gave a polite reply, but made no effort to either expel the Pilgrims or help King James capture them. The Pilgrims were free men.

·        Because of their excellent reputation for honesty and hard work, the Pilgrims were able to obtain loans and jobs which they needed to set themselves up in Holland. In a market economy, there is no substitute for keeping one's word and honoring contracts.

·        Most of the Pilgrims went to work in the textile industry, something for which they had little experience. William Bradford became a fustian worker, while others became weavers, woolcombers, and merchant tailors. In England, almost all had been farmers, following           the same patterns of medieval agriculture that their fathers and grandfathers had followed. It must have been hard for grown men to learn a new trade, but it was the price they had to pay to live in a relatively free society. Moreover, it helped to make the Pilgrims an adaptable and teachable people.

·        “…The New England town meeting traces its origin to the congregational church

·         “The Pilgrims also took advantage of Holland's laissez-faire government to set up a small publishing house. Working near the limits of the long arm of King James, William Brewster and Edward Winslow ran a printing press where Puritan tracts and books were published and sent back to England. In all, Brewster published between 15 and 20 books. Unfortunately, the Dutch could not withstand the pressure from the English government forever and were compelled to shut down Brewster's press in 1619. Yet they refused to arrest Brewster himself.”

·         The Netherlands' atmosphere of religious freedom tended to have a liberalizing effect on the Pilgrims. John Robinson, for example, was invited to debate at Leyden University. Although he never changed his Separatist views, he did learn that men of different faiths could live together without killing one another…When Harvard's first president, Henry        Dunster, for example, resigned because he came to reject the Puritan doctrine of infant baptism, he settled in Plymouth. The Pilgrims also believed in infant baptism, but they had become tolerant enough to "agree to disagree" with other Christians like Dunster.

·        Despite their experience in Holland's free economy, the Pilgrims tried a brief experiment in agricultural socialism when they arrived in America. This experiment, based on a false reading of the Book of Acts, caused widespread starvation. Fortunately, before it was too late, the Pilgrims saw their error and abandoned their "common course" in favor of private property. As Bradford later explained, " ‘This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content....The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.’"




Sidebar: Karl Marx



à See William Henry Chamberlin, “Some Mistakes of Marx” (1956) for a brief, incisive critique of Marxism/Communism.



à It seems that those who want to criticize global capitalism are not doing the poor in the 3rd World any favors. The case for more capitalism – not less – seems strong.

[source: Xavier Sala-i-Martin, an economist at Columbia University]


·        The global wealth gap narrowed over the last decade. The shrinking of the gap in East Asia, the Pacific, North Africa and the Middle East ouutweighs a small widening in Latin America and the Caribbean. Countries that opened their economies enjoyed the biggest rise in living standards. ( <Australian report at>

·         Absolute poverty rates in Indonesia (75% to 25% from 1950-1995) and India (57% to 25% from 1973 to 1998) fell dramatically <see>

·        In trade…exports and imports of developing countries expanded by more than 20%, lifting their share in world trade in goods to its highest level in 50 years. (




à Alexis de Tocqueville: Two ways America has inoculated itself against communism:

          1. property: “The complaints against property, which are so frequent in Europe, are never heard in the most democratic of nations because in America there are no proletarians [landless peasants].”
          2. political rights/rule of law: “In America, the lowest classes have a very high respect for political rights, because they exercise those rights; and they refrain from attacking the rights of others in order that their own may not be violated.”





Sidebar: The Crimes of Communism and the “Cold War”


For further reading:

 à Stéphane Courtois et al., The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 1999)

à Brian Crozier, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire (Roseville, Ca.: Forum/Prima, 2000)

à Joseph Shattan, Architects of Victory: Six Heroes of the Cold War (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 1999).


à What would have happened in Churchill had been allowed to go ahead?


A few years ago, on a routine visit to a Soviet collective farm, a Russian commissar demanded of one of the laborers in the fields: "How was the crop this year?" "Oh, we had a fantastic harvest-many, many potatoes. So many potatoes, in fact, that if you piled them up in the sky, they would reach the foot of God!" The commissar scolded, "There is no God, comrade." The laborer retorted, "There aren't any potatoes either."


à What would have happened? One of modern history’s great unresolved questions

à U.S. State Department compares Cuba in 1950s with Cuba in 1990s

à Truth about Castro’s Cuba:

à Question: If U.S. invaded N. Vietnam with a massive ground assault, would it have drawn China and/or U.S.S.R. into the mix?


 à Excellent resource: Dinesh D’Souza, Ronald Reagan (New York: The Free Press, 1997).


à Western technology played a key role in ending the hegemony of the state. Radio, television, the computer chip, the fax machine, the satellite - all of these favor freedom over state control, making available to more and more people the truth about totalitarian brutality and central planning's dismal economic failure.

à First time since 1917 that a Communist government was taken out by a foreign military force

à The “inevitability” of a Communist victory was derailed

à Succeeded where JFK had failed in the 1960s


à Debate: Who won the Cold War? (Or, Why did the collapse happen in the 1980s?)


            Position #1: U.S.S.R. collapsed of its own weight. We just had to wait it out.

Answer: Never in history have food shortages or technological backwardness by themselves lead to the collapse in peacetime of a great empire. Russia suffered greater food shortages in its history, and yet still survived.


            Position #2: Gorbachev won the Cold War by dismantling the Soviet system

Answer: If he was going to dismantle the system, why was he elected General Secretary of the Communist Party by the Politburo? Plus, his declared goal was to strengthen the Soviet economy and military. Gorbachev saw himself as the preserver of socialism.


Position #3: Reagan won the Cold War





Sidebar: China’s Communist Future?


à See Jasper Becker, “How Marx survived it all,” South China Morning Post (1 October 1999), for proof that the Chinese government is as staunchly Communist as ever.


“Mao Zedong's determination in 1958 to reach communism overnight cost the lives of more than 30 million, but the Great Leap Forward is now held to have provided useful lessons.

"I call it a mistaken laboratory experiment. He needed to explore to find the way forward," argues Professor Xu [Zhengfan, China's most renowned expert on scientific socialism at the Marxism Department of the People's University in Beijing], comparing it with the French Revolution. "Competing factions also tried different ways so it was understandable that some mistakes were made."

China's Marxists believe that - thanks to their grasp of dialectics - everything turns out for the best. Without China's Cultural Revolution, there would, as Deng once said, have been no reforms

In fact, China is moving so quickly to abandon every single requirement for a communist society listed by Marx in the Communist Manifesto that Mr Li admits that visitors from Europe are shocked. "We are flexible Marxists, trained by Deng and Mao, but European Marxists don't understand us. They can't grasp why we still claim to be a socialist country," he says.”




“One lesson of the collapse of socialism in eastern Europe is that profitability, not quantity of investment, is the key to sustained economic growth. Here, arguably, lies China's fundamental problem. There is no doubt that massive investment is being made--more than Dollars 300bn in foreign direct investment in 20 years, and vastly bigger amounts by the state. All this shows up as growth because the sums are spent, the workers are hired and the cement is poured. But what about actual return in a decade or two? This is much less clear. And what opportunities are missed by having foreigners and the state in charge, rather than letting Chinese entrepreneurs do the job? These may be enormous.”




China needs to adopt a market economy based on private property, replace its one-party dictatorship with a democratic system, and cooperate with the international community (Japan and the United States, in particular). Should China become a rich country where the rights of its citizens are properly protected, unification will become an attractive option for Taiwan.


Among the structural problems facing the Chinese economy, stagnation of the state-owned sector is particularly serious. Low efficiency is a common problem of state-owned enterprises everywhere, and in China the poor performance of state-owned enterprises has contrasted sharply with the dynamism in the newly emerging private sector. Realizing this simple fact, the government has gradually broadened its interpretation of "socialist public ownership." Currently, it still insists to own over 50 percent of the equity shares of large enterprises, but at the same time it also allows small- and medium-sized enterprises to go private under the policy of "grasping the big ones and letting the small ones free." In the end, China has no choice but to privatize the large enterprises as well, which would amount to abandoning public ownership completely. The Communist Party may then lose its legitimacy to rule and find it difficult to maintain the status quo of a one-party dictatorship. In terms of Marxian dialectics, China's success in its transition to a market economy, and thus economic development, hinges crucially on how the growing contradiction between the economic base and the superstructure can be resolved….


Thanks to this policy change, China has achieved a growth rate of almost 10% a year since the shift to economic reform and door opening in the late 1970s. The demand for democracy has been increasing along with incomes, however, while the reputation of the Communist Party has been badly hurt by widespread corruption among government officials and a rising crime rate. The "policy mix" of economic liberalization and political dictatorship has reached its limit; the Communist Party needs to reform itself or it will face grave consequences.


… it would be too pessimistic to think that democracy can never take root in China. There are already many cases in which economic development has paved the way for democracy, as in Korea and Taiwan since the mid-1980s. Taiwan held its first direct presidential election in 1996, giving rise to a government based on public support. In March 2000, Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party won the second direct presidential election, and a peaceful transition of power from the ruling Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) to the opposition party took place for the first time. Taiwan's experience shows that when the time is ripe the realization of democracy is possible in a Chinese society. If China continues its rapid pace of economic growth, the time will soon come when the role of the Communist Party will be over.


… Even if China won, it would likely face economic sanctions imposed by the industrial powers and their adverse consequences for the Chinese economy. A Taiwan conquered by force would prove to be a burden rather than an asset to China, as its economy would stagnate amidst massive brain drain and capital flight.”


à C. H. Kwan, “The Role of the Chinese Communist Party Coming to an End,” The Brookings Institution (July 2000)

à Monique Chu, “Koo predicts end to communism in China,” Taipei Times (29 November 2000)



à Gordon Chang, “China’s Critical Moment,” The Jamestown Foundation (25 October 2001)






Sidebar: Cuba’s Communist Future?

Defector Warns of 'Social Explosion' in Cuba
Former U.N. Ambassador Cites Skyrocketing Unemployment, Food Shortages in Growing Unrest

By George Gedda
Associated Press
Tuesday, August 13, 2002; Page A09

A former Cuban ambassador to the United Nations who recently defected said yesterday that widespread economic problems on the island could produce an uprising against President Fidel Castro and his system.

Alcibiades Hidalgo, who arrived in South Florida on July 29, said many aspects of daily life in Cuba could produce a "social explosion" at any time.

"There is lot of concern among the elite that this could occur," said Hidalgo, who also served as chief of staff to Defense Minister Raul Castro, brother of the Cuban leader.

One element of the unrest is what he called "skyrocketing unemployment across the country." Food is scarce, and many Cubans must get by on one meal a day, he said.

If there is an uprising, he said, the top brass of Cuba's military all insist they would use force against the public to preserve the revolution. But he noted that any high-ranking officer who declined to take such a stand would be immediately purged.

Hidalgo said virtually all Cubans have access to the country's cost-free health care system but many basic medicines have not been available for years.

A slight man with a neatly trimmed beard and mustache, Hidalgo left Cuba on July 21 with 19 others aboard two motorboats. Thirst was his biggest problem on arrival.

To discourage his defection, security agents had trailed him virtually nonstop since 1993, when he fell into disfavor with the authorities and was abruptly dismissed from his U.N. post, he said.

He flew to the District on Sunday from Miami and told his story to a reporter and others who specialize in Cuban affairs. The session was arranged by the Center for a Free Cuba, a pro-democracy group.

Hidalgo is one of the most important Cuban defectors whose escape has been publicly reported since Gen. Rafael del Pino fled the island in May 1987. Del Pino was instrumental in the defeat of the U.S.-sponsored invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Hidalgo said his defection has not yet been reported in Cuba's state-controlled press.

Hidalgo, 56, talked for several hours about his experiences, answering questions with little emotion and without displays of bitterness toward his former Communist colleagues. He left behind a daughter, Carolina, who lives with her mother, from whom Hidalgo is divorced.

Speaking in Spanish, Hidalgo said Castro, who turns 76 today, has differences with his brother Raul, 71, who is defense minister and the second ranking official in the Council of State and the Council of Ministers.

Although Raul is the heir apparent, Hidalgo said he drinks too much, has health problems and doesn't sleep much. Fidel, in contrast, takes care of himself, he said.

Raul would be less inclined toward one-man rule than Fidel, would be more disposed toward economic reform and would show greater flexibility in relations with the United States, Hidalgo said.

Hidalgo got to know Raul Castro well during the 1980s, when he served as his chief of staff. The Cuban military, under Raul's direction, has become an economic powerhouse through its involvement in tourism and other dollar-generating activities, he said.

When Hidalgo fled the island, he was the No. 2 official at the newspaper Trabajadores, a publication designed to appeal to Cuban workers. He said he decided to leave because there was no opportunity to espouse views that differ from those of Fidel Castro.

"The first right is the right to independent thought," he said.

Cuba has endured a series of economic blows over the past year. Like other Caribbean islands, Cuba suffered a severe drop in tourism after Sept. 11 and is recovering from a devastating hurricane that struck Nov. 8.

Hidalgo shares the Bush administration's view that congressional attempts to end curbs on Americans' travel to Cuba, if approved, would be an economic windfall for Cuba and a "gift for Fidel."

The U.S. economic embargo against Cuba aggravates the island's problems, he said, but he believes Castro's socialist policies are principally to blame, something he did not say when he was ambassador to the United Nations in 1992-93. Then he followed the party line by identifying the embargo as the culprit.

"The truth," he said Monday, "is otherwise."

Hidalgo disagreed with Cuba's policy of using its U.N. mission as an espionage hub. He estimated that 90 percent of the 50 to 60 personnel working there were spies, but he was not told details of their activities.




Christians and Government


à also a duty to be involved (voting, etc.)

à point is to be a good citizen

à What does the character of Americans today tell us about the future of our system of government?

à Are rulers of much of Middle East “true” Muslims, or just nihilists?