Tyranny Is A School From Which No One Is Ever Permitted To Graduate

Throughout history, the standard line of people defending unjust and tyrannical regimes, whether they be the enslavement of people or the denial of civil rights, has been that the people in question are too barbaric or too immature to use those rights and freedoms properly, and so it is necessary to rule over them despotically for their own good. In the Greco-Roman world, slavery was common for debtors and prisoners of war and “barbarians,” but those who were ambitious and hard-working were still able to acquire enough savings to ensure their freedom and had the incentive to work hard as a result [1].

At least in the Greco-Roman world, which we consider as savage and backward, there was the opportunity of graduation from this school and a better status as a freedman. When systems of slavery and totalitarian rule were revived, no such graduation was possible. Instead, for ethnic and political reasons people were oppressed with no opportunity to develop the skills necessary to govern themselves effectively. Every time an elected government is overthrown in a coup by some corrupt military or other establishment, anywhere in the world, that is a sign of the contempt of the would-be rulers of the people for the people themselves. We should therefore look at the places where the most frequent coups occur as the places where there is the most contempt for the capability of ordinary people to govern themselves without the need of an autocratic and unaccountable government.

It is easy to look at the sort of populism that one finds in many countries of the world (including the United States) as a sign that the people themselves are not competent to rule. The problem, though, as Lord Acton of Great Britain understood so well a hundred and fifty years ago, is that no class is capable of ruling a nation effectively, be they kings, or generals, or technocrats, ayotollahs, or anyone else for that matter. No one is morally capable of ruling anyone else without his or her consent. That does not mean that everything that is consensual is good and proper, but rather that consent is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to just and proper rule. Any nonconsensual regime is by definition unjust and illegitimate, unless it is the rule of a creator over his or her creation.

It is common for would-be tyrants and their lapdogs to sneer with contempt at the common people and think them too childish and immature to rule, and so they need metaphorical “fathers” to rule over them for their own good. But even though we permit parents to rule temporarily over their children, the purpose and goal of parenting is to help shape and encourage responsible adults who have the resources to take care of themselves. It is the job of parents to procure and encourage the development of resources for their offspring for their offspring, be it confidence or economic resources so that self-sufficiency can result to those who are diligent. It is not the job of parents, whether literal or metaphorical, to desire permanent power over others and to keep others in a state of eternal childhood, never to acquire power and responsibility for themselves.

Unfortunately, Thailand is a nation that has deep and immense problems with the temporary despotic role of “fathers” (the King of Thailand, for example, considers himself a father to his people, but sadly, it would appear, not a father who ever wants his “children” to grow up into responsible adulthood). It is unjust and ungodly for any authority to desire a permanent place of rule over others, with the ready-made excuse that such people are not capable of governing themselves simply because the people may have different ideas than their would-be rulers about their well-being and self interest. We have already noted that Thai’s ruling elite has a fascination with fascism, in the corrupt crony capitalism wherein business and government elites have an incestuous relationship and combine to keep down the ordinary people, with the help of a military ready to overthrow any democratic elite that gets too popular for its own good [2].

Unfortunately, as we speak there is a politically motivated group of fascists known as the PAD (People’s Alliance For Democracy) in Thailand that has been protesting and disrupting affairs in Bangkok simply because its “middle-class” elites do not like the way that peripheral “peasants” are voting for the same parties over and over again. Instead of seeking to win the vote of the people through showing respect and service, the royal, military, and economic elites of Thailand are more interested in overthrowing popular regimes to preserve their despotic rule over the people [3]. Sadly, a lot of international media appears complicit in this effort by refusing to call these militaristic plotters with an unfortunate fascination for Nazism what they are, fascists, by using a variety of euphemisms to make their viewpoint and behavior more palatable to Westerners.

Why, if we are all created in the image and likeness of God, would we share in this contempt of the people? Do we think that only some privileged elites are made in the image of God and that the rests are in the image of water buffalo and other types of cattle? If some of us are privileged to know and practice God’s ways, does that not give us the responsibility to teach those ways to others, so that they may learn them and grow in grace and knowledge and in the development of the self-government that is crucial to qualify us for positions of governing others by their consent? Why do those who use power to gratify their own selfish greed and lust think themselves qualified to look down on anyone else, no matter how ignorant or immature? The possession of knowledge and understanding does not grant one the right to rule over others without their consent, but rather it gives them the responsibility and duty of teaching that knowledge and understanding to others so that others may profit from it themselves in their own lives.

Godly authority in a situation of inequality, therefore, is not the establishment of permanent elites who treat the common people like children incapable of handling responsibility or developing the capacity for self-rule, but rather serving as a beloved teacher instructing others on how to live and taking pride in their growth, knowing that power and knowledge and wisdom are not to be hoarded but are to be shared. It is only when we share knowledge and wisdom that it is able to grow in the lives of those who learn and practice it. Seeing as all men and women were born to reign and to rule over the earth, we ought to therefore instruct them all so that they may do so wisely, so that we may free the chains and shackles of tyranny and willingly accept our students as our equals once they have learned and practiced what we have been given by God as the gift of knowledge and wisdom. For the ordinary people, the peasants and townspeople alike, were not created to be sheep and cattle herded by masters, but rather were created to be kings and priests, rulers themselves. Why then are regimes like Thailand’s not seeking to teach them too how to be kings in their own turn under the authority of God above?

[1] James S. Jeffers, The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament: Exploring the Background of Early Christianity. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic 1999), 226-228.

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/springtime-for-neo-nazis-in-thailand/

[3] http://asiancorrespondent.com/83637/no-fascism-here-why-are-the-international-media-refusing-to-tell-the-truth-about-thailands-fascists/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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5 Responses to Tyranny Is A School From Which No One Is Ever Permitted To Graduate

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