Libertarianism is not a society without order. It is a society ordered from the
bottom up rather than the top down. Among the most important sources of social order
are "voluntary associations."
Democrats and Republicans are both advocating more power for Washington, D.C.
This is not a new approach. In the early 1820's, America was experiencing a
tremendous influx of immigrants.
Alexis de Tocqueville was a French observer who doubted whether America could retain
her admirable character with all these immigrants. DeTocqueville said only armed
force could deal with the immigrants. But Christians in the America of that day
believed that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for
pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts
itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the
obedience of Christ" (2
Corinthians 10:3-5). Early American Christians sent an
army of missionaries to deal with pressing social issues.
R.J. Rushdoony provides the following insights into DeTocqueville's day:
At [this] time, the United States was facing potentially revolutionary
changes. The great influx of immigrants was beginning; people were pouring
into the country who had little or no knowledge of its faith or heritage.
They were simply seeking escape from tyranny and poverty and a better life
Rushdoony, Revolt Against Maturity, pp. 216ff.
In an important footnote, [Alexis de Tocqueville]
saw the grim problem of the urban slums and their alien and criminal
Unwed pregnant girls were often disposed of in Europe by buying them a
one-way ticket to America, for them there to seek their ostensible level,
usually prostitution. "Black sheep" sons were also sent off to the
United States, or ran off to it. . . .
The United States have no
metropolis; but they already contain several very large cities.
Philadelphia reckoned 161,000 inhabitants and New York 202,000 in the year
1830. The lower orders which inhabit these cities constitute a rubble even
more formidable than the populace of European towns. They consist of freed
blacks in the first place, who are condemned by the laws and by public
opinion, to an hereditary state of misery and degradation. They also
contain a multitude of Europeans who have been driven to the shores of the
New World by their misfortunes or their misconduct; and these men
inoculate the United States with all our vices, without bringing with them
any of those interests which counteract their baneful influence. As
inhabitants of a country where they have no civil rights, they are ready
to turn all the passions which agitate the community to their own
advantage; thus, within the last few months serious riots have broken out
in Philadelphia and in New York. Disturbances of this kind are unknown in
the rest of the country, which is nowise alarmed by them, because the
population of the cities has hitherto exercised neither power nor
influence over the rural districts.
Nevertheless, I look upon the size of certain American cities, and
especially on the nature of their population, as a real danger which
threatens the future security of the democratic republics of the New
World; and I venture to predict that they will perish from this
circumstance, unless the government succeed in creating
an armed force, which, while it remains under the control of the
majority of the nation, will be independent of the town population, and
able to repress its excesses.
(Democracy in America, I:316f., Langley ed.)
The reaction of some conservatives was political and repressive. . . .
Tocqueville felt that that United States would surely "perish"
under this invasion 'unless the government succeed in creating an armed
force . . . independent of the town population' and able to control it. . .
Hostility toward foreigners led to the creation of various "native
American" movements and political bodies. These organizations fed on
hatred for outsiders and stimulated it by highly emotional charges and
claims. More than a little violence was unleashed against various immigrant
These organizations not only did not accomplish their purpose, but also
did much damage to American life.
The orthodox Christian reaction was very different. A wide variety of
societies were created to minister to the new problems: Sabbath Schools for
immigrant children and Christian day schools as well were created; English
was taught to adults; missions were started; orphanages, relief societies,
Bible societies, societies to deal with various vices, these and hundreds of
other organizations were established to deal with every kind of problem
which arose. The future of America was shaped by this massive effort at
Christian reconstruction. The "native American" movement failed;
the Christian reconstruction was so extensive that it became the real
government of American society. . . . Alexis de Tocqueville, in commenting
on the impact of non-ecclesiastical, societal Christianity on America, noted
that authority in America was religious and that "there is no country
in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater
influence over the souls of men than in America." (op cit., I:332)
The 'Native American' movements did much harm to American life. They were
noisy in their claims that they represented "real Americanism,"
but they were at best a neutralizing force to progress and Christianity. At
their worst, they were anti-Christian and un-American in the name of Christ
and America. By claiming to be the conservative force -- which they were
not, for they had no appreciation for their puritan heritage -- they brought
discredit on that heritage.
On the other hand, orthodox Christians, by their zeal to bring every man
under the renewing power of God, did more than anyone else to cope with the
central problems of American life. . . .
Chapter 5: Of the Use Which the Americans Make of Public Associations in Civil Life
Second Book: Influence of Democracy on the Feelings of the Americans
Democracy in America, Volume 2
Achille Murat, another French observer of America, published his findings in 1833
in A Moral and Political Sketch of the United States. Murat personally
disliked religion and found America’s religious nature highly offensive. He
Achille Murat, A Moral and Political Sketch of the United
States (London: Effingham Wilson, 1833), p.
It must be admitted that looking at the physiognomy [discernible character] of
the United States, its religion is the only feature which disgusts a foreigner.
[T]here is no country in which the people are so religious as in the United
States; to the eyes of a foreigner they even appear to be too much so. . . . The
great number of religious societies existing in the United States is truly
surprising: there are some of them for every thing; for instance, societies to
distribute the Bible; to distribute tracts; to encourage religious journals; to
convert, civilize, educate
the savages; to marry the preachers; to take care of their widows and orphans;
to preach, extend, purify, preserve, reform the faith; to build chapels, endow
congregations, support seminaries; catechize and convert sailors, Negroes, and
loose women; to secure the observance of Sunday and prevent blasphemy by
prosecuting the violators; to establish Sunday schools where young ladies teach
reading and the catechism to little rogues, male and female; to prevent
Murat, pp. 113, 132.
Christianity in the 21st century is a narcotic. It is a me-centered
"feel-good" religion. Too many Christians advocate more power for the
federal government, the creation of "armed forces," and neglect the
creation of voluntary associations and missions organizations which made America a
great and Christian nation. These Christians want to "restore America" by
creating a federal government vastly more powerful than the one created by
Christians in the late 1700's. The coming America will not resemble the America of
our Founding Fathers.
The civil government under the Founding Fathers publicly and officially
ENCOURAGED these Christian "societies" -- they did not take the position
of contemporary church-state jurisprudence, which says that government must never
"endorse" or encourage
Christian solutions to social problems like illiteracy
As the New Hampshire Constitution, Art 1, sec. 6, "Bill of Rights"
America was made great by Christian charity, and the Constitution did not abolish or
As morality and piety
rightly grounded on evangelical principles will give the best and greatest
security to government and will lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations
to due subjection; and as the knowledge of these is most likely to be propagated
through a society by the institution of the public worship of the Deity and of
public instruction in morality and religion; therefore, to promote these important
purposes, the people of this State have a right to empower, and do hereby fully
empower, the legislature to authorize, from time to time, the several towns,
parishes, bodies corporate, or religious societies within this State to
make adequate provision at their own expense for the support and maintenance of
public Protestant teachers of piety,
religion, and morality.
We cannot approve, however, of "faith-based" governmental
appropriations. Appropriations should come voluntarily from the wallets of
Americans, not from the barrel of a gun and seized by the IRS.
has been imposed on America in an unconstitutional manner, and charity has also been
An important book is Marvin Olasky, The
Tragedy of American Compassion.
He details how early America was dominated by voluntary associations and
"societies," such as "The Salem Society for the Moral and Religious
Instruction of the Poor."
At the Trough," by Roger Schultz, review of Olasky
"Compassionate Conservatism" - Olasky
I have already posted excerpts from Cremin's authoritative history of education,
which discusses the tremendous influence upon education these societies had. There
were many, many such societies, and they met an urgent need.
Associations and the Priesthood of All Believers
- How Voluntary Associations Can Solve the Healthcare "Crisis"
- Medical Insurance that
Worked — Until Government "Fixed" It
A footnote: Notice that de Tocqueville said,
"The United States have no metropolis; but they already contain
several very large cities." It was common in de Tocqueville's day to use plural
verbs to speak of the United States -- "The United States are a
great source of inspiration to those who love Liberty Under God" --
because it was a union of sovereign States, and the Constitution acknowledged the
sovereignty of those States. In our day the federal government has ignored the
Constitution and the original
intent of its Framers, and has almost completely eliminated "states'
rights." It seems that its main purpose is to protect its own power, and
further centralize power over the states. "The United States is
no longer an inspiration to those who love Liberty Under God."