Christianity and Libertarian Law are Distinctly Western

Originally published at Liberty Machine News

It is popular among the new right crowd to assume that the main tenets of reactionaries – Christianity and libertarian legal theory – are Semitic influences on the West and that their beloved national socialism, derived from Prussian socialism, is some ancient practice of European peoples.  In an attempt to reclaim a sense of European identity, alt-righters are trying to tap into their European roots and, without any historical research, the (above) new right claims seem plausible.  Whilst they are in fact twaddle, these misconceptions are common enough to require urgent dispelling.

As Prof. Ricardo Duchesne shows in his magnum opusThe Uniqueness of Western Civilization, Europeans and the unique societies we produce are descended from the Indo-Europeans.  These were warrior nomads from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe who evolved to value kudos from peers above even their own lives.  This didn’t merely produce berserker warfare and the heroic sagas of both Northern and Southern Europe, but also libertarian and egalitarian (not to be confused with leftist/socialist egalitarianism) aristocracies.  They were egalitarian in that they did not force others to submit to their sovereign authority, as did the oriental despots, but rather sought to sincerely earn the respect of their peers; as such, kings were always a first among equals and could not possibly be seen to breach another free man’s sacred private property rights.  We Europeans have inherited both the relatively higher level of psychopathy from these ancestors and also the more libertarian legal systems this psychology produces.

Up until the late medieval period and the rise of modernism and consequent statism, Western civilization was marked by being both advanced, yet without any proper state. That is to say, law was private (something almost inconceivable to the common, modernist mindset of  Western man today).  As Prof. Bruce L. Benson  puts it:

“It is a widely held belief that state governments and law develop together and, therefore, that law and order could not exist in a society without the organized, authoritarian institutions of the state… [But,] Law can be imposed from above by some coercive authority, such as a king, a legislature, or a supreme court, or law can develop “from the ground” as customs and practice evolve”

But, the process of developing a rational system of law (that is not simply some legislation imposed by the State) was a uniquely European enterprise, prompting the late S. Prakash Sinha to develop his thesis that law itself is actually a unique, non-universal principle of Western Civilization.  And it isn’t just the common law systems of the more Germanic and Celtic countries which developed these systems, but all of Christendom benefited from these rational systems of law.

As Prof. Duchesne points out, the Church was able to maintain independent law-making ability for itself, as well as private courts across the continent, producing not just the “first comprehensive and rational systematization of law”, but turning all of Europe into a “warren of jurisdictions” with numerous sources and kinds of private law –”which in turn resulted in the preconditions and the experience for a civil society where no authority, not even the pope or the king, had complete political, religious, or intellectual jurisdiction.” (The Uniqueness of Western Civilization, p.275)

This stateless decentralization would produce the very legal systems which currently undergird most legal systems around the world, in spite of being buried beneath mountains of state legislation.  It wasn’t just the preservation of libertarian law and the ancient customs of liberty, common to all Europeans (especially the Germanic peoples), which the Church provided.  It preserved and enhanced the Faustian spirit – that more individualistic psychology of Europeans – and provided a sustainable social framework in which it could flourish.

Christianity emerged from first-century Judaism as a thoroughly Hellenized religion which would stand in opposition both to the Sadducees who refused to accept this religious evolution, since the conquests of Alexander the Great, and the general Hebrew supremacism which in one way or another wanted to fight against Roman rule.  First century Jerusalem was a thoroughly Greek world, as Martin Hengel showed, being the definitive scholar of the Second Temple Period.  Yet, Christianity was the embracement of the amalgamated themes which had been adopted from various Indo-Aryan religions long before even that – everything from the creation myth to messianism.  Since that time, Christianity would be Romanized and Germanized to become that great pinnacle of European religion.  Christendom is the most unifying factor of our constantly warring, individualistic peoples.

From the smallest community to the entire continent, the Church provided a God who presented a unity of persons, and Europeans as being one with that God – one body yet many individuals whose individuality was as sacred as their coming together as one community.  This personalism was the perfect antidote to the hyper-individualistic tendencies of white folks, which has wrought havoc across the West since the widespread abandonment of the Church.  Nietzsche, of course, complained that Christianity was too effeminate and sought to temper the will to power of Europeans – what one might argue is similar to the Faustian nature of the European spirit, as described by Spengler. Never mind that effeminacy is explicitly condemned in the New Testament, Christianity was a much-developed form of an older idea of Plato’s – rational self-mastery.  Prof. Duchesne argues (pp.441-442) that the Greek miracle was marked by the turning inward of the all-curious, Indo-European thirst for conquest and the desire for ever greater degrees of temperance, without losing one’s masculinity.  To paraphrase Nietzsche, a peaceful man without claws cannot be called good but, rather, weak.  The ideal Christian knight, like the Victorian gentleman, are fine examples of this.

Libertarianism, therefore, is not the product of a handful of 20th-century Jewish philosophers and economists.  Rather, Christianity is a cornerstone of European civilization, having done more to develop and preserve our unique systems of law than any other institution.  I understand the desire to seek out and embody one’s cultural background, but the new right is looking in the wrong place.  Their statism, positive law, and anti-Christianity are all demonstrably outside influences to Western Civilization.

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