I decided to start my blog by a series of position statements. I don’t expect a large readership at this point. But I hope that later posts might attract some readers and when discussion turns to general matters I can refer them tp my existing statements rather than formulate everything every time. This might hopefully help meaningful debate. As I expect to be writing about political and social things, this is where the positions will be 🙂
I really need to read more in order to position my position 😉 precisely among the existing systems. It seems widely “Liberal” – but not in the modern US sense nor in the “near-libertarian” classical sense; rather it seems to resemble the post-Gladstonian version of Liberalism, with Henry Asquith as its key figure. But that’s just from general history books. I really need to find the theorists on whom I could rely and read them – but I wonder who to read…
So first, the fundamentals. Positions that inform the rest.
– Individualist method. I would just say “individualism” but some see it as the opposite of any solidarity, which is not what I mean here. What I mean is that the individual has primacy, that only the individual and not any collective has the potential for creative action and for free choice. (I do emphasize the importance of choice, putting me well under the liberal umbrella). In a certain sense I agree with Thatcher that “there is no such thing in society”,. but that sense is more narrow than what she actually meant. I only agree that society is not a thing in itself. Society is a set of rules and mechanisms established by individuals to enable their interactions (including the nurture of new individuals).
Importantly, an individualist by method does NOT have to be a libertarian capitalist. For example, Oscar Wilde was an individualist and a socialist. I will get to actual political/economical models in a later post.
– As a logical extension of my individualism, I am a theist. Upon observation I see that only an individual is able to create something at all; I conclude therefore that the ultimate creation of the Universe itself is the work of an individual, who we describe as “God”. Upon some further choices that I can describe in a separate posting if anyone is inclined to read them, I arrive at a mainline moderate Real Presence Protestant position. My thinking fits Lutheranism, and I was a Lutheran (from personal conversion not family) while I lived in Russia; for reasons of location I am currently in the jurisdiction of the Church of Ireland, and thus Anglican. (I’d rather be with actual local brethren than split theological hairs and travel a few hours to a Lutheran congregation).
– I strongly agree with historical Lutheran teaching on the Two Kingdoms, which was later developed into “separation of church and state”. This teaching, formulated back in the 16th century though for practical reasons sadly not implemented then, says that the church is to limit its tools of preaching the Gospel to words. The State, in turn, validly uses the sword, but has no mandate to use it in matters of the gospel. Thus any prosecution of heresy and, ultimately, any establishment of religion is a bad idea. Religion is a matter, speaking politically/socially, of individual choice. and that choice should be protected not restrained by the government, as long as secular laws on entirely material things (notably on restriction of violence, including encitement to such) are obeyed.
Perhaps it would be hard for me to be an Anglican in England with such views. The Church of Ireland, however, was disestablished in 1870, it no longer has any links to the Queen (even in Northern Ireland), and the vast majority approves of disestablishment.
I extend the view so far that I do not think it is a good idea to have any law on the books that has strictly religious views as its sole reason. This includes my own views. I believe that secular arguments must be sought and used even for issues traditionally seen as religious (notably abortion and same-sex marriage).
– I am a basic rationalist. I believe that rational logic combined with observation is a valid way of knowing the world, and the main way in the physical realm. This leads to strong respect for the scientific method and a tendency to rely on peer-reviewed sources.
However, not every scientist is right every time. There is an easy fallacy of “scientism” when someone who is otherwise a valid scientist presents one’s views on other maters relying on personal authority as a scientist. He or she is NOT necessarily right and the authority is NOT valid. Limiting reliance on personal authority is what per review is for, except such statements are not verifiable nor falsifiable anyway.
– I strongly support technological civilization. This support ties in with all the statements above, and while individualism is the logical start of my system, “technologism” is its conclusion, to wit:
* I believe that individual creativity was the key to development of technology
* Therefore, to enable the industrial break-throughs of the 18-19th centuries, an intellectual and political climate condicive to individual creativity had to exist. Protestantism with its emphasis on individual reason and its dislike of stat censure for matters of thought was instrumental in creating this climate.
* Rational thought by individuals, enabled by this climate, led to inventions. Interactions of individuals, enabled by a liberal society, led to the use and expansion of these inventions.
Currently, technology is the key part of human survival. We live and adapt in technosphere as much as in biosphere, and destruction of either would lead to a bloody catastrophe for humanity. Technology in itself, for its sustainment and development, demands gradual change in human society (which I define as a system of interaction between individuals, see above). And I see this as a positive thing.
Sometimes I describe myself as “cyber-Protestant”, as, realistically, technology inform my thought no less than theology (I just don’t think they truly contradict each other). I deeply reject all “Luddism”, calls to limit or destroy technological development. From computing and telecommunications to medicine, from industrial agriculture to transportation, technology enables every part of human life.
And thank God for it. Oh, you don’t have to accept all Protestant tenets to agree with this last phrase. I just mean God as the individual who created all other individuals who in turn created the goodies we have.