Good Citizens Vs Good People
I came across a good article by Joshua Bennett at LRC (see it here). Bennett is a Christian, an Anarcho-Capitalist, and an Alaskan. Bennett, the father of homeschooled children, writes that a friend emailed him an article that was entitled: “Home Schoolers Make Good Citizens.” Bennett’s reaction? If homeschooled children are growing up to be good citizens, their parents “are doing it wrong.”
Now that may raise the eyebrows of the typical American Conservative, but Bennett’s arguments as to why that is the case is standard fare for those of us who have identified the State as a source of tremendous evil. What is a “good citizen?” Bennett shares a dictionary definition which states it is “a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it.” He then lists a few areas of life where the “good citizen” is expected to toe the State line. The “good citizen” will support government aggression against his neighbor, whether it is in his community or across the world in a foreign nation. It is the “patriotic” thing to do. The “good citizen” will give every penny that the government demands from him, because the Bible tells us to pay our taxes and give “Caesar” whatever he demands (I believe this is an erroneous view). The “good citizen” always votes so he can have a say in who his overlord is going to be, and he pledges allegiance to his government no matter what it does at home or abroad.
Bennett has the right response to the idea of what it means to be a “good citizen”: “No thanks.”
He has enough sense to see that it is not his duty to teach his children to be “good citizens”; he is to raise them to be good people.
Will good people stand by and do or say nothing while the State kills, steals, and lies? Will good people participate in immoral wars of aggression? Will good people seek to enforce morality through political means, or defend those who try to control the citizenry by strong-armed tactics and manipulation “for the greater good?” Will good people bow down and give every penny that the State demands so it can be used to fund abortions, bombings, and the “legalized” plundering of businesses and land? Will good people pledge allegiance to the entity that is most responsible for the undermining of family government and the family structure as God has ordained it? No, the good person will do none of these things.
But the “good citizen” will.
Which do you prefer that your children be?
Bennett says it well: he will teach his children to be good people, not good citizens. In fact, he says that he wants to be a bad citizen, since being a good citizen entails marching to the beat of the State’s drum. The State. That organization in society that, according to Murray Rothbard in Anatomy of the State, “attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area; in particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion…by the use and the threat of the jailhouse and the bayonet.”
To further distinguish between a good person and a good citizen of the State, Lew Rockwell writes: “the state is exempt from the laws it claims to enforce, and manages this exemption by redefining its criminality as public service. What is considered theft in the private sector is “taxation” when done by the state. What is kidnapping in the private sector is “selective service” in the public sector. What is counterfeiting when done in the private sector is “monetary policy” when done by the public sector. What is mass murder in the private sector is “foreign policy” in the public sector.” (The Left, The Right, & The State; pg.42)
Many people have believed the statist propaganda that being a “good citizen” is their duty, and that what the State does is ok because it has been ordained by God to do what it does. I believe the State as we know it is a concoction of men – not God. God spoke negatively of the State in 1 Samuel 8 and warned about the evils it would produce. It makes no difference that it was a monarchy in that instance; all forms of government result in men forcing their own will upon the people with the threat of “the jailhouse and the bayonet.” It should be obvious today to anyone with a pulse that democracy is no different in this regard. Family governance and Church governance should not be disregarded by Christians in favor of the omnipotent State. Paul rebuked Christians for taking their “legal” issues to those who were “unjust”, which we can easily apply to those who run the government institutions of our day. I say this as someone that has studied criminal justice and worked in the field. I have firsthand knowledge of the injustices that are rampant in the criminal justice system. We live in a warfare, welfare, authoritarian State – and its actions are carried out or supported by the “good citizens.” The Bible tells us that a good person treats others the way he wants to be treated.
I agree with Mr. Bennett. I would rather my children be good people and bad citizens than good citizens and bad people.
No King But Christ