Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Nationalism and Conservatism: Nations Are God's Will

The term "nation" or "nations" occurs 481 times in the King James Version of the Bible.  The Hebrew term most translated "nation" is go'-ee (pronunciation), which is found 554 times in the Hebrew Masoretic text of the Old Testament.  The Greek term most translated "nation" is ethnos, which is found 164 times in the Greek textus receptus of the New Testament.  Those are a lot of usages, which present a lot of teaching about the concept of nation, to examine what God wills in the matter of nations.

We know God supported the idea or concept of nation, that He wanted at least a nation, because we read that in Genesis 12:2 with His promise to Abraham:  "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing."  If nation was wrong, God would not have made Abraham and his descendants a great nation.

God will not just bless the nation Israel in fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, but God will bless nations.  Later in Genesis 22:18 God promises again, "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."  God wants to bless other nations beside Israel. He sent Jonah to Nineveh because He could bless Assyria even in the midst of the problems in that nation.  God sent His nation, Israel, into the nation Egypt as a means of protection.  Not only did God save Israel in Egypt, but he saved Egypt because of Israel through the leadership of Joseph.

Even before Abraham and the nation Israel, which God began, nations existed.  Genesis 10:5 reads, "By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations."  Same chapter, verse 20 states, "These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations."

Later, the Apostle Paul in teaching in Athens at Mars Hill, said to the people there about God's will in Acts 17:26:  "And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation."  God determined the bounds of the habitation of the nations.  God intended for there to be boundaries for nations.

Scripture actually makes up of borders and boundaries of people.  The Hebrew word gebul, which means border or boundary, is found 241 times in the Hebrew Masoretic of the Old Testament.  You see it used the first time in Genesis 10:19, which reads: "And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha."  The whole idea of not removing the ancient landmark is about protecting the boundaries of property, so that someone can't rob someone else's property by moving the boundary markers.

Today you see and hear about "doctors without borders" and "teachers without borders" and "lawyers without borders" and more.  I googled "without borders" and got 15,700,000 results.  Many today seem to like the idea of "without borders."  They also like the thought every man doing that which is right in his own eyes.  It reminds me of Al Gore, busy violating campaign regulations on government property with his "no controlling legal authority" excuse.  Without borders, there is no controlling legal authority and an excuse for doing almost anything.

Boundaries and borders are biblical.  God wants boundaries and borders.  God separated people at the tower of Babel, because He knew they needed it.  I understand that people from all nations can be brought back together into the church, both Jew and Gentile, the Lord Jesus breaking down the middle wall of partition, but that is the church where the wall is broken down.  People from all nations will be in His kingdom.  Yet, Jesus is the door that brings sheep into a sheepfold, which implies walls of protection for His sheep.

The English word "wall" is found 179 times in the King James Version, but you also read "fence" or "fenced" (39 times).  Revelation 21 says that the New Jerusalem will have "a wall great and high" (21:12).  As much as Jesus breaks down certain walls, God actually builds a wall too.  The book of Nehemiah is a great story that centers much on the "rebuilding of the walls" of Jerusalem.  The idea of the watchman relates to someone watching to see if anyone is approaching the walls of the city.

The tabernacle or the temple was not a completely open concept.  You had to pass through various barriers to get to the final destination.  The further you got, the more exclusive and the greater the separation.  In the Old Testament, one person and only one time a year could enter into the holy of holies, completely surrounded by barriers that in certain ways was uninviting.

Why does God set boundaries?  Why does He have a sheepfold?  Why did He start a nation? Protection.  Conservation.  It's why you have walls on a house, to protect the people and property, to mark boundaries.  A conservative conserves.  What is the geopolitical container by which he keeps what he conserves?  A nation.  At one time, it was the contents that we were mostly talking about.  Now we have to talk about the containers.  People want to remove the landmarks, the boundaries, and nothing will be conserved that way.  Even if you have a culture to protect, and maybe we don't, you can't protect it without borders, boundaries, and probably walls and fences.

Some reading this will squabble about definitions:  "we want patriotism, not nationalism."  What are you patriotic about if you don't have a nation?  We can talk "Americanism."  America is the United States of America, which is a nation.  There is an alternative to globalism besides "anti-globalism."

With the talk about borders and boundaries comes the talk of trade.  How does it relate?  One means of invasion and erasure of boundaries and borders comes through trade.  Globalism and corporatism are not patriotic or American.   Patriotic trade considers trade that benefits America, all of America, and not just the trade of American corporations.  The mission of American corporation is to make a profit for its shareholders.  That is not necessarily and anymore not usually in the best interests of the United States.  What is called "free trade," that to some rings as a conservative value, is transnational corporatism.

You look at the stock market right now and corporations are making amazing profits, and yet the labor force participation is low.   Trade agreements benefit fewer and fewer.  They seem to benefit the few that contribute the most to a presidential campaign.  What is the sense of regulations in and on the United States, if a company can go elsewhere for cheap labor and less regulation?  It seems that free trade is trade without borders.

Weak immigration enforcement also brings profit to shareholders while bypassing laws of the land. Cheap labor comes by way of illegal immigration and the bill is passed on to the American taxpayer. Other nations lose incentive to change.  Multiple billions of dollars are sent every year to Mexico in tax free remittances.

I understand the argument that free trade allows American companies to sell their products to the rest of world, creating more jobs in this country.  Walmart can sell items from China for less, leaving poor people with more disposable income to spend on the higher end merchandise made in the United States.  Americans, however, know that something, much, with this is out of whack.  How can someone be free if one competitor is wearing a ball and chain around his ankle?  Free trade very often is also just a form of utopianism.  Financial ties bring everyone together.

In this age, God wants nations. They provide another means of slowing the advancement of sin in the world.  A nation can be among those which God blesses.


Farmer Brown said...

Regarding trade, you are conflating free trade with other issues. Free trade is mutually beneficial to all parties. The easiest way to understand this is bananas and oil. Would Costa Rican's rather buy oil Costa Rica or Saudi Arabia? Would Saudi Arabian's rather buy bananas from Costa Rica or Saudi Arabia?

It cost SA 50x what it costs CR to grow bananas, and the reverse for oil. It is a benefit to the people of CR to sell their bananas to SA, and to buy SA's oil, just as it is a benefit to the people of SA to buy the CR bananas and sell them oil.

That is free trade. Both participants benefit; the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. You are saying free trade in your examples, but really discussing crony capitalism and a planned economy. This is the government stepping in to direct economic activity, and using that power to benefit it's friends.

This planned economy permeates every bit of economic activity in America. I am told who I can hire, what I can ask them in an interview, how much I have to pay them, how and if I can fire them, and all that direction is expensive, both literally and figuratively.

Literally as my tax dollars fund petite bureaucrats who have never worked in a competitive environment but whose job it is to tell me how to run my business. Figuratively as these things are sand in the engine of the economy and discourage economic activity, job creation and growth.

This is the reason labor participation is low in the US. We are becoming like Europe where it is so onerous to deal with employees, from a bureaucratic and litigious point of view, that it makes more sense to hire in friendlier environments.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Farmer Brown,

I basically agree with you, but I'm using free trade, I believe, like many free traders seem to use it. I have read the Wealth of Nations and the Conservative Mind and other books as such, but free trade seems to be TPP and NAFTA.


Kent Brandenburg said...

Hello Everyone,

Thomas Ross, who posts here on Friday, and he wouldn't be posting here if we weren't very close. We're close enough that we will argue, sometimes in what might seem like a harsh way, even though we were and are still very close. That hasn't changed. That might be hard for some people to understand. We trust each other.

He emailed me about this post, and doesn't agree with a chunk of it. Related also to the Farmer Brown comment, I believe in free trade, but it isn't always used in that way.

To provide some balance to what I've written here, and because I don't want to take the time to go too much further right now on this, here are a couple of posts, emailed to me by Thomas:

I've generally been supportive of free trade. However, I think there is more here than meets the eye. I'll write sometime on this subject, when I can take the time. That will take longer than this post.

By the way, I read National Review. Have for years. I also read The Federalist. Both. I read at their websites about every day.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi again,

I'm still not going to take the time to write my own post, but one could also consider the following:

I'm not saying I believe everything in these articles.