Archives For Western Civilisation

The separation between Church and State is not a divide between secular and sacred. Nor is this separation a divide between public and private. Church and State are spheres of authority within the structure of good government. Simply put: one wields the sword, the other the truth of the Gospel. As such the Gospel balances out the ideology behind who gets to yield the sword, when, why and how.

This is why every totalitarian state either twists theology or purges Christians and the Christian faith[1]. They need to suppress God’s moral standard for His creatures, in order to justify their arbitrary use of the sword in bringing about a perpetual revolution until the “utopia” of the proletarian dictatorship is achieved.

Ergo, within the parameters of good government the Church restrains the state, and sets an example of God’s divine world-governance (Providence). For example: rules of engagement like “fire only when fired upon“, is an outworking of just war theory.

It is restrained violence governed; it is restrained violence judged and measured by the Gospel. We cannot understand, or even reform the primarily Western ideal of the separation of Church and State, without understanding the theology behind it.

With the neglect of history, and malady of theological illiteracy that is so dominate in Western life, it’s no wonder that this unique concept, which is built on biblical Christianity (Judeo-Christianity), is widely misunderstood.

Believing in a false divide between secular and sacred, the majority of the German Church, in both World Wars, surrendered their voice and role to that of the State. Faith was a private affair, something for Sundays, not something relevant to every day in between. In World War One, along with 92 other intellectuals, theologian and historian, Adolf Von Harnack, who partly wrote the Kaiser’s speech announcing war, signed on to the State’s arrogant belligerence.

This unquestioning moral defense for engaging in the march to war compromised the separation between the Gospel and the sword; Church and State. Instead of the Church calling for restraint, it sought to give the State moral credibility for the slaughter and suffering of millions.

The same can be said for the German church in World War Two. After the disaster of WW1, the church underwent a process of introspection, lament and reform. It sought to get ‘back to basics; a rediscovery of the Bible, a reminder of the Reformers protest against corruption of the Church and the over-reach of the state.’[2]

Karl Barth’s diagnosis was that Western Civilization, not just Germany, had

‘failed to confront National Socialism firmly because the realization of the Christian revelation among the civilized people of the West had become dim. Men did not see the inherent atheism of the Hitlerian system. Hence, they could not see the robber state from the legitimate state, the democratic from the dictatorship.’[3]

Faith in Western culture was not enough to stop the blitzkrieg before its bombs began to fall, and its gas chambers, masked as welfare units, began to mass execute European Jews and political opponents. Appeasement failed, as Winston Churchill had warned it would. The lapse of, and apathetic faith, in Christian revelation allowed the State to use the Church as its mouthpiece.

Western civilization without Christian revelation; in other words, the State without the genuine Church, is a State without restraint. Ideology is restrained by genuine theological critique. This is the Gospel’s “yes” and “no”. Without the genuine Church being free to live and proclaim its mandate to love God and love others – without the genuine Church being free to proclaim the Gospel as it has been spoken to, Western Civilization will fall to the tyrannical gods that take its place.

Hannah Arendt, one of the most prominent Agnostic thinkers of the 20th century, revised her definition of the Nazis from ‘radical evil’ down to the ‘banality of evil’, because she was ‘aiming at stripping the Nazis of their god-like standing, taking from them the power to draw us to them as if they, and their storm troopers in gleaming black boots, had poured forth from the perils of hell itself.’[4]

Arendt understood the perils of a compromised separation between the Gospel and the sword; Church and State. Though it was worshipped as a god, the Nazi state was not God. Nazism serves as a prime example of the fact, highlighted by Karl Barth, that Western Civilization, without Jesus Christ, or with a watered down version of Him, is far from civilized.

Add to this the horrendous history of Communism and we can say, with confidence, that the world has been well warned of the catastrophe, should these States who attempted to ditch Jesus Christ, be allowed to manifest themselves again.

The separation of Church and State is a founding principle of Western civilization. This separation isn’t about two competing entities. The separation serves God’s divine world-governance. The principle is a continuous challenge to the concept of the “divine right of kings”, and is as equally challenging to any twisted theology that promotes the idea of the “divine right of the State”.

The Churches’ proclamation of the Gospel restrains the State from abusing its power. This counterpoise to the power of the State, stops the State from operating with what Albert Camus called, an ‘unchecked will-to-power, where men become either a victim or an executioner, [a dehumanized number], within a [machine] cult of efficacy’.[5] In other words, the State, counterpoised by the Church, does not get to arbitrarily position itself as God, and determine the quality and worth of human life.

One only has to look at World War One, Communism, Nazism, The Vietnam War[6], Islamic State, and the tragedy of child sex abuse in the institutional church, to understand that the State without the Church is as tyrannical, as the Church who has forgotten, or watered down Jesus Christ.

In a subtle criticism of all forms of Socialism, Karl Barth noted two dangers:

first, ‘bureaucracy is the encounter of the blind with those whom they treat as blind. Second, the limits of all planning and philanthropy, but also all doctrine and instruction’[7], is that we lose sight of the individual created in the image of God. We lose our humanity in worship of efficacy and its assumed “benefit” for the collective.

Abortion and Euthanasia (by stealth) is no less part of this dehumanizing mechanization. An old family friend recently reminded me of how her husband tragically became a victim of this denial of the Gospel’s critique of the State. The health care system failed their family because it favoured the cold clinical ‘cult of efficacy’ and its mechanization of humanity, over against individual care; loving God and others, as we love ourselves.

Many of those who are quick to point out dehumanizing rhetoric are also likely to advocate the dehumanizing practices. Abortion and euthanasia are both part of Nazi eugenics laws. The doctrine, ‘life unworthy of life’ gave the National Socialists unilateral power to determine the quality and value of human life. Humanity was resigned to a number in a mechanized system under the ‘cult of efficacy’. These are the dangers of the State without the Gospel.

The Gospel impacts the State. The historical and present nearness of Jesus Christ categorically denies any State’s violent claim to implement a super-race. From this impact we learn that it is the ‘vulnerable who teach the rest of us what it means to be human’ (Jean Vanier)[8].

The voice and presence of the vulnerable mirror our own humanity. The vulnerable remind us not only of our own human limitations, but that where there is breath there is hope. Not just for the vulnerable, but for the humanity as a whole. As a result, biblical Christian doctrine opposes all pride, right down to Nietzsche’s “ubermench” and the Ayn Rand inspired, “greed is good”.

The Gospel transforms. The Churches’ critique of the State condemns the mechanization of humanity. The Church can do this, because the Church itself is critiqued by its own proclamation of the Gospel. The Gospel is Jesus Christ, the Word of God, freely spoken to humanity in time and space. This critique is God’s voice of freedom, grounded solely in His sovereignty. This critique births within us a renewing of the mind which acknowledges that conformity to the World’ is slavery, not salvation.

This is affirmed by Jesus with these words:

‘For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.’ (John 3:19-21, ESV)

Stopping Western Civilization from joining the dust of its forebears begins with reacquainting people with the Gospel and Civics; a proper understanding of the separation of the Church and State as one of the founding principles of Western civilization.

This separation is about good government dependent on God, not the government becoming a god. The separation of powers is not a divide between secular or sacred, public or private. As though God’s grace and commands only apply to the inner life, not in our deeds.

The separation between Church and State does not create two competing entities. The Gospel impacts the State, restraining the State from abusing its power.

The Gospel isn’t based on a subjective conscience, or consciousness. The Gospel is good news, and objective Word from God spoken to humanity in time and space.

The separation of Church and State is not between the State and Christ. Jesus Christ still has a relationship with the State, as Lord over both it and the Church. Any such forced ejection of Christ from the State is the rejection of God’s grace towards humanity.

Such a rejection creates a void which is filled by nihilism (no morality), false prophets, and superstition. This is what Jordan Peterson has penned the ‘displacement of the Logos from Western Civilization’.

Faith in Western Civilization is not enough. Just as faith in the Logos (Word; Jesus Christ; the Gospel) was central to moral revolution that saw the rise of Western civilization, the dislocation of the Logos (Jesus Christ) from Western civilization will be its downfall.

The 20th century warns us of the perils of this displacement. The State forcing theology into the service of its ideology leads to bloodshed and suffering on an industrial scale, for in ‘hating the light, they brought death upon themselves’[9].

Therefore understanding and upholding the important role of the Churches’ critique of the State, in its proclamation of the Gospel to the State, not as its patron, but its conscience, is the only sure refuge; all else fails by comparison.

Tolstoy’s indictment fits what the State without the Church looks like:

“Bereft of [that] religion [which establishes the relation of man to the All, to God], men possessing enormous power over the forces of nature are like children to whom powder or explosive gas has been given as a plaything.” (Bethink Yourselves!, 1904)

In sum, know Jesus, know peace. No Jesus, no peace.


References:

[1] Jean Bethke Elshtain, 2008. Sovereignty: God, State, and Self, Basic Books

[2] Karl Barth, 1942. The Church & The War, The Macmillan Company (p.2)

[3] Ibid, 1942, p.5

[4] Ibid, 1995, p.75

[5] Jean Bethke Elshtain, 1995. Augustine & the Limits of Power, Notre Dame Press (p.71)

[6] J.William Fullbright (Dem.), 1966. The Arrogance of Power, Random House

[7] Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics,  3:2 p.252

[8] Jean Vanier, ‘Why The Strong Need the Weak: J.V at the House of Lords’, 30th January 2015. Sourced from Youtube, Together for the Common Good 2nd June 2019

[9] Augustine citing Virgil, City of God, Penguin Classics, (p.29)

Photo by Ken Theimer on Unsplash

(Originally published on The Caldron Pool, under ‘The Separation of Church & State: What it is & What it’s Not‘ 3rd June 2019.

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Israel Folau isn’t alone in his struggle against the Leftist establishment and its newspeak. British Philosopher, and Leftist turned conservative, Sir Roger Scruton lost his U.K Government role as Housing Adviser, after criticizing George Soros and asserting that

“Islamophobia was an attempt to control conversation by making any and all criticism of Islam or Muslims a social pathology. (The same is true with all these absurd, politicized -phobias.)”

There have also been calls for Scruton’s knighthood to be revoked.

As Scruton and Muslim writer, Ismail Royer point out.

“[In the minds of the Muslim Brotherhood it’s] impossible for anyone to write critically about Islam, or the deeds of Muslims, in good faith. The only acceptable angle was flattery” (Scruton)

“The Scruton affair illustrates a mindset afflicting many modern Muslims. As @ScholarsInk points out, this is a man who has engaged in substantive dialogue with Islamic scholars. It’s a problem that many Muslims find anything other than flattery to be absolutely intolerable.” (Royer)

While the Leftist establishment’s contempt for Scruton remains high, support for Scruton continues to not only remain consistent, but is on the increase.

Thanking supporters, he took to Twitter writing:

“Thank you to the many people from around the world, who have sent messages of support in this time of persecution. And apologies to the mob for having survived it.”

Scruton is well acquainted with the ‘Leftist vision’, commenting about his time writing with the ‘underground networks of communist Europe’ in his book, ‘Fools, Frauds & Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left’ (2015)[1],

[“My involvement] had brought me face to face with destruction, and it was obvious to most people who troubled to expose themselves to this destruction that leftist ways of thinking were the ultimate cause of it […] We should not be surprised that, when the communists seized power in Eastern Europe, their first task was to decapitate the little platoons – so that Kádár, when Minister of the Interior in the 1948 government in Hungary, managed to destroy five thousand in a single year.
Newspeak[2], which sees the world in terms of power and struggle, encourages the view that all associations not controlled by the righteous leaders are a danger to the state. And by acting on this view you make it true. When the seminar, the troop or the choir can meet only with the permission of the Party, the Party automatically becomes their enemy. In this way, it seems to me, it is not an accident that the triumph of leftist ways of thinking has so often led to totalitarian government.”

Scruton’s argument is confirmed by the Tienanmen Square massacre, which happened, but “officially” never happened. The Hungarian revolt of 1956, and the violent suppression of it by the Soviet Union, and its puppet Socialist Hungarian administration. The violence was downplayed by French Communists, such as Jean Sartre, and was largely ignored or dismissed by the Left in the West.

In response to the violent Communist suppression of the Hungarian people, French existentialist and philosopher, Albert Camus, himself once a golden boy of the French Leftist establishment, wrote,

‘We must admit that today conformity is on the Left.
To be sure, the Right is not brilliant. But the Left is in complete decadence, a prisoner of words, caught in its own vocabulary, capable merely of stereo-typed replies, constantly at a loss when faced with the truth, from which it nevertheless claimed to derive its laws.
The Left is schizophrenic and needs doctoring through pitiless self-criticism, exercise of the heart, close reasoning, and a little modesty. Until such an effort at re-examination is well under way, any rallying will be useless even harmful. None of the evils of totalitarianism (defined by the single party and the suppression of all opposition) claims to remedy is worse than totalitarianism itself.’[3]

Roger Scruton and Israel Folau are high profile examples who should garner support from every quarter, because if they are allowed to be thrown under blade of the guillotine, by the mob and it’s “people’s court”, we all lose.


References:

[1] Scruton, Roger. 2015. Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left Bloomsbury Publishing

[2] ‘The purpose of communist Newspeak, in Thom’s ironical words, has been ‘to protect ideology from the malicious attacks of real things – fortified the communist conviction that you could change reality by changing words.’ (ibid, 2015)

[3] Camus, A. 1961 Resistance, Rebellion and Death: Essays; ‘Hungary: Socialism of the Gallows’, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1960 First Vintage International Edition

Photo by Jake Noren on Unsplash

(Also posted on The Caldron Pool, 8th May 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

One of the highlights of State of the Union Addresses, is the build-up and debriefing offered by commentators. Mainstream media “expert” panels have their place,  but in favour of a more conversational tone, I prefer to steer away from them. If you’re an Aussie, and are old enough to remember Channel Ten’s excellent, late night program, ‘The Panel’,  you’ll know exactly what I mean. One of the better American versions, is the gathering of Daily Wire front-men, and their, all-issues-on-the-board, round table.

Although a lot of what Donald Trump said throughout the blockbuster address, was worth a post on its own (particularly the last 45 minutes of his speech), the content of a four-minute discussion between Ben Shapiro, Michael Knowles and Andrew Klavan, during the Daily Wire’s post-SOTU discussion, also deserves highlighting.

Here’s why:

“You know it’s amazing; it just occurred to me when you watch that speech, you see all these Democrats and they’re constantly talking about check your privilege this, and check your privilege that; here’s the fact, everyone who is born today is privileged everyone who was born in the last 30, 40, 50 years in the United States these are the most privileged human being ever so check your privilege seriously check your damn privilege. Like all these women who are dancing there, “oh, look at us we finally overcame; [no], you didn’t overcome a damn thing. Your grandmother’s overcame something, your great grandmothers overcame something and that’s really what the speech was about”
“When Trump was saying, when he was paying homage, half the people he was paying homage to are people who are over the age of seventy, right? And he was saying you know our privilege is to be their grand-kids, our privilege is to be their kids. They’re the ones who did the heavy lifting. We’re just here picking up the leftovers and it’s our job to push it on to the next generation.”
“The one privilege that people will not recognise on the left is the privilege of having been born here and the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants. They act as though the earth began spinning the moment they arrived here, and that they’ve had to overcome such terrible burdens. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez has not had to overcome a burden. Neither have I by the way. With very rare exceptions there are some people who have had to overcome [terrible burdens].“ (Shapiro)

In the space of four minutes, Shapiro and company achieved, what large amounts of naval gazing commentators have failed to do from 2016 onward; and that is provide a succinct, proper explanation of what “Make America Great Again” actually stands for, and why its impact is important to understand.

 “…this is what the Left number understood about Trump’s slogan Make America Great Again. MAGA was never about this idea that America was ever at any point in the past to utopia it was about the idea that the people who inhabited America were infused with the idea of an American Dream that they were motivated by that idea and if you want to make America great again you have to get back to that idea that motivated people are grandparents to storm the shores of Normandy anybody in that chamber is storming the shores of Normandy, they’re bitterly storming the shores UC Berkeley.” (Shapiro)

Shapiro’s right. It’s wrong to say that MAGA is only the manifestation of old white men and their desperate, failing, attempt to hold onto a Utopian past. It’s just as wrong to say that MAGA is the product of a hidden pseudo-Nazi religion; as is pushed by some who’ve hijacked Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, amongst Leftist theologians; or Leftist politicians, and the small amount of delusional Neo-Nazis, who Leftists need in order to justify their own fascist tendencies (which include the widespread use of manipulation, reckless labelling and generalisations).

Despite what you’ve been told, or may think about Donald Trump, there’s no denying that the MAGA movement is multi-ethnic. Looking at MAGA through its multi-ethnic lens, shows that it was more than just an election slogan for Donald Trump, or the Republican Party. The multi-ethnicity of MAGA proves what many said from the start, often against a barrage of hatred, deliberate misinterpretation and false accusation: “Make America Great Again” was never about race, colour or religion.

MAGA’s popularity, even amongst ethnic groups, can be explained by its line-in-the-sand message.  It’s about Americans. It’s about inheritance, faith and tradition.On a broader scale, it’s about taking a firm stand against the abuse of hard fought for freedoms, and the blurring of definitions; a firm stand against the surrender of Western Civilisation behind a veil of compassion, and the downgrade of both Judeo-Christianity and Classical Liberalism.

MAGA is the defiant stand of a free people, thrown into a culture war they didn’t ask for; a war that is being waged on the West from within, while opportunistic people, determined to make an enemy of the West circle overhead.

MAGA is a megaphone, not for racists, but for ordinary everyday people. It’s allowed, and allowing, an increasing majority, who are not aligned, or who were once aligned with Leftism, to break free from Leftist ideology, such as their obsession with victimisation and their mob mentality. Significant examples of people who are breaking free are the #walkaway and #Blexit movements.

It wasn’t just Trump’s 2016 election win that unveiled just how far the culture war had advanced. It was also the fact that Hilary Clinton lost. Clinton’s “shock” election loss, unmasked Leftism and it’s war against all who disagree on reasoned ground with them. Clinton’s election loss exposed the Leftist march against people who are on both the Left and the Right. That loss woke people up to the actual nature of Leftism, as it began charging at them, celebrity venom at the ready, Antifa flag flying, faces hidden and bayonets drawn.

The fact that things have been allowed to get so hostile, isn’t entirely the fault of the Leftist cult of modern liberalism or its cult members. The culture war has been, by and large, triggered by the long complacency and entitlement of many in the West. As Shapiro and company explain, while there is a unity in universal privilege, there’s an absence of unity in gratitude and awareness of that privilege. Gratitude and universal privilege are overlooked in the American psyche, (and I’ll add, most of the West).

Michael Knowles and Andrew Klavan added weight to Shapiro’s grand-slam response to the State of the Union address stating:

“Yeah, this is the thing that makes this speech so jarring even for me in this culture but especially for people on the left is gratitude we have utterly lost gratitude, there’s nothing but pride, and entitlement that people feel, and so [Trump] goes and he says thank you. Thank you for what you guys who stormed the beaches of Normandy. Thank you for what you did; and it’s so that we’re just not used to saying thank you anymore.” (Knowles)
“I’ve never seen a major war. I’ve seen racism and I’ve seen it disappear; they disappear, it vanished, you know. It was gone and I think it’s not personal racism. That’s always there; with us, but institutional racism it’s just erased. You know I’ve seen all this stuff I’ve never had to fight I’ve never had to pick up a rifle I’ve never had to do any of those things and I’m so grateful, I’d be of jerk if I weren’t an optimist.” (Klavan)

Through this lens, MAGA, is about showing gratitude for freedom, opportunity and American privilege. It’s not an empty boast about American exceptionalism, a longing for some Utopian past, or some fanatical quixotic return to a doctrine of “manifest destiny.””

As Ronald Reagan, said in 1964,

The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honoured dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all. You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance. [This is] the meaning of “peace through strength.”[…] We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” [i]

MAGA is a renewed line-in-the-sand, drawn and backed by a people who refuse to surrender freedom in the name of what others call “progress”. Make America Great Again” was never about race, colour or religion. It’s no longer just about Donald Trump. MAGA is a bulwark against Leftism, not just for Americans; not just for the Right, but for anyone in the West, who chooses to pick up both prayer and gratitude, knowing that we have what we have today, because we were not handed a gift to abuse, but a gift to preserve, and build responsibly upon.


References & Notes:

[i] Reagan, R. 1964 A Time For Choosing 

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

If you’re not really into Information Technology and are not aware of what the Golden Shield project is, you’re forgiven. The majority of Chinese people either don’t care or aren’t aware of its existence either.

The Golden Shield Project is Communist China’s massive firewall. It’s designed to keep a lid on dissent and ward off foreign influence on Chairman Mao’s, carefully constructed Communist culture, which was largely forced on the Chinese people during the Marxist/Maoist Cultural Revolution[1].

Some basic history: ‘The Golden Shield project has been in development since the 1990s’[i]. According to a Tom McDonald field study published by the University College of London (UCL) in 2016, ‘The Golden Shield Project is the best-known mechanism of Chinese state control over the internet…though most Chinese people are unaware of its existence, those who are, are largely unconcerned about it.’ (ibid)[2]

Both the UCL study (p.147) and Stanford’s Torfox, state that the ‘self-censorship[3] by Chinese internet users, is essentially the byproduct of both Government censorship’ and an unspoken social media etiquette within China, which views ‘posts regarding news, politics and current affairs as inappropriate’ (p.148).

Whilst the UCL study and Stanford’s Torfox online articles don’t talk in an outright manner, about the role fear plays in self-censorship, with what has happened to China’s Uighurs (Muslim community), and the continued harassment of churches, and house churches, along with the imprisonment of Christians, it’s fair to assume that fear of the Socialist State, plays a sizeable role. Heavy Government restrictions[4] on internet use, means online dissent against the Communist Regime is rare. (As a side note to reasons for how fear plays a role in self-censorship, Communist Chinese authorities also silently encourage doxing. It’s labeled, ‘online vigilante justice’, called “Human Flesh Search Engines“.)

Of the two reports, only Torfox makes the suggestion that self-censorship is the result of compliance with totalitarian Government:

‘What makes the Great Firewall of China so effective (and controversial) is not only its complex technology but also the culture that the system engenders – a culture of self-censorship.  The Chinese government mandates that companies be responsible for their public content.  In other words, it is the job of these companies to make sure that their online portals do not contain any prohibited topics or obscenities.  Leading online news media in China, such as Xinhuanet.com, Chinadaily.com.cn, Chinanews, and Baidu.com obediently follow the government’s decree, pledging that they “will make the Internet a vital publisher of scientific theories… maintain social stability, and promote the building of a socialist harmonious society” (Torfox, Stanford).

Tom McDonald’s field study published by UCL also hints at this reasoning:

‘limiting users access to social media platforms, and certain types of content appearing within them, in order to promote  a social media aligned to both the state and family interests,  was only one aspect of state control. Another method was by populating these platforms with content – propaganda and ‘patriotism’ (p.151) […] ‘Most social media posts about politics are nationalistic. There were very few posts that directly criticized the central government, or policies and attitudes of the state’ (p.161).

There are three good reasons why you should be aware of The Golden Shield Project. First, the project is “supported” by Big Tech (Silicon Valley) Companies. Second, it’s a Communist tool used not just to suppress free speech[5], but create and police, a culture of total compliance with Government approved thought, speech and content. What makes this second point even more alarming is that the technology used for The Golden Shield Project is now being exported. Third, the Golden Shield Project is promoted as being something that upholds family values, while underneath this the Government enforces the socialist state, through total surveillance, and sleight of hand, statist propaganda[6].

Although I use the word, “supported” cautiously, it may not come as a complete surprise that the Golden Shield Project is supported by Big Tech (Silicon Valley) Companies.

According to Torfox, ‘transnational Internet corporations such as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft are also subjected to self-censorship regulations.  Although censorship is very much against Western ideology, the size of the Chinese market is too profitable for the companies to bypass these opportunities.’ (Torfox, Stanford)

This raises the question, does participating in active censorship, and complying with China’s Golden Shield Project, make these Western, and largely Leftist companies, hypocrites? Further, does this active compliance mean that participating companies are profiteering from an oppressive regime?

Put another way, does the active compliance of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Cisco, Microsoft, Motorola, and Nortel Networks, with China’s Golden Shield Project (which is designed to abolish, punish, and silence dissent, ‘and promote the building of a socialist harmonious society’) mean that these big tech companies, are profiteering from oppression?

Or, as Grant Clark from Bloomberg suggests, are these companies to be viewed also as victims of China’s Communist heavy restrictions?

Simple examples of this compliance include, when Winnie the Pooh, was temporarily banned in  2017.

More complex data shows Google actively blocking the use of its search engine to look up words unapproved by the Chinese Communist Government.

As highlighted by Harvard’s 2002 comprehensive list of searches blocked by Google in China, by request of the Chinese Communist Government. (Complete Chart) Top Ten:

1. Tibet
2. Taiwan
3. equality
4. dissident China
5. revolution
6. dissident
7. freedom China
8. justice China
9. counter-revolution China
10. news China/Democracy China

With this evidence, and these examples in mind, Western concerns about Big Tech companies, which are often ridiculed as fanatical, and fear mongering, are justified.

When these same companies choose to block dissent or a different opinion on their servers/social media platforms in the West, they are importing the same political lockout system that they (at least, in the case of Google, as shown above) apply to Chinese citizens, under the satisfied and watchful gaze of the unelected Chinese bureaucratic caste.  When these companies block dissent or a different opinion, they are choosing to restrict freedom of speech. They are picking a side, and imposing their favored form of ideology on those who may have no choice, but to use their technology or social media platforms.

This should be of concern to Westerners, because the technology used in the Golden Shield Project is now being exported[7].

According to the McDonald field study for UCL, ‘in China, while propaganda frequently ends up forming the basis of news, not all news comes from, or is, propaganda […] [However] 80 to 90% of China’s news is fake news’ (McDonald 2016, pp.151 & 155). Since ‘the Chinese government controls all of the national authority name servers’ (source), it has total control over social media and social media companies.

Evidence of propaganda is seen in the defense of the GSP. Advocates say that Golden Shield Project is only a tool for protecting family values.  The GSP, however, was designed to protect the Communist state, not families. Its primary purpose is to guard the state against the ‘use of the Internet by domestic or foreign groups to coordinate anti-regime activity.’ (China Golden Shield, 2001)

Stanford’s Torfox confirms this, stating that ‘the government initially envisioned the Golden Shield Project to be a comprehensive database-driven surveillance system that could access every citizen’s record as well as link national, regional, and local security together.’

Ergo, even if upholding family values is now a small part of the usefulness of the GSP, it was not part of the Golden Shield Project’s original intent.

In conclusion, it’s reasonable to have governance of the internet based on a nation’s laws and boundaries, but that governance should be small, effective, and preferably have at its core classical liberal ethos, anchored by the Judeo-Christian moral compass. It’s important to remember, that ‘human beings do not have to serve causes, causes have to serve human beings’ (Karl Barth, Against the Steam p.35).

If when talking about the GSP, our focus is on protecting family values, than the GSP is an easy sell. Protections that include internet safety for Children and adults with addictions are plain common sense. For true freedom to exist, it has to have a certain degree of parameters to ensure and uphold its existence. Otherwise, we become enslaved to the machine, and land somewhere in the Matrix.

However, if the goal of governance over the internet, such as the GSP, is the protection of an ideology, an unelected bureaucratic caste, the invasion and suppression of citizen’s rights, and that control is masked by propaganda about protecting family values, then instead of being controlled by the Matrix, we enter a land controlled by those who own the Matrix, which is as equally horrifying.


References:

[1] For a full explanation of this, see Jacques Ellul’s, 1965 publication, ‘Propaganda’.

[2] For a deeper reading of the history, see Bloomberg’s article called, Quicktake: The Great Firewall of China by Grant Clark

[3] McDonald, author of the UCL field study further claims that ‘such reactions can be understood as ways that townsfolk form a strategy for coping with inflexible  controls that they are  otherwise unable to influence’ (p.148). However, ‘the controls which receive the greatest attention outside China – the Great Firewall and deletion of social media posts – are the ones that typically concern local people the least […] Other systems of control – such as checking users’ ages and restricting access for young people – that act at a local level are immediately visible and very important to townsfolk. Some of these measures come from people’s own convictions about the appropriate use of social media, rather than just from state- imposed restrictions’ (p.150)

[4] Bloomberg: ‘Critics say China’s Great Firewall reflects its paranoia over the internet’s potential to spread opposition to one-party rule. As well as impeding freedom of speech, China’s approach constrains it economically, they say, by stifling innovation, preventing the exchange of important ideas and cutting access to services used by businesses like Google Cloud.’

[5] Greg Walton: ‘Many people in China have been arrested for Internet-related “crimes,” ranging from supplying e-mail addresses to Internet publications to circulating pro-democratic information or articles that are critical of the Chinese government, in blatant contradiction of international human rights law guaranteeing freedom of speech.’ (China Golden Shield, 2001)

[6] Greg Walton: ‘China’s Internet regulations and legislation are guided by the principle of “guarded openness” – seeking to preserve the economic benefits of openness to global information, while guarding against foreign economic domination and the use of the Internet by domestic or foreign groups to coordinate anti-regime activity.’ (China Golden Shield, 2001)

[7]  Stanford: ‘China even exports its technology to other countries such as Cuba, Zimbabwe, and Belarus.’ (The Great Firewall of China: Background. Sourced, 23rd January 2019)

[i] McDonald, T. 2016 Social Media In Rural China, ULC Press, U.K. Link to a free copy of the PDF  (p.146)

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

(Also published at The Caldron Pool, 24th January, 2019.)

On That Day

August 12, 2015 — Leave a comment

Fall Out Filtered RL2015

When, on that solemn day,
the remnants of Western civilisation gather
to count the cost,
they will remember
that it was the Left who fired the first shot.

 

 

 


(RL2015)

Unabridged Grace

October 28, 2014 — Leave a comment

Unabridged grace

Burning cathedrals; collapsing ‘isms

God’s reach surpasses our own

Fire Image  4

 ©RL2014

 

English: Location of South Avustralia.

English: Location of South Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Contemporary Western society both beguiles and reviles its ideological heritage.

This stems from the 19th and 20th centuries and is evident to the plethora of antagonists who aspire to deconstruct, in order to defend this heritage, or completely write it off as part of the inevitable devolution of imperialist Western civilisation.

This is manifested in the ”replace it with something else – bulldoze it”; revolutionary ethos, advocated by a large amount of people who align themselves with ”progressive” socio-political agendas.

Atheist and comedian Pat Condell is right, (even if a bit hypocritical in his defence of the freedom of speech), to point at that the problem is, progressives are now trending towards accepting ideology, without critique.

This necessarily means that ideology will enslave those that it is supposedly serving. For instance: ‘human beings do not have to serve causes, causes have to serve human beings’ (Barth – Against the Steam p.35).

My point is that in reality, ideology rarely delivers the freedom it promises, if at all.

Alister McGrath wrote that ‘the past not only shapes and illuminates the present but anticipates the future’ [1].

No matter how much we try to justify it, when reality bites, history corrects us. History presents those of us who abandon politics for theology, and vice-versa as the fools we truly can be.

This is evidenced in the eerie example of ‘Hitler, who only tolerated those clerics who applauded his will to be the absolute ruler of the state’. (Eberhard Busch ‘Barmen theses’, 2010, p.1)

It is true that ‘grace leads us to rebel against the powers which keep us in servitude’ [2]. In light of this it is certainly difficult to disagree with the caveat against appeasement, penned in 1940 by  C.S Lewis,

 ‘I think the suppression of a higher religion by a lower, or even a higher secular culture by a lower, is a great evil…though the world is slow to forgive, it is quick to forget’ [3].

I come now to the Australian Minister for trade, Craig Emerson, who staged this (see below) last year in order to ridicule Opposition claims that Whyalla, a mining community in South Australia, would be seriously hindered by the implementation of a ‘carbon tax’.

I support responsible management of the environment. I am, however, in complete disagreement with any cheap political gains that feed off what is pushed by a ”mob”.

This is because ‘truthfulness is not determined by customer satisfaction surveys’ [4].

The reality – 2013:
.
”Whyalla Mayor Jim Pollock said he was shocked by the announcement, which dashed hopes of 1000 new jobs for the industrial city.Whyalla has suffered a series of blows in recent months, with BHP Billiton postponing its huge Olympic Dam expa…nsion and jobs at OneSteel under threat”.[5]
The theology – timeless:
.
‘It is better for a person to hear the rebuke of the wise  than to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,    so is the laughter of the fools;   this also is vanity’ Solomon, Ecc.7:5-6. (ESV)

References:

[1] McGrath, A 2007 Christianity’s dangerous idea, p.10 HarperCollins Publishers.
.
[2] Marquardt, in Gorringe, T. 1999, Karl Barth: Against Hegemony, Oxford press
.
[3]Lewis, C.S 1940, ‘why I am not a pacifist’ in Essay Collection, 2000 pp.287 & 293.
.
[4] Shuster, M. 2008 Performance in Preaching: bringing sermons to life, Baker academic
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[5]Sarah Martin, The Australian (pay-walled content) via Andrew Bolt