While I was contemplating on the development of the trend that surrounds COVID-19 and economic shutdown, I came up with a following reflection:
"Just an observation: I find the anatomy of the unfolding of the events since the start of covid-19 especially in relation to the character of the State both alarming and interesting. During the first two months, March and April, the posture is one of being an all-powerful and an all-knowing entity. Then around 19th of May, disappointment regarding covid-19 response became widespread and it was followed by a recognition of limitation on the part of the govt. That is somehow good and healthy to a sane society. By the end of May, there was a divergence between what is happening in the US and here in the PH. In the US, the narrative shifted from lockdown to racism, riots, and looting. Here in the PH, the rhetoric reminds us of post 911 terrorist attack. It seems to me, that due to widespread disappointment, the political and the bureaucratic class are now being exposed for all their pretensions to power and somehow their status are either being questioned or threatened. Thereby, advocates of big government have to think of some drastic measures to safeguard their interest, and of course doing all of them in the name of public safety, law, and order. God forbid that instead of freedom advancing, we will see in the days ahead, a continued and sustained attack on our freedom of expression and movement."
After posting my reflection on Facebook, my friend made a comment:
"Magandang tingnan yung development ng estado sa OT in the case of ancient Israel. My initial observation is that: the concept of the state was somehow a late comer, instead a religious consciousness came first, and then the concept of the rule of law. It's only later that the institution of monarchy was established, and even then something that was problematized by the prophet Samuel. This observation indicates that the state in ancient Israel was never regarded as absolute and unlimited in its claims. That the Torah was given first serves to delimit and claims of the state, its legitimacy within divine ordering was framed within the provisions allowed by the covenant articulated by the Torah."
And then I replied:
"No problem with the concept of the State in the Old Testament. As far as I know, the prevailing worldview from the dawn of human history, which includes the concept of the State is basically religious. And so the idea of the power of the Torah to delimit the power of the State in ancient Israel is consistent with such worldview. Quoting Hugo Winckler, such worldview according to Bavinck remained until the advent of 18th century, where the supranatural foundation (including the religious) of such worldview has been challenged and replaced in favor of the empirico-scientific. I suspect that in the passing of time, with the new worldview, the concept of the State has also undergone a radical change."
And then I shared with him my recent reading on welfare state
"Just recently, I was reading a 40-page journal article on the Origins of the Welfare State in America. It was interesting how Murray N. Rothbard connected an ideology that includes postmillennial pietism, Statism, and corporate socialism to economic interests advanced by big businessmen seeking favor from the government to achieve cartelization and a growing legion of educated intellectuals and technocrats who want to restrict entry into their field via forms of licensing. Such ideology took control virtually all Protestant churches from 1830 onwards. The combination of these two forces according to Rothbard, paved the way for the existence of the welfare state. Both wealth and public opinion-molding power are at their disposal."
"What follows afterwards is interesting. Protestant postmillennial pietism was secularized until the late 19th century. The goal was to use the power of the government 'to stamp out sin and to create a perfect society, in order to usher in the Kingdom of God on Earth.' From such goal, a concept of government evolved from a 'paternalistic mender of social problems' to a 'more and more divinized' and 'more and more seen as the leader and molder of the' society."
"Rothbard identified a long list of names including the revivalist Charles Finney, activist women from a middle to upper class background, John Dewey, and others that contributed to the evolution of the Progressive Party launched by the Morgans in 1912. This Party spearheads the statist coalition that includes academic progressives, Morgan businessmen, social-gospel Protestant ministers, and activist women who became influential social workers who prepared the way for the success of FDR’s New Deal from 1933 to 1939. On side note, it is also interesting that Ludwig von Mises already had this concept of omnipotent State during his time. In fact, he even wrote a book in 1944 with that title describing the German State during the time of the Nazis."
And the another friend raised a a follow-up question:
"May I know how we should perceive the empirico-scientific (what exactly characterises it) and how it challenged and replaced the power of the Torah to delimit the power of the state of ancient Israel?"
And here is my reply:
"That's actually the language of Herman Bavinck in his book The Philosophy of Revelation. Relying on Winckler, he was arguing that in the entire history of humanity, there are only two general worldviews, which he describes as "supranatural" and "empirico-scientific." The latter, from the combination of two terms themselves, you can see obviously that basically, it is naturalistic. It considers any claim beyond the realm of nature as primitive and unscientific. The concept of the Torah within that framework can be explained in naturalistic terms. To insist that the Torah is a product of divine revelation and therefore has the power to serve as a corrective to the excessive exercise in political power doesn't make sense. Such power of the Torah is only acknowledged within the supranatural worldview. But of course, this kind of thinking is no longer new. In the postmodern age, we are now witnessing the crashing of the foundation of the empirico-scientific worldview and a return to the supranatural where revelation is again recognized. But you know, even in information age, ideas need considerable time before they reach public consciousness. Still, existing institutions and policies work on the basis of the modern project."