I have to smile at that title. A different word had come to mind when I had started to ponder this post, but that one which I ended up with, I’m happy with, especially when I saw its definition.
Some years ago, my boss saw some of my ways, may have heard some of my views, and he called my views, “anti-establishment.” I just thought it meant “against some institution,” including government. But when I saw this just now,
Anti-establishmentarianism is a political philosophy that views a nation’s power structure as corrupt, repressive, exploitative, etc.
I genuinely smiled. [You can get that definition from a number of resources, like wikipedia or dictionary.com.] It fit me so well.
I see government, its nature, its immoralities, its abuses, its very monstrosity, its lies, deceptions and the thin veil of legitimacy it has which covers a much more grotesque, vile and contemptible form. I see its victims praise, glorify and/or cling to it with a fervour a self-immolating or self-harming idol-worshipper would envy, and many offer their children, their very future to this beast. I see not only the government but also the political system, the so-called “democracy,” the religion preached to the world: choose your own slave-master; try to enslave your neighbour before he enslaves you; try to rob your neighbour to fund your choices by means of the govt.
I see all this and I hate it. I despise it.
And yet I am a Gentile. All this would be expected from the people within the shores I dwell in. Our ancestors were idol-worshippers and the remnants of old ways are hard to break free of; they would bow down to the idea of man as a commandment-giving god. And war and plunder was a way of life, so the desire for “democracy” and legal plunder by means of the ballot box shouldn’t be surprising.
But I’ve met a number of people online, Jews and Gentiles, that make me take a step back in horror as the spirit of state-worship seems to cause them to defend heinous acts because it was done by the state. Their spirit-filled speech and my own reflection upon my antagonism with the existence of the state caused me to ponder a few issues that I’ll share here.
Fear of government: endorsement of a form of cannibalism
One quote that is repeatedly used against my antiestablishmentarianism and my general antipathy for all things government, repeated ad nauseum, is the following.
Rabbi Chanina, the Deputy High Priest, says: Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear of it, man would swallow his fellow alive. (Pirkei Avot 3:2, https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.3?lang=bi)
With this proverb, they believe they can teach me to respect government, to not just see its importance but also to give some praise as well.
And yet, day after day, I see the monstrosity of this terrible beast, its deception and hypocrisy, and its fangs are soaked with the blood of hundreds of millions and its throat is full, sucking up hungrily the livelihood and labour of the people. Despite the proverb, governments guarantee the swallowing up of lives: a form of cannabilism is guaranteed. Its brutality is historical fact. Its injustice is historical fact. Governments over the globe enact laws to counteract the seven laws themselves, which undermines our very purpose for living.
So I can understand it is useful for that purpose, to make people too scared to go against it. I can understand also that having a horrible disease called sickle-cell anaemia means a person won’t get malaria. I know that some insecure and jealous men kidnap and rape women which can mean that victim no longer has to worry about brutality from other men.
I can see the benefits in a lot of situations, but to respect those situations? To praise them?
To pray for them? To pray for that which buries the seven laws and morality and decency further and further out of sight?
I can be pragmatic, but don’t expect me to be idealistic about such a thing.
I’m glad Pirkei Avot is not a divine commandment upon Gentiles.
Merciful to the cruel
When I see people advocating for violence upon the innocent or protecting the violence committed against the innocent, it is a terrible thing. But when it is done by people who are supposed to uphold Torah, for me, it is much worse.
I personally have seen such faith in the beast called government by Jews and Gentiles who give the impression that they revere Torah and its Giver. Despite the bloody history of the state and the immorality of its servants, such people give such honour and mercy to its cruelty that they ridicule and malign its victims. Innocent people killed by the police are said to have brought death upon themselves. Devotees of the “State” turn the supposed necessity of taxation into a reason to advocate that people have their labour, their own property, forceably extracted from them by the government. Such people can even overlook such immoral laws, like civil forfeiture, where your only “immoral act” is to have too much cash with you so the State allows its agents to take your property or cash. (If you have any sense of morality, and you get angered at injustice, save yourself the anger and don’t try to find out the ways the agents of the State treat themselves with the confiscated property.)
For them, the State needs to be in your pocket to take what it wants. All you, the victim, have to do is just imagine that the pilfered funds go to a cause that the State-devotee considers to be worthwhile, i.e., the poor as opposed the the war and weapons industry or funding the writing and enforcement of laws that further abolish the seven laws and other laws of morality. Consent for such pilfering is ignored or is the enemy. One Jew even told me that you have no choice, even if you were to publicly state that you remove your consent. The population is, in effect, the voiceless slave to the politicians.
I’ve seen so many, too many, examples of preferring the government over an innocent life that I see the strongest fulfillment of the saying: “He who is merciful to the cruel will be cruel to those who are worthy of mercy.” The State is the cruelest of beasts. Those who deal with it, not just out of necessity, but out of a desire and agreement in its general activity, those people inevitably fulfil the saying.
Core responsibility to obey the ruling class
I’ve had some people supposedly versed in Torah tell me that it’s actually one of our core seven commandments to obey and revere government. One person pointed me to AskNoah’s handy summary about the law of Dinim/Justice, where it says the following:
… by the Noahide “Law of Courts,” citizens are required to observe the secular law … (The Command to Establish Just Laws and Courts at https://asknoah.org/7-commandments/judicial-courts)
Well, thanks to AskNoah, I now know that “by the Noahide ‘Law of Courts,” citizens are required to observe the secular law.” I’m sure you can see what this means just by using your mastery of the English language. Allow me to use mine: one of God’s laws upon Gentiles, the law of Dinim/Justice, commands the individual non-Jew to keep and follow the dictates of a godless government. It therefore follows that if I don’t obey the “law” of the godless government and I break “the secular law,” I therefore break the God’s law of Dinim/Justice.
[I do understand that AskNoah may be using today’s language of the separation of “church and state” to therefore say that a law comes from government is not religious and therefore is secular. I don’t believe that possibility has any significant impact on what I say next, but I’m just choosing to note it.]
Wow! I … I guess … I guess I’ll just have to throw up my hands and quit my stance against government and just bend over and take what I’m given, right?
I mean, based on that reasoning, … just look.
And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There’s a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; and their laws differ from all people; and they don’t keep the king’s laws: therefore it’s pointless for the king to let them remain. If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries. And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy. And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you. Then the king’s scribes were called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded to the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to its writing, and to every people according to their language; it was written in the name of king Ahasuerus, and sealed with the king’s ring. And the letters were sent by posts into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them as plunder. (Esther 3:8-13)
Oh yes, what was I saying? Oh right! I should throw up hands and just do what the ruling power commands me, right? So the people who kept the law of the land and went out the destroy the Jews were without fault because they were just keeping the core seven laws and “keeping secular law,” right?
I should worry when Jews teach that Gentiles should just do as the government dictates as if they’ve forgotten their own history. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.
Maybe someone’s gonna say, “but, David, David, that’s a reputable source linked to the Divine Code, a book with numerous rabbinical approbations; maybe they’re just conveying what God commands.”
I severely doubt it. When the Gentile Torah law of Dinim is recounted in the Talmud between tractate Sanhedrin 56-60, no mention is made of obedience to a ruling class. When Rambam summarised his view of the law in Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings and their Wars, Chapter 9, there is no mention of obedience to the ruling class. When Ramban talks about the law of Dinim in his commentary of Genesis 34, even though he mentions more possible details to the law, he mentions nothing about obedience to the state.
What I’m saying is that if obedience to government was such a core element of our divine laws, then why is it never explicitly stated as a detail in the most accessible and possibly authoritative rabbinical discussions on the seven laws? It’s not mentioned in the Jewish Bible, that God commands non-Jews to obey the ruling class.
[ASIDE: Someone is likely to say that it wasn’t mentioned because it was so obvious that we’re meant to follow our “leaders.” But the issue is that, because many of those tyrants/rulers (not “leaders” in the proper sense) and the kings described in the Bible are just plain wicked, it’s not so obvious that those striving for good showed be listening to those who strive for things other than good who happen to be called “leader”.]
And again, considering the ignoble and murderous and wicked history of world governments, wouldn’t this be the most dangerous and destructive law to humanity is it was the case that it is the most basic standard of morality that we humans must obey any jerk that would occupy the throne? Especially in these days of “democracy,” where choosing a ruling political party (or national slave master) isn’t based on expertise on the facts, isn’t limited to those who have researched the evidence, divided between fact and and spin, had the will the read through and an objective moral code by which to scrutinze the statements and morality of the manifestos, and who have a healthy memory of the promises politicians have made and broken. Voting isn’t limited to those but is a free-for-all for the knowledgeable and stupid, the fastidious and the sloppy, the moral and the immoral, and every shade in-between. The relative ease with which the immoral who desire “power” can get “into office” is horrifying, especially when righteousness isn’t even an important criteria for the office/throne.
And in the face of all this, someone would have the nerve to say “God requires Gentiles to do as the politicians command” boggles the mind.
So no, it is not one of the core seven laws to obey the ruling class.
If it was a government of Gentiles upholding the seven laws.
Falling into the category of antiestablishmentarian, a thought crosses my mind. With my antipathy for the ruling class, what would happen if a ruling class came along which actually upheld the seven laws? Would I give my willing support to it?
It’s a troubling question. There’s a lot involved with the question. For such a ruling power to arise that would inevitably imply that the society had accepted the seven laws and therefore such a ruling power wouldn’t need my support. If there were a similar sort of taxation as there is today: forced extraction of funds regardless of consent, then I wouldn’t support it.
It’s hard for me to put trust in that institution of government. It would still be run by people who are total strangers to me and thus could never truly represent me (even if those that ran it did know me).
I’m really not sure.
Anyway, after reading all this, you may get the impression that I hate the government. Let me clear this up for you, at least my current stance.