The Foundations of a Babylonish Society
Q. What do we mean by babylonish society?
A. A dysfunctional society. A society that has forsaken God’s (or, nature’s) original design and order for humankind and replaced it with a broken, exploitative, oppressive, and selfish order. You can see the rise and progression of this order throughout the book of Genesis. Human beings going from a communal, familial, co-operative existence to one of murder, competition, division, and oppression. You can also see the same pattern in natural history where humans moved from a primitive communism to a system of competition and exploitation.
The Foundations of Babylonish Society Include:
- A specialized class to rule over the people. The forms of this foundation vary. From Monarchy, to Oligarchy, to Aristocracy, to Parliaments, to Politicians, to Republicanism, to Popes and Cardinals, to Ayatollahs, to all forms of Clergy. The forms vary. The intentions of this form vary. The Monarch may simply want to rule for his own gain or he may truly have a desire to help his subjects. Either way, the people are ruled over. In republicanism elected representatives may want to truly represent his voters and seek their welfare. Or, he/she may simply want political power and recognition. Either way, the people are ruled over. They don’t have the power to make decisions and policies, they only have the power to vote for who will rule over them. A clergyman may be tenderhearted and seek to speak out for the poor and the oppressed. Yet, he remains a specialist; separate and above the people he shepherds. Or, a clergyman may be a power hungry devil who has the same desires as a corrupted politician.
- A Political System. The people are not empowered to direct their own course or make decisions as a community. Rather, a specialized class (as we just discussed) takes the reigns of power on behalf of, and over, the people. Though they may say a government of the people, by the people, and for the people it always turns out to be a government of a certain group of people, by politicians, and for the rich. In the American Revolution it was the up and coming colonial elites who wanted to break their ties with the monarchy of Great Britain. It was not a revolution from the bottom up, it was a revolution from the top down. They replaced monarchy with a different political system, but it was a political system nonetheless. The elites chose republicanism, or the rule of those elected by the people to represent them. And this system has always primarily been in the control of two major parties whether the Whigs and Democrats, or the Democrats and Republicans. They also chose an economy freed from government regulation whereby they could grow their wealth to an even greater degree through the free market system of economics. This was no poor man’s revolution. Nor was it a revolution of the mass of people. But propaganda won the day and a handful of mostly rich white men got away with writing documents that begin with the misleading proclamation, “We the people”. I wonder if most of the American population of that time, many of whom were black slaves, women and poor landless whites, would have found their interests represented. But, as people often do, they submitted to the new form of power.
- A Religious System. Political power is controlled and brokered by the government while spiritual and moral power is controlled and brokered by religion. The Religious System is the right hand man of the political system. This pattern is clearly portrayed in the book of Revelation as the Land Beast and as the Sea Beast. The Sea Beast represents the political/governmental system, while the Land Beast represents the religious system. Both in the Jerusalem of Jesus’ time and in the Rome of John’s time the political system and the religious system were closely tied. Religious faith was used to bolster allegiance to the state. Righteousness was preached from the pulpits while evil and oppression were allowed and even encouraged for the sake of the preservation and growth of the empire. Even in the places that encourage “religious freedom” this religious beast still rules over the hearts of the masses. Though politically people are not bound to a certain religion or denomination, yet in their hearts they still look to a specialized clergy to interpret their holy books, lead them in their spiritual disciplines, and do most of the rigors of righteousness on their behalf. Clergy and politicians are payed with our hard earned money and our ignorant allegiance. We give them our hearts, our money, and our liberty so that they can rule and we can be ruled. Neither God, nor community is the prerogative of a specialized class. Both God and our communities are accessible to all men and women and may be gained by those who are willing to throw off the yoke of religion and state. People speak of the separation of religion and state. We speak of the overthrow and annihilation of religion and state and the inauguration of a messianic community- as depicted in the book of Revelation and the book of Daniel.
- Force. Another foundation of babylonish society is the use of force as a means to keep people in subjection to the state. What creates community? Is it common ideals? Common hopes, dreams, and desires? Being born in the same geographic boundary as someone else? All to often it is force that holds communities together. It is force that keeps people passive. If we the people rule ourselves as a democracy why do we feel intimidated when we see a police car? Why do we feel that they have authority over us? Shouldn’t we have authority over them? The state uses literal force while the religious system uses moral force to keep people in subjection. The police officer says, “do this because I have a gun”. The clergyman says, “Do this because it is written in the holy book.” Most of the time we do not do what is right because we are animated by a sense of civic duty or a love for righteousness. We do it because we are told to and we know there are negative consequences if we don’t do what we are told. We also use force to fight other nations. We assemble militaries and tell the people that they fight for our freedom or welfare. Really, they are assembled for the welfare of the state. And the concerns of the state are not necessarily those of the people. They are supposedly assembled for “defense”, but most of the time they are used to protect, or even enlarge, the economic interests of the ruling class. Good money is to be made through warfare and through the technology and arms that is necessary to wage it. And the poor get to supply the majority of the bodies that must be sacrificed for this lucrative practice to continue.
- The Rule of the Wealthy. One way or another the wealthy class and the ruling class are one and the same. In feudalism the wealthy were the royalty and the royalty held the power. When the industrial revolution broke out the capitalists began to make the money, and money replaced land ownership as the sign of wealth and power. Monarchies were overthrown as feudal landowners and royalty became a thing of the past. They were replaced by republics under the control of the capitalist classes. Monarchy simply got in the way of a free market that could be exploited and controlled by those with the most capital. Why pay taxes and forbear economic interference from the ruling power when you can overthrow the ruling power and take its place? Submission is always deemed a worthy virtue for the poor but it has never been a virtue of the capitalist classes who felt free to overthrow the power of the monarchy for the sake of their own power and wealth.
- Division. Division always works to the advantage of the state. As long as the people are divided they are weak. And a weak people pose no threat to the state. In fact, they remain the fodder upon which the state feeds and waxes fat. There is the division of race. The state has long exploited racism. Whether through chattel slavery, the Japanese internment camps during WWII, or hostility towards immigrants. The state encourages economic division. From the time we are born we learn that competition is the order of the day. I must compete to get the best grades (valedictorian, etc), to make the football team, to get into the college of my choice, and to get the job I desire. My neighbor is a competitor whose interests are not as important as mine. I wish him the best as long has his best doesn’t interfere with my best. Division strengthens the ruling class. Notice who the ruling class always appeals to in the election: the middle class. A new class is created that mixes the interests of the rich and poor and yet acts as a buffer between the rich and the poor. We represent the middle class they say. Yet, we know that they truly represent their own interests and the interests of the corporations who finance their power trip. Division keeps the people weak. Make no mistake, we find value in the writings of Marx but we do not find ourselves dogmatically in debt to this opinions. We seek not only the liberation of the poor, but of the rich as well. We seek the redemption of all of society. The liberation of the poor from degradation, poverty, hunger, insecurity, and oppression. The liberation of the rich from an unhealthy concentration of power, lack of community, selfish ambition, and the oppression of riches. We seek not the rule of the poor over the rich any more than we seek the rule of the rich over the poor. We seek the abolition of all division including class.
Then we have religious division. Religious unity was a boon for England in the colonial days because the church of england was married to the state. Religious conformity meant the consolidation of state power. However, for the colonialist elite who wanted liberation from the monarchy religious freedom was a friend. It broke up the consolidation of religious power and caused more political power to fall in their laps. This principle can been seen in Revelation 17 when the Beast turns against the whore (ie, the religious system) when she no longer profits him. So religious division can actually help the state. As we’ve already pointed out a people divided is a positive for the state. I’m a Muslim so I could never work with a jew for a better world. I am a Jew. I don’t trust those Muslims. I am a born again christian. I only have community with others who are regenerated like me. It’s just no use working with others for a better world. I am an atheist. I don’t associate with any of the superstitious idiots who worship a Deity. Division only consolidates power in the hands of the oppressor. An early christian once said that in the Messiah there is no male or female, pagan or jew, bond or free, barbarian or elite. To the Christian who believes in the necessity of regeneration cudos to you. Regeneration is a reality no one who wants change should be quick to dismiss. However, if you seek to show the world that regeneration is more than a figment of your imagination then let it issue out so others can see it’s positive effects. Most people only work with those who are like them. If you are regenerated then you should be able to connect with all people for the good of God’s new world. There are two kinds of tolerance. One is a capitalist tolerance. It says, “everyone can do what they want as long as they don’t bother me”. This is no virtue. However, there is a virtue of tolerance that allows each person to find their way and does what they can to help them along. A tolerance that seeks to find common ground and build community without abandoning personal convictions and aspirations. Religious divisions can be healed by this genuine tolerance which opens the door for community and genuine transformation both in and out; individually and collectively. Religions, or faith communities, need not be abandoned. People should be free to form whatever associations or relationships they desire. However, these should help grow the community, not impede it.
- Money, wages and Private Property. If I labor I will not receive an equal amount of goods for the amount of work I perform. And I most likely will not receive the full amount of wealth that I have helped to create. If I work 40 hours at a Retail store lifting, stocking, walking, and serving customers, I will make far less than an Insurance salesman who works the same amount of hours talking on the phone, reading through and explaining policies, driving in the car, setting up appointments, and sitting in an office. Many say, “it is not fair to take what one has earned and give it to others.” But is it fair that someone who labors just as much as a another should make far less because his line of work is not as highly valued? It is just as necessary. It takes just as much effort, and perhaps more. But instead of gaining access to the necessities of life through the amount of work I perform I get paid in wages- in cash. Some get paid so much they have far more than they could ever need or use. Others get paid so little that they barely get, or don’t get, the necessities of life. Then there is the issue of private property. When I speak of private property I am not talking about a family, or group of people, having their own home or plot of ground for recreation and a garden. I’m not speaking of sharing the same pair of pants. I speak of the system whereby the means of production and wealth creation are concentrated in the hands of the few. But they have gained that power through hard work, some may say. Did they really? Many gained land in the colonies by driving Native Americans away through force. Is that righteous? Others gain through speculation, stock market magic, and paying low wages to workers in order to gain more for themselves. Is this moral? Maybe we should assemble the religious experts and ask them. However, I think we can make a decision on our own. Let the community take possession of the means of production. NOT THE STATE AND NOT THE CORPORATION. The Community. The community supplies the laborers and the capital to buy the products, so why not bypass both the state and corporation who stand in the way of the interests of the community. We believe in Socialization NOT nationalization. Nationalization takes power from private corporations and gives it to the state. Socialization takes power from the private corporation and puts it in the hands of the public- the community. The community need not infringe on the freedom and uniqueness of the individual, but neither does it have to bow down to the state or corporation to maintain the freedom of the individual. Especially when considering that the state and the corporation are often the biggest hindrances to political and economic freedom. Do we want a state that says “we represent your interests”? Or, do we want to be active in a community where we can represent are own interests? Do we want a company or corporation that says, “we represent the interests of the worker?” Or, do we want to be part of a union (a real one mind you, not the modern bureaucracy) of workers that represent our own interests and directs our own affairs? This is the real declaration of independence. It is the next step towards greater freedom. Freedom from the state, from religion, and from the wealthy ruling class. Freedom to direct our own affairs as a community and with respect for individual uniqueness and liberty. Free to direct our spiritual lives, our economic lives, and our political lives. Free to submit to one another, to serve one another, and to hold the common good above our own. Rather than serving the state and the capitalism which fosters division, competition, and self-preservation.
This is not just some lofty thought. This is what is best for everyone. If we lose our life we will find it. If we put others first we will find our own needs met. If we work for the common good we will find our own welfare secured.
The Foundations of the Messianic Community are the opposite of those of the Babylonish Society. The Land Beast (Religion) and the Sea Beast (the state) create a society called Babylon in the book of Revelation. It is a mixture of toxic oppressive religion, the autocratic rulership of Beasts, and an exploitive economic system. Instead of redeeming and empowering the people it feeds off the people, exploits the people, oppresses the people, and rules over the people. It is no wonder that there is such a celebration, hallelujahs galore, when Babylon is cast down and replaced by the Messianic Community.
At some point we would like to touch on the positive foundations of the Messianic Community. Because exposing the negative and reacting are not enough to create a new world. However, the first work of the prophetic voice is to cast down. Only then can positive building take place. So, my hope is that you will consider these foundations to babylonish society. Ask yourself if this way is right. Can you support a political or religious system that operates this way and treats people this way? Can you begin to dream of a better way? That is all I seek to accomplish. To get you to consider a world where your life is no longer in the hands of religion, the state, or a ruling class. But where your life is in your hand, in God’s hand, and in the hand of your neighbor. Jesus said the law and prophets are summed up in these two commandments: to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. That means there are three people we must love. God, our neighbor, and our self. Notice what this equation leaves out. It leaves out the state, the corporation, and religious institutions. It brings all things down to a human level. It makes it about individuals not about inhuman beastly states, corporations, and ruling classes. May your mind and heart be stirred. Cheers.