04 October 2011

“Make Us A King”

As much as I sympathize with anarchists, I can’t help but think that they ignore or otherwise misunderstand just how much human beings desire to be ruled by a political leader of some sort.  Quite simply, most people want to be told what to do.  Most people want someone to tell them right from wrong.  Most people want someone with absolute power to make decisions and render judgments for them.

Consider what’s found in I Samuel 8, beginning in verse 4:

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

Now, this exchange makes it appear that the nation of Israel desired a king because they were envious of their neighboring nations’ prestigious leaders.  And to a limited extent this was true.  The nation of Israel did not have any living man that they could point to as their leader.  There was Samuel, of course, but he was a spokesman for God.  And really, god was the king of Israel, and he was not a being who was readily visible to human beings.

But as you read in I Samuel, it becomes clear that envy was not the only reason, or even the primary reason Israel wanted a king:
But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD.

Ultimately, the children of Israel wanted someone to render judgment for them.  They were no longer content with submitting to God’s judgments, which were revealed through his judges.  They wanted a king who would sympathize with them and enforce his verdicts with force, if necessary.

Sadly, no amount of logic and reason could dissuade them from this:

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”
So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

Does this sound familiar to anyone?  The government is lecherous, robbing from those who have worked honestly in order to live in wealth.  The government takes the best and brightest, the prettiest and shiniest for itself.  The government’s grasping paw knows no limits, can never be satiated.  Is this not what anarchists have been preaching for centuries?

And is not the people’s reply oh so familiar?  “We want to be like other nations, we want someone to judge us, and we want someone to fight our wars.”  Leftists and conservatives alike justify the state’s existence as a necessity in light of all other nations having state, and so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Leftists support the state because the state can make judgments and enforce them; leftists love using the state to test out their social theories.  And conservatives support the state because its imperialism fuels their jingoistic pride.  Human nature hasn’t changed in three thousand years.  Why should it change now?

And notice, finally, the result:
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the LORD. So the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed their voice, and make them a king. 

Even with the results laid out clearly before them, the people still demanded a king.  They were told in advance how terrible their leader would be, yet they were too foolish to change their minds.  And not even God himself protected them from their folly.

And so, even though anarchism may be desirable, it will never come about because most people want a king.  And this foolishness is simply all too predictable.

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