The Temptation of Babel
As Leon Kass notes in his great work The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis:
"In Babel, the universal city, with its own uniform language, beliefs, truths, customs and laws, the dream of the city holds full sway in the hearts and minds of its inhabitants. Protected by its walls, warmed and comforted by its habitats, and ruled by its teachings, the children of Adam [...] neither know nor seek to know anything beyond. Contentment reigns. Or so it does seem."The ancient Hebrew story sums up the tendency of all peoples in all times to build empires based on supposed universal good. Constructing Babel remains a utopian dream.
The book of Genesis relates the ancient peoples of the earth, united by one language and one world view, decided to build a tower bridging the gap between heaven and earth. Being of one mind and heart and inspired by a vision of the universality of all humankind, they believed they could construct a self-contained reality that would be unchallenged and that would last forever; a reality in which everyone would live in peace and harmony.
As Leon Kass notes in his great work The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis:
"In Babel, the universal city, with its own uniform language, beliefs, truths, customs and laws, the dream of the city holds full sway in the hearts and minds of its inhabitants. Protected by its walls, warmed and comforted by its habitats, and ruled by its teachings, the children of Adam [...] neither know nor seek to know anything beyond. Contentment reigns. Or so it does seem."
The ancient Hebrew story sums up the tendency of all peoples in all times to build empires based on supposed universal good. Constructing Babel remains a utopian dream.
But undeterred by the wreckage of dreams, there are always people who try again and again to create world unity via empire. Empire building is a constant of human history. There will always be an Alexander, a Napoleon, or a Genghis Khan among us. There will always be rulers who want to bend the whole world to their will.
Those driven by ambition and power are also always driven by what they regard as a self-evident world view, an ideology that must be imposed on the entire world. Such visionary absolutists brook no opposition. Whether it be Hellenization or Islamization; whether it be the international brotherhood of communism or the progressive Left agenda, the goal is to force the world to sing in perfect harmony. But the outcome, achieved by force of law and/or militarism, is the monotonous one note of ideological correctness pounded over and over again.
Those who note in our time the Left's inclination toward and admiration of universal government are merely observing the recycling of the ancient historical phenomenon of empire building noted in the Genesis tale of Babel. Empire building is going on here in America and around the globe. Nation states, particularly democratic and republican nation states, are disintegrating as ascendant global entities such as the United Nations seek to render competing individual states and nations impotent by such means as Law of the Sea and control of the internet.
Here in the United States, the impulse toward empire has begun, as all world empires do, with consolidation of power.
The current ongoing executive coup continues to succeed by the elimination or vitiation of any and all institutions which stand in the way. The judiciary is subdued, the military is being emasculated. The individual states of our union are being subsumed under federal government via the suffocating rules and regulations of Obamacare, a pestilent plenitude of czars, and harassing nonelected entities such as the EPA and a host of other bureaucracies which are forming a suffocating exoskeleton around the states, businesses, and constitutionally established entities such as Congress. For all the fuss and fury of individual congressmen and senators, Congress is not a problem for the executive branch, as it is now almost completely bypassed by the White House, which has persuaded most Americans congress is an anachronism retarding the will of the people as revealed in Barack Obama, our Lord and Savior.
In sum, there has been a relentless consolidation of executive power at the expense of all American institutions. The nation's momentum and strength is increasingly at the beck and call of the executive branch.
The reason for the enervation of American free standing institutions and the Church -- the Church being another story unto itself -- is that this administration is more allied to the dreams of international organizations than the American dream. It is wedded to the idea of global governance.
Subsuming American institutions, states and the military under the executive branch more readily achieves the goals of international hegemony. Unifying the U.S. under an imperial presidency enables transference and use of U.S. power more easily. Executive hegemony makes matters so much more streamlined than constitutionally mandated balances of power. That's why this government is dedicated to "diplomatic" solutions rather than American self interests. It is why this administration has shown a marked penchant for "democratic" uprisings resulting in one-man rule. It is much easier to collude with a cabal of likeminded rulers than with presidents of fading colonial powers and debating bodies of messy, nascent or established republics and democracies filled with controversy and lack of "progress."
What will be the outcome of the executive power grab?
We can expect what is happening in U.S. to be applied internationally; namely, the destruction of independent nations and the substitution of global agencies as power brokers for the entire world.
As John Fonte, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. points out in his book Sovereignty or Submission, the rise of the global government movement threatens American sovereignty as well as the independence of other nation states. Favor is being shown to global government advocates instead of to America's founding fathers and core founding documents. Suddenly "supranational" entities and authorities have more weight in the conversations about human rights and freedoms than our own American authorities and laws. Fonte writes that under "global governance, political and economic power shifts from elected officials, who are accountable to national electorates, to unelected bureaucrats, judges, lawyers, and NGOs, who are accountable to no one." Certainly we have seen such a shift in a Europe now governed by the European Union, whose officials are not elected and who are accountable to no one.
In sum, there is a drive to substitute a new international order for the present hegemony of the United States and the West. The present structures of American institutions, already being retrofitted to executive uses, will by the end of President Obama's tenure in office be ready for retrofitting to international standards and use. The internet, which is to be controlled by the UN, is to become the means for establishing a universal language and ideology.
A new empire eerily similar to those of old is being built right under our noses. As with all utopian dreams of empire, the new global kingdom will not turn out to be a Peaceable Kingdom, for it will prohibit looking to a transcendent reality for instruction and wisdom. It excises God.
As Kass states:
"The city that does not look beyond itself to the truly transcendent realm cannot be a home for what is best in the human soul [...] The much prized fact of unity precludes the possibility of discovering that one might be in error. The one uncontested way does not even admit of the distinction between truth and error."
The utopian who is convinced his way is uncontested, absolutely correct and pure is always a conqueror for whom individual lives, independent institutions and freedom mean little or nothing, as the severe purity of his ideology warrants the destruction of all obstacles in his path. Especially suspect is the current utopian ideal of "equality," for the equality sought always requires violence. As Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn noted in his essay "Operation Parricide: Sade, Robespierre & the French Revolution:"
"Hadn't Goethe already told us that legislators and revolutionaries who announce freedom and Equality simultaneously are frauds and charlatans? When there is no such thing as a 'natural equality,' it can only be brought about by raw violence. In order to bring equality to a hedge, one needs garden shears [...] The drive for identity and equality, brought to a boiling point by hate and envy, prove the truth of Benjamin Constant's words: 'In some epochs one must travel the entire gamut of madness on order to come to reason again.' Everything even remotely different was damned and persecuted. Conformity celebrated orgies."
And there we have it. The entire world is to conform to one ideology and "peace" will be achieved.
But for the utopian seeking "equality," the world as his oyster rouses the potent aphrodisiacs of power, wealth and fame, dark forces which easily and smoothly translate to force and destruction. As all rulers of empires have found, devouring the world as oyster will in the end render them impotent.
The attempt to achieve a global order may have consequences not anticipated by utopian visionaries. The result of an attempt to establish a one world rule may well mean the smashing of national entities and auger a return to medieval enclaves and the realms of petty war lords, not the establishment of a Peaceable Kingdom in which the lions lie down with the lambs.
But there is still a choice other than the building of Babel. There is the choice to return to acknowledgement of a Kingdom not of this world. There is a choice for human beings to acknowledge their own limitations and the limitations of government. As the story of the Tower of Babel illustrates and as theologian Karl Barth put it, "We are not God's colleagues."
We are not God's equals but his creatures, and in constructing earthly governments, must rely on God's help. [Man's] "conceivable world is bounded by an inconceivable one."
Barth continues, "The Christian hope, which is the most revolutionary thing we are capable of thinking and beside which all other revolutions are mere blank cartridges, is a disciplined hope. It points man to his limitations: there you may hold out. The Kingdom of God is coming, so you must not begin the flight to the Kingdom of God" [as you construct it.]
The American people, with humility and acknowledgement of the limitations of earthly powers and governance, once created a model of earthly government that formed a mighty nation under God and which transformed the ideas of right government around the globe. She has provided inspiration and hope for oppressed millions and has until now retained the ability to correct herself by humbly returning to the principles which undergirded her laws and institutions.
With the aid and help of the Church, which stands above and apart from and which informs the conscience of earthly governments, she may once again humbly dedicate herself to the principles which have made her the greatest nation this world has ever seen.
Fay Voshell may be reached at email@example.com