We have been steadfast in our assertion that we have rampant and ever-increasing economic inequality in America. It is the “secular” root of our strife and unrest—the cancerous disease that threatens to collapse our economic system and, ultimately, our society. It has resulted in the bifurcation of our nation into two classes: the elites and the commoners—a modern day kingdom of lords and serfs. The driver is legal plunder. The question becomes: How will it be resolved… reform, revolution or collapse?
Frederic Bastiat was a post-enlightenment, French political economist. He developed the economic concept of opportunity cost (cf., Masks & Social Distancing: The Real Economic Opportunity Cost), as well as introduced the parable of the broken window.
However, in this article, we want to focus on his view on the manipulation and abuse of law to legalize plunder.
William Strauss and Neil Howe, in their 1997 bestseller The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy, insightfully note:
“We perceive our civic challenge as some vast, insoluble Rubik’s Cube. Behind each problem lies another problem that must be solved first, and behind that lies yet another, and another, ad infinitum… There’s no fulcrum on which to rest a policy lever. People of all ages sense that something huge will have to sweep across America before the gloom can be lifted—but that’s an awareness we suppress. As a nation, we’re in deep denial.”
The recent surge in civil unrest that has swept over our country and impacted—directly or indirectly—nearly every segment of our population serves as a sign that people are waking up and acknowledging that deep-seated awareness we for so long have denied and suppressed. The system is broken, and it must be fixed. However, that requires identifying and treating the underlying disease, not futilely attempting to place disposable Band-Aids over the “Rubik’s Cube” of shape-shifting symptoms.
To do that, we must look back into history and discover how our system of wealth became so inequitable. For that, we can examine Bastiat, who had a lot to say about the subject…
Frederic Bastiat: Legal Plunder Is the Greatest Threat to Society
In 1850, Frederic Bastiat published a pamphlet entitled “The Law” in which he advanced a powerful argument against the concept of legal plunder. Bastiat argued, “When they can, [individuals] wish to live and prosper at the expense of others… This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man—in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain.”
It is striking to note that, despite the dominance of rationalism by this time (and its Enlightenment origins in Bastiat’s own country), he still recognized and embraced the biblical concept of total depravity. It is this sinful nature that leads to plunder—where individuals “live and satisfy [their] wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others.”
Normally, the rule of law constrains such action by making the penalty for such behavior worse than simply working hard to achieve such aims. However, when the law becomes a tool to place “the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others,” then the law “convert[s] plunder into a right”—and the concept of legal plunder is birthed.
Bastiat further argues that this manifestation—the “the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder”—is the single greatest threat to society and an unequaled form of evil.
This reinforces an argument from even further back in history—that of the Greek biographer Plutarch, who wisely noted that “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”
The Romans apparently learned nothing from their history—economic inequality would be one of the primary drivers (if not the reason) for the collapse of the Roman Empire.
Mike Duncan, in referring to his book The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic (a highly recommended read), stated, “I hope [readers] read it as an example of a time in history when people didn’t pay attention to a lot of warning signs. If you ignore it, you risk the whole thing collapsing into civil war and a military dictatorship. I would like to avoid this. If people say, “Maybe this is starting to look like the beginning of the end,” then maybe we can do some things to avoid the fate of the Roman Republic.”
One of the most critical warning signs Duncan was referring to was economic inequality facilitated by legalized plunder by the elites—a condition that is spiraling out of control in America. It was the harbinger of collapse then… should we expect anything different in our case?
In essence, Bastiat argued that when, “Under the pretense of organization, regulation, protection, or encouragement, the law takes property from one person and gives it to another… the law [is] diverted from its true purpose—that it may violate property instead of protecting it.”
The degree to which our system protects individual property rights has become significantly and materially degraded. And, there is a secondary (and less visible) consequence for that—economic inequality and civil unrest.
America Has Become a Land of Economic Inequality
The root cause of our problems is economic inequality. The elite class has utilized its power to manipulate the law to its own advantage—legalizing the plunder of the commoners.
The liberal elites plunder from the middle class to redistribute its wealth to the lower class. While, at the same time, the elite class as a whole plunders the entirety of the commoner class to redistribute wealth to themselves—all accomplished by manipulating our legal framework to legalize the theft.
It represents the greatest redistribution of wealth in history—and it is the fundamental source of our inequality, strife, and unrest.
It is the perfect heist: A steals a little from B to placate C (and guilts B into accepting it), while silently fleecing both B and C of far greater wealth to pad the pockets and coffers of A.
Whether that redistribution (theft) is conducted from B to C through social welfare or from both B and C to A via such mechanisms as the Fed (e.g., quantitative easing and manipulation of interest rates), big business (e.g., stagnant wages to feed corporate profits), and the government (e.g., taxation and regulation), this legalized plunder all feeds the growing beast that is economic and wealth inequality.
To learn more about the actions of the Fed, checkout our articles Fed Bails Out Rich & Fleeces Middle Class: A Bond Liquidity Crisis??? and Economic Inequality: Powell Shamelessly LIES about Fed’s Role. For more on the actions of the GOP, we encourage you to read our article GOP Abandons Middle Class—Goes ‘All In’ in Support of the Elite?
And that beast will ultimately collapse our society if the system—and, specifically, the laws that define and regulate it—are not materially reformed.
Like a rubber band, inequality can only expand so long before it contracts violently—or, worse, snaps.
Inequality Is the Inevitable Product of a Relativistic, Materialistic & Humanistic System
Make no mistake, inequality is a natural and inescapable product of process philosophy and the embracing of relativism, materialism, and humanism. This is what happens when man is deified and there are no absolutes. What is wrong with the elites plundering from the commoners—whether by force or by law? If it is “right” in their eyes, what place do others have to question them?
It is the proverbial paradox wrapped up in an enigma that the far Left has no means of escaping. They find themselves trapped in an ideological cage of their own making. Hence, the absurd level of hypocrisy that characterizes the Left. At least the elites own it—the Left tries to pretend it is different, while operating under the same worldview.
For example, I have the right to believe and practice whatever I wish based on my own unique perspective and values (aka relativistic humanism)… but not you???
And, that is precisely why I am not hopeful that we can avoid collapse. The exponential rate at which the inequality is expanding at—coupled by the lack of ability and willingness of the elites to reform the system via peaceful means—is rapidly increasing the likelihood that our proverbial rubber band is going to snap.
First, there is no motivation for the elites to reform the system. It benefits them as is, and their depravity renders it justifiable in their own eyes—there is no absolute (biblical) standard to argue otherwise—against their relativity. As we noted in our article Exposing the Wealth Gap: Economic Inequality Is Driving Civil Unrest, the only motivation would be a collapse that does not benefit them; however, history overwhelming demonstrates that the elite rarely ever recognize this before it is too late.
Second, the far Left can only replace one broken system with an equally broken one—if not worse. Any revolution will only replace the current system of legalized corruption with another version that is justified on the basis of a different relative perspective or standard—an equally depraved one.
Why do I prep? Why do I encourage others to do the same? Because I understand the temporal root of our problem (economic inequality) and the spiritual nexus of our predicament (the abandonment of God and biblical Christianity)—and where those two forces ultimately lead us.
We are facing an existential crisis in America: economic stratification fostered by legalized plunder by the elites from the commoners. While the elites keep us busy with bogus and futile efforts to ease the symptoms, the underlying disease is economic inequality—a disease the elites desperately hope the commoners will never identify or seek to cure.
To summarize the situation, I would advance five core points:
- Legalized plunder is wrong because it violates the absolute standard of God—regardless of anyone’s relative views on the subject (it is theft and any sanction by government is both illegitimate and a worthless defense).
- Legalized plunder creates economic inequality—and fosters other forms of inequality.
- Economic inequality always begets more inequality—it is a runaway positive feedback loop… one that feeds the depraved self-interests of the elite that benefit from it.
- Economic inequality ultimately leads to either revolution (reform by force) or total societal collapse.
- Revolution or collapse is hard to avoid—the elite will resist reforming the system because it typically appears to be working and stable until it’s too late and it becomes unstable (as is always the case with runaway positive feedback loops).
So, what does the future hold for us?
We may stave off collapse via some level of reform. However, absent a renewed understanding and acceptance of God’s absolute standard and based on our depraved nature, that reform (medicine) will, in all likelihood, turn out worse than the broken system (disease) we currently face.
Or, we may just spiral into a fragmented civil war or total collapse—producing some degree of anarchistic vacuum, to ultimately be filled by some form of authoritarianism.
While I remain hopeful that we will find a way—in the short run—to put our country back on a healthy path, I also understand the far broader course that humanity is on and where it is ultimately going to take world—not because God has foreordained it in some fatalistic or deterministic way but, rather, because, in His omniscience, He has revealed to us through His Word where we will willingly and intentionally take our depraved selves.
At around the same time that Bastiat wrote his work above, Ludwig Feuerbach declared (1848/1849):
“The purpose of my writing… is to convert people from theology to anthropology, from love of god(s) to love of their fellow human beings, from being candidates for life after death to being students of this life; to free them from religious and political servitude to heavenly or earthly monarchies and aristocracies; to make them into self-confident citizens of the Earth.”
It was Feuerbach’s humanist materialism that one Karl Marx would combine with Friedrich Hegel’s dialectic to birth Marxism (dialectical materialism) and process philosophy.
The Apostle Paul spoke of this spirit, warning the Philippians, “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19).
In response, he reminded all believers: “But our citizenship is in heaven” (3:20).
As believers, we have a passport to live and travel in this world… but our citizenship is in heaven based on a right relationship with Christ. We must keep our focus on the heavenly and eternal perspective.
While I am temporarily “stationed” in this foreign land, I will continue to prep and encourage you to do the same. However, it is not out of fear or worry about what the future holds—whether peace, revolution, or collapse. My ultimate future—as with all believers—has been secured base on my eternal citizenship.
Rather, I prep because, while this great drama plays out that is the modern world, I can read the writing on the wall and understand that, in the short term, things can (and will) get worse as humanity presses on toward its inevitable destination, fueled by worldviews and philosophies concocted out of necessity due to the rejection of God and absolute truth.
That destination will not be a perfected utopian world—whether communistic (Marxism) or otherwise. As such, it makes sense to be prepared as the humanity barrels down the track with increasing speed and fervor towards disaster.
Take every opportunity that you are presented with to continue prepping. And, while you’re at it, why not consider your spiritual preparation?
Where are you with regards to God? Are you in a right relationship with Christ—redeemed, forgiven, and justified by His grace through faith? If not, you might want to work on that as well… while you still have time!
Thankfully, my eternal passport has been “stamped” with the blood of Jesus by grace through faith—my entrance to and citizenship in heaven secured by the full faith, credit, and unconditional guarantee of God. Is yours?
As always, hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and—in all things—pray.
[Note: I have included a stronger than usual spiritual component in this article—one I feel I would be remiss for excluding. If we focus only on the temporal perspective (which can only produce temporary solutions), to the exclusion of the overarching spiritual component, then we are only able to see a fraction of the true, big picture—we lose the ability to identify and analyze a far more extensive and important level of context. If matters of faith are not your cup of tea, that’s fine—there is plenty of great “secular” information for you to soak up and reflect on when it comes to prepping as well. Consider the addition of spiritual elements as providing a small degree of beneficial exposure to alternative views. Remember, it is Marxism that ultimately seeks to sever humanity’s connection to God, to be replaced by society at large (aka socialism), lorded over by an authoritarian state and predicated on a counterfeit system of humanism, relativism, materialism, and process philosophy. That is a path we would all be wise to consider very carefully and with as much context as possible—before the train arrives at its destination.]