Prima facie case for the left

During high school, at the same time as I was beginning to get into philosophy, apologetics and theology, I began to read and agree with the Reconstructionist movement.

Because of their influence on me, I became (I think it would be fair to say) one of the most staunch and predictable defenders of everything the American religious right stood for.

But a series of shifts in the past few years have led me to change my mind on my right-wing politics.

Firstly, I discovered that not only Reconstructionists believed Jesus is actually Lord in a political sense: first, I learned about NT Wright, and more recently, Oliver O’Donovan and John Howard Yoder, who in various and significant ways uphold this intuition, which to me is now obvious exegetically. I can’t read the New Testament (or the OT for that matter) and not see that the Good News is Good News of a New King and a New Divine Empire.

Secondly, I realized that the biblical arguments for the blend of von Mises, libertarianism and OT law is based on a fundamental hermeneutical fallacy: an argument from silence.

This left me with only empirical reasons for supporting right-wing politics and economics, which I simply did from habit for a while. For the past few months, not apart from the influence of Larissa, Keith, and Dan, along with reading Yoderian type theology, some exposure to liberation theology, and the shift of Doug Jones I mentioned previously, I have been slowly moving towards a more left-wing position.

For me, the basic clincher is this: given that the left and right can only really appeal to prudential/empirical arguments, which one puts priority on caring for the poor, a clear and continuous command of Scripture? I’m still open to the possibility that the policies of the left are actually counterproductive to that end, but so far I don’t see any reason to think they are (or at least that they do more harm to the poor than the right-wing policies do). The only place where I still have a significant problem with the left is not something particular to the left, but rather something held in common by almost all political systems: as a tentative pacifist, I see a problem with the use of violence in general.

But I think the left has a prima facie case for Christians, at least, when it comes to economic policy. (And I should clarify, I still do not agree with the left on theological matters, or the ethics of life-and-death or sex.)