John C. Wright:

Voting is not burning a pinch of incense to Caesar. We Christians are required by the word of the Word of God himself to render up to Caesar what is due Caesar. In a republic, voting, like jury duty, is an obligation no less binding than paying taxes.

Don’tsayanything Don’tsayanything Don’tsayanything…


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18 Responses to Twitch…Twitch…

  1. Crude says:

    Aww man I thought you were gonna be streaming Path of Exile or something. 😦

    That said, are we sure John’s not a mormon?

  2. vishmehr24 says:

    He was actually replying to me. I don’t understand how he reconciles his The Last Crusade with boosterism for Republicans.

    • I get it, but how can one possibly confuse mandatory commands by a valid authority with an optional act that has no penalty attached if you decide not to do it?

      His comment only makes sense if you Live in Australia where voting is MANDATORY.

      The give Caesar line is completely irrelevant.

      • verbosestoic says:

        I think he sees it as a duty of citizenship, and not merely as something that is legally obligated. Thus, you should pay your taxes and serve on a jury if you are to be a good citizen, not merely because there is a legal obligation.

        That being said, there’s an issue here as voting has consequences that arguably the others don’t. Voting for a party or candidate can be seen as an endorsement of them, and if you can’t morally endorse them for that position voting for them would be immoral, and if that applies to all candidates then voting could be seen as immoral. Also, if you know that you are not really capable of giving a properly informed vote for whatever reason, then you’d probably be morally obliged to not vote. So there are a number of cases where one might be morally obligated to skip voting for reasons that wouldn’t mean that someone couldn’t serve on a jury or pay taxes.

      • verbosestoic says:

        To address the specific point, if your vote would help promote what you see as an overly secular/anti-religious society, giving unto Caesar would, indeed, clash with religious obligations. The Romans, as it turns out, were pretty lenient when it came to religion, especially at that time, and so Jesus could reply to those who wanted to trap him into advocating for sedition that there was no religious reason to not pay taxes to a government that wasn’t really impeding their religious practices. The point that Wright is replying to might be a case where that isn’t true.

      • But paying taxes and reporting to jury duty wouldn’t be morally mandatory – at least under the “Give unto Caesar” principle – if the government didn’t make it a matter of law. You can argue it might be PRAISEWORTHY, but that is a different thing.

        The argument is that voting is not MANDATED by a valid authority and thus is a voluntary act of support for a morally objectionable government. You can disagree with this, but appealing to the give unto Caesar principle is entirely irrelevant.

      • verbosestoic says:

        Here’s my understanding of the “Give unto Caesar” case. It was set up as a trap. If Jesus said that they should pay their taxes, then he would be claiming that the Romans were the legitimate authority and so could demand taxes from the Jews, which would alienate the Jews who saw them as illegitimate conquerors and oppressors. However, if he said that they shouldn’t pay taxes, then he could be accused to the Romans for sedition, who would then arrest and likely execute him. So Jesus took a third way out, asking them where the money they received came from, and then saying that if they got the money from the Roman state then they were indeed morally obliged to fulfill the commitments made when they accepted it, and so return it in taxes, as long as doing so didn’t violate religious constraints (the “give unto God” part).

        Jesus couldn’t have been arguing that they should pay taxes to Rome because Rome made it legally mandatory, because that would have been accepting Rome as the legitimate authority, which would have been falling into the trap. Thus, “Give unto Caesar” does not argue that if it is legally mandated then you must follow it, but that if you participate in a system you are obliged to accept the conditions of that participation.

        To translate that to the specific comment, if you are in a secular society then you must accept the conditions of being in one, which include taxes, jury duty and, in Wright’s mind, voting, even if they are not legally mandated. You can argue either that voting isn’t morally required unless it is legally mandated by the standards of that secular society, or argue that voting might clash with religious obligations and still accept the “Give unto Caesar” argument, but whether or not you see the authority as legitimate doesn’t, in fact, matter to the “Give unto Caesar” argument.

      • I question this interpretation – but let’s assume it’s true. What if you aren’t fully educated on the issues? What if you’re too busy to be? What if you know you have a personal stake in it, e.g. you want to keep the teachers unions due to tenure?

        What if you don’t want to be culpable in the continuation of a corrupt and corrupted government?

        Even if this interpretation is correct – and I am skeptical of that – I don’t see how you can get from there to reasonably believing that voting – a thing over which we have remarkably little influence – is a civic duty anyway.

      • verbosestoic says:

        In my other comment, I pretty much listed the same reasons you list here, so I agree that those are indeed cases where Wright’s argument breaks down, and I don’t think that voting is a civic duty in the way that Wright thinks it is.

      • vishmehr24 says:

        I think an issue with voting also arises when one of the parties stand for something that is completely and fundamentally unacceptable to you
        For that party might win and you are then required to accept and honor the result of the election. In other words to accept the unacceptable. This logically the least one should do–provided one has certain unacceptable issues–is to abstain from elections through which one may be obliged to accept something unacceptable

      • Mike T says:

        I get it, but how can one possibly confuse mandatory commands by a valid authority with an optional act that has no penalty attached if you decide not to do it?

        The same way women often confuse “I was drunk” for “I didn’t give consent.”

  3. vishmehr24 says:

    Mr Wright has been writing on the failure of conservative politics in his The Last Crusade posts So obviously he sees the problem but he lapses into GOP boosterism whenever an election comes up perhaps by mere habit

  4. vishmehr24 says:

    “if you participate in a system you are obliged to accept the conditions of that participation.”
    That nails it and non-verbosely too.
    malcolmthe cynic,
    It is merely accidental that American State does not mandate voting. It is not inherent in the nature of a democracy e.g Australia mandates voting so the argument can not hinge on this.

    • Sure it does – if we lived in Australia, a valid authority would be mandating voting. Since the authority is valid, we give unto Caesar what is due Caesar.

      In America, the valid authority we live under is not mandating voting – so voting is not something that is “due Caesar”.

      Verboestoic offered an interpretation I genuinely don’t remember seeing before. I will take a look later and see if it matches the facts better than what I’d been so far lead to believe.

  5. vishmehr24 says:

    Also, “due Caesar” does not equal “whatever Caesar demands”. I do think there are moral problems with mandated voting.

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