Monday, 30 August 2021

How's that Christ-less "nation building" thing going for y'all?

Let's talk about Afghanistan, and the West's "nation building" program that's been carried out there for the last two decades there since the West established control over the territory. How's it going?

All the wisdom, technology, finances, material resources, etc., of the contemporary Western world. Enough military might to enforce their will, enough financial resources (a few trillion dollars invested) to do whatever they like, and 20 years to do it in. The task: to carry out the West's view of "nation building".

That view is essentially that, given those time, money, resources and technical expertise, a country can be turned into a peaceful modern democracy. Whatever issues of culture, whatever other issues exist - we have the power and the intelligence to build a working nation!

So, how's that turning out? We all know, as indeed many have known (and been saying) for years (think of Rory Stewart MP - I believe for at least a decade since he stopped being the governor of a province, he's been proclaiming that we have really not the slightest idea what we've been doing there, or how to go about it).

Is it a surprise? Not to anyone with a Bible. Not to anyone who reads what's written there.

The West has still-mostly functioning societies (for how much longer?) not because of its resources of expertise, but because of the grace of God working through a sufficiently Christian understanding of the cosmos - mediated through respect for the Bible as the word of God, to be the ultimate basis for life and society in general - and enough will to actually see that implemented; and implemented in a Biblical way (which means that the implementation depends on vast amounts of bottom-up spade work, seeing individual lives changed by Jesus Christ, not simply top-down force, in the style of, say, political Islam). Yes, mixed up with lots of bad things, other motives, and other things (everything's a work in progress, with plenty of room for version 2.0 to supersede 1.0, until Jesus returns). But there was, by the grace of God, enough of it, mixed with grace in its implementation, to see something quite remarkable: societies based on the rule of law, care for the weakest, universal human dignity, etc. The good done to the world has been immense.

We have been busy for some time throwing all of that away. And the current mythology to justify throwing it away is that Christianity has little to do with the historical success of Western societies. (And they have been successful - freedom, peace, human dignity respected across society - these are historically astonishing anomalies, not the norm). The belief promulgated by those desirous to rid their own societies of Christianity is that secular government, with its wise technocratic leaders, can just achieve these things with the right policies. But this is a myth. It's the same sort of myth promoted by the new Lord of the Manor, grandson of the original Lord whose sweat and toil built the place, and son of the second Lord who was taught and trained by him and managed to maintain it. It's the mythology of the know-nothing self-indulgent dilettante who has his own hair-brained scheme which will remove the foundations, whilst proclaiming to the world that this is simply a fresh new take on the original vision, with clever modifications just suited to a new time (c.f. David Cameron, proclaiming that the reason he was in favour of radical redefinition of marriage was because he was a conservative!). They don't want to believe that the Cross of Christ ultimately built the good things in the modern West (with some notable exceptions, even amongst non-believers, such as the historian Tom Holland). The implications of accepting that are too uncomfortable. So they have to proclaim that whilst jettisoning the Cross of Christ, they have preserved the bits that were essential to making the world still work.

Well, Afghanistan is the ultimate putting to the test of that set of beliefs. The modern secular (read: atheism with marketing) technocratic mindset with all the resources you could want, has now met reality. And reality, as it always does, has won handily.

If you want to build a real nation, you'd do better to just give free visas and invites to orthodox evangelical missionaries who are ready to suffer for the sake of serving Jesus and teaching his word. It's less politically correct. It's less pleasing to the egos those who think they are the masters of the global-acronym-organisation universe and just need a large enough stage to demonstrate their brilliance to us on. But 2000 years of history all proclaim that it builds the sort of nations in which people learn how to live together, beat their swords into ploughshares, and learn how to serve people instead of killing them. Christ has conquered, and carries out his conquest, by shedding his own blood. And until the world learns that ultimately you do it *that* way, rather than by shedding other people's blood, we're going to have a lot more hard lessons to learn, if we are listening at all.