From Gary North, Why Hard Core Young Activists Sell Out for Money in Middle Age.
The italics are mine.
We know that religious persecution usually does not work. It tends to increase the resistance of the hard core. The hard-core then go out and start recruiting. The bureaucracy of any government always is limited in terms of its commitment. Bureaucrats just want to collect their paychecks. They don’t want to go to a lot of extra work. So, when it comes to persecuting some movement, this usually takes place in the early stages of a government. Probably the best example is the Roman Empire, which under Nero began persecuting Christians in 64 A.D. This was during the first century of the Empire. The persecutions were not consistently applied. They would be intense for a time, and then a succeeding Emperor would simply ignore the church. Example: Marcus Aurelius, who was followed by Commodus. So, the church would build up during the times of persecution, and then it would begin to establish itself in the community during times of leniency. This process ended with Constantine. There was only one more brief period of persecution, under Julian, who was named by the church as the apostate, from 361 to 363. He was the last of the non-Christian emperors.
What works far better is money. Usually, there is no written or even stated quid pro quo. But the person who is put on salary is told to limit his activities in certain ways, which are favorable to the organization writing his paycheck every month. The signals are usually unofficial, but they are perceptible. The person is simply to stop promoting whatever position it was that he did promote, because the donors of the organization are not in favor of this position.
So, from the point of view of silencing ideologically committed people, paying them upper-middle-class salaries is a much better way than persecuting them.
Another major factor in this drifting process is that people realize that their efforts will not be rewarded in the near term. They see that they have committed themselves to an enormous amount of personal responsibility in defending their position, and there seem to be no institutional rewards that will ever come to them. The magnitude of reforming the prevailing social system or replacing it begins to oppress them. They had been enthusiastic in the early stages, thinking that by writing some articles or books, they would successfully pressure the conventional establishments of today’s culture. They finally figured out that this really is a multi-generational task, and the early promoters are unlikely ever to be rewarded financially or institutionally for laying the foundations of the replacement. People ask the famous question: “What’s in it for me?” The answer is clear: a lifetime of struggle, with only a minimal pay-off. Their enthusiasm wears off.
A prevailing establishment can usually hold out for at least a century. Sometimes, it holds out for a lot longer. So, in the early phases of the challenge, those doing the challenging should not have any illusions about the likelihood that their challenge will make a fundamental difference in their own lifetimes. It won’t. It is almost guaranteed to fail. These individuals will live in the shadows, except when they are exposed as crackpots by the establishment.
This is why we can say, paraphrasing Jesus, that few are called, and fewer are chosen.
The secret is this: stick to your knitting. Second, recruit younger people who see the value of what you are knitting, and who will then begin to adopt a lifetime of knitting. If they think they’re going to be rich and famous, don’t spend much time with them. If they think they will see the comprehensive fruits of their labor in their own lifetimes, keep them at an arms length. Changes like this can come in a short period of time, but only after some kind of comprehensive social crisis. It does not come in conventional time periods.
It’s going to be a while.
Rushdoony/North/Bahnsen/Chilton got the hard work done, but now the ideas need to be brought to the real world, and put to work.
That’s going to take some time.
For example, even if a thousand churches got serious about teaching, living, and governing their own lives and local communities according to the Law of God, right from this very day, and never gave up or died out, it’s going to take a generation before we have the bare-bones framework on how to resolve interpersonal conflicts in a manner that pleases God.
Note that the Muslims have been building and road-testing their legal system for 1,400 years. And the Jews for 2,500 years.1
On the other hand… a few words actually grounded on God and His word, is worth libraries of man-centred, power-adoring, justice-denying decision making.
(When I say “man-centred”, I’m including the traditions of men that Muslims and Jews — and most Christians, including Catholics! — back, but which Jesus explicitly rejected.)
Not THAT Long…
And finally: it just isn’t going to take that long, before the opportunity for a reborn Christendom arises. Even less than a century!
The enemy really is bankrupting himself as fast as he can.
The enemy really is ripping apart and destroying his future as fast as he can… while remaining in the comfort he has grown accustomed to.
The enemy really is driven by the emotion and the manias of today, and has no interest in logic, or in cause and effect, or in the law of consequences, or reality outside of their diseased skulls and echo chambers.
The senility before death has arrived for Our Betters.
It will take a good deal less than a generation before the welfare state dies. And not that much more before the lack of children — and the missing children’s children — begins to have a cascading effect across the West (and East Asia!)
I don’t think we will be ready for major leadership positions at that time: call it the early 2050s. But if we get to work now, we should certainly be ready — and competent! — for widespread leadership in the town and county level at that time.
(Where, with a bankrupt Federal and weak State governments, the real action will be anyways).
We should prove ourselves competent now, from dogcatcher today to town mayor in 15-20 years. If we are willing to earn our stripes, day by day and year by year, the future belongs to us.
1More than a thousand years longer if you count the time of the Patriarchs, the Judges and the Kings… but, excluding the Torah, we lost all of those rulings and decisions.