Posted by: rogermitchell | December 17, 2020

The great deception

All my work, since I returned to academic research in 2005, has centred around the task of uncovering and resisting the deceit that peace and human flourishing comes through the possession of sovereignty. That is to say that the rich and powerful state establishment, and the institutions that they occupy or devise, are always and only the ones to be trusted to lead a particular people group forward. The very concept of the nation state comes from this deception. Our Western representative democracy is currently overlaid on this deception. Which is why those who manage to displace or replace the existing establishment only make a superficial difference and tend to become the rich and powerful themselves.

Kenarchy, a practice of life developed from the grassroots politics of Jesus and the divinely human emotions of love, care and solidarity has developed as an antidote to this deception. This is the subject of my seminal book Church, Gospel and Empire: How the Politics of Sovereignty Impregnated the West (Wipf & Stock 2011) and the related, more readable The Fall of the Church (Wipf & Stock 2013) and with Julie Tomlin and friends Discovering Kenarchy (Wipf & Stock 2014). Hence my opposition to Brexit, of course, which has been the most recent British manifestation of this deception. It is the reason that I have no confidence whatsoever in the current government that have come to power precisely on the basis of a hightened commitment to this long outmoded politics. They are now floundering in the shallows of chaos and destruction consequent on it and are about to take us further into its depths.

Fortunately, this deception has run its course, and while it is on track to ruin the central government of these islands, it won’t withstand the healthy, grass roots, more local movements of love, care and solidarity that are emerging everywhere. Thankfully, as I suggested in my last post, these movements are in fact urged on by the local response to austerity policies consequent on the 2008 economic shaking, and now by the response to the needs brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. It is my hope and conviction that the destructive effects of Brexit will provide similar opportunity and the government’s foolhardy attempt to supposedly restore our sovereignty will prove redemptive in the long run. But in the meantime, those newly joining the ranks of lived experience of poverty, and those whose urban and rural livelihoods are under threat are facing great privations as a result of the sovereignty deceit and those who prolong it. So there can be no apathy from those of us who understand this! Instead there needs to be renewed resolve to engage locally among strangers, friends and neighbours in our towns, cities, villages and suburbs to fulfill the angels’ famous words to the shepherds that first Christmas: “Peace on earth, goodwill among all people.”



  1. Roger, thanks for this. My travels and work in Southern and East Africa, over the last 30 years brought me to a similar conclusion. To see countries that were forged by Empire, attempting to jump our thousand years of history and oppression to come forward with a style of democracy that mirrors ours should be abhorrent. The Southern African concept of Ubuntu, mirrors much of what Jim Punton wrote in Community of Shalom. We should be aiming for communities that are interdependent, supportive and recognize local cultures. The mega state is anathema to Shalom and Ubuntu.

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