The Tower of Babble


I don’t look good in hats. Especially not when they’re made of tinfoil. It’s quite possible that some of you may picture me in one as you read this essay. But I hail the Brexit vote as a huge and very welcome step away from a one-world government.

Episcopalians generally don’t worry much about such a thing. No priest or theologian in my church, so far as I’ve ever heard, has warned us against it. I think we’re generally supposed to regard the stories in Genesis as having edifying spiritual lessons to teach us, but parallels are seldom drawn between them and our 21st-century world. Please excuse me for bringing religion into the discussion, but I see a definite parallel in the European Union.

Instead of constructing a more prosperous and harmonious world for everybody, the faceless bureaucrats appear to want to rule over us all.

In the story in Genesis 11, the peoples of the world have become one unified mass. They’re proud of their unity, which they take as a sign that they can do anything they set their minds to. And they begin to build a monument to themselves and their greatness: “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves: otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” We are told that the Lord does not share their enthusiasm. “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”

God does a lot of really human stuff in the Old Testament; he even has to move around to keep track of us. If I were to adhere too closely to the story in Genesis, I’d need to believe not only that he has no idea what’s going on until he comes down to see it but alsothat he thinks people are able to succeed in doing whatever they attempt, which obviously they can’t. Nevertheless, the story seems to be true about certain people’s intentions. Consider those of the people who run the EU. Instead of constructing a more prosperous and harmonious world for everybody, as they claim, the faceless bureaucrats appear to want to rule over us all. Ruling the world is an ambition even older than the Bible. It shows no sign of dying out today.

Genesis reports that “the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel — because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world.” In whose interest is it, really, for the world to speak the same language? And in the deeper sense, what would that mean?

It might not necessarily mean that everybody would understand the same words but that everybody would have the same ideas — that we could all be gathered together by one governing body and made to conform to one overriding plan. Tyrants have always loved that concept, because it would make it possible for them to keep everyone under their control. For the rest of us, however, it’s a much more dubious prospect.

The teeming mass of humanity on this planet was never meant to be governed by a single human entity.

In an earlier story in Genesis, the serpent tempts our first parents with the promise that if they eat the fruit God has forbidden them, they will be like gods. That’s the ambition of everyone who has ever desired to rule the world. It could very credibly be claimed that it’s what the lords and masters of the European Union aspire to do.

In reality, the teeming mass of humanity on this planet was never meant to be governed by a single human entity. It may be too big a job for anyone but God. At any rate, it’s an endeavor no person or organization on this earth has ever been able to accomplish. Whether we believe in God, in Natural Law or in the Unseen Hand of the Market, centuries of experience show that we are far more justified in trusting any of those entities than in trusting any aspiring leader, or set of leaders.

We possess technology that, until this century, would have been unimaginable outside of a dystopian sci-fi movie. Never before has the possibility of a one-world government loomed so menacingly. If the trend toward greater government centralization continues, tyrants will have the capability of monitoring our communications, our most intimate movements, our facial expressions, and our very thoughts. They will be able to stretch that tower all the way to the sky — perhaps even into space. If we don’t stand up and dismantle the project now, the time may be approaching when it will be unstoppable.

But it’s a long way from being unstoppable yet. What the Brits voted to abandon, on the 24th of June, could just as well be called the Tower of Babble. Constructed of empty promises and held together by political doublespeak and outright bribery, the latest thrust at one-world government stands on shaky ground. Now, other nations have apparently been inspired to consider exit referenda of their own. Perhaps Americans will be moved to reconsider the possibility of decentralizing our own political authority.

Will that tower fall? If it does, the crash will be heard around the world. To the devotees of the superstate, it will be the sound of catastrophe. But to those of us who hold freedom dear, it will be the music of heaven.

Share This


Michael Morrison

As usual, Lori Heine has brilliantly written a brilliant essay, on a vital topic. May I add one thing?

We don't need one language to be controlled: Our lords and masters accomplish that by mandating each of us carry a government-issued card embossed with a government-issued number.

Without that number — not (yet) implanted in our head or our hand — a supposedly free human being is not "allowed" -- and just think of that term being applied to United Statesians! — to apply for a job, open a bank account, register to vote (except in California where ANYONE can vote), or get a driving license.

Common language? Not actually very likely today. But world government is daily more possible, even if not necessarily more probable. That 9-digit number certainly eases the way.

Scott Robinson

Dear Lori,

Good mention of the creation story in Genesis. I think that the actual original sin of mankind is people's delusion of being God and therefore all powerful. Mentioning the EU, I think it's ironic because wasn't World War II about stopping Hitler from placing all of Europe under his own control? That is why Switzerland didn't join the EU. Do you think that Hillary's podium and campaign signs saying "Stronger together" was her sales pitch to the UK to remain EUnified?

Best Wishes,


Scott, I really do find almost everything about Hillary Clinton's campaign disturbing. She seems to think that we have no memory of history. Frighteningly, many Americans don't.

I try to keep a sense of humor about her, but it isn't easy. I've taken to calling her "Grandma Cacklepants." My Facebook friends find that amusing. I hope it isn't the only thing we have to laugh about for the next 4 to 8 years.

Scott Robinson

Dear Visitor,

I find "Grandma Cacklepants" amusing too. It'll help me grin and bear it if she gets elected. The bipartisan presidential contest I think embodies the old lesson, "In the land of the the blind, the one eyed man is king." Unfortunately I think this does favor Grandma Cacklepants because Donald is an idiot who used lots of money and bankruptcy to allow him to gamble for good investments and avoid paying his bills when they would have put him irrevocably in the hole. I have seen "Trumphoon" to call Donald. Hillary has no redemption, she's just evil but talks the good, propaganda talk (Cackle). I'll just have to use the laughatation to get me to peace.


Lori Heine

Hi Scott,

Actually "Visitor" is me. I must have posted that comment very late at night, because somehow it didn't register my name.

Yes, it does help when we can laugh at the political circus.

I got a robo-call from The Donald a few days ago. All I heard was "I'm gonna make America so great" and I hung up. Another very appropriate nickname I've seen for him online is Annoying Orange.

Scott Robinson

Dear Lori,

One more thing to laugh about, I think that Cornholio should do an ad for the Trump-Pence ticket. I saw their new campaign logo today and it is the red and white stripes on the right with T on top of P as the blue stars on the left. Of course, it would be open for interpretation when Beavis said, "I need T-P for my bunghole" :).

That Which Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger,
Stronger Reflects the Amount P-O'd,

© Copyright 2020 Liberty Foundation. All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed in Liberty are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Liberty Foundation.

All letters to the editor are assumed to be for publication unless otherwise indicated.