Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Religion and politics : collectivist blood brothers

This is an abridged version of my three-part article "Religion and politics : collectivist blood brothers" on Goosing the Antithesis.

Religious belief systems and political belief systems are both collectivist in nature. And no, I'm not just talking about conservatives - left and right-wing alike are equally collectivist. They both believe that the individual interest must be opposed by the collective will of "the people", simply in different ways. The liberal pretension of "rebellion against power" is nothing more then marketing positioning designed to attract certain segments of the population (like atheists who don't know better).

All politicians have the same values - lust for unearned power, unbridled greed, getting votes, getting acclaim - and they pass the same evil laws, equally pander to the powerful, the rich, the popular, and spout the same rhetoric in order to achieve their corrupt values. I think most people are aware of that fact, but still vote for politicians and support government because they believe, absurdly, that the existence of government is morally right.

This being said, the point I want to raise is how similar religion and politics are as collectivist systems - based on a transcendent, authoritarian entity as director of action (God for one, government for the other).

1. Monotheistic religions and political groups both exist at the lowest level of morality, the authoritarian stage (order-based). Government enforces morality by punishment (fines, jail, capital punishment) and by giving its agents (police) the privileges it needs to root out criminals (a term it can expand at its leisure). The laws are not principles of living or an attempt to rationally discuss social problems, but rather orders to be obeyed. Rational discussion of social problems is, in fact, counter-productive to government, because it is easier to control a population that kow-tows to political force to solve their problems instead of seeking peaceful and individualist solutions.

2. Monotheistic religions and political groups both see morality as a top-down (outside-in) process, instead of a bottom-up (inside-out) process. To the religious believer, epistemology and morality are not discovered by the individual and then applied to the spiritual context, but rather imposed to the individual by a transcendent entity. The same thing applies to government, which is transcendent to the individual. We know this because the "common good" that government seeks has no relation to individual benefit, and therefore is transcendent to any single individual, and because government is not supposed to have any of the foibles of individual humans. Both of these fallacies derive from the collectivist justification of government. Government imposes morality through, as I said before, laws and regulations.

3. If we look at the facts of reality, we see that, while irrationality is widespread (in no small part due to religion and politics), people by and large behave towards each other peacefully and are always ready to help each other. Religion and politics, on the other hand, are predicated on the premise that man is fundamentally corrupt/depraved and must be controlled by force. The premise of government force is that people's values are corrupted by "selfishness", which is really a code-word for "individualism" (they certainly don't mind collectives acting selfishly). Because of this "selfishness", man must be controlled by force for the "common good".

4. Man's corrupt nature can be redeemed by the transcendent authority. Only the widespread imposition of government and its made-up laws (which only benefit government) can save society from the imaginary evils of individualism.

5. This creates a vicious circle of failure and belief reinforcement. As the belief system inevitably fails - because it is based on evil and lies that run counter to human nature, the nature of societies, and the nature of reality - all failures are interpreted as a need for stronger belief and stronger expression of that belief in society (i.e. jam it even more in everyone's throats). This, in turn, accentuates the problems.

6. Both suffer from Special Pleading. Because the authority is assumed to be transcendent, it is not bound to the same moral rules as we are. Any action, even war and genocide, committed by this authority is justified by higher ideals (or unknown ideals, in the case of a hidden god). We strongly condemn murder by private citizens, and yet murder by government or because of government (capital punishment, police shootings, medication withholding by the FDA, gun control, etc), organized murder (war), or slavery for organized murder (draft) are seen as "business as usual" and as something that can be rationally defended.

7. They are both the opiates of the masses, and the parasites of the masses. Both religion and government are parasites on the intelligence, creativity and productivity of individuals - and they themselves produce nothing of substance unless such production can lead to more popularity or support for the belief system.

8. They both seek to stratify society between the ruling class (those who have authority) and the masses (those who don't).

There is one last resemblance : the necessity of government is a fiction, just like the necessity of God is a fiction. Both are extremely harmful to the individualist thirst for progress that has brought mankind up from its natural state and into our modern values and our modern world, and still oppress billions of unfortunate today. To these problems, the only fundamental answer is : individualism.

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