"Government" is a religion. (Larken Rose)Submitted by dabooda on Mon, 02/21/2011 - 03:40
This post is an excerpt from Larken Rose's new book, The Most Dangerous Superstition. Reprinted with permission of the author.
The Religion of "Government" (TMDS pp. 28-32.)
"Government" is neither a scientific concept nor a rational sociological construct; nor is it a logical, practical method of human organization and cooperation. The belief in "government" is not based on reason; it is based on faith. In truth, the belief in "government" is a religion, made up of a set of dogmatic teachings, irrational doctrines which fly in the face of both evidence and logic, and which are methodically memorized and repeated by the faithful. Like other religions, the gospel of "government" describes a superhuman, supernatural entity, above mere mortals, which issues commandments to the peasantry, for whom unquestioning obedience is a moral imperative. Disobedience to the commandments ("breaking the law") is viewed as a sin, and the faithful delight in the punishment of the infidels and sinners ("criminals"), while at the same time taking great pride in their own loyalty and humble subservience to their god (as "law-abiding taxpayers") And while the mortals may humbly beg their lord for favors, and for permission to do certain things, it is considered blasphemous and outrageous for one of the lowly peasants to imagine himself to be fit to decide which of the "government" god's "laws" he should follow and which it is okay for him to ignore. Their mantra is, "You can work to try to change the law, but as long as it's the law, we all have to follow it!"
The main factor distinguishing the belief in "government" from other religions today is that people actually believe in the god called "government." The other gods people claim to believe in, and the churches they attend, are now, by comparison, little more than empty rituals and half-heartedly parroted superstitions. When it comes to their everyday lives, the god that people actually pray to, to save them from misfortune, to smite their enemies, and to shower them with blessings, is "government." It is "government" whose commandments the people most often respect and obey. Whenever a conflict arises between "government" and the teachings of the lesser gods -- such as "pay your fair share" (taxation) versus "Thou shalt not steal," or "duty to country" (military service) versus "Thou shalt not murder" -- the commands of "government supersede all the teachings of the other religions. Politicians, the high priests of the church of "government" -- the mouthpieces and representatives of "government," who deliver the sacred "law" from on high -- even openly declare that it is permissible for the people to practice whatever religion they wish, as long as they do not run afoul of the supreme religion by disobeying "the law" -- meaning the dictates of the god called "government."
Perhaps most telling is that if you suggest to the average person that maybe God does not exist, he will likely respond with less emotion and hostility than if you bring up the idea of life without "government." This indicates which religion people are more deeply emotionally attached to, and which religion they actually believe in more firmly. In fact, they believe so deeply in "government" that they do not even recognize it as being a belief at all. The reason so many people respond to the idea of a stateless society ("anarchy") with insults, apocalyptic predictions and emotional tantrums, rather than with calm reasoning, is because their belief in "government" is not the result of careful, rational consideration of evidence and logic. It is, in every way, a religious faith, believed only because of prolonged indoctrination. And there is almost nothing which state-worshipers find more existentially terrifying than contemplating the possibility that "government" -- their savior and protector, teacher and master -- does not actually exist, and never did.
It might be nice to have some morally superior, all-powerful deity to protect the innocent and to prevent injustice. And that is what statists hope "government" will be: a wise, unbiased, all-knowing and all-powerful "final decider" that will override and supersede the flawed, shortsighted and selfish whims of man, unerringly dispensing justice and fairness. However, there is no such thing, and can be no such thing, and there are many reasons why it is utterly foolish to look to "government" as the solution to human imperfection. For example, what almost every statist wants is for "government" to enforce objective rules of civilized behavior. More specifically, each individual wants his own perception of justice and morality to be enforced by "authority," while failing to realize that the moment there is an "authority," it is no longer up to that individual to decide what counts as moral or just -- the "authority" will claim the right to do that for him. And so, over and over again, believers in "authority" have tried to create an all-powerful force for good by anointing some people as rulers, only to quickly learn that once the master is on the throne, he does not care what his slaves were hoping he would do with the power they gave him.
To expect otherwise, even without all of the historical examples, is absurd. To expect the master to serve the slave -- to expect power to be used solely for the benefit of the one being controlled, not the one in control -- is ridiculous. What makes it even more insane is that statists claim that appointing rulers is the only way to overcome the imperfections and untrustworthiness of man. Statists look out at a world full of strangers who have questionable motives and dubious morality, and they are afraid of what some of those people might do. That, in and of itself, is a perfectly reasonable concern. But then, as protection against what some of those people might do, the statists advocate giving some of those same people of questionable virtue a huge amount of power, and societal permission to rule over everyone else, in the vain hope that, by some miracle, those people will happen to decide to use their new-found power only for good. In other words, the statist looks at his fellow man and thinks, "I do not trust you to be my neighbor, but I do trust you to be my master."
Bizarrely, almost every statist admits that politicians are more dishonest, corrupt, conniving and selfish than most people, but still insists that civilization can exist only if those particularly untrustworthy people are given both the power and the right to forcibly control everyone else. Believers in "government" truly believe that the only thing that can keep them safe from the flaws of human nature is taking some of those flawed humans -- some of the most flawed, in fact -- and appointing them as gods, with the right to dominate all of mankind, in the absurd hope that, if given such tremendous power, such people will use it only for good. And the fact that that has never happened in the history of the world does not stop statists from insisting that it "needs" to happen to ensure peaceful civilization.
The belief in "government" does not make everyone agree; it only creates an opportunity to drastically escalate personal disagreements into large-scale wars and mass oppression. Nor does having an "authority" settling a dispute do anything to guarantee that the "right" side wins. Yet statists talk as if "government" will be fair, reasonable, and rational in situations where individuals would not be. Again, this demonstrates that believers in "government" imagine "authority" to have super-human virtues that should be trusted above the virtues of mere mortals. History shows otherwise. A twisted sense of morality in one person, or a few, can result in the murder of one person, or even dozens, but that same twisted sense of morality in just a few people, when they get hold of the machine called "government," can result in the murder of millions. The statist wants his idea of the "good rules" forced on everyone by a central "authority," but has no way to make that happen and no reason to expect that it will happen. In their search for an all-powerful "good guy" to save the day, statists always end up creating all-powerful bad guys. Over and over again, they build giant, unstoppable "government" monsters in the hope that they will defend the innocent, only to find that the monsters become a far greater threat to the innocent than the threats they were created to protect against.