The State Is A Religious InstitutionBy Michael Suede
May. 13, 2013
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Religion: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.
Faith: firm belief in something for which there is no proof.
On the website Debate.org, the question of whether government is necessary or not was put up for debate. One of the responses that was given in favor government being a necessity says:
Without an enforcing government to have justice and keep the peace, I do believe that the human race would turn on itself and descend into chaos. Our personalities and even our families lend themselves towards governance. Without it, we would have no organization, no services, and no police. Education would be spotty, we would be thrown back into a stone-age like existence.As a promoter of anarcho-capitalism, I encounter these arguments a lot. They are purely religious arguments. There is no proof behind any of the claims, only a lot of assumptions that are based on blind faith. Belief in the state really is nothing more than a religion; and I believe it is one of the most destructive religions around.
There is no state that a person can point to. A person cannot point to a building or a street and say, “Here is the state!” The state doesn’t even exist except within the confines of our own minds. The great monuments states erect in their own honor are a means of providing a physical structure for beliefs to cling to, much like the great religious monuments of ancient times. The entire apparatus of the state is born out of fear, rather than out of necessity; something which all religions have in common.
The state has a vast array of ceremonies to solemnify and justify its existence. Judges’ chambers and garb come right out of the protestant church. Flags are treated with the same reverence as a religious icon. The pomp and circumstance of a presidential inauguration is only surpassed by a Papal coronation. The singing of hymns mirrors the singing of anthems, and on and on it goes.
The state is predicated on the initiation of force. If the collection of people who call themselves the state could not tax or inflate, those people could not exist as we know them today. If the use of force to gain compliance was impossible, the state would collapse within days. It is only through threats of violence that the collection of people who call themselves the state are able to exist at all. What a disgraceful religion. Certainly it is miles apart from peaceful tenants of Buddhism or the teachings of Christ.
It’s easy to prove that the initiation of force results in physical pain. It’s easy to prove that voluntary cooperation in any endeavor will result in better outcomes than forced conscription. It’s easy to prove that threats of force result in psychological harm. These are real testable outcomes. It doesn’t take faith to know that hitting someone first results in a net harm being done, but believing the opposite certainly does.
Religions are like training wheels for the evolution of consciousness. As consciousness matures, technology and philosophy will progress to the point where truth triumphs over false beliefs. As such, I don’t expect nation states to be around indefinitely into the future. Technology will eventually force the public to deal with the reality of what the state actually is. A currency that cannot be taxed or inflated, or perhaps a technology that makes the initiation of force impossible, would throw the religion of the state into the dustbin of history. I have faith that one day such technologies will be created. In fact, some may already exist.
As an example, consider the Star Trek teleporter. If such a technology were to be created, and everyone had access to one, it would be impossible to imprison anyone. And if it was fast enough, it would be impossible to hit someone as well. They could simply teleport away before the bullet or the blow landed on them. Without the ability to imprison or kill, nation states would crumble overnight.
The author of the Debate.org comment believes that without the state, “the human race would turn on itself and descend into chaos.” So I have to ask, doesn’t a belief in the state represent turning on your fellow man? When the state threatens a peaceful business owner for his profits, doesn’t that constitute stealing? When the state engages in war, doesn’t that constitute a decent into chaos? When the state imprisons someone for growing their own drugs, doesn’t that constitute breaking the peace, rather than keeping the peace? Where is the justice in that?
When the state has to resort to threats of force to keep children in its schools through truancy laws, isn’t that indicative of a problem with the schools, rather than the kids? If a school was actually good, wouldn’t kids want to be there? If the state actually provided good schooling, why are 47% of Detroit citizens illiterate? Talk about spotty education…
When the state has to resort to threats in order to provide water and roads, doesn’t that tell us something about the quality of the services being rendered? Why is bottled water the number one selling drink in America? Is it because state run water services are of such a low quality that people would rather pay twice to get good drinking water? If the roads are so good, why are people willing to pay toll road fees to avoid traffic and poor quality roads? One of the first and most beneficial highways in America was a private venture. Ask anyone if they would rather drive on the private roads in Disney World or the public roads in Chicago, and I’ll wager not a single person chooses Chicago.
The state is a mental construct born of fear, forged in chaos, and tempered in the fire of violence. This destructive religion will one day topple under the weight of its own fictitious beliefs, to be replaced by truth and reason. A hundred years ago, the primary mode of transportation was horseback. We are toddlers in the cosmic universe, still threatening each other for the control of each other’s toys. This will come to an end, and that’s a belief worth having faith in.
Listen to Economist David Friedman explain what a rational secular society might look like:
Michael Suede runs LibertarianNews.org