For the past few months, I’ve taken great pleasure in watching Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson debate the merits of religion. In my opinion, Sam Harris makes a compelling case. Although it has always struck me that he nor Peterson address the state. After all the state is the apparatus that gives many religious fanatics carte blanche to act in a manner that flies in the face of ethics. I will grant that Sam Harris addresses the state when says that one must believe in the invisible man in the sky to be elected to office in the United States.
I would argue that one must not believe in a supreme being or God, but rather only pay rhetoric to this idea in order to appeal to those who do. I say this because politicians and voters worship a God that is far different from the type that Sam Harris or Jordan Peterson talk about. That God is the state.
G.W.F. Hegel, once famously wrote, “The state is as God walking on earth”. The full context of this quote is reproduced here from his work Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts:
The state in and by itself is the ethical whole, the actualization of freedom; and it is an absolute end of
reasonthat freedom should be actual. The state is mind on earth and consciously realizing itself there. In nature, on the other hand, mind actualizes itself only as its own other, as mind asleep. Only when it is present in consciousness, when it knows itself as a really existent object, is it the state. In considering freedom, the starting-point must be not individuality, the single self-consciousness, but only the essence of self-consciousness; for whether man knows it or not, this essence is externally realizedas a self-subsistent power in which single individuals are only moments. The march of God in the world, that is what the state is.
Some more chilling passages by Hegel:
The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth … We must therefore worship the State as the manifestation of the Divine on earth … The State is the march of God through the world … The State must be comprehended as an organism … To the complete State belongs, essentially, consciousness and thought. The State knows what it wills … The State … exists for its own sake … The State is the actually existing, realized moral life
Statists have always required philosophers, theologians, and academics to defend the state’s existence; Hegel is just one such example. As with religion, a powerful narrative must be developed to hypnotize its followers. Judeo-Christians have it’s heroes just as the state also has heroes. Judeo-Christians have characters such as Moses, David, Paul, and Jesus. The state has heroes such as Lincoln, Roosevelt, Mao, and Stalin.
Harris would shutter at the thought of creationism being taught to our children by religious institutions, yet statism is taught to them daily by government institutions. There is never a question about whether or not power should exist as a monopoly in the hands of one institution in these classrooms.
Many years ago Sam Harris wrote The Atheist Manifesto. It’s a wonderful essay on the failure of religion. I thought it would be interesting to take portions of his text and replace God and religion with the state. Interestingly, much of it still applies. Below I’ve taken a few portions and repurposed them below:
Somewhere in the
worlda man has abducted a little girl. Soon he will rape, torture and kill her. If an atrocity of this kind is not occurring at precisely this moment, it will happen in a few hours,or days at most. Such is the confidence we can draw from the statistical laws that govern the lives of 6 billion human beings. The same statistics also suggest that this girl s parents believe at this very moment that an all-powerful and all-loving [state] is watching over them and their family. Are they right to believe this? Is it good that they believe this?
In another section:
Consider the destruction that Hurricane Katrina leveled on New Orleans. More than a thousand people died, tens of thousands lost all their earthly possessions, and nearly a million were displaced. It is safe to say that almost every person living in New Orleans at the moment Katrina struck believed in an omnipotent, omniscient and compassionate [state]. But what was [the state] doing while a hurricane laid waste to their city? Surely [the state] heard the [lamenations] of those elderly men and women who fled the rising waters for the safety of their attics, only to be slowly drowned there. These were people of faith. These were good men and women who had [believed in the state] throughout their lives. Only the [anarchist] has the courage to admit the obvious: These poor people died talking to an imaginary friend.
There are many arguments showing how the market would have handled these issue much more efficiently than the state. However, my point here shows how the state and religion follow a parallel belief system. For the state, the difference is minimal. Religion was always used as a means of political power. The state’s goal is to dissolve individuality and create a collective illusion.
Next time you find yourself standing for the national anthem, consider whether your paying homage to the new God.