Politics Is The Opiate Of The Masses

Theism is not the only kind of mysticism. Collectivist and political ideologies are also forms of mysticism. The nature of politics involves blind faith in a "highest essence". The abstractions of these "highest essences" function as arbitrary authorities to appeal to. The most common of these arbitrary and rhetorical authorities are "society", "nation", "state", "humanity", "race", "class" and "gender". In political ideology, these concepts function precisely in the same way as a deity. As a consequence of faith in these abstractions, individual human beings and/or certain collections of human beings are given the status of a deity. These concepts also all have one thing in common: they obscure the individual and turn the individual into a sacrificial peon to collective abstractions. In all cases, belief in something that doesn't exist (at least in the way concieved) functions as a mechanism to provide a plastic sense of meaning or identity.

While theism assigns a non-existant entity with rights not possessed by human beings, statism assigns certain human beings with rights not possessed by everyone else. While religious ideologies conflict over who rules the universe and how they do it, political ideologies conflict over who rules over other human beings and how they do it. In electoral politics, certain human beings are deified and people conflict over which deifed human being should rule over everyone else. For many people, the election rallies and political holidays are just as much of a "spiritual experience" as any religious ceremony at a fundamentalist christian church. People literally have faith in politicians, bureaucrats, nations, and states and they use that which is attributed to them as a way to legitimize their personal biases and their actions. The health of political power relies in large part on the exploitation of the religious impulse in the broadest sense through the use of rituals, symbolism,  illusions, grandios promises, bread and circuses.

Many political assumptions are essentially forcibly inherented from parents and cultural norms, just like in theism. While religions tend to promise a utopia after death, political ideologies tend to promise a utopia during life. Both make use of fear and guilt and exploit the pessemism within people to elicit obedience. The morality of politics is based on arbitrary authority rather than reason. "The law" has the same functionality as a deity's alleged words or religious texts. The individual must submit in spite of their rational evaluation. Furthermore, politics provides a mechanism by which people can enforce their personal preferances and their incorrect conceptions of morality onto innocent bystanders. Politics is more dangerous than religion is by itself, since it is only through the mechanisms of politics that religion can be tyrannical on a large scale. Politics is the opiate of the masses.

Published Tue, Jun 3 2008 6:38 AM by Brainpolice


# Nitroadict said on 03 June, 2008 07:02 AM

Excellent & succinct.  

It also had an odd, added effect as I had just finished reading Black's "The Abolition of Work" (which, from what I understood, more or less says work is also an opiate of the masses)  before checking for a new post here :).

# Cork2 said on 03 June, 2008 05:19 PM

Advertising has benefits, such as promoting useful technology and art that maximizes the utility of an individual. However, the goods that does not create an immediate improvement of utility of an individual would be a disincentive for entrepreneurs to promote their product. Due to the inherent bias of human irrationality, ideas that do not seem to be proven by technology or practical application would likely to be diluted with errors and refuted. These ideas are seen as cults, reinforced by confirmation bias and community reinforcement. The cults such as statism and global warming are creations of the state schooling system. These would not be detrimental in an anarchist society, but when they are reinforced in a state, society would ultimate collapse.

Nationalism, a product of a cult, has grave consequences. Nationalism is only an artificial construct, which misallocates one's leisure time of freedom with a conservative cultural faith to one's "nation." Nationalism is an ideology, which diminishes one's rational thoughts and creating a collectivist, nonproductive habit of being loyal to his nation.

A product of ideology is arrogance. Arrogance is a highly inefficient paradigm of thinking, and it is similar to protectionism. Because white supremacists think their race is superior, they oppose free trade mainly because of arrogance. Their use logic of "why do our white people trade with these inferior foreigners, when our superior race would make products better than them?" Their lack of interest of even studying comparative advantage is caused by kneejerk rejections.

Culture is mainly a product of humans' irrationality. Irrational habits would always exist, and have consequences such as close-mindedness. Not all humans have the rational capability to accept anarchism without an empirical, applied application.

# MhRipley said on 31 July, 2008 10:49 PM

Hehe, right! But philosophically speaking, the church and the state are one and the same, only with different guises. Just consider all the similarities and correlations (i.e.: politicians vs. priests/popes, voting vs. rituals/praying, wars to supposedly ''make the world safe'' vs. Inquisitions on innocent, imagined 'enemies', etc. See a pattern here?)

Once anyone were to have thought this through (like more people should), it should become disturbingly clear that they are partners in crime. And one should not be able to support that other more malevolent church and keep a straight face anymore.               Surprisingly, it's always that one which people are the least willing and able to give up on. Can you guess which one I'm talking about?

# Predrag Rajsic said on 24 March, 2010 09:27 PM

I agree.

# Predrag Rajsic said on 24 March, 2010 09:28 PM

I agree.