MJR on Atheism+Anarchy [was: antivirus]

grarpamp grarpamp at gmail.com
Fri Jun 23 19:24:06 PDT 2017



Warning: this is about as political as I get

Generally, I do not get a lot of satisfaction out of being identified
with causes or logos. But - a couple of years ago, when Richard
Dawkins started his "out campaign" for atheists, I thought that
showing my support was not a bad idea. And, I got a few Emails from
people saying "wow! cool!" which is always encouraging. I even lost a
consulting gig because of the red 'a' but, well, the customer was
clearly an idiot anyhow.

Then I realized - "why not be expressive"? And more accurate.

It has taken mankind a tremendous amount of blood, sweat, and thinking
to begin to shake itself free of the mental imprisonment of
superstition. Uncounted deaths during the wars of religion in Europe
triggered The Enlightenment - partially as a direct reaction to what
happens when you fail to separate church and state. The "new atheism"
spearheaded by Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and Hitchens is - as I see it
- the end-game for religion; without the sword-arm of the state to
defend it in many countries around the world, religion rapidly wanes.

In 2001, when I was researching my homeland security book, one of the
sources I read was Bernard Lewis' magisterial history of the middle
east and Islam. At one point, kind of as an aside, Lewis wrote about
the relationship between political power and religion - namely that
empire appreciates religion, since religion can serve as a cause for
expansion and a justification for wars of aggression. Religion is the
best tool mankind has ever invented for dehumanizing the poor bastard
that you're about to kill. And religion needs empire, because without
a sword-arm of its own, it cannot expand and accrue power.(1) As I
read Lewis' observation, I realized that Marx was right: religion is
the ultimate tool for political control, and the political class has
ruthlessly exploited it throughout history. It was only a handful of
men in the 18th century (most of the credit going to Locke, Paine, and
Jefferson) who tried to create a nation state without the ticking
time-bomb of state-sponsored religion at its core. With the exception
of the United Kingdom (whose ruler, as Hitchens enjoys pointing out is
not only the monarch but the head of the military and the head of the
church) the countries that are the worst to live in are those where
the church and state are corruptly entertwined.

But all this got me thinking - if religion is a corrupt con-game that
seeks to aggrandize its shills in the here-and-now, what is politics?
If people are finally waking up to the idea that you do not need to be
born into a religion - that you can choose not to have one at all -
why are we so complacent about the idea that we are born under a
government? Even back when I was in high school, I suspected that
government is a con-game, a protection racket - a mafia operation
written on a scale that any capo would envy. Now, I realize that I was

I am incredibly fortunate that dumb luck had me born into membership
of the biggest and most powerful national street-gang on the block:
The United States of America. Merely by virtue of being delivered in a
hospital in New York City I am now a tax-paying member of the gang. Of
course I was too young to have answered sensibly if someone had asked
me if I wanted to be a US citizen (and looking around at the rest of
the world as an adult, I'd beg to be a US citizen) - the people I feel
sorry for are the poor unfortunates of countries like Zimbabwe, North
Korea, and The Sudan, whose political classes have no qualms about
using hunger as a weapon against their own people - people who are
born into what is little more than enslavement.

I'm not exactly an anarchist, but I am sure as hell not a nationalist.
Growing up reading history, I remember thinking "how it must have
sucked for those poor peasants in the feudal era." Again, born into
enslavement enforced by the sword-arm of the local thug, er, king,
blessed by the church. But is nationalism a whole lot of an
improvement? It's just tribalism writ large - writ large to the
advantage of and by the political class. If mankind survives another
thousand years, nationalism will have gone on the chopping block long
before - the problems of population, food supply (really: population),
global warming (really: population) and energy (really: population)
are global problems which require global solutions - it is utter
foolishness that progress in matters of species survival are left in
the hands of the political class - people who have proved that for
them power is more important than anyone else's survival, over and
over and over again.

I've travelled all over the world and met people of all colors,
shapes, sizes, languages, religions, and gender preferences and more
or less, they all want the same things: food, family, love, music, and
to not be interfered with a whole lot while they're doing it. I
remember a few years ago, sitting in Dubrovnik (a beautiful old city
that was badly bombed by the Serbs in the 90s) and drinking beers with
puzzled and thoughtful people who had been on both sides of the
conflict. Puzzled, because they'd gotten along just fine until someone
- members of the political class - fanned smouldering embers of
ancient grudges into violence that they could use as a means of making
themselves, personally, more "important" at the expense of the
destruction of the very lives they are claiming to be trying to
"help." With help like that, who needs enemies?

And "enemies" is really the issue, isn't it? In my life, I've made one
or two - but never a country-full. To make a country-full of enemies
takes a politician. And I'm fairly sure that the people on both sides
of these manufactured conflicts are pretty much the same - without the
goads of religion or nationalism to push them forward, they'd just as
soon sit home and enjoy another sunset. Everyone I meet around the
world is, generally, someone I am perfectly confident I could live
next to as a neighbor, with hardly any likelihood of conflict. I
certainly do not need the overhead of a massive government like the
United States', which spends more than half of the money spent
world-wide on "defense" so that it can "defend" itself by being
prepared to go on the offensive. I'd be happy to pay taxes to have a
local police force and judiciary but I'm a bit frustrated that, like
everyone else, I am a tiny trapped gear in the vast protection racket
that is "government."

In 1992 I was given paperwork to fill out so that I could apply for a
security clearance. I got as far as a question concerning whether I
had ever advocated the overthrow of the government by force - or
something like that. I recall, at the time, thinking "it wouldn't be
me using the force!" Frankly, right now I am utterly disgusted with
what the cess-pit of the american political class has bubbled to the
top and is offering us as choices for our next president. As Lewis
Black says, "you have a choice between two bowls of sh*t." So, what
would happen if I decided to fire the US Government? That's right. I
think they're doing a terrible job and I'd rather stop paying them my
taxes. I'd rather spend my tax dollars with my local state police and
local services. I do not, did not, and will not need the US Government
to prosecute a war on Iraq, Iran, or North Korea on my part. I'd like
to send them a pink slip and fire them. Who do you think would start
the violence, then? Sure. There would be gun-toting goons showing up
to demand their slice of the tribute, to force me to continue paying
for their stupid wars, their dumb-ass fence along the Mexican border,
and their foolish "faith-based initiatives."(2) Can you believe me
that if I had any choice in the matter, my tax money would be going
for schools and not smart bombs? I suspect the rest of you feel
likewise. Without the implicit coercion of government hanging over us,
very few of us would elect to support even a tiny fraction of the
ridiculous dumb-ass things that the government's bureaucrats and the
political class think up.

It is no accident that governments monopolize the weapons of war, mass
destruction, and mass violence. They tell us "Marcus, you don't need
nuclear weapons..." Well, guess what? If there weren't governments
constantly embroiling eachother in pointless attempts to accrue more
power for their controlling political classes, nobody'd need them at
all. In fact, the early 20th century was an effective testimony to the
inevitable consequences of governments growing larger: World War I and
World War II, followed by a cold-war that menaced all life on earth
and bankrupted economies in the name of a ridiculous interpretation of
political science. The larger governments are allowed to grow, the
bigger the wars they can and will fight in our names or in the name of
peace. Larger economies give governments the resources they "need" to
produce the ultimate high-tech tools of destruction. Reining in and
controlling nationalism and nationalistic fanaticism is a matter of
species survival to the same degree to which reining in religious
foolishness is crucial to our ability to think clearly about the
challenges that will face our species in the future. You cannot have a
sensible energy policy if you believe jesus christ is going to return
real soon and make everything OK. (4) Neither can you have a sensible
policy about global warming if you're worried about imaginary lines on
a map that represent the limits of your personal authority, mister
king, president, dictator, or prime minister.

Some of my atheist friends are fond of the "imagine no religion" (sung
to the tune of the John Lennon song) campaign. Perhaps it's time to
start thinking "what bullsh*t do we need to get rid of next?" It's not
a hard question to answer.

Imagine no government either.


(1) Generally, religions with their own armies schism violently really
quickly (e.g.: Islam or the Tibetan Buddhists). Give a pope a couple
of divisions and next thing you know he'll negotiate with a Hitler...

(2) If you really want to puke, follow the links from
www.whitehouse.gov to discover that the Bush Administration has
funnelled billions of dollars of taxpayer's money to what are largely
christian religious organizations. Do we expect those organizations to
be pursuing a non-sectarian agenda? Of course not! And neither does
the Bush Administration! That's how you get ridiculous absurdities
like $400 million spent promoting abstinence (instead of safe sex) as
a means of preventing AIDS. Your taxpayers' dollars at work, buying
votes by funnelling dollars to The Administration's core

(3) The anarcho-syndicalists believed that labor unions could
effectively replace governments. That sounds like it's only a good
idea if you're a union leader. But I like red and black. Eventually I
will replace this with an all black flag bearing a black "N" for
nihilism, I suppose.

(4) "Make everything OK" means killing all the jews and an orgy of
destruction, followed by more than 1/2 of the world's surviving
population being tossed into the god of love's eternal torture
chamber. If you are not terrified by the realization that The
President of The United States subscribes to this insane dogma, you
need your head examined.

> [1]: http://www.ranum.com/security/computer_security/editorials/dumb/

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