One of the biggest falsehoods of our day is that freedom is based on faith.
In politics and culture more broadly, we are constantly given a choice: Traditional, faith-based freedom (think: Sarah Palin); or modern, supposedly sophisticated and scientific government control. It’s either Obama or the church of your choosing. It’s either faith — or force.
But, as Ayn Rand has written, faith and force ‘are corollaries: every period of history dominated by mysticism, was a period of statism, of dictatorship, of tyranny.’
Faith and force have one very important thing in common. They each encourage you to reject reason and thought in favor of — something or Someone else. In today’s politics, you’re given a choice between Obama and his secular god of government; or a rejection of Obama in favor of religious and supernaturalist dogmas.
Either way, your thinking, reasoning, independent and objective mind is screwed.
If it’s true that faith and force are related, it’s likewise the case that fear and force are related.
The desire for force arises, in most cases, from some kind of fear. The person—right-wing or left-wing—who rushes to say, ‘There ought to be a law’ is often confessing his or her own fear. ‘It can’t be so. It must not be so. Therefore, there must be a law to make things the way I want.’
Don’t misunderstand; I’m not advocating anarchy here. Laws to punish or restrain the initiation of force and fraud are absolutely essential to a civilized society.
But that’s not what most laws do. Most laws, in fact, actually initiate force themselves. They initiate force against peaceful citizens to redistribute their wealth, not merely to pay for a police force or army and court system, but for the mere sake of that redistribution. They pass laws to prevent individuals from purchasing medical care, medical insurance or prescription drugs in a free marketplace, all in the name of what’s best for them. They’re forced to participate in Social Security and Medicare plans instead of choosing such benefits in a marketplace as they presently purchase groceries and smart phones. Increasingly, laws are proposing changes to individual’s diets by outlawing such things as diet coke or trans fats.
No matter where you look, the strong arm of government either is there, or looms somewhere. It’s all because some people are afraid.
There’s an old saying that a puritanical mentality is one who feels terror at the prospect that somewhere, somehow somebody is having fun or enjoying life. Similarly, the modern Big Government mentality arises from a terror that somewhere, somehow, somebody is using his or her own mind—and in the process, might make a mistake. They have to be stopped. This is the essence of the ‘nanny state’ gradually enveloping our entire society: Pure, naked, unadulterated fear and terror.
In my book ‘Grow Up America!’ I wrote the following about the authoritarian personality: ‘The authoritarian personality seeks an unnecessary and unrealistic degree of control over circumstances and people (especially the latter). As far as he is concerned, his mind—and his mind alone—represents the standard of reality. He is less concerned with objective reality than he is with imposing the subjective reality of his wishes and desires upon the rest of the world.’
It’s the fear underlying the authoritarian mentality that generates our big, paternalistic government—and ultimately, in the extreme case, a dictatorship. The authoritarian mindset does not recognize or respect objectivity. To an objective and reason-respecting mindset, the case for freedom logically flows. ‘Leave people alone to abide by their own judgment, and live with the consequences. Impose legal sanctions only when they physically harm or defraud others.’
We’re sometimes told that ‘faith in human nature’ is required to uphold freedom. However, it’s not faith at all. The rational case for objectivity, reason, science and enterprise is self-evident. The societies that flourish and grow are the ones with all of these things; and these things cannot exist or grow without freedom.
The authoritarian mentality has no regard or respect for objectivity, nor the self-responsibility and freedom objectivity implicitly requires. The authoritarian psychology is one of fear. It’s a profound fear which manifests as a rage, followed by a desire to control, to soothe the rage. It differs, in one person or one society to another, only in degree. One form is today’s growing entitlement-redistributionist state, in what had started out as a relatively free society. Another form is outright dictatorship, in which fear and control rule everything.
A religious dictatorship or authoritarian state would be no different. Perhaps such a state would back away from controls and restrictions on diet coke and medical care. But those restrictions would be replaced with limits on anti-religious thoughts and practices, which would be deemed their own form of ‘hate speech.’
Note how on the religious right there is a growing demand for ‘religious rights’ and ‘religious freedom.’ What exactly are religious rights as apart from individual rights? To many in that movement, it’s the ‘right’ not to have their beliefs stepped upon by those who disagree. These people are afraid, as well.
Perhaps fear is what gives rise to their religious beliefs. Life is a challenging and at times frightening place. ‘If God is watching me, then all is well. And if others are compelled to believe in God as well, I won’t have to question whether or not He really exists.’ If you ask me, this is the unarticulated but actual motivation underlying the desire to impose “religious freedom” on us all. Now that’s pretty frightening.
To have their beliefs questioned or even stepped on in a free society frightens some religious people deeply, which is why they call for laws imposing their will on everyone. Examples: Laws against abortion; laws against same-sex marital relationships; laws favoring state-sanctioned prayer in public school; use of tax money for ‘faith-based’ programs. Tyranny in the name of God is no better than tyranny in the cause of ‘your own good.’ (I’m not including in this forcibly requiring religious people to pay for other people’s abortions via Obamacare; that, of course, is profoundly unjust, as is socialized medicine itself.)
The only alternative to faith or force are objectivity and freedom. In order to gain (or regain) their freedom, human beings must develop or renew a respect for objectivity. There’s no other way out of this mess—not individually, and not socially.
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