I got an email from a reader a few days ago, asking about something we’ve all faced. Here’s a snip:
It gets a little lonely sometimes. At times I feel a little resentful, sometimes just plain angry that so few people know or care to know about economics and/or philosophy when they are so important.
I’m sympathetic, of course, having felt similarly more than once. But, as I often say, perspective is key. We’ve all complained about people who “just don’t get it,” but the real problem is that we just haven’t gotten it.
We have grossly underestimated the kind fight we’re in. We thought it was about economics and politics, but it’s much more than that. What we’re really fighting is idolatry. If that doesn’t make sense to you initially, I can’t Against the State: An ... Best Price: null Buy New $3.99 (as of 11:20 EST - Details) blame you, but allow me to explain.
All Idolatry Shares a Single Root
We’ve all heard slogans like this one:
Why shouldn’t we take money from a billionaire who doesn’t need it, to feed a starving child?
After that, it’s almost impossible to make any argument without appearing heartless. And there’s a good reason for that: The slogan conveys a “first position” that is deceptive and manipulative… idolatrous, really. Anatomy of the State Best Price: $3.60 Buy New $66.99 (as of 11:45 EST - Details)
This argument starts with an unspoken assumption that the state is beyond question and that any failures must be attributed to someone else. If there are starving kids, it could never be that the state was hurting them. Such a thought wouldn’t register.
Embedded in these questions (and in the minds that form them) is a complete certainty that the state always functions as the agent of good.
This is idolatry, the same as ancient people worshipping their city gods or medieval people holding their Holy Church above all question. In the same way, states are idols to modern people. The lines of thought are identical; Check Amazon for Pricing. the only changes involve the names of the idols – the entities that are given every benefit of the doubt at all times.
The state, our modern idol, steals half of what every working person makes. That means that people are stripped bare for trying to do the right thing. But there is no compassion for them.
And why is there no compassion for these people? Because it’s the state that is stripping them bare, and the state may never be accused; it may only be the agent of good!
It really comes down to this:
Whatever you esteem more highly than reality is your god.
In our time, the thing that is held above reality is the state. One may critique its parts, but the state as a whole is only questioned by crazy, dangerous people. In other words, by heretics.
What we are fighting is a different flavor of the dogma that kept medieval minds in chains. It may even be worse now.