Wars of religion by other means
August 2, 2014 § 21 Comments
In politics we have no choice but to try to figure out what is good and initiate force to make other people conform to it. Some political philosophies pretend to avoid the question, but they are simply deluded. Every political philosophy is necessarily authoritarian. Every political philosophy necessarily discriminates in favor of its particular conception of the good and restricts freedom based on the discriminations it asserts. Political theories like liberalism and its close cousins, which make pretenses of metaphysical neutrality, do not actually achieve metaphysical neutrality: they simply lack self-awareness and are therefore sociopathic. Political theories which pretend to “leave people alone” do not actually leave people alone: they force their presupposed background assumptions on everyone independent of who does and does not consent.
So it is no use objecting that there is no peer-reviewed scientifically demonstrable objective concept of the good with which everyone must agree by intellectual necessity. It is useless to object that the public manifest facts about the world and ourselves underdetermine theories of the good, because every politics necessarily and prejudicially forces its understanding of the good in particular circumstances on everyone, even when partisans of a particular theory dance around and try to pretend otherwise.
Understanding this might bring advantage to some, it might lead others to despair, and it might lead still others to find priorities in their lives other than politics. It is perhaps what led the Prophet Soul Asylum to sing:
And now I know there are no secret tricks
No correct politics
Just liars and lunatics
But whatever its personal implications, what matters is whether or not it is true. Politics is necessarily about exercising authority and enforcement to make everyone conform to a particular understanding of the good, backed by an initiation of force to which those who are governed did not consent.
Any political theory which denies that it is doing just that is lying lunacy. And that is why when you look around yourself in the modern world, it looks like we are living in an asylum.