Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Freeedom From Authoritarianism

I posted this comment on a thread at Naked Capitalism; I reproduce it here because I am short of free time and because it is connected to my earlier posts on racism and "freedom of religion."

[S]peaking generally; although some individuals might change their opinions most will not because not all devout people are motivated by the desire to follow Christ’s (or some other deity’s) commands to help other people.
The purpose of organized religion seems to be to teach obedience, not goodness. Because deities do not interact with our physical world, all clergy must persuade others that they are and/or were in communication with their god(s). Without authority it is difficult to persuade others that you are right and they are wrong, that they have the right to command and you must obey. Therefore one of the essential features of organized religion is teaching the followers to give up their own autonomy and give the power over their minds and lives to their leaders, who know and obey God’s laws. Religions define the godly as those who obey God’s laws and the wicked as those who disobey God.
Therefore the godly are motivated to please and obey God, not necessarily do good, which in this case means helping the poor and hungry. Of course many religions (and Jesus specifically) command their followers to help the poor but those who do not want to help others for personal and/or political reasons can easily convince themselves that they are disobeying God or his words by helping others, thereby excusing themselves from their own laws. 
Rick Warren, a multi-millionaire megachurch pastor, said:
Well certainly the Bible says we are to care about the poor. There’s over 2,000 verses in the Bible about the poor. And God says that those who care about the poor, God will care about them and God will bless them. But there’s a fundamental question on the meaning of “fairness.” Does fairness mean everybody makes the same amount of money? Or does fairness mean everybody gets the opportunity to make the same amount of money? I do not believe in wealth redistribution, I believe in wealth creation.
The only way to get people out of poverty is J-O-B-S. Create jobs. To create wealth, not to subsidize wealth. When you subsidize people, you create the dependency. You rob them of dignity. The primary purpose of government is to keep the peace, protect the citizens, provide opportunity. And when we start getting into all kinds of other things, I think we invite greater control. And I’m fundamentally about freedom. You know the first freedom in America is actually the freedom of religion. It’s not the second, third, fourth or fifth.
The Bible does not support freedom of religion; there is one way and one way only to God, and that is belief and obedience to the laws it lays down. The pope also does not support freedom of religion for the same reason. And most people who depend on religion for a purpose and guidebook to follow in life and on a religious organization for emotional, financial, and social support will not change their minds and reject the teachings of their tribe when confronted by irrefutable evidence.
Refuting their religious/political dogma is considered a personal threat, an attack on everything they believe in, most especially to the concept of obedience to authority. It’s not necessarily that the Republicans would love to see small children working at looms again; Republicans want everyone to obey their authority and and their authority tells them to remove any regulation on authority. The reality of exploitation, disease and hunger are easily dismissed because obedience, not goodness, is the goal.
And if children are exploited, well, humans are sinners, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it except insist on obedience to authority even more stridently.
Those who are forced to obey will try to force others to obey. Many will derive a great deal of comfort in having a defined place, purpose and group and react violently towards anyone who wants to take that away from them. They would rather live a lie than live with uncertainty, fear and doubt. But lies must be all-encompassing to work; the doubt that always lives deep under the surface of a lie must be kept out at all costs--costs paid by others, of course.

Conservatives will not admit that they scapegoat African-Americans, blaming them for the problems created or perpetuated by their leaders. They will say they are good people; they obey God, unlike certain other people who just happen to have inferior genes. Conservatism is inherently racist because conservative leaders need an enemy to deflect blame for their actions and a hierarchy of power that preserves their personal privilege. Authoritarian religious organizations are inherently anti-women for the same reason. Authoritarianism is the process by which the powerful exploit the powerless, whether in a family, church, society, or government. To destroy racism, sexism, and capitalistic exploitation, you have to destroy  authoritarianism.


atat said...

"The purpose of organized religion seems to be to teach obedience, not goodness."

I think this how most people parent as well.

Kathy said...

You've summed it up pretty well. I'd like to add that religion is superstition, no different than belief in fairies and ghosts and magical objects like rings or crosses or statues. Using religion as a tool to control people requires a fear and contempt of Science and just about all research, and in the end its all-around anti-education and knowledge. And that's really, really, dangerous.

Kathy said...

Obedience is pretty much the opposite of "goodness".

fish said...

A bit OT, but I had to pull this comment because I loved it so much:

If work were so great, the rich would have stolen it all a long time ago.

Kathy said...

fish- the Rich really believe they work hard and earn all their massive wealth. Long, looong hours slaving in their plush offices on Wall Street, or in Bank HQ skyscrapers, and -of course- in the House & Senate! Hard work, but it ain't digging ditches in 105ยบ heat.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Steve Forbes Libel, KWillow!

He worked hard to inherit those billions, and is now doing Jesus' work promoting a flat tax.

Keifus said...

I recall reading anthropologist Marvin Harris's thoughts on what he called non-killing religions (universalizing Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, and no doubt others I've forgotten). He argued that although they tended to arise as an anti-authoritarian movement (claiming the spiritual or moral realm, since that was what they were left with), the converts invariably turned out, ironically, to be the best subjects of all within a couple generations. Since they claimed to offer spiritual rewards, often beyond death, then leaders could defer demonstrating or offering any material ones.

They'll get their pie in the sky when they die, as the song goes.

Pastor Warren makes a fine case in point.

fish said...

Yeah, there was a reason they killed Jesus, it wasn't his support for the JOBS bill...

Anonymous said...

This blog is like field notes from an archeological expedition that turns up an artifact called "authoritarianism" over and over again and explains it as urgently as possible to other moderately interested experts in the field. I don't mean to be rude, exactly, it's just really funny sometimes.

Anyway, this all should be turned into a book called The Authoritarian Personality by Adono et al.

fish said...

I don't mean to be rude, exactly

Well, yeah, you kinda do.

Anonymous said...

Well sure, I do, but it comes with shame. They're good field notes, I should have said, and I'm still at least moderately interested.

Susan of Texas said...

Your writing, anon, is very revealing.

This blog is like field notes from an archeological expedition that turns up an artifact called "authoritarianism" over and over again and explains it as urgently as possible to other moderately interested experts in the field.

You are educated but not intellectual; intellectuals would be driven to address the actual argument instead of trying to come up with a devastating clever quip that would demolish their ideological enemy. It is typical of libertarians, that is upper-class authoritarian followers, to avoid intellectual arguments in favor of thinly-veiled insults.

You attempt to insinuate that I am
intellectually limited and boring because libertarians are terrified of being outed as inferior before their authoritarian leaders, who are considered innately superior due to their wealth and high social position. Libertarians are desperate to cling to their tenuous position next to real wealth and distinguish themselves as separate from and above the lower class followers.

But they are not leaders. They are followers who must adhere to society's rules; for instance, they will pretend to be polite because authoritarian followers must appear to obey in public but they are actually rude.

I don't mean to be rude, exactly, it's just really funny sometimes.

Other followers will ignore the actual rudeness as long as the proprieties are observed; anti-intellectuals will not. Anti-intellectuals form their own moral and code and define themselves by their actions; they do not have the luxury of borrowing merit from the group they belong to. A Catholic authoritarian follower can simply say that he is a good person because he believes in God and follows the pope's rules in public. The anti-authoritarian must actually do good, for if he does not he can't just lie to himself and say that he is good because he appears to be good or belongs to a "good" group.

Quite a few libertarians have purported to be amused by my criticisms of libertarianism; they are terrified of being laughed at by those they see as their betters and they think there is nothing more devastating that pretending to laugh at someone else. Anti-authoritarians do not borrow self-esteem from their group and are able to dismiss such laughter, knowing it is based on fear and self-loathing.

Anyway, this all should be turned into a book called The Authoritarian Personality by Adono et al.

I don't see why, since my writing do not correlate with those authors' findings. Which you should already know, but apparently do not.

Anonymous said...

No, sorry, don't mind me, I'm really just a curmudgeon and a troll.

Susan of Texas said...

Aargh, I kept writing anti-intellectual instead of anti-authoritarian.

Anon, don't you want to tell me more about my facile understanding, or explain how I doggedly discover material everyone else already knows about?

Anonymous said...

No, no, not really. You work a beat, like every blogger. It's fine.

Dragoness Eclectic said...

Wandered over here from Ana Mardoll's blog.

In my opinion, Authoritarianism can only be destroyed from within one's own mind. One must find that state of enlightenment where you realize that you don't really have to do what anyone else says just because they said so. Yes, in the Real World you have to weigh actions and consequences, and then decide--but you are never obligated to obey "because I said so".

I hope that actually made sense.