The State as a Pseudo-God

Why government is largely a substitute for god beliefs.

Daniel Goldman
Apr 27, 2019 · 6 min read
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Photo by Marco Oriolesi on Unsplash

First, let me start by saying that I don’t think that government qualifies as being an actual god, in part because it’s still simply a product of human activities. It can’t disobey the laws of nature. It’s also not a being with true agency. I also don’t know if I would count statism as a religion. There needs to be a specific type of belief involved, and I’m not sure statism has it. But truly answering that question would require further research.

That being said, “The State” does act as a pseudo-god, fulfilling a number of key roles that a god would often play in a society. These roles include a source of morality and a creator of order. But unlike with actual gods, we know that these pseudo-gods are real. And we have seen what worshiping them can do.

The State Creates Order from Chaos

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Genesis 2:27 ESV

In creationism, very often a god doesn’t just create, but it brings order. The idea that we need government, or a nation-state system, in order for there to be business, an economy, money, etc is all very similar to the idea that we could not exist without a god.

Consider the following comment by Stephen Yearwood.

You confuse the “nation-state model” with government. That is the model of society that succeeded feudalism. The existence of business — the existence of an economy — the existence of money — depends on the existence of that system.

Or Andrew Roman’s defense of government.

And what was life like before there was government empowered by elections? Yes, you could smoke a harmless plant without arrest, but what were the other benefits? What was the average life expectancy?

And of course there’s Obama’s “you didn’t build that.”

A Day in the Life Without Government is a nearly comical view of the importance of government in our lives. In the mind of the author, without government, people would be too stupid to drive safely, leaving their young children in their laps, driving without seat belts, etc. While there might be a few that would act so dangerously, people are slightly more intelligent than the author seems to realize.

Moreover, apparently without the Department of Weights and Measures, gas stations would cheat people out of gas, even though plenty of people would be checking their gas mileage and would quickly point out that it’s much lower after visiting specific gas stations.

The idea that businesses could regularly cheat us, in any significant way, is absurd. We see the power of boycotts. We see how easy it is to criticize a business that acts unethically. But without government, supposedly the whole system would collapse.

And of course according to the author there would be no paved roads without government either, even though roads are largely constructed by private contractors and paid for by taxpayer money. Besides, we have too many roads, and without subsidization of the infrastructure system, we’d be living more sustainably and economically.

It’s fairly clear just how important certain people view the government to be, in creating order. Such people truly believe that human society just wouldn’t exist without the omnipresent nature of government.

Just like many gods, especially the Judeo-Christian conceptualization, many people just seem to think that government is and has always been there for us. It’s true that in modern society, governments exist. They are a byproduct of human interaction in a post hunter-gatherer world. But government has only existed for about 10,000 years. And hunter-gatherer societies are still pretty much free of any real government.

Morality

For many, the government also acts as a source of morality. Indeed, there are many that believe that our very rights come from government. Voting is often stated to be a right, and politicians like Bernie Sanders want to make things like health care, universal basic income, and access to college “rights.”

According to Wikipedia, in 1920, “women are guaranteed the right to vote in all US States by the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” This statement is just one of many that express the belief that government does grant us rights.

Some go further than suggesting that government grants us certain rights. There are those who believe that there are no human rights without government.

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But again, this statement makes no sense, because there are plenty of groups of people who have no government of which to speak. To claim that these people have no rights is rather disturbing.

God Did It

Related to the above discussion is the idea that “God did it.” It’s a common answer when theists cannot explain why something occurred. Or when something good happens, they’ll say that it was because of god’s intervention.

The Myth of Australian Gun Control Success

In the case of Australian gun violence, something very similar has happened. According to many, after a massacre in 1996, Australia implemented strict gun control and because of this gun control, Australia was protected from dangerous gun violence. But as I point out in my analysis of firearm mortality rates in Australia, there was a significant drop before 1996, and the drop slowed. Moreover, after comparing the situation to New Zealand, which had vastly different gun control policies, we still see an almost identical shift in firearm mortality rates.

Not God’s Fault

This statement is sort of the other side of the coin to the “god did it” view. If something bad happened well then either it’s beyond our understanding or it’s because humans have disobeyed god.

Natural disasters that have occurred because we’ve lost faith in god, etc, etc. Evangelicals literally claim that natural disasters occur because of people being gay.

Similarly, if something bad happens, it’s because of evil capitalism, the free market, not enough regulation, and so on. The 2008 financial collapse? Not enough government. Climate change? Not enough government. Essentially, everything bad that happens is because we don’t rely enough on government, even when there are clear indications that government was a major contributing factor.

Final Thoughts

I’m a natural technoecologist. What that statement means is that I think the less government we have the better. It’s the same as thinking that the biosphere would be better off without humans messing with it, and that we should do as little to it as possible.

Somalia actually improved after the temporary elimination of government. Most of our interactions are not based on government. And even democracy can be seen as a form of tyranny. That’s why I prefer hyper-democracy.

Instead of government, I want to see voluntary solutions, and so I’m working towards those voluntary solutions. There are other systems of governance and ways to promote social welfare programs that people like and need. My “Agora Coin” project is one such solution. Acting more sustainably by constructing more compact living situations that are highly efficient, like “mall towns”, is another way in which we can move towards a better future.

Sure, there are a lot of people arguing over what kind of government we should have, and I have to listen to Republicans and Democrats argue over which form of government is best and what it should do for us. But it’s a lot like an atheist living in a world full of theists, and I just want to be left alone.

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Daniel Goldman

Written by

I’m a polymath and a rōnin scholar. That is to say that I enjoy studying many different topics. Find more at http://danielgoldman.us

Politicoid

Promoting a scientific understanding of politics and economics, sustainability, and freedom.

Daniel Goldman

Written by

I’m a polymath and a rōnin scholar. That is to say that I enjoy studying many different topics. Find more at http://danielgoldman.us

Politicoid

Promoting a scientific understanding of politics and economics, sustainability, and freedom.

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