I Believe

by Don Boudreaux on August 17, 2012

in Myths and Fallacies, Politics

For evidence – from one of its modern high divines – that politics is less about rationality and more about romancing the state, its clergy, and the collective that that clergy pretends to minister to selflessly, consider this quotation (here in a passage from Michael Gerson’s column) from presidential candidate Barack Obama:

Speaking in Canton, Ohio, a week before the 2008 election, Obama said, “Some of you may be cynical and fed up with politics. A lot of you may be disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what has been asked of Americans throughout our history. I ask you to believe.”

Believe indeed.

Believe in what?  Believe in the miraculous power of power?  Believe that a handful of telegenic and charismatic individuals will sacrifice their personal welfare to work as servants for millions of strangers simply because those strangers are citizens of the same political entity as are the telegenic and charismatic individuals who furiously fight each other for the privilege of sacrificing their personal welfare to work as servants for millions of strangers?  Believe that a handful of telegenic and charismatic individuals – who do not know you personally – can spend your money and regulate your behavior better than you can spend your own money and regulate your own behavior?  Or believe that if a majority of your fellow citizens vote to give power to a handful of telegenic and charismatic individuals, then it’s moral and right and proper and economically sensible for that handful of telegenic and charismatic individuals to take money and autonomy from some politically impotent people in order to enrich you and other people less politically impotent than are those whose money is taken and whose freedom of action is constrained?

Religion of no sort has ever appealed to me.  This fact is one important practical reason why I strongly advocate freedom of religion.  I wish that that freedom extended to being free of having to support the cult of the state and to participate in the rituals that the state’s priests and faithful laity impose on us all.

I believe, in short, that collectivism of any sort is a religion without rational foundation or beneficial consequences.

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