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  • William H. Douglas

Religion vs the State

religion vs government

A few weeks back we began a series of articles based on the writings of Dr. Carl Jung as found in his book The Undiscovered Self. His insights gave us a look into the way that the very nature of human psychology makes the slide of the State, no matter how minimal or minarchist, into oligarchy and autocracy inevitable. If you have a statist (“state-ist”) form of government then it will mutate into an authoritarian, oppressive, and dominating one over time no matter what rules or laws are created to try and prevent it from doing so. It will obliterate individualism in the process and replace it with a kind of universal dehumanizing group-think where only masses and numerical outcomes on papers matter. The State’s values are always justified through manipulation of statistics and scientific information, which allows it to portray itself as logical and rational, and any others as illogical and irrational, thereby justifying the suppression of meaningful dissent as it is irrational or “crazy” and reducing the individual to a piece of datum in a collective, not a person with thought and feelings, hopes and dreams, life and liberty.

Building on these previous articles, we will use Dr. Jung’s observations and insights into the human psyche in order to explain why the above-described operation of the State sets it at opposition to religion, to explain why religion and the State are always enemies to one another, and why the State always seeks to control, corrupt, or eliminate religion as one of the most important bulwarks against the state’s total assumption of power. We begin with a quote from Dr. Jung found on page 13 of The Undiscovered Self:

“In order to free the fiction of the sovereign State – in other words, the whims of those who manipulate it – from every wholesome restriction, all sociopolitical movements tending in this direction invariably try to cut the ground from under the religions. For, in order to turn the individual into a function of the State, his dependence on anything beside the State must be taken from him. But religion means dependence on and submission to the irrational facts of experience. These do not refer directly to social and physical conditions; they concern far more the individual’s psychic attitude.”

The State is a fiction. It doesn’t have an objective existence separate from our conception of it. It is the idea by which those in power accumulate and maintain their power. As O’Brien put it in 1984, “The object of power is power.” (Pg. 332) The point of power is to use to, not to be restrained from using it. Therefore, those in power want to use their power in every possible instance. In order to do this, those in power must either diminish or destroy any organization or aspect of society that would challenge it as the supreme adjudicator of law and morality. The most powerful of these other forces is the influence of religion.

It should be noted here that when Dr. Jung calls religion irrational he does not mean that it is crazy, he means that it’s experiences are subjective and take place within the mind of the believer. Therefore, they cannot be subjected to objective scientific study to either be “proven” or “disproven” through laboratory experimentation. Irrational is not meant to be an insult because, as Dr. Jung explains elsewhere, the irrational interior experience of the individual “is the true and authentic carrier of reality,” as opposed to the non-existent man defined entirely by scientifically derived statistics. (Self, pg.7)

Humans are not rational actors; we are not wholly predictable and cannot be boiled down to pure mathematical calculation and predictive models. We are guided by experiences that defy such reductionist methods; indeed, the most important parts of the human experience defy scientific calculation. The religious spiritual encounter with the Divine is just such an experience, one that often defies explanation, and which can only be comprehended by personal experience. Therefore, religion is irrational in that it defies scientific definition and cannot be reduced to easily defined categories, but that does not make it either fantasy, delusion, or crazy. Dr. Jung continues:

“But it is possible to have an attitude to the external conditions of life only when there is a point of reference outside them. The religions give, or claim to give, such a standpoint, thereby enabling the individual to exercise his judgment and his power of decision. They build up a reserve, as it were, against the obvious and inevitable force of circumstances to which everyone is exposed who lives only in the outer world and has no other ground under his feet except the pavement. If statistical reality is the only reality, then it is the sole authority. There is then only one condition, and since no contrary condition exists, judgment and decision are not only superfluous but impossible. Then the individual is bound to be a function of statistics and hence a function of the State or whatever the abstract principle of order may be called.

The religions, however, teach another authority opposed to that of the ‘world.’ The doctrine of the individual’s dependence on God makes just as high a claim upon him as the world does.” (Self, pgs. 13-14)

Religion provides a point of intellectual and moral reference outside of the reality we experience every day, outside of the realm of scientific statistics which the State claims as the intellectual basis and justifications for all its actions. This, by its very nature as being an alternative to the justifications of the State, challenges the authority of the State because it is inevitable that there comes a time when religious commandments and State demands contradict one another.

When God commands, “Thou shall not steal,” and those in power demand the ability to take as much money as they want from whoever they want without their consent and to beat, cage, or even kill those who refuse this demand – i.e. the power to rob the masses through taxes- who does the faithful obey, God or the State? If he or she is truly faithful to the sovereignty of God then the answer of course is God, meaning the disciple of God must oppose the State’s claim to extort monies from the public by force because it is theft.

This the State cannot allow because it limits the State and its power. Such opposition, if left unchecked, would spell the doom of those in power. Religion must either be subverted or destroyed. And that subject we will address more next week.

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