Monday, June 13, 2022

We love our contradictions to death!

Most of us are taught at an early age to embrace contradictions, which is believing something is both true and not true at the same time.  We know, for example, what life is in some sense, and that all living things eventually die.  But we keep hearing from our elders that if we behave a certain way we really won’t die.  Our bodies will turn to dust but our souls will carry on indefinitely.  Exactly what they mean by “soul” they never tell us.  The basis for their claims lies in the postulates of a certain book they embrace uncritically, at least with regard to fundamentals.  Almost everyone accepts these postulates as true, even if they make no sense.  This act of embracing is called faith.

What are these postulates?  There is a creator of all that exists, and that creator we call God.  In Christianity God long ago mysteriously fathered a Son, and the Son, regarded as a messiah, promised heaven to those who believe in him and hell to those who don’t.  Heaven and hell, as I heard a preacher explain once, have no spatial coordinates, so don’t bother trying to find them.  

For centuries people have embraced these beliefs.  They have been conditioned to accept something for which no evidence has been adduced.  To reject them implies you are disagreeing with billions of believers some of whom are very bright and accomplished, and who know a hell of a lot more than you.

And yet, this only makes the situation more of a mystery.  Why do some of the brightest endorse this metaphysical dualism?  What’s wrong with assuming the universe has always existed and needs no creator?  Positing an incomprehensible god as the creator only begs the question who created god?

But the believers have an edge.  They promise eternal bliss for all who truly believe and eternal hell for those who don’t. The opposition says once you’re dead, you’re dead.  No heaven, no hell, just dead.  Not at all comforting.  

What has this meant for our life on earth?

The connection between religion and politics

It has, in my view, created a tendency to look for some overpowering force to solve our problems, rather than ourselves.  This doesn’t necessarily mean a desire for a Napoleon or a Hitler.   Any sufficiently corrupt State will do. 

This is what people mean when they cry for the government to "do something."

In the US the president along with the legislature and Court, and the virtually countless agencies that make up what we call the federal government, are of a different breed than the rest of American society.  And this is no secret.

Though it’s rarely acknowledged we live under a violent monopoly.  Consider: When the two Steves formed Apple Computer in the 1970s they grew their business through voluntary exchanges with the general public.  If the public didn’t like their computers the company would fail.

This is not true of the monopoly form of government.  When the government fails, as it soon might, we the people suffer from being forced to trust it.

Unlike market enterprises the government doesn’t fund itself through voluntary exchanges.  Its revenue flows from taxation directly and through counterfeiting the monetary unit.  Simply put, it legally has the guns to get away with it.  If Apple or any other company tried to fund itself this way the owners would be facing prison sentences.

While popular sentiment when expressed at the voting booth has had some positive effects on State policies, the snowball of State power keeps rolling out of control.  The State took away your cocktails, but you complained loudly enough and got them back.  Meanwhile, readers of Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke know that during the same period western states, including the US, were in training for another world war.

In traditional logic when a contradiction is introduced into an argument, any statement can be proven — a result sometimes called deductive explosion.

Should it surprise us that the contradiction of the monopoly State results in the mess we see today?  Peace and prosperity require that all adult relationships be voluntary.  Our relationship with the State is not voluntary.

Security without a state?

The most common argument for tolerating a coercive government is the assumption that only such an organization can provide the security we need.  Security, we’re told, is outside the purview of the market, even though private security has always existed and that all aspects of security are products of the market.


It is here that I see the connection with religion.  We need an omnipotent being to save our souls, however those are understood, and we need a omnipotent government to save us from the world’s bad people.  In truth, neither God nor the State does a very good job.  

Look around.  Take note of the atrocities that flourish here and throughout the world among people who swear allegiance to God and the state under which they live.  Thanks to a bought-and-paid-for media and educational system, the state has powerful propaganda machinery to protect it, as do the religions that indignantly ask who are you, a mere mortal, to question God’s ways?  Neither is much help for people who have seen their families blown up or their children murdered while government police stood around and did nothing and prevented parents from rescuing their kids.


Religion by itself need not be harmful.  To believe is a voluntary act.  Many people are morally and psychologically uplifted by it, and that by itself is a good thing.  It is only the message of religion, that a super being rules us, that can be detrimental to our thinking in political matters.  

It strikes me as odd that in such a crucial area as security people abandon the logic, power, and peace of the market for something originating in the Stone Age.

George Ford Smith is a former mainframe and PC programmer and technology instructor, the author of eight books including a novel about a renegade Fed chairman (Flight of the Barbarous Relic), a filmmaker (Do Not Consent), and an advocate of stateless market government.  He welcomes speaking engagements and can be reached at


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