Politics is the Opium of the People

One of Karl Marx’s most famous sayings was “Religion is the opium of the people.” It’s a rather hypocritical criticism for a man whose philosophy makes the State into a religion to make. But as we all know, because we’re all suffering due to it, Marx was the victor in the great political philosophy war. Almost every government has been influenced by his works. Even the United States, which was once heralded as the beacon of individual freedom, has more in common with what Marx preached than what Mises preached. So we shouldn’t be too surprised to see statism become the predominant religion.

Statism has become such a predominant religion that previously established religions have had to step aside. Even Catholics are apt to side with statism before Catholicism:

One significant voice about climate change has been Pope Francis, who released a letter (called an “encyclical”) in 2015 titled Laudato si’ (or Praise be to you). The encyclical acknowledges human-caused climate change as an unavoidable reality and frames action as a moral imperative. Many hoped that this might have an impact among Catholics who still doubted climate science.

A group of researchers led by Texas Tech’s Nan Li neatly planned out a pair of before-and-after surveys to assess those hopes with data. So what impact did the encyclical actually have on American Catholics?

Many prominent climate “skeptics” and politicians demonstrated one possible response that fell somewhat short of sudden conversion—they stuck to their guns and criticized the pope’s statements. They argued that this was a political and economic issue rather than a moral or doctrinal one, leaving the pope perfectly capable of being fallible.

The point of this post isn’t about climate change but the way people are increasingly likely to let their political affiliation guide their ideals over their stated religious beliefs. Statism has become their true religion whether they want to admit it or not.

I don’t know how anybody who has been observing politics from the outside can deny that statism is the new religion. The State is treated as a god that provides all that is good in the world, other states are treated at demons that are responsible for all that is bad in the world, desecrating the symbols of the State is treated as hearsay, and for many political participation is almost indistinguishable from religious worship. The State even has its own prayers, such as the Holy National Anthem, and those who fail to publicly proclaim their faith but reciting the prayer are harshly criticized. People even sign up to be sent off to foreign lands so they can kill the heretics of heathen states.

The difference between Republicans and Democrats is the difference between Catholics and Lutherans. They both worship the same god but they have some disagreements that seem very important to them but absolutely trivial to outside observers. Likewise, the difference between the Republican and Democratic parties seem very important to party members but absolutely trivial to us outside observers.

And now we’re seeing that belief in Republicanism or Democratism is usurping belief in Catholicism or Lutheranism. That being the case, it’s not surprising to see Catholics side with their political party’s beliefs over a statement made by the Pope (and in fairness to Catholics, there are Catholics out there that don’t view the Pope very highly and do cool things like hold mass in Latin but their views in that case aren’t formed by their political affiliation). Politics really is the opium of the people and the people are very addicted.

2 thoughts on “Politics is the Opium of the People”

  1. Agree 100%. When I’m feeling pessimistic, that’s the image before my eyes: a vast majority of True Believers in the divinity of the State, who react with horror and disbelief at even mild criticisms of the worst government abuses. Saying “God sucks!” in 1600 was about like saying “Government sucks” today.

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