Examining BeliefsPosted: September 2, 2011
If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?
I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman’s club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave.
Off goes the head of the king, and tyranny gives way to freedom. The change seems abysmal. Then, bit by bit, the face of freedom hardens, and by and by it is the old face of tyranny. Then another cycle, and another. But under the play of all these opposites there is something fundamental and permanent — the basic delusion that men may be governed and yet be free.
H. L. Mencken
An Atheist gets in a argument with a Theist. The Theist says that without religion, men would not restrain themselves from sin, and would fall into drunken debauchery, drug abuse, sloth, thievery, and dancing around in goat britches(h/t to Mayberry). The Theist drives his point home by asking the Atheist for one single instance of a successful non-religious society.
The Atheist is stumped and has to admit that, in the entire history of the world, there has never been a society that eschewed religion. “Aha!” says the Theist. “That’s because an absence of religion would cause us to sink into chaos and perish!”
Government is a belief system, just like any religion. True believers fiercely defend their government. “Without a government, we would sink into anarchy and perish!”
How do you test an idea? I like to ask, “If this is true, what else about it is true?” Ayn Rand used to call that a Reductio ad absurdum (Latin: “reduction to the absurd”). Not all ideas, of course, are absurd, but just because an idea causes the belly to purr doesn’t mean that the litmus paper has turned a good color. Same for an idea that causes the belly to growl.
Posted by Dave