Column by new Root Striker JGVibes.
Exclusive to STR
One of the main battles of the Enlightenment was the fight to separate the church from the state. After centuries of inquisitions and religious wars, people had grown sick and tired of the church and the state conspiring together to create empires. The churches were the newsrooms of the Middle Ages, and these ministries of propaganda were responsible for creating the culture that everyone was forced to conform to. Whenever the people would experience the wrath of the state through war, taxation and legislation, the teachings of the church would be used as moral justifications for these transgressions. This is the primary reason why the church was singled out as the source of the corruption, when in reality it was only one part of a multifaceted problem that cuts deep into our psychology.
When the indignant masses finally managed to separate the church from the state, the size of both shrank temporarily. Without the ability to threaten people with force, the church eventually became marginalized because they failed to win the people over with the substance of their teachings or the value of their organization as a whole. Likewise, without the moral justification of the church to back them up, the state was put in a position where it had to come up with new ways to explain why it was fit to rule over others. The divine right of kings was no longer accepted as a reasonable claim to take ownership over another person; this was actually one of the primary reasons why the church had become so controversial at the time.
Although there was a relative advancement of freedom as a result of this change, the relationship between the state and the general population improved very little. People were still conscripted into unpopular wars of conquest. They were still taxed considerably and were still forced to obey laws that they never agreed to. Only now different justifications were developed to keep everyone in line with the status quo and obedient to authority. Government-funded intellectuals worked all throughout the Enlightenment to create these new justifications for state power. Ultimately they decided on creating a new dogma where the public would be entirely dependent upon the state for survival. This way people would be unable to conceive of a world without a centralized authority and they would never dare ask any questions, so as to not “bite the hand that feeds.”
Utilities and other institutions were established as methods of controlling public opinion and presented as excuses for the constant extortion of taxpayers. Government schooling has acted as the backbone for the new, renovated control system that manages our lives. This institution was much more effective than the church in regards to shaping public opinion and ensuring the acquiescence of the general population.
At first the people were extremely resistant to handing their children over to the government for 12 years, and rightfully so. However, after a generation or two the apprehension died down and everyone began singing the tune that was being taught in the public school system. People began to see the state and its many institutions as the source of their freedom, instead of the source of their oppression, which it was. To make matters even more confusing, they were told that these institutions were put into place by their ancestors and neighbors, when in reality their neighbors and ancestors were just as oppressed by these systems as they were. So while the separation of church and state did temporarily increase the level of freedom that people were able to experience, it was ineffectual in the long term because war, taxation and domination were still allowed to continue.
There are many important lessons that can be taken from this historical account, because today we find ourselves in a very similar situation. As our civilization rushes into tyranny, many people are suggesting that if we only could take away the influence that financial institutions have over the state then we would finally be able to tame the wild beast called “government.” This is a fairly rational conclusion to come to because there is an unbelievable amount of corruption that exists within the financial sector. However, this approach would not be striking at the root of our oppression; in all reality, it would only cause a minor inconvenience for those in power.
Many researchers and philosophers have used the metaphor of “the gun in the room” to describe the government’s place in society. This is a profound metaphor considering that the state’s primary function is to act as a legal shield for those who wish to carry out organized acts of violence. For centuries, different groups have wrestled the gun out of each other’s hands, only to bring us varying degrees of tyranny and oppression. In the traditional monarchies, the king had control of the gun. In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church had control of the gun and today it just so happens that Goldman Sachs and Northrop Grumman are the ones holding the gun. For these aforementioned parties, things may have changed a bit over time, but as far as the rest of society goes, nothing has changed because they have had the same gun in their face throughout the ages, without reprieve.
When looking back at this volley of violence that has taken place throughout history, it is not difficult to see that taking the gun away from one group, only to hand it over to another will just slightly change the brand of tyranny that we are forced to live under. The only way to truly put an end to the horrors of war, taxation and domination is to put away the gun in the room, not just squabble over who is allowed to use it. By allowing people the special privilege to use violence without consequence, you are giving them the power to tax, declare war and write their other crimes into law; there is nothing else that this privilege can be used for.