"It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men." ~ H.L. Mencken
The State as Morality Play
Column by Bob Wallace.
Exclusive to STR
I look at life in the aggregate, that is, when you include the whole human race, as a tragicomedy. I don’t look at it as morality play, which I define as seeing life as a contest between Good and Evil. In fact, life is a tragicomedy because so many people see it as a morality play!
Here is an example. The State has defined drugs as “evil.” So now we have the “War on Drugs,” (a morality play) with all the attendant tragicomedy (trying to control supply and demand through violence). This “war” is an attempt to get rid of Evil and replace it with Good. It’s an impossibility.
Another example: the United States on 9-11 was attacked for its Goodness by the Evil Ones, as the permanently addled George Bush apparently truly believes. The two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are morality plays, with the ensuing death and destruction.
The most pernicious aspect of the State, besides having a monopoly on “legal” violence, is that is tries to define everything as a contest between Good and Evil. That is in fact the essence of politics, and, for that matter, propaganda.
Unfortunately in politics, unlike as is in life, there are no shades of grey. Everything in politics is black or white, good or evil. Isn’t that what all war is about – morality plays about good versus evil?
Whenever people say, “He/she/they did that because they are evil,” I automatically know they support some kind of war – as long, of course, as they don’t have to fight in it.
Whenever people think there are political solutions to things (which don’t exist), they are instantly falling into the trap of supporting war – death and destruction. And it’s because they believe in Good and Evil – with them of course being Good, and the people who disagree with them being Evil.
The essence of this morality play is that when people define themselves as Good (which means self-righteousness), they don’t see any problem with abusing, humiliating, imprisoning and murdering those they define as Evil. It is, after all, to get rid of Evil and replace it with Good.
Spinoza once said that most people define evil as what they don’t like. He was right. And because of that, people who unwittingly see life as a morality play have turned it into a tragicomedy.