Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Short Note on the Illusion of Progress

Humankind continues to be as superstitious as it has always been. Religiously inspired superstition gave way to scientifically inspired superstition. One irrational doctrine - uncritical fideism - gave way to another irrational doctrine - technocratic scientism. The belief in the divine right of kings was replaced by the belief in the legitimate paternalism of bureaucratic "experts".

In fact, things got worse on this front - the modern superstition is even more irrational than the old one. One can treat seriously the argument that you owe obedience to the supreme being who endowed you with free will and reason, since you literally owe that being your status as a free agent. By the same token, it is possible to treat seriously the claim that you owe obedience to the direct representatives of such a being. But how can one treat seriously the claim that some human beings owe their status of free agents, and thus obedience, to other human beings, none of which enjoys any special divine imprimatur?

In any event, the common denominator of old and new superstitions is clear - it is statism, the belief in the salutary influence of centralized violence, aggression and coercion. If humankind is ever to grow into intellectual and moral maturity, it has to disabuse itself of this belief first and foremost.

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