"I cannot accept, your canon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power....Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." ~ Lord Acton
The Religion of Politics
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Politics is a religion. Like all religions, politics is also chock full of its own rites and rituals. In the West, voting is the most seductive--and perhaps, most important--ritual in the repertoire of rites of this particular cult. Specifically, it is used to help maintain the fantasy that politics is a peaceful art. By assaulting our consciousness regularly with the rhythmical, methodical, and incessant recitation of scripture-like propaganda, and urging us to fulfill our destiny as citizens, the state teaches us, prods us, implores us, patiently and hypnotically, into the fine art of gentle submission to unjust and unearned authority.
Voting, in other words, is the primary holy sacrament of initiation into the cult of power worship. We are all supplicants to this religion. Each and every time we imbibe the ritual, drinking deeply of the chalice of power-lust, we murder just a little bit more of our own soul, sacrificing it gradually but inexorably, to the God whose name we dare not speak. With time, and regular observance of this tithing to the God of power, we are seduced to seek merger with his consciousness, thereby transforming it, and immortalizing ourselves in the process. But this belief is a rabid fantasy. The act of casting the ballot is in truth not an act of self-expression, but an act of ultimate submission disguised as wish-fulfillment. We must be consumed whole, so that the state may be made healthy through our self-sacrifice. Thus, by voting, we achieve the highest state of ecstatic self-annihilation within the Church of Democracy.
The politicians--as the priestly class of this now global cult--know the truth of all of this. It is a key reason why they push so hard to expand participation, even to the point of demanding it be made a duty. Much pomp and circumstance surrounds the ceremonial display of politicians engaging in the ritual themselves, thereby helping to reinforce the subtle but undeniable siren call of the capacity to dispose of men’s lives at whim, and control the world by mere word alone. But politicians adhere to a whole pantheon of rituals exclusive to themselves as well--rituals designed to help them balance themselves on the tightrope of internal contradiction and hypocrisy. Much like the Church of Rome, they employ rites meant to sanctify their status as moral superiors to mere supplicants, who are drawn to the polls by blind lust, on each holy day of ritual sacrament.
The media--as the prophets and evangelists of the cult--entreat us with great epic narratives, describing the glorious feats of, and bestowing great honors upon, those who have been entered into the ranks of the priesthood. As the evangelists for the religion, they spread the “good news,” and excite us to participation with calls to duty, and dreams of fantastic achievement. The politicians, however, must play the part of reverent, cool-headed theologians. They are not permitted to engage in such histrionics, since the behavior might openly betray the lust they secretly share with the supplicants. Good priests must appear like disinterested scholars, deferential to their God, and patient with the eager supplicants. The media exists, then, to fulfill the role of snake charmer, miracle worker, ecstatic proclaimer of the glories of the faith. In this, they have not failed.
The Church of Democracy , at least in the West, is roughly 300 years old now. It has reached a stage of maturity in which missionary zeal can be observed throughout. In the thrall of this zeal, the whole religion has begun to show signs of a significant internal transformation and impending decay. The evangelists are fighting amongst themselves, the cabal of the priesthood has cloistered itself within the walls of its holy city, safe from supplicants, and the supplicants themselves have been imbibing the ritual sacrament less and less with each passing holy day.
So, like many other iterations of the cult of power in recent decades, the Church of Democracy has now also entered into a desperate crisis of faith. In eras past, this sort of transformation has resulted in a glorification of naked power so bald, and so forthright, that humans by the millions were willingly cast into the great furnace needed to feed the God, until it finally consumed itself. But this time, the transformation need not end in the global-scale abortion of self-destruction that it has in the past. This time, we can choose instead, to affirm our selves, and to put and end to the faith.
It may or may not come to pass, that our generation will be a witness to the collapse of one of the deadliest religions in human history--the religion of politics--but I, for one, continue to look forward to it.