Dehumanizing People is Fun

Column by Paul Bonneau.

Exclusive to STR

It is clearly fun to make fun of people. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be such a popular pastime.
 
One can imagine why we are prone to this kind of behavior. For example, in the old days, if you wanted to slaughter another tribe and steal their women and take all their stuff, dehumanizing them first was eminently sensible. It erases all inhibitions when it’s time to get down and bloody. And guess which tribe gets to pass on its genes? The one that performed these tasks most efficiently, of course. So, there is a very good evolutionary reason why we do this sort of thing, even if most of the time these days it is funneled into “safe” channels like booing the other sports team.
 
But knowing why we do it (if my guess is accurate) is the first step to getting a bit of control over it, which might be a good idea when we start to suspect that it might not always work in our interests all the time, or that it might even be harnessed by our real enemies for their own interests.
 
“OK, what is Bonneau blathering on about now? What’s it got to do with us enlightened anarchists?”
 
Well, today someone made one of those posters on Facebook that said, “Religion: disconnecting people,” just one in a series of similar examples I had seen there. I commented on it, “So . . . criticizing religion connects people?” If I had a nickel for every time I heard or saw libertarians taking a whack at religion, I’d be a rich man. Hell, some, like Molyneux, spend half their time doing it (when he’s not going on about how the family is the origin of the state, that is).
 
Now, I really get it, how fun it is to make fun of others. Nothing like pissing on someone else to build oneself up. But is it the rational thing to do?
 
See, this is the heart of the libertarian criticism of religion, that it supposedly is not rational. And libertarians are nothing, if not rational, right?
 
Excuse me while I have a little chuckle.
 
How rational is it to criticize religion, to make fun of the faithful?
 
Look, we all want to achieve liberty some day, right? Then the first order of business is to look at our own behavior, and do the things that move us closer to freedom, and stop doing things that move us away from it. It’s irrational to do otherwise.
 
First, is it any of our business if some people like to think there is some big guy up in the clouds with a white beard and hair, wearing a flowing robe and sandals? No, it’s not our business. Seems to me one of the big causes for the loss of liberty is other people (e.g., bureaucrats and cops) sticking their noses in our business; yet here we are, doing the same thing.
 
Now, someone will whine, “It becomes my business when they force me to conform to their mores.” Oh yeah? When did that ever happen? Don’t start talking about them using government as a tool to force you. That’s like saying capitalism is inherently bad, like some Occupy folks do. Libertarians patiently explain to them that it’s not rich people or capitalism that is bad, but only those people who harness government to their ends that are bad. And therefore it’s government that’s bad, not capitalism. Well if that is so, the same argument applies to religious people: only those who harness government are bad. If you can’t make the distinction there, you’re just like those “Eat the Rich” Occupy folks.
 
We’re not living in Puritan Massachusetts any more; perhaps you hadn’t noticed? By the way, one of the main things that brought down that theocracy was Quaker proselytizing. Yes, a theocracy was brought down by a group every bit as religious as the Puritans themselves. Gandhi himself may have learned from their nonviolent tactics. Far from always inhibiting liberty, in the past, religion has also enhanced it. Proto-libertarian early Rhode Island was populated largely by Quakers.
 
Here’s another irrational aspect to making fun of the faithful: How many of them are there? According to Wikipedia, a staggering 83% of Americans identify with a religious denomination. Do we rationally pursue liberty by turning 5/6 of the population into our enemies?
 
The rational way to split society is between the rulers (along with some but not all of their minions) and the rest of us, the “mundanes.” That’s still hard, but at least we have numbers on our side with that split. It's madness to do it otherwise.
 
Now, some who ridicule religion may say they are only making a case to convince the religious to abandon error. Well, sure. I mean, how often have you been convinced to change your most firmly held convictions via ridicule? Happens all the time, right?
 
Maybe someone needs to read Andrew Carnegie or B. Liddell Hart. But in the meantime, I’d advise severely limiting this tactic, if used at all, to friendly personal discussions with college kids (who tend to be a little more open-minded). Not to open Internet forums and Facebook, sheesh. Talk about being irrational, using a tactic bound to fail . . . .
 
Next up, how does dehumanizing the faithful look? It looks bad. It looks juvenile, puerile. It looks smug and self-righteous (the very features we claim the faithful display).
 
When I was a teenager, I knew how the world worked. I had great confidence in my grip on reality, and great disdain for those who did not share my opinions. The older I got, the more I discovered I was simply wrong in many of those opinions, and the humbler I got. I'm sure by the day I die, I won't know anything at all. But in the meantime, I'm pretty happy that I've (for the most part) given up on smug self-righteousness. I'm a lot easier to get along with, and that's a good thing. Doesn't mean I don't have principles, but it does mean I represent those principles in a more effective fashion.
 
Folks, let's dehumanize those people it makes sense to dehumanize, people who deserve to be dehumanized--our actual enemies, the ruling class. Make all the fun you want of Obama or Romney or Santorum, and the rest of the lizard people running Washington, D.C. Ridicule is a great weapon. Let's point this big cannon of ours with precision, and with an eye toward our ends, rather than just shooting it into the sky for mindless amusement.

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Paul Bonneau's picture
Columns on STR: 79
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Comments

Samarami's picture

Atlas said:

    Hi Sam,

    '...Pleading "shame" "sacrifice" and "selflessness" of self--and then others--as the moral good is the platform of collectivism and religion and the worship of authority that sociopaths use to control, placate and feed on the philosophically ignorant. Precisely what some have good reason to point out as unprofitable and unproductive i.e. "irrational"...'

I think I may have off-stepped by using the analogy of priests and nuns of whom I've read who individually devoted their lives to people of need within their community. I failed to stress individually, and you were correct to call my hand at that. I've heard of individual priests (and some nuns, although in Catholicism women seem still to be kept at bay from leadership rolls) who have stepped outside the authoritarianism of "The Church" and set up children's homes and rescue missions without asking for or expecting "stimulus" from functionaries of state.

The key word is individually. Virtually all libertarians will agree that religion, like government, is often "a platform of collectivism" and distracts from individuality. But that's religion -- not belief. That distinction, I believe, is very important to finding the essence of Paul's essay.

History substantiates the various concordats, along with the incestuous hand-in-glove relationships, many who make up church hierarchies have maintained with predators of state: "inquisitions", outright murder of thousands (millions??) of those who won't step into the fold (and make "contributions", of course) -- and on down the line of infamy.

In my post I made reference to Thomas DiLorenzo's blog entry having to do with political involvement by church leadership in the south. Yet there are men and women and their children sitting in the "pews" (what an awful name for a place to put your butt) of some of those churches who may one day be candidates for our forums and our way of thinking here on STR. So Paul's essay is poignant.

Tony Pivetta on a previous post at this thread quoted my old friend Fred Reed:

    "I find myself wondering why the ruling classes of America are so grindingly antagonistic to religion. I understand having no interest in religion. I do not understand the animosity..."

It probably behooves us to follow Mr. Davies' advice: save ridicule for the predators of state and show empathy for believers. Most of us believe something, even if it's "zilch" (which probably takes more "faith" than believing in a Higher Power, as they say over in AA). Sam

AtlasAikido's picture

And here's something about AA and how anarchic it is...(I only excerpted the part I am interested in) I also do not care about religion nor government for that matter. The Covenant of Unanimous Consent addresses that. I refer to it in Jim's article in link below.

AA is a truly voluntary institution. It has no rules nor regulations, no dues nor fees nor taxes, only voluntary contributions. The expenses of local AA “groups” and AA's significant worldwide services designed to provide help to alcoholics everywhere are the collective obligation of its members. AA's “Twelve Traditions,” which are the closest thing to rules, compel nothing. There are no AA authorities. Our leaders actually are our trusted servants whose only power is persuasion. Each of the multitude of local AA groups throughout the world operates autonomously. Withal, AA has proven effective at achieving its primary purpose, which is to enable its members to remain sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. No small task, which eluded the medical profession and mankind on any significant scale until AA came along in 1935. AA's 76-years of experience may one day prove instructive to the formation of a stateless society.

http://www.voluntaryist.com/howibecame/windingroad.html
My Winding Road to Voluntaryism
By Ned Netterville

Jim and others make more good points here: To me it is helpful to understand how both religion and govt are based on superstition and where that leads.
Where's the State?
http://strike-the-root.com/wheres-state

And Fred nailed it here:
We Were Taught To Suppress Conscience, Morality, Empathy
Fred Reed on the real purpose of military training.
http://lewrockwell.com/reed/reed230.html

Best Regards

AtlasAikido

AtlasAikido's picture

Double post

Suverans2's picture

G'day my friend,

"It probably behooves us to follow Mr. Davies' advice: save ridicule for the predators of state and show empathy for believers." ~ Samarami

I may be mistaken, but that doesn't sound like Mr. Davies. That sounds more like Mr. Bonneau, to me.

Jim Davies's picture

Scott hasn't responded to the two key questions I posed here on March 13th - perhaps he's occupied elsewhere. But answers to them do seem to me prerequisite for further useful discussion on the subject, so I wonder whether anyone else would like to try?

They were:

1. Please define the term "God."
2. Upon what premise do you base your reasoning for God's existence?

Subplotsville's picture

"Libertarians patiently explain to them that it's not rich people or capitalism that is bad, but only those people who harness government to their ends that are bad. And therefore it’s government that’s bad, not capitalism."

Wait, isn't this "it's the tool, not the tool-user, that's the problem" more or less the same argument the gun-grabbers use?

AtlasAikido's picture

More or less? *Why not take it the way you frame it?* As best as I can tell it would approximate this "more or less": "Libertarians patiently explain to [gun grabbers and gun owners] them that it's not [gun owners or grabbers] rich people or capitalism that is bad, but only those people [gun owners AND gun grabbers] who harness government to their ends that are bad. And therefore it’s government that’s bad, not [gun owners and grabbers per se] capitalism."

I would say that the problem of gun grabbers (mass victim disarmament made possible by those who harness--government--the ultimate mass sociopath and superstition incubator), IS still SOLVED day-in-and-night when minutes and seconds count by INDIVIDUALS armed VIA the ideas and principles of the *remnant* (self-rule/anarchy/agorism) of laissez-faire (hands off) capitalism (division of labor society) extended into the physical realm. Same goes with anything else...

Paul's picture

Well, it's a bit much to equate a nonsentient tool to the most destructive institution (gang of thugs) the world has ever seen, don't you think? Your analogy is a bit of a stretch.

Guns can't be bad. Even nuclear weapons can't be bad. Only people can be bad. Government is filled with bad people, either bad people who are attracted by the job, or formerly good people corrupted by it.

Subplotsville's picture

"Guns can't be bad. Even nuclear weapons can't be bad. Only people can be bad."

Exactly. Sentience entities can be bad. Non-sentient entities, like weapons, can't be bad. Therefore, government, a form of organization among sentient people with no sentience of its own, can't be bad.

"Government is filled with bad people, either bad people who are attracted by the job, or formerly good people corrupted by it."

Okay, but this does not make government *inherently* bad, especially in forums that allow speculation about ideal social conditions never observed in the real world.

AtlasAikido's picture

Re: 'Okay, but this "Guns can't be bad. Even nuclear weapons can't be bad. Only people can be bad." [followed by Paul's short elaboration] does not make government *inherently* bad.'

~I’ll admit that getting people to see *the gun in the room* is a very important and crucial step when trying to win them over, but that is not enough. it is: 'Freedom Has No System--Challenge the premise. There is NO “we.”'

Re: "[S]ince government, [is] a form of organization among sentient people with no sentience of its own, [it] can't be bad".

~It is precisely because there is NO "we" that "government" IS inherently bad! It is a Superstition. *It is government that creates conflict where none need exist*. It is the ultimate "Group Trap" as Harry Browne demonstrates in "How I Found Freedom IN an UNFree World".

Re: "...[These are F]orum...speculation(s) about ideal social conditions never observed in the real world".

~Not really. When it is *I* ensuring the Job of Living Peacefully and taking the direct responsibility and risk *paying the price* to make good my life experience, reputation and on-going freedom--I am INDEED objectifying self-reliance, security and future trade opportunities with compatibles in an UNFree World. Paraphrased from Harry Browne's "The Great Milk Robbery"; and 'Freedom Has No System--Challenge the premise. There is NO “we.”'

http://zerogov.com/?p=2334

tzo's picture

Government is indeed inherently bad. The people in its offices establish "sovereign" territory by force and extract taxes to pay for their organization's existence through force. The people who participate in such an organization are inherently doing bad things. Can't really escape that.

And if you jump to the "completely voluntary government" argument, I would point out that you are no longer talking about a government, but rather a business.

Paul's picture

"Non-sentient entities, like weapons, can't be bad."

If 70% of Americans think Iran should not be invaded, and 30% think Iran should be invaded, we cannot say "Americans don't want to invade Iran" any more than we can say "Americans want to invade Iran". There are two reasons: 1) "Americans" is not a sentient being and does not have an opinion, and 2) "Americans" is improper generalization. Yet, we can still reasonably say "70% of Americans don't want to invade Iran" even though "70% of Americans" is also not a sentient being and also therefore holds no opinion. Why? Because there is no attempt to deceive here (assuming an honest polling) and everybody understands the implication in the statement that individual Americans are the ones actually holding the opinion. We don't have to say, "70% of individual Americans share the opinion that Iran should not be invaded," to get the idea across. Maybe we should say it that way, but good luck controlling language so perfectly.

Government is not a sentient being; yet it is like the 30% or 70% in the example above. Everybody in government inherently agrees to violence; they share the opinion that violence and plunder are acceptable for their own personal ends. "Government is bad" is really saying "All individual government employees are bad." Of course they may also have redeeming qualities; but to the extent they work for and support and draw pay from government, they are bad.

I can't believe I got sidetracked into arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Allen's picture

" Only people can be bad."

Odd. I was under the impression "bad" was an evaluative concept, not an inherent quality of a thing (including "sentient" things).

AtlasAikido's picture

Jim and others make good points and clarify/add to the point you make. While I am not interested in religion nor government (even though the latter is both The Most Dangerous Superstition and by *nature an agency of coercion*) it can be helpful as Jim points out to understand how both religion and govt are based on superstition and where that leads.

Where's the State?
http://strike-the-root.com/wheres-state

Here's something about AA and how Anarchic it is:

AA is a truly voluntary institution. It has no rules nor regulations, no dues nor fees nor taxes, only voluntary contributions. The expenses of local AA “groups” and AA's significant worldwide services designed to provide help to alcoholics everywhere are the collective obligation of its members. AA's “Twelve Traditions,” which are the closest thing to rules, compel nothing. There are no AA authorities. Our leaders actually are our trusted servants whose only power is persuasion. Each of the multitude of local AA groups throughout the world operates autonomously. Withal, AA has proven effective at achieving its primary purpose, which is to enable its members to remain sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. No small task, which eluded the medical profession and mankind on any significant scale until AA came along in 1935. AA's 76-years of experience may one day prove instructive to the formation of a stateless society.

http://www.voluntaryist.com/howibecame/windingroad.html
My Winding Road to Voluntaryism
By Ned Netterville

Paul's picture

In the article I suggested reading from Andrew Carnegie. Of course I meant Dale Carnegie, duh! :-)