“Righteousness” is a seldom heard word in modern life, but the concept is still very much with us. In fact, political arguments all through the West focus on shows of righteousness.
So, how does someone show themself to be righteous without ever coming near the word? It’s done with a simple trick that you’ll recognize immediately:
Rather than declaring ourselves righteous, we show ourselves to be the enemy of unrighteousness, gaining the same result without ever having to utter the R-word.
By raging against the evil of your adversary, you take on the gleam of righteousness – you’re defending the world from evil, after all – but you stay far from religion or even an obligation to behave well.
The trick has worked exceptionally well, and the voting public sees politicians as agents of righteousness, even if the word is never used.
The Decider of All Moral Questions
Can you think of any area of life that isn’t impacted by politics these days? Almost everything is, and politics has become the true god of the age. This is something Peter Drucker noted as it was forming:
Increasingly, politics is not about “who gets what, when, how” but about values, each of them considered to be absolute. Politics is about “the right to life”… It is about the environment. It is about gaining equality for groups alleged to be oppressed… None of these issues is economic. All are fundamentally moral.
Politics, to put it simply, has overtaken society. In eras past, politics was limited mainly to the realm of the external. Ruling types would tell you how property would be bought and sold, where soldiers would be sent, and how much of your money would be taken… but they seldom told you what to think or how to speak. However, once they got into the habit of telling every child in their domain how to think and speak – as they did with government schools – they found one way after another to expand that dominance throughout the whole of the civilization.
And that’s where we stand now: Politicians feel confident inserting themselves into any and every area of life. And they do precisely that, expecting to be thanked for it.
Politicians of course are anything but righteous. Still, the well-trained politician can use the trick we opened with and suck the populace into a moral drama that pays them off with feelings of righteousness. More than that, the people can feel righteous nearly for free; all they have to do is support a slayer of iniquity.
At the same time – and all of us have noticed this to one extent or another – politics has also overtaken big business, as Frederick C. Howe wrote back in 1906:
These are the rules of big business. They have superseded the teachings of our parents and are reducible to a simple maxim: Get a monopoly; let Society work for you: and remember that the best of all business is politics, for a legislative grant, franchise, subsidy or tax exemption is worth more than a Kimberly or Comstock lode, since it does not require any labor, either mental or physical, for its exploitation.
The Fate of the Populace
Honestly, I think it’s a good thing that the Western populace is still committed to righteousness, even if they don’t realize it. That’s a characteristic that may be engaged positively in the future.
But right now, the people of the West are massively manipulated by their instinct for righteousness. Still, I don’t think this condition will endure forever. All things change, and the dream of righteousness through politics disappoints endlessly. At some point, people will choose to see it.
Until then, a lot of disappointment, confusion, and suffering awaits. To put it bluntly, so long as the Western public believes in the union of righteousness and politics, it will be strip-mined without mercy and without end. There is nothing to stop it, and more is never enough for ruling and strip-mining types.
But once they stop playing political make-believe, great things await the people of the West.
May it be soon.