They We Just Don’t Get It

chessI got an email from a reader a few days ago, asking about something we’ve all faced. Here’s a snip:

It gets a little lonely sometimes. At times I feel a little resentful, sometimes just plain angry that so few people know or care to know about economics and/or philosophy when they are so important.

I’m sympathetic, of course, having felt similarly more than once. But, as I often say, perspective is key. We’ve all complained about people who “just don’t get it,” but the real problem is that we just haven’t gotten it.

We have grossly underestimated the kind of fight we’re in. We thought it was about economics and politics, but it’s much more than that. What we’re really fighting is idolatry. If that doesn’t make sense to you initially, I can’t blame you, but allow me to explain.

All Idolatry Shares a Single Root

We’ve all heard slogans like this one:

Why shouldn’t we take money from a billionaire who doesn’t need it, to feed a starving child?

After that, it’s almost impossible to make any argument without appearing heartless. And there’s a good reason for that: The slogan conveys a “first position” that is deceptive and manipulative… idolatrous, really.

This argument starts with an unspoken assumption that the state is beyond question and that any failures must be attributed to someone else. If there are starving kids, it could never be that the state was hurting them. Such a thought wouldn’t register.

Embedded in these questions (and in the minds that form them) is a complete certainty that the state always functions as the agent of good.

This is idolatry, the same as ancient people worshipping their city gods or medieval people holding their Holy Church above all question. In the same way, states are idols to modern people. The lines of thought are identical; the only changes involve the names of the idols – the entities that are given every benefit of the doubt at all times.

The state, our modern idol, steals half of what every working person makes. That means that people are stripped bare for trying to do the right thing. But there is no compassion for them.

And why is there no compassion for these people? Because it’s the state that is stripping them bare, and the state may never be accused; it may only be the agent of good!

It really comes down to this:

Whatever you esteem more highly than reality is your god.

In our time, the thing that is held above reality is the state. One may critique its parts, but the state as a whole is only questioned by crazy, dangerous people. In other words, by heretics.

What we are fighting is a different flavor of the dogma that kept medieval minds in chains. It may even be worse now.

Our Enemies Have Understood Better Than We Have

We’ve all seen people who are embedded in the state system fly into a rage upon hearing our ideas. We thought we were just talking about economics, but they acted as if we were trying to destroy everything they loved.

In other words, our enemies thought our ideas were more powerful than we did. And they were right; we haven’t appreciated what we have.

Governments are necessarily against human will. If they can’t make us feel that our desires and judgments are shameful, their entire operation stands in danger of collapse. Their game requires Joe Average to feel insecure and flawed. Our message rips that game wide open.

Our enemies were right to freak out, and we should start accepting the fact that our ideas are huge.

Big Battles Are Slow

We’ve been looking for a “revolution,” which means that we’ve been hoping for fast change, and have been disappointed when we didn’t get it. But those hopes were wrong – we’re not going to get fast change; we’re going to get slow change. If we don’t adjust our minds to that fact, we’ll remain miserable.

Our ideas are big, and our enemies have deep positions in the minds of our friends and neighbors. That means that most of them won’t change their minds overnight. I don’t like that any better than you do, but that’s the way it is. This is going to be slow.

But in this slow battle, we hold the winning hand, and our winning strategy is to work and to persevere. Forget about a fast win; that was a false dream. We must build, and keep building.

What to Do

Here are a few specific suggestions for dealing with people:

  • Rather than arguing words, show them what you’ve built.
  • Give people time to work through their issues. Plant a seed, walk away, and reengage later.
  • Don’t get into fights. If they ambush you, simply tell them that you won’t accept their tactics. Then walk away.
  • People close to you may be there for good reason. Give them time.
  • Remember that most people are confused and insecure most of the time. Offer them things that help, not hurt.
  • Find others who share at least some of your perspective, and work with them. If there’s no one nearby, join an online group.

Keep planting seeds and watering them whenever you can. For us, perseverance is the path to victory.

Paul Rosenberg

10 thoughts on “They We Just Don’t Get It”

  1. One may critique its parts, but the state as a whole is only questioned by crazy, dangerous people. In other words, by heretics.

    Not only are we crazy, dangerous heretics, we’re extremists. Run in horror; shield your baby’s eyes: those people over there want to run their own lives rather than being vassals of the beneficent State. Oh, the horror!

  2. Paul,
    You continue to impress me with the power of your ideas. Thanks for giving me so much to think about again.
    I like this perspective.

  3. I have always thought that the Gospel was far more radical then even most Christians understand. Thanks for this.

    1. Much more radical! His Sermon on the Mount is a game changer. Few clergy are willing to accept it for what it is.

    2. 1st Samuel of the Old Testament says explicitly we’re not to have a political government ruling over us, that to secure the blessings of liberty, we only need voluntarily follow The Law — 10 Commandments & sub-statues or **the law common among the people** (common law & natural rights). … As for giving The People a King, that was a punishment which The People requested (demanded, actually), and shall not be removed till The People repent and give up their desire to be ruled by a politician. … And I see no difference between a king, a pharaoh, and an emperor nor a president with a legislature.

  4. Of course the one root goes even further back as to WHY people need idols. They are in fear, reality doesn’t suffice, so they need something super-ordinate (and ultimately undefined as it is not real) to make themselves feel better. I’ve come to accept that this will not change. The key is to get people to be reflective and be cautious that their superstition isn’t cause to unleash broadcast Force. People cannot scientifically analyze every aspect of their lives every minute of the day. We all may fill in pieces based anecdotal evidence, perhaps all the up to a form of “faith”. But ones construction is not so infallible to warrant the use of broadcast Force by themselves or hired agents. It’s getting people to abate the use of offensive Force that’s the trick. Still not easy, but you’re never going to talk someone away from their security blanket, but ask the not to strangle anyone with it.

    1. Re “Of course the one root goes even further back as to WHY people need idols. They are in fear, reality doesn’t suffice, so they need something super-ordinate (and ultimately undefined as it is not real) to make themselves feel better.”

      You see fear because fear is in you.

      Here’s your idol and hypocritical-contradiction.

      Your idol is yourself.

      Hypocritical because you engage in exactly that which you deride.

      Contradiction because you believe your beliefs slay belief.

      Quo nihil maius cogitari potest, try starting there.

  5. This is SPOT ON. It is a philosophical/religious war. We are designed to worship, most are sheep begging to be led. Materialists, those who reject the spiritual will worship the state. And they demand ALL worship as they do! THANK YOU!

  6. Paul – I am unfamiliar with your philosophies, faith, or site; given that.

    Your “What To Do” are wise, thank you for the whole piece.

    Here’s an observation on Golden Calves and their followers.

    Too many Christians have forgotten wisdom commanded by their Lord; specifically, His “shake off the dust” commandment.

    This commandment is found all three of the Gospels: Matt 10:14, Mark 6:11, Luke 9:5.
    Interestingly, not in John. Which is often recognized as the most “loving” of the Gospels.

    I believe He commanded man to shake the dust specifically because the same fallen nature of man infuses as idolaters and non-idolaters.

    Regardless. Yes, the fight is against idolatry – because as G.K. Chesterton said:
    ‘Once abolish the God and the government becomes the God.’

    The Orwellian lie at the center of all this is that politics is fundamentally different than religion simply because its adherents publicly deny the supranatural effects their thoughts and beliefs.

    This deception is culturally codified in the perversion of “separation of church and state” being read into the Constitution as a principle pari passu to the 1st Amendment’s “free exercise” of religion.

    Once this was accomplished, relativism became the new Golden Calf.

    The only question that remains is this: Will “shake the dust” command, or will the path become the one taken after the Lincoln – Douglas debates?

    Thank you again for a great piece.


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