Sunday, April 17, 2011

Libertarians Atheists as "Co-travelers" With the Theocrats

Just as there are different types of believers, there are also different types of atheists.  One type that has perplexed me for some time are those who are also libertarians.  Specifically, I am confounded by the fact that they usually place their libertarianism at the forefront of all their decision making.  This is especially confounding when it causes them to give political support to politicians who are unabashed theocrats.

These theocratic politicians are almost always Republicans, and the libertarian atheists are seduced by their promises of lower taxes and "fiscal responsibility".  As anyone who has been paying attention to the political scene in the U.S. in the last thirty years knows, these promises are lies.  The Republican strategy since Reagan has been to spend profligately, increase the national debt, and then leave the problem for the next Democrat in office to fix.

When a politician incurs debt on behalf of the voting public, he is raising taxes.  The fact that he doesn't explicitly raise taxes to cover the debt during his administration just means he is playing a dishonest shell game in which he shifts the blame to the more responsible politicians who will follow him and have to deal with the mess he made.

Such a politician has effectively raised taxes without most people noticing.  This is true for three reasons:  1. He has incurred a debt that the voter must repay but didn't give the borrowed money to the voter; 2. by borrowing money he has caused interest rates to be higher; and 3. he has caused the amount of money in circulation to increase, which makes the rest of the money (i.e., the money in the voters' pockets) less valuable.

The question of whether or not to support such politicians is not just a question of whether we have more economic liberty.  This is a question of the direction of humanity:  Do we roll back the enlightenment and just pretend it was all a mistake? (Except for the advances in weapons technology, of course.)  Then crawl into a new dark age with better weapons?  That is where voting for theocrats will lead.

Make no mistake, the current alleged incarnation of libertarianism, the Tea Party, is just the religious right in disguise.  The fact that they are disguising themselves speaks volumes about what type of people they are and their agenda.

The right wing in America today is trying to re-create the conditions of the dark ages--though probably without realizing that is what they are doing.  They are trying to destroy the middle class economically and return control of education to the church.

I am going to say this as nicely as I can:  Those atheists with a libertarian bent seem so obsessed with the fact that they have to pay income taxes and wear seat belts that they have completely lost sight of the bigger picture. Paying taxes and wearing seat belts will seem like anarchy compared to what the religious right want to make you do.

For atheists in the U.S., I don't think there really is any place to go.  There are some societies right now that are better in some ways, but each one has its drawbacks that offset the improvements. And, given that the U.S. has a huge thermonuclear arsenal, moving away and letting the lunatics take control could kill you no matter where you go.

For the moment I would say support any effort to fight the religious right and their current political arm, the Republican party.  The best thing to do is to become as politically active as possible, including dropping hints in the ears of those who are already freethinkers, just as we might drop a hint or ask the right question of a believer who is beginning to see through the veil. One of our biggest problems is that we are very independent by nature and our opponents are the opposite.  They compulsively organize; we don't even like the suggestion.  But we have little choice.

In short, help shape opinions, vote, join organizations, give money or time, and don't be afraid to speak up in a judicious and effective manner. And, my personal opinion is that we should not be obsessed with ideological purity.  If my choice at the polls is between two candidates who are more theocratic than I like, I will vote for the less theocratic.

Finally, I would like to say this to those libertarian atheists who vote for Republicans:  If a person votes for people who would strip him of everything, even his most basic rights, and who may even harbor secret desires to kill that person, just to avoid paying a little more in taxes, then I think that person has simply adopted a different "religion" and needs to re-evaluate his priorities--quickly.

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