Sam Harris, briefly on Statism as not religious...
Welcome to the Waking Up podcast. For today’s episode, I’ve decided to do an “Ask Me Anything” podcast. I solicited questions on Twitter, and got some hundreds of them, so I’ll do my best to answer as many as I can over the next hour or so.
Q. I like you, but as an atheist, I find statism to be a dangerous form of religion and I won’t paint a billion people as barbarians.
S.H. Okay, well there are two axes to grind there.
This whole business about “statism” I find profoundly uninteresting. This is a separate conversation about the problems of U.S. foreign policy, the problems of bureaucracy, the problems of the tyranny of the majority, or the tyranny of empowered minorities (oligarchy)—these are all topics worth thinking about. But to compare a powerful state per se with the problem of religion is to make a hash of everything that’s important to talk about here. And the idea that we could do without a powerful state at this point is just preposterous.
If you’re an anarchist, you’re either fifty or a hundred years before your time (not withstanding what I just said about artificial intelligence), or you’re an imbecile. We need the police, we need the fire department, we need people to pave our roads, we can’t privatize all that stuff, and privatizing it would beget its own problems.
So, whenever I hear someone say, “You worship the religion of the State,” I know I’m in the presence of someone who isn’t ready for a conversation about religion, and isn’t ready to talk about the degree to which we rely, and are wise to rely, on the powers of a well-functioning government. In so far as our government doesn’t function well, then we have to change it. We have to resist its overreach into our lives. But behind this concern about statism is always some confusion about the problem of religion.
This person ends his almost-question with “I won’t’ paint a billion people as barbarians.” Well, neither will I. Again, when I criticize Islam, I’m criticizing the doctrine of Islam—and in so far as people adhere to it to the letter, then I get worried.
There will be much more on this topic when I publish my book with Maajid Nawaz. I originally said that was happening in June, but that’s unfortunately been pushed back to October, as it’s still hard to publish a physical book, apparently. You’ll have your fill of our thoughts about how to reform Islam when that comes out.
mye2cents worth? i see a response, but not much of an answer by Harris; sadly (if not religiously) enuff.
Is it voluntary? (because if it isn't, what inherently is it?)
And can it be voluntary, if there's indoctrination, intimidation, coercion, threats & initiation of violence?
[not to be confused with asking: can it be said to be "voluntary" even when such is present.?]