False Worship (1916)

August 21, 2018

 

The most serious symptom of disease in this nation is that it is impossible to make men believe that there can arise situations and problems of destiny that cannot be negotiated through the ordinary avenues of expression, i.e., by words and discussion.  Their contrary belief is the direct cause of our treating such a vital fact as government as though its comprehension could be acquired through the medium of certain word-equivalents, and that, too, by a mass of people who, in learning the ideas that these word equivalents stand for, imagine they are thereby made competent, to judge these matters for themselves.  If such belief of theirs I questioned, they unconsciously restate such belief by asking, “What would you propose instead? “Or “Who would you get to govern us? “ The only reply that can be made is, that such questions of vital importance as government are not negotiable in words, or by question and answer; and that the Great Idea (or Conceit) of professedly democratic peoples that such questions are possible matters of discussion, is in itself but that same disease by whose symptoms of spiritual paralysis they are all affected-not only in politics, but in every field of thought whose foundations are laid on literal conceptions.  The most mischievous class at present that afflicts society are those who, honestly or not, make themselves mouthpieces of these popular conceptions, and who attempt to realize these theoretical political conceptions in practice; or those who merely pander for self-interested ends to such beliefs in the mass of the people.  The sad results are that the nation has become educated in ideas of government that they have imposed on themselves but are not knowledge; that they are bankrupt of any saving political sense; and that their self-imposition has led to their becoming dupes of a class of imposters who are mostly self-imposed on themselves.  They have all become, in truth, the superstitious victims of a false worship.

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