Religion and politics : collectivist blood brothers part 3
7. They are both the opiates of the masses, and the parasites of the masses. Both religion and government are parasites on the intelligence, creativity and productivity of individuals - and they themselves produce nothing of substance unless such production can lead to more popularity or support for the belief system. They are also parasites on people's minds in the sense that once you have convinced someone that without God there is no purpose or morality, or that without government there is no society or morality (and in the case of all-encompassing political ideologies, purpose too), and that you have everyone convinced that there is no alternative, you've got an all-encompassing worldview that is very hard to shake off. Finally, they both prey on the least fortunate, by exploiting them while making them believe that God/government will solve all their problems (in this world or in the next). Pocket dictators keep 80% of the world's population in servitude and poverty for their own unbridled greed for power, riches and status (and then come together at the UN's tables to promote "human rights").
There is, however, one important difference : government enslaves bodies first, minds second, while religion enslaves minds first, bodies second.
8. They both seek to stratify society between the ruling class (those who have authority) and the masses (those who don't). Within the ruling class, there are different sub-categories :
the leaders - Both the figureheads, their acolytes, and the bureaucrats who take the day-to-day decisions. In politics we have a clear body of government that delimitates this. In religion, it depends on the sect - the Catholic Church is perhaps the best known stratified and organized structure, but each sect has its own leaders.
the goons - Those who use force or intimidation to further the leaders' agenda. In politics you have the police and military as main tools of force. Religions do not need organized coercion because religion is predicated on subverting man's mind, and you don't need force when you have already enslaved people's minds. Nevertheless, they still have their media snipers (like Robert Falwell or Bill O'Reilly), and the state's extensive goon network can sometimes serve religious interests, depending on how much separation of church and state there is.
the shills - Those who are paid or supported by the leadership and therefore tend to promote the belief system. For government, you have the academia, some of the media, unions (if you have a syndicalist government), and religion. For religion, theologians and religious charities would enter in this category.
the amoral technocrats - Those who don't necessarily take a moral position but whose work still sustains the belief system. Doctors, engineers, military officers, public school teachers enter in this category. I don't think there's really anything corresponding to this in the religious area, although the way the Catholic Church tries to co-opt scientists these days is perhaps analogous.
I have a hard time fitting televangelists in these categories, however. They are not leaders in the organizational sense but more like rogue power-brokers, multi-millionaire traveling salesmen, who also use intimidation to try to suppress opposition, and also use their vast influence to shill their own brand of religion. It seems to me like televangelists are parasites on religion - parasites of parasites ! What a thought.
Also, there are two sub-categories within the masses :
the workhorses - Also called the "middle class". They must be exploited as much as possible without actually getting them to complain too much so they stop working for your benefit.
the victims - Also called the "lower class". Their needs and free time makes them perfect ideological tools. These are the people you have to pretend to help, while actually manipulating them for your belief system.
Extreme forms of religion and government cannot co-exist, because they are both collectivist parasites of the same kind. When historically you see an extreme form of religion (examples : Catholicism in the Middle Ages, Islam now), you will see that it has taken over the laws and the coercive power in its area. When you see an extremely developed form of government (examples : Nazism, Communism, totalitarism in general), you will see it take over the religious institutions in its area or try to eliminate them.
When they co-exist in milder forms, synergy can exist. In Western societies, we have the basic concept of separation of church and state, keeping them away from each other's throats, but the state supports the church monetarily (absence of taxation, subsidies for religious charities, letting "religious schools" operate) and most religious sects validate and justify the state's existence through their teachings. You could argue that the United States' government is being subverted right now by the fundamentalist agenda, but that's another issue. But all in all, the separation of church and state only ensures that the two tyrants of church and state won't have the opportunity to fight for dominance - it is of little benefit to the individual. Getting whacked by a policeman who works for the church or for the government doesn't make much difference to your spleen.
There is one last resemblance : the necessity of government is a fiction, just like the necessity of God is a fiction. Both are extremely harmful to the individualist thirst for progress that has brought mankind up from its natural state and into our modern values and our modern world, and still oppress billions of unfortunate today. To these problems, the only fundamental answer is : individualism.