Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Blind Faith & UnQuestioning Obedience To Authority

Human Behaviour

All religions have based morality on obedience, that is to say, on voluntary slavery. That is why they have always been more pernicious than any political organization. For the latter makes use of violence, the former —of the corruption of the will.
Alexander Herzen 

Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.
Leonardo da Vinci

The defiance of established authority, religious and secular, social and political, as a world-wide phenomenon may well one day be accounted the outstanding event of the last decade. 
Hannah Arendt

Both secular and religious ideologies often demand a high level of obedience to articles of faith; this includes the Abrahamic religions such as Judaism, Islam and Christianity, where among the most zealous and conservative believers, the biblical narrative is considered both God-inspired and fixed in time. It's a permanent record, not subject to change or modern interpretation.

The reasoning is as follows: how could one change, alter, that is, the “perfect”word of God? Thus, its narrative does not ever progress with new knowledge or information. Such is the way with hard-core conservatives, who by dint of their views want to conserve the past; this is in their view a preservation of tradition and continuity.

Secular ideologies like Marxism, Communism, Fascism, Stalinism and its various hybrids and combinations also demand unquestioning loyalty, fealty so to speak, to the state and its overarching ideology of obedience to the state. Of course, it's always easier for many persons to stop thinking and give in to authority, without question or thought on how it harms the individual self. To let authority figures speak for an individual not only undermines the sense of self, but robs him of a highly developed sense of identity and individuality. Authoritarians, whether religious or secular, share a common desire for uniformity in thinking and in action. The idea is to remove the individual from society.

One way is to instill in its citizens a dress code, often bland and unexceptional, using dark or neutral colours such as grey or black. The idea is to remove the individual's desire for personal expression in lieu of collective expression; and, only the leader can dress differently, if he so desires; he is after all the exceptional one. Such explains, why to a great degree, societies that live under authoritarian regimes dress in similar fashion, looking at conformity as desirable and non-conformity as social deviance (Examples of highly authoritarian structuralized regimes that come to mind are the former Maoist China, current Marxist North Korea and Islamist nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan; see Democracy Index 2012).

Such are outward signs or symbols. More important is the realm of ideas and its establishment of an ideological framework that appeals to the masses. It is in this way that individuals are inculcated and “brainwashed” into blind, unquestioning acceptance of its overarching ideology. Fear tactics, linked to a police state and morality squads, often work in conjunction to ensure that non-conformists are dealt with in the harshest terms possible, often by making such free thinkers public examples.

This has historically included such methods as show trials, public humiliations, public whippings, and public executions. Violence has the intended effect. All of this is done to set an example to the public that disobedience and questioning of the long-held traditions and views will not only be tolerated in any fashion but also punished swiftly and without compassion.

The central idea behind such punitive and humiliating measures is to quash dissent and encourage common consent and silence. Its use continues because it is effective. It works, to a large degree, in all repressive non-religious regimes. But such regimes eventually collapse under the weight of its internal policies. Religion, however, keeps on growing, adding new “believers”; the religious meme is much stronger and resistant to any thoughtful analysis. It's blind faith, pure and simple, and that's how leading religious leaders like it. So do, unfortunately, may of the faithful, looking to their God and their particular narrative to answer all important life questions.

All this is done in the safety and encouragement of a community of like-minded individuals, the majority within such communities not seeing a need to question anything. The small minority that do often eventually leave, their questions not suitabably answered, dismissed out of hand as having a lack of faith in the official narrative, face ostracization and condemnation—even so, such is a small price to pay for individual liberty and freedom from blind faith.


  1. Dogmas that demand bind faith may also restrict music, as Mao and Khomeini did and as Plato advocated.

    1. Yes, since music is often a form of free individual expression.


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