Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Of Governments, Priests, Kleptocrats & Religious Fanatics

Of Governments, Priests, Kleptocrats & Religious Fanatics

Why is centralised authority ( Government) necessary?

This is how typical interviews of primitive people by a cultural anthropologist went: "..woman after woman, when asked to name her husband, named several sequential husbands who had died violent deaths. A typical answer went like this: "My first husband was killed by raiders. My second husband was killed by a man who wanted me, and who became my third husband. That husband was killed by the brother of my second husband, seeking to avenge his murder."

So, the primary function of centralised authority ( Governments with Kings or Presidents as the head ) was to ensure law and order

(This institute of orderliness originated from Chiefdoms, first described around 7500 BC -where people who weren't related had to coexist without killing themselves.

The chief was a permanent centralized authority, made all significant decisions, and had a monopoly on critical information (such as what a neighboring chief was privately threatening, or what harvest the gods had supposedly promised).

The commoners brought their goods to him and he redistributes them ( thus the farmer got animal products from the Hunter and the Hunter got farm produce from the farmer in this way )

When a large portion of the goods received from commoners was not redistributed to them but was retained and consumed by the chiefly lineages and craftspeople, the redistribution became tribute, a precursor of taxes that made its first appearance in these chiefdoms. )

Unfortunately, these Governments can also function unabashedly as kleptocracies, transferring net wealth from commoners to upper classes- in the process, there is a jettisoning of all the egalitarian ( all men are equal) principles

(Kleptocracy-is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often with pretense of honest service.)

For any ranked society, whether a chiefdom or a state, one thus has to ask: why do the commoners tolerate the transfer of the fruits of their hard labor to kleptocrats?

Because such Kleptocrats run the risk of being overthrown if they lost public support ( via elections, coups, revolutions), they had to devise means to prevent this. These included:

1. Use of the monopoly of force to promote happiness, by maintaining public order and curbing violence.

2. construction of an ideology or religion justifying kleptocracy.

People have supernatural beliefs which originally did not: justify central authority, justify transfer of wealth, or maintain peace between unrelated individuals.

Kleptocrats made such beliefs to gain this function

When such supernatural beliefs gained those functions and became institutionalized, they were thereby transformed into what we term a religion.

From time immemorial, Chiefs ( Kings, Presidents ) have supported a separate group of kleptocrats (that is, priests) whose function is to provide ideological justification for the Chiefs.( Cue visits of Presidents to religious leaders in recent times )

That is why chiefdoms devote so much collected tribute to constructing temples and other public works, which serve as centres of the official religion and visible signs of the Chief's power.

Pix 1: is the dreaded Christian Crusader. The first Crusade was launched on 27 November 1095 by Pope Urban II with the primary goal of responding to an appeal from Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, who originally wanted to repel invading Turks.

Pix 2 is that of the late Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire - who built a highly centralized state and amassed a large personal fortune ( $4-15 billion) through economic exploitation and corruption

Pix 4: is Bishop David Oyedepo - who is currently barred from entering the UK

and under scrutiny by the UK authority. In 2012, he had a fleet of private jets and a £93 million fortune

Besides justifying the transfer of wealth to kleptocrats, institutionalized religion brings two other important benefits to centralized societies:

1. shared ideology or religion helps solve the problem of how unrelated individuals are to live together without killing each other—by providing them with a bond not based on kinship or family

2. it gives people a motive, other than genetic self-interest, for sacrificing their lives on behalf of others. ( this is the origin of the religious zealot- the Fanatic)

Thus, at the cost of a few society members who die in battle as soldiers, the whole society becomes much more effective at conquering other societies or resisting attacks.

Naturally, what makes patriotic and religious fanatics such dangerous opponents is not the deaths of the fanatics themselves, but their willingness to accept the deaths of a fraction of their number in order to annihilate or crush their infidel enemy.

Pix 3 is Shakir Wahiyib, the fierce enforcer ( read: cold-blooded murderer) of ISIS ( Islamic State of Iraq & Syria) .

It is said that his face is the last thing his victims see before they lose their heads!

(Inspiration from the book: Guns, Germs & Steel)



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