Showing posts from June, 2015

Politics grows out of religion

Alongside every religion lies some political opinion which is linked to it by affinity. If the human mind is allowed to follow its own bent, it will regulate political society and the City of God in the same uniform manner and will, I dare say, seek to harmonize earth and heaven. — Alexis de Tocqueville [1]  — Tocqueville is on to something here. I would argue, however, that the connection between religion and political opinion is a stronger one than mere affinity. It is more accurate to say that politics grows out of religion . This is so regardless of the religion in question, even those that are not usually recognized as such. The self-proclaimed secular man, for instance, who is the first to shout, “Separation of church and state!” is in reality no less religious than the most fundamental of Christian fundamentalists; nor is he seeking any the less to “harmonize earth and heaven” in accordance with his religious views. Their respective religions are quite different, but t

Let us not withdraw into silence

In his Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville makes an important observation about the power of the majority and its tendency to shame, intimidate, and silence those who speak the truth.  In America, the majority has staked out a formidable fence around thought. Inside those limits a writer is free but woe betide him if he dares to stray beyond them. Not that he need fear an auto-da-f é but he is the victim of all kinds of unpleasantness and everyday persecutions. A political career [or a ministerial calling] is closed to him for he has offended the only power with the capacity to give him an opening. He is denied everything, including renown. Before publishing his views, he thought he had supporters; it seems he has lost them once he has declared himself publicly; for his detractors speak out loudly and those who think as he does, but without his courage, keep silent and slink away. He gives in and finally bends beneath the effort of each passing day, withdrawing into silenc