What a Racket

Some more on this stipulation problem. On why ‘this pleases Allah’ and ‘this angers Allah’ are not the best criteria for what should go in a constitution – any more than ‘what would Jesus do’ is the best question for a 21st century polititian to ask himself.

Because it all depends on one’s conception of Allah or Jesus, for one thing. And guess what – people (my, what a suprise) have a tendency to conceptualize Jesus and Allah according to their own existing wants and opinions and deficits. If they don’t score all that well on the altruism or fairness or humility scale, well, their god is going to have a tendency to arrange things so that they get what they want and people who are in their power get screwed – and then they will call that outcome ‘what pleases Allah’ thus making it not just the way powerful men have arranged things to their own advantage, but Holy and Sacred and Right – so that not only will it never change, but everyone will respect it and worship it and revile anyone who criticizes or questions it. Quite a nice little racket.

And there’s no appeal, which is another reason those are not the best criteria, and why religion should be kept firmly out of government and politics. Because there is no one to file a grievance with and no way to second-guess the results. That’s how it works when you have a Book written 1500 years ago and a god who is never around to ask for updates. Very damn convenient, isn’t it!

‘Sorry – we’d love to let you have basic rights, like being allowed to walk around in the world without asking anyone’s permission, but it would anger Allah, so it’s out.’ ‘Oh yeah? You sure that’s not just your idea? Let’s ask Allah.’ ‘No can do. He’s not here. We can ask the imam.’ ‘I don’t care what the imam says, the imam will just say what you said, you probably asked the imam before you said it – you guys are all in this together. I want to take it to the top!’ ‘Not possible. Unless you want to get yourself one of those rucksacks, of course…’

Very very convenient. He makes the rules, according to what pleases him or pisses him off – but he’s never around to corroborate. There really is a serious design flaw with this whole arrangement. It’s just not the way to do things. You don’t set up a rule-system with a yes-no, on-off mechanism involving one guy when the one guy in question is someone who is never available for consultation – do you! Not in the real world you don’t. Dickens novels sometimes work that way, but other than that, it doesn’t fly.

That’s the problem with the whole supernatural thing. It’s such a perfect alibi, such an excuse, such a cop-out. Imagine other people trying that. The boss, the landlord, the merchant. ‘Hey! Where’s my paycheck? My roof just collapsed! Where’s that shipment of éclairs?’ Silence. ‘Hey!! Where do we go to file a grievance? How do we re-negotiate the contract?’ Some guy in a mitre strolls up. ‘You don’t, of course. The CEO is transcendent, the CEO is supernatural, the CEO is ineffable, and dwells in a region apart. Obviously you can’t re-negotiate anything. Have a nice day.’ Guy in mitre strolls away again. You’re screwed.

And people sign up to this arrangement voluntarily. It’s staggering. ‘Yes, please be the boss of me and tell me what to do based on outdated oppressive rules and hierarchies and never let me think rationally about any of it because that would be Displeasing to The Great Absent One. Thank you so much, now would you please kick me as hard as possible? Thank you and come back soon.’

Transcendence is a beautiful thing.

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