Down with Monotheism

Monotheism amounts to an imperialistic assertion of primacy. That sounds like one of those wild-eyed slogans from the radical left or right. But in fact it is simple statement of what drives quite a lot of both domestic and international politics.

Let’s start close to home. In both Britain and the US there is a big problem with past imperial grandeur. The Brits just can’t get over their lost empire, and they keep doing completely illogical and crazy things (e.g. Brexit) in hopes of getting it back. The fact that the world has changed since then, with new powers and new bases for strength doesn’t register. Since the empire is taken to be an expression of British superiority (and of God’s grace raining down on Britain) there is no reason why it can’t just happen again. There is only one God and he’s ours.

The US has a similar problem, just a little later in time. We had the 1950’s and even 60’s when in the years following the destruction of the World War II the US was unquestionably the world’s only remaining superpower. If anything we were MORE dominant than the British as their peak. And we’re just a blind in looking back to it. Our dominance was a result of national superiority and God’s grace. We are the chosen rulers of the world and there’s nothing that ought to stop that.

The Chinese and the Russians have similar issues. Having lived in Italy at one point, there’s more than a bit of it (going back several centuries) there.

The Old Testament (as I understand it) had a more limited notion of monotheism: each nation had it’s own god or gods and international struggles were also struggles of those gods. That sounds a little more accurate. Contemporary monotheism amounts to assertions of primacy. An astounding percentage of Americans are ready to talk about God’s protective shield over the US and our God-given role in running the rest of the world. That gets in the way of any notion international cooperation or any workable national objectives. With God on your side reality just doesn’t matter.

The Brit have already driven themselves to at least a short-term future of poverty. It is relevant to notice-although seldom mentioned-that the pre-EO version of Britain was much slower than the continent in recovering from World War II and generally poorer per capita.

The US is on the brink of doing the same thing. We’ve got a dictatorial theocracy going, as well as a “we don’t need anyone” ethos on the right that denies any need to interact with the rest of the world except under terms of dominance. Furthermore the pervasive xenophobia denies the (currently enormous) contribution of foreigners to economic strength of the US.

However the biggest problems are not even that. As climate change and also Covid and the Ukraine crisis show us, we have only one world. All our national gods are going to have to cooperate if we’re going to get out of this mess. Enough with national monotheism.

Originally published at http://ontheoutside.blog on August 1, 2022.

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