THE CASE FOR AGNOSTICISM ABOUT POLITICS

SFL Staff

It is most likely because they are both so much like each other in the abstract. Both are systems of authority. In religion there are priests and pastors, in politics there are politicians. In religion there are churches, synagogues, and mosques, in politics there are voting booths and town halls. In religion there are protestants, Catholics, and Muslims, in politics there are Democrats and Republicans. Both are involved with deeply held beliefs about the world around them. Both are uncomfortable to talk about at the Thanksgiving table. Both are uniting and divisive at the same time. Both have their mottos and talking points. For religion, you can hear a Catholic repeat the words “Christ is always with you” to multiple people on a missionary trip. In politics, you can hear a progressive repeat the words “no victim, no crime” during a signature outing. The list goes on and on.

However I would like to make the case that in this comparison, classical liberals are the agnostics of politics. They preach a philosophy of complexity and uncertainty in the world. The only certainty the classical liberal has (which is more than vague) is that people have goals and people aim to hit those goals. The goals could be literally anything, short-term or long-term. The goal could be a successful career, getting laid during a night out, or visiting grandma every Sunday. Furthermore, it is probable that everyone has multiple goals and these goals compete with each other with different levels of preference. That is the driving force behind classical liberalism. We also make an assumption that people don’t want to be acted violently against (as in don’t want to get murdered, stole from, raped, or hurt), but everyone seems to make this assumption to varying degrees, which makes it more of a background assumption. These two assumptions pretty much make up the philosophy of classical liberalism and libertarianism. It is a basic philosophy within a complex system. Just like the agnostic position within the scope of theology.

To make this clear, the religious agnostic position is that humans are either too limited, god is too complex, or there is too much to know in the universe to possibly make a knowledge statement on the existence of god or his participation within the universe.

In the context of liberalism and politics, classical liberals assert that humans are too limited, human communities are too complex, or there is too much to know within an economy to make a knowledge statement on what is best for everyone or how to direct an economy. It is principally agnostic. However, socialists and conservatives are the gnostics of politics. They purport themselves to have the secret knowledge to what makes humanity tick. Conservatives have the secret knowledge that it would be best for society to limit gay marriage or keep cannabis illegal. Democrats have the secret knowledge that it would be best for the economy if minimum wage were raised to $15. Socialists and authoritarians have the most secret knowledge that they can run every facet of the economy via central planning, which is probably the most hideous gnosticism of the them all. It is hideous and arrogant because it asserts that they basically know the underlying motivation behind every human action and thus how to guide it. This gnosticism of central planning has created some of the most unsavory human conditions in the Soviet Union, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Socialists claim to know the will of god within politics, liberals advocate based on their own uncertainties.