Guest: Benjamin Wiker
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Dr. Benjamin Wiker is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute and the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. He’s the Author of “Worshipping the State: How Liberalism Became Our State Religion.”
Dr. Wiker believes we are creeping towards worship of the state. He explains why liberals aren’t more critical of Islam and why they hate Christianity. The very liberal Obama Administration apparently ignored the explicit, written warnings in 2012 from a Saudi Arabian official about the soon-enough-to-be Boston bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Find out more about Benjamin Wiker at www.benjaminwiker.com.
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JASON HARTMAN: It’s my pleasure to welcome Dr. Benjamin Wiker to the show! He’s a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. His most recent book is entitled Worshipping The State: How Liberalism Became Our State Religion, and I think this’ll be a great topic to explore. Benjamin, welcome, how are you?
BENJAMIN WIKER: I’m doing just fine, thanks for having me!
JASON HARTMAN: Well, the pleasure is all mine. And you’re coming to us from Ohio today, is that correct?
BENJAMIN WIKER: That is correct.
JASON HARTMAN: Fantastic. Well, in today’s day and age, and this is obviously, hopefully obvious to all listening, this is a very good question, and a valid topic. And that is, are we creeping towards worship of the state? Is the state our new God?
BENJAMIN WIKER: Well, I wish it were just mere hyperbole or metaphor here. But I’m making the argument in the book that it isn’t. If we just look back over the last 200 years, what we see is a very strong pattern where secular states—that is, states that self-consciously reject God, end up acting as God. It’s as if the people transform themselves not by becoming none-worshipping things, but they transfer that worship from God to the state, and that, in a way, makes sense, right? If you get rid of God, what’s the biggest thing in the universe that’s gonna help you? Well, it’s actually going to be where the greatest power is concentrated, and that’s gonna be the state. That’s where you’re gonna look for your salvation. So it’s no accident that we have, over the last, say, 200 years—the French Revolution and forward, a series of secular states in which the people literally worship the state itself. There’s a state religion, or the state government acts like the church, in directing worship to whatever its product is. This can be communism, Nazism, Fascism, but it can also be all the various kinds of socialism; soft socialism, progressivism, all have actual religious roots that can be traced historically. And that’s why they gather so much power to themselves, and the states become like a mini God.
JASON HARTMAN: So, just so people know where I’m coming from—I agree with your premise, by the way. But if someone doesn’t agree with that premise—I mean, you look at atheism throughout the world, and throughout history; do people need to—I guess the fundamental question, Benjamin, is, do people need to believe in something? Or is it possible to just have a vacuum, if you will, where people can be independent, libertarian-esque thinkers, they can be Ayn Rand followers, they can not believe in the state, they can not believe in God, or—I think a skeptic would say, why is it one or the other? Or is it one of the other? Why does there need to be anything? Can’t I just, you know, it would be the new age mentality—can’t I just believe in myself? [LAUGHTER].
BENJAMIN WIKER: Well, that was actually one of the problems, interestingly enough. A lot of the actual worship of the state can from the affirmation of the secular desire to transfer worship from God to human beings. If you go to the 19th century with a Frenchman named Auguste Comte, he literally trots out a new religion! You know, God doesn’t exist, but we should worship ourselves, because we can be—when we’re the object of worship, we can get through our mere human effort all the things that, say, Christianity promised in the next life. So, there is a real—a sense in which the notion, well, can’t we just worship our selves, can’t we just treat ourselves as the highest object—well, yes, that’s exactly what happened in communism, that’s exactly what happened with state socialism, and so on, where you have human beings raised up to the position of God, and the notion is, if we do this, we’ll actually make progress toward a kind of heaven on earth. So, yeah. I’m sure there’s lots of atheists out there that are skeptical of government. But we’re looking at the major trends that we find. And these major trends have really destructive consequences. I mean, communism slaughtered tens of millions of people because they believed—
JASON HARTMAN: Tens of millions? I’d say that number’s probably over 100 million.
BENJAMIN WIKER: It is, it is over 100 million. Even in Russia alone you’re talking 40-50 million. So you know, what happens when people say, well, there is no higher power defining good and evil. It isn’t that people become suddenly nicer. It’s that they realize, hey, if we’re going to define our own existence, that means we should be able to define every aspect of our own existence. That may lead some people to be nice, where nice means, but it also has led many others to be absolutely ruthless, because there’s no higher power governing or judging their actions.
JASON HARTMAN: But can’t—the non-believers would say, can’t you just be a good person? [LAUGHTER]. I guess they couldn’t use the Golden Rule as an example, but, can’t you—
BENJAMIN WIKER: They can use the Silver Rule.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, whatever, you know. Can’t you just be a good person, and do the right thing, and be good to your fellow man?
BENJAMIN WIKER: Well, that’s a good question. In fact, these questions have been asked for longer than we may realize. In the 1700s, even late 1600s, that question was asked with the most seriousness with the man, his name is Benedict Spinoza, whom I treat in Worshipping the State. The point is, hey, here’s an atheist. He was a great guy. Or so, you know, allegedly, he was very moral. So, if atheists can be moral, what does religion add? Oh, it doesn’t add anything, why can’t we just be moral? Well at that time there was general agreement about what it meant to be moral. The problem is, over time, say, jump three centuries hence, now you have disagreement about what it means to be good at all. Even what it means to be human. Let me give a quick example. If you believe human beings are made in the image of God, and hence of a special moral status, you’ll treat them one way. If you believe they’re just another kind of an animal, then you’ll treat them in the way—they deserve to be treated in the way you would another animal. So, for example, what happens when your dog gets old?
Well, we all know. We hate to face it, but you go have him put down. Well, what happens when Granny gets old? Well, if she’s just another animal, it would be humane to have euthanasia. Well, if you are a Christian, or part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, then you think euthanasia is an affront, a moral affront. So notice to be good means two different things, now; to the atheist, it would mean we should have euthanasia, and the state should not only support it, but should actively provide it. Christians are going to say, from their moral position, no, this is awful! We don’t want this! Human beings are not just another animal! They’re made in the image of God! So, you’ve got a fundamental disagreement about what it means to be good.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah. I—I understand the thing. I think you could even use a better example of that, and that is the abortion debate.
BENJAMIN WIKER: Yeah, absolutely.
JASON HARTMAN: I recently saw something the other day, one of those little memes that float around the Internet, and some of those have so much truth to them, it’s just great. And it basically talked about the exploration of space, and Mars in particular, and so, it said, if scientists find this little cell, microscopic organism on Mars, they’ll call it life. But when they see a, you know, a fetus, that’s not life [LAUGHTER]. And of course that’s so illogical. I mean, liberalism is just so illogical from almost every angle.
BENJAMIN WIKER: Yeah. But there is a disagreement about good.
JASON HARTMAN: Well, there it’s property. But on the euthanasia debate, the person suffering may want to be euthanized. That’s the difference. Where the baby has no choice.
BENJAMIN WIKER: Well, certainly not, yeah. But I’m simply talking about the—when you’re looking at a moral conflict in our society, we have radical differences about what it means to be good now. So it’s no longer enough for an atheist to say, well, can’t we just agree to disagree about God? And then let’s all be nice to each other. We’ll be nice. Well. being good isn’t something that occurs on shared ground now. And you used the example of abortion. If you can’t agree on whether this is a person or not, whether it’s living or not, whether it’s a human being or not, then you can’t agree on anything. You’ve got no common ground to even say what is good or bad in that situation, what is morally good or evil. So, that’s the reason we can’t rest with that old notion, let’s just agree to disagree about God. Because we can all be good. Well, we don’t agree on what’s good anymore.
JASON HARTMAN: Well, and that is most certainly true, because nowadays, the concept of good seems to be really moving toward the idea of, what can I get, rather than, what can I contribute? It seems to be, like, good is certainly portrayed in almost every Hollywood scenario, television, motion pictures, as getting away with things. And you even see the way people brag about it in social media. Getting away with something, working the system, getting the upper hand. And I just remember hearing it from Earl Nightingale many years ago, when he said—it was a good quote. He said, a gentleman is someone who has the advantage but doesn’t take it. And nowadays, the culture is just—it’s just moving like a freight train! Galloping toward the idea of not what is right and what is good, it’s what can I get, or what can I get away with. So, talk about a declining standard of morality!
BENJAMIN WIKER: Yeah.
JASON HARTMAN: And the government encourages that! The state actually encourages it!
BENJAMIN WIKER: Well, they gain from it.
JASON HARTMAN: Well, good point. You mean, pandering to voting blocks, right?
BENJAMIN WIKER: Yeah, I mean, if people themselves cannot come to moral agreement about anything, they have to call on a third party with power. So literally, fomenting as much disagreement as possible actually gives the states the power to say, we’re the ones that need to now decide what you’re gonna be able to do. And the more you have people grasp things without any kind of notion of duty, well the more they’re gonna go to whoever’s handing out the goodies. They don’t want to do it themselves; that would take effort on their part, both moral and economic. So, you create for yourself kind of a clientele, which makes state that much stronger.
JASON HARTMAN: It absolutely does. And you’ve seen—that’s basically the, I guess the result, I don’t want to say that it’s the premise. But the result of Marxism. Workers of the world unite! And so they did, in a few cases. And you saw the impending devastation on humanity follow, you know?
BENJAMIN WIKER: Yes, absolutely. And it wasn’t the workers that united; it was the few people at the top, and those few people at the top acted as complete tyrants. They also got, as we know about in Cuba and other places like that, or North Korea, what happens is they end up living like kings at the top, pretending they’re living like the peasants, and you end up living with one of the worst governed states and tyrannies that have existed in human history.
JASON HARTMAN: You know, North Korea is a fascinating place. The hermit regime, you know. It’s just a—I don’t know. I have this morbid fascination with North Korea and communism in general. I mean, it’s weird. I remember when I first got my iPad with the retina display, I went to Google maps, and I looked at North Korea from the air, and I couldn’t believe the detail with which you could see the buildings that the—not that many buildings, but, the underdeveloped country that is unlike the rest of the world, pretty much dark at night.
BENJAMIN WIKER: It is.
JASON HARTMAN: It’s a disaster.
BENJAMIN WIKER: In every way.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, in every way. but I’ve watched a few movies about North Korea, and a few documentaries about it on Netflix. And they worship—well, Kim Jung Il—I mean, I haven’t seen anything since Kim Jung Un took over. But, I mean, our great leader—I mean, he’s like the God!
BENJAMIN WIKER: Yeah.
JASON HARTMAN: And it’s like he’s a deity! I mean, what is it about people—it really goes back to my first question about—you know, I guess it’s the concept of, nature abhors a vacuum, doesn’t it? And when there’s a vacuum, nature, or people’s psyche, looks for something to fill that void.
BENJAMIN WIKER: Yeah. And especially there. I mean, I think in addition you have got what the west rejected—the notion of divine leadership, where you really have the union of a priest-king in the figure. So, you have that kind of thing in the east, more than you had it in the west. And we had our own problems in the west, but not as much. They’ve just taken over that notion of the divine king and united it with communism—what a combination! So you have that, a series of, you know, a dynastic tyrant to the first order, literally crushing these people, but doing it in a way I think that is even more horrifying than it was in the Soviet Union.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah. In many ways that is probably true. Because at least in the Soviet Union it wasn’t always horrifying. It was at certain periods, and you know, I’d say it was always, because communism is not a liberating thing, obviously. But people sort of—if you talk to the older folks, and I’ve been to Russia a couple times, and all over Eastern Europe. But if you talk to the older folks there, it sort of seems like they want the old system back, almost. Because it’s, you know, like you don’t need to put forth too much effort. We pretend we’re working, and they pretend to pay us, and you know.
BENJAMIN WIKER: Yeah, yeah.
JASON HARTMAN: That kind of idea, right?
+BENJAMIN WIKER: Yeah. Well, when North Korea—at least there was kind of a cynicism among the Russians about the government. You know, that kind of deep Russian pessimism, but linked to cynicism—they didn’t think that they were Gods, as much as they tried to make them into that, you know. But here, there is that weird eastern attraction to want to deify a human being that is not part of western culture, that I think it makes it worse. So you think, what’s gonna break these people’s hold? The way that they’re manhandled, continually told that somebody else is causing your problems?
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, well, when you have a complete control of the media, which they seem to, that seems to be pretty much impossible. I mean, they don’t even enjoy, so far as I know, a kind of a radio free Europe idea, that we had during the Cold War. You know, we were broadcasting, and people could pick up signals, and hear other sides, so there was somewhat of a dialogue media. But so far as I know in North Korea, that’s just like a black out. I mean, it’s—
BENJAMIN WIKER: It is. It’s very bad.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, incredible. You know, why is it that—this seems like such a ridiculous irony to me. That on the left, liberals are not critical, generally, of Islam, yet they’re very critical of Christianity. I mean, this makes just no sense to me whatsoever. Can you explain that?
BENJAMIN WIKER: Well, only up to a certain point. At a certain point you have to wave your hand and say what, are you people doing? But you know, here’s the obvious thing, I think, that most people, I guess, who are not on the left recognize—that Islam as such is far more at odds to modern western liberalism than Christianity is. And if suddenly Christianity disappeared, and they were left in a Muslim world, governed by sharia law, they wouldn’t think that Islam was such a wonderful thing. They wouldn’t have Islamophilia; they would have Islamophobia.
JASON HARTMAN: So, what—let me just make sure I understand where you’re coming from here. so you’re saying that Christians allow women to drive, and they don’t stone people to death [LAUGHTER]. Is that what you’re telling us?
BENJAMIN WIKER: Well, it isn’t just that. It’s that—we—we are allowing people to disagree. We don’t enjoy it, but we are—we believe that the way to get them to agree on things is by persuasion. And with a certain amount of tolerance in the mean time, Islam just takes the notion that if you are an infidel, then you should be mowed down, you should be killed, you don’t have any choice about that. You either convert, or you pay the tax, or you be killed. That’s the famous three choices you have. And the left can’t take these—what the Islamicists are really saying—I mean, they’re saying that we are trying to impose Islamic law on the world. They really mean that. And to get back to your earlier question, well, why is it the left doesn’t take them seriously—it’s a complicated story, but I’ll boil it down. Liberalism was born in the west, in a Christianized culture. Liberalism is essentially a secular movement. It grew up within Christianized culture, thinking that Christianity was the enemy.
So, if you grow up in a particular culture, you define yourself against it if you’re rejecting it. And so, for liberalism, for several centuries, Christianity was the enemy. Christianity was the worst religion. And they would lift up other religions, so they could downgrade Christianity as you know, with claim to be the truth. Well, there’s all kinds of religions, and look at these wonderful ones, and Islam was lifted up along with Buddhism and Hinduism and so on. These are equally wonderful if not better than Christianity! Look at the bad things Christianity has done!
JASON HARTMAN: Well, that’s the next thing I was going to bring up. You get to these people that, they talk about things that happened hundreds of years ago, if not even longer, and they say, look at all the bad things that Christians have done, the Catholic church has done, look at what the Catholic church does nowadays. But, compared to the contemporary version of Islam and Christianity, I mean, I just don’t know how someone can make that argument.
BENJAMIN WIKER: Well, it’s a matter, in a way, of habit! They’re so used to slamming Christianity, they’ve been doing it for centuries. I mean, that’s a deep habit. And so, they’re so used to looking at Christianity as the bad religion, and since the west is largely formed by Christianity, they tend to have a lot of anti-western, worship of anything but the west, adoration of anything but Christianity. So, they give Islam the benefit of the doubt, and try—literally, ignoring what these Muslims are saying that they’re doing, and then attribute every horrible thing to Christianity in history, and a lot of the time they’re simply wrong about that, that is bad history, it’s mere propaganda against Christianity, so they have a blacker view of Christianity than is actually the case, historically. And they have a whitewashed view of Islam. So they can’t see anything clearly.
JASON HARTMAN: It’s just amazing to me, the way that happens. It just—it just makes no sense. But it seems as though there’s this sort of in the leftist culture there’s this—many of them view themselves as highly intellectual. And people on the right do too, of course. It’s a generalization. Please don’t send me a bunch of emails saying I’m wrong. It’s a generalization, folks. You get it? I know when you generalize, you shouldn’t do it at times. But for the sake of a discussion, sometimes you have to do it for efficiency. So, I mean, they view themselves as worldly, and highly intellectual, and so, then, the natural thing has to be that, oh, the west just doesn’t get it. The west just—they only—they enjoy everything the west offers in terms of standard of living, highly developed infrastructure, economy, but everybody’s just smarter, those liberals in Europe, and in the Middle East, and they just understand things we just don’t understand. Which is of course true, to an extent. But, why is it that people are like that?
BENJAMIN WIKER: Well, let me actually affirm your generalization as true, that liberals do in fact equate liberalism with being educated and being educated with being liberal. That—there’s an historical reason for that, and I’ll—
JASON HARTMAN: Well, certainly they run the university system.
BENJAMIN WIKER: They run the university system, it’s that simple, and that has happened for the last a hundred and say almost fifty years. It’s a longstanding trend, and it happened because America didn’t have graduate schools, and our people looking for PhDs in the 1800s, mid 18 to latter 1800s, went to Europe, and they went to the liberal universities of Germany and they brought back liberalism. That’s what they taught.
JASON HARTMAN: But today—
BENJAMIN WIKER: That’s what they brought back here.
JASON HARTMAN: But even people—even universities in right-leaning states, like my state of Arizona. I mean, you look at ASU, and it is, for a university, it’s considered more balanced. But believe me; those professors there are pretty liberal. A lot of them. Even at ASU. Arizona State University, or al places. You wouldn’t think, right?
BENJAMIN WIKER: Well, it has to do with where you get PhDs. And then the things that are taken to be what must be learned to get that accreditation for whatever your departments are, and what is taken to be legitimate scholarship. So that—those are controlled from the top, largely by the left. So, that’s where you’re gonna get.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, and let me add one more thing to that, if I may. It’s the concept that a university is kind of like a womb. You know, it’s protected from the outside world. If you’re a professor, you’re probably only teaching 12 hours a week, maybe 10, even. And the rest of the time, you know, you sort of live your life in this ivory tower, and most of the people think the way you do, and you’re not challenged, and your students can’t challenge you, because they live in fear that you will give them lower grades. And you know, we’ve seen cases of that. It’s just—you’ve got a pension, you’ve got tenure, you don’t have to compete in the free market. I mean, it’s an ice—it’s an insulated environment, to be sure. So, capitalism doesn’t really apply. It sort of stops at the door of the university.
BENJAMIN WIKER: And it doesn’t have to. And that’s one of the—I end up in Worshipping the State saying, what can we do? If liberalism is becoming our state religion, what do we do? And one of the reasons it is, is because of the hold at the top of our university system. And I argue, don’t just—just don’t throw up our hands! Conservatives are deep thinking. They need to make their arguments. They need to either take over departments and make their cases known, or simply start new schools. Start education from scratch. Whatever it takes. A lot is due to how the universities go. And more conservative people need to make those intellectual resources available at the university level again. They need to take back the universities.
JASON HARTMAN: No question. I agree. I agree. You make the connection in your book, in chapter six, about Machiavelli, and that he invents the secular state in his church. Can you expand on that?
BENJAMIN WIKER: Yeah. This is—the reason we look at Machiavelli—we say gosh, why do we need to look at the 1500s for liberalism? Wasn’t that a 20th century invention? No, it wasn’t invented in the 20th century. In Machiavelli you find the original meaning of—and I argue the most important meaning of liberalism is its liberation from the hold that Christianity had on culture, and liberation for reaffirming a kind of a pagan world in which this world, and our bodily existence in this world, is the highest defining good. That’s what Machiavelli does. He had a twofold movement: I want to liberate you from Christianity, because its morality is too difficult, it turns people into monks, and what we need are soldiers, and liberate us for this world. Don’t worry about Christian morality, don’t worry about the fate of your soul. Work for glory and honor and power in this world, and that’ll make the world a better place. So, Machiavelli makes the first argument for a truly secular state, a state in which the entire goal of the state is simply this worldly glory, honor, and pleasure. And that defines where politics goes.
JASON HARTMAN: That would be very Randian thinking.
BENJAMIN WIKER: Yeah, it is. It is. And he’s Rand—in one sense, I mean, it would sound Randian, but it’s not quite it to understand what Ayn Rand really said. But he’s—morality should not get in the way of us doing what is most effective in government. You know? So that’s where Machiavellianism got a bad name. But he’s largely defined the secular state. Even the secular welfare state, which is our state, is governed by that. It’s not concerned with anything higher than feeding the people. It’s sort of like the old Roman state is bread and service, that’s all that matters. And when it’s bread and service you get a bigger and bigger and bigger state until it finally collapses under its own economic obligations, which sounds threateningly familiar.
JASON HARTMAN: Yes, it sounds like Rome, and it sounds like modern-day America at the same time.
BENJAMIN WIKER: And Europe.
JASON HARTMAN: Oh, and we’re seeing examples of it all over the world. It just amazes me that human beings keep banging their head against the walls with the same ideas that have been—that have never worked throughout history, or throughout geography. There is no example, I say, of success, of big government! And a powerful, onerous state. Now, they wouldn’t call it onerous from the left. But they always go—they always default to the Scandinavian countries, which, in my view, have a completely different set of circumstances, and are somewhat isolated from the world as well, just by their geographical nature.
BENJAMIN WIKER: Geography, yeah.
JASON HARTMAN: And now they’re—
BENJAMIN WIKER: They’re falling apart right now.
JASON HARTMAN: Well, they are starting to. But you look at Norway—
BENJAMIN WIKER: There’s riots over there if it’s so nice—
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, well—tell us about that? I think that’s largely kept out of view. I mean, when I was in Norway several years ago, I remember asking one of the tour guides that I was talking to, I said, what’s the biggest challenge Norway is facing? And here, you’re talking to a country that is rich, in terms of their oil, and all of that. And so, she says, our new countrymen, and so, finally these countries are getting some immigration. And that is going to change things pretty dramatically. You know, when you look at the US, that has always welcomed immigrants, even illegally, as we have been for so many years here—it’s a whole different set of circumstances! But tell us more about Scandinavia, if you would.
BENJAMIN WIKER: Well, you hit the nail on the head. It seem—well, all welfare states seem to work fairly well for a while. That’s what people don’t understand. Sure it does, as long as you can borrow enormous amounts of money, or generate it artificially, you can keep pumping things along. But that’s of course, you know, how large states always eventually collapse. They inflate their money system one way or another. What happened in these little Scandinavian states is, they were able to have these secular governments that gave out all the big money, because they were able to keep their tax base at least for a while, for one reason or another. So they’re able to fund this stuff. Well, why don’t you just let a bunch of immigrants come in? Well of course you want to do that because you’re a liberal government. Let them all in, everyone’s wonderful.
As they flood in, you realize that they don’t integrate in the way that you thought they should. For instance, the Muslims that come into Britain and France, weirdly enough, don’t become French and British, they become Muslims in France and Britain. And they don’t act the same way. They don’t have the same goals, and insofar as they’re kept in the bottom of the economy pyramid, they demographically grow because people in the liberal countries have way fewer than replacement level kids. You know, offspring. So, here you have the immigrants coming in, you know, some of which are going like 7-10—fertility rate of 7-10 children per woman, from some of the immigrants, especially from Islam. Well, they’re slowing the population, and they’re bursting this artificial bubble with real problems. And so, you’ve got this large underclass, and getting larger, and they don’t know how to deal with it. You know? So there went liberal paradise. That’s what they’re stuck with. The French are stuck with it. The Brits are stuck with it. And we will be too. We’re not immune from this at all. So, all we have to do is look at Europe and say, what pressures are we going to see in the next 10 years? Those pressures.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, no question about it—it’s going to be an interesting fallout, most definitely. Well, what else can you tell us about this? you know, maybe we ought to kind of conclude with—they always say there are two things we shouldn’t talk about in polite conversation—politics and religion. Well, now that we’ve offended everybody [LAUGHTER]—
BENJAMIN WIKER: Let’s do it again!
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, let’s expand the discussion to talk a little bit more maybe, and maybe we can kind of wrap up with this, the current administration, and their worship of the state and wanting everybody to worship the state. What do you think about the Obama regime, and what’s going on currently?
BENJAMIN WIKER: Well, we, you know, in Worshipping the State, I put him in line with progressive liberalism, running from the 19th century into the early 20th century. That again did have a religious base; that is, they really did think we were transferring our worship from God to human beings and hence to the state that represents them. The belief that since this world, the secular world, is our highest goal, if we just throw all our power, all our resources, all our money into it, we will be able to create a kind of heaven on earth. We’ll be able to wipe away every tear, undo every justice, everyone will be above average, no one will suffer anything, and the benefits of this will be available to everyone. That’s what a welfare state government does. That’s where Obama sees his legacy. You know? To finally make this country like Europe.
Right when Europe is going down the toilet, because all their welfare systems are imploding because they cannot be supported. He wants to make us more like Europe. He can’t even—he’s habitually thinking that way. They can’t see around it. Well, that obviously transfers the most power possible to the state. It’s no accident that President Obama has outdone FDR in absorbing powers into the executive, literally dictating—ramming through legislation like ObamaCare, compelling people to do things they don’t want to do. Whether you like gay marriage or not, it’s coming down the course, we’re gonna impose it, we’re gonna impose on Christians what you need to pay for abortifacients. The HHS mandate says you have to. One thing after another. So, what you have is, what I call Caesar Obama—like Caesar Augustus. He’s trying to draw power completely to himself, and even has a kind of messiah complex that reminds one of what the Caesars wanted.
Don’t ask any questions about what I want, and I’m the beneficent dictator—well, he’s not really very beneficent, because he’s trying to guide us to systems that are already known to be collapsing in Europe. And where he’s speeded the whole thing up immensely, since he’s gotten in. We were already in bad shape. So that’s what should worry us, is that the worship of the state, if you give the state enough power to be a god, it’s gotta have a big budget. Well, that big budget to be an omnipotent god costs a lot of money. And that’s where are now. We have an omnipotent god deficit, the kind of deficit you get into when you try to provide everything for everyone.
JASON HARTMAN: Well you know, I just can’t understand that. I mean, the concept of tithing says give 10% to the church. How come God can live on 10%, yet the government wants about half?
BENJAMIN WIKER: Yeah. Well, there’s no end. Yeah. And it’ll get bigger and bigger. We know that from France. That percentage keeps climbing up. And it will here, too. And if there weren’t things stopping them—and they may not be there long—he would jack up the tax rate to what it is in Europe. I don’t have any doubt.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah. I know. It’s really unbelievable. Well, we shall see how it unfolds. Give out your website, and of course your books are on Amazon.com, with great reviews, by the way, but you have an individual website as well, I believe?
BENJAMIN WIKER: I do. You can come by www.BenjaminWiker.com, and I have some things there, including Worshipping the State.
JASON HARTMAN: Fantastic. Great book title, and I hope a lot more people read it, because we’re really at a pivotal time in history, and the state has grown so large, and so incredibly intrusive in our lives in so many ways. And you look at our attorney general and his near-complete disregard for the Constitution, the abuse of executive privilege, I mean, it’s just—it’s really mind-boggling, what’s going on nowadays. I mean, maybe—you know, maybe, Benjamin, every generation felt this way. Maybe I’m not old enough to know. But I just look at the news nowadays and I think, this is unbelievable! I mean, you couldn’t write fiction like this. It is a scary time in which we are living. Or am I overreacting?
BENJAMIN WIKER: No, no. You could write fiction. It’d be 1984, you know? Except that it’s 2013. People have seen these kinds of trends again and again, and we didn’t have to walk into it. But it’s unfortunate that we have. And I’m at least trying to provide, here are the reasons why we’re doing this, and the reasons why we don’t have to.
JASON HARTMAN: Yeah, well, very good. Keep up the good work, and everybody go read a copy, go get a copy and read Worshipping the State. It’s also available on Kindle as well as in hardcover. So, I hope everyone goes out there and gets it and checks out your website as well. Benjamin, thank you so much for joining us today.
BENJAMIN WIKER: And thanks for having me!
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Transcribed by David