What makes theocracy dangerous? What -is- theocracy, truly?
word translates as "Rule by God." This is a curious way for an atheist
to refer to a religious government - what is a more accurate way of
referring to a theocracy?
Well, there is a word. Pistocracy.
"Rule by beliefs," or perhaps "Rule by believers." Epistocracy, "Rule
by knowledge", or, as David Estlund translates, "Rule by the knowers",
is just pistocracy in which the pistocrats assume they're correct.
as a concept, is much more broadly applicable than theocracy; it is not
limited to those governments run on beliefs written in ancient books.
It describes any government which enforces a particular belief
structure on its participants - these beliefs need not be religious.
They can be philosophic - the belief that the community must come
before the individual, for example.
The elements which make
theocracy dangerous make a pistocracy dangerous as well - you do not
need god to have heretics. Trotsky was a heretic of the Soviet
pistocracy - an individual who shared the same basic beliefs but
disagreed with the orthodox interpretation of those beliefs.
danger in a pistocracy is -in- the orthodoxy, in established beliefs the
challenging of which marks one as a heretic, an apostate, or a pagan.
(We have a word for pagans even in science, which should be better than
that - crank, or crackpot. "Denier" has become part of the parlance as
well, at least in more politicized sciences.)
limited to beliefs about the world-as-it-is, either. Beliefs include
the world-as-it-should-be. Every argument for free college education,
for food stamps, for welfare in the general case - these are arguments
for a pistocracy based around a set of beliefs about how the world
operates, and how it should operate going forward. No concern or
consideration is given for those whose beliefs differ - indeed, those
who believe differently become The Enemy. Heartless, evil, cruel,
selfish - whatever invectives can stick, to label the Unbeliever a
heretic whose opinion is not worth hearing.
This is an elaborate
work-up to a single point: A secular government isn't a free government.
It can still fight and suppress philosophies, and indeed ours does so,
on a scale that puts many theocracies to shame. We live under a
government in which certain philosophies are, for all intents and
purposes, illegal to practice. Not that I'm fond of racists, but the
machinery that exists to crush them isn't limited in the scope of its
application, and there has been a slow creep in that application, to the
point where, today, the government attempts to crush even philosophies
as basic as that it's better if workers manage their own health
insurance, rather than relying on their employer to pick appropriate
insurance programs -for- them.