In part one of this rant, we covered the basics of this concept and I explained that placing more importance on earthly matters is the best way to quell religion (and, by extension, the dangers of religious fanaticism). Now let us address some more of the practical applications of the topics which we're discussing here.
There are several ways in which capitalism can help to battle harmful spiritualism and anti-materialist thinking. The most obvious is the greed factor; which obviously lends itself to having greater concern for material standards. According to most "spiritual authorities", this kind of ambition and aspiration to acquire greater material wealth, is in direct opposition of their supposedly superior ideals (gee, I wonder why?). We must also consider the fact that capitalism can often have some parallels with the basic principles of Darwinism (you know, survival of the fittest and all that) as it encourages healthy competition.
This is significant on both a philosophical and symbolical level because it encourages people to think and act in a way which is antithetical to the egalitarian views of humanity which are offered by spiritual belief systems (keep in mind that many religious belief systems purport that we are all the same "inside", despite obvious individual variation in all other ways). Many people will mistakenly assume that the myth of equality or notions about "universal love", are what people should aspire to and the problem with religious fanatics is that they failed to embrace these ideas. It is my contention that this all comes down to discarding material standards for more abstract, spiritual ones; and this is always a bad thing (regardless of any "good" intentions). Religious based love and hate are both completely lacking in earthly reason and that is completely unacceptable and dangerous. One leads to the other and we must remember that it is only this reality that truly matters.
Another way in which capitalism can assist us with obtaining our desired goal is that it tends to lend itself to keeping the masses occupied. It's very difficult to maintain a very spiritual attitude when your mind is constantly preoccupied with earthly matters. Because of its element of competition and endless drive to achieve something bigger and better; a capitalist system is very good for keeping people's minds on their work and achieving their earthly goals. And because people will always demand entertainment and recreational activities to enjoy during their time off, businesses will be sure to continuously provide this for them (and some of the best entertainment tends to involve various other non-spiritual content and activities). The more secular activities people are allowed to (and encouraged to) indulge in, the less time they have to pursue typical religious activities (like praying, worshiping their chosen deities, condemning earthly pleasure, attacking and persecuting others who don't believe what they do, etc.)
I would first like to state that capitalism is not perfect (nothing ever is). And as long as humans are imperfect, any systems we may put in to place will reflect our imperfections. I do believe that capitalism (in general) is the best economic system that we as humans have come up with. However, because of human stupidity and/or corruption, there will be times when it will fail. This is inevitable. This means that we cannot expect this (or any system that we may put into place) to function well 100% of the time or to stand on its own without any occasional help from other systems or ideas. But in general, I do believe that capitalism must serve as the foundation for a productive and thriving secular society. And the fact that it reflects elements of natural selection, works very well in its favor. It allows room for people to succeed or fail based on their own individual strengths and weaknesses. Many people would like to see more economic equality and egalitarianism, but this is very unrealistic to me and would go completely against the natural order; upon which all things are founded. Promoting equality among naturally unequal organisms will only cause more suffering in the long run and is completely impractical (see The Myth of Goodness rant for further explanation).
Some of you may be wondering whether this would really work. Can we (metaphorically) "kill" all of the world's gods? Will people actually be willing to let them go? The answer is no. What I'm suggesting is that we encourage society continue its move towards replacing the old spiritual gods with new, secular based, god replacements. History has shown that many people need the idea of a "higher power" above them; something to look up to, something to worship. Something that they can believe in that is greater than themselves. Conveniently enough, this is something which capitalism and the media provide for them on a daily basis. Celebrities, politicians, social issues and brand labels can preoccupy the masses' attention and act as their surrogate "gods".
So what's the advantage of this? Well, the difference between these gods and the old fashioned, spiritual kind is that these new gods are earthly and therefore bound by material standards. They are also more disposable. I'm fully aware that many of you have problems with various aspects of consumer culture; I assure you that these things disgust me as well. Blind following of the latest trends and pop fads is a very rotten thing indeed. Just the short attention spans of the masses alone, is enough to give you a headache. But this wretched display of consumerism is still infinitely better than the alternative. You must understand that these things are necessary, not only to keep money moving and the economy thriving, but to keep the general public occupied (and yes, just as sheep need to be herded, the public needs to be kept occupied; for the good of us all). Anyone who believes that the average person is intelligent enough to be left to their own devices is giving humanity way too much credit.
Thanks to the petty and fleeting nature of consumer culture, these surrogate gods can be easily discarded and replaced by new ones. And unlike their more spiritual equivalents, these substitute gods are accountable to earthly standards and therefore more effortlessly controlled. Famous musicians cannot so easily make claims of being omnipotent. Political figures can't say that you don't understand their actions because they "work in mysterious ways" without extensive public criticism and Joe citizen is not very likely to burn someone at the stake or bomb a building because the Gap catalog told them to. This is why earthly gods are much safer and more appropriate for an earthly existence than divine deities are. People will still worship these earthly gods to a certain extent, but they can more easily question, criticize and even discard them because these gods are obviously not "almighty creators of everything" or "ultimate powers of the universe"; they are either humans or the creation of humans and only the truly insane would dispute this.
I've already covered many of the problems that I have with the idea of gods and spirituality in my The Power of Disbelief rant; however, I will now address some of the more predictable arguments for keeping spiritual religion around.
Argument 1: What about all of the good that religion and the belief in spirituality does for people?
False Prophet's response: Simply put, it does far more harm than good. The pain and trouble it causes, on every level, is far more potent and pervasive than any hope or joy that it brings. By their very nature, spiritual beliefs are designed to devalue the standards of this world and you'll never convince me that this could ever be anything but terrible. Just look at human history right up till the present day. Like a harmful drug that temporarily "relieves" the pain which can come with living life, only to have even more dire and destructive consequences in the long run; it's just not worth it.
Argument 2: OK, but aren't there many community and family related benefits to faith and religion?
False Prophet's response: Nothing that couldn't be easily reproduced through secular activities, interests and organizations.
Argument 3: Aren't religious and spiritual beliefs the basis for our system of morality and therefore essential to a civilized society?
False Prophet's response: I have heard this argument before and I'm certainly not the first to point out how disgusting it is that people think that they need gods and spiritual concepts in order to know how to act like decent, civilized people (and this is coming from a villain!). But let's look at this issue in another way. The question is whether or not morality is important/vital to life on this earth. If you think that it is vital to earthly existence, than it should be able to be exercised with or without the concept of god. And if it's only important because "god said so", then it only matters as long as he matters. His decrees can be thrown out along with him and it won't make any difference because they're no longer important. Either way, god and spirituality are irrelevant to this issue. If anything, the moral standards with which our legal system has been founded, are what give god his significance; not the other way around.
As I stated towards the end of my The Power of Disbelief rant, I think that the most ideal option is to consider yourself to be your own god. However, I know that this is not likely to be adequate for most people. But just because you wish to worship an external god, does not mean this has to be a spiritual or divine entity or system. The biggest message of these last two rants is that of the dangers of spiritual thinking and what threats they can be to this all-important, earthly existence which we all share (as well as communicating my suggestions for dealing with this problem). We, as intelligent humans, should not need such beliefs. They can only impede this earthly life which we all enjoy. I know that some of you may understand and generally agree with what I'm saying, but still be a little turned off by my dark rhetoric. You should just chalk this up to my core villain nature. I do get somewhat disgusted by issues of spirituality and how they adversely affect this beautiful, material existence of ours. I say that if you can't worship the god that you see when you look in the mirror, at least devote yourself to the ones that you see when you turn on the TV.