Steven Pinker’s Statist Gospel
As a child, Pinker, says, he thought as a child, embracing anarchism at about the same time he converted to atheism. But as an adult, he has put away childish things: “I was a Rousseauan then; now I’m a Hobbesian.” What this means in practice is that he merely abandoned one sect of totalitarian statism for another.
Rousseau, it should be remembered, was was the author of what he called “The Civil Religion” — a doctrine that would enable the masses, in Rousseau’s phrase, to “bear with docility the yoke of the public good.”
The most important article of Rousseau’s Civil Religion was the absolute divinity of the State; the gravest transgression was “intolerance,” which was regarded as evil not because it injured the rights of individuals, but because it challenged the State’s authority.
According to Rousseau, the ideal social arrangement would be a “form of theocracy, in which there can be no pontiff save the prince, and no priests save the magistrates…. [W]hoever dares to say, ‘Outside the church is no salvation,’ ought to be driven from the State, unless the State is the Church, and the prince the pontiff.”
The State would make belief in its dogmas compulsory, even as it denied it was doing so: “While it can compel no one to believe them, it can banish from the state anyone who does not believe them…..” Apostasy would be a capital offense: “If any one, after publicly recognizing these dogmas, behaves as if he does not believe them, let him be punished by death — he has committed the worst of all crimes, that of lying before the law.”