Mysticism and Strength

The simplest method for humans to achieve power is through use of force. Battering your opponent, regardless of laws or rules, will give you a temporary power over them. But force itself is brute and limits one’s strength to the abilities of the body. Mysticism multiplies strength. A single exercise of force, accompanied by the mysticism of power, can resonate in distant, unaffected observers as if they themselves were the actor or the victim.

In its primitive form, we describe this as sympathetic magic. By sticking pins into a voodoo doll, the superstitious believe that they can cause injury to an unknowing victim. Its civilized form is more complex, but no less mystical: by sticking planes into the World Trade Center, a handful of individuals caused hundreds of millions of people to feel pain and sorrow; by assassinating Osama bin Laden, we felt a thrill as if we ourselves had punched the enemy in his turbaned face.

Should these feelings be denounced as irrational? It is in fact crucial that we feel them. For millions of people to live in close society, the bonds of mysticism must be exercised constantly. When we come into dispute, we must rely upon our shared faith in the value of communication, heritage, religion, money, and so forth. These things are all mystical ideas, which are only able to prevent injury if both sides well and truly believe in them. If those fail, we must fervently believe that the law will resolve our problem, for without society or law, we have no method of resolving our dispute but brute force.

Mysticism is the world’s most dangerous weapon. It is the belief that a policeman can be summoned or that a missile can be launched, a belief which is more present in our everyday lives than the policemen or missiles themselves. Its form gives the weak superhuman strength, even life after death. Its ruin renders nobles savage and heroes villainous.

A society without mystical ties cannot exist. Aiming to build a society of unbelievers is not a “rational” idea because it does not account for human nature; it is antithetical to how human beings operate. In fact, those who reject the ties of society are detrimental to its function, until the point when they find something in society that they can appreciate.

Posted: July 16th, 2011 | Secular-Religious 2 Comments »

2 Comments on “Mysticism and Strength”

  1. 1 David M.A. said at 6:36 am on July 16th, 2011:

    Hmm. So all social constructs are ‘mystical’ under this idea? Not sure I disagree, it’s just an interesting way of putting it.

    How does this theory of mysticism (and mysticism-as-cultural-glue) match up with and/or contradict materialism? (I can’t think of a better way to phrase that, and I’ve tried four times now. I’m tired and sick, bleh.)

    Hey, you read the Slacktivist?

  2. 2 Avery said at 6:44 am on July 16th, 2011:

    I suppose materialism/positivism does exist. A positivist mysticism holds up better under scrutiny. But society nonetheless requires a feeling of mysterious connection, a transcendent value that necessitates irrational assumptions and emotions.

    I stopped reading Slacktivist due to slave morality in its comments section.