This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Persecution myth and persecution mania

When opinion is ordained the measure of law in society, then every individual whose opinion does not align with current law imagines himself to be (and in fact is) a persecuted minority.

The notion that the general will, which is to say the general opinion, rules the day and is the engine of law in society, imbues the popular mind with a pronounced sense of inclusion or exclusion depending upon whether or not their opinion falls in-line with that of the majority in the most recent election. Said another way, by defining justice in terms of opinion, it becomes impossible to explain to the individual whose opinion is in the minority that he is justly ruled by the opinions of others. He cannot accept the fact that opinion is the standard of law, but that it happens to be his neighbor’s opinion and not his. And so no matter how deeply he believes in democracy, he feels oppressed when it becomes obvious that the general will is not his, and is therefore not as general as it was explained in theory.

The result is that every time the political process does not conform to the will of an individual he feels that injustice has been done. Even if he is only one of six million other voters, he expects to feel at least that the election went 1/6,000,000th his way. But it didn’t go his way at all. In short: he feels persecuted. He feels what every losing party expresses in every modern election.

When law is tied to an objective standard of justice, then the man who gives his input on the matter knows that, whatever his own opinion, the standard is outside of him and that he cannot change it. If he votes, he attempts to vote in favor of an objective and external truth. It is not his opinion, nor is it the opinion of the majority that determines justice in this case, and even if the man loses he may feel that an offense to justice has been committed, but not that it was offense against him personally. He may condemn the political process, but he will not feel it necessary to play the martyr.

Today everyone plays the martyr. Every party, politician, and voter plays the martyr. Even the Christians, who should know a bit about martyrdom, play the martyrs in the petulant game of opinionation. Who can really blame them, though? Once you’ve adopted the premise of popular sovereignty there is no other possible way that things can end. Anything short of complete consensus creates a persecution mania. That’s why gay couples and anti-gay religious groups can carry out demonstrations on the same street at the same time, both crying “persecution!” And they’re right.

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