The separation of money and state is the most important change to society ever. Why? Let’s rewind the clock and find out.
Church And State
Throughout recorded history, religion and power have been inexorably linked. The collective belief in one or more divine entities is very powerful. It enables humans to form larger groups than other primates.
Dunbar’s number represents how many people with whom one can maintain relationships. Without collective beliefs, human tribes could not have exceeded this number. Thus, civilization needs a belief system at its core. Belief systems provide human leaders with motivational tools. The introduction of ceremonial burial was one such tool. With ceremonial burial came the promise of an afterlife. This tool enabled tribal leaders to start wars with other tribes. Other primates fight each other too, of course, but outright war is a different thing. War has a supposed purpose for the collective.
Despots could now trick their subjects with the promise of a better life after this one. This gave them immense power, since they could now rally armies to further their causes. It enabled them to form nation states. Controlled territories with loyal citizens living in fear of the armed forces. Because of people’s beliefs, the divine right of the ruler became a part of their operating system. For centuries, this was the basis of governance for almost all nations. The rulers’ supposed closer connection to the gods legitimized them in the eyes of the people.
Then, the colonization of the Americas introduced a new problem for the ruling class: People from different religious backgrounds needed to band together in the new states.
Enter the ideas of English philosopher John Locke. Locke argued that the realm of individual conscience was a personal thing. Thus, the liberty of conscience had to remain protected from any government authority. Locke’s ideas had a huge influence on America’s founding fathers. Religious tolerance became the…