Theism is not the only kind of mysticism. Collectivist and political ideologies are also forms of mysticism. The nature of politics involves blind faith in a “highest essence”. The abstractions of these “highest essences” function as arbitrary authorities to appeal to. The most common of these arbitrary and rhetorical authorities are “society”, “nation”, “state”, “humanity”, “race”, “class” and “gender”. In political ideology, these concepts function precisely in the same way as a deity. As a consequence of faith in these abstractions, individual human beings and/or certain collections of human beings are given the status of a deity. These concepts also all have one thing in common: They obscure the individual and turn the individual into a sacrificial peon to collective abstractions. In all cases, belief in something that doesn’t exist (at least in the way conceived) functions as a mechanism to provide a plastic sense of meaning or identity.
While theism assigns a non-existent entity with rights not possessed by human beings, statism assigns certain human beings with rights not possessed by everyone else. While religious ideologies conflict over who rules the universe and how they do it, political ideologies conflict over who rules over other human beings and how they do it. In electoral politics, certain human beings are deified and people conflict over which deified human being should rule over everyone else. For many people, the election rallies and political holidays are just as much of a “spiritual experience” as any religious ceremony at a fundamentalist christian church. People literally have faith in politicians, bureaucrats, nations, and states and they use that which is attributed to them as a way to legitimise their personal biases and their actions. The health of political power relies in large part on the exploitation of the religious impulse in the broadest sense through the use of rituals, symbolism, illusions, grandiose promises, bread and circuses.
Many political assumptions are essentially forcibly inherited from parents and cultural norms, just like in theism. While religions tend to promise a utopia after death, political ideologies tend to promise a utopia during life. Both make use of fear and guilt and exploit the pessimism within people to elicit obedience. The morality of politics is based on arbitrary authority rather than reason. “The law” has the same functionality as a deity’s alleged words or religious texts. The individual must submit in spite of their rational evaluation. Furthermore, politics provides a mechanism by which people can enforce their personal preferences and their incorrect conceptions of morality onto innocent bystanders. Politics is more dangerous than religion is by itself, since it is only through the mechanisms of politics that religion can be tyrannical on a large scale. Politics is the opiate of the masses.