Escape 23: Each society is a hero system that promises victory over evil and death.
Since there is no secular way to resolve the primal mystery of life and death, all secular societies are lies…Each society is a hero system that promises victory over evil and death. But no mortal, nor even a group of as many as 700 million clean revolutionary mortals, can keep such a promise…it is not within man’s means to triumph over evil and death. For secular societies the thing is ridiculous…cultures are fundamentally and basically styles of heroic death denial.
If each historical society is in some ways a lie or a mystification, the study of society becomes the revelation of the lie…We can then ask empirically, it seems to me, what are the costs of such denials of death, because we know how these denials are structured into styles of life. These costs can be tallied roughly in two ways: in terms of the tyranny practiced within the society, and in terms of the victimage practiced against aliens or ‘enemies’ outside it.
Enough for today. There is much I could disagree with Becker on this assessment of the role of the study of society and it begins with how Thorstein Veblen would coldly address the basic issue here and that is whether or not human life has intrinsic value. More importantly, would an assumption of intrinsic value form the basis of a valid social science.