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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Most liberals are Puritans: the descent of New England 
29th-Jun-2017 07:54 am
Inspiration
This has been known, and discussed for some time: see Moldbug's notes on Richard Dawkins, in which he discusses Unitarian Universalism, Dawkins' religious orientation, and its history. The whole series was collected into a Kindle book, but the quotes I'm looking for were summed up in the conclusion here:

Everyone knows that Western thought today, even in its most fashionable incarnations, has Christian roots. But somehow, most of us think it's possible to escape the implications of this connection by simply denying the Christian label, and adopting a metaphysical doctrine - atheism - which is repugnant to the unwashed who have not made this great leap. The result is that we land in "No Logo" nirvana. We are the enlightened ones. Hail us!

Imagine if I tried the same with Nazism. I could march around in a brown leather uniform all day, waving a swastika banner and condemning the filthy Zionist-Bolshevik hordes. When questioned by the usual voices of decency, I could respond that:

I'm not a Nazi. In fact, I oppose Nazism. So I'm not a Nazi.
I'm half-Jewish. The Nazis would never have me. So I'm not a Nazi.
Nazis believe in the leadership of Adolf Hitler. I don't. So I'm not a Nazi.
My inverted swastika is actually a Hindu fertility symbol. So I'm not a Nazi.
Etc, etc, etc.

How much ice do you think this would cut with the diversity committee? But somehow, when the creed is Christianity rather than Nazism, it can be ditched as easily as a Muslim's wife. Just say: "I'm an atheist, I'm an atheist, I'm an atheist." And no one will ever be able to accuse you of being a religious fanatic, at least not without substantial preparatory explanation. What more perfect cover story for an actual religious fanatic?


Another, shorter, version of this discussion comes from a different author, the Zman. Quote here:

One of the themes here is that the American Left is a different thing from the European Left in that it was not born out of the French Revolution. It was born out of the English Civil War and the religious radicalism of the prior century. American Progressives are the spiritual children of the Puritans and Public Protestantism. Their primary motivation is communal salvation. To that end, their focus is on rooting out sin and naming the sinner, rather than the material egalitarianism we associate with the European Left.

American liberals, even though they don’t always articulate it, operate from the assumption that the community is judged as a whole. It is why they obsessively use the word “community” whenever they are talking about public issues. For the Prog, the ideal for man is the community where members are in harmony, living fulfilled lives. It’s why they are endlessly going on about “building communities.” The community has agency and the members work together toward a common goal, that goal being a state of grace.


Once you understand the communal salvation motive, suddenly it becomes apparent why "point and shriek" is the default reaction, and why no apologies are accepted. The first alerts the community, and the second is a confession of fault in this theology. Vox Day has an extensive treatment of how do deal with this in SJWs Always Lie, but the basis of the confusion in bad theology is better laid out by Mencius Moldbug and by the Zman, references above.

I note with some interest that I'm not alone in this: Pax Dickinson echoed this I view leftism as mainline Puritanism, mainline Protestantism. It's a holiness spiral to the point where they start saying they are holier than God, so then they get rid of God. It's still a religion, it just doesn't have God anymore. There is something utterly hilarious about listening to atheists question God's ethics.

The article continues to reverberate through the nets. Strangest thing.
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