Mainstream conservatives starting to get it: leftism is a primarily religious belief system January 11, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Christendom, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, history, paganism, Revolution, secularism, sickness, Society, the struggle for the Church, Tradition.
I’m short of time for the day if I’d like to go to Mass tonight, but I appreciated this article at The Weekly Standard, especially given that said publication tends to skew quite secular/agnostic, and has not often been a friend of the so-called “religious right.” Writer David Gelernter notes what’s been apparent to many readers of this blog for a very long time: leftism is not so much a political philosophy, as a religious one. That difference explains the mean-spiritedness and tendency to reject reason and logic on the part of the left. This is different from adherents to Christianity, or at least sacramental Christianity, which has always been based on, and had a profound respect for, the use of reason and logical argument. Thus, the left, as is so typical, is projecting their own fallacies onto well-formed Catholics when they view us as emotional, uninformed, illogical, and prone to magical thinking.
Unfortunately, the writer errs fairly fundamentally, because he believes left-wing partisans simply turn their politics into religion, missing the primary point: leftism is, and always has been, set up as a competing religion to Christianity. It bears all the hallmarks of religion, even though it is patently false:
…..Conservatives, bursting with facts and ideas (and anger and dismay), are eager to have it out with liberals and maybe even convince a few. Liberals are eager to make assertions and strike moral poses, but not to respond to rational argument or speak to the facts. [Many left-wingers hold certain “facts” (often blatantly false) at their disposal, but they tend to be surface-oriented. There is rarely great depth of knowledge. Once the veneer is pierced, anger and ad hominems tend to dominate]
Where does the asymmetry come from? American conservatives tend to be Christians or Jews. Liberals tend to be atheists or agnostics. [It’s a vicious circle. I believe leftism predisposes individuals towards atheism/rejection of God, which drives them further left, which antagonizes them towards Christianity more, propelling them still further left, etc.] ……… Almost all human beings need religion, as subway-riders need overhead grab bars. The religious impulse strikes conservatives and liberals alike. [Because God built us to love Him, and to be predisposed to faith in His Church, but when that faith is rejected or lost, it will manifest itself elsewhere almost invariably] But conservatives usually practice the religion of their parents and ancestors; liberals have mostly shed their Judaism or Christianity, and politics fills the obvious spiritual gap. You might make football, rock music, or hard science your chosen faith. Some people do. But politics, with its underlying principles and striking public ceremonies, is the obvious religion substitute. [Again, I believe the author errs in understanding leftism. Leftism is a belief system that has its own version of paradise and hell, its angels/saints and demons, its own moral code and system of reward/punishment for good/bad behavior. It proposes things that are counter to facts and requires enormous faith in a yet non-existent earthly paradise to which leftists continually strive. There is in fact far less evidence of the possibility of attaining the left-wing/communist utopia on earth than there is of obtaining Heaven, but we are supposedly the ones lost in insane magical thinking]
Hence the gross asymmetry of modern politics. For most conservatives, politics is just politics. For most liberals, politics is their faith, in default of any other; it is the basis of their moral life.
Again, the author almost gets it, but then loses the plot, probably because he lacks a strong faith in God and grounding in the coherent reasoning that flows through and from Catholicism.
The point is, Christians already have a religion, and politics is a sidelight to their primary faith/belief system. It should be a natural and coherent outgrowth of that faith, but it will never be their primary concern. For leftists, politics IS their faith. Leftism is their religious system. That is why we on the right always feel “behind” the left, because not only do we have jobs and families and most of us work in the private sector making and doing useful things, but we also have a religion already!
But I think we on the right err, as well, in separating our faith from our politics far too much. That’s another reason why we’re always behind the curve, constantly playing catch up and forced into damage-limiting situations instead of seizing the political and moral high ground and forcing the Left onto the defensive. This “separation of Church and state” is a noxious product of the (quite liberal) political system almost all of us were taught from day one was the bestest, most wonderfulest in the whole entire world, and severely inhibits our political efforts. Catholics from other times and other places have a great deal to teach us in that regard, which is why I strongly recommend reading about the Cristeros, Gabriel Garcia Moreno, the Carlists, the corporate Catholicism of Dolfuss, and other successful Catholic political cultural responses to the 200+ year war of leftism on the Church.
We unfortunately have to turn to the past, not only because there is no coherent Catholic response to the growing depredations of leftism today, but also because our Church herself, unspotted of course in her mystical element, has a human element which is almost entirely given over to the left-liberal paradigm. Which, by the way, entirely explains this. But to the past I recommend we do turn, both for inspired leadership from the Church of yesterday, always with us in our great Tradition, and also for guidance on how to put the Faith into much more effective public practice than we have seen in several decades. Beyond that, it’s going to take as many of us as possible – thousands, hundreds of thousands, pray God, millions – stepping out of their comfort zones and forcing our views back into the public square.
It’s either that, or start digging new catacombs, which probably ain’t a bad idea as a fallback, but I don’t think we should just throw in the towel, hope it all implodes and that something better comes out of the wreckage (which is a grave uncertainty, anyway). Doing so might sound nice, but I doubt very many of us would have the pleasure of seeing what emerges on the other side should that occur.