Socialism as Religion

commiebama copyby Glenn Fairman   1/3/14
“The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.” ― Leon Trotsky  •  “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” ― Winston Churchill

In perusing the philosophic documents relating to theoretical and practical Socialism, one glaring theme running through the corpus of books and tracts is how transcendental traditional religion is an unvarnished blight upon the face of humanity. Acolytes of Socialism have long deemed that by affixing our consciousness on the unseen hereafter, we affect a certain materialistically defined nihilism: eschewing the certain gains that could have been constructed for the benefit of Man in the concrete now for the intangible kingdom of hope and whimsy promised by arcane and discredited traditions. Socialism thus, in the vast majority of its forms, interprets the cultivation of our search and longing after God as, at best, a narcotic towards despair, and at worse, a retrograde abstention from the obligations of our humanist morality to affect a paradise derived from our own reason towards the sanctity of our own temporal ends.

It was from this secular Humanist Morality that Robert Owen derived his understanding of Ethical Socialism and formulated his experiments in constructing Utopian communities in Britain and in a fledging America. In purchasing property from a religious community, Owen dubbed the experiment “New Harmony” and proceeded to fabricate his little society based upon humanist liberty and egalitarian tenets while deconstructing institutions such as marriage in the service of a worldly human happiness. New Harmony, however, proved to be a colossal unsustainable flop, even with large amounts of Owen’s business capital infused into the project. Rather than labor for the common weal, the residents were more interested in meetings and parties, preferring idleness to the dreary compulsions of farming and the cottage industries that had sustained the former religious residents. As the entire enterprise ground to a dismal halt through lack of initiative and faction, New Harmony, along with the hundreds of American secular Socialist experiments, proved incompatible with success because they were fundamentally incompatible with human nature. Holding wives, children, commodities, and property in common appeared to not resonate with this flourishing genius of social interaction. Robert Owen eventually , in an attempt to add content to his vague egalitarian ethic, created institutions called “Halls of Science” -a secular “church” that applauded Man’s existential fraternity and goodness-replete with hymnals and pulpit exhortations for the bolstering of his brave new world of materialist harmony.

It would be through “science” and not ethics that Socialism would achieve its ultimate “success and notoriety,” as Marx and Engels would eventually arise as the Twin Prophets of the Materialist Revelation. While G.W.F. Hegel, the philosopher of Idealism, had pantheistically deified History as “the march of God in the World,” Marx postulated a similar inevitable determinism in the evolutionary materialist universe, and in standing Hegel on his head, announced that Socialism and finally Communism itself would become, by historical necessity, the secular end state of man–although this secular predestination would imprint an unmistakably religious character on the edifice. Accordingly, Marx following Rousseau, held that men had originally existed in a happy state of nature and only with the advent and rise of inequality, stemming from coercion and private property, had humanity become the unhappy slaves of capital, sustained by the opiate of transcendental theology. It would then be by inexorable and historical struggle, mediated by righteous violence, that mankind would throw off its shackles and enter into a heaven on earth after first passing through a time of tutelage known as the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Under this metamorphosis, a new being would arise, purified by labor and educated to virtue: throwing off the stagnant restraints of a nihilistic religion and allowing mankind the free reign of his enormous powers—-rendering everyman an Edison and an Einstein and transforming the world into a veritable primordial garden where all desires were met and dreams attained. It would be here that the state would wither away and the great culmination of history would imbue an awakened humanity into unfettered autonomy and collective bliss.

Residing beneath the tenets of Scientific Socialism and its historical inevitability lays the simplicity of its doctrine. Since the end state of human society is determined, men are essentially powerless to either bring to fruition or impede this political and moral necessity. Therefore, ushering in the new utopia is a foreordained dialectic of abstract forces working behind the scenes. In this ideological worldview, there is no need to affect personal repentance or to cleanse oneself of moral impurities. In fact, the socialist religion would require no transcendental moral content at all because what had been traditional notions of right and wrong—-good and evil, would become extinct and pass away from the horizon of memory. Any religious-like devotion, however, would be directed to the State and to the Vanguard, whose talents were irreplaceable in remaking human personality in the crucible of correct thought and unquestioned loyalty to socialist evolution through labor.

Socialism has quite fittingly been termed “the God That Failed,” and as in all dream castles, an incorrect perception of first principles lies at the feet of its failure. Combining the idea of a plasticity of fundamental human nature with the dynamic hubris of secular intellectuals who believed they could bring about the City of Human Peace, Socialism allowed the scientific twentieth century to become the backdrop of more than one hundred million deaths: all reserved for souls who would not take on the determined shapes prepared for them by their enlightened masters. Those who eschew religion for the scientifically divined regime of enforced collective equality, at the expense of rightly understood freedom, should consider that the ultimate character of the Socialist dream is a religion based upon faith—-but a faith where man bows down to a graven image of self. The Primordial Garden, the Chrysalis of Personality, the Predestined and Inevitable fate of Man—are all secular themes clumsily borrowed from the Christian lexicon as broad strokes of utopian longing in service to transforming a perceived human misery– answering the perennial questions of human meaning and leaping over the chasm of nothingness that everyone who even remotely wrestles with being must embrace.

In effect, Socialism postulates a moral structure on insufficient foundations. Beginning from a non-moral beginning and utilizing an amoral process, it hoped to arrive at a moral endpoint through a reasoning that reduced justice, mercy, nature, happiness, and even a shadow of transcendental longing as wholly subservient to determined historical necessity. In retrospect, one could not have designed a more thorough system of slavery: a religious fervor with Man as the object; a Second Coming without a Messiah. Devoid of moral content and without a lasting legacy, nothing remains in its camp but the myriad of unmarked graves stretching out across a century of muddled ideological passion while projecting its unlearned lessons into the ominous future like curling fingers of fire.
Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. He can be reached at • (10825 views)

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25 Responses to Socialism as Religion

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I read The God that Failed (an anthology of anti-communist writings by former communists, including Arthur Koestler, while I was in college). Another reference to the notion of socialism as religion comes in the Father Finian section in The Ugly American byLederer and Burdick (his assistant points out that the communists’ gods are Marx, Lenin, etc.). Nothing has changed since.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Timothy, that sounds like a good book. I was going to add to the Bookshelf but the book seems as if it’s pretty rare.

      One of the Amazon reviewers (Robert T. OKEEFFE) summed it up amazingly well:

      All of them had either joined the Party and worked on its behalf or had been prestigious foreign fellow-travelers of the Russian regime, speaking and writing on its behalf. By 1948 they had all rejected their earlier intellectual and emotional commitments to the Party and to communism (but not to their own ideal versions of socialism – they never became conservatives). The broad appeal of theoretical Marxism and its first “instantiation”, Russian Communism, to intellectuals all over the world, regardless of their very different individual life histories – nobody could have experienced his own youth and its surrounding society more differently than Gide and Wright, for instance — was presumably based on its utopian goals regarding social justice. It aimed to bring about a reformation of man and society by supplying human beings with a political and ideological framework in which economic exploitation would vanish and all men and women would have freedom and equality in a world where the state had “withered away” since it was no longer necessary. This comprises a theology in which private property and the division of labor (hardened into class structure) are original sin and its consequence. The miseries of the Great Depression, a typical phenomenon of the boom and bust cycles in capitalist societies, increased the allure of totally planned societies.

      Marxism also had a “scientific” appeal (really, a pseudo-scientific one since it was not open to validation or disproof in the same manner as theories in the physical sciences it wished to ape; special reasons could always be advanced for why the history of economies and political developments did not follow Marx’s highly deterministic pathway — dialectics came in handy here). But most of its intellectual proponents experienced it as a faith more than a set of discursive propositions about man and society which might be contradicted by reality or rational argument. It was a faith that motivated men to particular actions – sometimes heroic, sometimes despicable (always “justifiably so” in the latter case) — in the struggle to establish an imagined Utopia that awaited at “the end of history” as it had been hitherto experienced. And therein – in the actions themselves, viewed as part of the always bothersome “means versus ends” problem – lay its downfall in the minds of its apostates; and presumably its downfall in fact forty years after this book was published. The arc of an intellectual’s life and opinions once he embraced this faith was repeated throughout the satellite states of Eastern and Central Europe – and in China and elsewhere; as different as they were, each of these societies tended to produce the same sort of apostasy based on the same kind of disappointment and disillusionment with “socialism as practiced” in monolithic one-Party states. In the case of the European satellite states the actual structure and practices of Russian communism had been forced upon the various national communist parties, often led by men who had been trained and winnowed in Moscow.

      The writers were all aware of inconsistencies between Communism’s ideals and its practice when they joined the Party, but they usually assumed these problems were due to minor human imperfections and/or unique historical circumstances, rather than to the political requirements of the ideals themselves or the nature of the Party. The official view from on-high (as exemplified and sanctioned by Stalin, the wily Father of the Peoples) was that all failures within the Communist world were the result of sabotage, treason, and the tenacious resistance of bourgeois capitalists who served allies and masters abroad. At some point in each of the lives of the six apostates who tell their stories here a cumulative threshold (each man’s was different) was reached, a point beyond which self-deception about the flaws of Communism, its actual stupidities and inadequacies of practice, and its creation of dystopian rather than utopian conditions where it held sway was no longer possible for anyone with a fairly rigorous standard of truth.

      I don’t know how much Stalin was ideologically into socialism as much as he was into being a dictator. Maybe someone else out there has the answer. But one other necessary part of the equation regarding socialism is that “equality,” “social justice,” and “an economic world in which exploitation will vanish” are just convenient words for the thugs who always tend to hold the reins of power when coercion, propaganda, intimidation, and violence are unleashed as habitual and common things. As someone said (and I forget who), this very system of centralized power is conducive to the most unethical and ruthless rising to the top.

      That is ultimately the real danger of all types of socialism. Yes, the debt is bad. Yes, it’s a very horrible thing that welfare ruins so many people. But the real horror starts (and it’s already started to some extent) when people such as Obama get power. And those who follow will be even worse.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        In researching Stalin for Yale’s Annals of Communism series, Jonathan Brent found that Stalin considered himself quite the theoretician, often commenting in the margins of his books on communist theory. He discussed this and other such matter in Inside the Stalin Archives (which I reviewed for Salem Press several years ago).

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    “As someone said (and I forget who), this very system of centralized power is conducive to the most unethical and ruthless rising to the top.”

    I would go even further and say that given the human condition, those who rise to the top in any government, more often than not, are unethical and ruthless i.e. exactly the people that humanity in general would least wish to have power. This is exactly why big government is so evil.

    This being the case, we should be for as limited a government as possible that is consistent with a reasonable amount of safety and order which would allow people to pursue their dreams as they best see fit. I think Steve will agree with me.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I would go even further and say that given the human condition, those who rise to the top in any government, more often than not, are unethical and ruthless i.e. exactly the people that humanity in general would least wish to have power. This is exactly why big government is so evil.

      Without a doubt the busy-bodies are the ones who tend to enter government. Think back to high school. Your high school class president was probably an insufferable schmoozer and a very practiced liar.

      One of the greatest (and necessary for their malign cause) achievements of the Left is to get people to distrust freedom (and the free market) and to trust government (at least Leftist government). This is an amazing achievement.

      But what anyone has to understand is that if they need to count their change when doing business with a private entity, they need to do doubly so with anyone in government.

      And your critique brings to mind that part of the solution is, of course, limited government. But it takes more than that. It takes ethical people working inside of government. It takes ethical people being the watchdogs of government (the media). And it takes ethical people who put them into office in the first place. If we were short of one, we might be okay. But we are short on all three counts.

      And this is why morality is an inherent part of freedom. You can’t have limited government without a moral people. All of the Founders said so. And they were right.

    • steve lancaster says:

      Yes, I agree. Remember, the power to tax is the power to destroy. That is why Marxists and Socialists always seek to create progressive tax systems that make people dependent on the state for support. Christ refused to turn stone into bread and feed the world, not because He lacked the power, but because He would not make men slaves to the state. A decidedly libertarian view in my opinion.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Christ refused to turn stone into bread and feed the world, not because He lacked the power, but because He would not make men slaves to the state. A decidedly libertarian view in my opinion.

        Central to the conservative philosophy is the idea of incentives. If the state gives out free bread, it will undermine the willingness of people to work. And if you undermine the willingness of people to work, that starts a whole cascade of bad things.

        A conservative understands that a little hunger in the belly is just what the doctor ordered. This has little to do with freedom, per se, and everything to do with not undermining people by hooking them on “free stuff.” And it also has to do with not committing injustices against people who have worked hard by having the state redistribute their hard-earned money to those who haven’t earned it. It is not good for a society to create incentives against being honest and hard-working. This is why all forms of socialism are a poison to society.

        State welfare is poison, coming and going. It does indeed makes men slaves to the state. Private charity is the best means for helping people who need help. But that requires people turning off the boob tube and actually getting involved. Narcissists have little time for others, however. And our society is full of them right now.

        So most people just punt and let the state do it thinking that welfare equals charity. But it does not. The state has other interests than doing good by handing out “free stuff.” It will shock the minds of all those “Progressive” do-gooders out there to hear, but the Democrats (as Rush Limbaugh notes) gain political advantage from creating a dependent class of voters. There is no altruism in this. This is the lie that must be exposed.

        Now, if we could only get the women and girly-men out there to understand this. But too many are emotionally invested in themselves as do-gooders by supporting this system. They have little understanding of how they are being used. And they don’t care because going around thinking oneself Florence Nightingale or Albert Schweitzer is a heady affair.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Remember that Ebenezer Scrooge (pre-visitation) justified his refusal to give to charity on the grounds that he was already paying plenty of tax money on state relief (such as the workhouses).

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    That’s a good article, Glenn.

    Environmentalism as a religion has been covered by Michael Crichton in a speech he once gave (with a transcript of that speech here). If secularism is making a god out of man – and it is – then environmentalism is the formalization of Mother Gaia as his cathedral.

    But socialism as a religion somewhat begs the question. Yes, like Dennis Prager, I understand that Leftism itself is an undeclared secular religion – one that Prager says is the most dynamic religion in the world, even ahead of the fascist-totalitarian political-social-economic-religious construct known as “Islam.”

    But do we fall into the hands of the Left, who says that all religion is bad, if we then denigrate and poke fun as the Left’s undeclared religion? Why is it good in one case (Judaism and Christianity) and bad in another?

    There are several reasons. I’m sure you smart fellows out there can think of more. But one of them is what Prager says is the healthier idea of a deferred utopia (heaven, if you will) as opposed to the immediate and earthly kind espoused by the Left.

    It is a conservative (and not a libertarian or Leftist) truism that delaying gratification builds character and is a much better way to build a successful life. On the other hand, it is the adolescent attitude that wants what it wants, wants it now, and regards any impediment between want and fulfillment to be a travesty of justice.

    It’s only natural that these different points of view would put utopia into different realms and have different expectations of the pinnacle of man’s ambitions. One way (the conservative way) understands man’s need to grow – intellectually, emotionally, ethically, and spiritually. Limitations inherent in nature and in man mean we will never reach that perfect state. But such an uninhibited state is understood to exist outside the restrictions of nature and human nature. Man points his hopes to that which came before nature and above nature…aka “God.”

    But for those for whom the be-all, end-all of existence is stroking every craving, the project of man is the perfection of society. And therein lies the inherent contradiction and problem for the Left. Without an improved man, you cannot have an improved society, let alone a perfect one. True, with improvements in technology you might have a more technically sophisticated one, one that provides man with more comforts and conveniences. But this is not the same thing as either improving man or improving society. WWI broke our, for example, while man was in the midst of an explosive growth of science and technology. But with man’s nature, and man himself, not having been improved, what did this lead to?

    Man’s search for an earthly utopia is naïve and destructive. It is as destructive as the “religion” of Islam which pines for an earthly Caliphate. This is also why Christians do not, and should not, wish for any kind of theocracy on earth. Trying to be perfect is a recipe for doom.

    Man’s search for an earthly utopia – and socialism is the method, not the end point in itself – should thus be thought of as a creepy cult, not a religion. Christianity, for example, is an attempt to bridge the gap between mere nature (and it is indeed “mere”) and God. However one judges the mechanism of this attempted connection (Christ and the Redemption, in this case), such a religion understands that man is not God and that man is separated from the Source of all things (thus the Christian idea of atonement…at-one-ment…which is philosophically sound, given that man is not God and that there is something greater than man).

    This inherent separation may be because of sin or something else. But it is obviously so. Thus a dose of humility enters this faith which humanizes man and takes him down peacefully and wisely from what could otherwise be manic and untempered cravings for what surely lie in all suffering human hearts – the desire not only for Utopia but a god-like status for ourselves.

    Christianity deals with this and heals with this. Leftism, on the other hand, plays to these desires, sets up impossible goals and expectations, and ultimately crushes man when he falls short. This is why Leftism is a creepy cult, not a religion, per se.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I see the liberal god as the offspring of Moloch and Gaea, with the former probably wielding the greater influence.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        You’re making me run to Google for that one, but I found an entry for Moloch at Wiki which seems to give the gist of it in the first few paragraphs.

        Yes, there is the self-immolation to the state (and the sacrifice of children as well to their secular god of The Self). There’s quite a contrast in outlooks. The creeps, perverts, and fools in places such as the New York Times, Slate, MSNBC, and elsewhere really do bow down to Obama and get Chris-Matthews-like shivers up their legs or salivate over his pant creases like pseudo-conservatives such as David Brooks.

        On the other hand, guys like me laugh at this fool and know him for the dangerous fraud that he is. No Moloch her, that’s for sure.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          A variation of Baal. The barbaric Carthaginian rite of child sacrifice is, as I recall, one of the reasons which the Romans used for their decision to eradicate the place from the face of the earth.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Speaking of the Religion of Leftism, Robert Engler has an interesting, and sometimes funny, article in this regard: The Seven Sacraments of Liberalism

    • Timothy Lane says:

      That was a superb article. I intend to suggest printing it out to a friend of mine who has a laser printer accessible from his Internet connection.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Jon brought to my attention an interesting article by Ian Buttle (sorry…that’s “Tuttle”): Smarter Than Thou:

    But Gruber’s comments point to a more disturbing reality: To the liberal mind, there is no distinction between academic intelligence and moral intelligence, between what we might call “learnedness” and “wisdom.” In fact, they correspond. The more one learns, the “better” a person one becomes. Since Obama is “perhaps the smartest guy ever to become president” (per presidential historian Michael Beschloss), he must also be virtuous. Since the people who crafted Obamacare had excellent credentials and prestigious tenured positions, Obamacare must be not just smart policy, but good.

    This belief is not the product of reason or careful thought. It is an article of faith, and those who would dispute it are not just “stupid”; they are heretics.

    That this church of liberalism can, at its most zealous, pose a serious danger to the health of a body politic should be obvious. After all, Lenin was the smartest guy in the room, too.

    Ian makes some good points. There is indeed a difference between academic intelligence and moral intelligence (more properly, “wisdom”). I find that Libertarians share this same belief in their own exalted intellectual superiority — particularly regarding the centrality of intellect as opposed to other aspects of humanity (such as the moral dimension).

    This is the natural outcome of a Religion (Leftism) based upon a metaphysics (naturalism) that does not see a true moral dimension to the universe. The best they can therefore do is parse things according to their materialists paradigm. There is no good thought or bad thought, per say. There is only quantity of thought. And there is no good conduct or bad conduct, per se. There is only the quantity of material goods you have (or don’t have) that determine guilt or innocence.

    Granted, the arrogance of the Left (and of the GOP Establishment, for that matter) does not require a materialistic paradigm. There have always been arrogant people trying to lord over the rest of us. But the modern Left represents a new instance of this.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I’ve pointed out for a long time that the conceit of liberal elites is that they are (by definition) morally and intellectually superior to everyone else — this is the basis for their claim of a right to run everyone else’s life. Another important aspect is that liberalism is such a Holy Cause that it justifies any act to support it — such as the repeated lying and arrogance of Jonathan Gruber (may fiends with glowing pincers rend his brain, as J. K. Stephen once said of someone who had stepped on his foot). This “ends justifies the means” attitude (which, not surprisingly, was also a Communist tradition, and in fact was Arthur Koestler’s target in Darkness at Noon) enables liberals to act as unethically as they please without disturbing their consciences (if they have one, which some presumably do).

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Carol Brown has an excellent article about the guy who got mugged…and then apologized for the mugger.

    A quote from Daniel Greenfield from the article sums it up:

    To paraphrase Iriving Kristol, a liberal is simply a conservative who hasn’t been mugged by reality yet. But today, not only is a mugging not enough to drive some sense into a young progressive, it actually confirms his worldview about economic inequality. It confirms, not the armed robber’s guilt, but the victim’s guilt for (presumably) being better off. This is precisely the sort of “victim-blaming” that drives progressives into a rage when applied toward rape victims. But when it comes to “white privilege” and “income inequality,” moral equivalence rules, and reason flies out the window.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, the old Kristol quote presupposed sanity. But, as Michael Savage has rightly pointed out (though I’ll admit that at the time I disagreed with him), liberalism (or at least ideological liberalism) is a form of insanity. So it should be no surprise that a liberal ideologue would apologize to his mugger. Note, too, that Oliver’s presumption is that if he were poor he’d be a mugger, too. A lack of moral character makes this sort of attitude easier, I guess.

      It also reminds me of an incident in Jim Bouton’s Ball Four. After Mike Marshall was mugged, the police asked him for a description of the mugger — and he did his best to avoid mentioning the race, even though this was clearly essential for catching him (unlikely though that probably was). And that was in 1969, so this particular politically correct disease isn’t entirely new.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I think I read “Ball Four” years ago. But I don’t remember that incident. Sheesh. This nonsense has been going on a long time. Mankind seems to be a binarily stupid animal, only able to hate, on sight, because of race, or to “love,” on sight, because of race.

        I had once thought we were a higher form of animal – one who could make abstract judgments about values and laws quite apart from something as superficial (and elementally tribal) as skin color. My initial estimate of mankind might have been based on a bad profile. 😉

        It would be interesting to compare the Zeitgest of this testicle-less Progressive to St. Francis (who certainly did have nads). There is a story about Francis going ape-shit when told by two of his Brothers that they refused to give what they had to some muggers. He demanded right there on the spot that these two Brothers chase down the muggers and give them the clothes off their own back.

        Or something like that. Is there a difference? I’m neither trying to apologize for the libtard or to necessarily suggest that what Francis did was different. But offhand I would say that what drove Francis’ ethics was not Marxism (economic equality, a state of affairs that foolishly and destructively separates ethics from the human equation and reduces him to a mere passive economic animal) but his ethics of brotherly love and the hard accent on the soul rather than the mere material.

        But I realize in this day and age to try to eek out a difference between the two when most of the population has been dumbed-down is probably a losing cause. I just thought I’d mention it here because it was of interest to me and perhaps someone else would have something interesting to say about it.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Well, as to a poor sample — any sample that includes liberals will always be intellectually inferior to a sample that has none.

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Michael Brendan Dougherty has a too-wordy essay on Leftism-as-a-religion in The Church of Grievance.

    It’s not easy for intellectuals to get the point. But it is more than possible for them to miss the point and provide the wrong solutions. In the end, Mr. Dougherty’s prescription is appeasement.

    But if you can machete your way through the wordy introduction you’ll find some nuggets such as this:

    Borrowing from the thought of Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, the Christian social critic Alan Jacobs showed that “woke” social-justice activists often don’t use political terms when talking about the imperatives of their identity politics. Instead, they invoke mythic ones. This partly explains why their response to unwelcome campus speakers takes on the form of an exorcism, with chants repeated in a loud, prayer-like cadence. Sometimes the shouts are enacted as an antiphony — a call and response. At other times, an exemplar is pulled forward to speak and the entire supportive group amplifies that voice by repeating the person’s words.

    Here victim politics recasts disagreement as desecration and defilement. Someone who walks into these environments looking for the intellectual parry and thrust of debate is instead told, “Your job is to listen.” The expectation that no one would dare to interject or question the personal testimony of the victim of oppression is not so different from the expectation of silence during the reading of the Gospel in a church service, or during a homily. Your job is to listen.

    . . . Putting this Victim at the center of the social order, in ritual or in preaching, begins the redemption of all humanity. The faithful confess to the ways their sins contributed to the fate of the victim. The ritual is meant to moralize and inspire those who witness it and motivate them to more fully participate in the effort of redemption. It can also provide its adherents with a demonology that fills the world with invisible oppressors and tormentors, making them oversensitive and fearful.

    The religious aspect should be evident to anyone who offers a rational critique of some identity-politics shibboleth only to be told “You’re denying my identity” or “You’re erasing my existence.” It’s a mysterious response at first. You offer an argument and are told that you disbelieve in someone’s existence. It sounds like an accusation of atheism, for a good reason: You’re being charged with heresy, and if you do not desist, you reveal yourself as morally reprobate, as one who would, with full knowledge, repeat the Crucifixion. Or if you prefer the current academese, you are one who “reifies the structures of oppression.” You love yourself more than you love the victim-god standing before you, the one exposing his wounds and offering you forgiveness on condition that you recognize his pain, confess your unearned privilege, and promise obedience.

    That’s very astute analysis. But I don’t buy his prescription:

    The aspirations for transcendence that young people feel so keenly need outlets for expression and cultivation in art and in the devotional life of religion. Young people need to feel that their travails have purpose and meaning beyond the way they might manifest societal dysfunction or be recast as a symbol of political oppression. If we want a politics that is less histrionic, and a society that offers something more empowering than the campus star chamber, what we really need is to re-create our civic, social, and familial life so that people’s disappointments and outrages will be met with compassion and understanding, or channeled into great works of art and humble prayers. No small task, I know.

    I don’t believe this is a religious impulse unrequited by traditional religion and thus the impulse and need are dumped into an alternative political religion. That’s like saying that hemlock is just like romaine lettuce except for the poison.

    What these kids (and adults) need is not appeasement but to be told that their religion is wrong and destructive. The intransigence anyone will face in that pursuit is that the Religion of Leftism feeds a very egotistic and narcissistic impulse in people. Although a Christian might be humbled knowing that the Lord humbled himself by washing the feet of his disciples, the Religion of Leftism is based upon a sense of superiority. Christians are not without plenty of examples of lording their own superiority over others, but their very Lord and Master said “I have come to serve, not to be served.”

    The Religion of Leftism should be ridiculed, marginalized, and shown to be the societal acid that it is. And along with this bad cop there should be the good cop of offering a better way. People need to be saved from this destructive cult, not made comfortable in it.

    A poster makes a vital distinction, one that was in the back of my mind but there isn’t time to articulate everything:

    Victims are to be pitied… But when those victims transcend to bullies and get caught up in ugly, heated rhetoric because of a mob-like mentality fueling their thirst to vent, I WILL fight back.

    Another reason appeasement is not a solution.

  8. Steve Lancaster says:

    I suggest you take a couple of hours to read Hoffer’s True Believer. He devotes an entire section of his book on the religious nature of mass movements and the interchangeability of movements; why it is possible for the fanatical communist to become a fanatical nazi or a fanatical moslem/christian/jew/hindu etc. 170 pages including footnotes. The only comparable work is Machiavelli’s Prince, and you don’t have to read Italian.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The Prince is available in English translation (I have a copy at home, which means it’s unavailable forever), though I can’t say how good the translator was. I gather this has been quite a problem for some foreign writers, especially Jules Verne.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Steve, you oft mentioned that book so it must be a good one. I just read that the University of Texas is going to start treating masculinity as something to be cured. These are really cultish groupthink issues we are facing.

      An individual human being, with notable and rare exceptions, is lost and alone without finding meaning in and with other people and the culture we create at large. I’m sympathetic to the idea that no man is an island, although I’m far more islandish than most. But even that is mostly an illusion. In this modern age, our way of life (as I found out a couple hours ago when the power went out) is dependent upon unseen millions.

      That said, I’m as creeped out as the next guy by creepy cults, Scientologists, Muslims, and, of course, the particularly creepy cult of Leftism. One reason that I deleted my Facebook account is because I don’t use it anymore. The other is to reduce the paper trail for when the Little Monsters eventually come for me.

      I believe orientation toward a Creator need not be cultish, although it often is. The short definition of cultishness is whether or not you must coerce other people to believe as you do because the reverse is simply intolerable. You’re a libertarian Jew and I don’t feel the need to rub you out. To argue and debates, sure. But not to rub out.

      But the Left means to rub us all out. “Diversity” my ass.

      P.S. I searched for “Eric Hoffer” via the Libby app on my iPad and my local library had a copy available for virtual loan….so I check it out. I’ll at least give a few pages a read but don’t expect to finish it.

  9. Timothy Lane says:

    This seems an appropriate place to mention that a conspiracy of British doctors, judges, and bureaucrats succeeded in murdering young Alfie Evans for the sake of not risking their being proven wrong, even though the supposedly brain-dead boy had already done so by surviving without emergency care for several days. (If he was really brain-dead, how did he open his eyes?)

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