The Politics of Meaning

Kool-Aidby Brad Nelson
I was inspired to take up this subject by George Neumayr’s excellent article, A New Way of Being on the Planet. Give it a read if you haven’t. It’s an oldie but a goodie.

One of the tenets of “Progressivism” is finding meaning through government. Jonah Goldberg in his book, “Liberal Fascism,” goes into this aspect in great detail, especially noting the inherent harm of ever expecting government to “love” you.

One defining aspect of fascism or “Progressivism” is relating to leaders somewhat religiously and finding deep existential meaning for your life through these leaders and their government. That’s a big no-no in regards to everything WE THE PEOPLE have learned since The Enlightenment and the American Revolution. It took a boost from Thomas Paine and others to ween us off the idea of kings. But we eventually did so. We need no longer find meaning for our lives through kings or charismatic leaders, let alone government policies and bureaucrats. We need no longer grovel at the thrones of monarchs. As Americans, we are free to chart our own destinies. And that has proven to be a very good and healthy thing, not only for us but the rest of the world whose eyes turn to us when they desire a model for freedom.

It was an open joke that Obama was called “The Messiah” by many during his first campaign for president. He portrayed himself as the healer of the planet, and donned many more silly affectations and conceits. As Neumayr’s article hints at, and as people such as Goldberg state plainly, this new “Progressive” idea often is referred to as “the politics of meaning” (which should be scare words for those in the know). It is a sort of pagan religion of the Left. It’s getting meaning — not from your god, or even your own life — but from your government.

Many outside of this cult, who are not enraptured by earthly environmental Gaian gods, cannot read the words “A new way of being on the planet” without rolling their eyes even if, like me, they have a deep and intense interest in, and even love for, nature. But to return to a sort of New Paganism (let alone turning toward collectivism) is unbecoming of a supposedly Enlightened and free people. Perhaps it’s a fine line between having a love for nature and to actually worship nature. But it’s clear that many people have taken it to the level of worshipping. Global warming is not a matter of science. It is a dogma of the Left. And those who oppose this dogma receive the kind of treatment once reserved for Galileo when he questioned church dogma (or so goes the popular conception — the actual story is much different).

People will forever find things that give their lives meaning. That’s fine. But when such meaning is given over to government, and such meaning is attached to specific politicians or political parties, well, Houston we have a problem, particularly because, as Jonah Goldberg points out, government can’t ever love you. It can pretend to, but it won’t ever really. But what it will readily do is exploit your desire for “meaning.” And many otherwise smart and caring people have bought fully into the snake oil being sold by Al Gore, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and others.

I suppose we all need religion of some sort, for life itself is reason to believe in profound things because existence itself is so inexplicable and amazing. But in America, we’ve self-consciously decided to pursue our religion and our meaning outside of government, and we’re the better for it. The First Amendment is one of the most important aspects of our Constitution.

In America, we’ve traditionally been a nation that believed in the Judeo-Christian tradition. And I wish that a return to that tradition was the cure-all for what ails us now. But the problem is that much of this tradition itself has lurched Left like nearly everything else. Not only is “thou shalt not steal” being ignored, but Jesus is more and more being turned into a Che Guevara type of “social justice” character.

But should Christians wish to hold to their ethics of personal charity (rather than government largesse), hard work, personal responsibility, honesty, integrity, and humility, then that is exactly what we are lacking as a culture. I don’t expect Karl Marx and the New Pagans of the Left to furnish these ethics anytime soon, so perhaps Christians ought to get busy and do a little soul searching.

But what is an inherently positive thing about the Judeo-Christian religion in America is that its articles of faith (unlike the Left’s, and unlike Islam’s) do not require government to espouse their dogma. Meaning is found privately, not through government. And no free people ever will remain free when we ask government to provide meaning for our lives. If your eyes don’t roll or glaze over when someone talks naively about “A new way of being on the planet,” you may be asking much more of your government than it is safe or good to do. Yes, by all means, love nature. Love this world. But, geez, don’t get all culty about it. • (627 views)

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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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