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Monday, February 10, 2014

The Secular Religion of the Left

For most of human history, men and women have derived their moral dimension of life from the family and religion. Both of those are now dead or dying in the West under the influence of its new moral and ethical system. That system is one that we know in its various forms as the left.

The left can be summed up as moral materialism. It is a secular religion that claims to add a moral
dimension to materialism. Its obsessions are largely economic, from its early class warfare focus to its modern environmentalism. Even its racial politics code class warfare by skin color.

Kill off religion and what do you have left? The answer can be seen in China. You're left with materialism and family interests.. Cast off the shackles of the family for individualistic consumerism and you're left with nothing except materialism as can be seen in any major Western city.

Modern urban man is much too "smart" for religion. At least his own. He wants to add an ethical dimension to life without having to believe in anything except the sense of fairness that he already has, but which he does not realize is not nearly as valid objectively as it is subjectively in his inner emotional reality.

And that is what the left is. It strips away everything except that egotistical sense that things should be run more fairly with predictably unfair results.

Liberalism, and the milder flavors of the left, provide a permission slip for materialism by elevating it through political activism. This is the philosophical purpose of environmentalism's green label. It tells you that you are a good person for buying something and soothes the moral anxieties of an urban class with no coherent moral system except the need to impose an ethical order on the consumerism that defined their childhood, their adolescence and their adult life.

Those most in need of the moral system of materialism are the descendants of the displaced, whether by immigration to the United States or migration within the United States from rural to urban areas, who have become detached from a large extended family structure that once sustained them.

Their grandparents had already loosened their grip on religion and as the family disintegrated, materialism took its place. Their grandparents worked hard to provide for their children, but the children no longer saw maintaining the family as a moral activity. Sometimes they didn't even bother with a family. They became lonely individuals looking for a collective. A virtual political family.

Liberalism fills the missing space once inhabited by religion and the family. It provides a moral and ethical system as religion did and the accompanying sense of purpose and its state institutions replace and supplant the family. It does both of these things destructively and badly as its institutions forever try to patch social problems created by the disintegration of the family and its ideas provide too few people with a sense of purpose of a meaningful life.

And yet it isn't entirely to blame for this state of affairs. The left has actively tried to destroy the family and religion, but the American liberal was until recently less guilty on both charges. His main crime was collaborating with the left while refusing to acknowledge its destructive aims. The process by which the displacement of liberal ideas and their replacement by the ideas of the far left is nearly complete. The American liberal is now an aging relic. In his place is the resentful radical.

The process that led to this state of affairs isn't the left's fault either. Even if it's not for lack of trying. In some ways the left isn't the problem, it's a symptom of the problem. Its ability to fundamentally transform people is limited. The transformation that has occurred is because of the choices that people have been led into making trading religion and family for a dead end materialism. Those choices evolved organically from the natural direction of society and technology.

And into that empty space, the left came. It dominates because there is nothing else to fill that space. It can only be truly resisted by cultural groups that have maintained hold of family and religion. Without that sense of purpose, there is only the endless baffled retreat of the Republican Party.

Liberalism appeals more to the middle class and the upper class because it is a religion of materialism. It makes very little sense to those who don't have material things. The underclass might embrace the harsher populism of the left, but shows little interest in its larger collectivist philosophy. The underclass is losing family and religion at a faster rate than the upper class, but it clings to what it has and finds meaning in it. It may be nakedly materialistic, but it doesn't believe that it is too smart for religion or too individualistic for family. It has many flaws, but arrogance isn't one of them.

Ennobling consumerism is a difficult task. The left doesn't come anywhere close to succeeding at it. Instead it makes it more expensive and raises the entry barriers for everything by working to eliminate cheap food, cheap household goods and cheap everything. It's a class issue.

Why does the left really hate Walmart? It doesn't really have a lot to do with unions and has a lot to do with class. Walmart's crime is industrial. It's the crime of the factory and the supermarket and every means of mass production and consumption. It makes cheap products too readily available to the masses. Liberals like to believe that they oppose consumerism, but what they really want to do is raise the entry levels to the lifestyle. Liberal consumerism is all about upselling ethics.

When tangible goods become too easy to produce, you add value through intangibles. The fair trade food tastes the same as non-fair trade food. Organic, a category with a debatable meaning, doesn't really provide that much more value. And environmental labels are worth very little. And yet the average product at Whole Foods is covered in so many "ethical liberal" labels that it's hard to figure out what it even is.

Intangible value is all about class. And class is all about creating barriers to entry.

Liberalism has become a revolt against the middle class that its grandparents struggled to reach, a rejection of their "materialism" while substituting the "ethical materialism" of liberalism in its place that envisions a much smaller upper and middle class that derives its wealth and power not from hard work in the private sector, but highly profitable social justice volunteerism in the public sector.

An American Dream of universal prosperity has been pitted against the left's dream of a benevolent feudal system in which the few will be very well paid to oversee the income equality of the many. 

The left's private argument against the American Dream is that it's little more than Walmart. And to some degree they're right. Easy availability of the necessities of life does not lead to a meaningful life. But the easy contempt that the left has for it shows its basic inability to understand how important these things are and how hard they were to come by for most of human history.

Salt was once a precious commodity. Today it sells for pennies a pound. The ability to light the darkness meant the difference between studying at night and living in ignorance. Today a light bulb goes for a quarter. At least it did until the left banned them. And electricity, the left also keeps raising the price of that. Few of the post-apocalyptic fantasies spilling out of Hollywood really describe what would happen if the people manufacturing them were thrown back before the industrial revolution..

Progress has made a good life materially possible, but it has also displaced and damaged the social mechanisms that make a good life socially possible. We have easy access to technology and streets full of vicious illiterate thugs. We can discuss anything with anyone, but we live in a society that values few things worth discussing. We have mass production, but not mass character.

For all its feigned populism, such elitist critiques of society are not foreign to the left. The left's elitist critiques differ in some regards, but they are on the same basic wavelength as those of the social conservative. And its solution is to promote what it considers social progress by reversing or slowing down industrial, commercial and technological progress. The environmental movement is only the latest ideological incarnation of this philosophy which strives to slow down the rate of progress.

The left's social collectivism however is no replacement for what is being lost. What it really does is attempt to apply industrial and commercial strategies to human relationships. Not only is it not a challenge to a consumeristic society, but it attempts to worsen the damage by rebuilding society on the model of the factory and the department store as an impersonal system.

That's not a solution to the problem. It is the problem.

The left cannot escape its own materialism. Its attempts at adding an ethical dimension to materialism fail because its ethical dimension is still materialistic. Its pathetic efforts at injecting pastiches of Third World and minority spirituality into its politics to provide the illusion of a spiritual dimension are hollow and racist. The left cannot fill its own hole, because it is the hole.

Like Islam, it provides something for people to believe in, but the thing it provides is the compulsion to find meaning by forcibly remaking other people's lives in a perpetual revolution which becomes its own purpose.

The left can't replace family or religion. Its social solutions are alien and artificial. They fix nothing and damage everything. Their appeal is to those who are arrogant and starved for meaning, who want religion without religion and family without family only to discover that they are not enough.

25 comments:

Naresh Krishnamoorti said...

The reason the Left hates Walmart is the same reason that it embraces environmentalism. The Left hates the Walmart shopper and the fact that he has access to cheap consumer products. The Left hates that the Walmart shopper has access to cheap energy. The Left wants to make consumer electronics, clothes, and energy inaccessible to the poor.

Why? The Left fears that access to cheap goods causes the poor to be less disgruntled than they would otherwise be, and less manipulable to being used as cannon fodder in the Left's attempt to foment socialist revolution. Race-baiting and class envy can only go so far, if even the poor have plasma screens to drown out their unhappiness. If people can now afford basic comforts of an advanced technological age on welfare payments, how is the Left going to agitate the poor to demand far greater redistributions of wealth?

Creating inflation -- making everything more expensive -- is the goal of the Left; and everything that Obama has done moves the country towards that goal.

Anonymous said...

I see you've come to recognize the envy. Your description of the Left's hatred of Wal-Mart, the establishment of barriers to entry, and the establishment of "class" is precisely envy in action. That is, it is motivated by the belief that others don't deserve what they have.

Perhaps it's all just based in narcissism. What could be more upsetting to a narcissist, and more likely to generate hate of their opposition, than to tear down the religion and family they perceive as their competition and to still be rejected.

outdoorspro said...

Walmart is such a perfect example of the left's bigotry. My lefty friends bitch about how it hurts small businesses, then shop at the other big box store down the street (that happens to donate to liberal causes).

The best example was how outraged they were when Walmart started selling organic produce. It wasn't important that organics would become cheaper and more widely available through Walmart. The mental gymnastics they had to go through to explain how it was a bad thing were quite entertaining. It became so clear to me that the whole organic thing was pure snobbishness and elitism.

meema said...

Eight years ago we moved to a plot of land that has a two acre pond at its center. Never having had such a grave responsibility as a living eco system to monitor, (if you don’t count my children) I dived into researching the signs, causes and effects of human interaction with a water world.

One of the first things I learned is about bacteria. Why do some ponds seem to stay clear and others go stagnant and covered with green slime? Well, it is a matter of balance in the tiniest details.

There are three kinds of bacteria in a normal pond. Good, bad and neutral. When conditions are optimal, the good bacteria out number the bad and interestingly enough, when the good bacteria is in charge, the neutral germs join forces with them. However, fickle, dumb, whatever you want to label it, neutral bacteria will just as quickly side with the bad bacteria to overcome the good if the bad gets a toe hold. Regardless, the ultimate result of bad bacteria taking over is a dead pond. The fish die because the oxygen is depleted by the growing green slime. The food chain is broken and eventually all that is left is smelly stagnation.

Even though humanists prefer to believe we are our own gods, there are natural laws that govern this world, from the smallest to the largest living systems. When bad bacteria decides it needs to expand and overcome, they rally the neutral, mindless masses with whatever the mindless masses want to hear or own or experience. That they would just as easily side with the good bacteria, if the polls were skewed properly so that they could know what to think, and there by mindlessly save themselves, is a concept lost on them.

The results of taking the side of the bad bacteria, whether in a small pond or a big wide world is always stagnation. Bad bacteria is psychopathic and only interested in consuming. There is no real end plan other than destruction. And because psychopathy is delusional, it always believe the outcome will benefit it–this time.

Shouting Thomas said...

A good analysis, but I think you are overly pessimistic about the long term outcome.

Catholic Churches are thriving. I'm a church musician and I play at three different parishes, all of which are well supported and attended.

The Church fought and defeated communism in Eastern Europe. I'm proud of the efforts of the Church to do the same here in the U.S. I'm pretty confident that the Church will survive and triumph over the long haul.

There is also a huge new immigrant group that brings the old family and religious values with it and is remarkably resistant to dumping those values... Filipinos. They are ignored by the media because the media is focused mostly on black and white, and they are a bit embarrassed by Filipinos.

Anonymous said...

Good day Daniel, yes that ancient gnostic impulse stalks humanity relentlessly. Coupled with a pride of scientific certainty the contemporary claim of absolute knowledge is heralded by a confusing array of players, all clamouring to be heard. The masses have become intellectually deaf from it, devolving into an irrelevant existence of consumption.

In order to construct their system they must first destroy being, that is the tendencies, habits and desires of humanity. This must be done as their world immanent vision tells them all these things are the true rebellion, yet a second reality which they alone possess is our true nature. Where the various species of gnostics have gained power, the outcomes where horrendous. Purification through ritual slaughter of the disobedient and disowned, pure evil where killing was seen as the moral thing to do. Are we on as similar continuum? That the question has to be asked is alarming enough.

theunrecordedman said...

I have to disagree. No thinking person, whether left or right, can make sense of religion. I am a conservative but think religion is for the uneducated and the intellectually dishonest, for whom wishful thinking takes priory over all else.

People who have no truck with their family are often unhappy souls, regardless of the political party they vote for. Even so, I don't think this is anything new. There is a tendency to look to the past and see only big, happy families. I am sure this was not the case. Families stuck together because there was no other choice if you wanted to survive, but now people can have the state as their surrogate family, one that dispenses money without asking what time you'll be home.

I am middle-aged, have no religion and have never been married or had children yet I am not remotely attracted by the beliefs or lifestyles of the left. I really don't buy this idea that we need religion to give our lives meaning, though I am happy to concede that it is hard to be happy without a family.

insecticide said...

I prefer the term paganism

Technojunkie said...

Actually, they have a point about organic food but are generally too clueless to understand the details much less that corporatist behemoths like Monsanto will buy control of the control-freak politicians progressives elect. Read Joel Salatin, Christian libertarian farmer, for the correct way to do things.

We should be able to buy meat raised on pasture from local family farmers, and raw milk from them too, and without them being placed at a severe economic disadvantage to CAFOs that use taxpayer subsidized GMO corn, and without worrying that the small farmers will be attacked by SWAT teams, but sadly that's not the world we live in.

Anonymous said...

There is a deep divide in the origin of our western culture between the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Peoples. The Atlantic peoples are individual oriented versus the herding impulse driving the Mediterranean peoples. Belonging to the same country or professing the same religion can subdue these differences but they are still there. For Meds unanimity supersedes freedom, egalitarianism (even if it implies poverty and pessimism) goes before differentiated wealth and hope of progress, single interpretation of the Bible (catholic) to personal ones (protestant). From this perspective Marxism is the attempt of the Meds to impose their politics on free market oriented Atlantics. The pattern repeats itself in countries where the two visions coexist precariously from Spain, through France and Italy to Israel, meds vote left atlantics vote right. Removing patriotism and religion will end up in an unsolvable clash.

DenisO said...

Religion is more trouble than it's worth, IMO. Modern, rapid communication makes keeping the never-ending scandals and corruption of the Catholic Church hidden, as before. I can't speak for Judaism, but they are less organized and powerful in supporting tyrants, have no Saints, or sell "indulgences", annulments, and other favors, and they don't have a history of supporting religious wars. It seems more a moral philosophy than an powerful international organization that sells and wields power. Can't disagree we all need a philosophy of life. We know how dangerous and destructive Islamism is, in order to control its members. There's too much historic and potential violence associated with religion, and I do not believe man or animals need "holy" men to tell them they alone know god, and how that god wants them to behave. Survival has taught living things how to live successfully, and the genes contain the instructions, IMO.
That said, I agree the Left's goal is power, which comes as an opportunity when the society fails, so they instinctively, perhaps unconsciously, want to bring on the required destruction. They don't realize they are too weak to survive what comes after the destruction. They may assume control, but they'll always be purged, first, by the tyrants that are strong enough to take candy from the babies they are. Tough to be so dumb and selfish.
Regards,

Anonymous said...

"For most of human history, men and women have derived their moral dimension of life from the family and religion."

And the tribe? For most of human history, men and women have derived their moral dimension from the tribe, in the form of customs and narratives. From time to time a different moral consciousness occured in one tribe or other, and a new religion formed through which tribal antagonisms harmonized for a while. The religious consciousness has to enter each individual, otherwise it will lack subjective significance, and religions seen as ideological engines of repression. But what exactly is supposed to be being repressed? There is no answer: for the believer in social engineering, everything past was (must have been) engineered - and there cannot logically be (or ever have been) an Emile as described by Rousseau! And yet, there remains this yearning for something... the security of the tribe? Quick, let us recreate that! In politics, then, no rational discourse, just invective: as Andrew Bolt put it, for some it's not the principle that matters but the side. But the memory of, and reversion to, tribalism will not create of itself a corpus of mythologies. So on the cultural side, we see an obsession everywhere with 'stories' and 'story-telling' - and with 'voices' (writing being so inauthentic, obviously). But what pathetic slivers of stories they turn out to be - Big Oil, Mother Gaia deniers, etc - compared to the mythologies of primitive tribes studied minutely by Levi-Strauss.

Anonymous said...

The question I ask my aetheist friends is this - if you could steal $1 million with absolutely zero chance of ever getting caught, would you do it? What if the group you were stealing from was...walmart...or skin heads...or Al queda, and you could donate the money to a good lefty cause like Greenpeace or the food bank. Would you do it?

The answer for most religious people is....no. They would not steal it, because God would see and judge them. Most aethists on the other hand....well, there is simply no logical reason for them not to steal it. In fact they might just be proud of it.

Part 2 of the question is this - would you rather live in a world where private morality trumps the needs for law enforcement, that is to say where there is no crime because no one would even think about breaking the law, or one where every action of every person had to be monitored constantly to make sure the law was not broken?

In other words, which is better, God or Big Brother? By the way, those are your ONLY two choices. The answer is, that while I might be an atheist, I sure hope very few other people are.

DenisO said...

"... those are your ONLY two choices..."
No, those are your only two choices. I wouldn't steal, cheat, or lie because I have been on this planet a looong time, and I know everybody has little problems, for which they should be grateful. If you steal, cheat and lie, I guarantee you will have big problems. Call it Karma or what you please, but that is how life works, and if you do your best to be honest, you will find that people will say you are "lucky", and you will have self-respect, a reward in itself..
Regards,

Anonymous said...

Neo-paganism is at the emotional heart of today's Left.

Islamism is a fusion of Islam with Communism: archeo-paganism + neo-paganism.

Classic Islam is largely restricted to Wahhabism; archeo-paganism + clan/ racial supremacy...

And to fanatic 12er's in Qom and other Persian urbanities. This crowd seems dead set on Armageddon... making national survival, family reproduction and economics third order concerns. Islamic Shakers, then.

The rest of the Ummah practice, pretty much, Cafeteria Islam. No-one can say, exactly, what they're running with. Most imams have the theocratic purity of Elmer Gantry -- and the avarice to match.

Where would this crowd be without their daily fix: The Two Minute Hate.

Goldstein is now Jerusalem.

"The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism" , his magnum opus, seems more apt when describing the ways and means of our Dear Leader: BH0.

How did George Orwell and Eric Hoffer peg this crowd?

Anonymous said...

Some good points, but I can't agree on Walmart. It's business model is to make huge profits off of cheap goods by getting government subsidies (health care, food stamps for underpaid workers) and using that leverage for anti-competitive purposes. The individual small business owners, who don't have the size and political clout of Walmart, suffer. Jerome

fsy said...


I have to disagree. No thinking person, whether left or right, can make sense of religion.


Part of the problem is that there is no such thing as generic "religion". There are only real religions, many of them, and it would seem that only at most one of them can be correct in its details.

To the extent that most if not all religions agree on something that is different from what "non-religious" people believe, it is that there is something to reality beyond the purely physical laws that govern matter. Can you identify with that at all? If not, it is pretty hard to see what justification you can give for being any more moral than a shark or a spider or an AIDS virus. Maybe you believe in "justice" or "compassion" or something else along those lines; these are non-physical concepts and therefore embody your religion, like it or not.

Edward Cline said...

The only reason the Left wants to kill off religion is because it's a rival for the unreserved allegiance of "the masses." Others who believe in freedom of thought and action do not want to "kill off" religion, but let it die a natural death. Those "others" are also the enemies of the Left. They are not the intrinsic or automatic enemies of religion. Religion is a primitive form of philosophy, but a tenacious one. it's easier to accept because it requires only a modicum of adherence. Religion was able to survive even in classical Greece, the birthplace of reason. There is an element in religion that tends to neutralize even the most rational, reason-committed individuals.

meema said...

It is a common mistake to confuse religion with faith or desire for a relationship and knowledge of a Sovereign God. We've been conditioned to believe that one cannot exist without the other. But morality and living to and for a higher good can just as easily be achieved in the secular religion of humanism as through any deity-based creed. So what is the difference? The counterfeit is completely self-serving and sets its goal as a vague and indefinable sort of ‘goodness’ that can only be achieved by adhering to an established doctrine. This counterfeit has managed to weave its way into most modern religions.

Grasping the existence of the mystery that is The Creator, outside of religion, requires emptying the great human self to become a useable vessel so as to serve God in His way and on His terms, not ours. When this is accomplished, the end result does often benefit mankind, but this isn’t the goal, its a side effect. The goal is not to create a good world full of good people by behaving according to a set of good rules. Mankind cannot save itself with its own primitive definition of what is good, and that is the fundamental reason why religion is easily pointed to as the cause of most conflict in the human condition.

Mankind, in general, can’t give up its own determination to know better than God what is best for humanity and so it seeks to force everyone to adhere to its definitions. And thus inevitable conflict.

The true goal cannot be reached by adhering to a manmade religion but being willing to give up the right to be right, to listen, obey and trust that God has an unfathomable plan for us and is able to communicate with us when we are willing to pay attention in bits we can digest. Who ever asks, "What can I do for You, God?" It's more usually, "What are You going to do for us?"

I have come to the conclusion that we have reached an age where, those who feel the nagging pull to stop and listen to the call, do. Those who don’t, don’t. In the end, religion gets blamed and, in many cases, rightly so.

Anonymous said...

I somewhat disagree about Walmart in the sense that nothing is intrinsically bad just because it is big.
It hires a lot of nice people and a few that would seem unemployable anywhere else.
Likewise, a small business is not intrinsically good because it is small, and many of them are too small to be generous to their employees as well. At least at Walmart, the workers don't have the expense of getting dressed up.
If one wants a quality product, and can afford it, there are plenty of small retailers to provide it. Just remember them the next time you need a new toaster or a laundry basket.

Angus said...

Man, you are one bitter dude. From what I've seen in my short 55 years, materialism is a sickness and by-product of our consumerist society based on flawed and manipulated capitalism, not on a liberal or conservative mindset. Regardless of where you stand, the fact remains that the traditional family structure is in danger because of constant socio-economic pressures that continuously stifle honest efforts to just survive, much less get ahead in this country, in a nation manipulated on all fronts by the "haves". As far as religion goes, people have finally evolved to the point where the myths and dogma don't cut it anymore, and are taking on more of the responsibility for their own behaviors and actions in lieu of blind faith of corporate religion. It's not a "liberal" thing, nor is it a "conservative " thing. It's about doing the best you can with what you're given, and striving to survive and be one of the "fittest". This is not a time for divisivness, but for focus on what's wrong and fixing it, rather than roasting a scapegoat out of ignorance. Get a hold of yourself man; we're all in this together. And while we bicker about who's to blame, the government is slowly usurping ALL of our rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. We are all Patriots.......let's tackle the REAL problem!!!! Angus

Anonymous said...

Having had issues with word press, I have been posting anonymously, not out of cowardice, it just never occurred to me to sign my name. Thanks to Jerome for showing me the light..will sign in the future, it seems only fair.

As to religion, I was educated first by the SSJ nuns, a liberal, and thoughtful Order.
Then by the Jesuits, another Order I admire and one to which I owe a lot.

Things got interesting when I married a nominal, but studious Jew, ie. he knows the basic tenets of Judaism, admires them, and tries to live by them, but was raised in a Christmas tree family..Other Jews may understand this better than I. We made sure our children were exposed to both our religions, now that they are grown ups, they do as they please, and marry whom they love, just as we did.

There has never been a word of disagreement about religion because at bottom, we both agree on what we consider important.
Religion is Man's attempt to understand himself in what we now think is an endless Universe. By bringing simple ideas like the Golden Rule to life, even the most hardened atheists agree, the world is a better place. Practicing charity, being part of a larger group, and following tradition, imo helps us cope with the unanswerable "why am I here".
Others see it as a way to control the masses, and maybe it was, at one time, only Islam falls into that category today, and even that is not working everywhere. In Islam, the ones with the bigger guns seem to be winning for now.
Maybe there is no higher purpose or Deity, but there will always be replacements, such as the talk of "spiritual but not religious", which says exactly the same thing, but sounds more hip.
I go back to my own hippie days and remember the slogan "if there was no God, man would have invented him anyway".

To "each according to his needs"..Why argue ?

Regards,
Sophie

mushroom said...

I think inflation is more of an unintended consequence of trying to create a utopian system. The left is bad at arithmetic.

Anonymous said...

Leftists' reason: we are many therefore we are right. Shout with me¡

Anonymous said...

Therefore 1 billion muzzies can´t be wrong or can they?

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