The Cathedral is a Christian sect that very cleverly adopted the camouflage of secularism so as to more easily infect (memefect?) non-Christians and non-religious institutions in addition to actual believers. This was a natural evolution of the theology given that the constitution of the United States originally sought to keep religious authorities out of government. I think it is instructive to compare some tenets of the protestant reformation to some of the ideas currently held by the progressive elite. The analogy of change in Christian culture to evolution is quite intentional. Natural selection can impose truly remarkable morphological changes to organisms. For example, consider this video detailing the evolution of whales from their land based ancestors. Culture should in theory be much more adaptable and otherwise susceptible to change than biologically physical features. If the process of natural selection can make something more or less like a deer into a whale, then it isn’t so hard to imagine that the process could morph Christianity into modern secular progressivism given the right environment.
In Nick Wade’s “A troublesome inheritance“ he discusses how social institutions are fundamentally based on the aggregation of behaviors of the individuals that make up the population of societies. These behaviors ultimately have a significant biological component. Though in some sense the form of the cultural expression of a population’s behaviors can vary significantly over a short time, the underlying biological dispositions act as a brake slowing the overall change and limiting its manifestations. A lack of prerequisite biological dispositions can prevent effective institutions from being formed. The greater persistence of genes underlying dispositions also make it more likely that abandoned cultural norms could be resurrected. It should not be surprising that when one generation rejects or alters some cultural norm that it can re-emerge in a related, if modified, manifestation since the underlying biology is probably more or less the same. As such, the fact that ideas resembling Christian doctrines persist or re-emerge in secular culture should almost be expected. The following list contrasts older theological doctrines with modern secular progressive principles.
- The ancestor of egalitarianism is probably Martin Luther’s justification by faith alone. Before that, European and every other culture believed in hierarchies and the idea of priests being the intermediary between god and the average peon. After the reformation, it became believed that anyone could interact with god through faith and through reading the bible. It is this concept that mandated that bibles should be written in all common languages so everyone could read it and become closer to god. At the time that this was first proposed it must have been an extraordinarily radical and new idea. I have nothing against the idea of equality before the law and an equality of opportunity. For example, for everyone to read the bible you would need mass literacy, which is undoubtedly good for society. However, you can see how this concept has gotten more and more extreme ever since to the point that now people are denying that differences exist between races and gender. If you bother to disagree with them they will condemn you with nothing less than righteous indignation. This certainly suggests a religious quality to the belief in egalitarianism.  I recently had a conversation with a churchian who expressed that no sin is of greater magnitude than any other sin. It is all just sin. In other words, a slut with ten partners is no more sinful than an otherwise true Christian who had an impure thought about an attractive woman. A murderer is no worse than someone who tells a white lie in polite company. Clearly the belief that all sin is created equal supports the Christian origin of egalitarianism.
- Manifest destiny and creating god’s kingdom on earth was originally a very religious idea. In essence, the New England puritans believed that they and the United States were predestined or elected by god to spread certain religious ideals as well as expand in influence. To the puritans and their descendants at least, the creation of the United States was thus part of god’s divine providence and his plan to spread his desired human organization as far as possible. This tradition continued in Progressive Christianity, which gave birth to the Wilsonian progressives who thought up the idea of the league of nations, and eventually FDR with the united nations and other world bodies with an explicit mission to spread progressive ideals worldwide.
In essence, this is the idea that history and culture march in a linear fashion to an inevitable Utopian state and requires the work of true believers to be accomplished. Before it was god’s kingdom on Earth, but now God’s kingdom has been replaced by the divine mysteries of democracy, liberalism, freedom, equality, pacifism and other contradictory beliefs. Most other religions in the world believe in a cyclical nature of time and culture. The idea that history moves on a linear trajectory, an arch of progress, is fairly unique to western Christianity and that uniqueness has been inherited by modern secular progressivism.
Again, this is not all bad. Technological progress is real and desirable. Neoreactionaries also believe a better civilization is desirable. The problem comes when this is combined with egalitarianism above. That some people don’t seem to fit this narrative of history progressing towards a better society causes a lot of consternation to progressives. To jump-start the progress toward Utopia that has been stalled by the failures of various demographics, crypto-calvinists implement doomed policies that have a philosophical foundation in egalitarianism. Since egalitarianism is untrue, these policies are ill-conceived and ironically usually make things worse. (See also).
- The seeds and concepts of socialism and Marxism existed years before Karl Marx was ever born and were certainly within the reach of the Puritan imagination. Mark 10:25 is a classic example of the Christian attitude towards wealth. Jesus states:
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Christianity contains the premises that give rise to the belief that wealth is a hindrance to salvation. The legacy of which is an amorphous feeling that all those who are wealthy must be be reprobates. In addition, in John Winthrop’s sermon”A Model of Christian Charity” he specifically advocates for acts of charity by the rich to the poor. He gave this sermon on the Mayflower during the voyage to America and outlines what we would call wealth redistribution today. This sort of attitude led to the very first experiment with Socialism in America. The initial laws of the puritan colony mandated that all produced goods be collected into a common stock and distributed equally among its members. Colonists had no incentive to work harder because there was no benefit to doing so. The results of greater productivity would be redistributed to others. Unsurprisingly, they worked as little as possible. In William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation” he described the attitude of young able bodied men:
“For the young unmarried men that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.“
As true today as it was in the 1600s, young men did not like being coerced into being cuckolded beta providers for women and children who were not their own. An extreme revulsion at being made cuckolded providers is one of the most fundamentally natural and just aspects of the masculine condition. Men accrue resources in excess of their needs for one reason and one reason only: to gain an opportunity to mate and guarantee the fitness of their biological children. The nature of man will eternally frustrate attempts to impose socialism since it breaks the link between wealth creation and evolutionary fitness. Socialist Plymouth was accordingly frustrated by repeated famines for years until they changed to a more capitalist system that guaranteed men would reap the benefits of their work. Once people were able to directly enjoy the benefits of their labor, food and goods were produced in excess of need and the colony prospered. Capitalism took such a strong hold early on in America not because the founders were inherently predisposed to free enterprise; quite the opposite. Rather capitalism became preferred because their initial attempt at a communal order, which they correctly perceived to be consistent with Christian doctrine, was such an abysmal failure and left such a strong impression that all pretense of socialism was firmly abolished. So great was the change that the new economic system induced in the colony, the holiday of Thanksgiving was invented to celebrate the abolition of socialism and the beginning of more prosperous, happier times. In a fashion contradictory with the previous interpretation of the faith, it became accepted that bounty accrued as a result of hard productive labor could be interpreted as a sign of election.
It was great for America that the early colonists experienced such a harsh lesson about the dangers of socialism and that it was thereafter successfully suppressed for many years. However, America was still a Christian country and Christian doctrines still carried the dormant seeds that could spontaneously germinate into new strains of progressivism at any time once the initial failure of common property faded from the cultural memory. And, of course, it did as the modern world can attest.
- Total depravity is the ancestor of modern ethnomasochism among people of European descent. This is more commonly called white guilt, but I feel ethnomasochism better connotes how self-destructive and foolish the attitude, behaviors and policies that result from it are. Total depravity is the idea that man is fundamentally sinful as a result of original sin. Humanity is so inclined to sin that it is physically and mentally incapable of not sinning. As such, man must repent of his innate evil and be thankful for being saved by Jesus Christ because in no scenario would he have been able to save himself from his own fundamental wickedness. Undoubtedly, experiencing guilt is an important part of repenting and of minimizing sin. In secular progressivism, the direct attribution of original sin to every person has been replaced by a direct attribution of responsibility to whites, and especially white males, for the fact that other human groups (i.e., minorities and women) are not able to achieve and thus signal high status at the same frequency as white males. Of course, white males have very little to do with the failings of other groups, but the experience of guilt for sin seems to be a natural part of the biological psychology of Europeans. Opportunistic groups find it convenient to appeal to that tendency to gain political advantages in western society.
- The book of revelation is an important part of the bible. Therefore apocalyptic imagery has long been popular (for lack of a better word) in Christian thinking. There is supposed to be an end of the world filled with great disaster and at that time Jesus will come for a second time, repel the devil, and establish god’s kingdom on earth. Unlike some of the other doctrines listed here, most cultures and religions make some references to an end of the world that is accompanied by disasters of Biblical proportions. A fear of the end of the world is probably a universal human trait rather than specific to Christians or Europeans. What evolutionary benefit such beliefs could possibly have I honestly can’t fathom. But the universal presence of such beliefs suggest they offer some benefit or are a side effect of genes that cause some other useful phenotype. In a secular society, however, the justification for an end times belief is much harder to come by without recourse to the supernatural. Since people are still compelled, for whatever reason, to hold apocalyptic beliefs something “rational” had to be substituted. Of course that something is human induced climate change. I am not as skeptical about climate change as some. For example, humanity is releasing a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and it would surprise me if that didn’t have SOME effect. Where I differ with the cathedral is in its insistence that carbon dioxide is going to cause some sort of apocalypse that destroys all life and especially human life. Carbon dioxide is a natural component of the atmosphere and plants require it for carbon fixation. If plants have more carbon dioxide available, they will simply grow more easily and likely get larger. Increased carbon concentrations will probably end up being good for agriculture. Plants better able to use the carbon would evolve and sequester carbon at a greater rate, creating a negative feedback to human emissions. In addition, warm periods in earth’s history seem to be better, not worse, for biological diversity. Of course, given that the previous link is from the cathedral, the cognitive dissonance created by this contradictory finding is rationalized so they can maintain their apocalyptic beliefs. They simply assume that climate change is much more rapid this time around and their beliefs are validated. For the most part, climate scientists are underestimating the rapid pace at which evolution can take place. Species seem stable not because evolution is slow, but because environments are relatively stable and species very rapidly reach a stable form that is at equilibrium within their environment. Species can be drastically modified in surprisingly few generations if the selection pressures drastically change. Enough digression; the point of this is that though the cathedral may be right that humans are causing some amount of climate change, it is a non sequitur that this change is going to cause an apocalypse. The evidence they have doesn’t support such a drastic conclusion. If anything, there is reason to believe extra carbon dioxide will ultimately be beneficial. Belief in an apocalypse scenario caused by climate change thus seems more of a religious sentiment than a reasonable conclusion drawn from the data.
- The American conservative advanced the point the missionary work common to mainline protestants is still alive and well in the form of foreign volunteerism of progressives at the individual level, and so-called “benevolent” foreign policy at the level of government. Rather than repeating the argument, I recommend you read through the article in the previous link.
I am not saying all of the results or desires of Protestantism are bad. World peace, eliminating poverty and hunger, having more wealth equality and strong work ethic* are all reasonable goals. Unfortunately for progressives, you can only achieve your goals when you have an accurate understanding of how reality actually works. In the case of social engineering, that means understanding the biological instincts of man and working with what they are, not what we would like them to be. Benevolent intentions are not good if they result in bad outcomes. Benevolent intentions and bad outcomes are just as evil as malevolent intentions and bad outcomes. Judging by the real world impact, there is no difference. To continue doing things that cause bad outcomes despite evidence that it doesn’t work can only occur as a result of mystical thinking. However benevolent the intention, this makes progressive policies both religious and prone to creating evil in the world.
*Not to be biased towards cultural explanations of behaviors, it may be better to describe it as Germanic work ethic rather than protestant work ethic.
3 Replies to “The Missing Links”
I believe that egalitarianism’s roots go back even further, to the very beginning of Christianity and the doctrine of “equality of souls,” rich or poor, free or slave. Equality of women’s souls to men’s is also the root of feminism.