Sunday, 11 December 2016

Is 'left' and 'right' politics really finished?

Aside from the pearl-clutching distraction of complaints about a "post-truth" world among the elites (as if they haven't been dabbling in the dark arts of narrative creation for decades...), the other main talking point bubbling up everywhere from The Economist to your local wine chambers is the disappearance of the "left" and "right" political spectrum in favour of, as the glorified opinion weekly called it, "open and closed" or nationalism versus internationalism.

The idea pivots on a new trend inside advanced, Western countries in which the good guys have the world as their concern while the bad guys think their neighbours' well-being is more important. This debate reached disgusting levels during Brexit and the US election when the internationalists (the "open") declared any disagreement with their righteous goal as equivalent to racism and being "literally Hitler."

And I don't use 'righteous' out of vocabularic boredom. I mean it specifically: the internationalist argument is religious through and through. The changes we are seeing are not fundamental at all, despite how they look. This is simply an iteration of the same Christian battle that's been raging for millennia.

It's a battle between sects of Christianity which began in Europe and sailed to America. Europe has plenty of Christian infighting but for America, the intra-Christian battles needed the departure of the Puritans and Calvinists from Britain to get started. They people brought with them the tenets of what they thought was perfect Christianity: 'the equality of all people', the need to 'live by good example', the 'moral arc of history', and - most importantly - the importance of 'spreading the Christian message' around the globe until everyone believes.

If progressives are Christians, “political correctness” is religious orthodoxy. The only reason we don’t think of the progressives’ descendants as Christians is that they don’t want us to. In fact, their ideology, progressive idealism, is the leading modern descendant of the most powerful American Christian tradition, the “mainline” Protestants, who entered New England in the early 1600s

These are the Roundheads, the Puritans, whatever you want to call them, and after their defeat of the last Cavaliers, they have ruled unchallenged in North America and outside it. If they feel some occasional spiritual pang, they sometimes call themselves “Unitarians.” They are also tolerant to branches of other religions which they have taken over, such as Reform Judaism or “moderate” Islam. And what are “multiculturalism” and “diversity” but religious tests for office?

Over time and due to technological advances and constitutional law evolution, the American philosophy of Puritan/Calvinist Christianity splintered as some sections held to its traditions, while others upgraded those beliefs while retaining the spiritual. Still others dropped the spirituality of Puritanism altogether but kept all the tenets (including others such as the 'stewardship of nature' - leading to the environmental movement, and the all-powerful Christian idea of weaponised shame). It is these latter people who are today considered the modern "left."

The older versions of Puritanism/Calvinism are what we would call on the political "right" - they just lag behind the progressive post-Christian ideas by a few decades.

The key is: it's all the same Christianity. The political spectrum of left and right was never an ex nihilo concept. It was an evolution of a conflict within and amongst Protestant Christianity for control over that doctrine. In the same way the Catholics and Protestants fought for theological supremacy (which translated also into power), when the Protestants eventually took the initiative in that battle, a fresh conflict began amongst them too. And that's what we mean when we talk about left and right today.

So there certainly is a battle occurring for your mind. It's the same one the West has been fighting for millennia. It just so happens that because of technology and various super-spreading opportunities like World War, this battle ate the entire planet, bringing everything into its orbit (observe that every piece of land is organised into nation-states, which is a Western idea). Now everywhere is the battlefield setting up how Christianity will look in the new millennium.

US President-elect Donald Trump's election is a story of people who consider themselves belonging to the older version of a quintessentially Anglo-American, post-Christian, non-theistic sect, stemming from the early days of the colony, who grabbed back control of parts of the Washington machinery. But those post-Christians are not much different to their rivals in Washington, the newer post-Christian progressives. What makes them different is how they define the edges of their beliefs and what they consider extreme and "good."

The only battle worth watching in the 21st century is the one whose end goal is the complete subjugation of the entire planet. It's the only game in town. The question is not "if" this battle will be won, it's actually: "since the entire planet has already been conquered by this non-theistic, post-Christian ideology, which faction will control the strings?"

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