Thursday, 5 July 2018

Why leftism is Protestantism and Protestantism is leftism

If the headline is true, then Christianity is not just the ruling regime of the West, but of the globe, and most “atheists” are little more than secularised Christians calling themselves “progressives.”

I'm well aware saying the above is bound to annoy, oh, pretty much everybody.

I think it’s true, though. The real question is what factors cause this strain of antinomian Protestantism to outcompete its more benign competitors? I know most people think the Revelationists and their snake-handling Creationist buddies are more malignant than the progressives, I beg to differ.

I suspect the factors won’t be found in theology. If you could somehow remove every Christian sect in the US besides charismatic Pentecostalism and Mormonism, closed all universities, but did not change the political structure, and left the system alone for 100 years, you would see liberal Pentecostalists and liberal Mormons, with almost the same views now held by the progressive descendants of the Puritans. Their theology might differ, but the social structures would be similar. The same thing happened in Catholicism with "liberation theology." And of course, there is "scientific socialism," its atheistic equivalent.

The essential adaptive cause is the feedback loop between information and State. In a society where this loop is uninterrupted, all belief systems will adaptively specialise to capture the state, and then promote themselves and discourage competitors. We can distinguish two phases: the aggressive phase and the maintenance phase. Today, we are in the latter with “social justice” progressivism.

The West's decentralised government model is perfect for maintenance because it is full of overlaps and small competitions. Any institution that gets tired or starts to think off the reservation is swiftly attacked by the others – universities, for example, attack the IMF and World Bank, even though these are core “international community” members with an impeccable progressive history.

And the Pentagon/State Department split (or “red/blue”) I’ve discussed before is an exaggerated case of this internecine conflict for power over Washington – the US military is not actually a continuation of the Confederacy, despite what social justice warriors will have you believe. It too has its ancient progressive roots.

Antinomianism is not a well-understood word anymore, but it’s an excellent example of what’s happening in the US. Pushing the antinomian envelope is a success strategy, for the same reason a Silicon Valley bigshot might wear shorts to a board meeting – it's a way of proving you can. To be crude, it puts your dick on the table. Universities tolerate and even encourage antinomianism a) to be competitive with those that don't, and b) because the quasi-violent energy displayed by antinomian SJWs is a nice power source.

Since the theological details are irrelevant, we can start to see religions (and idealisms) as patterns of thinking which tend not to change too much over short periods of time, which is why we can name and classify them. But we should be careful about using the names they choose for themselves. There is a reason why so many names for ideas originated as terms of abuse by their enemies. Not that we should trust the enemies, either…

The progressive movement of today goes back to Luther's realisation that Catholic Christianity had gotten completely out of whack with the scriptures. But there's more to it than that. Christianity is a fascinating and impressive belief system, and one of the neatest things about it is that, historically, it is really two belief systems in one. Let me explain.

Christianity is half Roman state religion, half communal ecstatic fraternity. I find the Anglican terms “high church” and “low church” useful here, even outside of Anglicanism (there are high church and low church Lutherans, for example). Elements of both these strains can be found in every Christian tradition, because no one has found a way to live without government, and so much of the emotional appeal of Christianity is in the fictive-kinship idea that all men (or, depending on your theology, all Christians) are brothers.

Another, slightly harsher, way to put this is that the New Testament includes a complete and tested blueprint for a revolutionary communist cult. No wonder the medieval Church kept it hidden! Puritans wanted to create what David Hackett Fischer calls "ordered liberty" and although the forms of order have mutated completely, the goal of a managed society (a New Jerusalem) is remarkably consistent down to today’s progressives.

I've long suspected both Calvinism and Marxism of being secretly in league or joined at the hip. Lutherans in general (and Luther in particular) didn't like the idea of a state and religion as one and worked instead on the idea of two kingdoms. This kingdom (secular) was under the sway of law, while the kingdom to come was under the sway of the Gospel. Calvin wished to unite them, as Marxists do. Luther didn't believe we were capable of being saintly and outlawed the canonisation of saints.

At first, Lutheranism was not a communist cult. It succeeded because it provided a way for local bigwigs to break away from Rome. But Calvinism came much closer, and the heritage in today’s regime is obvious. Are we really to believe that Marx, on his own, invented the idea that all men are brothers, despite living in a society dominated by a religion which taught exactly that? As for the beliefs of your average Lutheran compared with the World Council of Churches, the high church, low church spread is painfully obvious.

But, as the Russians say, the fish rots from the head down. Lutheranism is not inherently low church, but it does not preclude a low church interpretation, either. And when Lutheran countries (Sweden! that “humanitarian superpower”) are captured by low churchmen, who enjoy an obvious democratic advantage, the change over time can be dramatic.

The World Council of Churches is not by itself powerful, as if it were the Vatican, it is powerful because its views reflect the views of those in power and power tends to propagate itself. The opinions of followers are lagging indicators, so to speak, while the opinions of leaders are leading indicators. It matters less where Lutheranism came from than where it's going, and the trend of syncretism with the Puritan elite strikes me as pretty clear.

In other words, democracy is both the cause and the result of this low church avalanche over the centuries. Whether vicious or virtuous, it's a circle of causation. Essentially, in this form of government, power is won by having as many clients as possible – as true for Hillary Clinton as it was for Caesar – and low church Christianity is perfectly designed for building such patronage networks.

This is what the young people advocating for open borders are doing. They are soldiers in an integrated religious and political war. Like all soldiers, our modern-day social justice "warriors" hope to gain power and status by rising in the ranks. As long as this power structure is effective, Lutheranism and all other Christian sects – even Catholicism itself – will be ready, willing and able to evolve into it. If Faramir refuses the ring, there is always a Boromir who will accept it. What Lord Acton meant when he said that power corrupts was that it seduces, and boy does it.

The problem is not Christianity. The problem is that if there is a vacuum of power, Christianity will evolve into its communist-cult form and try to seize it. This can only be cured by eliminating the vacuum of power by introducing impersonal legal structures and property rights, maybe even using blockchain-like technology.

Some people use the word "hyper-calvinism" instead of “progressivism” for this regime’s belief structure because it traces the evolutionary roots exactly and denies their claim to be moderate. However, it won’t convince people who already hold this belief system, which is why I like “progressivism” instead.

Low church believers have a hard time seeing how their strain of Christianity has the strongest associations with tyranny, and diluting the theological content of Christianity, in favour of "secular" fraternity, brotherhood and other God's-kingdom-on-Earth issues, makes its tyrannical element not milder but stronger.

As Ernest Renan put it, "never trust a German when he tells you he's an atheist."

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