Thursday 5 August 2021

Political ideology has become a religion and religion has turned into political ideology

I realised quite a few years ago that left-wing ideology was a religion. There seemed no other way to make sense of it.

The same was true of the anti-discrimination ideology.

I wasn't the first, of course, but I had the insight a couple of years or more before I read the idea anywhere, though I read about politics voraciously. 

Now I think anyone with eyes to see can see it. Left-wing politics has become a religion and religion has been turned into left-wing politics.

Back in the 1960s, people thought religion was on the way out altogether. By the late 1970s, it looked like it would continue to linger on. 

In the 1980s, some aphorist said hypochondria was the only religious enthusiasm of our times. 

It was funny, like most jokes, because it was partly true. 

No-one would make that joke after September 11th 2001.

People from then on learnt what the British, French, Spanish, Italians and Dutch of the colonial age knew about the nature of Muslim religious enthusiasm. 

It was clear by then that Marxism had been as much a religion as Islam.

What was not clear was that Marxism was a malignant religion that had not died but morphed.

Professor Paul Gottfried, in an article this week, talks more interestingly than anyone I recall reading about politics as  religionHe says,
'The priesthood of political religions demand that we punish those who express unsanctioned views as morally wicked—in the contemporary vernacular, these are “racists,” “sexists” and “homophobes.” 
'The concept of political religion is especially pressing because in the West, the struggle of intersectional, antiwhite politics takes on the elements of religion. The now-dominant woke political religion has permeated Christian confessions, which often seem unable to resist ideological invasion. Complicating the matter is that the so-called liberal democratic opposition to the left’s political religion often resembles what it claims to be resisting.

'Both sides exalt equality and universalism and view the end of human history in a similar fashion. Each sees history as culminating in triumph of their progressive doctrines, the effect of which will be the disappearance of human prejudice and the increasing indistinguishability or interchangeability of humankind.


'Fascist political religions were much more ham-handed... Leftist political religions by contrast are entirely systematic in how they change society. They will not stop their work until every mind has been reshaped.

'The left does well in attracting adherents for a reason given by religious anthropologist Mircea Eliade: It wields myths that fit into a culture that has long been Christian. The fascist vision of warrior nations locked in perpetual struggle pales next to the leftist dream of the suffering just triumphing in the fullness of time and creating Heaven on Earth. Unlike the right, the left has been able to harness moral guilt on behalf of its transformative vision. Even more significantly, it has weaponized hatred by recasting it as moral indignation in the face of injustice or prejudice.'


  1. "religion has been turned into left-wing politics".

    This is not remotely true in the United States, where religious commitment tends rightward, with some exceptions. This does not seem to be the case in Brazil, where the evangelical movement is strong, and notably right-wing. It is surely not the case in Russia, where the Russian Orthodox church seems determined to repeat and improve on all the mistakes of the French church during the Bourbon restoration.

    But "often seem" can cover a lot of cases.

    1. You are referring to the headline - you are right. Only in the some places has Christianity, or the clergy anyway, become left-wing. The West and Latin America are the two obvious examples. Left-wing Catholicism has pushed a large number of Catholics in Brazil, for example, into becoming Protestants. The Orthodox Church is very different, as I imagine are the ancient heresies that linger in the Middle East.

    2. Many but by no means all of the American Catholic hierarchy are very left-wing indeed (some fly rainbow flags), and most of the Episcopalian hierarchy are. A Baptist pastor (one does not expect this of Baptists) blessed an abortion clinic in the USA. The Washington Post: "When clergy gather at an abortion clinic, it’s usually in protest, outside the building.
      Rarely are they huddled inside the clinic, not to condemn but to bless the procedures that happen there.
      Yet that was the Rev. Carlton Veazey’s task as he led a prayer in Bethesda on Monday. “God of grace and God of glory, in whom we move and live,” he said, as he opened a prayer for the well-being of the doctor and nurses who facilitate abortions at a clinic here and for their patients. “Keep them safe and keep them strong. And may they always know that all that they do is for Thy glory.”
      Veazey was one of four Christian pastors and one rabbi who gathered to bless this Bethesda abortion clinic in an unusual interfaith ceremony. (A Hindu priest who was supposed to attend from a local temple, who has blessed an abortion clinic before, didn’t make it.)"

    3. But my blog post and Paul Gottfried's article are about how politics has become religion, not vice versa.

    4. I read the article about Veazey et al. when it ran in The Washington Post.

      This week the Post reported a local sighting of a pink spoonbill, a bird rarely seen north of Florida. I don't doubt the accuracy of the story. However, an ornithologist giving an account of the birds in the lower Potomac Valley would do his audience a disservice by leading off with spoonbills and not with pigeons, robins, and less showy birds.

      As for politics, the account does not seem to square with politics as practiced in the US at least. The voters of New York City have elected an ex-policeman as mayor over several trendier types. In a closely watched primary in Ohio, Democratic voters picked a longtime party stalwart over someone endorsed by Ocasio Cortez and other fashionable persons. The incumbent president served many terms as senator from a state where businesses love to incorporate. The Speaker of the House is married to an absurdly rich investor. None of this sounds especially left, even in an American (generally conservative) context.

    5. I am not knowledgeable about America but being filthy rich was never a guarantee of being sensible or conservative. The country has become terrifyingly left-wing, not in the old Communist way but in a new way. The Episcopalians are riddled with very left wing feminist clergy who seem to think Christian sexual morality is old hat. I have no time to google this stuff. Left-wing Catholic nuns in the USA are often heretics and so it goes. Look at this story which ties together the extreme right, disliking Dr Fauci and hate speech.

    6. Roger Kimball, a great admirer of President Trump, makes interesting analogy here with Xenophon's account of the aftermath of the Spartan destruction of the Athenian fleet on the beach at Aegospotomoi.

  2. Before I drop this for good: the latest numbers I can find say that 1.1% of Americans are Episcopalians. They tend to be well off, they have big churches in conspicuous places, they get a good deal of press. But they are not much of a factor in everyday American life.

    1. I am English and live in Bucharest and did not intend to write about America when I hastily scribbled this post, but it is very American of you to assume the Episcopalians are only as important as their numbers. They are the WASP establishment, the US ruling class, the ladies and gentlemen, aren't they? Many Catholics in America are very left-wing but many important conservative Episcopalians have converted to the Catholic Church. I really do not know much about American religion though, except to mourn its decline.

    2. Did you see this quotation I posted yesterday from an article in 2008 on the 'Orwell's Picnic' blog about Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson?

      'Mr. Robinson told a group of admirers that his purpose in life is to create a new Christianity. Specifically Gay Christianity, for want of a better euphemism. The Church of Holy Gayness. He says that the Anglican Church is just the place for it.'
      '...."The Anglican tradition is uniquely capable of holding two seemingly contradictory ideas together. It's position on abortion, for example is that all human life is sacred. And, that no one has the right to tell a woman what to do with her body.
      'Both are true."
      'I have to say, when I saw this statement I was filled with joy.
      'AT LAST! I had found someone who can say plainly what Anglicanism is all about. Sodomy, infanticide and fundamental irrationality. Chaos, depravity and murder.'