Lately on the Right many have shown an urge to unite behind Christianity instead of Western Civilization. The weakness of this is that you can have one or the other, but it hints at something that we need, although Christianity cannot provide it.
Most people go with inertia. To them, political correctness is a recent development that someone forced on them. They want it to stop so that they can get back to being 1980s Republicans who are basically “Christian Libertarians.”
After all, that is the simplest version of the idea of “conserve.” They want what they identify as our culture, which seems to be Christian, and to preserve our freedom and free markets via Libertarianism.
Of course, that disregards all that came before that and all that is needed for a functional civilization, which is why it steadily drove away intelligent people from the 1960s onward. Buckleyite conservatism of this nature is brick-stupid and self-defeating.
Not surprisingly, people are increasingly less attracted to these declining ideologies:
In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.
Over the last decade, the share of Americans who say they attend religious services at least once or twice a month dropped by 7 percentage points, while the share who say they attend religious services less often (if at all) has risen by the same degree. In 2009, regular worship attenders (those who attend religious services at least once or twice a month) outnumbered those who attend services only occasionally or not at all by a 52%-to-47% margin. Today those figures are reversed; more Americans now say they attend religious services a few times a year or less (54%) than say they attend at least monthly (45%).
An ideology is a symbolic belief system that instructs its adherents to act toward a goal of making that system more powerful. The ideology of Leftism consists of egalitarianism, or the idea of making us all equal, which really is individualism, or the notion that the individual should be able to do whatever he wants without standards, mores, culture, and hierarchy interrupting him. That fits with the notion of “liberalization,” or relaxing rules and social order so that the individual has more freedom.
Christianity, because it is a symbolic faith with a binary moral standard (roughly: “with us or against us”), forms an ideology every bit as much as the “Christian Libertarian” conservatives have created an ideology based in markets and religion, foregoing defense of the organic culture, its heritage, family, and hierarchy, or the use of natural selection to promote better genetics.
Ideology has failed us. After the nineteenth century consisted of wars for Leftist domination, and the twentieth century consisted of eliminating the last non-Leftists, the twenty-first century shows people waking up a little bit and figuring out that ideology leads away from reality and therefore guarantees bad results.
As G.K. Chesterton told us, ideology addresses only some problems and does not speak to the Civilization Question (CQ), which requires that we create an affirmative goal of improving life, ourselves, and our civilization in parallel:
Modern morality, Chesterton was saying, does not point to perfection. To be sure, it does point “with absolute conviction,” but not to perfection. It can—and often does—point to this or that “horror,” usually following the breaking of this or that law. But modern morality does not point to perfection, because it cannot do so. And it cannot do so, because it cannot conceive that perfection exists.
For conservatives to restore ourselves and our civilization, we must aim for “perfection,” which means the good instead of the merely adequate. We cannot respond to the problems of the now, but must aim for what eternally succeeds, recognizing that problems will always be with us.
Christianity has several fatal problems:
- Dualism: it believes in another world with rules different from this one, and by encouraging us to see this “higher” world, denies us the reality of our existence, and by doing that, in turn makes us disbelieve the higher world because of the negativity created in this one. Dualism is a mental trap and drives people insane; regular Platonism, that our world is part of a bigger space, makes more sense.
- Written: if you want something to get handed to monkeys for reinterpretation in chaotic, incorrect, and generally idiotic ways, by all means write it down as a series of procedures and instructions. The rest of your monkey species will convert it to weaponized gibberish in no time. As a bonus, some of the most-reviled converters like Luther and Calvin were in fact restoring meaning that other monkeys had wrecked.
- Superstitious: in Christianity, you have moral gods who intervene in this world to make things better in an absolute, egalitarian sense where every life matters; in ancient pagan and Hindu mythology, you have gods who intervene to keep the cycle of the ages going, but otherwise concern themselves little with human monkeys and in fact celebrate our moronic self-destruction.
- Symbolic: Christianity leads directly to schizophrenia as you find yourself wondering what burning bush, writing on the wall, talking snake, or magic number is telling you what God thinks. Since it is moral, it depends on talismans and devil dolls to keep you oriented toward obedience, and this creates a mentality of trying to parse reality as symbols, not a functional series of cause-to-effect relationships.
- Foreign: no matter how much we try to dress it up, Christianity is part of the Judeo-Christian/Abrahamic religions (Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity) group that comes from the middle east. Even if it is mostly restated Greek ideas with a huge dose of Buddhism in the New Testament, Christianity remains alien to us in name, practice, and identity.
Western Civilization existed before it and was morally stronger then since it aimed for competence, excellence, wisdom, and creativity instead of trying to get along with the group by having a morality of individualism and compromise.
Although the usual conservative voices will yell for everyone to come to Jesus, this belongs to the category of “easy answers” which one should never trust. Like the Nazis calling for race war, the Jesusians have been calling for mass conversion for decades with no success.
Instead, we have to tackle the CQ horns-first and start building a society that works. We know that it cannot have equality, socialism, and diversity; we know that it needs a moral drive toward excellence (arete) through recognition of individual achievement (thymos) in the context of natural order, which includes not just civilization, but nature and the divine.
Right now, Christianity stands in our way, to a degree, because like a scapegoat, it represents a false target. We need to do a lot more than stand up for religion, and perhaps universal religions take us away from things that we need, like heritage and tradition.
Even more, people are moving away from ideology and other symbolic belief systems toward realism. Everything has failed us, including the church. Now we want what is real and, even more, what is good — back to Chesterton’s “perfection.”
Tags: christian libertarianism, christianity, conservatism, g.k. chesterton, william f. buckley