Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Politics is Downstream from Culture is Downstream from Religion

Over at his blog, scifi writer John C. Wright is writing about his Last Crusade. No not the Ninth Crusade in 1271, but right now, to save Christian civilization from the new menace that is threatening our modern Jerusalem. Wright began in January with "The Last Crusade."

But a week ago he wrote "Last Crusade: Fighting the Wrong Battle," in which the basic argument is to extend Andrew Breitbart's catchphrase that "politics is downstream from culture."

Yes, he writes, "politics is downstream of culture" and that is why conservatives have been losing to liberals, because we have been concentrating on politics rather than culture.

But the White Identitarians, he writes, also have it wrong, because they think that "culture is downstream of race".

Wrong! They are missing the point, for "culture is downstream of religion." You can't change the culture unless you change the religion.
One cannot change a man’s mind unless his heart allows it. But one cannot change a man’s heart unless his soul allows it.

In the same way politics is downstream of culture, culture is downstream of religion. In the same way a man’s actions are dependent on his beliefs, his beliefs are dependent upon his primal and fundamental assumptions that form his character.
What we are fighting is not a culture war but a religious war, for leftism is not a culture, it is a religion. Wright's answer is to raise high the banner of Christianity against the leftist hordes: the Last Crusade.

But I think that Wright misunderstands the problem. And I come to this from my reductive Three Peoples theory. Back on October 21, 2016 I wrote "What Gods Do the 'Three Peoples' Believe In?"

I said that the People of the Subordinate Self believe in "a great lord or patron." This god, may be an earthly or a divine god but, I think, is a false god because sooner or later the People of the Subordinate Self get left by the roadside, like the soldiers of Napoleon on the road back from Russia.

I said that the God of the People of the Responsible Self is "the abstract, though personal, God of the Axial Age religions." In these religions it is up to each person to take the world that God created and make the most of it, as a thoughtful, responsible individual. The most intense moment of this religion is people experiencing the transition from Subordination to Responsibility. Here is a young woman that just made the transition, after six abortions:
When I came to church, I had no reservations about Jesus because I hadn’t heard much about Him. I was tired of giving my body to men, but I was weak and lacked self-control. I hated that I got those abortions and couldn’t stop myself. Jesus was my only hope, a hope I didn’t know existed. His love warmed my cold heart and the forgiveness available to me quickly became my greatest desire. My sin became more evident each Sunday I showed up and it wasn’t more than two months before I was ready to surrender my life to Jesus, making Him the Lord of my life.
There is a reason I call Christianity a "girl religion." It is because Christianity promises the ultimate love relationship: you give your love to God and God loves you right back with the best love you will ever know. So, to me, it is utterly right and proper that this young woman, child of a single mother, should come to Jesus and his perfect love.

But what about the People of the Creative Self? Here is what I wrote:
The God of the People of the Creative Self is the Creative Self. If the old God was the creator of the universe, or at least in on the design, the modern creative self aims to become as God. The nature and the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is not a mystery known only to God, but a Gordian Knot that creative man himself is unraveling and will eventually master. That is why our modern ruling class is full of plans for improvement and bending the arc of history towards justice. Society is, for them, a creative project.
Charles Taylor has a slightly different take; he talks about "expressive individualism."

Here are some People of the Creative Self on a journey to understand the heartlands after the shocking Trump victory in 2016, with ├╝berliberal Molly Ball coming along for the ride. She introduces us to Nancy Hale, the leader of the team:
Hale, who is 65 and lives in San Francisco, is a career activist who got her start protesting nuclear plants and nuclear testing in the 1970s...

Hale, a tall woman with a breathy voice and a mop of curly red hair, had come to Wisconsin fresh off a silent Zen meditation retreat in California. She had spent her career building organizations and training activists to work for social change. 
There are people like this all over the nation, diligently and worthily practicing their religion of creating a new and juster America, in America's own best interest. I was in a liberal bookstore in Winslow, Washington, on Sunday and there was a 60-something woman giving a talk about climate change. (Good news: the Chinese are committed to renewables!)

Do you see the problem here? The People of the Creative Self want to live creative lives, to make original works of art, to imagine new ideas and then to instantiate them. That is what they believe in.

So far so good. I think it is a good thing that well-educated people are out there trying to do good in the world.

But very often their creative project is other people.

What I do not like is the narrowness of their vision. They do not think past their own need for creative projects. They do not think that other people have a right to live in other ways and not be subordinate to their goodness. It does not occur to them that other people have rights, except the "little darlings" they patronize, and that one of the rights that other people have is to have nothing to do with the creative projects of the People of the Creative Self.

Then there is the intolerance for the religion of the People of the Responsible Self. And that is our Big Problem, that the People of the Creative Self are trying to impose their religion upon the rest of us, and are trying to drive the religion of the rest of us out of the public square.

See, I think it is great that our most educated are interested in living creative lives. That's my religion too. But how do we deal the creative appetite for power, and the natural tendency in all religions to anathematize the unbelievers and the heretics? We are probably three-quarters of the way to a full-on state religion of progressivism, and that is not good. But how to persuade these folks that they have a problem? How do persuade them to live and let live?

This is where I bring up Charles Murray and Coming Apart. In white America, the top 25 percent, mostly, I imagine, People of the Creative Self, are doing fine with great careers and merger marriages. Then there are the middle 40 percent, and things are not so well with them. Finally there are the bottom 30 percent, where the men don't work much and the women don't marry much.

Our progressive friends in the People of the Creative Self do not understand that this is the world they have created, with their religion to create a new society, with their culture of expressive individualism for them, but better-behave culture for the People of the Responsible Self and a no-guardrails culture for their "little darlings," the People of the Subordinate Self. Right now, it's a wonderful world for 65-year-olds from San Francisco coming off a silent retreat for a cross-country trip to interview America. But it is not so great for the rest of us.

So what can we do about it? Honestly, I don't know, short of an all-out religious war. Because the People of the Creative Self driving around America wondering What Happened a year ago do not understand that the problem is them.

In the first place they do not even understand that their faith in creativity is a religion. They do not understand that they are using the public schools as "parochial" schools of social justice, and universities as secular seminaries.

They do not understand that their whole culture of political correctness and "cultural appropriation" is a totalitarian movement that makes the Puritans look like pikers.

They do not understand that their political culture of top-down administration and regulation was exploded as deficient a century ago by Ludwig von Mises.

They do not understand that their entitlement programs are bound to fail and then the people hurt will be precisely the victims and marginalized that they claim to represent and care about.

They do not understand that their identity politics will descend into mayhem when the white middle class starts voting for their race as liberals and progressives have encouraged blacks and Hispanics to do for 50 years.

What we need is for 65-year-olds from San Francisco to develop a little bit of compassion for ordinary middle-class Americans in addition to their their much advertised compassion for the marginalized and the exploited.

What we need is for the children of the Creative Self to mend their practice of hanging out in their twenties wandering in and out of university and dabbling with a career in the arts, and get a life.

What we need is for people like me to construct and practice and advertise a Reformed religion of Creativity that is purged of the conceits of the Romantics of 1820, the Communists of 1850, the Progressives of 1910, the New Dealers of 1933, the Kids of the Sixties, the Feminists of the 1970s, the Gays of the 1980s, and the Antifa of the 2010s.

Hey! Should be no problem!

1 comment:

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