Magna Est Veritas

The insight that modern Progressivism is best understood as a religion (especially in the concentrated form it takes in the college campuses from which it emanates to the broader society) seems suddenly to be en vogue. (We reactionary types have been hammering this point for years, so it’s nice to see the truth prevail a bit.)

Here’s Andrew Sullivan, who also correctly notes the similarity of today’s Puritans to the original ones. (This is no coincidence; the apple does not fall far from the tree.) And here’s Frank Bruni in the Times.

That a lefty like Mr. Bruni should lament the current phase in the natural evolution of an entropic and descending ideology is further evidence of the “delamination” of the left that I mentioned in the previous post. He will also get no sympathy from us: this, Mr. Bruni, is the future you chose.

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  1. Well, the identification of Protestantism with democracy is very old. You then had extreme progressives like B.O. Flower openly taking this connection as a self-identifier as early as the 1910s at least.

    On the other hand, it is my opinion that Moldbug and many of the neoreactionaries have not done the thesis a lot of justice. The best statement of it is probably in Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s Leftism. I personally regard that book to be the most effective counterpoint to MacDonald’s Culture of Critique.

    Posted March 14, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    It’s an obvious connection. Kuehnelt-Leddihn obviously has a partisan angle on the topic, but that doesn’t make him any less right. (See also his Liberty or Equality.)

    Posted March 14, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink
  3. Jacques says

    How would you define “religion”? I agree that Progressivism and other forms of Leftism are religions, or religion-like anyway. But does that distinguish them from Reaction or Rightism or whatever? Maybe your religion is something like your answers to the most ultimate inescapable questions (or answers of that kind that can’t be fully rationally justified). But then everyone who isn’t mindless has a religion and it’s not interesting or informative to say that Progressivism is a religion. Maybe a necessary condition for having a religion is belief in some kind of supernatural or transcendental order. In that case it’s doubtful that Progressivism or Leftism are religions.

    Posted March 14, 2017 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Jacques! Nice to see you again.

    How would you define “religion”?

    That’s a notoriously difficult question, like defining “life”. It’s hard to list a clean set of properties that all religions have that not-religions don’t have.

    In characterizing Progressivism as a religion I have in mind several things, for example:

    1) The sacralization of various objects and concepts, such that an insufficiently worshipful attitude toward them is considered blasphemous;

    2) The soteriological aspect of Progressivism, which aims always at some unattainable Utopia that is forever just out of reach;

    3) The characterizing of dissenters as not just intellectual opponents, but as sinners and heretics embodying actual evil;

    4) The important role of faith;

    5) The suppression of factual inquiry in areas where articles of faith may be threatened;

    6) The extent to which political and cultural norms and aims are expressed in terms of sin and atonement;

    7) The historical (and behavioral) continuity of modern Progressivism with early American Protestantism, in a traceable sequence that retains the Puritan “mission into the wilderness” while gradually becoming more and more secularized and worldly.

    I would agree that the religious impulse is well-nigh universal, and in that sense a great many outwardly secular worldviews might be seen as religious. I think, however, that Progressivism needs “outing” as such, especially given how many of the features of religion it instantiates, and how often it manifests outspoken hostility to traditional religions. (If nothing else, once you see it clearly as a crypto-religion the whole thing makes a lot more sense, and I like to help make sense of things.)

    Another candidate is scientism.

    Posted March 14, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink
  5. Whitewall says

    The link to Dennis Prager’s piece is a rewarding read. I’m left to ask, when do we on the Right get to riot? Not the kind of riot with ugly ignorant home made signs or bricks thrown through store windows or confrontations with police. When I see rioters with covered faces and neo Nazi signage, I see an enemy.

    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says


    I have no yearning to riot. Given that we prefer order to chaos, that’s not our style.

    Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink
  7. Whitewall says

    Malcolm, you’re right of course. This is just me letting off steam. But these masked faces…for me that is “triggering”, in a very special sense. My apologies.

    Posted March 15, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink