Uncivil Religion

One of the weirder aspects of the modern age is the endless calls for unity from our superiors, particularly those in the Progressive camp. It is weird for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact the Left is endlessly trying to marginalize anyone that disagrees with them. It is how diversity came to mean rigid homogeneity. Putting aside the hypocrisy, it is weird because it is fairly new and very un-American. It also contradicts the very premise of democracy, which is about competing opinions, jostling for support.

It seems that the calls for “unity” have coincided with the spread of the American civic nationalism stuff. Thirty years ago, no public figure talked about “who we are” or made grand claims about a unified America culture. In fact, the lack of conformity was the gold standard of intellectual rigor. Democrats used to claim they had so much internal debate, it was like herding cats. Republicans used to crow about being the party of ideas, meaning that they had the bulk of free thinkers and dissident chattering skulls.

It is not a coincidence that the flowering of the civic religion stuff has coincided with increasing calls for unity and now the un-personing panics. Religions, particularly in their growth phase, are highly intolerant of competing religions. It is why the Left, even today, attacks Christianity. They see it as competition. In order to have a civic religion, it means stamping out ideas and movements that contradict it, even if those ideas are rooted in observable reality. In the name of unity, dissent must be crushed, along with the dissenter.

Related examples of this are Iran and Saudi Arabia. The ruling elites of both lands are members of sects within Islam. In both countries, the demands of unity require hordes of religious enforcers making sure no one has incorrect thoughts. To tolerate any dissent puts the power and authority of the ruling elite into question. Since the ruling elite are the embodiment of the religion, any dissent is a direct threat to the very existence of the theocracy. Unity is a necessary element of theocracy, even it comes at the point of a gun.

In terms of pure civic religions, ones that expressly reject the supernatural, the most obvious examples ended in bloodbaths. The French Revolution is the first real stab at establishing a civic religion. Nazism, Bolshevism and Maoism, on the other hand, quickly devolved into murder machines, killing off over one hundred million, but they did so in the name of national unity. With Nazism and Bolshevism, even well intended questioning of the prevailing orthodoxy got you killed. Again, unity abhors anything resembling dissent.

There is a chicken and egg issue here. Is the rise of a priestly class the inevitable result of a civic religion, or does the elite attempt to legitimize themselves by peddling civic religion and making demands for unity? In prior ages, ruling dynasties would claim divinity in order to eliminate challenges to their reign. Even today, the motto of the monarch of the United Kingdom is dieu et mon droit. I will also note that the kingdom is united in the body of the monarch. This is a common element of all European monarchies.

Getting back to modern America, the fetish for unity and the promotion of the American civic religion looks a lot like a search for a reason to maintain the status quo. It is reactionary. The very real threat of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War held the American nations together, under the Yankee Imperium. Once that was gone, something had to replace it, or the Cold War arrangements would be replaced. It is not an accident that “both sides” of the political elite rely on the same language to quash dissent.

The increasing demands for unity, however, will probably backfire. You see this with social media. Facebook has instituted polices to silence unapproved facts. They have been moving much slower than Twitter, which is aggressively going after anyone who disagrees with the Council of Cat Ladies running the place. They have now declared jihad against anyone who is suspected of thinking bad thoughts. That means they will use your search results and surfing habits to police your access to Twitter. Think about that.

The unintended result of this is to de-legitimize the Right half of the ruling class. A so-called conservative with a twitter account, especially one with a blue check, will now be seen as nothing more than an organ grinder’s monkey. The civic religion only works when political debate is confined to the tiny ideological space occupied by Progressives and their hand-picked opposition. Strip away the legitimacy of the so-called conservatives and the civic religion is revealed to be a public relations campaign by the ruling oligarchs.

That is the core reason that American public debate seems so uncivil. In an effort to defend the status quo, the ruling elites have become increasingly aggressive at stamping out dissent. The whole “Russian hacking” nonsense was a thinly veiled way of saying that those who voted for Trump were either stupid or un-American. The fact that it appears the purveyors of this story were themselves in cahoots with the Russians suggests there are no limits to what they will do to crush their opposition. Torquemada would be proud.

This heavy handedness also legitimizes the dissidents. Gab has struggled along, but the purges and promised purges resulted in a boost in membership. The steadfast determination by the owners, in the face of serious threats and even laughably stupid threats, has given them legitimacy with people who think a marketplace of ideas is essential to civil society. Put another way, that which was previously dismissed as heresy, now has the air of legitimacy. That is the real threat feared by the ruling class.

Eric Hoffer said, “Fanatical orthodoxy is in all movements a late development. It comes when the movement is in full possession of power and can impose its faith by force as well as by persuasion.” It is also a late phase effort, a rearguard action, intended to defend the status quo, despite there no longer being an obvious use for it. The current arrangements in America no longer serve anyone other than the relatively small number of people who live like royalty in the Imperial Capital and its satellite cities.

At some point, the cost of maintaining unity among increasingly hostile tribes outweighs the benefit. The increasingly shrill demands for unity and obedience, along with the corresponding fissures opening up in public life, suggest we are following a familiar path that leads to a break down. Some social scientists seem to get, to some degree, what is happening, but no one knows what comes next. Maybe it is just too frightening to consider or maybe it is impossible to know. What is not coming, though, is national unity.

59 thoughts on “Uncivil Religion

  1. I looked at the summary of Mr. Putnam’s book. Bless his liberal heart, he’s trying. They just can’t seem to get out of the world of “social activism”. A “community” comes together to solve difficult social problems – that’s just darling.

    But what about those of us looking to live in towns without a vast number of difficult social problems? Where neighbors can get together and work on issues that people agree are a legitimate public question, and then pretty much leave folks alone on all other matters? What color is my house? What is my favorite rifle caliber? How many SUVs do I own? None of your damn business, unless I choose to share any of it with you. And if you get any smirky little college-sophomore ideas about banning ammunition, or gasoline, or anything clever like that, we’re going to have social problems at a biblical level.

    But if you can avoid all that meddling, we can all live together in peace and harmony. Hell, I’ll probably stop over and buy some of your organic goat’s milk cheese. I think someone once referred to that as the Golden Rule…

  2. Perhaps we should start a pool… how long before the Progs decide that unity requires a new flag?

    That the old flag is full of stars for RED STATES who are NOT WITH US and no longer count.

    • They hate anything that is not full throated progressivism. A lecturer at a Canadian U has been cautioned for expressing political neutrality in her classes. She intended to give students room to think and express those thoughts. Evidently someone in Admin heard about this from their network of informants and took action to excise this tumor of independent thought before it could metastasize.

  3. The reason for both the ridiculous demand for unity and the resulting incivility is that one way or another our country is now run by women.

    We have the calls for unity because that is how women resolve problems. There is some kind of imposed consensus by the insider, popular, women and everyone else just goes along.

    This leads to incivility because women don’t try to let the ‘losers’ save face, like men often do, and deal with difference by casting out other women and isolating them socially.

    This can happen because one of the first effects of the sexual revolution has been the ruination of men by luxury and overindulgence. Since men are weakened, really emasculated by these things, men willingly give up their natural leadership and women naturally take over.

    • I’m sure that potential warlords close to the weapons themselves have pondered situations where the weapons have to be seized to keep them from ‘falling into the wrong hands’. Having nuclear weapons alone does not keep you safe from local threats, that requires people who think like you do. What happened to the nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union? Are we so sure they were secured by the former Soviets?

  4. Machiavelli advised arranging things in such a way that when the people no longer believed, they could be forced to act as if they still did (that’s what ruined Savonarola). How hard the crash will be, will be determined by how many of our Princes actually believe the civic religion. It terrifies me, but I think a lot of them still really, truly do — unlike Renaissance princes, who actually had to go out in their cities every day, the only time Our Betters get out of Acela is to jet off to Davos. They think this is because they are still right with the One True God. it won’t end well.

    • You are onto something. Don’t underestimate just how insular the parallel universe these folks have created for themselves is. I live in it, but frankly never, in a Hillbilly Elegy sort of way, never lost memory of where I came from. Here in NY, there is one can live almost entirely apart. When one of my kids was looking at day schools, we were warned off of one because he would be on the social fringes if he didn’t jet away on a private plane for breaks….seriously. We might both end up down at the Ritz Carlton in St. Thomas, but your status is defined by how you got there. Rather like an asset bubble, it is hard to see an easy way down from this.

  5. One way to cope with the current societal fracturing is to revert back to the original state-based structure of government. This allows people to move to a state that best represents their desired level of state control and involvement in the residents’ lives. There is a good chance of this happening (compared to alternative solutions) given that there is already a governing infrastructure in place. The biggest problem would be keeping the locust voters of the quickly depopulating “blue” states from over running the non-blue states.

    • Bottom-up organizing of society rather than top-down. That was the secret sauce of the Founding Fathers.

      Slightly OT, but cities have always been social pustules on the landscape. They used to be the places where migrants, low-lifes, and the poor ended up, not by choice. The upper classes that lived in cities did so to exploit these people. Spread out and suburban works best, and promotes bottom-up governance. Cities encourage top-down governance, and harbor most of the big-time graft, crime, abuse, and weird politics, straight through to today.

  6. In previous iterations of Marxism in its various forms (including Nazism) the high priests and rulers took the trouble to keep the underlying madness and hypocrisy out of sight. Under The Cloud’s race and sex-based Marxism, it’s always front and center, just like a tranny in the public library or the flaming gay NFL sideline reporter yesterday.

    Either they are drunk with power, have lost all normal reference or are truly mad. In Christianity you know that falling short of the standards is what we all do, so some hypocrisy is paradoxically unavoidable. These fanatics pretend that since there can be no standards (so as to avoid ‘judgeiness’) they can’t possibly be hypocrites. But, of course, they need to pretend to standards to justify their rule over the rest of us.

    But they have to keep changing those standards as various degenerate factions compete for resources and supremacy. Hence their madness *must* be public. It’s almost like God has given them over to it.

  7. I must be missing something because I am unaware of anyone calling out for unity about anything. Rather, I sense that most major media pronouncements have become background noise and indistinguishable from babbling nonsense. To pay much attention to media or political elites is surely a sign of mental illness. And the luxury of wasting time on these idiots is a manifestation of our affluence-driven decadence.

    • Bush spent eight years claiming to be a “uniter not a divider.” Obama yammered on endlessly about uniting the country. The most common accusation made by the Left is that their current bogeyman is polarizing. Every news analysis piece since last year starts with the premise that “the country is divided.”

      • Trump is a symptom of the division, not the cause. The left has a vested interest in labeling Trump as the cause of the division.

        • Division is a virtue, not a vice. It’s demonization marks another success in the prog perversion of language. The country was founded on a scheme of division, the only civil way forward in a large republic. Tocqueville–The unity, theuniversality, the omnipotence of society’s power, and the uniformity of its rules represent the outstanding feature of all the political systems invented in our day. They recur at the heart of the strangest utopias. The human mind still pursues these images even in its dreams.

      • I stopped watching the news in the 90s and I haven’t paid any attention to politicians since Reagan. I’m not surprised that Bush has said stupid things and listening to anything spoken by Obama will kill brain cells instantly. It saddens me that so many other people still expose themselves to these kinds of harmful messages.

  8. Their calls for unity are really just “my way or else.” This is abundantly clear, now. The mask is off.

    The alt-left thinks things are uncivil now?

    They haven’t seen uncivil yet.

    • Correct. This is just the preliminary sparring a couple of duellers might exchange before going at it for real.

      I don’t see rivers of blood and millions of deaths. The proggies are hated more and more with each passing day. Everyday the alphabet soup of gender disturbed clowns becomes more unreasonable. Everyday the various victim-noble classes become more arrogant and more entitled. For The guys that actually do the work and heavy lifting – every day it gets harder and harder to be tolerant and accepting of inferior people that hate them with the heat of 1000 suns.

      When the civil war starts it will be over the second the left realizes nobody will fight for them. Well see maybe some low grade terrorism – but that will end the second the proggies see a real, and enforced death penalty. Our enemies are lazy, stupid and arrogant. They won’t be hard to defeat especially now that they’ve lost the moral high ground.

      • One can hope for that. But hope is not a method. Never underestimate your enemy. And never, never ever underestimate a wounded one. My concern is the dispatch of the left will be more like the case of the wanna-be Bwana that botches the shot on the Cape Buffalo and now the guide has to tromp into the bush after the blood trail with the double rifle to finish him off. These people have a lot to lose and if they can stomp the rest of civilization into a bloody puddle on the way out, they won’t hesitate.

      • I disagree that they are lazy and stupid. They have relentless religious zeal and are smart enough to construct theories to rationalize any behavior no matter how illogical or absurd. They are dangerous.

      • Indeed, they are currently busy hoisting each other up on their own petards. They eat their own and call it virtue.

  9. I’m sure it predates Obama’s rise, but this “That’s not who we are” mantra seemed to be peppered throughout all of his speeches. This false “marketplace of ideas” BS gets peddled a lot with Jews (they and their defenders have some stupid saying like, “Ten Jews, twenty different opinions” despite their conformity on big issues). Since progressivism is a religion, I guess they view themselves, their institutions, and their bastions in New England as the godhead into which we just need to melt in order to be happy or find salvation. Some can’t be saved, however, and I thank God I’m one of those.

  10. >One of the weirder aspects of the modern age is the endless calls for unity from our superiors, particularly those in the Progressive camp.

    Collectivism can work when a large majority agrees. For example, there is little dispute about government-imposed fire departments because a large majority supports putting out fires. Classically liberal government tends to limit itself to governing only in areas for which there is broad public consensus.

    In comparison, Socialism imposes collectivist policy where no consensus of opinion exists. Therefore, on issues with great diversity of opinion, it necessarily imposes the will of a small minority on all of society. Of course there is outcry from all the unrepresented interests who get stomped on by that. The socialists, in response, claim that the actual problem is lack of unity. Thus, the expansion of socialist government inevitably results in calls for unity.

    That explanation owes to Hayek, see the Road to Serfdom, published in 1944. There is a lot of carping by Z about how the old issues are dead and conservatives at NR are stuck in the past. And there is some merit to that, particularly how immigration will alter the political landscape and that is not something mainstream conservatives want to discuss. Yet there are these perfect gems of conservative wisdom from the past which perfectly characterize and explain present-day events. Das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten.

  11. Well, the uber wealthy seem very interested in underground survival bunkers. It’s sweet how they think their personal security people won’t shoot them in the head one second after entering said bunkers.

    • Nah, unless the owners followed Pharoaic practices the guys who build the place will already be in there.

      Backdoor is not just a software term.

  12. It’s quite a time we live in. The weirdness is not all political. It’s just that the chain of culture has been snapped and we don’t know what to do.

    I have grandchildren. I’m very fond of them. I hope they never ask me what to do in life. I have no idea.

    • Tell them to learn skills that will feed them, like gardening, and learn to can what they grow. And for Heaven’s sake learn to cook from scratch! We witness a clueless generation of “foodies” who fancy themselves epicureans, who completely rely on others to actually do the cooking. What happens when the cooks revolt? Or the ingredients of a good meal are gone from the shelves of the Whole Foods store? Where I currently live, even the real men (whose wives know how to cook food that sticks to ribs), know how to put together a cowboy stew, or rig a line to catch some trout. When my city-fied nieces and nephews deign to ask my opinion, I tell them to get skilled in things that will provide food, clothing and shelter.

  13. From your ‘Social Scientist’ link, the question: “What can bring us together again?”

    No where is the thought, “Maybe we could start leaving people the hell alone?” even considered. It’s just more of the same. The beatings will continue until morale improves.

    • That’s simply not in the Progressive genes. But yes, it’s now in overdrive. My poor spouse had the temerity before the election to simply state in one of these local “cat lady” groups that she simply couldn’t vote for either candidate. They turned on her like hyenas on a wounded pack mate. It was brutal. Never seen anything like it. We just finished up local elections and after witnessing the hive mind vote in droves for some of the most unqualified candidates I’ve ever seen in supposedly “non partisan” elections–I think Pol Pot would have won so long as he had a “D” in front of his name on the ballot. But, no, this will not end well at all. Rationality has been tossed. Everything now is “feelz” raised to the nth power.

  14. Yes, it seems your vacation was short-lived. But not complaining. The constant supply of new material is what makes this site so appealing.

    Tensions are definitely on the rise. Any Yahoo comment section will bore that out. Even saw an article advising people not to discuss politics this Thanksgiving. Would definitely help to cut down radio calls, but have a feeling they’ll be plenty of family feuds out on the front lawn.

    • “Don’t discuss politics”. What isn’t political now?

      We can all just shovel our food down and smile at each other, I guess. Or talk football… no, that’s out too.

      Or we can listen to my arrogant and politically-purified niece lecture us on whatever social justice project she’s involved in. We’ll all nod and smile and admire her cleverness and ‘commitment’, as we reach for the wine bottle.

      America 2017. Land of liberty!

  15. May all my enemies be so witless. I can’t think of a greater device for exposing a cuck than awarding him a blue check. One would think that would be like an adult movie receiving a G rating.

  16. If it’s any consolation, Robespierre was only weeks away from being beheaded when he held the Feast of the Supreme Being. Hoffer was probably right. A late development.

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