Bernie and The New Religion

I was reading the comments of this post on National Review and one exchange caught my attention. Someone calling himself wrote:

Boy I hope you’re right. I’m a Jim Webb Democrat myself, but, at least from my Facebook feed it’s a Bernie Sanders party. I won’t vote Republican, so I’m stuck. The degree to which I wish we were a multiparty system is not small.

To the comment about never voting Republicans someone asks why and the answer was:

Because I’m a liberal. If I were a Mainer, I might, *might*, vote for one of the Maine ladies, but even there, probably not. I don’t want conservatives in charge of the country, and though I know it doesn’t seem so to you, the GOP seems very conservative to me. If you want the specific issues I care about I’m happy to go into them, but I doubt that level of navel gazing is all that interesting.

A common characteristic of all mass movements is that the people in them spend little time talking about their movement to people outside them. Inevitably this results in a bunch of insider jargon and even a redefinition of common words such that they carry special meaning to those inside versus those outside. It’s not deliberate or by design, it just happens and to the people inside it is perfectly logical.

To those on the outside, the people inside the movement seem a bit nutty, maybe even dangerous. If you are not immersed in progressive politics, that guy’s belief that the Republicans are very conservative sounds hysterical. Within my lifetime the ideological center of the country was well to the Right of Ted Cruz, the fringe right wing of the current GOP. Charlie Wilson, the Texas Democrat who got stinger missiles to the Afghans in the 1980’s, was a typical moderate a generation ago.

The fact that the country has moved steadily left over the last 30 years is hardly news. What got my attention about that guy’s comment is that he identifies as a liberal, but he rejects Bernie Sanders. Outside The Hive, people think Sanders is just a concentrated version of a liberal, but inside they see him as an anachronism, a guy whose ideas no longer carry much meaning.

What we’re seeing in the current Democrat primary is how American Progressivism has moved away from economics entirely in favor of the spiritual issues of The New Religion.  The modern Progressive cares more about the feelings of the homosexuals than the cost of living for the working class. In fact, Progressives have embraced the same technocratic corporatism that has infected what we call conservatives.

The singular focus of the modern liberal is scrubbing the sins of western civilization from society. It manifests in different ways, but the overarching impulse is to seek salvation through self-abnegation, with the self being defined narrowly or broadly. President Obama runs around apologizing to the third world for Western colonialism, while TN Coates writes gassy articles about the sins of racism he witnessed at the mall.

When I was in college, Sanders was a common figure on campus. His argument is a math  argument. The math is nutty, but it is still an argument from math. Change the laws in such a way and we get prosperity to such a degree that no one goes without, every need is met. Bernie genuinely believes he can seize the assets of the billionaires and cure poverty.

The New Religion, as I’m fond of calling it, is indifferent to these issues.They see poor people as fat and lazy, stuffing their fat faces with Big Macs while watching daytime TV. That’s what the new Progressive cares about, the soul of that poor slob, not his food budget. The post-scarcity liberal wants to use the state to put the poor on treadmills and Prozac so they can be slim and beautiful, in communion with the brotherhood of man.

The beauty of the spiritual path over the economic path for the Left is that there are no pesky facts in the spiritual fight. Once the poor start getting fat, there’s no real need to rob the rich on their behalf. But there are always souls to be saved, sinners to be harassed, witches to be burned.

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Severian
5 years ago

In fact, Progressives have embraced the same technocratic corporatism that has infected what we call conservatives This is why I say Fascism — capital F, the real thing — is inevitable. Technocratic corporatism in the service of whiny emo angst is a pretty damn good thumbnail description of Nazism. The fact that it’s passive-aggressive in America 2015 (as opposed to active-aggressive in Germany 1939) is merely a function of the one Party’s current membership list — as politics is currently a parlor game for the upper middle class, it’s no surprise that they’re all talk. When politics becomes a workingman’s… Read more »

grey enlightenment
Reply to  thezman
5 years ago

it’s been said you can go from liberal to conservative in one generation without changing your views

ErisGuy
ErisGuy
Reply to  Severian
5 years ago

Are there really options? Is technocratic corporatism fused with irrationality (Z-Man’s liberal religion) the inevitable e-consequence of the social organization required by…what exactly? Science? Mass prosperity? Managerialism?

If that’s so, then libertarians, not communists, are fringiest wackos.

Severian
Reply to  ErisGuy
5 years ago

Libertarians and commies are both “the fringiest wackos” (great name for a punk band), because they share the same basic misunderstanding of human nature — they assume human beings are fungible. Commies assume everyone is a producer-unit, while libertarians assume everyone is a consumer-unit, but both fundamentally deny there’s any such thing as an “individual.” Whereas, of course, humans are deeply tribal — belonging to a like-minded group is probably our most basic drive (which requires an alien tribe to measure ourselves against).

mysterian
mysterian
Reply to  Severian
5 years ago

The USA has been (economically) fascist since 1932. I’m not surprised the non-economic fascistic correlates haven’t appeared until recently.

Steve C.
Steve C.
5 years ago

But there are always souls to be saved, sinners to be harassed, witches to be burned.

But mostly witch burning I think.

1941, Wake Island, “Send more Japs.”

2015, Washinton DC, “Send more witches.”

UKer
UKer
5 years ago

Z said: “Once the poor start getting fat, there’s no real need to rob the rich on their behalf.”

That isn’t quite true as far as I can see. As the poor get fatter the libs and reds switch their argument to “They are only getting fat because they are poor and are having (forced?) to eat junk food. Give them more cash free and they will all become svelte, lithe people ready to work to improve society or become creative geniuses.”

It’s so plausible when you are a lefty bereft of thinking.

Dutch
Dutch
5 years ago

I don’t believe there is much, if any, Progressive “thinking” at all. It is all about self-identification as a member of the club. Like the kid in school trying to hang out with the “cool” kids, it is all about saying and doing the “proper” things. The thinking that it entails is making sure that you are properly calibrating your argument to earn you your place in the club, by filling in the details of the narrative. The vague sense of making the world a “better” and “fairer” place are some sort of psychic bonus, but one that is exploited… Read more »

grey enlightenment
5 years ago

His argument is a math argument. The math is nutty, but it is still an argument from math.

isn’t a nutty math argument a contradiction? Math necessitates precision and logical consistency

Mark
Mark
5 years ago

“the GOP seems very conservative to me.”

The age of the UBER low-information voter. We’re doomed.

stinkfoot
stinkfoot
5 years ago

You can do a lot of stupid things with math. Bernie’s argument is “hey there’s all this money over here, let’s take it and give it to these people, now everybody has $X, problem solved!” The math is right in the short term, but the long-term economic theory is delusional.

UKer
UKer
5 years ago

You take all the money and divide it up equally among everyone. True there isn’t as much per person as imagined, but hey, now everyone’s equal. Job done.

A year later the do-gooders take a look and see some people have saved their slice, some have made it work to gain more, most have spent it without purpose. For these new-poor people, there needs to be equality imposed again.

So you take all the money, and divide it up once more and everyone is equal again… until…

And so on. And on. The game never ends.