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by Christopher Chantrill
July 09, 2010 at 11:26 am
THE GREAT religious movements of the 20th century, Communism and Fascism, liked to think that they toiled in the wilderness against a corrupt political and religious establishment. In fact, of course, they always obtained support from young fashionables in the educated elite, and their ideas leaked quickly into the political mainstream.
The current rising world religious movement of leftist radicals is no exception. If you peruse Ernest Sternbergs analysis in Orbis, Purifying the World: What the New Radical Ideology Stands For (pdf), thoughtfully reviewed at NRO by David Pipes, you keep encountering notions that the Obama administration is implementing or would like to. But the Obamis are doing it within the current power structure. Thats what you get to do when win a couple of elections.
Here is what the new radicals want:
The earth will be protected, justice will reign, economies will be sustainable, and energy will be renewable. Diverse communities will celebrate other communities, with the only proviso that they accede to doctrine...
Far purer than democracies of the past, this future regime will operate through grassroots participatory meetings in which all communities are empowered.
Really, what could any of our liberal friends, a full 20 percent of Americans, find to argue with?
The great gift of the Obama administration is that its muddle of terror-state appeasement, green energy, domestic political bullying, and incompetent execution will end up discrediting the world radical agenda, maybe even before the next presidential election.
When its all over, we will have our Founding Fathers to thank, because it is their separation of powers that slows down the radical impetus so that it can only damage, not destroy. Pity the unhappy Venezuelans, already enjoying the benefit of 12,000 communal councils busily creating grassroots democracy.
But when its all over we conservatives will have a big job to do. No, Im not talking about runaway debt and unsustainable entitlements. Im talking about bringing the nation back together. Im talking about national reconciliation after the most divisive president in our lifetime.
The problem with religious movements, and modern secular religious movements in particular, is that the agenda of salvation or purification always requires a dividing line between us and them, between good and evil. Our modern radicals rather neatly call their campaign of hate and violence against Empire, the world-controlling state-military-corporate-legal-educational-media complex", as mere resistance. But resistance apparently includes suicide belts and terror attacks on the United States. After all, what else is appropriate in dealing with the Great Satan?
Charles Taylor has fingered the problem with all good vs. evil movements. They lead to the torture chamber, the killing field and the death camp. In contrast, all religions and political movements worthy of the name understand the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation. Even the hunter-gatherers structured their all-night dance-and-drum rituals to create a palpable feeling of community that could dissolve festering quarrels.
The great challenge for conservatives after the great victories of 2010 and 2012 will be to resist the temptation of triumphalism and remember the advice of Winston Churchill: in victory, magnanimity.
But I have to be honest. I dont know what a conservative-led movement of national reconciliation would look like.
In many ways, a conservative-led America would lead to a lower conflict society. The way you increase conflict is to politicize things. Have the government run health care and Americans have to fight each other to see the doctor. Get the government to run education and parents have to fight each other for their kids to get a decent education. The conservative program of privatization will reduce conflict, for Americans will get the material things they need without constant resort to political power and clientage.
In conservative America, we will get genuine separation of church and state. In liberal America secular-religious movements are continually blurring the line between religious faith and political power. In the new world radicalism described by Ernest Sternberg we have a movement that clearly melts millennial faith and political revolution into a single totalitarian mold.
One test will come on the day that conservatives get a filibuster-proof majority in the US Senate. Will Republicans jam through their partisan wish list on party line votes and accuse the Democrats of being the Party of No? Or will they resist the nuclear option and pass legislation that Democrats, or at least conservative Democrats, can vote for?
Every political movement stands for peace and justice, even as its functionaries light the fires to stamp out heresy. Reforming Christianity in the last millennium burned heretics in their thousands. But reforming secularists shot them and gassed them and starved them in their tens of millions.
The question for conservatives, as we dream of a conservative America, is: can we do better?
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of agesthey seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society
We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
E. G. West, Education and the State
Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures
The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since
1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and
philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West
Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its
characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then,
once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all.
In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness...
But to make a man act [he must have]
the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove
or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
When we received Christ, Phil added, all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh
The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital