Thursday, April 22, 2021

Politics Should Not Be a Religion

Peter Juul has an important piece up on The Liberal Patriot, whose analysis I heartily endorse. It's time for people on the center-left to realize that turning a set of political beliefs into a new religion--and an intolerant one at that--is not the right way to do politics and create a society most of us would actually want to live in.
"If you’ve traveled through any moderately-sized metropolitan area in America lately, you’ll probably have noticed rainbow-hued statements of faith sprouting up on well-manicured lawns across the country. These lawn signs constitute the Nicene Creed and shahada of the new religion of progressive politics that’s burst into public consciousness over the past five or six years. It’s a faith that’s rapidly won converts at the highest levels of American politics and society – one that uncannily mirrors much of the thinking and many of the practices of its ancient predecessors, complete with its own dogmas, heresies, and rituals as well as apocalypses and forms of mysticism.
This observation is neither original nor novel. Other commentators like the linguist John McWhorter and the sociologist Musa al-Gharbi have made this case convincingly, especially when it comes to anti-racism. As central as anti-racism may be to the progressive catechism, however, it’s become increasingly clear that this new political religion cannot be reduced to this one core tenet. To better understand this emerging faith in all its facets, we need to take a wider field of view that goes beyond a singular if understandable focus on anti-racism....
[M]any believers derive their moral and ethical views from politics rather their moral and ethical commitments informing their politics. Viewing politics as a way of life and defining themselves by their political beliefs, they put far more weight on politics than it can possibly bear and invest it with far more significance that it can possibly give anyone. It’s a way of life that’s unmoored from the sort of moral and ethical commitments or wider worldview provided by philosophy or conventional religion – and helps explain the intolerance sometimes exhibited by the disciples of this new political faith.
The religion of progressive politics holds three articles of faith: anti-racism, climate apocalypticism, and gender identity. There’s no overriding rationale or underlying logic to this particular trinity of sacred beliefs, but they’ve coalesced over the past five or six years into nigh-unassailable dogma among progressive elites, activists, and funders. Other potential paths (like a brief flirtation with “democratic socialism”) were abandoned or forgone for seemingly arbitrary or accidental reasons, a process akin to the ways early Christianity resolved its down disputes as described by Diarmaid MacCulloch in his magisterial history of the religion....
It’s hard to deliberate on the nature of the common good and how best to advance it – something we dwell on here at The Liberal Patriot – when faced with the demands made by this new faith. When it takes on the the trappings of religion progressive politics risks calcifying into an unforgiving and inhumane set of dogmas. Presuming itself to be in sole possession of revealed truths about politics and society, the religion of progressive politics insists there’s a single correct way to think about the world and cannot tolerate even the slightest disagreement. It becomes impossible to accept that other people can, say, believe in racial equality or think that trans individuals deserve the same dignity and respect as every other human being without subscribing to the precise tenets of anti-racism or gender identity put forward by this new religion. Principled universalism of the kind we advocate at The Liberal Patriot presents a particular affront to these sacred beliefs and comes in for its own special form of opprobrium."
Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot! Strongly recommended.

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