Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Bill Whittle - exemplar of the power but weakness of mainstream US secular Conservatism

If you don't know journalist Bill Whittle's video segments called Afterburner or previously Firewall - then you have missed a minor modern art form taken to just about its perfection.

This funny, but telling, example is Han Shot First!


Whittle is a mainstream secular Conservative in his basic stance. He is a relatively pure and principled mainstream Conservative - but not a reactionary; and his assumptions are secular not Christian.

In fact I do not know, and have not been able to find-out, whether Whittle is himself a Christian.

He is certainly pro-Christian, and seems to get close to saying he is a Christian in the following segment - but he never actually says so:

And here is the problem.


Pretty much everything that Bill Whittle argues is predicated on Christianity being true - that is in fact the premise from which he is arguing. But, presumably, because he wishes to appeal-to and ally-with non-Christians, he does not set out these premises.

Therefore in practice he argues on the only-non-religious premises which are available - that is utilitarianism - policies aiming to promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number, over the long-term.

And this is exactly the same premise as the ruling secular Leftists argue from - so the whole debate reduces down to wrangling over optimal means to identical ends... which policies are most practical and effective, what is the boundary of those whose happiness is being promoted, how long-termist can we be without sabotaging the chance of success etc.

All of which reduces to day-by-day political wrangling, expediency, point-scoring, electioneering, media manipulation and the rest of it. And this is a game which (sadly) Bill Whittle cannot win - although he is unsurpassed at playing the game.


What I am saying is that if he hasn't yet crossed the line and become a Christian, that is the priority for Bill Whittle. If he has crossed the line, he needs to be explicit about it. If he is explicit about it, he needs to state it upfront in his analyses...

And when he starts stating it upfront in his analyses, he will pretty soon recognize that none of what he wants is going to happen without a Christian revival, another Great Awakening.

So, that then becomes the priority.



The Continental Op said...

You're right, but good luck explaining that to our nihilist / pagan / atheist /antiChristian "friends" on the right.

A good example is here in the comments, which is the most comments by far I've ever seen at that site.

The point of my bringing up that example is that to the perishing, Christ smells of death (I get this from 2 Corinthians 5:15-17), and you can see it in full there.

Bruce Charlton said...

I don't enjoy reading Alt Right - and especially dislike the comments which are full of selfishness and hatred.

I did write a couple of things there in the early days when Jim Kalb and Dennis Mangan also contributed - and I still look out there for the superb articles by Mark Hackard.

The Continental Op said...

Clarification: 2 Corinthians 2, not 5. And the "you can see it in full there" refers to the AltRight comment section. Also, to add the positive part of it, to those of us being saved Christ is a fragrance of life.

Anywhere you insert Christ into discussion today you are liable to get crazy explosions.

The Continental Op said...

I don't enjoy it either, but I do it to keep tabs on the right, especially when the subject of Christianity comes up.

I too look for Hackard articles.

Ugh said...

I have enjoyed Bill Whittle's videos over the years. I suppose because he seems very reasonable and truthful. I would agree that he is either Christian or been brought up that way (as are most conservatives in the U.S)but the atmosphere is so toxic regarding Christians in the U.S. that I'm not surprised he doesn't explicitly endorse it. It seems everything is tolerated, every digression, every behavior except being Christian. The act of validating one's Christianity invalidates everything you say or do afterward in the popular culture (which of course is the culture). Whittle doesn't want to be shunned. What he doesn't realize that it doesn't matter to the ruling leftists what you are or who you worship if you are not with them. He is shunned anyway - even if they can't instantly invalidate him with the Christian label. He is then as they say preaching to the choir.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ugh - Looking at the second post I linked, on Tim Tebow, my impression is that BW would like to be a Christian, but is having trouble 'getting across the line' - a situation for which I have a great deal of sympathy, since I was stuck there for quite a long time.

It is hard for people like me (and BW?) to assent fully to any specific Christian denomination - and all the ones worth joining require explicit full assent from converts - so unless you are already 'in' a cradle denomination, you get stuck...

Maximo Macaroni said...

I liked the reference to Utilitarianism. Reminds me of Lord Acton's reaction to John Stuart Mill et al. Acton, as a dedicated Catholic, but a "moderate", could not believe that the utilitarians could be sincere. The effects of Hume and Voltaire were too powerful for most 19th century believers to overcome.

Wm Jas said...

Thanks for these links. I used to read BW on his old "Eject! Eject! Eject!" website years ago, but I didn't know he was doing videos now. He's really good at what he does.