Wednesday 8 May 2013

Why is the secular Right blogosphere seething with hatred?


(Indeed, the same applies to much of the 'hard line' - legalistic, hyper-correct, over-systematic - Christian reactionary blogosphere.)


Taken as a whole, the Right are a mass of despisers.


Yes, of course the Left is intrinsically evil, and reality and truth are on the Right.

But this is what we find.

The public arena of the Right is dominated by those who are very obviously in the grip of hatred, who are consumed with loathing and despising, and who revel in the fact. They glory in their own invective.


Why? I think the answer lies in the human heart.

The human heart, in its natural state (in our childhood, and among most people inhabiting simpler and better societies) is open and warm - yet in a world full of evil, in a world where we are bombarded with evil and where Good is mocked, subverted and attacked unceasingly - there is a strong tendency to harden and close the heart as self-protection.

Indeed, the temptation to harden and close may prove irresistible, except when there is a strong Christian faith (most other religions do not value an open and warm heart).

A Christian must strive to live by love, but a hard-closed heart makes this impossible.

Not difficult: impossible.


If your heart is hard and closed, and you are content with this situation or perhaps even pride yourself on your toughness and power to resist influence - then you are not a Christian; and it does not matter what you do, what rules you follow, nor what you profess.

From a Christian perspective, if society is ruled by those with closed and hardened hearts who do not acknowledge nor try to remedy this; then it is a hellish state, and it does not matter much what the rules are nor who does the ruling.


We are not allowed to protect ourselves from the evil of the world by closing ourselves off from it and making ourselves indifferent to it - and if we succeed in this aim of autonomy, this carries its own punishment of absolute alienation and utter aloneness.

The only permissible defense against evil, and the only one which works over the long haul, is to maintain the heart as open and warm, childlike; but to block the access of evil by love - this love comes by grace (undeserved) from God if we allow it.

People must be realistic, they need to be tough - but this is not a legitimate end in itself, and if tough-realism is adopted as an end in itself it is merely a shortcut to evil.


It's quite simple to state: we must be realistic and tough and we must have warm and open hearts.

That is, incidentally, exactly what we are taught by the heroes of the best of literature: especially by Tolkien, more recently by JK Rowling.

This is not just a theory, not merely abstract advice - it has been worked-out for us imaginatively and in detail in Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Aragorn, Harry Potter.  



Matthew C. said...

This is a really beautiful and truthful statement.

Matthew C. said...

This is really what is exactly wrong with "Game" too isn't it?

Cynically seeing other human beings as tools to be manipulated for our own ends, instead of fellow children of our Father.

Samson J said...

Bruce, you hit some home runs, but this one nearly moves me to weep. You've described the issue that is at the very root of my problem with almost the entire alt-Right, including many of the ostensibly Christian sites. A person can accurately describe the mechanics of, e.g., human relationships, but if the warmth and love is not there, the end result is dehumanizing and the reader is worse off than before.

A warm and loving heart *must* be the centre of everything we do, otherwise there's no point in any of it and any victory is Pyrrhic at best.

Brandon said...

I think much of this is also due to the perversion of "love" by the left as nothing but drippy tolerance and feminized acquiesence to all and sundry, even when something is blatantly Evil. Love is no longer love of the Good but instead tolerance and encouragement of everyone's bodily desires no matter how asinine.

I think its a great temptation to harden and steel oneself in the face of such abhorrent mockery and perversion.

Steven D said...

Thank you.

Arakawa said...

(The following is a slightly tangled comment, but oh well...)

Gaze too hard at the demons, and you become a demon yourself. And to a demon, everyone else probably looks like a demon as well and every place seems to be Hell.

More seriously, one has to keep in mind the duality of the fact that the world is, at the same time, both Fallen, and largely and essentially Good. There are a number of mysteries wrapped up in this, but one implication is clear -- for the individual who feels bitterness or despair, while having the leisure to study reactionary doctrines, it is first and foremost the individual's own sin, or perhaps lack of understanding / discernment / spiritual vision, that alienates them from being at home in reality.

The essential Goodness of the world can be inferred from the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body (implying implying a largely similar Heavenly reality for the body to inhabit) and the empirical fact that there are so many things to enjoy with absolutely no consequence as regards sin. Many people learn to overlook these enjoyments in favour of sinful ones, but that is their lookout....

(The major constant of existence that seems irrevocably tied to the Fall and likely to be broken in Resurrection is that of entropy, as being a manifestation of sin in physical reality, but that's not something I understand myself, nor how an entropyless physics functions.)

In any case, the considerations above are all perennial; the rise and decay of civilizations, and systems of society and government, and conditions of prosperity or poverty, are all unlikely to affect them except insofar as they promote or discourage spiritual growth.

So, in general, civilizational decline is all in the mind; but the tricky thing is that, these days, it's on everyone's mind at once. This necessarily has actual consequences in terms of the physical arrangements on our society, so these arrangements are seen to decline as well. This can be endured, but creates all kinds of spiritual temptations.

These actual consequences don't really affect someone who hasn't succumbed to spiritual temptations and doesn't have civilizational decline on the mind. (And who have not found some other, entirely different path into their personal Hell.)

Conversely, a large number of people overcoming these temptations will inevitably have positive physical consequences... though they will be much less relevant and anticipated in the first place.

In short, seek first the kingdom of God....

Bruce Charlton said...

Comment from a reader:

"Thank you for your blog post, "Why is the secular Right blogosphere seething with hatred?".

"I've been reading your blog for maybe 6 months now; I find it powerful and provoking, even when I disagree. Although I tend to agree with most of what you write, except for your explicit comments about Christianity, about which I know very little so I can't even agree or disagree.

"I'm a semi-religious Jew and I never understood the Christian obsession with "love". Judaism is very legalistic, and the Christian approach of, loving-your-neighbor being above the law always struck me as downright bizarre.

"But your post explained it to me. The key sentence that made it all crystal clear to me was this,

"The only permissible defense against evil, and the only one which works over the long haul, is to maintain the heart as open and warm, childlike; but to block the access of evil by love - this love comes by grace (undeserved) from God if we allow it."

"Yes, I know exactly that state you're talking about: that deep happiness and optimism that comes with our youth, but the world, adulthood fights to destroy -- this is the most important emotional state I have. (Everyone always compliments me for being so curiosity like a child all the time, and I pride myself on it... and I'm 37!). I've get and I understand and I love this state that you describe in your post.

"But -- I never realized, until I read that sentence, the power of *this state as a bulwark defense against evil*. That makes perfect sense. It's a genius connection, and it's clearly true. Thank you for making me grasp that connection.

"That said, I don't associate that this "open heart" with Christianity so much with children, and it is the struggle of adulthood to keep that flame alive. And the Jewish focus on law and actions and behavior still strikes me as a healthy lifestyle and ideology on the societal level. (Therefore, as moving as your post was, I'm not convert;).

"Thank you again, and please know that you have a bunch of fans and supporters in the Jewish community."

Brandon said...

Also, keeping with my above comment, "Love" in the modern liberal sense seems to mean respect for the absolute autonomy of all others, as long as said autonomy doesn't violate anyones self expression.

vanderleun said...

"You just keep thinking, Bruce. That's what you're good at."

Bruce Charlton said...

@dl - I am writing about the heart - not hate. Being consumed by pride and hate is a *consequence* of a hard-closed heart. It is Saruman compared with Gandalf, or orcs compared with Hobbits, or Draco compared with Harry.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Matthew C "This is really what is exactly wrong with "Game" too isn't it?"

Yes indeed. As so often, attitude to the sexual revolution provides a litmus test.

To see the vast difference between closed-cold hearts and a warm and open ones when arguing for a similar agenda; it is instructive to contrast the way that secular Right/ manosphere/ 'Game' bloggers talk about patriarchy, women, marriage, sex - with the same subjects being discussed by Mormon authorities (and in popular videos) on the website.

The secular right sometimes imagine they are the realists - but of course the secularists are not actually living their Patriarchal ideas, and embodying them in durable social practices and institutions - as Mormons have done and continue to do.

C. said...

It's not the secular right blogs that bother me so much as the "Christian" ones (ie, the ones that use Christianity as a crutch for propping up their weird sadomasochistic fantasies).

Part of it seems to be a weird form of addiction. Parts of the internet are full of people looking for a quick burst of anger/hate/lust/dehumanization, and the more posts you make like that, the more popular your blog gets. I've seen some moderately normal blogs quickly descend into "daily posts about why I hate women..."

Bruce Charlton said...

@C - Yes, indeed - I was in fact very good at this kind of thing and made a bit of name for venom; but as I said before, the hate and anger are a symptom, and are in fact perfectly legitimate if coming spontaneously from a warm and open heart - and without resentment. It is gimlet eyed hard cruelness I find most dismaying - even if hate and anger are not prominent.

dearieme said...

"seething" is a bit strong, Bruce. It's true that I occasionally call for the hanging of Tony Blair, but I always make clear that it should occur after arrest, charge, trial, conviction and sentencing. And I restrict my call to him; I do not extend it to his loathsome wife nor his comrade-in-arms Brown. I stand astonished at my moderation.

Sylvie D. Rousseau said...

I am in complete agreement with 'deconstructingleftism'. Love and hate are evil or good depending on the object toward, or against, which they are directed.

The following article from David Warren is really, really insightful and interesting, including the long quotes from Chesterton and Nicolas Gomez Davila provided by commenters. The last (and long) one, particularly, is about reactionaries.