Wednesday 18 September 2013

A distinction between the religious Right and the neo-reactionary Right


The neo-reactionary Right focus on systems and ideas - they see the best government in terms of the best attainable political system operated by the best possible ideology.

Individuals and their religions are either ignored or are regarded as a means to facilitate the above end.

Thus the strategy is a dual combination of designing and installing a new operating system, and taking-over the means of propaganda to change social programming.


The religious Right focus on individual people and churches - systems and ideology are seen as inevitable but secondary, and the religious Right regard the primary political constraint to be the goodness of the specific people doing specific jobs in the systems: especially the nature and devoutness of their religion and the degree to which religious ideals permeate and motivate society in all its functions.

Thus the 'strategy' is to try and evoke a wholesale repentance and mass conversion - a religious Great Awakening.

Only if or when this has happened will systems and ideology, flow diagrams and propaganda, become relevant.


From the perspective of the religious Right, the neo-reactionary Right is "dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good" - to quote TS Eliot - and the religious Right believe that this is a deadly delusion.



JP said...

Is ideology downstream from religion, or is religion downstream from ideology?

The successful Leftist attack on religion, which has unfolded over centuries but intensified in recent decades, suggests that religion is downstream from ideology. Ideology destroyed religion, and thus we need a new ideology before religion can flourish. On the other hand, what would cause mass revulsion against Leftist ideology other than a great religious awakening?

Seems like there is a chicken-and-egg problem.

Kevin Nowell said...

The question is not whether we should seek good people or good institutions because they are coterminous. A society with an evil institutions will tend to create evil individuals. A society made up evil individuals will tend to create evil institutions. The inverses are also true.

The most effective Right will contain both the truths about institutions gleaned by the neo-reactionary Right and the truth about God and relgion and Man that is understood by the religious Right. Or so it seems to me.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JP - To ask is to answer. If 'religion' is downstream from ideology, it isn't religion - it is just (like New Age spirituality) self-therapy.

@KN - Too complicated. Effective politics must be simple - about one big thing. (Unless politics is merely opposition and destruction - because it is easy to destroy.)

JP said...

When did the West stop being "genuinely religious" then? And why?

If ideology cannot, by definition, erode genuine religion, then what caused the transition from genuine religion to the New Agey-type of religion that Leftist ideology was able to attack?

Bruce Charlton said...

@JP - Either you misunderstand me or I misunderstood you. When you asked which is downstream I thought you were asking which ought to be downstream - or, which do we need to change first.

The relationship between religion and ideology is not symmetrical - ideology can *destroy* religion, just as any of the sins can or various other things can.

Indeed it was the sins in ideology that - historically - did the job. The decline of religion was a mass effect due to multiple individual choices, and the consequent accumulation of sin and the effects of sin.

But that does not mean that ideology can create or make religion - for the same reason that sin can't make religion.

Anti-Democracy Activist said...

Glancingly on-topic, I seem to owe you an apology, Dr. Charlton. You were right - Pope Francis more and more seems not to be the right man for the job, and if he stays in his position long, the Catholic Church is in deep trouble. More of my thoughts here, if you're interested:

Bruce Charlton said...

@ADA - Yes, I had read that interview too, with similar feelings.

Perhaps Francis would be a good or at least adequate Pope in a different era - unfortunately (IMHO) what was needed was something like another Benedict XVI; but a younger and tougher Benedict XVI.

My interpretation/ hunch was that Benedict was potentially a great Pope, who *might* have reversed all adverse trends - except that the mass of Bishops and advisers did their best to sabotage his work - mostly by dragging their heels and doing as little as possible and waiting for him to die (or abdicate, as it turned out).

But the task gets bigger all the time - if the RCC was a secular institution one would say it was now past the tipping point - but of course there is the possibility of divine intervention. However, divine intervention is not forced upon the Church - it must be chosen - and we are dealing with many people who already chose to reject the inspired work of Benedict. They would need to repent - or be removed (and there are, I think, an awful lot of these people).

A great Pope would need to start his tenure (within a fortnight) by an almighty cleansing of the stables, starting at the top, and working down and through in waves.

Anti-Democracy Activist said...

Dr. C;

My counter to your thesis in this posting would be the example of Putin in Russia. Russia's ongoing slow-and-steady reconversion is, so far as I can see, unthinkable without Putin's leadership. He has created the environment in which it has been able to grow, has nourished it, and has protected it from the massively powerful forces arrayed to try to destroy it. Russia is essentially the only real beacon of hope in Christendom, and it is Putin who has made that possible.

You are right that repentance is ultimately the only hope, but without someone to come along with a framework for a civil society that creates the right conditions for it, I see little hope for it happening (west of Smolensk, at any rate).

And, of course, this will never happen under a western-style liberal democracy of any sort. My realization of this led to the title under which I write.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ADA - Insofar as you are correct - and I am really not sure what is going on in Russia and what Putin is doing (I take my lead from Mark Hackard on this matter) - I think it is because Putin made a public conversion and obedience to the Orthodox Church, Orthodoxy is very strong and (at least institutionally in terms of church and monastery building and vocations) apparently growing - including among the elites.

And I put the good things happening in Russia down to THIS - to an Orthodox version of the Great Awakening - and NOT to religion being ideologically led.

I wrote about this a couple of years ago