Thursday 27 March 2014

Marriage or Immigration? A litmus test for religious versus secular allegiance


The Political Right is divided into Religious and Secular - the Religious Right believe that society should be organized primarily on religious grounds with other aspects coordinated to that end; the Secular Right believe that some-other-grounds should be primary (economics, patriarchy, nation, race, efficiency - or whatever).

However, while everybody on the Religious Right is religious; some of the people on the Secular Right are also religious! And often the Secular Right supports religion.

But the Secular Right does not put religion as the highest priority - rather they aim primarily for a certain kind of secular order which yet leaves space for religion (I suppose the US Founding Fathers would be of this type).


If you are on the Right and are also religious, how do you know which you are - where your primary allegiance lies?

One quick way is to evaluate yourself is reflecting on the two 'hot button' issues of the day for the Right: marriage and immigration.

If your main priority is to protect and support marriage (and the family), then your are on the Religious Right; however, if your priority is immigration control, your are on the Secular Right - even if you are religious.


For the religious Right, marriage - and by extension the sexual revolution in its many facets - is the primary battleground; for the non-religious, it is immigration and by extension the economy, and in general 'capability'.


I am assuming that any sane person recognizes without need for explanation that open borders mass immigration is socio-culturally lethal - but if you are still not sure where your first loyalties lie, suppose that you could choose between strong and decisive legislation in one year's time to support marriage (and families, and to roll-back the sexual revolution) with immigration control being delayed - or the opposite.

The answer may tell you whether your priorities for society are primarily religious, or primarily secular.


The reason this test is enlightening is that the answer depends on your diagnosis of the cause of the problem.

For the Religious Right the problem is 'spiritual warfare': that our society systematically violates common sense, natural law, and the religious perspective of life - and the main assault has therefore been by using sexual 'liberation' to batter-down and invert all other spontaneous and sanctioned forms of sexuality: it is an assault on our core system of evaluation and a violation of the heart. The consequence is endemic insanity - a populace so confused and so demotivated that they are destroying themselves both neglectfully and wilfully. 

But for the Secular Right, the problem is much less existential - much more superficial, simple and straightforward: the problem is wrong policies, introduced by self-interested, power hungry people. Fix the policies and you fix the problems.

So, there is a profound difference between Religious and Secular Right - one believes we are caught up by War in Heaven - the other that it is a matter of Wars between Men; one that the problem is of the soul - the other that it is a problem of incentives.


Note Added: It might be said about uncontrolled mass immigration that "at least" if we sorted-out that problem, then...

But from a Religious Right perspective we are a psychotic society, and that is why people cannot perceive the obvious lethality of OBMI - thus, we are a society so profoundly damaged in our basic understandings and evaluations that we could not possibly implement any major reform so that it produced net benefit: we would be certain to make matters worse.

How could such evil-intending lunatics as we are now, do anything beneficial without simultaneously wrecking a lot more stuff than we fix?

First begin to cure the madness, only then will good policy have any chance.



Wm Jas said...

I don't know. By that litmus test I'm "religious right" by a large margin -- but I'm not religious.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - I think you have lost your usual vice-like grip on the structure of an argument! - the test is (*only*) being applied to sort-between people who are 1. Religious and also 2. on the Right.

(Of course, my real belief is that the secular Right is actually part of the Left; and that only people on the Right can be solidly religious and that Left religious people are actually in-transition - and will sooner or later (probably sooner) be forced to choose.

e.g. It will soon become impossible to be a Liberal and a Mormon like Orson Scott Card - in fact it already is impossible; since Card has been rejected by the Left - they don't want him and in fact hate him; but Card has not yet fully rejected the Left.)

Bruce Charlton said...

JS comments:

"As usual a very thought-provoking post. Is it possible therefore that somebody on the religious right, seeing the spiritual wasteland that is the West, may actually see the influx of spiritually healthier people as a good thing? Perhaps the best thing that can happen, after all, is that the self-hating Western (post) modernists get their wish and are written out of history.

"On that analysis the secular right are those who still think the malaise can be fixed internally and that there is something left in the West worth defending. I realised I'd parted company with such people when it dawned on me that I was glad my teenage daughter's best friend is a God-fearing [non-Christian Monotheist] rather than an atheist (nihilist)."

Bruce Charlton said...

@JS - Nobody could rationally desire *as a policy* the current Open Borders Mass Immigration in the West (especially in the UK) since it simply to embrace *whatever* happens, which is to advocate entropy/ chaos.

Whatever mixture of good and bad (e.g. perhaps spiritually healthy people versus economic parasitism and extreme-violent crimes?) has resulted *so far* does not affect that point.

But I take your main point - we are forced to exactly this crux - and are forced to decide either/ or.

Bruce B. said...

I think the people you call the secular right choose immigration (and related issues) because they see demographic destruction as irreversible whereas they see cultural destruction as reversible. For the secular right, immigration is a doomsday asteroid. That’s why it’s about all they can write about (not literally, of course, but it’s their main issue).
Where would you place the late Lawrence Auster? He was religious/spiritual. He converted to Catholicism before he died. But from his writings (measured by output of essays, blog entries, etc.) he emphasized immigration/ethnicity/etc. more than the sex/marriage culture.
If I had to choose, I’d choose marriage/sex issues&legislation. Who wants to live in a culture (regardless of its demographics) that lacks the most basic aspects of common decency? I say that as a person who thinks immigration/ethnicity/race issues are very important.

JP said...

In Western democracies, the Left increases its power by importing new voters. In American terms, if you import more Democrats then you get more Democratic representatives, judges, and executives -- who will, in turn, defeat any efforts to sustain marriage and the family or any other effort the Right regards as important.

There is no sign that bringing in "Catholic, pro-family" Hispanics has done anything to protect and support marriage in places like California.

Strategically, therefore, immigration control is essential - whether or not this is the "first priority". If you fail to do this, then you may win "pro-family" battles but in the long term you will lose the war.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - I would place LA on the Secular Right for the reasons you describe.

What makes this litmus test a valuable exercise is that it focuses on causation. Immigration control is tempting as a technocratic solution - because it *seems* possible, and that it could be somehow forced-through; a restoration of marriage seems impossible because it seems to require - it *does* require - the equivalent of a spiritual rebirth/ religious revival.

And there is no sign of this at all - quite the reverse.

Seeker said...

In the early days of communism in Russia, a policy of free love was imposed by serious Bolsheviks. The results were of course disastrous, possibly even worse than what we're seeing today, but certainly more shocking given the dramatic and rapid transition that occurred.

And yet that policy was later reversed out of practical necessity and while marriage in Russia may never have fully recovered, it did make a partial and significant recovery.

There is a precedent for people raised in an immoral environment to begin to behave in a more moral fashion. That happened during the initial spread of Christianity as well. But genetic changes (in this case, mostly negative) cannot be reversed.

Besides, it's not as if there is a conflict between supporting traditional marriage and supporting the survival of European people as genetically European people. Both are essential. Some secular rightists are squishy on traditional marriage, but almost all Christians from mainstream denominations are squishy on the survival of European people as genetically European people.

Well, you shall know them by their works. As an irreligious individual who is attracted to traditional religion and who (of course) supports traditional marriage in the full sense of the term, I can't bring myself to follow a religion whose members seem oblivious to (or in favor of) the destruction of European people as genetically European people. What kind of God would want that?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Seeker - Well, you said it - you are Secular Right.

At this point, the issue is beyond one of getting people to behave morally - it is about getting people to recognize that immoral actually is immoral, and not good.

Adam G. said...

To be honest, I'd be tempted to pick the immigration control because I think the situation on marriage has advanced to a point that laws might not be able to help.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Adam - You are missing the point - IF there were new laws on Marriage, then we would already be on the path back from insanity.

Brett Stevens said...

I desire inclusion of both groups, secular and religious. We are more similar than we are different, and more compatible than we think.

I think my sensibilities lean more toward the religious side because policy cannot be cured without a shift in underlying philosophy. Specifically, we need a reason to re-sacralize culture/kin, family, moral acts and even daily life.

Wm Jas said...

Bruce, I do understand that your litmus test is meant to be applied only to people who are conservative and profess to be religious (i.e., not me). My point is that if someone who is not religious at all can agree that the sexual revolution is a much bigger threat than immigration, that casts doubt on the idea that the question is an effective way of separating the sheep from the goats among the religious right.

Or perhaps you intended it as a one-way litmus test only -- so that people who prioritize immigration control are definitely secular, while those who prioritize marriage/family could belong to either group.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - No, I intended it for use in the way I described!