Thursday 15 December 2016

Functional systems were a blip - secular Leftist ideology is the current reality - religion is the default

I grew-up in a world where public discourse had the built-in assumption that functional systems were (and ought to be) focused on their function! - and any departure from this was corruption.

So that a school ought to be about education, a newspaper about accurate information, a hospital about improving health, a police force about maintaining civil peace and order, an army about military effectiveness and so forth.

Because this was expected, it was substantially true - and this was the basis of the industrial revolution and the expansion of human capability - culminating in repeatedly landing men on the moon and bringing them back alive.

By the middle 1960s, Western societies were composed of multiple functional units - each focused on performing their 'sticker function' with other aspects subordinated to it. The modern world resembled a machine of many parts. If an institution was to put religion or ideology above its function, then this was a corruption.

The first steps in this direction, back in the early modern period (1700s, 1800s) were to dispense incrementally with what might be termed 'religious tests'. Because (as Alasdair MacIntyre made clear in his body of philosophical and historical work from After Virtue to Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry- and was independently argued by Ernest Gellner in books such as Plough, Sword and Book) all 'traditional' societies - that is, all societies up-to and outwith modernity - have been organised primarily around their religion.

Part of this was that all institutions were, ultimately, regarded as having a religious function primarily - because religion was the basis of social cohesion. This was the case most of the time, for internal affairs and in peace-time - during war then the primacy of religion may be displaced by military objectives.

(In Gellner's terms, traditional societies were thus ruled by various combinations of the Sword - or military specialists; and the Book - or religion specialists: soldiers and priests. They were not ruled by other types of functional specialist such as businessmen, scientists, teachers, craftsmen or whatever - nor by the mass of peasants - represented by the 'Plough'.) 

In traditional societies, therefore, it was functional focus that would have counted as the 'corruption' of an institution. For instance, any school or research institute (university) that ignored religion and focused on science would have been regarded as dangerous (because intrinsically immoral, and intrinsically hostile to social cohesion).

This means that the society of my childhood, with its functional institutions, was very unusual in world historical terms  - and that this had been achieved by means of (at the cost of) displacing religion from its central position in public, national life.

Gellner realised that communism, and its variants such as socialism and national socialism, represented a reversion to the pre-modern form of organisation in which all social institutions were primarily ideological (that is with an atheistic ideology replacing religion in the scheme). If modernity was functionally specialised and differentiated, as the basis of its increased capability; then Leftism was inevitably and intrinsically anti-modern - since Leftism entailed all institutions being primarily, compulsorily, Leftist.

(For instance, a metal pipe factory in the Soviet Union was primary about propagating and enforcing Communism; and any production of functional metal piping had to be subordinated to that ideology - such that the actual metal piping might be unusable. A current equivalent is the mass of schools and colleges in which there is a focus on identity politics, and no actual education.)

This is, of course, the world we live in - the world of New Leftism and Political Correctness - a world in which all of societies institutions now have the priority of Left ideology (in its mutating and evolving forms). So all schools, hospitals, police forces, legal institutions, government offices, military units, and media corporations now have the primary and compulsory goal of pursing Left Wing Ideology - the sexual revolution, diversity, equality and so forth.

All current institutions in The West are Left Wing Ideologies first and foremost (and almost - but not quite, exclusively). Any other functions are optional, and must be fitted-around this mandatory focus.

(This failure to be functional requires that institutions be state subsidised to some degree - and this is in fact the case - extremely few modern institutions do not receive a significant portion of income from the State - either directly or indirectly, explicitly or covertly. There are no 'markets' - we inhabit a 'command economy'.)

Any institution which does not put Leftism as its primary focus is now, and has been for several decades, regarded as immoral and dangerous to cohesion. Opposition is not necessary - simply to dissent from - to fail-to-subscribe-to the ruling ideology will block your appointment and lead to your removal from any position of high status power and influence in Western Institutions now.

This is a major underlying reason why current societies do not work as well as they did 50 years ago, when it comes to the primary social functions.

So, functionality was a blip - and it was a blip because it was unsustainable. At a deep level, the mass of people do not want to subordinate their lives to functionality - they do not want to be cogs in a national machine. But what has happened is that over the past century or two - religion has been replaced by Leftist ideology as the primary focus of human activity.

This applies everywhere in the developed world and without any exceptions - the differences are merely differences of degree. There are no functionally-orientated societies remaining in the developed world, nor are there any religiously-focused societies in the developed world. 

But Left Wing Ideology is unsustainable - not least because it is self-destroying. Opposite to religion - Leftism is anti-cohesive, intrinsically negative, oppositional and a state of perpetual revolution. We live, therefore, in the paradoxical, nonsensical, auto-destructive situation of a society which places as its primary focus ideological coherence on the basis of an ideology of anti-coherence. All developed societies have broadly this same ideology of self-hatred - differences (conservatism, libertarianism, nationalism etc.) are merely 'heresies' within one secular Left ideology.  

Communism - in various versions - has conquered the entire developed world - where all nations are secular and Leftist in their ideology, and all have placed ideology above any functional priority. You may be one of the best scientists, doctors, chief executives, editors or generals in the world - but you will still be removed from your institutional leadership position (or not appointed in the first place) if you not not put Left ideology above all functional considerations.

 The future is therefore inevitably that of religion. We may pine for an era in which functionality could be a priority - but that has been decisively rejected by the mass of people who neither understand nor support it. We have returned to the traditional world where beliefs and ideas are primary - except that our beliefs and ideas do not make sense and fail to motivate the cooperation and altruism upon which society depends.

Leftism has collapse built-in; in the end, secular ideology simply cannot replace religion. Historically, all secular ideologies are, like functionality, merely a blip. 

The future is therefore religion, again, at the centre of society and all social institutions - the only question for each nation or human group to determine is: which religion? 

(The above condenses the argument of my book from 2011 - Thought Prison: the fundamental nature of political correctness - which is now available free online: