Saturday, 8 December 2018

Old Left-New Left... Modernity-Postmodernity - surface changes masking a constant deep motivation against God

It is easy to make too much of the change in mainstream socio-politics that happened in the mid-1960s. Leftism has been increasingly mainstream in The West for a couple of hundred years - but within that project, there was a change in the 1960s; and on the surface it seemed to be a qualitative change.

Some contrasts... The Old Left was about economics, the New Left was about the sexual revolution and antiracism; equality of opportunity versus affirmative action and group preferences; nationalisation versus globalisation; planned economy versus free trade; protectionism versus mass-unlimited population migration; the native workers versus immigrants...

For a while the idea became fashionable that this was a shift from modernism to postmodernism; where modernism was seen as a kind of Enlightenment Rationalism and progress; and postmodernism was seen as relativism, loss of all values, loss of all explanations, loss of all sense of purpose and progress - a world of change but no meaning.

However, although the surface change was indeed qualitative; underneath the change from Old to New Left/ modernism to postmodernism, can be seen as an unfolding of the same underlying impulse.

How do we know this? Because many millions of individual people on The Left, en masse, made this exact transition in their beliefs; and very few of them refused to do so.

The same individuals who in their youth championed white, native-born, working class men as the oppressed 'proletarian' heroes of society... by the time they reached old age had demonised this group (as racist/ sexist/ homophobic/ Christian bigots etc.), and now champions everybody except them.

Another example is eugenics. Before 1960 pretty much All intellectual Leftists (except Roman Catholics) were ardent advocates of eugenics: i.e. of state control of human fertility as an essential means towards improving genetic quality, and therefore social functioning. By 1970, the same group of people, often the same individuals, regarded eugenics as a hallmark of 'Right Wing', 'Fascist' evil; and anyone proposing eugenics was aggressively, often violently, excluded from public discourse ('deplatformed' as people would now call it).

The same happened with 'feminism'. Before the transition; Leftists regarded feminism as subsumed within socialism (racism too) - the sexes being unified by equality of opportunity. From the 1970s, women were increasingly split from men as a victim group with opposite interests than men; and with different laws and rules applicable to women and men; so as first to equalise sex outcomes, then to make women's outcomes higher than men's - in one area of public action after another. The ideal of equality has been replaced by an ideal of inequality.

Yet although these aims (sex equality of opportunity versus sex inequality of outcome) were extremely different, almost opposite; Leftists remained Leftists - with very few exceptions they obediently followed 'the party line', and (in their multi-millions) set-aside honesty and consistency.

And Many millions more joined them - as the Left took-over all mainstream politics, government, all all major social institutions.

The fact that people on the Left so easily, seamlessly, changed - and even reversed - their superficial opinions and their policies; and did so dishonestly, claiming that they were not doing so; tells us that the roots and motivation of Leftism are not at the level of obvious opinions and policies.

The roots of Leftism are much deeper - and are, indeed, at the level of metaphysics. That is, at the level of basic assumptions concerning the nature of reality.

The basic assumptions of Leftism have unfolded over the past couple of centuries (and were foreshadowed before that time). The most fundamental assumption is a set of linked assumptions rejecting divine agency and the immaterial. These are along the lines that there is no God, and no objective truth, beauty or morality; that the material (perceptible, measurable) realm of things is the only reality; and that human emotion (pleasure-suffering) is the only valid measure of goodness (aka 'utilitarianism').

(You should note that materialism and utilitarianism are ultimately contradictory - because other-people's emotions do not exist according to materialism, being objectively unobservable, not-measurable, unquantifiable; nonetheless this combination of assumptions is universal in mainstream public discourse for the past century and more.)

On the positive side of 'what was wanted', Leftism probably began with pacifism among mid-18th century Nonconformists, the abolition of slavery spreading from this same group, and a mounting demand for relief of the new kind of poverty and misery that was caused by the industrial revolution by means of state redistribution of wealth...

And from the beginning the sexual revolution was a strong element, although initially only among the upper class radicals (e.g. Lord Byron, Shelley); who immediately used a political rationale for advocating their own practice of unbounded sexual relations outside of religious marriage. 

We need to recognise that, even though its early advocates espoused some good causes, and many individuals at the low level of the movement were basically good-but-misguided people, the Left always was from its very roots a basically false (hence evil) human motivation.

By excluding or marginalising the divine perspective; by placing mortal life, materialism and human emotion as the focus of human evaluation and action; it was always inevitable that Leftism would unfold to short-termist hedonism, despair, and nihilism - and would lead its adherents (at first unconsciously, but increasingly explicitly) to seek their own self-annihilation - both in general - by working actively for the destruction of their own marriages, families, institutions and nations) - and individually.

This self-annihilation is rationalised by a publicly enforced cancerous compassion. Compassion is, objectively, a minor virtue intended as a duty in relation to a person's immediate circle of family, friends and neighbours. But post-60s Leftism has raised 'universal, unbounded compassion' to be the ultimate virtue to be striven-for - and, of course, this is a form of suicide - both at a group level and for individuals.  

Self-annihilation therefore also operates personally - with its compassion-driven focus on abortion/ infanticide, and euthanasia for an expanding and open-ended scope of indications. The ideal of unbounded non-procreative sex is also justified by compassion for those with 'unconventional' desires.

Ultimately there is the increasingly-accepted/ wanted transhumanist project of destroying and replacing humans (by drugs, genetic engineering, implanted social-mass media, microchipping, downloading etc) - again, advocated mainly on the basis of compassion for suffering.

All these 'new' phenomena have their motivational roots in the centuries-old and basic assumptions of Leftism; they were implicit from its very beginnings.

Which tells us that the origin of Leftism lies in the demonic; in immortal purposive evil with foresight.

And this is why Leftism has been by far the most successful of all evil strategies in the history of Mankind.


Chiu ChunLing said...

When you attempt to trace "Leftism" back that far, it becomes imperative that you identify it as Marxism, rather than leftism, because reaching a century or more back you get to the etymological roots of why it is called "leftism".

Marxism is stated simply as, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Contained within this statement is the implication of the superior moral authority of need over ability. It is not for the able to decide what is prudent and possible for them to give to the needy, as is the case when God is the most able.

The expansion of Marxist thinking from being merely economic to being about all human needs, and each being considered and redressed independently, so that billionaire moral imbeciles have as much a right to demand the families and children of middle and working class people who dedicated themselves to seeking such things in ways that actually worked, is indeed a logical extrapolation of economic Marxism. Insane, of course, because the logical extrapolation of an unsound premise will be an unsound conclusion.

But while it is true that the anti-slavery movement was seated on the left back when slavery was a live issue in the Western world, it is not at all true that they went on to embrace Marxism, the initially economic Marxists then going on to embrace cultural Marxism. That is a Marxist lie, and it is appalling that anyone, let alone educated people dedicated to study of the history of modernism and post-modernism, should fall for it. Slave ownership is Marxism. Marxism is advocacy of slavery. The actual anti-slave movement sought that the able should be free to decide the limits of their own ability and impart voluntarily to the needy, rather than be compelled to do so by law.

It was the slavery apologists, not the anti-slavery activists, who worked out the argument that the able should be compelled to labor at the behest of the needy. And, going back to when nations did not have anti-slavery activists, either having no significant people opposed to slavery or having no significant slavery for them to be against, the implicit assumptions of society one way or the other went unchallenged and thus unargued, but it was the free nations that developed the modern world.

Modernity is a response to the vast economic improvement wrought by the modern world, and it is specifically the response of those who do not understand how the modern world came about.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - Being British, the place where socialism was invented and has always thrived, I don't confuse it with Marxism. Most British socialism is not Marxist, and from roots that precedes Marx. I was myself a serious socialist as a child and in my teens, but always hostile to Marxism - the roots of 'my' kind of socialism was (variously) in Nonconformism, the Fabian Society gradualism and William Morris's neo-Medievalism.

Zamfir said...

"other-people's emotions do not exist according to materialism, being objectively unobservable"

Why would materialism imply that things we can't observe don't exist? We don't observe atoms but those are presumably real (or potentially real) things under materialism. Even if it turns out we can't observe them, they might still be real consistently with materialism. Isn't materialism a claim about the kinds of things that exist--material things--rather than our capacities to observe these things? Of course emotions, whether other people's or my own, seem to be impossible under materialism simply because it's incoherent to identify an emotion with a material object or state of affairs; but that's a different issue altogether.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Zamfir - Materialism is just a term (others are Positivism/ Reductionism/ Scientism) for the mainstream modern metaphysics.

There's no point on getting bogged down on definitions; it is what it is - and we all know it if we reflect and bring it to awareness.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Of course Moldbug uses the same sort of evidence -- that people seamlessly transitioned en masse and without resistance from the one to the other -- to argue that Leftism is essentially a form of Protestantism. By contrast, the previous two transitions, from Paganism to Christianity and from Catholicism to Protestantism, were not seamless and did meet with violent resistance -- perhaps indicating more fundamental metaphysical overhauls.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Well Moldbug is wrong about that (he had, at that time, near zero understanding or knowledge of Christianity, as he'd be the first to acknowledge; and none from the inside) - fundamentally wrong; although there are of course superficial consistencies.

But I've argued this so many times that I can't be bothered to go over it again - it is in Thought Prison and to an extent in Addicted to Distraction, as well as all over this blog and other blogs.

But in Thought Prison I also argued that Leftism (which is Western) could be traced to the Great Schism.

HOWEVER, nowadays I see Leftism in context of the development of human consciousness (Steiner/ Barfield) - so these early stages (Great Schism, Reformation, Nonconformism etc) were a necessary development...

It was really only from the advent of Romanticism (c1750-early 1800s) that genuine Leftism emerged due to the failure of Western Man to take the right path: God/ Christ/ the spiritual was rejected and instead the Romantic-Christian impulse split into the (Ahrimanic) path of politics/ bureacracy on the one hand, and the Luciferic path of the sexual revolution (plus drugs, intoxication etc) on the other.

WHich is where we are...

Jonathan said...

A great, profound post. The contradictions you point out in Old Left and New Left beliefs, and the ease with which they reversed themselves, is the smoking gun that their "values" are built on shifting sand and are not genuine values. I remember you making a similar argument years ago that, years ago, convinced me that much of Leftism really is evil, and that its real motivation is simply to destroy the Good. Nowadays, I'm already convinced, but this is perhaps your best articulation of it yet.

Bruce Charlton said...

Thanks Jonathan - BTW there were a couple of Jonathan commenters from the early days of this blog - but I seem perhaps to have conflated the two of you... Are you the coffee expert Jonathan?

Avro G said...

"…And from the beginning the sexual revolution was a strong element, although initially only among the upper class radicals (e.g. Lord Byron, Shelley); who immediately used a political rationale for advocating their own practice of unbounded sexual relations outside of religious marriage.”

Here, I think, is the root of our current oppression under anti-Christ, leftist materialism. I think it is derived less from the liberalism of the non-conformists or from, say, traditional working people’s movements than from the at first quiet but now over-bearing and inescapable manipulation of our souls by vastly powerful people and institutions that share Shelley’s and Byron’s fancy that they are smart and rich enough to effectively evade or buy exemption from the moral law. They know that to perpetrate their filthy deeds in peace they will need to dethrone, if it were possible, the Lord Jesus Christ from his position of sovereignty over the world and to deface his image in mankind, which is to say our reason and morality. It seems those in the grip of this mania inevitably seek to propagate it to all people everywhere. What’s new is that today’s maniacs have manipulation media far more potent than poems and novels.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Avro - It is very important; but we must not forget the incrementally increasing bureaucracy as well, a huge fact of life. Both are happening.

whitestone said...

Excellent piece. Wholeheartedly agree. Interesting point about eugenics. Fascinating to note that in Sweden were I live, they had a eugenics program of forced sterilization imposed upon those considered inferior up until the mid 70s. This included even racial deviations. A friend even described to me a doctor drowning a Thalidamide baby. They kept it alive for three months in the hospital order not to negatively effect the results infant mortality rates. The same leftist mindset has now morphed into suicidal compassionate, pathologically altruistic, multicultural madness intent on the destruction of the native population. Staggering to behold. A nation with even an oounce of faith the divine would surely be incapable of such action.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wh - Yes, it really is 'staggering'; and what I find most worrying is that so many people seem to accept such things blandly, with a shrug... "what can you expect?" - yet many things that are thus accepted are extraordinary and inconceivable in any other time or place (the ainstream, legal, mandatory 'trans' agenda is so far off the scale of sanity and coherence that even to discuss it demonstrates - or induces - incipient lunacy). In short, this is, objectively, a genuine form of societal insanity.

William Wildblood said...

I think this is a very important post, Bruce, in that it pinpoint the evil (there is no other word) that is behind the Left in all its manifestations and which uses the seeming good to eradicate the real good. Unfortunately those who really need to see it never will and would completely reject it if they did. But it's still true!

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Yes indeed.

It is this blindness to the evil which is so concerning from a Christian perspective.

As you know, I think that 'salvation' (although not theosis) has been made very 'easy' for us by God; however we do at least have to want it, to 'ask for it'. But when so many people are so self-blinded, so deeply confused, have such grossly wrong priorites and no sense of balance or proportion... well, the situation looks like one in which most people would neither want nor ask for salvation - would instead actively reject it.

As an example; for most of human history it would have been an obviously attractive things if Heaven was depicted in terms of an ideal loving extended-family; but many modern people have come to regard The Family - even a perfected Family - as unbearably dull, boring, crushingly-oppressive, childish, low-status etc. Likewise an ideal Christian marriage.

To Normal Modern people, it is self-evident that a lifestyle of promiscuous sex/ drugs/ rock and roll - travel, holidays, glamour, wealth, fame, status, exotic culture - youth/ health/ beauty/ fitness - is *far* superior.

Such 'normal' people (and surely there are very many of them) would reject Jesus's offer of Life Everlasting even if they believed it to be true, and easily obtainable (which, of course, they currently don't).

Chiu ChunLing said...

Generally people believe what they want to believe.

They don't believe it is possible because they don't want it to be possible.

Such has ever been the case. In former times, "faith" was considered nearly synonymous with belief not because people weren't intelligent enough to explicate the difference but because they were practical enough to realize that the overlap was far more significant. Bad people more often hid their lack of belief to obscure their lack of faith, in some times.

But not all. Not even close.