Tuesday 13 August 2019

The stupid meme that Leftists are the New Puritans

I think it was perhaps Mencius Moldbug who originated the stupid idea - which I have seen repeated in hundreds of different versions - that the current, mainstream, politically correct Left are puritans.

Of course there is a grain of truth, else the idea would have gone nowhere. The grain is that New Left is a descendant of the New England Puritans who emigrated from (mostly) East Anglia, became the Boston Brahmins, founded Harvard etc.

And this class, via various mutations including the Transcendentalists and their circle of radicals Unitarians, abolitionists, feminists etc) evolved into the post Civil War US ruling class; who were the fount of post-middle-1960s New Leftism.

OK. But to call the New Left puritans is something only a non-Christian could do, for at least two very obvious reasons.

1. A puritan is very religiously Christian, and believes that this should permeate every aspect of social and personal life.

2. A puritan advocates that sex be confined to (a single, permanent) marriage. In other words, a puritan rejects the entirety of the post-sixties sexual revolution.

Since Leftists are not Christian, and since they are (in theory and in practice) sexual revolutionaries; the idea that Leftists are puritans is wrong. 

The fact that so many supposedly 'Right wing' anti-political correctness commenters accuse Leftists of being puritans, simply shows that those who make the accusation are themselves not Christian and are pro-sexual revolution. In other words, to accuse Leftists of puritanism is itself evidence of Leftism! 

Such an accusation could only come from someone who does not take real religion seriously, and who regards sex and sexuality as trivial

In other words, the accusation that Leftists are puritans could only come from a Leftist. 

A Leftist can concisely be defined as anyone who is not primarily religious, as a principle of social organisation Or, a Leftist is anyone who puts forward any this-worldly principle (happiness, equality, justice, freedom, prosperity, minimisation of suffering, law and order, science...) as the primary goal of social organisation.

And the easiest sign of a Leftist is: someone who is in-favour-of the sexual revolution. 

Note: At least in the USA; the use of 'puritan' as a term of insult seems to have been popularised among the intellectual elite from the socialist, pro-communist left of the early 20th century; such as Van Wyck Brooks's influential 'Wine of the Puritans' of 1908. 


Zach said...

Moldbug might have gotten it from Albion's Seed, which I haven't read, but which I've seen thrown around as a reference a lot. I suppose it could be useful for describing the temperament of Ivy League liberalism; Woodrow Wilson might be an archetype of this notion. But I agree it's not that helpful for defining the "left" as we know it in the 20th and 21st centuries.

If you look at leftism as very interested in rules and policing community behavior, as busybodies, then I guess you could throw the term "puritanical" at them. But that's using the term differently from how it actually applied in its time.

AgainstMordor said...

While it is true that the Puritans didn't embrace sexual revolution, they did have a more liberal view of divorce than more traditional churches did- see, for instance, John Milton's pro-divorce writings. And the overthrow of Charles I was a prototype for the French & Russian revolutions.
Nevertheless, it is indeed true that modern leftism is fundamentally different from any branch of orthodox Christianity- and is defined by atheism and degeneracy. I just wanted to point out the ways in which Puritanism prefigured leftism...

Faculty X said...

Right up there with the use of 'Cathedral' to describe secular Leftist ideologue dominion of universities and the media!

The use of Cathedral and Puritans shows an anti-Christian, anti-European tactical demonizing language.

What's amazing is that bloggers who are self-declared of the Right use these terms for years. What!?

When reading these manipulative words with their typical nebulous mis-associations it leads to a mental energy sinkhole.

I enjoy studying these forms of political propaganda as a form of entertainment and an interesting puzzle to take apart but to take it seriously is to be on the Adversary's home turf.

whitestone said...

Time for a totally irrelevant comment to the post in hand, but good news nonetheless. Strange rumblings in the force. A small, but by no means insignificant minority of people are awakening to something resembling the reality of god and as we have predicated before it is evil itself that is causing this awakening.

Through scanning alternative, counter politically correct, often secular blogs and vlogs a pattern is gradually emerging. People who have never had a religious upbringing, who in their formative years, were forced fed on scientific materialism and an endless diet of MSM distractions, subversions, inversions and perversions, who saw, mainstream, watered down Christianity as nothing more than an absurd notion, practiced by weak minded, elderly fools in silly hats, preached by strange, untrustworthy, grey men in frocks, of questionable sexual proclivities. Men who grew up seeing a church barely worthy of respect are starting to notice something.

Through intuitive understanding that there is something seriously insane about the current state of affairs, they attempt to make sense of things. The realization dawns that they are being constantly manipulated and lied to. The “ red pill” moment comes with the understanding that they are being constantly force fed a false reality. They desperately seek knowledge and understanding of the nature and pathology of what they have identified as political correctness. They seek political, sociological and psychological explanations, which show themselves to be only partially satisfactory and then instinctively begin to lean towards the metaphysical. People are seeking the truth in a world of lies and as we know that search can ultimately only lead to one ultimate truth.

People are beginning to understand that what we are dealing with is not purely about, power, greed or stupidity, but actually about a force that actively seeks to destroy and they begin to talk in such old fashioned terms as evil, demonic and satanic.

On one fairly obscure secular vlog such questions were raised. The conclusion was that we are dealing with evil. One comment stated that the ultimate red pill was that we are fighting satan. Countless upvotes and a great many comments from regular folk describing their journeys that lead to that very conclusion.

This is evidence of the beginnings of a spiritual awakening that you so long for, but I feel you may have lost faith in Bruce. It’s happening and growing in strength and numbers. Evil has become complacent because it’s very existence has been denied. It is also in a hurry and is becoming far less subtle than it once was. People are starting to get it and with a little help from above who knows where things might lead. This was most certainly not the case a few years ago.

There’s hope. Keep up the good work.

Bruce Charlton said...

@w - I think it is possible to see such things at any time or place; what matters is if it amounts to enough to stop then reverse secualr Leftism (i.e. the mainstream ideology). That has not even begun to happen.

Individuals always have and will be free to awaken and become Christian - and, I hope, Romantic Christians; but I'm assuming that we are discussing the possibility of social-wide changes.

AgainstMordor said...

I think that Whitestone's observation is especially true in the last few days. I don't know how much you Brits have followed the Jeffrey Epstein case- but his suspicious "suicide" on Saturday may do as much as anything to wake Americans up to the evil nature of the elites, and what they will do to preserve their power. Maybe it will also expose the corrupt nature of those backing the Sexual Revolution and other modern/liberal projects.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Z I've read Albions seed, which is very interesting, although it doesn't consider genetics. But it doesn't have anything to do with this issue.

Matthew T said...

Thanks for this post, as I have also always hated this stupid meme, finding it intuitively foolish for exactly the reasons that you mention, viz., that Leftists aren't Christians.

What did you think of Albion's Seed? I am on record as finding it somewhat unsatisfying and unconvincing. It seems too simplistic, for one thing.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MT - Re: AS - Look at my previous comment... The descriptive data is good, and not obvious.

But my feeling nowadays is that the reason for multigenerational cultural differences are mostly genetic; due to differences in general intellignece and personality; both of which are probably about 80% heritable (although personality measures are much less precise and more subjective, so measured heritability comes out about 50% by dilution).

In other words, the reason why New England has always produced schoolteachers and lawyers; while Appalachians still tend to be subsistence farmers; is indeed because the first were middle class East Anglians, while the latter were Border reivers.

But the reason is Not cultural inertia/ transmission of cultural values.

The New England founding stock were probably about a standard deviation more intelligent, more conscientious, less impulsive etc. than the Scottish English rascals; and this was inherited by offspring (helped by assortative mating for intelligence - by which the most intelligent tend to prefer to marry each other, and so on down).

When New England took a lot of lower intelligence Irish from the mid-19th century, these arrivals did not assimilate to New England values and achievement; but became a lower performing ghetto.

Matthew T said...

Well, again, I don't know. I put a lot of stock in your opinion, Bruce, but there are still things I feel the model doesn't explain.

For one thing, as a Canadian, I'd like to see the model applied to Canada. To be sure, there is always an art to taking US-focused sociocultural concepts and applying them up here...

Maybe you could say that a great part of my frustration comes from a tendency, particular among Americans, I think, to look at a political map, and see that the Northern states are "blue", and the next-door Canadian provinces are "blue", and so thinking that they must be "blue" in the same way and for the same reasons. But I don't think they are.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Certainly many leftists are "puritans" in the loose sense of being humorless pearl-clutching killjoys. Perhaps they're best thought of as apostate Puritans -- the Puritan personality lingering on after the Puritanism itself is long gone. Chinese Communists could be considered apostate Confucians in much the same sense.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm Yes of course there are similarities, and our civilization is apostate Christian. But to define people in terms of what they rejected, hate and persecute is sophomoric Freudianism.

Rich said...

The Puritan origins of American Patriotism by George McKenna. I think moldbug made reference to that work.

My interpretation was simply that todays leftists were of the same bloodline as the Puritans. They emerge from a natural progression. Not that they are one and the same.

BruceB said...

I think some neo-reactionaries use “puritan” to indicate that American Leftism’s roots are to be found in WASPs in contrast to the common obsession on the far-right with Jewish roots of Leftism.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - That's an interesting interpretation - and one that is new to me!

I find that Americans are shockingly ignorant of the English origins of socialism, both preceding and independent from Karl Marx (although he clearly gave it a massive boost). It's as if Americans want all the evils of the world to be their own fault. But politically, the US were followers, not leaders, until after WWII.

BruceB said...

Does English Leftism precede, coincide or follow French-Protestant Leftism of the Revolution (seriously asking)? You know I love the English so always want to blame the Gauls.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - Precedes - I'm not sure of the exact origin, but the Levellers, and especially the Diggers, of the Civil War were in the middle 1600s.