Sunday 8 December 2019

Accusing Leftism of being 'a religion' is an incompetent, dishonest slur against religions

Leftism is not a religion, it is an anti-religion; Leftism - like all religions, like all world views of any kind - is indeed based upon metaphysical assumptions.

The slur of accusing Leftism of being 'a religion' is that being 'a religion' is A Bad Thing. The implicit (if unarticulated) contrast is with the accuser's own world view - which is covertly assumed thereby Not to be 'a religion' but to be... what? 'Based on 'evidence', or 'observation', or 'facts' or something....

What the accuser is implying here is that a world view based upon basic assumptions is a religion - and that a religion is A Bad Thing because it is possible (and better) to have a world view that is Not based on assumptions, but based on evidence/ observation/ facts or whatever. 

This is the incompetence of the slur. Because all world views are actually and always based on metaphysical assumptions.

It is these assumptions that define and validate whatever counts as evidence/ observation/ facts. Because - for the accuser of another world view 'being a religion' - some things count as evidence/ observation/ facts and other things do not.

But how to tell evidence/ observation/ facts from the other things that are not really evidence/ observation/ facts? 

The usual (incompetent) answer is that these particular evidence/ observation/ facts under discussion) are validated by another bunch of evidence/ observation/ facts... OK, but what then validates those evidence/ observation/ facts?

In the end - if we are honest and competent, it is either an infinite regress which must be 1. false - or, 2. explains nothing - or else 3. 'infinite regress' is itself the metaphysical assumption!

Either one of them; or we get down to some metaphysical assumptions that are regarded as Just True.

But few people are competent thinkers, and even fewer are honest thinkers (the two are related, since competence follows honesty) - so people do not acknowledge the necessity of assumptions; and we get the accusation that "X 'is a religion' - whereas I personal am Not religious".

Therefore Leftism is Not a religion, but it is - of course - inevitably, based-upon metaphysical assumptions... But then everything is based on metaphysical assumptions - so saying 'Leftism is a religion' is either untrue, or thoughtless-meaninglessness parading as meaning; or else (too often) a dishonest attempt at propaganda.

The lesson? we all of us, every one, actually has a world view based on metaphysical assumptions that are unsupported by evidence/ observation/ facts.

The distinction ought-to-be between those who:

1. Acknowledge that they have metaphysical assumptions, and those who (ignorantly, incompetently or dishonestly) deny that they have metaphysical assumptions.


2. Those who know their metaphysical assumptions, and those who - while they acknowledge their existence - do not know them.

For me (and this is one of my metaphysical assumptions) - our destiny (in The West, among adults who are psychologically mature enough to read this) is to first acknowledge, then become-aware-of, our own metaphysical assumptions.

By become-aware-of I do Not mean 'communicate to other people', nor do I mean even 'articulate to ourselves' - what I do mean is to become aware of, apprehend, grasp intuitively, our own metaphysical assumptions.

If so, then...

3. We need to reflect deeply upon our own actual metaphysical assumptions; and discern whether these metaphysical assumption Which We Personally Have are valid.

Or not.


mobius said...

Good point, but what are the left's massumptions? Thinking makes it so?

Maybe you covered this.

Bruce Charlton said...

@m - Look at the references in the first sentence.

Jefferson said...

I think that you are making a major error when you argue that progressivism is not a religion. Indeed, it is the progressives who have limited the concept of “religion” to a belief in God, or in the gods, or in the existence of a realm beyond the material, so as to turn progressivism into something that transcends religion.

I think that the word religion is more accurately defined as being any belief about the nature of reality. And in that case, progressivism is obviously a religion, as is scientific materialism. The best book-length argument I have read on this subject is Roy Clouser’s “The Myth of Religious Neutrality: An Essay in the Hidden Role of Religion in Theories.”

Clouser argues that every theory, including every scientific theory, is based upon some particular religious beliefs. He argues that modern science is largely based upon pagan religious beliefs. For example, Clouser considers the fundamental disagreements on physics between Mach, Eisenstein and Heisenberg to be religious disputes.

Clouser, by the way, is a Christian philosopher.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jefferson - Don't be silly! There is no 'error' - you are simply quibbling over my definitions. I covered this point in the post - but you are just disagreeing and asserting that a person's 'metaphysical assumptions' ought to be renamed his 'religion'. Well, it overturns a couple of millennia of terminological usage, but it's a point of view...

Bonald said...

It's easier to not recognize your assumptions as such if you know that no one will dispute them.

Indeed, accusing Leftism of being a religion presumes that religion is bad, or at least more dubious than not-religion. It would be better to say that Leftism is an authoritative belief, a belief used to organize a society, and as such it takes on certain features. In particular, all authoritative beliefs are "intolerant" in that a society cannot afford to have its organizing beliefs thrown into doubt. Disputing them is inherently disruptive and recognized as antisocial.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Bonald - Leftism is something different from any other "authoritative belief...used to organize a society" - It organises society, in the sense of working towards a totalitarian system of omni-surveillance and micro-control; but it uses this organisation negatively; in service of subversion, destruction and inversion.

In other words, Leftism is demonic; it is not aiming at an alternative society nor an alternative type of creation - but is motivated by resentment and spite *against* God, the good, and creation. That is what The System is for - and the totalitarianism over men is a means to that end.

This is not the case for any of the main historical religions - which have pretty straightforward and coherent aims regarding what kind of society is being worked towards, and that the society be orientated towards that religion's deity.

I have been thinking this way about the Left for a decade, and I'm pretty sure it is correct; but although the proofs strike me as being omnipresent, people seem very reluctant to acknowledge that the Left is genuinely negative, destructive, demonic in its goals and nature. And against Christianity, specifically - of course.

Jefferson said...

Historically speaking, religion is a modern concept. There are no "religions" before the modern era. The word religion was invented to distinguish between religion and reason, and therefore to reduce Christian belief to the level of Islam or Hinduism. But the word religion does have a rational use, the one described by Clouser. Pretending that progressivism is simply a decayed or warped form of Christianity, which is how progressivism began, will no longer wash. It is must now confronted as a full-blown, false religion.