Friday 10 December 2021

Being Woke a religion? Bah! Controlled opposition...

Some commentators on 'the right' seem to think it is a clever insight and useful analysis to describe Wokeness/ Political Correctness/ New Leftism as A Religion. They announce this as if it were a strikingly original thesis, a radical and dissenting position - and a basis for effective opposition*. 

Yet, when one Googles "Woke" and "a religion" there are over six million hits - spread across mainstream media as well as dissenting sources (and that is just using the relatively-recent "woke" as a search term)**.  

So the idea of Leftism (or communism, socialism, feminism, environmentalism, healthism, antiracism or whatever) as A Religion is very far from original, new or marginal.

Nor is the idea oppositional to The Establishment - indeed the level of official media coverage of this concept makes clear that the 'idea' of regarding Leftism as A religion is one that serves the interests of Leftism, and promotes the Globalist, totalitarian Left agenda

How? Well, most obviously because Leftism is, Very Obviously, anti-religion generally and anti-Christian specifically - root and branch and explicitly. So much so that one has to have a very special kind of blindness Not to see such an obvious fact. 

But that that particular blindness to the obvious is common, normal and is atheism. The people who regard it as clever and useful to call woke-ness A Religion are people who regard religions as ultimately false. 

These Woke=Religion people do Not believe that we dwell in a divine creation, do Not believe in a personal God, do Not believe in a spiritual realm that contains, and is greater than, the material, do not believe in a life beyond biological death. 

All of these are core-to and characteristic-of Religion, and without them belief system is Not a religion but merely 'ideology'. To call something that rejects them all A Religion; is merely to deploy a common Leftist subversion that what matters most in an 'institution' is Not its deep and distinctive 'function' or attribute; but something it shares with all others. 

Thus a school or university is Not about education, nor science about truth, nor law about justice - but all are 'really' about Leftism. Likewise when it is asserted that Religion is Not about God, the spirit, life after death, divine creation etc - then the concept of Religion has been hollowed-out and killed.  

To call Leftism A Religion is intrinsically anti-religion, including anti-Christian; because it regards religion sociologically and politically - and an institution purely; in terms of is effects not its causes. 

To call Leftism a religion is therefore a positivist, reductionist, materialist stance; it comes-from a position that is itself one of de facto Leftism. 

This discourse is, indeed, merely an in-house squabble among Leftists, it is merely office politics in which pragmatist-hedonistic Leftists. 

The Woke=Religionists desire nothing more than a comfortable, prosperous and peaceful life; they are pushing-back against 'idealistic' Leftists who are happy to pull-down civilization in order to 'signal their virtue' and feel good about themselves. 

But pragmatist-hedonic Leftists are, after all, Leftists; and have taken the side of Satan against God - chaos against creation; hence rejected even the possibility of coherence in thinking or social organization. 

These are tough times in which we are called to make a binary choice of taking side with Good or with evil; and in which everybody has already made a binary choice (although that choice is not irrevocable). 

The Woke=Religion crew have already made the wrong choice: so they are part of the problem, not a possible answer.    

*Note. Of course, trivially, Wokeness is like a Religion - in some ways. Just as Men are like monkeys, lizards, trees, amoebae in some ways. Any thing is somewhat like any other thing. The point at issue relates to core essential attributes. Religion can be analyzed as a generic social institution - analogous to a corporation, a political party, a profession - or whatever. But the question is whether this captures the distinctive quality. To say Woke is A Religion is to reject exactly that which is distinctive to Religion - to deny (as inessential) that which is distinctive to a religion. It is to argue from assumptions that regard religions as institutions merely.  

**Further Note: The concept of "controlled opposition" (CO) referenced in the title refers to the way that the Establishment promote dissent that focuses on partial specifics of the Leftist agenda - while accepting the core root and basis of that agenda. To be mainstream is to be controlled. 

To be part of the "controlled" opposition does not require that the pseudo-dissenter is aware of playing this role; as I know from experience (i.e. my own self-consciously 'dissenting' writings, lectures, administrative work etc. - up to c2008  about when I became a Christian - were in fact controlled opposition). CO merely requires that the dissenter accepts the basic assumptions of Leftism regarding the nature of reality and what is important (i.e. materialism of discourse and explanation, hedonic-utilitarianism as the aim of life/ policy/ society etc.). 

A recent prominent example of controlled opposition was the meteoric media rise of Jordan Peterson - a Leftist with a few points of disagreement with the mainstream agenda. Another would be the recent attacks on JK Rowling in relation to trans. 

(Interestingly, Rowling was converted from being a Christian to Wokeism by the clever Establishment trick of providing massive mainstream media publicity to the ignorant criticisms of obscure US 'fundamentalist' Christians. She reacted, as intended, by repudiating the pervasive and explicit Christianity of the Harry Potter books.) 

The controlled opposition of Woke=A Religion is core Leftist - the Establishment aim being that popular dissent be channeled into a short loop which sooner or later returns to support the mainstream Left agenda, while quibbling over details. Even the most extreme 'secular Right' attitude is merely a longer loop CO strategy, sustaining that which is maybe 'only' 66% Leftist - but the intended end-result is the same. 

Further extra note: There are some real Christians who have used the "Leftism is a religion trope". These are not necessarily Leftists, but they are mistaken. This is a tactical example of the Boromoir Strategy of Hey lads, let's use the One Ring to fight Sauron! - i.e. they are rhetorically appealing to the anti-Christian/ anti-Religious sentiments of their audience in order to discredit Leftism. Or maybe they are trying to make the more subtle argument of "Leftism is Bad religion". This contrasts real with fake religions: that Leftism is the kind of inadequate fake religion that is sucked-into the psychological-spiritual vacuum created by rejecting real religion. However; subtlety and nuance in rhetoric play into the Enemy's hands. Whatever is intended by this argument, the consequence is almost sure to damage the cause of Christianity - because the argument implicitly accepts Leftist premises: surely the worst possible strategy? So, even when motivations are genuinely good, Woke=Religion-speak is still a mistake.      


Truth to Life said...

From my understanding, calling wokeness a religion is a criticism of people's blind faith in it, though I agree that the analogy isn't very good.

At the same time, I do think wokeness gives unspiritual people a false sense of morality and being part of something "greater than themselves." All of my atheist relatives adore Dr. Fauxi as if he's a saint. If people don't worship God, they'll worship someone or something else....Wokeness can only arise in a society that lacks religion.

Bruce Charlton said...

TtL: "Wokeness can only arise in a society that lacks religion" - yes, they are spiritual opposites: Antichrist versus Christ.

Actually, people don't have much 'faith' in Wokeness - firstly, because Leftism is oppositional, therefore there is no 'it' to have faith in; secondly, because faith lends courage, and there has never been less courage (more cowardice) in the world than now.

william arthurs said...

I always charitably assume unless otherwise clarified, that what is meant by 'religion' here is a 'public doctrine' or state religion on which the coherence of society is supposed to rest. It is like the classical pantheon to which apotheosis has added the Emperor whom we are forced on pain of death to burn just one tiny pinch of incense to, even if, or should I say especially if, we harbour misgivings or objections. Every one of the litmus tests is related to false propositions that one is obliged to publically pay lip service to, or end up as a scapegoat.

Lucinda said...

I've noticed my children seem to go through a developmental stage where the most they can express about why they believe in God is to avoid hell by doing what's right. This used to frustrate me because I try to teach them not to be fearful, to focus on love. But I've come to appreciate it as an honest starting point for further understanding.

So I think part of the problem that dogs understanding of religion is that a person must choose the believing path before he has understanding. One must confront the fear of the unknown as a first and immature step. Consequently, this confrontation with fear becomes a sort of defining feature, even for those who have entered the path.

As understanding improves, the fear goes away. It's not saying to yourself, "I'm not afraid! I'm not afraid!", but more like, "Oh, now I see!"

Still, many have accepted this common reference point, that religion is a matter of avoiding a feared hell. Anyone who is going to embrace Christianity is going to have to find a way not to be triggered by the fact that the entrance is fearful. Eventually that fear is cleared away, but it must be gone through rather than short-circuited.

The problem with the anti-religion anti-woke is that they have chosen to believe that evidence precedes belief, they ignore that this IS a chosen belief, they have short-circuited. And that is the basic problem with the woke as well. Neither will admit to being fearful and wanting to avoid hell as they understand it. They are developmentally stunted. If only they could admit they are afraid of hell as they understand it, they could really start to get past the fear that so obviously dominates them.

But then they would have to acknowledge they are no better than those they are used to feeling superior to, and that is a serious deterrent.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - "a developmental stage where the most they can express about why they believe in God is to avoid hell by doing what's right"

About what age is that?

I can remember being about 5 or 6 and being very afraid of death (for myself and others) - and in retrospect I think this was because I did not understand death until that point. I think I was also afraid of being put in prison at that time. I don't think this was something that dominated my life, but more a thing that came to mind when I was on my own - especially in the evenings or at night.

This led, in my case, to a period of spontaneous, paganistic and propitiatory religiosity; based around repeated prayers that were more-or-less begging 'god/s' that bad things would Not happen; the prayers were a kind of 'payment' for this favour.

I was brought-up as a sort-of Church of England Christian - at least at school; but in this phase I worshiped a god that was more like Thor, I think.

Does that seem similar in form to what you have observed?

Lucinda said...

Three of my son's went through a definite nightmare phase around that age. I would hear them very upset in the night, but when I tried to speak to them to calm them, they were clearly still asleep. Whatever the dreams were they were very frightening and they were calling out to family members to warn them of the danger. When asked about it the next day, they had no recollection.

In my previous comment I was referring to something that happens a bit later, maybe 9 or 10 when I ask them to participate in the family religious discussion. (Before that age they don't seem to be able to articulate much in the way of belief.) They'll make comments that are very simplistic but sincere about avoiding bad outcomes. Eventually when they get closer to 11 and 12, their beliefs, while still immature, are much more filled out with details about positive desires.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - Thanks. I don't think I can recall anything similar in my own life - but I had become aggressively atheist by that age! This lead to cumulative problems, but later.