Saturday 27 January 2024

What size is the picture frame? Small to large: Mainstream Left, Secular Right, Ideological Left, Christianity

Expediency - Mainstream Left

The smallest picture frame is that of everyday expediency - in other words "what course of action is most is beneficial to me immediately and in the short-term?  

And this level is dominated (across the entirety of The West, and much of the rest of the world) by Mainstream Leftism. 

In other words, and overwhelmingly; the best path to achieve jobs, promotions, fame, money, status, power - in any and all social systems and organizations - is to embrace the Mainstream Leftist options - such as feminism, socialism, antiracism, climate stuff, birdemic-healthism, pseudo-environmentalism etc. 

Functionality - Secular Right

The next-largest picture frame is functionality - which is directed at the medium- to long-term; and that is dominated by the Secular Right. 

In essence, this frame broadly accepts The System as it is, and strives to improve efficiency and effectiveness within that system. 

If the economy is the subject; then the Secular Right focuses in profitability, productivity, easier trade, infrastructure etc. If the police are the institution, then the focus would be reducing crime, improving methods and personnel, clarifying and enforcing law.  


This-worldly Utopian - Ideological Left

The largest frame recognized by the God-excluding, Spirit-excluding and fundamentally atheistic System; is that of utopianism - which is the realm of the Ideological Left.

This embraces the intellectual realms of the United Nations, the WEF, highbrow journalism, academia, charities and other NGOs, think tanks, artists and authors, popular scientists, and the like. In other words, (nearly-) All the recognized and respected idealists, dreamers and Big Picture people. 

This is the realm of high-level Leftist ideology; about attitudes and aims concerning the planet, climate, life in the universe and on earth, all the people in the world; and fundamental assumptions about justice, sexual identity, sexuality, relationships... Offering answers to questions like who are the good people, and what is the good life? 

The Utopian level is unconcerned by the smaller-frame practicalities of expediency and efficiency alike - the Ideological Left is characterized by abstraction; by secular ultimates like social justice, equality, equity, inclusion, diversity, respect; and the long-view futures of everybody, everywhere.

The Religious Frame: Christianity 

The largest frame is that of true religion - Christianity; which is primarily concerned with ultimate and eternal matters such as God, creation, transcendental values, the meaning and purpose of each mortal human life, what lies on the far side of mortal death - and so on.  


The above scheme demonstrates how and why Leftism has triumphed; because the Left occupies both the most immediately-motivating short term; and the (apparent) highest ground of long-term utopian idealism - which is the largest frame that is recognized as valid and true by the entirety of global and Western national societal institutions and public discourse. 

In a world where both immediate expediency and the soaring realms of ideology are Leftist and where the inbuilt assumptions exclude God, creation and the spirit; the Secular Right, with its focus on mundane matters of efficiency and effectiveness, is regarded as (at best) a merely dull necessity, to be accorded the bare minimum of (contextualized) attention and seriousness. 

That is at best: more often, whenever the Secular Right perspective threatens to dominate; the worldly-Utopian frame is brought forward to demonstrate that the Secular Right's narrow focus on mundane matters represents an existential danger to all that is "highest and best" - and to the longest term future well-being of... everybody.  

To be of the Secular Right is therefore both to cripple one's own career and social status, and also to define oneself as sullenly (or sadistically) indifferent to the long-term, the highest-and-best, and the Big Picture.  

The only potential "answer" to the lock that the atheistic Left has established upon public life in The West - is to expand the picture fame to include the true and religious, which means Christian. 

This is the only way to take the high ground of ultimate values; and to contextualize the Left within a larger and eternal frame: that of creation including salvation.  

To do so would entail a metaphysical revolution - because metaphysics is the name for our most fundamental assumptions concerning the scope and nature of reality. 

Unless we expand our concept of reality to include God, creation, The Spirit etc. - then we will continue to lose and lose to The Left; until collapse and annihilation supervenes. 

However, I am not optimistic; I do not expect that the needful metaphysical revolution will actually happen. 

Nonetheless it is the one and only event that could save us - because within the secular world as-is, and so long as the Biggest Picture is denied, the Left has painted us into a corner within which we are trapped by expediency on the one hand, and idealism on the other.  


No Longer Reading said...

Good post. I hadn't looked at it in exactly that way before, with the different term levels, but that is helpful.

Bruce Charlton said...

@NLR - Thanks. One objective of this post is to try and explain to any Secular Right readers (and I was one such person, for many years) why it is that they make attain so very little traction - both professionally, as well as personally. And why this will remain the case unless or until a religious perspective is restored to primacy at the top level.

In retrospect, it seems evident that the effectiveness and efficiency of Western Societies up until the middle 20th century, was only possible because of the primacy of Christianity at the highest level of ideals and motivations.

When Christianity declined, and atheist assumptions became pervasive universally, then social functionality began its decades long incremental collapse - until Now The West is Not Even Trying to be effective and efficient in its societal functions.

whitney said...

This is a problem for me personally because I do know a lot of upper middle class people with children and some of them are nominally Christian at least and definitely on the right but they want their children to succeed, so they're buying into everything. They want to get their children good sinecures in the system. Their talk is only that. They're not our allies. And as much as I like them I can't forget it

Francis Berger said...

I agree with NLR. This is a helpful way of looking at things. Metaphysical revolution is also more precise than "spiritual awakening", which is far too nebulous and far too open to misinterpretation/misuse.

The much-needed metaphysical revolution faces many obstacles -- foremost among these is the obvious and unfortunate convergance of the Religious Frame, as represented by "official" Christian churches/institutions, into the This-Worldly Utopian Frame. Put another way, those representing the Religious Frame have narrowed Christianity down to the Utopian Frame.

Separating the Religious Frame from this convergence is proving to be a quagmire for many Christians, particularly when short-term expediency considerations are added to the mix.

Bruce Charlton said...

@whitney - Well, the System is everywhere, so there is no alternative (only a lesser of evils); but the fatal problem with such people is they do not realize or acknowledge the breadth and depth of the problem - i.e. they do not discern the extremity of evil (of, indeed, value-inversion) in which they actively participate, and which they actively aid and promote. Consequently they do not repent their gross sins (not even in private conversation).

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank - "Separating the Religious Frame from this convergence is proving to be a quagmire for many Christians"

Indeed - and yet what is required is actually "easy" in a worldly sense: i.e. repentance. But that is too much - they Must regard themselves as on the good side, therefore they don't need to repent...

And the Secular Right have a quagmire too, they are so wedded to their own superiority, and to their psychological addiction to optimism (so they can feel themselves on the side of history) that a realistic understanding of the situation in the West is psychologically intolerable (they cannot cope with the unavoidable consequences of the collapse of The West, including their own actual participation in and support of the forces of destruction) - and they Must pretend that their tin-pot acts of boycotting this, or supporting that, or "organizing" the other... will really Make A Difference.

Epimetheus said...

Your scheme explains why leftist Christianity silently drops all talk about the afterlife, and why that new Godless and heaven-less "Christianity" is thereby deprived of all power to fight leftism itself. If true, that would mean you could re-convert a leftist church by refocusing it on the promise of eternal life.

Perhaps the smooth unnoticed subtlety with which leftist Christianity nudges people away from thinking about eternal life gives evidence of a demonic influence. Who else could be so serpentine?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Epi - " that would mean you could re-convert a leftist church by refocusing it on the promise of eternal life."

Anybody can repent and accept salvation at any time - so yes.

But repentance seems to be much "harder" for institutions than for individuals - at any rate, it seldom seems to happen.

Daniel F said...

And of course, most of what passes for Christianity on both the Left and Right still falls squarely into the first three categories.

Mainline "Niceness" Christianity is essentially the Leftist / Globalist ideological goals with some vague and nebulous embellishments of Christian and spiritual vocabulary adorning it.

And "based", conservative Christianity is often simply a combination of the second and third frames, where the Utopia to be attained is simply a more functional and orderly kingdom of this world. We'll get rid of rainbow marriage, girls will marry and have kids, and the men will guard and protect. But there is no deeper spiritual oriented aspect to it beyond the This Worldly attainment of proper, traditional human relations and society. And not-so-coincidentally, many "based right-wing Christians" have a very strong focus on chiliasm: the future 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth, because at heart their assumptions and practices can take them no further than a worldly utopia.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Daniel - ""based", conservative Christianity is often simply a combination of the second and third frames, "

Yes, that's a reasonable characterization - I hadn't thought of that.