An interesting discussion with reader WOPR about whether or not Leftism is a religion. I argued that it is, because, under the worst-of-all-worlds conditions of my thought experiment, it fulfilled religion’s one and only function of social control. WOPR disagreed:
I agree it is religious in many aspects. However, I think why you see it always devolve into purity spirals with orgies of violence is there is no future for the adherents. Sure, they’re on the Right Side of History. But the disillusionment that always occurs with it is due to there being no final arbiter(s). That guy using the system to enrich himself is going to die just like you, rot in the grave just like you, except for now he’s going to be far better off in the here and now. If you’re a Hindu, you at least know the guy is coming back far down the chain of life. A Christian and you know punishment is possible. Any other religion has judgments against those who abused their time on this earth.
So in answering your question, no Cultural Marxism can’t fulfill the role of an actual religion for more than a generation. Even the generation espousing it quickly tires of the false religion.
I’ve said a lot of that myself, especially the part about Leftism being fairly obvious nihilism. But it seems to take considerably longer than a single generation for this pseudo-religion to die. See, for example, the USSR — Stalin and Lenin certainly never tired of the false religion, and while we might attribute that to their being the head honchos, it’s clear that the next generation of New Soviet Men were even more fanatical than the Revolutionary generation. Even Khrushchev, he of the famous “Secret Speech,” was a doctrinaire Communist until his death — he thought Stalin’s cult of personality was a perversion of Communism, not the inevitable result.
Personal experience, too, argues against this. Anecdotes aren’t data, of course, but I spent the better part of two decades in academia — I’ve got lots of anecdotes. Professional historians, of all people, should recognize that Marxism is comically false… and yet, every professional historian I’ve ever met has been a Marxist of some flavor. If you haven’t been on campus for a while, take a little sightseeing tour. Leftism gives these people’s lives meaning. They’re the kind of faithful congregation most ministers can only dream of.
This seems to apply outside the ivory tower, too. Morgan is always writing about dear Aunt Petunia, the sweet old lady who only wants everyone to get along at Thanksgiving dinner… then goes out and votes for the most vicious, divisive, class warfare-preaching candidate around, because wouldn’t it be just so nice if America finally had a Black/Woman/whatever President? See also: at least half the country, who really did seem to believe, with all their hearts and souls, that voting for the Magic Negro in 2008 would absolve America of racism. Or go down to the feed store anywhere in Rural America — you’ll find scads of old men who vote Democrat because Pappy voted Democrat, and Great-Grandpappy voted Democrat, all because that nice Mr. Roosevelt saved the farm from the Revenuers.
It doesn’t have to go the whole James Frazer route to be a religion, in other words. All you need is a set of unquestioned — and unquestionable! — assumptions about the nature of the world, combined with a few ritual gestures that give you some goodfeelz and a method of penance (in case you carry on like pretty much every king who got named “most Christian,” defensor fidei, etc. Henry VIII got ’em both before breaking away from Rome; good thing he could absolve himself of all the murder, torture, theft, adultery, etc.). Leftism fits the bill, and it has for at least a century and a half.
That being the case, we should study the Leftist religion to figure out how to impose a new public morality. Two Minutes’ Hates work great in college towns, but alas, we can’t all drop everything to go march around in our pussy hats at a moment’s notice. We need to find some other way to puff ourselves up with self-righteousness, which is the true force against which mountains cannot stand. The Left has had good results with dietary restrictions; I’d start there. How about sugar? Plus you lose weight, which reinforces the purity spiral (purity spirals being a feature, not a bug, of man-made religions)….Loading Likes...