The View From 1776
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Liberal-Progressivism’s Religious Foundation
Enraged reaction on the political left against the Supreme Court’s recent defense of First Amendment religious freedom reminds us that liberal-progressivism, Nazism, Fascism, and communism all are modern-day tyrannical variants of ancient gnosticism.
Gnosticism is a body of religious doctrine that denies the reality of actual experience and asserts that perfection of human nature and of political and social conditions can be obtained here on earth. Attaining perfection, of course, requires that a radical left-wing elite with claimed superior knowledge gain political power to regulate every daily aspect of society, from the food we eat, to the sources of energy that power our economy, to the thoughts we think and utter. This is the core of liberal-progressivism’s regulatory political state.
As George Orwell wrote in his novel 1984, distortion of language’s meaning has been an essential tool employed to the end of gnostic perfection of society. The recent Supreme Court decision upholding the state of Michigan’s referendum banning racial preferences produced an eruption of left-wing language distortion. Read The Language of Despotism, by Bruce Thornton.
As I wrote in The Liberal Jihad - The Hundred-Year War Against the Constitution,the term gnosticism derives from the Greek word meaning “to know.” Gnosticism refers, not to a doctrine of genuine knowledge, but to various schools of mysterious, conspiratorial ideologies known only to a select group. The gnostic aspect of liberal-progressive-socialism leads its believers to countenance tyranny, from abridgment of individual rights to mass murder. Theirs is an amorality that asserts that the end justifies the means. Stalin’s slaughter of tens of millions of people was justified by American liberal-progressives in the 1930s as necessary to bring social perfection to future generations.
Beginning in the 18th century, liberal-progressive gnostics theorized a secular evolution of political and social conditions ending in a new scientific, atheistic, and materialistic age of socialism. In this new scientific stage, the masses were to be instructed and managed from on high by intellectuals, because it required abandonment of Judeo-Christian morality and age-old constitutional, social, and legal traditions. Nancy Pelosi, for example, was flabbergasted that anyone should suggest that the Constitution might stand in the way of Obamacare, a quintessential gnostic program for forcible imposition of liberal-progressives’ vision of social perfection.
There is, however, a yawning gap between liberal-progressives’ untested theories of political and economic perfection via regulation and the results they impose upon the real world.
Standing in the way of liberal-progressive gnosticism is the individualism of Judeo-Christian morality and Constitutional protection of individuals’ rights against the tyranny of the majority. Karl Marx inveighed against spiritual idealism and proclaimed that human nature itself could be molded by the materialistic conditions of the workplace and by government regulation. It was, he proclaimed, within the power of a collectivized government controlled by the workers to perfect society. This conviction survives in today’s liberal-progressivism, exemplified by global-warming frenzy, speech codes, affirmative action, and statistical racial quotas being imposed by Eric Holder’s Justice Department.
Triggered by the Vietnam war, gnosticism burst forth with renewed virulence in the 1960s and 1970s. Baby boomers, the first generation tutored in the ideology of socialism in large numbers, took to the streets and college campuses aiming to “bring the Vietnam War home, kill their parents, and destroy Amerika.” Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1962 issued the Port Huron Statement, its version of the Communist Manifesto. Weatherman, the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and similar underground, gnostic organizations resorted to bank robberies, bombings, and murders of innocent bystanders. Liberal-progressive-socialists rationalized this destructive violence on a cold-blooded, theoretical plane. The perpetrators, they said, were merely responding to the criminal nature of a society organized along traditional capitalistic lines.
They still believe that any actions to combat the purported evils of spiritual religion, moral codes, or capitalist individualism would be justified by their vision of social justice.
Liberal-progressive icon Herbert Marcuse said, in a 1967 speech entitled Liberation from the Affluent Society, “Needless to say, the dissolution of the existing system is the precondition for such qualitative change… And we must see that we can generate the instinctual and intellectual revulsion against the values of an affluence which spreads aggressiveness and suppression throughout the world… I will only remind you of the various possibilities of demonstrations, of finding out flexible modes of demonstration which can cope with the use of institutionalized violence of boycott, many other things— anything goes which is such that it indeed has a reasonable chance of strengthening the forces of opposition. We can prepare for it as educators, as students.”
Marcuse’s acolytes and those of similar mind are today’s leading educators, too many politicians, labor leaders, and judges.
The best perspective on liberal-progressive gnosticism is in Eric Voegelin’s Science, Politics & Gnosticism. He wrote: “The more we come to know about the gnosis of antiquity, the more it becomes certain that modern movements of thought, such as progressivism, positivism, Hegelianism, and Marxism, are variants of gnosticism… The death of God is the cardinal issue of gnosis, both ancient and modern.”
“The world is no longer the well-ordered, the cosmos in which Hellenic man felt at home; nor is it the Judeo-Christian world that God created and found good. Gnostic man no longer wishes to perceive in admiration the intrinsic order of the cosmos. For him the world has become a prison from which he wants to escape… the aim always is destruction of the old world and passage to the new. The instrument of salvation is gnosis itself— knowledge…
“Self-salvation through knowledge has its own magic, and this magic is not harmless. The structure of the order of being will not change because one finds it defective and runs away from it. The attempt at world destruction will not destroy the world, but will only increase the disorder in society.”
This, of course, is what the United States and western European nations confront today: a world on the verge of bankruptcy, resulting from liberal-progressive-socialistic wishful thinking and pretension that the real world’s economic realities can be restructured by their minds. A fairy-land version of foreign policy in which Obama’s “hope and change” will lead Islamic jihadists to lay down their arms and embrace us, their sworn enemies, as soul brothers. In short, liberal-progressive gnosticism is, at an accelerating pace, destroying the economic, moral, and political foundations of the western world.