Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Is Leftism the world's most dynamic religion? I think Dennis Prager may be on to something

Dennis Prager
The most annoying thing about being right-wing is that despite our side having been demonstrably correct about most things for decades - education, immigration, the economy, crime and punishment, Europe etc. - the Left still controls everything (apart from our thoughts, and they’re working on that). Worse, when these serial bunglers put forward their latest bonkers proposal, they behave as if everything they’ve previously advocated hasn’t resulted in disaster when implemented. What is it that allows them to maintain their self-belief in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

Well, I think I may finally have stumbled upon an explanation: Leftism is a religion, and, according to Dennis Prager in an excellent article in National Review (you can read the whole, wonderful thing here), it’s been the world’s most dynamic religion for the past century. In fact, it’s so dynamic, it has even taken over the West’s dominant religions:
If you want to understand why so many Jews vote left while nearly all the Western world's opposition to -- and frequently hatred of -- Israel emanates from the left, one explanation is this: For most American Jews, their religion is leftism, while Judaism is their ethnicity and culture. The Reform, and increasingly the Conservative, movements have, to a large extent, become political movements that use Hebrew and Jewish rituals to equate Judaism with progressive politics. 
Within mainstream Protestantism and Catholicism, the same dominance of leftist values exists.
Which of course explains the undiluted socialist drivel regularly spewed out by  Rowan Williams. If the Archbishop of Canterbury was an exception, I could understand it, but from my experience of the Anglican Church, it is absolutely stuffed with left-wingers: as Prager says, it’s as if socialism rather than a belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ has become the central tenet of Anglicanism.

Let’s stress-test Prager’s theory, by looking at some of the characteristics of major religions during their growth phase (leaving out God) and seeing whether Leftism shares them.

No evidence required for the truth of one’s beliefs – it’s a matter of faith.
  • Equality of outcome is the summum bonum
  • Mankind is perfectible
  • The bigger the state, the better for mankind
  • Profit = exploitation
  • The world consists of two groups – victims and their supporters, and exploiters and their supporters
No evidence is ever adduced to support any of these assumptions. A bunch of Frenchmen dreamt them up some 220 years ago, and most leftists don’t feel any need to question their intrinsic rightness – because they make the believer feel good, they are psychologically true, and that’s all that matters. In politics, of course, outcomes matter – they are ultimately what justify political beliefs. But for leftists, what matters is holding the correct beliefs. 

Strong sense of belonging to a community comprised of fellow-believers.

A leftist belong to an enormous faith community – including those who work for BBC,  Guardian readers , most of the public sector, the Labour Party, the Libdems and the charity industry.

Membership rights depend on adhering rigidly to a set of tenets.

If anyone doubts this, they just need to look at the New Statesman’s impeccably left-wing Mehdi Hassan, who recently wrote an article in which he admitted to being pro-life, and thereby unleashed hell on himself – as far as his fellow lefties were concerned, he was guilty of heresy. Just listen to Guardian harpy Suzanne Moore’s bizarre performance on the Today programme yesterday (available here).

Beliefs don't have to result in specific practical outcomes 

The attempt to reshape society to fit left-wing beliefs has resulted in rising crime, wholesale bastardy, mass single-parenthood, mass unemployment, plunging education standards, hospital patients starving to death, rule by unelected foreign bureaucrats, a nightly diet of sex, profanity and cruelty on our TV screens, the destruction of our national culture resulting in a more fractured society, and a massive national debt. None of this even begins to shake the faith of left-wingers in their own rightness: in fact, it somehow proves they were right all along. As with climate change, there is no evidence which would ever be accepted as disproving their basic theories.

Requires the existence of a special caste to organise and oversee worship, to ensure the central tenets don’t become perverted, and to discourage and punish apostasy.

Leftism requires an enormous caste to spread the Good News, to minister to (i.e. control) the lives of the millions who belong to their various pet victim groups, and the make sure that the central tenets of their faith are faithfully observed.

Unbelievers are tolerated to the extent that they are economically useful, but are essentially considered immoral, unclean and damned

Private sector wealth creators are tolerated as long as they keep pouring money into the “church” coffers in the form of tax to pay for the priest caste and their nominated victim groups. The wealthy and privileged can save themselves from damnation by converting to Leftism.

Religions invariably split into sects who hate each other even more than they hate unbelievers.

The Left is comprised of endless splinter groups – schism is rife. These groups hate each other even more than they hate Tories and bankers.

Successful religions offer psychological rewards

This is where leftism really scores. The rewards on offer include a sense of fulfilment, of purpose, of being enlightened, of being on the right path, of being on the side of history. That’s mainly because the default solipsistic response to political issues is to support whichever policy reinforces the left-winger’s sense of moral superiority rather than a policy which might actually work. Abortion? More! Foreign aid? Love it! Taxes? Raise them! Immigrants? Yummy! America? Evil! Profits? Boo! Depending on the quality of their leadership and the personality and intelligence of the believer, this can either produce decent, productive, kind people, or priggish, intolerant law-followers, or deranged, murderous fanatics.

During particular phases, a religion will spread with astonishing rapidity, engulfing whole countries and races in an historical eye-blink.

Modern leftism was basically invented in 1789 and has spread across the globe at an astonishing rate since then. The First World War gave it huge impetus in the 20th Century, what with the seemingly irreversible rise of Big Government Progressivism in the US, Bolshevism in Russia, Fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany, Communism in China and the European Union in, well, Europe. Let’s face it, Conservatism, Right-Wingism and old-style Liberalism have been on the back foot for most of the past century, despite delivering almost inconceivable benefits to the world whenever given a chance.

Leftism meets all these (admittedly highly selective) criteria, ergo Leftism is a religious rather than a political faith – and Dennis Prager’s analysis is spot on. We practical right-wing types just have to figure out if this insight offers us a way of halting Leftism in its tracks, thereby preventing this mad, poisonous religion from dragging us all into penury and misery.


  1. Shock – David Moss accused of being wrong
    This has never happened before.

    Commenting on The dangerous myths about American history that Obama believes Mr Moss associated himself with the theory that public spending increases are the result of universal suffrage.

    "Bollocks", says Brian Carswell in his latest book The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy.

    No he doesn't actually, he's politer than that, that's a paraphrase.

    "Either you believe in democracy, Bozo, or you don't, make your bloody mind up, but if that is your faith, then you can't piss about with Article #1, universal suffrage, either you trust the people or there's no point, you might as well be a socialist who finds the people so imperfect that he starts by wanting to change them all".

    "Mr Moss is talking out of his bottom", Mr Carswell also doesn't say. In fact he doesn't mention me.

    But he might as well.

    The universal-suffrage-causes-big-government idea is disproved by history. Mr Carswell points out that as the vote was extended to more and more people all across the West throughout the 18th and 19th centuries public spending remained tightly constrained.

    What do you think the US Constitution is all about if not checks and balances on the Executive? Hoops of steel, mate.

    If you want examples of public spending increasing, you have to look at non-democratic countries and Mr Carswell picks out particularly Bismarck's Germany, the first country to introduce a welfare state.

    So what changed? How did we get from there to here? What miracle underpins the revelation of the new faith?

    "Progressive" taxation is one and the rules for public debt is the other miracle.

    Public spending used to be constrained because everyone had to pay their share. Rich people paid more than poor people but everyone had to pay something. That limited their desire to increase public spending.

    This constraint disappeared in the 20th century with the invention of "progressive" taxation. Now people could vote for increases without having to pay for them themselves.

    Public borrowing used to be constrained by the rule that if it went up, tax had to go up to repay it. Once that rule was abandoned, there was no limit on public borrowing. As we know.

    I'm still only on p.44 but it's looking good.

    Can't wait to see what he means by iDemocracy, but I'm sceptical.

    1. Summed up perfectly by Alexis de Tocqueville 170 years ago:

      "A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it."

      Genius, that man.

      And I think that's Douglas Carswell, rather than Brian - he talks a lot of sense (I link to his blog in my Blogfeeds section). He was worryingly close to Cameron at one stage, but now mainly seems to row with him: a good sign.