Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Hierarchy of Sanctimony: “I Am the Messiah I Have Been Waiting For”

While reading Peter A. Taylor’s analysis of Moldbug’s commentaries, I got sidelined by a link to the following observation:
“We are inheritors of a long, increasingly-complicated blame game, which cannot have any simple origin. My (provisional and low-value) intuition is that Christianity-Calvinism-Purtianism-Progressivism (-Neoreaction?) represents a process of consistently exacerbated sanctimony — which should not be hastily dissolved into its human-biological substrate. To use a word I tend to rely upon excessively, this is a process of successive hystericizations, so that a judgmentalism already universally demonstrated in our species (as ‘altrustic punishment’, for e.g.) is carried to ever more unrestrained forms of expression — one might say it is progressively ‘liberated’.

So I do think that Christianity is the world’s most sanctimonious religion, Protestantism is the most sanctimonious species of Christianity, Puritans are abnormally sanctimonious Protestants, and Progressives are — even by the standards to be expected of Neo-Puritans — best characterized as an adventure into the psychotic outer-reaches of uninhibited sanctimony.

I disagree only slightly with this hierarchy of sanctimony. Islam, when practiced in the Qur’anic observation mode, is hands-down the most sanctimonious, and it is on a par with Progressivism. Nonetheless, Progressivism is a religion of messiahs, the Victimhood Class, and the Oppressor Class, with the sanctimony of the messiahs unmatched in its blind intensity by any Christian segment. Here's my analysis for comparison:
Christians have a messiah; they are sinners, not messiahs.

Muslims wait for a messiah; they act as proxy messiahs, to protect the putative honor of their deity.

Progressives claim they are messiahs; they will produce heaven on Earth, when the Oppressor Class is eradicated.

Progressives are natural Atheists, claiming secular godhood for themselves as the messianic class. These Atheists have the following principles, stated or unstated:
I am the messiah I have been waiting for.

I am the determiner of morality; thus I dictate morality, and I punish the immoral.

I have inherited the Will To Power; I will over power the heretics.

As messiah I have the endowed power, both moral and physical, to dictate the lives and thoughts of the herd.

Salvation is accomplished through submission to the messiah class.
Progressive Messiahism adopts the methods of Christianity without Christ or Christian principles. It applies the distillate of Marxist Three Class ideology as the model for progress toward an Earthly Utopia, unified in mindless obedience and submission.

Hence, for Atheist, Leftist, Progressive Messiahs, salvation is the exact equivalent of the lobotomy of the intellect for purposes of attaining maximal self-righteous sanctimony.
Mencius Moldbug connects modern Progressives to Christian Calvinism, without the deity part of course, but with the severity of Calvinism:
Neo-Calvinism, Crypto-Christianity, and Scientific Socialism

“The "ultracalvinist hypothesis" is the proposition that the present-day belief system commonly called "progressive," "multiculturalist," "universalist," "liberal," "politically correct," etc, is actually best considered as a sect of Christianity.

Specifically, ultracalvinism (which I have also described here and here) is the primary surviving descendant of the American mainline Protestant tradition, which has been the dominant belief system of the United States since its founding. It should be no surprise that it continues in this role, or that since the US's victory in the last planetary war it has spread worldwide.

Ultracalvinism is an ecumenical syncretism of the mainline, not traceable to any one sectarian label. But its historical roots are easy to track with the tag Unitarian. The meaning of this word has mutated considerably in the last 200 years, but at any point since the 1830s it is found attached to the most prestigious people and ideas in the US, and since 1945 in the world.

The trouble with "Unitarian" as a label is that (a) it exhibits this evolutionary blurring, and (b) it at least nominally refers to a specific metaphysical belief (anti-Trinitarianism). So I took the liberty of coining "ultracalvinist."

The "calvinist" half of this word refers to the historical chain of descent from John Calvin and his religious dictatorship in Geneva, passing through the English Puritans to the New England Unitarians, abolitionists and Transcendentalists, Progressives and Prohibitionists, super-protestants, hippies and secular theologians, and down to our own dear progressive multiculturalists.

The "ultra" half refers to my perception that, at least compared to other Christian sects, the beliefs of this faith are relatively aggressive and unusual.

In fact, they are so unusual that most people don't see ultracalvinism as Christian at all. For example, on the theological side, ultracalvinism is best known as Unitarian Universalism. (It's an interesting exercise to try to find any conflicts between UUism and "political correctness.") Ultracalvinists are perfectly free to be atheists, or believe in any God or gods - as long as they don't adhere to any revealed tradition, which would make them "fundamentalists." In general, ultracalvinists oppose revelation and consider their beliefs to be pure products of reason. And perhaps they are right in this - but I feel the claim should at least be investigated.

I am not a theist, so I don't care much for theology. Paranormal beliefs are not beliefs about the real world, and cannot directly motivate real-world action. As a result, they are usually of no adaptive significance, tend to mutate frequently, and are a dangerous basis for classification.

And when we look at the real-world beliefs of ultracalvinists, we see that ultracalvinism is anything but content-free. By my count, the ultracalvinist creed has four main points:

First, ultracalvinists believe in the universal brotherhood of man. As an Ideal (an undefined universal) this might be called Equality. ("All men and women are born equal.") If we wanted to attach an "ism" to this, we could call it fraternalism.

Second, ultracalvinists believe in the futility of violence. The corresponding ideal is of course Peace. ("Violence only causes more violence.") This is well-known as pacifism.

Third, ultracalvinists believe in the fair distribution of goods. The ideal is Social Justice, which is a fine name as long as we remember that it has nothing to do with justice in the dictionary sense of the word, that is, the accurate application of the law. ("From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.") To avoid hot-button words, we will ride on a name and call this belief Rawlsianism.

Fourth, ultracalvinists believe in the managed society. The ideal is Community, and a community by definition is led by benevolent experts, or public servants. ("Public servants should be professional and socially responsible.") After their counterparts east of the Himalaya, we can call this belief mandarism.

Now, where do these beliefs come from? What is their origin and etiology? Why do so many of us in 2007 believe in these particular concepts? Were they invented in 1967? Or 1907? Or 1607? Or what?”

There is little doubt that we are dealing with ultra-religious, moralizing, pseudo-intellectual, self-endowed messianic totalitarians, for whom eliminationism is a moral expectation as the drive to heaven on Earth/Utopia is mobilized under the guise of empathy, which is a barely recognizable fictional concept that is not expressed in any Progressive, intolerant, totalitarian.

The concept of the Progressive "Cathedral" is another summary:

The Cathedral in a nutshell
1. The Cathedral (aka the Clerisy, the Megaphone) is basically the Western world’s intellectual fashion industry. It consists of almost all of the respectable or even semi-respectable parts of the news media, the entertainment industry, and the softer social science and humanities parts of the education industry.

2.Basic economic theory predicts that these industries should be diverse in their approaches to politically sensitive topics. Unlike the field of particle physics, political fashions are not significantly limited by reproducible scientific experiments. The market should be fragmented, and the various firms should specialize in appealing to different segments of the market.

3.But this does not seem to be the case. Instead, the Cathedral seems much more homogeneous in its coverage of politically sensitive topics than it is in coverage of food, art, sports, religion, etc.

4. The mechanism for this homogenization is not obvious. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Cathedral has no pope (although I read recently that Warren Buffet owns 71 newspapers, and the New York Times is owned in part by Carlos Slim, whose vast fortune has a lot to do with his special relationship with the Mexican government). One factor is that the credibility of a set of information sources depends on their being able to agree on a story (coordination games, the peloton effect, the parliament of clocks). Another factor is self-dealing: people with high verbal skills tend to support a system of government that is controlled by people with high verbal skills, and once they control it, they tend to want it to be unlimited in scope. Another factor is self-selection: once an institution becomes dominated by members of a political movement, it tends to become unpleasant and career-limiting for anyone else to work there. Another factor is that the easiest way to write a newspaper story is to copy it from a politician’s press handout. To a considerable extent, these institutions are deliberately manipulated by politicians (broadcast licensing, educational and research funding, journalistic access, selective leaking of secrets, etc., aka Gleichschaltung; in many cases, journalists are literally married to political operatives or are involved in “revolving door” relationships with the political institutions they write about, such as Jeff Immelt of GE, MSNBC and the Obama administration). But the two biggest factors are probably that (1) intellectuals are seduced by political power (the Boromir effect), and (2) these institutions are quasi-religious, and have taken on the peculiar characteristics of the dominant quasi-religion of the day.

5. Three things make an intellectual movement quasi-religious: (1) the outputs that they produce are credence goods, (2) they provide a framework for competition for social status, and (3) this basis is insecure. The fact that credence goods are involved means that conflict about them will tend to be irrational. The fact that social status is involved, and that the basis for social status is insecure, means that this conflict will be relatively vicious, and will carry a strong odor of a witch hunt.

6. The Cathedral is powerful partly because its relative homogeneity allows it to serve as a gatekeeper of politically relevant mass-market information and interpretation. But its real power comes from control of what ideas are associated with high status. Everyone thinks, “I’m my own man. I think for myself.” But unconsciously, people tend to copy the opinions of people who are one step above them on the social ladder. This was explained in the Cerulean Top scene in The Devil Wears Prada.

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