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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

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Mitchell says that twenty-first century progressives believe in a kind of hierarchy of human sin and transgression based upon a series of group dichotomies: male versus female, white versus non-white, straight versus gay, Western versus non-Western, and so on. In each pairing, the latter group is the historical victim, and the former group the victimizer.

So basically, we're back to Derrida, who politicized de Saussure's pairs of opposites to come up with this oppression dynamic. I've long argued that much of today's malaise comes down to postmodernism. As a grad student, I was hypnotized by it, and it took a few years to snap out of my haze.

I do think, though, that calling this a fundamentally theological problem requiring a theological solution is going to be a hard sell in today's world.

My own thoughts on wokeism from 2021 are here:
https://bighominid.blogspot.com/2021/02/american-wokeism-cylons-always-return.html

Most respectfully, Bill, I disagree that Dueck’s article and, from what I can gather second hand, the analysis contained in the book of which it speaks is of “high quality.” Certainly, there is nothing original in the observation that “the destructive ersatz religion of left-wing identity politics rests on a mistaken premise of all-encompassing group innocence versus group guilt”; rather, it appears repeatedly in conservative critiques of this noxious ideology. Nor is there originality the argument that “identity politics” with its socially circumscribed notions of group innocence and guilt, “removes the traditional religious scapegoat [the Christian understanding of the universality of sin, the product of the Fall, with redemption possible only by the coming and sacrifice of the God-Man] and finds a new one.”

More fundamentally, the call for a “theological solution” to the massive social and political crisis now engulfing the West is nothing more than public wish fulfillment. A “solution” such as this floats in the air, for it ignores the possibility that the preconditions for the traditional religious revival on which it depends are simply not present in the advanced global capitalist societies of the West. The men and women who adhere to left-wing identity politics are simultaneously the products and the propagators of the profound social and cultural disintegration that now besets us. As I noted guest post in October 2020:

contemporary capitalism, [is by] … its very nature is deleterious to
the survival of traditional forms of the family, community, and polity in America. One has merely, for example, to reflect on the acceleration of social time (technological and social, including rapid social change and the dizzying pace of life), the contraction and distortion of social space (the former expressed in the gutting of small and medium commerce and the export of entire industrial sectors, with the accompanying hollowing out of established modes of life and the latter expressed in the hyper development in privileged geographical enclaves and underdevelopment elsewhere), and the hyper-commodification of sexuality (disastrous for traditional familial and conjugal relations and Judeo-Christian moral precepts) that are generated by the process of capitalist accumulation today.
In other words, one cannot shy away from a critical examination of what American capital, global in its reach and interests, has done and is doing to our national civic [cultural] and political institutions (https://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2020/10/vito-caiati-on-david-brooks.html)

In the two years since I wrote these words, the moral and cultural decline have accelerated markedly, so much so that the most fundamental truths of nature and reason are now widely called into question.

The restoration of Christian soteriology on this degraded social and cultural ground is at best highly unlikely, for the material and mental preconditions that made such a mode of thought possible have been swept away. I am not saying that some could not be converted, for the misery that now encompasses so many lives is very great and Christ is always present as Savior, but those who have been made culturally illiterate and morally blind will find it much harder to find Him or, indeed, to understand anything of the old Judeo-Christian paradigm of sin and salvation through metanoia. So unless we address the material degradation that besets the nation, which will require an entirely new politics, one that relentlessly targets in chorus global woke capital, with its vast net of influence, and the Left that serves its interests and that has infiltrated all the foundational institutions of society, seeking to divide and confuse the popular classes by propagating a new form of racism and bizarre notions of sexuality, the chances that there is a theological “solution” to our present dilemma are slim indeed.

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.”

Thanks for the comments, Vito. They are penetrating, as usual. I concede to you that the article, and perhaps also the book on which it reports, are not original, but I did think that the trouble we are in was clearly and concisely presented.

I also tend to share your pessimism, and that it is probably the case that the cure comes too late.

>>So unless we address the material [MORAL?] degradation that besets the nation, which will require an entirely new politics, one that relentlessly targets in chorus global woke capital, with its vast net of influence, and the Left that serves its interests and that has infiltrated all the foundational institutions of society, seeking to divide and confuse the popular classes by propagating a new form of racism and bizarre notions of sexuality, the chances that there is a theological “solution” to our present dilemma are slim indeed.<<

Yes, the problem is global woke capitalism, which is a new and ill-understood phenomenon, unlike old-style capitalism. But what are the prospects of >>an entirely new politics<>slim<< as those of a theological 'solution'?

The prospects of "an entirely new politics" are indeed as "slim" as those of a theological "solution"; however, it still makes sense to bring up the former, if only to disabuse ourselves of the notion that an ideational remedy, divorced from a material one, will serve as a cure. My principle concern is to insist that the crisis is all-encompassing, one that envelops the economic, social, political, and cultural realms, and that unless we develop a comprehensive analysis and critique of the contemporary social formations of the West, each with its own particularizes, that have arisen in this stage of global capital, there is no way forward. However, I agree, I see very little sign that the political forces for such a project will appear. We have hints of such forces here and there, but as of yet nothing that forms the basis for a serious opposition. The great problem for the Right, is that it must find a way to critique contemporary capitalist society and the Left at the same time, finding a way to constrain the worst harms of the former, without embracing the noxious collectivist illusions of the later. I fear, that this task is truly daunting.

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