507. Oppression (XI)
In my last post, I noted that the left is effectively more religious than the right—and consequently more meaningful to be involved in. Anyone who has been involved with the left will know that it works on a quasi-religious basis, with activists who refer to “burn out” because they have devoted so much time to the cause. Similarly, the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would rotate around endless committees and groups: the Somali Mothers’ Committee; Gays and Lesbians Against the Bomb; Cuba Solidarity; Council House Residents—the list goes on and on.
For men like Corbyn, a Marxist ideologue, the cause comes first, even at considerable expense to their own health and welfare—every spare moment and spare bit of money goes to the cause; and this is typical for those most involved with the left. The right often characterises the left as “lazy”, but this is rarely the case: the left is filled with fanatical idealists who sacrifice their own health and welfare to a cause. By contrast, the rightist is usually a pragmatist who wants to “get on”, improve his position, and be left alone—and this is one reason why the left tends to beat the right, it cares more.
It sounds paradoxical to say the left is more religious than the right, for surely the right defends religion? In theory this is true, but in actuality most people live in modernity and so few on the right think religion is literally true. In fact, the Western right is overwhelmingly composed of right-wing liberals—people who accept that religion should be privatised, a decision that amounts erecting liberalism as the de facto state religion. So at most the right defends “the Judeo-Christian legacy” or it tries to make pragmatic defences for traditional religions. Generally, it adopts the Apollonian scientific stance and tries to pierce leftist religious claims with “facts and logic”. Few, if any, conservatives would stand up and say, “This system is unChristian and Satanic; it must be destroyed.” Liberals do not believe that; they believe religion is a private matter—there is no Western bin Laden.
The left, for its part, is sociologically organised around those people who would traditionally be priests: university lecturers, journalists, artists, and intellectuals. In other words, it is organised around those people who think there must be more to life than making money, attaining a social position, and dying. Various secular answers to this question have been given over the last few centuries, from socialism to nationalism to social justice.
Left-wing ideas are primarily influenced, even now, by Hegel—Hegel who inspired Marx. Hegel understood the religious impulse and saw that it would develop into a new form as 18th-century scepticism criticised religion’s supernatural claims. Fundamentally, religion says that at the “end times” all men will form an unmediated union—essence will speak to essence unimpeded by race, class, sex, and so on. This final union, expressed in various ways, remains the left’s goal—although concretely it is usually found in a final union in death, the only true equality.
Nevertheless, the result is that the left is more religious than the right: the right has consistently privatised religion, whereas the left operates the religious impulse at a new secularised level. The right can poke holes in the left’s unscientific ideas, but it cannot match the left’s holistic worldview. Being themselves liberals, rightists are condemned to be heretics: people who feel the faith has gone “too far” in some respects, although it is fundamentally unquestionable because to displace it would return us to the “Dark Ages” when religion, not secular religion, ruled. Hence the right is doomed to lose, for it cannot offer a holistic view to counter the leftist religious impulse—an impulse inherent to man. It remains involved in practical affairs and provides a worthy foil for the left, being “greedy” or suspect of plotting to return “Dark Age religion” to overthrow the liberal system—although it has no intention to do so.