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Christianity and Machiavellianism

The standard conservative defence for Christianity can be described in Machiavellian terms as:

[1] The Church is dogmatic, it asserts the same points over and over again down the centuries with no interest as regards contradictions, evidence, or any other objection whatsoever—the Church just says the same things over and over again, refuses to accept it was ever wrong, even if it was, and is, therefore, rock solid.

[2] Hence the Church rejected Galileo for centuries, but, on the other hand, the Church also rejected hundreds, if not thousands, of other scientific speculations and novel ideas that turned out to be wrong or socially destructive, or more socially destructive than the Church.

[3] Nobody remembers these ideas because like most fashions and fads they come and go very quickly, most novelty is wrong or damaging and so it’s a mistake to pay attention to fads and fancies—when the Church squashes “error” it’s mostly right, Galileo is just an exception that proves the rule (you forgot all the men who were wrong).

[4] Hence, for Machiavellian reasons, even if the Church is wrong, you should support it—because, in its inflexible dogma, the Church suppresses lots of errors; it might be wrong or irrational itself, but Western societies seem to reproduce under the Church; therefore, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”—it may be wrong, but it hasn’t killed anyone (killed anyone off), and, further, Western countries conquered the world under its auspices (which doesn’t make sense “my kingdom is not of this world”, but there you are).

This is why most conservatives support the Church, or what remains of the Church today. The Church is a very conservative force, since it never changes, and most changes, almost all changes, are errors; or, if you don’t think Christianity is true, further errors, or worse errors.

As the Church often presents itself, “In a changing world, the verities of the Church have remained the same centuries upon centuries—you can always count on the message of the Church, even if everything else changes.” There have been many fashions that have come and gone, but the Church has said the same things year in and year out for centuries.

Indeed, this was its appeal to men like Augustine from the first—Augustine was a very labile man, and in the Church he found an organisation that just repeated the same points over and over, and that was a relief for him.

The Church is also a useful rhetorical tool because you can squash your opponents with it, since it’s almost totally irrational and appeals to the highest authority and status (i.e. God) you can use it to batter your opponents with.

So that’s the Machiavellian case for Christianity—because if you just say the same things over and over again and refuse to listen to all criticism then you will become like a rock (of St. Peter). And if it’s totally irrational, then it’s pointless to offer rational criticism towards it—because the people whom you criticise will not exercise rational judgement upon the matter.

The best way to deal with a religion is not with rational criticism—since Christianity, Islam, and Marxism exclude such considerations—but rather with your own irrational emotive narrative put forward with adamantine regularity and without deviation.

It’s similar to Hitler—he also grasped this point, specifically from Catholicism, that if you never change and just say that same thing over and over again you can achieve tremendous power and longevity (this was also connected to his own personal nature, and the way his father was).

There’s also a parallel to most men, since the female complaint is “he never listens” (“listen to women!”) and yet success can be attributed, in part, to a remorseless repeated hammer strike on the same themes with almost no cognisance given to any objections.

The possible objections to this position:

[a] “And yet it moves!”—to adopt such a position may grant you power and longevity but it means that you abandon the truth; most novel ideas you reject will be errors, but not all; and, in the end, the excluded truths will work into your edifice and collapse it—and the collapse will be total, because you’ve just refused to let the truth intrude at all so it rotted you away without you noticing (what has happened to Christianity in the West today).

[b] It’s cynicism, it’s hypocrisy—you support it because it lasts, you don’t pay attention to what the founder of the religion says (don’t be hypocritical, in the case of Jesus); in the end, the pressure from hypocrisy builds up and there’s a split.

Machiavellianism and Machiavellian Christianity are predicated on the assumption “it doesn’t really matter, so long as it lasts (i.e. has survival value)”. Yet this position means not to take the religion seriously as it is (e.g. it is strongly implied in Christianity that it would be best to be a desert anchorite, that you should not be proud of your children—and yet Machiavellian conservatives treat the religion as a force for social stability and the propagation of the nation).

[c] Hitler says that you should just pick a worldview and hammer away at it without rest, only deepen the worldview—never broaden it or change it. If I said to him, “But Mr. Hitler, what if your worldview, adopted at a young age, contains certain flaws or mistaken premises that will be fatal to it in the end?” I suspect he would have replied, “Then that is tough luck. The world is a jungle of worldviews, if your worldview goes to the wall then it was the judgement of nature—you couldn’t know, but you chose the unfit worldview, and it was weeded out.”

This is the Darwinian view applied to ideas—life is “worldview warfare”, and you can never know if your worldview will survive, you just have to pick it and hammer at it (but what if Darwinism isn’t the complete truth? What if you don’t have to just play “survival of the fittest” with worldviews?).

The objections to “Machiavellian Christianity” could be summarised as: 1. It means you abandon any pretence to objective truth, yet Galileo was right; 2. You betray the religion qua religion, become a cynic and regard people who treat it as “really real” as dupes—but what if it is true in its own terms? If that’s so, then you’ve betrayed it; 3. An inflexible worldview might have enormous power, but it could as easily exclude information necessary to survival through blind belief.


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