Friday, October 23, 2009
The Saints of Socialism & the Religion of Radicalism
The Saints of Socialism and the Religion of Radicalism
Written by Sultan Knish
Thursday, 22 October 2009 08:54
A magazine features a cover photo of Obama with a halo beaming behind his head in the likeness of the murals of medieval saints. Women faint on hearing his speeches. He delivers those speeches with lines and cadences borrowed from his mentor, a radical clergyman. "In a way Obama is standing above the country, above the world. He's sort of god. He's going to bring all different sides together," proclaimed Newsweek editor Evan Thomas.
The phenomenon of the quasi-religious worship of Obama is only shocking to those who fail to understand that socialism is itself a religion. Henri de Saint-Simon, the French 18th century thinker who coined the term socialism, described it as "The New Christianity". Like many early socialists he envisioned its ideas as a tool for returning to primitive Christianity. The famous 19th century historian Renan explicitly made the comparison, writing, "If you want to get an idea of what the first Christian communities where like, take a look at a local branch of the International Workingmen's Association." The Association is better known as the First International, one of whose members was Karl Marx.
The original name of the Communist party that Karl Marx would go on to head was The League of the Just, whose stated goal was, "the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth, based on the ideals of love of one's neighbour, equality and justice". The same essential principles sum up the ideals of the Religious Left today which define religion in terms of social justice. Of course the end result of this process wipes everything from the blackboard, including God and the Bible, which become nothing more than props for socialist preaching. And that is exactly what the religion of socialism looks like.
Communism was never atheistic, it simply rejected one god, in favor of human divinities worshiped for bringing social justice to mankind, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and the whole gang of crimson murderers and thieves. These men formed cults of personality around them because they embodied the theology of socialism as a vital active work on earth. To socialist Christians they embodied the message of Jesus. To socialist Jews, the message of the prophets-- stripped of anything but social justice.
But what sort of religion is socialism exactly? What drives and motivates it? Socialism views individualism as sinful and unity as the solution to human evils. The brotherhood of all men, a phrase that resounds from the French Revolution down to Saint-Simon and to the Bolsheviks, idealizes a collectivist struggle and tyranny under the guiding hand of the great socialists.
Saint Simon, the original socialist, did not envision the common man running things. Instead he foresaw socialism as being overseen by "Men of Science" who would direct the industrialists on how to run society for the benefit of all. Two centuries later, virtually the same dogma runs through the administration of Barack Obama, with its manifold Czars and Harvard graduates directing everything from banks to car companies.
They are the Saints of Socialism, presumed to know better by virtue of their commitment to socialism, just as nothing could be built in Communist China without crediting Mao's red book as its inspiration, and Stalin was presumed to know all there was to know every field better than its practitioners. The supernatural competence credited to Obama by his supporters must be seen in that light.
The paradox of socialism is that it demands equality for all, and yet insists that the common man is completely unfit to make his own decisions. Their argument is that individual man is too flawed, too bent on seeking personal advancement and wealth, and too little given to considering the needs of society as a whole, a flaw that he can only overcome in concert with others as part of a larger organization dedicated to the betterment of man. That same line of propaganda runs through the talking points of every socialist agenda, from health care nationalization to environmentalism to multilateralism. One bad. Many good.
The religion of organization is the theology of socialism. Only united toward common goals are men anything more than selfish hoarders. And since men individually are selfish, only transcendent individuals who can unselfishly see the larger vision and steer the world toward it, can be allowed to lead. Men who are "special", who play the role of the transformative messianic figure, smashing political and economic obstacles to create a new world order.
Or as disgraced former Presidential candidate Gary Hart put it;
He is in fact an agent of transformation. He is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians, and this makes him seem elusive to the conventional press and the traditional politicians. His instinct for the moment and the times is orders of magnitude more powerful than the experience claimed by others. Experience in the old ways is irrelevant experience. In an age of great transformation, experience of the past is worthless because it is a barrier to the breakthrough gesture...
The past is worthless, so the transformative figure need not have any actual qualifications. Experience is irrelevant because it is rooted in the past that is going to be demolished anyway. Who needs to know how many states there are or when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. In the brave new America, there will be no states and Columbus Day will be the new Nakba.
The idea of the transformative figure plays a key role for radicals, who often have tossed aside even liberal theology in favor of radicalism. Religion to them is social change, their saints were martyred while protesting for the oppressed, and their messiah is the avatar of social change, a man who shatters the links to the old ways, ushering in a new society and new ways of thinking.
Chris Matthews was not being obsequious when he proclaimed, "This is the New Testament". He was literally having a socialist religious experience. One that many others in the media have experienced as well. When your religion is social change, the man who embodies that change is the messiah. His words are a New Testament, setting aside the old, in favor of the new. A new world order. Hope, and most of all change.
I have spoken mostly about Europe, but American radicalism also has a long history of creating such artificial manmade supernatural religions right down to the modern New Age movement. Spiritualism, promoted by liberal theologians in liberal Churches, once played a major role in America, tying in even the 19th century George Bush, one of the country's most famous ministers, and the great, great granduncle of George W. Bush.
In the 19th century radical Quakers like Isaac Post, promoted the predecessors of Oprah, namely the Fox sisters or Ascha Sprague, who traveled around the country, appearing on stages and claiming to communicate with the spirit world. In the process they also promoted everything from evolution to feminism and abolitionism while picking the pockets of gullible audiences. Their publications boasted names such as Banner of Light and The People's World.
While it is easy to dismiss Spiritualism as silly superstition today, in the 19th century they were known as Christian Rationalists, because they had essentially reduced religion to a science. And while that science was a collection of lunatic nonsense inspired by a man suffering from delusions, its premise denied the unknowable, replacing conventional theology, with one based on animism, spiritual transformation and social change-- elements heavily present in the Oprah crowd today.
"We're all here to come together - to appreciate our uniqueness and to treasure our diversity, and we're here to evolve to a higher plane . . . The reason I love Barack Obama is because he is an evolved leader who can bring evolved leadership to our country." Oprah Winfrey
The rhetoric is virtually the same, backed by the old Spiritualist notions that we are here to move on to a higher plane and a time of social transportation is here. Combined of course with socialism's driving force, the evolved leader who can embody that social change.
The New Age movement was not a radical break with the past, no more than Oprah's rebranded Tolle material is, both are successors of Spiritualism's radical past. The original version of the Spiritualist's Communion of Saints, in which the dead would return to uplift the living, has faded away. Along with the Fox Sisters knuckle rapping messages from the other side. But in its place has come environmentalism, which like Spiritualism fuses animism with radical politics, and is fed by the New Age movement.
The Spiritualists believed that the dead had returned with a message for mankind to cease its selfish ways and ascend to a new level. Environmentalists preach that the earth is alive and in peril, and calls on us to cease our selfish ways and ascend to a new way of living. Both mask supernatural dogma with a veneer of science. As absurd as Arthur Conan Doyle's search for fairies might seem today, he believed that he was applying strict scientific methodology to an important issue, no more and no less so than any environmentalist today.
The common element is transformation. The theology of socialism is one that promises transformation through collective action. Change is its religious experience. And those who teach the masses to Hope for Change, for the great evolutionary revolution, are its saints and messiahs.
Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh...
Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence
Ezra Klein, The American Prospect
It is doubtful that any spiritualist could have better expressed this same set of ideas. The idea of Obama as a force that elevates, that causes you to experience yourself as an agent of historical change and that finally teaches us to transcend by envisioning an ideal America as a socialist kingdom of heaven on earth, where no one is hungry or sick or discriminated against... and the government led by him takes care of us all.
Not the word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh. Flesh is weak. Needy, greedy and selfish. Socialism is doctrine triumphing over humanity, Orwell's boot on the face of humanity, keeping us down for our own good. And if any of us have the gall to feel bad about it, that is where the preachers of the Socialist Word come in, to "inspire" and "elevate" us to be better cogs in the collectivist machine. To be agents of revolutionary social change.
We are the ones we have been waiting for. Hope and Change. Some must sacrifice for the good of all.