‘Woke’ Activism Is a Dangerous Religion

 

So argues a new book by Daniel J. Mahoney, reviewed currently in City Journal by Gerald J. Russello.  Philosophers have been seeking to replace the strictures of both religious faith and politics since the Enlightenment, and it seems that they have nearly achieved their project at last. The new faith does not have a formal name as yet, but several observers have described it as “Humanitarianism.”

Humanitarianism is itself a religion, and as Harvard law professor Adrian Vermeule has argued, modern secularism has its own eschatology (the eternal overcoming of “hatred”), its own sacraments and holidays, and various prohibitions and commandments, usually centered around specific groups. Coupled with the rise of various would-be pagan religions and the cult of the self, these movements represent a retreat from rational reflection on politics.

That eschatology (meaning, the beliefs associated with The End, that is the ultimate destiny) should terrify us all, for it is unbounded by any goal, and barrier, or any moral lines. It simply latches onto the eternal defeat of “hatred,” which is a term that has been denuded of meaning, and now relegated to mean a failure to affirm any other person’s choices or self-definition, no matter how destructive. To fail to affirm is to “hate,” and to “hate” is to be an enemy of all.

But Humanitarianism infects more than one might suppose.

Augusto del Noce [wrote] that, with modernity, “everything becomes purely an object of commerce. This is symbolized by the disappearance of modesty; in the most elementary forms everything is reduced to ‘water, sleep, sex,’ falling, in short, into pure animalism.” Kolnai, too focuses on modesty and the range of intimate relationships that virtue was meant to regulate. For the humanitarian, living up to or in accord with virtue is unnecessary because virtue is unnecessary—the category implies that people may want something that is not good. “Humanitarianism,” explains Mahoney, “ultimately impairs human cognition, since a horizon that deifies undifferentiated ‘human needs’ has a hard time acknowledging the ‘unpleasant,’ the truly morally demanding dimensions of the moral life.” [emphasis my own]

Put another way, we have lost the ability to tell others that their very way of living is unvirtuous. The Left wants to affirm every self-definition one could invent (and label as oppressors those who refuse to affirm), while the Right is afraid of morally censuring anything that appears to be free commerce, even if such trades violate human dignity.

Socialism was difficult to oppose when it first achieved international popularity. It took decades for the horrors of socialism in practice, and the brutality it required, to be acknowledged, and few even today are willing to label Socialism as a religious belief system. But in time, Western Civilization did at least come to understand at some level that socialism was dangerous, and was able to oppose the worse expressions of it (even if now those memories of its horrors are fading again). Can Western Civilization rouse itself sufficiently to recognize this new cult? Time will tell. Perhaps it won’t and will fall into this new totalitarianism, or perhaps, enervated and disunited by the radical individualism therein, busy destroying itself in a vain attempt to defeat “hate,” it will be unable to oppose the other totalitarianism promulgated by China.

Regardless, we should all recognize that “Woke” politics may very well be foretaste of a new totalitarian secular cult.

There are 14 comments.

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  1. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    The burning conviction that We have a holy duty toward others is often a way of attaching Our drowning Selves to a passing raft. What looks like giving a hand is often a holding on for dear Life. Take away Our holy duties and You leave Our Lives puny and meaningless. There is no doubt that in exchanging a Self-centered for a selfless Life We gain enormously in Self-esteem. The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless. 

    • #1
  2. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Skipsul – thank you for posting this – so much food for thought – wow!!  The writing is on the wall – and the devil is paying attention….

    • #2
  3. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    This is an excellent post. Thank you.

    • #3
  4. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    I’ve long thought that there is a need to get a case in front of the Supreme Court that will require a definition of what constitutes a religion.  Because I can’t think of a way to do so that will capture all of the major religions of the world that won’t also cover most of the beliefs systems of the left.  And if you can’t teach religion in schools, then that should apply to everyone’s religion.

    End the left wing indoctrination in schools, and you would be much closer to effectively fighting this kind of crap.

    • #4
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    It is now even worse. Apple CEO Tim Cook has now defined opposing his way of living as “sin.” Meeke Addison made the point this past week on Airing the Addisons, that Christians conceded the word “hate” by shying away rather than rejecting the lie in righteous anger. Since “hate” was conceded, secular supremacists have moved on to “sin,” making themselves the morally good and faithful Christians the morally wicked.

    The only solution is a full-throated public push back on both words, every day in every forum.

    • #5
  6. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    There is a massive flaw in this new religion.  It preaches a lack of judgement, but enforces judgements ruthlessly on “haters”  The only sin is to say there is sin.   It demands unquestioning acceptance and celebration of all practices except those that involve any judgement.

    • #6
  7. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    There is a massive flaw in this new religion. It preaches a lack of judgement, but enforces judgements ruthlessly on “haters” The only sin is to say there is sin. It demands unquestioning acceptance and celebration of all practices except those that involve any judgement.

    But its practitioners are unlikely to notice. They keep getting caught in the human tendency to focus on the speck in someone else’s eye while ignoring the log in their own (see Matthew 7:3,4).

    • #7
  8. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    A very fine and insightful post. 

    • #8
  9. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I just ordered Mahoney’s book and I can’t wait to read it, thanks to your post.  I read some of the sample on Amazon and it is a book for our day and time – it’s amazing to watch world events unfold so quickly, and this book puts it into perspective.

    • #9
  10. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    SkipSul: Put another way, we have lost the ability to tell others that their very way of living is unvirtuous. The Left wants to affirm every self-definition one could invent (and label as oppressors those who refuse to affirm), while the Right is afraid of morally censuring anything that appears to be free commerce, even if such trades violate human dignity.

    Wow. This entire paragraph is spot on.

    This is an amazing article.

    • #10
  11. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Isn’t this humanitarianism just humanism with a few more syllables?

    • #11
  12. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Isn’t this humanitarianism just humanism with a few more syllables?

    No.  It has instead a goal of eliminating hate and promoting a radical individualism.  To eliminate “hate” it must defeat any moral systems that tell people they are wrong or immoral.

    • #12
  13. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Isn’t this humanitarianism just humanism with a few more syllables?

    No. It has instead a goal of eliminating hate and promoting a radical individualism. To eliminate “hate” it must defeat any moral systems that tell people they are wrong or immoral.

    Sounds like humanism to me.

    Edit: Should have said humanist.

    • #13
  14. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Well done.  Thanks, Skip.

    • #14

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