Whoever it was that said religion in America and the West is dying had no idea what they were talking about. The past week has made this abundantly clear. Far from Western and American modernity taking an atheistic colour, it has become increasing obvious to even casual observers that the religious impulse is still very much alive and well, even if it is no longer anything resembling traditional Christianity.
Now, if one takes the Kulturen view, one can see elements of Spengler’s analysis of the late decline of a civilisation (as he defined it) taking place before us. Since the end of World War II, the Western world has formed a civilisation with pretensions to global universalism (Spengler’s universal state), that war having formed the final act of the West’s “time of troubles” that began in the late 19th century with the breakdown of Europe’s post-Napoleonic “long peace” as European powers began an increasingly frenetic effort to carve up the remaining uncolonised world for their own national aggrandisement. As he also observed, every universal state needs a universal religion to complement its secular foundation. Hence, Spengler’s “second religiousness,” the resacralisation of the world, but along lines that might very well prove to be foreign to the old time religion of earlier days.
Certainly that’s what we’re now seeing. The outpouring of religious devotion to George Floyd, erstwhile meth head turned secular saint, is of such a level as to make any spiritual promoter, from pope to cult guru, green with envy. His body lies in state, wreathed in a golden coffin, travelling from city to city like the relics of a beloved martyr whose mere presence may heal the infirmed. Saint George of the Holy Fentanyl, Patron Saint of Manufactured Narratives, intercede for us!
Yet, this is merely one manifestation of the West’s new religiousness, not that religiousness itself. George Floyd is simply one element of a new and evolving theology that has been created to replace the old. This new theology was rightly identified by Moldbug as universalism, the progressivism that arose from the decay of mainline Protestantism in America and which had, by the early 20th century, morphed into a sort of universalistic creed whose understanding of the nature of God, man, and society were far different from those of traditional Christianity. Moldbug was not wrong in observing that this new creed was rooted in what he called ultracalvinism, which he traced backwards through New England unitarianism and transcendentalism through Puritanism to the calvinist dictatorship of Geneva. Moldbug noted that the four essential creeds of this ultracalvinism as it has played out in its evolution to 21st century secularised progressive ideology are the universal brotherhood of man, pacifism, social justice, and the managed society.
Now certainly, Calvin himself probably would have had no truck with queer theology. But his brand of doctrine initiated trends that, as they unfolded and followed their logical paths, resulted in today’s new secular religion, trends that were not present in other branches of the Reformation and which departed from historic and traditional Christianity. The path from Geneva to Minneapolis was long and tortuous, but it got there eventually. For ironically, the predestinarian form of soteriological exclusivism found in Calvinism lends itself to a sort of universalism of inalterable destiny – you’re either the elect and therefore virtuous or you are the reprobated and therefore hopelessly irredeemable. In the calvinistic view, evangelism is about calling out those who are already eternally predestined to salvation, not presenting souls with the choice to respond to God’s calling or not. You’re either one of us (notice that this is in an ontological sense) or you’re the damned, and liable to all the punishments and abuse fitting your station – there’s no real purpose to trying to convince the witch whom God has already condemned from eternity past, you merely burn her at the stake.
This ultracalvinism was augmented by its adoption of the eschatological heresy of postmillennialism, which was first historically articulated in the Congregationalist Savoy Declaration of 1658, and which found its way into the congregational and presbyterian Calvinism of the New England of the 18th and 19th centuries. This heresy presupposes that the Christian church will “bring in the kingdom,” so to speak, by gradually working to morally improve the world until it is ready for the return of Christ at His Second Coming. This moral improvement, of course, should be augmented by the authorities both spiritual and secular, and it was out of this milieu that the progressive movement arose in the latter half of the 19th century, though by this time the doctrine itself was fast becoming secularised and emptied of all expectation of any Second Coming of Christ. Replacing this hope was the gradual improvement toward a utopian society characterised by all of the laundry list of “improvements” desired by the progressives.
I’m sure most readers can see where this is going. What happens when you take a secularised theology that views its dissenters as hopelessly reprobate and impossibly unrecoverable, combines it with an eschaton that sees the creation of an utopia as the end goal of all purpose, and fills that eschatological purpose with a progressive program that involves permanent revolution against all social standards and traditions? You get today’s progressivism. You get a renovated second religiousness that says that we must, must, must impose the progressive platform onto everyone for the salvation of the world to bring in the progressive deity of neoliberal globohomogayplex, and anyone who dissents from this is a witch who must be burned at the stake. As we’ve seen in recent days from the examples of celebrities and politicians who made the mistake of committing heresies against this new religion and tried to recant, there is no apologising. Once you’ve demonstrated your reprobacy, there’s no hope for you. You’ll be cancelled, condemned to the progressives’ manmade hell of ostracism and fiery social indignation.
The great outpouring of religious fervour that the progressive Left is displaying, the latest but certainly not the only manifestation being the veneration of St. George the Pill Popper, is basically the last Puritan revival, the Great Awokening if you will.
What’s important to understand about all this is that while it is deliberately pursued by those at the top of the new religious hierarchy, the process itself is ultimately much more stochastic at the individual level. Progressive thought leaders set the tone, but it takes decades for the old religion to be replaced with the new. The new religion, however, quickly ossifies because the society itself in which it has come to take hold is also in the process of ossifying and losing the legitimacy of authority. Toynbee observed this process,
“If we pass to our examination of the complementary movements in which the philosophers of the dominant minority make their approach towards the religions of the internal proletariat, we shall find that on this side the processes begins earlier, besides going farther. It begins in the first generation after the breakdown; and it passes from curiosity through devoutness into superstition.” (Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Vol. I, p. 478, Somervell Abrg.)
At the start of it all, the progressives really believed they were making the world a better place. In some sick way, many of their ground troops perhaps still do. But ultimately, progressivism that began, to parrot Toynbee, in that first generation after the breakdown of the West started, came to be devoutly believed in the post-war American universal empire, but is now little more than a fervently though ignorantly held superstition. Progressives are very good at condemning racism, and then condemning whatever they don’t like as racism, but they’re unable to really make a credible moral case against those things they call racism. The moral reprobacy of those who oppose “anti-racism” is itself all the evidence needed. That’s an ultimately superstitious approach, in any religion.
Indeed, the place where we find progressive ideology located today is aptly described by Nick Land’s neologism “hyperstition” – “…that which is equipoised between fiction and technology.” Progressivism uses its dominance in the media to create, to weave magically as the more mystically inclined might say, a world in which the fiction of its belief system is intermingled and becomes indistinguishable in the minds of its adherents from reality. The concept is similar to Baudrillard’s “hyperreality” that describes the blurring of the lines between real reality and a simulated reality such as might be found in a really advanced virtual reality system. For progressives, their particular superstition stems from the fact that they essentially live in a simulated reality that they can’t distinguish from actual reality.
Now, is all of this just a fancy pants way of saying that I disagree with them, and therefore think they’re stupid? Well no, not really. Let’s look at the current kerfuffle about George Floyd and the “systematic racism of American policing” as a ready example. It’s obvious to any honest person who knows the actual statistical breakdown of the victims of police violence by race and who can do a little basic math, that there is no “systematic racism” in American policing. Once adjusted for the number of interactions that different races have with the police, it turns out that white offenders are actually slightly more likely to be the victims of police brutality (which is itself also not actually very prevalent in this country). And those who are familiar with Table 43 of the FBI’s uniform crime statistics and can do basic calculations, or even those who just live in the more diverse sections of most major American cities, know why black Americans would have more interactions with the police in a “workplace capacity.”
So that’s the reality as it is actually, empirically seen from tangible facts that exist in the real world.
But it’s also far, far different from the picture you’d get if you listened to the superstitious ramblings of the progressive priesthood and its acolytes across the media, social or otherwise. Progressivism has managed to create a magical self-contained fact space, just as it has done with many other issues, which can be included in the body of doctrines of the progressive cryptocalvinistic religion, dissent from which then constitutes punishable heresy. In the end, burning someone at the stake for being a “racist” is really little different from burning someone at the stake for being a witch. It’s not surprising, then, to find that Spengler’s second religiousness ultimately contains an element of rejecting reason as part of its superstitiousness.
But like most superstitions based off of a hyperreality, it can’t last forever. And in the case of the current progressivism, it won’t. Modern progressivism is simply too high energy of a transition state to last for very long without violently falling apart and being replaced with something more reasonable. Progressivism lasted as long as it did (over a century!) because it played the long game and moved slowly. However, current year American progressivism, in particular, has vastly accelerated its program in a way that is bound to provoke strong reactions against it. It can’t sustain itself, and its acceleration is in the process of destabilising the already not very stable American sociopolitical system. As I observed several years ago, social liberalism has no long term prospects. It will be replaced by something that will not tolerate its shenanigans, even though that something might not end up being the sort of neoreactionary, Right-authoritarian system I’d like to see. In the Soviet Union, once the Bolsheviks had consolidated their power they put an end to a lot of the early laissez-faire attitudes that had been taken towards morality in post-revolutionary Russia. Adultery was even made illegal and punishable by the state at one point. Stalin would most likely have had today’s antifas and BLMers rounded up and shot once they were no longer useful.
However, there’s no reason at all to think that the West is necessarily headed toward a permanent sort of universal state proposed by Spengler, and certainly not one dominated by the communistic descendants of today’s woke progressives. As readers of this blog know, I’m an increasingly staunch Turchinist (is that even a thing?) who views historical events through the lens of demographic-structural theory. I firmly believe that the USA and the West are in the collapse phase of the current secular cycle. The very progressive movement we see right now, with its increasingly murderous intraelite competition (Red vs. Blue Cathedral and their clients) taking place even as state resources dry up and the state itself becomes increasingly unable to maintain law and order, points to this. The system will collapse, and probably fairly soon, but there’s no reason to think the next cycle will be 250 years of struggle sessions where heretics are forced to make contrition for their sin of being white.
Indeed, the collapse –> depression phase of a cycle usually involves a good deal of decentralisation, both geographically and psychologically. Any collapse of the United States will most likely involve huge dislocations as individual states, and perhaps associations of states, break free and deal with the attempts to retain them in the decrepit Empire. That was the general course of affairs after many large empires collapsed – one can see this with the Roman Empire (which was already starting to disassociate even before the Germanic invasions became terminal), the Seleucid Empire, the Carolingian and Ottonian Empires, various of the Chinese dynastic empires, and so forth. The coming years will probably see a good deal of decentralisation, so it might be a good time for heritage Americans to start thinking about forming our own community militias to preserve order in our local areas as this process unfolds.
Millenarian religions like progressivism are prone to causing violence and disruptions everywhere they appear. This has been the case from the monotheistic reforms of Akhenaten to the violent revolutionary anabaptistic sects in Germany during the 16th century. The flipside to this, however, is that they rarely have any staying power – they burn brightly for a moment and then they flame out, victims of their own high-energy radicalism. As we approach the close of our current secular cycle, those of us who wish to preserve law and order, who desire to see an authentic and traditional society replace the neoliberal monstrosity that currently exists, should strive to stabilise the transition towards decentralisation and localism that we’ll be seeing in the years to come. Organise and prepare in our communities and build up networks of likeminded people to rely upon when the present rickety structure collapses for good.