Charlton’s Charge – Open Thread

UPDATE at bottom:

Professor Bruce Charlton is a deeply intelligent, observant, and devout convert to traditional Orthodox Christianity.  I read every post he publishes and enjoy most of them.

But he had some kind of beef with those of us who hope for a better society with a rational government less addicted to leftist ideology, but who aren’t convinced that such a government or society need be founded on Christian principles.  He says we’re just leftists of a different stripe. Maybe it’s a problem of definitions.

That doesn’t make sense to me, even after reading his post, so I’m asking for some clarification from anyone who can provide it.  To me, it’s like someone called me a Hindu of a different stripe.  I’ve never thought of myself that way, it seems absurd, but maybe I’m missing the essential ingredient of Hinduism to which my prosecutor refers and thinks I express.

On the other hand, I like to think I understand the Left enough to know I’m not a part of it.  Leftists wouldn’t think I’m a part of it either.  They certainly don’t invite me to their econo-geek book discussion parties in the district.  Their loss!

Now, I think Foseti and Moldbug would make stronger claims than I would (they have made such Historical claims, some decently founded in my judgment) about the connection between Christianity and Progressivism.  That’s not what I’m saying here.  Those posts always stir up a lot of emotion, and that’s not my intent.  Samson, I know, is just about done with us.  But I’ll try. A gentleman acts with grace and respect towards all of his friends and affords their sensitivities an appropriate weight.

I’m just making a much weaker claim.  That a society can be rationally governed in a non-leftist manner without needing to be based in Christianity.  I’m not against Christian societies or their reestablishment.  I don’t dislike Christianity or Christians.  Most of my best friends, neighbors, and relatives have been very pleasant and friendly Christians whose Christianity obviously gave them a lot of satisfaction and comfort and helped them live righteous lives, and I have benefited from their Christianity-motivated actions on my behalf.  But I have just as much positive experience with non-Christians.

So, I’m genuinely interested in having the civil conversation to see if we can clear some of this up.  Is Handle a leftist?  Foseti and Moldbug too?  Under what definition or conception of leftism can this charge be made sensible?

Ok. Open Haus.  Have at it.


There must be something in the air.  Dennis Prager channeling ASDF and Charlton, and David Friedman channeling Handle.

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120 Responses to Charlton’s Charge – Open Thread

  1. Anthony says:

    The religious impulse is a part of human nature. Every society is religious. Leftism and progressivism are religions. They’re also strongly proselytising religions, and very attractive to the naive,so unless the society as a whole is somewhat uniform in its religion, they will dominate a society’s culture given time.

    The alternative doesn’t have to be Christianity – Japan has its problems, but cultural leftism isn’t one of them. The Japanese have a religion, and stick to it. It has some stupid ideas, and their politicians have some stupid ideas, but they’re different stupid ideas than a progressive country gets stuck with, with different bad results.

    • Handle says:

      So, let me see if I understand the implication. You’re saying that unless a government enforces a near-uniform rightist-religion, or can rely upon it as an organic trait of the governed population, that it creates an opportunity for Progressivism, which will inevitably make the society leftist?

      I find that claim too strong.

      • Anthony says:

        Perhaps the claim is too strong. But in the absence of some sort of religious commitment among the population will lead to an opening for proselytising religions to enter. It doesn’t have to be progressivism/leftism; it could be Islam, or militant Buddhism, or some sort of Christianity.

        Both Christianity and Progressivism are universalist rather than particularlst, have similar (and overlapping) taboos, and they both believe in some form of absolution and forgiveness. Christianity is suspicious of the rich and powerful, and believes they have an obligation to help the poor and powerless. Progressivism has this same concept on steroids – it elevates it from a private obligation to a public one, and from a secondary belief to the core of the religion. But the similarities make deracinated Christian societies much more fertile ground for Progressivism than, say, former Communist ones.

  2. Erik says:

    An interesting topic! Perhaps an overly large one, with a number of interleaved questions that it is hard to tackle all at once. (I think it’s worth linking to this thread with Charlton at Foseti’s too.)

    First I’ll offer a brief defense against the charge of Christianity as the necessary origin of progressivism, by naming some seemingly progressive-like movements elsewhere that didn’t spring out of Christianity. There was Shennong Agriculturalism in China, which appears to have been a movement wanting radical egalitarianism (everyone working in the fields!) and equal prices and equal wages, and the king shouldn’t have a granary but distribute food to the poor, and everyone had a right to be heard in everything. There was Mazdak-branch Zoroastrianism, which also called for the abolishing of granaries, treasuries, marriages, and armies; and wanted polygamy, free love, vegetarianism, and for sufficiently righteous-according-to-Mazdak individuals to be free from the commands of Zoroaster. (Now where have we heard that before? Oh right, it’s pretty much the holier-than-Jesus puritanism that spawned progressivism.)

    So when the secular neoreactionaries blame Christianity, I can understand why Charlton disagrees. As I see it, prog movements have to come from somewhere – they can’t just spawn out of nothing, because they’re not sustainable. Therefore I would discriminate between two charges here: it’s true to say that modern progressivism spawned from Christianity (as a heresy), because Christianity was the only game in town, but it’s false to accuse Christianity of particular responsibility for progressivism, just as Christianity doesn’t have particular responsibility for pedophilia, to use an infamous example. Some priests molest kids. Some rabbis molest kids. Some teachers molest kids. (IIRC, teachers do it far more than priests, but there’s a not-at-all-mysterious shortage of angry activists calling for the arrest of the Secretary of Education for running a massive criminal enterprise…)

    Second I’ll try to argue for one of Charlton’s charges in a way that hopefully makes more sense to the secular neoreactionaries.

    Consider the slippery slope, where once a Christian church starts to hide Saint Paul under the carpet, they tend to gradually thereafter demote Jesus from Christ to community organizer, appoint quote ‘priestesses’ unquote, hold ‘ecumenical’ meetings, skip the confession of sin, make the calls to repentance optional, eventually begin preaching feminism, and generally turn into outright progressive organizations with Jesus trimmings.

    Now consider that secular neoreactionaries may like Saint Paul – but it’s the writer Paul as a foreign wisdom tradition worth picking pieces from, not the Apostle Paul bringing the astounding news to the world that a wonder has happened. They have, by being secular, implicitly demoted Jesus from Christ to community organizer. Different direction, but start of the same slope. I don’t ask you to agree, Handle, but can you at least conceive of why someone might see you as leftists of a different stripe? (And a similar concern and argument for non-Christian governments.)

    (I don’t say that this is Charlton’s opinion.)

    Third I’ll remark that I want a rectification of names“let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Even if I can’t have it globally, I would at least ask for it here… because it seems to me confusion over names may be driving much of the debate, where “Christian” is used about either the community of saints or the community of pew-sitters in America, depending on speaker, and “Left” with even more meanings.

    • Handle says:

      I’ll respectfully defer the Progressivism-Christianity-Nexus argument for another time. It’s not what I’m trying to get at here. I’ll just note that you can’t get more opposing theses than “Christianity is Leftist” and “Absence of Christianity is Leftist”. If both are right, we’re in a bit of a jam. I don’t think both are right, and I’m wondering about the second statement.

      I agree with you in principle regarding rectification. We should try to define, at least within and for the sake of conversation, what we mean by “Christian” and “Leftist”.

      The question is whether the Christian theonomists think that it is even possible that good, non-leftist government, can be founded on pragmatic rational principles, or must somehow derive from (and enforce) Christian principles. I get the impression that Bruce thinks a preference for rational practicality in governmental affairs evidences a poisonous, anti-Christian, ‘leftist’ strain of thinking. I don’t follow.

      Here’s the problem. I’m religious, a family man, a patriot, not anti-Christian by any means (on the contrary, I’m very sympathetic to religious Christians), heck, I read neoreactionaries and I write an anti-Progressivism blog. I think I make a good ally, and do not represent a slippery slope, even if I don’t think about Jesus the same way an Orthodox Christian would. Not enough for Bruce, apparently. I’m making some fundamental error or mistake somewhere. A fundamentally ‘leftist one’.

      There’s an asymmetry to it too. The right, being particularist and not universalist, tolerates the notion of different communities (hopefully in a stable, peaceful coexistence) founded on very different principles. I certain have no problem with the idea of an independent Christian theocracy sprouting up. If people want to live like that, that’s fine with me. Maybe I’d like living there too, or maybe someone would have to move. But, to the extent his notions of ‘left’ and ‘detrimental’ overlap, Bruce doesn’t express much confidence in the non-leftist character of societies with governments not based on Christian principles.

    • Erik says:

      I think we’re in at least half a jam, then.

      “Christianity is Leftist”: The communion of pew-warmers in America is Leftist.
      See: Dalrock on marriage in the modern American church.

      “Absence of Christianity is Leftist”: Leftists work towards creating an absence of Christianity in the American government.
      See: The way “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” was turned into “Public schools are forbidden to encourage optional school prayers”. (Also, remember that several of the States had State Churches during their early years.)

      Put them together and you get the Inner Party-Outer Party dynamic, the newer branch of progressivism beating up on the older branch of progressivism, every fraction trying to signal its superior holiness.

      • Handle says:

        So, what’s left in the non-leftist opportunity space?

        • zhai2nan2 says:

          The opportunities are on the electronic frontier.
          The battle for the mind’s eye was fought in the video drome, during the 1980s – but this is a new and ethernet-enabled planet that we inhabit.
          The Internet (and any darknets that do not fit the centralized Internet paradigm) are the new opportunity space for the disenfranchised.
          This is not to say that we should stop operating in meatspace – reactionaries should feed their children real protein before teaching them to write abstract code- but meatspace is only the first jumping-off point.

  3. spandrell says:

    This and the “are the jews to blame” must be the most boring and unproductive debates on earth.

    Might as well ask muslims if Muhammad really existed.

    • Handle says:

      I agree that they aren’t productive. People are awfully reluctant to state the conditions under which they will be persuaded to change their opinion.

      But debates aren’t just about producing answers. We probe and learn more about each other and, perhaps, become also learn how to become better friends.

      Sometimes it allows people to vent and get frustrations off their chests. It’s not that I think Charlton is wrong, but he seems to really bear some ill feeling towards some of us, that I don’t really understand, and I’d like him, or those of similar opinion, to explain it to me.

      • spandrell says:

        The trichotomy is here to stay, and Dr. Charlton is in the far, far edge of the theonomists.
        And his brand of theonomy is one that precludes him from ever, ever being friends with the likes of you.

        The right, being particularist and not universalist, tolerates the notion of different communities (hopefully in a stable, peaceful coexistence) founded on very different principles

        Please, not again. The “right” tolerates different communities? Which right is this? Certainly not Dr. Charlton’s right. It may have been the Habsburgs’s right, but how is that an ideological position and not a historical contingency from taking a huge lot of land containing lots os different peoples?

        We really, really must stop referring to left and right as if they mean anything real.

        • Handle says:

          ‘Dr. Charlton is in the far, far edge of the theonomists. And his brand of theonomy is one that precludes him from ever, ever being friends with the likes of you.’

          I suspect that’s true, still, I’d like to hear it from the horse’s mouth, especially if it isn’t.

          “We really, really must stop referring to left and right as if they mean anything real.”

          Fair enough. Consider it a bleg for a more precise political lexicon upon which we can agree enough to use it consistently.

          Personally, I associate leftism with strong forms of egalitarianism and universalism. You could add in Moldbug’s four points. Universal brotherhood of man, pacifism, Rawlsianism (redistributive social justice), and Mandarinism of the managed society.

          If you don’t like this definition, fine. I’m not a dictionary. But that’s what I mean when I use it in case people get confused; I think it’s reasonable, and I use ‘right’, perhaps clumsily, as any subset collection of contrasting or opposing notions.

          The trichotomy problem is that there are necessarily multiple possible ways to oppose any phenomenon with many features. If Progressivism is (1,1,1,1), then there are 15 ways to object, from (1,1,1,0) to (0,0,0,0).

          • spandrell says:

            Of course you are a dictionary. We all are. But your dictionary is flawed. Now don’t go math on me, and try to fix your dictionary instead.

            You know very well that the left isn’t about universalism, and even if it were, universalism doesn’t mean opposing the existence of different communities. Hell you pretty much said that leftism is against multi-culturalism! How does that make any sense?

            As I take it, the argument you’re making is basically that you are a religious person and Bruce Charlton is too, so you want to make friends with the guy. Well I don’t think ‘religious’ means what you think it does. Perhaps you should come out and write about what you think religion is about, and how it relates to your political ideas.

          • Handle says:

            I will always reserve the right to go math on you.

            See my post of Fish’s Boutique Multiculturalism for an excellent discussion of how that makes perfect sense.

            We must have different experiences of progressives and leftist regarding universalism and intolerance for difference. The progressives I know, some are my close friends, believe, for example, that gay marriage is correct, for everyone, everywhere, always. Is as cosmic a sense of ‘objectively morally correct’ as they can muster, and with true Puritanical fervor that respecting this ethical truth be made mandatory, permanently, over the whole surface of the Earth, as quickly as feasible. Just like these people.

            I haven’t ever heard any of them ever say something like “We shouldn’t discriminate against gays here, but it’s fine for the Russians.” If that’s not universalist and anti-multiculturalist (in Fish’s sense), then I’m just going to have to beg you to help me out with this terminology problem. It might take a whole blog post on your part.

          • spandrell says:

            Today’s Progressives are as intolerant as the Spanish Inquisition.

            I know plenty of progressives that are cool with Muslims using Sharia in their British neighborhoods. Yeah, they also think gay marriage is correct.

            I’m willing to bet that your progressive friends are comparatively more willing to impose gay marriage on Russia or Poland than on, say, Pakistan or Sudan. Sure there’s always some progressive minion who goes to Iran to try them to stop hanging gays. But they don’t try as hard.

            How much progressive resources are thrown into abolishing clitoris-cutting, compared to bringing clitoris-cutting Somalis into the West?

            Evangelist zeal is just one side of the Left. Surely not it’s defining characteristic.

          • Handle says:

            My favorite Mel Brooks joke: ‘You can’t Torquemada anything’ pronounced “talk-him-out-of”.

  4. nydwracu says:

    How many of the currently existing states that reactionaries take as models are Christian? I can’t think of any.

  5. asdf says:

    If I provided an answer it would mostly be in the form of linking to sources I know you’ve already read. What your saying here has already been addressed.

    So the question is if you’ve read the same sources, how do you come to a different conclusion? What in them do you think was wrong?

    I’d be willing to grant some disagreement if we were talking about a choice between religions. Once you agree there is a transcendental and objective morality we did not create we are at least in the same universe with the same basic first principals.

    However, you are arguing from the secular POV which denies all that. It is not as if such an issue has not been debated a million times. Are the positions not perfectly clear? What is it about them you find in error? I’m not seeing it in this post.

    • Handle says:

      Why must a secular POV be ‘leftist’?

      • asdf says:

        The secular POV is inherently nihilistic from first principals. This it shares in common with leftism. If we decide that leftism is some specific form of nihilism then I suppose that some other “right” secular ideology might constitute some other form of nihilism. Much like Nazism might be different from Communism. However, I would not view either as a good thing, nor the distinction between left and right nihilism all that relevant. Nihilism is nihilism, and all trends towards the same end point no matter the path one takes to get there. One would think this obvious both from the philosophical argument from first principals sense and real world lived experience sense.

        If your objection is that the secular POV is not inherently nihilistic we are back to my original question about millions of sources who have been all over that question for a long time now.

        It seems to me most of your argument seems to rest on the idea that you know some good people who don’t call themselves religious, and some bad people who call themselves religious, and you believe this is some revelation that has never been addressed before.

        • Handle says:

          ‘It’s all about Nihilism’ is a good start. Is the assertion that, without something like a genuine belief in something like Christianity, people can’t remain moral or ‘rightist’ for long? Or maybe confined to contemporary Western people? I don’t think that’s accurate for the Japanese, for example.

          But with respect to Eugene Rose and Lawrence Auster, I don’t think Progressives are actually Nihilistic at all. Certainly not remotely in Nietzsche’s sense. It’s not correct to redefine Nihilist to be congruent to Atheist instead of Amoralist. I think Progressives just don’t like the sexual, family-structure, and gender-roles restraints of traditional Christianity.

          They may reject God and/or traditional religion, which they see as backward superstitions, but they don’t reject the notion of objective Morality at all. They think they’ve discovered it, and that it’s only a matter of time before everyone else wakes up, gets with the program, and eventually catches up. They use moralistic-imperative language sincerely all the time, and they call their opponents ‘evil’ and mean it.

          To use a recent example, Progressives don’t think there is ‘no truth possible in relation to questions concerning racial discrimination or gay rights or slavery’. That’s ‘Nihilist’. Instead, every one of them I talk to is absolutely sure that slavery and racial discrimination and banning gay marriage, is, and has always been, absolutely WRONG.

          You say this: “It seems to me most of your argument seems to rest on the idea that you know some good people who don’t call themselves religious, and some bad people who call themselves religious, and you believe this is some revelation that has never been addressed before.”

          I believe no such thing. I believe that one can be secular and on the ‘right’ (please, Spandrell, stay your scolds, you know what I’m getting at).

        • asdf says:

          If you’ve read Eugene Rose certainly you have the answer to those questions already.

          “They may reject God”
          “they don’t reject the notion of objective Morality at all”

          Once you’ve rejected God, there is no such thing as morality. One may grasp at all sorts of replacements for God’s morality (“science”, instinct, etc), but you are on the path. When your new God replacement fails you move onto another. None of these replacements can be defended consistently. Eventually you realize you can either, 1) embrace God or 2) reject him entirely because he is everything (nihilism). From incomplete rebellion to complete rebellion.

          The opposite of God is nothingness. Non-existence. Where one to achieve pure nihilism they would cease to exist. What we see in leftism and other forms is an incomplete nihilism. You’ve read Eugene Rose. Why am I just repeating a worse version of what he already stated.

          “Certainly not remotely in Nietzsche’s sense.”

          Nietzsche proposed that man could create morality himself from nothing. This makes no sense, but we are getting into increasingly esoteric philosophy of which you can read other sources. Inevitably since all values are God’s the only value one can adopt that is wholly ones own is non-existence itself.

          • Handle says:

            ‘Once you’ve rejected God, there is no such thing as morality.’

            Then I need a better name for the intensely zealous and imperial moralism of the Progressives. They believe they have morality without God, indeed, that the traditional God-based moralities are false and should be neutralized. What should I call this combination of morality-like belief and behavior, combined with a meta-judgment on their part that it constitutes objective morality?

            Like TGGP says – it quacks like a duck.

          • asdf says:

            If its secular progressivism then seculars can’t defend any of their “morals” back to first principals, which means they have no morals at all. That doesn’t mean they won’t thrash about in ignorance of their own inconsistencies. I’m sure you know many a person that passionately believes in one or another thing but can’t actually explain why. Does it dull their passion when you point this out, or heat it up? I don’t deny that a secular might claim they’ve got a hold of some objective morality that doesn’t come from God, I’m just saying it makes no sense. You might as well claim that the moon is made of cheese.

            If they make some transcendental claim (God really said XYZ) to justify their morality then I’d call them heretics. A heretic does share the same first principals (faith in God given objective morality) but differs in what God said. Obviously if I believe God said ABC, so if someone denies ABC and claims XYZ is true I would call them heretics and try to convince them of their heresy. Heresy is nothing new, I’ve been studying heresies in church history class. There have been some whoppers over the millennia.

            You would not call a heretic a “true Christian”. That’s the whole idea behind the concept of a heretic, that what they believe isn’t true.

      • Anthony says:

        Because the secular (or non-Christian western) alternatives have been discredited – Randian morality and it’s cousins are a mix of leftist and rightist, so don’t properly qualify, anything which smells to much of fascism is historically discredited, and the biological realism view that Razib and Derbyshire exemplify is to easy to tar with the eugenicist brush. So right now, a secular POV which aspires to mass influence must be rightist.

  6. Brother Boleslaw says:

    “The right ought to be defined in terms of forces and traditions that acted formatively on a group of nations and sometimes on super-national unifications, before the French Revolution, before the advent of the Third Estate and the world of the masses, before bourgeois and industrial culture…” – Evola

    Thus, as regards Western Christian Civilization, rule by priests and warriors represents the true right. Rule by bourgeois techno-commercialists represents an intermediate stage of leftism, although still right wing and reactionary relative to rule by the Cathedral. This is obviously true: laissez faire capitalism was a revolutionary liberal idea.

    Secular reaction can (in theory) restore rule by warriors, but it lacks priests and thus it cannot be the true right, only an intermediate stage of leftism. Bruce Charlton has priests and so he sees himself as more right wing than secular reactionaries. If Bruce Charlton was a member of the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers[1] he’d have a point. But he’s not. He doesn’t seem to be interested in restoring rule by priests and warriors either.

    Bruce has more in common with left wing progressive Christians than he might realize. He’s realized that many worldly issues are of little concern to believing Christians when compared to the all important task of saving souls. Thus, he displays little concern about the colonization of Western countries by third world Christians or about Christianity’s abandonment of traditional attitudes towards marriage. He acts a bit baffled when the leftist political attitudes of existing Christian churches are brought up. He rightly recognizes that these issues are and should be immaterial to believing Christians; only saving souls matters.

    Thus, Bruce is also at an intermediate stage of leftism. He’s kept Christianity, but it is a Christianity that has been followed to its logical conclusions, a Christianity that has been pared down to the essentials. A Christianity that is very different from the Christianity “that acted formatively on a group of nations and sometimes on super-national unifications, before the French Revolution, before the advent of the Third Estate and the world of the masses, before bourgeois and industrial culture…” Huge segments of that formative Christianity have been pared away.

    This is also what happened to Western Christian Civilization. Slowly but surely, the underlying beliefs have been followed to their logical conclusions, the contradictions have been worked out and the superfluous elements (like Jesus) have been pared away. What remains is the inversion of values, the concept of sin and the need for sacrifice. Instead of Jesus sacrificing himself for us, each believing leftist must become like Jesus and engage in self-sacrifice.

    Leftism is not the destruction of Western Christian Civilization, it is the fulfillment of it. The logical end result of the values that underlay it. And the process is nearing its completion. Thus, any true reaction would be counter-productive and pointless; Western Christian Civilization would still be doomed to roughly the same fate by it’s underlying values. You’d only be prolonging the agony.

    We can’t be true reactionaries and we don’t want to be true reactionaries. We should not be trying to save Western Christian Civilization, we should be trying to build the society that comes after it, based on the insights of the Dark Enlightenment, especially the one about deep heritage.

    If we live to see that new society then maybe we’ll finally get to be on the ultra-right (of that society) and luckily we’ll be long dead by the time things move very far to the left, so we won’t have to see that society twisted by its underlying contradictions.


    • Handle says:

      “We can’t be true reactionaries and we don’t want to be true reactionaries. We should not be trying to save Western Christian Civilization, we should be trying to build the society that comes after it, based on the insights of the Dark Enlightenment…”

      Nice. It also helps to reenforce the ‘neo’ in ‘neoreactionary’. Without the neo – it’s more associated with the Christian restorationist element.

      I don’t know about the ideal balance between kings, priests and warriors vs bureaucratic mandarins, journalists, and university professors. I’d like to see some more competent Chief Executives and Commanders.

    • asdf says:

      There are of course several inaccuracies about Bruce’s beliefs in this.

      Do you people even read the guy?

      • fdsa says:

        @asdf, how about pointing out the inaccuracies, rather than acting like a beta faggot and whining about it?

        • asdf says:

          “Thus, he displays little concern about the colonization of Western countries by third world Christians or about Christianity’s abandonment of traditional attitudes towards marriage. He acts a bit baffled when the leftist political attitudes of existing Christian churches are brought up. ”

          Bruce has written extensively on all these topics, and the poster does not characterize what he has written accurately.

  7. Dan says:

    Some supporting points for Bruce:

    (1) Without religion you get nihilism, because the alternative to belief is that all your efforts are for naught. You cannot work hard, building civilization amid your own suffering, if you are nihilistic. You cannot take the very long view if you are nihilistic.

    (2) True, sturdy, non-slippery slope views must be doctrinally based. Useful conservatives can hold their belief even when they stand alone. Standing alone with one’s beliefs is something the conservative will need to do a lot. It will be the course of their life. Basing your beliefs on a book is important to ensure that there is not drift.

    (3) Religion gives comfort. Without that, people will seek social comfort and all the leftism that this entails, as Handle explained eloquently in a recent post.

    (4) Look at the history. Where has muscular resistance to the left come from? Almost always from the religious right, and specifically Christianity. The French Revolution, every instance of Communism, America today and in the past. Nations weak in Christianity seem to have trended leftward. Communism, the culmination of leftism, embarks on killing Christians.

    (5) Resistance to leftism starts with the individual. You must have personal morality to do go against leftism, as in “I refuse to do A, B and C and I refuse to believe X, Y and Z’ because that would risk my immortal soul. A secularist would fold quickly when their livelihood or physical life is in danger.

    (6) In our society, religion still offers protection for belief, both socially and legally.

    • Handle says:

      I like the ‘commitment enforcement strategy’ aspect of what you say.

      But accomodation for (6) is only true to a point, and not very durable in my estimation. If it conflicts with Progressivism, then the accommodation disappears. See all the birth control and abortion coverage in Obamacare, and the ‘human rights’ suits in various states forcing people to provide personal services to gay marriages.

      • Dan says:

        True that the limits of (6) are being tested. I have a few more:

        (7) Secular rightism can be excessively violent. More than it needs to be. Cue Godwin’s law. Or the military rule in Egypt or Syria now or Iraq under Hussein or Chile under Pinochet or Burma now. That makes secular rightism unstable. Christian (or to a lesser extent Muslim) Kings don’t want to commit atrocities because it is a sin for which they will be held accountable. That makes religious rightism more stable (see for instance the many Christian kings and queens across the centuries in Europe, or the many stable religious autocracies in the Middle East today).

        (8) Religion unifies the nation and creates a senses of a ‘people’. This is important to having a strong nation.

        (9) If you want a healthy society, you need a strong moral foundation in order to develop strong social capital.

  8. Foseti says:

    Charlton’s term “Christian” is used very specifically – as best I can tell the definition is unique to him and he’s never exactly specified what it means, though he does provide examples occasionally.

    By analogy, you can think of it in reference to Jews. To Charlton (and by analogy), some group like the Orthodox Jews are the only “Jews” – all other beings non-Jews. As such, it’s not surprising that such a group would be Rightist in outlook.

    The analogy doesn’t really work though, because he seems to include lots of disparate groups under the rubric of “Christian”. For example, it would seem Russian Orthodox and Mormons qualify as “Christian” to Charlton. I’m no theologian, but that seems wrong to include those but exclude Episcopalians or the Pope.

    To be charitable, if you follow his logic, “Christian” communities will in fact definitely be Rightist.

    To be critical, he’s basically selected “Christian” to mean Christians (normal usage) who are Rightist. In other words, his prophecy is self-fulling. In addition, he’s never demonstrated that the causality reverses – there’s no evidence to explain why non-Christians can’t be Rightist.

    • Handle says:

      This is very helpful. If all rightist variants of a belief system are truly Christian, and all leftist variants are heresies, then you’ve defined True Christianity to equal the True Right. Convenient.

      By symmetric converse, you’ve also defined the True Right to equal True Christianity.

      I think that is indeed what Charlton has done. But I’d prefer to let him say whether or not this is so for himself.

      Professor Charlton, where are you? Charltaaaahhhhnnnn!

    • asdf says:

      “I’m no theologian, but that seems wrong to include those but exclude Episcopalians or the Pope.”

      Why? If Christianity is a set of beliefs, the most important criteria would be whether you believed those things, not whether you call yourself the name or have some historical connection to those that did. I got a membership offer from AARP by accident in the mail, and if I sent it in I’d technically be “senior citizen” according to them, but I think we can both agree I’m not actually a senior citizen, even if I went around calling myself that and had some large institution claimed I was.

      It seems to me that a fairly reasonable definition of “Christians” has been provided by Charlton and many other authors he’s referenced in the past. I myself was listening to Mere Christianity earlier today which lays out a mans entire criteria for the basic of Christianity.

      “there’s no evidence to explain why non-Christians can’t be Rightist.”

      Well, then we need a definition of “rightest” don’t we. What do “rightest” believe and why do they believe that? Can those beliefs be explained consistently, without the typical philosophical issues of begging the question and so forth? Perhaps then we can venn diagram it to Christianity and see what we’ve got.

  9. nope says:

    Why in the fuck do people even pay attention to Charlton? I’ve said it for a long time, harping on it over at Mangan’s. The guy is a jackass, and an intellectual midget. Anything he disagrees with he labels as leftism. It’s the same reasoning that conspiracy theorists engage in, and is a form of informal fallacy known as a self-sealing argument. Have a different opinion to Charlton? Well, you’re a leftist, you just don’t know it (kinda like White privilege, see?).

    Let’s look at the original post you link to. He equates (1) modernity to (2) “prosperity, comfort and safety as the primary goods of life”. By equating (1) and (2) he has made necessary and sufficient conditions in either direction between modernity and those goals. Never mind the fact that people have wanted (2) going back thousands of years when we were hunted down by rival tribes or predatory animals. That is to say, human history has had those goals without modernity (Charlton might reply, “ah, but that is leftist evolutionary thought and modernist history, leftist! check your privilege!” Or he might say, “but Christianity saved us from those primitive conditions,” ignoring the fact that Chieftains, tribes, and various ad hoc security/political arrangements have been trying to solve it for a millennia). He then goes on to equate (1) and (2) with leftism. Without argument, of course. His conclusion stating: (3) “Thus they want Leftism.” If we take this conclusion as following from, “If people want (2), then (3).” Notice that there is no premise in his argument that generates the consequent (3). It’s just taken that the equating between (1) and (2) is enough to to produce his conclusion.

    From here-on-in he then adds more insane malarkey, again echoing conspiracy theorists. You see, they just don’t want (3). They want different species of (3). Again, none of this is supported by any sort of warrants. It’s just mere assertions. So from (3) we’ve entered Charlton’s insane Gnostic world. Where right wingers are actually left wingers, dogs and cats are living together, mass hysteria. In Charlton’s mind, the neoreactionaries are also trying to poison your local well.

    If anything, Charlton’s disagreement with the reactionary right isn’t about leftism. It’s an ontological/metaphysical dispute (a dispute about what exists or not). Notice he contrasts (1) to (3) with his ideal society: one aimed at salvation. Charlton is pissed that his favorite video game fantasy world involving Skybeard isn’t being acknowledged. So this is what it drills down to. You either agree with Charlton’s metaphysical worldview, or you are a leftist.

    • nope says:

      Also, can I just say that my post is a little bombastic, but it is only aggressive, because every time I’ve actually tried to engage with Charlton in a cordial manner it is only a matter of time till he or his followers drops the “you are a leftist” line of argument. It is tiring, and annoying. Debating this point with him or his followers is pointless, because the real issue here is the metaphysical one.

  10. @Handle – thanks for the post and its civilized tone!

    There isn’t any mystery about the fact I keep poking you lot with a sharp stick – when you say…

    “I’m just making a much weaker claim. That a society can be rationally governed in a non-leftist manner without needing to be based in Christianity. ”

    … then that is exactly the problem!

    If, like me, you believed that a society DOES need to be based in/on Christianity, then what YOU are doing in trying to establish better but non-Christian government is at best a waste of effort and a division of allies – but at worst it is simply *reinforcing*, making worse, everything that Christians find most horrific about modernity.

    A Christian society would aim at being run on ways compatible with, maybe contributory to, the Christian life – but a non-Christian society would be run on utilitarian lines (of one sort of another).

    (In a nutshell, contrast a society run to maximize salvation and theosis VERSUS a society run to maximize pleasure and minimize suffering).

    These are, or would very swifly become, very different kinds of society – for example in terms of sexual behaviour, but also in every conceivable way in terms of law, the economy, the media… everything.

    That’s it. Nothing deep, dark or mysterious!

    • Erik says:

      Charlton, I wish to see if I have understood your position well enough to make a concrete example of it.

      Would it be fair to say:
      -The progressive covets the wealth of a rich man, but since he cannot quite openly demand it for himself, the progressive instead demands that the other man’s wealth be seized and given to “the poor” (in the form of contraceptives and other paraphernalia which do much to appease the progressive conscience and little to alleviate poverty, hence the progressive effectively demands the use of the rich man’s wealth, if not its possession)
      -The reactionary says that the progressive suggestion is suboptimal policy and therefore should not be done, leaving open the possibility that the man’s wealth should still be redistributed in a different manner or in other circumstances
      -the Christian says “You shall not covet”, undercutting the whole debate over policy. The rich man should be encouraged to charity. But for moral reasons, his wealth should not be seized in the first place by busybodies with opinions on its better use… rather than discussing whether the busybodies would spend it effectively!

      And thus the reactionaries may repeal the progressive redistribution program, but they sacrifice the principle that a man’s property should be respected as his own (cf. not only the Decalogue against theft and coveting, but also the many smaller commands, such as not to move boundary-marking stones) which makes it easy to put a new such program in place later.

    • Handle says:

      1. I will always try to keep it gentlemanly and civilized. But I can give as good as I get, so people would be wise not to abuse their welcome.
      2. This is the most useful phrase, exactly what I was hoping for: ‘…contrast a society run to maximize salvation and theosis VERSUS a society run to maximize pleasure and minimize suffering. These are, or would very swiftly become, very different kinds of society’

      I agree. I have three mild objections.

      1. What is preferable? A secular society (of imperial disposition, perhaps like the Ottomans) which would be happy to charter a Christian society to exist as a subordinate unit, or a non-secular, but not Christian, society, but not tolerant of internal variation?

      2. I still don’t understand exactly why utility=left and salvation=right. These seem to me to be distinct conceptions, and if they are, there should exist a right-utility space. If they are not, then I do not think we share understandings of left and right. For example, I have no trouble at all as thinking of examples is the 2×2 matrix including right-utility, right-Christian, left-utility, left-Christian. What you seem to be saying is that the first and last categories are illusory. Why?

      3. My concern here is evaluation of many progressive claims, especially on their own terms. They think their policies make things better, and even by their own criteria I disagree, and I intend to demonstrate that. Now, policy analysis can be preformed using multiple sets of criteria. I could say, “Policy X would be ‘beneficial-Y’ according to Y-ism, but ‘detrimental-Z’ according to Z-ism, etc.” But on a personal level, I have no idea how to evaluate policy claims on a salvation-theosis level. “Resolved: The United States and Western Europeans Countries should Open their Borders to all comers and without Restriction.” In Gedankenexperiment, I was able to explore some economic impacts of such immigration under certain conditions and assumptions. But is it better or worse for saving souls? I have no idea. Any advice?

    • asdf says:


      Let us say that you can prove action ABC will cause metric XYZ to “go down”. This is essentially what someone like Richwine did with immigration policy. The immediate question is, why do you care? Why is metric XYZ important (without just begging the question)? If metric XYZ is the one true metric, what does that mean to you personally?

      For something like immigration lets say we can present a utilitarian argument that it would make people worse off. However, it would increase your personal utility. Why wouldn’t you support it then? This isn’t some abstract theoretical. Mediocre hacks like Caplan get rewarded for manufacturing consent on this issue, vastly increasing their own personal utility. People like Richwine that stand against it incur immense personal cost. Why would someone do that? If your a secular materialist how do you justify such action? Because it maximizes the utility preferences of a bunch of strangers at your expense? Why is that important? Under what justification do you assign value to some mechanistic utility preference curve? Because in the secular worldview I can’t think of a reason to assign any value to anything ever. Your just a bunch of atoms that randomly came together and after awhile you come apart, with no meaning whatsoever.

      At best you could say, “because God said maximizing the utility curve was holy.” Which would no longer make you a secular! Progress I guess, you could start your own religion based on that, though it would be very different from my own religion and I’d have reason to believe you might be misinterpreting God.

    • nickbsteves says:

      But why would anyone believe that “a society DOES need to be based in/on Christianity”? What does that EVEN MEAN?

      Obviously, successful societies have existed and probably still exist which are not plausibly “based in/on Christianity” (tho’ we still don’t know what that means).

      Obviously, other societies plausibly “based in/on Christianity” (tho’ we still don’t know what that means) have failed.

      How do you measure the maximization of “salvation and theosis”? If you think we can, then, Dr. Charlton, your detractors are more correct than I’d like to give them credit for.

      Ah, but we CAN measure virtue… and high levels of virtue will be attended by low levels of social pathology and high levels of productivity—in which pleasure might be high and suffering would be low. Does that mean more people will goto Heaven? The traditional orthodox answer is that that is for God to decide.

      • Handle says:

        ‘How do you measure the maximization of “salvation and theosis”?’

        The general question is how do you choose between alternatives? You need ‘actionable criteria and analytical metrics’

        In Charlton’s framing, a Christian Supreme Court (or bureaucrat functionary) would have to conduct just such a comparison analysis, and produce an opinion or report that justified the resulting recommended courses of action in concrete terms which can be understood and assessed by the report’s target audience. As Moldbug says, whatever you believe about the supernatural, actions and effects happen in the natural sphere.

        Either observable effects are related to supernatural goals and assessable on observable criteria, or they are not, and there is no way to check whether something is ‘working’ to achieve the goal or not.

        Not all metrics are perfect, but they’re nice to have. If you are trying to reduce industry concentration, there’s HHI. If you are trying to reduce disparate impact, there is the four-fifths rule.

        What do we have for saving souls?

      • asdf says:

        “What Christianity means” has been explored by lots of authors that I know Handle has read. I’ve asked him to explain what it is about those authors he didn’t agree with, but we don’t get any of that.

        What is the point of accusing Christianity of leftist egalitarianism for instance when many Christian authors have already addressed this issue. I know Handle has read “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” amongst other Christian writings. This could apply to all sorts of claims leveled against Christianity here. If you know the argument, address it.

        • Handle says:

          I think belief in the Nicene creed, and that one should follow as best one can the guidance of the New Testament, makes someone part of the Christian Phylum.

          Belief in one God, Jesus was the only son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, sent to Earth to die for our sins, with power to resurrect and heal and do wonders, with prophecy and guidance on how we should live and worship God to achieve salvation and enter the kingdom of heaven in the world to come, the importance of baptism, that the son is somehow in unity with The Father and The Holy Ghost, and that he is the Messiah who will return at the end of days.

          Within that Phylum are many related but varied and distinct genealogies of Classes and Orders deriving their genesis most frequently from countless schisms instead of an origin in innovation or subsequent revelation (i.e. Mormonism)

          Amongst those species, now but especially in the past, there are many species which are 1. leftist, 2. see no contradiction between their preference for leftism and their Christianity, and sometimes 3. think their leftism is mandated by their Christianity.

          • Brother Boleslaw says:

            Yeah, this “no true Christian” stuff isn’t making a lot of sense.

            In most Christian denominations the theological requirements for salvation tend to be laid out pretty clearly. If you comply with those requirements but make an honest mistake about something like being too tolerant of homosexuals or too supportive of fallen women or insufficiently patriarchal in your views about marriage, you’ll be forgiven for your error.

            So you get saved. So you’re a Christian. So you can engage in quite a bit of left deviation and still be a Christian.

          • asdf says:

            Christian forgiveness requires repentance. You have to genuinely admit you’ve sinned and will strive not to sin again. Since the one judging is God you can’t fake it.

            Someone who goes against Christian doctrine on purpose, won’t admit their error, and continues in the sin won’t be forgiven because they haven’t repented.

          • Brother Boleslaw says:

            “Someone who goes against Christian doctrine on purpose,”

            And what if they go against Christian doctrine by accident? IE: They’ve done their best to follow Christian doctrine but they misinterpreted or misunderstood it in one of the ways I mentioned last post?

          • asdf says:

            The question is whether they genuinely misinterpret or whether they purposely misinterpret. This may seem a strange thing to say, how do you purposely come to believe your own lies. However, I imagine we do it every single day. Is there never something that you seem to “talk yourself into”? Do you ever go with an instinct without examining it honestly? That there is a part of you that doesn’t buy the bull crap your selling yourself, but you plow ahead anyway because its what you want. The brain hates cognitive dissonance, at some point you usually come to believe the lie as if it was the truth. One can train themselves to believe lies if one wants.

            I think if someone sat down and honestly examined the Christian teachings that a lot of what we are calling leftist Christianity would disappear. It’s simply not in the teachings. So if people are seeing there is a good chance they are not genuine in their examination. Rather then genuine inquiry they are mostly looking for legalistic excuses and flimsy rationalizations for believing what they want to believe and doing what they want to do.

          • zhai2nan2 says:

            If you want to find a leftist Christian, start with the Catholic nuns who handcuff themselves to USA nuclear weapons facilities. They think that militarism is of Satan, and they see opposition to militarism as a very important social duty – even a corporal work of mercy, in some sense.

            Next to the Catholic, we might see an Episcopalian and an Orthodox. The Episcopalian is pro-gay, the Orthodox believes sodomy is a ticket to eternal flame, but the three of them are willing to put aside those differences long enough to protest nuclear weapons.

            Next to the Episcopalian we have a “non-denominational,” who is a close friend of the Episcopalian. The “non-denominational” likes going to church – any church is equally entertaining – and has a vague sense that Jesus was, is, and ever shall be the son of God, but doesn’t think about theology. Meanwhile, on Earth, leftism seems to be what everyone else is doing, so the “non-denominational” follows the herd.

            Next to the “non-denominational” we have a goy Straussian. The goy Straussian knows in his heart that he will never be Jewish and is too lazy to convert to Judaism. However, the goy Straussian believes Christianity is to his advantage, so he makes a big fuss about going to church and acting pious.

  11. @Handle – BTW if you wanted me to comment on this you should have e-mailed me to let me know – since I don’t spend much time reading blogs (I only came across it when I noticed that I was getting traffic from here); also take into account I live in England hence different time zone; also I am not an Orthodox convert – although I hugely value Eastern Orthodoxy, and in a different place and time would be very pleased to be Orthodox. I’m surprised you haven’t noticed that I am pretty much a ‘theoretical-Mormon’ (i.e. I believe that Mormonism is true, but am not baptised nor a member of the church of LDS). In fact I am a very boringly semi-detcahed conservative evangelical Anglican (ever more strongly ‘anti’ the modern Church of England).

    • Handle says:

      1. Heh, you should make an exception for this blog. Roger, email in the future.
      2. Noted, not a formal convert. However, I use ‘latter-day-convert’ for people that discover a deep love for a particular form of religion later in life without having been raised in it. Most of those people would indeed convert (Dreher’s an example), but you are a special case, and I need a better verbal shortcut.
      3. I have a lot of affection for the Mormons, having worked closely with them in a majority Mormon environment for some time. Perhaps you can explain why you would believe Mormonism to be true, but haven’t taken the step to become part of that religious community. What’s holding you back? What are you waiting for? Why would remain your type of Anglican if you believe in the truth of Mormonism?

      • @Handle: 3.

        First, I descrbe my current situation. The current situation is dependent upon personal and local factors; and I certainly do not *rule-out* asking to be baptised into the CJCLDS at *some* point in my life.

        Mormon theology does not require LDS church membership for salvation (salvation, at some level, is given to pretty much all who do not actively choose to reject it – that was what Christ did for us, and why the gospel is Good News); but rather for attaining the highest levels of theosis/ exaltation (or, at least, for attaining these more rapidly – in fact there is an open-ended amount of time and possibility after death in which theosis may be pursued); furthermore LDS church membership is necessary but not sufficient for this – and a baptised LDS is in pretty-much the same position as a Christian outside the LDS *unless* they are also ‘active’, obedient, Temple-going, married Mormons whose marriage has been sealed.

        It is therefore perfectly coherent to be a believing theoretical Mormon but not a member of the LDS church. Having said that, I have never heard of anyone except myself who fits into the category, and that only for the past less than a year…

        So – from a strictly theological perspective – unless someone is intending and able to live an active Mormon life, there is no compelling reason to ‘convert’. On the other hand I do believe it; and I also respect, support and love the CJCLDS (albeit in a theoretical and distant fashion) – so there would be good reason to join the church from that kind of consideration, if or when circumstances permitted.

        • Dan says:

          Bruce, for someone with such strong views, it seems surprising that you would be a fence-sitter in actual practice. Are you married? Is it too late for that? Marriage and family is central in Mormonism.

          Thanks for your blog.

  12. Dan says:

    “For example, I have no trouble at all as thinking of examples is the 2×2 matrix including right-utility, right-Christian, left-utility, left-Christian. What you seem to be saying is that the first and last categories are illusory. Why?”

    I can think of examples of right-utility, mainly the fascist regimes of European past and rule by military juntas in various places. The latter seems alright. (Most King-type regimes seem to include a dominant faith from which the King derives legitimacy and thus are more right-religious).

    Left Christian on the other hand? I am drawing a blank. Leftism everywhere I have seen it seems to be stridently anti-religious. Catholic Latin America perhaps? Even there you have had enormous currents of anti-religious Marxism, with the Castros in Cuba, Allende in Chile, Che Guevara all over the place, Lora in Bolivia and more. I suppose you have ‘liberation theology’ which I don’t know much about. The Catholic Church called it heresy, but then Francis may be a heretic in this vein so we may learn more up ahead.

    • nickbsteves says:

      Dan, you haven’t visited an ECUSA church recently have you? Or PCUSA, or UMC, or UCC, or ELCA, or American Baptist or (quintessentially) UU; or for that matter any denominations of their foot dragging Evangelical brethren? Left-Christian is hiding in plain sight… you actually have to dig grids and sift through lots of soil to find right-Christian these days (unless you read Handle!).

      The 2×2 (at least) matrix does exist. Charlton collapses it along the right-Christian/left-utility diagonal. Not only does that not work, but if you were going to collapse it (not that you should) you’d have to go with other diagonal as a better approximation of reality. This is how many Secular rightists see it, and it’s completely counter-productive to insult them, and declare them enemies for having the audacity to notice the obvious.

      • asdf says:

        What are you noticing? That a person who calls themselves Christian doesn’t act very Christian?

        Christianity isn’t a label you can adopt or a membership in a club. It’s a specific set of beliefs. If you don’t believe those things, which leftist “Christians” certainly don’t, then you aren’t a Christian. What is so hard to understand about this?

        • Handle says:

          Do the different Christian sects or denominations have different degrees of Christian-ness? Could you rank them? Is it Orthodox, Catholic, Mormon … Episcopalian, Unitarian, …?

          Should someone who professes to be a Christian, goes to a Christian Church, and recites this form of the Nicene Creed, not be considered Christian?

          I know people who recite and believe that whole creed. Also in equality for gays. Mormons believe all kinds of schismatic, non-core-doctrine things. They seem Christian to me with their reverence and worship of Jesus Christ. How can I tell where to draw the lines?

          • asdf says:


            There is no one size fits all answer to that. Your going to have to ask the lord for guidance. I believe that all of our faculties were given to us for a reason by God because they reveal a part of his plan, and I try not to elevate any one source of wisdom as “the answer”. Furthermore, that no man is incapable of understanding the entire plan, but that it still our duty to try.

            For myself, I share a lot of the thoughts that C.S. Lewis did in Mere Christianity. There are certain core beliefs that hold together all Christians. If someone doesn’t believe those things they aren’t Christian. Beyond that there are disagreements in doctrine and belief on top of that foundation between sects and individuals. However, as long as they share that same foundation they are Christian. Such a question is beyond the scope of this reply, but you’ve got plenty of good sources you can look to.

            For an issue like gays the matter seems pretty obvious to me.
            1) The Bible and Jesus are clearly against it.
            2) Christian tradition is clearly against it.

            which should settle it, but I’ll go on

            3) It should be obvious (especially to reactionaries), that the genders are inherently different and gay relations would be inherently different then straight relations.
            4) The social effects and the effect on marriage should be obvious, even though leftists deny these.

            If your going to say that the Bible, Jesus, and two thousand years of Christian tradition is wrong its a little hard to call oneself a Christian. Especially since I’ve yet to hear a Christian argument as to why.

      • Dan says:

        Nick, thanks. I like how if I take a wrong turn on my facts in the alt-right, I am fixed straightaway. Dialects is dead in the universities, dying in science and dead in politics. Alive and well here.

      • Dan says:

        On second thought, I really don’t see how a believing Christian can be a proper leftist. If you are a believing Christian, you think the world is created a certain way. It was created that way, and that’s that.

        Everything about leftism is desperate pursuit of this-worldly perfection — i.e. ‘equality’ of every stripe and so on. If you really believe, then this-worldly inequality is just a temporary thing not to get worked up about. The servants and Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey worship together and get along because they don’t see this as the final end.

        Why was it so necessary for Communists to attack people of faith so stridently? Because they needed faith to be knocked out of them in order to be proper leftists.

      • Dan says:

        ” if you were going to collapse it (not that you should) you’d have to go with other diagonal as a better approximation of reality. This is how many Secular rightists see it, and it’s completely counter-productive to insult them, and declare them enemies for having the audacity to notice the obvious.”

        Numerically this is not the case. Secular rightists are very few numerically (according to Razib Khan maybe) and people who are actual committed churchgoers predominantly vote right. In America in any case.

      • Dan says:

        It is tolerable to be a secular rightist if you are fortunate enough to be on top (or near enough to it) in this life. But if this life is the only one you have and you occupy the lower rungs, you will be terribly rebellious.

        Look people, 100 million were murdered, all in a few countries and all in a few decades. The recipe was always to take away the religion and the bloodbath followed. Ideologically stamping out religion was the main tenet. Human jealousy did the rest.

        The Communist experience is the bloodiest thing not just of the last century but in all of history.

        ECUSA/PCUSA/UMC/UCC/ELCA/American Baptist have mild leftism. They can’t go anywhere near leftist extremes because that would involve a whole lot of murder, violence and more.

        • Handle says:

          They can favor gay marriage and countenance abortion. If that’s not going to leftist extremes for a Christian church, what is?

          • Dan says:

            True. I don’t understand how they square that circle. Still, I refuse to say that is anywhere near the leftist extreme when total abolition of property, abolition of free speech, Marxist indoctrination in schools, persecution of churchmen, the labor camps, the killing fields, the torture was the hallmark of the hard left for most of the 20th century. 100 million deaths, 17 holocausts worth. Conservatives need to salt those numbers into every conversation.

            Wikipedia actually does a nice job here, if you peruse the large number of countries where this separately happened and remember that the USSR actually counts as a whole bunch of countries.

            I was talking to a Ukrainian Catholic (apparently that’s a thing) about what life was like under Communism. I thought that one of the worst things was how churchmen were tied to posts to be turned to ice in the cold parts of Russia. She explained that typically they would be eaten alive by wild animals, which seems worse. Then she explained another favorite, a kind of torture that was supposed to be ironically funny, where two young trees would be bent toward each other and the Christian would be tied to both trees and then the trees would be released to snap apart, ripping the Christian in two. Cross, get it?

    • Handle says:

      For a gentle introduction, see:
      1, 2, 3, 4

  13. asdf says:

    Let’s try a simple thought experiment.

    Person A: I don’t believe in HBD, but I’m a reactionary.

    Person B: Believing in HBD is a core tenet of reaction. If you don’t believe it then your not a reactionary.

    Person A: I disagree based on *insert half assed rationalization*.

    Person B: Your rationalization makes no sense. Either you believe in HBD or your not a reactionary. Choose.

    Person A: I don’t wanna, I’ll go on calling myself whatever I want.

    Person B: Your wrong.

    Person C: See, there are non-HBD reactionaries.

    This is how this whole leftist Christianity charge sounds. Person C wants to tell Person B that reactionary means something person B doesn’t believe it means based on the fact that Person A calls themselves a reactionary even if they don’t actually believe its core tenets that would make them a reactionary.

    Just saying “no true Scotsmen” isn’t a good enough rebuttal when we have standards we say do constitute a true Scotsmen and the people in question aren’t meeting them.

    • Erik says:

      I have a growing hatred of “no true Scotsman”, since that phrase seems to be used in defense of Humpty-Dumptyism. One speaker makes a word mean whatever he says, and whenever an objection is raised regarding group membership and boundaries, the speaker cries “no true Scotsman!”
      At some point the lines around Scotsmen should be clear enough that Idi Amin is not, in fact, the king of Scotland.

      • Handle says:

        This is great. A meta-fallacy! Claim of fallacy by abuse of claim of fallacy! Does it have a name? No True (No True Scotsman)?

        Sailer’s got a Pew poll post that gets into the “No True Jew” question.

        Overall, the discussion resembles the trouble with defining a species, or race, or dialect, or any evolutionary phenomenon.

        Comparative Relatedness with Factor Analysis is probably the only way to go.

      • Handle says:

        If so then I’m honored. I will try to be worthy of his scarce time.

        But if not, you’ve got to admit, it’s a pretty interesting coincidence. It’s possible No True Scotsman abuse has just his it’s critical mass pattern-noticing point on the internet. Sailer’s the best at that kind of thing.

  14. asdf says:

    This guys claims have been addressed before. I see some people trying to get to it in the comments.

    “The existence of a god does not solve the problem because we need some reason to conclude that the god is good, that his will defines what we ought to do.”

    For instance, this has been addressed in the past. We have arguments as to why “God is good”.

    “If the problem is soluble, it is soluble without a god. One solution, the one that strikes me as the least unsatisfactory, is to posit the existence of moral truths analogous to physical truths, perceived by a moral sense analogous to physical sight or hearing. That describes the world as almost everyone actually perceives it—there are not many people who do not see torturing small children for fun as wicked. And that view of moral reality can be confirmed in the same way we confirm our view of physical reality, by subjecting it to consistency tests. If there is a moral universe out there, there ought to be a reasonably good correlation across people in their fundamental moral perceptions. It is arguable that there is, providing we think of moral perceptions at a sufficiently fundamental level. ”

    Is nonsense. An objective morality, much like physical reality, has to have a creator. It doesn’t pop out of nowhere. If we observe it, we observe his work. If an objective morality exists, it can only have one creator. Surely the author is not saying that the act of observing something creates that is being observed.

    • Erik says:

      One even-less-satisfactory fix to that is to argue that objective morality for humans shouldn’t be interpreted as claiming the existence of a human-external thing, but a human-internal one, that the ‘objective’ morality he describes as a reasonably good correlation across people is more of a universal[1] morality for humans which is a function of shared human mental attributes which in turn is a function of shared human genes.
      Which then gets you slightly varying moral systems for different ethnic groups. OH SHIII-
      [1] Sans the occasional deviant, mutant, freak, sport, or throwback. Which sounds very reasonable when you think it means discounting the bat-shit-insane and the psychopaths from the calculation of common human morality standards, gets a little creepy when you start considering how to regard blind people if you want to put moral value on vision, and then someone brings up transsexuals and OH SHIII-

      For your consideration: I have seen an interesting philosophical framework that sidesteps “good and evil” somewhat by starting with “obedience and disobedience” as the fundament instead. I find it reasonable to suppose that God the Creator holds primary authority in the universe and has the right to give orders. Notice that the Ten Commandments are all phrased in the imperative, and much of the moral framework around them is phrased similarly: a set of orders, not a list of sins. “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

      Modern man denies that there is any such thing as a right to give orders, but also orders me to live within his consent-based system of morality and orders me to stop giving orders, so I disregard him for incoherence. He could salvage it by claiming God’s throne and the primary right to give orders for himself, but that gets rid of incoherence at the cost of disputation.

      This has the pleasing side effect of doing away with two philosophical confusions at once. One is a stumbling block in Genesis: why was it wrong for Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil if, as the situation suggests, they did not yet know of Good and Evil? Because God had commanded them not to. The other is the Euthyphro dilemma in this form: Is it obedient to sacrifice lambs because God commands us to sacrifice lambs, or does God command us to sacrifice lambs because it is obedient to sacrifice lambs? To me the first horn is an obvious choice now, and the second is patent nonsense.

    • spandrell says:

      Dude, you must think us all retarded. How can we not get your point? Except we do. But it’s not true. You are being overly logical. People don’t behave morally because of a rational fear of eternal pain in hell. People do not tell good from bad by rationally deriving it from a revealed Will of God. People tell good from bad by being taught cultural mores from childhood.
      That’s how it works in reality. Take a look at people brains and that’s what you see. The Japanese (and NE Asians in general) are the most orderly people on earth, yet they do not believe in hell. People do not behave rationally, they behave through habit.

      Objective morality doesn’t exist because nobody needs it.

      • zhai2nan2 says:

        >The Japanese (and NE Asians in general) are the most orderly people on earth, yet they do not believe in hell.

        Certainly many Japanese Buddhists believe in hell-reincarnations, and many Asians elsewhere believe in similar afterlife concepts.

        As I have been posting frequently of late, karma and vipaka are important ideas.

        As Enma Dai-O would say: ‘Good man, did it never occur to you – an intelligent and mature man – “I too am subject to ageing, I am not exempt from ageing: surely I had better do good by body, speech, and mind”? …[T]his evil action of yours was not done by your mother or your father, or by your brother or your sister, or by your friends and companions, or by your kinsmen and relatives, or by recluses and brahmins, or by gods: this evil action was done by you yourself, and you yourself will experience its result.’

        Or as Enma Ai would say: Ippen shinde miru?

      • asdf says:


        If morality is just genes, we have to wonder who created those genes. If they created those genes with a purpose then they gave us that morality. Did you create yourself? Did you create the universe? One can’t claim to have the ability to create ones own morality then. Observing a thing and creating it are different things. Observing that one has a conscience isn’t the same as creating it.

        Moreover, morality is be definition “willed”. If we live in a deterministic universe in which no *choices* are made then there is no morality. It’s an ought, not an is.

        “He could salvage it by claiming God’s throne”

        Nonsense. We are not Gods.

        I agree that obedience is the primary question, but that there is no difference between obedience and good. And there is no difference between disobedience at evil. There can be no disobedient “good”.


        “being taught cultural mores from childhood.”

        Where do these mores come from? What makes them “moral”?

        “Objective morality doesn’t exist because nobody needs it.”

        This has got to be the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. Objective morality either exists or it doesn’t exist. Your evaluation of how much you think you need it is rather secondary.

        NE Asians are orderly because of their history. Are we to assume that orderliness proves their morality? Can one not be orderly and sinful? Moreover, how would the overall level of order in NE Asian societies change whether there is an objective morality or not. Are we to assume everyone that doesn’t explicitly endorse a certain moral outlook must act immorally in every single instance?

        I was pretty agnostic and unreflective most of my life. That didn’t conflict with my acting “orderly”, but I feel I would have acted much better had I been faithful then. Today I realize that the moral impulse that I couldn’t explain with materialism had to come from somewhere else. If I had the frame to process that I would have processed it a lot better back then, instead of just cursing why I felt this way when I couldn’t find a scientific reason why.

        Saying, “its what your taught,” isn’t good enough. If what I was taught isn’t true, and I’m aware it isn’t true, then I should be able to overcome it, especially when there are obvious tangible benefits to doing so. It would be the scientific logical thing to do. And that’s where your left if you reject God. Deterministically following some amoral evolutionary script. I did that, but I found there was something more that couldn’t be explained in that frame that I was compelled to obey though I could find no earthly reason to do so.

        • spandrell says:

          Where do these mores come from? What makes them “moral”?

          History. And “moral” means “by custom”.

          The fact that you need a logical system to construct a narrative to prove your behavior is moral is your problem. It’s a psychological need quite common for Europeans of a certain IQ, sure. But so what? Most people are able to behave in proper ways without the need to justify it as the will of a Creator God. Some people are very able to justify extreme evil as the will of a Creator God.

          . I did that, but I found there was something more that couldn’t be explained in that frame that I was compelled to obey though I could find no earthly reason to do so.

          Well I, and I suspect Handle too, don’t give a shit about your spiritual longing. What we’re talking about here, what the whole neoreaction blogosphere likes to talk about, is what does it take to have an orderly society, where people behave morally, i.e. don’t harm each other, respect each others property and try to be pleasant most of the time.

          And that has nothing to do with spiritual longings, objective morality, God or whatever it is that makes you feel cozy. You don’t need God to have an orderly society (which is effectively equivalent to a moral society as you or any Christian would define it), and that is proved by the fact that there are plenty of orderly societies without God. And lots of disorderly, even plain evil societies with God.

          I do think that faith in God is a good thing to people like you, it might make you better person. But that doesn’t work with everybody. In fact it doesn’t work much at all most of the time.

          • Dan says:

            Spandrell in the above passage represents to me the worst of the alt-right. He is a childless youth, all brains and no wisdom or experience. A nihilist who loves smarty dorm-room talk but has yet built nothing. A man with a short time-history who has not absorbed the lessons of even the recent past.

            Some points:
            (1) Countries which held atheism officially high were almost universally murderous. Not only does this include every single example of Communism but also that German regime which made Darwinism its religion.

            (2) The genocidal nature of so many officially atheistic societies is not an accident. If murder isn’t a sin, there being no such thing, then it is not a big deal. Even absolute monarchs did not behave this way.

            (3) The proper measure is obviously not to compare religious societies directly with non-religious ones, because HBD will confound everything. Of course, the proper measure is to compare countries with the religious versions of themselves.

            North Korea vs. South Korea
            Pax Brittanica England vs. Modern Degenerate England
            Modern Russia with 1 million addicted to Krokodil vs. Russians living anywhere else
            The Belgium of a generation ago versus this:
            Modern quisling Europe, in debt and demographic decline everywhere versus the growing and thriving Europe of almost any other era in the past millenium.
            The United States of mid-century versus the United States of today (and note that the still-partially religious US is still doing better than Europe even though the US has worse demographics)
            Utah versus every other state, on many important statistical measures. Massachusetts does well but in fertility it is a dud.

            By the proper measure places do better with religion than they themselves would without. And its obvious why. Without it, you are nihilistic like Spandrell and pursue no big goals.

            (4) It is foolish to describe religion in broad terms without making distinctions. They aren’t similar by any stretch. There is one out there whose founder acted opposite to all of the others, conquering by sword and advocating war.

            Spandrell is himself the embodiment of what is wrong with an absence of religion. The modern alternative is poolside, hedonistic nihilism, which may be fun for him but which is calamity for society writ large.

          • spandrell says:

            I am married, with children, living in the countryside, tending to my garden, living perhaps the most traditional life of anyone here.

            You are the embodiment of what is wrong with religious people; big mouthed ignorant claims, shallow data points with no understanding of the facts.
            Modern Russia with 1 million addicted to Krokodil is quite more religious than it was under Brezhnev, without Krokodil, Pussy Riot and millions of Russian prostitutes across the world.

            Just go fuck yourself. I wasn’t talking to you. I wasn’t even talking about religious countries vs. communism or whatever retarded conservative points you like to make. I’m just stating the fact that morality is not logically based in God, as millions of people find it quite possible to behave morally without believing in everlasting Hell, while very pious God-fearing people commit all kinds of sin.

          • Dan says:

            Forgive my rudeness. On your blog you come across as a single guy. Your blog suggests you live in Asia. So a European in the countryside in Asia? That would be rare. And your level of civility is not what I would expect from someone who is married with kids. But I’ll accept that.

            No, Russia is not religious. Their leaders are protective of religion after hammering it into the ground for generations, but it’s still less religious than almost any other place.
            Church attendance in Russia is 3-4% according to

            And the amount of social capital there is lower than almost any place too.

            You completely miss my point which is not whether it is possible to behave morally without belief. Of course it is. In fact you address none of my points. Arguing that faith doesn’t matter by saying that people act well without it is a lot like people arguing against HBD by citing individuals. Of course you have to look on the level of populations and groups.

          • spandrell says:

            My level of civility! You do really need to get out some time.

            I don’t address any of your points because I wasn’t talking about that. Asdf was making the classical Karamazov argument that morality needs God’s will to stand as a logical system, and I answered that. Your points about atheistic societies vs. Christian societies have been made thousands of times, do you really need my input on that?

            NE Asians have never been religious the way Europe was, and they have never based their societal morality on religion. They didn’t depend on professional priests for moral guidance. And while premodern Asia sucked in many ways, it wasn’t that bad, and it’s pretty good today. For all I know there’s something on the wiring of white people that makes us need God’s will to be able to behave decently. But that’s not universal.

          • zhai2nan2 says:

            >NE Asians have never been religious the way Europe was,

            That’s vague to the point of meaninglessness, but it looks like you’re trying to weasel out of your earlier mistake.

            >and they have never based their societal morality on religion.

            That’s unfalsifiable and depends heavily on some authority’s judgement call.

            >They didn’t depend on professional priests for moral guidance.

            That’s highly debatable, and again depends on the judgement call of whoever writes the history.

            Your claims are full of hogwash, Spandrell. Good luck turning neoreaction into a lucrative scam, but I want no part of it.

          • Handle says:

            But dude! It will be really lucrative! I heard Moldbug’s made dozens of Bitcoins.

          • Handle says:

            I’m sorry, but if you don’t think most developed countries these days are, as a practical matter, officially and effectively atheist, then we’re going to have to discuss terminology. The real state religion is Secular Humanist Progressivism, and if that ever conflicts with Christianity, Progressivism wins.

          • zhai2nan2 says:

            >Spandrell in the above passage represents to me the worst of the alt-right. He is a childless youth, all brains and no wisdom or experience. A nihilist who loves smarty dorm-room talk but has yet built nothing. A man with a short time-history who has not absorbed the lessons of even the recent past.

            Don’t worry, Enma Dai-O will sort out the vipaka appropriate to his karma.

            >Spandrell is himself the embodiment of what is wrong with an absence of religion. The modern alternative is poolside, hedonistic nihilism,

            Sadly, no. If we can believe his claims, Spandrell isn’t whooping it up in the nightclubs like an actual red-blooded hedonist; Spandrell’s pleasures come from his immense satisfaction with his superior way of life.

            Ippen shinde miru?

          • Handle says:

            That’s where my satisfactions come from

          • zhai2nan2 says:

            Well, if the atheist neoreactionary way of life is enthusiastic, it will naturally attract to itself opportunities to recruit, as well as rivals who will be unrecruitable. Examples: Handle has attracted Spandrell to his banner, and they don’t need any rules to govern their spontaneous association, because they believe in the same things. Likewise, Handle has attracted Charlton into his Handle’s sphere of attention, and Charlton is unrecruitable to atheism.

            Speaking from my experience of Northeast Asians, the Western atheistic reactionary faction might have a lot of success persuading many Asians to abandon the traditional religions of their forefathers – but that’s not going to make Asia atheistic – not by a long shot.

            For Asia has a mystical intuition of its own, and every day Asians are abandoning modern-day atheistic materialism to look for spirituality. The resulting Asia may not be very amenable to Charlton’s way of life, or to Spandrell’s way of life.

            I find it fascinating that Christians were reactionaries for decades and decades, and then suddenly the un-Christian Moldbug comes along, and all kinds of atheists want to raise the banner of neoreaction. Pretty soon the Christian reactionaries will be calling themselves paleoreactionaries!

          • Handle says:

            Paleoreactionaries! Awesome. You heard it here first folks.

          • Handle says:

            I think the problem is getting hung up on the word ‘morality’. Internally-motivated pro-social behavior, regardless of how that motivation is implanted and encouraged, it what good government is after.

            Besides ‘orderliness’, if you’ve got a better shortcut word for it, I’m all ears. If the contention is that only Christian Morality can achieve a society with that high level of orderliness without need for constant supervision and nannying, then I’d wiling to keep an open mind and eager to hear the argument, but I’m skeptical. The NE Asian example is a valid one.

            If one’s goal is pro-social behavior (or at least a minimization of anti-social behavior – ‘order’), then there are many ways for a neoreactionary government to achieve that in its citizens, just like there are many ways for parents to achieve that with their children. I think Christianity has indeed played such a role for some communities. It’s not the only way to skin the cat.

            Consider the military. Commanders (depending on rank) are given a lot of tools and flexibility. They can make policy and use a lot of carrots and sticks – awards and disciplinary measures – to enforce the kinds of behavioral patterns most beneficial to the command. At a higher level, they can try to build genuine cohesion, teamwork, work-ethic, camaraderie, and esprit de corps by using various, collective-event / common challenging experience psychological methods. At the highest level – there is genuine socialization (with social-group reinforcement), acculturation, and indoctrination of values, ethics, and ‘moral’ beliefs that generate hesitation, guilt, disgust, outrage, etc. when certain impulses arise. But these are ‘community-specific’ norms that are useful in the particular context, but not generalizable outside the group context. They are more Spartan than Christian, for obvious reasons, and they work.

            You are allowed to escalate your force and penalties to the needs of necessity, and you can deal with Soldiers who do what you want because they are afraid of the consequences for disobedience. But you would prefer that they want to do the right thing, and won’t do the wrong thing when nobody is looking, even when they can get away with it and even if such discipline comes at some personal expense. Good units can be effective, but one unit is clearly better than the other, especially from the perspective of the command, who doesn’t have to concentrate so much of his time and effort on maintaining discipline.

            Bottom Line: Pro-social behavioral indoctrination is useful and feasible. Some human beings are better made for it than others.

            Christianity is one way to do that, but not the only way. It suffers from having a giant obsessive target painted on its back by the Progressives.

            I maintain, the best that people who want a Christian Society can hope for these days is to find a space within a strong-subsidiarity Neoreactionary Imperium (like an Ottoman Millet System, what I call Multizionism and others call Hyperfederalism), that is tolerant, protective, and supportive of just such a community. If that Christian Society is allowed to exist, and if it survives and thrives, then that example will win more hearts and minds as to the ‘truth’ of its foundation than any argument even could. Like Aaron David Miller says, the real religion of the world is success.

          • asdf says:


            Obviously, what I mean by the concept of moral is very different from what you think it is. I can’t seem to get this concept through to you.

            “The fact that you need a logical system to construct a narrative to prove your behavior is moral is your problem.”

            This shows once again how little you understand. I didn’t construct a moral narrative around my actions and what I wanted to do. I felt compelled by a moral reality beyond myself. I did not want to act morally, in fact I wanted to act in a very different manner. When I acted morally it was at personal sacrifice and not something I wanted to do.

            “what the whole neoreaction blogosphere likes to talk about, is what does it take to have an orderly society, where people behave morally, i.e. don’t harm each other, respect each others property and try to be pleasant most of the time.”

            Why? Because that is the kind of environment you want to live in? If that’s your goal anyone in the first world with the right IQ (everyone on this blog) can do that right now. Probably are doing that right now. And your best path to achieving that goal for yourself is to join the Cathedral. I guarantee Bryan Caplan lives in an orderly bubble that is pleasant most of the time. The right move, if personal order/pleasantness is your highest goal, is always to fuck over whoever you can whenever you can so long as they can’t fight back. Its always to go with the flow whenever its personally beneficial to you. Which is what the people running our society are doing, and then you sit here and complain they are doing it. And because you have no moral foundation with which to criticize or act differently in their place you then you try to imagine some world in which it wouldn’t be beneficial to fuck over society at large for your personal benefit, which is a world that doesn’t exist and never will exist.

            Bruce already addressed this quite well. If your goal is conventional order and prosperity for yourself there is no path by leftism:

            Why don’t you convert to political correctness?

            Since you can’t do anything about political correctness, why not just make the best of it?

            Why not exploit the situation instead of moaning about it?

            Do what is expedient – why not?


            Why not make a successful career out of PC – like so many others?

            Why not surrender your private mind to PC, in the same way as you have already surrendered your public behaviour?

            By having any reservations at all, you are making yourself miserable – why not simply cast-aside those reservations?

            Just say an inner yes to what you will, anyway, be forced to do…


            Since you necessarily inhabit the thought prison that is political correctness – then why not, at least, become one of the ‘trustys’ among the inmates – to assist with the smooth running of the gaol, and get yourself a few privileges.

            Why not, indeed, strive to become one of the guards? Somebody has to do the job? Maybe you could temper the severity of the regime?

            And herein lies the particular temptation for the intellectual elite – a temptation few resist.

            That (literally) soul-destroying pragmatism by which (for eminently sensible reasons) we quietly, by gradual degrees, change sides in the spiritual battle of the world: that unseen warfare between The Good and that which opposes The Good.


            Well why not?

            There is no earthly reason why not.

            In a world of pervasive and powerful PC, there is really only one compelling reason for holding back and resisting in any way, shape or form – which is that embracing political correctness will shrink your soul.


            If you do not believe in the soul, this reason will carry no force at all: so by your own calculations you are stupid to resist PC.

            Or, if you believe the soul is inviolable, and that nothing you think or do can affect the soul: then also, by your own calculations, you are stupid to resist PC.

            If you do not believe in Natural Law (innate knowledge of The Good), and that breaking Natural Law harms the soul: then logically you should learn to love PC.


            If you do not believe in the reality of transcendental good – then you might as well go with the flow, allow yourself to be re-programmed: to learn, by regular practice, to re-label lies as truth, ugliness as beauty, evil as virtue; until PC has entered into your heart and soul, as well as pouring into your ears and out-from your mouth.


            But political correctness is nihilism; therefore it is not merely political: it is also existential.

            To fight against political correctness is therefore ultimately an existential act: a battle to preserve the eternal soul.


            But if you do not believe that political correctness will harm your eternal soul: then you would be well-advised to suck it up.

            Why not?…

          • asdf says:

            Why is PC so shallow, flippant and reckless?

            The short answer is because PC intellectuals do not think intellectual discourse is serious.

            And they do not think intellectual discourse is serious because they do not think that anything is serious, because they are ‘relativistic’ nihilists (social constructivists) who do not believe in the eternal, unchangeable, objective nature of reality and who will soon be dead, anyway, so why bother?


            PC tactical retreats in the face of serious rational discourse:

            1. Who knows?

            Nothing is certain. Subjective factors interfere everywhere. It is dangerous to claim certainty when none is to be had. Maybe you are correct, deep down, but as we never can know reality then we will never know for sure…

            In the meantime I might as well enjoy myself, or at least avoid unnecessary suffering.


            2. Nothing is really real.

            Well, ultimately nothing is real anyway; so whether you are more correct than I am doesn’t really matter, because the universe is ultimately chaos; any apparent order is just a random blip on the road to entropy…

            In the meantime I might as well enjoy myself, or at least avoid unnecessary suffering.


            3. It will last my time.

            Maybe you are correct, maybe my views will indeed lead to disaster, maybe currently-promoted behaviour is not sustainable or will destroy itself – but all that matters is that things keep going just long enough until I am gone. After all, when I am dead I won’t know anything about it either way…

            In the meantime I might as well enjoy myself, or at least avoid unnecessary suffering.


            4. Death will put an end to it.

            Even if things do not last my time, even if things do become awful – even if they become intolerable – since the ‘immortal soul’ is a childish fiction, death will put an end to my misery – so I can always escape by killing myself…

            In the meantime I might as well enjoy myself, or at least avoid unnecessary suffering.


            Atheism and nihilism therefore serve as a crutch to the politically correct elite.

          • spandrell says:

            I don’t convert to PC because I understand where order comes from, and it is from truth, not lies. I can foresee what denial of HBD produces, I can foresee what the exaltation of sexual deviancy produces, and I can see very well what feminism is doing to women. Bryan Caplan lives in a world which is orderly, but where every year a fair number of young women go in charity tours in Africa and are physically or psychologically harmed, where young men are wasted and denounced. Most people will turn ok, but a fair amount will be trashed by the PC machine. I don’t want to expose my family to that world.

            Or perhaps I’m rationalizing, and I don’t convert to PC because I’m just a very bad liar. I just can’t feign belief, and I would be a bad loser if I had to live with real PC believers.

          • asdf says:


            “I don’t want to expose my family to that world.”

            Is Bryan Caplan’s family exposed to that world? If your goal is not to expose your family to bad things there are way easier ways to do that then try to bring about the neoreaction. Such a desire even makes endorsing the Cathedral make a lot of sense.

            In weighing direct this worldly benefits accruing to your family in the hear and now versus some abstract idea that society might be slowly become worse off for it and that might affect them in a negative way generations from now and nothing you could do would really change that (and they will have the advantage of the resources you gave them by selling out to help weather that eventuality) its pretty obvious what people are going to choose.

            “I just can’t feign belief”

            I hear you, though I imagine most of them aren’t faking it. I think Bryan Caplan is mentally capable of seeing his bullshit, but has so thoroughly chosen to wall off that part of his mind he doesn’t even know its there anymore. When he needs to access that knowledge it is done without his even knowing it, then shut behind the wall again. If you really committed to that lifestyle I imagine you could accomplish it. And in a materialist world I see little reason why someone shouldn’t.


            “Saying that you need a logically consistent intellectual justification for certain behavior does not negate the fact that, under certain conditions, people will tend to behave that way without knowing or understanding those justifications.”

            Certainly, if nobody is ever confronted with a strong moral situation they might proceed along in ignorance doing alright enough job. They won’t do anything particularly great or particularly wicked because they never had the opportunity. Hence Mustopha Mond saying that things have to go wrong before you need virtue. Then again, isn’t the Mustopha Mond solution what Foseti is disgusted by in his recent post. Yes, we don’t have the technology to do it as perfectly as Mond, its not quite as complete, but it kinda sorta works, at least in terms of the proles being docile and higher castes being orderly. Even if things degraded to being Mexico, its not that bad and you can still live in a gated community.

            if you want a different outcome then that, somebody somewhere is going to have to make a moral choice to fight for it.

            “Also, people do in fact care about the welfare of their neighbors.”

            But why do it? If because it can benefit them, see below. If because of some misfiring of the empathy meant for direct neighbors

            I don’t see how one can justify giving up personal advantages (of the positive or negative variety) for strangers based on some evolutionary kin altruism legacy. And yet this is used as an argument against just being a sell out or harming anyone that isn’t in your “monkeysphere” as spandrell puts it. I don’t see why empathy for the people in your hunter gatherer tribe a long time ago makes you empathize for the people in Fishtown, not in an meaningful way. And if by some chance you are experiencing some misfiring of an evolutionary legacy instinct that doesn’t apply to the situation at hand then just consciously overcome it. Shove that altruism deep down, make rationalizations, warp it to serve your own ends. That’s what leftists do.

            “They may also do it our of enlightened self-interest, what it good for your neighbors ends up creating a community that is nice for you and your children to live in.”

            See my response to spandrell. Enlightened self interest can never justify making personal sacrifices for strangers that are unlikely to pay you back. It can’t even stop you from hurting others so long as it doesn’t negatively affect you. It’s my believe that the opportunity to harm without repercussion in a mass modern anonymous society is tremendous. I don’t think enlightened self interest works as a reason.

            Enlightened material self interest. Animal instinct.

            “Finally, bubbling off is really expensive and cedes territory”

            It’s still a better personal option then fighting the system.

            “and lives I’d rather not to sacrifice.”

            Absent God, I can’t understand why you don’t want to sacrifice anything. Even if I grant you self interested instinct, I can’t see why you don’t want to sacrifice others in and of itself (if there is no negative effect on you).

          • asdf says:

            Some stuff got cut off for some reason, but I guess most of its still there.

          • spandrell says:

            Caplan has a pretty big chance of having one of his children come out gay, communist or whatever selfdestructing lifestyle is popular in 10 years. And he won’t be able to say shit about it.

            You make a good point, but going from that to embracing Christianity is a pretty massive non sequitur.

          • Handle says:

            The answer to a lot of your whys is that most people don’t operate on whys and don’t need whys. They go along with what they absorb socially. They don’t question, they don’t work things out from first principles, they aren’t bothered by the lack of logic or cognition.

            Saying that you need a logically consistent intellectual justification for certain behavior does not negate the fact that, under certain conditions, people will tend to behave that way without knowing or understanding those justifications.

            So when you say “Why would a person do X?” with the implication that they would never do it without some Y, then the rhetorical question assumes a human necessity that is observably false.

            Also, people do in fact care about the welfare of their neighbors. Some do it naturally, on impulse, whether they were taught that way or not. They may also do it our of enlightened self-interest, what it good for your neighbors ends up creating a community that is nice for you and your children to live in.

            Finally, bubbling off is really expensive and cedes territory and lives I’d rather not to sacrifice.

  15. nickbsteves says:

    The “No True Scotsman” fallacy applies in spades in the case of Bruce Charlton. It is conceivable that some earthly authority exists to declare someone a Christian. In fact, we DO HAVE that such an authority: It’s called the Church. A Christian is someone validly baptized into the Church. (Note: to theologically ignorant or indifferent, the Catholic and Orthodox Church both recognize most (not Mormon BTW) schismatic and heretic (e.g. Protestant) baptisms, so that’s just about everybody claiming to be Christian. All that is required for “Valid Baptism” is proper matter, form, and intention—not, importantly, the visible confines of the Catholic and/or Orthodox church.)

    “Christian” in this parlance therefore does not mean or imply 1) that the person is a saint, or 2) very advanced along his path to “theosis”, or 3) publicly professes all the Church (take your pick) authoritatively teaches, or 4) believes the Bible literally or 4.5) at all, or 5) will go to heaven, or 6) will NOT go to hell (just ask the Popes and Bishops who are almost certainly there), or 7) believes heaven and hell are actually real, or 8) even belileves in God at all or 9) a million other things that particular brands of “Christians” would like it to mean.

    A person baptized into the Christian Church—that is what Christian means.

    And nobody, not even if your Asdf or Bruce Charlton, or even Larry Auster (RIP), has the option to RE-define what the Church (the real whole Universal Church, not some obscure or idiosyncratic subset of it) means when it says the word “Christian”. So if Christians happen to be leftists, then they’re leftists; and if they happen to be pro-abort, then they’re pro-abort; and if they happen to be in any other way profoundly in error or even bound for hell, then that doesn’t (magically, gnostically??) make them somehow NOT Christians.

    Being baptized into the Christian Church is an objective act. Pseudo-spiritual talk that denies this is fundamentally gnostic and ipso facto anti-Christian.

    • nickbsteves says:

      woops forgot the </strong>

    • Samson J. says:

      A person baptized into the Christian Church—that is what Christian means.

      No, it isn’t. A real “Christian” is someone who has a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. We can’t always tell who these people are (although if we really want to there are generally clues), but it certainly excludes many baptized “Catholics”, and probably stands in contrast to Handle’s claim that “most” of his friends and neighbours are Christians (real Christians), unless he lives in a very unusual community.

      Aw, heck, I don’t really mean to open this can of worms on your blog, Handle, but I agree with the OP that a lot of this comes down to arguments about definitions.

      • Samson J. says:

        if they happen to be in any other way profoundly in error or even bound for hell, then that doesn’t (magically, gnostically??) make them somehow NOT Christians.

        Yes, it does; it literally does.

      • “saving relationship with Jesus Christ”

        And how do we know it’s “saving” if we’re not, ya know, actually “saved” yet. How do we know we have a “relationship”? ‘Cuz we imagine it. We have a relation to God, not a relationship with him.

        By this definition, no one (living) would be a “Christian”, only the declared (infallibly BTW) Saints in Glory. It would be, at most, some sort of aspirational goal for people on earth, that everyone (some far better, some far worse) would be living up to.

        So the definition manages to be too narrow and too broad all at the same time.

        This is just more Christian-ish mumbo-jumbo.

    • Dan says:

      Well, it’s an open thread, soooo….

      Matthew 7

      15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

      I think Charleton goes by this, judging by the fact that LDS appeals to him. They seem to have good fruit and that seemed to draw him, since his interest in their fruit on his blog preceded his ‘conversion.’

    • asdf says:

      Christianity is an ideal. The closer one is to the ideal, the more Christian one is. If they don’t endorse the most basic ideals of Christianity they are pretty far from the ideal.

      When we say leftism is not Christianity we say that the essence of Christianity and the essence of leftism are in opposition. That to become Christian one would have to renounce leftism, because its not a part of Christianity, a statement I feel is quite accurate given my conception of Christian beliefs (as elaborate by many of the authors OP has read).

      That said, the amazing thing about Christ is that he only requires genuine repentance. What is bad about leftist isn’t that they sin, but that they won’t repent their sins. A leftist will not admit that their believes conflict with Christian beliefs. That is what keeps them so far from Christianity, so much so that in the context of this argument I’m not referring to them as Christians. The repentant sinner can be forgiven their failings. The unrepentant sinner…we love but will not soften the nature of their decisions.

      • Dan says:

        Terribly well put. C.S. Lewis identified pride as the most grievous sin. Pride is also a violation of the first commandment.

        ASDF, you write a lot and you write well. I say, don’t get a blog, write a book. And then put the book online if you wish.

        • asdf says:

          Lewis is amazing. I find it strange that Christianity, a religion that makes pride its primary sin and considers pride as related to religion (holier then thou attitude) to be considered the worst sin is somehow responsible for holier then thou leftists.

          If you want to say that this is a sin that a Christian can easily fall into, then so be it. There are many sins people can fall into, Christian or no. But to say that the sin itself IS Christian, that’s silly.

          You know I had a blog for a few posts, but like Handle I found it a huge time sink. Then I forgot the password and gave it up. In general all of this internet stuff is probably a sin. At best its self indulgent infovorism. I probably shouldn’t even comment. There is a lot to get out of the DE and blogs in general, but at some point it becomes a bit repetitive and I’m not sure its unlike eating on cookie (a balanced treat) vs consuming an entire box of cookies.

          • asdf says:

            That said, I think there is a ton of value in talking to people in person about things you can’t normally talk to people in person about. Very relieving.

            The internet brings out the worst in people and lowers debate 99.99% of the time. The only reason we are talking online rather then to real life people is we fear reprisal for our ideas. Sometimes this is a good thing (how spergy do these arguments get when there is no IRL check) but sometimes this is the only escape valve.

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  18. Samson J. says:

    Samson, I know, is just about done with us

    No, I’m not. I’m just refusing to interact with one specific claim.

  19. Handle, you may want to consider turning off threading…

    • Handle says:

      Unlimited Threading: Pros and Cons:

      But first, it really depends on how you read blogs. I use WordPress Reader, sometimes on my phone or Kindle Fire, which helps alert me to responses and, under notifications or comments, keep thing clean. If you read from the web though, the indentation makes it look awful.

      Pros: You can respond to any particular comment, no matter how deep. You can also get those individualized alerts without having to resort to email notification (yuck).

      Cons: Deep threading gets out the visibility of most people trying to get to the comments. Perhaps it prolongs discussions too long that deserve treatment in a new post (or should just stop).

      Origin of issue: I just haven’t had that many deeply-threaded comments before, so I didn’t think it’d be a problem.

      Ruling: The ugliness of the web display pushed me over the line.

      I am altering the settings, pray that I do not alter them any further! We’ll try five-deep.

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