For two centuries now, the spiritual worldview of Christianity has been eroded by the Materialism which emerged from the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment
Modern ideas for change from the existing order, ie Left wing ideas, originate in the Materialist, therefore humanistic and anti-religious thinking of the Enlightenment – the age of science, pure reason and the rejection of all that is perceived as superstition.
This on-going historical conflict explains today’s clash between traditional Left and traditional Right wing thinking. The clash is fundamentally philosophical – indeed religious – and explains the policies which each view inspires even today.
At the heart of this clash lies the classic “Nature/Nurture” debate. In the traditional and centuries old Christian perception of mankind, human beings are made in God’s image but tainted by sin. They are capable of good, but selfish by nature. Jesus Christ came to expunge Sin and so reconcile us to our Creator and Judge. God is there; God cares; God will act for those who obey him.
In Enlightenment thinking, this paradigm is rejected and replaced by a conception of man as a material entity fashioned by his environment – nurture. The answer to social ills is therefore to change the environment, not the person; people will respond to an improved environment. That – not religion – is the answer.
The Right wing emphasis on personal responsibility, however, means that Law and Order is vital to combat excesses which arise from sin in the individual person. For the traditional Right, individual selfishness and the consequent irresponsibility towards others is the fundamental source of social ills – not lack of material possessions. The State must therefore prioritise law enforcement and punishment.
For the Left however, selfishness is not the fundamental problem. Environment is the problem. Solve environmental issues, and you solve social issues. There is no intrinsic right and wrong about the human being; human beings are what they are. End of.
For the Left, Morality – right and wrong – is not fundamentally a matter of individual responsibility; instead, the question of right and wrong revolves around social justice for all. And the State is the arbiter of that and responsible to promote that.
This thinking has given rise to what is characterised today as political correctness. The State should consciously control the political and educational climate to ensure that the cultural and conceptual environment promotes total equality. Indeed, the State and Society should stigmatise and marginalise anything which the Left perceives as a threat to its paradigm. So Right wing thinking must be smeared and eliminated.
This is a totalitarian mindset and this writer defines political correctness as a form of conceptual and psychological fascism. Edmund Burke identified this same mentality as the spirit of atheistical fanaticism. This was the fanaticism which inspired the French Revolution, and which has manifestly inspired every such murderous and lawless Revolution since, from Leninist/Stalinist Russia to Mao’s China etc.
But where Left wing thinking welcomes State intervention and influence, the Right upholds the natural role of family, and is wary of State influence. For the Right in the English speaking world, Magna Carta of 1215 is the cornerstone of liberty because Magna Carta placed the Executive under the Rule of Law and Custom. State action is suspect; its role must be defined and confined; the State must ensure justice, not become an agent of injustice and oppression.
The underlying philosophical contrast is evident in 4 primary dimensions:
The Right emphasises
individual social responsibility according to traditional cultural norms
law and order, strict Justice and personal responsibility
economic freedom, personal financial independence/responsibility, therefore private wealth
national identity and history, including religious tradition
The Left emphasises
personal expression regardless of traditional social norms
material welfare as the basis for good social behaviour
corporate, collective State control and direction of resources and of the economy
international action and co-operation, viewing national identity and self interest as a threat to world peace
These are exemplary features of traditional Left and Right wing thinking – and many individuals will undoubtedly find themselves with preferences and tendencies which are a mix of the two. A Left wing voter may indeed be patriotic, while a Right wing voter may well see value in international agreements and institutions.
In terms of the underlying thrust of thinking, however, Right wing philosophy reflects an underlying Protestant Christian doctrine of personal responsibility in making moral and socially acceptable choices; in taking responsibility for personal economic welfare. We are responsible for our own lives, for our families and for what we can influence by our own individual actions. As far as the bigger world is concerned, a Providential God is in control.
By contrast, Left wing thinking fundamentally rejects all idea of a god in control of events, to whom human beings are accountable. Instead, the Left holds that we must take our destiny into our own hands; that we must improve the physical conditions for all human beings because that – not religion – is the true facilitator of freedom and happiness.
In concrete policy terms, the difference becomes explicit in areas like Taxation or Regulation.
The Right believes in less taxation while the Left believes in redistribution via more taxation.
The Right believes in less government and less regulation, while the Left sees more government action and regulation as necessary to improve the condition of society.
Most people reading this analysis would see positives on both sides, and this writer believes that in a rational and democratic society both sides have something to contribute to constructive discussion and decision making. Such is the basis of assembly in a parliament: to listen to others, to debate, and to decide what should be done, after orderly discussion.
The key problem for the Right in the English speaking world today is that it has lost its historic moral basis in Christianity. It has unwittingly absorbed Left wing philosophy, and therefore policy.
Without Christianity, the Right has lost both its moral reference point and its will to steer the ship of State to the safe harbour of individual liberty founded upon individual responsibility. Instead, the ‘Right’ now drifts with the materialistic, man centred tide. It fails to set a clear course and alternative away from the State control paradigm imposed by Left wing Materialism.
The Right urgently needs to examine its underlying worldview and champion its traditional credentials.
Edmund Burke called the exercise of political power, “a holy function”. In his discussion of the consecration of the State by church and religion in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke wrote:
“All persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in trust, and that they are to account for their conduct in that trust to the one great Master, Author and Founder of society.”
[paragraph 151 of this writer’s edition of Burke’s Reflections]
The French manifestly exalted Man as god and ended up with the Emperor Napoleon. Since then, every regime which has violently overthrown the traditional order has promoted the Religion of Man. That results in the cult of the Leader, where the Rule of Law is displaced by Ideology, resulting in totalitarianism and destroying individual freedom.
Edmund Burke warned us and history proves him right !
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