A few days ago one of my FB friends, an intelligent and educated scriptwriter and novelist, posted a photo claiming that all liberals were not only evil, but were interested in controlling every aspect of our lives. I see the same sort of collective condemnation frequently on Facebook, emanating usually from conservatives, even from neocons who should know better, having once been either [moralistic] leftists or [moralistic] social democrats.
This blog seeks to counter all-inclusive claims that demonize the opposition.
Do Americans believe in the devil? An alarming number of Christians do (80%), compared to Jews (17%). The Devil is nowhere to be found in Judaism, so I am assuming that uneducated Jews, perhaps engorged with pop culture, comprise the shocking figure of 17%. See http://washingtonexaminer.com/57-believe-in-the-devil-72-for-blacks-61-for-women/article/2536055. (On the conception of Satan as evil inclination in Judaism, see http://judaism.about.com/od/judaismbasics/a/jewishbeliefsatan.htm.) This is a worrisome number, for belief in the Devil signifies disbelief in science and what used to be called “empiricism” but it is now stigmatized as “materialism.” And “materialism” is associated with [demonic] communists, a corrupt working class, and even “secular progressives” who are anything but red, but rather “moderates” or “moderate conservatives.”
Belief in the devil is a catastrophe for democratic republics that demand of their citizens that they rationally focus on those issues that confront them in this world, rather than abjuring “worldliness” in favor of fixation on “another world.”
Control freaks. The notion that liberals and leftists want to control everyone and everything is possibly a projection of authoritarian and conformist rightists, who bristle at the thought of being “forced” to do anything by the state. It is not as if there are no rational conservative intellectuals, but the latest tactic in the political wars advanced by a few pundits demands that they play dirty just like the enemy, grabbing mass culture away from the devious, demonic enemy.
Some conservatives, on the other hand, advise their fellow rightists not to smear liberalism as “evil” or “demonic” but to patiently explain liberal mistakes, especially with respect to economic theories. As for the fantasy of taking mass culture away from “Hollywood”, fat chance of that. As I have argued here before, movies and other mass media have always been populist, appealing not to an aristocracy but to mass resentments of any and all elites who are believed to be repressive—and demonic, like Jews, gays, and femmes fatales.
Populism comes in many flavors, spanning the political spectrum from left to right. Populists are always self-righteous and enraged, encouraging demagoguery and reverence for the Leader who stirs them, vaguely enough to encompass a variety of targets for their hate.
Anyone who has ever studied the progressive movement knows that the statists were paternalistic and in their own minds, deeply moral, hearts bleeding for the oppressed masses. “The People” of course were oppressed by Jew-ridden capitalism and puritanical Mothers seeking to expand their empires over feckless sons. Progressives, taking their lesson from the Good Kings of fictional yore, would vanquish “laissez-faire” economics, bad Jews and battle-axe females, to reinstate “social cohesion” and “political stability” through the re-imposition of mystical bonds between competitors in the marketplace and in the workforce. In other words, they were upper-class moralists and true gentlemen. (See https://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/, or https://clarespark.com/2014/09/03/solidarity-on-the-left-vs-disunity-on-the-right/.)
The overall aim of the progressive movement, then and now, was the uplift and cooling out of the proletarian immigrants. Believing themselves to be the only ones trained to rule (see the career of Henry A. Murray of Harvard), they had no qualms about imposing self-control on themselves and others in order to restrain “greed” in their opposition on “Wall Street”. Nothing as vulgar and/or distruping as the nouveaux riches, so the Old Money (especially in New England) lived modestly and eschewed “conspicuous consumption.” I.e., they controlled themselves as examples to the consumerist masses, a tic that the Left copied in their zeal to stigmatize the anti-revolutionary working class that wanted material goods over red revolution.
This was my Rosh Hashanah blog. As long as the majority of Americans persist in believing in the devil or other forms of irrationality, I remain howling in the wilderness, a Jew till the end of time.