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The Secular Religion of the Left

consumerism-1

And into that empty space, the left came. It dominates because there is nothing else to fill that space. It can only be truly resisted by cultural groups that have maintained hold of family and religion. Without that sense of purpose, there is only the endless baffled retreat of the Republican Party.

Liberalism appeals more to the middle class and the upper class because it is a religion of materialism. It makes very little sense to those who don’t have material things. The underclass might embrace the harsher populism of the left, but shows little interest in its larger collectivist philosophy. The underclass is losing family and religion at a faster rate than the upper class, but it clings to what it has and finds meaning in it. It may be nakedly materialistic, but it doesn’t believe that it is too smart for religion or too individualistic for family. It has many flaws, but arrogance isn’t one of them.

Ennobling consumerism is a difficult task. The left doesn’t come anywhere close to succeeding at it. Instead it makes it more expensive and raises the entry barriers for everything by working to eliminate cheap food, cheap household goods and cheap everything. It’s a class issue.

Why does the left really hate Walmart? It doesn’t really have a lot to do with unions and has a lot to do with class. Walmart’s crime is industrial. It’s the crime of the factory and the supermarket and every means of mass production and consumption. It makes cheap products too readily available to the masses. Liberals like to believe that they oppose consumerism, but what they really want to do is raise the entry levels to the lifestyle. Liberal consumerism is all about upselling ethics.

When tangible goods become too easy to produce, you add value through intangibles. The fair trade food tastes the same as non-fair trade food. Organic, a category with a debatable meaning, doesn’t really provide that much more value. And environmental labels are worth very little. And yet the average product at Whole Foods is covered in so many “ethical liberal” labels that it’s hard to figure out what it even is.

Intangible value is all about class. And class is all about creating barriers to entry.

Liberalism has become a revolt against the middle class that its grandparents struggled to reach, a rejection of their “materialism” while substituting the “ethical materialism” of liberalism in its place that envisions a much smaller upper and middle class that derives its wealth and power not from hard work in the private sector, but highly profitable social justice volunteerism in the public sector.

An American Dream of universal prosperity has been pitted against the left’s dream of a benevolent feudal system in which the few will be very well paid to oversee the income equality of the many.

The left’s private argument against the American Dream is that it’s little more than Walmart. And to some degree they’re right. Easy availability of the necessities of life does not lead to a meaningful life. But the easy contempt that the left has for it shows its basic inability to understand how important these things are and how hard they were to come by for most of human history.

Salt was once a precious commodity. Today it sells for pennies a pound. The ability to light the darkness meant the difference between studying at night and living in ignorance. Today a light bulb goes for a quarter. At least it did until the left banned them. And electricity, the left also keeps raising the price of that. Few of the post-apocalyptic fantasies spilling out of Hollywood really describe what would happen if the people manufacturing them were thrown back before the industrial revolution..

About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.


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11 Responses to “The Secular Religion of the Left”

  1. An American Dream of universal prosperity has been pitted against the left’s dream of a benevolent feudal system in which the few will be very well paid to oversee the income equality of the many.

  2. Gil Gilman says:

    This article is not about religion, but politics. Yes, there is a baby in all this bath water, so let's not throw it out. Yes, there is a secular religion of the left, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with materialism. Materialism can be found from enclaves of the far left all the way to the shack in the mountains of the far right. It is no less existent in socialism than in capitalism. The truth is that adherents to a dominant secular philosophy have replaced G-d and family with their pet notions derived from who-knows-where, certainly their own personal agenda and that of those with whom they choose to canoodle. These agendas have replaced the divine in their lives and have becomes idols for destruction.

  3. Gil Gilman says:

    Certainly, Mr. Greenfield does not me to feel guilty for eating organic spinach, so why go there? Beyond this the article reminds me of a painter who worked near my crew when I was a general contractor. The painter went through twice as much paint in the same time as our painter, but most of it splattered about the area, and our painter completed his task in better time. Our painter took the time to mask off the areas not to be painted, and had very little clean-up.

  4. The type of materialism doesn’t matter.

  5. A very interesting article you've written here Daniel. It was difficult for me to understand it well because I am a simple man, and your extravagant use of words kind of gave me what I call, 'information constipation'. I do thank you for your revealing perspective. Shalom.

  6. Anthony Kent says:

    Interesting article. The breakdown of the traditional family as the 'norm' has led to many social ills. Ironically, the left has adopted religions like global warming and same sex marriage. It brooks no dissent or debate to its truths. Foul mouthed abuse is hurled at heretics who are not on message. Or their views are deleted, a regular practice of the UK Guardian comment section – secular left-wing liberalism at its most pungent.

  7. e-lites vs. e-workers…what do you expect from a transhumanistic, eugenic minded gvmt?

  8. Gary Harper says:

    Leftist policies abandon an over-arching moral code for a personal moral code. Which is anything that you want it to be. Few can be moral in the eyes of God on their own. Most personal moral codes are based upon the selfishness of the individual to the exclusion of all others. This is the failure of Communism, Socialism, Progressivism, and all other leftist policies. They declare moralism to be subjective to the needs of the moment. They speak of freeing the individual, while ultimately enslaving him and society in totalitarianism.

    Look at the Ten Commandments. They pretty much are rules against selfishness. The Scriptures seek to free the individual from the slavery of the self. The yoke to bear, which is light indeed, is one of personal responsibility. To be irresponsible is to be a slave to your own selfishness and insatiable desires. This is the harder path to take, and it is a byway, a dead end, full of stumbling blocks.

    Liberalism speaks of freedom, while enslaving the individual to Sheol. The Scriptures speak of faith and obedience, the light yoke, which ultimately free the individual to walk in tandem with God.

  9. You can't violate separation of church and state if you are not technically a church, so an ethical system not linked to religion has more room to move. But while leftists want to control our purchases for whatever reasons, I don't believe the right really cares if Joe Schmo has to pay $1 for a loaf of bread or $11. If either side really cared, they'd do more to prevent inflation to preserve the working family's freedoms which are restricted by their shrinking purchasing power.

    But let's go easy on the good, green tech and techniques. So maybe some things shouldn't be mandated, but it doesn't mean those things aren't good ideas, like being able to eat food without getting cancer or not burning a ton of coal to light your house for the night.

  10. Josephine Bütefür says:

    I'm NOT saying in any way that every country which has deep relgious roots or a high rate of religious people is doing worse than an atheist country.

    But: I'm just saying: It all depends on the -examples-!

    This article considers China one of the best examples for an atheist country, but that's hugely manipulating. Their government never forced a religion on them in the early centuries and even today it doesn't encourage religion that is true.

    Still every third inhabitant of China does -believe- in a God.

    If you want examples for more atheist countries:

    You might want to look at Sweden. Only 18% of the Swedish people admit to believing in a God, according to the last survey I found. (So, almost 50% less than it was in China)

    The Swedish people I've met are proud of their country because in Sweden people are equal. Sweden tries to be neutral in wars (their deepest fault is to allow the Germans to pass throught their country in WW2, I give you than one) A country, which embraced female equality so much that it has one of the most balanced governments in the world. (I got some more personal impressions from friends who visited Göteborg last year – they told me they were amazed by how many families or only fathers they saw in the streets with their children every day, compared to Germany. So you can't tell me that they deny the value of family. On the contrary: Gay marriage for example is also perfectly legal in Sweden, while these people are often denied to build a family in more religious countries.)
    They do everything they can for their enviroment – because they want their world to be a better place for the next generations, even if they have economical disadvantages from it: They import garbage from Norway to recycle it.

    If you want an example for a horrible regime which really was one of the most atheist countries in the world: GDR – or East-Germany during the Cold War.

    And now some examples for religious countries: Saudi-Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia or the Vatican.

    See the point? The power of examples.

    There are also great countries which have a high rate of religous people:

    I've visited Poland, and I have hardly ever met nicer people in the world. They were open, they were polite, friendly, helpful and also very understanding. When I was lost – they went out of their way to help me. In Krakow – especially the old parts you will find no street which doesn't have a church. (It isn't seldom that there are more than one) And they too embrace family and morality.

    So: It all depends on your examples.

    On a personal level: I am an atheist. I donate money for the poor. I am against discrimination of every sort, I respect people's belief (Because I don't consider them any less of a human being, like many religious people do towards atheists). I'm not sure I can really be considered selfish.

    I know religious people who treat women like they are less intelligent or less capable of grasping what you're saying.

    But I've also met atheists who didn't believe in a God because they didn't care for any spiritual questions. (which I do – I read the bible, the Quran and I'm also interested in buddhism or Roman, Greek or Nordic mythology.)

    And I've met religious people, who hang out with atheists and people of other religions and just accepted the others.

    Why can't we accept that there are horrible, immoral beings who are religious and horrible, immoral beings who are atheist? And the same goes for goverments.

    (And yes, I know that most will think that atheists are more immoral than religious people. And every atheist who will read this will say that there have always been more religous people who acted immoral than there were atheists. But it's just childish)

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