August 8, 2017

TRUE: Hillary Wants To Preach.

I wrote something about this for the Guardian back in 2004. Excerpt:

And, actually, the roots of this do-goodism are ultimately in New England Puritanism, which had many characteristics associated with today’s left. Among them were a hostility to wealth – illustrated by sumptuary laws – a belief that the welfare of the community trumped the rights of individuals (Hillary combined both these aspects in her famous recent statement: “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good”). Puritans favoured dense settlement in towns over spread-out farmers – they were, in a sense, the first opponents of “sprawl”.

Even the most stereotypical aspect of the Puritans is not as out of place as you might think. Puritans were, of course, notoriously hostile to sex, but the modern left has threads of those sentiments, too – witness the anti-sex screeds of Catharine MacKinnon or Andrea Dworkin. In fact, Puritans, who were actually quite enthusiastic about marital sex, may actually have been less Puritanical in this regard than some modern feminists.

Not all leftwingers in the US are as frankly religious as Hillary Clinton, and many don’t even realise that the ideas that they champion have deep religious roots. But even for these people, being leftwing has itself become a sort of religion, with those who disagree viewed as sinister, almost demonic forces, rather than simply as individuals holding different views.

The language of righteousness and sin, if not that of redemption and grace, remains a hallmark of the purportedly secular left, though I find it no more attractive than the language of the religious right.

In fact, it’s worse.