Culture, politics

Against “Post-Liberalism,” Left and Right

Memo to U. S. conservatives:

1. We should be standing boldly for Jesus Christ, the Bible, marriage, the family, preborn children, the elderly, two sexes and two sexes only, patriotic conservatism, and respect everywhere for God’s moral law.

2. We should be standing boldly for liberty — classical liberalism: religious liberty, political liberty, economic liberty; free markets at home and abroad, a multi-party system, negotiated politics, severely limited government, checks and balances, and the God-given right of every God-imaged human to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We should grasp that culture, not politics, is the great vehicle for social change.

3. We should be standing boldly, for both 1 and 2, simultaneously.

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Culture, politics, Theology

Cultural Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is an alleged mental malady in which one’s behavior is stamped by alternations of a period of euphoria, energy, and ecstasy, with a period of moroseness, withdrawal, and languidness. It is often treated by medications. Whether an actual clinical condition or not, all of us have known individuals suffering from what is termed bipolar disorder.

A. J. Conyers’ The Long Truce: How Toleration Made the World Safe for Power and Profit[1] makes the intriguing suggestion that John Locke’s view of political and religious toleration that made such an impact on the modern West (not least on the United States) created a bipolar society that has led, despite his best intentions, to our present social disorder: a cultural bipolar disorder.

Two Poles: The State and the Individual

The two poles of society  are the individual and the state. This bipolar society was unprecedented before modernity. In most of the ancient and medieval worlds, society was comprised of individuals all committed to several interlocking and interdependent institutions, what we today term “civil society.” The most important were the family and church. Others included the guild and the local community. Individuals were also political citizens, of course, but the state was merely one institution among several, and in some ways the least important (though most coercive), since it was the only one that was artificially constructed.

The family, for example, was a given, a natural institution without which life was impossible. The church was a supernatural institution, created by the triune God as the indispensable public assembly of his blood-washed people. This means that individuals participated in numerous institutions concurrently, each of which fulfilled its own distinctive role and demanded its own loyalty of its members. Society was multi-polar, not bipolar.

Locke and others (including especially the French Romantic thinker Rousseau) believed that these pre-political institutions constituted a threat to social tolerance and stability since they demanded a devotion that conflicted with the devotion to other people’s families and churches. After all, the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), fought largely between Roman Catholics and Protestants and in Great Britain also between High Churchmen and Puritans, had left its bloody carnage all over Europe.

Locke and other thinkers wanted to propose a society in which intensity of religious belief in particular was mitigated and the state was empowered to forbid religious persecution by remaining neutral in religion (an impossibility, since some religion, even if it be secularism, will prevail). This could happen only if the chief loyalty of individuals was reserved to the state. Individualism and politics would thereafter govern life. The state didn’t mind individual freedom as long it was expressed individualistically and did not vest too much devotion to the family and church.

Our Disordered Bipolar Culture

With hindsight we know  how socially pernicious this proposal has turned out to be. Almost every social factor of modern life conspires to dilute civil society and embolden the state, always under the guise of liberating the individual from the oppression of the family and church and other “private”[2] institutions.

Children are encouraged to circumvent parental love and authority and create a separate relation with the state, allowing girls to get abortion and both sexes to get vicious, violent “gender reassignment surgery” without parental approval.

Spouses can get a quick and easy “no-fault” divorce. Radical autonomy negates the marital covenant — what’s important is not “signatures on an old piece of paper” but my current desires and aspirations, which might not include my spouse. The state intervenes to collude in the elimination of the marital covenant. The state and the individual alone are the poles.

The church, in addition, is considered “non-essential” during draconian Covid lockdowns because the state insists on an unmediated relation to the health (or supposed health) of individuals. The church as an institution of safety and healing (including in some cases physical healing) simply doesn’t enter the bipolar cultural calculation.

At the heart of the bipolar society is “expressive individualism,” the widespread idea that The Good Life is about “following your heart,” getting plenty of “me time,” and “being authentic.” Before modernity, the good life was defined as knowing your place in God’s order and living there for his glory. Only those who did this could expect to be fulfilled, since the Creator alone knows how best to fulfill his image-bearing creatures.

We have lived to see, in Conyers’ words, “the long-term consequences of a society in which individuals come to think of themselves as free of every bond and every obligation except that of the state.”[3] A society plagued by divorce’s broken families, porn’s objectification of women, abortion’s slaughter of preborn children, homosexuality’s and transgenderism’s inversion of the sexual order, feminism’s purging the woman’s and man’s dignity, and Critical Race Theory’s inciting racism and racial strife exhibit the socially chaotic consequences of bipolar cultural disorder.

Conclusion

Rebuilding Christian culture demands restoring the multi-polar society. We must overturn statism, the notion that there is no social problem for which increased political control isn’t the best solution, that every social problem (poverty, drug addiction, uneducated youth, wealth disparities — or a viral epidemic) is really a political problem that just doesn’t know it yet. Christians in particular must implement and restore the pre-political society. The family and church must again meet most of the needs presently met (inadequately and oppressively) by the state.

For example, healthcare should be de-nationalized. Education should be returned to the family and church and “private” schools. There should be plenty of “social safety nets” — the net of the family and church and friends and neighbors, not the state. The reason those “private”-sector nets are so hole-filled today is that the bipolar cultural disorder resists all competitors; the state must marginalize any institution that competes for its loyalty. This hatred for civil society that so stamped Marxist regimes like the old Soviet Union is equally fierce in the benevolent social dictatorships like the United States.

But just as God exists in community (Trinity) so he created man to exist in community.

And that community dare not be limited to two poles: the state, and the individual.


[1] (Dallas: Spence Publishing, 2001), 137–141. I’m grateful to my friend Dr. Roger Wagner for recommending this book several years ago.

[2] I place “private” in apologetic quotes to highlight the widespread semantic strategy of referring to politics as a “public” good and free markets as a “private” good, as though politics benefits everybody while the free market benefits only a few greedy people caring only for themselves. The opposite is more nearly true: free markets benefit everybody, while politics these days benefits the politically connected.

[3] A. J. Conyers, The Long Truce, 146.

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Culture, Economics, Law, politics

“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” Isn’t

Today the CalPers board considered the widely implemented Diversity & Inclusion Report and Framework. CalPers is a massive agency for California employees, retirees and their families and manages the largest pension fund in the United States. I was asked by one of the CalPers members to address the board on this pressing issue.

Here are my prepared remarks:


My name is P. Andrew Sandlin, and I am founder and president of the Center for Cultural Leadership in Coulterville, California. I hold degrees in English, history, political science, and systematic and historical theology. 

I hope you won’t mind a contrarian viewpoint. 

I’ve written about 25 books, and have specialized in an investigation of both Classical and Cultural MarxismCritical TheoryCritical Race Theory, and systemic racism.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and the Diversity & Inclusion Report and Framework (statement linked above) incorporate widely attested Critical Race Theory whose root is Cultural (Western) Marxism. All of us deplore racism, for example, but Critical Race Theory instigates hostility between races at a time when we should be working toward racial harmony and understanding. The same is true of sexual preferentialism and its affirmative action.

Moreover, this program will alienate many hard-working Americans among your constituents, Christians, and others who believe in equality under the law, fair play, free speech, and equal rights. The attempt to create special preferences for special groups is a revitalization of the old classically Marxist idea of class consciousness, today known as identity politics.

CalPERS should recognize the equality of all members and not attempt to privilege some and (unintentionally) deprivilege others.

DEI will undermine the ideals of fairness, objectivity, and fair play and could alienate a sizable portion of your constituency. 

We live in a time when new and dangerous ideologies are overtaking the elite reaches of our society and as they filter down, they are bringing great harm to our common, hard-working citizens and their families. DEI is a prime example of this ideological poison.

Bias is always a danger, but coercive preferentialism is perhaps the worst bias of all. 

I urge you to bypass this proposal and, instead, work toward a truly fair approach toward all. 

We need fresh, innovative thinking, not a rehash of old, discredited Marxism. 

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Eschatology, politics, Theology

Realized Religion : Victory Already, Before the “Not Yet”

“One of the most prominent errors in the history of the church is postponing massive blessings of creation and the gospel to the eternal state. If the liberal churches wish to re-situate all the blessings in the ‘already’ (since they have no actual eternal hope, and often turn to revolutionary politics for salvation), conservative churches tend to push most of the blessings off into the ‘not yet.’

“They are both wrong.”

Get the e-book here.

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Culture, politics, Uncategorized

The Creed of Leftism

1. There are no absolute, transcendent standards for this world and, therefore, humanity must create them.

2. The central standard humanity must create is the widest possible human autonomy. There must be no impediment to individual human choice as long as no one else is harmed.

3. The chief social goal is to create the just society, meaning the most extensive equality of results. A person should be entitled to the same benefits as everyone else, irrespective of birth, spiritual condition, family, work, and ethics.

4. Though individuals should be autonomous, they cannot be trusted to contribute willingly to the just society, so it is necessary for especially virtuous and gifted individuals, the elite, to employ political coercion to create that society.

5. Human life is valuable only to the extent that it reflects certain material qualities, and if specific lives like the unborn and the elderly cannot enjoy those qualities, those lives need not be preserved.

6. Human sexuality is a special form of autonomy, and political and cultural barriers to all adult consensual sex should be removed.

7. Linear history is the measure of ethical development, and ethical standards of the past should be continually superseded as society moves toward greater justice.

8. Individuals who do not support this general Leftist vision are morally retrograde and a drag on society and should be marginalized, stigmatized, and penalized.

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Culture, Law, politics, Theology

The Degeneration into Political Soteriology

“This insurrection is sometimes called ‘conservative counter-revolution,’ but it never is. It claims to be restoring the moral order overturned by Leftists, but it is actually an attempt to reverse the new Leftist (dis)order after assimilating the revolutionary gains — and strategies — of Leftism. It is a variant of revolution whose eyes are hidden to this fact by its opposition to other specific tenets of Leftism. But its orientation to society is revolutionary; it adopts, usually unknowingly, the guiding tenet of Leftism.”

Read the rest of the article here.

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politics

The Human Types that Make Statism Necessary

Three kinds of individuals are particularly attracted to statism, the ideology that that there is no social problem for which increased political control isn’t the best solution. It is impossible to imagine statism surviving apart from these types of people:

Imperious Statists

First, there are individuals mesmerized by the exercise of power, especially power over other people, and in modern democracies, power to “do good.” They derive meaning in life from controlling others, and they can justify this control by convincing themselves that they intend to exert power to help others, not harm them. They gravitate toward the state as the institution that owns the only valid monopoly on coercive violence because such unparalleled power is necessary to accomplish such massively virtuous social goals as they entertain. If they were in Third World countries, they’d lead or participate in a coup and install a military junta, but since that’s impossible in democracies, they opt for peaceful political power grabs. These are the imperious statists. 

Slacker Statists

Second, consider unmotivated, irresponsible, and lazy citizens that can’t count on enough people to voluntarily subsidize their laxity, so they support a state that will coerce other people to capitalize their aimlessness, irresponsibility, and laziness. You’ll often hear them castigating rich (or middle class) people or business owners as “greedy.” This is code for: “A strong-arm Robin Hood should take some of their money and give it to me.” This type is the human oil that greases the engine of socialism and other interventionist economies. These are the slacker statists. 

Patronizing Statists

Finally, note that class of citizens that envision The Good Society, and support creating a political system that will enforce it. Most citizens are too obtuse or timid to know or act for their own good, so they need strong, gifted, altruistic people to show them the way. Or, rather, force them to take the way. These are the folks who in school were often tattle-tales, enlisting the teacher to enforce rules they couldn’t persuade others voluntarily to follow. In the Covid world, they’re derided as Karens — but males can be just as guilty. These are the patronizing statists.

When these three human types come to predominate a society, it inevitably marches toward statism, and without them, it is simply inconceivable.  Changing them is not a political problem, but a cultural problem.

This means that you can’t get rid of statism by using the state to do it.

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Culture, politics

We’re All Progressives Now

“One of the leading 20th century Christian philosophers to have outlined the development of progressivism is Augusto Del Noce. He declares that progressivism can be identified by the ‘today it is no longer possible’ mentality.

“‘Today it is no longer possible’ to bind humanity to external moral standards. Or: to argue that homosexuality and abortion are morally wrong. Or: to intelligently believe that the universe did not evolve from nothingness and chance but rather was created by an infinite personal Triune God. It is not so much that these ideas are wrong as that they are simply unthinkable to thinking people, which is to say progressive people.”

Read the rest of the article here.

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