After Obama: Forgiveness?

The great religious movements of the 20th century, Communism and Fascism, liked to think that they toiled in the wilderness against a corrupt political and religious establishment. In fact, of course, they always obtained support from young fashionables in the educated elite, and their ideas leaked quickly into the political mainstream.

The current rising world religious movement of leftist radicals is no exception. If you peruse Ernest Sternberg's analysis in Orbis, "Purifying the World: What the New Radical Ideology Stands For (pdf)," thoughtfully reviewed at NRO by David Pipes, you keep encountering notions that the Obama administration is implementing or would like to. But the Obamis are doing it within the current power structure. That's what you get to do when you win a couple of elections.

Here is what the new radicals want:

The earth will be protected, justice will reign, economies will be sustainable, and energy will be renewable. Diverse communities will celebrate other communities, with the only proviso that they accede to doctrine. Far purer than democracies of the past, this future regime will operate through  grassroots participatory meetings in which all communities are empowered.

Really, what could any of our liberal friends, a full 20 percent of Americans, find to argue with? 

The great gift of the Obama administration is that its muddle of terror-state appeasement, green energy, domestic political bullying, and incompetent execution will end up discrediting the world radical agenda, maybe even before the next presidential election.

When it's all over, we will have our Founding Fathers to thank, because it is their separation of powers that slows down the radical impetus so that it can only damage, not destroy. Pity the unhappy Venezuelans, already enjoying the benefit of 12,000 "communal councils" busily creating "grassroots democracy."

But when it's all over, we conservatives will have a big job to do. No, I'm not talking about runaway debt and unsustainable entitlements. I'm talking about bringing the nation back together. I'm talking about national reconciliation after the most divisive president in our lifetime.

The problem with religious movements, and modern secular religious movements in particular, is that the agenda of salvation or purification always requires a dividing line between us and them, between good and evil. Our modern radicals rather neatly call their campaign of hate and violence against Empire, the "world-controlling state-military-corporate-legal-educational-media complex," as mere "resistance." But resistance apparently includes suicide belts and terror attacks on the United States. After all, what else is appropriate in dealing with the Great Satan? 

Charles Taylor has fingered the problem with all good vs. evil movements. They lead to the torture chamber, the killing field, and the death camp. In contrast, all religions and political movements worthy of the name understand the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation. Even the hunter-gatherers structured their all-night dance-and-drum rituals to create a palpable feeling of community that could dissolve festering quarrels.

The great challenge for conservatives after the great victories of 2010 and 2012 will be to resist the temptation of triumphalism and remember the advice of Winston Churchill: in victory, magnanimity. 

But I have to be honest.  I don't know what a conservative-led movement of national reconciliation would look like.

In many ways, a conservative-led America would lead to a lower conflict society. The way you increase conflict is to politicize things. Have the government run health care and have Americans have to fight each other to see the doctor. Get the government to run education and parents to fight each other for their kids to get a decent education. The conservative program of privatization will reduce conflict, for Americans will get the material things they need without constant resort to political power and clientage.

In conservative America, we will get genuine separation of church and state. In liberal America, secular-religious movements are continually blurring the line between religious faith and political power. In the new-world radicalism described by Ernest Sternberg, we have a movement that clearly melts millennial faith and political revolution into a single totalitarian mold.

One test will come on the day that conservatives get a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate. Will Republicans jam through their partisan wish list on party-line votes and accuse the Democrats of being the Party of No? Or will they resist the nuclear option and pass legislation that Democrats, or at least conservative Democrats, can vote for?

Every political movement stands for peace and justice, even as its functionaries light the fires to stamp out heresy. Reformers of Christianity in the last millennium burned heretics in their thousands. But reforming secularists shot them and gassed them and starved them in their tens of millions.

The question for conservatives, as we dream of a conservative America, is: Can we do better?

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his roadtothemiddleclass.com and usgovernmentspending.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.
The great religious movements of the 20th century, Communism and Fascism, liked to think that they toiled in the wilderness against a corrupt political and religious establishment. In fact, of course, they always obtained support from young fashionables in the educated elite, and their ideas leaked quickly into the political mainstream.

The current rising world religious movement of leftist radicals is no exception. If you peruse Ernest Sternberg's analysis in Orbis, "Purifying the World: What the New Radical Ideology Stands For (pdf)," thoughtfully reviewed at NRO by David Pipes, you keep encountering notions that the Obama administration is implementing or would like to. But the Obamis are doing it within the current power structure. That's what you get to do when you win a couple of elections.

Here is what the new radicals want:

The earth will be protected, justice will reign, economies will be sustainable, and energy will be renewable. Diverse communities will celebrate other communities, with the only proviso that they accede to doctrine. Far purer than democracies of the past, this future regime will operate through  grassroots participatory meetings in which all communities are empowered.

Really, what could any of our liberal friends, a full 20 percent of Americans, find to argue with? 

The great gift of the Obama administration is that its muddle of terror-state appeasement, green energy, domestic political bullying, and incompetent execution will end up discrediting the world radical agenda, maybe even before the next presidential election.

When it's all over, we will have our Founding Fathers to thank, because it is their separation of powers that slows down the radical impetus so that it can only damage, not destroy. Pity the unhappy Venezuelans, already enjoying the benefit of 12,000 "communal councils" busily creating "grassroots democracy."

But when it's all over, we conservatives will have a big job to do. No, I'm not talking about runaway debt and unsustainable entitlements. I'm talking about bringing the nation back together. I'm talking about national reconciliation after the most divisive president in our lifetime.

The problem with religious movements, and modern secular religious movements in particular, is that the agenda of salvation or purification always requires a dividing line between us and them, between good and evil. Our modern radicals rather neatly call their campaign of hate and violence against Empire, the "world-controlling state-military-corporate-legal-educational-media complex," as mere "resistance." But resistance apparently includes suicide belts and terror attacks on the United States. After all, what else is appropriate in dealing with the Great Satan? 

Charles Taylor has fingered the problem with all good vs. evil movements. They lead to the torture chamber, the killing field, and the death camp. In contrast, all religions and political movements worthy of the name understand the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation. Even the hunter-gatherers structured their all-night dance-and-drum rituals to create a palpable feeling of community that could dissolve festering quarrels.

The great challenge for conservatives after the great victories of 2010 and 2012 will be to resist the temptation of triumphalism and remember the advice of Winston Churchill: in victory, magnanimity. 

But I have to be honest.  I don't know what a conservative-led movement of national reconciliation would look like.

In many ways, a conservative-led America would lead to a lower conflict society. The way you increase conflict is to politicize things. Have the government run health care and have Americans have to fight each other to see the doctor. Get the government to run education and parents to fight each other for their kids to get a decent education. The conservative program of privatization will reduce conflict, for Americans will get the material things they need without constant resort to political power and clientage.

In conservative America, we will get genuine separation of church and state. In liberal America, secular-religious movements are continually blurring the line between religious faith and political power. In the new-world radicalism described by Ernest Sternberg, we have a movement that clearly melts millennial faith and political revolution into a single totalitarian mold.

One test will come on the day that conservatives get a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate. Will Republicans jam through their partisan wish list on party-line votes and accuse the Democrats of being the Party of No? Or will they resist the nuclear option and pass legislation that Democrats, or at least conservative Democrats, can vote for?

Every political movement stands for peace and justice, even as its functionaries light the fires to stamp out heresy. Reformers of Christianity in the last millennium burned heretics in their thousands. But reforming secularists shot them and gassed them and starved them in their tens of millions.

The question for conservatives, as we dream of a conservative America, is: Can we do better?

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his roadtothemiddleclass.com and usgovernmentspending.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

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