A Progressive Belief: Our Struggle Is Not Internal

Cartoon about a dog's guardian angel.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Traditional Americans saw themselves and all humans as imperfect beings, subject to good and evil influences, and prone to good and evil behavior. Remember the old cartoon characters with a little angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other? Traditional Americans tended to believe that every person faced an internal struggle to be good. Progressives, on the other hand, believe that people are inherently noble and do not face an intrinsic internal struggle to be virtuous.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief is as follows, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• Our motives are inherently noble.
• Our struggle is not internal.

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• Don’t worry, be happy.
• We do not need to struggle against anything inherent to our internal makeup – we only need remove negative habits learned from traditional morality.
• Our struggle is external.

 

Traditional Americans tended to believe that every person faced an internal struggle to be good. Progressives, on the other hand, believe that people are inherently noble and do not face an intrinsic internal struggle to be virtuous.

Three social dynamics are powered by the belief that our struggle is not internal: progressive hedonism, the self-actualization movement and newthinkers’ focus on external rather than internal struggle.

What a weight is lifted from our shoulders if we don’t face an internal struggle to be good! Don’t worry, be happy. It’s often good advice, but it’s a siren song if applied to all situations. The naive hedonist wing of progressivism, very big in the 1960s and 1970s, which gave us everything from acid rock to est, was powered by this unconscious logic.

The self-actualization movement in psychology also grew out of the belief that our struggle is not internal. If we don’t need to struggle against anything inherent in our internal makeup, then psychology should instead focus on striving to help one reach one’s personal potential. That way (so the logic goes) we remove the traditionally imposed burdens that prevent us from fully perceiving and experiencing our inner nobility.

And since newthinkers perceive no need for an internal struggle against the temptations of evil behavior, they focus instead on external political struggle.

A Progressive Belief: “Evil Conservatives” are Malevolent and are Our Only Real Enemy.

Devout progressives tend to believe that the purposely progressively unvirtuous (evil conservatives) are malevolent and are their only real enemy.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• Our motives are inherently noble.
• We are progressively virtuous.
• Progressive virtue is supremely important.
• Those who do not agree with us – the progressively unvirtuous – are either ignorant or purposely unvirtuous.
• The purposely progressively unvirtuous must be fought.
• The purposely progressively unvirtuous are malevolent and are our only real enemy.

 

Since newthinkers perceive people as inherently noble, they love everyone – except those who disagree with them. Because they believe that if something feels good, it’s okay, they tolerate anything – except that which contradicts the beliefs of their worldview.

…just as something must fill the psychological vacuum created by the perceived absence of God, so must something fill that created by the absence of the devil. Like Goldstein, The Enemy of the People in Orwell’s 1984, the evil conservatives fill that void in the newthink psyche.

Newthinkers reject the traditional concept of evil, just as they reject traditional notions of good. Both God and Satan are absent from their universe metaphor. But just as something must fill the psychological vacuum created by the perceived absence of God, so must something fill that created by the absence of the devil. Like Goldstein, The Enemy of the People in Orwell’s 1984, the evil conservatives fill that void in the newthink psyche. They are the bad actors in the newthink stage play. Since they consciously and openly contradict newthink’s beliefs, they are perceived by Progressive Crusaders as their only real enemy.

Traditional right-and-wrong morality clashes with most of newthink morality. When the progressive elite – the Enlightened – encounter the purposely unPV, progressive rage is often the result.

progressive rage n : intense anger and indignation of the progressive elite against those who are purposely progressively unvirtuous

Ronald Reagan’s 1983 denunciation of the Soviet Union as an evil empire created much progressive rage among the Enlightened, who never objected to the Soviet’s regular use of much more extreme language. “It was the worst presidential speech in American history, and I’ve seen them all,” said historian Henry Steele Commager*; The New Republic said it left the impression that the U.S. was contemplating holy war; New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis called it primitive and outrageous.**

English: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on June 2...

English: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on June 2, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A more recent example of progressive rage is the reaction of the Enlightened to the introduction of Alaska governor Sarah Palin into the national limelight during the 2008 presidential campaign, in which she and her family were criticized and ridiculed in the crudest possible manner. The Reagan Derangement Syndrome became the Bush Derangement Syndrome which has, at the time of this writing, become the Palin Derangement Syndrome. Powerful people like these, who consciously oppose political correctness and progressive virtue, attract progressive rage like lightning rods in a thunderstorm.

* Steven F. Hayward, The Age of Reagan, (Three Rivers Press, 2009), p. 288.

** Ibid, p. 288.

Hollywood’s Crusade: Undermine Religion, Fight Capitalism and Defame America While Coarsening the Culture and Promoting Violent Nihilism – Profitability is Optional

The entertainment industry – movies, music and television – is also used to spread newthink’s values and principles. Volumes could be written on this subject, but Hollywood’s bias toward cultural coarsening, anti-religion, anti-capitalism and anti-Americanism, and its addiction to violent nihilism, must be touched on.

The argument that popular music has become gutterized barely needs to be made, it’s so obvious. The music industry sells promiscuity as much as music. The road from the Beach Boys singing “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” to Guns n’ Roses singing about panties around knees to the unquotable hip-hop lyrics of today is a long, strange trip indeed. Progressive musicians, who believe that privacy and modesty are unnatural anyway, have it all: they can tick off their parents, get the girl(s), and go for fame and fortune all in one fell swoop.

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In its early days, the American movie industry celebrated the major religions. Its annual top box office hit – Samson and Delilah, David and Bathsehba, The Robe, The Ten Commandments, and Ben Hur – was often based on the Bible.* The movies of that time, starring Bing Crosby, Pat O’Brien, Spencer Tracey and others were highly sympathetic to clergymen. But since the 1970s, Hollywood’s anti-religious bias has resulted in films too numerous to mention bashing Catholicism (Monsignor, The Godfather, Part III), Protestantism (Children of the Corn, The Handmaid’s Tale) and Judaism (Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), Naked Tango). Most of Hollywood’s anti-religious films failed at the box office. As Michael Medved says in his book Hollywood vs. America, Hollywood’s apologists often argue that they are only creating these anti-religious films to give the American public what it wants. But this contention falls apart in the face of the financial Armageddon these flops have created for their backers. Yet still they are made. The hostility toward organized religion among Hollywood’s movers and shakers is so powerful that they must express it, even if it costs them millions.** Progressive Hollywood’s anger toward an absent God and contempt for organized religion, a pillar of traditional America, overcomes even their eye for profit.

Most of Hollywood’s anti-religious films failed at the box office… Yet still they are made.

Despite a Los Angeles entertainment culture of big-money deals and conspicuous opulence, Hollywood loves to bash business. A common theme in television has been corruption vs. honesty in business: 81% of the scripts dealing with this treated business as corrupt.*** Sleazy criminal-capitalists appear on screen ever more frequently: only 11% of feature films depicted businessmen negatively from 1945 to 1965, but in the two following decades, the rate zoomed to 67%.****

Hollywood’s anti-American public opinion management extends to a rewrite of the popular conception of American history. This is important, since many more Americans watch Hollywood movies than read history books. As Michael Medved says, Hollywood history nearly always indicts America, from our treatment of Native Americans (Dances with Wolves), our involvement in Latin America (Salvador), to the McCarthy era (The House on Carroll Street).†

The entertainment industry seems to be addicted to the depiction of violence. Prime-time television is much more violent than real life. The murder rate among television characters since 1955 is 1,000 times higher than among real-world victims.††  Hollywood’s newthink artists derive a great thrill from exploring violence and nihilism because they can jab their finger in the eye of traditional America and the Christian and Jewish heritages they’ve rejected. They can simultaneously be acclaimed by their peers as courageous, creative and edgy for work which is in reality easy-moneyed, predictable and sheep-like. Hollywood’s nihilism is essentially an angry gesture to their perception of God the absent father accompanied by an ego boost, a paycheck and a career enhancement.

The entertainment industry, as well as the educational system and the news media, reeducate the ignorant progressively unvirtuous in newthink beliefs, attitudes and conventions. Newthinkers view these benighted people just as members of western civilization viewed those from uncivilized cultures. Like many westerners of the 18th and 19th centuries, newthinkers possess a missionary zeal and an unquestioning certainty that their morality and virtue assignment are superior to that of any other culture.

Hollywood rejects traditional America — even more than profit or entertainment, that is its highest purpose.

In light of this, it’s clear that progressives don’t really believe in multiculturalism except in its superficial aspects or as a stratagem to undermine traditional culture. No foreign worldview is allowed to enter and threaten the heart and mind of newthink. Only trivial aspects of non-progressive cultures are tolerated in progressive culture, and they are remade to fit the progressive mold. All other cultures’ moralities, including traditional America’s, are rejected and replaced with political correctness and progressive virtue.  Hollywood rejects traditional America — even more than profit or entertainment, that is its highest purpose.

* Michael Medved, Hollywood vs. America, (HarperPerennial, 1993), pp. 50-51.
** Ibid., pp. 63-64.
*** S. Robert Lichter, Linda Lichter and Stanley Rothman, Watching America, (Prentice Hall Press, 1991), p. 146.
**** Michael Medved, Hollywood vs. America, (HarperPerennial, 1993), p. 222.
† Ibid., p. 225.
†† S. Robert Lichter, Linda Lichter and Stanley Rothman, Watching America, (Prentice Hall Press, 1991), p. 185.

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Activist Atheists

activist atheism n : the social movement based on the beliefs that God does not exist and the worship of God is unvirtuous.

Activist Atheists:
Newthinkers who, because they believe God-worship is unvirtuous, actively oppose the idea of God and all religious institutions that worship God.

To devout progressives, God-worship becomes a progressively-unvirtuous anachronism that leads people astray from scientific reality and humanity-based principles. Activist atheism prods progressive magazine editors to create covers for their weekly news magazines with titles like “The Rise and Fall of Christian America.” While reports of the death of Christianity in America are exaggerations, away from the extreme of activist atheism, a great body of Americans is unconnected to church or synagogue. When backed against the wall by a pollster, they may admit to a belief in God, but that belief often has no social expression. Meanwhile, Activist Atheists are attempting to remove God from the public square. If they succeed, they will then attempt to remove God from society entirely.

But the path to a God-free society isn’t always easy for devout progressives. They take such care to deny the presence of God, but it can be troubling if his goodness is questioned. To newthinkers, God is their absent father; they are allowed to revile their father, but no one else better try it. In the novel Catch-22, Lt. Scheisskopf’s wife becomes upset and attacks Yossarian for ridiculing God. Yossarian asks why she’s upset, since she doesn’t believe in God. She insists she doesn’t, breaking into tears, insisting that the God she doesn’t believe in is good, not stupid and mean like Yossarian depicts him.*

Activist Atheists are attempting to remove God from the public square. If they succeed, they will then attempt to remove God from society entirely.

Devout newthinkers who have climbed high enough in the cognitive branches of newthink’s worldview tree to internalize the “God doesn’t exist” belief suffer from cognitive dissonance due to two contradictory unconscious beliefs: God is the absent father and God does not exist. An absent father is different from a father who doesn’t exist and never has existed. Newthinkers unconsciously and fundamentally believe in God the Father, but they also believe their father has abandoned them. This is deism, in which God exists, but is not active in the universe. When those who internalize newthink logic get to the point where they believe humanity is the ultimate authority and God doesn’t exist, the point where newthink’s deism becomes atheism, then one of the cornerstones of the newthink worldview – God is the Absent Father – is threatened. The dissonance between the belief in an absent God and the belief in a nonexistent God may be the catalyst toward a new worldview, one which I hope never emerges, in which a new universe metaphor denies the existence of God altogether.

The unconscious belief that God does not exist obviously has major effects as it spreads through society. One is a decrease in the influence of traditional religions. Traditional theologies tend to be dismissed by newthinkers as fantasies, psychological crutches, and/or cultural appendices. Newthinkers elevate science into a means of explaining everything, seen and unseen, in the universe. They unconsciously believe that science, since it comes from inherently noble humans, is therefore more true, powerful and insightful than religion.

Another dynamic is the progressive tendency to create messiahs out of mere mortals. The belief that God doesn’t exist leaves a hole in newthinkers’ psyches which they tend to fill with charismatic figures. As Jonah Goldberg argues in his book Liberal Fascism, progressives yearn for a leader in harmony with the people’s will.** In America, that yearning gave us Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama; in Europe, it produced less benign leaders.

Finally, this belief causes newthinkers to reject traditional principles. They have no foundation in newthink because God doesn’t exist; there is no reward or punishment in the afterlife for good or evil done in this life. In their place are the new principles of political correctness, based on emotion and the unconscious beliefs we are exploring. Unfortunately, as traditional morality declines, so does the pressure to conform to its high standard of conduct – and so does its attendant good behavior.

* Joseph Heller, Catch-22, (New York: Dell, 1962), p. 184.

** Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism, (Three Rivers Press, 2009), p. 23.

Atheism is Progressive Faith in the Non-Existence of God

Devout progressives eventually come to the conclusion that if humanity is the ultimate authority, then God must not exist, because he is by definition the ultimate authority. Under newthink, humanity takes on God’s role.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief, from the Godless Universe metaphor on up, goes like this:

• The Universe is a Home.
• God is the Absent Father.
• Transcendental goodness does exist.
• Transcendental goodness exists within us, not outside of us.
• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Humanity is the ultimate authority.
• God doesn’t exist.

WorldviewTree_p062

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• Traditional God-based religions are fantasies, psychological crutches, and/or cultural appendices.
• The old God-based beliefs don’t apply anymore because we now know he doesn’t exist.
• Principles should derive from reason and feelings, not from an external and nonexistent God.
• Science rather than religion should be used to explain the ultimate nature of the universe.
• There is no afterlife with a reward or punishment for behavior in this life.
• Humanity takes the role formerly occupied by God.

 

Progressive society nurses a lot of anger toward God and “organized religion.” Part of this is because churches tend to be pillars of our cultural traditions. But there may be another more fundamental reason for newthinkers’ anger toward God than the cultural orientation of some churches. One of the three trunks supporting newthink’s worldview tree is the Godless Universe metaphor: The universe is a home; God is the absent father. The newthinkers’ Father, in whom they still unconsciously believe, has abandoned them. Just as a fatherless child grows up angry at its missing father, so does fatherless humanity nurse anger against its absent God. Among more devout newthinkers, that anger can become hatred. God’s status as an absent father helps explain the streak of God-hatred in progressivism.

As one climbs the newthink worldview tree, the unconscious idea that God is missing morphs into a belief in his nonexistence. Why do we stop believing in God? Because God is invisible and it’s easy to think he’s not there; because bad things happen and we blame him or doubt his existence; because we’re not always good and it’s easier to think he doesn’t exist than to admit our shortcomings; because there’s an initial ostensible feeling of freedom in believing no ultimate judge of our behavior exists. Given these disincentives for belief in God, the real surprise is not that atheism exists, but that religion does.

Atheism is every bit as much of a belief system as religion; neither can be proven. It’s purely a matter of faith – faith in the nonexistence of God.

If one is merely skeptical of the existence of God, agnosticism is the logical position. But the more devout newthinkers take another step: they believe in the nonexistence of God. Atheism is every bit as much of a belief system as religion; neither can be proven. It’s purely a matter of faith – faith in the nonexistence of God. Humans need to believe in something beyond themselves. If they start believing God is not home, then something must take God’s place. As G. K. Chesterton observed, those who stop believing in God do not believe nothing, they believe anything. For newthinkers, that “anything” is humanity. God ceases to exist and man attempts to sit on his throne. Atheism exists among nonbelievers because it enables the human need to believe in something beyond themselves – in this case, humanity as a whole. Atheism, which eschews religion, takes the place of religion in the human psyche.

A Progressive Belief: Wisdom is Felt, Not Learned

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We need to strip away society and return to a natural state to uncover our inherent and transcendent nobility.
• The more natural, the more virtuous.
• Emoting is natural and therefore virtuous; thinking is unnatural and therefore unvirtuous.
• Wisdom is felt, not learned.

WorldviewTree_p047

 

To newthinkers, emoting is natural and therefore virtuous; thinking is unnatural and therefore unvirtuous. Wisdom is felt, not learned.

…if seniors aren’t wiser than younger people, then why give them any deference? Under newthink, they’re really just wrinkly, cranky and unfashionable versions of everyone else.

Radical ramifications are created by this disrespect of traditional wisdom. They include the devaluation of older Americans: if seniors aren’t wiser than younger people, then why give them any deference? Under newthink, they’re really just wrinkly, cranky and unfashionable versions of everyone else. If the advantages of age aren’t appreciated, then the sizzle has to go to the young.

Newthink trash-cans tradition – another effect of this disrespect. If wisdom is felt, not learned, then tradition doesn’t really matter. The spoiled generation which grew up in the sixties looked at the blessings of American society and found them wanting. Western civilization and all its accomplishments were taken for granted. They could do it better.

Newthink’s disrespect of traditional wisdom is self-justifying. If traditional wisdom is worthless, then a new worldview is necessary. That opens the door for newthink.

A Progressive Belief: Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.

Newthink’s worldview tree grows out of its three main branches. One of the three is the Godless Universe metaphor, which begins with the unconscious belief that human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.

This is the primary unconscious belief derived from the Godless Universe metaphor. It’s the result of cognitive dissonance between two fundamental beliefs: that God is not present, and that transcendental goodness does exist. The unconscious logic branches upward like this:

• The Universe is a Home.
• God is the Absent Father.
• Transcendental goodness does exist.
• Transcendental goodness exists within us, not outside of us.
• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.

WorldviewTree_p024

Newthinkers’ conviction that God is absent, derived from the Godless Universe metaphor, encounters their coexistent conviction that transcendental goodness does however exist. The cognitive result of these seemingly contrary positions is the belief that transcendental goodness does exist, but within us, not outside of us. It is therefore, newthinkers believe, humans who are inherently and transcendentally noble, not an absent God.

Where does the foundational belief that God is not present in our universe originate? From various factors: First, science’s ability to explain the world has led to the belief that the universe is knowable, and that the idea of God the unknowable mystery is simply mysticism. As the New York Times headline said, “God Is Dead.”(Notice the headline said God Is dead, not God Doesn’t Exist. The former implies that he once was alive and now is gone.) Second, science’s ability to manipulate the world has led, in many minds, to its replacement of God as the great manipulator. Third, disbelief in God may seem like freedom; freedom attracts. And, fourth, on an individual level, repressed anger toward a missing or failed father in one’s personal life creates anger which may be sublimated toward God the Father.

Where does the foundational belief that transcendental goodness actually exists come from? I believe it originates in an inherent human recognition of and attraction to transcendental goodness. Virtue is essential to human life – who would want to live in a universe where goodness did not exist? Only the bleakest among us deny the existence of goodness completely. Nearly all people have an internalized virtue system. (And I’m willing to bet that nearly everyone rates themselves above average on their virtue scale.) But, as we’ll see, people with different worldviews define virtue differently.