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.

Why Appearances Tend to Be More Important than Reality to Devout Progressives

A devout traditional American sought the love of God. A devout progressive seeks the love of humanity; all you need is love.

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 should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Humanity is the ultimate authority.
• It is important to be loved by humanity.

 

If humanity is the ultimate authority, then it is understandably important to be loved by our fellow humans. But there is another reason for newthinkers’ concern about receiving the love of humanity. Men have traditionally dominated the social macrocosm; women have dominated the social microcosm. Newthinkers perceive this as a subordinate position for women and an example of gender oppression. Thus, as they attempt to correct that perceived imbalance, evolutionary micro-feminine drives are increasingly transported into the macro world. One such drive, as David Geary points out in his book Male, Female, is the need for strong interpersonal relationships.* Women tend to be more oriented toward people, men tend to be more oriented toward things; thus the increased importance under the progressive worldview of the more feminine trait of valuing popularity and love.

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• Appearances are more important than reality.
• It is more important to appear lovable than to do the right thing.
• We must offend others as little as possible.

 

People can be fooled, but God can’t. So, when humanity is the ultimate authority, appearances are more important than truth.

When others’ love is based on what they think about us, what we appear to do is more important than what we actually do. Alternatively, when our actions are based on what is right under the omniscient view of God, what we actually do is important, not what we appear to do. People can be fooled, but God can’t. So, when humanity is the ultimate authority, appearances are more important than truth.

As appearances increasingly matter more than reality, popularity becomes essential. On an international scale, though traditional Americans usually thought it was more important that the world respect us than love us, newthinkers tend to feel that America should have the world’s approval before acting.

…unfriendly global non-progressives – such as Islamist terrorists – for whom the psychology of progressives is foreign, view this appearances-are-primary, need-to-be-loved attitude as a weakness, and use it against us.

The newthink focus on appearances leads to a desire to be loved by humanity that in turn creates a hesitancy to use power. This diminishes America’s strength: if you don’t use it, you lose it. Meanwhile, unfriendly global non-progressives – such as Islamist terrorists – for whom the psychology of progressives is foreign, view this appearances-are-primary, need-to-be-loved attitude as a weakness, and use it against us.

* David C. Geary, Male, Female, (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2005), p. 326.

Milestones on the Path of Humanism: Atheism, Narcissism and Solipsism

The belief that humanity is the ultimate authority is the essence of humanism.

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.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Humanity is the ultimate authority.

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• God doesn’t exist.
• It is important to be loved by humanity.
• Utopia is possible.

 

Along the path of humanism are milestones. The first milestone: If humans are the ultimate reality, then God is not. Newthink’s inherent belief system is atheism. The second milestone: If the ultimate reality is humanity, it’s only one step to believing that “the ultimate reality is me.” Remember how the 1970s, a period of huge progressive growth in America, was called the “me decade.” Narcissism is a common destination for newthinkers. The third milestone: If the ultimate reality is me, then it’s only one step to believing that “all reality exists only because of my perceptions.” Luckily, few progressives travel that far down the path.

Newthink’s inherent belief system is atheism, but humanity’s innate religious drive conflicts with this, resulting in a slew of pseudo-religious movements devoid of God…

Since humanity is the ultimate authority to newthinkers, as the progressive worldview takes over, those plumbing the inner reality of humans – psychologists, spiritual mentors – become part of a new humanistic priesthood. The more progressive psychologists are no longer just trying to understand and treat psychological illness; they are performing some priestlike duties, like explaining the divine (inherently noble human nature) to laypersons. Spiritual mentors pop up to fill the void left by priests and pastors. As James Hitchcock says, “Religion cannot be suppressed forever. If suppressed, it comes back, sometimes in bizarre and deformed ways.”* Newthink’s inherent belief system is atheism, but humanity’s innate religious drive conflicts with this, resulting in a slew of pseudo-religious movements devoid of God, part of what Hitchcock calls the cult of self-worship.

* James Hitchcock, What is Secular Humanism?, (Servant Books, 1982), p. 78.

Celebrating Humanity Instead of God

Unlike most progressives, traditional Americans believed that only God was to be worshiped: Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. They saw human beings as flawed and vulnerable to evil. Newthinkers, on the other hand, tend to believe that we should celebrate humanity instead of God.

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 should celebrate human beings, not God.

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• Humanity is the ultimate authority.
• We human beings need to fully realize that we are already perfect.
• Killing a human for any reason is akin to killing God.

 

Americanism, though fed by emotion as are all things human, grew out of and was shaped by a written religious tradition. Newthink, however, grew wild out of an emotional groundwork. Newthinkers believe they are transcendentally noble, and that their feelings are inherently good. But emotions, like water, can be life-giving or destructive, depending on how they are channeled.

…rationality alone cannot determine right and wrong. The intellect must have a substructure: one must defer to the written authority of God as traditional Americans did, or to feelings as progressives do.

As the newthink worldview tree developed, in its branches the philosophy of humanism grew. Humanism is really an aspect of newthink. God was replaced by humanity, and the civilizing process in God’s name was replaced by endless battle. In its definition of humanism, the dictionary says that “Humanist beliefs . . . seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.”* But rationality alone cannot determine right and wrong. The intellect must have a substructure: one must defer to the written authority of God as traditional Americans did, or to feelings as progressives do. Without a good foundation for rationality, anything – rewarding sloth, killing babies or even exterminating entire ethnic groups – can be made logical.

Devout newthinkers believe human beings are already inherently perfect, but that perfection is hidden or corrupted by society. From that perspective, celebrating human beings instead of God makes sense. When humanity is equivalent to God, killing any human is anathema, equivalent to killing God. That is part of the unconscious dynamic behind death penalty opponents in America. Their reverence for all human life blinds them to any distinction between the state execution of a murderer after a jury trial and any other killing of a human being. They may quote the biblical commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” But, as I learned from Dennis Prager, properly translated into English from the Hebrew word ratsach, that commandment really reads “Thou shalt not murder.” That is an important difference. The original Hebrew did not use the word harag (to kill), nor muth (put to death); nor shachat (to slaughter).** Murder is a subset of killing: it is that subset –“the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another”*** – which God prohibits. To traditional Americans – unlike newthinkers – the execution of a tried murderer and his own criminal act were not morally equivalent.

* The New Oxford American Dictionary, (Oxford University Press, 2001).

** Timothy E. White, Free to Love: Looking at the Law Through Jesus’ Eyes, (Tate Publishing, 2008), p. 57.

*** The New Oxford American Dictionary, (Oxford University Press, 2001).