s skippy the bush kangaroo: losing my political religion

skippy the bush kangaroo



Saturday, February 18, 2006

losing my political religion

digby, after profiling a conservative who's been ostracized for disliking awol, discusses how the current political clime is less politics and more religiosity:

george w bush has won two elections with the unquestioning support of conservatives. yet, in his first term he made it quite obvious that he was not a conservative in any sense that i understood conservative. from out of control spending to federalizing education to nation building and messianic foreign policy, he has simply not been conservative by any common definition of the term. none of that stopped conservatives from virtually worshipping the man. it is only now that he has become unpopular and his policies are failing that his brand of conservatism is being criticized on the right.

george w. bush will not achieve a place in the republican pantheon. conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed. by liberalism.

dave neiwert chimed in on this discussion yesterday and wrote a very intriguing post in which he posits that the modern republican party might more aptly be called a political religion, which, as it happens, is an acknowledged sociological designation. he writes:

i wonder if there isn't another way of framing this that can help progressives get a handle on what we're dealing with. particularly, i wonder if it wouldn't help to think of the discrete conservative movement as a political religion.

here's the wikepedia entry, which is actually rather accurate on the subject:

in the terminology of some scholars working in sociology, a political religion is a political ideology with cultural and political power equivalent to those of a religion, and often having many sociological and ideological similarities with religion. quintessential examples are marxism and nazism, but totalitarianism is not a requirement (for example neo-liberalism can be analysed as a political religion).

... the term political religion is a sociological one, drawing on the sociological aspects of religion which can be often be found in certain secular ideologies. a political religion occupies much the same psychological and sociological space as a theistic religion, and as a result it often displaces or coopts existing religious organisations and beliefs; this is described as a "sacralisation" of politics. however, although a political religion may coopt existing religious structures or symbolism, it does not itself have any independent spiritual or theocratic elements - it is essentially secular, using religion only for political purposes, if it does not reject religious faith outright.
obviously, this movement embraces religious faith outright, which may give it certain advantages over more secular political religions, since it so readily taps into ordinary people's deeply held beliefs and exploits them…
david brooks says that the left is stalinist. i assume that's what sullivan's title refers to as well. communism is often considered a secular religion, although that clearly underestimates the huge power of state coercion. if the american left is stalinist, it certainly has been extremely ineffective. after all, conservatism now dominates all three branches of government. and i can't help but find this argument amusing considering that the primary critique of democrats is that we have no convictions and are constantly fighting amongst ourselves. we are remarkably undisciplined totalitarians.
ok, we admit it: we only quoted that section to see how many nested blockquotes we could legitimately insert into a post (and let's hope blogger chokes if it tries to eat this one!)
posted by skippy at 2:49 PM |

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