In “The Night of the Hunter” Robert Mitchum played a criminal posing as a preacher who had “Love” and “Hate” tattooed across the knuckles of his left and right hands. Indeed these things are complimentary, nowhere more than in leftist thought. We are admonished to love, and yet we are confronted with hate. What role do these two things play in leftist ideology?
In general, spiritual systems proscribe hate. In Eastern religions, hate is the result of attachment to one’s ego. In Middle Eastern religions, hate is taking what is properly a right reserved to God- judgement and punishment- and putting it in the hands of man. Revenge is forbidden.
God’s wrath is a constant subject in the Old Testament. Even at its greatest intensity, in the Psalms, it is still however God’s wrath, not man’s, which Ignacio Ellacuria clearly missed. In all religions, love, possibly with correction and guidance, is the expected response to wrongdoing. Anti-jihadists will say Islam does not make this distinction, but as anti-Islamic as I am, I still say Moslems make a distinction between enforcing laws on God’s behalf and God’s wrath.
Gandhi popularized the use of non-violent resistance in politics. Clearly his Hindu and Jain background influenced this, but he was inspired by the poet Shelley.
The professed idea behind this- starting with “turn the other cheek”- is that the offender, having his anger and hate answered with love, will experience a spiritual epiphany and see the wrongness of his actions. Shelley on the other hand perceives the real mechanism at work- social shame. Harming people who refuse to resist will be regarded as unacceptable and those who do it will suffer from social ostracism. This seems to be a social dynamic that operates only in English Protestant society, and not always then, but Shelley made an extremely important and consequential observation. As non-conforming Christianity gained power in the industrializing English-speaking world, so did the power of shame.
But why then? The West had been practicing Christianity in some form or another for a millenia or more. So why did this particular version get this particular ability to control mass behavior and belief?
Christianity started out as a community endeavor. People formed small groups that met regularly for religious services and social reasons. Membership wasn’t assumed or automatic, as it wasn’t the official religion. No concept of community standards yet existed, and what exact behavior was required wasn’t agreed on.
This struggle to define correct Christian behavior is seen in the epistles, particularly those of Paul. Believers were supposed to confess their sins; if one believer saw another in error he might gently rebuke him. The final step was that an offender would be confronted by several elders, and told to repent or leave the congregation.
Over time this function became formalized in the Catholic priesthood. Running afoul of the Church became much more serious, because while in the Roman Empire you could just go back to being a pagan, Christianity was now the official religion. Expulsion from the Church was expulsion from society. To what degree rebellion against this power was cause of the Reformation is for scholars to say; but Protestants dispensed with confession, and made it a private matter.
In many places Episcopalianism or Lutheranism simply replaced Catholicism as the official church. Other theologies, Puritanism among them, returned to the idea of the Christian congregation as a community in itself outside of society at large. The idea that the individual member answered to the group as a whole was revived.
Lutherans or Episcopalians didn’t suffer any social sanction on their behavior outside of what the greater society offered; Puritans and other non-conforming Christians did. In England the Anglican Church remained the religion of rural people; non-conformism became the religion of merchants, bankers, and manufacturers in the city. Membership in good standing in such a church was an important part of business. Membership was a certification of good behavior. Before the Victorian era, rural landowners had social and political power; as England became a commercial nation, the morality of the commercial class became a powerful influence.
A wealthly country gentleman, confronted by a Puritan preacher over some matter, might horsewhip the fellow; he had his own income and answered to no one. A city laborer or merchant had no such independence. Ostracism meant personal destruction. Preachers and do-gooders gained the ability to set the tone of behavior and belief for a larger and larger part of society.
What leftists present to use as love, then, is actually shame. It’s a very powerful method of controlling people, but it’s also toxic. Who gets to decide what behavior is to be condemned? Who gets to decide who is out of line? In Anglo-Saxon society, the role was taken on by church leaders, then officials of charitable and reform organizations, then academics and scientists of various kinds.
This is a soft sort of power. It’s not the legal system, the financial system, or the government. It’s the power of the relatively weak deployed against the relatively strong. It pressures and cajoles, it doesn’t order or demand. But it’s extremely strong nonetheless.
That’s the “love” side of the equation, but where does hate come in? When leftists gain formal power, they can and do throw the “love” crap out the window and get down to business. But that is another entry.