Where does leftist thought come from? Mainstream conservatives say it comes from atheist philosophy. White nationalists say it is the product of Jews. This isn’t entirely wrong, but since few people in the West are either atheists or Jews, it doesn’t explain why it would have such a strong hold on people’s imaginations.
What most people in the West are, or have been until fairly recently, Christians of one kind or another, at least nominally. An idea using Christian themes is going to be difficult for people to analyze dispassionately or reject. I can’t argue theology particularly, only the social and political history of the last few hundred years, in which various types of Christianity and its offshoots- some explicitly atheist, but Christian in origin nonetheless- have dominated most of the discourse.
As I have said before, the main trend has been the replacement of aristocratic elites by new commercial elites. This happened first in England, then elsewhere as the English commercial elite waged war on competitors elsewhere. The first iteration of this was the Puritans, who waged war on the aristocratic military elite of England on the basis that they were morally lax and corrupt. Their authoritarian oligarchy under Oliver Cromwell didn’t last long in formal terms, but they broke the power of the old system with the Glorious Revolution of 1690. They were more effective at maintaining power in North America, where there has been little effective challenge to their rule.
The demise of the mounted knight as the source of military power was inevitable with the invention of gunpowder, although disciplined infantry with pikes was already a counter. What made the commercial elite really powerful was the improvement of maritime technology and thus ocean trade. Before the invention of the railroad, the only way to move goods of any weight was a ship. You can’t carry more than a ton or so on a wagon, which is highly limited in speed and utility by roads. Sea trade had made fortunes in the Mediterranean for millenia, in the Baltic for centuries, but in the 1500’s world trade became possible. Control of the sea became critical, and the Royal Navy became the most important part of English power, an organization staffed more by the middle-class than aristocrats.
Puritanism though was an elite religion, something for merchants, bankers, and other affluent urban professionals; Jean Calvin was a lawyer. English society as a whole remained indifferently churched. Sects rose up promoting the idea of universal brotherhood, the Quakers, Methodists and similar sects I will call Universalists in shorthand.
Usually when we think good cop/bad cop, the good cop is senior; but not in this case. The Puritans are the older and more powerful group, and they are the bad cops. The Univeralists are the newer and less powerful group, and they are the good cops.
All pre-industrial societies had a rigid hierarchy, roughly ranked as elite warriors, priests, farmers, merchants and tradesmen, laborers, and beggars. Having money impressed no one; a poor knight or samurai got far more respect than rich merchant. Everybody knew what their rank was and who was above and below them. The new system upended this in two ways; it created a new elite, Puritan businessmen, and made everybody outside of that elite equal.
Communism did the same thing, only in reverse. After wiping out the old elite, it made everybody equal, and then created a new elite. “Animal Farm” lays out this process.
How does this relate to Christian ideas? The Universalists teach us a number of things. Everybody is equal in God’s eyes. Everybody is inherently good and this goodness can be brought out if only the person will be humble and submit to their ministrations. The poor are to be loved especially, as are widows and orphans, and women. Men are inclined to violence, lust, egotism, and drunkenness, and these characteristics must be restrained. God forgives all sins and thus no one should be punished too much for breaking the law. Rich people are to be regarded with great suspicion; they are not necessarily evil but are at high risk.
Churches have different names- Methodist, Baptist, Adventist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, etc.- but they all teach more or less this Universalist creed. The Catholic Church is different and separate, but in modern times in English-speaking countries especially is much the same. The Congregational Church is what the Puritans are called now, but is the same thing. The Anglican or Episcopalian churches are of more elite origin, but have been coopted as well.
So when people hear that we must do something to help the poor, or that we must tax and regulate businesses to be fair and because rich businessmen might do bad things, or that everyone is equal so we must ensure blacks get an equal share of jobs, or that if people are stupid it’s because not enough money has been spent on education, or that punishing criminals rather than teaching them moral behavior is cruel and wrong, they have trouble resisting these ideas. As Foseti says, complaining about Puritanism and progressivism as un-American is ridiculous, because America is a Puritan and progressive country. Or more precisely that it’s a progressive Universalist country ruled by Puritans.
That most of this stuff is obviously wrong and easily shown to be so will not help your argument. The morality behind this has to be broken. Is this belief system true Christian theology? It’s obviously not in some aspects, and ambiguous in others. The specifically Quaker and generally Universalist idea that everyone is inherently good and has some part of God in them is clearly a heresy. Far from it, Christianity holds that all are inherently evil by virtue of original sin. God also obviously does not value all people the same, otherwise there would be no heaven and hell. Jesus clearly didn’t like rich people, but you can’t say he loved all poor people either. Christianity says all believers are equally valuable, but their gifts are not the same.
But what the true Christian beliefs are doesn’t really matter. There is a version of Christian belief that most people who are Christians believe is correct, and most non-Christians believe as well, although they think what they believe is humanism.
Serious social change occurs when societies are reordered around new values and beliefs. The system we have now has been in motion for 500 years, but has only been at its highest development in the last 50. It looks like it’s in big trouble, but will the stress be strong enough to force serious adaptation? I don’t know.