Leftist shamelessness and Christian hypocrisy

Our side sometimes speculates that Leftists are secretly energized by their own unacknowledged guilt or shame for their personal sins.  Conspicuous displays of righteous attitudes are a way to reassure themselves of their own goodness, scapegoat-hunting is driven by projected guilt, and so forth.  The idea is that synderesis in humans is strong enough to override ideological obfuscation, at least enough to cause an uneasy conscience.  I find such psychological explanations implausible because they ignore the basic sociological fact of Leftism being an established ideology.  Like any established ideology, it enjoys greater support from “the best”, those most able and motivated to achieve their society’s ideal.  The status quo usually has the best human material.  Thus I take things more at face value–people who appear utterly sure of their own righteousness really are utterly sure of their own righteousness.  And this is the most terrifying thing about Leftists:  their absolute and vindictive moral certainty, a product of their Manichean worldview that casts themselves as pure good and their opponents as pure evil.  They claim to be tolerant, but to those they really do disapprove they are pitiless.  It occurs to me that Leftists may have a very different personal experience with morality than Christians.  While Christians all to some extent fail to follow our own moral code, and are thus confronted with our own personal weakness and viciousness, Leftist morality, being a matter of attitudes, can be quite easy.  It’s not hard to avoid having negative thoughts about blacks, especially if your only exposure to them is The Cosby Show. Nor am I impressed with so-called “liberal guilt” which always seems to mean condemnation of one’s ancestors for failing to meet one’s own standards.  The fact that this is what passes for guilt with them just illustrates how different are their moral experiences.  For us, morality usually means confronting ourselves; for them, it mostly means confronting evil others.  What if many on the social justice warrior Left have never, or almost never, felt personal guilt or shame?  Wouldn’t their personalities be very different from those of ordinary mortals?

Most Christians are not hypocrites in the sense of pretending to a level of virtue we don’t enjoy.  On the other hand, when Leftists call us hypocrites they mean that we don’t privately live up to the moral code we publicly espouse, and that is certainly true.  I think hypocrisy gets a bum rap.  Of course, pure virtue is better, but there’s something admirable in not letting one’s vices dictate one’s beliefs.  Don’t we admire it when a man allows himself to be convinced of a truth that it is against his interest to acknowledge?  Don’t we usually trust testimony more when it is against the speaker’s own interest?  (Perhaps we shouldn’t.  It penalizes impartiality.)  Suppose a public figure takes a public stand against homosexuality.  Then suppose it turns out that he is a practicing homosexual.  Most people would call this a score for the gay side and mean that the man’s arguments against sodomy should be weighted less; clearly he himself isn’t convinced by them.  People think this way because with their easy morality they’ve never faced their own weakness, their own inability to persevere in sincerely held principles.  Perhaps we should weigh the actively gay man’s anti-homosexuality testimony more highly, because it is testimony against interest.

These generalizations are probably even more true today, when most culture war battles have to do with Leftist morality on race or Christian morality on sex.  More and more thorough purges of America’s white past don’t really cost Leftists anything.  On the other hand, I don’t know if it’s our higher testosterone or what, but I suspect conservatives really do have stronger sex drives than liberals.  “You conservatives are obsessed with sex!” is probably often true.  It is for me!  (For their own consistency, though, I think that liberals should be careful to avoid shaming language.  Who are they to judge conservatives for being sex-obsessed?)  This should count for us rather than against us in sex arguments.  Few things would do more to make my Earthly life pleasant than to be proved wrong about nonprocreative sexual release.  Being convinced by Catholic arguments has meant living with either sexual frustration or guilt most of my adult life.  I’m obviously not using Catholic doctrine to promote my (worldly) interests.  One of the advantages of focusing attention on nearly ubiquitous and generally approved sexual sins is this:  we establish that we are not just laying burdens on small groups like sodomites and divorcees; we’re recognizing burdens on ourselves.  We deserve the moral authority of being good hypocrites.

11 Responses

  1. […] Leftist shamelessness and Christian hypocrisy […]

  2. Guilt on the Left is always more or less collective guilt. When assigning moral blame, they almost always say, “we should be ashamed” or “it is a disgrace that we . . .” Blame is laid at the feet of a guilty society. Obviously the Leftist does’t share equally in the guilt, since he is working to right the wrongs, but his language is always collective.

    I believe many Leftists do feel real and painful guilt about social inequality. This is very hard on them because they cannot end the inequality in the way a wayward husband could end an affair, and I expect it is this that makes them so angry with the world. You and I can remove the source of personal guilt through repentance and personal reform, and along the way we can make use of the rite of confession, but these options are not open to those who suffer from collective guilt

  3. “The status quo usually has the best human material. ” A wholly preposterous notion, particularly for a Christian. Have you forgotten that the “first shall be last..” and etc?

    And no, their moral “vision” does not consist of “finding evil in others”. They have no moral vision.. They merely seek to project their own capacity for evil onto other in order to avoid facing it in themselves. They have no moral “vision”. They are mired in evil. Leftism is at best a sickness of the soul, and you help no one by this indulgence on moral relativism.

  4. @Bonald – A very striking post.

    What most hit home was the comment “people who appear utterly sure of their own righteousness really are utterly sure of their own righteousness. And this is the most terrifying thing about Leftists: their absolute and vindictive moral certainty”.

    This is correct. What I think they *are* deeply unsure about, is the metaphysical basis for righteousness of *any* kind – when they sense that their basic belief about reality is that there is no basic reality; that their moral relativism destroys their own moral certainty.

    I think that is when they feel the ground slipping away from under them, but (since the paradox has only one solution – religion; which is the one they they cannot accept at any price) they turn away into renewed revolutionary ardour.

    But not necessarily… because this process is not fundamentally human, but demonic – hence at the highest levels of Leftism the individuals (mostly humans, but some of whom may actually be demons-in-disguise) are deliberately and knowingly destructive of the good (as the good is defined by God).

    This fundamentally demonic nature of Leftism is why I feel the *argument* cannot really be won against Leftism. It must be resisted to the end, Christians may convert some of the dupes of Leftism – but Christians are not going to change the leader’s minds by persuasion, because they are either demonic or so far gone in their servitude to evil as to resemble ‘the mouth of Sauron’.

  5. There may be something to Bruce’s point, while leftists are certain of their own righteousness, they don’t really have a firm basis for believing in the concept at all. That may be part of the explanation for many facets of leftist (particularly academic leftist) expression, from their devotion to “science”, belief in aliens, cryogenics, AI, brain uploading, or their fanatical defense of their beliefs about things like evolution and global warming (note that this last point would be valid even if these beliefs are in fact true). They need some guiding principle, and so they desperately seek after anything even slightly resembling one.

  6. > Have you forgotten that the “first shall be last..” and etc?

    Doesn’t that sort of support my point?

  7. Doesn’t the existence of natural law suggest that many liberals should at least intuit the wickedness of their sins e.g. the extreme sexual sin that modern people routinely engage in?

    I think it’s a least plausible that many liberals and leftists feel some sort of psychologically implicit guilt for their sins – and there isn’t really any way for them to believe that their sins are forgiven – hence the pursuit of leftist, self-righteous pietism.

  8. Doesn’t the existence of natural law suggest that many liberals should at least intuit the wickedness of their sins e.g. the extreme sexual sin that modern people routinely engage in?

    This is what a lot of “new” natural law theorists I think unconvincingly argue. Their view relies much more on the rationalism of the Enlightenment than on the traditional natural law view. While Aquinas says that the general principles of natural law can never be blotted out from the human heart, he qualifies this by saying- ‘But it is blotted out in the case of a particular action, in so far as reason is hindered from applying the general principle to a particular point of practice, on account of concupiscence or some other passion.” Furthermore, the secondary principles of natural law can be blotted out by vice. On the whole I think the new natural lawyers are way too optimistic where in a society, such as ours, so mired in mortal sin. Appeals to the natural law are meaningless.

  9. “there’s something admirable in not letting one’s vices dictate one’s beliefs”

    May have to quote this in my book when I get round to writing it again. Profound. We should remember, woe unto those who call good evil and evil good. This seems a very special condemnation for those who would say that a sin is good, whether or not they personally indulge in it.

  10. […] virtue, this expectation was often founded in an incorrect understanding of morality or was simply hypocritical. The result was a mix of virtue and […]

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