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by Christopher Chantrill
January 17, 2004 at 12:00 pm
EVER NOTICE how lefties are big on sacrifice? Most of the Democratic presidential contenders were planning to roll back the Bush tax cuts, at least up until the moment they started to appeal for the votes of real Americans instead of movement lefties.
Its not just lefties that are into sacrifice. Since time immemorial, humans have felt the need to assuage the guilt and shame of it all. The way we do this, Frederick Turner reminds us in Beauty, the Value of Values, is with sacrifice.
Our lives are shameful. We shamefully select one pretty girl to wed and ruthlessly reject others equally pretty. We conquer and kill, and elbow others out of our way. The ultimate shameful fact is that we live day-to-day by killing and enslaving. For meat eaters, this uncomfortable truth is inescapable. We breed, fatten up, and kill billions of animals that we have domesticated (i.e., enslaved) to our human purposes. But the position of vegetarians is hardly innocent. They feed on the carcasses of grossly-modified grasses that once grew wild in the hills of Mesopotamia, and they gobble up many other species that we have dragged into our gardens. So we must sacrifice to wash away the shame and the guilt.
Sacrifice is a kind of magic and magic, according to sociologist Rodney Stark, is the way that humans attempt to acquire things that cannot be gotten by natural means. It was when the rains failed that the people of the Nazca plain in Peru started drawing magic lines in the desert pointing to the mountains from whence the water used to flow.
But magic is expensive, and men have sought to economize on its cost. In other words, they cheat. In our western tradition the first notable instance of cheating occurred on the day Abraham sacrificed a ram to the Lord instead of his son, Isaac. Others have substituted the bones and the hide of a bull for the entire bull and its valuable meat. But it was Christianity that took the sacrifice concept to the limit and beyond. What, after all, is the biggest sacrifice a father can imagine? Obviously, it must be: the father sacrifices his first-born son. What is the biggest sacrifice imaginable? God sacrifices His Son.
When God sacrifices His Son, it means that we dont need to sacrifice our sons. God has paid the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world, and we get to keep our sons, our rams, our bulls, and the Dodge Rams that we might otherwise have sacrificed to atone for our sins. This has a real effect on the ground, as David Aikman relates in Jesus in Beijing. Communist Party officials in western China have reported that villagers who convert to Christianity stop sacrificing their animals when family members get sick. The result is that the Christian families get richer.
In our advanced West, of course, many people have abandoned Christianity and have declared their independence of the Christian experience of Original Sin. But if Frederick Turner is right they would still need to enact a sacrifice ritual to atone for all the killing and enslaving that every human commits, even the granola lefty who merely enacts a daily slaughter of tender alfalfa sprouts.
Do they ever. Our modern lefties wallow in sin. There is the sin of oppressing the poor, there is the sin of patriarchy, there is the sin of overpopulation, there is the sin of global warming, there is the sin of smoking, there is the sin of eating meat, there is the sin of fast food, and there is the sin of gas-guzzling SUVs. And let us not forget the Four Horsemen of the modern Apocalypse: racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia.
All this sin could be handled were it not that lefties arent satisfied for us just to say we are sorry. They want us to atone for it all with real sacrifice, for they have thrown over the brilliant Christian invention of symbolic sacrifice, the ultimate cheat where God sacrifices His Son and we dont have to. Lefties want us to eat less, consume less, travel less, and live simply that others may simply live. To top it all, they want us to act out the global sacrifice ritual called the Kyoto Protocol.
The lefty twentieth century exhibited a return not just to real sacrifice but human sacrifice, the kind that went out when God told Abraham to sacrifice that ram instead of his first-born son. Wherever left-wing regimes held sway, whether in a socialism-in-one-country version or in a national-socialist-German-worker version, millions of humans were sacrificed to atone for the sins of the world in the most gruesome manner imaginable. They call that progress?
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable...
[1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006
No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, Letter to Lord Lytton
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel