Everybody I know who appreciates the pervasive lies surrounding us, and notably every Christian in that position, feels isolated and, if the truth be told, rather impotent as they experience the vehement opposition of family members, friends, and church associates. And that is certainly justified, since the capture of the institutions by fashionable progressivism has reached even into the evangelical churches.
But I’ve been reading sociologist Frank Furedi’s most recent book on the rise of identity politics, 100 Years of Identity Crisis, and realise that the progressive agenda not only arose, but became institutionalised, long ago. What is interesting is that its effects were kept at bay before now, for a century, mainly by the actions of ordinary folks, most of whom had little idea of the ideological forces at work. They were, after all,unenlightened and bourgeois, as opposed to the intellectual elite which not only knew the world had to change, and exactly how, but knew they were the people to do it.
A disproportionate number of these unwitting unschooled counter-revolutionaries were operating from Christian convictions, because Christianity was the prevailing worldview of ordinary people who had ethical convictions at all. They were certainly aware that new moral attitudes were being promoted, but few realised that they were being introduced strategically and methodically by the powerful, and had the specific aim of overturning Christianity as the “archaic prejudice” causing all the world’s problems.
There was a focused purpose of training the young to reject outright the values of their parents, who represented the traditions and values of society (of course, largely Christian). Education was therefore a primary strategic institution for divorcing children from all that had gone before – a process we now see in its extreme form of rejecting history altogether. For example Furedi quotes Brock Chisolm, in 1946, saying:
We have swallowed all manner of poisonous certainties fed us by our parents, our Sunday and day-school teachers, our politicians, our priests.
Chisolm blamed this for the two world wars, a simplistic and misleading myth which became mainstream, but equally simplistic, in the New Atheist movement, which was of course a product of the educational system that gradually replaced the “poisonous certainties.” The inevitable result, inexplicably unforeseen by the intelligentsia with their theories, was that abolishing the unifying traditions of the past created a fragmented, rather than a peaceful and harmonious, world.
From a Christian point of view, this is a clearcut case of calling evil good, and good evil. Chisolm, be it noted, was not an obscure academic – he was the first Director of the WHO. Indeed, the creation of international bodies like the UN and UNESCO after WW2 was the great opportunity the progressives had sought to impose their ideas on the global community, as well as in the now more liberal national government systems.
They had not been without increasing influence before. I’ve mentioned before the Technocratic Movement of the 1930s, which was closely linked to the Eugenics Movement and similar elitist causes championed by prominent thinkers like Bertand Russell, H G Wells and G B Shaw over here, and similarly celebrated public figures in the USA, including of course John D Rockefeller and others with the financial resources to implement their ideas. What they had in common, and likewise have in common with what is going on today, is a conviction that only they have the answers and the wisdom to make things better for the human race through their own central planning, whilst simultaneously hating the human race as too numerous, too stupid, and too bourgeois.
Eugenics actually seems to be one of the few examples of effective counter-attack by the institutional Church, or at least the Catholics and some Evangelicals, as opposed to individual churches and Christians just living and teaching an alternative way. The Catholic Church was as hated for its opposition to enforced sterilization in the 1930s as it is now for its stance on abortion and contraception. It is notable, though, that the progressives gave up that ground, for the moment, when the actual effects of enforced sterilisation emerged from the ruins of the Third Reich, whose eugenics programme had been initiated and funded by Rockefeller.
This is only one example of how, in practice, the enlightened progressive agenda has always failed wherever it has been given free rein, although the progressives will always blame whatever remains of the old order for their own bad ideas. Consider, for example, how the removal of sexual taboos has been pushed since the late nineteenth century until the only taboo is the new one of “cis-gendered normality.” The removal of all that Freudian repression (woops – the enlightened science has now changed, but the programme continues!) has led to Sexting, Me Too, Jeffrey Epstein, the toleration of Asian sex-abuse rings, ubiquitous violent pornography, exponential increases in abortions and STD, entirely new diseases like genital Herpes and AIDS, single parenthood leading to a crisis in child psychological disorders and poor educational outcomes … the last two, of course, being what the whole shebang was promoted to cure.
Likewise, a century after the Russian Revolution and the tens of millions who have died under atheist Communism since, it is hard to take seriously the claim that all those deaths were the result of societies teaching their kids to honour their parents, which was literally what was being alleged. Is China still so tainted by Christian bourgeois morality after 74 years of Communism that it explains the oppression of the Uighur by the Han Chinese?
One can see the same trail of disaster for any of the programmes advocated by the progressives and instantiated as they began to wield power in government, education, academia, the press and the media. Educationalists inspired by “scientific” truths sidelined academic content for affirming children’s own creative ideas – and science has, naturally, been destroyed in the process, whilst we do have an escalating number of inventive new genders.
Factual untruth as well as rose-tinted idealism was as much a feature of progressivism “back in the day” as it is in these evil times. For example, the anthropologist Margaret Mead used the alleged (and entirely fictional) sexual liberalisation of Soviet Russia as well as her highly romanticised, and discredited, account of the culture of Samoa, to popularise sexual liberation as an educational ideal. The “healthy sex life” with which our children are indoctrinated from kindergarten is a romantic fiction, even when promoted by a celebrity anthropologist.
But even my own experience shows how the weak and ignorant stubbornness of the non-intellectuals kept society more-or-less functioning before the present apparent collapse of moral resolve. As I entered adolescence in the 1960s, not only was “the new morality” the trendy thing to discuss amongst one’s peers, but popular cultural figures like Mick Jagger dismissed sexual morality as obsolete, and Woodstock and the Paris riots opened the floodgates… though it took many decades for the downside of “free love” for women, and of course their unplanned offspring, to be discussed in fashionable circles.
But I had joined a Bible Class in 1962, and was converted in 1965. There accountants, engineers and the occasional professional teacher (and not a single PhD) simply taught the Bible. I don’t even remember very much direct teaching on the current sexual controversy, but I was taught to read the Bible as God’s word, and its moral teaching was entirely clear, as the old progressives rightly recognised but today’s progressive theologians seem not to.
Meanwhile at home, although my mother was at best a conflicted Christian, she saw real life more clearly than the trendy academics, and assured me, seriously if not entirely convincingly, that she would personally throttle me if I ever got a girl into trouble. Indeed my upbringing was so un-hip that I was even completely unaware of the “traditional” double standard on pre-marital sex for males and females until I got to university and met rich kids. Such was the Nonconformist legacy.
It was those close-to-home influences that I consciously allowed to form my own worldview, and it gave me a healthy critical approach to the academic theories I later encountered. It makes all the difference if you decide not to give undue weight to opinions just because they are held by academics. Indeed, there’s a very good case for blaming most of society’s recent problems on intellectuals uncontrolled by wisdom of the common people. Think of Marx, Marcuse or Foucault.
What I’m saying is that across the western world, ordinary people were stupid and unsophisticated enough either to be ignorant of the liberating nature of progressive theories, or simply stubborn enough to think for themselves, and to teach their children what they believed to be true. And what they believed to be true often had its basis in Scripture, whose teaching had particular traction, of course, with committed Christians. Even then Christians were regarded by the great and good as fools following old superstitions. And yet simply by being deaf to the new ways, they were in fact acting as effective salt and light that kept some semblance of stability and social unity alive until they were, quite deliberately, taken out of the way or pushed to the margins of society.
But then again, maybe they weren’t completely taken out of the way. In America, particularly, it was heartening last week to hear a doctor, speaking to a senatorial hearing on COVID vaccine damage, introduce herself as owing everything to the Lord Jesus Christ. YouTube has taken the video of the hearing down now, of course, since people like the editor of the BMJ or the former President of the Royal College of GPs cannot be permitted to spread information contradicting the progressives in public. The roots of suppressing old wisdom to bring in a new, better world, lie a century deep and have spread like Japanese knotweed to our institutions.
But as far as I understand the teaching of Jesus, he didn’t say that being salt and light depends on having a public platform. Indeed, a hundred years of keeping the spirit of antichrist at bay demonstrates that God can do quite well without such a platform.
They triumphed over himRevelation 12:11
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.