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Substitutes for Religion

from The Wall Street Journal,How to Defeat Religious Violence by Jonathan Sacks:

What the secularists forgot is that Homo sapiens is the meaning-seeking animal. If there is one thing the great institutions of the modern world do not do, it is to provide meaning. Science tells us how but not why. Technology gives us power but cannot guide us as to how to use that power. The market gives us choices but leaves us uninstructed as to how to make those choices. The liberal democratic state gives us freedom to live as we choose but refuses, on principle, to guide us as to how to choose.

Science, technology, the free market and the liberal democratic state have enabled us to reach unprecedented achievements in knowledge, freedom, life expectancy and affluence. They are among the greatest achievements of human civilization and are to be defended and cherished.

But they do not answer the three questions that every reflective individual will ask at some time in his or her life: Who am I? Why am I here? How then shall I live? The result is that the 21st century has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning.

Religion has returned because it is hard to live without meaning. That is why no society has survived for long without either a religion or a substitute for religion. The 20th century showed, brutally and definitively, that the great modern substitutes for religion—nation, race, political ideology—are no less likely to offer human sacrifices to their surrogate deities.

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The Sound of Silence

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Similarities Between Nazis and Commies


From The Telegraph, Leftists become incandescent when reminded of the socialist roots of Nazism by Daniel Hannan

Marx’s error, Hitler believed, had been to foster class war instead of national unity – to set workers against industrialists instead of conscripting both groups into a corporatist order. His aim, he told his economic adviser, Otto Wagener, was to “convert the German Volk to socialism without simply killing off the old individualists” – by which he meant the bankers and factory owners who could, he thought, serve socialism better by generating revenue for the state. “What Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism failed to accomplish,” he told Wagener, “we shall be in a position to achieve.”

The idea that Nazism is a more extreme form of conservatism has insinuated its way into popular culture. You hear it, not only when spotty students yell “fascist” at Tories, but when pundits talk of revolutionary anti-capitalist parties, such as the BNP and Golden Dawn, as “far Right”.

What is it based on, this connection? Little beyond a jejune sense that Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty and fascists are nasty. When written down like that, the notion sounds idiotic, but think of the groups around the world that the BBC, for example, calls “Right-wing”: the Taliban, who want communal ownership of goods; the Iranian revolutionaries, who abolished the monarchy, seized industries and destroyed the middle class; Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who pined for Stalinism. The “Nazis-were-far-Right” shtick is a symptom of the wider notion that “Right-wing” is a synonym for “baddie”.

In fact, authoritarianism was the common feature of socialists of both National and Leninist varieties, who rushed to stick each other in prison camps or before firing squads. Each faction loathed the other as heretical, but both scorned free-market individualists as beyond redemption. Their battle was all the fiercer, as Hayek pointed out in 1944, because it was a battle between brothers.

Authoritarianism – or, to give it a less loaded name, the belief that state compulsion is justified in pursuit of a higher goal, such as scientific progress or greater equality – was traditionally a characteristic of the social democrats as much as of the revolutionaries.

Jonah Goldberg has chronicled the phenomenon at length in his magnum opus, Liberal Fascism. Lots of people take offence at his title, evidently without reading the book since, in the first few pages, Jonah reveals that the phrase is not his own. He is quoting that impeccable progressive H.G. Wells who, in 1932, told the Young Liberals that they must become “liberal fascists” and “enlightened Nazis”.

In those days, most prominent Leftists intellectuals, including Wells, Jack London, Havelock Ellis and the Webbs, tended to favour eugenics, convinced that only religious hang-ups were holding back the development of a healthier species. The unapologetic way in which they spelt out the consequences have, like Hitler’s actual words, been largely edited from our discourse. Here, for example, is George Bernard Shaw in 1933:

Extermination must be put on a scientific basis if it is ever to be carried out humanely and apologetically as well as thoroughly… If we desire a certain type of civilization and culture we must exterminate the sort of people who do not fit into it.

Eugenics, of course, topples easily into racism. Engels himself wrote of the “racial trash” – the groups who would necessarily be supplanted as scientific socialism came into its own. Season this outlook with a sprinkling of anti-capitalism and you often got Leftist anti-Semitism – something else we have edited from our memory, but which once went without saying. “How, as a socialist, can you not be an anti-Semite?” Hitler had asked his party members in 1920.

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Leftist Anti Semitism


from The Orange County Register, Jews finding less comfort on the Left by Joel Kotkin

Like their European counterparts, some Democratic politicians soon may find that appealing to Muslims pays larger dividends than catering to Jews; by 2030 there will be more Muslims than Jews in America, according to Pew.

In the end, there remains an opportunity for a conservative who can adopt the open, nonthreatening approach epitomized by Ronald Reagan, who received upward of 50 percent of Jewish votes in 1980. We know that tough GOP pragmatists, like former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan or New York’s Rudy Giuliani, won the Jewish vote in their cities against strong liberal opposition.

Jews may never become a core constituency of the political Right, but the days when they automatically supported the latest fetishes of the Left may also be coming to an end.


Anti Semitic leanings from Pat Buchanan and now Ann Coulter leads to their marginalization. More blatant remarks do not cause the same results on the left.

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Paranoid Explanations of Human Behavior


A few excerpts from Paul Johnson’s Modern Times, The World from the Twenties to the Nineties:

“History shows us the truly amazing extent to which intelligent, well-informed and resolute men, in the pursuit of economy or in altruistic passion for disarmament, will delude themselves about realities.” 

“Like Lenin and still more like Stalin, he (Hitler) was an outstanding practitioner of the century’s most radical vice: social engineering- the notion that human beings can be shoveled around like concrete.”

“Christianity was content with a solitary hate-figure to explain evil: Satin. But modern secular religion faiths needed human devils, and whole categories of them. The enemy, to be plausible, had to be an entire class or race. Marx’s invention of the ‘bourgeoisie’ was the most comprehensive of these hate-theories and it continued to provide a foundation for all paranoid revolutionary movements… Lenin used the slogan that ‘Anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools’.  Lenin was saying that it was the entire bourgeoisie, not just Jewry, which was to blame for the ills of mankind. And it is significant that all Marxist regimes, based as they are on paranoid explanations of human behavior, degenerate sooner or later into anti-Semitism.  The new anti-Semitism, in short, was part of the sinister drift away from the apportionment of individual responsibility toward the notion of collective guilt- the revival, in modern guise, of one of the most primitive and barbarous, even bestial, of instincts.”

“Neitzsche, always on the lookout for secular, pseudo-rational substitutes for genuine religious impulse,  …denounced these latest speculators in idealism, the anti-Semites.. who endeavor to stir up all the bovine elements of the nations by a misuse of that cheapest of propaganda tricks, a moral attitude.”