IN THE Middle Ages there were no nation states. Instead, there were competing and interlocked feudal power blocs ruled by upper classes identifying with each other. The elite spoke the same language, had the same interests, shared the same culture. The peasants and serfs they ruled were of no account.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose . . . Today another elite leadership rules businesses, universities, the media and governments. Controlling the cultural and progressive establishments, they wish to establish a widespread civilisation run according to their values and technocratic beliefs. They have little attachment to the people, local traditions or local culture. They reject Christianity. Biblical Christianity in particular blocks progress and emancipation, and gets in the way of the utopia they pursue.
For decades now there has been a deliberate effort in the West to erase our Christian roots and dilute any remaining Christian influence. What is being cancelled in today’s cancel culture are understandings of human life and social structures rooted in the Christian faith. For decades progressivism nurtured in our universities and cultural institutions has supplanted it. Today believing Christians are pressured and harried. Christians working in health care, education and government are told that their traditional Christian belief is a threat to the freedom and safety of others.
The ideology controlling public discourse reshaping society in the West today comes in the form of Fundamentalist Progressivism which, though it has no belief in God, has all the trappings of a religion. Aggressively promulgated by the elites in politics, media, education and business, Fundamentalist Progressivism proliferates like a cancer.
The diligence with which offence is sought, and the violent reaction when it is found, exhibits the focus of the heresy hunters of the Middle Ages. The shrieks of horror at supposed micro-aggressions betray an almost primeval fear of heresy. Crowds of youngsters at Glastonbury chanting ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ exhibit the herd mentality associated with the more extreme cults.
The prophets of Fundamentalist Progressivism are to be found within the executive class: the university vice-chancellors who use their power to shape their institutions and appoint professors and lecturers eager to promulgate the orthodox progressive view; the business leaders out for ever more profit, proudly supporting LGBTQ organisations and aiming their advertising in a relentlessly progressive direction; the media executives pushing progressive values in their programming; all glorify progressivism.
Take the Disney corporation, provider of family-oriented entertainment for decades, which recently declared its aggressively ‘woke’ agenda. A leaked video of a conference call amongst Disney executives showed them planning to implement an LGBTIA agenda in their children’s programming, one executive claiming Disney encouraged her ‘not-at-all-secret gay agenda’. It has proved a step too far for the public who reacted by staying away. Company revenues dropped by more than $636million in the second quarter of 2021 compared with the first, and shares lost 50 per cent of their value. The old CEO Bob Iger returned to replace ultra woke CEO Bob Chapek. Whether the push to wokeness has halted or will just become smarter only time will tell.
The zealots of the new religion come in the shape of the activists who inhabit Stonewall, Mermaids, BLM and Extinction Rebellion. Stridently denouncing the sins of the past, they point the way ahead to goodness and purity: their way. They whip up their fundamentalist adherents from the virtue signalling, well-heeled middle classes as well from the universities. The activities of their avid and easily led followers might seem trivial, but they have frightening consequences. Students at Edinburgh University agitated to have the the David Hume Tower renamed because of Scotland’s greatest philosopher’s tangential link to slavery, and an ultra-woke vice-chancellor eagerly complied. This helped create a climate where Dr Neil Thin, a much-respected senior lecturer in social anthropology, was hounded and suspended over unfounded accusations of racism, finally being cleared after months of struggle.
All religions have a priestly class. In the case of Fundamentalist Progressivism, it’s the ‘experts’ with prestige and power who form its priesthood, the ‘experts’ the public still trust, especially when it comes to science. All it took to shut down the economy of an entire nation and scare everyone into wearing masks and avoiding weddings and funerals was for the ‘experts’ to speak of the ‘settled science’.
Few amongst the priestly caste have such influence as the preachers of the new religion who shape our thinking. University lecturers have ‘congregations’ with whom they meet regularly in order to shape their thinking. One Sussex University student reported, ‘I had a professor who informed the class that the Iraq war happened because white people wanted to kill brown people, and no one was able to challenge him . . . I felt that I had to play the game to get good marks.’
Who protects the holy grail of this new progressivist cult? For the progressive fundamentalist, the answer is for the government to take action to enforce demands for reparations, censorship, climate control; whatever the problem, ‘the government must do something’. When the government is unable to meet its obligations, the progressive priesthood has only one solution: more government.
As with other religions, progressive fundamentalism needs a clearly defined opposition to its message. You don’t have to look far – the biggest threat to it is orthodox biblical Christianity. It conveniently fills the role of Satan. Christianity, seen in this way, is the fount of all the isms and phobias they hate and must be dismantled. This bedrock of the Western civilisation must be remade in their own newly medieval and superstitious image.
Christians must wake up to reality. We are in the midst of a religious conflict. When we encounter the ‘woke’ excesses of the prevalent cancel culture we are meeting the inevitable outworkings of a rival faith which is bitterly opposed to Christianity and determined to destroy it.
This article appears in A Grain of Sand and is republished by kind permission.