For the last few decades, books, articles and tweets have bounced around the world regarding the delusions of progressivism and its hip young gender neutral friend ‘wokeness’ that sucks up attention like the class clown. William Pfaff went so far as to claim progress was dead. Reality is always more nuanced and decidedly always less absolutist. Progress is seriously questioned today by the people, but there is no doubt that it lives on in various forms. We have lost much of the instinctive and natural part of ourselves that governed our lives since the year dot. We now rely on being told what to do by other people, either social peers or experts. These are most commonly those that fan the violently roaring flames of a broken progressivism with no yardstick by which to measure its success.
Where is England now?
The mobilising ideologies of the twentieth century have taken the optimism out of the European peoples and left them cautious or sceptical of the values that formed their civilisations. It is a mature civilisation that begins to question its foundations. But we built our civilisation on the rock and not the sand – now is not the time to erode our foundations. Revolutions came to an end, religions were poorly critiqued, capitalism has dug its claws in and left people dumber, more doped up yet spiritually poorer for the loss of community, faith and optimism. We now struggle to imagine a world outside of this and have convinced much of an ignorant West that this is the default way of life: social life is increasingly filled with fatalism as we joke about pandemics, wars or zombies ending this world – this is now the only way people see an end to capitalism. The technocratic future now holds nothing but a feeling of helplessness for many. We are in a modern dark age, but are we witnessing a great awakening of the people? Crises are discussed more frequently than love, hope and joy! People think doom seems more likely than a “better tomorrow.” Conspiracies circulate of genocide, wars are caused by media hyperbole on behalf of the military-indistrustrial complex, politicians steal our money and often lack a love for their people, racial and political sectarianism has set in, people are preparing to be tracked and traced as nothing but data on a block chain, the people aren’t afforded their say because it would spell the end of liberal progressivism.
“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”
– C. S. Lewis
The idea of progress as something that will bring us closer to the ‘Star Trek’ future is battered. No one of rational mind – either end of the bell curve – believes that material progress makes mankind objectively better. We have all seen that progress in one area doesn’t mean progress in all areas of life. We now know the net cost of two meat meals a day, adult & social internet, mass oil usage, mass migration, Americanisation, mass media, fast food, state education and the massification of all things. It is quite evident that unplanned growth of cities multiplies the difficulties of living within them and that industrial modernisation with no core beliefs to guide it results in an unprecedented degradation of the natural framework of life amongst a people.
Environmentalists were among the first to question progress but have since fallen prey to progressivism in all other areas of their message. Big Tech imposes on us that it is useful – in and of itself – but it is still not clear that all of its features are beneficial to human flourishing. Science – or as we know it now “The Science” – is no longer perceived as necessarily contributing to the happiness of humanity when it is controlled by the profit motive alone. Biotechnology is becoming more and more threatening to our freedoms as we see news of microchips in people and animals, or mechanical wombs that liberate women from their biological necessities and privileges as mothers. More and more people each day are coming to learn that “more” isn’t always “better” and that “bigger” always means “bigger problems”.
But progress is still the rainbow banner of the globally homogenised Western powers whose goal sadly ends in the destruction of God’s diversity. The upper classes still beat the drum and try to hold off the past that in their world has been mythologised into a handmaid’s tale until 1936, then two funny moustaches rose up as their final boss monsters. But their battle cry of “progress!” Has trampled so many now. Yet “progress” is still not a dirty word because we are aware of the hope it can hold when people seek progress in the name of love with core values as something to measure success against, instead of ‘progressivism’ which is merely a blind belief that the future is better regardless of net losses.
For the first time it is becoming clear that the future may not be better than now. The men of the 1920s depression lost their homes, lived poor, struggled for work and even their children starved when their homes were lost to the economic crash, yet the men of the 2020s don’t even own homes to lose. We are however ‘comfortable’ and nauseatingly satiated under capitalism. We have pre-constructed narrative news, literal streams of television, fashion trends…the ‘cult of novelty’ is strong with this one. The myth is still being propagated that we need liberation from our traditions and the organic ties that make us who we are. As Western individualism uses the malleable and darkly misused hammer of human rights to deconstruct the family, slowly dissolve the community, and name traditional Third World societies as backwards or less progressed because their economy fits around their society and culture instead of the infinite growth principle. But as Christians we act as the teenagers in the Book of Daniel did: we say we know who we are, we know God and we will live radically different lives because of it.
All of this in the name of just one thing: infinite growth in a finite space. This is why the new economic system of blockchain banking is coming; even more than fiat money and debt-based banking, blockchain can facilitate synthetic infinite growth. Globalisation continues because we still believe that more products equals more human flourishing. This is why we can’t accept Africa for Africa; we refuse to accept them as “progressed” because they are not producing the same number of goods as Europe, because they aren’t following our economic and progressive worldview. As Serge Latouche has said, the theory of development is just a faith. As long as this faith persists, so too will the ideology of progress.
“I am convinced, in fact, that nations must never allow what gives them their particular identity to disappear…The same is true for countries, which must take care to preserve and develop their particular culture, without ever allowing it to be absorbed by others or swamped in a dull uniformity.”
– Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with French Episcopal Conference, Lourdes, 14 September 2008
We need holistic solutions to changing social sentiments and accepting the existence of differing lifestyles. We have always had to work in tandem. As a Christian, I believe we must do our best as broken people. If we are honest and humble then we see we are all guilty of not always being as kind or as loving as we should be to those around us. I believe we are meant to work towards the flourishing of love in God’s Kingdom on Earth. But I believe progressivism is no longer the Christian path despite us birthing it. The theorists of progress differ on the direction of progress, the rate and the nature of the changes that accompany it, even its principal agents. However, all adhere to three key ideas: firstly, a linear conception of time and the idea that history has a meaning oriented to the future. Secondly, an idea of the unity of humanity rather than plurality of man. Lastly, the idea that the world can and must be transformed, which implies that man affirms himself as sovereign over nature. These are largely ideas I reject on many levels. But I don’t reject forward thinking balanced with love, kindness, philosophical thinking, logic and the consideration of religions and their understanding of metaphysics so far. These are the things that, like it or not, make the reality of the future. These are the things people naturally feel and foster in their cultures. The core tenets of progressivism may be ideas that originated from Christianity, but with the rise of science and technology in the seventeenth century, they were reformulated in strictly secular terms with no higher judgement for consideration, much like how kings and leaders no longer believe in God and so do not fear being cruel.
He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies.
Oh Brother, where art thou?
Progressivism is an ideology best not invoked, because like communism, fascism, racism or sexism it has been ripped of all rational meaning. Progress needs a yardstick by which to measure and control itself. Normally this is the ‘common-sense’ or the common consensus. In the past it was Christianity which has within it the loving act of condemning insatiable desire, forbidding infinite growth and greed in its core, like Stoicism before it holds that moral wisdom lies more in the limitation of desires than it does the multiplication of desires. Currently liberalism and capitalism instead function as a purely hedonistic cult. This was how we measure the morality of vast human issues such as transgenderism, government corruption, or the slave trade before. If not for the Clapham Sect and their work, thousands of years of slavery by all large peoples of this Earth would not have stoppped. It is a myth that progressivism ended the slave trade – it was specifically forward thinking Christians that ended the slave trade, 2000 English Christian sailors and ultimately martyrs of the West Africa Squadron who gave their lives arresting and sinking slavers, sacrificing their lives for countless future Africans, for God’s fellow children. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is the first question a man asks God in the Bible: the answer is “yes”. Sadly the same revelation in regards to slavery cannot be said of most of the world to this day. It is Christians who are now standing to ask for a new catechism on mass migration and capitalism’s view of people as mere commodities to be transported and exchanged again!
“Those who believed that Christianity was but a piece of clothing for us will now know that they cannot take it off us any more than they can take off the colour of our skin”
– Vardan Mamikonian
This is a beautiful quote for all of my global family in Christ. We both belong to God first but also our communities as Jesus himself did as a Nazarene.
What is common sense?
I feel the West currently has only one real problem at its simplest level: people are denied a voice and so they can’t find their common good. Their humanity is stifled. We handed control to liberalism, representatives, private business, experts in singular fields and economists. Look all around you and you see people not being listened to – no wonder so many are polarised into joining Black Lives Matter or the National Front! Ministers threaten disgusting racial violence when they throw support of these groups readily against the equality of human dignity. The hope of human redemption will always remain as shown by ex-NF leader Joseph Pearce, who turned away from racial hatred and is now a leading Catholic biographer.
Parties are always bandying around the term ‘common sense’ as the antidote to whatever hell happens to be on the other side of the fence. But what do they know of such a thing? What is common sense? Call me stupid, but it took me a year to figure out what common sense really means: it is the common consensus or general ‘feeling’ created by a unified community, something that the elites and media class seek to leave in tatters.
“Jesus, when he began his ministry, was 30 years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli… son of Isaac, the son of Abraham… the son of Adam, the son of God.”
For John Paul II,
“this shows how the path to salvation passes through nations, thanks to generations, by family and community”.
In Saudi Arabia it is common sense that Allah’s word is king. Here it is not. Common sense seems to be relative.
So Western peoples need to find their own ‘common sense’ again. What is our group consensus? If we can find our unifying beliefs we can move forward with an idea of who we are and what we believe. This won’t be Christianity until the larger population realise the folly of their secularism but that might not be in our lifetimes. I pray big, I pray boldly and pray for God to reach our leaders but he is working on what we all need as a human race and as peoples beyond my little scope. For now, I pray that I am doing the right thing in trying to get people heard. This is where Localism comes into the equation for me.
“You must especially care for those who, according to time and place or other opportunities, are more closely united to you by a certain fate”
– Saint Augustine
Christian and Localist
Localism poses itself to combat the problems of the current era by understanding the dynamism and scale of the global system as well as the forgotten importance of our communities and identities. The current apparatus of liberalism is not able to provide sufficient protection for cultures, identities, and communities due to the ramifications of rampant individualism, massification and rationalisation through capitalism, along with the decay of political mandate due to overwhelming top-down bureaucracy. However, the lethargic structures of liberal democracies prevent the decisive action needed to address national or global issues from being taken. I can’t help but see some truth in this as one possible part in the puzzle of raising people up in a way relevant to their largely secular beliefs in the twenty-first century. These are my beliefs and other Christians will differ. There are a thousand tangents this article could take but I tried to streamline as much as I could. Any failure to correctly represent the doctrines or creeds of your denomination is a failure on my part. I can’t argue that all Christians must believe this. We must allow God to make us in his image and not allow ourselves to make God in our image. I simply feel we are to be heard and that to oppress communities is wrong. As C.S Lewis said, “Be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.”
“The twenty-first century will be marked by the creation and reincarnation of thousands of smaller states which can fulfil the vast material and immaterial needs of their people. We will not return to an irretrievable past, but we will take pre-modern values into the post-modern world that is to come. This radical restructuring will require new worldviews that can see the world in plurality and not universality.” – Localism: Manifesto for a Twenty-first Century England.
May Saint George the Dragon-Slayer watch over Scotland, England, Georgia, and Ethiopia.
O’ Holy Saint George, Pray to God for us.
O’ All Holy Saints of Britain, Pray to God for us.
God bless and love in Christ.
Disclaimer: Articles on this website are written from the perspectives of various Localists, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Local Matters. Our contributors come from a wide array of varying political backgrounds, and we believe that cooperation across the political spectrum is essential.