search
Richard Kronenfeld
Adult Ba'al Teshuvah Ph.D. Physicist

Is Leftism Recycled Calvinism?

Embed from Getty Images

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

Based on the current dichotomy between the way people comparably situated are treated by the institutions of society, which is commonly referred to as “double standards,” the thought occurred to me that at least this aspect of Leftism is related to the Calvinist concept of the “elect” and “unregenerate.” A prime example of the division is found in the doctrine of critical race theory, that all white people are oppressors while all people of color are oppressed. [Parenthetically, isn’t that hate speech? Apparently morality in America today follows the Leninist doctrine of “Who does what to whom?” or for short, “Who-whom?” in which the ethics of any situation are determined not by the nature of the actions but by the group identities of the parties involved.]  A memory came back from high school world history about the Calvinist doctrine of the elect and the unregenerate, that is, who was destined to be saved and who wasn’t.

A cursory Internet search was sufficient to establish that the relationship goes far beyond double standards. However, the relative paucity of sources, other than obscure ones, would suggest that although it is widely acknowledged that Leftism is a major secular replacement for religion, this particular analogy may not be well known. Our objective is to determine whether the history of Calvinism contains clues as to how to deal with the growing Leftist dominance of Western civilization.

ESSENTIALS OF CALVINISM

GotQuestions.org summarizes Calvinism by the acronym TULIP, where T stands for total depravity, U for unconditional election, L for limited atonement, I for irresistible grace, and P for perseverance of the saints. Total depravity stands for the state of all of humanity after Adam’s fall, hence we are unable to choose G-d on our own; unconditional election refers to G-d choosing the elect whom He will save; and limited atonement, as we might expect, means that only the elect can achieve atonement. The other two points are theological in nature and not particularly germane to our topic, hence can be left to the reader to explore.

 

LEFTISM AS RELIGION

In order to compare and contrast Leftism and Calvinism, we first need to establish in which ways Leftism functions as a surrogate religion. Many commentators have considered this topic; however, we will rely on an essay in The Federalist by music video producer and director (!?) Robbie Starbuck. He identifies six ways:

  • Forced adherence to the doctrines of the Church of Leftism (his terminology): “Heretics and apostates are ruthlessly oppressed…The New York Times recently ran a piece suggesting you must demand your family and friends donate to left-wing causes or threaten them with excommunication.”
  • “To ensure … conformity, the Church of Leftism has established a Tribunal of the Woke Office of the Inquisition. They police speech; launch vicious pressure campaigns against celebrities, schools, and corporations; and work to ruin the lives of those who dare dissent from established orthodoxy.”
  • “Speaking of sins, the Church of Leftism has a lot of them. Groupthink is required, or else dissidents will be smeared with an -ism, -ist, or -phobia. Once the church attaches those labels to you, you might lose your job and get a public shaming….

“Unlike Christian sins, which are clearly explained and rooted in the pursuit of godliness       and moral order, the sins in the leftist bible are ever-changing and ill-defined. Things that       were completely kosher one day — showing pride in one’s country, for example — are       suddenly haram [forbidden] the next.

  • “If you do find that you’ve committed a sin after the woke inquisitors have their way with you, you shall be forced to commit a humiliating public act of penance. Grown men have been forced to beg on their knees or prostrate themselves … If you outwardly counter leftist doctrine, the pseudo church teaches that shunning, eternal damnation, and excommunication should be your fate.”
  • Public ritual. “In their jihad, the only possible redemption for infidels like you or me is to come on bended knee, groveling and ready to convert wholesale to their liturgy of insanity. Even that might not be enough to save you.”
  • Evangelists for the Church of Leftism are everywhere, “…their efforts permeating all aspects of life: television shows, websites, social media, consumer bank landing pages, corporate advertising. Barely a single product, app, or promotion these days comes without a free leftist sermon….

“The Church of Leftism knows the most effective indoctrination starts early, and has established a veritable army of missionary-teachers to convert children to its radical faith before they develop the mental capacity to question its dogma.”

 

THE CHURCH OF LEFTISM DOMINATES

Mr. Starbuck concludes with the observation that “Leftism has transformed from an obscure cult into a dominant religion in our country. The slow pace of conversion enabled many people to ignore what was happening, until they couldn’t anymore because it was moving too fast to stop it…

“The progressive promised land is here now. This is our preview. It’s a hedonistic, puritan-fusion theocracy where you must be okay with the homeless shooting up or defecating on your street and be firmly committed to threatening people’s careers if they think all women are born with a vagina.”

Contained within the attributes enumerated in the previous section is a callous, mean-spirited attitude. Examples of Leftist cruelty abound historically: from Lenin’s casual reaction to the carnage of  the Bolshevik Revolution, “To make an omelet, one must break eggs,” to Stalin’s deliberately creating a famine in Ukraine, which killed several million peasant landowners, in order to collectivize agriculture; from Hitler’s genocide [Stalin made up the idea that Nazism was a right-wing movement to smear his rival National Socialists] to Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which made him the greatest mass murderer in history, to Pol Pot, who ordered the execution of one-third of his fellow Cambodians, including all eyeglass wearers, who might be too intelligent for him. For me, however, the cruelty is most apparent (and sickening) at the individual level.

As reported by Julie Kelly in American Greatness, for nearly 18 months, grand juries in Washington D.C. convened by the Justice Department have indicted hundreds of Americans who protested Joe Biden’s election on January 6, 2021 on criminal charges.  Even those who peacefully entered the Capitol without being stopped by police faced major felony charges punishable by decades in prison. Defendants have been arrested in pre-dawn raids by heavily armed FBI agents, terrorized by a show of force, handcuffed and physically dragged away, including a disabled veteran, had their homes ransacked without a warrant and their electronic devices seized, including their children’s, and been questioned about their political beliefs. Even those accused of low-level misdemeanors such as ‘parading’ in the Capitol have been confined in jail for months on end without having a trial, a clear violation of the Sixth Amendment, under harsh conditions including “… abuse by prison guards, extended periods of solitary confinement, lack of access to defense attorneys, humiliating strip searches, and such poor medical treatment that a federal judge recently released a Stage 3 cancer patient after prison officials refused to give him the necessary care to treat his disease.” [Does this mean that medical treatment as well as treatment by the legal system now depends on one’s political opinions?] And defendants have been browbeaten into plea agreements with longer-than-usual sentences for fear of being convicted and receiving even worse sentences.

How does this cruelty arise? In a blog at thegospelcoalition.org, Jared C. Wilson theorizes that it comes from a feeling of superiority. For the newly-minted Calvinist [or woke Leftist], “Now truth has been unlocked. He sees something others don’t. He’s been enlightened. He understands more deeply….

“Unfortunately, having this experience can be a huge temptation to pride, where the one now enlightened sees other Christians as un-enlightened. And that’s just a tiny half-step to seeing them as not as spiritual as we are or not as serious about their faith as we are. The ‘gnosis’ of Calvinism leads to a behavioral heresy of arrogance and partiality. And in the end, those who’ve been ‘enlightened’ start to see themselves as [being] smarter than others or more diligent in the Bible than others…”

If we replace “Calvinist” with “Leftist,” the parallels are obvious. As Mr. Wilson notes, these characteristics are often accompanied by self-righteousness and the drive to conduct a crusade “… to fix the church. And that means treating those who don’t get with the Reformed program as impediments to the mission and even to the faith. The crusading Calvinist will bulldoze whoever’s necessary to ‘save’ others from the ignorance he himself swam in for too long.” Again, the “woke” activist is much like the Calvinist.

 

LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE

Having considered the parallels between Calvinism and Leftism, can we derive any insight from the rise and fall of Calvinism that can be applied to the global war between Leftism and Western civilization? Unfortunately, the lessons of the 16th century can’t be directly translated to the 21st. John Calvin and his followers had neither the powerful technology of social media to reach great numbers of people at the same time, nor the near-total control that the Left now exercises over government, education, the media, and the arts to stifle any opposition. In fact, governments generally opposed Calvinism. Moreover, Calvinists didn’t seek to overturn the entire civilization. When our entire national history, foundational documents, fundamental values, mores and traditions are being discarded, when a racist ideology is advanced to promote hatred between demographic groups among our people, when even physicians have to endorse the existence of a multiplicity of gender identities, and when innocent children are being prematurely sexualized and brainwashed into confusion about their gender identity, surely a protracted, difficult struggle on multiple fronts awaits us.

Moreover, based on Daniel Walker Howe’s study published in Comparative Studies in Society and History, Calvinism essentially morphed into a kinder, gentler Christian Humanism as economic conditions improved, the Thirty Years’ War ended, and societal uncertainty diminished over a period of two centuries. Sadly, we don’t have the luxury of waiting for neo-Marxism to mellow to the point of producing a class of Mikhail Gorbachevs, especially since Leftism is both far more violence-prone and bigoted, and far less spiritual, than Calvinism was, not to mention that it seeks to totally uproot all of Western civilization from the nuclear family up. (As a measure of its success, a current Gallup poll shows the lowest percentage of Americans who believe in G-d yet recorded, 81% vs the 90%+ that prevailed for decades.) For the immediate short term, then, an orderly retreat from the decaying society around us into a defensive posture appears to be, at least in my humble opinion, the prudent course to take.

First and foremost, as numerous commentators have recommended, we need to withdraw our precious children from the cesspool of K-12 education, public and private. This process has already begun. Since the onset of COVID, 1.2 million children have been withdrawn from school. Home schooling networks have sprung up, which can pool the respective areas of knowledge and skills of groups of parents. Retired teachers trained under the classic system can be an invaluable resource. New institutions of higher education could be founded, such as the University of Austin, based more on the Internet than bricks and mortar. For those who are activist-minded, running for election to local school boards is a viable option.

We also need to build our own social and communications media, based on truth and insulated as much as possible from the larger culture. We need to prepare to take Judeo-Christian religion underground if the worst-case scenario comes to pass, knowing that wherever the Left takes power, it can’t co-exist peacefully with religion when their respective values are so opposite. We should avoid being treated by the new generation of physicians being educated in woke medical schools. There surely are additional precautions beyond what anyone can reasonably anticipate.

In short, if America and the West are to be saved, it will have to come from the bottom up to counter the top-down approach of the elites. It won’t be easy, but our civilization is worth it. Moreover, I refuse to believe that G-d will forsake us, for that would be to forsake His Torah. Remember the Maccabees!

About the Author
I'm a native New Yorker (Brooklyn, to be precise) transplanted to the desert as a teen-ager. I hold a Ph.D in Physics from Stanford and have taught mathematics and physics at the high school, community college, and university level. I'm an adult ba'al teshuvah and label myself as centrist Orthodox and a Religious Zionist along the lines of OU, Yeshiva University, and Mizrachi.
Related Topics
Related Posts

We have a new, improved comments system. To comment, simply register or sign in.