Patrick Deneen discovers ultracalvinism

Uh oh:

… post-Protestant “religious” secularity is the established religion of, and increasingly indistinguishable from, liberalism as a political, cultural, and social form of human organization. It was once believed by many that liberalism was a neutral political order within which a variety of beliefs could flourish—among them, Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, etc. But what is clear both as an intellectual and theological matter as well as an observable fact from many current cultural battlefields is that what Smith describes more broadly as a “sacred project” is increasingly intolerant of competitor religions, and stridently seeks their effectual elimination by “liberal” means. It does so not in the name of some amorphous and tolerant “secularism,” but in the name of the new, and increasingly established, State religion of America. What we call “secularism” isn’t simply unbelief—it is a system of belief with distinctive “theology” without God and this-worldly eschatological hope, and it demands obeisance or the judgment of blasphemy and condemnation.

Where have we heard this before?

The “ultracalvinist hypothesis” is the proposition that the present-day belief system commonly called “progressive,” “multiculturalist,” “universalist,” “liberal,” “politically correct,” etc, is actually best considered as a sect of Christianity.

Specifically, ultracalvinism (which I have also described here and here) is the primary surviving descendant of the American mainline Protestant tradition, which has been the dominant belief system of the United States since its founding. It should be no surprise that it continues in this role, or that since the US’s victory in the last planetary war it has spread worldwide.

Ultracalvinism is an ecumenical syncretism of the mainline, not traceable to any one sectarian label. But its historical roots are easy to track with the tag Unitarian. The meaning of this word has mutated considerably in the last 200 years, but at any point since the 1830s it is found attached to the most prestigious people and ideas in the US, and since 1945 in the world.

Further reading:

American MalvernTime Magazine, 1942

The Fascism that’s Winning, Urban Future 2.1

The Return of Karl PolanyiDissent

The Veil of Scale, Ribbonfarm

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