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Culture Wars
January/February 2013

 

My variation on the game Scissors, Paper, Stone (US: Rock, Paper, Scissors) is State, Religion, Culture. The terms derive from the theory of the three Potenzen ("powers"), which we owe to the Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt (1818-97). In my game, state trumps religion, religion trumps culture, and culture trumps state. The idea that politics should take precedence over faith is the principle of cuius regio, eius religio ("whose realm, his religion"), established at the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 to put an end to religious conflict: subjects must follow the faith of their ruler. The separation of church and state, with the former legally protected but subordinate to the latter, gradually prevailed right across the West. Hitherto, religion has similarly dominated culture-viz. almost any museum-though even the sceptical Burckhardt could not have foreseen the iconoclasm of our 21st-century secularists.

What interests me here is the third Potenz: culture, which generally trumps the state. In America, the realisation of this has dawned among the shrewdest authors of post mortems on the presidential election. In National Review, Mark Steyn commented: "Culture trumps politics. Culture trumps economics. On November 6, culture trumped reality." Voters are influenced, he wrote, not by policies, but by their "identifiers"—race, gender, sexuality or profession. "The Left understands where the real victories are won," he observed. "Politics is a battle, but culture is the war." 

In an interview for the Wall Street Journal, Professor Harvey Mansfielda lone voice of common sense among the learned Laputans of Harvardalso invoked culture as the key to a conservative comeback: "Democrats have their cultural argument, which is the attack on the rich and the uncaring. So Republicans need their cultural arguments to oppose the Democrats', to say that goodness or justice in our country is not merely the transfer of resources to the poor and vulnerable." He suggested that the poor should be taught "to prize independence and not just live for a government cheque. That means self-government within each self, and where are you going to get that except with morality, responsibility and religion?"

Under the dictatorship of relativism, however, culture has often been debased to mean almost anything. In German, as Mara Delius notes in her column, Kultur has a deeper, more metaphysical resonance. For that reason the word was perverted beyond recognition by the Nazis, and still has sinister connotations for their victims.

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Frederick
December 26th, 2012
9:12 AM
Although you may like to pretend otherwise the kind of religion that you promote is entirely within genre of whats-in-it-for-me pop religion. The kind of religion that promotes the consoled feeling that everything that is OK as it seems, while waiting for "Jesus" to return. Religion based on the conventions of "street wisdom" combined with the equally absurd pop righteousness of the purveyors of righteous absolutist State religions (such as the Pope), and their cultic Idols made of arbitrary uninspected beliefs and conventional mythologies about long ago very dead "Jesus", and all the other half-imaginary Biblically based prophetic figures of the past. We thus have all of the usual street wars of religion against religion, dull idea against dull idea, which are nothing but the muscle of collective stupidity, sheeplike ego clashes (socking macho horn-heads competing for a rut), the separate junk piles of the past all hurled at one another for the sake of angry power, whizzing between minds that are mucked in self, hardened by fear, defined by the resident passions childish and adolescent birth, and utterly oblivious to the Truth and the Wide Wise significance of our bleeding worried lives. All of which solidifies the fiction of separateness and the denial of the universal characteristic of prior unity. A fiction which is a mind based illusion, a lie, a terribly deluding force, and a profoundly negative act. The individual and collective denial, and active refusal, of the Universal Condition and Intrinsic Law of prior unity is the root and substance of a perpetual and self perpetuating universal crime against humanity, performed by every one and all of humankind itself. In the present day, the culture and politics of illusion controls the human world. There are now 7 billion human beings, and otherwise, large numbers of competitive and mutually dissociative groups, cultures, traditions, races, religions, corporations, and nation states that are, characteristically, and even strategically, out of touch with each other - like dust, and bombs, and petty traffic, all blowing in the wind. That wind steadily blows all prior unity into the bits and particles of human chaos. To pretend that reading and becoming knowledgable the contents of The Bible is going to make any difference that dust and bomb creating steady wind is sheer delusion.

Frederick
December 26th, 2012
8:12 AM
You really have to laugh when some any one, pretends that encouraging children and young people to read the Bible is going to change anything about the now universal psychosis. At last, and inevitably, the ancient exoteric rulerships have failed, and "official" exoteric power-and-controlling seeking Christianity (along with all the other now archaic "great" world religions) is now reduced to all the impenetrable illusions and decadent exercises that everywhere characterize previously privileged aristocracies in their decline from worldly power. Now, except a Spiritual revolution renews the Spirit of Truth, exoteric Christianity is reduced to a chaos of market-share seeking corporate cults and Barnumesque propagandists (such as the Pope) that rule nothing more than chaotic herds of self-deluded religion-consumers in the market place of whats-in-it-for-me consumerist religion. Such a Spiritual Revolution will not, and indeed cannot come from within the now world dominant corporate cults. And with very rare exception everyone is now involved in whats-in-it-for-me consumerist religion. Therefore, the myth of the cultural superiority of "official" Christianity, and of even all merely exoteric religions, has now come full circle. The religious mythologies of the "great" world religions are not only now waging global wars with one another (like so many psychotic inmates of asylums for the mad, each confronting the other with exclusive claims of personal absoluteness), but the public masses of religion-bound people - who, all over the Earth, for even thousands of years, have been controlled in body and mind by ancient institutions of "religiously" propagandized worldly power - are now in a globalized state of "religious" delusion and social psychosis.

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