Marx and the Evangelical Right

Driving to the airport this morning, I listened to this podcast. Mr Carlton makes some interesting points, namely that the essential assumptions grounded in Marx that found the left/progressive movement also ground the religious right. And this is a key point in their failure to shape society as they would wish.

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  1. Mark,

    I found his argument utterly unpersuasive. I don’t think anyone on the religious right is trying to think they are bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, or that the state makes people “righteous.” I find it surprising that he thinks the only orthodox position to have with respect to politics is (what amounts to) Christian libertarianism. That is, he seemed to have a disregard for society in general and for the formative influence of the state on the mores of the people. In all, I didn’t find much to agree with in his presentation.

  2. Mark says:

    I’ll admit I listened to it at 5:15am driving to the airport, but I took a different message from it. That is, that the willingness to use political means to force a society into a mold acting like a virtue you hope to have spring willingly from people is incorrect.

    In other essays, I’ve claimed that government charity weakens personal charity, because it replaces and atrophies individual impulse to charity.

    Christian Libertarianism isn’t the only possibility. The idea of government’s purpose to foster, encourage and provide as place for the growth of virtue I think would be allowed. Just not the same methods of forcing a society to “look virtuous” thinking that will cause the look/feel to be internalized.

  3. jpe says:

    I’ve been saying the same thing for years. Righty Christian analyses of science and education are structurally identical to certain post-structuralist and marxist analyses. Both the christian right and marxists see these through institutional lenses: the rationalists control the levers, and produce secular humanist or ideologically whitewashed knowledge, respectively.

    The Christian attacks on evolution are startingly similar to Kuhn and Althusser.

  4. Mark,

    Except that where the law prospers, *more* virtuous behavior DOES result. I take it that this is one of the crucial points of research about the effects of abortion laws on the number of abortions–they decrease! And that’s not because they are done in back allies–rather, it’s because people who are “on the fence” choose not to get abortions where the law discourages them (the same is true of divorce laws). One need not impose a theocracy (which nearly no one on the right is in danger of doing) to argue for the rule of just laws in a society.

    In other words, I disagreed with Carlton’s easy identification of “virtue” with “sanctification.” There are imitations of virtue that when they exist in a society may make it easier for sanctification to occur.

    Finally, there’s no reason to blame this notion that we should use the state to promote and foster virtue through the rule of law on Marx. Plato got that party started a long time ago. : )