Moldbug is a big fan of Carlyle. Carlyle is a big fan of Cromwell.
Well I am a big fan of Cromwell also, but Carlyle takes Cromwell’s Christianity seriously. If Carlyle was around today, I would have the exact same quarrel with him as I have with B.
Reading Carlyle on Cromwell, Carlyle takes it as simple fact that the Puritans were very sincere and strong believers in God, which obviously they were – but declines to inquire as to why this sincere and strong faith in God increased dramatically with every election, until Cromwell made himself supreme, whereupon it evaporated like Marxism in the Soviet Union.
A striking thing about this simple and strong faith is that Carlyle shows us that they are always talking about the goodies, about who gets Church of England sinecures. Being simple and strong believers in God, they believed that the goodies should go to simple and strong believers in God, like themselves, and were homicidally indignant when the goodies went to more worldly men, men they indignantly accused of being interested in mere goodies. Carlyle enthusiastically endorses the passionate and angry language with which they expressed this indignation at the worldly concern of those who wanted Church of England sinecures merely for the money and power, rather than wanting them for the greater glory of God.
The Puritans focus on the next world resulted in remarkably passionate and intense focus on the distribution of state and quasi state jobs in this one. Carlyle reports, approvingly, a bunch of incidents where puritans acted like a mob of apes. One expects leftists to act like animals, since they identify with subhumans, but it is disturbing to see Christians act like leftists. Puritanism, to judge by the activities described by Carlyle, was almost entirely about jobs for the boys, and to the objective of getting jobs for the boys, they brought out the mob, made alliances with far against near (Englishmen using Scots against Englishmen) and became startlingly enthusiastic about equality and social justice.
The social justice puritans were outflanking Cromwell, being holier than he. But he put a stop to that.
A religion is a synthetic tribe. (I use the term religion broadly to include things like Marxism and progressivism.) Being a synthetic tribe, useful for shaking down smaller tribes and those less cohesive, thus religion and state naturally become one. A state can hardly exist except it propagates and enforces an official belief system, in other words, something suspiciously like a religion.
Membership of the state apparatus for propagating its official beliefs is lucrative and high prestige, thus if the official belief system is not already a religion, it will be taken over by an organized group of sincere believers in one thing or another, taken over by a religion. If you have open entry into the priesthood (also known as community organizers), you wind up with the most sincere and extreme believers organizing against the slightly less sincere and extreme believers, an endlessly escalating sequence of conspiratorial takeovers by ever holier people, endlessly taking over the State system for propagating official beliefs – in our case, high status universities are endlessly turbulent, endlessly going further left, and endlessly dragging the rest of society along with them.
Stable long lived states have some mechanism against this. The Hebrews had a hereditary priesthood. Japanese shrines were and are private property, even though it is a state religion, and you cannot easily whip up new and competing shrines. Pagan Icelandic shrines were private property, and again, new shrines were not permitted. You could buy your way into the cartel, but you were not allowed to out holy them.
A lot of reactionaries daydream about the dissolution of the universities. It is plausible, indeed likely, that the universities will be dissolved in the quite near future. When the tail wags the dog, surgical tail removal becomes increasingly likely. Leftism can go on getting ever lefter for a while longer, but universities cannot go on spending ever more money, becoming ever more expensive, taking up ever more of people’s time, and becoming an ever greater pain in the neck for the Pentagon and the State Department.
Such dissolution would not necessarily in itself result in the abolition of state supported official belief, and abolition of the wealth, privilege, status, and power that comes from controlling the system of state supported official belief. Henry the Eighth dissolved the monasteries, but a hundred years later the problem was back and worse than ever.
The system for propagating official state belief is an attractive nuisance, and attractive nuisances need to be fenced. A libertarian would like to abolish it, but fencing is easier. I would like to see true separation of information and state, which is to say, true separation of Church and state no matter how religion redefines itself to be not religion, but this is utopian. It is a lot easier to have an Archbishop and a Grand Inquisitor to stop the process of mutation to ever greater holiness. We also need to make positions in the system semi hereditary or private property in order the bribe the indolence of the clergy. We need clergy to have the power and the incentive to keep out those holier than themselves, just as we need a King to keep people out of politics.
B complains that I use the word “Holy” to mean “Screaming mob of chimpanzees hurling their feces and biting anything they can bite, including themselves”, but no one was holier in B’s sense than the puritans, as Carlyle quite correctly tells us, yet when goodies were in reach, they became a screaming mob of chimpanzees hurling their feces and biting anything they could bite, including themselves, as for example the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in the prelude to the Bishop’s wars.