So can’t the Left put its enlightenment principles to one side and sell a spiritual Leftism to get into office before turning around, as the Bush team has, and playing as it likes with the branches of secular government? Wouldn't it be better to develop a more benevolent religious narrative than the triumphalism currently passing for foreign policy? Don’t the ends justify the means?
Alas, no. Progressives can't pursue their values by abandoning them. The Right had only to adopt a few fundamentalist moralisms so that the neocons could grow their wealth while the Christian Right stops gays and abortionists. But the Left would have to contradict its very premises. Instead, Progressives must come to acknowledge and bolster the faith they do have - in reason, observed truth, and, most of all, in the innate ability of all human beings to make rational decisions. These values, not Christian fideism, are what have given us advanced medical technology, the Internet, telephones, and cars. Perhaps the Left never thought they had to be defended – but they do, and they should be. Sure, Progressives can mine the parables of Jesus for their basis in social justice and fair play. But they must not surrender the very foundation of an Enlightenment-inspired society to the expediencies of pandering to fear and superstition. Even if it wouldn’t undermine the Left’s self-respect and credibility, it just wouldn’t sell.
Progressives simply can't have it both ways. To peddle their agenda in a faux-religious package, without any real faith in its underlying premise, would be to install a regime even more cynically devoid of spirit than the one they mean to replace.
Reality and rhetoric in an election year
Douglas Rushkoff talks with Zeek about the future of Judaism
A review of Douglas Rushkoff's Nothing Sacred
A 'lapsed Jew' responds to Nothing Sacred
The best guarantor of democracy is subversive, oppositional
Let them Eat Myth
Jennifer Blowdryer and Alvin Orloff
To Ohio and Back
Abba Kovner: The Warrior in Old Age
Men who Laughed
Our 610 Back Pages
Zeek in Print
Fall/Winter 2004 issue now on sale
From previous issues:
Lag B'Omer: Sound and Vision
Josh Almost Gets Cancer