Word of the Day: Politicism

This from one of the geek blogs I read, in response to our recent Big Weather Events:

English needs, I think, a word for “beliefs which are motivated by the terror of being powerless against large threats”.

The (apparently atheist) author goes on to describe liberal aversion to Global-Warming-Denial, and concludes:

It took me a while to model the frame of mind that produced this, but when I managed to I had an insight. Which is why I’m writing this essay. I think, now, what I actually threatened was R’s belief that he, or somebody, could do something emotionally satisfying about the bad weather. Fix it, or prevent it from recurring, or at least punish the bastards who did it.

Supernaturalizing the causes of large-scale misfortunes has become a difficult strategy to sustain for anyone with more exposure to modern scientific knowledge than a cinderblock. Politicizing them into someone’s bad juju, however…that’s easy. And, perhaps, more attractive than ever before – because the alternative is to feel powerless, and that is painful. …

Yes, we need a word for this…“politicism”, perhaps. The insistence on locating for every large-scale problem a human cause that can be addressed through politics and a set of serviceable villains to punish. …

 One reason I’m not a politicist is that I don’t want to be any part of a howling mob. It’s a form of self-restraint I recommend to others.

Sound anything like the Transformationalist’s natural tendency to politicize?

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9 Responses to Word of the Day: Politicism

  1. Zrim says:

    Self-restraint is for chumps and punks, just like 2k.

    But I thought “bad juju” was Doug Wilson’s way to describe 2k dualism? Now it’s being used to describe his politicism.

  2. RubeRad says:

    Well, this guy is no Doug Wilson, or even a Christian. He’s just commenting on “beliefs which are motivated by the terror of being powerless against large threats” (in which category he places religion as well, calling it “sorcerism”)

  3. Zrim says:

    And he’s right. Imagine that, an unbeliever who’s right about something pertaining to the created realm of life. “Incontheivable.”

  4. Paul says:

    “And he’s right. Imagine that, an unbeliever who’s right about something pertaining to the created realm of life. “Incontheivable.”

    Who’s getting critiqued here? Let’s look at what paradigmatic wordviewer and austere upholder of the noetic effects of the fall in what would be called neo-Calvinist terms, Cornelius Van Til had to say:

    The first objection that suggests itself may be expressed in the rhetorical questions ‘Do you mean to assert that non-Christians do not discover truth by the methods they employ?’ The reply is that we mean nothing so absurd as that. The implication of the method here advocated is simply that non-Christians are never able and therefore never do employ their own methods consistently.
    (The Defense of the Faith, p. 103)

    According to Van Til, the unbeliever does indeed possess knowledge:

    We are well aware of the fact that non-Christian have a great deal of knowledge about this world which is true as far as it goes. That is, there is a sense in which we can and must allow for the value of knowledge of non-Christians.
    (Introduction to Systematic Theology, p. 26)

    I’ll go you one better, though. There are unbelievers who have been right about the *uncreated* realms. Many of the scholastic Reformers noted that unbelievers have said and do say true things of God, they just don’t have a true system. Many unbelieving philosophers have made some good contributions to classic Christian doctrine: e.g., foreknowledge, timelessness, etc.

  5. Zrim says:

    Paul, thanks. I’ll see your point here and raise an eyebrow. It’s the epistemologists who are among some of the most ardent critics of 2k, making a lot of hay over how pagans can’t justify their knowledge and morality. But I don’t care if the pagan knows why he gives me correct change or tells the truth or protects my life, just that he does. Epistemologically justifying morality isn’t nearly as important as actually practicing it.

    And I think it’s actually this epistemological-impulse that accounts for what Hart recently pointed out about that time “in U.S. history we wanted some sign of regeneration for citizens to be able to enter into the simplest aspects of life as a citizen – and this is another one of those implications the 2k critics don’t seem to consider.”

    As well, it’s why some Reformed epistemologists want to discipline folks who vote in certain ways not logically consistent with morality. But, again, I say it’s much more important how a Christian actually lives than how he can justify his vote.

  6. Paul says:

    “It’s the epistemologists who are among some of the most ardent critics of 2k,”

    Really, name me one “epistemologist” who is against 2K.

    Also, since there’s only about 50 2kers, it’s not hard to find swaths of groups “critiquing” them.

    ” making a lot of hay over how pagans can’t justify their knowledge and morality. “

    It’s unhelpful to have a dialogue when the scope keeps getting changed. You originally claimed that pagans “know things,” but now you’re making a meta-level claim about their ability to justofy what they know. Why move the goal posts? I thought you were a golf fan.

    “But I don’t care if the pagan knows why he gives me correct change or tells the truth or protects my life, just that he does.”

    This is ambiguous. You don’t care pragmatically or salvifically or rationally or morally or what? I would think that at least you’d care rationally, since men ought not be inconsistent. That’s just a datum. I’ll go you one further and raise you two eyebrows: pagans themselves care about these things. It’s also a great door into apologetics and evangelism. You know, loving your neighbor and working (in the means and secondary cause sense) to keep them out of hell. Or when your neighbor goes to hell and says he thought all was fine in his life and asks why you didn’t say anything, will you respond, “I just cared that you gave me correct change. All you were to me was a change-dispenser.”

    “Epistemologically justifying morality isn’t nearly as important as actually practicing it. “

    Again, this is ambiguous. Important in what respect. But what work does this point do for you? Who denies it in the sense you mean it?

    ” “in U.S. history we wanted some sign of regeneration for citizens to be able to enter into the simplest aspects of life as a citizen – and this is another one of those implications the 2k critics don’t seem to consider.”

    This is ridiculous as it’s simply attacking a caricature or a marginalized group. Tell me what respectable “critique” of your 2K has said this. Indeed, was their even your brand of 2k during this “time?” This is anachronistic and attempting to drum up points for your side out of thin air.

    “As well, it’s why some Reformed epistemologists want to discipline folks who vote in certain ways not logically consistent with morality.”

    Any time you want to interact with my Confessional argument for this, go ahead. Until then, repeating a defeated position does nothing to advance the discussion.

    You never advance the discussion Steve, you just stick to your talking points and continue to preach to the crowd. Are you sure you’re really as politically ambivalent as you want to look? Because the approach you use seems straight out of contemporary political handbooks. Really, for the life of me I don’t how your response did anything to actually meet me. I pointed out that you misrepresented the opposition and argued in bad faith. Your response was to do more of the same? Don’t you think you’d get further with the other side (I presume all the hours you spend talking 2K 24/7 is for the purpose to actually try and persuade others of your view, for the cause of truth?) if you took the care to represent them properly rather than caricaturing their position and hoping to bring others to your side via lies and distortion? If that’s your MO, let me know.

  7. Zrim says:

    Paul, at this point I have to admit I’m not very clear on just what your beef is. It’s almost as if it’s with whatever I say because I said it. I try to answer your questions but it’s never good enough. It’s always an answer in bad faith or talking points or deception or, the most recent hyperventilation at GB, “subverting the faith.”

    You seem to presume from the start that I am philosophically bankrupt. You talk about advancing discussion, but I don’t know how one is supposed to get anywhere with that sort of premise about him. You also just seem pretty angry. All of which doesn’t exactly entice me to engage. So, sorry I said anything.

  8. Paul says:

    It’s always an answer in bad faith or talking points or deception or, the most recent hyperventilation at GB, “subverting the faith.”

    You’re right! See, there’s common ground we can both work from 😉

    Oh yeah, Harumph! You’re right, dammit!

    There, had to make sure I sounded angry.

  9. Pingback: Science as Religion | The Confessional Outhouse

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