paganism and morality

I’ve talked before about the importance of religion to a successful society and to speculation as to whether Christianity should be abandoned as a lost cause and some kind of alternative sought. I’ve also talked about the extreme difficulties such an option would face and the dubious chances of success.

There are those on the dissident right who see a revival of paganism as a viable alternative. For a whole series of reasons I think the idea is a complete non-starter. The one thing in its favour is that paganism lacks the universalism of Christianity. That universalism was at one time an asset but it’s now a serious weakness. Paganism is parochial rather than universalistic so it’s certainly has some appeal to those who want to promote nationalism.

To me it seems that the big problem with paganism is morality. Paganism is essentially ritual-based religion. What matters is that the rituals should be performed correctly. Whether an individual is virtuous or not, whether a society is virtuous is not, is pretty much unimportant. If the rituals are carried out in the correct manner then one’s obligation to the gods has been fulfilled.

That’s not to say that the pagans of the ancient world were oblivious to the importance of morality, but morality was more of a social obligation than a religious obligation. In that sense the pagan approach was very similar to our modern approach and to the modern secular religion of liberalism.

That’s a less than ideal basis for morality. There’s a definite danger that moral behaviour  will end up being whatever you manage to convince yourself it is or even worse, whatever you think you can get away with.

In pagan religions even the gods seem to approach the matter in this manner.

Paganism probably worked quite well for societies at a low level of civilisational advancement in which most people lived in small close-knit communities and social pressures were strong enough to maintain the social order. Once pagan societies started to reach a high civilisational level decadence seemed to set in disturbingly quickly and disturbingly completely. The Romans achieved levels of decadence that even we were unable to aspire to until the 20th century.

Which raises an interesting question. Is full-blown decadence something to which only pagan or completely secular societies are prone to? And it raises a related question – is decadence inevitable in a pagan or completely secular society?

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what the world needs is less love and understanding

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that what the world needs is a whole lot less love and understanding.

We’ve tried the love and understanding and compassion thing. We have compassion oozing out of every pore. We’ve tried treating criminals with compassion. It doesn’t work. Putting people in prison stops them from committing crimes. Compassion doesn’t.

We’ve tried treating sexual deviants with love and understanding. They respond not just by preying on our children, but by demanding that we should celebrated their predations.

We’ve tried compassion as a basis for foreign policy. We’ve had humanitarian interventions, which usually leave behind chaos and misery. The West has given away billions in foreign aid. On balance it’s made things worse.

Love and understanding is what you get when a society becomes hopelessly feminised. Women believe that problems can be fixed by love and understanding. That’s why rational societies don’t let women run things. They confine women to the domestic sphere, where love and understanding actually works.

What we actually need is a much greater sense of duty, and responsibility, and an acceptance of the necessity for moral rules. We need a willingness to punish wrong-doing. We need to accept that bad behaviour (including sexual misconduct) should have unpleasant consequences. Bad behaviour should not be rewarded with hugs.

Tolerance is another word for not caring. A tolerant society is a society that just doesn’t care.

Whenever you see love and understanding starting to blossom, step on them.

Christianity and sexual morality

Pretty much all of us on the dissident side of politics who tend towards social conservatism or traditionalism are probably agreed that modern society has a problem with sexual morality. The problem being that we don’t have a sexual morality any more.

Whether there is any chance of changing this, any chance of returning to a society in which sexual morality is taken seriously, is another question. At the moment the chances seem pretty slim. On the other hand the one lesson we can learn from history is that dramatic social and political changes can happen and they can happen very quickly.

So assuming that however unlikely it seems right now such a change might be possible at some point, what kind of sexual morality would be desirable? Do we want to turn back the clock to the 1980s, the 1950s, the Victorian era or the fifteenth century?

That’s a big question and will probably require several posts to address fully. At the moment I want to consider just one aspect of the question. Do we want to return to a Christian sexual morality? Many traditionalists on the right would like to do so, but is such a thing even possible? Christians are a small minority. Is it a practical proposition  to base morality on the beliefs of a rather small proportion of the population? Is it reasonable to want to do so? Is there even the tiniest chance it could be achieved?

There’s also another point to consider. The Cultural Left has been very successful in shutting down dissent because of their very effective tactic of painting anyone who disagrees with them as being motivated by Christian zealotry and/or bigotry. Since most people are not Christians this works extremely well. Planning for a return to a specifically Christian morality is in some ways making things easy for the Cultural Left. Of course if you’re a committed genuine Christian then naturally a Christian-based morality is going to sound very attractive. It’s as well to remember that such a thing doesn’t necessarily sound so appealing to the non-Christian majority.

Perhaps we need to try harder to convince people that you don’t need to be a Christian to be concerned about the devastating impact of sexual immorality. It is possible to be vehemently opposed to social liberalism on purely pragmatic social utilitarian grounds. Sexual immorality undermines the family which in turn has catastrophic consequences for children. It undermines society as a whole by disrupting normal social relations. It leads to unhealthy lifestyles that cause human misery. You don’t have to be religious in order to see this clearly.

I have to come clean about my own position. I’m sympathetic to Christianity but I am not a Christian. I don’t necessarily think a Christian morality would be a bad thing (in fact it might be a good thing) but I do think it would be a very hard sell.

And to be honest I’m not entirely sure I’d personally want a Christian-based morality. Certainly not a full-on biblical sexual morality. I would be in agreement with hardline Christian traditionalists on some sexual issues, but perhaps not on others.

Of course much depends on exactly how a more strict sexual morality would be enforced. Does anybody actually believe that governments could be trusted with legal powers to do so? Surely no-one could believe that a democratic government could be trusted with such powers, democratic governments having systematically abused every single power they have ever been able to get their hands on. I would be frankly horrified by the prospect of a Christian sexual morality enforced by the apparatus of the state. Such a morality enforced by social persuasion and social disapproval  might be more palatable. Of course it goes without saying that there are certain very serious sexual offences (rape and anything involving children) that involve severe actual harm and they must be subject to legal sanctions, even though that means giving governments powers that they can and will abuse and in fact already do abuse. Sometimes unpleasant compromises cannot be avoided. And perhaps one day we will have a society in which the police and the courts can actually be trusted.

The real issues though are whether a sexual morality based on the teachings of Christianity can or should be imposed on non-Christians, and whether aiming for a Christian morality would alienate so many people as to make the chances of some kind of moral improvement of our society even more remote than they already are.