[Marxism] Robert Fitch on leftist piety (priceless)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 12 07:36:54 MDT 2006


Vetting God's Politics
by Robert Fitch

     Michael Lerner, The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the 
Religious Right (HarperSanFrancisco, 2006).
     Jim Wallis, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left 
Doesn't Get It (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005).

Dearly beloved leftists and friends.  It's 2006 and we're gathered here 
together uncomfortably discussing why so few of us are gathered here 
together.  The "End of History" -- which began in '89 with the collapse of 
Communism -- looms as the most popular reason for Leftist decline.  The 
demise of the Soviet Union meant capitalism was the only game in town, 
stripping the Left of its "agency" -- something to fight for.

More recently, though, TINA ("there is no alternative") has gained a 
formidable rival.  The Left is in decline, it's said, because we live in 
times when concern about moral values trumps material concerns.  Millions 
still support the Left's economic agenda, but policy issues -- health 
insurance coverage, rising job insecurity, falling wages, overwork, 
disappearing pensions -- don't cut as deeply as they used to.  Nowadays, 
it's the hunger for transcendent values that counts, explaining why the 
Religious Right drives the national agenda and why the Left can't 
compete.  We've neglected God, spirituality, and prophetic religion.

We're primed to pay attention to this diagnosis because it's widely 
believed that America represents an exception to the secularization 
thesis.  The pews may have emptied out long ago in Europe, but Americans, 
it's claimed, need to see God through those high windows every week.

Where do these impressions come from?  Not from any rigorous opinion 
research.  Recent Harris, Pew, Barna and CUNY's ARIS and NSRI studies all 
report pretty much the same story: although it started later and has 
further to go, secularization is spreading here too.  In simple numerical 
terms (as a share of the population) the two largest Protestant 
denominations -- the Baptists and the Methodists -- are actually 
shrinking.  Jews have shrunk to only 1%.  The Catholics -- the largest 
single block of Christians -- who greatly benefit from immigration are 
growing at a rate slower than the population.  And there's little evidence 
of a spurt by evangelicals: their share of the population has remained 
pretty constant over the last decade -- at about 7%.

full: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/fitch110406.html

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