Saturday, June 2, 2018

Off the Shelf: When WASPs Sting

From National Review-

I’ve been thinking about Protestantism lately. Not so much high-octane Calvinism, which in its present form is a pursuit for bookish men who quite like fractious intellectual argument. That has always attracted me to some degree, but no, I’ve been thinking about something you might call “elite Protestantism” or “Mainstream Protestantism.” A number of things have conspired to remind me that what is often called Progressivism is a mutation of Protestantism.

It started a few months ago when I listened to a First Things podcast in which Michael Doran discussed the theological traditions that inform debates about foreign policy. Doran identifies William Jennings Bryan with a populist-Evangelical tradition of Jacksonian nationalism, and H. L. Mencken with an urbane, Mainstream Protestant or secular tradition of international cosmopolitanism:

The Progressive persuasion conflicts with its Jacksonian counterpart in crucial respects. Though both accord the government a vital role in protecting “the common, everyday fellow,” the deepest concern of the Jacksonian is individual liberty, whereas the Progressive focuses more intently on destroying inequality. The Progressive, moreover, is eager to embrace “collective” initiatives, which in practice means government initiatives. Though some of these will pass muster with the Jacksonian persuasion, the Progressives’ embrace of centralizing government power, even when legitimated in terms of the interests of the common man, often appears as a threat to individual liberty. For the Jacksonian persuasion, the Progressive vision quickly turns into the oligarchy of experts that so troubled William Jennings Bryan.

More here-

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