In all the disputes and finger-pointing over the “Crypto-Calvinism” hypothesis, the original Moldbuggian insight gets obscured — for whatever reason (never mind what), some sort of sect (never mind which) adopted the following platform:
- Basic pattern: Christianity
- Flip the switch from “We are a religion” to “We are not a religion”
- Make minimum necessary changes in all other areas consistent with claiming not to be a religion (for example, elimination of references to faith in Christian scripture, or any other revelation; elimination of references to any supernatural or eschatological element).
- Retain all other features of Christianity.
Intentionally or not, this sect had just mutated in a way that just happened to circumvent the separation of Church and State in America, allowing it to strictly dominate all other sects in the competition for power, prestige, and followers; for in all minor matters the mutant sect was like the legacy Christian sects, whereas any difference was strictly limited to that which allowed the mutant sect to invoke the power of the U.S. government.
(To explain that this sect mutated in a way that exploited the constitutional separation of Church and State begs the question of how and why the United States just so happened to have Church-State separation of a certain form at a certain time; certainly, individual states still had established churches when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were ratified, and the relevant article was not amended in the interim. But we must leave this for another time.)
The success of this cult suggests another, more general rule:
- Any group which wishes to control the thoughts and actions of as many of their fellow citizens as possible should formally organize itself around the “We are not a religion” switch.
Whether the group actually shares a common theological position is irrelevant; to succeed, they must organize themselves around a formal institution which denies the existence of such a position. In short, in America any Church worthy of the name must pretend to be some sort of secular NGO, PAC, or obscure political party. To set up the “occasionalism” which coordinates the group’s original position and the public position it adopts in its organizational form, all sorts of additional rules (likely inconvenient rules which over-burden the collective decision-making process, and occasionally lead to inconsistency or indecision) and superfluous personnel (effectively the “conscience” of the organization, a.k.a. political officers) must be instituted. To make the official secular platform of the group arbitrarily complicated (to give the group elastic authority to exclude heretics and expel apostates) would also be helpful.
As inconvenient as such measures may seem, they are strictly necessary, for once a group transitions from “religion” to “secular public interest group” it will no longer have any protection from the onslaught of the dominant progressive sect, which currently controls the levers of power and uses them to inflict its principles on all other organizations. This is how the game is played. If you want to seize political power you must first survive its use against you.
In fact, the same logic implies another, complementary general principle:
- Any association which has come together purely for some private purpose, to promote the interests of its members or to advance a good they jointly recognize, should formally organize itself around the “We are a religion” switch.
Whether the members actually share any theological positions is irrelevant; to succeed, they must organize themselves around a formal institution which insists that do in fact share a common theology, and that this is their primary reason for associating. This is the only way to protect the organization from the grasping ideology of the progressive state, a cult which is jealous of the authority of all other institutions but which still must limit its interference in officially recognized religions.
This is where we are in The Current Year in the United States of America. Fair is foul and foul is fair.