It may be helpful to clarify what we mean by the crypto-calvinist hypothesis in terms of what we stand to learn by verifying or falsifying it. Let me throw out a few examples.
The negative form of the crypto-calvinist hypothesis (i.e.: progressivism is not what it claims to be, an innocent set of entirely secular moral principles which reasonable people just naturally “intuit”) suggests certain important traits with respect to which progressivism remains the same as, differs from, or inverts its parent-tradition. (For example: at some point progressivism started claiming not to be a religion; the functional significance of this mutation is that it allow progressives greater access to the secular state; at this point it suppresses or transfigures its non-religious doctrines to make this claim plausible.) The only way to substantiate these suggestions is to verify the hypothesis, and it can only be verified in one of its positive forms.
Once the main mutation has taken place (i.e., one progressivism relabels itself as secular), what process governs the suppression of the other manifestly-religious themes? Why are some themes preserved fanatically and others forgotten entirely? This would not only shed light on the past and future doctrinal gyrations of different strains of progressivism, but would also deepen our understanding of the way progressivism distorts and perverts Christian ethical principles. (It’s one thing to recognize that it does pervert them, and another to understand how and why.)
If progressivism has weapons and defenses which are especially effective against Christians, because it has evolved to compete against other denominations of Christianity: which denominations? If the general origins of the ideology truly explain its special hostility to Christians, its precise origins should go further.
If progressivism is a mutant sect, is it a common mutation, or has it only arisen once? I.e., is there a large reservoir of non-progressive sects which can, with a critical change, go poz? (If so, is the reservoir Calvinist sects? All Christian sects?) If progressivism can spontaneously emerge out of indigenous ideologies without any previous proselytization by progs or any other “precursor form”, then clearly cladistic analysis doesn’t get to the root of what it is (much less how to contain it).
At its most ambitious, I would a historical vindication (or refutation) of the crypto-calvinist hypothesis to aim at bringing Moldbug’s historical speculations in line with the rest of the formalist analysis of contemporary politics. Very roughly (and unfairly; but not that unfairly, because if you can’t write concisely you everyone who tries to paraphrase you to butcher your views), Moldbug says that progs are crazy because they’re actually one of them crazy evangelical cults, and that progs are accelerating ever-leftward because progs are crazy. But the conception of “crazy” which fleshes out “Cthulhu always swims left” is very different from the conception of “crazy” which fleshes out “How Dawkins got pwned”. Not inconsistent, just different. The better we can align our understanding of the Left’s genesis with our understanding of its structure, the better we’ll understand that structure and its consequences (e.g., leftward-acceleration, anarcho-tyranny).
Ultimately, “The left did it” is just one of three basic explanatory frames the right uses. We’re realists in three ways:
- About ideology and political dynamics;
- About humanity (especially race and gender);
- About who rules.
Problem: each frame is so powerful in its primary domain of application that it is plausible to propose explanations outside that domain. Thus many troubling symptoms of social decay are triple-“explained” by leftism, genes, and you-know-who. The crypto-calvinist hypothesis is a working hypothesis within one theory about the nature of leftism. The best hope for a General Theory of Poz is to get that broader theory about the left so completely crisp, so clearly delineated that we can distinguish between where it works well, where it works poorly, and where it doesn’t work at all. (That’s when we can start to distinguish between cases where one explanatory frame explains what the other two can’t, cases where two or three together each explain part of the total outcome, and cases where two frames jointly cause one and the same outcome.)
I’ll discuss this last point (about causation and explanation) in greater depth some other time. Likely next year. I worked up a draft last winter but ultimately decided the point was a little prissy. If the prospects for moving forward with a comparative analysis of these three frameworks are dim (they are very dim), then what is there to do but nag at the idiots who overuse each of the frames? But I don’t want to nag, and not just for the sake of appearances.
(I love our idiots. I think they’re great people. Getting them to hide their simplified view of the world would serve no positive purpose. When there is no time-sensitive decision to be made, you typically want idiots to say whatever pops into their heads; that way everyone knows who the idiots are, and if they have any opinions that are genuinely counterproductive you know it well in advance. No human community is without idiots, and while you can teach them to keep silent on certain topics and train them to parrot the party line on others, there’s no cure for idiocy, just a trade-off between carefree idiocy and veiled idiocy. But try to make sure that you’re exposed to multiple varieties of idiot so that you don’t lose perspective.)
Anyway, I will most likely not be coming back to this broader sociological point until next year; but this has been excerpted from a longer discussion of what people mean (or, might possibly mean) by “Puritanism” when we talk about leftists. The point I would urge you to take away from this is not necessarily that we need to answer these questions, or even that it will ever be possible to answer them, but that when you’re making a claim about the origins of an enemy’s ideology (or an ally’s), unless the claim is entirely pejorative in nature your sense of why those origins matter should be tied to what you would understand better about the ideology if you could document its origins exhaustively.