Almost every professed right-wing outfit has done it. Intuitively and, perhaps unthinkingly, they have thrown the blanket accusation – wokeism is a religion. ‘The academics are the new priesthood’, for example. Yet, the fact that these ‘right-liberal’ types are jumping on the bandwagon doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong. In contrast, prominent figures on the dissident right are so used to distancing themselves from mainstream co-opted ‘conservatism’ that they dismiss the suggestion out of hand. ‘Wokeism isn’t an organised religion; it’s just liberal individualism, leading to selfish, entitled and hypocritical opinions and behaviours.’
However, I do think that liberalism and the inevitable egoism which it has manifested in our time is a religion – demonstrably so by any predominant definition of the word. I will hereafter refer to wokeism as egoism because that’s exactly what it is.
There are three main approaches to defining religion, in sociology:
- social constructionist – whilst it is difficult to define religions, at least those groups which identify and behave as religions are religions;
- functional – religion is a belief which encourages social cohesion; or
- substantive – religion is a trusting faith in a supernatural power.
I think that whichever of the three we go with, liberal egoism is a religion. Just as in Hinduism there are as many varieties of Hinduism as there are Hindus, so too with liberal egoism. Each one has their belief and they call this ‘their truth’. Just because they don’t define themselves with a collective, organised religion, doesn’t mean it’s not a religion according to the social constructionist view.
But, is liberal egoism functionally a religion? Does it have the common characteristics of a religion?
- Does it have leadership and rules? Of course. Its leaders occupy positions of power in every institution and social medium. Its creed is that there are no public creeds; this in itself becomes a public creed and leads to liberalism’s preference and privileging of minority groups and the disadvantaging and subverting of majority groups. It’s called intersectionality and it is fundamental to Western ethics today.
- Does it have rituals, practices, events and celebrations? It has whole months of celebrations and commemorations which occupy lesson plans in schools and all cultural platforms; even sporting events have ceremonies with required genuflection and singing in support of its tenets.
- Does it have signs and symbols? They even have a flag.
- Does it have sacred writings or a mythos? If Harry Potter and the Marvel movies weren’t enough, postmodernist and sexual revolutionary literature form the law and prophets of their scriptures.
Well then, what about supernatural beliefs? Liberal egoism can’t substantively be a religion because it doesn’t have a belief in a supernatural power. After all, aren’t most liberal folks in the West today materialists?
Aside from the fact that, legally speaking, religions can even be systems of unbelief, the liberal egoist isn’t without a belief in a god, even a supernatural one. Well could Nicolás Gómez Dávila observe, ‘Modern history is the dialogue between two men: one who believes in God, another who believes he is a god.’ Today’s egoism sees man proclaim himself sovereign in the metaphysical, ethical, political and legal fields. Indeed, the sovereign ego believes itself transcendent of any and all natural constraints, even its own biology. Its teleology has faith in the power of technology to liberate the soul from the body, finally realising its destiny as master over nature.
In short, if liberal egoism isn’t a religion, I don’t know what is.