Saturday, December 21, 2019

Alternative Modernities

How Modernity differs from the pre-Modern is rather difficult to succinctly state but suffice to say that there is a qualitative difference between pre-Modern and Modern societies which can be recognised by looking at them.

For the purpose of this post I want to take world as it was in 1940 to illustrate what I'm getting at. The England of 1940 was modern society compared to the England of 1640. Industrialization, urbanisation, mechanisation and so on had changed life to such a degree that the mode of living for the average citizen was substantially different.  England was modern in a way that Yugoslavia or rural Romania was not. Likewise Germany, France, USA, Sweden, Russia, Japan etc were modern societies.

While all of these societies were modern, the expression of their modernity was largely contingent up local factors which shaped the path of modernity in their countries. Germany, while modern, was different to the U.S.A., which was different to Japan. Remember, this is 1940.

One of the distinguishing features of modern societies is the rise of a managerial class which is responsible for the administration and co-ordination of all the institutions which make modern life possible. In Germany and Japan, this managerial class was fascistic, in Russia, it was Marxist and in England and USA it was Protestant. Modernity, in each of these countries was strongly influenced by the cultural values of its managerial class. The reason why the Anglosphere was a haven for individual liberty, freedom of conscience, respect for the person, prosecution of degeneracy and freedom of religion is because they were the values of mainstream Protestantism at the time. Anglosphere modernity was Protestant tinged. Mainstream Protestantism as it was 1940.

I don't want to get into Catholic modernity since it is a far more complex subject but suffice to say Catholicism has a very difficult relationship with it and its relationship to it has been frequently antagonistic instead of co-operative. In 1940 it proved to be relatively irrelevant to world affairs.

Anyway what I'm trying to get at is that modernity can assume many different forms and not all of them are intrinsically hostile toward religion. I think one of the great weak spots of Right wing thought is the anti-modernistic sentiment seen so often in many of the commentators. Agrarian simplicity is only appealing to those who have never had to work the land. The problem is not so much modernity as it is irreligion.