It is generally believed in the reactosphere, largely under the influence of Moldbug, that progressivism is a religion. Certainly there is ample basis for this claim. Progressivism indeed seems to have its unquestionable dogmas, its priests, its sacraments, and its empirically untestable metaphysical assumptions. However, I contend that there is a subtle distinction at play here, which the nonreligious are likely to overlook. That is the distinction between religion and witchcraft.
What, precisely, is the distinction between magic and witchcraft? It is this: the religionist deals with the supernatural as something above himself, something superior to himself, and something which he must submit to. Whether it is a Christian who believes he must obey God, or a Buddhist who believes that he must follow the teachings of the Buddha to escape the cycle of reincarnation, the religionist sees reality on the supernatural level as ironclad, and he has no choice but to obey. The witch, on the other hand, is concerned with manipulating reality. C.S. Lewis said in The Magician’s Nephew that witches ‘are not interested in people or things unless they can use them; they are terribly practical.’ Witches see the supernatural realm as something that can be manipulated, controlled, bent to their will. Words in particular take on, in the witch’s world, an immense significance, as they can, according to the witch’s worldview, reshape reality itself. The witch is essentially a reverser of hierarchy.
How does this compare to progressives? Well, first of all, to understand what I am about to say, you should be familiar with Moldbug’s work in Why Do Atheists Believe in Religion? You should then note that whether a person claims a particular word has a particular power ‘because it’s magic’ or ‘because it reinforces institutional racism and white privilege’ is utterly irrelevant to those of us who believe neither in magic nor in institutional racism, nor in white privilege. It amounts to the same thing; for reasons that are apparently irreducible and have no discernible relationship to physical reality, a particular word is claimed to create harmful effects in the real world. For the witches, it’s a spell; for progressives, it’s ‘nigger’ for example. I must be prevented from saying ‘nigger’ for the same reason that I must be prevented from putting a curse on their crops; because these words have power.
C.S. Lewis turns out to be helpful here again. In The Screwtape Letters he writes:
I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The ‘Life Force’, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work—the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls ‘Forces’ while denying the existence of ‘spirits’—then the end of the war will be in sight.
The Materialist Magician. C.S. Lewis predicted him, and now he is here. Lewis has his Materialist Magicians ‘not using, but veritably worshipping’ these ‘Forces’. This may be a mistake, and yet perhaps not. Certainly it seems that progressives believe in ‘forces’ that can be used; ‘forces’ like ‘white privilege’. And yet, these ‘forces’ always seem to be in the hands of the enemy. The forces on the progressives’ ‘good side’, forces such as ‘equality’ and ‘human rights’ are not used, but worshipped. What the progressive attempts to do is clear out the black magic of privilege blocking the god of Equality from imposing his will.
You see, the progressive’s magic (the magic of ‘gender-neutral language’, for example), is really quite weak, at least in his own mind. If there exists anywhere one dark wizard speaking the way normal human beings speak, maintaining the old spells, Equality will not be able to prevail. Reality must be reshaped with a new language, but everyone must participate.
Thus Lewis was partially right; some forces are indeed worshipped and ascribed supernatural significance, despite their being no empirical evidence that they are even real, while at the same time superstitious beliefs about the power of certain groups and their words recall the witch’s attempts to control reality with language.
This is why language is so important. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of attempting to express our ideas in their terms. Their whole lexicon is perfectly fitted to impede the understanding of reality and the communication of sound thought, because its purpose is not to describe, but to alter reality. You must not ask your doctor what your baby’s ‘gender’ is to be, because ‘gender’ is not simply a collection of sounds that has taken on the meaning previously assigned to the word ‘sex’; rather, ‘gender’, as applied to living things, is an inherently liberal concept, created to drive a wedge between unchosen biological reality and personal identity, the latter of which, according to the liberal, must be freely chosen by the individual.
‘Gender’ and words like it are a spell. Dont cast the spell. Cast the counterspell. Use real language. If you speak Newspeak, you will develop a Newspeak weltanschauung. There is no way around it. But the liberal magic is weak. They cant rest easy as long as there are a few people speaking in a religious way; naming, describing, and submitting to reality as it presents itself.