The theological basis of my politics

I thought this could be useful as a single place to outline some fundamentals, that I can then refer back to as needed. I’m not going to put any evidence in this, it is intended as a conceptual outline, not an argument.

1. The human being is made in the image of God. To deface the human being is therefore a blasphemy.

2. I view the Western development of human rights legislation as a secular working out of this Christian perspective. Christianity is, so far as I know, the only religious perspective to have abolished slavery, and it did this not once but twice.

3. A particular aspect of this is concern for the minority, those who are especially vulnerable. Biblically these are the widows, the orphans and the aliens. Concern for the vulnerable is more commonly known as ‘social justice’. I do not believe that it is possible to have a living Christian faith and not be concerned about social justice. There are, however, many ways in which that concern for social justice can be worked out.

4. This seed of the gospel is inherently radical and progressive, dismantling structures of exclusion and oppression. I like Girard’s teaching that it is due to the profound workings of the gospel text that things have got better – it is not that we no longer burn witches because we are scientific, rather, we are scientific because we no longer burn witches – and we no longer burn witches because we are more informed by the gospel.

5. Protecting the vulnerable, preventing the dehumanisation of our neighbour – this is a political programme. In order for that programme to be achieved there needs to be a support structure in place. This support structure can be expressed in legal form, but most substantively it needs to be expressed through the embodied forms of the culture. The Eucharist is a more progressive rite than the shared watching of X Factor. The Christian therefore must pay close attention to the cultural forms within which we live, and seek to preserve those which support a Christian approach, whilst struggling against those which would undermine such an approach.

6. In our present context, the forces which I see as most inimical to the Christian vision fall into the category of ‘industrial modernism’. This I see as having two aspects. The first is the ideology of making the world safe for multinational profits. All of the local and distinctive elements of human life, whether those be amongst the native tribes of the Amazon or the working mens clubs of a Durham mining town, prevent the smoothly functioning efficiency of a market state – that is, a state which sees its own primary purpose as enabling the multinational company to make more money. I believe that God rejoices in the manifold diversity of humanity and anything which reduces the human being to a unit of economic productivity is of Babylon. Profoundly and paradoxically linked in to this is the intellectual aridity of the various fundamentalisms which afflict religions, and within ‘religion’ I would include the dominant contemporary form, which is left-wing multiculturalism. If we are to preserve the human in the cultural context, then we must insist upon the value of the dissident opinion, and therefore ensure that the rights to free speech and free association are not inhibited. We either stand with the Rushdies and Ayaan Hirsi Alis of this world or we let go of any attempt to preserve our Christian patterns of life at all.

7. I see the most important political conversation happening within the UK at the moment as the question about whether to remain part of the EU or not. Given what I have said above, it will, I hope, be clear why I object to the EU. I see it as an overmighty principality in the Stringfellow sense, as something which is necessarily and relentlessly dehumanising. We need to be free of it. Given the impoverished state of our political system, I see only one option for effecting the change which I believe to be so necessary.

Anyone interested in more on this – especially the first few points – is directed to my book, which gives a much more substantial explanation of my views.

6 thoughts on “The theological basis of my politics

  1. I have absolutely no desire to join the British National Party (I fought skinheads on the the streets of London back in the late 70s) but I regard its proscription by the Church of England as an extremely dangerous precedent. As an old school socialist I regard the joining of the conservative party to be every bit as evil as joining the BNP. I mean that. Capitalism has done at least as much damage to the world as racism. So what if I became Archbishop of Canterbury? I would have precedent to call for the defrocking of all priests who are sympathetic to the Conservative Party. Even though I would personally delight in such a scenario it really would not be a good thing whatsoever.

    Another problem with the Church of England buying into and promoting left-wing/right-wing multiculturalism is that it has built a huge wall between the church, especially its priests, and the “ordinary” people of our country. As any criticism of current immigration policy is automatically regarded as an act of racism, priests are scared to allow their parishioners to speak their minds and even more scared to report back to the church that their parishioners have huge and, in my opinion, often valid, worries about multiculturalism and immigration. This means that should it ever look like the “ticking bomb” might explode we will be in no position to help diffuse it. What is more, why would any “ordinary” person want to join an organisation that condemns many of their very real concerns out of hand?

  2. Hi Sam
    Have been reading your site with fascination: but it seems to me that the logical implication of your position is support of the Green party not UKIP: the statism or vision of perfectibility you ascribe to the ‘left’ as a whole is a far cry from green or labour cooperative politics; what is at issue in the EU is that its pluralistic ideal is traduced by a Hayekian market steamroller, which only the Greens and certain Labour elements and red Tories contest, while UKIP obsesses about the red herring of sovereignty; and your tolerant views on a range of social issues such as sexuality and gender belie the simplistic vision of originary ‘culture’ shared by UKIP and knee-jerk Tory politics, which is a laughable pretence that we weren’t always ‘swamped’ by the other be they Roman, Norman, Huguenot or Hollywood.

    • Hi Jon – just a quickie reply as I’m working on a much longer one that will be a post – I was a green for a very long time, it’s just that the ‘darker’ green I became the more I recognised the affinity with small-c conservatism. Even though UKIP are sometimes laughably bad, they are engaging with something that I think needs to be taken seriously, and they seem to be the only ones doing so. More anon!

Comments are closed.