Around the neoreaction spheres, there is a commonly held belief that much of leftist can be attributed to “Puritanism”. This idea was first popularized by Moldbug and has since been championed by various bloggers, which recently has erupted into a debate (see here, here, here, here, here, here, etc.)
While I’m a Moldbug fan and like some of his concepts, I think that Moldbugian critique of progressivism is wrong for a number of reasons.
First, the radicals who have drastically changed Western society over the past 150 years or so have not been Puritans but in fact Ashkenazis:
Marx – undermine traditional European regimes
Freud – legitimizes sexual degeneracy
Franz Boas – popularizes the “race doesn’t exist” meme
Ashley Montagu – also popularizes “race doesn’t exist” meme and makes racism the greatest sin of the West
Adorno and Horkheimer – Cultural Marxism, delegitimize white people
If the Puritan Thesis were correct, then if one subtracts the contributions of Jewish leftists, the trajectory of the West should be comparable to what it is today, but this seems highly unlikely, which means that the Puritan Thesis is too simplistic.
Second, it is true that Puritans have been a little more leftist than other Anglo groups. David Hacket Fischer’s Albion’s Seed well documents the contributions of the four major Anglo folkways in the United States (Puritans, Cavaliers, Quakers & Scots-Irish). While the Puritans are more leftist than the Cavaliers and Scots-Irish, the Quakers might actually be more leftist than Puritans, since the Puritans have vacillated in their causes. While the Puritans might well have caused the American Civil War (their greatest failing in my opinion), Puritans were also some of the most adamant to demand repatriation of blacks after the Civil War. Furthermore, the greatest president of 20th century, Calvin Coolidge, was of Puritan stock. It was Coolidge who in fact passed the Immigration Act of 1924, which limited immigration both in numbers and to Europeans. This type of patriotism would hardly be found among America’s New Elite (the Ashkenazis who have replaced the WASPs in America’s elite institutions – Yale now is less than 20% WASP). In fact, the New Elite seem overwhelmingly to support open borders (for the West, not Israel), as evidenced by George Soros, Sheldon Adelson and Mark Zuckerberg, to name but a few. Furthermore, it was the early 20th century people of Puritan stock (e.g. Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard) who took Darwinism to its logical conclusion and championed the idea of racial differences, and who were opposed by people like Franz Boas.
Third, many neoreactionaries mean “Puritan” as a shorthand for Protestant (and seem somewhat hostile toward Protestantism, wanting to blame all the West’s problems on Protestantism) but there is no evidence that Protestants today are more leftist than Catholics. If Protestantism were the cause of modern-day leftism, it seems that modern-day Protestants should be more leftist than Catholics – but they are not. First, in the United States, the voting patterns of Catholics are considerably more leftist than Protestants. Second, Catholic countries have a much higher rate of Marxism than Protestant countries (think of mestizos in South and Central America, or even Southern Europe). Third, and most importantly, outside of Jewish groups, the Catholic Church today supports the Third World immigration invasion of the West more than any other religious organization. In short, the Catholic Church today is actually calling for the genetic destruction of Western Civilization. In fact, the Catholic Church is so vehemently in favor of mass non-white immigration that some European traditionalists have recently begun to wonder whether Catholicism is just as big of a threat to Europe as Islam.
Fourth, I wonder whether any of the neoreactionaries championing the Puritan Thesis have ever read Nietzsche, Spengler, Benoist, et al. If one wants to talk about long-term cladistics, then what you have is not a Puritan problem, but rather a Christian problem. As Spengler noted, “Christian theology is the grandmother of Bolshevism.” The Christian idea of the “universal brotherhood of man,” some have maintained, is the fons et origo of all modern-day leftism. In short, the problem is not with Puritanism per se but with a deeply held Christian mindset, which is much older than Puritanism. Nonetheless, even if this Christian thesis is correct, it seems highly unlikely that our current trajectory would be the same but for the Jewish leftist movements of the past 150 years.
In conclusion, the origins of modern-day progressivism are complex. While Christianity (not Puritanism) might be a part of the cause, leftist Jewish intellectual movements certainly are too. There are probably other causes as well, such as pathological altruism and ethnomasochism. Instead of committing to a dogmatic ideology (“Puritans and Protestants caused everything bad”), which is something leftists do, it’s better to keep an open mind and realize that the problem is much more complex.