Heresy as a Condition for Progress: Tim Scott & The Rise of the Black Republicans
Introduction: The Necessity & Utility of Spinoza’s Heresy
Heresy at times is a necessary condition for human progress, and the life and legacy of Benedict Spinoza proves it.
In 1954, the first Prime Minister of the State of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, wrote an unusual letter addressed to the Chief Rabbi Pereira of the Sephardic community of Amsterdam. Ben-Gurion requested that Rabbi Pereira’s rabbinical court repeal the ban of excommunication placed upon a former member of his community, three centuries earlier, in 1656, Benedict (formerly, Baruch) Spinoza. Ben-Gurion not only considered Spinoza the greatest Jewish Sage since the Biblical prophets, but also the first Zionist. Rabbi Pereira denied the Prime Minister's request, and to this day Spinoza remains in a state of excommunication for heresy.
Spinoza was the first intellectual to propose what we would call today a ‘Zionist solution’ to the vicious cycle of relocation, pogroms, and expulsions that had plagued the Jewish diaspora for over a thousand years, since their expulsion from Israel by the Roman Empire. From today’s perspective, re-establishing the State of Israel would seem like an obvious solution, but in Spinoza’s day, this required a fundamental re-thinking, not only the meaning of Jewish history, but also of the Jewish theological-political order that had reigned for centuries: rule by the Rabbis.
Spinoza needed to make the case that the Rabbis were wrong, not only about their interpretation of the Torah, but also about the direction they were leading their Jewish followers. Moreover, these two failures were related. The Rabbis’ misinterpretation of Jewish history, blurred by what he regarded as ‘ancestral superstition’, prevented them from learning from past mistakes. Spinoza had to make the case that the biggest problem that Jews had was not the Gentiles who oppressed them, but the Rabbis who misled them.
The Medieval Rabbis prayed ceaselessly for God to return the Jews to their ancestral homeland, and taught their Jewish followers to do the same. They inspired in them that desire. Yet, they never took any practical steps to make that happen. It was as if they believed that the solution to re-establishing The State of Israel was simply a matter of chanting and following the Rabbinical interpretation of Moses’ laws. They were not men of action. Medieval Jewy were led by men who inspired a great longing in the Jewish people as religious leaders, but as political leaders, they lacked the capacity and/or inclination to carry out the dream in reality. They weren’t even thinking in those terms.
Enter Spinoza. Think different.
This is why Spinoza believed the Rabbis were the problem. Jews needed a new type of political leadership. Men and women of action who could make this centuries long dream a reality. Today, Afro-Americans have a similar problem. They have leaders who can inspire the traditional Afro-American dream: life, liberty, & property. Which is to say: control over one’s own life, the freedom to live it, and the property to secure and enjoy it. But these leaders are not able to lead black people to the promised land. They are not capable of guiding them on the proper path.
Racism as Superstition
Black preacher-activists over the years like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, & Cornel West inspire the dream, but lack the capacity to lead blacks on the right path in order to carry it out. Their addiction to ancestral superstition clouds their judgment about history. Today, that superstition takes the form of the secular religion of ‘anti-racism’.
What these people don’t seem to understand is that ‘racism’ is a sociological concept for describing social phenomena. Racism is a man made concept, which provides a particular lens with which to view society. Racism is not a motive force in history, like Jehovah in the Torah, but racism in their imaginations plays a role in history akin to the Lord God in the Holy Bible, an active role in shaping history. They talk about it that way. As if it’s the overriding invisible force that shapes black destiny.
This is a secular black religion rooted in ancestral superstition that these so-called black leaders have exploited to control black people. This is why these black political leaders and intellectuals get so angry if preeminent Afro-Americans like Senator Tim Scott and Candace Owens question the idea that ‘America is a racist country’. This is why they are being attacked so much for this. They are not only committing heresy by claiming that ‘America is not a racist country’, but they are also threatening to take away some of their political customers.
Systemic racism is the black Democratic secular religion, and Scott & Owens are apostates, heretics. Not only don’t they recognize this ‘secular theology’ and belief in the invisible forces of ‘racism’, but they also have joined the opposing sect, the Republican Party. The black Democrats view people like Scott and Owens the way my childhood Jewish friends used to view the ‘Jews for Jesus’ folks, who used to proselytize and distribute their literature in the streets of downtown Philadelphia.
The Origins of Anti-Racism in Anti-Communism
The politics of anti-racism is akin to the politics of anti-Communism in the 1950s and 1960s. Of course, Communism was not simply a concept, but instead the Communist Party was a global political movement centered in Moscow, our Cold War enemy. Yet it’s a useful comparison, because the concept of ‘anti-racism’ was developed in the 1960s by the Black Power movement, whose philosophy was a kind of Afro-American Marxist-Leninism. ‘Anti-racism’ is a narrative that was developed by Afro-American Communist Party members & sympathestheizers to counter the ‘anti-Communist’ narrative of people like J. Edgar Hoover. Of course, today it has evolved into something else, but those are its origins.
Still, the politics of anti-racism today functions a lot like Joseph McCarthy’s version of anti-Communism. Many have made comparisons between the so-called ‘cancel culture’ of today’s ‘political correctness’ and the McCarthy era, and this is no accident. The anti-racism narrative was designed originally to counter the ‘anti-Communist’ narrative. If you’re a rabid anti-Communist like Joseph McCarthy, all you see around you are Communists. Adopting a radical anti-Communist position causes you to see the world in a certain way, through the lens of the concept of ‘anti-Communism’. One tends to see Communists everywhere, like Joseph McCarthy. This is the same with rabid ‘anti-racists’. They see racists and racism everywhere, because that’s the lens through which they have chosen to see America.
Conclusion: Black Republican as Anti-Socialist
Booker T. Washington and Thomas Sowell are model black Republicans. In the future, I hope that the work of both these men can serve black Republican social thought in the way that people like WEB Du Bois and Manning Marable form the basis of black Democratic thinking.
Washington fought racist anti-black propaganda of his day by promoting the idea that character is destiny. The destiny of Afro-Americans would not be determined by their race as the white racists of his time said, but instead it would be determined by their character, work ethic, and determination. Today’s black Democratic leaders seem to imply the opposite. Washington never used fear of the white lynch mob to gain support from blacks, like black Democratic leaders do today. Instead, he promoted sound doctrines that encouraged black self-reliance, not reliance on their leaders. Today’s black Democratic leaders make blacks feel like they can’t survive ‘racism’ without them. That’s just not true. It’s superstition.
Booker T. Washington was also an anti-socialist. He understood the appeal that socialism might have in the future for Afro-Americans. During the time when Washington was the leading black spokesperson (1895-1915), Southern blacks had legitimate concerns that were not being addressed by either political party. Socialists might be able to take advantage of this, by speaking to concerns that the white establishment was not addressing. Washington knew these Socialists could not deliver on their promises, and that this was the wrong road for black people, but he feared the socialists might take advantage of black Southern political naivete of that time. Like the black Democratic establishment today, these socialists talked a good game, made a lot of empty promises, but could never deliver on the Afro-American dream of life, liberty, & property. No leader, black or otherwise, can do that for black people. They have to do so through their own efforts. Leaders can only help to put them on the right path. They can’t do it for them.
I would suggest black Republicans follow Washington and adopt an ‘anti-socialist’ position, instead of ‘anti-racist’. This is useful for countering the anti-racism narrative. Moreover, they should use the doctrine, character is destiny, to counter racist propaganda against blacks. This was also Martin Luther King’s doctrine. Furthermore, they should use the media to elevate white public opinion of black capacity to reduce ‘traditional racial prejudice’. Frederick Douglass, Washington, and Martin Luther King were all skilled in this regard..
Black Republicans like Candace Owens, Senator Scott, Harris Faulkner, and Kimberley Klacik have helped open the door to a new path for Afro-Americans, and it is important that black Republicans across the country come out of the closet and support them.
I like Owens style. She fearlessly takes the fight to black Democrats with aggression. This is important. Harris Faulkner combines grace and class, with intelligence and tremendous skills as an interviewer and television journalist. More black Republicans should follow Klacik’s example, and challenge Democrats in political races, even when the odds are stacked against them. Let them know that they don’t own those seats, but are instead merely renting. And of course, Senator Scott is the leader of the pack. The great black Republican hope.
I got your back.
Aristarchus Patrinos (Il Trovatore); May 2, 2021; ~1600 words