Leftism is to religion as phyto-estrogens are to estrogens.
There are “estrogen-shaped holes” all over the place in the human body. Phyto-estrogens (which are not exactly the same chemically as human estrogens), fit into these holes not-quite-exactly-right and therefore have some but not all of the properties of estrogens.
There is a religion-shaped hole in the human psyche. Leftism (which is almost but not quite a religion) fits it not-quite-right.
Reading this, I was forced to reevaluate my earlier diagnosis of the modern condition as one of “pervasive insensibility to the sacred.” Well, not so much reevaluate as re-express. The modern mind is absolutely insensible to what is actually sacred, but his sacral sensibility is, itself, intact. He is capable of experiencing the awe attendant on sacred things. He is capable of reverence, and the outrage that arises from violations of sacred things, people, and places. It is his sense of what is sacred that his wrong, not his capacity for experiencing it. His is a problem not of deficiency but perversion.
Understood this way, lots of things make sense. The leftist pantheon has its saints and holy martyrs (such as Trayvon Martin, fittingly commemorated with an ersatz communion service with skittles and iced tea standing in for the precious body and blood of Christ and hoodies in place of sacred vestments); it has a parousiastic character and a religious fervor; it has dogmatic tenets and a reactive horror of the heretics who deny them; it has its priestly caste (bureaucratic professionals, especially those with backgrounds in the soft sciences). It has an intense concern for ritual purity, complete with acts of penance (the confessional press conference / politically-motivated resignation / checking into rehab or the mental health clinic), invocations to ward off ritual impurity (“some of my closest friends are black!”) and an intense aversion to those who are impure (conservatives, “racists,” “homophobes,” “bigots” in general, the “judgmental,” the “intolerant,” etc.). Violations of those things experienced improperly as sacred result in predictable outrage: St. Nicholas of Myra broke the nose of the heretic Arius for denying Christ’s divinity; the modern leftist, similarly, will riot, pillage, harass, and threaten whenever someone presumes to defile the holiness of the institution of “gay” “marriage” by pointing out the ontological error on which it’s predicated. Let’s not forget it even has its own self-identified sacrament. I’m sure we can all think up more similarities; in fact, feel free to shout out some more in the comments section.
All this reminds me of a line in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, in which the title character, a demon, complains, “Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side.” Not even Screwtape can fully eradicate man’s sensibility to the sacred, but he can surely pervert it, warp it, confuse it, and orient it toward the wrong objects — even the exact wrong objects. He can direct it inward (and downward). Here is the characteristic danger of liberal modernity: it is prone to all the potential violent excesses of religious fervor, with nothing whatsoever of its redemptive potential. A worthy snare in which to trap souls by the millions.