Thursday 10 February 2011

Pseudo-Tertullian the Calvinofascist

Tertullian, or Calvin in drag?
Recently a pseudonymous writer on the Flannagans' blog posted some thoughts on democracy, both in Egypt and in Western nations.  This individual, using the pen name 'John Tertullian', rails against democracy. Egyptian democracy would be a nasty thing because those Egyptians don't look at the world through Western glasses. But then, even Western democracy is a bad thing for 'John.' Here are some choice quotes (the full tirade can be found on the Matt and Mad blog.)
In the West, under the aegis of its established religion of secular humanism, democracy... has become the West’s established gospel of choice.

Democracy is that form of government which does respectful obeisance to man–it is the system of government which seems to accord most closely with the idea that man is his own self-saviour. If man is his own self-saviour, then democracy is the form of government which brings man into a position of institutional supremacy in society. The will of the people is the voice of our god.

Democracy facilitates man taking control of his own destiny...

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who come proclaiming the gospel of democracy. What a tingle goes up the spine when our high priests in the West proclaim our secular liturgical chants.

Democracy as gospel is a complete fraud. It is embarrassing that it ever came to be a prevailing Western gospel. How confused and stupid and self-righteously arrogant the West has become.

No doubt some would resort to Winston Churchill’s apologia for democracy: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.” Maybe. Tell that to the Athenians who suffered under the tyranny of the 51 percent.

Now nobody enjoys a good rant as much as me, and I've been guilty of penning a few myself, but why does this guy need to conceal his identity? How come he's not willing to stick his head above the parapet and own his own words? This may seem irrelevant to the argument he presents, but bear with me a bit longer. 

I know I shouldn't have done it, but the devil made me, and I wrote a short response.
So John, what are you suggesting as an alternative for the people of Egypt. Calvinofascism doesn’t seem quite the model to use in that part of the world, and I’m pretty sure you’d be leery of Sharia law. Easy to knock the idea of democracy but how about naming a better system, hmm?

And presumably you’d want to make a few adjustments in the democracy of New Zealand. Somehow I don’t see Wellington ever becoming the Geneva of the South. For a start most of us like to stay up after 8PM, and would be reluctant to burn Unitarians. So what exactly are you suggesting… or is this just empty spleen-venting rhetoric?
 It wasn't Pseudo-Tertullian the Calvinofascist who responded, but Matt. Twice.
Gavin, I don’t recall John advocating Calvinofacism [sic], or anything like that, what he does do is point out some facts about the kind of democracy that would exist in Egypt if the will of the people were implemented. Is your position that its OK to kill jewish [sic], and Christian converts and stone them because the alternative is not democratic?
Actually the article went well beyond a commentary on the kind of democracy that Egypt might embrace, as the quotes above (and the full linked text) demonstrate. But if Matt wants a response to his straw man question, let me state it clearly and explicitly: No!

So there, I'm happy to answer Matt's question, but Matt steers well clear of tackling the question I asked. What's the alternative, both for Egypt and for countries like New Zealand. "Pseudo-Tertullian" attacks not just a potential democracy in Egypt, but the whole concept as it is embraced in the West. Okay, fair enough, show us something better. That's apparently a big "no can do." The only sound I hear is silence.

Let's see now. Ignore a pertinent question, run for cover to the nearest straw man and scatter red herrings on the path as you go. And in 'John's' case, hide your head in a brown paper bag so nobody can challenge you to your face.

Apologetics; gotta love it.

But Matt's not over yet.
Gavin, I am wondering on what basis you condemn “calvinofacism” [sic] (a made up term) and not condemn a democratic Islamic republic where strict understandings of Shariah law are in play? What would make the latter is better than the former.
Wonder away Matt. First point, all the words in the dictionary trace back to something 'made up.' Every year new 'made up' words enter the English language. I'd have thought someone with a PhD in something called "Analytic Theology" would have known that. Somehow I doubt that if I'd used the term 'Islamofascism' you would have blinked an eyelid.

Second, my brief comments weren't about Sharia law, but on the attack "John Tertullian" made on the concept of democracy in the West as much as in the Middle East. Clearly he (and perhaps you) think there's something better on offer. Why so shy? time to share! Please put away your bucket of red herrings and just answer the question: what are you suggesting as an acceptable alternative - preferably an improvement - to democracy?

I know you think such an answer exists, because you write: "there are alternatives to the kind of majoritarian democracy that JohnT talks about, other than, calvinofacism (which is a made up word)."

(There's that hangup Matt has about 'made up words' again. I refer Matt to John Ayto, 20th Century Words: The Story of the New Words in English over the last Hundred Years, Oxford, 1999.)

Funnily enough Matt fails to list any of these alleged alternatives, but instead launches into a defense of calvinofascism!
And my question still stands suppose the alternative to an Islamic state is calvinofascism, why is the former preferable to the latter.
All that analytic theology at Otago has left Matt confused. The alternative, considering the pseudonymous posturing of his guest blogger, isn't between an Islamic state and Calvinofascism, but Calvinofascism and democracy. Who would Matt and 'John' like to run the governments of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and Britain? Maybe when these two ideologues of the Calvinist Right (or is that "Calvinist Reich"?) answer those questions, there could be meaningful engagement on the issue of other countries and cultures.

But I won't be holding my breath.


  1. Instead of Democracy, someone might suggest trying a Republic sort of governance.

    It's been tried without much success. They all have, but we should try again, and who knows, maybe we'll get different results this time?

  2. Hello Doug, and of course to you, Lord Gavin, for posting such thought provoking comments.
    Always enjoy your musings, just had to jump in on this one.

    Pardon me Doug, but aren't you suggesting the textbook definition of insanity?

    Last I remember, insanity was defined as trying the same thing over and over yet expecting different results.

    Our US founders chose a democratic republic. And as one was quoted as saying when asked what type of government was selected, he closed his reply with "...if you can keep it"..

    Well, seems to me that in the USA it is vanishing before our eyes.

    As I see it, the main problem is, in order for a democratic republic to function as intended, it requires the active participation of an informed and interested citizenry.
    The voting records and current crop of elected officials would suggest it is not the best and brightest, but those who can outspend their opponents, who end up winning.

    What a sorry lot we now have at the helm, eh?
    How many more will be forced to bail out over stupid social media antics for example?

    I wonder how many of the current crop in federal or state's government offices would serve if salaries or stipends were not allowed or involved?
    IE, how did so many get to be millionaires on such a "small" salary?

    How many would serve for the good of the country, to lend their expertise and time to make it a better place?

    Not many I'd bet..

    I would also ask;

    What has a larger viewing audience; C-SPAN or ESPN?

    Your Honor, the prosecution rests....

    PS Doug, nice photo, what breed?

  3. Charles, as the song in Lady and the Tramp says, "We are Siamese if you please". At least one Siamese anyway.

    It's our 11 year old 20 pound Siamese Cat, running for president. You can catch him on Facebook now, or if you wish:

    Mikey for President

    He is running under the Domestic Companion Party ticket, with lots and lots of opponents which may seem somewhat familiar, even if not quite human....