… is from pages 152-153 of Albert Jay Nock’s September 1916 essay “Prohibition and Civilization,” as it is printed in Liberty Fund’s 1991 collection of some of Nock’s essays – a collection titled The State of the Union: Essays in Social Criticism (Charles H. Hamilton, ed.):
The ideals and instruments of Puritanism are simply unworthy of a free people, and, being unworthy, are soon found intolerable. Its hatreds, fanaticisms, inaccessibility to ideas; its inflamed and cancerous interest in the personal conduct of others; its hysterical disregard of personal rights; its pure faith in force, and above all, its tyrannical imposition of its own Kultur: these characterize and animate a civilization that the general experience of mankind at once condemns as impossible, and as hateful as it is impossible.
DBx: Indeed so.
Today’s hysteria for population-wide Covid vaccination is an early 2020s’ species of Puritanism. Ditto the demonizing and deplatforming of Scott Atlas, Jay Bhattacharya, Sunetra Gupta, Martin Kulldorff, and other individuals who point out that the dangers posed to the vast majority of people by SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t begin to come close to justifying lockdowns, school closures, canceled or postponed sporting events, and most other proscriptions and prescriptions imposed in the name of protecting humanity from the demon virus.
Progressivism has much more in common, than its adherents think, with Puritanism. Both ideologies are versions of statism. The ranks of both swarm with people who ridicule and reject liberalism. Each of these statist ideologies worships power as the one and only savior that will usher in its particular version of heaven on earth. Each of these ideologies regards the individual who is unbridled and unmolested by the state, and who refuses to catch whatever causes the current collective fever, as a public enemy deserving neither tolerance nor sympathy.
Progressives suppose that, because they have no qualms about alcohol use or about consensual sex outside of traditional marriage – and because many are not religious in the conventional sense – that they are the opposite of Puritans. But they are mistaken. These differences are superficial. Progressives, like Puritans (and like many Populists), cannot tolerate anyone acting differently from, or even thinking differently than, the particular ways that they have divined is correct.