“It is time to shout . . . that the freedom of all the earth’s people to move across borders must be at the center of any response to the climate crisis. Unless we do, racism and fear . . . will give way to fascism and war before the tides get a chance to drown us.”
Ben Erenreich, “Open Borders Must be Part of any Response to the Climate Crisis,” The Nation (June 6, 2019)
There was a time when a Man of God would terrorize his congregation with a vivid prospect of Hell and damnation. Today our men of god are for the most part godless, but they are no less give to terrorizing their listeners with lively descriptions of the punishment that awaits men who do not repent and amend their ways. This punishment is not eternal torment in a Lake of Fire, but a future in which the sin of “racism and fear” has received its just wage of “fascism and war.”
I think we can fairly define a Nazi as the Progressive devil, and fascism as the Progressive hell. Give me what I demand, says the Man of Progress, or the Nazi devil will come in the night and drag you down into the Fascist Pit. Do exactly as I say, or prepare for a future in which the fire of fascism “will not be quenched,” in which the “unprofitable servants” of Progress will “weep and gnash their teeth.”
When a Man of God threatened fire and brimstone, he laid considerable stress on what he called “backsliding.” Any Christian who relaxed his zeal and discipline would, he warned, begin to slide back towards the Mouth of the Pit and the Jaws of Hell. This backsliding began the moment a Christian’s faith grew “lukewarm.”
Although he does not use the word, the Man of Progress is haunted by a similar fear of backsliding and growing lukewarm. He is, after all, a Pilgrim on the way to his Celestial City. He is a “stranger in a strange land,” that strange land being this world.
Where Christians had their Pilgrims Progress, the Man of Progress marches in a hegira of Progress Pilgrims.
I say Progress Pilgrims because, unlike Bunyan’s Pilgrim, a Man of Progress cannot make it to the Celestial City by himself. You must join his pilgrimage. You must become a Progress Pilgrim, too. For in the mind of a Man of Progress, mankind is like a party of roped mountaineers climbing an icy slope. If one grows lukewarm and begins to slide backwards, the others must either stop him or all will be dragged, screaming and helpless, into the smoking Fascist Pit.