Tag Archives: Puritanism

The Pathology of Sanctions

The word ‘to sanction’ has a curious history. Originally it comes from a Latin word meaning ‘to make sacred’ and was used in Church decrees. However, after the Protestant Reformation, by 1560, it had come to mean simply to decree or ratify. Next it obtained the meaning of ‘to approve’ (‘He sanctioned the use of force’). Only from the 1630s on did it obtain the common modern meaning of ‘to penalise in order to enforce obedience’. The word is then closely associated with Protestant and today post-Protestant moralism, the attempts to enforce conformism in the absence of any sort of spirituality.

For example, today, the post-Protestant Western world imposes ‘sanctions’ on anyone who disobeys its will. The US-controlled West sanctions Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, anyone it chooses. Indeed, the USA threatens to sanction EU countries or indeed any country in the world which steps out of line. ‘You disagree with me? Therefore I ban/cancel/ suspend you’. ‘You don’t agree with me? You no longer exist’. ‘Cancel Russia’. Cancel anyone who disagrees. It is a mentality which is shared by many Americans in business or in other fields who are given, or give themselves, tyrannical authority.

They seem to think that they have the God-given right to ban anyone. This is pathological. No normal person behaves in this way. Its origin is certainly in the Puritan sectarian mentality. It reminds us that some of the first settlers to arrive in North America were unsociable Puritans who were so intolerant that they could no longer live in England side by side with others who had different views. Later they proved their intolerance by engaging in witch-hunts and burning innocent women to death. Such Puritans also took part in the genocide of the native people whose land they had stolen and used slaves.

It is this intolerance that their descendants are still displaying today on their Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. For after the Cold War ended, the Puritan United States proclaimed itself to be God’s messenger on Earth. In the 1990s the priggish secular moralists of the post-Protestant world justified all sorts of imperialism with the term ‘humanitarian interventionism’, which gave them the God-given right to bomb anyone they wanted. For instance, George Bush proclaimed that God had told him to invade Iraq. How do we resist, when we have been sanctioned or threatened with being sanctioned?

In my experience, we have to separate ourselves from such attitudes, cultivating our independence. Independent means or support from others is often enough. This separation must be spiritual, moral, social and financial. We must be independent. Our freedom-loving culture and history must be defended from the pathological and sectarian. We will remain on the spiritual and moral high ground. Let God deal with such people. For sanctions always backfire and become suicidal. This is exactly what has happened today with the anti-Russian sanctions, from which the West is suffering so terribly.