Accidental Pluralist: Counterinsurgency and Unintended Consequences
After reading about an idea called “the accidental guerrilla syndrome” while studying about counterinsurgencies, I realized similar conditions might be contributing to the relentless wave of secular philosophy.
The concept made me think about why pluralism, moral relativism, and secularism have become so popular in the last 50 years.
The syndrome explains how instinctive responses can yield negative results by using a four-stage virus analogy:
Do you believe the following statements?
- Everyone’s beliefs are equally true.
- It’s not about what’s right—it’s about what’s right for you.
- There are no wrong answers.
If you do, but you don’t know why, then you might be an accidental pluralist.
Why did your grandparents have strong convictions, but you struggle to determine what’s right?
Why did the Greatest Generation adopt the Pledge of Allegiance in 1942 while our generation fights for its preservation?
Why do Christian service members have to stomach vituperative rants by activists labeling them extremists and hate-mongers?
It’s the ’60s, man.
Post-World War II. Counter-culture. Vietnam. Tenured professors. Timid Christians.
Yadda, yadda—there is no truth, everything’s relative, and everyone’s right.
The pluralist insurgency has been at work for years. How did they succeed in building their pluralist army?
They didn’t—we did.
Let me explain with an analogy using an attacker and a guardian.
The pluralist insurgent works like an attacker picking a fight, except he lets the guardian strike first so the crowd will turn against him.
Why does this strategy work?
It works because the insurgent group is not constrained by moral values.
In the fight example, the insurgent schemes to both start the fight and manipulate the crowd. It’s natural for the guardian to protect his charge and strike back playing into the attacker’s hand. The guardian assumes the crowd will take his side and help defeat the attacker.
However, there’s something the guardian didn’t know before he struck back: the insurgent befriended the crowd. He made them promises and told them lies.
The crowd was groomed to reject any interference from the guardian.
How does this create accidental pluralists? Let’s look at why you believe “there are no wrong answers.”
- Infection: pluralism, relativism, and subjectivism are embraced by tenured university staff.
- Contagion: students become teachers, parents, and community leaders.
- Intervention: Christians attempt to reveal the folly of such philosophies.
- Rejection: once-lukewarm pluralists unify and strengthen their convictions to defend against outside attack.
By trying to help, Christians have accidentally strengthened pluralist veterans and helped their recruiting effort!
The advantage in this battle goes to the group with the least amount of limitations.
In Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind, he attempts to explain why polarized political groups are incapable of seeing the other side’s point of view. He compares the human decision-making mechanism to a tongue with six taste receptors :
“Does left-wing morality activate just one or two taste receptors [care and fairness], whereas right-wing morality engages a broader palate, including loyalty, authority, and sanctity?”¹ (brackets mine)
Notice, the latter group considers more factors when making decisions. Within their own party, these are a source of strength and unity. However, they become the group’s greatest weakness when battling other groups which disregard them.
Any worldview which espouses things like “you should believe whatever works for you,” and “you have no limitations,” will easily win a crowd.
How do we stop making accidental pluralists?
We must reverse the effects of pluralist grooming by encouraging the crowd to test every “truth” for both correspondence and coherence.
A worldview must sufficiently answer questions about origins, meaning, morality, and destiny.
Christianity sufficiently answers these questions.
You should counter any insurgent who says otherwise.
¹Haidt, Jonathan (2012-03-13). The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Kindle Locations 2763-2764). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
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About Jason B. Ladd
Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.