In the third chapter, Levin explains his views regarding religion. He seems to think that a true conservative must be religious and not a secularist. I disagree. But I also think whether or not any given political policies are beneficial or not is independent of religion.
I haven't read the book yet though I do intend to. But I'd like to leave information as to why Im agree with Mark Levin. As usual, Simone Weil explains this as well as anyone. The following is from a summary of Simone's politically incorrect book called "The Need for Roots."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simone_wei ... sus_rights
Obligations versus rights
There are several key themes in the work. The first is the precedence that obligation has over rights. For Weil, unless a person understands that they have certain obligations in life, towards themselves, towards others, and towards society, notions of right will have no power or value.
At the same time, obligations have a transcendental origin. They come from a realm that imposes an imperative — this must is a light from the other world which shines on this world and provides it with direction and order. For Weil, this is a spiritual concept — this means that it transcends the world of competing interests and power games. It opens up a world where justice is possibility and a promise and provides the foundation upon which any purely selfish and relative means find their true perspective.
Obligation has its analogy to the “Thou Shalt not…” of the Ten Commandments. It is the feeling of sacredness with regard to the holy. It is that which stops us from transgressing certain boundaries of ethical or spiritual behavior. It is that which, if profaned, inspires in us feelings and torments of guilt, and has its home in the conscience.
For Weil, there is one obligation that supersedes all others. This is the obligation to respect and love the Other. It is recognizable in the feelings and emotions associated with harming something so essential to being human that if we violate it, we violate a holy shrine. This something in a human being is what makes them who they are and what they are.
For Weil, without this supernatural world, we are left to a human world where power and force hold sway. The struggle for power is the motor of human history, she believes. It is the human condition. It is the source of human suffering and injustice. In her analysis, there is no human answer to this struggle for power, nor is it possible to stop the struggle with any form of ideology, such as Marxism or capitalism or any other form of human-made political system.
The world of spirit, for Weil, confronts this struggle for power. Spirituality is not a way out, an unearthly and utopian dream — instead, she believes that there are techniques that enable humans to become spiritual. These techniques are the ones that the great mystics of every religious tradition have recognized and practiced. For her, the mystical practices of Saint Francis of Assisi or Saint John of the Cross are especially telling. For Weil, they are manuals for dealing with the pain and suffering of concrete life while maintaining a link to the transcendent world of God.
Obligations, therefore, provide a link to the spiritual realities that give life meaning and sustain the oppressed and sufferer with its healing power. But obligation is also that power that calls to each of us from the face of another. For Weil, this aspect of the other is that which is inviolable in each and every human being. As she states in one of her essays, it is that part of each of us that expects the good to be done to us. It is that which cries out for justice when it is violated.
Rights, on the other hand, are those relative ends which we strive for. They are not eternal in the way that obligations are, and instead rely on obligations to have legitimacy. That is, unless we have an obligation to respect the human in people, rights can not have any legitimacy.
Spirituality and politics
Another aspect of this question is the awareness that Weil brings to social and political problems of why spirituality is necessary. It might be a truism that true change in a society cannot occur unless there is a subjective change as well. There is an example of this in alcohol or drug treatment programs. Unless the person wants to change, all the counseling and the support groups will not make a person change.
For Weil, on the social level, this is true of societies as well. In her analysis of history and revolutions, she showed that every revolution ultimately replaced one form of oppression with another. For her, this showed that the reality of history is struggle for power. This is why she believed that for true change, a spiritual awakening must occur in individual conscience.
Take an example: why, with all the money thrown at poverty in the US, is there still poverty? For Weil, the answer to this question is that the programs and money were directed at the wrong problems. Because they were programs by those who had for those who did not have, the misrelation in power continued — in many ways, the rich instituted programs that would continue to benefit them and maintain their hold on power.
Perhaps this in and of itself justifies the notion that living with the poor and oppressed changes one’s consciousness. Of course, a simple or superficial identification with the poor will not be an authentic experience. But a continued and extended opening up of oneself to the pain and suffering of the poor and oppressed — putting oneself into their condition and seeking that condition would seem to work a change in the spirit.
Perhaps this is why Weil commends the mystical practices of the saints — this rigorous and methodical emptying of oneself does not come easily — it is too easy to believe that one is there while still holding on to the escape route in the back of one’s mind. It demands something like a spiritual practice to seek out all those ways we have of deluding ourselves and lying to ourselves. Weil never says that it is simply a matter of living with the poor — there is a constant reminder in her writings that this experience must permeate one’s entire spirit and being. In her words, one must become a slave to understand what a slave endures.
In short conservatism appreciates the need for a balance between obligations and rights to sustain a free society. Without the spiritual influence to sustain this balance by allowing the inner appreciation of obligations, the collective devolves into being governed by power and force normal for human hypocrisy requiring more governmental control and the loss of the free society conservatism values.
"Humanism was not wrong in thinking that truth, beauty, liberty, and equality are of infinite value, but in thinking that man can get them for himself without grace." Simone Weil