Donald Trump's ideological vacuum, the more he is isolated and attacked, is being filled by the Christian right. This Christianized fascism, with its network of megachurches, schools, universities and law schools and its vast radio and television empire, is a potent ally for a beleaguered White House. The Christian right has been organizing and preparing to take power for decades.
At the end of the book I’ve just finished reading, “Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn”, by Daniel Gordis (2016), the author states that secular Zionists are increasingly flirting with their ancient religious beliefs, writings etc…
Then I read Chris Hedges’ article here -
I do sense that we are ‘circling the wagons’ worldwide - at least that is my perspective.
It is understandable, I think.
The big brain of the human being has always agonized over ‘meaning’ in this life - in this awesomely large universe.
Small wonder that in times of crisis we seek solace in belief.
Honestly, as I look around me, I wonder how we will all make out ?
As a geologist with a passionate interest in all of science, I know how much we know, how far along the road we have come.
But I also know how much we don’t know, and a quick survey of one’s surroundings reveals how many are not passionately engaged in the evidential search for truth, but are rather entirely involved in the scramble for life - to just survive in half the population - or to “get ahead” in the rest.
“People are like sheep, Charlie Brown - they follow each other” (Shultz).
Evidential truth seekers, as I count myself I suppose - we increasingly look against this backdrop - like a bunch of mystics or priests ourselves.
It is hard to pierce through the hyperbole and mild hysteria in this piece to get to the core of the problem that Hedges rightfully warns us about. There is a deep streak of fear running through this country that is increasingly being exploited by a quasi-fascistic christian elite. The result has been the politicizing of a well organized and wealthy Christian Corporate mentality that has been courted by the cynicism of greed to make common cause with the Corporate Coup now overtaking our democracy.
The Corporate Christian elite has itself become an oligarchy and as such, it is demanding its place amongst the powers that be. Cynics like Trump see no problem with this merging of greed and politicized religion. Hedges rightfully sounds the alarm as huge numbers of Americans appear willing to give up their right to think for themselves. Anti-science Christians meet anti-science climate change deniers and democracy becomes the casualty.
It is as if our country is practicing or rehearsing our existing with a fascistic cultural mentality. The more we accept this anti-science/anti-truth thinking in our lives the easier it will be for such thinking to be imposed by force from above. The Patriot Act was practice for fascism. The autocratic decrees of Trump and his appointing inappropriate people to positions of power are practice for fascism. To have ordinary people speaking the language of fear and manipulation used by cults to control people is practice for fascism.
Given sufficient time and possibly the sudden imposition of shock doctrine political control, all this practicing for fascism will find a ready and willing mindset among large numbers of unquestioning people who will accept it.
I just think that saying the death penalty would be applied for things like blasphemy and apostasy is hyperbolic but looking at the way Trump is allowed to destroy our democracy (and in short order too), maybe Hedges might be forgiven a bit of excess in this case. There would needs be some distance left between christianized fascism here and fundamentalist terrorism.
I hope Hedges is wrong about that death penalty for unbelief! He got a lot of other things right though in this article.
There is only one god in capitalist America, some say Mammon but I just say money. I do not disagree with Hedges portrait of Christian Fascism; indeed the age old battle has been between authoritarianism(fascism) and libertarianism as expressed in various democratic, anarchic, and socialist movements.
The very corruption of “religious hucksters” is about money as is everything in the U.S. bastion of capitalism. Could the U.S. Empire become a Christian Fascist Dictatorship under a Trump? It certainly could becomes more intolerant but are we not already a police state plutocracy? The present owners of capitalism control by the age old method of divide and conquer and they are not going to let any group, much less Christian fascists, grow powerful enough to usurp them. Most of the owners are only nominal christians not to mention jews, muslims, others and are functionally apostate. Money and power are their only concerns.
I suppose the present complete political and cultural disarray promoted under the banner of neoliberalism by the global capitalist owners is a good thing. They cannot institute their dreamed of “new world order” as their capitalist system reached it’s dead end decades ago and as Karl Marx predicted it is now unable, in its final stages, to expand or generate profits at former levels. When one compares movements to Hitler one must remember that conditions allowed Hitler to offer immediate economic benefits to Germany which is what finally made him popular. So far Trump has only improved things for his fellow rich owners as should be expected by any, even half baked, realist.
Capitalism is collapsing and the U.S. Military Empire is falling. There could be momentary periods of recovery under authoritarian groupings but any revolution that is not a socialist revolution will only be a redistribution among new owners. Overall the banner of neoliberalism will continue consuming governments and the sustaining physical and social structures. Infrastructure and social programs are being sacrificed to feed the short term profit motive that is capitalism’s only motive. This will destroy the owners.
The future holds ever increasing chaos and resource wars aggravated by spreading poverty, ecological destruction and desperate short term financial solutions by the owners. Into the coming chaos there is the very real possibility, with loss of central control and stockpiled weapons of mass destruction, of the human race destroying itself. But there is also the promise of a final awakening. Fight capitalism in any way you can, no matter how small, and better yet look for new ways to fight. You may even become an inspirational leader in a new socialist world where all are provided for and respected in a classless society.
Your comment is well thought out, however I hesitate to disagree with Hedges about extreme measures that may become reality. In 2015 I would never have predicted the swift success Trump has achieved in dismantling essential pillars of our Democracy.
More and more since Trump’s election, I’m with George Carlin, “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
I hear ya and I agree up to a point. Maybe I am being too optimistic but unlike other examples of fascism in history,this country has a tradition of freedom that would be hard to erase by a pen stroke or a rifle butt. For example, try and take away the NRA’s guns. You might say that some if not most would agree with the powers that be, nevertheless that sense of independence from government remains. Similarly an older generation would continually insist on freedom of speech and even freedom of religion despite their fascistic leanings. Just my opinion but that recollection of freedom would need generations to pass before it was forgotten.
Then again… who knows?
Oh, Lord won’t you buy me a color TV…
A Mercedes Benz…
A night on the town…
A long time ago
I doubt if the cookbook answer of improving the economic situation is the answer. I don’t see the connection. There are some fundamental issues here that will not be altered by economics. One is racism. This goes back to the day of slavery. I think it is based on tribalism, which seems to be a characteristic from our biological evolution. We stick together with people like us, perhaps mostly for safety. After endless discussions about racism I am not sure we have gotten beyond square one on an individual basis, particularly based on the outcome of the last election, although there have been great advances at the institutional level. Another fundamental issue is religion. Particularly for Evangelicals, the society has been liberalized and the more religious Evangelicals have wound up feeling almost like strangers in their own country. Conversely, Mainline Protestants have embraced the changes and now largely support liberal causes. It takes a deep understanding of Protestant religion in the US to get what is going on. Not only Evangelicals but many Catholics also supported Trump because of the abortion issue. This is a difficult issue to deal with and it has driven many pro-life advocates to support to support Trump even though they may disagree with him on many other issues. Hedges of course has an alarmist righting style which seems almost unique but he does raise some of the most important issues we have do deal with. However, I don’t think he has many answers so for answers I would look elsewhere.
History confirms that racism is influenced by economics more than any other factor.
When the income and wealth inequality gap widens racism increases.
Although tribes enslaved other tribes, slavery has always been driven by economics…just as today’s global economy is driven by moving capital to wherever labor costs are currently lowest. Not counting defacto slaves who comprise a big portion of the workforce here and abroad, there are still more slaves in the world today than there have ever been.
The 1% will not wind down their transfer of wealth from the 99% to the 1% until the 1% own everything and the 1% own nothing…we will all be slaves or defacto slaves. The 1% prefer defacto slaves…all expanse, no capital costs…discard when burned out.
One very important issue that Hedges needs to add to this piece is that the Christian fascist movement is also very much the stronghold of climate deniers. They are not only intent on destroying any freedom we have, they also are causing horrific damage to the environment with their ignorance and they are doing it at a time when we most desperately need to make changes. We and the earth are paying for their ignorance with each passing day. This may be the greatest danger of all.
At least they stopped throwing people in jail for claiming the world is spherical.
Christian fascists with Trump leading the charge to bury as much evidence an science as possible are the antithesis of Captain Cook, Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson/ Lewis and Clark and others whose missions included the advancement of evidence based science.
If Russia-gate & impeachment-mania actually come to fruition, say ‘Hello’ to President Pence.
At that point, game over, the theocrats are in charge, unwittingly aided & abetted by Hillary’s limousine liberals.
Just as mainstream ‘moderate’ Christians have unwittingly aided the Christo-fascists by giving credibility to a bizarre 2000 year old sado-masochistic death-cult. If Christians ever read their Bible cover-to-cover they would either recoil in horror, or join the Christo-fascist movement themselves.
"Christians who do not embrace the Christian right’s perverted and heretical interpretation of the Bible—will be silenced, imprisoned or killed. "
Killed? That’s a pretty extreme claim, and should probably have a more specific citation than just a suggestion that we read a book you wrote.
Prior to his nomination, popular news media occasionally ran stories (probably gloating) that evangelical leaders did not support Trump, and were dismayed that many evangelical followers did. As I read this article, I did some related browsing, and both Pat Robertson and James Dobson were Trump supporters prior to the nomination.
I would question the “lump-them-all-together” implications of this article that evangelical leaders are all this same type of fascist Dominionist, and especially that the typical so-called Christian is such a fervent duty-from-God believer. Most so-called evangelicals seem to be so in name only and limit their concern to Bible-inspired bigotry of hating gays and abortions.
To understand the Christian right it is necessary to know that for the first time in American history Protestants are not a majority of the population. Protestants used to have much more clout in Washington because of their numbers. But there has been a sharp decline in Mainline Protestants who largely live n the northeast and upper midwest. And importantly, after increasing in numbers of several decades Evangelical Protestants are now declining in numbers. White Catholics are also declining in numbers for but a large influx of Hispanics have kept the number of Catholics steady. Mainline Protestants have accepted the fact the they no longer have the power that they did in the past but Evangelicals have not accepted this. Unless the Evangelicals are willing to accept the reality that they no longer can have the power that they used to there will be trouble. They could follow the course of the Mainline Protestants but instead they have apparently chosen to fight for control of American society.
Well they tell me of a pie up in the sky
Waiting for me when I die
But between the day you’re born and when you die
They never seem to hear even your cry
Pat Boone - immediately after Trump’s win - praising Evangelical turnout.
Hear what he says 19 seconds in - "they knew that God has used flawed candidates … "
In a side debate, I needed help to answer this quoted counter-argument:
“Clinton gave the nuclear bomb and missile capability to NOKO. The Mujahadin was a Carter debacle. Obama gave us the Muslim Brotherhood and now the nuclear capabilities to Iran, as did Clinton to NOKO.”
(I wonder what credence couldn’t be given these charges with counter-argument) My side: Presidents who do least harm were Democratic. And, that the rise of hard right militants led to WWII. Coincidentally led by oil and transport industries.
You will eat, bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky
Work and pray, live on hay
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die (that’s a lie)
Let us not forget the National Covenant of 1638 Scotland and the massive numbers of killings that happened afterward as Scotland worked to become God’s Country. Let us also not forget the tyranny of Oliver Cromwell’s dictatorship and the destruction and killing he caused In God’s Name. These christians don’t learn from their own history, refuse to admit to their evil, and would repeat it all over again because they fool themselves into believing that god leads them to committing these atrocities and that the atrocities are ok because god willed it. They will never repent.
I agree with your take on the marriage between corporate and christian America. Reagan (illegally) granted religious leaders a place at the table and since then the captured flock has been a reliable and potent force in every level of elections. In fact, one could make the case that R’s would not wield the state and national power they do without the religious right’s landslide vote.
There is a certain type of mind drawn to hierarchy - even if it means they’re stuck on the bottom. They like predictability, structure, obedience, order, black and white and any other concept that elicits a sense of security. They like strong, decisive leaders, no matter the intention or outcome. Which means they’re fearful, easy to scare and manipulate. It’s no surprise you find these attributes in the military, fundy religions and the corporate structure. Egalitarianism and independent thinking are a threat to their groupthink and not tolerated.
There are few more dangerous and disgusting people than the leaders of large christian organziations. Falwell, Dobbs, Robertson et al seek power and control every bit as much as the Trumps of the world. Somehow, they’ve been allowed the patina of legitmacy because of operating under the banner of religion. If he was anything, the historic figure Jesus C was a socialist. But there’s no profit in that!
I’m with the war criminal Kissinger on this point: Power is the ultimate aphrodesiac.