Monday, November 19, 2012

Rom 1 reply, 17: But, isn't fascism a RIGHT-WING problem -- as in, Hitler was a rabid Christian, and so we have to be concerned about those dangerous theocratic, Bible-thumping fundamentalists?

Today, we live in a "Rules for Radicals" world where cruelly toxic slanderous rhetoric routinely appears in "respectable" media and academia,  and seeks to poison minds and marginalise scapegoated groups by smearing them so badly that they are silenced or become discredited.

So, even if they protest, no-one is listening.

This is sometimes called, poisoning the well or sometimes, poisoning the atmosphere or poisoning the mind. Nizkor's description is apt:
This sort of "reasoning" involves trying to discredit what a person might later claim by presenting unfavorable information (be it true or false) about the person. This "argument" has the following form:
  1. Unfavorable information (be it true or false) about person A is presented.
  2. Therefore any claims person A makes will be false.
This sort of "reasoning" is obviously fallacious. The person making such an attack is hoping that the unfavorable information will bias listeners against the person in question and hence that they will reject any claims he might make. However, merely presenting unfavorable information about a person (even if it is true) hardly counts as evidence against the claims he/she might make. This is especially clear when Poisoning the Well is looked at as a form of ad Homimem in which the attack is made prior to the person even making the claim or claims
To such, we have to say that those who poison the very well from which we all may well need to drink, thereby show their enmity to humanity. In short, slander is a grave and destructive injustice.

At the same time, it is notorious that other groups -- usually those able to claim "historic victim" status in one form or another -- can say or do almost anything nowadays. (And, to object to what they do or say, is to invite piled-on drumbeat accusations of hate, bigotry, racism, sexism, etc.)

How did we ever end up in such a sad condition?

That is in itself a long story, and not one I think I can fully disentangle and make sense of, save that as a civilisation, we have managed to gradually fall under the condemnation in Isaiah 5:
Isa 5:18 ​​​​​​​​Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,
        who draw sin as with cart ropes, . . .
      20 ​​​​​​​​Woe to those who call evil good
        and good evil,
        who put darkness for light
        and light for darkness,
        who put bitter for sweet
        and sweet for bitter!
21 ​​​​​​​​Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
        and shrewd in their own sight! 
      22 ​​​​​​​​Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,
        and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
      23 ​​​​​​​​who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
        and deprive the innocent of his right! [ESV]
However we got here, I can highlight our state and call us to turn back before it is too late.

Now, however, we have some smears to expose.

First, the "Hitler was a Christian" attempt to create guilt by invidious association and insinuation that Nazi values are Christian values. 

We have had to address this slander in the KF blog previously, here:
 . . .  we may immediately observe that Hitler was the main advocate of the Big Lie propaganda technique of telling huge whoppers that tickle itching ears with what they want to hear and won't -- even, "can't" -- believe that so "credible" a source is lying through their teeth about so important a matter.

 The United States Office of Strategic Services aptly summed up Hitler's rhetorical and propaganda methods:

[Hitler's] primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it. [Hitler as His Associates Know Him (OSS report, p.51), courtesy Wiki. Resemblance to the web stalking and Internet vandalism  techniques exposed here and here, are NOT coincidental.]
So, if we hear anything from Hitler in public that lines up with the likely sentiments of his audience -- here, largely the German people (reportedly then about 90% "Christian") -- we should be on notice. For more details, we may  cf. responsible replies here and here , with a cluster of useful quotes here. [NB: The irresponsible site Evil Bible that is linked to substantiate the New Atheist smear talking point, is rebutted in general here.]

But all of this requires a fair amount of reading and reasonably balanced thought, precisely what the likes of those inclined to swallow the sort of talking point above are disinclined to do.

We need something far more direct.

Courtesy a Life photo-essay on Nazi era posters [under fair use], we can however see direct, visual positive proof of the actual Anti-christ, demonic, counterfeiting spirit of both Hitler and nazism.

This is immediately obvious, through the following blasphemous echo of the descent of the Spirit as a dove on Jesus and the announcement of the Father that Jesus was the Approved Son, at his baptism in the Jordan:

In the image we see an aura of radiant glory and a descending bat-like, predatory, demonic bird; most certainly not the Holy and peaceful Dove of the Holy Spirit. 

Hitler, here, is plainly being presented as an idolatrous political messiah, a deliberate and demonically twisted echo of Jesus.

Complete with a flag carrying that twisted, broken cross known as the Swastika.

Itself, a highly visible warning . . . [More]
In short, Hitler was the very opposite of being a genuine Christian, he was a fascist, Nietzschean, Aryan racist myth nihilistic Superman political pseudo-messiah.  

Antichrist, not Christian.

An outright sacrilegious blasphemer; irretrievably indicted by the sheer blasphemy in the above poster. 

It is therefore no wonder that we can see here the plan for subverting and destroying the Christian Churches that was exposed through an investigatory document for the Nuremberg war crimes trials. And yes, that is the real truth about Hitler's agenda for the churches that he could not subvert.

Indeed, Hitler was plainly the ultimate fulfillment of Heinrich Heine's grimly prophetic warning from the 1830's on what was even then slowly brewing in Germany:
Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered [--> the Swastika, visually, is a twisted, broken cross . . .], the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame. …

The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …

Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world. …

At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead [--> cf. air warfare, symbol of the USA], and lions in farthest Africa [--> the lion is a key symbol of Britain, cf. also the North African campaigns]  will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll. [Religion and Philosophy in Germany, 1831.]
After this, let no one even dare to begin to suggest that Hitler was anything more or less than a plainly demonic false political messiah who led his deluded followers into unspeakable evil.

We need to understand this, we need to allow it to burn deep into our consciousness, to see just how dangerous and destructive political messianism -- a species of idolatry that, frankly, too many in the Caribbean are peculiarly vulnerable to -- and the notion of a man of destiny who can save us from all our ills are. So, any time we form an undue emotional bond to a politician, or think he is the only one who can save our community from its ills, or mindlessly mouth his or his spin-meisters' talking points, or see him as though he can do no wrong, we are in danger of disloyalty to the true and living God.

Not to mention, of doing a lot of harm to our community, for such a politician is almost certainly a political con-man and snake-oil cure-all salesman or worse. 

(And if you hear in my directness, concern that we have too often been victimised by such charming, glib-tongued deceivers here in the Caribbean, yes, it is there. In fact, I have a deeper worry, our vulnerability to outright fascism.)


Right wing fanaticism! 

I hear someone: "Of course that is really dangerous, but we are not going to be taken in by such, especially those silly fundy TV preachers and their fleeced, mindless flocks! Not to mention the right-wing politicians who prey on them!"

That sentiment brings out my precise concern.

First, are you aware that the founder figure of modern Fascism -- he was trying to become a modern Caesar -- was a leading socialist in Italy, who then took on the focus on nationalism that led to his identity politics? [Cf. Steele's summary here.]

Are you aware of the statism -- utter dominance of the state in political and community life -- that is pivotal to fascism from its roots?

Let me cite Mussolini's words:
"Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State."
And, let me add (April 28, 2013) this from Hitler in a May day Speech, May 1, 1927:

Yes, it rather seems he really did say that, emphasising the "Socialist"
part of his Party's name, on -- yes -- Labour Day 1927.  And, no,
that does NOT mean that I equate socialism with Nazism, or even
Communism with Nazism; thank you. My main concern is, and has ever been,
political messianism, of any species, as IDOLATRY,  as of the literally
demonic spirit of ANTICHRIST, a blasphemous counterfeit of
our Risen Lord and Saviour.
[Speech of May 1, 1927 as quoted in John Toland
(1976), Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography, p. 224. Source, HT.]

That is a part of why, yesterday, I noted on what Fascist political messianism is and how it works:
FASCISM: At heart, it is the notion that in a day of "unprecedented" crisis that targets a large -- locally dominant or pivotally influential -- perceived victim group or class or religious or racial/national body, a super-man figure emerges to rescue the victims; one who is beyond ordinary human powers and limits (including those of morality and just law). A political messiah who stands as champion for the identity group to save it, defending it from the various scapegoated out-groups who are held to be to blame for the victimisation of the in-group. That super-man political messiah then seizes power and is widely recognised as a man of "destiny." In an atmosphere of hysteria, slander and propagandistic deception that is usually multiplied by chaos and violence or at least riotous assemblies in the streets baying for blood, the power blocs, political, legal, military, corporate, religious, etc then align with him, giving him effectively unlimited power in the face of a crisis. We have now reached the threshold of tyranny. And because of the perceived unprecedented crisis, that super-man "people's champion" figure is cheered on and supported in taking extraordinary measures; measures that sacrifice liberty and justice for the sake of the promised utopian order. And so reigns of terror and aggressive wars naturally emerge. (Cf. here on the last couple of times around, with particular reference to arms races and where they often lead.)
[NB: Cf here for a good description in light of comparative studies. Enc Brit online, here on is good. Fascism is generally tagged as a "right wing" phenomenon, but this is actually misleading, as for instance the single most destructive fascist party ever was the National Socialist German Worker's Party, the Nazis.
Fascists generally are clever enough to strike deals with existing power blocs, and so establish a sort of state controlled cartel based economy. But the central pivot is the state and the politically messianic man who embodies the state.
Statism -- dominance of the society by the state in the name of the people -- is inherently of the left. For mind-blowing reading, cf. Daniel Pipes here. A clip is instructive:
Benito Mussolini was a leading Socialist figure who, during World War I, turned away from internationalism in favor of Italian nationalism and called the blend Fascism. Likewise, Adolf Hitler headed the National Socialist German Workers Party.
These facts jar because they contradict the political spectrum that has shaped our worldview since the late 1930s, the political spectrum which places Communism at the far Left, followed by Socialism, Liberalism in the Center, Conservatism, and then Fascism on the far Right. But this spectrum . . . reflects Joseph Stalin's use of the word "Fascist" as an epithet to discredit anyone he wished – Trotsky, Churchill, Russian peasants – and distorts reality. Already in 1946, George Orwell noted that Fascism had degenerated to signify "something not desirable."
Given what is happening again in our day, we need to re-think and more accurately understand Fascism and its poisonous spiritual root in political messianism. as well as in Nietzschean super-man nihilist amorality, and the onward roots of that in ideological evolutionary materialism as Plato highlighted in The Laws, Bk X, 360 BC.
All of which, of course, points ominously to the Christian eschatological expectation and warning against an ultimate false politico-religious messiah figure expected to dominate the world, known as The Anti-Christ or the Man of Sin or The Beast of 666 -- a veiled allusion to the demonically mad Roman Emperor who scapegoated and murdered many Christians to divert blame for the AD 64 fire in Rome, Nero Caesar.]
Boiling down: Fascism is an irrational -- hysterical and brainwashed -- cultic political reaction to difficult circumstances, manifested in worship of the state as saviour of the dominant "victim group", multiplied by blind loyalty to the projected political messiah and usually intensified by the focussing of "legitimised" hate, slander and blame on designated scapegoat groups and individuals.

If we look hard in the mirror, too often -- if we are honest, we will recognise ourselves in this summary.

The solution to this, first, is to identify political messianism as idolatry. Putting the state, glib-tongued politicians and their real or imagined powers in the place of loyalty and devotion that belong only to God.

Then, we need to repent.

After that, we can set about truly sustainable development, in light of good and sound participative democratic and just government and sound community life, with an economy that is built on a solid education system and finding a way to compete effectively in targetted markets that suit our resources and capabilities.

But, what about those dangerous right-wing Bible-thumping fundies?

First, do you know that the term "fundamentalist" is usually little more than a smear word, one stolen from its proper roots and willfully and irresponsibly twisted into an attack-word, a contemptuous dismissal -- usually, based on scapegoating caricatures?

The late Chuck Colson is helpful:
'Fundamentalism' is really akin to [C. S.] Lewis's 'mere Christianity' discussed earlier, or the rules of faith in the early church; it means adherence to the fundamental facts - in this case, the fundamental facts of Christianity. It is a term that was once a badge of honour, and we should reclaim it.
At the end of the nineteenth century, evolution and the new higher biblical criticism began to challenge biblical authority. This assault affected even great theological institutions such as Princeton Seminary, which, though once orthodox, began questioning fundamental doctrines such as the Virgin Birth and inerrancy of Scripture. Meanwhile, a lively social gospel was also surfacing. Strong in good intentions, it was weak in biblical doctrine and orthodoxy.
So a group of theologians, pastors and laypeople published a series of volumes titled "The Fundamentals". Published between 1910 and 1915, these booklets defined what had been the non-negotiables of the faith since the Apostles' Creed:
1.   the infallibility of Scripture
2.   the deity of Christ
3.    the Virgin Birth and miracles of Christ
4.   Christ's substitutionary death
5.   Christ's physical resurrection and eventual return.
These were then, as they are today, the backbone of orthodox Christianity. If a fundamentalist is a person who affirms these truths, then there are fundamentalists in every denomination - Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Brethren, Methodist, Episcopal [i.e. Anglican] .... Everyone who believes in the orthodox truths about Jesus Christ - in short, every Christian  - is a fundamentalist. And we should not shrink from the term nor allow the secular world to distort its meaning.  [The Body, 1992, pp. 185 – 6.]
What happened, is that by the late 1800's and early 1900's, skepticism had begun to dominate theology and denominations. So, those who stood up for the fundamentals of orthodox Christian faith, identified five key propositions that were defended in a series of tracts called The Fundamentals; later published as a multivolume book. 

But by the 1920's, the champions of orthodoxy were driven out of most of the mainline denominations and had been tagged as ignoramuses by dominant media voices such as the skeptic Mencken. The infamous duel in the shade at the Scopes Monkey Trial -- too often remembered today in the distorted light of the historically grossly inaccurate movie Inherit the Wind -- also helped cement in the minds of many the notion that "fundamentalists" were against "science" -- i.e Darwinism especially -- and "progress," i.e. the religion of backward, potentially violent rednecks from the hills of impoverished Appalachia or the like.  

From that, it was a short step to identify any "religious extremists" who supported a longstanding tradition as "fundamentalists," and to turn the word into a smear. 

For example, here is how a modernism-influenced theologian in Jamaica, within a few weeks of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, was trying to explain it to the "educated" public:
The human tragedy in USA has also served to bring into sharp focus the use of terror by religious fanatics/fundamentalists. Fundamentalism or fundamentalists are terms that are applicable to every extreme conservative in every religious system . . . . During the twentieth century in particular we have seen the rise of militant expression of these faiths by extreme conservatives who have sought to respond to what they identify as 'liberal' revisions that have weakened the fundamentals of their faith . . . They opt for a belligerent, militant and separatist posture in their public discourse that can easily employ violence to achieve their goals.  [ Rev. Rod Hewitt, [Gleaner, Sept. 26, 2001, italics added.]
By 2003, he was writing in the same newspaper as follows:

The USA and its local allies . . . sought to empower the younger churches that have been planted by missionaries from the USA conservative 'Bible Belt' region. [sic] The high number of new denominations that were incorporated in Jamaica during the 1980s speaks volume to this perspective. [--> In fact, in many cases, longstanding informally organised churches simply rose to the level where they wanted to seek formal, legal recognition.]

Some of these younger churches . . .  were empowered . . . to counter the influence of liberation theology [--> NB: link to 1984 Vatical Encyclical added] with a traditional fundamentalist theology . . . .  many of the younger churches saw their fight/struggle with the older churches as saving the true church from 'a serious heresy/error' in which leaders were making too many concessions to the secular world and its godless ideology of socialism and the rationalising influences . . .  They unleashed the religious version of capitalism with its emphasis on rampant individualism, innovative worship and being prosperous at all cost. 

The phenomenal rise in charismatic and newer forms of evangelical churches saw some church leaders functioning like TV stars . . . Salvation became totally privatised. Christ came to change individuals without similar emphasis being invested in salvation of the community. [Jan 1st 2003, Gleaner. Later that year he was elected as Moderator of the United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman, and declared his intent to continue his anti-Fundamentalism efforts.]
The ideological divides, assumed intellectual and moral superiority of socialist thought and sub-text of contempt for Evangelicals are patent. Indeed -- shockingly -- Rev Hewitt here all but accuses Evangelicals, especially those of Charismatic bent, of betrayal of Jamaica verging on treason. That is shameful.

But, unfortunately, the underlying attitudes and perceptions have not gone away.

And indeed, the remarks about "individualism " in religion, and "privatised" salvation reek of an undue attachment to socialistic ideology presumed as the thinking man's view of the way society should be organised. (NB: While it is indeed a sad thing to see some Christian leaders falling prey to the lure of money and associated unbalanced preaching of prosperity, there is also a need to soberly address a wide range of serious economic problems and why some version of moderated free enterprise focussed economics has at length prevailed, even in nominally communist China, etc. The time to face that reality has long come -- the Iron curtain fell twenty and more years ago.)

Let me note on the spiritual side, as that is the most important:  it is the individual human being who is en-souled, and so it is only that individual person who can repent, be indwelt by the Spirit and thus be transformed from within.

As Paul put it:
Titus 2: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. [ESV]
And again:
 Rom 8: 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

 12 So then, brothers,  we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons  of God . . . 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. [ESV]
And yet again:
Eph 4: 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!- 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,  which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. [ESV]
Yes, indeed, the gospel and the Spirit who purifies and empowers, working though the regenerate can -- and should -- have great and positive impacts on the community across time, simply by living above the ways of sin and by being an influence for good a light on a hill in a too often endarkened world. But we must not fool ourselves: society is soul-less, an abstract entity. It only changes as the transformed live, think and speak from a new base, slowly transforming the consensus of the community. Where also, in a day where there has been deliberate polarisation against the gospel, that is hindered and hampered -- or even persecuted. Sadly, sometimes even from the pulpit.

By now, we have touched on a wide range of issues, so let us bring focus back to centre: 


So, to swallow the myth that in an unprecedented crisis, there has at last arisen a political saviour who will deliver us from our oppressors and lead us forth into utopia -- so we must blindly support him whatever he does and says, is sinful and destructive folly.

This holds for fascism, and for any other species of political utopianism out there.

Where also, it should be crystal clear to one and all that Hitler in particular was Antichrist, not Christian. Deceitful rhetoric at the time and attempts to smear Christians as Nazis today notwithstanding.

Let us have done with every form, variety and scheme of political messianism, repenting of it as acknowledged idolatry. END