Monday, June 4, 2007

Christo-Fascism and the Failure of Reason

I just finished reading Chris Hedges' American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America and have to admit that I'm scared shitless. Conservative Americans have been so thoroughly duped by the Bush war machine - and eased into the belief that anyone critical of the administration is un-patriotic and potentially dangerous - that they've effectively discarded any semblance of a rational thought process or decision-making ability. Toss in Chris Hedges' discussion of the ways in which Christian conservatives are slowly hijacking the political system and the language of reason, and one realizes that the United States is clearly building a nascent fascist state that will eventually rival Hitler's Germany if unchecked by more rational citizens. Heeding the lessons of history, realize that Hitler's opponents didn't take the Nazi threat seriously until it was too late for Germany. We are running that same risk.

Nevertheless, we live in an age in which the preconditions for fascism's success are pretty evident. The U.S. has large portions of its population that feel alienated by the rapidity of socio-economic change in the digital society. In addition, the country is marching through a period of obvious crisis, punctuated by war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as large-scale natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. If that weren't enough, realize that the amorphously defined idea of the American Dream, the benchmark of our society's notions of "success" for the last half-century, has become increasingly unattainable for many middle class citizens.

The Christian Right exploits these crises, these assaults on the national psyche, by scapegoating liberals, immigrants, Democrats, homosexuals, academics, Darwinists, supporters of the United Nations, and anyone else who doesn't subscribe unquestioningly to the right wing world view. Some of the most strident voices of the Christo-fascist right - for example, Pat Robertson - have even gone so far as to suggest that 9/11 and even Hurricane Katrina were god's punishments visited upon a sinful nation. Hold out the promise of salvation - and the concomitant violent retribution against one's enemies - to the disaffected masses, and the Christian Right has a ready-made base of supporters willing to surrender their liberties and reason.

Trying to learn more about this failure of "reason" in our society, I've just started reading Al Gore's new book, The Assault on Reason. It will be interesting to see how he addresses this grave problem. Gore is one of the few recent critics of the right wing willing to excoriate the Bush administration in the harshest terms possible. Frankly, I wish Gore would run in 2008. I've seen him in several interviews since he re-emerged with An Inconvenient Truth last year, and he really does possess a presidential mien, a gravitas, that wasn't evident in 2000. He's obviously matured, and having been a victim of the right wing's corruption, and witnessed its failed stewardship of the American state, seems more engaged with the "big picture" issues than in the past. According to some observers, a Gore/Obama ticket next year would resonate with voters distraught over the Bush administration's assault on the Constitution and our national reputation.

Unfortunately, it looks as if Gore will eschew the political arena and continue to serve as an outspoken figure in the initiative to alert the world on issues of global warming and impending climate change . . . certainly an admirable alternative to the dirtier milieu of politics . We can only hope that his effort to shed light on some of the Bush administration's abuses of power will have an impact on the Democratic candidates currently scrambling to secure their party's nomination in 2008.


One Wink at a Time said...

I've been afraid for a long time. Too many radicals, too many self-serving figures claiming otherwise, too many sheep, not enough accountability, no one asking the right questions or even questioning. One morning we'll wake up and everything will be unfixable and we'll all be scratching our heads. And it's getting closer every minute.
I'm sick of people laughing at Al Gore. It's that mentality that's made it necessary for Al to step up and take a stand on an issue we should have acted on decades ago.

Mark Jones said...

Great blog.