Archive for May 2nd, 2007

Dedicated Followers of Fascism

So, yesterday I stood drooling and sweating over the glossy cover of The Disinherited, but with only 15 quid, some fluff and an unseemly bulge in my pocket (my mobile phone: mobiles look awful in Gap chinos. But then so do most things), I figured I needed some literary methadone.

Beside it was a buke I have mentioned previouser, American Fascists – The Christian Right And The War on America, by Chris Hedges.

I bought the book, but deep down, I don’t really want to hear all about how the Christian Right in America comprises no small number of fascists. I would much prefer it if did not. I have nothing in particular against altar-rail eaters, provided they keep their beliefs and practices to themselves. If someone wants to believe, among other things, that all dinosaurs were of a Barney-like disposition before Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, then that is too bad, but you can’t hold against someone the fact that they have crazed convictions. Furthermore, I have met quite a few Jesus freaks in my time, and not all of them were completely unhinged.

One of the points in Chris Hedges makes is that liberal attitudes such as those expressed in the previous paragraph simply will not do when it comes to these people, however buffoonish they may appear at first glance. These people are, in fact, out to do away with whatever is left of the prevailing secular liberal order in the United States, and install in its place a theocracy, where the law is God’s word, as interpreted for the multitudes by gay-hating, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, war-hungry fascists in thrall to a cult of masculinity. Dialogue with them is pointless, since their goal is to bring an end to all dialogue, and all critical thought. Those who fail to submit to God’s word will meet a gruesome end at the hands of Jesus, their avenging angel. Despite their support for Israel, one is inclined to think that the only difficulties these people would appear to have with the Nazi Holocaust are the facts that it took place in Europe instead of the state of Israel, and that it was commanded by Hitler instead of Jesus. They are gaining control, and a national crisis may bring them to power.

Despite the full-on title, Hedges is understated in his reporting. He lets his subjects speak for themselves, and has a fine eye for detailing both the hucksters and the despairing individuals who have submitted to this process of logicide. He is not content to focus solely on the ideas that these people have, but also casts an eye over the conditions that generate and incubate these ideas: a fragmented and despairing culture, a declining middle class, the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs and landscapes full of rusting plants it leaves in its wake, cuts in federal and state assistance, and so on. The result is a very scary book.

God take care of us all but the cat.

Here is an interview with the author:

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