If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em
Perhaps the greatest historical archetype when we think about religious fanaticism and intolerance is the Spanish Inquisition, in particular the fearsome figure of Tomás de Torquemada, the first Grand Inquisitor.
The historical backdrop is that, in the wake of the Reconquista, centuries of back-and-forth conflict between Muslims and Christians, the Christians eventually regained control of all of Spain; the last Muslim stronghold, Granada fell in 1492. As Christianity gained the upper hand, many people who were formerly Muslims or Jews decided to become Christians. However, it was widely believed that many (most?) of these conversions were not sincere, but rather, made for reasons of expediency.
Now, when you look at this problem in a more general way, it is hardly unique to 15th century Spain. If a religion is established as the dominant religion and it is understood that there are great practical advantages to belonging to it, surely you’re going to have a lot of insincere conversions. I have no idea who originated the English saying “If you can’t beat them, join them”, but the concept has been well understood for a long, long time. Thus, it stands to reason that, had things turned out differently, with a Muslim victory, many Christians would have converted to Islam, and in that case, by and large, those conversions would have been about as sincere as the ones that actually did happen in the other direction.
Moreover, the basic principle operating here does not apply solely to religious affiliation, but to any ideology or set of dogmas that becomes dominant. So we can safely reason that not everybody who was a member of the communist party in the Soviet Union really believed in the communist ideology. Granted, you had your true believers, the real fanatics, but also plenty of people who proclaimed their belief and joined the Party because it was the expedient thing to do.
A True Believer?
Here is a fascinating video snippet from a talk given by the award-winning journalist Jeremy Scahill. In the Q&A session, Scahill is asked a question about 9/11 Truth.
This video snippet is only a minute long, but it is such a bizarre piece of doubletalk (or even triple-talk) that I think it is worth examining in detail. It is simply fascinating to see all the mental gymnastics that Scahill goes through in less than a minute.
Scahill begins by simply affirming his faith in the official story. Listen to him. He really sounds like somebody reciting scripture. He says: “I believe that the United States was attacked on 9/11 by Al Qaeda by men flying airplanes into buildings…” (DEEP STRUCTURE TRANSLATION: “I am not a heretic.” I believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost…)
Note that Scahill does not, at any point, make the slightest attempt to explain why he believes any of this. He simply says: “I believe…”. If his answer had simply ended right there, with him saying “I believe Al Qaeda did it”, then anybody could interpret this as a perfunctory response, where he says what he knows that he has to say in this spot, but without any real conviction.
But his response does not end there. He then goes on to represent that he is familiar with the 9/11 Truth literature, specifically mentioning the Loose Change documentary and the name of David Ray Griffin. I guess what happened here is that he senses that if he just states belief in the official story and nothing more, he comes off as a brainwashed fool, just reciting dogma, so he feels he must say that he has at least considered the other viewpoint. So, at the 0:20 mark, you would think that his position is that he respects the 9/11 Truth researchers, yet he has finally decided (though he won’t say why, but presumably has researched it) that he believes the official story.
But his response does not end there either. Around 0:22 there is an incredible shift in his entire register, the kind of vocabulary he starts using. He says: “I think it is so destructive to what is intended to be an honest dialogue in this country about U.S. policy. I don’t buy it for one minute and I think it’s insulting to the people who died.”
Note the language he suddenly starts using: destructive, honest dialogue, insulting… I believe what happened at around 0:20 is that it dawns on him (either on the conscious or subconscious level, I don’t know) that he must make a point of forcefully denouncing the so-called “truthers”. Because this is what expected of him. So now he completely shifts register, using this kind of language: they are not engaging in “honest dialogue”, they are “insulting” the people who died. When one hears the word “destructive” it kind of makes one wonder what precisely the independent 9/11 researchers are destroying. (He obviously doesn’t mean they destroyed any buildings! That, he has already said, was Al Qaeda!)
But, then, after saying this sentence, I guess he realizes that he just insulted the person who asked him the question (and probably some significant part of the audience as well) and, my sense is that Scahill is the kind of person who wants to come off as a nice guy, to be liked, so he tries to backtrack a little and says: “if you are of that viewpoint, that is your right“. If you’re a truther (and obviously the person who asked him the question is!) then… hey, that’s okay too! But in the previous sentence, he said that they were “insulting” the people who died on 9/11!? Oh, really? But that’s okay, you have the “right”… You guys are doing the equivalent of desecrating a cemetery, but… you have the “right” to do that…
So, in summary, what we have here, compressed into under a minute is the most bizarre mental gymnastics and contortions. He asserts his belief in the official story but, initially, wants to represent that he respects the people who don’t. Then, in the very next breath, he says that the people who dispute the official story are being destructive, dishonest, and insulting. (Not just being insulting, mind you, but insulting the dead, which is, I guess, doubleplusungood because the dead can’t insult you back!) But then it’s all okay… you have the “right” to do that… I’m OK, you’re OK….
One thing that occurs to me about all of this is that, surely this is somehow very typical of the modern age we live in. Just try to imagine Torquemada going through all these contortions: “Oh, you ask me about heresy… well, I myself believe in the Church Dogma…. BUT…. those heretics are good guys and I respect them… OH, BUT… they are committing blasphemy (and deserve to die)… OH, BUT… hey, they have the right to do that, I’m a tolerant guy, after all….” All of that in the same minute, and then, of course, proceeding to burn them at the stake anyway. I wasn’t there, but I just can’t imagine Torquemada being so incoherent, well… such a flake. I get the feeling that, in a way, the Spanish Inquisition was much more honest and forthright than modern-day intellectual gatekeepers.
For purposes of contrast, I wanted to compare a similar video clip of Torquemada, but for some reason, I could not find any. So this will have to do:
Well, you see, Scahill has a problem that somebody like Torquemada would not have. Like Torquemada, he must vigorously condemn the heretics: they are unbelievers, they are unworthy, they stink and they make me wanna puke…. But then he also has this competing modern-day ethos of rational thought and open-mindedness and reasonableness and just general I’m OK, you’re OK-ness. So he is whipsawed by these contrary forces and it’s just sort of excruciating. Torquemada would not have that problem. He doesn’t have to pretend to be rational and reasonable and all that. He also probably doesn’t particularly care whether he comes across as a nice guy. In fact, he probably revels in the fact that (unlike Scahill) he is one scary dude and people are (quite justifiably) terrified of him.
Now, cutting to the chase, if you will… does Scahill really buy the official version of what happened on 9/11? Hmm… Damned if I know. It’s the same general problem as I outlined above, isn’t it? In 15th century Spain, there were very strong reasons to suspect that many declarations of Christian faith were not being made sincerely, but how could one ever tell for sure?
If Scahill were to come out as a “Truther”, he would essentially become a non-person as far as the mainstream media goes. Once he was tarred as a
heretic conspiracy theorist, he would be effectively excommunicated banned. No more television appearances certainly, and he would be subjected to a whole campaign of attacks, with people saying that he had lost his mind and become a “conspiracy theorist”. They wouldn’t burn Jeremy at the stake, I suppose, but they would effectively excommunicate him. His charmed existence would largely come to an end and life would definitely become quite a bit more difficult for Jeremy.
Well, I would venture to say that, at the very least, he is far less certain of the Al Qaeda story than he is representing. What somebody in that position understands is that he simply must express his firm belief in the official story.
Modern-day Religious Intolerance
While the Spanish Inquisition stands out in our collective consciousness as a horrific example of religious intolerance, it did happen a good while ago. It doesn’t have all that much to do with what is going on now. Let me now share an anecdote that is far more typical of modern Spanish society than Torquemada or the Inquisition.
My friend R is a Spaniard in his early forties, who, in his youth was very religious and was active in conservative Catholic circles, Opus Dei and such. He later drifted away from that world, mostly because he lost his faith in the religion — just doesn’t believe in it any more. Nonetheless, R’s political and social views remain on the conservative end of the spectrum.
R recounted to me an incident that occurred with his sister, a conversation in which R stated his opposition to same-sex marriage. His sister became infuriated at him and insulted him, her own brother, calling him the F word (fascist) and such. R told me the story and shook his head in amazement, thinking of how utterly brainwashed his own sister was. And he added wistfully: “You know, on occasion, I run into the people that I knew back in my religious phase. They always greet me warmly and ask how I’m doing. They don’t preach at me. No one has ever reproached me for not going to the church in years. As far as they’re concerned that’s my own personal choice…”
I suppose this anecdote made an impression on me because it reinforced a view that had been forming in my own mind for some time. I have become increasingly aware that, in the modern-day world, most of the intolerance and fanaticism emanates from secular ideologies, not from religion. The anecdote of R and his sister is not at all atypical. Consider, for example, this 2014 article from the American Conservative.
“… a woman named Chauncy Childs is planning to open a premium food store, a place where she can sell locally-raised and grown fresh meat and vegetables, including the non-GMO food she grows on her farm. But the people in the progressive neighborhood where she’s planning to open read her Facebook page, and found that she does not support same-sex marriage, and was kind of ugly about it.”
This incident did not occur in Spain, but rather, in the U.S.A., in Portland, Oregon. The local “progressives”, on discovering that Ms. Childs’s Facebook page expressed disapproval of same-sex marriage, decided to try to organize a boycott of her organic produce business. It’s understandable, I suppose. People must be warned that they could be buying their tomatoes from somebody who thinks that marriage is between a man and a woman! The horror… the horror…
What I wonder about all of this is what happens if Ms. Childs now completely reverses her position and announces her support of gay marriage on her Facebook page? Would this solve the problem? Would the Portland progressives now relent, or would they, like Torquemada, harbor (well-founded) doubts that this woman’s “conversion” is sincere? But then, even if, by some incredible chance, she is sincere, how would she go about demonstrating it to these latter day Inquisitors?
Thinking about ARRF, Anti-Religious Religious Fanaticism
For a good while, I was looking for a term to describe these sorts of incidents involving secular, anti-religious fanaticism. It eventually dawned on me that there was no absolute need for any new terminology. These two above examples, R’s hysterical SJW sister or the secular fanatics in Portland, this can simply be called religious intolerance.
You see, finally it occurs to me that the secular, progressive set of ideas that this emerges from is best thought of as a religion. Well, I guess we could call it the anti-religion religion. (ARR?) This leads to the notion of Anti-Religious Religious Fanaticism, or ARRF for short. I know it sounds contradictory, but maybe it isn’t really. Apparently, figuring out that zero is a number was a big intellectual advance. At least it seems necessary for logical completeness, just like the notion that the empty (or null) set is itself a set. It also occurs to me that, in everyday usage, we invariably refer to black as a color, even though all the science websites say that black is not a color, but the absence thereof. Just consider the following dialogue that recurs constantly in retail outlets the world over:
What color would you like that in, sir?
Surely, sir, you realize that black is not a color, but is the absence of color…
Uhh, yeah, thanks for telling me that and, uhh… go **** yourself, you pedantic ****.
Well, actually, I don’t think that happens much. In fact, I just made that up. But regardless, finally, it seems to me that if black, the absence of color, is itself a color, and zero is a number and the null set is a set, then atheism (especially when accompanied by all the various secular progressive dogmas) can perfectly well be thought of as a religion.
The important conceptual jump here is that, once you realize that secular progressivism is itself a religion (of sorts) then it becomes all the more obvious that adherents of that “religion” can be as fanatical and intolerant as old Torquemada ever was. They can mount their latter-day Inquisitions and witch hunts and excommunicate people and all the rest of it. And they will do this, all the while claiming that the people they are persecuting are victimizing them! Militant atheists, like Richard Dawkins, will go on and on about “religious intolerance”, as something that they themselves cannot possibly be guilty of. Another way of putting this is that they remain blithely unaware of the existence of Anti-Religious Religious Fanaticism i.e. ARRF.
I assume that Dawkins and the other “New Atheists” would scoff at the very notion of ARRF. For them, religious fanaticism is something that other people are guilty of, never them. I suppose that they would see ARRF as an inherently contradictory, senseless term. However, this could well be the biggest single weakness in their world view. My own sense of things is not only that ARRF definitely exists, but in fact, most of the current-day religious intolerance and fanaticism actually comes from the secular camp! If you don’t believe that, then maybe you need to open your eyes. Some further examples are in order.
La Terre de la Liberté
This phenomenon we’re discussing here is not specific to any one country. It is strongly present throughout the Western world, though perhaps to varying degrees. Still, it really seems that France is the country where things are at their most intense. At least, to my knowledge, France is the only country that has issued fines to women for NOT showing enough skin on the beach! Consider this article about the banning of the so-called “burkini” in 30 different beach towns in France. There are various striking aspects of this whole story.
First of all, women exposing themselves as much as they do nowadays on the beach (or anywhere public) is really quite a recent phenomenon in Western society. Just consider what comes up in a Google Image search for Victorian women’s swimwear. It is pretty clear that the current-day Muslim women wearing “burkinis” would have fit in perfectly well in the Victorian beach scene. However, any woman wearing typical modern beachwear back then would surely have been arrested for indecent exposure!
There is the famous quip that when a dog bites a man, that is not news. But when the man bites the dog…. By the same token, the whole notion that women covering themselves too much (as opposed to too little) is an offense to public morals — this is already so bizarre that the phenomenon is begging for some serious analysis and explanation. Moreover, we are not talking about an isolated incident that occurs in one small place with a goofball mayor. No, we are talking about 30 different municipalities in France!
Since it seems to me that, in a free country, which France prides itself on being, you can wear a full body swimming outfit if you want, I was curious how they justified this burkini ban. I found a segment on the English language programming on France 24 entitled “Understanding the Burkini Ban” which actually seems to outline what is going on in a fair-minded manner. Around 0:40 of the video, the commentator, one Florence Villeminot, states that the various mayors have cited a wide range of reasons. She starts by mentioning some that are patently absurd, such as hygiene. Also, “security reasons” — the Muslim ladies could be hiding a John Rambo (Jean Rimbaud?) arsenal under the swimsuit maybe… But then Ms. Villeminot gets, I think, to the heart of the matter: when Muslim women wear this “burkini” swimsuit that exposes so little skin, this is considered a “symbol of religious extremism” and thus, constitutes an attack on France’s sacred principle of “laïcité”.
Any online French-English dictionary will tell you that the English word for “laïcité” is “secularism”, which is a rather intellectual word in English. I suppose most American readers would immediately think of the more long-winded formulation, “Separation of Church and State”, which is, of course, a founding principle of American government. Now, the intellectual origins of these things are broadly the same, since the American founding fathers, the framers of the Constitution, were influenced by French intellectuals of that time; in general, there has always been a cross-fertilization of ideas. However, it really seems that, at this point in time, the French concept of “laïcité” goes much further than its American counterpart, and has evolved into something quite a bit more radical and aggressive. I guess one way of characterizing this could be that it is the establishment of ARRF as a sort of official state religion.
In his sketch “La Gay Pride”, we see the controversial comedian Dieudonné viciously lampooning this French laïcité — in other words, making fun of ARRF.
In this sketch, five years before the “burkini” controversy, Dieudo is having a field day with the absurdities of modern France. The sketch is hardly even satirical, because it seems that the situation he describes is real and is beyond satire. A bunch of homosexuals can mount an orgy on the streets of Paris and this is a sign of France’s modernity and tolerance, but religious Moslems praying in the street must be violently dispersed by the police because, like the Muslim ladies dressing modestly at the beach, it is an attack on the reigning “religion” of laïcité.
Ah, the Smell of Boiling Frogs in the Morning
For some reason, all this talk of the goings-on in France reminds me of the boiling frog story. You know, they say that if you drop a frog into scalding hot water, it will immediately jump out, but if you put the frog in tepid water and very gradually raise the temperature, it will never notice anything amiss and gradually be boiled alive.
Actually, there seems to be some dispute over this and I’m not sure it’s really true. It might be something like the English idiom that if pigs had wings they could fly, which, as I’ve said earlier, I’m pretty sure is untrue. Well, never mind, people have been saying that for centuries without too much concern for whether it is true or not. I guess that’s the way it is with these sorts of metaphors. The point of the boiling frog story, of course, is that if change occurs gradually, people can remain surprisingly unaware of just how extreme the situation has become. And that point is certainly valid, and not just when it comes to all these various social derangements. Most Americans, for example, seem oblivious to just how unhinged their country’s foreign policy has become.
There is a certain kind of horror film genre, usually featuring some sort of psychopath killer. In such films, there is typically some key moment in which one realizes just how serious the situation really is. For example, in the Kubrick masterpiece, the Shining, you have Jack Nicholson endlessly typing “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” In the following classic movie clip, we see how the horror of the situation dawns on his wife (as well as the movie audience) when she realizes that her husband is a total whack job.
I guess we could call this the “All work and no play moment” or the AWANP Moment or AWANPM for short. Some Americans may reach this point when they are watching CNN or Fox News and some expert on military affairs says that they had to destroy the village in order to save it — or, if not exactly that, something of that nature. They can think, like Jack Nicholson’s wife in the Shining: “Oh my God, this person is a complete psychopath!”
Or it might be something like this:
Here we see a person who came very close to becoming President of the United States, cackling like the evil Witch of the West about the death of a man. Surely this does cause some people to have an AWANPM, as in: “Oh my God. This woman really is an evil maniac!” By the same token, for many French people, it must be an AWANP moment when they see local police in some beach town issuing fines to women because they are not showing enough skin! Still, what is striking is how most people do not have an AWANPM when, by all rights, they should. The aforementioned boiling frog metaphor does offer one ready-made explanation.
Just to be absolutely clear, the boiling frogs story does refer to the actual animals, not the people in France. Facile jokes aside, this is not about the French specifically. While France does seem to be on the cutting edge of certain kinds of insanity, the rest of the Western world is not far behind, and in some regards, other places may actually be out in front. The U.S.A., despite what the super-patriots believe, is not always number 1 in everything — but we usually are strong contenders at least. So if France has its burkini controversy, the U.S.A. has the great transgender bathroom battle. Everybody does their best. Even little Austria has gifted the world with the sensational superstar Conchita Wurst…
So all this derangement is not specific to France or any other country. The politically correct bullshit permeates current-day Western society as a whole. It so happens that I am composing these lines in Spain. While it would obviously be untrue to say that the Catholic Church here has ceased to exist, it makes little sense to refer to current-day Spain as a “Catholic country”. Nor, in general, does it make sense to refer to any other Western countries as “Christian countries”. No, the “religion” that dominates public discourse — the mainstream media, television, movies, higher education… — is clearly secular progressivism. I am satisfied that, by any conceivable metric, the dominant religion in Spain is not Roman Catholicism, but what I call here ARRF. And that, broadly, is the situation in the Christian (or formerly Christian) West.
“Let them eat ARRF.”
Now, at this stage of the exposition, I feel I have to make a general point, which is this: just because I am writing about a phenomenon, even inventing a term for it (ARRF) does not mean that I presume to understand it fully. For example, in an earlier essay, I defined the term “High IQ Idiot”, or HIQI. I described the phenomenon and tried to provide some framework of analysis, but I certainly do not claim to fully understand why so many high IQ, highly educated people are so helpless against the propaganda matrix and all of its cartoonish, synthetic narratives. Similarly, I have often wondered how many people really believe — I mean strongly believe — in the various politically correct, ARRF propositions, like same-sex marriage. For example, I have heard the claim that support for gay marriage is now the majority viewpoint, but I don’t know whether to believe that. If one’s source of information on something like that is the mainstream media, that is problematic, given the MSM’s pro-ARRF bias.
I don’t think it is easy to know. You see, a lot of people will proclaim (even loudly) their belief in all sorts of dogmas when they feel it is in their interest to do so, that this is what is expected of them. That is true now just as it was in Medieval Spain or Soviet Russia. That is one way that elites can become pretty disconnected from reality. Surely a lot of rich, powerful people believe themselves to be very witty and funny because everybody always laughs at all of their jokes. They would believe it because they want to believe it and also because nobody ever tells them that they suck.
I’m writing this not long after the 2016 presidential election, and like so many others, I am still trying to absorb the news, make sense of Trump’s win. I have to admit that I had long assumed that a Hillary Clinton presidency was inevitable. That’s what the mainstream media was telling us and I believed them, silly me. So, yeah, they had me conned, but that is of little importance, of course. More importantly, they had themselves conned! Basically, Hillary and the people running her campaign must have believed that they would have an easy victory if they configured the contest as a sort of ARRF referendum. I guess this is because the whole ARRF narrative is so dominant in the mainstream media that it was kind of an echo chamber and they were there believing their own bullshit. Well, Marie Antoinette allegedly said: “Let them eat cake.” That showed how out of touch she was, but that’s already a lot more realistic than “Let them eat feminism and gay rights.”
Hillary’s entire campaign message was very much a sort of progressive, ARRF narrative — that she, Hillary Clinton was going to fulfill historical destiny by becoming the first woman president. Actually, I guess it was part of a larger, triumphant ARRF narrative. She was the logical progression from Obama, the first black president. Not that the order was necessarily that important, I suppose. Had Hillary prevailed in 2008, then they would have had Obama waiting in the wings this time round. I also reasoned that, after Hillary was done and we’d had a black and a woman, we were going to have an openly gay president after that. I felt it was, as the Muslims say: Maktub. (It is written.) Or as the Borg say: “Resistance is futile.” Whatever. It was divine destiny, the next inevitable chapter in the world according to ARRF. Okay, it wasn’t so inevitable after all, but that is how they were trying to present it, and they certainly had me fooled.
Actually, it almost worked! Trump’s margin of victory was really razor thin. I mean, when you lose the popular vote but then eke out a win in the electoral college, that is something very close. If Hillary had got an extra 1% in Florida and Pennsylvania, she would have made it. Trump won by a hair really, but it wasn’t supposed to be close at all. Hillary was supposed to win in a landslide.
When Hillary referred to the core of Trump’s support as coming from a “basket of deplorables”, the deeper meaning was that these people were heretics or infidels, blasphemers against whatever sacred ARRF dogma — a motley crew of racists, sexists, homophobes… the “alt-Right”… All these infidels were standing in the way of progress. (Well, her progress, anyway…)
“YES, THEY DESERVE TO DIE! AND I HOPE THEY ALL BURN IN HELL!!!”
“OH, SHUT UP, HILLARY!”
(Don’t mind her, she’ll get over it…)
Not only was Hillary’s candidacy an ARRF candidacy, Trump was very much the anti-ARRF candidate. Time and again, the mainstream media claimed that Trump was committing political suicide by saying whatever politically incorrect thing he said and, in retrospect, it only seemed to make him stronger. But this can be understood. If much of Trump’s appeal was that he was the anti-ARRF candidate, then he was hardly hurting himself by being politically incorrect! (It’s not a bug! It’s a feature!)
So Trump’s victory was, to a large extent anyway, a triumph of anti-ARRF heresy. That is my own way of expressing it, other people will doubtless express the same approximate idea using other terminology. Regardless of the exact language one uses, this paradigm can help explain why there is such a diverse group of people, not just in the U.S.A., but around the world, who take such delight in Trump’s win. Within 24 hours of Trump’s victory, a visibly elated Dieudonné put up a video congratulating Trump. Unlike the previous Dieudo video I linked, this one does not have English subtitles, but I would still invite people to watch the first half minute or so just for the tone and body language.
At 0:19, he says: “Quelle bouffée d’oxygène!” What a mouthful of oxygen! Of course, in English we would say “a breath of fresh air”. (Actually, Dieudo said: “Quelle bouffée d’oxygène, putain de merde!”. But I won’t translate the latter part.) A breath of fresh air, just an expression, but if you think about it a bit, if the victory of Trump, the anti-ARRF candidate is a breath of fresh air, that means that the ARRF candidate, or ARRF itself, is the opposite of that, i.e. there is something suffocating about ARRF. And isn’t there? Isn’t political correctness terribly mentally oppressive? “You can’t say this, you can’t say that…” So when Trump did say this and did say that and won anyway, for many people, there was something very liberating about that.
I think it’s safe to say that, for the most part, people are far happier about Clinton’s defeat than Trump’s victory. The practical consequences of a President Trump remain to be seen. For many people it is more about the symbolism of the event. In the terminology of this essay, they could proclaim:
“Hillary represents ARRF and ARRF makes me wanna barf.”
Speaking of the Unspeakable
It has been said (though I honestly don’t know who said it first) that if you could ask a fish to describe its environment, the last thing it would ever mention is water. That might explain why I ended up inventing a new term for something that so pervades Western culture. It is so pervasive that, for the most part, people are unaware of it and thus, there is not even a generally accepted word for it. In an earlier essay, I pointed out how propagandists use language to frame issues. Well, we can (and should) play at that too. The initial point of the ARRF (Anti-Religious Religious Fanaticism) framing is to emphasize that this set of secular dogmas really is like a religion in very many ways — an especially fanatical, messianic religion at that! For the true believer, if you don’t believe in all the various PC dogmas — radical feminism, gay rights, multiculturalism and so forth — you are a vile and unworthy person. However, you won’t be called an “infidel” or a “heretic”, but rather, a sexist, a racist, or a homophobe. Interestingly, you could also be called a nazi or a fascist. If you step back and look at it, these last two are strangely anachronistic insults well into the 21st century. However, I would say that, once you better understand ARRF, it is not so strange after all. You see, it reflects another key facet of ARRF: aside from the PC side, with its bizarre questioning of traditional gender identities and all that, there is this indefinite extension of the very one-sided Manichean version of World War 2 and its origins, a.k.a. the “Good War” myth. It is probably in this aspect that ARRF is most like classic religious fanaticism. Of course, PC is a preachy evangelical religion for sure, but nothing in the modern Western world more resembles a Medieval Inquisition or heresy trial than the various Holocaust denial trials.
The other reason to define a new term myself is that I can play at Humpty Dumpty: “A word means what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.” What I am talking about when I say ARRF is really the dominant ideology or belief system of the AngloZionist West. I owe the term “AngloZionist” or “AngloZionist Empire” to the estimable Saker, who has, not surprisingly, been heavily criticized for this term. Typically, the critics object to the “Zionist” part more than the “Anglo” part. I think it’s unavoidable, since the out-sized role of Jewish intellectuals and Jewish ethnic networks in creating this whole ball of wax really cannot be denied — to the extent that any analysis that avoids mentioning this will not be worth very much. On consideration, if we are to discuss ARRF, then we cannot respect all the taboos that ARRF itself imposes when doing so!
This development of the ARRF concept is really a continuation of my previous writing. In the first essay I wrote, I introduced terms such as BDQ (Bullshit Detection Quotient) and the concept of the HIQI, the High IQ Idiot. Stepping back and looking at all of this, these concepts all revolve around a key question that has been tormenting me ever since I started to get a bit educated about the world. This is a question that many like-minded readers will doubtless have pondered as well. It is the following:
Why is everybody (or just about everybody) so damned brainfucked?
To be clear, the above question does not refer to uneducated people, of the sort who never read anything serious and would be hard-pressed to find their own country on a world map. I’m not talking about people who, through no fault of their own, are way on the left side of the old Bell curve. No, I’m referring to people who have some claim to belonging to the intellectual elite of society, who typically have a high level of formal education. In short, it’s about the HIQIs. Or, in other words, why is it that, almost invariably, if you try to talk to any of these people, these HIQIs, about world events or such, you quickly feel like you would be better off banging your head against a wall?
Well, I’m going to take an initial stab at answering this question. The short answer to the above question, in the terminology of this essay, is as follows:
The reason they are all so brainfucked is because their heads are crammed full of ARRF.
Now, I recognize that, at first blush, the above might seem a tad facetious. To say that people are full of shit because their heads are full of shit, though trivially true, does not really constitute a framework of analysis. I realize that. (A bit on the jejune side, eh?) Well, I guess it is good enough if all you want to do is rant and vent your frustrations, but I am trying to get beyond that and narrow in on some things that are conceptually useful. In the essay where I introduced the HIQI terminology, I admitted that I myself was a HIQI most of my life. In the terminology of this essay, my head was chock full of ARRF.
This, at least tentatively, provides a basic explanation of the HIQI phenomenon. It doesn’t matter how high your IQ happens to be if your head is full of ARRF. What this amounts to is having all these synthetic narratives floating around that render it impossible to think clearly about anything. What ARRF does is that it frames just about every major issue in a very deceptive, fallacious way. This is a very ambitious topic to take on and it can only be done here in a very general way. A thorough treatment would require a book-length exposition or more likely various books. Having expressed that caveat, here goes…
I sent earlier drafts of this essay to various people whose opinion I respect. I got various different reactions, useful feedback, but nobody ever questioned the basic concept of ARRF. Everybody seemed to know exactly what I was talking about! In fact, at least a couple of them, in later correspondence with me, started using the term themselves! I conclude from this, that unless we are all suffering from the same delusion, ARRF definitely exists — this kind of secular religion that pervades the Western countries. However, this religion has no official name and no official catechism.
Suppose you met a nice Jewish girl and things get serious but the young lady insists that, if you are to get married, you must convert to Judaism. Now, even if you only have the most vague idea of what this would entail, there are surely plenty of resources out there, books and websites and the rest, that explain it — the various rules and rituals, religious dogmas that you are supposed to believe in (or pretend to believe in) and all that jazz. Of course, that is not just the case for Judaism. The same comment applies to any well established religion — Roman Catholicism, Sunni Islam, Tibetan Buddhism… you name it. Granted, as always, there is nuance, complexity: within any one of those religious traditions, there are surely different currents and subcurrents and doubtless there is lively theological debate. However, the main strands of belief are pretty well established such that a curious person could figure out what they are. Moreover, one could say much the same thing about a secular “religion” such as Marxism-Leninism.
Now, I would submit that ARRF, like these other religions, also has its main dogmas and such, except that they are not officially outlined anywhere. So, however presumptuous it may be on my part, I shall take it on myself to sketch it out. As I perceive it now, the Western secular religion of ARRF contains four principal doctrinal strands. Here is a convenient shorthand for them: DM, PC, CT, and GW.
- DM. The Democracy Myth. This is surely the central ARRF sacred narrative, this notion that government in the U.S.A. and other Western countries emerges from the will of the ordinary people — you know, via the fact that, every four years or so, you get to go into a polling booth and vote for one grinning idiot or another one. There is really no more reason to believe in this than in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.
- PC. Alternatively: the Social Justice Narrative -— feminism, multiculturalism, gay rights and all that jazz…
- CT. The weaponized Conspiracy Theory construct. I have written extensively about this over the last year. One could alternatively call it the New York Times Cult. A traditional religious person believes something because it is in the Bible. The HIQI, a.k.a. the true believer in ARRF, believes something because it is in the New York Times. Or possibly the Guardian or the BBC — whatever mainstream media venue. In practice, the term “conspiracy theory”, like “democracy”, is close to meaningless. Basically, it’s just a new way of saying “heresy”.
- GW. The Good War synthetic narrative. Alternatively, we could call this the RRN (Roger Rabbit Narrative) version of WW2. Essentially, the war is presented as a kind of supreme moral battle between the forces of good and the forces of pure evil. The biggest single subcomponent of this is the Auschwitz death cult, a.k.a. “Holocaustianity”.
I am painfully aware that each of the above is, on its own, a HUGE topic. Entire books could be written on each of the above, yet I can really only devote a bit of explanation to each one, which is what I shall do here.
I guess the most basic aspect of this to understand is that, while ARRF is obviously a godless religion, the closest thing that it has to a God is, in fact, this “Democracy” construct. In the formerly Christian (now ARRF) Western countries, you can question the existence of God all you want, but if you suggest that “Democracy” does not really exist, you will make people quite uncomfortable. If you don’t believe it, just try it in the appropriate social context. Go to any watering hole where the local HIQIs congregate, and tell them that “Democracy” is bullshit, a myth. See how upset they get at you. (Tell them that God and Jesus Christ are bullshit, and they’ll probably pat you on the back and buy you a drink…)
Note also that the missionary work devoted to proselytizing ARRF is typically called something like “promoting Democracy” or some other phrase with the magic word Democracy in it. Though not necessarily… they might call this “spreading Western values”, but if you were then to ask them: “What Western values?” then what will they answer?
(If you guessed that one right, award yourself a biscuit…)
The overall ARRF missionary effort is utterly massive, surely dwarfing the missionary efforts of any traditional organized religion in scale and the resources available to it. Just offhand, there is NED, the National Endowment for Democracy, but there is a whole network of foundations and NGO’s, where, if you examine what they are about, it could be best described as ARRF missionary work. The overall George Soros financed ARRF missionary effort is called OSF, the Open Society Foundation. By the way, if you were to ask people to summarize what the heck “Open Society” means, then what will they answer?
(I know you guessed that one right too. Have another biscuit…)
Consider the following video snippet, in which Victoria Nuland, one of the leading witches from Hillary Clinton’s coven, explains U.S. policy in Ukraine leading up to the 2014 putsch.
“Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic participation and good governance, all of which are preconditions for Ukraine to achieve its European aspirations. We’ve invested over 5 billion (!) dollars to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will insure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.”
It should not be a very difficult exercise to translate the above. All of the money spent “promoting democracy” means, of course, a massive proselytization effort to fill people’s heads with ARRF. The term “precondition” is interesting to consider. Filling people’s heads with ARRF, particularly the young people , is understood to be a precondition for orchestrating a successful CIA Color Revolution. The stuff about “good governance” is just gratuitous Orwellian language, as far as I can tell. I suppose it’s kind of a little cynical wink from this Satanic bitch. (That, or stealing everything that is not nailed down constitutes “good governance”.)
My initial rough translation of Ms. Nuland’s remarks are as follows: “We spent 5 billion dollars filling people’s heads with ARRF, so that they would be so brainfucked that they would be eager to become an impoverished vassal State of the AngloZionist Empire.” The latter is what “achieving its European aspirations” means, of course.
So, in Ukraine in the past few years, we see the results of the ARRF missionary efforts. Well, the Russians see the results too and their response is not really so hard to understand. They are a proud people who wish to maintain their independence. It is a dual response basically: on the one hand, they are reinforcing their traditional religious culture of Orthodox Christianity. They surely reason that people who practice their traditional religious culture are far less susceptible to having their heads filled with ARRF. Also, they take the rational, common-sense step of kicking the George Soros outfit and the rest of the ARRF missionary NGO’s out of their country. And, naturally, they ban some of the more obnoxious (at least from their point of view) ARRF manifestations, such as Gay Pride parades.
Again, this is a very big topic. I believe that, to embark on a detailed analysis (which I will not do right here) requires one to break it down into two sub-topics. On the one hand, there is the role of the whole PC narrative in the core ARRF countries, i.e. North America and Western Europe. Then, on the other hand, you have the instrumentalization of the PC ideology in foreign policy, i.e. the proselytization of ARRF in the formerly communist countries, or in the Islamic world, for example.
I suppose that most people will have noticed how the Western propaganda matrix utilizes the overall PC narrative to demonize foreign governments and leaders. For example, that Vladimir Putin does not want a bunch of flaming pansies prancing around Red Square in a “Gay Pride” parade is used to show what an evil dude Vlad is. One interesting aspect of this is that it is pretty clear that the Russian people, by and large, don’t want this, so the government banning such things reflects the popular will, i.e. by basic definition, is “democratic”. Or, conversely, if Putin bowed to pressure from Western backed PC lobbies and allowed gay pride parades, when the vast majority of the Russian people don’t want that, this would, by any common-sense definition be “anti-democratic”, no?
Well, one way of looking at this is that ARRF is a religion and it is typical of religions that different doctrinal strands can contradict one another. Things written in one part of the Bible can certainly contradict something in some other part. And, in general, I would never claim that hypocrisy is exclusive to ARRF. However, at times ARRF really does seem to take hypocrisy to an entirely new level. The central sacred narrative in ARRF is democracy, after all. So how does ARRF deal with the fact that the leader they are demonizing (the new Hitler, bringing in the GW sub-narrative) wins election after election?
Well, they simply ignore it, of course. They repeatedly refer to somebody like Hugo Chavez or Putin as a dictator, even though these leaders came to power in fair elections and are far more popular in their own countries than any Western leader is. The thing to understand, of course, is that in ARRF-speak, the word “democratic” does not realiy mean anything. Or really, it means, pro-Western, i.e. pro-AngloZionist, or pro-ARRF. It does not, however, mean governance that reflects the popular will — unless that popular will coincides with what the Western power elite wants.
I’ve already written extensively about the CT construct. Of course, it is a very deceptive use of language because being a “conspiracy theorist” really has nothing to do with constructing any theory oneself. It just means that you disbelieve the official Western propaganda matrix version of events. Thus, the little boy in the Emperor’s New Clothes story, when he saw a naked man and said that he was not wearing any clothes, was, in modern-day language, a “conspiracy theorist”.
In terms of the framing being used here, the notion of ARRF as a religion, the “conspiracy theory” construct is simply a relabeling of what traditional religions call “heresy”. Thus, when you read any ARRF rant about “conspiracy theorists”, if you simply mentally substitute the older term “heretic”, it will be more readily comprehensible. This is broadly similar to the idea that if, when you read things like “promoting democracy” or “instilling Western values”, you substitute in “filling people’s heads with ARRF”, then the real meaning of the text will again be more readily understandable.
In the time since I first started writing about this topic, they have put out a new framing: fake news. That whole thing leaves me speechless; it is astoundingly brazen. The basic idea is that the Russian government (or any other non-MSM approved) version of events in Syria, say, is propaganda, i.e. fake news. The U.S. government and mainstream media version of events is not propaganda; that’s the real news.
They are basically saying: “When they fart, it stinks, but ours smells like apple pie.” I know that’s vulgar, but I am satisfied that it is a fair and accurate characterization: Russian government propaganda is propaganda, but U.S. government propaganda is simply the truth. The whole thing is such an outrageously shameless and self-serving sort of idea, such an insult to anybody’s intelligence, that one would think there will be a backlash because now they’ve really gone too far. (Or have they? How utterly brainfucked are people? This is a moment of truth, no?)
It is truly breathtaking, since it’s so blatant that there is not even any sort of deception to deconstruct. All the pretenses are tossed aside and it’s: Our version of events is simply the truth. Why? Because we say so.
You see, what is striking about all this is that ARRF presents itself as a secular ideology that exalts science and reason and eschews belief in the supernatural. This is the position of the bestselling (heavily promoted) ARRF screed, The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. The problem is that, on examination, this is complete nonsense. In practice, secularists have simply displaced their unquestioning faith. Instead of saying that they believe some story because it’s in the Bible, they believe it because it’s in the New York Times. Moreover, it is perfectly clear when you look at it, that ARRF, like the traditional religions, does effectively require belief in miracles. Ironically, this point was made by Christian theologian David Ray Griffin in an open letter addressed to a set of left gatekeeper public intellectuals. In any case, it seems abundantly clear that Dawkins’s argument is fundamentally wrong. All of the case he makes for religion being harmful applies to ARRF in spades: ARRF is fanatical and intolerant and also requires unquestioning belief in things that have no particular rational or scientific basis.
Certainly, ARRF requires declarations of faith in things for which there is no proof. That is completely apparent in the above-linked video snippet of Jeremy Scahill’s answer to a question on 9/11 Truth. In deep structure, the situation there is not at all different from somebody making some declaration of faith in the Middle Ages. “No, not me, I’m no dirty heretic, I believe those wicked Ay-rabs flew those planes into those buildings.” Where it does differ a bit is that Scahill feels the need (momentarily anyway) to say that he has at least considered the other point of view. But then he quickly backtracks and starts vociferously condemning the heretics.
The veneer of rationality can fall off pretty quickly. What is striking about the “fake news” construct is that there’s not even the veneer. They just say: “We’re the ones in possession of the truth.” All the science advocacy has clear limits. If Professor Richard Dawkins and the rest of the ARRF priesthood really believe in the primacy of science over faith-based superstitions, why don’t they advocate a science-based investigation of 9/11? Well, I think the answer is obvious, so I leave it as an exercise to the reader.
When I refer to four broad strands of ARRF doctrine, another way of saying this is that there are, broadly speaking, four different kinds of anti-ARRF heresy. Despite the fact that you can get into real trouble for the first three kinds of heresy, by far the most dangerous is heresy related to GW. Of course, the GW related taboos are so strong that even seven decades after the end of the war, calling somebody a fascist or a nazi is just about the greatest insult imaginable. Thus, if you commit anti-PC heresy by saying that marriage is between a man and a woman, you are a “fascist”, say. Of course, it is true that the Germans of the time believed that marriage was between a man and a woman, but that was also the belief in every other country that fought in WW2. (Whatever they were all fighting about, it sure wasn’t that! But never mind…)
Well, you see, never mind that it makes no sense. The point is that if you want to demonize somebody you call him a Nazi. They are always setting up some foreign leader as the “new Hitler”. Of course, it never makes sense. The situation they are super-imposing the Hitler narrative on typically has no real resemblance to what was going on in Germany in the 1930’s. But, as I have said earlier, the bullshit tends to be quite repetitive and this is a key repeated element.
This, again, is a very big topic, but in this context, a discussion of the main doctrinal strands of ARRF, the really important point is that the GW narrative, the History Channel AngloZionist version of the Second World War, is not really a scholarly, historical narrative; it is something much more like a religious dogma. I think the best way to illustrate this might be to contrast GW with Christian dogma.
In Christianity, Jesus Christ is understood to be the embodiment of God — the epitome of Good. ARRF, on the other hand, is a godless religion. This abstract construct called “Democracy” plays, to a large extent, the role of a God, but it is an impersonal God. However, there is a devil, who is a person! Of course, the devil’s name is not “Satan” nor is it “Lucifer”; it is “Adolf Hitler”. Just as, in Christianity, Jesus is not a man like other men, but the embodiment of Good, in ARRF, Hitler is the very epitome of pure Evil.
The main Christian narrative culminates in Calvary and the Cross, while the GW narrative, specifically the Holocaustianity subcult, has Auschwitz and the Gas Chamber. Of course, in current-day Western countries, the Gas Chamber is far more revered than the Cross. You can deny the Cross and mock Jesus all you want but they will destroy your career and even have you imprisoned in various countries for denying the gas chambers. This, by the way, surely constitutes the greatest single piece of evidence that ARRF has supplanted Christianity as the official religion of the West.
In Christianity, Jesus is supposed to come back one day, but we’ve been waiting for nearly 2000 years. Hitler, on the other hand, after only 70 years, came back numerous times.
A fascinating subnarrative is the treatment of the Munich Conference of 1938. You can be certain that if, tomorrow, Trump were to go off to Russia and talk to Putin, that the entire media would be going crazy screaming about Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938. The strange thing about the whole Neville Chamberlain in Munich narrative is that the people trotting this out always take as a given that the big mistake that Chamberlain made was going and talking to Hitler. Now, he may well have made a bad deal with Hitler that he should not have made. However, it is puzzling to me the notion that his mistake was going and talking to Hitler. They would say this even assuming that Trump went and talked to Putin and didn’t make any deal or give him anything, just talked to him. Neville Chamberlain in Munich, nya nya nya! Where’s yer umbrella, Donald?
I wonder how many people ponder just how dangerous this entire implicit framing of situations is. You see, once you say that somebody is Hitler, there is no moderate course of action. You can’t get together with Hitler over a beer (or mint tea, maybe) and talk things through. No! This is Hitler, dammit, he’s pure evil! Also, if your enemy is Hitler, no matter what barbaric, ultraviolent measures you take, they are always justified — bombing cities full of innocent civilians, implementing an economic blockade that causes people to starve or die from lack of needed medicines. No matter what evil you do, it is always the lesser evil, because the greater evil is… HITLER!!! No matter the price, the new Hitler must be stopped!
I think the succint way of characterizing all of this is that the GW narrative is the main theological justification in ARRF of the “Zionist Golden Rule”, which, in case you did not know, is:
Do unto others before the others get a chance to do it unto you.
Well, actually, one cannot credit the Zionists with that. The basic idea surely predates Zionism and even predates Christianity. However, the Zionists do live by it and the Hitler/Holocaust narrative really is the cornerstone of it in ARRF theology. For example, it underlies the whole doctrine of “pre-emptive war” and RTP (Responsibility To Protect) that was used to destroy Libya in 2011.
American Pravda and ARRF
On the Unz Review, there are currently 25 articles under the rubric of “American Pravda”. I believe that, overall, they constitute an important body of writing. Most (20) were written by Ron Unz himself. I am quite proud that two were written by me. Of course the common theme tying all these articles together is just how untrustworthy the American mainstream media is, perhaps no better (or possibly even worse) than Soviet era propaganda; Pravda (“Truth” in Russian) was the main Soviet newspaper. Ron’s approach has been to meticulously document all sorts of lies the media tells and that is worthwhile, of course. My articles also do that a fair bit, though nowhere near as meticulously as Ron does, since I’m not really an academician or a researcher.
In any case, the main focus of my writing is not really about demonstrating that the media is lying about whatever specific topic. Frankly, to me that is no longer that interesting a question. Of course they are lying about everything! I’m far more fascinated by the big picture question of why it is that people believe the lies. Well, not just people generally. I mean ME! Why did I believe all the bullshit for so long? And also: why do I no longer believe it? Self-observation is very problematic so it’s not like it’s easy to answer such questions. I have never asked my lapsed Catholic friend R why he stopped believing but I suspect he would not really be able to tell me.
So I don’t know what precisely would cause somebody to stop believing in ARRF or anything else. However, one thing I am pretty certain of at this point is that, once anybody stops believing in the main ARRF doctrines, — i.e. DM, PC, CT, and GW — then that person becomes largely immune to the mainstream media propaganda. The reason would be that all these things are sort of like building blocks in the various synthetic narratives they present, so once these things no longer have a hold on you, the propaganda narratives become ineffective. For example, if somebody is telling you that so-and-so is another Hitler, well, obviously it has no effect on you if you don’t really believe the GW sacred narrative anyway. Or if somebody tells you that the U.S. is intervening to establish “democracy” somewhere, you don’t believe it because you don’t believe in DM anymore. And so on.
On being partially pregnant
There is a prolific commenter on the Unz review who comes to mind. He is a racialist, Alt-right sort of guy, who despises all things PC. Well, there are many who fit that description, but the one I just happen to have in mind, in the run-up to the election wrote a comment that fascinated me. He said he was nervous about Trump because Trump was a “conspiracy theorist”, so it was like: “Is it a good idea to elect a
heretic conspiracy theorist to the White House?” This commenter did not mind that Trump was allegedly a racist, a sexist, or whatever other ungood things. For him that was all good. But a conspiracy theorist? God save us!
Of course, it’s not about that one commenter. There are all these people who somehow do not see any connection between the enforcement of ideological conformism from the PC crowd and all the arrogant dismissal of so-called “conspiracy theories”. On the one hand, they firmly believe (correctly) that the mainstream media and the government are imposing a false narrative about one set of things — multiculturalism, feminism and such — but the dominant narratives about another set of things cannot be questioned. Thus, for example, these same people believe that the West is under attack from something called “radical Islam” and if you question that synthetic narrative (and the synthetic events that comprise it), you’re a “conspiracy theorist” and self-evidently crazy!
If there is one idea that I would really like to get across in this essay, it is the sheer futility of this sort of blinkered approach. Look, as a general principle, if you are going to oppose something, you have to oppose it integrally — as a holistic entity. Well, that maybe sounds more profound than it is. It’s actually a really dead simple idea. Like, if you get into the ring to box with somebody, you can’t just pretend that your opponent can only hit you with his left hand. (“The right hand, you say? What’s that? Sounds like a silly conspiracy theory to me….” BOOM!!!)
So, if you do broadly accept the framing of this article (which could be a big assumption, I know…) you can’t just oppose PC but then toe the line on CT or GW. You can’t do that any more than you can selectively decide to fight with somebody’s left hand and pretend that their right hand doesn’t exist. Because all of these things are bound up with one another. They are part of a whole.
If you don’t believe that, well, okay, but then I would suggest that you look more closely at the lay of the land. If you look at the network of NGO’s and foundations that we could say broadly are proselytizing ARRF, persecuting the heretics, it’s the same people enforcing the approved line on these various things. If you want to get on the shit list of the B’nai Brith Anti-Defamation League, say, you have various routes: you can be a white nationalist (anti-PC heresy) or you can be a 9/11 Truther (CT) or you can be a WW2 revisionist (GW). The same Masters of Discourse (to use the great Israel Shamir’s term) are enforcing intellectual conformity on all these various things. You may not think that these things are connected, but believe me, they are. All of these different constructs are ideological weapons for these people. Really, it’s the same little man behind the curtain.
The origin of this article is that I wanted to write a devastating critique of a certain intellectual movement, broadly called the New Atheists. Probably the leading figure of that is Richard Dawkins, at least now that Christopher Hitchens is no longer. Though I am not a religious person myself, those people really annoy me and it was an itch I wanted to scratch. But I didn’t anticipate writing such a lengthy article. As I wrote it, it developed more into an analysis of the dominant Western ideology, looking at it as a religion. The way this developed is as follows: you see, the single thing I find most offensive about Dawkins and the rest of these people is the way they constantly preen themselves that they are taking some sort of brave, principled stand against these horrible religious people. And that really is quite fraudulent. Whatever courage is exactly, it is largely situational. Fighting Nazis in 1942 or 1943 on a battlefield or joining the French Resistance required real courage. However, battling (non-existent) Nazis in the 21st century requires no courage whatsoever. It amounts to vacuous posturing. The religion bashing that Dawkins and the other so-called “New Atheists” engage in requires no courage either. To say the same things in Torquemada’s day, that would have taken some real balls! These people, properly understood, are proselytizing ARRF, and ARRF, not Christianity, is currently the dominant religion in the West and there is nothing daring or courageous about upholding your society’s dominant religion! This was a central point I wanted to make, but to get there, I had to develop the ARRF concept more and that kind of took on a life of its own.
Also, I started writing the article before the U.S. elections in which Trump surprisingly won. When this took place, with the article still unfinished, I felt that I had to incorporate that into the exposition and the focus of the article shifted somewhat. I was interested in looking at the election and Trump’s surprising victory through the lens of this ARRF framing.
Finally, I ended up saying a lot but much is left unsaid. I outlined the core ARRF “catechism” in very broad strokes. I try to be mindful of what criticisms my analysis is open to. For example, I am quite aware that there is nothing like a complete unity of belief in ARRF. But actually, that is also true of traditional religions; a single religious tradition can encompass different tendencies and there can be various subcults within a religion that are more or less optional. For example, in Roman Catholicism there are all these saints, more of them than you could shake a stick at actually. So venerating any of the more minor saints is obviously optional; there are simply too many of them. You could choose to revere a certain saint and even do a pilgrimage to a holy site related to that figure, but it’s not mandatory. So there are core doctrines that everybody really must believe, like Jesus on the Cross at Calvary, but then there is a bunch of stuff that is more or less optional.
ARRF seems to work quite a bit like that. For example, take the WC cult. (This refers to the British wartime leader Winston Churchill, not the washroom.) WC is a subcult of GW, but I don’t think it’s really core ARRF. A public figure could probably get away with saying negative things about Churchill. And one potential problem with the WC subcult is that the man was such a horrid imperialist/racist that it runs up against the PC component — at least if Churchill is portrayed halfway honestly, which is a big “if”, of course. So this is an example of how there can often be tension between the different ARRF doctrines.
On the other hand, the negative personality cult of Hitler, AH for short, that really is core ARRF and saying anything positive about the man is hard-core blasphemy. So, for example, suppose you felt the sudden urge to say something like: “Hey, you know, Adolf looks like a nice feller to me. I love his cute little mustache.” I would advise you to bite your tongue. If there is the overpowering urge to blaspheme, I suggest you dash into the WC (here, WC means the washroom, not the British wartime leader) and say it there where nobody can hear you.
Or consider the American Exceptionalism cult, AE for short. This is mostly a subcult of DM, I think, but GW ties in very strongly. What AE most venerates is the U.S. military. America is the “policeman of the world”, defending “Democracy” — you know… all that crap… Obviously, AE is optional since it is mostly for Americans, though I suppose some extremely servile Western European politicians are also members of the cult. The AE subcult is agnostic, I think. Members are unsure whether God exists. However, if he does exist, he damned sure is an American!
Ich bin ein Häretiker
In this entire series of essays, I have said some very controversial things and I expect, even welcome criticism. That said, I would warn people that they really should only write a critique if they are absolutely sure that they understood the overall point of the article.
The point here is not really my own precise views regarding all the various ARRF dogmas. Now, as regards an archetypal PC issue like same-sex marriage, a reader could infer (correctly) that I am not in favor of it. But the thing is, even if my opinion on that was different, I would react to those progressive fanatics in Portland the same way. I’m not going to boycott somebody’s business or refuse to greet them in the street simply because they have a different view about that issue than I do. The problem is that this really is a religion for these people and they literally think it’s a crime for somebody to think differently, just to express a different view! Heresy! Even if they are not burning people at the stake (not yet, give them time…) they surely create an atmosphere that must be quite similar to that of a Medieval Inquisition. And, as I said, this is religious fanaticism. There is no need for a new word for it. I’m pretty sure the psychology is the same, that the same brain chemistry is involved. And then, the problem is that, whenever the part of the brain that does religious fanaticism gets flipped on, the part that handles nuance and complexity get turned off. There is no moral ambiguity; everything is black or white.
Now, to be absolutely clear about something here, I am not saying that the PC social justice narrative is completely wrong. Far from it. I’m certainly against persecuting people for being homosexuals. I’m quite happy that the Jim Crow laws in the American South were done away with and that Apartheid in South Africa was dismantled. And, yes, I believe these things, by and large, constitute progress.
The point is that rejecting PC as a religion, i.e. what I call here ARRF, does not constitute a wholesale rejection of every single liberal/progressive idea. I am against PC as a religion because it amounts to taking very complex situations and bowdlerizing them into some simplistic good vs. evil narrative, and then anybody who expresses any disagreement is a heretic, guilty of thought crimes.
This kind of binary, all-or-none reasoning is at its absolute worst when it comes to the GW component of ARRF, the “Good War” narrative. What they will argue basically is that if you reject their dogma of Hitler as the embodiment of pure Evil, this must mean that you believe in some alternative theology in which Hitler is pure Good. Well, no, I think a serious student of history should reject any sacred narrative being presented as history. Hitler was not God or the Devil, but a man, and as such, should be studied like any other historical figure, be it Stalin or Mao or Napoleon Bonaparte.
If people want to set up a religion and worship Winston Churchill as a God and say Hitler was the Devil, I guess that’s their own business. But once something gets turned into a religious dogma, doesn’t freedom of religion apply? Don’t we have the right to reject Holocaustianity the same as we have the right to reject Christianity? Or to tell the Jehovah’s witnesses at the door to get lost?
In closing, I should point out to people that if your critique boils down to hysterically shrieking that I am a heretic, then it’s all grist to the mill. It only goes to reinforce the central point of this essay! Besides, if you want to call me a heretic, i.e. a conspiracy theorist or a holocaust denier or any of these things, I think I really should take it as a compliment. These terms really have to lose their power over people. It really seems to me that all the anti-ARRF heretics should come together, not to agree with one another about everything, mind you, but at least to identify a common enemy. To paraphrase JFK, I think we should all more or less stand up and say: “Ich bin ein Häretiker.”
Fan mail (as well as hate mail) can be directed to revusky at gmail.