Sunday, February 02, 2014

Cultish ideologies and perverted nationalism - and freedom through the truth in Jesus

I recently saw a post comparing Osama bin Laden to Adolf Hitler, which stimulated some thoughts.  If everyone is in Hitler's class, then is anyone?  But from one valid point of view, Hitler was indeed far from unique - except in one detail: he committed his crimes in Europe, against Europeans, instead of against the usual and accepted victims.  Ten million or so Congolese - each made in God's image and likeness - knocked off in the Congo Free State by the Belgians, and who classes King Albert today with Hitler, since these millions were only niggers?  Or the near annihilation of the American Indians by the city on a hill, the light of the world, the champion of liberty for the holy purpose of robbing of them of their land?  In fact, Hitler did notice, justifying his policy of genocide in the East by the American precedent. 

People entangled in cultish ideologies frequently have no trouble seeing what's wrong with other cults, while being wholly blind to their own.  Indeed, their blindness concerning their own makes them expert in seeing problems elsewhere and even in exaggerating them.  Jesus nailed this: the log-in-eye problem.

12 years later, I still run into people all the time who make such a big deal of the 9/11/2001 attacks as though nothing else so evil has ever been done.  But they are wholly indifferent to what the United States did in Chile on 9/11/1973, in which many more thousands were murdered, thousands more tortured and disappeared, and an entire nation terrorized for years.  So they can't see why Latin Americans were notably unsympathetic in September 2001.

Then, too, bin Laden plainly stated how this consequence was earned - notably the casual murder by sanctions of over 500,000 little kids in Iraq on Bill Clinton's watch, acknowledged as such and justified by Madeleine Albright on 60 Minutes in 1996.  And there is far more, which Americans - especially so-called Christians - are indignant about when done to our group, but which are just dandy when done to others, along with much worse.  George Orwell described this phenomenon, and the cultish mindset in general, in a little essay he wrote in 1945 which anyone wanting to be cured of bondage to cultish thinking, log-in-eye disease, and conformity to this world could learn from: 

These in every way characterize the American mindset, especially toward the rest of the world, and it has come home, as such wickedness can be counted on to do.  This brings me to another useful essay, by Vaclav Havel in 1978, describing the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia and what was needed to get free of it.  Its mode of bondage, what he calls the "post-totalitarian system," perfectly describes how cults actually work, as well as the present US regime.  He even explains why they are in every way so utterly suffused with lying.  Consider just this perfect description of the American regime and of the cultish "churches" we're talking about:

The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.

Havel has some hard news for us, in agreement with Jesus: the only remedy is to live in the truth, because you're not necessarily dealing with a classical dictatorship but an ideology which enslaves everyone and in which everyone participates.  Thus you could get rid of General Secretary Gustav Husak, and the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic would continue unchanged; Doug Phillips and Vision Forum "ministry" can disappear, and that perverse woman-hating religious ideology will continue to enslave its adherents in the same way; George W. Bush can be replaced by Barak Obama, and the consequences for the empire's victims, everyone abroad and the 99% here, are largely unchanged.  In all these cases, the real ruler is the Lie.   Considerable repentance, in which we all have to divorce our dearly beloved illusions, is unavoidable.  Hasn't Jesus put us on notice of that?  Havel, The Power of the Powerless:


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