Thursday, June 18, 2009

Austin Cline on Christian authoritarianism

Austin Cline was kind enough to point me to some of his work on Christian authoritarianism.

All Resistance to Any Legitimate Authority is Rebellion Against God
Huckabee's Religious Authoritarianism: Vertical Politics
Using Religious Scripts to Define Social Roles (Book Notes: Desert Patriarchy)
Right-Wing Politics & Religion in a Nutshell

What is the dialectical materialist to make of this these tendencies? The resemblances between Christian fundamentalism and feudal and fascist political structures are obvious. But the feudal political structure is a dialectical outcome of contradictions within pre-feudal means of production and slave-based economic relations and was stable only until mechanization and steam power created new contradictions. Fascism is a dialectical outcome to the contradictions inherent in bourgeois capitalism, but its militarism and authoritarianism are entirely unstable and revert relatively quickly back to liberal (more-or-less) bourgeois capitalism.

(In a similar sense, the political authoritarianism of the Soviet and Chinese communists created contradictions that caused them to revert to bourgeois capitalism. Marx and Lenin give short shrift to the political superstructure, predicting that when the contradictions between the means of production and capitalist economic relations create socialist economic relations, the political superstructure will more-or-less fall into place. I believe this view is too simplistic. Mao I think saw the importance of the political superstructure in its own right, but failed to hit upon a workable plan to stave off a regression to capitalist economics after his death. While these mistakes might (or might not) be excusable, they are mistakes nonetheless and must be corrected in future communist endeavors.)

In one sense, we can probably see Christian fundamentalist authoritarianism as another version of fascism, self-defeating for the same reasons that mid-20th century fascism was self-defeating. On the other hand, the self-defeating nature of fascism still entailed millions of deaths and unimaginable suffering. We also cannot ignore the combination of the apocalyptic ideology of Christian fascism and the existence of enough nuclear weapons to destroy all humanity many times over. Millions of fundamentalist Christians are not only willing to destroy the world, but actively looking forward to the extinction of all humanity. Christian fascism may be self-defeating, but they could very easily drag the entire world down with them.

As we know from evolution, dialectical materialism entails extinction and regression just as much as it does progress and growth.


  1. Does the theory of dialectical materialism take explicit notice of the role of mass media in fooling the living shit out of people?


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