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Musings On The Far-Right-Wing/Fundamentalist Connection

01/28/07

  03:30:37 am, by Nimble   , 758 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Politics, Religion

Musings On The Far-Right-Wing/Fundamentalist Connection

A thought struck me when deep in good conversation with a friend of mine the other day that the seemingly strong association between right wing philosophy and fundamentalist Christianity is one of a particular match-up with philosophy.

This is partly conjecture on my part, but I'm willing to predict that there's a kernel of truth...

Right-wing philosophy, particularly neoconservativism, espouses a kind of "I've got mine, Jack" attitude. Witness the attempts at pulling down Social Security and replacing it with self-investment, a move that will only widen retirement quality of life gaps, but this also means that people who have done well for themselves aren't weighed down by forced charity towards others who were more foolish or lazy.

(Rinse and repeat for anything else that brings the more destitute up in the world: health care, minimum wage, etc.)

Is that a cynical view? Perhaps, but it seems to capture the spirit of the right wing the further right you go. Any form of safety net, socialism, forced charity seems utterly frowned upon. It goes further than this, though: the "I've got mine" attitude (actually, more of a "we've got ours") extends not just to such socialism but to considerations of any out-groups as well. The folks who chafe at paying so that others may benefit also chafe at censoring their own words so that others may not be offended, and chafe at any possibility others, obviously not on the right side, could be right.

The whole approach requires a hefty amount of projection of attributes onto people. How could you be anything but heartless, arrogant, or both with a view like this? Rationalization. If someone ends up in poverty, without retirement savings, they must have deserved it. How could they deserve poverty? A character flaw: bad choices, a willfully-followed character flaw, spending too much on bad habits, payback for something they did. At its most generous, it might just be too hard to sort out any deserving people from the non-deserving people, and giving anyone a free ride is unforgivable.

It's also much easier, in that this approach requires no nuances, no research. It's black and white.

Now of course the opposite, that everyone is actually equal and character flaws are a social myth, is also untrue, and uninterested in reality, and is why post-modernism sucks, but I'd never argue otherwise.

Here's where I propose the hookup occurs. Fundamentalist Christianity also takes on a less-charitable view of others. What passes for charity is charity with an expected payback, and accompanying conversions that happen with such charitable causes are more fuel for the fire viewing others with disdain. "See how poorly they were doing before they joined our flock."

Instead of the "God works in mysterious ways" explanation for bad things happening to good people that you will often hear from moderates, fundamentalists will tend towards the inverse: if a bad thing happens to you, you can't be a good person. If you are poor, the victim of a natural disaster, or even abused, it's because of something you did or something you let happen (presuming that you're not Job or Abraham, which you certainly are not). You sinned against God, and thus deserved your punishment. They can be found on radio or television proclaiming punishments that God will mete out because of something they believe to be a sin.

Both of these approaches care little for reality. They define reality, and any discord is thought to be just the result of something not taken into account. The reason for the difference from expectations can merely be insinuated, not investigated, for investigation is not the way of this philosophy that will brook no chinks in its armour. In a similar manner, these approaches will also not find fault within their own borders: fault is external, the result of outside influence.

Even if something can be seen to be true, if the implications of it being true are bad, then it will be defined as not true.

(Need I mention how frustrating this can be for those with an empirical view of the world?)

If poverty can be caused by sin and moral failings in fundamentalist philosophy, the right-wing view of the poor deserving their own fate, and thus to be left to their own devices bereft of help gains Biblical justification.

By making all things rationalized by everything being a choice, right-wing philosophy also justifies the accusations made by fundamentalists.

It's no wonder that they so often have decided to get into bed together in this day and age.

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