Fundamentalism as an Evolutionary Function

:: This is straight from Derryl’s site, it is at once frightening and thought-provoking:

    “There has been all sorts of nastiness cropping up lately, reminders that the vestiges of civilization that remain south of the border are slowly being picked away. So it’s nice to come across a well-conceived essay, not only on the dangers of such madness, but one that analyzes its history and looks for some possible solutions.

    Here’s a little piece of “The Fundamentalist Agenda“:

      They identified five characteristics shared by virtually all fundamentalisms. The fundamentalists’ agenda starts with insistence that their rules must be made to apply to all people, and to all areas of life. There can be no separation of church and state, or of public and private areas of life. The rigid rules of God—and they never doubt that they and only they have got these right—must become the law of the land. Pat Robertson, again, has said that just as Supreme Court justices place a hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution, so they should also place a hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible. In Khomeini’s Iran, and in the recent Taliban rule of Afghanistan, we saw how brutal and bloody this looks in real time.

      The second agenda item is really at the top of the list, and it’s vulgarly simple: Men are on top. Men are bigger and stronger, and they rule not only through physical strength but also and more importantly through their influence on the laws and rules of the land. Men set the boundaries. Men define the norms, and men enforce them. They also define women, and they define them through narrowly conceived biological functions. Women are to be supportive wives, mothers, and homemakers.

      A third item follows from the others. (Indeed each part of the fundamentalist agenda is necessarily interlocked, and needs every other part to survive.) Since there is only one right picture of the world, one right set of beliefs, and one right set of roles for men, women, and children, it is imperative that this picture and these rules be communicated precisely to the next generation. Therefore, fundamentalists must control education by controlling textbooks and teaching styles, deciding what may and may not be taught.

      Fourth, fundamentalists spurn the modern, and want to return to a nostalgic vision of a golden age that never really existed. Several of the scholars observed a strong and deep resemblance between fundamentalism and fascism. Both have almost identical agendas. Men are on top, women are subservient, there is one rigid set of rules, with police and military might to enforce them, and education is tightly controlled by the state. One scholar suggested that it’s helpful to understand fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism. The phrase “overcoming the modern” is a fascist slogan dating back to at least 1941.

      The fifth point is the most abstract, though it’s foundational. Fundamentalists deny history in a radical and idiosyncratic way. Fundamentalists know as well or better than anybody that culture shapes everything it touches: The times we live in color how we think, what we value, and the kind of people we become. Fundamentalists agree on the perverseness of modern American society: the air of permissiveness and narcissism, individual rights unbalanced by responsibilities, sex divorced from commitment, and so on. What they don’t want to see is the way culture colored the era when their scriptures were created.

    Is this overreaching? Are all fundamentalists in some way equivalents to fascists? Maybe so, if one remembers that fascists are control freaks (to put it lightly). Fred Clark at Slacktivist has been talking about evangelicals for some time, making sure that his readers know that there is a difference between the two religious mindsets. And while I mostly agree with him, I can speak with experience about friends who inhabit both worlds, quite happily, who are evangelical in their furvor and desire to spread the Word of God (and indeed, who would normally classify themselves as evangelical), but very fundamental in their belief in that Word as well as in their desire that their society behave as their interpretation of that Word would have it, even at the expense of another person’s freedoms.

    It’s no surprise to think that our fundamentalist nature might reach back to a time that fundies don’t even believe existed. Animals behave the way they do because it is hardwired into their brains, although allowance for learning must be made. Hell, even computer programs can behave in similar fashions. It is a concern, though, that there are powerful groups of people (mostly men, as noted in the article) who wish to run things their way, and no way else, and the article quoted above gives some eloquent arguments about how to fight back.”

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