Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Conspiracy and Apocalypse

I received the emailed article I have published below from the right wing magazine Townhall. I have published it here as part of my reflections on conspiracy theory. The article has all the touch and feel of the conspiracy theorist's mentality in the making. In this article Obama is portrayed in almost superhuman terms: His faults are not seen simply as the outcome of his fair share of very human foibles, failings and incompetence, but instead he is almost glorified as an anti-hero figure, an evil scheming malign intelligence bent on domination.

Human beings have an innate propensity for entertaining thoughts of apocalypse and conspiracy. These two themes frequently form a very toxic union. An example is the late “prognosticator” (=prophet?) Barry Smith who combined New World Order conspiracy theory with an apocalyptic vision of social collapse caused by the millennium bug. The prophets of conspiracy and apocalypse readily connect with insecurity about where society is headed; these prophets focus a sense of malaise by giving it clear cut narratives on which to hang fears. Fear has a catalytic effect on the imagination and florid paranoiac visions of society emerge into consciousness like the spectres of a delirium. Amongst the disillusioned and disaffected tales of conspiracy find fertile ground to grow and elaborate into irrefutable grand rationales. But the conspiracy theorist has one great consolation in his dystopian paradigm; he can warm himself with a sense of pride that he is part of a remnant who have unlocked the secret behind society. He may think of himself as oppressed but at least he can comfort himself with the thought that the oppressor has not fooled him and that he has exposed the immorality of the oppressor.

There are, however inconsistencies amongst conspiracy theorists. For example, Barry Smith fans would find themselves at loggerheads with many American conspiracy theorists who identify with right wing politics. (Also, see this post of mine). One quickly finds that the imagination of each conspiracy theorist has constructed their own very peculiar ogre. Conspiracy theorists never learn from one another, just as religious cults and sects never learn from one another.

I believe in cover ups myself, but not the kind of cover up of highly organised malign conspiracies. In peace time human beings are remarkably incompetent when it comes to organizing themselves into very coordinated secret societies. All the cover ups in our kind of society can be explained as attempts to hide incompetence, ignorance, failure, mismanagement and above all moral sleaze. That's about as far as conspiracies get.

A short post on the  fundamentalist's taste for conspiracy theory can be found here: 
Presenting Townhall magazine's vision of the anti-Christ anti-Hero:

No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religion

The Obama administration's overreaching and pervasive secularist policies represent the greatest government-directed assault on religious freedom in American history. So argues conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly and journalist George Neumayr. In No Higher Power, Schlafly and Neumayr show how Obama is waging war on our religious liberties and actively working to create one nation under him rather than one nation under God.
''Obama views traditional religion as a temporary opiate for the poor, confused, and jobless -- a drug that will dissipate as the federal government assumes more God-like powers, and his new secularist beliefs and policies gain adherents,'' write Schlafly and Neumayr.

From cutting funding for religious schools to Obama's deliberate omission of God and religion in public speeches to his assault on the Catholic Church, No Higher Power is a shocking and comprehensive look at howObama is violating one of our most fundamental rights -- and remaking our country into a nation our Founding Fathers would hardly recognize.

For four years Barack Obama has waged an unparalleled attack—largely undocumented by the mainstream media—on religious liberty in the United States. Never before has an administration been more convinced that there is no higher power than itself: one nation under Obama. In this stunning new book, veteran conservative lawyer, activist, and commentator Phyllis Schlafly and reporter George Neumayr reveal the greatest assault on American liberty in our time—the Obama administration's war on religious freedom.
  • Why a second Obama term could spell the end of Catholic hospitals and the court-martialing of Christian military chaplains
  • How the Obama administration is stripping conscience protections for pro-life doctors and nurses—forcing them to either assist in abortions or quit medicine
  • How the Obama administration sought to ban Bibles from military hospitals and prohibit invocations of Jesus Christ at military funerals
  • Why even Justice Elena Kagan—an Obama appointee to the Supreme Court—was shocked by the Obama administration's dictating employment policy at a Lutheran church
  • How Obama is defying federal law in the Defense of Marriage Act
  • How liberal Christians like Jim Wallis have acted as useful idiots for Obama's war on Christianity—and how the Catholic Left in Chicago actually helped pay for Obama's training as a disciple of the radical Saul Alinsky
  • Why the Obama administration coddles Islam while actively discriminating against Christians and Jews

In No Higher Power, Schlafly and Neumayr expose the Obama administration's brazen disregard for the First Amendment, its relentless purging of religion from our public life, and the even more chilling persecution of religion set to come.

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