The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, January 08, 2007

Confidence Game

I was rather partial to this piece from Salon-- an interview with the author of a book on the Christian right by the author of a book on the same topic. The subject has been a topic of huge debate on the left, with no shortage of tut-tutting from those who say we should reach out to the 'Christianists,' who pose no serious threat to democracy. I think that argument is a bit misguided, as does the interviewee here. I have nothing against evangelicals, and I'm sure a lot of them are wonderful people. But I'm also of the firm belief that they're being victimized by corrupt and power-hungry leaders who would be a grave threat to the nation.

I think the vast majority of followers have no idea. There's an earnestness to many of the believers. I had the same experience you did -- I went in there prepared to really dislike these people and most of them just broke my heart. They're well meaning. Unfortunately, they're being manipulated and herded into a movement that's extremely dangerous. If these extreme elements actually manage to achieve power, they will horrify [their followers] in many ways. But that's true with all revolutionary movements.

The core of this movement is tiny, but you only need a tiny, disciplined, well-funded and well-organized group, and then you count on the sympathy of 80 million to 100 million evangelicals. And that's enough. Especially if you don't have countervailing forces, which we don't.

If there's a historical period that's analogous to the situation we have now, it would come close to being the 1930s in the United States. Obviously we're not in a depression, but the situation for the working class is very bleak, and the middle class is under assault. There has been a kind of Weimarization of the American working class, and there's a terrible instability in the middle class. And if we enter a period of political and social instability, this gives this movement the opportunity it's been waiting for. But it needs a crisis. All of these movements need a crisis to come to power, and we're not in a period of crisis.