Essay:Conservapedia and Fascism

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Irrationality is something society is always forced to battle. I believe it to be an unfortunate byproduct of our pattern-recognition abilities. The same cognitive abilities that allow us to recognize speech, faces, dangers, etc, tend to also see patterns where none may exist. This has been extensively written about elsewhere (link coming in future). It is manifest in such areas as cult religion, conspiracy theories, and extremist political movements.

Conservapedia may be small, but it continues the strain of religious fundamentalism in the United States. Not to sound hyperbolic, but I believe that Conservapedia and related movements are a threat to American democracy. Sound crazy? The “movement’s” children are reared and schooled separated from society, as were children of other such movements (for instance, Nazi Youth). They avoid the socialization into American democracy that public school provides. They are taught separate values, including the idea that American secular society is morally corrupt, and only redeemable via mass religious conversion. They are then reintroduced to American society as adults with a fundamental misunderstanding of American society. It is similar to the mistake Islamic Fundamentalists make in attacking America (no, I’m not equating them, exactly). They do not realize that American culture is inherently diverse, diffuse, flexible, tolerant, and fairly resistant to fascism, religious or otherwise.

Using Eco, Hedges, and others as a guide:

Many on the Christian Right, even non-Dominionists, see themselves as an “oppressed majority”. This gives them the moral justification to fight oppression by any means necessary, and since they are already the majority, they feel that imposing their views is inherently good for the majority of society. They reject modernism in favor of a "cult of tradition" (Eco). Truth is "revealed", therefore, there can be no acquisition of new knowledge. Modern thought is a corrupting influence. See, for example, the Young Earth Creationist controversy. Action, in and of itself, is revered, as it shows strength against perceived oppression, and a willingness to obey authority. Action must be taken without thought, as thought implies intellectualism/secularism. If a legitimate leader demands action, for instance on Biblical grounds, it is taken. See, for example, the actions of sysops on Conservapedia. A corollary to this is that disagreement equals treason. Disagreement implies independence and diversity of thought, and is inherently evil. Disagreement and difference are to be feared. Fascism derives from individual or social frustration, and its root is sought common identity, in nationalism, religion, or both. As such, a plot is believed to exist to destroy this common identity. There is a perceived tyranny of the minority, and the existence of an “oppressed majority”. If you read Conservapedia, and related columns you will see this belief that they are "under siege", despite the fact that they have opened their doors to all. Followers feel humiliated by the perceived advantages of their enemies, whether financial, or intellectual. Struggle is essential, as passivity is the same as collusion with the enemy. Humiliation is countered by the elite status of group membership. Once you are incorporated into the group, you have become stronger through numbers, and can join the struggle (against secularism, etc). Everyone who joins and struggles is a hero, and humiliation is vanquished.

Corruption and control of language is critical in the fascist struggle for control; NewSpeak reigns. See the struggle over definitions at CP, such as "theory".

From White Coat Underground