Two kinds of fundamentalism. –Robert M. Shelby, 12-18-10. [1085 txt wds]

Far-right Radicals show a fundamentalism that strongly resembles fundamentalism in religion. Both are insular with a narrowness of view that accompanies the closure of being shut off from balanced, honest understanding of outlooks other than their own. Radicals can feel sharply for an injured dog in the street but cannot empathize deeply with the homeless or people who are poor and sick. Nobody on the far right, no deeply dedicated Republican seems to have any accurate or fair notion of Liberals, Democrats or Progressives. Instead, they carry militantly deformative templates to, or imaginary imitations of, their opponents. This is made clear in their writing and public utterance. The same is true of religious fundamentalists. They have no clear ideas of other faiths and lack understanding of various contrary ideas or plain disbelief in their own creeds. Ignorance and lack of empathy characterizes nutty folks whether political or religious.

Always, they tilt and twist opposition. Inadvertently they misrepresent because they cannot perceive correctly through the heavy screens of their biases and prejudices on one hand, and heavy commitment to doctrinal assumptions on the other. What they cannot understand they diminish and depict falsely. They project the shortcomings of their own information and defects of method upon any who do not participate in their outlook and who draw upon other streams of data, sources of information or traditions of meaning and rationality. They will deny this just as they deny and reject others’ perception and thinking along with several areas of scientific finding, such as biology, climatology, social psychology, nutritional health and opinion. Deeply engrained, false belief forms the core difficulty of fundamentalists, political or religious. This may be why the two seem so often mutually supportive and collusive. One of the current tactics in the right-wing’s rhetorical arsenal is to accuse opponents of “having no facts,” as if to distract the inattentive from the fact that rightist talkers themselves seldom present solid facts. They billow smoke around the mirrors they hold up to opposition that distort its image like reflections in a fun house. Every week produces seven days worth of examples of such distortion. It would be amusing were issues not serious. It is obvious that most of our local writers on the Right do little or no original research or work of their own but get their “chicken-crepe” and “bull-shout” from websites like NewsMax, Rightwing News, Free Republic, Today’s Conservative, Conservative Outpost, HerrickReport,, The Conservative, Limbaugh Radio, Drudge Report and numerous other websites including Fox News online.

Conservative outlook seems not conducive to original thinking. The most a Far-Rightist usually does is to adapt standard views and reports from their sources to an immediate need. Their minds are notably inflexible and unimaginative, however adroitly inventive they may seem to be of combative argument and besmirchment. Their limits preclude good intelligence and fluent communication. This is a fact widely observed, even of some think-tank inmates of nominally high education. They march in lock-step, to which they add occasional, small “dance moves” resembling chorus-like consensus. In the face of opportunity for critical dialog they readily fly into a huff or turn away.

If political fundamentalists lack true insight into other outlooks, fundamentalist Christians also falsify other views. They lack correct concepts of what other sorts of outlook exist. Listening to, or reading them, one would suppose any non-believer must be atheist or agnostic. They have no inkling, for instance, of metagnostic transtheism. Their world is too simple to hold more than the religious categories they knew as children and wrongly suppose cover the entire field of spiritual possibility. Few people are more ignorant of religion in general than most Christians, and few less informed about their own religion, its scriptures and history. Some highly learned pastors and Jesuit priests are aware of this. They know the gamut of opposed arguments and the problems of evidence, but have committed themselves to doctrine while writing apologetics for their faith and loyalty to things totally without objective support.

Simple, unthinking people may need religion to hold themselves and their worlds together in the face of complex moral situations, harsh adversity and even more complicated reality. For them, religion is a crutch that relieves them of need to think. Similarly, conformance to a political ideology saves the radical wingnut from having to find a larger scope of view than suits his personal concern or profit.

The political skeptic will not accept simplistic argument or casuistry from “First Principles.” For skeptics, first principles are no more credible than medially interpretive statements or imaginary, ultimate truths. In fact, First Principles are themselves imaginarily ultimate reference points given too much reverence and too little analysis. Federalist Society members such as the late Chief Justice Rehnquist,  Justice Scalia and Judge Bork have been notably big on talk about First Principles which turn out to be evasions of good sense, public interest and popular will in notions that unfound and prevent liberal or progressive legislation. A First Principle is merely a retrospectively educed idea from which nothing now seen as good, or later than 1790, can be derived. They pretend political morals can be worked out like theorems in Euclidean geometry.

Similarly, the skeptic of religion may be spiritually inclined rather than merely anti-religious or strictly secular. The ‘religiosi’ like to swing the tar brush of Secular Humanism against unbelievers as if no humanist or secular person can be spiritually directed. Insights deeper or more capacious than “God-or-No-God” do not exist for them. They live in the web of received speech-forms and their associated ideas, unable to escape the web and remodel those speech-forms or ideas. Radicals versify but cannot create poetry, nor do they well remodel or reorganize their stock of word-meanings and concepts. They are trapped, unable to read high-order text with understanding. They need habitual simplicities or they feel a writer has fooled around with them.

Few persons devoted to religious or political ideology will have read down to here without recoiling in disgust, denial and insulted feeling, ready to counter-attack against this writer without bothering to examine or analyze the thoughts expressed. They are too hurtful to fundamentalist ego. Fundamentalists lack the ‘fundamentals’ of genuine intellectual intelligence. They need the external stability of structured support because they have little internal means of stability and therefore feel insecure in the world. This is why their main effects on the world are to transmit further instability. William F. Buckley’s keen intellect was sustained more by property than sound reasoning.

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