American Fascists

American Fascists

Author: Chris Hedges

Publisher: Vintage

Date Published: 2007

Pages: 254

The Christian Right and the War on America

They disseminate their ideas on the alternative broadcasts networks and through their own publishers and schools. Their intellectual leaders demand the complete dismantling of the secular state; their followers have been roused to a fever pitch of resentment and despair. Describing themselves as true patriots, they wrap themselves in the flag – but all it might take is one more September 11 for the Christian Right to seize power and reveal themselves for what they really are: The American heir of Fascism.

I initially came across Chris Hedges at Truthdig,  in ‘Celebrating Slaughter: War and Collective Amnesia‘, an article about war memorials sanitizing the true nature of war, causing them to be an effective form of  propoganda for future conflict. I was skeptical and prepared to read a disenfranchised university student’s attempt at being controversial, however it turned out to be a very interesting piece. It was this article that caused me to research Hedges publications and purchase ‘American Fascists’ (it sealed the deal when I saw that he had written a book called ‘I Don’t Believe In Atheists’. Personally, I’m intrigued by an author who is willing to make enemies with everyone.)

Chris Hedges is a journalist, Pulitzer Prize winner, a senior fellow at the National Institute and authored ‘War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning’ and ‘What Every Person Should Know About War’ amongst other books. He was a foreign correspondent for nearly two decades and has covered conflicts in Latin America, Africa, The Middle East, The Balkans and The Gaza Strip. Hedges is also a Christian and he speaks of his upbringing in detail. His Father is a Presbyterian Minister and Hedges attended Harvard Divinity School (he graduated, but was not ordained).

Hedges’s Christianity is extremely important in ‘American Fascists’. Despite its bold title and blurb, Hedges doesn’t attempt to simplify the extremely broad range of religious institutions in America, nor does he lump them together. Hedges thesis of fascism rising amongst Christian America is referring to Dominionists:

These values, democratic and Christian, are being dismantled often with stealth, by a radical Christian movement, known as Dominionism, which seeks to cloak itself in the mantle of Christian faith and American Patriotism. Dominionism takes its name from Genesis 1:26-31, in which God gives human beings “dominion” over all creation. This movement, small in number but influential, departs from traditional evangelism.  

He outlines his discussion, as well as how Dominionism effects the rest of America and how it is perpetuated,  in ten chapters:

  • Faith
  • The Culture of Despair
  • Conversion
  • The Cult of Masculinity
  • Persecution
  • The War on Truth
  • The New Class
  • The Crusade
  • God: The Commercial
  • Apocalyptic Violence

Hedges not only deconstructs how the desires and traits of Dominionism align with fascism, he attacks the real causes and dangers this form of fascism presents, as well the events that have already occurred – including the secret meetings of the Council of National Policy (CNP), the Bush Election voter fraud through the Diebold Election Systems, diversion of secular public money toward often ineffectual faith-based organisations and the public acceptance of the ‘War on Terror’.

Particularly worrying is the way people within the Dominionist movement’s reach are enclosed in a reality separate from the rest of the world.

Tens of millions of Americans rely exclusively on Christian Broadcasts for their news, health, entertainment and devotional programs…during the rest of the year [churches] demand nearly all their social, religious and recreational time. These believers are encased in a hermetic world…There are anywhere between 1.1 million and 2.1 million children, nearly all evangelicals, now being home-schooled. These children are not challenged with ideas or research that conflicts with their biblical worldview. Evolution is not taught…These young men and women are often funnelled into Christian colleges and universities, such as Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, Pat Robertson’s Regent University. They are discouraged from critical analysis, questioning and independent thought. And they believe, by the time they are done, a host of myths designed to destroy the open, pluralist society.

This closed circuit of learning, the ridiculous and disturbing development of creationist ‘museums’, the advent of  Intelligent Design and the fallacious redefinitions of excepted scientific theories such as Evolution, creates an environment of ignorance that is appalling and hardly imaginable to other western nations. I have witnessed the results of this education online – through blog posts, blog comments and you tube videos by Christian Fundamentalists. This has caused a backlash amongst humanist and atheist communities, with many blogs springing up to ridicule and deconstruct Dominionism and creationism in the public sphere (the famous youtube ‘Why Do People Laugh At Creationists?‘ series by thunderfoot comes to mind).

Also important to ‘American Fascists’ is Hedges understanding of why people are drawn into the influence of Dominionism and the root causes of fundamentalism in history. Hedges describes the role of vulnerability, poverty and despair in the conversions. People are not drawn to fundamentalism from irrationalism alone, but are ‘love bombed’ by manipulative people praying on the state of despair in others – he tells their stories honestly and without the impulse to deride – an impulse a secular author may have given into. He is not compassionate towards those that benefit from treading on others,  including the rich backers of mega churches and other charlatans such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

Though Hedges’ language is direct, it is not slanderous. However, there are problems with ‘American Fascists’ – Hedges has a tendency to repeat himself and his intensity should have been softened due to the length of the book. The definition of fascism by Umberto Eco is a bit lofty, including it’s ur-fascism title, and because of its placement at the beginning of the book it could cause the reader to think twice about continuing. I believe a more suitable definition of fascism could have been found.

‘American Fascists’ is an extremely important read for Americans as well as other nationalities. Although George W. Bush and the Republican Party, and by association the Dominionists, have been voted out at the moment, the effects of their policies are long reaching and are felt worldwide. Hedges has created an extremely effective snapshot of this movement – from its roots to its capabilities – and identified the real threats, as opposed to the generalisation that all Christians, moderates included, support a fundamentalist worldview.

♥♥♥♥½ – 4½/5

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9 Responses to American Fascists

  1. despicable says:

    The world will become an integrated global village that will fight war no more because to do so would not be productive and it would not be necessary because their will be enough of material wealth to go around and satisfy all the basic needs of all the people everywhere.
    Science will rule, and nations and religions will fall to the wayside and no longer divide earthlings from one another.
    Bigotry born out of tribalism will be a thing of the past and all ignorance promoted by ambitious opportunists that profit by exploiting the simple minded non thinking bigots of the world will become no longer possible inside an environment of social consciousness and world cooperation.
    A world planned economy that is designed by social scientists to profit all of the people in the world without discrimination will replace the outmoded market economy that was designed to only profit selfish individual capitalist owners. The capitalist owners of the means of production will no longer be allowed to exploit the world population of those that work for a living.
    I know that all of what I have written here will come to be, because it is the only thing that can come to be.
    http://despicable.wordpress.com/

    • goldnsilver says:

      Although I wish this kind of thing would happen, I don’t think it is possible.

      Even if science and rationalism were to ‘triumph’ eventually over nationalism and religion, I still cannot see us ever defeating the illogical, selfish, greedy, callous, vicious sides of human nature – a side that helps to inform business ventures, wars and politics as well as everyday life.

      There have been many Empires in the past that have rose to a place of seeming invulnerability and intellectual authority (for instance the Romans) before crumbling back down. I see this as a much more likely eventuality of the global community unfortunately, rather than a the economic and social peace you speak of.

      I was wondering, what brought you to your conclusion?

  2. Pingback: I Don’t Believe In Atheists « The Written Word

  3. despicable says:

    The reason all societies and everything that exists evolve eventually to an advanced stage of development than what formerly existed is the fact that life is a learning experience. If you understand science you will know that science has discovered that matter in motion is a interaction between opposite poles and that all forms of matter and all that reflect matter in motion follows a similar path as they evolve. The evidence of the way all things evolve are similar so it should be no surprise that the stage of Feudalism gave birth to capitalism, and it will be followed by the stage of socialism and than a system of communism will evolve out of the system of socialism. It is inevitable! It has been written in the stars and into everything that ever existed. You may not like what the future will bring, but it will happen because it is the only thing that can happen! …IT”S EVOLUTION!
    PS. …What will happen in the future will not revolve around your likes or dislikes. The future is an expression of the objective forces in the universe and not an expression of the subjective notion of what should and should not be!

  4. goldnsilver says:

    The reason all societies and everything that exists evolve eventually to an advanced stage of development than what formerly existed is the fact that life is a learning experience.

    I agree that life is a learning experience – but society is made up of individuals. Individuals tend to need to learn, often the hardway, about life. This leads to people and countries repeating the same folly, over and over again throughout history. Haven’t you ever heard the term ‘history repeats itself’?

    The evidence of the way all things evolve are similar so it should be no surprise that the stage of Feudalism gave birth to capitalism, and it will be followed by the stage of socialism and than a system of communism will evolve out of the system of socialism. It is inevitable!

    Then how do you explain the dark ages, following the collapse of the roman empire? The dictatorships in the middle east where the Ottoman Empire was the pinacle of education and enlightenment before the Crusades? Or the shambles that is Africa – which was in no where as much ruin before the intervention of such ‘advanced’ nations as America?

    IT”S EVOLUTION!

    Evolution is a biology theory applied to organisms, through the means of natural selection. It cannot be applied to the complex social and historical forces of humans.

    PS. …What will happen in the future will not revolve around your likes or dislikes. The future is an expression of the objective forces in the universe and not an expression of the subjective notion of what should and should not be!

    I entirely agree with this. It will not revolve around your likes and dislikes either. I let history determine what will be – and history testifies that societies around the globe are in a constant flux between good and bad – not a steady upward climb.

  5. Steve says:

    “Personally, I’m intrigued by an author who is willing to make enemies with everyone.”

    I think that is a pretty important trait to look for in an author, particularly one dealing with such complex issues. It at least hints at a certain objectivity, although obviously doesn’t guarantee it. It might just mean they enjoy an argument!

    A really interesting review, I’ll be sure to keep popping back. And thank you for stopping by my site. I really appreciated it.

    • goldnsilver says:

      I think that objectivity is one of the most valuable and hardest traits to hone. For instance, I’m more likely to agree with Hedges, because I like his writing and I’m an atheist, but I try hard to keep my biases in check.

      Thanks for checking out my review, I’ll be keeping an eye on your blog too.

  6. eva2ava says:

    I will have to look up this book. Objectivity is missing from most of critics, popular media journalism these days, and it’s nice to see personal biases did not influence your review.

    From what you quoted – “These young men and women are often funnelled into Christian colleges and universities, such as Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, Pat Robertson’s Regent University. They are discouraged from critical analysis, questioning and independent thought. And they believe, by the time they are done, a host of myths designed to destroy the open, pluralist society. ”

    I’ve got to say that while I do not condone singular-view education, I have listened to a lot of Pat Roberton’s interviews. He does have quite good “critical analysis” skills, and knowing him, I am not convinced that going to his Regent University, a student would be snuffed from independent thought.

    • goldnsilver says:

      I’ve got to say that while I do not condone singular-view education, I have listened to a lot of Pat Roberton’s interviews. He does have quite good “critical analysis” skills, and knowing him, I am not convinced that going to his Regent University, a student would be snuffed from independent thought.

      I’ll have to listen to him. I’d like to hope that a person wouldn’t have the urge for independant thought squashed by attending his schools.

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