Myth and Mysticism in Civil Religions and the Mass Psychology of Fascism

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Myth and Mysticism in Civil Religions and the Mass Psychology of Fascism

This continues a discussion that began in General Conversation, Introductions and Humor which may be read here:


Snerd wrote:
Cleveralias wrote:
Snerd wrote:
DarkNexus wrote:


personal beliefs or values: a set of strongly-held beliefs, values, and attitudes that somebody lives by

By that definition, you could even call atheism a religion.

That's bullshit because then political views can become religions. Now, some people act like politics is religion, but that ain't so, Jack.

I would respectfully disagree. What you say is true if you limit your definition to theistic religion but there are other kinds of worship. Buddhism is unique in being the only major world religion that makes no claim of divine revelation. In most modern totalitarian regimes fascist leaders have created secular religions that place themselves at the godhead - Stalin did this in the USSR and Kim Il-sung has done it in North Korea. Even here in the United States you can observe the elements of a civil religion - with Lincoln as the father god and Kennedy as the Christ figure (bit of a stretch but it makes for interesting discussion).

But in the fascist regimes, the people had no real choice. It was either bow down or be killed. As for Lincoln, just because people like what he did for the nation, doesn't mean people think he's a god. Same thing with Kennedy. Kennedy was a fuck up. People might have a certain nostalgia for his presidency, but I don't think that can honestly be considered a form of worship. Admiration and nostalgia do not a religion make.

I believe we are arguing over semantics, but I feel this is a topic worthy of its own thread, so please indulge me and allow me to elaborate my point. People living under the Inquisition had no choice but to bow to Rome - does that disqualify catholicism as a religion? Or look at it this way - religion is the most powerful tool ever developed by humanity to enslave the minds and bodies of men. In the Mass Psychology of Fascism Wilhelm Reich argues that patriarchal religions are a tool for "preparing" the human mind for enslavement - the existence of the Father God gives the justification for the Kings power over the peasantry (divine right of kings) and that in turn gives justification for the father to have dominion over his wife and children (every man a king in his home). These power structures are hard wired into our politics and psychology - In modern times other concepts have evolved to replace the notion of god to justify fascism - in the Soviet model "the state" replaces god and religious worship is outlawed but the religious tactics are still used (devotion to icons, ceremony, mass recitation of propaganda) to enslave the people and quash decent.

The same tactics and methods are at work even in our "free society" in the US - arguments can be made that Lincoln was a tyrant and that the constitution hasn't mattered since his presidency. Kennedy is a reported adulterer and I am sure had many other human failings. But in the mythos of American history they fulfill rolls that you can see repeated throughout history - The Iconograpy of Lincoln on His throne (with fasces on the arms by no small coincidence) can clearly be seen as that of the stern father God who "preserved the union". The mysticism around Kennedy is fresher and less developed by he can easily be seen as the "sacrificed favored son" which is typified by the Christ Myth, his reign is already referred to as "camelot" which is where Arthur another mythical Christ/Aragaon figure who is the rightful once and future king also ruled . These are all archetypes that repeat throughout many civilizations and mythologies and have a powerful hold on the human conscious. The most recent I have noticed here in Texas is that of Selena - the young tejano star who was killed by a devoted fan - among the Hispanic population here there is already iconography of her that is nearly identical to that of the Virgin Mary or "Our Lady of Guadalupe". I am not arguing that these symbols and archetypes prove the existence of an American State Religion, only that there are religious elements and themes that can be found in the myth of any civilization and that these archetypes can be manipulated by those in power control those they rule over.


[MOD EDIT - added link to original thread to shorten width of page and fixed quotes]

Technically faith is just the opposite of paranoia - the irrational belief that someone is out to help you ~ The Vandingo

Lincoln Fasces

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But from what you're

But from what you're saying, anything can be made into a religion, which, for the most part, I don't disagree with. Look at my Kung Fu Jesus. I'm sure that if I talked to the right people and said the right things, I could get tax exempt status and have my own religion. But! We're talking about historical figures, which, to my knowledge have no worshippers at all.

Of course they could easily have followers if you spun their stories a certain way. "Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. The Abe giveth, and the Abe taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Abe." Yeah, it's funny, but I'm pretty sure no one thinks like that about Lincoln. For one, if they worshipped him, they wouldn't call him "Abe;" he hated that. Just because we consider people to be great, doesn't make them worthy of secret religious status. Even the most label hungry people such as the Buddhist in the father topic of this wouldn't be a Lincoln worshipper. I just don't think that because the admiration of someone equals worship. I admire Bill Hicks. I quote him all the time. I have all of his albums. I even bought his book. If anything, that just makes me a fan. Yes, we get "fan" from "fanatic," but I didn't mean it in the religious sense. I just couldn't think of a synonym at the time.

As for the Inquisition, Catholicism was established before that. They weren't just starting out then, they were recruiting.

As for dictatorships, if they didn't want to be seen as gods, they wouldn't set themselves up as such. I think we can agree that the people living under them have no real choice.

I must say that I love this topic. If I could, I would also like to talk with you personally. If you have AIM, can you PM me your screen name? I think we could have some interesting discussions. I actually know a political science major; if he's on, we can bounce ideas off of him as a moderator for a debate.