Islamofascism and the Rage of Augustine

In response to a long, thoughtful post on religion and democracy. a commenter on the Belmont Club wrote:

A favorite criticism of Christianity is to point to the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition and claim that these events are somehow proof that Christianity is by nature “just another violent religion”. This is both an intellectually shallow and dishonest assessment, since this criticism ignores that fact that these institutionalized excesses did not occur until a full 1000 years into the history of the Christian religion.

The commenter, a Christian apologist, missed or evaded an important point that is relevant to the question of living with Islam and how we cope with the ideological problem of Islamic terrorism. It is indeed true that early Christianity committed only small-scale atrocities against its own ‘heretics’, rather than the really large-scale ones against Jews, witches, and other soi-disant unbelievers that came to characterize it later on. But in interpreting that early period, we need to bear in mind that Christianity changed in fundamental ways after the Donation of Constantine.

I think the turning point was Augustine, though you can see a prefiguration of his ideas in Paul of Tarsus. By making the theology of Fall, sin, and guilt central to Christianity, Augustine transformed it from a relatively harmless mystery cult into a successful monster. Islam underwent a very similar transformation during the early years of the Ummaiyyad caliphate, from a splinter of Monophysite Christianity no more bloody-minded than most tribal cults of the time to a new prosyletizing religion of especially virulent and violent stripe.

Both religions, in their “mature” forms, became strikingly similar to their most important ancestor, which was not Judaism but Zoroastrianism. Augustine was a former adherent of one of the Zoroastrian splinter groups, the Gnostics of Manicheus. He imported Manichean dualism into Christianity almost entire. One can read Zoroastrian descriptions of heaven, hell, angels, the devil, and the fate of sinners from 900 years before Christ and recognize them; they are like nothing else in world religion but very much like Christianity after Augustine, the Christianity that made the Book of Revelations part of its canon.

The Zoroastrian influence on Christianity had always been important. Early Christians had adopted Zoroastrian customs and terminology, especially under the influence of the cult of Mithras which was probably their most important competition in the early centuries. That’s where we got the Sunday sabbath and our words for “priest” and “pope”; even the Eucharist reflects a Mithraic initiation ceremony called the Taurobolion. After Augustine, the Manichean, quasi-Zoroastrian elements of Christianity became dominant and the massacres began, gradually increasing in tempo.

Part of the reason for the reconvergence with Zoroastrianism was doubtless functional. Zoroastrianism had been the state religion of the Persian Empire. It was designed to reinforce the authority of the Priest-Emperor over his vast multi-ethnic rabble of subjects, placing him at the apex of both secular and spiritual authority (and, indeed, making them indistinguishable). The emperors of Rome and the early Caliphs faced a similar set of problems, and enlisted the same kind of religious absolutism as a tool of totalitarian social control.

It was Augustine’s theology of sin and grace that sharpened that tool into a blade. In a nutshell, it reduces to this: (1) We are all sinners, broken and wrong. (2) To escape this condition, we must not only obey authority but internalize it. (3) Even if we succeed at (2), only the whim of divine authority can save us, and that whim is beyond human ken. The tyrant can never be called to account, and to act against him is to be damned.

Worse: in Augustinean theology, the intention to sin is as bad as the act. It is not sufficient to behave as though we believe when we really don’t. It is not even sufficient that we allow authorities to coerce us into believing absurd things or performing atrocities in God’s name. We must conform not only outwardly but inwardly, become our own oppressors, believing because it is absurd. The God-tyrant can never be rejected even in our own minds, or we are damned.

Only when we have installed the sin/guilt/thoughtcrime monitor in our own heads will we be even potentially among the saved. There is a straight line that connects Zoroastrian dualism and Augustine’s sin-centered theology with the Islamic concept of “sarfa” (turning away from God) and Communist talk of “false consciousness” — at some level, the mechanisms to run any stable totalitarianism have to look alike, because they’re all designed to control the same wetware.

The alliance now forming between the Islamo-fascists and the hard left should surprise nobody who understands the deep structure of either belief system. Both are, fundamentally, designed as legitimizing agents for tyranny — memetic machines designed to program you into licking the boot of the commissar or caliph that stomps you. But outside of a tiny minority of the brave (Robert Ingersoll) or the crazy (Nietzsche) Western intellectuals have averted their eyes from this truth, because to recognize it would almost require them to notice that the very same deep structure is wired into the Gnosticized Christianity of “Saint” Augustine — and, in fact, historically derived from it.

Hence the shared Christian/Islamic propensity for putting unbelievers to the sword for merely unbelieving. You will search in vain for such behavior among post-Exilic Jews, or Taoists, or animists, or any other world religion. Only a religion which is totalitarian at its core, fundamentally about thoughtcrime and sin and submission, can even conceive of a need to murder people wholesale for the state of their unbelief. The massacre on St. Bartholomew’s Eve and Stalin’s liquidation of the kulaks were of a piece, both jihads against thoughtcrime.

Islam conceals this less well than Christianity or Communism ever did. The very name, “Islam”, means “submission”. But when Christian evangelists called the destruction on 9/11 God’s punishment for feminism and homosexuals they were singing from the same hymnbook, channelling the same authoritarianism and “ancient religious rage” that Margalit and Buruma’s essay Occidentalism quite correctly diagnosed at the roots of fascism.

It is not difficult to recognize in that rage something deep, twisted, sick, and anti-human, and condemn it for the psychosis it is. It is more difficult, but necessary, to recognize Augustine’s theology of submission — and the concept of “islam” that Islam derived from it — as one of the most subtle and deadliest symptoms of that pychosis, one which leads to massacre as surely as a stab wound bleeds.

Totalitarian religion and democracy are not, in the end, compatible. Free people cannot — indeed, must never — submit in the way that Zoroaster, Augustine, Mohammed, and Stalin required. The Founding Fathers understood this, and when George Washington wrote “The United States is in no way founded upon the Christian religion” on a diplomatic message to the Knights of Malta they were expressing it.

Islamic terrorism is forcing us to face this fact. But we will not be able to understand and squarely confront the evil at the heart of Islam, Naziism, and Communism, until we face the fact that all three of these monsters are Augustine’s progeny, and that same evil is embedded in Christianity itself.

37 thoughts on “Islamofascism and the Rage of Augustine

  1. This post reminded me of a something that you might consider “anectodal evidence” of your speculation.

    I heard from a professor at Eden Seminary (in St. Louis). He claimed that capitalism and communism were both Christian heresies. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to get an explanation of why he thought that.

  2. The problem with these kinds of analyses is that they turn the same blind eye towards terrorism that the writer accuses Nietzsche and others of turning to the roots of Christianity.

    Terrorism in the modern world is the weapon of choice of people who do not have standing armies and conventional warfare capabilities. Be it the Tamil Tigers, Hezbollah, or the ETA. They aren’t on some mission to convert the world to their religion.

    They are pissed off and want the injustices (perceived or real) that they have been subjected to to be ended and the inflicters of those injustices to be punished. 100+ years of dumb-ass foreign policy and colonial occupation in the Middle East has created the situation we have there today – not some crusade by “islamofascists” to convert joe sixpack in the heartland of america to the religion of Allah lest they be smited by the sword. That’s just boogeyman nonsense.

    It may sell books, and get idiots elected, but that doesn’t make it true.

  3. So, the thousands of Jews and Pagans and temples that were killed/desecrated both before and after Constantine by the likes of St. John Chrysostom were ‘only small-scale atrocities agains its own ‘heretics”? That’s pretty silly.
    IMO- you want to blame someone, blame Paul o’ Tarsus. He’s responsible for it metastasing, and for telling people to convert everybody, with mayhem implicit.

  4. As a student of history I had noticed some of the results / examples of a faith being used as a tool for the enforcement of political power. A description of the conversion of Scandanavia in the 900s is a beautiful example. Centralized authority needed a centralized faith, and torture to death those who want to stay with the old gods.
    I also recall a history professor noting that the Roman Catholic church was basically an institution that had been developed to enforce European feudalism. After Martin Luther it tried for a century to exterminate Protestantism with military force, but failed. Since the mid 17th Century it has not known what to do with its self.
    I had not however “connected the dots” to the depth of your essay. I knew about Zoroastrianism of course, but only as a sort of relict faith, in deep decline since its days of glory.
    That this the first of the world’s monotheisms so heavily contributed to the rise of authoritarian Christianity I was not aware.
    Obviously I have to read up some more on this topic.
    Anyway, my compliments on a superb essay.

  5. > But in interpreting that early period, we need to bear in mind
    } that Christianity changed in fundamental ways after the
    } Donation of Constantine.

    Uh, you mean Conversion of Constantine. “Donation of Constantine” refers to the fake documents discovered in the middle ages that ceded political control of central Italy to the Papacy.

    But, yeah, Christianity is a virus. And so is Islam (though referring to even parts of it as “Islamofascism” dulls the the mind.)

    Richard Dawkins’ /Viruses of the Mind/:
    http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/WorldOfDawkins-archive/Dawkins/Work/Articles/1993-summervirusesofmind.shtml


    Leons Petrazickis
    (I am the kind of leftist who wants to keep the government out of the bedrooms and to make sure it keeps a careful watch of the boardrooms.)

  6. > But in interpreting that early period, we need to bear in mind
    } that Christianity changed in fundamental ways after the
    } Donation of Constantine.

    Uh, you mean Conversion of Constantine. “Donation of Constantine” refers to the fake documents discovered in the middle ages that ceded political control of central Italy to the Papacy.

    But, yeah, Christianity is a virus. And so is Islam (though referring to even parts of it as “Islamofascism” dulls the the mind.)

    Richard Dawkins’ /Viruses of the Mind/:
    http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/WorldOfDawkins-archive/Dawkins/Work/Articles/1993-summervirusesofmind.shtml


    Leons Petrazickis
    (I am the kind of leftist who wants to keep the government out of the bedrooms and to make sure it keeps a careful watch of the boardrooms.)

  7. Yet another stimulating post, thank’s Eric. In this epic i would like to compare the leopard’s head to religon and terrorism in an early ‘democracy’, an analogy if you will.. Now i am flashing back to the text-book version of 2001: A Space Odissey, Author: Arthur C. Clarke, this begins just after moon-watchers tribe fights off a leopard that has been hunting and killing them, after falling to its death it is has become the days food. Now the head of the nemesis is used for something else…. Quote ” From their side of the stream, in the never-violated safety of their own territory, the Others first saw Mo
    on-Watcher and a dozen males of his tribe as a moving frieze against the dawn sky. At once they began to scream
    their daily challenge; but this time, there was no answer.

    Steadily, purposefully – above all, silently – Moon-Watcher and his band descended the low hillock that over
    looked the river; and as they approached, the Others became suddenly quiet. Their ritual rage ebbed away, to be
    replaced by a mounting fear. They were dimly aware that something had happened, and that this encounter was unli
    ke all those that had ever gone before.

    The bone clubs and knives that Moon-Watcher’s group carried did not alarm them, for they did not understand
    their purpose. They only knew that their rivals’ movements were now imbued with determination, and with menace.

    The party stopped at the water’s edge, and for a moment the Others’ courage revived. Led by One-Ear, they ha
    lfheartedly resumed their battle chant. It lasted only a few seconds before a vision of terror struck then dumb.

    Moon-Watcher raised his arms high into the air, revealing the burden that until now had been concealed by th
    e hirsute bodies of his companions. He was holding a stout branch, and impaled upon it was the bloody head of th
    e leopard. The mouth had been jammed open with a stick, and the great fangs gleamed a ghastly white in the first
    rays of the rising sun.

    Most of the Others were too paralyzed with fright to move; but some began a slow, stumbling retreat. That wa
    s all the encouragement that Moon-Watcher needed. Still holding the mangled trophy above his head, he started to
    cross the stream. After a moment’s hesitation, his companions splashed after him.

    When Moon-Watcher reached the far side, One-Ear was still standing his ground. Perhaps he was too brave or t
    oo stupid to run; perhaps he could not really believe that this outrage was actually happening. Coward or hero,
    it made no difference in the end, as the frozen snarl of death came crashing down upon his uncomprehending head.” –some humor i think, also some truth to this nowdays…

  8. *Repost* Yet another stimulating post, thank’s Eric.
    In this epic i would like to compare the leopard’s head
    to religon and terrorism in an early
    ‘democracy’, an analogy if you will…
    Now i am flashing back to the text-book version of
    2001: A Space Odissey, Quoting Arthur C. Clarke,
    this part begins just after moon-watchers tribe fought off
    a leopard that has been hunting and killing them,
    after falling to its death it has become the days food.
    Now the severed head of the nemesis will be used for something else….
    Quote “From their side of the stream, in the never-violated safety of their own territory, the Others first
    saw Moon-Watcher and a dozen males of his tribe as a moving frieze against the dawn sky. At once they
    began to scream thier daily challenge; but this time, there was no answer.
    Steadily, purposefully – above all, silently – Moon-Watcher and his band descended the low hillock that
    over looked the river; and as they approached, the Others became suddenly quiet. Their ritual rage ebbed
    away, to be replaced by a mounting fear. They were dimly aware that something had happened, and that this encounter
    was unlike all those that had ever gone before.
    The bone clubs and knives that Moon-Watcher’s group carried did not alarm them, for they did not
    understand their purpose. They only knew that their rivals’ movements were now imbued with determination, and with menace.
    The party stopped at the water’s edge, and for a moment the Others’ courage revived. Led by One-Ear,
    they halfheartedly resumed their battle chant. It lasted only a few seconds before a vision of terror struck them dumb.
    Moon-Watcher raised his arms high into the air, revealing the burden that until now had been concealed
    by the hirsute bodies of his companions. He was holding a stout branch, and impaled upon it was the bloody
    head of the leopard.
    The mouth had been jammed open with a stick, and the great fangs gleamed a ghastly white in the first rays of the rising sun.
    Most of the Others were too paralyzed with fright to move; but some began a slow, stumbling retreat
    That was all the encouragement that Moon-Watcher needed. Still holding the mangled trophy above his head,
    he started to cross the stream.
    After a moment’s hesitation, his companions splashed after him.
    When Moon-Watcher reached the far side, One-Ear was still standing his ground. Perhaps he was too brave
    or too stupid to run; perhaps he could not really believe that this outrage was actually happening. Coward
    or hero, it made no difference in the end, as the frozen snarl of death came crashing down upon his
    uncomprehending head.” –some humor i think, also some truth to this nowdays.

  9. Of all evils, of examples of mans in humanity to man. what can compare to the left ?

    What compares to 100+ Million murdered, one figure noted is a combined is 174 Million murdered by the left. what compares with that,

    That is many times the 43 million battle dead of all wars, that does not even compare to the 61 Million innocents butchered in the USSR.

    Compared to leftist mass murder, all else looks like statistical noise proving leftism, measured in the murder of the helpless, as the most evil of all evils ever to have existed on earth.

    As for the christians, it was corrupted when it became the seat of political power. that began to be righted by Martin Luther, where the rediscovery of freedom by western culture can be said to have begun.

    As for the so called crusades, one must remember the attack of islam, a religion spread by the sword and the flame

    The invasion of islam can be said to have been turned back Sept 11 1683 at the gates of Vienena under command of a polish general, the so called “knowlege” of that backward cult they uinherited from the Byzantine empire and the Roman empire before the move of the capitol

    The idea that they ever had anything to offer civilzation is a crock, sure the Roman dominated lands was indeed a center of learning even after the loss of the Library at Alexander, ruled by the greeks ever since Alexander the great and on into the last two greek rulers Cleopatra and her Brother, who ruled under a compact entered into by their father with Rome.

    With the birth of islam, a history of rape the flame and murder and stolen plunder that offered the worlkd nothing created nothing and destroyed everything everywhere it went, the Arabic peoples lost everything they had inherted from the Greeks, Romans and Byzantium and put it to the flame.

    It was this islamic Invasion that took all of the middle east and half of france where you see the pinacle and long decline beginning in 1683 (the Christian serbs have one of these battles as a very important part of their identity) that was the turning point, beginning of the end of the islamic invasion.

    http://www.prophetofdoom.net/toc.html

    That is a good history of islam, the Budda statues they destroyed in Afganistan was nothing they have not been doing ever since the birth of that evil good for nothing cult.

    One of the things they was doing in Afganistan before they came onto the public radar, they would send people out to reclaim stolen artworks, one 5000 year old statue was held by a museum in Boston, and the leftist brainfuck there was all too happy to give it back to a fellow in military garb they played a huge part in the gaining clearance for the man to affect its retrival. no more would this stolen tresure be held in by the Evil United States ! .. After the man took possession and was about to leave, the man asked where theis statue would be displayed. the man answered, ” Ill put it in a barrel .. drop in a grenade,, Boom ! no more statue, this peagan abomination must be destroyed ! “

  10. Corbetti:
    An analysis like this doesn’t ignore terrorism. An analysis like this merely helps explain why casting their gripes as a “holy war” is such an effective recruiting tactic for the leaders of terrorist organisations. The actual reasons the terrorist leaders want mayhem and destruction, and the line they sell to their frontline troops are not necessarily related.

  11. Corbetti:
    Islam was expanding militarily way before there was such a thing called colonialism. One of the other posters mentioned a battle against Islamic forces in Christian Serb’s history. It was the Battle of Kosovo that happened in 1387 after which Serbia was occupied by Ottoman Empire for over 400 years. During that time Ottoman Empire continued its expansion toward the heart of Europe and didn’t back down until it lost to Austrian Empire in Battle of Vienna (1683). After that the long decline began allowing for expansion of western powers into territories previously occupied by Ottoman Empire (like most of North Africa) So what really happened is that after being defeated militarily Islamic extremists reverted to terrorism. Today’s Turks don’t want to occupy Europe any more than today’s Austrians want to occupy Istambul. But that doesn’t stop extremists wanting to expand and force One True Religion on everybody.

  12. Raymond: You’ve fallen victim to a selection effect. You point out how many supposedly ‘leftist’ ideologies lead to mass murder and how it stacks up against all-time war deaths, yet you fail to note that leftist deaths have only taken place during eras of extraordinarily high populations, nay, unpredcendtly, unthinkably high population levels.
    In number of instances, a more valid interpretation, ‘rightist’ massacres are far, far, far higher.
    To wit, leftist massacres appear so much worse than rightist because of when they took place.

  13. Raymond:
    You said: “Of all evils, of examples of mans in humanity to man. what can compare to the left ?

    What compares to 100+ Million murdered, one figure noted is a combined is 174 Million murdered by the left. what compares with that,

    That is many times the 43 million battle dead of all wars, that does not even compare to the 61 Million innocents butchered in the USSR.

    Compared to leftist mass murder, all else looks like statistical noise proving leftism, measured in the murder of the helpless, as the most evil of all evils ever to have existed on earth.

    As for the Christians, it was corrupted when it became the seat of political power. that began to be righted by Martin Luther, where the rediscovery of freedom by western culture can be said to have begun.”

    This analysis only looks at the number of deaths caused by Communism. Although the number of human deaths that they have caused is staggering, I would move that we should also take into account all those others that may not have found violent death in gulags but have lived all their life in spirit-crushing existence of totalitarian power. So instead of just comparing the numbers of violent deaths caused by Communism, Totalitarian Christianity, Totalitarian Islam, Fascism, etc. we should calculate integrals under the curves of population ruled by such regimes.

    A quick parallel with viruses: Fascism was so violent and virulent that it spent itself damn fast while Communism can still be found today. Does it mean that Communism is “better” than Fascism? Well, I guess it’s like asking is AIDS better than Bubonic Plague. We should try to prevent these diseases and we should try to prevent such regimes.

  14. “Fascism was so violent and virulent that it spent itself damn fast while Communism can still be found today.”

    The roman Facis, a bundle of sticks surrounding an axe, was the symbol of Authority, Benito took that for is brand of “Third Way” Socialism .. Mousulinis parents was hard core socialists, he was a socialist, he rose to power thru the Italian socialist party. Facism, the name took its name from the Roman facis, an italian logo el Duche’s brand of leftism …

    There are no mass graves in itally however, thousands of Jews owe their lives to Facist italians, facism is just another flavor of leftism

    Hitler was a Socialist, he changed the name from the german workers party to the national socialist german workers party, he was offended by the international socialists, the communists, because they was internationalist, Hitler was a nationalist, the indoctrinare dispute among leftists, the National Socialists of Germany vs the International socialists like Stalin was just that, an indoctrinare dispute among leftists.

    And Hilter, in body count with his 21 Million murdered comes in 3rd place behind the USSR and Maoist China

    Stalin had his people murder by quota, even the veitcong murdered by quota.

    “the Soviet secret police issued death quotas to its regional departments. The quotas were filled with indiscriminate killing. Mothers who came to police headquarters to inquire about their arrested sons could be taken outside and shot to help fill the quotas. Children were murdered for the crimes of their parents.”

    ” The Vietnamese communists had a simple plan for establishing themselves in power: kill anyone who opposed them. They implemented this plan in 1945 and have continued using it to this day. Apart from the normal, workaday murder of fellow communists, the Viet Minh slaughtered non-communist politicians and sympathizers by the thousands, including in this class- and therefore murdering as well- the friends, family members, and children of their political enemies. [...] anyone with an above average income (say, an extra cow), or anyone who once upon a time had an above average income, or anyone whose ancestors had had an above average income. The lower class peasants were instructed to choose which of their fellow villagers fell into this category, and kill them. The central government laid down a death quota- 5 percent of the population of each village were to be killed.”

    In cambodia the population was indee lower, so indeed we must remember that the killing fields of some 2+ Million people is a full ONE THIRD of the population!

    Im sorry, but your “everybody does it” typical leftist crap-speak is just that, a bunch of utter total crap.

    Of the measure of all evils of man, nothing is in even the same galaxy with the left with their incomprehensable mountain of dead.

    What other fuckin promise of utopia included Murder by QUOTA !

    Show me just one fucking non leftist example of that what dont you.

    This idea that leftism shoud, somehow still be repected since the laternative are not perfection .. the demand for perfection, ie the idea that since the free world isnt perfectm we should look to the utter totaly absolute glactic worse that has ever existed as the source for “solutions” to the free world problems. is an insult to thought itself.

  15. “Fascism was so violent and virulent that it spent itself damn fast while Communism can still be found today.”

    The roman Facis, a bundle of sticks surrounding an axe, was the symbol of Authority, Benito took that for is brand of “Third Way” Socialism .. Mousulinis parents was hard core socialists, he was a socialist, he rose to power thru the Italian socialist party. Facism, the name took its name from the Roman facis, an italian logo el Duche’s brand of leftism.

    There are no mass graves in Italy however, thousands of Jews owe their lives to Facist italians, facism is just another flavor of leftism.

    Hitler was a Socialist, he changed the name from the german workers party to the national socialist german workers party, he was offended by the international socialists, the communists, because they was internationalist, Hitler was a nationalist, the indoctrinare dispute among leftists.

    The National Socialists of Germany vs the International socialists like Stalin was just that, an indoctrinare dispute among leftists.

    Hilter, with his 21 Million murdered comes in 3rd place behind the USSR and Maoist China

    Stalin had his people murder by quota, even the veitcong murdered by quota.

    “the Soviet secret police issued death quotas to its regional departments. The quotas were filled with indiscriminate killing. Mothers who came to police headquarters to inquire about their arrested sons could be taken outside and shot to help fill the quotas. Children were murdered for the crimes of their parents.”

    “The Vietnamese communists had a simple plan for establishing themselves in power: kill anyone who opposed them. They implemented this plan in 1945 and have continued using it to this day. Apart from the normal, workaday murder of fellow communists, the Viet Minh slaughtered non-communist politicians and sympathizers by the thousands, including in this class- and therefore murdering as well- the friends, family members, and children of their political enemies. [...] anyone with an above average income (say, an extra cow), or anyone who once upon a time had an above average income, or anyone whose ancestors had had an above average income. The lower class peasants were instructed to choose which of their fellow villagers fell into this category, and kill them. The central government laid down a death quota- 5 percent of the population of each village were to be killed.”

    In cambodia the population was indeed lower, so we must remember that the killing fields of some 2+ Million people is a full ONE THIRD of the population!

    Im sorry, but your “everybody does it” typical leftist crap-speak is just that, a bunch of utter total crap.

    Of the measure of all evils of man, nothing is in even the same galaxy with the left with their incomprehensable mountain of dead.

    What other fuckin promise of utopia included Murder by QUOTA !

    Show me just one fucking non leftist example of that what dont you. This idea that leftism shoud, somehow still be repected since the alaternatives are not perfection. Hmmph

    The demand for perfection, ie the idea that since the free world isnt perfect we should look to the utter totaly absolute glactic worse that has ever existed as the source for “solutions” to the free world problems. is an insult to thought itself

    Nothing compares to the evil of the left in power, nothing. not even in the same galaxy.

  16. “The National Socialists of Germany vs the International socialists like Stalin was just that, an indoctrinare dispute among leftists.”

    I disagree. It was a dispute among Collectivists (as Ayn Rand called them in another context) The difference is that some belive in Race+State (Right) and others in Class+State (Left) For the record, Fascism and especially Nazism today has a bad name but Communism is no better (in my opinion) They all want to break human spirit and bring eternal misery to our species.

    “Im sorry, but your “everybody does it” typical leftist crap-speak is just that, a bunch of utter total crap.”

    Man, this is the first time that anyone ever accused me of being leftist :) I can’t help but laughing – I can’t wait to tell some of my friends about this.

    For the record, I was born and raised under Communism and I know just how rotten it is. I know what it feels like (and I know how good is to live outside of it) Maybe I didn’t explain myself well enough but in any case you misunderstood me. In fact I was trying to make a point that Communism *still lives* even though it killed millions of people. But even worse from my point of view, are those **billions** of man-years of human misery inflicted by it. And since it still lives it’s still dangerous.

    “Of the measure of all evils of man, nothing is in even the same galaxy with the left with their incomprehensable mountain of dead.

    What other fuckin promise of utopia included Murder by QUOTA !

    Show me just one fucking non leftist example of that what dont you. This idea that leftism shoud, somehow still be repected since the alaternatives are not perfection. Hmmph”

    Dude, you are reading what you want into my comments. In fact the entire tone of your post is rather hostile and largely ignores what I wrote. You read what you wanted to read and ignored the rest.

    Anyway, I certainly never said that left should be respected. But you’re not going to hear me say that since left is so bad then right is necessarily so good. It’s good only by comparison (which speaks tons of both sides) The Right stands against the Left but it does *not* stand for Freedom – the thing I strive for the most.

    “Nothing compares to the evil of the left in power, nothing. not even in the same galaxy.”

    Well no, nothing compares to evil period. Today Communism is still the enemy No 1 maily because people are ignoring XX century and its experiences. But even when we finally defeat it, something else will spring up. I’m just afraid that we will have to have another round of it before people finally understand how destructive and anti-human it is.

    Btw, human race wasn’t doing all that well before Marx came up with his ideas. Or were all those evil tyrants before Marx leftists too? I go with Ayn Rand: it’s not the Left not the Right in particular, it’s the collectivist spirit that we must fight. It’s all those that always have to “break a few eggs to make an omlet”. It’s those that will sacrifice each and every one of us on their altar of their “higher ideas” be it classless society or pure race. It’s all those that will impose their values thru coercion. Communism may be the biggest, badest so far but it’s *not* the only one.

    Just take a look around. Are Islamic Terrorists leftists too? Do they want means of production in the hands of the workers? Do they want classless society? No and no and no. But are they evil? Could they bring more destruction than was ever known before by just one nuke? Could they bring total destruction to our planet just by any of nuclear powers going nuclear in retaliation? Yes and yes and yes. Hell, Commisars were rational *compared* to these guys (and only in comparison) Raging against the Left while ignoring the rest is a recepie for a desaster.

  17. In my opinion, the biggest problem with modern western religion (Judeaism, Islamism, and Christianity) is that it remove personal responsibility from those whom espouse it. This is particularly dangerous in a leader. Another problem is the idea of Apocalypse — that the world will come to a cataclysmic end and that this is a good thing and should be encouraged. This is the true danger of Fundamentalism — the idea that we can do anything we want to the environment because our reward is not here on Earth, but in heaven. Logically, the conclusion is that the faster we destroy the Earth, the faster we bring about the Rapture.

    Complete bullshit, to be sure, but many people believe in it whole-heartedly.

  18. Regarding the last paragraph of the post, it appears to make the case that Augustinian Christianity has a bad case of original sin!  How ironic.

  19. The founding fathers may have wanted a seperation of church and state, but they hardly anticipated or favored a wholly irrelegious body politic. Washington said in his farewell address:

    Let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

  20. Ivan,

    “Are Islamic Terrorists leftists too?”

    Yes ! many of them are ! look at Arafat, the father of modern terrorism, guess what, he was a marxist !

    As to the rest, well said, I cant find great fault with it except, .. name one thing about the Nazis that was “Right Wing”

    Here is a hint.

    “We are socialists because we see in socialism the only chance to maintain our racial inheritance and to regain our political freedom and renew our German state.”

    “We are a workers’ party because we are on the side of labor and against finance.”

    “As socialists we are opponents of the Jews because we see in the Hebrews the incarnation of capitalism, of the misuse of the nation’s goods.”

    — Joseph Goebbels, 1932

    Evil “Capitalist” Jews eh ?

    The left call Hilters National socialist “Right Wing” because he was to the right of Stalin, and most likly want to put distance between them and their embarrasing kindred,, but that ignores the fact, that to everyone that is not a full nutbar Bolshivic or Red Kihmer, he is just another example or flavor of radical leftist.

  21. Re: Goebbels

    Goebbels (and Hitler, and National Socialist propaganda) said what they thought would help them gain votes. Indeed, the party (and Hitler especially) had to maintain a balancing act between saying such things (that were popular with the general population) and avoiding alienating the industrialists (and other financial heavyweights), whom they needed for financial support.

    ‘Evil “Capitalist” Jews eh’ Except the quote makes no mention of ‘evil’.

  22. You say “outside of a tiny minority of the brave (Robert Ingersoll) or the crazy (Nietzsche) Western intellectuals have averted their eyes from this truth”. Why don’t you mention Ayn Rand? Rand was able to condemn Christianity and socialism equally easily, without being a lunatic like Nietzsche, and should be one of the most important thinkers to someone like you.

  23. } Does it mean that Communism is “better” than Fascism? Well, I guess
    } it’s like asking is AIDS better than Bubonic Plague. We should try to
    } prevent these diseases and we should try to prevent such regimes.

    Oooh, Communism is a disease. Your articulate rhetoric has touched my heart with its lofty erudition.

  24. Christians persecuted the local followers of traditional religions, yes, but so did Buddhists in Mongolia. *Any* state religion is going to become persecutory; this fact doesn’t need a special explanation rooted in the history of the particular religion.

  25. You undermine your entire point and actually COMMEND Christianity when you point out that Augustinian theology (i.e., the plain teachings of Jesus and the New Testament) requires not just outward obedience for salvation, but inward submission.

    Because inward submission must be achieved by persuasion rather than coercion, the final effect of such a philosophy in any society will be freedom of conscience and expression. It was only when the Reformers staked their lives on such an outlook in the middle ages that the tide began to turn against the direct political power of a particular religion. I’m not saying that they themselves belived in freedom of expression. But there were unknown implications to what they were doing.

    My point is simply that Augustinian theology takes us back to what the Bible itself teaches: the requirement of INWARD submission to God. This in turn leads a society to end physical religious coersion (since it doesn’t matter), which in turn leads to freedom of thought, which in turn leads to freedom of expression.

    You should thank God for Augustine and his philosophical descendents, the Reformers. Without them, America would not have been the first true haven for the freedoms we all so cherish.

  26. If you try and connect the dots as to exactly what influence Zoroastrianism had on Christianity, and when this influence happened, you will quickly find out that the answer is open to interpretation. What can be traced to Mithraism, and what can be traced to the Jewish exile? It is fascinating, but quite confusing. But don’t blame Augustine’s theology of original sin on Zoroastrianism. As I understand it (R. C. Zaehner is my main guide) Zoroastrianism had a lot more in common with Pelagianism in that free will was paramount. (Although I’m sure the religion took on many forms and went down many paths, most of which are now hard to discern.) I don’t think you could blame it on Manichaeism either, but as Augustine supposedly once said, ‘Love God, and do what you will.’ (It seems completely out of character to me.) Islam certainly isn’t dualistic, and while Christianity is more of a confusing mess, it’s still more or less a monistic religion, but with the devil for a scapegoat. Or a powerful tool to use against your infidel enemies (don’t take the terrorists word for it; ask the American President). Maybe you could blame that on the Zoroastrians, but again, it just isn’t that easy. I would agree that Augustine did more harm than good, often attacking Origin, who in my opinion was much better for Christianity. Augustine became something of a posterboy for religious intolerance. Very interesting topic though, and I enjoyed your article.

  27. To John Cowan:

    It was not “the Buddhists” who persecuted people. It were Mongols, who adopted Buddhism from Tibet simply because they were impressed by the special abilities of Lamas but they, as being violent people, never ever really understood Buddhist way of thinking. To them, Buddhism was just a banner. And when Tsongkapa created his reforms and founded the Gelugpa (yellow-hat) sect, they invaded Tibet and massacred the red-hat monasteries, which is clearly against everything Buddha taught. Mongols never really been real Buddhists.

  28. The things you wrote about christianity don’t give the complete picture.
    To have that, you should have said some things from the Bible.

    First, the thing that we are all sinners is clearly stated in the Bible, but it also states the “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have life eternal”. That means that salvation is not to be something that a believer must strive to earn, not is it depending on the whim of a tyrant god, but that it is the gift of God that a believer accepts.
    Moreover, the first christians died for their beliefs not obeying the authorities, bu rather obeying God. The Bible teaches that a believer must respect the authorities provided that they do not command him to do something that is against the Word of God (such as plunder, rape, murder &c). That would mean that a true christian should pay his taxes and not think of making some revolution by killing other people.
    How things were twisted!
    It appears that anyone holds up whatever suites him from this book and minimizes, ignores and tries to keep hidden all the other texts that condemn him (for there is enough in it to condemn any human being except Christ).

  29. You guys are all much too cerebral for you own good; religiously or politcally. How is it said? That they “profess themselves to be wise but are become fools”. Of course, in your analysis, this would warrent your death sentence from me (as an unabashed fundamentalist) on the verdict of your obvious folly. But thankfully religious tyrrany is not part & parcel of unorthodox Christianity. Excuse me for throwing that in. I realize the concept may be too large to wrap your mind around. If you attempted to think out of the box for once you may stumble into the epiphany that religious structuring always invites oppression. What prevents you from separating that from genuine faith is beyond me. What is even further myopic on your part is the absolute benevolence and self-sacriifice the marked the origins of Christianity in contrast to the perpetual state of antagonism with which Muhammed founded Islam. In other words Muhammedism has always been a hybrid religious structure consisting of Judeo-Christiam myths and pagan rites. It was bred with this construct. What I would like you to answer is how you would conjure such an exacting standard of scrutiny for Christendom to level it on par with the brutally expansionist Muslims? Have you escalated the contemplations of Augustine, however skewed they may be, to the rantings of Allah’s prophet who sanctions Jews and Christians to be struck in the neck? Sir, you really ought to get a grip. A true faith needs no constructs but by your analysis you have proven you can discern neither between the religious or the mystical and have discarded both of them to your own peril.

  30. If you don’t think that Judaism had totalitarian aspects, read the Book of Judges. It’s a hymnal to obedience to a totalitarian dictator.

  31. esr

    Since I could not make any reasonable contribution on Augustine with a Wikipedia reading I did the next best thing and searched for contemporary writing on Augustine and politics.
    Augustine’s World and Ours

    It seems that you may not have granted Augustine the complexity his writings deserved. Just dismising him as a Zoroastrian seems like you are cutting the pieces to fit your puzzle.

    Political philosophy in the abstract can make good reading but it’s woefully inadequate as an explanation of why people organize the way they do, or as a description of how they organize. I believe that question can best be addressed, maybe even only addressed, through the actions of the institutions they create.

  32. @Richard Gadsden: The Book of Judges illustrates totalitarianism? Really? The book that describes a period of time where “In those days there was no king in Israel: everyone did that which was right in his own eyes”?

    I would further add that you could find better examples of tyranny in the books of First and Second Samuel, and First and Second Kings; the funny thing about these books, however, is that many of the examples of tyranny were condemned by God. (King Ahab’s taking of Naboth’s field, among several examples.)

    We should be cautious of ascribing tyrannical tendencies to ancient religions and philosophies. Previous commenters have mentioned Taoists and Buddists and less-inclined to produce tyranny as other modes of thought; the fact is, however, than when it suited tyrannical rulers, they used Taoism to justify their tyranny; the example has already been given of the Moguls using Budhism to justify their violence (however wrong it was to do so).

    For what it’s worth, I’m inclined to conclude that the Bible tends to reinforce the importance of individual rights, and that tyrants who use the words of the Bible to justify their tyranny, do so by twisting its meaning. Of course, this reflects my Individualist biases; even so, I could make a fairly strong case for my interpretataion, if I were to put my mind to it.

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