Religion and Violence

One moring at the gates of the Louvre

Sometimes, I get the uneasy feeling that the New Atheists might be right after all. Perhaps there is something latently violent in the religious imagination, some feature, or tendency, encouraged by religion that the world would better be without.

I kind of got that feeling after Paris and Mali, I felt it a little bit more after the attack on the Planned Parenthood office attack in Colorado, but it really hits me when I reflect on the recent brutal killings in San Bernardino where both the intimate cruelty of the act- the persons killed were one of the killer’s co-workers whom he was supposedly friends with and knew well- and the fact that the other murderer was this man’s wife, and the mother of their young child. Nothing I know about human nature allows me to make sense of how far this couple was able to step outside our evolutionarily forged instincts against harming those whom we are intimate with, and where maternal bounds prove stronger than ties of any other kind. Maybe the physicist Steven Weinberg was right when he said:

With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.

This seems to be the main point the New Atheists want to get across, as Steven Pinker did recently in a public discussion with Robert Wright on that topic, among others. Much more suffering, Pinker argued, has been caused by people acting in the name of religion than by those acting in the pursuit of self-interest in the form of raw power or wealth. For those who would counter with a list of the horrors committed by the secular totalitarian regimes in the 20th century Pinker would argue that such movements amounted to little more than religion in drag with God replaced by “History” or “Race”.

In light of recent events such an argument has the heavy feel of Truth in one’s hands, but upon reflection what seems solid begins to fall apart at the joints. To state the obvious, it simply cannot be the case that any religion is the primary cause of violence  because any society in which violence ran as deep as religious sentiment would very quickly destroy itself. Whatever Donald Trump might think, there are anywhere from 5- 12 million Muslims in the United States- were any significant portion of them driven to violence by their faith the country would truly be on fire. It’s a fact that is just as true when it comes to Christians opposed to abortion on moral grounds.

Religion has certainly been the source of many human conflicts and the origin of much suffering inflicted in the name of dogmatism, but has it really, as Pinker claims, inflicted more suffering throughout the whole of human history than all the other non-religiously based wars? Has the suffering inflicted by religious fanaticism been greater than that of oppression based on naked self-interest? Has religion not played an important role in both the charity to offset, or the direct challenge (as in the abolition of slavery) to such oppression? In any case, how in the world is one supposed to disaggregate those who were motivated to commit atrocities by their religious beliefs from those who used religion as a cover for self-interest or the blatant desire to destroy as no doubt a number of princes did during the Reformation.

It seems a gross over simplification to single out religion as a unique source of human violence. Nevertheless, I think we miss something important if we fail to see religious thinking and aspirations as indeed a deep aspect of the way the human capacity for violence has manifested itself in recent decades. This religious connection in large part grows out of the claims of the world’s major religions to be the unique possessor of spiritual truth and sole path to human salvation.

The potential for violence latent in such monopolistic truth claims is made even more dangerous by the world’s very democratization and the communications revolution of the past few decades. For in such an atmosphere religious institutions and elites are no longer able to control the beliefs and actions of their believers. It is a situation that bears an eerie resemblance to the European Reformation and Wars of Religion, but is now global in scope- our luck so far is that so very few of us have fallen under the spell of such a conflict and instead are under the enchantment of the consumerist paradise in which we live where life and its needs drown out everything else.

It’s not so much any particular religion’s claim that it is the possessor of the truth which is the origin of any tendencies towards violence as it is the belief of its adherents that they have the right to enforce conformity with their beliefs through violence if necessary. Still, with the exception of where, as is the case with ISIL, such a demand for conformity comes to rule or where deep sectarian divisions intersect with political conflicts within a society, much of this new violence appears to be waged almost as a form of communication, an attempt to break through the cacophony and materialism of pluralistic societies and be heard.

On this score, violence is just as likely to be racially (as it was in the case with Timothy McVeigh, Anders Breivik, and Dylann Roof,  or even environmentally motivated e.g. Ted Kaczynski aka the “Unabomber”) as it is to emerge from religiously based commitments. One need not take the worldview behind such violence seriously, but one should certainly take it as a barometer of deeper social fissures and political failures that go unaddressed at our peril. The same types of systemic failures that have led many on the left, with more legitimate claims to justice, into the age of protests.

The more insular and unresponsive our political and economic elites appear and the more ideological conflicts in our societies become, the more likely it is that those who believe themselves to be permanently disenfranchised will turn to political conspiracies to explain events, and the more likely a small but very dangerous minority of these disaffected will turn to violence as a form of political action. Should that become the case, elites are likely to retreat even further into their gated communities and rely on technology as a means of social control absent democratic legitimacy, commitment to the common good, and the quest for international solidarity. Such a world would represent a dark, mechanized analog to the promise of universalism and concern for the other at the heart of all the world’s great religions: a noosphere absent a world soul.

 

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16 comments on “Religion and Violence

  1. René Milan says:

    A very thoughtful article, but i do have a few remarks:

    “Sometimes, I get the uneasy feeling that the New Atheists might be right after all” – it might be interesting to hear an argument for why they might be wrong in the first place.

    “To state the obvious, it simply cannot be the case that any religion is the primary cause of violence because any society in which violence ran as deep as religious sentiment would very quickly destroy itself” – that might be obvious if it was clear that most people’s religiosity was more than just a sentiment. A probably large majority adhere to the religion of their parents and their culture but would not dream of taking it to its logical conclusion as they are much more interested in making a decent life for themselves and their children.

    “Has the suffering inflicted by religious fanaticism been greater than that of oppression based on naked self-interest?” – this is a salient question. While for most consumers of religion it may motivate them to political and violent action only in situations when they feel threatened, by economic depression often caused by exploitation or by political oppression or war, for the producers of religion it seems to be often an extremely useful tool in the service of “naked self-interest”, and not only during times of upheaval as the mentioned reformation or the current economic and ecologic one; throughout history the priesthood was more or less equal the military power of kingship in benefiting from controlling the people. This atheist claims that it would be helpful to deprive them of this tool.

    “Such a world would represent a dark, mechanized analog to the promise of universalism and concern for the other at the heart of all the world’s great religions: a noosphere absent a world soul” – this last sentence implicitly points to the real problem with religion by mentioning the “heart”. I agree that at the core of most, perhaps not all, religions does lie a common message; however most of what masquerades as religion, which i call exoteric, in opposition to the truth of esoteric, religion, is in reality a distortion of this message in the interest of political agendas. In the west xtianity and islam have mostly tried, successfully to a degree, to actively suppress and persecute esoteric, experiential knowledge, which by its nature tends to diminish the priesthoods hold and emancipate the individual. In the east the difference is less sharp and there is more individual freedom to decide how close to get to this sacred core.

    • Rick Searle says:

      Hello René,

      Thanks for your comments. I’ll try to address at least some of them:

      “Sometimes, I get the uneasy feeling that the New Atheists might be right after all” – it might be interesting to hear an argument for why they might be wrong in the first place.

      I am, of course, speaking about the so-called New Atheists: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris etc. As to why:

      https://utopiaordystopia.com/2012/12/05/whats-wrong-with-the-new-atheism/

      https://utopiaordystopia.com/2013/02/24/finding-our-way-through-the-great-god-debate/
      https://utopiaordystopia.com/2013/03/03/finding-our-way-in-the-great-god-debate-part-2/

      “– that might be obvious if it was clear that most people’s religiosity was more than just a sentiment. A probably large majority adhere to the religion of their parents and their culture but would not dream of taking it to its logical conclusion as they are much more interested in making a decent life for themselves and their children.”

      Even among those who were clearly involved with their religion in a non-superficial way- say monks in religious orders, imams at schools etc very few seem to have been driven to violence against members of other religions nearby. It isn’t religion itself but the way religion intersects with political and economic factors that results in pogroms.

      Which leads to:

      “…throughout history the priesthood was more or less equal the military power of kingship in benefiting from controlling the people. This atheist claims that it would be helpful to deprive them of this tool.”

      I agree in the sense that whenever religion comes to rule it falls into the very same ills as politics. I am all for separation of church and state.

      “In the west xtianity and islam have mostly tried, successfully to a degree, to actively suppress and persecute esoteric, experiential knowledge, which by its nature tends to diminish the priesthoods hold and emancipate the individual.”

      It’s only the extent this debate between the exoteric and esoteric is answered by the coercion of the state that this is a political as opposed to a spiritual question, and on this score both Christianity and Islam have something to atone for. Spiritual questions can only be answered in the heart of the seeker.

  2. James Cross says:

    Recently I’ve been rereading Civilizations and Its Discontents. The work seems somewhat disjointed. It has so different topics and Freud explores them but never seems to tie them together.

    It starts with a discussion of the “oceanic feeling” that may lie at the root of religious feeling. Freud traces them to the experience of being in the womb and discusses the development of the ego in the differentiation of the individual from the mother. Later it discusses human aggression. Freud traces this to his “death instinct” turned outward. Since Eros is the force that bring people together, the outward turning of aggression towards other groups psychologically becomes a sadomasochistic effort that simultaneously unites and inflict pain and harm. Freud as best I recall never brings this back to religion but religion itself sociologically functions to unite people just as other divisions – nationalities, ethnic groups, etc so the analysis could surely apply.

    I’ve also been reading some more Buddhist writings. It is notable that there is almost nothing in Buddhist sacred documents that sanctions war or aggression, while this can be found in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Apparently Buddhism itself is not perfect in this regard since we can find some war and aggression ostensibly to promote Buddhism.

    • Rick Searle says:

      Hi James,

      It’s weird that you mention Freud’s “death drive” because that’s where I wanted to go when I started the piece based on some lectures I recently came across by Terry Eagleton:

      Eagleton gives a Christian/Marxist reading of Freud’s death drive and defines evil as destruction for the sheer joy of destruction or “the hell of it”.

      A lot of violence I think is just Clausewitz’s “politics by other means”, but it seems to me that two kinds of violence fall outside of this instrumental kind- violence that comes out of this death drive itself (evil) and violence done in the name of the good. Thankfully, I think willful evil is rare, what’s less rare is people committing evil acts while considering themselves to be doing good. This is the point Eagleton doesn’t discuss nor the fact that violence throughout the majority of otherwise prosperous and peaceful societies seems to be coming mostly from those taking metaphysical positions that reject the kinds of materialism found in their societies as a whole.

      I still don’t think my thoughts are articulate enough on that to turn it into a post.
      Any thoughts on this from your end?

      • James Cross says:

        I’ll get back to you in more detail later and after I have some time to digest the media.

        Certainly “destruction for the sheer joy” does fit the bill for a sort of sadomasochistic impulse.

        For my part, what I am thinking about is the death instinct as the counter part to Eros represents a fundamental existential fact of living beings. Life itself is a constant balancing act between conversion of nutrients to generate/maintain life/complexity and the ever present counter balance of the requirements of entropy. Freud at various points talks about the death instinct being a part of an organism’s urge to homeostasis. The ultimate homeostasis and entropy result for an organism, of course, is death. So if ultimately the turning outward of this fundamental biological instinct is at the root of human aggression, what this implies is that the human inability to cope with death is deeply involved in this balance. Of course, belief in life after death is what is common to almost all religions and much (maybe almost all) religious violence is done by individuals believing they will be acquiring immortality.

      • Rick Searle says:

        Take your time….

        I do wonder though whether it’s not so much that people commit religious violence out of the urge to be immortal so much as the urge to be dead, or at least not who they are.

      • James Cross says:

        Regarding your comment.

        The idea of immortality is really just a more pleasant way of thinking about nothingness. Both immortality and nothingness are a homeostasis, a womb-like state free of tension.

        The Eagleton stuff is interesting.

        One thing that occurred to me in listening to it is how the “End Times” – Islamic, Christian, Heaven’s Gate, or whatever version you choose – actually is this same impulse extended from the individual to the whole of humanity. The desire to bring about the End Times is like an urge for collective suicide. The two religions most likely to engage in violence – Christianity and Islam – both have strong beliefs associated with End Times.

      • Steve Garcia says:

        Hi. A thoughtful post and one that I think started off strong and sort of fizzled as you thought of more and more aspects of things. That’s not necessarily a negative, but when the ending is confused it’s not exactly a positive, either.

        Reneé and Jim and you, Rick, all make several cogent points, but I decided to jump in at this point with some ideas, if I may.

        I guess where I see the religiosity coming in is in the larger sphere of ‘belief’, whether classed as religious or not. Hitler – who we have to remember was nurtured in the same social context as Freud in Vienna and Austria – tapped into the predominant German belief in paternalism and order, a hierarchical society down to their individual homes. The angle Hitler tapped was, actually, a superiority complex that he picked up while young in Vienna, in the milieu of the multi-cultural society that was the Austro-Hungarian empire. At the very bottom of that society, he encountered Czechs, Slavs of all kinds, and Jews. He identified himself as Germanic, and the mythos of Wagner and others created/abetted in him a belief in Germanic heroic superiority. At the same time, he saw the masses of slavs and Jews and other minorities as being a threat to the beautiful “City on the Hill” that Hitler saw as the heroic and noble Germanic ethos (right or wrong). The press of the minorities around him built a disgust in him.

        It is not the religiosity of religions that encourages the violence, of course. It IS the ideas of superiority and disgust. It is THOSE beliefs that motivate, and – when you think about it- those are inherent part of religions, at least in the West. No modern Western religion (let’s include Islam in that, too) was founded on anything but some form of protestantism. Luther, Muhammad, Jesus, even Abraham created their religions to be superior replacements for what went before. As an example I have seen more than once, Baptist churches have proliferated like rabbits, with one individual church elder who decided that his take on some portion of the Bible was superior to the then existing preacher’s understanding. Only frustration with the “wrong” message being sent motivates such breakaways/protests against the status quo. Fundamentalism is rife with these splinter groups (including ones founded by people like David Koresh and Jim Jones). It all begins with frustration.

        But it is not the splinter leaders, necessarily, who are the ones perpetrating the violence. They create the environment within which such violence is motivated, though. Hitler was but one of a number of right-wing rabble-rousers in the chaos of the German Revolution that followed the abdication of the Kaiser in late 1918. But Hitler was never out on the streets fighting. The Nazis were only a splinter group and only nominally more successful at that time than other such groups feeding off the anger of the Freikorps and similar violent groups. The center of it all was the BELIEF that the German soldiers did not lose World War I – the myth of the Dolchstoßlegende. The lie was begun by General Luddendorff and perpetuated right up to World War II that the politicians had sneakily undercut the German Reichswehr and sold out Germany. None of that was true. Luddendorf himself had lost the war (a very interesting story), and had then even absconded to Sweden before he realized that he was not being blamed for the loss.

        Coming back to the main point, it is only necessary to find gullible people whose beliefs can be manipulated, in order to create a violent atmosphere. And, as we can see, the atmosphere grows by inches, with each atrocity making the entire populace begin to fear that there are “demons” out there ready to cause mayhem. It starts with mayhem. These so-called “terrorist” acts are the destabilizers. In the post-WWI chaos in Germany it was Freikorps fighting in the streets with the Communists.

        In times of poor systemic communications, it took large groups fighting and time for the news to get around. In our time, it only takes an occasional suicide bomber or suicide-by-cop – with victims specially selected – to create (via 24-hour news) the fear and chaos and the growing feeling of the inevitability of war.

        And which are the perpetrators? Losers who hold feelings of superiority, combined with fear of the world going to hell via those who disgust them and their internal belief system(s). It really IS necessary to demonize “the enemy” in order to change murder into heroic killing. Whether that demonization is done in a boot camp or in a bar or in a church, the individual has to buy into it before he can decide to go out with the gun and choose to shoot real human beings. The feelings of disgust have to grow greater and greater to make the person snap and take matters into his own hands.

        The “Belief Sellers” – whether demagogues like Hitler, or demagogues like David Koresh, or your local fundamentalist preacher, or the mullah down at the local mosque – in selling the idea that “We” are good and superior and in God’s favor, while “They” are disgusting. Those mis-labeled “leaders” are the inciters to riot. The actual shooters and suicide bombers are “only” the Manchurian Candidates who have been brainwashed, well and truly. In their eyes, their victims are not humans but disgusting demons, who their society needs to be rid of. Shades of Hitler. Whether the “demons” are Planned Parenthood workers or blacks or muslims or infidels or Bosch or Japs or Heinies or Commies or Chinks or Injuns or savages – it is all the same. And it all comes out of demonization.

        The communists in post-WWI Germany were so totally demonized in their society that the judges in the courts had a double standard – if a communist killed a Freikorps fighter it was murder, but when a Freikorps fighter killed a commie, “Well, he had the right intention and was a loyal German.” IOW, killing a commie was a good thing. “Better dead than Red” didn’t start in the 1950s.

        None of this happens at a philosophical level. It all happens at a visceral level, a gut level. That is why the Tea Party always goes for the gut reaction – and, I think, so do the mullahs instigating the suicide bombers. It is in the gut where defenders of their faith are recruited. The instigators MUST get a serious disgust reaction from the actors before the shootings can be planned and acted upon. The individual preachers/mullahs/supremacist leaders who have motivated mass shootings are the real terrorists, and THEY may have philosophical motivations, but it is the “disgust threshold” of the “manipulatable” individuals – the demonization threshold – that has to be crossed before the shootings can occur.

        So, is it religion? It is gut-level beliefs.

        ….Don’t even get me started on people who think only in black-and-white.

  3. Steve Garcia says:

    Dammit… I missed a formatting closing bracket…

    • Rick Searle says:

      Hello Steve (and James),

      Thanks for your excellent comment on my post. I almost completely agree with the case you make that religious violence is but one example of violence that stems from the emotions of “superiority and disgust”, and, in the case of the latter emotion, it’s something I had tried to grapple with in a post on the popularity of H.P. Love Craft a few months back. https://utopiaordystopia.com/2015/10/31/h-p-lovecraft-and-the-horror-of-the-posthuman/

      The only thing I would add to your analysis, though perhaps you would consider it to fall under the other two emotions, is the emotion of moral anger or indignation. Disgust and superiority can be extremely powerful motivations for violence, but nothing to me seems more likely to get otherwise good people to act violently than the belief that they are acting in defense of the weak or out of some perceived injustice. (Perhaps, moral anger could be thought of as a hybrid emotion combining feelings of superiority and disgust?) It’s the kind of violence you see coming from the abolitionist John Brown, both deeply disturbing and somehow morally comprehensible.

      I’m glad you brought up the Nazi example because my next post is on that same subject based on Timothy Snyder’s recent book Black Earth. I also hope this will address James’ last point regarding violence and end time narratives. Would appreciate both of your thoughts on that post as well.

      • Steve Garcia says:

        Rick – Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

        Hmmm…. Before I say the following, please know that i consider myself to be one of the most optimistic people alive, and at the same time there are some things I am very, very cynical about.

        I see moral anger and indignation as posers – fake anger, designed to manipulate people. It surely comes under bullying. I see the two things as the same thing and as contrived and artificial – temper tantrums to get one’s way. I see it as the underlying power behind Jewish mother types who lay guilt trips in order to squash the life out of their kids. and academic bullies who stifle scientific advance in order to maintain and further their academic careers and standing. I am sure the same kind of crap goes on in politics as well.

        I see no greater harm done in the world – even wars and murders – than people who push and push and push until they control someone else’s life (often an offspring). It ruins the offspring’s life, stealing from them the life energy that comes with going out into the world to discover life and make one’s way ON ONE’S OWN. I’ve written about this before, so I have lots of this in my head – and will have, forever, probably. No kid can successfully live the life that a parent forces upon them, in order to live something that the parent regrets that he/she himself/herself didn’t do in their own youthful days. Living vicariously through an overwhelmed child is like stealing the kid’s life – murdering the spirit. It is a war waged against the kid getting to choose his own life. I don’t feel sorry for the kid. If he/she succumbs, the kid is dead already. No point in crying over split kid.

        In one way or another, the foundation of it is that the parent “knows” what is best for the kid. No, they don’t. The parent is a criminal for stealing a life – and should have a restraining order put out on him/her. Every time. It’s the kid’s life; and they need to get the fuck out of the way.

        I also don’t see “acting in defense of the weak or out of some perceived injustice” as a good in the world. It is always abused and fraudulent, IMHO.

        Rant warning: America’s entry into WWII? America and Britain let the USSR fight that war, and it was over before D-Day. The Soviets would have gotten to Berlin in April of 1945 whether we were in it or not. 13 million soldiers the USSR lost. The USA lost 300,000 in both theaters of action. In at least two battles in the East both sides lost three times that – Kursk and Stalingrad – one million each. Dead. In each battle.

        The US sat in England while all that was going on, and when we entered the fighting it was only so we could claim the moral high ground and not be seen as cowards, And even THEN we fought almost entirely against old men and 12-year-olds. The one thing we did NOT often do in that war was fight “in defense of the weak.” But we DID kill the weak. Lots of them. We fire-bombed Dresden, Berlin, Hamburg, Tokyo – not the factories but the women and children. Read up on the concussion bombs and then the incendiaries sometime. As Robert McNamara said in “The Fog of War”, “If we had lost the war, General LeMay and I would have been tried as war criminals.” We killed more innocent women and children and old people in those firebombings than the number of soldiers we lost in the war. And that doesn’t even include the carpet-type bombing we did in other air raids. Even then, America fought its wars remotely. Now it is with drones and other air attacks. Then it was with bombers – while the US Army sat in England until it was safe to go in. Outside of Italy, we fought all of two battles against the Germans – against the dregs of their army, and still were getting our asses handed to us until the Germans ran out of petrol. We had 17 divisions in N Europe. The Soviets had 1117 – 1100 more divisions than the USA did. 65 times as many. The USA did not win that war. We were cowering in the countryside of England, screwing their women and hoping we wouldn’t have to fight. And if you don’t fight at all, you don’t fight in defense of the weak or anybody else.

        Seriously, if we’d had to fight either the Germans or the Soviets, we’d have been slaughtered. People have no idea at all how ass-kicking those two armies were.

        America used that moral high ground – won by letting the anonymous Soviet masses get slaughtered – after the war to play holier-than-though. This was the beginning of American exceptionalism as it applied to military hegemony in the world. Ronald Reagan in his time said, “Give a man a dime and he eats for a day; give him a fishing rod and he can eat for a lifetime”. Or something like that. But we never let the weak countries in Central America stand on their own two feet. We made sure that when they tried to be strong we would have a death squad take them out. MANY populist leaders the US citizenry never heard of, because they were taken out early, – and all the while, the US was “protecting” them. As of about 1990 or so the USA had invaded FORTY different countries. Bullied FORTY countries, all in the guise of fighting for the weak”. 9-11 would never have happened had we not done those things. 9-11 was blowback for the nasty things we did under the guise of acting in defense of the weak”.

        End of rant… SORRY…

        What was it Twain said that is making the rounds more and more these days?

        “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble; it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

        Sometimes peeling the veil off a bit brings a new perspective. I hope I didn’t come across as hostile or grumpy. I can do both, but I wasn’t trying to this time…LOL

    • James Cross says:

      Steve,

      Haven’t seen any posts from you recently. I’ve been missing them.

      Ultimately it is about the underlying psychodynamics. It can be similar or almost the same in religion, politics, or whatever. So I don’t disagree with your points.

      Wilhelm Reich tried to understand the underlying psychodynamics of Hitler in The Mass Psychology of Fascism. I haven’t read it and am not sure I would agreed much with what I can gather about it on Wikipedia. It was obviously critical of Hitler but was also regarded as critical of the Soviet Union Ironically it got Reich expelled from the Communist Party and he had to leave Germany.

      • Steve Garcia says:

        James – I am working on a huge research project that leave me little time or energy to blog. I’ve actually written s handful of posts but don’t have them in good enough condition to post. Thanks for the nice words.

        Yes, I am well aware of Reich and his dealings with Hitler, from VERY long ago in my life. The main thing I remember was his discussion of “emotional plague” people. And THOSE definitely should belong in this discussion.

        An aside: You touch on another huge project of mine, with Hitler and what happened in Germany. (I may know more about it than any non-paid historian you will ever meet!…LOL) In the immediate aftermath of WWI, German entered a time known as the German Revolution. It was very chaotic, and the country was poor as a church mouse, and back came millions of soldiers and sailors. General Luddendorf and the Kaiser had really good plans that utterly failed to succeed. They both bailed on the country, leaving a vacuum which they forced upon the gentlemen of the Reichstag, who’d had nothing to do with the war or the loss of the war. But Luddendorf managed to get everyone to blame the “politicians” for stabbing the soldiers in the back. That lie never left Germany, perhaps not even to this day. The right-wingers such as the Freikorps were in almost daily street battles with the communists. The courts universally sided with the right wing and against the communists. That is how Hitler eventually came to power, though it was not without setbacks. But when he finally DID, the first thing he did was to build concentration camps and put (mostly) commies into. Literally, within 6 weeks he had THREE camps built and operating.

        Back to Reich, he saw Hitler as a real emotional plague person, who tried to stamp out life wherever it raised its head. That is what they do – being against pleasure, independent thought, and especially sex. Add church types to that. Paternalistic societies, too. Pinch-faced people. I’ve come to see all institutional thinkers that way – right or wrong. Major portions of academia are like that, too, IMHO.

        On ANYTHING non-orthodox in the sciences or alternative research do NOT believe what is in Wikipedia. Literally there are self-appointed watchdogs who control quite a few topics. We ran into one on the Younger-Dryas Impact Hypothesis page. On global warming the same thing.

        Not all violence is not physical. I give you the bully Bill Buckley, right wing verbal bully.

  4. Steve Garcia says:

    I ma just beginning to listen to Eagleton. He says some profound things. It’s been a very long time since I’ve heard profound things.

  5. TCW says:

    I think that it is important to note here that not all religions are equally conducive to violence. For example, the principle of nonviolence is the most fundamental and well-known aspect of Jainism.

    As Sam Harris said on multiple occasions, the crazier you get as a Jain, the less everybody has to worry about you.

  6. […] few weeks back I did a post on religion and violence the gist of which was that it’s far too simplistic to connect […]

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