The Rise of Fundamentalism
November 3, 2014 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Mark Manson (previously) discussing how rising population, inequal distribution of technology and resources rapidly changing, and various political and environmental stresses combine to create a psychology ripe for fundamentalist belief.

Mark argues that large scale identity conflicts are happening now more than ever because of ever present and more sophisticated technology, interconnectedness, and media saturation - for those whose way of life has been the same for generations and are sudenly being threatened from the outside by automation the workforce, large increases in population in the third world, and alienation from their host culture make large groups of individuals with a core identity ripe for fundamentalism. He gives examples on both sides of the fence, from radical feminism to funamentalist Hindus who are killing Christians.
posted by thebotanyofsouls (51 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
I like how there is a Best Articles section with relationship advice etc. Like, what?
posted by Nevin at 6:45 PM on November 3, 2014


Say what you like about radical feminism, but I've yet to hear of radical feminists hunting down men accused of rape and castrating or killing them. I'm not convinced it's reasonable to compare them to religious fundamentalists and factions like Daesh, Boko Haram, and the Family Research Council.
posted by starbreaker at 7:05 PM on November 3, 2014 [47 favorites]


He's comparing them in psychology, not in action and having dealt with both I agree that is the psychological motivation. I do think that however, radical feminism is rooted in reality (where women are harassed, raped, taken advantage of financially and legally, and endure much more shittiness because of the birthright of their sex organs) unlike fundamentalist Islam or Christianity, which present a worldview increasingly at odds with the one that exists in the here and now.

There were a couple examples in his article that made me go "WTF?" like radical feminism or the riots in Turkey (which is didn't really tie to fundamentalism persay), but overall I have found his point to be solid and to be useful in helping me deal with the fundamentalists I encounter through my day-to-day.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 7:17 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nevin, most of his psychology writing is about the psychology of dating and self worth, and most of it is garbage but this piece stood out among the rest to me. I wish he'd write more stuff like this.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 7:18 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Didn't find the term "both sides of the fence" anywhere in the article, which shows that it is only the poster doing the False Dichotomy Dance, not Mark Manson. But still...

Secular movements have their fundamentalist sects as well. Stalinism, nazism, eugenics, radical environmentalism and radical feminism
An ineptly mixed mish-mash of groups to be labeled "fundamentalist", and with a small-n for "nazism"? Dude needs a proof reader; his gaffes tend to knock me out of his train of thought... and the word is "gaffe", not "gaff". That's what I get for RTFA.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:21 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Say what you like about radical feminism, but I've yet to hear of radical feminists hunting down men accused of rape and castrating or killing them.

Well, the problem with that statement is that you're comparing an umbrella term to specific organizations. No one ever kills/imprisons/harrasses in the name of "Terrorism", it's always for a specific cause. It's the same thing for left-wing radicalism.
posted by Setec Astronomy at 7:24 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


thebotanyofsouls, I just finished reading the article; I was commenting on your summary earlier. While I can't prove anything, I suspect that globalization and rapid, unevenly distributed technological progress make it easier for more people to live in a state of existential crisis.

Life has no inherent purpose. Some people don't care. Some define a purpose for themselves. Some live in despair.

And some cling to religion, even though God is dead in the sense that God is no longer the absolute source of moral values. They don't want to accept that God is dead, so they clap their hands hoping God will pull a Tinkerbell and magically come back to life.
posted by starbreaker at 7:26 PM on November 3, 2014 [11 favorites]


Alvin Toffler made this argument in the 70s in Future Shock, which now reads like good science fiction (in that he hit some key points about society now but the details are as wrong as something like Neuromancer). One of his predictions was that fundamentalism was going to be a natural response to globalization, rapid communication, mass media, because it's better than being totally rootless.

I don't know how convinced I actually am of this though. I mean, Martin Luther and the Protestant leaders who followed him are classic fundamentalists, and their ideas spread like wildfire without mass communication. (I guess one could argue that the printing press was the "communication revolution" of its day, but no amount of books would really threaten anyone's identity on a deep level.) It just seems to me that fundamentalism -- i.e. obsessively returning to the fundament or roots of your belief system, throwing away the superfluous or "decadent" elements -- is a normal human tendency; the appeal is obvious and doesn't require some kind of futuristic cyber angst.

So I think I buy into this guy's theory (as simplified as it is) about the personal psychology but I'm not sure about the assumption that fundamentalism is suddenly a new problem.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:27 PM on November 3, 2014


I like how the author plays the "both sides do it!" card with this lead in: The divide is not limited to religion either, nor is it limited to right or left....and then proceeds to not give concrete examples of this "leftist fundamentalism." Which may be oxymoronic, I can't quite decide.
posted by zardoz at 7:31 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


The India article is really weird.
posted by Nevin at 7:32 PM on November 3, 2014


What do you mean by left-wing radicalism, Setec Astronomy? I haven't seen much of it in the US besides some direct action by environmentalists and animal rights activists. Or did you mean Occupy Wall Street?
posted by starbreaker at 7:34 PM on November 3, 2014


This is my first post ever to metafilter so pardon if I was a little nervous and not sure what to write as a summary.

Here in America, I'd argue that libertarianism could be fundamentalist depending on the individual brand of libertarianism; some people are pretty mellow with it.

I have seen people who are fundamentally anarchist because they refuse to understand the political system as multifaceted; they simply see it as an outdated institution (these are the ones with limited ideas of what to replace that gaping void with once it's dismantled - otherwise they'd be revolutionaries, and people might take them seriously).
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 7:49 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I dunno. I think his description of a trend has some truth to it, but his argumentation is very weak and unconvincing in two key respects:

1. He talks about social phenomena, explicitly and characteristically social patterns, in the language of individual psychology:

Developmental psychology teaches us that as we grow up, we take on more and more complex identities...If you believe in conspiracy theories and are vegan, those are aspects of your identity. You try to live up to it and defend it...When our identities are validated or threatened, our brains respond with corresponding positive or negative emotions, which then inspires our bodies to take appropriate actions.

He has an oddly mechanistic conception of social action, it seems. This is problematic because it doesn't explain anything about the claim he's ostensibly discussing: he seems to be arguing that people's identities are threatened or challenged in new and unprecedented ways, which causes them to band together in religious-fundamentalist coalitions of unusual strength and passion, but that's a non-sequitur; if that's the cause, the outcome should instead be greater ideological comity, since people would prefer positive emotions to negative ones, and having people agree with you (in this impoverished model he describes) inspires your body with positive feelings.

2. He acknowledges a linkage between religious fundamentalism and political goals, but somehow unaccountably fails to consider that the post-Cold War geopolitical situation substitutes religious fervor for ideologies of production in a manner no less instrumental than the farce of "communism" in the USSR. That is, the people managing/calling the shots with respect to the various movements under discussion, and their geopolitical allies, may or may not have any commitment to the organizing principles. Zealotry is a useful tool.

I don't think his reasoning or his apparent conception of how sociality itself works is valid. I'm not even sure if it's possible to determine if he's right or wrong, because how would you measure or quantify "fundamentalism" in such a way that you could say "it's increasing" in relation to some historic benchmark?

I think, rather than all kinds of fundamentalism being on the increase, there is now total global hegemony of neoliberal capitalism, and so what might be called "militating ideologies" are now likely to center on doctrines that are mostly agnostic to the question of how material production should be organized in a political sense.
posted by clockzero at 7:50 PM on November 3, 2014 [12 favorites]


I was forced by my employer to read Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey actually made a similar point and thought it a strength. In his discussion of "centeredness," he talks about people who build their lives around their jobs, their families, money, sex, what have you, and that all of these people are doomed to fail, because these things can change and let you down.

No, said Covey, only "principle-centeredness," a belief in ABSOLUTE, UNCHANGING PRINCIPLES will support you!

So, I think Manson is right about this part: there are people whose very identities are tangled up in their beliefs, and the idea of changing those beliefs is very, very threatening to them. This is why heterosexual couples cry that their marriages are being harmed by same-sex marriage. Their self-images are at stake by the simple existence of those people.
posted by SPrintF at 8:00 PM on November 3, 2014 [10 favorites]


Manson's an interesting guy. He wrote this total anti-PUA book about how to hook up with women -- i.e. don't use techniques and mental games and verbal tricks, just have honest conversations, and if they're not interested in you then move on -- and then packaged it in the style of a PUA book, complete with special terminology for everything, evolutionary psychology explanations, and claims that his methods will get you laid. It's either the most astounding act of chutzpah or of blindness; personally I think he knew where the $$$ was.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:10 PM on November 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


Well, after reading that article, I am more than ever determined to go to North Sentinel Island and live amongst the Sentinelese. I'm packing my bags now.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:35 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


" in America, I'd argue that libertarianism could be fundamentalist depending on the individual brand of libertarianism; some people are pretty mellow with it."

Welcome a botanyofsouls! Pull up a chair, serve yourself a bean of plates! We're a welcoming bunch, kick up your feet and stay awhile.

To your comment, Diing ding!

Well a certain type of person who wants a nicely packaged coherent view of the world created from first principles. Problem is once you start going into how the real world works they either bend or stick to their guns. When their beliefs about normative and positive views of the world, philosophy and economic institutions, begin to merge that's when you start having problems...

I don't think this guy has a very good starting definition of fundamentalism. Fundamentalisms are defined by a belief in a historical golden age that we could return to. Only, of course those golden ages never existed, and these formulations are a reaction to modern times and events. " feminism" definitely doesn't meet this test. Do a literature review and start again. Sounds like one of those evo-psych types who like to eschew basic research.
posted by stratastar at 8:37 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


flapjax, bring a sword.

Harvey Kilobit, Manson clearly knows his market and his demographic, and knows how to profit off of them without sacrificing his soul. I don't agree with everything he says, but of all of the dating advice I've read, I value his the most.

With that said, I posted the article on fundamentalism because it's this weird one-off piece by him that was close to a connection, but didn't quite make it there. It is a serious issue though; as the fundamentalists rise through government to make their voice heard progressive social change is put on the backburner in favor of ideological agendas (for instance, a man's right to choose what a woman does with her body in the 21st century).

I work among fundamentalist Christians so this article comes to mind every single day I work.

stratastar, it is debates like this that inspired me to fork out the 5$ to register and put myself into the verbal fray. Thank you for the welcome.

His starting view of fundamentalism is broad enough that he was able to write a pretty generic article about individual psychological backlash to the rate of change in modern times and point fingers at geopolitical events, some of which are related to fundamentalism as it actually is and others (the tie into radical feminism) are quite a stretch.

As far as libertarianism, I always ask if it has worked yet. Their answer is "Nobody's tried it!" to which I unfailingly reply "Is it that nobody's tried it, or that people have tried it and quickly found that it is incompatable with the world around them, ala The Principality of Sealand." As soon as I mention Sealand, they either draw a blank or argue that it's a total success; one involving less than 100 people.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 8:54 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was similarly surprised in 2010, when in Australia, a friend there told me of the rise of the Christian right pressuring their government to teach intelligent design in science classes and to enforce stricter so-called “family values” laws across the country. I laughed and told her that only loony stuff like that happens in the United States.

The Christian Right in Australia is pathetically ineffective, thankfully. The comparison to the US is ludicrous. Yes, they say very stupid things, and advocate for stupid things, but they have far, far less influence.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:59 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't think this guy has a very good starting definition of fundamentalism. Fundamentalisms are defined by a belief in a historical golden age that we could return to.

I recommend Karen Armstrong's approach to it, which is that fundamentalists are desperately attempting to establish their ancient beliefs under a modern regime, rather than flee modernity or leave it to moderns. Her theory goes a bit deeper into mythos and logos terminology, but I think Hanson is consistent with Armstrong.
posted by Brian B. at 9:00 PM on November 3, 2014


This is a great article, especially because it confirms my position as a radical environmentalist in the end. (Joking-- kind of).
posted by Perko at 9:23 PM on November 3, 2014


Do I need to read the entirety of an article written by someone who very clearly doesn't know what radical feminism is in order to see what else he has idiosyncratically defined as "fundamenalist" in belief or action?
posted by rtha at 9:26 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: The _____ article is really weird.
posted by zardoz at 9:50 PM on November 3, 2014


Do I need to read the entirety of an article written by someone who very clearly doesn't know what radical feminism is in order to see what else he has idiosyncratically defined as "fundamenalist" in belief or action?

No. Here's the quote:
Embedded within fundamentalist beliefs themselves is the idea that they are infallible and unfalsifiable. This is what makes them fundamentalist to begin with: This is simply how things are: the Bible is correct and that’s that; women should be sexually chaste and that’s that; non-believers are immoral and should be killed and that’s that. And this isn’t just limited to religions. Secular movements have their fundamentalist sects as well. Stalinism, nazism, eugenics, radical environmentalism and radical feminism — these are all just as inflexible and intolerant in their most extreme forms as any religion. [emphasis mine]
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:53 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Almost every single sentence in this article is either wrong, silly, or both.

First, the author mentions all sorts of disparate threads which likely have nothing to do with each other, and announces that he's overcome his "usual myopia of me being American" to realize that all of them are just exactly like the political situations he's observed back home. The irony in this jungle is already thick enough to hold one's boots in place.

Next, we get this stunningly brief synopsis of five hundred years of human history:

“In the centuries after the enlightenment, world politics was defined by the struggle between European imperialists and the world they sought to conquer. In the 20th century, the geopolitical fault lines shifted, the worldwide struggle became between the capitalist and communist ideologies. ¶ Now, in the post-Cold War era, the defining conflict of our lifetime will be between those who embrace the accelerating change of the world, and those who reject it and try to stop it. They are the modernists and the traditionalists.”

There are so many problems here that it's hard to know where to start. First, note the premise: that any given era is defined by one struggle and one struggle alone. This is Hegelianism history-dialectic as a four year old might choose to depict it, if four year olds were given to doing such silly things. Why would any era be "defined by" one struggle – as though "history" isn't just a collection of events in the lives of humans, but really was some grand story in a interstellar novel? Second, note that even if we presume that each era has a defining struggle, there is no way that the struggles Manson lists are the defining struggles of the eras he talks about: in what sense was the post-Enlightenment defined by imperialists and the colonized? This seems like a narrative, but hardly the only one. Even from the perspective of post-colonial criticism, plenty of people have argued that seeing history this way unduly focuses on the imperialists, thereby extending their hegemony. In what sense was the twentieth century about struggle between "capitalist and communist ideologies"? Almost everybody has decided this is a silly way to divide the world, and probably a silly way to define the past century. In what sense was Stalin's regime a battle between capitalism and communism? So why should we accept Manson's facile characterization of the era in which we live now – particularly since the "defining conflict" which he cites has been going on as long as human history has existed?

“Fundamentalists ideologies are nothing new. What’s new is that they’re immoveable like never before. Communism eventually evolved to survive, opening up its markets. Fascism came in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But today’s fundamentalism holds onto its beliefs with a pure faith that is unshakeable to its core.”

This is on a Thomas Friedman level of obscure nonsense talk. He's discussing his bare feelings about the world without any reference to reality. What "fundamentalists" are "immoveable like never before"? Which "fundamentalism" is "unshakeable," as opposed to what "fundamentalism" in the past, which was apparently shakeable?

In fact, that's what this article reminds me of most: Thomas Friedman. I'm sorry, and I know that's an awful thing to say, but it's got all the hallmarks of Friedman's work – in particular, a lot of redefining words to suit feelings, and a lot of stretching those feelings into loose, fact-free narratives about how the author sort of feels things have gone, maybe, vaguely.

Also, he clearly has no idea what "unfalsifiable" means. Yeesh.
posted by koeselitz at 9:57 PM on November 3, 2014 [23 favorites]


... and I have to say: I'm aware that this article was posted in good faith, and I understand many people have the same feelings Mark Manson has. So I want to point out that I really don't want to come off as just a hater here.

I'll put my cards on the table: I'm a "traditionalist," and I guess you could call me a "fundamentalist," in that I believe that there are fundamentals of religion and I believe they are true. Manson's characterization of traditionalist religious beliefs is staggeringly and insultingly confused. He repeats all sorts of silly tropes and makes obvious mistakes – for instance, about Pope Francis – that could have been avoided if he'd just talked to a serious or intelligent religious person for five minutes. But he apparently either didn't want to or didn't have a chance to. Still, it would have been nice to have some critics of religion who have some idea what they are actually talking about – and, perhaps more to the point, who actually care about not being wrong.
posted by koeselitz at 10:07 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Stalinism, nazism, eugenics, radical environmentalism and radical feminism — these are all just as inflexible and intolerant in their most extreme forms as any religion.

It's nonsensical to say that Nazism was an atheistic movement. Its (documented) relationship with Christianity and other religions was certainty odd, but Hitler at least definitely had religious views. See, in particular, 'positive Christianity' [PDF].

Also, it's hard to justify characterising 'eugenics' as a movement.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:15 PM on November 3, 2014


rtha, I'd argue that from the aversion you put forth to the action reading it you should read it the way you would drink a cup of vinegar.

I should have prefaced this with "His writing's terrible, but I think that the question 'how do we look at fundamentalism through the secular lens? What is the sociological and psychological, and geopolitical explanations for fundamentalism as a social phenomena?"

If there's a moderator that wanted to add that to the original post, that'd be awesome.

He uses radical feminism as an example of his idea of left-wing fundamentalism, which is not fundamentalism but radical ideology (hence the term, radical feminism). Radicalism differs from fundamentalism in that it holds to an ideological view of the world that has never existed, while fundamentalism is rooted in the "golden era" concept.

Manson is correct that we could argue that any ideology that espouses a return to the past in terms of civil liberties and lifestyle choices, the number of people that believe is growing (or at least able to garner a great deal more publicity than in the past) and that combined with a ton of other stresses on the global population, people who believe that something fundamental about their perception of the world - faith, in any of its myriad of faces is threatened - turn to something that will help them reconcile that faith with the world that is now. The very idea of free speech that allows this community to thrive is threatened by the beliefs espoused by most of these fundamentalist groups.

These people are human beings, and I do believe that there is hope that there can be a world where these individuals will have the time and patience to be immersed among the population and through socialization among differentiation, be able to let go of the fears that fundamentalist ideology requires. I always come back to the rat experiment when I need a reminder that there can be a way by which people who have been dispurposed and alienated from their society can be reintegrated. The rat experiment details addiction, but arguably this fulfills the dopamine rush complex that addiction targets.

We are social creatures, and for better or for worse, we're all on this rock together and if we don't learn how to teach one another how to get along, we're all fucked. So how do you teach someone who's not arguably fundamentalist about the world in a way that helps them replace the void that faith left? How do you argue for humanity in the face of people that would dehumanize a segment in the name of fanatical devotion to ideology? My answer, based on my personal conclusions and socialization-tests from the rat experiment is that it's through forced immersion that are value system's mutability becomes apparent and if an individual is supported through that identity crisis in such a way that they see the value of being able to ask questions, it doesn't matter what they believed before, they can change.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 10:18 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


In addition to the science of genetics there was also a eugenics movement. Here's the book on it. I'm not arguing its relation with fundamentalism, just pointing out that there definitely was a eugenics movement.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:23 PM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


thebotanyofsouls: “These people are human beings, and I do believe that there is hope that there can be a world where these individuals will have the time and patience to be immersed among the population and through socialization among differentiation, be able to let go of the fears that fundamentalist ideology requires.”

But what if fundamentalist ideology is true?
posted by koeselitz at 10:37 PM on November 3, 2014


But what if fundamentalist ideology is true?

Then only the vast majority of them would be in error.
posted by Brian B. at 10:51 PM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Fascism came in all sorts of shapes and sizes

I mean, right there you basically need to ask the person if they're drunk, stupid, or messing with you
posted by clockzero at 11:21 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing is that this definition of "fundamentalism" is so broad that it includes basically any positive belief. Every human being believes certain things that they think no intelligent person could disagree with. That's part of being a person who thinks thoughts. It's not really an eluctable condition.

If one replies that fundamentalists are just the ones who are more reluctant to change those positive beliefs, well, you're going down the rabbit-hole of degrees. How much more reluctant? What makes them more reluctant? Who exactly are the fundamentalists you're talking about – can you give evidence that indicates that they are the ones who suffer from this reluctance to change their positive beliefs?

In general, this is what I found insulting. This article doesn't treat "fundamentalists" as "human beings." Treating someone as a human being means taking them at their word when they say they believe a certain thing is true, and either disputing that claim or agreeing with it. It does not include dismissing their beliefs as not even worthy of discussion in order to class them as utterly beyond help due to a sort of disorder that makes them incapable of considering dissenting views. But the article doesn't even get around to that; I gather "fundamentalists" is just a nice, broad, faceless group that can be talked about in the abstract without having to bother with reality. So I should keep in mind, I guess: it's not intended as an insult. Any reference to actual human beings is purely accidental.
posted by koeselitz at 11:30 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


An early suspicion was an overconfident imitation of a Cracked.com article.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 1:02 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


In the centuries after the enlightenment, world politics was defined by the struggle between European imperialists and the world they sought to conquer


That's an odd way to look at imperialism. The Europeans weren't struggling, they were seeking to enrich themselves, individually and nationally, by destroying other societies. The hyena taking down a wounded impala is not a struggle.

What’s new is that they’re immoveable like never before.

No they're not. Nothing I know of can compare with the "immoveability" of the early Christians. After a few centuries, things got better for the Christians and they didn't look so immoveable. Now things are getting tougher for them, and the immoveability that has always been there is starting to show.

It’s a brave new world.


Depends what part of the world you're living in, like it or not.

the developing world pulled itself out of poverty

I think I missed that part.

And for the most part, it was true.


Nope.

If the quality of life on the planet is so much better, why are so many more people violently clinging to ancient religions and attempting to force their moral codes on the rest of us?


Because it isn't so much better, and in some places, even in the U.S., it's getting worse. You think nobody notices?

The rest is drivel.
posted by carping demon at 1:19 AM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


It does not include dismissing their beliefs as not even worthy of discussion in order to class them as utterly beyond help due to a sort of disorder that makes them incapable of considering dissenting views.

Seems to me there are plenty of decent and understandable ways to dismiss other people's beliefs, or at least to do something other than agree or dispute them. I agree that pathologizing fundamentalism is willfully ignorant and tremendously damaging to more than just discourse, but the same instinct that leads us to seek the motivations behind a fundamentalist's choices should also make us reluctant to caricature the thoughts of those who reject them wholesale.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 1:32 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not arguing its relation with fundamentalism, just pointing out that there definitely was a eugenics movement.

Indeed. I was wrong, and I concede the point. I didn't grok that there was a fully realised ideology behind the theory.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:42 AM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, it's hard to justify characterising 'eugenics' as a movement.

Why would you say that? I'm not sure what it would be the fundamentalist version of, but compared with movements that arose in the same era it seems no less qualified than the public health movement or the suffragist movement or the temperance movement. Here in the U.S. we still had compulsory sterilization programs for undesirables in place as late as the 1980s (Google for the "Board of Social Protection" in Oregon, for example) and there have been outbreaks of supposedly-voluntary sterilization programs as recently as a few years ago.
posted by XMLicious at 1:45 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what [eugenics] would be the fundamentalist version of...

Darwinism. And the eugenicists would have told you that themselves back in the day, even.

Mind, this doesn't excuse their behavior or discredit Darwin, of course. But it does give credence to an argument I make myself - that the quality of a set of ideas should be judged separately from the actions of that idea's extremist followers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:59 AM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


"But today’s fundamentalism holds onto its beliefs with a pure faith that is unshakeable to its core."

This author doesn't know what he is talking about. The Fundamentals is an influential book in american conservative Christianity. You could broadly characterise American conservative Christians as Fundamentalists, even if they weren't directly influenced by the book.

The article begins being wrong about the topic and then proceeds to do a bad job discussing it, as others have mentioned above.

Silly and wrong.
posted by ServSci at 4:09 AM on November 4, 2014


Darwinism. And the eugenicists would have told you that themselves back in the day, even.

But eugenics isn't even a human analogy to Darwinism, if anything it would be analogous to the selective breeding of plants and animals that has occurred throughout human history.

And even then, it's not like you take selective breeding in the way that you would take a religion or ideology and perfect it, and strip away everything except what you hold as fundamental, and end up with eugenics. A eugenicist doesn't have any reason to oppose the breeding of plants and animals instead of humans, the way that a fundamentalist opposes non-fundamentalist doctrines and practices.

I mean maybe if you construe the various "hygiene" movements from that era, you could count eugenics / "racial hygiene" as an extremist element of an overall hygiene movement, but that's not the same thing as fundamentalism - a eugenicist wouldn't discount public health measures as an insufficiently fundamentalist form of hygiene, for example.
posted by XMLicious at 4:13 AM on November 4, 2014


But eugenics isn't even a human analogy to Darwinism, if anything it would be analogous to the selective breeding of plants and animals that has occurred throughout human history.

Direct from Wikipedia:
The idea of eugenics existed previous to the existence of the word eugenics; for example, William Goodell (1829-1894) advocated the castration and spaying of the insane. However, eugenics as a modern concept was originally developed by Francis Galton. Galton had read his half-cousin Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. Galton believed that desirable traits were hereditary based on biographical studies. In 1883, one year after Darwin's death, Galton gave his research a name: eugenics.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:21 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I know who Galton is, but how does any of that make eugenics, or the pre-Darwinian things that article is saying are the same thing as eugenics, Darwinism in a more fundamentalist form? Which parts of Darwinism did Galton throw away as not fundamental enough?

Christianity and Judaism are intimately related and share many ideas and even texts, and the same with Christianity and Classical Greco-Roman philosophy, but that doesn't make Christianity a fundamentalist form of Judaism or a fundamentalist form of Classical philosophy.
posted by XMLicious at 4:49 AM on November 4, 2014


If people who disagreed with me were flexible, they would be able to change their minds and agree with me.

Since they can't do that, they are not flexible.

Since they are not flexible, they must be fundamentalists incapable of flexible thought.

Therefore people who disagree with me are fundamentalists.

I wonder what environmental trauma led them to embrace fundamentalism.

This has been the cartoon guide to fundamentalism.

_____

Just to be clear, it was the identification of Nazism with fundamentalism that set me off. Words mean things.
posted by leopard at 5:11 AM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


But eugenics isn't even a human analogy to Darwinism, if anything it would be analogous to the selective breeding of plants and animals that has occurred throughout human history.

Agree. The eugenics movement is at least as much a tributary of (progressive) 19th century "purificationist" culture as anything specifically to do with Darwin. Darwin sort of expands and raises the profile of the available technical vocabulary, but, fundamentally, it's human husbandry, which isn't a version of Darwinism, fundamentalist or otherwise.
posted by batfish at 5:50 AM on November 4, 2014


Re: being incapable of flexible thinking, many areligious fundamentalists I know see simplistic thinking as evidence of the unassailable truth of their beliefs. Suggestions that [subject] is more complicated can then be easily dismissed . For example, my neighbor's notion of "patriotism" begins and ends with love of flag (preferably as large as possible). Pointing out that he, a retired police officer, violates the law of the land by failing to take his flag down at night or illuminate it led to an irony-free Facebook froth about how he had no use for people who don't understand patriotism and love of country. He loves the symbol more fervently, apparently, than the concepts/country for which it stands. He is not a complete idiot, but unlike my random wrongheaded notions, his enormous blind spot comes with a ready label, which is another characteristic of any fundamentalist belief system.
posted by carmicha at 6:24 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's nonsensical to say that Nazism was an atheistic movement.

In the quote you posted this under, it only implied a secular movement, or non-religious, not atheist. I only added this because there are many posters who have a problem with using word fundamentalism outside of the Protestant original, or any religious context. The fact is that if and when a word describes similar attempts at fundamentalism, it can apply without breaking any conventions, so long as the context is there. Libertarianism and Naziism can be classed as such movements without hurting their feelings perhaps, and being secular relates to the point, because they would need to exist apart from the religious orders they may appeal to, in order to allow them to remain pure, or fundamentalist. So to be a fundamentalist is likely to have a religious version, a political version, and likely a version that includes art and aesthetics on some level, especially diet.
posted by Brian B. at 7:11 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


carping demon:
Because it isn't so much better, and in some places, even in the U.S., it's getting worse. You think nobody notices?
I haven't had a raise since I changed jobs in 2011, and I haven't had a vacation away from home since 2009. I don't think my father's gotten a raise at his job since 2010, and the only reason he still has his job is that he's damn good at it, he has dirt on most of the management, and he has a son with no compunctions about airing that dirt on social media if they fuck my father over when he's a few years away from retirement.
posted by starbreaker at 7:23 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


> We are social creatures, and for better or for worse, we're all on this rock together and if we don't learn how to teach
> one another how to get along, we're all fucked.

We are semi-social creatures. We need some company, and also some relief from all that company. For that reason, human sociality does not scale into the billions. We are no doubt fucked--some of us, or many of us, or all of us--but nobody has any notion how many or which ones. Or when.
posted by jfuller at 7:24 AM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I know who Galton is, but how does any of that make eugenics, or the pre-Darwinian things that article is saying are the same thing as eugenics, Darwinism in a more fundamentalist form?

Ah, I think I see the disconnect - I don't actually personally believe that eugenics is the fundamentalist form of Darwinism, and I also agree with you. However, there are indeed quite a few people on the right who do believe thus, and they point to the Galton-Darwin connection as their justification.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:17 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not convinced it's reasonable to compare them to religious fundamentalists and factions like Daesh, Boko Haram, and the Family Research Council.
Maybe a reason for the rise of fundamentalism is the cover popular libertarian commentators in the media give to right-wing fundamentalists by drawing a false-equivalence with progressive movements like feminism hmmmm...?
posted by axon at 5:03 AM on November 5, 2014


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