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Politics & Metaphysics (part two)

There are additional specific problems related to the current political situation in the United States, a country which, because of its enormous, but diminishing, economic and political power, represents the key player in the global crisis. The democratic ideals are cherished and defended primarily by American liberals. The leading philosophy of this group is humanism; this is typically linked with atheism, because religious beliefs of any kind appear to this group to be naïve and in conflict with reason and the scientific worldview. This perspective does not address the spiritual hunger and needs. History shows that these are important and powerful forces inherent in human nature, perhaps more powerful than sex, which Freud saw as the primary motivating force of the psyche. The social concerns of liberals, their philanthropic efforts, ecological awareness, and antiwar protests in their present form lack a deeper ideological basis and spiritual foundation. They can thus easily be dismissed as signs of weakness alien to a capitalist mentality.

This seems to account for the widespread appeal of the fundamentalist and neocon groups, who present their ideas cloaked in religious terminology. These groups violate, in many ways, the basic principles of democracy, but address the spiritual needs of their followers. These followers tend to overlook that their leaders are feeding them useless religious dogmas and dangerous delusional nonsense, which only exploit their spiritual needs and do not actually satisfy them. Even in this distorted form, however, allusions to the divine are extremely powerful and can override democratic ideals and basic human decency.

Religion that should unite (religare means “to bind together again”) instead becomes a divisive element in the world, separating not only one creed from another (“We are Christians, you are pagans”; “We are Moslems, you are Infidels”; “We are Jews, you are Goyim”), but also one faction of a religion from another (“We are Catholics, you are Protestants”; “We are Shiites, you are Sunnis”) in a way well-known from history. In recent years this split has taken also a specifically American form, radically dividing the population, including the Christian community, into two irreconcilable camps (“We are the chosen ones who will experience ‘rapture’; we will be united with Jesus, you will be left behind”).

The convictions that drive these Christian fundamentalists are based on misinterpretation of the Biblical description of the Armageddon and the Apocalypse. Their beliefs are so preposterous and fantastic that they would provide a sufficient basis for diagnosis of psychosis if they were reported by an individual psychiatric patient. Unfortunately, in the contemporary United States they dominate the thinking of tens of millions of people and have found their way into the highest echelons of the government. Dangerous trends in the global situation, such as destruction of the environment, industrial pollution, political crises, and increase of violence are actually welcomed by this group, because they are signs of the approaching Armageddon and herald the imminence of “rapture” that will unite them with Jesus (see the scary entries concerning the “rapture index”).

It is more than unfortunate that this insanity affects the political decisions on the highest level and has at its disposal the formidable power of the American military. Occasional heavy-handed and highly inappropriate references by our Commander-in-Chief to the war in the Middle East as a “crusade” feed into the equally deluded ideology of “jihad” entertained by Moslem fundamentalists and make the global situation particularly precarious.

What we need to counteract this dangerous religious propaganda that has succeeded in deluding and blinding so many Americans is a new guiding myth: an exciting new vision, one that would be based on the best of science and also spiritually informed, one that would appeal to both rational and spiritual aspects of human nature. We need a vision that is truly democratic (not one confusing democracy with aggressive export of the values and goods of Western capitalistic society) and that provides genuine satisfaction of human spiritual needs.

The previous two pages are best illustrated by the Czech president, Václav Havel, who states: “I am deeply convinced that [the answer] lies in what I have already tried to suggest – in that spiritual dimension that connects all cultures and in fact all humanity. If democracy is not only to survive but to expand successfully and resolve those conflicts of cultures, then, in my opinion, it must rediscover and renew its own transcendental origins…. Planetary democracy does not yet exist, but our global civilization is already preparing a place for it: It is the very Earth we inhabit, linked with Heaven above us. Only in this setting can the mutuality and the commonality of the human race be newly created, with reverence and gratitude for that which transcends each of us, and all of us together. The authority of a world democratic order simply cannot be built on anything else but the revitalized authority of the universe”

Any questions??