Monday, 9 June 2014

Fringe politics 101: the enlightened, the masses, the lost and the cabal

If you have an interest in fringe politics, then you will doubtless have come across Jack Chick, the American fundamentalist Christian cartoonist.

In Chick's fictional world, people come in four types. First we have the enlightened, the preachers who share Chick's religious views:

Then there are the masses, the people who are somehow almost entirely ignorant of even the most basic concepts of Christianity:

These people just need to be preached to, and they will soon become enlightened themselves. Chick takes this idea to absurd lengths - in one of his most infamous comics, Lisa, a doctor preaches to a paedophile (instead of turning him over to the police) and the man magically stops abusing his daughter. Chick is certainly convinced of his persuasive abilities!

Next, there are the lost. These people are too far gone to ever accept salvation, and so are doomed to hell. They often subscribe to false belief systems such as Catholicism or Islam. Here's what happens to a young lady (who converted to witchcraft after reading Harry Potter) and her aunt Gladys:

In Chick's world, some members of the lost have managed to obtain positions of power and are actively attempting to crush the enlightened. These people form the cabal.

As Chick is an American, he fits outside my blog's subject matter - as do most of his followers. So, why have I decided to analyse his worldview like this? Simple. The worldview described here underpins a vast spectrum of fringe thought.

Let us start with white nationalism. In 1993, the American neo-Nazi William Luther Pierce (author of The Turner Diaries) wrote a strikingly Chick-like comic book entitled The Saga of White Will.

In this high school story, the enlightened are represented by the titular White Will and his friends, all of whom are convinced white supremacists:

The cabal is also evident. It is formed by the school's teachers, who are promoting afrocentrism so that the white students will become "wiggers", and by a Jewish boy named Izzy Rabinowitz who conspires with the principal to help crush the whites' self-esteem:

The lost are represented by a few white anti-racists (presumably the "wiggers" referred to earlier on) and most of the black students (the one exception is a militant black antisemite who aligns himself with White Will against their common foe):

The masses, meanwhile, comprise pretty much the rest of the school. Witness how the students flock to an anti-racist rally carrying signs with slogans such as "everyone is equal"...

...And yet they are apparently unconvinced of these sentiments, as they laugh along when Will sabotages the rally to make a prominent black student sound like a racist stereotype:

Like Chick, Pierce portrays a world in which the masses will join the enlightened, so long as the enlightened are able to preach their views.

Take a look at any fringe position, and there is a good chance that you will find the same basic philosophy.

As another example, conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones see themselves and their followers as enlightened, the general public as the "sheeple" masses, and anyone who disagrees with them after hearing their theories as lost. And a conspiracy theory, by its very nature, requires a cabal of some sort. We could also point to the objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand who, like Chick and Pierce, constructed entire fictional narratives to promote her beliefs.

From here, it is easy to find this basic worldview amongst all manner of British cranks. We may not have Jack Chick, but we have Anjem Choudary. In place of William Luther Pierce, we have Nick Griffin. Instead of Alex Jones, we have David Icke.

Analyse their views in depth - along with the views of the BNP, the EDL and countless others - and I'm sure that many of them will fall back on the same structure. The enlightened trying to convert the masses before they become lost and end up in the grip of a cabal that hates the enlightened.

At this point, it all collapses into outright absurdity. So many different groups claiming to be the enlightened ones, and yet none of them can agree on the particulars. Does the cabal consist of Catholics, Jews, socialists, or aliens? Maybe they should figure this out between themselves before they go preaching to us.

There is another common thread that can be found amongst these seemingly disparate fringe philosophies. This time, it is not a theoretical group of people, but a hypothetical event: the great war that will end it all.

Jack Chick, of course, believes in a Christian apocalypse. He holds that the enlightened will be transported to heaven in the Rapture while the world plunges into a war, one that ultimately ends with the defeat of the cabal and the lost.

Amongst white nationalists groups we find the concept of the race war, racial holy war, or RaHoWa. According to these people, there will one day be a battle between the races in which the white masses finally become enlightened and join up to battle against the cabal and the lost. Naturally, the white nationalists come out on top. William Luther Pierce's The Turner Diaries outlines this scenario, and ends with the white heroes successfully killing all non-whites on the planet.

I believe that this desire for an apocalypse is less common amongst conspiracy theorists, but it still exists. Once again, it involves the masses joining the enlightened to overthrow the cabal.

In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand portrays an apocalyptic scenario in which society crumbles under the inept leadership of the cabal, while the enlightened flee to the safety of Galt's Gulch - leaving the lost to perish.

And it scarcely needs mentioning just how important to communism the concept of revolution is: the enlightened overthrowing their capitalist cabal.

In future posts on this blog, I expect the formula of the enlightened, the masses, the lost, the cabal and the apocalypse to turn up again and again.

So, is there any truth in the formula? Well…

Do the enlightened exist? Well, it should go without saying that people who share the values of these particular writers (Chick's fundamentalists, Pearce's racists, Rand's objectivists) all exist. So in a manner of speaking, the answer is yes.

Do the lost exist? Again, in a manner of speaking, yes, since people who are dead-set against the views of these writers and their followers certainly exist.

And it goes without saying that some people in positions of power fit the above description - so, once again in a manner of speaking, the cabal exists.

But where the formulae really falls apart is with its characterisation of the masses. Simply put, the general public does not consist of a horde of blank slates, ready to absorb the beliefs of Chick, Icke and the rest after a little bit of preaching.

It may seem trite, but everyone is different. Our minds work differently. Our experiences are different. There is simply no one philosophy that suits every one of us. And this is why all of the above movements are doomed to fail.

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