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Understanding Bush: Armageddon

by US expat Ukraine Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 09:40:38 PM EST

Reading through RenaRF's dKos post All Hell Breaks Loose in GOP Land, Mark Crispin Miller's recent interview on Buzzflash came to mind.

Miller related what I've believed for years.  I assumed others also knew something about it.  But, judging by ongoing rational responses, endless cries of dismay and disbelief over Bush's actions and policies, appeals to common sense and reasoned thought, I think I was wrong in my assumption.


Essentially, understanding BushCo (Busheviks), and understanding the broad misunderstanding of him by the so-called "reality-based community" boils down to this.  The reality-based community, wherein we present logical, rational, reasonable arguments challenging Bush's thinking and politics, is completely wrong in its approach.  Calling Bush irrational, a lunatic, a madman, ignoramus, and so on miss the point entirely.  Bush, in his own world, is entirely consistent, predictable, and even has more than a modicum of integrity.  In his own world.  Bush is a fundamentalist Christian theocrat, and within that context he is completely understandable.  There is no surprise whatsoever about his wanting to put United Arab Emirates with known ties to terrorism and 9/11 in charge of US ports.  There is just a little surprise that Republican linchpins such as Hastert and Frist step up to put up some token resistance.  That part is surprising only because it defies belief that either or both of them hadn't a clue as to who and what Bush is prior to Bush insisting opening US doors and ports to known terrorist associates.

You see, Bush is looking for Armageddon.

With that one single postulate, all that he's doing and has done makes sense.  He's not looking to save or even protect America.  He's looking for the end of the world, Armageddon, the great shoot-out in the OK corral with Satan, after which -- and only after which -- Jesus Christ can return and deliver Earth to faithful believers.  Not to rational people, but to faithful people, as in blind faith that defies all reason.  He believes he is doing God's work, that God is on his side, that God is guiding him with Divine guidance as a Christian believer and special operative.  Calling him irrational, insane, paranoid schizophrenic, or anything else is pointless.  Those are, in his mind, characterizations by evil-doers who are doomed anyway because they don't believe The Prophecy of the Word of God as he sees it.  His convictions despite all rational, normal, traditional intellectualism from the Enlightenment forward have an anti-rational appeal to the faithful masses who share his faith and beliefs.  The religious right, seemingly nutty to many people, are absolutely sincere and completely coherent in their fundamentalist interpretation and grasp of the Holy Bible.  Never mind that the Armageddon part -- the Book of Revelations -- seems to many of us to be indecipherable gibberish.  The whole schemata is anti-rational, where rational thought has no more effect and meaning than water off a duck's back.  

Time and again, on dKos and other blogs, in news, media commentaries, and on and on, the Bush enigma is taken on with deeply habituated rational thought that is second nature in Western culture.  That's understandable, but it's the wrong take.  Nor is the right take to simply dismiss it as irrational.  It's a different realm, anti-rational or non-rational, but entirely consistent within a world-view based on faith and faith alone.  That is not to diminish or belittle faith, but is only to contrast reason and faith.  Bush operates without reason, on faith, so there is no point in challenging his thinking and actions on reasonable grounds.  Whatever he does is in his own mind justified by his faith and allegiance to Holy Scripture, no different in effect than barbaric acts by Muslim extremists that he arbitrarily refers to as evil-doers, the enemy, insurgents, and so on.  To him, he is of God and all who disagree or resist are, very simply, not.  Therefore, those people need only be somewhat tolerated and appeased if absolutely necessary, but otherwise dismissed and ignored.  They're doomed anyway, so why bother?

The only way to set the world straight is for Jesus Christ to return, and that has to be proceeded by Armageddon.  That's all there is to it for Christian fundamentalists.  If you know any intimately, you know what I'm talking about.  Bush is their Amen Corner, and God bless him for doing the right things to get on to the Big Show, the Second Coming.  

Bush's calling in life, in his mind, is to deliver Armageddon.  

In that light, everything he does makes perfect sense -- including his controversial injection into the White House to start with.  That alone was confirmation of Divine Intervention, Manifest Destiny Bush-style.

Those of you who are quick to dismiss evangelicals, charismatics, and the religious right in the US perhaps don't really know many of them personally, on a close or even familial basis.  Ask them, get just beneath the surface, and you'll see this Armageddon dream keen in their minds, the belief that these are the End Times and they, and their champion George, will by God make sure of it.  Self-fulfilling prophecy, or not, it's what drives them, and it's what drives Bush.  He really believes it, and he has access to the resources, policies and fire-power to make it happen.  The only real surprise in his US ports policy is that people like Hastert and Frist, and much of the GOP, are only now beginning to begin to start to come to grips and understand who and what they've been dealing with.  They don't matter to Bush and his thinking any more than far-left liberal mudslingers.  If they disagree, they disagree, and Bush intends to have his way, legal or not, approved or not, because that's Divine Will in his mind and the minds of a goodly portion of US citizens.

From Miller's interview:

There is a powerful apocalyptic streak in Bush's government, which wants to "bring it on"--to use up all the earth's resources, to let the super-hurricanes and AIDS kill off as many evil-doers as possible, to touch off World War III at Armageddon. That suicidal impetus is not a pretense, nor, clearly, does it serve the interests of Capital. It is an even greater threat to world peace, US national security and planetary welfare than the whole Islamist movement, which only wants a global caliphate, whereas the Christianists would like to see the world go up in flames, because then Jesus will return, to give them permanent dominion and deep-fry their enemies.

So this is not a movement that the rational can ever shame into surrendering by merely demonstrating its illogic to its followers. The movement can't be shamed, because it's shameless; and it can't be cowed by clear analyses of its unreasonable views, because it's proudly wedded to unreason.

What we must do is recognize this movement as the latest resurgence of that atavistic paranoia that has, throughout our history as a species, always posed the gravest danger to democracy. Republics and democracy have always foundered on the rocks of paranoia: thus it was in Athens, and in Rome, and wherever else a rational community has given way to the demand for war and empire. Democracy depends on reason, on a reasonable sense of mutuality and common enterprise, and therefore on the possibility of trusting others not to trash the rules or otherwise subvert the general good. Paranoia, on the other hand, is based on fear, and therefore on a kind of "logic" that's impervious to evidence and quite incapable of learning from experience.

Unless we face the fact that this is what we're up against, we'll be no more successful at defeating it than Bush will ever be at trying to wipe out Islamism.

Paranoia cannot be wiped out, any more than "terrorism" could be ended through a greater use of terror. Paranoia is an atavism, deep within us all, and so the only way to end it would be to annihilate the human race. Paranoia can, however, be contained; and a functional democracy is one in which the paranoid component is suppressed, restricted to the woodwork, by the workings of a governmental system maintained by the rational majority.

And finally this, from William Rivers Pitt's recent article The Enemy

We hear a great deal about enemies, both real and contrived. Let us ponder, for a moment, the existence of another enemy so insidious that it operates fully in daylight but beyond control. This enemy seeks to destroy the rule of constitutional law in the United States. This enemy seeks to destroy the seed-corn defense against tyranny in this nation, the separation of powers. This enemy gathers more and more power to itself to achieve these goals, and uses fear and division to do so. This enemy will lie with impunity, stonewall endlessly and ruin anyone who might disrupt its plans.

This enemy stood by and did nothing while a major American city was devoured by the ocean. When New Orleans was drowned, many voices were raised in panicked unison that the White House must do something, and do something now. A conference call was held between key members of the Department of Homeland Security and other administration officials on August 29th, the day the catastrophe began for real. Investigators are seeking the transcript of this call, but administration officials claim the transcript has somehow disappeared. There are many transcripts of calls before and after this one, but the five-hour call on August 29th, the specific call investigators want to see, simply cannot be found.

This enemy deliberately reached out and destroyed the career of a deep-cover CIA agent named Valerie Plame, because her husband dared to criticize the White House about its "uranium from Niger" lie regarding Iraq. Plame, among other things, worked clandestinely to track any person, group or nation that would give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists; in other words, Plame worked to track the individuals this White House never fails to label as the enemy. Her work was derailed and her network destroyed because this White House did not want any discussion of the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, despite miles of claims that the stuff was there.

...

We hear a great deal about enemies these days, and many of them are quite real and quite perilous. It is difficult to imagine a more perilous enemy, however, than the one operating out of Washington today. This enemy would set itself on high, beyond control or censure, and create of itself that permanent faction James Madison so earnestly warned us of. This enemy deletes or hides evidence of its calumny, or simply alters existing laws that would otherwise derail its plans. This enemy destroys lives out of hand, lives by the tens of thousands, and reaps a pretty profit in the process.

The difference between the enemies we hear about and the one in Washington is simple and deadly: only the enemy in Washington can annihilate the constitutional government we have enjoyed for more than two centuries. The idea that is America cannot be terminated by terrorists or rogue states. Were the nation entire to be somehow obliterated, the idea that is America would endure. Only its keepers can kill it completely. They are well on their way.

"As nightfall does not come at once," wrote Justice William O. Douglas, "neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become victims of the darkness."

Twilight is upon us, and nightfall is reasonably at hand. I rest my case.  Thank you for your time.

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You might guess that I completely disagree with this theory. It does not explain the motivation of the fundamentalist right. Worse, by adopting it as a model for what the right thinks, it makes it harder for the sensible people on the left to try to find compromises with the right.

Here in Colorado Springs I am literally surrounded by Christian fundamentalists, and while there are a few who think "party today because Armageddon is coming tomorrow," this is not the broad belief. Most of them have an understanding of the world that is not all that different from the rest of us. They do, on the other hand, have a different approach to solving the world's problems than we do.

Here's a pretty good summary of their positions on a broad range of topics, including their ideas on poverty, the environment, and a bunch of other social issues. None of it can be understood in the context of the Armageddon model. http://www.nae.net/images/civic_responsibility2.pdf

My suggestion is that it might be worth doing some research into what the fundamentalist Christian right actually thinks about things. As a starting point, check out this page: http://www.nae.net/index.cfm?FUSEACTION=editor.page&pageID=318&idCategory=9 It's pretty certain that you won't agree with them on a lot of specific issues, but the broad goals of the right and the left are very similar...

by asdf on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 08:11:20 AM EST
Hmm, hmm,
Worse, [...] it makes it harder for the sensible people on the left to try to find compromises with the right.
I would rephrase that as:
Worse, [...] it makes it harder for the left to try to find compromises with sensible people on the right.
If you don't mind of course :)
by Francois in Paris on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 10:48:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with Francois that that one rephrase is significant.

What we see as sensible implies reasonable, rational.  I know many people in the US religious right who are prone to reasoned discussion.  They even agree that work that I'm committed to, poverty relief and helping the poor, is important to pursue because so many scriptures in the New Testament (2,103, I think) are Jesus' exortations to help the poor.  Why bother if the world is ending?

They're not unduly distracted by Revelations and that part of it.  They're also not fundamentalists, they're moderates.  They don't necessarily believe in a strictly literal, narrow interpretation of scripture.  I know plenty of right-wing moderates, and even many devout progressive, left-wing Christians.  That's not the group I'm talking about.  It's the fire-and-brimstone wrath-of-God crowd that I'm talking about.  And they are not rational.  They're abundant in the US southern Bilble Belt, paricularly in backwoods country churches.

Possibly there are many more moderate evangelicals that I'm giving credit for.

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The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
W. Churchill

by US expat Ukraine on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 08:45:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...issues like the Armageddon belief is more like the Catholic ban on contraception.  You know, something that as you say, does lurk beneath the surface of their system, but honored as one might a vestigial organ.

Truly,  when you ask if you know any fundamentalists, I do.  And when I try to remember what set of values charcterizes them best as a group, it is not a religious phenomena, but a cultural, or tribal set.  What drives them in my opinion is not their religious beliefs, but the biodynamic goals of all tribes; reproduction, production and agregation of resources, safety, security, etc.  


alohapolitics.com

by Keone Michaels on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 11:28:21 AM EST
Actually, most Catholics I know just consider the ban on contraception laughable and wrong-headed.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 11:38:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you know?

Juan Cole: Shiite protests Roil Iraq (February 22, 2006)

The Twelfh Imam or Mahdi is believed by Shiites to have disappeared into a supernatural realm (just as Christians believe in the ascension of Christ) from which he will someday return.

Some Shiites think his second coming is imminent. Muqtada all-Sadr and his followers are among them. They are livid about this attack on the shrine of the Mahdi's father.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also a firm believer in the imminent coming of the Mahdi. I worry that Iranian anger will boil over as a result of this bombing of a Shiite millenarian symbol.

Both Sunnis and Americans will be blamed. Very bad


and then
Iran Blames Bush - Sunni Shiite Clashes (February 22, 2006)
Shiites came out in the thousands all over the Shiite south on Wednesday to protest the bombing of the Askariiyah shrine in Samarra. A Sunni mosque was set afire. and a Sunni clergyman was assassinated.

The hardline Shiite Mahdi Army has come out of Sadr City and is all over Baghdad. They are clashing with Sunnis in Basra.

Sunni leader Tariq al- Hashimi threatened reprisals for reprisal killings.

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim blamed the US for holding back the Badr Corps.

Iran is blaming Bush.

The threat of terrorism and attacks on Americans just went way up.

(my emphasis)

The world is apparently run by idiots who think armageddon is a great thing.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 01:16:01 PM EST
The world is apparently run by idiots who think armageddon is a great thing.

There probably hasn't been a time in the last two thousand years when Armageddon hasn't seemed imminent for one reason or another. Currently it's Bush and global warming.

Wouldn't it be good to just give it a rest for a while? 'Good morning world, Armaggedon is off the menu for this century. So - what are you going to do now?'

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 02:16:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, there is a strong messianic element to Shiism.

The world is apparently run by idiots who think armageddon is a great thing.
Well, no surprise. All 3 Book religions share common patterns - messianic / heroic / final battle good vs. evil - along what we know of other mythologies: Mythra, Zoroaster, Osiris, etc.

Same old crap, repackaged over and over and over for the last 5,000 years.
by Francois in Paris on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 02:16:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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