God and Fascism

I am currently reading a book — one of a few I have on the go at the moment — by Karlheinz Deschner entitled God and the Fascists. It was originally published in 1965 in German with the title Mit Gott und die Faschisten. It documents the various alliances between European fascism and the Christian Churches in Italy and Germany.

I’ve mentioned the Nazi programme and agenda of “Positive Christianity” in the past and the parallel alliance of Shintoism, Buddhism and Japanese fascism at the same time known as “Holy War Buddhism” or “Imperial Way Buddhism”, documented in Brian Victoria’s Zen At War. I decided I needed to do more research into religion and fascism given that these things are becoming, once again, very closely associated and even mutually entangled. If “Islamofascism” makes any sense as a term (and I think it is much abused) then so does Christofascism or Buddhist Fascism. Fascism is no more inherent to Islam than it is to Christianity or Buddhism. It is the psychology of fascism that needs to be understood, not the garb in which fascism adorns and cloaks itself.

“Islamism” is, I think, a very pernicious term. If indeed fascism is inherent to Islam, that does not account for why there are pacifist and liberal strains of Islam (and may their tribe increase!). It is no more true of Islam than it is of Christianity or Buddhism, both of which also have succumbed to the lure of fascism, but also of resistance to fascism. German Churches and German Christians (and those of other nationalities as well) were as guilty of widespread and even enthusiastic collaboration with Nazism as the Catholic Church was with Italian fascism. It’s a very ugly history.

Take, by way of example, the famous Pastor Niemöller ostensibly known for his famous remark (although it is in dispute),

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

What is often not known is that Pastor Niemöller was initially an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler and Nazism, although he came to regret it later when the Nazis began to fully implement their “Gleichschaltung” of the Christian Churches in line with the fascist ideology of “Positive Christianity”. Many exceptionally brave Christians, notably Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and some not so famous ones, did distinguish themselves by resisting the fascists and paying the price of that resistance, but that was not true of Christians in general.

And the same may be said of Buddhists who enthusiastically embraced Japanese fascism. A very few brave ones resisted “fascistization” of Buddhism, and Victoria duly acknowledges them by name and their heroism — but so few, in fact, that he could name them. And after the war, the famous D.T. Suzuki justified “Imperial Way Buddhism” by stating that enlightenment didn’t specify whether one would become a communist, a socialist, a liberal or a fascist! And today, Buddhist monks in Myanmar are again fully engaged in “ethnic cleansing”.

All of which leads to the conclusion that there are noble forms of Islam and ignoble forms of Islam, noble forms of Christianity and ignoble forms of Christianity, noble forms of Buddhism and ignoble forms of Buddhism, noble forms of Hinduism and ignoble forms of Hinduism.

The Islamic State is, in my judgement, not an Islamic movement at all. It’s a fascist movement that has cloaked itself in the garb of Islam, and who have managed to find justifications for their rampant egoism and narcissism in Islamic scripture just as easily as Christians find excuses and justifications in Scripture for slavery, war, or totalitarianism. Buddhists have even fewer excuses for it but also manage to invent justifying rationales.

My suspicions that Daesh was actually a fascist movement and not principally a religious one at all were aroused by reading reports of the number of former Baathist Party members from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq that are operative in ISIS, as for example this Reuter’s article. My suspicions were further enhanced from learning that many Tunisian recruits into ISIS are not motivated by religious zeal but by the hopelessness of extreme poverty and are lured in by the promise of financial support for their families in much the same manner as Saddam Hussein recruited suicide bombers by promising a $25,000.00 honorarium to their families.

If that is the case, then the problem is not “Islamism” or religion per se, but something more basic and more primitive — fascism; an extreme form of narcissism that manages to anoint itself with holy water.

And if reports are correct, and not fabricated atrocity propaganda, that Daesh is trafficking in body parts and organ harvesting from those they deem kafir or apostates and heretics, and justifying it in terms of their particularly austere interpretation of Islam, then that’s not a whole lot different from the Nazi atrocity visited upon Jews or others deemed undesirable or Untermenschen, all likewise neatly tied up and arranged in terms of “Positives Christentum“.

At issue then is the psychology of fascism, and given the history of fascism that does not know race, creed, or colour. It’s something primal, brutal and neither religion nor reason knows of any defence against it, nor are religion or reason the cause of it, even if it seizes on these things and uses them for its own sinister purposes.

I haven’t finished reading Karlheinz Deschner’s book. I’ve barely begun it, in fact. So I can’t say how far down the rabbit hole it goes in describing this perverse alliance of religion and fascism. It is some darkness lurking beneath the veneer and the patina of self-righteous self-justification. It is something, known to Rumi too, lurking in even the battle cry of Franco’s fascist legions — “Long live death!” And if ISIS is, indeed, the “death cult” it has been accused of being, then it shares that also with fascists who proclaimed themselves ostensibly “Christian” too — or Buddhist, or Hindu, etc.






4 responses to “God and Fascism”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    There are always those who commit atrocities and blame it on others. America administration who puts Iraq on fire is always behind the scene. The dead snake of Bagdad that becomes alive is the new version of Rumi story. We must not misplace the blame. The thousands that were thrown on the streets unemployed. Crime breeds crime, that is why all religions in their purest form face violence with meekness, lies with patience and opposition with forgiveness,knowing there is a divine force that is watching the game and that is why Isis has nothing to do with god, A criminal set up meeting another criminal set up, In this polluted environment one can only throw an honest words. Words like human realize their effects when honestly delivered. What are the human but words either honest or dishonest that are awaiting their disclosure. The book of our elegant universe is programmed on gradual revelation and nothing goes unregistered. The divine internet is unquestionable and that everything has his operating system program that is connected to it. THE MASTER PLAN IS UNDER HIS CONTROL, he omits whatever he wills and affirms whatever he wills, as stated in the Koran, he gives life to whomever he wills and imposes death on whomever he wills or do we think that this well-designed plan is without a planer. This is the conceptual chant of the unaware, who has been misled but still insist he is on the straight path. May god shows us the straight path and makes us stick to it.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    It seems to me that “ideology” – is – the mask. Fascism – is – the mask. Islamism is the mask.

    The real motive behind ISIS’ deeds are transfer of wealth from the indigenous people of the regions it has occupied, and displacing these people to all over the world, unsheltered and without a penny to spare. What will remain are the vast swaths of premium quality land which will then be handed over to Money Changers who have created this ISIS-led war and many other ones like it in the past.

    The goal is to wrestle wealth and power out of the hands of the public and transfer it to “the chosen people.”

    • Scott Preston says :

      I think you might be following the wrong thread through the Minotaur’s labyrinth, LittleBigMan. I highly recommend a dose of Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism”. Someone in Japan has even made it available online.


      I can asssure you that Hannah Arendt’s is a voice of sanity in these times.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        Thank you, Chief. I read a bit of what was at the link, and my impression of the part I read is that Arendt both complicates the issue and simplifies it at the same time.

        The central issue, in my view, is this. Governments and the people who participate in them at the decision-maker level have a very significant impact on the lives of the rest of the citizenry. So, when these individuals make decisions that are not in the best interest of the vast majority of the citizenry, and they do it consistently, one will have to investigate why.

        In addition to that, when you observe very old systems of government that have consistently rejected policies that could benefit most of the citizenry, again the question comes up why is this the case?

        The question is not about all Jews or all Aristocrats or all anything.

        To frame the question in such ideologies is to undermine the potential to arrive at a solution that can actually work in terms of ending totalitarianism and bringing a sustainable change to better the lives of the ordinary citizens that is guaranteed to last for many generations.

        Now, let we resurrect Orwell for you and suppose for the sake of the argument that we enter a fictitious city called: Jaroo.

        The inhabitants of Jaroo are all animals that can talk. All kinds of animals can be found in Jaroo. So, Jaroo is a diverse place.

        One day a fox journalist enters the town and after having a few drinks at few bars over several days finds out that the inhabitants of the city are very unhappy (and have been so for many generations) with the way their city is run.

        The animals experience this unhappiness because the areas where they can find food and a comfortable residence for their families have consistently shrunk over time.

        You’ve got to spend your wage for 6 months, for example, to pay for one month’s rent for a small cave high enough from the flood planes in order to shelter your family during the rainy season. You know this isn’t sustainable for you and your family and yet many other families face the same ordeal.

        Work is scarce, too, and you have to pay 4 days’ wages for a medium size fish or 3 pounds of hey, which wouldn’t provide food for the family for more than a day.

        So, the fox journalist starts to investigate why life has become so miserable for the hard-working animals in Jaroo.

        After much investigation, the fox finds out that the head of the city’s judiciary, where all disputes are settled is a Gila monster by the name of Gil Gil. Further investigations reveal that other Gil Gil’s brothers and extended family head the taxation and the treasury system where much of the monetary policy is originated. Not to mention that Gila monsters run the vast majority of work farms. Gila monsters also head the parliament and occupy more than 80% of the seats in the Senate.

        Then, as he prolongs his stay in the town, the fox journalist finds out that only the Gila monster residents in town and their close associates of hyenas and snakes have prospered.

        Moreover, he looks at the library records and finds out from newspapers that Gila monsters have always been absent from popular uprisings against the ruling class of a few hogs over the past 150 years.

        Only in one case, however, Gila monsters secretly supported a major uprising against a dying ruling king hog. On the other hand, the major media and newspaper outlets – all owned by or a subsidiary of Gila monsters – did their best to portray the uprising as one supported by and participated in by ALL the animals in Jaroo.

        Mysteriously, the number of Gila monsters who became millionaires after this uprising surged 4000%, while most other Jaroo residents lost most of their assets and even their livelihood.

        At last, the fox journalist writes an article about the rabbits being a great nuisance in Jaroo and leaves the town a much richer fox than when he arrived.

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