Marxist control in the White House
Professor William Reville puts forward an interesting argument in Thursday's Irish Times, the overpowering influence of leftist fundamentalism. Asserting several facts about the nature of fundamentalism Professor Reville concludes that the 'leftist agenda' is a form of fundamentalism itself and one that wields the 'sway of power'. The article is at first glance quite convincing in its interpretation of 'leftism' as a pseudo belief that is, if strictly adhered to under fundamental principles, a form of fundamentalism quite similar to that found within the Christian and Islamic faiths.
However, this argument is quite familiar and has appeared in several different forms with varying levels of success. Professor Reville uses as one corner stone of his argument a quote from an article my Martin Amis in the Guardian, "[w]e are obliged to accept the fact that Bush is more religious than Saddam: of the two presidents, he is, in this respect, the more psychologically primitive." (1) Now, the general rule in quoting a source to fortify a particular view is to give that quote in its proper context. The context the quote pertains to is slightly more nuanced than Professor Reville would suggest. Mr. Amis begins "in central Baghdad [there] is a copy of the Koran written in Saddam Hussein's own blood," and "[a]ll US presidents - and all US presidential candidates - have to be religious or have to pretend to be religious," similarly Saddam "is, in reality, a career-long secularist - indeed an "infidel", according to Bin Laden." While Bush promotes religious fundamentalism verbally his actions defy his preaching, case in point, his unswayed support for the death penalty.
The point that Professor Reville makes, in a familiar style to Timothy Garton Ash in the Guardian several days after Mr. Amis' article (2), is that this logic results in Mother Teresa being more 'psychologically primitive' than Hitler. The two writers, being surprisingly unfamiliar with logic, have made the mistake of confusing Mother Teresa with someone who feigns religious belief in order to hold sway over a public who demand a fundamentalist leader. Whether Mr. Amis holds a certain disdain for religious belief is beside the point, one cannot infer from this piece that he would come to the same conclusion as Mr. Garton Ash as to Mother Teresa's psychological state. In much the same way we cannot infer from Professor Revilles article that President Bush is a Marxist, even though he holds the sway of power.
Amis can be understood more clearly here, "What religion used to take care of was to give one a sense that one wasn't just living in a meaningless present, and that there were greater contexts. Religion won't quite do this for us anymore, If we're to believe in perfectibility or even improvement, then we need to be able to think of the human soul as an imperishable image of our potential and our battered innocence and so on." (3)
The thrust of the article is that "[t]he fundamentalist left has come to command great influence in the media and powerfully moulds public opinion. Paradoxically this "liberal" media influence seems to exert a tighter grip on public opinion that the old-style thundering Catholic bishops ever did." Now while this is an interesting opinion it may not hold the necessary water for it to be considered realistic under further examination. Firstly, Professor Reville uses two basic premises to construct his argument, the first is that 'leftism' has a number of fundamental principles, one of which being religious intolerance, and the second that those with the sway of power strictly adhere to those fundamental principles. It is therefore necessary to ascertain who holds 'the sway of power'.
There are many influencing factors contributing to ones 'power', the most obvious being monetary wealth, political dominance and control over information. These can be roughly divided between political, financial and media institutions. The balance of power then slowly precipitates downwards towards the powerfully insignificant, those that don't register on Professor Reville's spectrum of influence.
At present in Britain the preponderance of power sways towards opposing the rights of religious extremists to speak openly about subjects deemed incitement to terrorism. While across the Atlantic Donald Rumsfeld, presently controlling the most advanced army in the world, defends the rights of certain religious fundamentalists to advocate individual acts of terrorism, "[o]ur department doesn't do that kind of thing. It's against the law. He's a private citizen. Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time."(4) Since we are to believe from Professor Reville's title that the 'sway of power' lies with the leftist middle class, we can then infer that this class is quite confused as to which religious fundamentalism to be intolerant towards. Which ties in quite succinctly with Martin Amis description of religious perversion for the purpose of political gain. Am I to assume that Professor Reville and Mr. Amis are in agreement?
Since the financial sphere is ruled out from the off and the political sphere is apparently confused as to its leftist agenda, it falls to the media to bear the brunt of Professor Reville's criticism. The BBC, considered one of the most influential and liberal media outlets in the world has this to say about he present conflict in Iraq, "If the president pulls it off, he can leave the legacy he has been seeking in the Middle East - Iraq as the democratic example which justified the war and the cost." This amounts to unconditional support for both the invasion of Iraq and the sanctions that preceded it, and therefore the justification of over 500,000 dead. The mainstream media does indeed support the sway of power.
Just as the mainstream media refrained from framing the debate after 9/11, it was also deficient in remembering Russian terrorism towards Chechnya after the horrific incident in a Moscow theatre. This is not to say Russia has escaped all forms of criticism from the liberal media, it was left to the 'fundamentalist left' to criticise Russian aggression against "hapless Chechen civilians and refugees...now paying the price, as they have repeatedly over the past eight years. An endless litany of reports by groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch document the extent of Moscow's abuses in the conflict; Chechnya is one of several places in the world at the moment where the word "genocide" is being used by reasonable people. It is the Russian government, far more than isolated rebel bands in Moscow, who have repeatedly targeted innocent lives during the conflict."(6) This merely highlights the gap between apparent leftist control and the reality of a sway favouring those that feign fundamentalism then oppose whatever other fundamentalism is necessary to retain that power.
The most interesting aspect of Professor Revilles piece is the conflict between a professors duty to condemn plagiarism while at the same time practising it openly. I think this says more about the state of the Irish college system than a hundred different articles about the popularity of science among undergraduates.
1. Martin Amis in the Guardian
2. Timothy Garton Ash in the Guardian
3. Amis Interview
4. Quote concerning Pat Robertson
5. BBC on the war
6. Russian Aggression
How middle-class political correctness holds the sway of power
Under the Microscope/Prof William Reville: Fundamentalism is defined as strict adherence to the fundamental principles of any set of beliefs.
The term is commonly associated with certain brands of Christianity or Islam and, in politics, with extreme right-wing movements.
continued... The Irish Times via Media Lens