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Scary Fundamentalism

I’ve been thinking a bit recently about why I find fundamentalism scary.

In this context I’m talking about all types of fundamentalism, not just Christian or Islamic, but also the Hindu fundamentalism that I suspect is behind the Hindu nationalism that is causing a lot of issues in India, as well as political and social fundamentalism, such as what developed in China under Mao, and Cambodia under Pol Pot (both of which also had strong threads of a cult of personality).

The problem with fundamentalism is that in every one of these cases, and I think any example of fundamentalism – possibly even a defining element of fundamentalism – is adherence to a single authority for what is true, right, and proper.  And, in most cases, a further case of a small number of individuals who are responsible for interrupting what that authority means in response to any given case.

This is a situation that is very easy to exploit and has been historically exploited in almost every case I can think of.  Those who are the authority figures and have the responsibility for interpreting the authority either seek power directly, become usurped by those who want power, or they team with others to form a power base.  Then they use their influence to convince a large populace, quite often made up of those with little personal power, to do their bidding.

One of the worst aspects of this is that these gatekeepers of the authority can filter and alter any information, especially once they have power, and their followers will believe that they speak the truth.

So, I am scared of any fundamentalist group because they are, or inevitably become, yet another abusive source of authoritarianism.