Sunday, October 14, 2018


Defining fanaticism is different from perceiving it. We define it as if there is something concrete and recognisable about it.  We perceive fanaticism when we see someone doing much more of something, or much less of it, than is common in our subculture. The same amount of prayer and fasting can look lax in one neighborhood, excessive and unhealthy in another.

Well of course, you say.  That's fairly obvious. You dragged me out of bed at this time of night to tell me that? 

It means that if we are not able to keep one foot outside our culture, a place to lean back and take stock, we will not be able to resist going where our culture takes us.  Insane things will look just fine to us. We will have no way of detecting whether our actions are fanatical or not.

In short, we will end up killing Jews or reporting our neighbors to the secret police.

In the recent aftermath of the Kavanaugh hearings, there are people who are describing Senator Susan Collins as a "rape apologist." That is simply insane. I am genuinely fearful what a person who says that might do next.

We have discussed the idea of doubling down on a cause in order to show one's loyalty. Anyone can support a person when they are right, but it takes real loyalty to retain support for your leader or your tribe when they are ridiculous and wrong. Such loyalty is prized by leaders, which is not surprising. Everyone wants to know who their foxhole friends are. In signalling that you have some particular quality, it is sometimes necessary to be closest-to-the-pin.  Second place is the same as tenth place the same is nothing.  Marriage and romance are like that.  It isn't much good to be the suitor who the princess thought was "pretty much okay."  We will begin seeing that in NH again with the presidential primary. It encourages fanaticism.  Review again The Toxoplasma of Rage .


Grim said...

Good point about keeping one foot outside the culture. That was long a part of the value of the Catholic Church: it held the center, reminding a drifting modern world of what they had believed and valued. The old ways were maintained, and even if you didn’t live them every day you could go back and visit whenever you wanted.

It’s still true of the old, great books.

David Foster said...

Leftist academics, of course, will argue that they are separated from and superior to the mainstream American culture....while maintaining a close overlap of opinions and beliefs with Hollywood types.