The Conversation

Cults and Factions, American Style

In response to Jerome:

It's all so anti-Enlightenment in other ways. It flies not just the blackletter of equality and amity of all men, but against the understructure of the Enlightenment, which was reason and independence from tribe.

Toure's cant is quite stupid but it is not without purpose: Its purpose is to increase In-Group Solidarity by identifying an Out-Group Other for scorn. Rage against and hatred for the Other increase In-Group Solidarity. They paper over their differences, and increase their intraparty loyalty, by demonizing the Other. And "demonize" is not merely metaphorical; the Other becomes the nearly-literal Devil in the revival tent rally, the Immanuel Goldstein of the Two-Minute Hate.

This tends to cement tribal loyalty by not only contriving a shared enemy Other, but also serves as a genuine warning to other potential Heretics and Thought Criminals.

Obviously all of this is directly contrary to Enlightenment thinking. They not only betray the conclusions of the Enlightenment, but in the premises undergirding those premises. George Washington, for example, had much to say about "faction" among a people, none of it laudatory:

‘Liberty … is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction … and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyments of the rights of person and property.’

...

‘The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension … is itself a frightful despotism … the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another … ‘

While such stoking of factionalism (and worse yet, factionalism not even based on mutable ideas but immutable racial and sexual characteristics, and somewhat mutable ones, like class and wealth) is directly contrary to the Enlightenment out of which America was born, it is the central animating principle of Marxism, out of which the Soviet Union was born.


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