Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fundamentalist mind

I am now pleasurably rereading Siltala’s wide reaching analysis of 19th century Finland and was much struck by his description of the ”totalitarian personality”. Nothing really new there as such but it is strange how specifically modern and widespread that mentality still is. The typical individual has deep inner contradictions (often violently repressed) seen in millennial and apocalyptic terms – and millennial and apocalyptic visions of their total redemption through outside ideology. The personality and its extension, the world, is seen in absolute, black and white terms. Fanatical ideology is the externalized, barely hidden rage towards self and other. Naturally this does awful violence to both of them. I was recently visiting a fairly moderate conservative Christian forum and was struck by the aridity and rigidity of thought there. A great fear seemed to be lurking behind the compulsive urge to view the “Doctrine” as something absolute, unchangeable – and thus, unreal. I was eerily reminded of my long forgotten youth and my own deep contradictions and conflicts, and the unreal, unrealistic way I connected them with ideology and philosophy. Luckily I was able to gradually resolve them, to come to more inclusive and balanced terms with myself and the world. A long and painful road it was, and it seems that for scarily many people in the modern world, one that is not taken, out of fear, out of rage.

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