Статья из еженедельника "The Tablet"
от 06/12/2003 о влиянии протестантского фундаментализма на политику нынешней американской администрации. (Извиняюсь перед теми, кто не читает по-английски.)America's New Model ArmyAnatol Lieven
Fundamentalist Christians are the backbone of the Bush administration. An analyst probes their origins and assesses their influence, which has been boosted by the ‘war on terror’
In the United States today, in this land of ultra-modernity, of continual economic, social and cultural change, a large and powerful section of the population is in revolt against modernity and, indeed, modern versions of rationality. It is unlike anything else in the developed world, and its roots are to be found in the history of Britain – the history which paradoxically created Britain’s culture of political tolerance. Some 350 years ago, Britain experienced a series of great civil wars, waged between rival forces of religious and political absolutism. Fortunately for Britain, Europe and the world, both sides lost. Out of their joint defeat came the latitudinarian and humanist ideology of eighteenth-century England.
The ideologies that were defeated at different points in the seventeenth century experienced very different subsequent fates. The Catholics were repressed for more than a century; but after 1829, having abandoned their political absolutism, they returned and now form a valuable and uncontroversial part of the British population and cultural scene, and are represented across the political spectrum.
Many of the Puritan absolutists, by contrast, emigrated from Britain to the British colonies in America, where they multiplied. Over time, a great many modified their religion under the influence of modern change and development, or abandoned religious belief altogether. Many others, however, retained their original fundamentalist religion in a form which if by no means unchanged, was still – by the standards of Europe and the rest of the developed world – remarkably similar to its original seventeenth-century form.
This was especially true of the Scots and “Scots-Irish” Protestants who populated so much of the American South and south-west. They were deeply shaped by their experience of the Protestant settlement of Ulster, where warfare against the native Irish prefigured their later experience of war with the Indians. In its particular combination of religious fundamentalism and chauvinist nationalism, the world of Ian Paisley and the Democratic Unionist Party is indeed the only part of Europe today which resembles – and is indeed closely related to – the so-called “Bible Belt” of the United States.
This is the world which produced General “Jerry” Boykin, the now notorious American general who – after his appointment as deputy under-secretary of defence for intelligence – was quoted as declaring among other things that the enemy of the United States in the war against terrorism is Satan, and he will only be defeated “if we come against him in the name of Jesus”. Most famously, General Boykin said, of a Somali warlord, “I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” This last was widely described as “crude machismo”, which it may have been, but it was also a straight biblical reference to the Book of Isaiah, and to the victorious contests of Hebrew Prophets with the priests of Baal. The God of this tradition is essentially a tribal God, a Cromwellian “God of Warre” who fights for them against Amalekites, Irish Papists, Red Indians, Mexicans, Spaniards, Germans, Japanese, Communists, Russians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Muslims and any other enemy who appears.
In his ideology, General Boykin is essentially an officer of Cromwell’s New Model Army. He is a remarkable individual to find in a senior position at the start of the twenty-first century, and in a country which is, after all, supposed to represent the very epitome of successful modernity.
It is the traditional doctrine of millenarianism that is mobilising Christian fundamentalists in the United States behind ultra-hardline Israeli positions – because Israel supposedly has to be reconstituted on the whole of its former territory before the Antichrist can appear and begin the End of the World.
The numbers of strongly committed fundamentalists in the United States at the start of the twenty-first century have been variously estimated at somewhere between 7 and 12 per cent of the total American population (white evangelical Christians as a whole are between 20 and 25 per cent). They form a very much higher proportion of Republican Party members and activists, however, and are the backbone of the “Christian Right”. They provide a number of Bush administration officials, of whom the most prominent is the Attorney General, John Ashcroft, and leading Republican members of Congress such as Representative Tom DeLay.
The political apathy of so much of the American population, and in particular the shockingly low figures for voter turnout, gives quite disproportionate power to relatively small but highly committed groups. Thus in the Congressional elections of 2002, the Republican victory was produced by barely 15 per cent of registered voters – of whom fundamentalist Christians constituted a large part.
It is the ultra-modernity of the United States that has brought about the reaction of Protestant fundamentalism, prey to three successive moral panics. The first is horror at some aspect or other of the America of the time, whether Catholicism (in the mid-nineteenth century), prostitution, alcohol, drugs, abortion or homosexuality. The second is social and economic: the threat to the traditional white middle classes represented by economic change, today epitomised by “globalisation” and the “new economy” which are seen to undermine middle-class incomes.
The third is ethnic: the fear of established American groups that they are being swamped by alien immigrants. The accepted elements of this white middle-class community, and their targets, have both changed enormously over time. In the nineteenth century, the hatred and fear of the older Americans were directed above all at Irish Catholics. Later, Jews, Italians and others came to be seen as the main threat. Now, all these groups are accepted, and more recent immigrants, Muslims and (to a somewhat reduced extent) blacks are the hate figures.
The ethnic resentment and fear of the old Anglo-Saxon and Scots-Irish populations of the South’s Bible Belt continue to strengthen still further the forces of religious fundamentalism. Simply put, these groups feel that they have “lost their country”. Hence all the Republican rhetoric – so amazing to an outside observer – about “taking back” America.
This element in the American scene is partly responsible for one of the strangest and most depressing aspects of America today: that the country which dominates the globe and benefits more than any other from the present world order is influenced, and sometimes possessed, by a spirit of embittered, resentful, hate-filled nationalism that would seem more appropriate to a country which had been defeated, humiliated, and oppressed.
This is only comprehensible if one sees that many ordinary Americans do indeed feel that they, their religion and their culture have been defeated, humiliated and oppressed by the modern world. In particular, the decades since the 1960s have brought together a very dangerous combination of cultural change which these groups (not, it must be said, without some reason) abominate and economic change which has made them profoundly afraid for their future security and status.
This mood is not, of course, by any means true of the United States as a whole, most of which remains pluralist and tolerant, and much of which is also determinedly secular. If George Bush is defeated in the next elections, the fundamentalist elements will lose their influence over the US executive, though not over powerful sections of the US Congress. As a recent study by the Pew Research Centre concluded, America is “evenly divided and increasingly polarised” to an extent which has few precedents in American history, with questions of religious culture at the heart of the split.
The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent “war on terrorism” perfectly suited the Manichaean, apocalyptic, militarist and nationalist culture of these fundamentalist and Cromwellian elements. If – God forbid – the United States comes under really serious attack again, they may achieve a position of real and enduring dominance. Anatol Lieven is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC. He is completing a book on American nationalism.