The Mask of Piety

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Pharisees (depiction)

Those driven by the  impulse to power, the crafty ones, have long ago learned to hide behind a mask of piety. The mask changes according to the times, sometimes religious, sometimes secular but always virtuous, devout, sanctimonious, holier than thou. A just cause has all the characteristics of a good mask. Today, concern for the environment is a worthy cause but could also serve as a mask for the exercise of power.  Environmental crisis could be a reason to accept global government, centralizing control of all land, water, energy and the essentials of life under an undemocratic, unaccountable technocratic elite who would act as “saviours.” The real motive might be power, a  power made more sinister by the light of modern surveillance technology and artificial intelligence.  In my book, in the chapter on corporations, I outline how the multinationals seek to replace governments as the sole source of legitimate authority. To this end they seek to break down traditional loyalties to the nation state, which is seen as an obstacle to the free movement of people, capital, goods and services, thus paving the way for a global governance system controlled by them.  Of course, they will try to put the best face on it, by emphasizing their devotion to worthy causes such as “diversity.” Today we have the spectacle of the “woke” corporation.  How do we tell the difference between the real version and the fake? Watch for the hypocrisy, look for the contradictions, the absence of reason, and the suppression of debate; approach with skepticism any claims to moral superiority and remember history, paying attention when history is ignored or simply re-written. All this has happened many times before, so we can either learn from the mistakes of the past or we can sleep-walk into yet another disaster. Speaking figuratively, the devil has power to assume a pleasing shape and often appears as an angel of light. Remember also, the devil is a shapeshifter appearing at one time as a man of the cloth and another as a champion of the oppressed. The impulse to power is the only constant. It might be helpful to know that absolutely nothing can be taken at face value, so beware the thirty second sound bites of the corporate-owned media conglomerates, devoid of critical analysis. We are drowning in a sea of lies.

At one time, those with the impulse to power were called Pharisees, praying in public places for all the world to marvel at their goodness.  Judaism was their chosen vessel then, a mere carrier for the pathogen. There they stood for all to see, pillars of the community, fasting twice a week, meticulously  tithing mint and anise and cumin but ignoring the weightier matters of the law – justice, mercy and faith. They loved the uppermost seats in the synagogues; highly visible yes, but their true nature was hidden, hidden in plain sight.  The outside of the cup appeared clean but the inside, full of extortion and excess, was unseen.

The New Testament is a chronicle of conflict between these Pharisees and a religious reformer, Jesus Christ. It’s a mythic theme because the essence of the story remains constant, though its outer form  morphs dramatically over time and distance. Jesus knew the Pharisees had lived before. They were the children of those who had murdered the prophets.  And as we shall see, they live on, and even today walk among us.

Jesus did not mince his words.  He likened them to “whited sepulchres” which appear beautiful outwardly but within are full of corruption and “dead mens’ bones.”  He called them a “generation of vipers” who “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.”  “You are of your father the devil,” he said to them. Strong language this. True to their ancestry, murder was in their hearts and power was the object of their desire.  Jesus was condemned to death at their behest. Blinded by their brightly-polished image and shameless self-promotion, murder was normalized for the suggestible mob. Surely, they must have  a good reason, it must be the will of God.

Fast forward three hundred years. A man has a vision of a cross shining like the sun bearing an inscription: “By This Conquer.”  His name is Constantine, a Roman Emperor. The “prince of peace” is weaponized as an instrument of war. The Roman Empire becomes the Holy Roman Empire. Soon papal armies lay siege to cities, massacring the inhabitants but the bright shining image blinds the masses once more. The people say, this murder of innocents must be from God. Yet Constantine, perhaps the most infamous convert, continues to hold gladiatorial contests.  The Holy Inquisition  burns people alive in His name, He who said forgive your enemies, He who said my Kingdom is not of this world. Let no one doubt the power of those who have captured the moral high ground.  For some reason the suggestible mob cannot see the obvious contradictions. We must open our eyes to the hypocrisy and to the contradictions. The most superficial reading of the teachings of Jesus Christ ought to reveal the staggering hypocrisy, the most blatant contradictions. Why do we not see it?  Perhaps it’s because we find it so hard to believe that lies so monstrous can be told by those apparently so virtuous. Somewhere along the line we have swallowed their claims of moral superiority and accepted their dubious authority to determine right from wrong. We go along, albeit with a sense of unease, unable to grasp the enormity of the deception.

It’s reminiscent of the now famous Milgram experiment, which examined the conflict between personal conscience and response to authority. The experiments began in July 1961. A variety of volunteers were recruited to administer successively higher electric shocks to subjects whenever they gave wrong answers to a series of questions. This was done under the supervision of mild-mannered men in white coats. The subjects being shocked were actors, but this was unknown to the volunteers. Amazingly, 65% of the volunteers administered lethal amounts of electricity, despite protestations from the subjects  (loud screams and complaints about heart problems). All the  volunteers continued to administer very high and unsafe levels of electricity. The experiment resulted in the following overall conclusion:  People tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and/or legally based. It’s easy to see how something as simple as a white coat could be a kind of mask in the wrong hands. For one thing, it’s a symbol of authority. Furthermore, those who wear it are supposed to be compassionate healers, not killers. They are responsible people and their decisions are scientifically based.   The volunteers tend to accept their reassurances that the protestations of subjects are simply part of the experiment. Please continue. We accept responsibility. It’s all good.

In the mid 19th-century the mask of piety assumed the form and shape of “social justice.” Social justice is a worthy aspiration, but terms like these can also be weaponized in the service of power and profit as easily as the prince of peace can be used to further the cause of empire. In the mid 19th century the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche put it eloquently:

You preachers of equality, the tyrannomania of impotence clamors thus out of you for equality: your most secret ambitions to be tyrants thus shroud themselves in words of virtue.

And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be pharisees, if only they had—power.

Today the term is “virtue signalling.”

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Trudeau (CBC)

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau constantly telegraphs his “woke” credentials and his carefully-constructed image seems to have stuck, since he has been re-elected despite some high-profile scandals. Wearing black face for theatrical performances is “racist,” he says, yet it has emerged that he has worn black face himself, not once, but an indeterminate number of times. He has also said that China is the best country outside of Canada because of it’s “basic dictatorship.” He tells us, “Canadians have no core identity.” It all must be good.  (President Macron of France says something similar: “The French have no culture. There is a culture in France, and it is diversity.” Imagine telling the French, of all people, they have no culture! Getting rid of national cultures [not to mention national constitutions] is a globalist’s dream.)

I’m not recommending anyone for political office. I’m not even saying Trudeau is a bad Prime Minister. In fact,  he has all the qualities of an excellent Prime Minister. He sticks to the script and that’s what our corporate masters need in a Prime Minister. All I’m saying is, he thinks Canada is obsolete and he prefers a global dictatorship. I know this because he said so quite plainly. Can we see the contradictions and the hypocrisy?

They would be Pharisees!

Note: Please see the Documentaries Section for more details of The Milgram Experiment.

(C) Adrian Charles Smith, 2020

My Book Begins with a Troubling Realization…

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Reality might not be what we think it is. What we have come to regard as objectively real might be instead a carefully-constructed false narrative to pull the wool over our eyes. A whole universe of credible alternatives never see the light of day. Our imagination  has been  narrowed, our field of vision confined to a small box  resembling a prison – a prison for the mind. This realization is by no means confined to a religious context but is much more widespread than generally understood. In fact fundamentalism can take over an entire civilization, as outlined in the chapters on postmodernism.  The carefully-constructed false narratives fall apart over time, which leaves us wondering, have we built our house on sinking sand rather than solid rock? We thought we understood the world but the real truth is far different. In the movie The Matrix, the main character Neo, is horrified to discover that his every day world is nothing more than an illusion, a sophisticated mirage. The horrifying truth is that he has lived, since birth, in an incubator where an attached cord siphons off his vital life force energy. The cord is a feeding tube for an alien race of overlords.  They have reduced the human race to an energy source, a collection of living batteries. Immersed in the fantasy of the Matrix, he is unaware of their presence and therefore incapable of escape. The false narratives have a similar effect as the fictional Matrix. If we allow them to continue unchallenged, we can literally fall asleep in delusion. The only answer is to free our minds, to pursue autonomy as though it were the Holy Grail.

I have attempted to distill the essence of fundamentalism, identifying its common features regardless of the external appearances which vary considerably.

Here I summarize some of those common features which are discussed at greater length in the book.

Utopian Vision

If you really believe in utopia, no price is too high and no sacrifice too great to bring it about. The end justifies the means, opening a Pandora’s box of depravity. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, famine, pestilence and death ride with them. as illustrated by the Holy Crusades, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Reign of Terror – murder and mayhem, then utopia. But utopia never comes.

The Parasites

These are the ones who benefit from the false narrative.  There’s always a parasite disguised as a benefactor. The old adage applies – follow the money; but their real goal is power, perhaps religious, perhaps political.  Their real motives and objectives remain hidden and often, their very existence.

Demonization of the Opposition

Challenges to the prevailing narrative are not met with argument and reason but rather denunciation and labeling.  This is a form of indirect censorship, not as obvious as book burning to be sure but highly effective. Nothing succeeds quite so well as the smear. The strategy also serves to isolate the believers because they are afraid to listen to or associate with heretics.  Such a reaction is a sure sign you are on the right track. Perhaps they are afraid. Perhaps our liberation is closer than we think. Perhaps we need only snap our fingers to awaken from the trance.  Once we awaken it’s all over for the parasites. Once you realize you’re in a cult you’re already free.

The Mask of Piety

The parasites always manage to occupy the moral high-ground.  This has been true since the Pharisees and no doubt longer than that. Outwardly, they appear righteous but inwardly they are full of corruption. They like to make public displays of piety which in modern times has been called “virtue signalling.” Beneath the veneer of moral and intellectual superiority there exists a barely concealed contempt for the vulgar masses.

Hypocrisy

Invariably, the evidence mounts that the parasites do not practise what they preach, yet the true believers remain unwavering in their loyalty.  This represents, I believe, a kind of wilful ignorance.  The desire to believe is so strong that even when the hypocrisy becomes truly staggering, continuation of the status quo is preferred to the discomfort of uncertainty.

Arrogance

All fundamentalists have a certain contempt for unbelievers. This can range from mild condescension as in “let’s reach out to save the poor lost souls” or all the way to mass murder, as in, “let’s get rid of this evil  in the world.”  The Crusaders had this in mind as did Stalin and Hitler.

This arrogance has an addictive quality because it gives the true believer a false sense of empowerment.  The addict is attempting to relieve his suffering which in this case is a sense of disempowerment.   The fundamentalist is part of a special people, an elect. The elect know “the truth”, others do not.  There is a feel-good factor here but because every drug starts to wear off,  more is needed to have the same effect.  Every addict is blind to his addiction so if it isn’t working, his answer is – “double down.”  If the addict were not blind he would reach the obvious conclusion: the ideology isn’t working anymore because there’s something wrong with it.

Shadow Projection

Psychologist Carl Jung and others have long argued that we all have a shadow side, those attributes which we would prefer to keep secret. The dividing line between good and evil runs through the centre of each individual soul. But for the fundamentalist, the dividing line exists at the boundaries of his ideology.  All virtue is ascribed to those who belong to the inner circle and all evil to those who do not.

Shadow denial leads to shadow projection. Those attributes which we reject within ourselves are projected onto others, the non-believer or the heretic. The deeper the denial the more fanatical the projection.  The true believer starts to resemble the very thing he hates. Those who profess tolerance are plagued by intolerance.  Those who profess virtue are a veritable grab-bag of sin.  This can reach hysterical proportions as it did during the Salem witch trials where innocent women were hanged. To see a modern day example of this hysteria and mob mentality see the video What’s Happening at Yale?  

Every human being has a shadow and so does every ideology, a combination of both positive and negative attributes. The shadow loses its sting once recognized and integrated into wholeness. The concept of integration is the vital antidote to fundamentalism. Integration at the individual level yields an integration of various competing ideologies. Every ideology has something to contribute. It ossifies if mistaken for the whole truth.

Adrian Charles Smith, December 2019

A Prison For The Mind

What does it mean to be a fundamentalist? What are its common characteristics and defining features? Can we escape the prison of ideological commitment, the straightjacket of conformity and groupthink?

Answers are needed to avoid the endgame of fundamentalism – totalitarian control.  

Adrian Charles Smith entered adulthood as a minister in a fundamentalist Christian sect, a loyal follower of a man he now calls the Wizard. But as with the Wizard of Oz, all was revealed to be a sham and his questioning of authority led to excommunication and life in the secular world.  Yet, once away from  the church, he observed fundamentalism in unexpected places – in the corporate world, in science and economics, in political ideologies, New Age movements and in postmodern philosophy. Different contexts, yes, but the same underlying phenomenon, the same adherence to ‘one truth’.  

In these adventurous essays, Smith, with equal amounts of erudition, humour and insight, examines why we are drawn to these fundamentalist approaches. His search ranges from the caves of Nag Hammadi to the hallways of Ivy League universities, from communist Romania to Sedona Arizona. He discovers his potential for unconscious relapse to one all-knowing ‘Wizard’ but eventually realizes that fundamentalists live in isolated camps, the truly free have genuine community, and unity in the midst of disagreement is possible.

This is a book about fundamentalism in all its pervasive, insidious manifestations.

Available through Amazon: USA, or Canada