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The Doctrinarian’s Embarrassment

By Ben Harmon ~

One of the main barriers to de-conversion from any dogmatic, narrow belief is clear: embarrassment at being wrong and not admitting it for so many years.

I discovered this fact when, questioning my Dad’s narrow belief (and conspiracy theory), he was particularly stricken by my prediction that he would eventually be embarrassed at the number of decades he spent believing a narrow doctrine.

A “doctrinarian” is someone who strictly adheres to a narrow doctrine, regardless of its impracticalities. Doctrinarians feel compelled to stand by a specific worldview, and reject any analysis that is contingent on another worldview, or even reject any analysis that is not explicitly part of their worldview. In the doctrinarian’s mind, if something is not in direct agreement with the claims of their ideology, it must be rejected as false (“that doesn’t make sense in my ideology, so that must be wrong!”)

On some evenings when my Dad and I are around one another, he has an argument with me relating to his beliefs. In this particular case, I was on the usual walking route up a hill with Mum, Dad, my brother and my sister. The conversation somehow went on to the subject of politics, specifically the politics of cultural fears and anxieties, e.g. xenophobia.

Islamophobia, hostility to the Islamic faith and culture as a supposed threat to the “West”, is gaining legitimacy as a form of political discourse in Europe. But what is Western culture, and who can save it? In fact, the idea of a vulnerable Western culture can be seen as a fabrication, providing succor to otherwise “racist” movements. All cultural anxiety can even be labelled as a disguise, aiming to hide racism behind an argument that sounds less vulgar. On this, we agreed.

The Islamophobic idea of saving Western culture, e.g. “British culture” (which is actually Indian, Chinese and a bunch of other cultures stolen by Britain) against foreign threats is new, and a totally hollow argument. In the past, Britain readily consumed foreign cultures for its own purposes. Look at tea or the use of umbrellas, for example. No-one saw Britain’s imported imperial cultures as a threat to British culture, or had any notion of British culture being a victim during the Victorian period. Britain was seen as a collector of cultures (think of the obsession with stripping Egypt of its own ancient culture and transferring its artifacts to add to our own in Britain), rather than a culture in itself.

The question remained: why do so many British people talk about a threat to their “culture” now, in the face of immigration, when they had no fear of losing their culture through borrowing the culture of their dominions in Victorian years? Our conclusion: cultural arguments are used to disguise racist objectives. Political movements who use arguments about their declining culture are actually afraid of different races or people encroaching on them. Whether consciously or subconsciously, people who claim to be culturally under threat are providing succor to racist ideologues.

I told my Dad, “arguments about saving a culture have always been more convincing than Nazi-like arguments about saving your race. It would just come across as vulgar to talk about saving your race, which is why it does not work as good rhetoric these days.” I clarified, saying, “no-one would be stirred by a speech about saving the Western world’s race, but they are somehow stirred by a speech about saving the West’s culture.”

This infuriated him. That’s only because people have been brainwashed by the “liars” who oppose the “refinement of civilization by conflict”, he said. His arguments have always ignored the niceties of philosophy or a socially acceptable approach to life, and focused purely on “serving the divine forces who control history” as his priority. He basically believed that any view that says a historical event was not controlled by the Mont Order (short name for the group he supports, which is 99% fiction and 1% a modern-day cult) is pointless and not worthwhile. The crudeness of his philosophy has always been this clear. Nothing happens by accident. Somehow, no matter how unlikely, it was an act of the Mont Order.

“No,” I said, “you yourself just pointed at ancient evidence of people weaving their cultures or strengthening them as a kind of protest against infringing tribes or countries.” I reminded him that numerous ancient peoples, including his own Mont Order itself, claimed to have cultural identities and followed philosophies rather than believing everything was the fine-tuned work of the supposedly all-powerful Mont Order cult.

Now, all of this probably sounds confusing to an outsider to the debate. To understand this quarrel, it is important to know what my Dad believes. He is a follower of an obscure pseudo-intellectual group called the Mont Order, who wrote about what they called the laws of history, which they saw as authoritative, built for people to follow and holding a secret to control history, so they codified them into a so-called religion. This is patently ridiculous, in my view. Any laws of history, like laws of nature, are “descriptive”: they are not designed to be followed by people. They just exist. The idea of following laws of history is as ridiculous as lying on the floor in an attempt to obey the laws of physics. The fact that something agrees with the laws of physics does not mean it includes any practical political or moral provisions for humanity to follow. Someone who thinks the laws of history provide a blueprint for future development has just been duped by wordplay around the word “law”. Laws govern societies. Laws of physics, laws nature and laws of history cannot govern societies, and never will. They just encompass inhuman forces that constantly defy us: the only reason we exist is because we resist these forces of destruction.

Our conversation deteriorated. He talked about himself being an example of “controlling history”, meaning that he is supposedly a better survivor than everyone else because he had a will to have more children than other people. Both he and my Mum claimed “it does not matter that everyone who is not in the Mont Order is going to die off.” He also said, “you wouldn’t exist without the Mont Order.”

Now is where his arguments really started to lose ground. “You are crediting something (the Mont Order) that hasn’t done anything,” I said. “Plenty of people have families without following the Mont Order. People were born before the Mont Order and people who are not Mont Order followers will be born in the future, which negates the Mont Order as any solution to a population crisis or social collapse.”

The thing that really shut him up and killed the conversation was when I said, “one day, before you die, you will be embarrassed that you spent so long believing the Mont Order and crediting it for what it didn’t do.”

He then said, “the only thing that embarrasses me, is that you exist.”

According to my Mum, my Dad was depressed by what I had said. I was entirely unhurt by his comment, which was typical of the kind of last words he adds at the end of his degraded arguments. His depression at what I had told him, for me, showed what needed to be said about dogmatic religious belief and the mindset of a cult.

When someone has used the phraseology of cult for long enough, and been absorbed for endless hours of endless days in thought about the ideas of the cult, it becomes impossible to break them free. The sense of shame or embarrassment at the ideology being false, and their inability to see through it, threatens to be like going around wearing a dunce cap for your final years.

The usual question, “what’s your solution?” which my Mum often asks when she’s defending the great doctrine of the so-called Order, betrays the confusion that comes to these sorts of people when no doctrine is being planted in their head. These people need their symbol, their flag and the patronizing books and speeches of self-indulgent “leaders” to program them. Without it, they will wander the world aimlessly in fog of confusion, unable to ascribe value to anything or take any active role in deciding right from wrong.

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