The biggest injury to that “Great Leap Forward” towards an open, egalitarian, universalist society (to borrow Mao’s phrase and put it to much better use) was actually the shattering of Christendom. This came via the triple hammer blows of (1) the Black Death and the tremendous socio-economic upheaval it produced [now there was the pandemic of pandemics!], (2) the Reformation followed by the Wars of Religion, and (3) the Enlightenment, which, despite all its protestations to be the Age of the coming of the great light of emancipation from superstition, opened the doors wide to the tsunami called the French Revolution.
Screamers and Yellers of both Right and Left are guilty of the same offences and of equally undermining democracy. Pushed to their logical ends (as Mr. Spock would have it), both roads end up in the darkness of tyranny and slaughter of all who stand in their way. As Spock tells us, “It is illogical to say that an illegal occupation by the forces of the Right is better or worse than an equally illegal occupation by the forces of the Left.”
The discussion of Fascism current today in the social and mainstream media usually ignores and is largely ignorant of the real, historical experience of Fascism. This is deplorable when these examples are still within living memory of our oldest citizens, many of whom are survivors of the terror of having lived under real fascist governments and persecution.
What the US brand of ultra-Evangelicalism most resembles historically is the fanatical Crusaders who believed that killing those who refused to accept Christ or opposed the preaching of His message was both just and essential if His Kingdom is ever to be brought into the world. There is none of the humility and self-understanding of being a fallible sinner that might even betray the Master that we find in the Apostles or the Apostolic and Post-Apostolic Fathers (and Mothers) of the ancient Church. There is no hint of the first believers who “turned the whole world upside down” and shook the foundations of the Empire itself by turning the other cheek, turning back to be crucified with his people, as Peter did, or heading to Rome to face the Emperor himself even if it meant death, as Paul did. There is no hint of “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you and persecute you, and so you will prove yourselves to be the children of your Heavenly Father”.
until the American nation as a substantial whole repents and renounces these sins and their continuing deep racist and elitist class roots and their blatant current manifestations from the heart , forgiveness cannot be asked and given, and true healing cannot begin. The Southern myth of the noble “Lost Cause” must die. it remains a deep poison. Northern complicity in that myth must be repented. We could say the same about the terrible and repeated genocides of American First Nations.
Today, the US recognizes both these titans, wary allies and occasional opponents, as unquestionably great men. Both were necessary, and both fought the same battle, but from very different vantage points. As a young man of nineteen, Lincoln had already begun to abhor slavery and the oppression of ‘the African Race’ as an abomination. He had said, “If I ever get the opportunity, I will hit this thing hard.” This was long before he had any notion of becoming President. He was not yet even on the road to becoming a lawyer.