An American Theocracy?

A Discussion of Dr. Leonard Peikoff’s Prediction in The DIM Hypothesis

By Dr. Ed Powell

Prologue

Our Objectivist group in the DC area worked through The DIM Hypothesis chapter by chapter for more than a year (mostly in 2013).  When we came to the end of the book where Dr. Peikoff describes his predictions, instead of going into the discussion with a bunch of notes, I wrote up the following, just so we would have a baseline from which to examine my disagreement with his predictions.

Introduction

Dr. Peikoff’s book, The DIM Hypothesis, ends with a prediction that the current D-dominated culture will be replaced with an M2-based alternative, specifically:

First, the M2 movement in America, in my judgment, will be religious; it will not present itself as secular nor as the means to worldly success; nor will it appeal to science for its validation. (Ch 16)

Given the present state of the country new contenders would have to offer at least some appearance of allegiance to or at least compatibility with Christianity. But the result might no longer look much like the Christianity familiar to us today. A country ready for takeover cannot limit the invitation to only one candidate. (Ch 16)

Not just a religious totalitarianism, but a religious-fascist totalitarianism—that is my prediction of the American future. (Ch 16)

My personal view is that the predictions in Chapter 16 are very tenuous, and that the specific prediction of a religious totalitarian dictatorship is one of the least likely outcomes if and when a change occurs.[1] I wanted to explore the reasons why he could get this prediction so wrong, given the strength of the rest of the arguments in DIM. I want to lay out my view as to where Dr. Peikoff made mistakes, and try to indicate why the mistakes were made. Thus this document.

Environmentalism is in Fact M2

My first objection to the religious totalitarianism prediction is the unprecedented nature of a transition from a D2 society into something else. This transition has never happened before in history, so while I believe Dr. Peikoff’s historical analysis is essentially sound up to this point, it is difficult to extrapolate from that historical analysis beyond the D2 status quo.

At the end of Chapter 15, Dr. Peikoff uses Environmentalism as a bridge from D2 to M2, but oddly uses the extremely miniscule movement of Green Christianity as the hook that forms the bridge. Environmentalism was first covered in Chapter 8, in the section of Egalitarianism. Dr. Peikoff specifically rejects the view that environmentalism is just another form of communism:

It has been said that the greens are Communism reborn, merely a name change for the reds. But this is not true. The egalitarian movement rejects certain of the fundamentals of the Communist mind. It does not work for or promise a better life for a better man— but rather no life for any of us. The true color of the environmentalist movement is not red or green, but black.   (p. 181).

I disagree with this analysis. The environmental movement, like almost all intellectual movements in the US today, has been influenced by the D2 mode, but it is not in its essence a dis-integrated view of life and of philosophy, despite the nihilism of some of its followers. It is a total system, a mis-integrated view of man and his place in the universe. It borrows heavily from communism and egalitarianism, but it is its own religion, with saints, sacraments, rituals, a god, ethics, politics, etc. I am certainly not the first person to point out the essentially religious nature of environmentalism, but for our purposes it is important to note that it is a non-Christian religious movement.

Environmentalism as a philosophical movement goes back at least until the middle of the nineteenth century as a reaction to the perceived (and actual) ugliness and pollution of the Industrial Revolution. The modern environmental movement was spawned in the 1960s in part as a reaction to one of a number of actual social ills in the United States (racism/segregation, sexual discrimination in the workplace, the Vietnam War, and pollution) and in part as one of a number of “hooks” used by the radical left to make communism palatable to a broader segment of the US population. As demonstrated in a number of Ayn Rand’s works (which Dr. Peikoff points out on p 179), the New Left became dominated by nihilists (Peikoff’s D2s), but the New Left fizzled out as a dominant political movement, although the individual leftist nihilists, such as Obama, remained.

Philosophically, though, the environmentalist intellectuals never gave up, and began to construct an entire integrated philosophy of environmentalism that had all the hallmarks of a religion. Indeed, “deep ecology”, “the Gaia hypothesis”, and “sustainability”[2] became the default philosophical infrastructure of environmentalism as the 1980s gave way to the 1990s and the collapse of communism. Each one of these is totalitarian in nature, as each seeks to control every aspect of every person’s life and work. It has been pointed out by a number of Objectivists and others over the years that the philosophical superstructure of environmentalism was adopted whole-cloth by the now ex-communists as a socially acceptable replacement for communism that gave them the same sort of systematic (M2) intellectual structure as communism and would naturally lead to the same end: the destruction of capitalism and it’s replacement by a totalitarian state, this time dedicated to the “planet” rather than the “proletariat”. Many commentators have joked that environmentalists are “watermelons”—green on the outside but red on the inside—describing the essential kinship intellectually between the two philosophies. Dr. Peikoff’s dismissal of this kinship in Chapter 8 is unwarranted in the face of so many ex-communists (e.g., Gorbachev) now firmly in the environmentalist movement. While there are numerous individual environmentalists who are D2 nihilists, the philosophy of environmentalism has always been a non-Christian religious (mis-integrated) M2 philosophy, not a D2 philosophy.

The fact that some variants of Christianity wish to attach themselves to the apparent popularity of environmentalism, despite the numerous important concrete philosophical differences between the two, is an indication that Christianity is weakening and grasping at anything to make it more popular, not that Christianity is strengthening. Dr. Peikoff’s quotes from the Archbishop of Canterbury (an odd choice in a chapter on the future of America) merely seal my point. The Church of England in the UK is in complete free-fall, with churches that have stood hundreds of years being closed for lack of congregants. Williams himself, one of those bishops humorously characterized in popular media[3] by their lack of belief in God, is a perfect spokesman for the Christian clerisy desperate to find a new God. He does not speak for any American Christians.

Dr. Peikoff has no real survey of Environmentalist literature in Chapter 15, and indeed treats the movement as self-evidently D2 (drawing from Chapter 8), presumably because it came to the foreground in American culture in the D2-dominated New Left. This is an error, as any decent bibliography on the philosophy of environmentalism could have fixed.[4]

Unfortunately, this error puts into question Dr. Peikoff’s D2 to M2 transition thesis. Perhaps D2 will change into M2 as he says. My own personal opinion is that it may indeed do so, since the logical endpoint of D2 is complete civilizational collapse, something most people wish to avoid if there are any viable alternatives. But from the standpoint of proof, Chapter 15 leaves me unsatisfied, since there really isn’t any reason stated as to why our D2 culture can’t simply remain D2 while we get progressively poorer and poorer. Or indeed change to any of the other modes, as the transition from D2 to something else has never before occurred in history.

Christianity as Today’s M2?

I also have substantial disagreements with the content of Chapter 15 with regard to Dr. Peikoff’s analysis of Christianity as today’s M2 movement in the United States. Of course, in the West as a whole, Christianity is essentially dead. If only 13% of Italians go to mass on Sunday, and Italy is one of the most religious countries in Western Europe, the idea that Christianity has any future role in the progression of the West is absurd. Indeed the most obvious progression for the United States is exactly that progression taken by Europe. While the US and Europe have many cultural differences, we are all still part of the “Athens-Jerusalem-Enlightenment-Kant” tradition. In Europe religion has essentially evaporated in the last 30 years, replaced by a hodgepodge of dis-integrated nationalism/environmentalism/leftism of all sorts. America has a stronger religious movement today than Europe has, but from a religious standpoint America today looks like Europe 40 years ago. The most likely scenario is that America in 40 years (or even sooner) will have a religious makeup similar to Europe today, a small Christian remnant living in a broadly non-Christian society. Indeed, I think the onus of proof belongs to the person who claims the US will go in a different direction than Europe, given our common cultural and philosophical heritage.

Dr. Peikoff does write in note 302 that:

In my view, Europe, too, is at a D dead end with nothing ahead of it but an M2 future. Without any influential religion of its own, however, it will be subsumed under religious totalitarianism through some foreign crusade, waged, if not by American Christians, then probably by Muslims. (p. 365).

I certainly agree that Europe is at a D dead end, but I don’t understand why the United States can’t simply continue to progress as Europe has done, to this D dead end. I also agree that Europe is bound for an Islamic Totalitarian future. See, for example, Mark Steyn’s brilliant book, America Alone. With no coherent philosophy in Europe except egalitarianism, combined with their open borders policies towards Muslim immigrants (a policy many prominent Objectivists inexplicably wish to duplicate here in the United States), a Muslim totalitarian future within 40 years is inevitable. The United States, on the other hand, has a robust and potent distrust of an open borders policy (thank goodness!), thus I think a Muslim totalitarian state here seems impossible in the foreseeable future.

This change in focus of The DIM Hypothesis in Chapters 14-16 from “the West” to the United States is surprising. Up till now the book dealt with the modal progression of the West as a whole, inexplicably Chapters 14-16 shift away from the West to just the United States. Does no one find this shift odd? Does no one find the complete lack of discussion of Europe, not to mention Central and South America, all locales more or less in the Western tradition discussed up until now, and all subject to any number of shifts ideologically and politically in the last 20-30 years and from which lessons could be learned, extremely disconcerting? I certainly do. Why would a modal progression away from religion towards secular dis-integration work essentially to the point of extinguishing Christianity in Europe not work the same way (if perhaps on a different time scale) in the United States? Not only is no answer given here, but the question isn’t even raised!

Indeed the entire discussion of Chapter 15 is at blinding variance with the reality of the United States today, in which religion is waning faster than at any point in our lifetimes, as survey after survey shows.[5] How could Dr. Peikoff make such a large mistake? He mentions the Left Behind book series, the Passion of the Christ movie, and quotes a large number of leftists and anti-Christians warning about the boogieman of impending Christian dominance, but he only quotes just a very few Christians in their own words, and does not come to a proper understanding of the completely fractured and heterogeneous nature of Christian thought today. This is not proper scholarship.

My fundamental thesis about Chapter 15 is that Dr. Peikoff relied too heavily on biased, polemical, inflammatory, and distant tertiary sources that argue against Christianity for an audience of fellow anti-Christians, rather than use good primary and secondary sources to examine Christianity as it actually exists in the United States today. [6]  Thus his view of Christianity in America is far too biased and skewed from reality to provide him with the data needed for an objective view of the state and influence of Christianity in America as a whole. There is no monolithic “fundamentalist/evangelical/Pentacostal/Dominionist/born-again Christian M2” movement in the United States. As anyone who has interacted with these people can tell you, there are instead hundreds of different viewpoints, mutually at odds in almost all ways, that make up the Christian experience in America today. Just look at how they are referred to with different names all lumped together. Perhaps to a New York Times writer, who only interacts with other New York Times writers and editors and a few friends and neighbors in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, all these Christian groups look the same, but I can assure you they are not at all the same.

To learn about Christianity in America today, one must meet actual Christians, and read their writings, sermons, and literature; not read the New York Times’ version of Christianity, as almost no one at the New York Times, or indeed in the New York City publishing arena or at leftist northeastern universities, has ever actually met a fundamentalist Christian, much less interacted with them or treated them with enough respect as a human being to study them in depth.

Of course many Christians are nuts, and many of them say nutty things that can be arranged as quotes in a book or newspaper article intended to incite anti-Christian fear in the target audience of leftist northeastern intellectuals. That’s not hard. But that does not begin to describe an integrated (or mis-integrated) religious movement. Dr. Peikoff failed to understand the wildly heterogeneous nature of Christian thinking in America today, and he did so because his research for Chapter 15 is simply biased (see his references rearranged after the end of this article). The portrait he paints of Christianity in Chapter 15 is not indicative of the actual religion(s).

The thesis of Dr. Peikoff’s Chapter 15 is:

Considering our nation as it is today, the most prominent representatives of the M2 mentality—the largest, most articulate, and most militant groups of rebels against the establishment—are to be found among the fundamentalists, the evangelicals, the Pentecostals, and in general the born-agains. (Ch 15)

This thesis is not proven in the discussion in Chapter 15. Note that I am not stating “Fundamentalist Christians aren’t M2&”, because many of them are. I am not stating “A transition from D2 to M2 is not the most likely for the United States”, because in fact I believe that if a transition from our D society occurs, a reactionary transition to some sort of M society is likely. What I am stating is the following:

First, Christianity in its M2 variant is not the most prominent representative of M2 in the US today, environmentalism is. Many people attend church voluntarily each week, but the environmentalists have used government coercion to force every single citizen to engage in an environmentalist religious ritual every week (recycling). They did this with almost no opposition, and despite the enormous futility and cost involved. Can you imagine actual Christians in America today even proposing a law requiring every citizen to attend church and take communion? It’s unthinkable. But the environmentalists have done essentially the same thing without opposition.

Second, Christianity in its M2 variant is not the largest faction of M2 in the US today, environmentalism is, by wild leaps and bounds. To take just one example, government schools are named for prominent environmentalist “saints” (like Rachel Carson Middle School in Herndon) despite the fact that these peoples’ ideas are responsible for millions of deaths around the world. Where are the government schools named after St. Peter, St. Augustine, or Boethius? I can’t find any.

Third, Christianity in its M2 variant is not the most articulate variant of M2 in the US today—indeed they are almost entirely incoherent and mutually contradictory. Fundamentalists, evangelicals, Pentacostals, born-agains, Mormons—all these Christians—don’t really even have a consistent philosophy, meaning a single (mis)integrated view of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics. What they have are hundreds of mutually contradictory individual mis-integrated and dis-integrated views of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics. You can find any and every view on any and every philosophical question among the “Christian Right” with a few basic exceptions: they believe in God’s existence, Jesus as His Incarnation, and the Bible as literal truth. Beyond those three ideas, it’s completely deuces wild. It’s impossible to have an “M2 takeover” by these people when there is no M2 system in common among any of them. Saying “the Bible is literally true” doesn’t actually address a single philosophical issue. This is especially true as the Bible is self-contradictory. Only the injection of secular philosophy in some form into Christianity of any kind can lead to answers to the most important philosophical questions. That’s been the history of Christianity from the beginning. Augustine injected Plato, Aquinas injected Aristotle, the Enlightenment injected Locke and Rousseau, and now communism, environmentalism, egalitarianism, and all the D2-isms are injecting themselves in Christianity. Christianity in its essential form is an empty shell, and it needs to be filled with something to be a proper philosophy. All sorts of nonsense are spouted by Christians on the right and left, but nothing consistent—nothing (mis)integrated—is spouted by all of them.

Fourth, Christianity in its M2 variant is by far not the most militant M2 group. Obviously the environmentalists are. The environmentalists have achieved a huge number of practical political (creation of the EPA), ethical (recycling is your duty), and even epistemological (science = “consensus of government scientists”) goals in the US. The Christian Right has not achieved one single goal in its thirty-five years as an “organized” group. Prayer in schools? Nope. Abortion banned? Abortion has more legal protections today than when Roe v. Wade was passed. Ban on gay marriage? Hahahahaha. Public money for Christian schools? Nope. Creationism taught in government schools? Nowhere. Now, even personal private prayer or the reading of the Bible on a student’s own time in school after all the student’s homework has been completed has been banned, and students are punished for even bringing a Bible into school.

In 1986, when writing “Religion vs. America,” it was reasonable for Dr. Peikoff to write (paraphrasing Marx), “A specter is haunting America, the specter of religion,” because it seemed that the Christian right was powerful and gaining strength. But that specter has long since dissolved into nothingness, and it’s time Objectivists face this fact. The Christian Right has lost, and is continuing to lose more and faster, as the legalization of gay marriage demonstrates. In fact, there is no organized Christian Right and there never was, because philosophically there is no basic agreement among the hundreds of individual Christian philosophies. For a Christian M2 movement to sweep the US, there would first have to be an “orthodoxy” among the disparate groups to push, just like the Catholic orthodoxy pushed the Roman Imperial civilization into the Middle Ages civilization. Note that Roman Catholicism took almost 500 years to stamp out heterodox thinking before it could establish its supremacy. The idea that the diaphanous “Christian Right” is going to do this in 10-20 years in the United States is preposterous.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Dr. Peikoff based his prediction in Chapter 16 of a religious dictatorship for the US on three errors: 1) that environmentalism is D2 when it is now and has always been M2 with some D2 hangers-on, 2) that he can get a correct picture of the future of the US while completely ignoring the progression of other Western countries in the last 50 years, and 3) that he can get an accurate picture of the modern heterogeneous set of “Christianities” purely by reading polemics written by anti-Christians who wish to sell books and newspapers to other anti-Christians. When these three fallacies are stripped away, his conclusion in Chapter 16 of a near-future American Christian fundamentalist religious dictatorship cannot stand.

So far I have shown why Dr. Peikoff’s conclusion of a US religious dictatorship does not follow from Chapter 15. I don’t have time to explain in detail with sufficient rationale to thoroughly convince somebody what I believe to be the correct implications of the DIM theory (with which I agree) for the future of the US. But my basic thoughts are that the future will be along the lines of one of the following (in descending order of probability):

  1. A leftist fascist dictatorship in the name of the poor or the environment or both, essentially along the lines of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. This is the current goal of the American Left. This could continue to be D1/D2, or transition to a more purely environmentalist M2. The transition could be slow or fast.
  1. A long, slow decline mirroring Europe, but 40-50 years behind. Still D1/D2. This is the default case if there is not a major trigger event such as a currency collapse. Since I think a crisis is more probable than not, and that the response to the crisis will more likely be a leftist dictatorship than anything else, I rate this as number 2.
  1. Military dictatorship, essentially to prevent the leftist dictatorship listed as number 1 above, with M1 elements. Military dictatorships around the West have been uniformly non-ideological (with the exception of Franco), and have almost always been a mechanism for preventing further deterioration into the chaos of leftist dictatorship. The American military has over 200 years of tradition against just this sort of thing, but faced with a Hugo Chavez type suspending the Constitution, there is a fair chance elements in today’s military still loyal to the Constitution would depose the would-be Chavez. Military rule could, as in many cases elsewhere in the West, make major changes (perhaps introduce a new currency or limit spending/taxation) and then restore civilian government. This has happened in the West many times in the last 50 years. It could also go horrendously wrong—that’s happened too.
  1. Dissolution, in which parts of the country go their separate ways. This would require the military to not keep the Union together by violence. Like 3 above, history is against this option, but the “Union” is no longer a revered mystical entity as it was during the Civil War. So it’s possible, especially given the centrifugal forces elsewhere in the West, that peaceful dissolution might be allowed. Some of the resulting states would be more free than others. Some, like the deep south, might move toward a republic with some minor Christian elements. Others, like California and the Pacific Northwest, might move toward an explicit environmentalist theocracy (“We the environmental stewards of the Republic of Gaia, in order to form a more perfect planet…”). Still others, like the northeast, might achieve their intellectuals’ most coveted goal of instituting a Chavez-style D1/D2 dictatorship (headed by Andrew Cuomo, Chuck Schumer, Rahm Emmanuel, Michael Bloomberg, or someone of that ilk). Perhaps others (Texas maybe?) might move toward M1 or even I. Even if the dissolution itself is peaceful, expect a bloodbath in some places afterwards.
  1. Recovery of a (relatively) free country. There are I people in the US, and they do have some influence. In a crisis, who will the people turn to? It’s possible that it may be an I leader or even a very good M1 leader. This is the civilian version of number 3 above.
  1. Communist M2 dictatorship. Reports of communism’s death have been greatly exaggerated. If you think communism is defunct as an M2 system, you are sadly behind the times. It has been making a big comeback since the anti-globalist riots of 2000. See, for example Picketty’s popular book and the orgasmic reaction among the intellectuals to it. Picketty is wrong, but he has a system. His is not a dis-integrated understanding of economics, but a mis-integrated one. A communist America is very unlikely, but more likely than a:
  1. Christian theocracy. This is inconceivable right now as a direct transition. But perhaps it could occur after a leftist dictatorship fails.
  1. Complete collapse into barbarism like Mad Max. Ain’t gonna happen. Hopefully. But stock up on ammo just in case.

Note that 1, 3, and 5 are all related to one another, and bound by American history. The United States has faced many crises over the years, and in each and every case, Americans looked to their political leaders for leadership and direction. In the Revolutionary War, America looked to George Washington and received in turn freedom, constitutional government, and the chance to build a capitalist society. In the secession crisis, Americans looked to Abe Lincoln and got a ruinous Civil War but also a unified national republic and the extermination of slavery. In the Panic of 1907, Americans looked to J.P. Morgan and numerous progressive politicians and got the Federal Reserve and government control of money. In the Great Depression, Americans looked first to Hoover and then to FDR and they got bigger government, massive intervention into the economy, continued depression, and finally war. At the height of the Cold War, Americans looked to Ronald Reagan and got victory and peace. In the recent financial crisis, Americans looked first to Bush and then to Obama and received economic chaos. American history teaches us that when the next crisis occurs, it makes a huge difference who is the president. If he’s a leftist even worse than Obama we might get #1 above. If he’s a leftist/populist so out of touch with reality that he moves too quickly or boldly to a dictatorship, we might get #3 above. If he’s someone like Reagan, we might get #5 above. If he’s someone like Jimmy Carter, we might get #4 above. And, of course, if there is no near-term crisis, we might just get #2 above. It is this element of American history that makes me think that having the right ideas in play during a crisis, and having the right man in the Oval Office, might make all the difference.

Epilogue

After writing this essay, I read Dr. Peikoff’s primary source for the chapters on Christianity, Kingdom Coming by Michelle Goldberg.  Others were intrigued or appalled about my assertion that Dr. Peikoff only read biased sources on Christianity and that I made such a bold assertion just by looking at the authors referenced and where they lived, without having read any of the works. I borrowed Kingdom Coming from a friend to read for myself, but that was months after the above was written.  Goldberg’s book, published in 2006, predicted the imminent transformation of the United States into a brutal theocracy due to George W Bush and his reactionary religious roustabouts (or something like that), and ended with a real “The End is Nigh” conclusion.  It was even worse than I had expected.  Sure, there were facts interspersed among all the innuendo and sneering.  After all, many Christians are in fact nuts.  But it was so over-the-top biased that it was laughable if it weren’t so tragic.  The copy I read was the 2007 reprint, which contained an additional epilogue written after the 2006 elections in which Bush and the GOP got walloped.  A summary of this new epilogue is, and I’m paraphrasing, “Oh. Well. I see. Never mind then.”

I am awaiting Dr. Peikoff’s similarly worded new epilogue to The DIM Hypothesis.[7]

Acknowledgements

I’d like to thank Steve Jolivette for reading this and pointing out a number of errors, which I have corrected in this draft.

Chapter Fifteen References Rearranged

Here I list the references from Chapter 15, rearranged by type, to emphasize the lack of balance and/or proper scholarship on this issue.

References to articles in The New York Times

  • 267 Kirkpatrick, The New York Times, op. cit.
  • 284 John Leland, “Christian Cool and the New Generation Gap,” The New York Times, May 16, 2004 . Leland , “Christian Music’s New Wave Caters to Audience of One,” The New York Times, April 17, 2004.
  • 279 Alan Wolfe, “Evangelicals Everywhere,” The New York Times Book Review, November 25, 2007.
  • 301 Tom Hayden, “Chronicle,” The New York Times, August 3, 1991

References to articles in other New York City Publications

  • 268 For latest sales, contact Tyndale House Publishers. Jeffery L. Sheler, “Nearer My God to Thee,” U.S. News & World Report, May 3, 2004. Ibid.
  • 278 Ralph Nader, “Where Left and Right Converge,” Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2010.
  • 299 Foundation for Biomedical Research in Washington, DC, quoted in “America’s Other Most Wanted,” P. Michael Conn and James Parker, Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2011.

References to works by leftists who live in New York City

  • 269 Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism (New York: W. W. Norton, 2006), p. 5.
  • Kevin Phillips , American Theocracy (New York: Viking, 2006).
  • 291 Amy Sullivan, The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats are Closing the God Gap (New York: Scribner, 2008), p. 205.
  • 283 Stanley Fish, “One University Under God,”
  • Calhoun, M. Aronczyk, D. Mayrl, and J. VanAntwerpen, The Religious Engagements of American Undergraduates, Social Science Research Council, religion.ssrc.org, May 2007.

References to works by non-American leftists, who, if they ever lived in the US at all, lived in New York City

  • 280 John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, God Is Back (New York: Penguin, 2009), p. 191.
  • Rowan Williams, “Climate Change Action a Moral Imperative for Justice,” Anglican Communion News Service, January 1, 2008.

References to works in the broader Left-Wing Polemical Press

  • 286 David Antoon, “U.S. Air Force Academy’s New ‘Rocky Mountain Bible College,’” Daily Kos (Albuquerque, NM: Military Religious Freedom Foundation, 2007).
  • 287 Michael L . Weinstein and Reza Aslan, “Not So Fast, Christian Soldiers,” Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2007.
  • Jeff Sharlet, “Ten Things I Learned from the Pentagon’s Prayer Team,” alternet.org, 2007.
  • 289 Christopher Moraff, “The Christian Hijacking of America,” The Philly Post, September 29, 2011.
  • Kevin Phillips, “How the GOP Became God’s Own Party,” The Washington Post, April 2, 2006.
  • Obama on CNN “Compassion Forum,” April 13, 2008.
  • Eric Gorski, “Atheist Student Groups Flower on College Campuses,” USA Today, November 24, 2009.
  • 294 Figures from Gallup USA, June 2005.

References to works of other leftists living in the Northeast

  • Ken Wilber, “The Mystic Vision,” Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists, ed. Ken Wilber, rev. ed. (Boston: Shambhala, 2001), p. 98.
  • 158 Roger S. Gottlieb, A Greener Faith (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 83, 5. (Gottlieb, a professor of philosophy in Worcester, MA, is more of a leftist than what anyone might call a Christian).
  • 297 Andrew Walsh quoted in “Many Religious Leaders Back Climate-Change Action,” Brad Knickerbocker, The Christian Science Monitor, Dec 20, 2007.

References to works by Christians who live in New York City

  • Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1973), issue 1, pp. 581– 82.
  • 293 Bruce Feiler, “Where Have All the Christians Gone?” FoxNews.com, September 25, 2009.

References to Research done by Christians

  • “American Piety in the 21st Century,” Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, September 2006.

References to Evangelical Christians writing for other Christians

  • George Grant, The Changing of the Guard (Ft. Worth: Dominion Press, 1987), pp. 50– 51.
  • 275 James Dobson, The Strong-Willed Child: Birth through Adolescence (Wheaton, IL: Living Books, 1985), pp. 77– 78.
  • Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1973), issue 1, pp. 581– 82.

Other

  • 271 Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory (New York: Pantheon Books, 1992), p. 195.
  • Deuteronomy 20: 19– 20.

Endnotes

[1] Dr. Peikoff intersperses a number of qualifications to the prediction, and in that sense, I think Dr. Peikoff is correctly cautious in his prediction.
[2] Thanks to Steve Jolivette for reminding me of this.
[3] The best being the TV show Yes, Minister in the episode “The Bishop’s Gambit.”
[4] See, for example, http://green-agenda.com/gaia.html
[5] Here’s one survey result in the context of an evangelical Christian’s take on the situation: http://www.redstate.com/2014/06/22/a-mainline-primer-explainer-for-the-media-not-all-presbyterians-are-in-the-pcusa/
[6] A brief digression on sources. A primary source is a text written by a principal at the time of an event or closely thereafter. A secondary source is a text written by a scholar (usually a historian) that explains, interprets, or aggregates the information from primary sources. Basically, that is the job of a historian, to transform primary sources into his own secondary sources. Secondary sources may have a point of view, and when reading a secondary source one must be very careful to understand the point of view of the author. This doesn’t mean that secondary sources are useless, just that they must be approached with a critical eye. A tertiary source is a text written based mostly on secondary sources, usually for popularization or polemical reasons. Generally speaking, scholars should avoid tertiary sources because they are generally produced solely for biased purposes. From an information perspective, tertiary sources have a “low signal to noise ratio.”
[7] He has basically admitted he was wrong about this prediction on his podcast, though he has not elaborated.

2 comments On An American Theocracy?

  • Nice essay. A couple comments:

    1. “Beyond those three ideas, it’s completely deuces wild. It’s impossible to have an “M2 takeover” by these people when there is no M2 system in common among any of them. Saying “the Bible is literally true” doesn’t actually address a single philosophical issue.”

    I don’t think the belief that the Bible is lterally true is an element that unites these groups. Fundamentalits are the only ones who advocate the literal truth of the Bible, in other words interpreting everything as literal. (Even then they don’t since they concede for example the Book of Revelation has symbolic elements. The unier is the belief that the bible is “inerrant” or “infaillible.”

    2. Rushdoony spent most of his life in California.

  • Hi Ed — I’ve only read a sizable minority of Peikoff’s seemingly very dull book several years ago. But possibly I’m going to have another crack at it fairly soon.

    But I carefully read your analysis above of ‘The DIM Hypothesis,’ and I have all kinds of reasons for supposing that your views here are mostly correct. It’s interesting that you say of some especially-wrong-seeming conclusion by Peikoff: “This is not proper scholarship.” I believe it!

    But the thought occurs to me: if Peikoff isn’t a scholar, then: What is he? Certainly not an original or creative thinker who extends and advances the theories of Objectivism. And he’s not a good leader either. Nor an effective popularizer. And, in my view, very FAR from being a good person. So, ultimately, this tedious book of his — written at the end of his life — is quite sad. Peikoff seems to be a pathetic figure.

    As for a religious dictatorship taking over America, not only is religion in steep decline in Europe and America, but the New Atheists of Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, etc. — starting in 2004 — have written DEVASTATING accounts of religion which will only grow more potent with time. So Peikoff’s claim about a theistic takeover of the US seems especially foolish and fatuous.

    Today’s Right and Left both subscribe to political fascism and socialism. This is the chief danger. However played out and absurd nowadays, they seem to have a decent possibility of defeating today’s rising Tea Party and libertarianism.

    Good analysis and book review, Ed!

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