HEDGES: Umberto Eco is the great Italian writer—I mean, he wrote that very popular book, The Name of the Rose, and he had a nice little book of essays called Five Moral Pieces, and in it he writes about the salient qualities of what he calls “Ur-Fascism,” or eternal fascism. And I wanted to list those—I thought it was probably as good a list as I’d ever seen compiled on what the main tenets of fascism are—to begin the book, because my argument is that this is not a religious movement. Although it certainly depends on the support of many earnest, well-meaning, decent people who are religious, I would argue that they are manipulated not only, of course, to be fleeced for their own money, but essentially to give up moral choice and surrender to the authoritarian demands of these leaders to march forward and essentially dismantle our democratic state. And I think that when we look closely at what it is that this Christian right movement espouses, it does bear many similarities to, you know, the main pillars of fascist movements: the cult of masculinity, the war against—
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, “the cult of masculinity”?
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, the fact that, you know, they elevate male figures within the megachurches, who cannot be questioned, who speak directly for God. Any kind of questioning or self-criticism becomes essentially battling the forces of Satan. That power structure is to be replicated in the family. Much of this movement is about the disempowerment of women. Children have to be obedient. And so, that power structure of the family with the dominant male and everyone else submissive is replicated in the megachurches, which oftentimes—and I’ve been in many over the last two years—revolve around cults of personality.
When we look at the sort of empires that people like Pat Robertson run, you know, this man is worth hundreds of millions, some people say up to $1 billion, surrounded by bodyguards, flying around on private jets, investing in blood diamonds in Sierra Leone. He has rock star status. I mean, if you’ve ever been to an event where he appears, people are weeping and want to be touched by him. There is no question. He essentially runs a despotic little fiefdom.
CHRIS HEDGES: ...and, you know, this is—I mean, essentially, when you follow the logical conclusion of the ideology they preach, there really are only two options for people who do not submit to their authority. And it’s about submission, because these people claim to speak for God and not only understand the will of God, but be able to carry it out. Either you convert, or you’re exterminated. That’s what the obsession with the End Times with the Rapture, which, by the way, is not in the Bible, is about. It is about instilling—it’s, of course, a fear-based movement, and it’s about saying, ultimately, if you do not give up control to us, you will be physically eradicated by a vengeful God. And that lust for violence, I think that sort of—you know, the notion, that final aesthetic being violence is very common to totalitarian movements, the belief that massive catastrophic violence can be used as a cleansing agent to purge the world. And that’s, you know, something that this movement bears in common with other despotic and frightening radical movements that we’ve seen over the past—throughout the past century.