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Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade ‘Fascists’?

7 Comments


That’s a pretty strong word. But that’s precisely the word that some people are using these days. Don’t believe me? Just check out Irving Hexham’s Pocket Dictionary of New Religious Movements. And this website, mysticbourgeoisie.blogspot.com, which looks interesting even if it’s hard to see (from a quick glance) just what the author is really getting at.

Not that I’m a Joseph Campbell or Eliade groupie. But in his Pocket Dictionary Hexham seems to be playing a cagey game of intellectual hide and seek. That is, he uses a provocative word with insulting connotations and then in a cross reference attempts to cover his tracks by saying one version of the word isn’t really as bad as everyone thinks it is. Right… Just look up ‘fascism’ in Websters online dictionary if you think this isn’t a negative word. >> http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fascism

The interesting thing about all this is that Campbell’s motto was “follow your bliss.” And ‘fascism’ generally denotes authoritarian conformity—the complete opposite. As for Eliade, if anything, from his work I find a refreshing acknowledgement of spiritual difference, not uniformity.

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Author: Michael Clark

I'm the administrator of Earthpages.org | Earthpages.ca with a Joint Honours B.A. in Psychology/Sociology at York and Trent U, an M.A. in Philosophy and Religion at Visva-Bharati, India, and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies at UOttawa.

7 thoughts on “Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade ‘Fascists’?

  1. Just found your post nearly two years later! Your mention of Hexham and his book, neither of which I’d heard of, led me to the discovery that he’d co-authored a couple books with Karla Poewe, whose book on _New Religions and the Nazis_ I do know.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0415290252/

    Her site includes reviews of the book…

    http://www.nazireligions.com/HTML/reviews.htm

    …and her rebuttal of a review by Richard Steigmann-Gall.

    http://is.gd/tOSX

    Here’s a quote from that page:

    “…National Socialism and, for that matter, other fascist Weltanschauungen sat on irrationalist and mythical premises that tended to become political religions (Gentile 2001). Its leaders and people used common myths, rituals, and symbols that deified the nation. Pagan mythological concepts of blood, race (often seen as descent), and nature took on the force of religious persuasion.”

    I have written more at Mystic Bourgeoisie than can be taken in by a casual glance, as you say above. Drop back around if you’re still interested in why following one’s bliss can indeed lead in some highly unsavory directions.

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  2. Hi thanks for your comments. I believe I’ve been to your site before and continue to be impressed with the sheer volume of interesting material you have there.

    The only thing I’m not sure about, and this is probably cos I just don’t have time to read everything, is how you define the self, or if you do at all! 🙂

    As for the ‘living in a tainted world’ motif, I think I’ve touched on that in my discussion of structures at http://epages.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/religions-and-cults/

    Just thought you might be interested.

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  3. It is very interesting to read your scientific arguments even if my own perception tries to simplify the issue to make me better understand it.

    I don’t know Campbell but while reading Eliade’s preface I found the variety of surnames that worked on that text striking. It seems that people from all over the world worked together to describe those religious issues objectively. Even if not free of the own cultural context they were at last balancing each other with their perspectives born in different cultural contexts.

    Observing their job from perspective faithful to any culture that puts own myths and faiths above other culture must end with drawing extreme conclusions – whether it will be fascism or fundamentalism or scientism or other terrorism – it’s up to the context of culture that describes it only.

    To read it and see all equal seems to me as not only a goal of his compilation but also as getting the reader to perceive reality on wiser level. Enjoy the spring.

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  4. Here’s an excerpt from one of my articles:

    …rarely will intellectuals sitting on the fence consider the possibility that one religion may, in fact, enjoy more divine favor than another. To uncritically say “all religions are the same” or “all religions and cults are the same” seems superficial.

    By way of analogy, let’s say I enter a store, ask the clerk for tofu and she gives me a bag of peanuts. Would I buy it?

    “It’s all the same; they both have protein,” the clerk proclaims.

    But it’s not all the same, especially if I’m allergic to peanuts and eating them could be lethal.

    Consider another analogy: I’m driving through the countryside. It’s a scorching hot day so I pull into a gas station and ask the attendant for a cold bottle of water. He hands me a beer.

    “Thirst quenchers are all the same,” he says.

    Again, they’re not all the same. And if I drink beer instead of water, would I be a safe and responsible driver?

    …while it might be politically correct or expedient to publicly affirm that all religions are the same, I’m more interested in the advancement of knowledge instead of passing on convenient fabrications or well-intentioned imaginings.

    http://epages.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/religions-and-cults/

    Happy Spring to you too, my friend! 🙂

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  5. Well, just like you, I don’t have time to read everything either. I believe that advancement of knowledge doesn’t have much to do with giving own name to every perspective that is not like mine. For me it’s more about finding common strings proving, that despite different background search (also called advancement of knowledge) goes in the same direction.

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  6. Hi… I’m not sure it always goes in the same direction but I agree that all religions work together somehow.

    This is one of my main interests along my own journey… to try to see the connections and interactions, to try to understand (as best I can with the limited human resources at my disposal).

    But to say that things work together does not mean that they are all the same! It does say, however, that they meet somewhere, somehow.

    Cheers… and thanks for your usual extremely high calibre comments! Always thought-provoking… 🙂

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