Photo Credit: DoD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cristian L. Ricardo
Then President-elect Biden with his immediate predecessors

The rise of political craziness is intertwined with the decline of religion. The political cults aren’t necessarily attracting atheists or agnostics, though there are plenty of both, rather they’re drawing on the growing number of people who may be formally religious, but who aren’t finding inspiration in faith.

What do you do when G-d, the Bible, and the struggle within don’t move you? You find what does.The rise of Marxism, Socialism, and Communism drew on the decline of religion among European Christians and Jews. The Nazis and their European counterparts were pagan atheists who distilled the essential appeal of socialism and marketed it to a more outwardly religious middle-class crowd.

American radicalism is religion for the irreligious. The Communists and Nazis had borrowed what they thought were the innate emotional and historical appeals of Judeo-Christian religion without the divinity or any of the substance. They succeeded at creating cults of personality that played into a historical drama that vowed to transform the world at the cost of struggle, sacrifice, and the submission of the individual.


Our own age of political cults is doing the same thing.

The American age of political cults didn’t begin yesterday. While Europe was shattering under the pressures of economic depression, future shock, and a world that seemed both too small and too big, the same story was playing out on these shores. The FDR era and the New Deal gave Americans their own smaller Fuhrer and taste of socialism, but we lacked the European appetite for destruction whetted by the innate sense that history was coming to a close and required one last Gotterdammerung at the end.

Now the appetite for an American Gotterdammerung is here. For the first time the majority of Americans don’t believe that things will get any better. Religion is declining sharply and the political cults offer a cataclysmically redemptive purpose with visions of rising oceans, growing poverty, inescapable racism, and a catastrophic way out that requires not faith, but action.

There’s no way to understand the rise of political cults without touching the despair that feeds them.

No one abandons their values and beliefs, or turns to evil and hate, without a root cause of despair. In the face of a deep despair, anything that offers hope starts to seem like a light at the end of a tunnel.

Or hope and change.

{Reposted from the SultanKnish blog}


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Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at These opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.