Monday, 23 March 2009

The Face of New Atheism.

"Well it's a gloomy, rainy old day to be here in London, but it could be worse; I could be in Saudi Arabia where men are men, and women are cattle. Can I say that?" - Pat Condell

If you've used YouTube regularly over the years since its launch, you've probably come across anti-theistic lectures by New Atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. But in early 2007 a new anti-theist popped up and it could be argued that he makes Hitchens look like a devout Muslim, I am talking about Pat Condell of course. Since February 7th of 2007, Pat Condell has posted over fifty videos on YouTube and shows no sign of stopping any time soon. The videos consist of vicious monologues usually aimed against Christianity or Islam, but he has targeted Judaism and Scientology in the past also. Pat Condell is truly the voice of New Atheism on YouTube.
Condell has released a DVD through the website of Richard Dawkins, a fellow New Atheist who shares his love for nature and liberal values, the DVD consists of the monologues Pat posted on YouTube between February '07 and February '08. He's even selling his own memorabilia, which advocates his brand of Atheism, through his own website. Pat Condell, he who criticises Pat Robertson for using Evangelical Christianity to make millions of dollars by exploiting his audience, seems rather hypocritical in this sense. However, as Condell would argue, the rantings and ravings of a man such as Robertson are far more harmful and dishonest than Condell's. It is easy to point out that capitalism transcends the materialism of Atheism and can now be found in the idealism of Theism. But I am more concerned with the disturbing qualities of New Atheism, and how Pat Condell unfortunately actualises such qualities in his videos, than how capitalism penetrates everything known to man.

"Pat Condell is unique. Nobody can match his extraordinary blend of suavity and savagery. With his articulate intelligence he runs rings around the religious wingnuts that are the targets of his merciless humour. Thank goodness he's on our side." - Richard Dawkins

The values espoused by Pat Condell are definitely of a liberal origin and there seems to be a sort of "hippyish" quality to his delivery of such values. He once said that he believes "there is more spirituality in a single flower than in all the sanctimonious sky pilots who've ever lived". Condell's liberalism can be "detected" in his optimistic view of human nature, his opposition to authoritarianism as well as to the conservative view of human nature as fundamentally rotten, and his love of freedom. Which is probably why he has stated his reason for making his videos as "because I want to live in a free world, full of free people who can say whatever they want to say and be whoever they want to be one thousand percent of the time. And where no one is allowed to shut them up, because their crackpot religious beliefs have been offended." The love of freedom and liberty he espouses, may be shared by many libertarians, seem paradoxical when combined with a contempt for anyone who doesn't share such sentiments. Condell equates religion with evil, which he accuses a "misguided and arrogant liberal elite" of fragmenting British society by tolerating, the toleration of such an evil is clearly paradoxical.
This appears to be a common trend amongst New Atheists a devout love of Enlightenment values, an almost mystical view of nature, and a disdain for intolerance, which is paradoxical in itself. Interestingly most of them appear to have been "Flower Children" of the 60s that rebelled against conservative social norms, protested against Vietnam, marched for equal rights and led a sexual revolution into the 1970s. For instance, Christopher Hitchens went to Cuba in 1968 to plant coffee beans. Hitchens later criticised Noam Chomsky for "effectively explaining away Islamic Jihadism as a function of American policy mistakes" and sided with pure neoconservatives, such as Paul Wolfowitz, on the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Condell and Hitchens both make the mistake of explaining away the ugliness of religious extremism as innate to religious beliefs themselves. It is as if they have lived as rebels long enough to have lost an enemy to fight, having seen their revolution sold and their values demolished, they go in search of a new oppressor to rebel against and sustain their identity in doing so.

"So I really don't care about anything he [God] has got to say, and if he came down from heaven right now, in a big pair of hobnail boots, waving the book of Judges in my face, I'd simply tell him what I tell every other evangelising prick I meet: "No thanks. I'm not interested in your phony salvation. I'd prefer damnation. Now piss off, I've got some sinning to do." - Pat Condell

Most New Atheists ignore the socio-political and economic turmoil, which led to the intense emergence of such destructive belief systems as Islamic extremism, which has intensified over the last century. The same century in which the US expanded it's influence into the Middle East in order to gain access to oil and the state of Israel was "formed". There is a tendency in capitalism to enforce repressive social policies to sustain undemocratic economic policies. Religion can be used to justify repressive social policies, as seen in countries such as Saudi Arabia, which have crushed all political opposition, unions and labour movements. The Saudi bourgeoisie depend on the Wahhabi Islamic establishment to sustain their position of wealth, power and privilege. This compromise between the ruling dynasty and the religious establishment is the foundation of the Saudi Kingdom. All kinds of ideology are suppressed except for one, any form of dissidence is not tolerated and the population is kept under total control. In such a totalitarian environment there is predictability and security, for the elite, democracy lacks these things and is opposed by Western states because a democratic Saudi Arabia would threaten oil prices.

Religion can be used to distract and fragment people with debates regarding the teaching of evolution in schools, abortion and gay rights. Such issues are meaningless to the average CEO who is more concerned with health, education, economic issues and wages. While the masses are distracted by arguments over evolution and creationism, the ultrarich can crush labour unions, slash wages to increase profits and construct a political system which is only beneficial to themselves. As seen in America over the last 30 years, the Christian Right have "crusaded" against gay rights and abortion, while wages for most of Americans have either stagnated or decreased and working hours have increased. Social benefits have plummeted and any attempt by politicians to increase such benefits through government spending is dismissed as "socialism". Which is why the people of France live 3 to 5 years longer than the average American, because universal healthcare is mutually exclusive with socialism apparently. The New Atheists fail to notice that religion is merely the shadow of the enemy and not the substance of that enemy. The worse aspects of religion should be criticised as a function of capitalism and not as an independent phenomenon.

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