Last night’s ABC 7.30 Report contained a depressingly predictable story suggesting that the Catholic Church has learned little or nothing about how to handle child sexual abuse by its clergy and teachers, and remains frozen into a lawyer-driven stance of dishonesty, denial and complete lack of compassion towards its traumatised victims. No doubt the Hetty Johnsons of this world are equally culpable in the opposite direction, but it hardly exculpates the Church, which you might have hoped would exhibit a greater capacity to learn, adapt and grow. I wonder how many ex-Catholics this ongoing fiasco has created. I certainly classify myself as one of those, even though I still occasionally attend Mass mostly out of habit (but partly for the ritual, peaceful contemplation time and the carols at Christmas).
I was also struck, though in a different way, by these comments from the perennial Malaysian pseudo-dictator Dr Mahathir:
Mahathir said Europeans also wanted to impose their cultural values on the world, including “unlimited freedom for the individual” and “the practice of free sex including sodomy as a right.”
“Marriage between male and male, between female and female are officially recognised by them. What we call incest is not regarded as serious by them.”
Leaving aside the incest bit, you have to wonder just how repellent Mahathir’s citizenry actually find his vision of evil western decadence.
Then, in a blinding flash of insomniac inspiration, it occurred to me that there’s actually a crucial link between religious fundamentalism (and perhaps religion in general) and Mahathir-style authoritarian government: both are generated, or at least sustained, by sexual repression. Of course, it’s hardly an original insight; pioneering psychiatric theorist Wilhelm Reich came to similar conclusions 70 years ago (extract from The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Paul Edwards, Editor in Chief, Volume Seven, Macmillan, 1967. [“Reich, Wilhelm”, by Paul Edwards], from Christianism website):
Reich is strongly opposed to the tendency of “emancipated” unbelievers to dismiss religions as nothing more than the fancies of silly and ignorant people. He insists that a study of religious people¢â¬âof the content of their emotions and beliefs, of the ways in which these are implanted, and of the function which they fulfill in their psychological economy¢â¬âis highly rewarding. It sheds light on many other phenomena, including, for example, the psychological basis of fascism and of reactionary political movements. Such a study also explains why, by and large, free-thought propaganda is so unsuccessful in spite of the fact that from a purely rational point of view the positions defended by freethinkers are vastly superior to the religious claims¢â¬âsomething that is not altogether unknown among believers. Above all, a happy life for the majority of mankind is impossible unless the power of religion is broken, unless one can prevent “the mystical infestation of the masses” (ibid., p. 161). However, in order to be effective in “the relentless fight against mysticism,” one must have a full comprehension of its origin and its psychological sources of strength so that one can meet its “artful apparatus . . . with adequate counter-measures” (ibid., p. 152). To suppose that mystical attitudes become anchored in human beings simply as a result of intellectual indoctrination is a naive and dangerous mistake.’ …
‘It would lead too far afield to discuss here the various ways in which, according to Reich, the “mystical idea of God” becomes anchored in people. These mechanisms may vary in detail, but they all involve the implanting of sexual anxieties; and Reich concludes that from the point of view of energy, mystical feelings are “sexual excitations which have changed their content and goal.” The energy of these emotions is the energy of natural sexuality which has become transformed and attached to mystical, psychic contents. Religious patients, upon establishing a fully satisfying sex life, invariably lose their God-fixation.
Once one comprehends the nature of “religious excitations,” it becomes clear why the free-thought movement “cannot make itself as a counter-force” (ibid., p. 147). Aside from the fact that in many countries the churches enjoy the support of the state and that generally the mass information media are grossly biased in favor of religion and religious morality, the impact of free-thought propaganda is limited because it relies almost exclusively on intellectual arguments. These are not, indeed, a negligible factor, but they are no match for the “most powerful emotion” on which the mass-psychological influence of religious institutions is based: sexual anxiety and sexual repression. …
‘it follows incontrovertibly that “full sexual consciousness and a natural regulation of sexual life mean the end of mystical feelings of any kind, that, in other words, natural sexuality is the deadly enemy of mystical religion” (ibid., p. 152). Any social efforts which are directed toward making people affirm their sexual rights will ipso facto weaken the forces of mysticism.’
All they need, Reich is saying, is a good root. Better still, regular good roots. Now, we need to keep in mind here that Reich, like most psychiatrists, was completely mad. In his later life he became utterly convinced of the existence of UFOs, and even came to believe that he himself was the offspring of a spaceman. Moreover, there are one or two inherent logical difficulties involved in Reich’s sexual repression and religiosity hypothesis. It requires us, for example, to accept that no religiously-minded couples have a fulfilling sex life (otherwise their faith would quickly lapse).
Nevertheless, there’s the germ of a good idea in here. What we need to do is establish a secular humanist guerilla army, staffed with squadrons of highly-trained callgirls (and callboys, to cover the field). First we send them out into the Bible Belt of the southern and western United States and Sydney’s North Shore, to teach the good burghers about the joys of tantric sex and the location of the G-Spot. Some would need to ingratiate themselves with Catholic and Anglican priests, and convince them that sex with a person over the age of sixteen can actually be rather pleasant. Then we send them out to do likewise in the terrorist badlands of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Of course, this part would be a tad more risky, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. What I’m advocating here is nothing less than taking Samuel P Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations between the sheets; a sexualised version of the imperialist “neocon” strategy. It might not work, but it should be a lot more entertaining than listening to Paul Wolfowitz (though possibly not for the callgirls subjected to sharia “justice”).
PS – The first illustration shows the “Arch d’Venus”, available from Tantra.com and a steal at $76 (US). They describe it in the following terms:
Voluptuous, durable, discreet and breathtakingly beautiful the Arch d’ Venus wand is a masterpiece of art with a special purpose. Inspired by the sensuous curves of the body and named for the planet of Love, this acrylic wand fits all the right places. Its curved end stimulates the G-spot or prostate with perfect accuracy. With a diameter of 1 5/8 inches, this unique sex toy satisfies and heals at the same time.
It does have a certain je ne sais quoi, nest-ce pas? It might look nice on the loungeroom coffee table, next to the Wedgwood elephant box.