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The One-Hundred Per Cent Mentality

"One can trace in Sunday [Billy Sunday, a popular evangelist in early 20th century America] the emergence of what I would call the one-hundred per cent mentality -- a mind totally committed to the full range of the dominant popular fatuities and determined that no one shall have the right to challenge them. This type of mentality is a relatively recent synthesis of fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist Americanism, very often with a heavy overlay of severe fundamentalist morality. The one-hundred percenter, who will tolerate no ambiguities, no equivocations, no reservations, and no criticism, considers his kind of committedness an evidence of toughness and masculinity."
"By the end of the century it was painfully clear to fundamentalists that they were losing much of their influence and respectability. One can now discern among them the emergence of a religious style shaped by a desire to strike back against everything modern -- the higher criticism, evolutionism, the social gospel, rational criticism of any kind. In this union of social and theological reaction, the foundation was laid for the one hundred per cent mentality."
"Presumably, the fundamentalists themselves were afflicted on occassion by nagging doubts about the adequacy of their faith, which was now being questioned everywhere. As Reinhold Neibuhr has remarked: 'Extreme orthodoxy betrays by its very frenzy that the poison of skepticism has entered the soul of the church; for men insist most vehemently upon their certainties when their hold upon them has been shaken. Frantic orthodoxy is a method for obscuring doubt.'

The feeling that rationalism and modernism could no longer be answered in debate led to frantic efforts to overwhelm them by sheer violence of rhetoric and finally by efforts at suppression and intimidation...The time had come, as Sunday himself asserted in a sermon of that decade [1920s], when 'America is not a country for a dissenter to live in.'"

Richard Hofstadter: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. (Vintage 1963, repr 2004; pp 118-119, 121, 122-123)
[cf: Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition for a more clinical summary of this psychological phenomenon]

This "100% Mentality" seems like a fountainhead for fascism. Hofstadter's remarkable book should be required reading for anyone wanting to understand the cultural and sociological influences behind what's happening in America right now. There will be much more to say about this later...

Keeping this "100% Mentality" in mind also provides great insight when reading Roger Morris's beautiful and impassioned plea asking American diplomats to resign, and Joe Bageant's fascinating analysis of Bush's Rapturous constituents.

I am so glad I'm in Canada now!