In 1995, following what was up to that point the worst act of domestic terrorism in American history, a bizarre fantasy written by prominent Washington think-tank intellectual William S. Lind, who for decades worked closely with key architect of the religious right Paul Weyrich, appeared in the Washington Post.
The WaPo editor who introduced the “fantasy” explained,
“The investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing has focused attention on the political thinking of militant groups scattered around the country, some of whom advocate armed resistance to the federal government and all it represents.
In the writings of some leaders of this movement, America is a country already in the grip of a civil war. Polemicists for the militia movement, while varying widely in their favorite causes, have a common denominator: They portray an illegitimate federal government dominated by special interest groups in mortal struggle with patriots representing traditional American values.
These apocalyptic visions are not restricted to isolated pockets of rural America but are also found in Washington.”
The editor explained that William S. Lind’s “futuristic fantasy” was intended,
"to show how high a price we may pay for a government that has become a new class' -- contemptuous of the common culture, unwilling or unable to make things work and concerned primarily with maintaining its own privileged status."
Lind’s “fantasy” began with,
“THE TRIUMPH of the Recovery was marked most clearly by the burning of the Episcopal bishop of Maine. She was not a particularly bad bishop. She was, in fact, quite typical of Episcopal bishops of the first quarter of the 21st century: agnostic, compulsively political and radical and given to placing a small idol of Isis on the altar when she said the Communion service.”
A few paragraphs later, Lind cut to the heart of the matter:
“It's funny how clearly the American century is marked: 1865 to 1965. The first Civil War made us one nation. After 1965 and another war, we disunited -- deconstructed -- with equal speed into blacks, whites, Hispanics, womyn, gays, victims, oppressors, left-handed albinos, you name it. In three decades we covered the distance that had taken Rome three centuries. As recently as the early 1960s -- God, it's hard to believe -- America was still the greatest nation on earth, the most powerful, the most productive, the freest, a place of safe homes, dutiful children in good schools, strong families and a hot lunch for orphans. By the 1990s the place had the stench of a Third World country.”
America, our once-great nation, has been stolen from us — this is the core narrative underlying Trumpism. Early this Spring, Donald Trump met William S. Lind, who appears to take pride in having helped inspire al-Qeada.
For years, political strategists, sociologists, and other influentials have anticipated the decline of white America, and they have expected this trend will undermine the Republican Party.
But William S. Lind knows better, because he is a military strategist.
The radical evangelicals I have studied for over a decade, of whom Lind is one, have, of course, closely studied the success of the LGBTQ rights movement and other successful social movements. Key lessons they take away ?
- First, you don't need a majority to succeed. Indeed, a committed 3-5% can bring about a "tipping point". The big changes are rarely brought about by majorities.
- Second, you need core narratives to motivate those committed minorities who will bring about, one way or another (through politics, cultural change, or armed force), the hoped-for change.
Notice Donald Trump's continual attacks on "political correctness". These reference a fast-spreading conspiracy theory that has taken root over the past few decades on the U.S. right but increasingly in the international right.
In that conspiracy theory, "political correctness" is a weapon deployed by the forces of "cultural Marxism", a vast plot said to have been hatched in the 1920s and 1930s by Jewish Marxist intellectuals (if you're Jewish, you'll recognize this narrative as a new "Protocols of the Elders of Zion".)
The Civil Rights Movement, the LGBTQ rights movement, feminism, the environmental movement - all are depicted as part, wittingly or not, as part of the grand conspiracy which seeks to destroy America, Christianity, and even Western Civilization.
It's becoming a new globally unifying narrative for anti-LGBTQ rights Christians, for neo-Nazis and neo-Fascists, for secular traditionalists and authoritarians. This narrative has spread from the U.S. to the U.K. and Europe, to Russia, to Brazil.
William Lind's ideas (by his own report) have helped inspire al-Qeada and they have demonstrably inspired at least one major act of rightwing terrorism.
William Lind is one of the preeminent American military strategists of our time, and he is author of the 2014 book Victoria - A Novel of Fourth Generation Warfare that depicts white, male Christian militias toppling the federal government and then carrying put ethnic cleansing which includes driving urban black families into forced sharecropping on white lands in the country.
A copy of Lind's novel is sitting on my bedside table as I write this. I have read every word and taken notes.
Why? - Because William Lind is probably the most important architect of the angry form of populism now emerging under the banner of Trump. In Lind's novel, "cultural Marxist" LGBTQ university professors are massacred "Games of Thrones" style. A black nationalist uprising it thwarted by vaporizing the center of Atlanta with a tactical nuclear weapon. Toward the close of the novel, the white militia insurgents launch a 10th crusade against Islam.
This is the animating vision that simmers at a near boil beneath the surface of Trumpism : the reconquest of America.
And if you are reading this, you are very likely one of the designated enemies.