This series is not about the New Age movement.
It's about how certain belief systems are privileged and how others are not and what that means for the future. It's about how the establishment dealt with a challenge to its monopoly on the creation and dissemination of belief systems. We still have other tactics and strategies from the secret war to look at (the 'Skeptic' movement, as well as a deeper look at the infiltration and commercialization of the New Age) and there are other instances of movements that didn't jibe with the overall capital 'P' Plan.
All of this fits into the mandate of The Secret Sun, which after all is about Culture, not religion or politics. And an increasingly important part of the Culture these days is conspiracy culture, which is predominantly a right wing and Fundamentalist culture (there is a considerable counterculture voice- or what I call the "Lone Gunmen" conspiracy theorists like Icke, Tsarion, Maxwell, etc - but all over the world, conspiracy theory is the province of religious extremists). The assumptions of this culture is that its beliefs are unassailable truth, and any deviation or dissent from that truth is evil. Not simply wrong, certainly not just a question of competing interests, but a cosmic evil.
This is a self-perpetuating impulse, in that billions of people don't share their views - can't share their views. Science, history, logic, reason, non-believers - and most especially - believers of competing sects present a constant, existential challenge to the apocalyptic worldview. So the culture will never be wanting for enemies. This is classic cult psychology, but it exists on a mass scale all over the world. It kinda makes you wonder if all of those cults that popped up like mushrooms in the 60s and 70s weren't simply field tests for a more comprehensive agenda.
But it also helps drive social trends in a larger context.
The Establishment has a dialectic that they reinforce constantly through the media, academia, and the political sphere. It's 'Red vs Blue', atheists vs fundamentalists, liberal vs conservative. The massive infrastructure of think tanks and foundations dictates the talking points and spends billions of dollars making sure that they are the respectable opinions to hold, and that everything outside the dialect is to be ridiculed and shunned, if not actively suppressed.
This is why we see a mirror image of the religious fundamentalists with the non-religious fundamentalists. Organized atheism was little more than a boogieman for Republican voters until fairly recently, until a charismatic and highly visible new class of media personalities- who were mostly already famous for other accomplishments- took up the cudgel and a huge and growing movement grew up practically overnight behind them.
They adopted some of the tactics - and members - of the prefab Skeptic movement (which was created to derail the New Age movement, which we'll get to soon) but don't waste time with small fry like palm readers or orgone therapists. They're going after the big boys - the Pope, the preachers, the imams. There aren't enough bitter, supercilious nerds to make the Skeptic movement anything more than a sideshow, but there are tens of millions of people tired of the concept of the religion itself, not just its excesses.
As tempting as it is to speculate on some grand Hegelian synthesis to come out of all of this, I think the real goal of this Dialectic is endless conflict.
A lot of people talk about peace like it's some universal aspiration, but what if there are a lot of people who prefer conflict? What if perpetuating endless division isn't some obstacle for our rulers to overcome, but the game plan itself? What if the competing fundamentalisms are really just an excuse for endless conflict? All of the arguing and flag-waving might make for great television, but it makes for terrible policy and for an increasingly angry, stressed-out and dumbed-down populace.
Maybe the original New Age movement was the Synthesis in this dialectic, which could offer reasonable people on both sides of the apparent divide a big enough tent to find common ground within. A lot of luminaries in the 60s and 70s talked a lot about just that- a new movement amorphous enough to bridge the divides and heal the culture and usher in the "New Age", an age of peace, freedom, enlightenment, technological progress and puppies and kittens and so on and so forth.
That may well be why it had to be taken down.
UPDATE: As if on cue:
Peter Kreeft, right wing convert to Catholicism and professor of philosophy at Boston College, argues in his 1996 book Ecumenical Jihad: Ecumenism and the Culture War, that religious culture warriors must recognize a substantial shift in alliances, between former enemies like Muslims, and former friends like Humanists. While the idea of Muslim-Christian alliance sems particularly far-fetched at the end of this summer, Kreeft’s larger point has resonated with a number of religious leaders. Echoing Pope John Paul II’s prediction that third millennium could be marked by a unified Christianity, Kreeft predicted: “The age of religious wars is ending; the age of religious war is beginning: A war of all religions against none.”UPDATE: More timely linkage- I Believe You’re Wrong: The Trouble with Tolerance
However, in recent years, Americans have been losing their habit of engaging in respectful contestation. We’ve lost track of the difference between hateful attacks and disciplined, sincere criticism.
TO BE CONTINUED