Against Nikoli O'Dwyer: A Short Critique
Dwyer has not done the research on theology and mystic literature needed to critique it, assuming that mysticism is conspiracy-thought and a cancer on society. Dwyer is provoking a nihilist Demiurgic materialism, a path which materialism should never go down on, because it will get subsumed into Enlightenment-era thinking (pseudo-rationalism). The Enlightenment, in its rationalism, is inherently capitalistic. It switches out the parts of us which can be described as pseudo-scientific and irrational, and melds us into a boring husk of our former selves.
Dwyer outlines why they think mysticism is a capitalistic force that drives people into irrationalism. Mysticism, to Dwyer, is a irrational, anti-materialistic ideology that must be stamped out, even though it’s quite the opposite, as mysticism, in its assumed irrationality, is actually rational in the fact that it can be used to provoke the overthrowing of capitalism. They also go on to outline an atheistic anti-mysticism that creepily shares similarities to the New Atheists, even though the New Atheists are a group of philosophers which Dwyer critiques.
“It follows from all this that mysticism, as a worldview and mode of thinking, is the enemy of all revolutionary thought, and the foundation of reactionary politics. Mysticism must be found and stomped out everywhere it is found. It is a parasite that feeds on people’s minds, and reduces them to a state of intellectual barbarism. All the powers of the rational mind must be utilized in this war against mystical ideology, which is itself a foul product of the decaying bourgeoisie.”
-Against Mysticism, Nikoli O’Dwyer
This shares parallels with the militant atheist views of Richard Dawkins, but rather than go down a materialist route, he goes down a naive scientist view. He assumes that all religion is harmful to the individual in naive scientism, and goes down that Gervaisesque “I’m an atheist, you know” road which no thinker should never go down. Take this quote from The God Delusion for example:
“The take-home message is that we should blame religion itself, not religious extremism - as though that were some kind of terrible perversion of real, decent religion. Voltaire got it right long ago: 'Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.' So did Bertrand Russell: 'Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do.”
-Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
Dawkins, like Dwyer, has no reason to critique theology and, by extension, religion if he does not learn about it before critiquing it as a anti-materialist husk of pseudoscience. Materialism is highly compatible with mysticism, because mysticism, as a philosophy, is inherently anti-capitalistic, pre-modernist in its anti-imperialism.