Science Fiction Fascism Part II: Warhammer 40k

February 7, 2014

“…in the grim darkness of the far future there is only war.”

My introduction to both science fiction fascism and religious fanaticism came from a rather unexpected place, the books of the Warhammer 40k universe. From the books and codex’s of Warhammer 40k a challenge to modernity was issued. While the universe takes place in the far flung future and is meant to be exaggerated depictions of theocracy and fascism, one cannot deny the appeal of these motifs and ideas to the young mind. Freedom, democracy, and tolerance are all ideas that sound fine and dandy, but in a struggle for survival against a seemingly unstoppable enemy there is only room for loyalty to ones folk, duty to ones God, and the willingness to sacrifice everything for your home.

Burn the heretic. Kill the mutant. Purge the unclean.

“Burn the heretic. Kill the mutant. Purge the unclean.”

In the future humanity has spread throughout the universe. At the center of our expansion was The Emperor who led our species to thousands of planets to colonize them and to advance humanity. In the Warhammer 40k universe almost all of the humans are White where in all honesty with the exception of one legion of Space Marines I have never found an official illustration that included non-Whites. Within the universe is the dark power of Chaos, a corrupting and evil force that seeks to pervert and destroy all living creation. Various demons and dark gods populate the incorporeal plane and actively work to corrupt the hearts and minds of humanity. This corruption led to the Emperors own son Horus to betray his father, leading to a human civil war that left the Emperor crippled, clinging to life and humanity without a leader in the middle of a very ferocious galaxy filled with alien races of all kinds.

While the Imperium in the all human context was a rather “progressive” place by most standards, the reality of Chaos and alien races seeking our destruction quickly did away with the Enlightenment like ideas. While the Emperor originally tried to do away with religion, he eventually came to godlike status and became the foundation of the entire faith of trillions of human beings. In the face of total genocide only the iron heart of religious zealotry and steel resolve could hope to overcome the combined enemies of humanity. Facing humanity are the Tau, a communist hive mind race that seeks to assimilate all races and cultures under their banner and enforce “the greater good” on the universe. Orks are savage and brutal beasts that seek only to destroy and kill all that they come across. The Eldar are a noble and technologically advanced yet dying race that resemble a form of elves from medieval lore. The Tyranids are a voracious insect like race that devours all living creatures to grow their swarm. Necron’s are the ultimate transhumanist terror in which a race put their souls inside killer robots and are also at war with the galaxy. All of these races are attacked by the forces of Chaos that dwell in The Warp and plague the corporeal realm. Against all of these combined foes is the Imperium of Man.

The Imperium is essentially a theocratic and authoritarian State. Worship of the Emperor and service to the human race are non negotiable in the dark world of the 41st century. Gone are the naive and childish thoughts about democracy, free markets, and liberty. You cannot give “Conscience of a Conservative” or the “Principle of non-aggression” from the Von Mises Institute to a Tyranid swarm that is about to engulf your entire planet in razor sharp blades and teeth. There is no compromise with an Ork pack that is planning on chopping you and your family to bits. Demons care little for deals when they are seeking to devour your soul and the souls of all of those who you care about. Liberal ideas may sound great on paper but when facing foes that seek only total cultural annihilation and complete genocide they are worse than useless, they are traitorous.

When I first became introduced to Warhammer 40k I became increasingly interested in the fact that the Imperium’s way of doing things seemed to be the only way to allow the human race to survive. The xenophobia of the Imperium was not bigotry, it was the only way to ensure the citizenry understood that those not of the Imperium cannot not be trusted. Time and time again in the Warhammer 40k universe when humanity makes temporary deals with aliens they are inevitably betrayed at the first moment it is convenient for the xeno’s. Total loyalty to humanity and humanity alone is how our race survives the 41st century, anything less is a recipe for disaster.

Worship of the Emperor and service to the Adeptus Ministorum, also known as the Ecclesiarchy, is the glue that holds together human society. The Imperial Cult gives a rallying myth for all of humanity to service to one another and to their civilization. Saints and miracles are part of the Imperial Cult making it clear that this cult is tapping in to a real supernatural power. Multiple times in Warhammer 40k sources the faithful are rewarded with visions, miracles, and protection from Chaos for their devotion.

The Sisters of Battle and other fanatical adherents to the Emperor and Imperial Cult can be protected from all harm, have increased effectiveness in battle, and even be healed through the power of the Emperor. Humanity’s mighty warships are guided by a supernatural force from the Emperor known as the Astronomican that allow us to travel the galaxy through the dangers of the Warp, home of the Chaos gods and various demons. Only through the protection and guidance of the Emperor can humanity safely pass through the Warp, without his guidance we would be torn apart spiritually and physically by the dark forces hiding inside the depths of the Warp. The supernatural power of the Emperor and belief in the Imperial Cult is what strengthens humanity, protects civilian and soldier alike, and is the only power that can resist the corrupting taint of Chaos heresy. As the Imperial mantra says “The Emperor Protects.”

The man who has nothing can still have faith.

“The man who has nothing can still have faith.”

The corruption of Chaos heresy can quickly take over an entire planet. The Chaos gods are powers that each have a specific cult that worships them. Chaos gods of hedonism have their cult members engage in wild orgies and human sacrifice while gods of anger make murderous beserkers out of their believers. Through appealing to the base instincts of humanity the Chaos gods are able to subvert weak willed humans subconsciously, leading quickly to full on heresy and Chaos worship. Humans who choose to worship Chaos are transformed inside and out, slowly transforming into mutated beasts and losing all essence of their humanity, compassion, mercy, and love. Just like in the real world of 2014, when someone gives themselves totally over to evil they are totally lost.

Heresy if it is not destroyed instantly and without mercy only creates a growing cancer within your society and that is why an army of Imperial Inquisitors roam the galaxy seeking out heresy and attempting to destroy it at the root. As one Inquisitor told another “The daemonic are without number, and their legions span the galaxy. But faith does not tire. Should it take us an eternity, the Ordo Malleus will find and exterminate them all.” An undying faith in the Emperor is what drives the Inquisition and only through their hard work and the devotion of the various Imperial forces to burn away heretics can humanity be a unified front against the ever encroaching alien enemies of the Imperium.

Service to the Emperor and the Imperium are a calling for all men and women of humanity. Giant forge worlds churn out tanks, guns, bombs, starships, and every weapon of war and society needed to arm the massive forces of the Imperial Guard, Imperial Navy, Space Marines, and Planetary Defense Forces. Every citizen is involved in the preservation of the Imperium from those who plant the crops to feed the many worlds of humanity, to the factory workers of the forges, to the billions of men and women who volunteer and are drafted to serve as soldiers of the Emperor. Service in everything a citizen does is done to secure the existence of humanity and continuation of the civilization. Each part of society from the lowliest peasant to the mightiest lord must work together to fund, feed, arm, and serve the Imperium.

All of the factions of the Imperium are presented in a slightly tongue in cheek fashion to the consumers of Warhammer 40k. The issue in presenting this universe in an exaggerated format is that it is the only way that the society could survive. In the cold and dark reality of eternal war, theocracy and authoritarianism are the only ways to mobilize and motivate humanity to answer the call of battle. The creation of literally hundreds of books, nearly a dozen video games, and a series that has lasted longer than I have been alive is a testament that in the depths of the modern West that even as a guilty pleasure the ideas of fascism and a theocracy are sought after by millions of people. Series detailing the hunt of heretics by Inquisitors, the selfless sacrifice of the Imperial Guard for their people and their god Emperor, the unwavering devotion of the mighty Space Marines, and the zealotry of the Imperial cult are constantly being placed on the new release shelf of bookstores around the world. If there wasn’t an audience then the stories of these warriors and religious fanatics wouldn’t sell the millions of copies that they have, but despite all of the liberal programming against these ideas, they do. What once began as a joke has turned into a myth that has injected fascist imagery and ideas into a whole generation of science fiction aficionados.

As I fell in love with the lore of the Warhammer 40k universe I realized that this fanaticism is exactly what is needed in the modern era. Instead of worship of the Emperor, we must fanatically follow Jesus Christ and His Church with the same zealousness of the Imperial Inquisitors. Heresy among the Church must be rooted out under all circumstances with the same dedication the Imperium has for cleansing it. I adopted the Imperial Librarian mantra of “An open mind is like a fortress with its gates unbarred and unguarded” in my everyday life exposure to satanic culture. The truth of “Damnation is Eternal” from the Imperial Cult puts into perspective the reality of our choices on this earth.

Each and every man, woman, and child must be dedicated to the preservation and advancement of our culture and society with the same single mindedness of the legions of Imperial Guard troopers who understand the importance of sacrifice for a cause greater than the individual. Without meaning to I indoctrinated myself in fascist principles through my seemingly benign love of science fiction. The Imperium is a myth that speaks to the interests of millions of people who year after year continue to return to the ideas and adventures of humanity in the 41st century fighting against enemies both alien and internally but through Faith and fascism the human race will survive the battles of the future, and the present.

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