Understanding the subculture/counterculture phenomenon

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mykcob4's picture
Understanding the subculture/counterculture phenomenon

We have a basic mainstream culture that is as wide as we define our society. Within that mainstream culture, there are various subcultures and countercultures.
In the sixties, there were by necessity the emergence of these countercultures into the mainstream to fight for freedom and equality. But right now these countercultures have become destructive and counterproductive. that don't enhance the main culture but serve to further divide the society at large. It isn't isolated by just the present day but has happened any number of times throughout history.
As countercultures become more defined and delineated the main society becomes more fractured.
Take music. We use to have in the not so distant past a myriad of different types of music that we as society enjoyed, but now each genre is well defined and the mainstream society is fractured it what it enjoys. The industry as a whole is less inclusive and acceptive of its audience types.
Now how does this relate to atheism. Well, I'll tell you. It is the confusion of who and what we are. We are perceived as a counterculture instead of individuals.
Most believers think that atheism is a subculture all its own. They view it as like a religion because they can't understand an individual decision. The truth is that an atheist is not a person belonging to an organized belief and that atheists each are as fractured into subcultures as any other person. A southern atheist could be as conservative politically as any other southerner. What believers can't understand is that an atheist cannot be defined by his/her lack of belief in a deity.
An atheist is just as apt to be a mass murderer as an upstanding citizen. Atheism doesn't predict or determine the person or the counter/subculture that they belong to. It only describes one subculture that they don't belong to. This is why atheism can never be a movement. There is no coherent ideology or subculture that binds all atheist into a cause.

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SBMontero's picture
@mykcob4: That is a very

@mykcob4: That is a very American phenomenon. When you talk to any American that comes on holiday and ask what belief you belong -invariably, sooner or later, for one reason or another they ever do it-, and you answer that have no beliefs they look at you with that strange face of "That's impossible!". Then clarify that you're atheist and they put a face of "That is your belief, man" with a half smile, that disappears when you claim that have no religion and that being atheist isn't a religion.

"I haven't religion", that's the idea that dissociates them, they don't understand and are unable to assimilate.

Nobody in Europe thinks that being an atheist is a belief. My niece gets pissed when someone tells her that I don't "believe" in god, she frowns and says "believe isn't the word". she's right, because it's false that I'm not "believe" in god, I haven't any god because doesn't exist, it isn't a "belief", It's an empirical assertion.

I disagree that for atheists there's no common cause. Be an atheist, think, say and express that god doesn't exist, tell the truth is a reason for ostracism, fines, imprisonment, torture and death in half world, if fighting against that is insufficient common cause... well, I don't know what else could be it. Sorry.

mykcob4's picture
Thanks, SBMontero. I agree.

Thanks, SBMontero. I agree. When I said that atheists don't have a common cause, I was referring to the fact that there is not an organization or a "church", that it isn't a subculture or a counterculture. It's just a fact.
You're right that it isn't a belief at all. It's simply accepting reality.

SecularSonOfABiscuitEater's picture
Great post. Interesting

Great post. Interesting analysis. Absolutely on point about counter cultures. I would've presumed to blame the destructive power of todays counter cultures on the internet.

MCDennis's picture
I disagree slightly. Mass

I disagree slightly. Mass murderers tend to be irrational. Atheists tends to be rational. People committing mass murder in honor of their religion are obviously not atheists, and as we know far and away the most mass murders are religiously motivated.

mbrownec's picture


This is why atheism can never be a movement. There is no coherent ideology or subculture that binds all atheist into a cause.

If that's the case, all of us are doing nothing but wasting our time and intellectual energy on this website. Just sayin'.

mykcob4's picture
Hardly mbrownec. This site

Hardly mbrownec. This site allows interaction and communing with people with common interest. It's not a waste of time. People need an outlet. As atheists, we are most alone among the general population. Even within our own families. This place and others like it gives us room to breathe.

mbrownec's picture


This site allows interaction and communing with people with common interest. It's not a waste of time. People need an outlet. As atheists, we are most alone among the general population. Even within our own families. This place and others like it gives us room to breathe.

Thank you -- you just documented the point I want to make. Like it or not, Atheist Republic is a community. Even those on on this website who post in the forums and are individualists and recluses voluntarily contribute/share their ideas, beliefs and time to this community. No person is an island because no person can be an island. Mankind, to some degree, requires interaction with other human beings. Those other "human beings" are a community -- even if it's only family.

By the way, mykcob4, my comment(s) are directed to the forum readers and posters for discussion and not to you personally. Hell, my previous post even earned some "disagrees" so I could make my point. lol

mykcob4's picture
You missed what I said about

You missed what I said about atheist. They don't join for a common cause. Don't sweat hurting my feelings and ignore the agree/disagree. It's enough that you have an opinion. One that I see as valid (my opinion means nothing). I appreciate that you have thought about this issue and have made such a thoughtful post. Disagreeing with me is great. I can be wrong, I often am. I value everyone's opinion even from those that hate my guts ( I don't think you do).
Yes, we are a community if only one in conversation. The site actually offers venues for activism (which is a cause). But a real organization....Hmmm....not so much.

LogicFTW's picture
I feel there is some use in

I feel there is some use in organizing to create greater political impact on our mostly collective view that god does not exist.

However I also feel organizing in such a way is fraught with risks that will have to be very carefully managed, and may have such large issues that it simply could not be overcome.

In the US the religious unaffiliated is at 22%

I would love to see a 22% political representation of this 22% unaffiliated adult population. I believe less than 1% of in all currently in office politicians publicly state they are religiously unaffiliated.

But the unaffiliated would have to organize, in a major way to achieve this. It may well be impossible, and if it is not, it will be a long difficult battle with many major roadblocks and pitfalls.

In my mind, theist absolutely take advantage of the fact atheist do not organize, (whether atheist can/want to organize or not.)

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