Home > Uncategorized > Fundamentalism as product of Modernity

Fundamentalism as product of Modernity

Al Qaida, Taliban, and other extremist groups seem to originate and gain the most popularity in Urban areas. Rodney Stark in Secularization RIP argues that Islam is the only religion where piety increases with socioeconomic status. This may be an unfounded observation but it does provoke thought on to why urbanized region would be more fertile for fundamentalism or let us say status-quo changing movements.

Obviously the question seems quite stupid, without a structural examination of oppression and domination, and material conditions of exploitation and imperialism the very possibility of looking into our question would not hold. This is to say that any analysis must begin with the structural conditions that make such acts possible.

But let us say we put this structuralism aside for a bit and look into the phenomena of urban propensity towards status-quo changing movements. One explanation could be that this is part of the process of modernization and empowerment. Where rapid modernization (or slow) undermines tribal authority and traditions there is room for radical ideas and social organization to enter. This would explain why tribal areas do not have ah igh incidence of Al Qaeda. Or in Lebanon why it was in Nahr El Bared and not in el Biqa3 that fath  el Islam rose up. That is to say the material conditions that undermine continuity are fertile ground for new ideas.

One important lesson of this is that fundamentalist movements are modern not traditional.

Another piece of information that fits into this explanation is the extreme conservatism of peasants. Perry Anderson writing on Lula Da Silva argued that his electoral base shifted to peasants when he proved he could provide stability. Those most vulnerable in society are the ones least willing to try to take risks. Joining an extremist socially modern movement is a high risk act. It reminds me of those futurist manifestos from the 1930s.

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