1 chapter 4: How do religious beliefs affect politics? POLS 374 foundations of global politics winter 2011
2 opening questions does religion matter in global politics? what do you think? what does the author say?
3 the role of religion today defining religion there are, not surprisingly, multiple definitions, not all of which " are fully compatible (see box 5.1 in text) regardless of which definition one uses, one thing is clear: religion is an important force in human relations, both domestically and globally to avoid engaging in an endless debate, however, the author s conceptualization might be useful to consider
4 the role of religion today a basic definition of religion let us assume that when we are talking about religion we are referring to individuals and groups who base their identities and ethics at least in part on a tradition and set of beliefs about the creation of the world and the order within it that locates the sources of this creation and order outside purely human or natural agency
5 the role of religion today a few more basic points religion is almost an inherently transnational or " global phenomenon, as indicated by the vast number of people who identify with one or another religion there are 2.1 billion Christians (of various denominations), 1.5 billion Muslims, 900 million Hindus, 376 million Buddhists, 14 million Jews, and millions of other religious adherents spread throughout the world 68% to 91% of the world s population identifies with one of the four major religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism)
6 Distribution of Christians around the world
7 Distribution of Muslims around the world
8 the role of religion today a few more basic points religion is not only globally pervasive, but it is a powerful and generally organized force however, religion is also irrational in the sense that it is premised on faith and on non-scientific principles
9 the role of religion today a few more basic points quick questions: upon what is the power" of religion based? does the irrationality " of religion make it a more or less powerful" force in global politics?
10 the role of religion today a few more basic points the power of religion [in global politics] derives from its capacity to inspire, motivate, and sustain both individual and collective action but, the power of religion is inherently " subjective or intersubjective: it has no " physical existence and it cannot be " exclusively possessed by an individual or " country, but it is real with very real effects an anti-government protest in Burma led by Buddhist monks
11 the role of religion today another question where do we see religion at work " in global politics? short answer. we see religion at work everywhere, within and across borders, but we especially see it at work in the activities of certain groups, certain religions especially Islam
12 the role of religion today key points it is tempting to assert that religion is primarily, if not solely, at " work in the Islamic world, where Islamic fundamentalism " has generated a great deal of conflict and violence that regularly crosses national borders it is clear, however, that religion of all stripes is influencing political processes in ways that involve multiple countries and societies consider the following examples
13 modern religious conflicts the conflict between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland the long standing civil war between Hindus and Buddhists in Sri Lanka the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which involved three faith groups: Muslim, Roman Catholic, and Serbian Orthodox the conflict over Kashmir involving Hindus and Muslims
14 modern religious conflicts and don t forget the role of religion in World War II and " in the politics of Nazi Germany. The Jewish Question " has remained with the world it has been a significant " part of global politics long after the war ended in 1945
15 the role of religion today religion, of course, does not always involve or spark violence even " more frequently, religion is a source of or contributor to peaceful or non-violent change and [global] social movements consider these examples
16 the role of religion today pro-democracy movements in the Philippines, Burma, Ukraine, Poland, South Korea, Guatemala, El Salvador, etc. Jubilee 2000, a global alliance of various religious denominations, faith communities, and activist groups united to bring about the cancellation of international debt among the poorest countries, " and to restore rights relationships between countries the liberation theology movement in Latin America, which interpreted the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions the next slide gives us a sense of one of these examples, Jubilee 2000
18 the role of religion today we should also recognize that, within countries, religious forces often have global implications one example of this is the opposition by evangelical Christians in the US to abortion during the Bush administration, pressures from evangelical Christian groups succeeded in getting the administration to withhold $34 million earmarked for the UN Population Fund, which is used to promote family planning, sexual and reproductive rights, sex education, and condom use. In addition, Bush imposed "a global gag rule," preventing organizations that receive U.S. funds from counseling, referring, or providing information on abortion.
19 the role of religion today Before we attribute too much influence to " religion, we need to keep in mind, as the author" warns us, the importance of understanding when" and how to grant importance to religion in seeking" to understand global politics. Religion may matter, but" it is not necessarily the most important force in most situations In other words, we need to understand and assess the importance of religion within the wider context. Religion always interacts with other forces, political, economic, social, institutional, and so. We need to keep this point firmly in mind!
21 illustrative example: islamic states and movements moreover, we find that the motivations and patterns of political behavior displayed by Muslims are wholly amenable to explanation through conventional themes and theories of political analysis this tells us that, while Islam is a distinctive religion, " it is not a religion that is governed by unknowable " or inscrutable forces that compel adherents to " respond in an entirely different manner (compared " to adherents of other religions) to broader global " processes
22 the rise of Islamic political movements the rise of Islamic political movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and of Islamism provides a useful example of the intersection of religion and politics, both domestically and globally Initially established in a small town in " Egypt by Hassan al-banna, a school" teacher, in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood " has grown into a global organization " and is regarded as the oldest organized " Islamic movement in modern history.
23 the rise of Islamic political movements the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamism: key points the MB was a type of social movement, which sought to ensure a continued role for religion in" society and saw itself as an" antidote to the Westernizing and" secularizing tendencies of the" political elite a major tenet of the MB was" its opposition to authoritarian" rule
24 the rise of Islamic political movements the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamism: key points "To confirm unequivocally that people are the source " of all power so that it is not permissible for any one " individual, party, group or institution to claim the right " to authority, or to continue in power except with " the consent of the people ~ Hassan al-banna
25 the rise of Islamic political movements the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamism: key points significantly, non-violence was another major tenet" of the Muslim Brotherhood under Hassan al-banna " as he put it, We reiterate our rejection of any " form of violence and coercion as well as all forms of " coups which destroy the unity of any nation... these " methods would create a great crack in the wall " of political stability.
26 the rise of Islamic political movements the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamism: key points the popularity of the MB made it a target of authoritarian states in the Middle East it was banned and driven underground. It was at this point that the MB became radicalized and " turned to non-conventional (i.e., violent) " means of achieving political change the radicalization of the MB was accompanied " by a reinterpretation of core Islamic tenets" this reinterpretation became the basis for " Islamism, a new ideological version of Islam
27 the rise of Islamic political movements the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamism: key points the radicalization ebbed and flowed in the 1970s, it again renounced violence. At the same time, the MB s influence, and especially the " ideology of Islamism, began to spread globally today, Islamism has become a major " religious-ideological force, one that" operates on a global-scale
28 the rise of Islamic political movements the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamism: one more point Islamism is subject to differing definitions, but most commonly, it is defined an ideology and political program that " is designed (1) to establish a state governed by " Islamic (often sharia) law; and (2) to eliminate " Western influences from the Muslim world
29 the rise of Islamic political movements questions. in what way does the rise of the " Muslim Brotherhood and Islamism reflect" a normal political process? is the influence and spread of Islamism significantly" different from the manner in which other global" ideologies (e.g. liberalism, communism) expand " and influence political and social action?
30 the rise of radical Islamist groups closely related to the emergence of Islamic social movements was the rise of radical Islamist groups groups that not only embraced the ideology of Islamism, but also embraced the use of violence to achieve their political goals. these groups include Al-Qaeda," Hizbullah (in Lebanon), and HAMAS (in Palestine) quick questions: why did these groups emerge?" What was the larger context that precipitated" their development?
31 the rise of radical Islamist groups short answer. Al-Qaeda, Hizbullah (in Lebanon), and HAMAS (in Palestine) were all products, in one fashion or another, of the Cold War political structure, one that pitted the Soviet Union against the United States in a conflict that reached virtually corner of the world Al-Qaeda, in particular, was established in Afghanistan by Arab-Afghan fighters following the decision by the Soviet Union to withdraw troops after a failed occupation effort. This encouraged Al-Qaeda to export its model and reorient its targets from near-enemies to far enemies
32 the rise of radical Islamist groups it is important to understand that Al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups attract only a few thousand of the world s 1.25 billion Muslims as actual members: these are small organizations with limited capacity this makes their appeal to global ideologies/" religions predictable and rational, for it is the " best way to attract more recruits and funds it also tells us why such groups resort to " terroristic violence: they have few, if any other, " options to achieve their goals
33 the rise of Islamic political movements questions. is there a non-violent possibility" in the intersection between Islam and global" politics? Are Islamic values compatible with " the other value systems and ideologies that" exist throughout the globe? Or, is conflict" inevitable? what are the various ways of answering these questions?
34 broader issues: identity and fundamentalism what are the various ways of answering these questions? one way of answering: conflict is inevitable because of essential and fundamental incompatibilities " between and among different civilizations " (the view of Samuel Huntington, former " Harvard professor) any problems with this type of argument?
35 broader issues: identity and fundamentalism what are the various ways of answering these questions? another way of answering comes " to us from Edward Said, who made" the argument that culture and power" are closely related in the historical" establishment of particular forms" of world order
36 broader issues: identity and fundamentalism in Said s view there are oppositional" differences between civilizations, but" these differences are a product of " Western domination the construction" of differences was designed to legitimize" Western dominance over the world, and" therefore to naturalize the hierarchies" of power between various (culturally" defined) world regions
37 broader issues: identity and fundamentalism questions. what are the implications of Said s argument? Does his argument also lead to an inevitable conflict between the East and the West? " Or, is there an alternative path?
38 broader issues: identity and fundamentalism what are the various ways of answering these questions? Tariq Ali offers a third way of answering." he tells us that, rather than difference, we" should focus on core similarities in certain" cultural constructions around the world " so, what type of cultural (or ideological)" similarity does Ali examine? fundamentalism
39 broader issues: identity and fundamentalism question" what does Ali mean by fundamentalism? it is any form of thought or ideology [not" necessarily religious] that is uncompromising" in its worldview and which represents itself" as the sole source of truth or the only" solution to global [or domestic]" problems
40 broader issues: identity and fundamentalism another question" what types of fundamentalist thought can" we find in the United States?
41 got fundamentalism?
42 broader issues: identity and fundamentalism key points it is not religion per se that is dangerous, but fundamentalism fundamentalism exists in all parts of the world, typically " side-by-side with a plethora of other, less extreme views and " ways of conceptualizing identity fundamentalist views are profoundly political, but they are not allpowerful; nor are they always or necessarily a dominant force in society and in politics
43 broader issues: identity and fundamentalism key points finally, we need to resist the idea that religious identities or political claims are framed in terms of religion are somehow beyond the comprehension of what we otherwise regard as political reason religion in global politics can and does have a rational basis and can and does lead to rational outcomes the conflict in Northern Ireland is mostly resolved; the Muslim Brotherhood has become a normal political party in Egypt, the world s largest Muslim country Indonesia has reconciled Islamic tenets with democracy, and so on