On the first anniversary of Egypt’s Revolution that dethroned a thirty-year dictator, activists lament the continuing power of his army, while Americans worry about the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood. Little by little it’s becoming clear that fundamentalism and military control are not limited to Third World countries trying to achieve ‘democracy’. The most powerful democracy in the world increasingly uses drones to spy on its citizens and assassinate enemies – or unlucky by-standers – around the world.
As usual, I’ve raised two issues here, but they are related: one is the increasing clout of fundamentalists in all religions, the other is rulers’ increasing recourse to military means to control populations.
Fundamentalists are not generally perceived as threats by governments. They tend to approve of the use of force to force conversions, but more ‘fundamentally’ , obedience to any higher power, be it God or a President, implies a willingness to accept that power’s use of force. As I have written in ‘A Taoist Politics’, both the Judeo-Christian ethic and Islamic morality are based on God’s perceived power over life and death.
Thus it is not surprising that American military bases and academies have increasingly made room for religious services, fostering a simultaneous commitment to God and the use of force.
Nor is it surprising that our twenty-first century enemies go by names such as Al Shabaab (Movement of Striving Youth) in Somalia, or Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) in Yemen. Have we not fundamentalist militia groups preparing to take on the American government, which they see as opposed to their moral convictions?
Not to mention well-funded movements of American evangelical Christians who oppose “both modernism in theology and the cultural changes that modernism endorses”? <en.wikipedia.org/wiki Christian_ fundamentalism# Militancy_ and_ evangelicals>.
The fact that Tea Partiers and associated groups tend to believe in competition rather than cooperation is really a detail compared to the fact that they, like Islamic fundamentalists, believe women should be subservient to men, and that real men carry guns.