GOD –IN THE MINDS OF THE TERRORIST
In This piece I am going to address the problems of that kind of terrorism which is labeled as religious terrorism, that is, terrorism attributed to, or associated, with religion.
Terrorism of any kind, in any form, is deterrent, a threat to peace and development. But an equally formidable threat to lasting peace and development comes from counter-terrorism in the sense that a vicious cycle, a symbiotic relationship is created in which the two phenomena feed on each other.
Such conceptualization of religious violence, equated with, or occasioned by, upsurge in the world’s religions, in different parts of the globe, implies that such religious resurgence has to be rolled back for restoring secular values; for reinforcing modern western civilization with its inherent polarity between secularism and religion; for strengthening the United States ‘as the politico-military champion’ against religious terrorism on global level, and for accelerating the forces of globalization which is seen as the great historical force for leveling down ethnic, ethno-religious and religious identities that are perceived as the breeding ground for religious assertions. This is one scenario today.
The other opposite scenario may be termed as GOD in the minds of the terrorist, in the sense that religious acts, labeled as terrorist acts by the opponents, are of the nature of religiously and morally justified reprisal against the STATE TERRORISM, now outsourced and globalized by the US led west that, singling out Islam is an example.
There being no meeting ground between these two extreme positions, it is, therefore, essential to comprehend the dialectics of contemporary social realities expressing itself out in these two opposite scenarios.
Four main characteristics constitute the dialectics of contemporary social reality in the world today; these characteristics have direct or indirect bearing on terrorism attributed or related to religion.
First, the class contradictions that predominated the larger part of the twentieth century have given place to ethnic, ethno-religious, and religious contradictions; whereas earlier the ethnic, ethno-religious contradictions were meditated in and through ethnic, ethno-religious, and religious contradictions.
Secondly, the last decades of the past century witnessed the failure of the modern western civilization’s secular ideologies-liberal democracy, nationalism, socialism, communism-that once held out to humankind the hope, in one or the other form , for redemption of society and state; hence the resultant ‘incredulity toward metanarratives of progress and development. The vacuum so caused by the betrayal of the secular ideologies came to be filled by religious effervescence and resurgence in different parts of the world, providing alternative religious ideologies for radical transformation of man, society and state, for ushering in the new world order, for bringing about a new multifocal global civilization in place of unifocal Modern western civilization, now on the way out.
Religious Vs Secular
This brings me to the third important characteristic of contemporary social reality: “the clash of civilizations”. This clash is more of a clash between religious and secular ideologies. The eastern civilizations are intertwined with religious beliefs, rituals and symbols. Religion in eastern civilizations is instantiated in both personal and community life of people. The modern western civilization had, as its foundational category, the ‘deified’ reason that was supposed to reign supreme in nature, history and society, with the promise of bringing about a rational society and system, free from inequities and inequalities. The defied reason has betrayed its promise and so the modern civilization’s claims of progress and development, which in reality should have brought empowerment of the peoples, particularly the marginalized ones, also stand betrayed.
The clash of civilizations, the clash between religious and secular ideologies, the clash between religious terrorism and counter-terrorism are all enmeshed with each other is becoming clearer every passing day. The US led offensive, enlisting the support of countries after countries, in the name of counterterrorism, is deeper in implication than what it appears on the surface. The US president George W Bush in his address to the Americans on the 5th anniversary of September 11 attacks on world trade center stated that the UNITED STATES was engaged in “ a struggle for civilization” and that this was “the decisive ideological struggle of the era”.
Coming back to the dialectics of contemporary social reality in today’s world, its fourth characteristic is pervasive effect of globalization, both as an economic dispensation and an ideology, cumulatively, eroding the group identities of ethnic, ethno-religious, and religious identities of the minorities and migrants in different parts of the world.
Globalization, as an ideology, has bigger potential than its economic form, for sudden violent eruptions, often in ethnic and religious forms. Globalization is fast fostering a consumerist culture, propped up by credit card borrowings, the illusionary prosperity of which is benumbing the voices of discontents, dissents and protests against the exploitative system and is de-sensitizing the marginalized, the deprived and the other have-nots to the earlier redemptive concepts of revolt and revolution leading to their collective mobilization which, now thanks to globalization, as an ideology, is suffering diffusion, dispersal and dissipation, but nevertheless, getting repressed in subconscious mind.!!!!
What is the way out of the vicious cycle, referred to in the beginning, created by ‘the terrorism Vs counterterrorism. The solution lies in a radically different mindset, with a seven pronged approach. First, the US led globalized assault on religious terrorism in the name of counter terrorism should be decentered: it would be easier to tackle and contain religious terrorism if it remains context specific, situation specific, region specific , etc. Secondly, the contra-distinction between religious resurgence and upsurge in religious terrorism should be recognized. Thirdly, the dichotomy between religion and secularism, embedded in the modern western civilization, should be transcended and sublated into religious pluralism that should be translated into the praxis of national polities of different countries. Fourthly, the group identities of different ethnic, ethno-religious and religious communities should be respected and all such communities should be treated as equals in national policies. Fifthly, with the gradual and inevitable withering away of nation states under the impact of globalization, the fetishized concept of nation state with rigid international boundaries should be dispensed with; the days of exclusivist national sovereignties. Sixthly, with the rise in the cases of genocide throughout the world, in the name of ethnicity, religion or whatever , time has come to give some special attention to quick justice pattern. Seventhly, accepting the reality of clash of the civilizations, today this should be sublated into synergy of world civilizations in evolving a global multifocal, multicultural civilizations based on both REASON AND FAITH!!!!!
MY HEARTFELT THANKS TO DR. JASBIR SINGH AHLUWALIA( FORMER VICE CHANCELLOR, PUNJABI UNIVERSITY)
THIS WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT YOUR EFFORTS SIR!