Fundamentalisms and Society: Reclaiming the Sciences, the Family, and Education. Vol. II; Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance. Vol. III; The New Cold War? Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State

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Fundamentalisms and Society: Reclaiming the Sciences, the Family, and Education. Vol. II

Edited by Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby
University of Chicago Press, 1993
592 pp. $45.00
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Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance. Vol. III

Edited by Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby
University of Chicago Press, 1993
665 pp. $45.00
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The New Cold War? Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State

By Mark Juergensmeyer
University of California Press, 1993
292 pp. $25.00
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Along with revived nationalism, religious fundamentalism is now seen as one of the new sources of global disorder that will define the fault lines for future international conflict. Following on Fundamentalisms Observed, which traced the upsurge of fundamentalism to the social dislocations created by rapid modernization, these two volumes draw on the expertise of a wide range of eminent scholars and comprehensively treat the phenomenon of modern fundamentalism. Fundamentalisms and Society looks at the impact of various fundamentalist religious movements on science and technology, the family (particularly the position of women), education and the media across a broad range of cultures: Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist. Fundamentalisms and the State looks at the political and economic manifestations of religion, and pays special attention to the affinity of certain fundamentalisms for militance and violence.

These books are likely to be consulted more for the richness of detail with which they treat topics, such as Hindu revivalism or Islamic doctrines on economics, than for their larger synthetic conclusions concerning fundamentalism as a global phenomenon. None of the contributors are themselves fundamentalists, and all make clear their own liberal and modernist starting points; however, they do not come to uniform or necessarily hostile judgments. As the historian William McNeil points out in his elegant essay summarizing the findings of Fundamentalisms and Society, Christianity (often in a fundamentalist form) played an important role in promoting the institutions we associate with liberal democratic-capitalist modernity, just as Confucianism and Buddhism are sometimes credited as the basis for contemporary Asian economic success. While the editors of the volumes try to draw out commonalities among these disparate movements, they do not treat them as a unified phenomenon and the analysis is appropriate to the complexity of the subject. Indeed, this very heterogeneity raises the question of whether it is even useful to consider the "fundamentalisms" under discussion as a single phenomenon with a consistent impact on world politics. Moreover, while religious commitment will never disappear, there is a question-not fully addressed in these volumes-as to how lasting the movement toward highly politicized fundamentalism will be, as its proponents try to reconcile theocracy with economic modernity.

The same is not as true of Mark Juergensmeyer's The New Cold War?, which covers much the same ground, though less ambitiously and comprehensively. He argues that many in the West have incorrectly assumed that secularization would necessarily follow modernization, and have therefore seriously underestimated the importance of religion in the post-Cold War world. However, his efforts to synthesize Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist fundamentalism into a single pattern of opposition to "secular nationalism" (which he confusingly identifies as the dominant political doctrine of the industrialized West) are not entirely convincing. Conservative Catholicism in Eastern Europe and Pentecostalism in Latin America, while opposed to secular society, have frequently been supportive of the modern secular democratic state, while Buddhism (outside of Sri Lanka) can be a force encouraging tolerance. In the end, the answer to the question in the book's title is not all that clear.

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