The Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation of International Relations: The Struggle for the Soul of the Twenty-first Century

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The Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation of International Relations: The Struggle for the Soul of the Twenty-first Century

By Scott Thomas
Palgrave Macmillan, 2005
320 pp. $75.00
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The global resurgence of religion has been widely noted, and this book provides a thoughtful reflection on its implications for Western ideas about modernity and international relations. The conventional view is that the upsurge in fundamentalism, particularly in the Middle East, reflects a stalled transition to modernity, giving militants an ideological kinship with previous antiliberal and antimodernist movements. Thomas, in contrast, asserts that the revival of religion -- including among evangelicals and fundamentalist Christians in the developed world -- is part of a more wide-ranging global phenomenon that represents a crisis of modernity itself. The grand narrative of Western progress is under challenge, and a search for "authenticity" is underway inside and outside the West, with communities of the faithful seeking to refashion political life in line with moral and religious values. This provocative claim is never convincingly established, but Thomas' more general point is well taken: Western scholars and policymakers need to rethink how the potent mix of religion, nationalism, and globalization is wreaking havoc on old traditions of diplomacy, development, and Western hegemony and transforming international affairs in the process.