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Similarities and differences between 21st century religious fundamentalism and 20th century European Fascism

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Introduction

Religious fundamentalism is the belief that social and political life should be organized on the basis of what are seen as essential religious principles that are supported by a belief in the literal truth of scared texts.1 Fascism, on the other hand is a totalitarian ideology that centers itself upon the leader and possesses the 'anti-factor' whereby it rejects a whole lot of other ideologies such as liberalism and communism. At first glance, there seems to be not much connection between 21st century religious fundamentalism and 20th century European Fascism; however a more detailed comparison between the two ideologies will reveal similarities that caused the former to be viewed by some as the "new fascism" and differences that made this view irrelevant. In the first half of this paper, I am going to compare and contrast the various similarities and differences between 21st century religious fundamentalism and 20th century European Fascism and then show that to deem religious fundamentalism as a new form of fascism is really unjustified. In the remaining half of the paper, I will make an argument for my belief that 21st century religious fundamentalism should indeed be considered as an ideology and also the basis of its mass appeal. Due to the complexities and varieties of 21st century religious fundamentalism and 20th century fascism, the similarities and differences listed below can be seen as generalizations and thus proven wrong by certain sects of religious fundamentalism or certain style of fascism. ...read more.

Middle

Many religious fundamentalists believe that political power should be subordinated to religious power whereby the Bishop, the Rabbi, or the Ayatollah should be able to make the final decision on social issues.10 The best case scenario for religious fundamentalists would be as in the case of Iran where they actually govern however, compromises are made between religious fundamentalists and secular authorities.11 This belief that political power should be subordinate to religious power is of course the direct opposite of fascism whereby churches (religion) should be subordinate to the state. 21st century religious fundamentalism also possess other aspects in their ideology that is absent in 20th century European Fascism. Some of these attributes are otherworldliness and messianic spirit (where fundamentalists are concerned with the sacred and devote energy only in activities consonant with the words of God), against science (rejecting critical interpretations of the Bible and Darwin's evolutionary theory), belief in the supernatural, moralism and the subordination of women.12 After showing the differences between 21st century religious fundamentalism and 20th century European Fascism, I will like to conclude that to brand the former as "new fascism" is not only unfair but incorrect. Next, this paper shall argue for 21st century religious fundamentalism to be accorded its rightful status as an ideology. Before I start defending my belief that religious fundamentalism is an ideology, I will like to provide the definitions of political theory and political philosophy. This is because of the commonly interchangeable usage of ideology, theory and philosophy and thus a clear distinction between the three terms will be helpful to my argument. ...read more.

Conclusion

The basis of 21st century religious fundamentalism's mass appeal must be its political vision of the world and the kind of a new society that it can bring to the world. Faced with social problems such as rising crime rates, teenage pregnancy and abortion rates in the Western countries, evangelical activists draw strength from its ideology and attempt to fight all these social problems through the formation of pressure groups pressuring and cajoling the government to make improvements in all realms of lives, from abolishing abortion to anti-pornography laws to religious education in school. These actions by evangelical activists from their perspective can be seen not only as morally rewarding but also efforts made that adhere to their religious beliefs. Political Islam's appeal in the Middle East can also be attributed to the erosion of traditional values brought about by modernization.22 Furthermore, complicated by the colonial experience, the failure of secular nationalism, the Israel creation and unhealthy US interferences in the region, political Islam remains a very attractive alternative to western ideas.( the reason been that Islam cover all aspects of lives and offer solutions to just about everything) In conclusion, this paper has shown the similarities and the differences between 21st century religious fundamentalism and 20th century European Fascism and also argued that to call religious fundamentalism "new fascism" is not only incorrect but unjustified. This paper has also argued for 21st century religious fundamentalism to be considered as an ideology through the demonstration of it fulfilling the various criteria of an ideology. Lastly, this paper has provided the writer's perception for the basis of 21st century religious fundamentalism mass appeal. ...read more.

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