vendredi 29 juillet 2011

Toward a New Crusade?

The mad or half-mad Norwegian mass murderer has turned our attention to a danger looming behind the European facade of political correctness and tolerant multi-culturalism. Not all cultures or cultural features are mutually reconcilable. To find a peaceful modus vivendi, a multi-cultural society cannot accommodate groups with militant religious views. The problem is not only the conflict between Christians and Muslims, but between the post-Christian, Englightenment-inspired Western secular society and some groups who do not accept the values of such a society: gender equality, rights of the individual as opposed to "family values", separation of religion and education, religion and jurisprudence, etc. Such values are in opposition with the values proclaimed and violently thrusted on people by Salafists and similar groups in the Islamic world. But they are also not accepted by many other traditionalist-fundamentalist religious groups, be it Christian, Judaist or Hinduist. Western liberal, secularist values that are the real fundament of any peaceful multi-culturalism, are under attack by newly invigorated conservative religious movements. If the religious conservatives succeed, we will see conflicts between various groups, between Christians and Muslims, Muslims and Jews, Muslims and Hinduists becoming more frequent and more violent. They all are fighting against one another, but sometimes even more violently opposed to what they consider to be the decadent, immoral Western culture. Essentially they cannot accept the view that humanist values are the most fundamental ones, and thus superior to religious values. We have two kinds of conflict, the conflict between religous groups and the conflict between humanism and fundamentalist religion. As the reconciliation between various fundamentalists has proven to be
nearly impossible, the weakening of Western secularism can lead us toward new crusades. The mass murder committed by the man calling for such a crusade is a clear warning sign of such a possibility.

In my opinion, the European Englightenment was greatly influenced by the Chinese Confucianism. Reading the Jesuit reports on life and culture in China, some European intellectuals realized that a great society can exist without any religious fundament, on a purely humanist basis, relegating religion completely to private sphere. They discovered that non-religious ethics is fully possible and can serve as a basis of a state that has withstood many historical vicissitudes and troubles. In many ways,
the Chinese society has also been able to survive the perpetual civil and non-civil wars and the cultural revolution of the twentieth century, and the Confucian heritage is still a force to be reckoned with in China. Perhaps we in the West should turn once our eyes upon the Confucian tradition, perhaps there is still something to be learned from it. Perhaps the Chinese and Western intellectuals should make a bigger effort to join their forces to combat the erosion of non-religous humanism in the present-day world.

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