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December 30, 2003

Metaphor for the new Age of Religious Wars

Occassionally on this blog a dispute erupts over the negatives of "fundamentalist Hinduism" (Hindutva). I think that comparing this movement to "fundamentalist Islam" (roughly speaking, the Salafi/Wahhabi International funded from Saudi Arabia) can give us a little perspective. In the 1970s Jeanne Kirkpatrick differentiated between a Totalitarian (Communist) and Authoritarian (Right-leaning despotic) regimes, and argued that strategic alliances with the latter were necessary to battle the former.

Though the details differ, I think operationally in framing how the West should react to both movements (fundamentalist Islam and Hinduism) we can map Kirkpatrick's typology with internationalist fundamentalist Islam being characterized as totalitarian (and revolutionary) and Hindutva as authoritarian in inclination (and less intrusive in application).

As we have noted on this blog, while Islam is potentially globally oppositional to the West, Hinduism is locally reactionary. Clearly short-term tactical considerations mean that an alliance with an unpalatable Hindutva regime in India might be necessary to head off fundamentalist Islam.

As some have said about Communism, fundamentalist Islam wants to punish humans for their universal humanity. Hindutva on the other hand is an expression of atavistic prejudices and reactionary inclinations, which are particular to Indian culture, and by nature not exportable. I believe that the latter can be changed by evolutionary means, and India today is a democratic regime, with strong countervailing influences to Hindutva.

I could elaborate, but I think that the face-value evaluation of the above assertions have a lot of validity.

Posted by razib at 02:40 PM