Monday, December 04, 2006

'The rise of religious fundamentalism in the Third World is above all explained by the failure of secular projects for modernization.' Discuss.

I just love these questions, especially since I consider them to be trick ones. It's automatically inviting you into a discussion in which some very important factors are already taken for granted, and by engaging with it, you already accept these as a given. For example, there are a number of issues which come to mind when discussing this topic, particularly with regards to the terms being used such as 'religious fundamentalism' and 'modernization'. Firstly, and quite importantly, the failure of modernization projects are discussed in the light of something which, in ideal circumstances, was supposed to succeed, yet didn't. Was this due to a failure in applying standard 'rules', rules that, provided they even exist, would have led a Third World country to become a 'modernized state'? What are the criteria of a 'modernized' state and how have they come to be decided? By whom and for what purpose? Secondly, what is meant by 'religious fundamentalism' and why is it perceived to be on the 'rise' in the Third World, has it ever really gone away? These are all perfectly valid questions which arise and which, while avoiding getting caught up in semantics, can only help contribute to such a discussion.

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