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After 01/07: Either We Understand Each Other Or We Destroy Each Other

Hungary Today 2015.01.12.

“Although we still not know what exactly happened on 9/11 (we have guesses at best), the reaction is known: the United States proclaimed its war against terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. ‘Result’: the coming into being of ISIS and now the European 9/11, 01/07. From here on, two paths remain for the inhabitants of the world: either we understand each other or we destroy each other”, political scientist Tamás Fricz writes in today’s entry on his blog on the news website MNO.hu.

At the time of the dawn of regime changes in Central and Eastern Europe, the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the consequent ending of the Cold War between the two world orders, the American politican scientist Francis Fukuyama expressed his optimistic views on what the future holds in the form of both a study (in 1989) and a book (The End of History and the Last Man, 1992). He claimed that liberal democracy had risen to dominace in the world, the great ideological and system-level cleavages have ceased to exist, in this sense bringing about the end of history. His work, which attracted serious attention around the world, was based on Fukuyama’s basic position that the division of the world is caused fundamentally by ideological, economic and political conflict, which have been resolved permanently with the fall of Communism.

Samuel P. Huntington’s 1993 study The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, which he expanded into a book in 1996, was published in response to and, in a sense, as a criticism of Fukuyama’s assumptions. Arguing against Fukuyama’s basic point of view, Huntington took the standpoint that following the end of the Cold War, conflicts between states and countries will arise not on the basis of ideologies and systems, political and economic divisions, but fundamentally along cultural, civilisational and religious lines; in this struggle, liberal democracy will be only one of several models of coexistence in the world. In conclusion: instead of history coming to an end, a completely new chapter of it will begin from the twenty-first century.

The debate was decided in Paris on 7 January, with Huntington being proven right. The deepest and most fundamental conflicts – ethnical, religious, cultural and civilisational animosities – came to light.

We, as part of the Euro-Atlantic World, thought that we have already overcome and progressed beyond these divisions. Doing so was a grave mistake, and our error of judgement will take its toll on the century that has begun.

Our delusion is rooted in Fukuyama’s fatal misunderstanding: many of us believed – especially the United States -, that democracy and capitalism can be spread around the entire world and this expansion will mark the fulfillment of humankind.

However, we failed to understand that our economic and political system and culture, all based on Christian roots, cannot be dispersed among peoples and cultures with different religious backgrounds, for the reason that the latter – and, at present, especially Islam – regards this as subjugation, aggression, intervention and desecrating their religion. And what is at least as important: we believed or wanted to believe that individual prosperity, economic growth, individualism, individual freedoms and the respect for life are the most important considerations for all peoples and religious equally.

We were mistaken gravely: other fundamental ideas exist in connection with life in religions other from ours, and respect for the founder of their religion, happiness, freedom and individual freedom all carry different meanings from our concepts. This is what we have payed the price for.

It comes without saying that Islamic fundamentalists’ terrorist attack in Paris is not only intolerable and unacceptable for us Christians, but also for moderate followers of Islam, as many from the community have given voice to. Muder is never the answer to any human conflict.

But still: if we want a liveable world without the globe being submerged in fear, if we want to avoid destroying each other, us Euro-Atlantic people of Christian roots have to make a fundamental U-turn.

The substance of this change is the following: let us set aside the feeling of superiority to try to become familiar with each other’s culture, religious, customs, beliefs, and life in general.

All our perils have their roots in not knowing each other. If we do not know each other – they do not know us either! – our attempts at mutual understanding will inevitably fail. And if we do not understand each other, we harbour fear, which makes us aggressive. This is the danger that persists now – on both sides.

Today, the mutual recognition of our religions, cultures and ways of life is blocked by an enormous barrier: PC, or politically correct speech, based on neoliberal and ultra-liberal ideas, deliberately forced upon public opinion by global financial powers, which are in control of the Western world and have an ambition of controlling all other civilisations and religions.

Instead of politically correct speech, we need speech correct in terms of life and reality:

On the basis of this,

1. An honest debate on the why and wherefore of press freedom must be begun. I am convinced that the great world religions, which form the basis of cultures and civilisations, should be protected for reasons of their sacrality; we must understand that the destruction of sacral taboos is pointless because it attacks cultures – cultures which defy such attacks. This is what happened on 7 January.

2. We must openly conceed that being “different” compared to the majority not always means being better; instead of being an evident desire, coexistence with ethnical and religious minorities is only possible under certain specified terms. Besides peaceful coexistence, the possiblity of peaceful existence separately cannot be a taboo if there is no other way of maintaining peace. Europe must stand up for its Christian identity because Islamic peoples are ever more strongly affirming commitment to their religion and only two civilisations strongly and proudly affirming their roots are able to coexist peacefully.

3. The thorough study of the great religions is more important and urgent than ever. We must know what the founders of the world religions preached and become familiar with their views, life and beliefs. We must not be frightened to address the similarities and large differences when comparing the relationship of Christianity, Judaism and Islam to each other. We must expose these bravely.

One thing will be to no avail: if neoliberals – who are not to be confused with classical liberals -, the fathers of PC who consider themselves the self-appointed champions of freedom of speech, again attempt to disfigurate freedom of speech by brutally oppressing views they do not like and silencing those who raise sensitive questions. Their responsibility is enormous.

War between cultures and religions leads to destruction; mutual familiarity and respect of cultures and religions, along with becoming equal partners of each other, leads to lives being saved.

Tamás Fricz, PhD (Budapest, 1959), political scientist, university lecturer and columnist

via mno.hu









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