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RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

18 Apr, 2024

       It is well known that violence is intertwined with nature, especially fear at least as far as the animal kingdom is concerned first and foremost for survival. Other reasons go back to the erotic element, of conquest and also of supremacy and dominance. Of course, when we refer to rational beings, man, then violence is a much more complex function with various parameters as a cause such as: individual, collective, national, ideological, religious, economic, social survival, etc. And violence can be externalized directly or indirectly, with material, ideological, psychological, technological, etc. means.

      In primitive societies, violence was a simple matter of survival on an individual or group level until some sorcerers-leaders etc. either because of personal bigotry or for reasons of imposing themselves on the group, exploiting the element of ignorance and fear, they introduced the religious element, the unknown superhuman power, the divinity, either by idols or by physical phenomena. And this element, institutionalized, has been dominant for thousands of years and still is. It is also known how important a role the religious factor played in ancient times in the context of polytheistic and monotheistic doctrines and the tragic cases of human sacrifices to propitiate deities. And this element has always been a catalyst for peace or wars.     

       Shocking milestones of religious violence remain those that refer to the life and state of the twelve gods of Olympus as well as the Old Testament. In ancient Rome and the Middle Ages the same element again played a key role with the persecutions and sacrifices of Christians, the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. And the key connecting link in most doctrines is the element of people's "sin" and the subsequent vicious cycle of their eternal criminalization in the context of inducing fear, remorse, punishment, repentance, propitiation, etc., syndromes in which circles of expedients invested and they invest their passions and/or interests to the fullest.       

       It is an impressive coincidence that in the prophecies of countries such as China, Iran, India, etc. the element of violence is manifested through deities of supernatural abilities to deal with 'dragons', 'hurricanes', etc. whereas, in contrast, the prophets of the Christian religion denied any violence. Also, with the creation of states and nation-states and the broader and advanced institutionalization of doctrines, the religious element played a key role both in domestic and international relations. However, after the disintegration of the Roman Empire there was also the decline, to a certain extent, of religious fanaticism and the subsequent peaceful coexistence of Christian denominations. The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 was a catalytic milestone.

       In the First World War the religious factor did not play an essential role. The main causes were political, strategic and economic in the context of the balance of power and the status quo. The same, proportionally, applies to the Second World War. In the Cold War the religious element was methodically exploited in the sense of achieving an alliance of Christian states against the communist bloc. And this element played a serious role in this period where all the forces, supposedly of "light", were mobilized against the forces of "darkness", and religious doctrines played an important role especially for the control of the popular masses with any consequences. Surely the religious feeling is promoted and exploited to the maximum by the respective rulers for political, social and economic etc. reasons that are directly related to the acquisition and maintenance of power. And many religious leaders have cooperated and continue to cooperate with any political regimes, totalitarian, etc. precisely for the acquisition and distribution of power within the institutionalized system of social exclusion. 

      Today, especially in some areas of the Planet {MA, Balkans, Tibet, etc.} the religious element is being rekindled to be used by some powerful centers as a lever to provoke conflicts for understandable reasons. It is no coincidence that the infamous Huntington proclaimed the inevitability (?) of a clash of civilizations. However, if one studies various cases, he will find that the religious factor has also been used with the cooperation of third parties as a lever for causing division and conflict because before the various ethnicities and religious communities coexisted peacefully. Unfortunately, the rigid competitive system also invests in the religious factor by introducing religious doctrines into the global stock market of speculation and authoritarianism. And religious beliefs are diffused with any components of implicit or indirect violence such as doctrinal fanaticism, fear, superstitions, formalism, aphorisms, etc. methods of incrimination, punishment and exclusion.

       It is particularly sad that even religious doctrines, which teach the free and peaceful coexistence of societies, instead of uniting and consenting, often become instruments of divisive purposes of powerful circles, thus contributing to and perpetuating conflicts. Also, entire armies of religious and para-religious organizations, with policies, etc. connections and expedients in the contexts of proselytism and redemption, divide and undermine social cohesion and peace on a global level. It is not by chance that new religious denominations and even fanatical groups appear like the one in central Russia where they were waiting for the end of the world, or those in the USA that ended up in group suicide. Timeless is the famous American Professor William Sumner's quote: "If you want war, nourish a doctrine" (If you want war, nourish a doctrine)!

Another key characteristic of the pathology of religious beliefs is the partial or universal discrediting of the biological (material) existence of people and the emphasis exclusively on the spiritual such to the point of causing psychological and social division. With the terrorist attack in the USA in September 2001, the element of fundamentalism in which it coexists with the religious one is also brought out, which is perpetuated in various places where there are civil conflicts and contributes to the composition and disintegration of the multifaceted and multifaceted puzzle of international relations. And fundamentalism is already entrenched in the behavior of individuals and groups, and is methodically used in religiosity by organized politics, etc. circuits that invest in the above elements for their own reasons.     

          What, however, constitutes the top act of subversion and religious violence, indirectly or directly, is the provoking by authoritarian circles of artificial "floods" of social exclusion, where fear and panic are widely spread and "arks" of salvation are created for the "chosen ones" ». Unfortunately, although the international community has made progress in the scientific, technological, etc. areas, in the area of ​​the peaceful coexistence of different ethnic and religious minorities, progress is cancerous because in the ethnic and religious disputes and conflicts some powerful circles capitalize, as already pointed out, their interests and privileges at the expense of peaceful coexistence because simply peace does not sell while the products and by-products of conflict {competition, equipment, security systems, etc.} are bullshit! And we have reached the tragedy and horror of Jihadists!

      The UNESCO declaration in its preamble states characteristically: "Since wars are born in the thought of men, there we must build the defenses of peace". And here lies the value and importance of genuine democratic education that promotes the harmonious co-existence of peoples in accordance with the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by mitigating and bridging religious differences and disputes in order to establish genuine peace, democracy and the rule of law.                                             

 

 

  {Published in "FREEPRESS" on 12/12/2009}

photo simonhorsch / https://pixabay.com 

The articles we publish do not necessarily reflect our views and are not binding on their authors. Their publication has to do not with whether we agree with the positions they adopt, but with whether we consider them interesting for our readers.

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