Armstrong, Karen: Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence

Armstrong, Karen, Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence (Vintage, 2014). (Read a review of this book)

Introduction

The view that religion is responsible for all war is repeated, in spite of the evidence, by: "... American commentators and psychiatrists, London taxi drivers and Oxford academics" but the idea of "religion" is difficult to define, complicated by a modern, Western view of it which is "idiosyncratic and eccentric", based on Protestant Christianity.

The brain is tripartheid: the core reptile brain; the limbic system; and the "new brain" or neocortex, respectively relating to survival, empathy and co-operation. War makes life meaningful - e.g. the Second World War's importance for those who went through it - but humanity is conscious also of its evil, leading to death rituals to assuage its threat to the survival of the species. The evidence of Firing to miss is significant: "... only 15-20% of infantrymen were able to fire at the enemy directly; the rest tried to avoid it and had developed complex methods of misfiring or reloading their weapons to escape detection". Initiation needs brutalisation. The pivotal point was grain storage c9000 in the Levant which made war possible and, later, inevitable. The violence of theft and subjection in settled societies contrasted with hunters who had to be egalitarian because they produced no storable surplus. That war was conducted by the top 2% was universal in agrarian societies because land and its peasants were the only source of growth. Ashoka's dilemma (c268-233) was how to square civilisation with war. Religion assuages or confirms violence but does not cause it. The struggle for peace in religion has been as important as the holy war.

1 Farmers and Herdsmen

"Sumer had devised the system of structural violence that would prevail in every single agrarian state until the modern period ...". The Sumerians believed that they were replicating the divine in their theocracy and there was evidence that the gods were not always happy with oppression but it was necessary to create the surplus which enabled progress; this was a political reality underpinned by myth: "By the end of the fifteenth century CE, agrarian civilisations would be established in the Middle East, South and East Asia, North Africa and Europe and in every single one ... aristocrats would exploit their peasants as the Sumerians did. Without this aristocratic violence, it would have been impossible to force peasants to produce an economic surplus, because population growth would have kept pace with advances in productivity." Aristocrats did not work but boredom, among other factors, led them to war so that violence became a hallmark of civilisation; what begins as theft becomes glorious with the enemy demonised. Nomads who peeled off from the cities, notably Aryans, began to recoup their losses by fighting but their leaders, too, were aristocrats and sought coherence through violence which "... lay at the heart of human existence." War was enshrined in myth which is "... always about now." Aryans glorified war but also saw that it was problematic, typified by Homer's treatment of Achilles in The Iliad and the underworld in The odyssey.

The pastoralists probably introduced warfare to Sumer in the third millennium BCE - from which Egypt was largely spared - starting defensively but leading to campaigns for land and booty more profitable than improvements in productivity; the wars between the cities were inconclusive but ruined peasants. In 2330 BCE Sargon conquered all of the cities of the Sumerian plain and as far as Lebanon forming the first, and model, empire in which: "... religion and politics co-inhered, the gods serving as the alter ego of the monarch and sanctifying the structural  violence which was essential to the survival of civilisation." the Babylonian dynasty founded in the 19th Century BCE. Hammurabi (c1792-1750) sought to codify justice against a background of his own violence and oppression but all empires had natural limits and: "... novelty was suspect, not out of timidity but because it was economically and politically hazardous ... continuity was politically essential." Religion was implicated in imperial violence and the status quo.

In the 17th Century BCE Indo-Europeans attacked civilisations, including Egypt which was militarised but by mid millennium all the great empires had been over-run. Assyria was founded on trade and so its wars were economic, underpinned by religious ritual although there was also a "... strong vein of scepticism". c1200 BCE Zoroaster developed a world divided between good and evil, resulting in the triumph of good at a great judgment after which the earth would be restored to its original perfection.

2 India: The Noble Path

The Aryans of India summoned Indra over Vritra, glorifying organised theft and violence which gave meaning, as well as booty, to their lives; but the rituals that underpinned war would later be used to promote peace. The Rig Veda (c1200 BCE) was divine order translated into  human speech does not strike the Westerner as religious at all. By the 11th Century the concept of the Brahman, nameless, indefinable and transcendent; the personalities of the gods began to shrink. The new divine idea justified caste over equality; violence was limited to an elite bound to conquer more arable land, sacralised by the White Horse Sacrifice, while slavery was developed; nothing was nobler than death in  battle. 9th Century Brahmin reform to extract violence from religion not only because of intrinsic contradiction but cruelty to animals, coinciding with a religious movement to seek deeper meaning in ritual. In any case, monarchic authority could not depend on reciprocal sacrifice where offered booty was then widely distributed; bureaucracies needed resources. By 6th  Century BCE the whole of India divided into 16 rival kingdoms, with 'republics' in the Himalayan foothills. Urbanisation, infection, claustrophobia, inter generational determinism increased pessimism as living standards rose in the trading cities but, as usual, it was the leisured aristocrats who fostered the new texts, the Upanishads, downgrading sacrifices and gods and concentrating on the introspective: "... strident assertion of the ego was a delusion that could only lead to pain and confusion." The ascetisicism of the Renouncers, beginning in the Eighth Century, always had a political dimension and by 500 they were dominant; the reform of yoga from war to peace, the prerequisite being to renounce violence, theft, lying, sex and intoxicants and must study; the extremism of Jains, attuned to the world's pain and the emergence of Buddhism, both responses to violence, in tune with the urban, renouncing the rural which meant  killing animals. The Mauryan empire built on extortion and violence but many of its emperors turned to Jainism or Buddhism, notably Ashoka to Buddhism after being shocked by war in a "Gilgamesh moment": espoused military restraint, benevolence and respect within imperial necessity. Ashoka's dilemma: violence keeps the peace, lies behind the Mahabharata including the Bhagavad-Gita (c300 BCE, written c100 CE); the Kashatrya who cannot achieve enlightenment because he was obliged by the dharma of his class to fight, written against the beginning of the decline of the Mauryan empire succeeded by half a millennium of chaos until the Gupta dynasty. "We are flawed creatures with violent hearts that long for peace".

3 China: Warriors and Gentlemen

"The Chinese believed that at the  beginning of time human beings were indistinguishable from animals" but were taken in hand by five great kings and thus came to believe that humanity was shaped by the rulers of states; to be un-stated was to  be less than human. In the mid Third Century BCE when transforming from multi-state to empire, Chinese considered the proposition of their ancient sages that civilisation could not survive without violence. Previously the Shang dynasty did not distinguish between religion and violence. The succeeding Zhou had been sent by heaven to punish the Shang and uphold justice, in theory at least. With Zhou decline a period of near anarchy; the reformed Li (ritual) designed to curb violence and transform it into a courtly game except for, still ritualised, conquering barbarians or quelling revolt. But the anarchy brought a decline of ritual and moderation and the growth of oppression driven by luxury. Confucius 551-479 died believing he was a failure but would dominate Chinese culture until the Revolution of 1911: equality based on shared humanity; the golden rule: "Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire". Not a personal ethic but a political ideal seeking a reform of public life. He saw that violence was inevitable as the government's prime task was to preserve order, supported by Mencius: "Despite their convictions about equality, the Confucians were aristocrats who could not transcend the assumptions of the ruling class' whereas Mozi (c480-390) spoke for the commoner and was more popular. In the brutal 5th Century wars are ritual and restraint were lost to science. In agrarian society: "Unless they were held in check, aristocrats who were bred to fight and had developed a prickly sense of honour would always compete aggressively for land,  wealth, property, prestige and power." "The dilemma of even the most benign state was that it was obliged to maintain at its heart an institution committed to treachery and violence." The mid 3rd Century Lao Tzu was writing about statecraft not the individual. The war won in 221 by Quinn was not ritualistic but realistic, based on setting standards requiring submission, arguably the first secular state: "... not because of religion's inherent violence but because religion was impracticably humane." The ruler had to do the impossible of the golden rule, upsetting Confucians and Daoists. Books were burned and opposing teachers executed; an inquisition imposed by a proto-secular state which led to rebellion and the Han dynasty which combined legalism with Daoism with the Yellow Emperor as patron, rendering war ritualistic and humane; in 136 Confucianism made official and the legalist-Confucian coalition with Confucians always junior partners.

4 The Hebrew Dilemma

"From the start the Bible condemns the violence at the heart of the agrarian state." c1750 BCE Abraham commanded to abandon agriculture for herding; c1250 the liberation from Egypt which is part of "... a national epic that helped Israel create a cultural identity distinct from her neighbours." In the 13th Century BCE there was a massive collapse of empires, including Egypt and the Hittites, out of which Israel emerged by the early 12th  Century, turning its back on aggressive agrarian states. The post exilic epic is also "... an essay in political philosophy: how could a small nation retain its freedom and integrity in a world dominated by ruthless imperial powers?" There was no aristocracy and a code of socio-economic justice. Unlike Brahman or Nirvana YHWH "... fights earthly empires to establish a people rather than a cosmos. Moreover, YHWH is the intransigent enemy of agrarian civilisation"" Babel, Abram’s departure from Ur: "... YHWH insisted that his people abandon the agrarian state but time and again they found they could not live without it." Patriarch stories are political not moral and gratuitous violence, property theft and rape are strongly condemned. the "ban" was not a Jewish custom but a borrowed literary trope; Judges shows chaos without coercion; the shock of 1 Samuel 11.8: the violence and extortion of David and, worse, of Solomon could not be sustained within the Israelite ethos; but permanent warfare was inevitable with the 8th Century rise of Assyria; Amos and Isaiah and the prophets respectively kept the old ideal alive in Israel and Judah. By the 7th Century Assyria in decline and soon Babylon on the rise, the cult of YHWH became more urgent. The 'discovered' great book of Moses; for the first time there was only to be one God who commanded them to eliminate  Gentiles; Josiah had never heard of the First Commandment but he was ruthless in its pursuit: "... a religious tradition often develops a violent strain in a symbiotic relationship with excessive state coercion." The massive re-write of the royal archive which became the Hebrew Bible. "Many of the writings so frequently quoted to prove the ineradicable aggression and intolerance of 'monotheism' were either composed or recast by these reformers. Yet the Deuteronomist reform was never implemented." The rise of Cyrus completed in 539; the conflict of Zoroastrianism and the necessities of empire, transforming it (Frasha) from spiritual harmony to worldly wealth, sacralising violence and extortion. The post exilic Priestly text, cf Chronicles, inclusive rather than aggressive Deuteronomist; the Golden Rule for those who had been in exile; Genesis 1 extracts  violence from cosmography; much violence excluded by P; cf 2 Chronicles 28.10-11; an aggressive version of YHWH's triumph emerged, transformed into an arch imperialist.

5 Jesus: Not of This World

Jesus was born under the reign of Julius Caesar (c30 BCE-14 CE) "... when all the world was at peace" but the Pax Romana was enforced pitilessly but it took two Centuries for Judaism to be subdued, owing much to Hasmonean triumph and the new apocalyptic spirituality, without which impossible to understand early Christianity. While Maccabees fought on earth, Michael fought in heaven; the centrality of Daniel 7; but the Hasmoneans corrupted, prompting communities like Essenes and Qumran, Pharisees who begged Roman intervention in 64 resulting in Sadducee rule. Most Jewish anti Roman protest, pace Josephus, was peaceful; atypical violence of 4 BCE as much against tax as religion and resulted from Archelaus' panic; the census of Coponius and the resistance of Judas; 26 CE Pilate defeated over Imperial Standards; passive resistance to Caligula; less astute, often apocalyptic, leadership led to violence. Jesus life framed by violence, high taxation, peasant poverty, loan necessity; hungry, distressed and sick, neurologically and psychologically; there was no distinction between his religious and political stance; he never advocated  violence; perhaps Jesus thought God would intervene on his side; the nonviolent kingdom of God under the Golden Rule. Jewish refusal to worship civically was accepted in a world where there was no distinction between religion and politics; an evil empire that had to be obeyed, cf Romans 13. The Christian ideal in Acts was communal, Luke 24.13-32; like Confucius and Buddha, Christians  against the warrior aristocracy; Paul and the Synoptics had never seen Jesus as God in contrast with John whose followers were interested in the right view of Jesus rather than the Parousia.

After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 Judaism, under the leadership of Yohanan ben Zakkai became a religion of the book, with the mishnah and the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds; after 130 and the last revolt, Rabbis were keen to eliminate aggression, teaching reliance on spiritual and not physical strength.

Systematic persecution of Christians only began with Decius and then Valerian as its organisational coherence became clearer: "... unfortunately ... Christianity would develop a peculiar yearning for intellectual conformity that would not only prove to be unsustainable but set it apart from other faith traditions' whereas Jews, Buddhists, Indians and Chinese opted for diversity. Its coherence threatened Diocletian but only volunteer martyrs were executed commencing a cult of imitating the death of Jesus; some aggression in the martyr's witness, political as well as religious, against the state; there was a sense of grievance but also Origen's idea that Christianity was the classical culmination; Constantine and the Milvian Bridge 312; the conflict  between Jesus and Christian Rome.

6 Byzantium: The Tragedy of Empire

Eusebius: one God, one Empire, one Emperor who was the ruler of all Christians; conniving with violence and subverting Jesus, warfare became sacral; the oxymoron of a Christian Emperor. Heresy was political as well as dogmatic; the botched Donatist crisis; Athanasius on incarnation and Kenosis; 325 Nicaea solved nothing.

270 Antony, Matthew 6.25, Acts 4.35, Matthew 19.21; the birth of the counter culture of monasticism.

Nicenes suffered but after Council of Constantinople in 381, Arians suffered; there was always some sect suffering; a culture of grievance on  both sides. The brief interlude of Julian politicised martyrdom and encouraged provocative activism. The link between the civic Paedia and the Church, the development of the Cappadocian Trinitarianism: "The Trinity was an attempt to translate ... Jewish insight into a Hellenistic idiom". God had one inaccessible essence (8Ousia) made known in three manifestations (Hypostases): The Father (source of being); the Logos (in the man Jesus); and The Spirit within us. Each person (persona, or mask) was only a partial glimpse, i.e. this was not a dogma of encapsulation or completeness. ((God is not The Trinity but a way of partial seeing - KC)). "The Trinity expressed the Paedia's values of restraint, deference and self-abnegation, with which the more aristocratic bishops countered the new Christian stridency" contrasting with "tyrant bishops". "It was clearly easier to imperialise the faith than to Christianise the empire." The Boskoi aggression promoted by Theodosius. Augustine, author of "just war" theory, sanctioned Christian violence against paganism;  violence was justified by a concern for the enemy's welfare; gave the state almost unlimited power. Theology’s entanglement with Byzantine politics; the Imperial Chalcedon coup; the Church and Empire formed the Kingdom of God which would be universal. Victories of Heraclius attributed to Mary; Maximus' doctrine of deification. The Pax Romana was the Pax Christina.

7 The Muslim Dilemma

Muhammad began to preach the Quran, the latest of  God's revelations to the descendants of Abraham,  in 612 but monotheism threatened Mecca's commerce and Muhammad and his followers fled to Medina in 622 in the Hijra which was a violent break from the tribe; to preserve itself the followers of Muhammad had to resort to violence in 624 as they could not support themselves; Muhammad performed the Hajj in 628 and forestalled violence at the shrine and in 630 his army occupied Mecca. The Quran not systematic about anything, including violence but the later revelations, calling for unrestrained  warfare, were seen as definitive; the juxtaposition of ruthlessness and  mercy.

After his death in 632 the Confederacy broke up but in 634 Abu Bakr restored the Pax Islamica and after 634 Umar waged an offensive campaign "... driven almost entirely by the precarious economy  of Arabia". Taking advantage of Persian-Byzantine exhaustion, Umar broke out of the peninsula, crushing a Roman army in Syria in 636 and the Persians in 637; they conquered Egypt in 641 and Iran in 652, re-creating the empire of Cyrus, not imposing Islam, signing a charter on the conquest of Jerusalem in 632, protecting Christian sites, clearing the Temple ruins, creating the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina and inviting Jews to come home. When the campaigns ceased in 750 the empire stretched from the Himalayas to the Pyrenees, fighting was for God and the reward was enjoying the comforts denied on earth; the civil war of 656-61, culminating in the assassination of Ali "... marked Islamic life forever" as it resulted in the establishment of the Shiah separate from the Sunnah; as with Judaism and Christianity it was impossible to speak of a pure, essential, Islam. The Quran made justice "a sacrament". The Umayyads created an agrarian economy with its aristocracy and inequality; Umayyad monarchy, with a monopoly of violence, was better than military rule but the murder of Husain at Karbala in 680 saw Muslims killing each other. Ummar II (r 717-20) encouraged conversion to Islam;

750 the Abbasids defeated the Umayyads but then turned to imperial structural violence. Charles Martel victorious in 632 was less critical than Abbasid indifference to the West, turning the empire from Arab to Persian; 8th Century birth of Jihaddi spirituality; 10th Century development of Shariah as a principled alternative to aristocratic rule was potentially revolutionary but confined to the personal; Jihad and state violence triumphed but had their critics. The separation of Shiah from politics in the 8th Century persisted to the 20th Century. The short lived 11th Century Seljuk Empire broken up by nomadic Turks.

8 Crusade and Jihad

The 8th Century Frankish imperial expansion more economic than religious; Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne crowned on Christmas Day 800 by Pope Leo III; the monarch was the only protector of the Church. Benedictine rule in parallel with the military; the devastated empire restored in 962; the rise of feudalism in France and then wider, supported by the Church; Benedictine and Episcopal reform tried to curb knightly violence.

Pope Gregory VII 1073-85) called for the liberation of Anatolia but this was part of the struggle between Papacy and Empire for primacy. His plea was ignored but in 1095 Pope Urban II was more successful in summoning the First Crusade, urging Franks to stop fighting each other and fight for God instead: they should relieve Byzantium and then conquer Jerusalem, usurping Philip I of France and Emperor Henry Iv. The five army expedition went out of control: leaving in Spring not after Harvest; fighting the Hungarians; slaughtering Jews in Speyer, Worms and Mainz (why kill distant Muslims when Christ's murderers were so near?). Jews associated with new mercantilism which aristocrats resented; knightly love of wealth and violence. Improbably conquered Jerusalem in 1099. In The Magus John Fowles describes war as: "... a psychosis caused by an inability to see  relationships". "The first Crusade was especially psychotic ... for three years they had no normal dealings with the world around them. ... They were fighting an enemy that was both culturally and ethically different, a factor ... which tends to nullify normal inhibitions"; they killed 30,000 in three days; the psychosis of celebrating near the tomb of Jesus; it denied the pacifist strain in Christianity and was the first imperial venture of the Christian West; the Church canonised violence by giving swords to monks in the military orders which were the first organised Western army since Rome. The weary Seljuk’s did not respond; Sufism was gaining ground; the conquest of Edessa in 1144 triggered the Second Crusade. Any Western intervention in the Middle East from then on was seen as religious because of the First Crusade. Saladin took Jerusalem in 1087 as the result of Westerners in-fighting. AS military Jihad became embedded, crusading became secular, the Third Crusade 1189-92 convened by secular powers; the Fourth Crusade was organised by Venice and resulted in the plundering of Byzantium in 1204; Pope Innocent III tried to restore Papal power by summoning the failed Fifth Crusade against Cairo; the Sixth Crusade won back Jerusalem through the diplomacy of Frederick II lost in 1244 to Turks fleeing Genghis Khan whose descendant converted to Islam; the Mongol army state developed into the Ottoman, Safavid and Moghul Empires.

During the Crusades Europe became a "persecuting society", prompted by a distorted mythology and social factors, primarily Jews but also Muslims; dislocating capitalism and growing violence, at odds with Jesus, spawned heresies; the rise of friars; Cathars and regional solidarity; the Popes came up against the dilemma of Ashoka: that civilisation cannot exist without structural violence. The Cathars  were the focus of conspiracy theory; the rise of Satan: "AS they made their stressful transition from political backwater  to major world power, Europeans were terrified of an unseen 'common enemy', representing what they could not accept in themselves and associated with absolute evil." The muddle of the chivalric code and Christianity; the rise of kingly divine right separate from Church; after the Crusades Holy War by the late Middle Ages was merging with patriotism and national war.

9 The Arrival of 'Religion"

1492 Spanish victory over Muslim Grenada but Europe still felt very threatened: 1453 obliteration of Byzantium; 1480 naval offensive on Zahara. The comparative strength of the Ottomans, Safavids and Molghuls, the culmination of the agrarian state, "... the last magnificent expression of the 'conservative spirit'." Such empires could never sustain steady growth and thus discouraged innovation; stability more important than freedom; the prime purpose of government was taxation; between 1450 and 1700 only eight years when Ottomans were at peace. Columbus 1492 launch of modernism; the Papal failure to carve the Americas; a giant acquisition raid cloaked in religion which sanctioned slavery; unimaginable wealth and mortality; gold and silver bought an empire from the Philippines to the Americas; some Church opposition; human rights did not apply to all humans. Spain epitomised "... the fanatical violence inherent in religion"; the Spanish Inquisition and forced Jewish conversion and jealousy at converts' success; less religious than political; hysterical paranoia; failure of forced conversion of Grenadan Muslims; a shocking breach of coexistence.

The accumulation of inventions and reinvestment of capital; by 1600 progress irreversible; in early 17th Century Netherlands: the joint stock company, commercial banks and a stock exchange. The combination of absolute monarchs and bourgeoisie against aristocracy.

Luther's 1517 attack on indulgences: " ... resonated with discontented townsfolk, who were sick of clerics extorting money from gullible people on dubious pretexts." The Reformation's assertion of independence, modernity and individualism; Luther first to advocate separation of church and state, seeing "religion" as a discrete activity; but Christians were few and sinners many and these should be restrained by the state; only the sword could control the kingdom of this world; the switch from "The Body of Christ" to individualism and "... a potentially dangerous endorsement of unqualified state power." Unstable early modern states: the Bible could be dangerous in the wrong hands; people soon saw discrepancies between Scripture and behaviour; the Anabaptists.

Heresy was political because it threatened order; belief transformed from practical loyalty to intellectual assent; doctrinal difference important in strong centralised states; the coincidence of belief and political loyalty. "Although the Reformation produced fruitful forms of Christianity, it was in many ways a tragedy." Persecution and civil war; the exercise of violence by a fragile state; martyrdom and persecution were rare and the deeds of the Spanish Inquisition greatly exaggerated with fewer executions at its zenith than France, England or the Netherlands and killed hardly any Protestants.

The simplistic idea that religious wars are so peculiarly brutal, notably the 30 Years War, that the modern liberal, secular state was born in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia. These wars were experienced as religious which infused cruelty with moral fervour; but often Protestants and Catholics fought on the same side or fought their own kind; France would even ally with the Ottomans against the Habsburgs; conflict between Catholic Kings and the Papacy but most between Catholic France and the Habsburgs; The Peace of Augsburg: cuius regio, eius religio. France: The guise and the Bourbon; changing historiography of religion and politics in the French Wars of Religion, anachronistic to separate them; "... The Eucharist was the supreme expression of social bonding, experienced not principally as a private communion with Christ but as a rite that bound the community together" so Marcourt's 1534 attack was political; the Edict of Nantes of 1598 religiously neutral to buy time.

Religion was not the sole  factor in the Thirty Years War (1618-48) which would kill 35% of the population of central Europe. A war of mercenaries partly about the political balance of power, limiting the Habsburgs; mercenaries the main cause of suffering; the last gasp of imperialism. Equally, the English Civil War had more to do with state centralisation than religion.

The early modern penchant for the binary: faith and reason; intellect and emotion; church and state. The separation of internal religion from external politics. Lord Herbert of Cherbury's (1583-1648) De Veritate who influenced Grotius, Descartes and Locke; religion was natural so needed no church; and, therefore,, those who disagreed were in some way unnatural. Royalist Hobbes (1588-1679) also advocated strong state control of religion; John Locke (1632-1704) on  religious freedom but absolute power for rulers, privileging liberal states over colonies.

10 The Triumph of the Secular

"When the Pilgrim Fathers arrived in Massachusetts Bay in 1620, they would have been horrified to hear that they were about to lay the foundations of the world's first secular republic." Sinners (natives) needed strong government. Initial respect for native land ownership turned to massacre; more Hebrew than Jesus; the birth of American exceptionalism. Led by Quakers, opinion turned against violence. The Great Awakening of Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) in 1734 engendered egalitarianism and revolution, the idea of the pursuit of happiness; rulers must understand human nature; spoke against greed and violence, exiled; Christianity brought the modern egalitarian ideal to the common people, leading the way to 1775 rebellion leading to the 1776 Constitution, a document of the deist enlightenment; the alliance of the rational and fundamentalist against England; exaltation "... laced with hatred for the enemies of God's kingdom", particularly Catholics. The founders were rational and believed all ideas should be investigated: "The critique of Jefferson and Madison was a healthy corrective to the idolatrous tendency to give man-made ideas divine status." Freedom of thought was a luxury of modernisation limited to the elite; separation of religion and politics a precondition for a federal constitution; an innovative separation. The Second Great Awakening of the 1790s was a call for a more Biblical America, a Protestant version of the Enlightenment. Evangelicals wanted to de-secularise America; enlightenment Protestantism.

In France literacy, social mobility, industrialisation, poverty and ideology combined to overcome entrenched Agrarian monarchy; the Estates overtaken by the starving mob: "... 'The myth of religious violence' was founded on the belief that the separation of church and state would liberate society from the inherent belligerence of 'religion'. But almost every secularising reform in Europe ... would begin with an aggressive assault on religious institutions, which would inspire ... in some cases, a violent reposte." The slaughter of the Vendee protest; Republican festomania; the revolutionary acquisition of the sacred; in 1793 for the first time in history an entire society was mobilised for war. Napoleon's invasion of Egypt (to cut off British access to India via Suez) marked the beginning of the West's domination of the Middle East. In spite of massive reverses the Revolution ultimately succeeded.

In the Industrial Revolution, led by Britain, "... the oppression of the agrarian state had been replaced by the structural violence of industrialisation."; in spite of some efforts, unbridgeable gap between rich and poor; mass production required Enlightenment values; the push towards colonialism, global form of systemic violence, driven  by the market. Ironic that the British who had banished "religion" from the public sphere at home, classed Indians religiously, the seeds of later trouble. 13th Century Bhakti: orthodoxy is idolatry; Sikhism, shared with Sikhism and Akbar the Moghul; but religious tolerance required political strength; but the emperors turned on Sikhism and forced it into militarism. Religions competed for British favour; religions copying Protestantism; in 1870s a growth in orthodoxy and religious conflict, cf Punjab. Dominated rather than dominating, Islamic "... history of grievance", internalised and involved in detail and retreat from the West; all three religions driven towards violence.

Weapons, killing at a distance. The uniform culture of the nation state; unified language, culture; literacy and the control of human resources. An artificial community of people supposed to care about people they knew nothing about; the persecution of minorities; the state secular but nationalism quasi religious; the state had been designed to contain violence but the nation was used to release it.

Battles not the Bible settled the US slavery issue, even though it might be the most religiously charged war in history.

The 19th Century coincidence of biblical criticism and science; growing unbelief both from scepticism and a desire for change; the Evangelical failure to tackle American racism. Bismarck and a united Germany; the first great arms race; Jews as the quintessential minority; Dreyfus.

The First World War began with festive euphoria; telling that so much comradeship felt in the trenches, as opposed  to at home; religion replaced by nationalism.

11 Religion Fights Back

Opposition to privatise religion widespread; fundamentalism an unsatisfactory term as it is not necessarily violent: retreat to authentic faith, followed by counter offensive in the fear that modernism wishes to destroy faith, not paranoid. Started with Judaism after the "holocaust'. Violence is an exception.

The growth of Evangelical literalism and anti liberalism, so the enemy was not injustice but Germanic Biblical criticism; mass denial of errancy born of anxiety. The First Vatican Council and Papal Infallibility. The salience of Revelation and preparation for the end of time; anti evolution which they saw as the force  behind German aggression; Jennings Bryan v Darrow; attack forces extremity; Jerry Falwell (and, since publication, the triumph of Trump).

Violence because Muslims had a much harsher introduction to modernity than Protestants; British and French created arbitrary nation state boundaries in the post Ottoman world where there was no nationalist tradition. Indian partition establishing secular states in the name of religion; Gandhi: "... those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not  know what religion means." India and Pakistan degenerated into secular nationalism incapable of accommodating minorities; the rise of Hindu nationalism and the history of grievance.

Modernism brought political independence and technical innovation but arrived in the Middle East as political subjugation and little potential for innovation; modernisation of Egypt made it a virtual British colony; British snuffing of Democracy in Egypt and rigged elections in Iran; dismantled empires and the restoration of pre colonial ruling class; the only counterweight Western trained soldiers, ruthlessly cutting down opposition and misunderstanding modernism; secularisation as terror; can take religion out of the state but not the nation; secularised Islam a contradiction; Ataturk symbolised the violence of secularism, his Swiss based law code  meaningless to citizens; abolition of the Sunni Caliphate; Muslims believed West wanted to destroy Islam; the Armenian genocide committed by Turkish secularists, completed by Ataturk: "For many in the Muslim world, therefore, Western secularism and nationalism would be forever associated with ethnic cleansing, virulent intolerance, and the violent destruction of precious Islamic institutions." The Western, anti Islamic, and peasant two cultures of Iran. Modernisation knocked the stuffing out of Islam; the birth of the Muslim Brotherhood to frame modernisation in an Islamic setting, developed a terrorist wing and seen as danger by government and after it tried to kill Nasser he suppressed the Brotherhood but his secularisation after Suez spawned violent religious opposition; the symbiosis of religious extremism and extreme secularisation; the re-writing of Islamic history to justify violence. The 1967 Six Day war generated a religious revival on both sides; victory a miracle similar to the crossing of the Red Sea; the conquest of the Old City numinous; the symbolism of the 'wailing wall'. Jerusalem transferred from YHWH to secular state; Orthodox sanctioning of state violence; Begin, Sadat, Camp David and hopes of secular pragmatism, shattered by 1979 Iranian revolution; Khomeini's principled opposition to violence and advocacy of justice, chimed with Pope John XXIII's attack on capitalism; the evolution of Latin American Liberation Theology; American anti Vietnam and Civil Rights protests religious. But by the late 1970s the mood had changed: Pope John Paul II, a  surge in the American moral majority; Jimmy Carter supported the Shah. The 1979 non violent Iran revolution followed by a 'reign of terror'; hostage retention pragmatic not fanatic; the contradiction of Western secular values and repressive behaviour.

12 Holy Terror

The nihilism of Jonestown, envisioning the concentration camp and the mushroom cloud; if the nation is an idol then its opponents must be liquidated. The teenage Iranian martyrs of the Iran-Iraq war; American survivalists.

Difficulty of defining terrorism but it is always political, concerning power; most terrorism is not senseless nor religiously inspired; the religious golden rule and the nation state;

1981 first Islamic terror attack to command attention murder of Sadat, regime change with "Islamic sentiment". Much modern Islamism an attempt to restore the Ummah, justifying idolatrous Jihad. Hezbollah and the Lebanese response to the Iranian revolution; most suicide  bombings in Lebanon by secularists.

Nationalism a greater spur to terrorism than religion; Jewish extremism, death wish and grievance; the non negotiable Jerusalem rising from Auschwitz.

"A collective memory of humiliation and imperial domination has also inspired a desire for a national character of strength in India." Like the Islamists, the lure of rebuilding a glorious pre Muslim civilisation.

Until 1980s Palestinians aloof from religion; Hamas arose to fight Israel and the secular PLO; became militant after Oslo 1993. No connection between Tiger Tamil originated suicide bombing and religion, a response to military occupation; Hamas is both religious and political, a modern fusion; ecstatic camaraderie; Sampson. We honour our soldiers but rarely remember the civilians they have killed. The double standard re the golden rule.

13 Global Jihad

Afghan Jihad against Soviet union, international response including the wealthy Osama Bin Laden in 1984; 1983 Reagan and the "Empire of Evil"; Abdullah Azzam: Jihad is the Sixth Pillar, compulsory now there is global transport; Azzam opposed to terrorism and the Arab/Afghans were regular soldiers fighting regular Russian soldiers.

Wahhab (1703-92) developed a "reductive" form of Islam; became increasingly violent; branded all not like themselves as Infidels; post oil embargo price rise in 1973, Saudi objective to subject the whole Ummah to Wahhabism, undermining traditional  pluralism; the West helped by backing Saudi against Iran, pan Arabism; excitement, heroism, sympathy for victims more important than enemy hatred, US included; the heady experience of Soviet withdrawal in 1989 and collapse in 1991, followed by Bin Laden's foundation of Al Qaeda.

After Tito's death in 1980 Serbian and Croatian nationalism pulled Yugoslavia apart, claiming to defend European values against Islam; Serbian nationalism, religion and racism slow to ignite; the Serbs burned down the Oriental Institute in Sarajevo, burning the evidence of peaceful co-existence; genocide; Arab/Afghans delayed Western intervention until 1995.

Suppressed, the Arab/Afghans became more extreme in Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia; Bin Laden split with Saudi and went to Afghanistan where the Taliban had just seized power. Extremists stealing US and Gulf armaments to Pakistan broke the state's monopoly on violence; Taliban bonded with Afghan, rabidly anti Shii refugees in Pakistan; the amicable co-existence of Shii  and Sunni broken by US cold war struggle in Afghanistan and Saudi-Iranian rivalry. Taliban Pashtun tribalism combined with deobrandi rigour, maverick form of Islam violently against all alternatives; Taliban takeover acceptable to Pakistan and US, better than anarchy; Bin Laden deported from Sudan to Afghanistan; by the mid 1990s political Islam running out of steam so in 1996 Bin Laden declared war on the United States and Israel, the Crusader-Zionist Alliance, which should be attacked worldwide; 09/11: most recruits were shocked at Muslim ill treatment but had to be trained in anti Americanism; conspiracy theories easy in Islamic countries with no free press; Sageman: their problem was not Islam but ignorance of Islam. Bin Laden's major objection to the US was its support for Saudi Arabia; for Bin Laden "Infidel" was a political statement about countries not a statement about religious practice; the Neocon response was secular; terrorists distinguished from combatants.

Invasion of Iraq because of WMD and Saddam support for Al Qaeda both incorrect; a Messianic streak in the Bush administration; dehumanising prisoners; Sageman believes religious education would decrease terrorism; most terrorist freelancers ignorant of Quran but want to escape dull lives for glory. Our double standard for terrorist violence and  our nationalist violence.

Afterword

It is simply not true that 'religion' is always aggressive. Sometimes it has actually put a brake on violence." Religious techniques for controlling aggression; the cult of community; self examination. The nationalist cult of violence; Secularisation's attacks on religion. "War is caused by our inability to see relationships' (Fowles). "If we want a viable world, we have to take responsibility for the world's pain and learn to listen to narratives that challenge our sense of ourselves. All this requires the 'surrender', selflessness and compassion that have been just as important in the history of religion as the crusades and jihads"" "Somehow we have to find ways of doing what religion - at its best - has done for centuries, build a sense of global community, cultivate a sense of reverence and 'equanimity' for all, and take responsibility for the suffering we see in the world."

Postscript

IS is not Islamic, its culture secular; caused by Malaki's divisive economic  policy; alliance of IS with former Saddam Baathist generals.

Charlie Hebdo secular terrorists; scapegoating of religion, ignoring the Jewish supermarket attack and its Palestine agenda.