Home/Daniel Larison/Fanaticism


Whatever your feelings about the war, it must, surely, provide a moral justification for those Islamists intent upon unleashing murder upon our soil and, at the same time, inculcate a deep sense of confusion within our Muslim community. Seen objectively, the aggression instigated by our political leaders against Iraq is no less motivated by a utopian, millennialist vision of how-the-world-must-be than the violence perpetrated by those who wish us all to be better off under the benevolence of a world caliphate. Evangelical liberal fundamentalism has led to rather more deaths in the world just recently than its fundamentalist Islamist counterpart [bold mine-DL]: you might conclude that they are two sides of the same coin. This may seem to be an argument for cultural relativism of the worst kind; after all, we cleave to the values of liberal democracy because we know them to be right and thus worth fighting for — and, of course, imposing, at the point of a gun and a bomb, upon other people who may not yet have seen the light. Well, perhaps. But in which case it is difficult on objective grounds to adopt outraged expressions when those other people attempt to impose their equally implacable vision of how-the-world-must-be on us, at the point of a gun. ~Rod Liddle

Update: For the benefit of those unable to understand complex ideas, a brief comment on this quote.  The point here is obviously that Liddle does not endorse the “cultural relativism of the worst kind” (nor, for that matter, do I).  Instead, he holds up the similarities between our aggressive, ideologically-charged war in Iraq and the jihadis‘ ideologically charged war to drive home the point that our principles as Western, free peoples require us to do better and not engage in this sort of “armed doctrine” fanaticism.  This is especially the case because such fanaticism is a contradiction and repudiation of our principles as liberal democratic peoples.  Obviously.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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