Where before the unity of religious and political power lasted in Islam less than a century, from the establishment of the Muslim state in Mecca in 632 AD to the death for the fourth caliph Ali in 661 AD. Thereafter, while all rulers used religious symbolism to legitimate their rule and in some cases claimed to be sayyids, or descendants of the Prophet, there existed a clear distinction between the political ruler, the sultan or king or other title, and the religious authorities, the ulema. Thus, in the last of the three major Islamic empires, the Ottoman, there was a sultan and a seyh-ul-islam (the highest religious authority), while in Saudi Arabia the ruling family of Al Saud has held temporal power, with (subordinate) religious power being in the hands of the Al Shaikh, the descendants of the founder of their religious movement, al-Wahhab. As for the saying 'al-islam dinun wa dawlatun', this is not a classical Islamic formulation at all, neither a verse of the Qur'an nor a quote or hadith but a nineteenth-century political slogan popularised by the Salafi movement that emerged in opposition to Western influence in Egypt.

Sayyid Jamâl al-Din al-Afghani, was  probably of Iranian origin, and certainly influenced by the Persian intellectual climate-in which, unlike the Sunni countries, Sufism and medieval Arabic falsafa (Greek-inspired philosophy) continued to play a role-he was a charismatic, complex figure of intrigue who practiced taqfyya or precautionary dissimulation, sometimes speaking as a Westernizing promoter of science and reason, sometimes as a revivalist of Islam.

This ambiguity is particularly evident in the juxtaposition of his famously religious "Refutation of the Materialists" and his secular "Response to Renan". What we can say is that al-Afghani began the process of making Islam the core idea of a modern political and anti-imperial movement, an alternative to secularism, nationalism, and communism. His most prominent disciple, Muhammad `Abduh (1849-1905), crafted a more straightforward message in service of the same aim. 'Abduh's Theology of Unity is founded on the tawhid, the unity of God, from which he derives a remarkable set of conclusions, most prominently that Islam is utterly compatible with modern science and technology. 'Abduh insists that reason is the heart of Islam. He argued not only that the Qur'an permits minority religious freedom, but that Islam is never spread by the sword. Islamic expansion is achieved only by example.

While the modernists have had great intellectual impact, with the exception of their descendent Muhammad Igbal, who played an important role in Pakistan, their legacy was politically ineffectual. The twentieth century would see two other movements vying to lead Islamic revival: fundamen­talism and nationalism. Nationalism emerged in Egypt after the First World War, led by the Wafd party of Sa'd Zaghloul, which had unsuccessfully sought to overturn British rule. But each time nationalism failed to produce results, progressively more militant forms of Islam asserted themselves. As Giles Keppel points out, re-Islamization proceeded along two tracks, "from below" and "from above." The former refers to local groups that would "honeycomb" civil society, working in hospitals, schools, and various charitable organizations. Perhaps the most prominent was the Jama'at al Tabligh (Society for the Propagation of Islam), founded in India in 1927 by Muhammad Ilyas. Promoting a "scrupulous mimicry" of the Prophet's life in every detail, the Tabligh became a widespread international movement recruiting mostly from pools of disappointed rural immigrants to the cities. In contrast, re-Islamization "from above" refers to intellectual-political movements designed to reform or take over dominant social institutions. These typically drew from the modernizing, educated sectors of society, especially technocrats and scientists in training.The most famous of these was Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Hasan al-Bannâ (1906-49) in 1929.

Al-Banna followed many of modernism's themes. Islam is the source of reason and the pinnacle of civilization, but its recent decadence makes it easy prey for Western colonialism. The way back is through scripture, not the "blind traditionalism" of the ulama or community of scholars (See Political Extremist Organisations 2003).

But unlike the modernists al-Bannâ starkly defends military jihad. It is not merely struggle, but fighting, not merely defensive, but offensive too. Despite this view al-Banna's political method of choice remained da'wa, the calling to social activism, hence his establishment of mosques, schools, hospitals, and sporting clubs. Within the movement his discipline was authoritarian, but aimed at building Islamist community from the ground up.

Two midcentury thinkers then provided the ideological basis for completing the turn of revivalism from modernism to militancy. First was Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi (1903-79), who in 1941 founded Jamaat-i-Islami, which was to become Pakistan's most prominent fundamentalist group. Like the modernists Mawdudi remained a defender of reason and science (See Political Extremist Organisations 2003).

He explicitly criticized those whose opposition to the culture of the West led them to reject scientific or material progress. They are merely "safeguarding the antiques" (Mawdudi, Come Let Us Change the World. Trans. Kaukab Siddique. Singapore: Thinker's Library. 1980: 35). Likewise, he declared that "to cover the books of the writers of the early ages with new coatings of commentaries and footnotes" serves no purpose. Science is common to all mankind, so the Muslim may without heterodoxy learn from Western science. Indeed, Islam is the ultimate source of scientific rationality, not to mention justice, equality, freedom, and hence true civilization; its current status is due to imperialism from without and decay from within. Unlike all other religions, Islam is nonsectarian and devoid of national or geographical ties; the very meaning of islam is simple submission to God. Thus for Mawdudi even those who submitted to God before the revelation to Muhammad were Muslims!

Emmanuel Sivan reports the "Maudoodi dictum, often quoted by Arab fundamentalists," that "instead of claiming that Islam is truly reasonable, one should hold that the true reason is Islamic" (Sivan, Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics. New Haven:Yale University Press.1985: 67).

Indeed, sounding remarkably like John Stuart Mill, Mawdudi argues that as long as one's interpretation of the Qur'an is not self-serving, disagreement over its meaning "is a stimulus to improvement and the very soul of a healthy society. Differences of this kind are found in every society whose members are endowed with intelligence and reason.  At the same time, Mawdudi makes Islam a totalistic, universally valid, and utopian way of life. Islam is a complete system; the task of the Muslim is to try to make the whole of Islam supreme over the whole of life. While he continues the older tradition of understanding jihad as primarily defensive, he promotes Jihad as much a primary duty of the Muslims as are prayer and fasting. Every Muslim is obligated to engage in violent struggle against "those who perpetrate oppression as enemies of Islam." As Mawdudi repeats again and again, the tawhid implies that no person should bow to anyone but God. Sovereignty belongs to God alone. Recognition of that fact, and the rejection of any other authority, guarantees human equality and freedom. Clan elders, tribal leaders, nationalist presidents, priests, popes-all are usurpers of God's authority and violators of human justice. The "root of all evil" is "acceptance of supremacy and overlordship other then [sic] that of Allah" (Mawdudi, Come Let Us Change the World. Trans. Kaukab Siddique. Singapore: Thinker's Library, 1980: 93). Geopolitically, communism is evil, liberal capitalism is cruel and licentious, nationalism is contrary to God's will. The communist and Western powers threaten to blow up the world. Only Islam can save it. Likewise the economic problems of humanity can only be solved by "Islamic economics." The rejection of usury and conspicuous accumulation of wealth, along with the zakat or obligatory donation to the poor, will produce collective prosperity without the evils of Western inequality or communist oppression. Echoing the utopianism of Marx, the morally ideal society will simultaneously achieve the highest prosperity, the greatest quantity of leisure, and complete economic justice and equality. Under Islam, every branch of economic activity will expand and flourish. Islam roots out all these evils through the institution of Zakat and the agency of the public exchequer is always available to you as a helper. You need not take thought for the morrow. Whenever you are in need you can go to the public exchequer and obtain your rightful due. There is no necessity of keeping deposits in banks and of having insurance policies.You can leave this world without any anxiety for the future of your children, the exchequer of the community will be responsible for them afterwards.

The ideal world will result. Thus, "The objective of Islamic Jihad is to put an end to the dominance of the un-Islamic systems of government and replace them with Islamic rule. Islam intends to bring about this revolution not in one country or in a few countries but in the entire world"

Mawdudi, nomic problems of humanity can only be solved by "Islamic economics." The rejection of usury and conspicuous accumulation of wealth, along with the zakat or obligatory donation to the poor, will produce collective prosperity without the evils of Western inequality or communist oppression. Echoing the utopianism of Marx, the morally ideal society will simultaneously achieve the highest prosperity, the greatest quantity of leisure, and complete economic justice and equality. Under Islam, every branch of economic activity will expand and flourish. Islam roots out all these evils through the institution of Zakat and the agency of the public exchequer is always available to you as a helper.You need not take thought for the morrow. Whenever you are in need you can go to the public exchequer and obtain your rightful due. There is no necessity of keeping deposits in banks and of having insurance policies.You can leave this world without any anxiety for the future of your children, the exchequer of the community will be responsible for them afterwards.

The ideal world will result. Thus, "The objective of Islamic Jihad is to put an end to the dominance of the un-Islamic systems of government and replace them with Islamic rule. Islam intends to bring about this revolution not in one country or in a few countries but in the entire world" (Mawdudi, Come Let Us Change the World. Trans. Kaukab Siddique. Singapore: Thinker's Library,1980:142).

While Muslim fundamentalist groups multiplied in Arab countries during midcentury, they were briefly outshone by secular nationalism, which reached its high point in the 195os and 196os during the reign of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Following the Nasserite model, fundamentalism was commonly suppressed in the Islamic world by newly postcolonial states. Thus the jails became the new madrassas for a growing extremism. The fundamentalism of the 1970s was then an explicit reaction against the perceived corruption, and the very real repression, of Nasser's regime. But the humiliation of Arab governments by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, and their less devastating defeat in 1973, tarred nationalism beyond redemption.

Then came OPEC and the rise in oil prices which flooded the oil-rich states with cash, in particular, Saudi Arabia, the home both of Islam's most sacred sites and Wahhabism. One of those imprisoned Egyptian Islamists, Sayyid Qutb, laid the intellectual foundations for the most militant form of fundamentalism. Arrested three years after a personal conversion that led him to join the Muslim Brotherhood, he sat in prison for a decade, was released in 1964, then arrested again and hanged in 1966. Qutb followed much of Mawdudi's line (See Political Extremist Organisations 2003). Islam is the natural human religion, recognizing no differences of ritual, ethnicity, race, or tribe. In an almost Rousseauian turn, human governance is slavery of one man to another, but in submitting to God one submits to no man, hence remains free.

Chastened by his prison experience, Qutb took the radical step of explicitly branding all existing Islamic societies as part of jahiliyya. Literally unbelief or ignorance, the term originally referred to those unaware of the Prophet's message, who lived before Islam or outside its spread, thus carrying as well the sense of ‘barbarism.’ Qutb regarded contemporary jahiliyya as "rebellion" against God, insisting that Muslims must identify, judge, and overcome unbelievers. Jahiliyya is for Qutb the entire world; current Islamic states are no better than Western ones. Only the Qur'an and the hadith are legitimate sources of social and political guidance; traditional jurists, priests, and men of theory are not to be trusted. But Qutb approved of Jihad, thinking for oneself, since he believed it discredited traditional Islamic authorities and supported militancy. His attention turned from the community-building of al-Bannd to revolution; society must be remade now by direct attack on the state. This was an implicit critique of the Muslim Brotherhood; as the Sudanese Islamist Hassan al-Turabi later put it, "Look at the Brotherhood; they don't change society at all, they never detribalize society, they promote a traditional, sectarian Islam against a progressive Islam" (Anthony Shadid, Legacy of the Prophet: Despots, Democrats, and the New Politics of Islam,  2001: 62).

When Nasser's successor Anwar Sadat lifted the ban on fundamentalism, the children of Qutb emerged from jail with radicalized views. Some called for an internal withdrawal of believers into separatist Islamic communities, given the utter unacceptability of existing majority-Muslim societies. But Muhammed `Abd al-Salam Faraj, a member of the militant group al Jihad, rejected that approach. Like Qutb he insisted that "the Rulers of this age ... were raised at the tables of imperialism, be it Crusaderism, or Communism, or Zionism. They carry nothing from Islam but their names" (Johannes Jansen, The Neglected Duty: The Creed of Sadat's Assassins and the Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East. NewYork: Macmillan, 1986: 169). Faraj took the logically final step toward holy war in his Al-Faridah al-Ghâ'ibah (The Neglected Duty). For centuries corrupt rulers and traditional scholars have purposely suppressed the Islamic duty of offensive jihad espoused by the Prophet and the early caliphate: "Neglecting jihad is the cause of the lowness, humiliation, division and fragmentation in which Muslims live today" (Jansen, The Neglected Duty: The Creed of Sadat's Assassins and the Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East. NewYork: Macmillan, 1986: 205).True Islam is a violent transformation of the real by the ideal, the takeover of all Islamic states by force of arms, an Islam "spread by the sword" (Jansen, The Neglected Duty: The Creed of Sadat's Assassins and the Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East. NewYork: Macmillan, 1986: 193). Faraj makes jihad the essence of Islamic commitment.

This militancy achieved its greatest success when on October 6, 1981, one of Faraj's associates assassinated President Sadat, stating afterward, "I have killed Pharaoh."

Islamic militancy thus reached the historical plateau from which September 11, 2001, can be understood. But in the almost exactly twenty years that intervened, we must also recognize the unique role of Afghanistan. After the Soviet invasion of 1979 the Afghan war became, as Anthony Shadid insightfully puts it, the Spanish Civil War for Islamists, generating an "Islamic International" of mostly Arab fighters available to travel to virtually any Islamic conflict (Shadid, Legacy of the Prophet: Despots, Democrats, and the New Politics of Islam, 2001: 79ff.). These itinerant warriors have been, however, largely devoid of a detailed ideology or political program, their purely military, pan-Islamic militancy largely unconnected to the regional and local Islamist movements they join.

Certainly the fundamentalists invoke a militant understanding of jihad, justifying a violence that the modernists rejected. But the key difference, I think, hence the sine qua non of fundamentalism, goes beyond this specific doctrine. What makes militant Islam militant is not merely the doctrine of jihad, nor heightened intolerance, nor violence, nor traditionalism, nor fear of modernity, nor an angry response to imperialism. Its novelty is more profound than that.

Taliban means student, and was used in southern Afghanistan in the late twentieth century to refer to religious students at a madrassa who, after several years of instruction, could be qualified as village mullah or scriptural authority. During the war against the Soviet occupation Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi's Islamist group, Harakat-I Inquilab-I Islami, drew many of its soldiers from such taliban. In 1994 two teenage girls near the Khandahari village of Sang Hesar were kidnapped and raped by a group of mujahedin. Mohammad Omar, who had been a Harakat commander but retired to study in the madrassa, recruited thirty students and rescued the girls. As Omar later said, "We were fighting against Muslims who had gone wrong" (Michael Griffin, Reaping the Whirlwind: The Taliban Movement in Afghanistan. London, 2001: 35).

This was the beginning of the transformation of taliban, students, into the Taliban, revolutionary party. By late in the year Omar had fifteen hundred men. Upon taking power the Taliban had the reputation of restraint and decency, refusing the temptations of theft and rape. This reputation was not telephones outside the cities. There is no television reception. We have no access to `entertainment.' There are no theaters, films, galleries or circuses. The Taliban has even banned music, and here form an extreme example of a virtually anticultural religious practice. Most of Afghan culture was literally eliminated or suppressed-artifacts, music, narratives, styles of dress. It is not that they eliminated decadent Western culture or secular Afghan culture. They eliminated culture per se. This may seem an odd formulation, since religion is itself a part of culture. But indeed  one part of culture-for example, political ideology can tyrannize the rest.

So can Church, Temple, or Mosque. In the Taliban and the post-Qutb forms of Islamic militancy generally, we see the complete condemnation of existing society, the requirement for a wholesale reconstruction of culture in strict accordance with a single dogma by a revolutionary vanguard who alone can tell its literal meaning. The enemy here is historical culture itself, and for  Islamic fundamentalism in general, the Taliban exhibited a Marxist-Leninist analogy.

For the militants the crumbling of extant world systems-capitalism, communism, nationalism-is inevitable. The ideal social order is possible, if the right ideology is accepted, and all can accept it, because it is the final fulfillment of human civilization, transcending any of the older human divisions of nation, caste, or class. Once accomplished, all of life, economic, social, political, intellectual, and cultural, will be different. Only truly Islamic rule, either by making all humanity Muslims or forcing other monotheists to accept Muslim authority, will allow humanity to be truly human. And the key to this transformation is held by an educated elite who understand the inner truths. Mawdudi even called for a permanent jihad, echoing Trotsky's notibia of permanent revolution. But not only is leftist utopianism thereby invoked. The Taliban scoured the semiotic landscape of all other religious and cultural inheritances, an obsession not unlike the Nazi determination to root out that last shopkeeper hiding in an attic, to render the homeland judenrein. Of course Islamic fundamentalism has a very long way to go to complete that analogy.

Although one could argue that such reorganization was attempted in the past century by a mythic-primordialist nationalism in Italy, Germany, and Japan, and by a mythic-progressive communism in Russia, China, and elsewhere. Or that militant Islam is a sort of  religious version of  Jacobinism, the Islamic militants however have devised their own version.

So how then can we understand the differences between contemporary Islamic civilization, with its revivalism, and Western modernity?

First, the Islamic world never nationalized in any thorough way. In the West nationalism provided the supralocal, culturally unified context for modernization, breaking traditional hierarchy, localism, and clan politics. But in the Islamic world, while nationalism has been the slogan for various secular anti-imperialists, most famously Nasser, it never remade social loyalty among the masses. With rare exceptions, in terms of political identification, Islamic peoples have gone from local, tribal, ethnic identity directly to pan-Islamic identity with little in between. In the Islamic world it is religion, not nation, that has provided the modernist trump to community and locale. Second, this suggests that majority Islamic societies find themselves to be based in Islam in a way that Western societies are not based in Christianity. The relation of Western civilization to Christianity now appears to have been more mediated, enabling the West to culturalize Christianity, to sublimate its otherworldly, doctrinal, and liturgical aims into cultural ideas. In contrast, a call to Islam in Islamic societies is a call to identity and ideality, to the true self and the righteous social order. However much they may reject the intolerance and violence tied to it, even mainstream Muslims seem ill at ease with the prospect of rejecting such revivalism. Third, in the West-Islam conflict we may witness the unique historical confrontation of the two most aggressive forms of moral universalism the world has yet seen. Islam's belief in its own natural, rational, universal, transethnic validity, coupled with its expansionist past, mirrors the modern West's secular universalism, embodied in imperialism and its current geopolitical primacy. No other civilization of the past two millennia has coupled its belief that it repre sented the best of humanity-a common enough view-with the claim that all others can and ought accept its uniquely culture-transcending ways.

Fourth and most basically, Islam and even Islamism are not less rational than Western modernism or postmodernism, they are more rational. Islam's refusal to draw a hard line between religion and political authority is more, not less, intellectually and normatively consistent than the Western duality. If the ultimate truth is what is given by religion in the form of discursively available norms that citizens endorse, why should the polis operate on any other basis?

The modern West's largely instrumentalist rationality cannot answer that question. It refuses to rationalize all the way down, to make all contexts of life consistent. And does not require that we be agnostics or atheists, as the Marxist version of modern secularism did. Liberal secularism allows, even encourages, people to have religious worldviews, but requires that they abandon them at key points in public life with only a pragmatic explanation of why that should be (namely, to avoid social conflict). Strikingly, in her unique definition of liberalism, Ordinary Vices, the late political theorist Judith Sklar makes the point: in order to restrict power and respect rights-hence to make cruelty the worst vice-liberalism had to invoke a rigid private-public distinction that in effect permitted and even encouraged hypocrisy. Liberal toleration is not that of a philosophical system that justifies toleration as one of its theorems; it is the toleration of one who is willing to doff his or her philosophical system because of contextual judgments, later to don it again. What I have called the differentiation of spheres and modes of judgment, and the powerful advantages it gives us, are more dear than the attempt at a synthetic, integrative metanarrative.

Islamic consistency need not, however, be incompatible with other features of liberal republican politics. Democracy is not difficult to imagine in Islam. It exists in fact in today's Turkey, more or less in Pakistan, and in another sense in Irin.

Michael Walzer has shown that the American style of largely culturally neutral government permitting maximum individual liberty is only one "regime of toleration" among several (Walzer, On Toleration. New Haven:Yale University Press,1997). In particular, the "millet" system, embodied in the Ottoman Empire, traditionally allowed local religious or national autonomy under an imperial government. The bigger problem is domestic liberalism, the restriction of governmental and majoritarian power to respect individual liberties. Nevertheless, even here a number of Islamic writers have argued for a "liberal Islam" that employs Islamic sources to justify toleration.

This has come in three distinct but overlapping forms: the argument that the Qur'an and shari'a themselves demand toleration of other groups, most famously proposed by Ali Bulaç: the claim of 'Ali 'Abd al-Raziq and Muhammad Sa'id al`Ashmawi that the shari'a is a religious code not meant to be codified into a positive legal system; and a hermeneutic toleration of varieties of interpretation of Islam based in the notion of Jihad, that believers are to use their own reasoning to understand the word of God, as suggested by Muhammad Asad,Yusef al-Qaradawi, and Mohammed Arkoun (Charles Kurzman, "Introduction: Liberal Islam and Its Islamic Context." In Liberal Islam: A Sourcebook, ed. Kurzman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

Whatever option is exercised, we must imagine that the continued modernization of majority Islamic societies will presumably bar any return to a "customary" Islamic world informally tolerant of local deviations. For that is just what modernization cannot abide. If toleration is to be reliably practiced in Islamic countries, it must become an explicit policy. Nor can we imagine a literal return to the millet system of the Ottomans. Absent a sheer resort to empire, we are not going to see every land from Algiers to Jakarta ruled by a single sovereign entity. But multiple Islamist sovereignties embodying a variety of traditionalist, capacious interpretations of the shari'a might well be plausible.

In all this we must be careful not to impose our black-and-white Western, choice between a putatively modern "wall" of separation of church and state and a "theocratic" merger. For we must acknowledge that there are many ways of managing the relation of the sacred and the profane. One mode is secularization simpliciter, a sheer demise of religious fervor, commitment, and institutional significance. Another is the segregation of religious feeling to nonpublic, nonpolitical life, except in its vaguest, most ecumenical form. A third would be the presence or evolution of a form of religion that can endorse, or even redirect spiritual enthu siasm into, modernity. A fourth, resembling but distinct from the second and third, is the presence or evolution of a religious tradition valid across all spheres of life but for which modern activities are either spiritually irrelevant or, what amounts to the same thing, pose no special problem of religious vetting.

While the West achieved a privatization of religion, at the same time, as Max Weber argued, it evolved a form of Christianity that endorsed and even fueled key parts of the modernist project, namely, Protestantism. Its radical, militant form (Puritanism), after its political defeat, helped to inspire a modern economy, especially the-in Weber's term-"this worldly asceticism" of profit accumulation, while its private-public distinction made possible modern liberal democratic politics.

The fourth strategy seems to have been the case in East Asia, both in Japan and in the Confucian societies of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea, allowing them to evolve a more communitarian but still pragmatic capitalism in league with gradually increasing democratization, without any showdown with religious tradition at all. In the case of Islamic societies it would also seem the fourth is the most promising, perhaps helped by a dollop of the third, that is, some combination of a scientific-economic-bureaucratic modernization that has no anti-Islamic implications, with a yet-to-evolve strain of Islamic interpretation that finds scriptural justification for endorsing constitutional democratic politics. At any rate, the achievement of political stability and tolerant democracy in the Islamic world will likely hang on the internal development of moderate Islamism, that is, a revivalist Islam which accepts the non-neutrality of government toward Islam, but nevertheless finds within itself the resources for tolerating minority communities, allowing a scope for individual intellectual and political _expression, and which generates loyalty to, and legitimacy of, normalized, legalistic states, without either secular nationalism or autocrats whose pretense of Islamism serves only to bolster their power by deflecting criticism.

Thus while some think liberalization and democratization would eventually lead Islamic societies to a more Western-looking modernization path, just as some-perhaps the same "some"-assume that China's attempt to modernize economically but not politically must fail, leading, again, to a more Westerly route, most of the evidence points in the opposite direction. More Islamic democracy probably means more Islamism. And there is little reason to believe this is merely a short-term phenomenon. It may well be that today's Islamic revivalism represents yet another form of modernism, one that largely abandons the Western liberal independence of state from religion. It may be that a sizable chunk of the great swath of humanity living from Morocco to Indonesia may modernize not through secularizing or developing a strong public/private distinction or abandoning official metanarratives, but by being economically and technologically sophisticated Wahhabis. In twenty years the present spate of militant Islamic violence might end if tolerable solutions are reached in Kashmir and the West Bank, with stable moderate Islamist regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq (as well as Turkey), allowing the U.S. military presence on Arab land and Afghanistan to be reduced to a minimum. Many ifs to be sure, but a viable status quo that isolates the militants is not inconceivable. My point is that even such a pacific future would not mean Islamic imitation of the West, or the discontinuation of its own inner struggles with modernity, or a future devoid of ever more clashes around the borders of modernization. What we see in the Islamic world, not the terrorism of the extremists but widespread official and public endorsement of Islam with a strong pan-Islamic identification, may well be what a modernized Islamic civilization looks like. Pan-Islamic revival may be a late analogue of Western nationalism, the centralization and politicization of high culture as the idiom of social life. But unlike earlier Western nationalism, the high culture in question is far more cosmopolitan and may be capable of long-term economic, technological, and even democratic progress. If so, we may have to admit a new, if not long-term then at least middling-term option for modernization, just as scholars have recognized a non-individualistic, more communitarian or corporate modernization in the vibrant East Asian economies. If we in the West, familiar with our own individualist, capitalist, agonistic or competitive modernity, have watched the failure of communist modernity, and recognized the apparent success of communitarian modernity, we may now have to admit as well the viability of a congregational modernity.

In this introduction  I mentioned among others Francis Fukuyama's whose argument in 1989 was  that global politics in a postcommunist era experiences "the end of history", a thesis is at odds with, on the one hand, Benjamin Barber's 1992 claim that the world is dividing along a new bipolarity between premodern jihad and postmodern "McWorld"  and on the other, Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" thesis, which anticipates a pluralistic world of permanently conflicted cultural units.

And although recent discussions have added to the polycultural thesis, Fukuyama's view is not all wrong. The contemporary world  has created a direction, a cognitive, technological, economic, and-at least in terms of the public control of the modern state through democracy and universal education-political standard for the rest of the world to meet. Virtually all societies and major parties acknowledge these goals, hence everyone accepts a roughly equivalent meaning of "development." Disapproval of Western modernization concerns the cost of these achievements or what may accompany them, but no peoples or national elites are today in favor of less science, worse health care, and fewer economic opportunities. If we can say that there is no such thing as complete modernization-since every society and culture retains elements that are relatively unreformed by progress, including the United States-we can also say that today there is no such thing as complete or full antimodernism, no true attempts to return to the premodern era simpliciter. For such a return would have to mean abandonment of social and legal equality, a return to caste distinctions, aristocratic or royal ownership of land or the means of production, abandonment of modern science and technological progress, the social primacy of kin and locale, and hence the weakness of central government. There are no such movements in the world today, for a "movement" requires centralization, politicization, rationalist organization, and modern technology. Or if there are such, they occur only in situations of crisis that fulfill no culture's normative criteria, during the collapse of the state into warlord-ism or a reversion to tribal and clan social organization. Modernization rules out some forms of cognition, culture, and social organization.

Nevertheless, there is nothing in the impressive recent spread of global capitalism, the information revolution, and liberal republicanism which together spell the end of ethnic, religious, or nationalistic modes of social organization, either now or soon or ever. Reports of identity's demise have been greatly exaggerated. The reason for the persistence of primordial versions of identity and affiliation is not only the enduring need for them, but as well the very flexibility of modernity and its technologies, which can be exploited and channeled in different ways by all sorts of polities. We do not know what aspects of human culture will be dispensed with by the various experiments in modernization now under way.

Thus it appears that expansion of the modernized areas of the globe will mean more and more different ways to be modern. We face not one but many globalizations (something I will explain in my essay next month). An earlier round of modernization and its discontents produced fascism and communism, direct threats against liberal capitalist modernity. The first was destroyed, the second, in its own phrase, "withered away." But the newer round of discontents is more amorphous and arguably more creative. One does not have to accept former Singapore president Lee Kuan Yew's promotion of "Asian values" against Western-style individual rights to recognize that the modernized Pacific Rim nations have their own model of capitalism, a communitarian rather than individualist model. Will South Africa and Nigeria lead a novel African modernity in the next half century? What kind of society will China become by the time it takes the lead in East Asia? And how different will the least modernized countries look from those countries exhibiting the least Western forms of modernization? What we see as a failure to modernize may in fact be a novel non-Western form of modernization. I think it likely that this spiral goes on indefinitely, with convergence not on a single model but around certain constraints that the various extant models must share, such as, for example, mastery of the technological-scientific developments of the day. For if there is a lesson of postmodern society, it is not that things fall apart when the center does not hold, but that some things can function quite well without a center.

That is what is really disturbing to the fundamentalist mind, not secularization, but the combination of claimed religious identity with secularization, embodied most of all by the United States. For we can now say that the Islamic revival is Axial or Jasperian. That is its distinction. Even in its fundamentalist expressions it is a highly rational form of moral-Platonic thinking, divorced from ultimately segmentary-ethnic-kin-local ties, thing the particular always in terms of the transcendent universal. Militants elevate this into a utopian scheme through a politicized modernity that accepts modern science, technological innovation, industrialism, and commercialism (not full capitalism, given the Islamic rejection of usury). This is instructiIslam today represents unambiguous Axial reason, particularly as the militants seek to denude Islamic society of its Durkheimian substructures, its social traditionalism. It is its Axial nature that makes the Islamic revival most frustrating to the West, in that it exhibits what is, for the postmodern West, a hyperrational (which is to say, modernized) version of its own Axial past.

Go to Political Extremist Organisations 2003, P.2:

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