Greek Lessons for the Arab Spring: Majid

Anouar Majid writes in a guest column for Informed Comment

Greek Lessons for the Arab Spring

As the Arab Spring enters its second year and the whiff of democratic possibilities hovers in the air of many an Arab nation, a question that continues to be left unanswered is whether an Islamist worldview and democracy can truly co-exist in this climate of heightened expectations.

Revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, and Tunisia, as well as reforms in Morocco, with their insistence on Islamic solutions, have brought to the fore the twin but clashing heritages of the Arab world. Most of this world is part of the Mediterranean, but it is, by the same token, light years away from what the Romans once called their mare nostrum–our sea. The birth of Islam in the seventh century placed an insurmountable wedge between the northern and southern shores of this ancient basin and propelled both sides toward very different historical trajectories. The Romans learned from the ancient Greeks and laid down the cultural foundations of what we nowadays call the West; the Muslims, with the exception of a brief period when they built on Greek science and adopted parts of Greek philosophy, sought refuge in theology. Christian Europe did that, too, but the re-introduction of Greek thought (thanks, partly, to the Moorish philosopher Averroes) loosened the grasp of the Church and Europe was able to rediscover the legacies of ancient Greece and Rome.

Muslims have yet to do that. Most never study the ancient world and have a very foggy idea (at best) about the contributions of ancient Greece and republican Rome to political theory. Muslim religious scholars reject the entire pre-Islamic period as one of ignorance, while progressive intellectuals dismiss any reference to Greece and Rome as a Eurocentric plot, one that smacks of modern colonialism. Instead of claiming Greece and Rome as part of their Mediterranean legacy, they have surrendered such cultural rights to Germans and Americans, who are thousands of miles away from Athens. Greeks had no problem crediting Egyptians and Phoenicians with much of what they discovered, but contemporary Islamists are too sensitive about authenticity issues to do the same. The pathologies of this kind of thinking cannot be exaggerated. A terrorist organization that bombs churches in Nigeria is named Boko Haram, which, according to the New York Times, translates as “Western education is forbidden” or is a “sacrilege.”

Muslims need to overcome this mental barrier and not be fooled, once again, into renouncing the rich heritage of the ancient Greeks and Romans. It was the Greeks who first created democracy and explained the reasons for doing so; they also coined much of the terminology we use today. Even though the Romans invaded Greece, they learned from them and built the republic that inspired America’s Founding Fathers. The latter were deeply immersed in this ancient history; they read Roman authors and quoted them in conversations, essays and letters. One can’t imagine the American Republic without the Founding Fathers’ knowledge of Greece and Rome.

Yet the call for democracy in the Arab world today is unfolding without any education in Greek and Roman political histories. This is why I am not sure about the outcome of the Arab revolts and the rise of Islamic parties. Democracy and republicanism arose in pagan, polytheistic cultures, ones whose people could live with many gods; they came to an end with the domination of Christianity. Similarly, the American Revolution was the culmination of the 18th-century Enlightenment, when religion was being questioned by philosophers and tested by scientists.

Ancient Greece and Rome, much like 18th-century America and modern Europe, have understood that democracy and religion cannot mix in public affairs. Islam doesn’t make such distinctions and neither do many Muslims calling for democracy today. If you believe that God’s truth is final and nonnegotiable, you will have a hard time listening to others with different beliefs.

My sense is that Muslims and Arabs crave social justice but would care less about democracy, properly understood. Yet, without a culture of religious pluralism and cultural diversity, the life of the mind, which is the prerequisite for progress, cannot reach its full potential. And Muslims need development as badly as they need social justice. This is yet another reason why Arab and Muslim nations need to overhaul their curricula and rediscover, much as medieval Europeans did, the long-lost traditions of ancient Greece and Rome.

Anouar Majid is the author, most recently, of Islam and America: Building a Future Without Prejudice (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012). He is director of the Center for Global Humanities at the University of New England.

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23 Responses

  1. Excellent analysis; I agree completely, mind my school 55 years ago had a choice learn Latin or Greek or both!
    But moving on, where is the Leadership Bridge to join common Arab greatness and assets into a Union to rival the EU and US? Still arguing over Religion doesn’t cut it.
    How does the region get over The Hubris; The Squabbles; The Vengeances; The Jealousies, and forget The Grievances?

  2. Without getting into a very explanation, I have to say there is absolutely no way that we as Muslims will look into ancient Greece and Rome for inspiration as to what the Islamic way of lifestyle should be. There is no need to argue about this in this forum, but the idea is a total non-starter for the Muslim world at large.

  3. We are seeing a real gulf in perceptions of things between the Islamists and the liberals-progressives. There are two possible approaches for the Islamists….one is to claim that they accept the secular view of state and society and that merely feel that people with a pious Islamic background can rule the state more fairly and honestly due to their personal religious beliefs. The other says that it is not possible to create a socially just society unless that society and its rulers are righteous in a religious sense because man’s fate on earth is influenced if not directly controlled by divine fiat which is, in turn, determined by man’s obedience to the divine law, including religious strictures such as family/sexual relations (e.g. taking a dim view of things like homosexuality, pre-marital sex, adultery, pornography, etc) and religious observances in both the private and public realm such as the Ramadan fast, abstinence from forbidden foods such as pork, etc.
    I believe there will be a long and fierce struggle as different factions of the Islamist movement attempt to sort these fundamental questions out in parliament and with the public.

  4. An interesting post, and as a Classicist one I can’t let go without comment. As you note Mr. Majid, you are absolutely on the mark about the indebtedness, one that is deep and profound, of western political systems and culture to Greece and Rome. From forms of government, to architecture, to language, they are the forebears of us all, and I would go further and argue that it is simply impossible to have an appreciation of western society without some basic understanding of Pericles’ Athens and Caesar’s Rome.

    But a closer look at Greco-Roman culture would reveal some things to us that are, frankly, shocking. Basic infrastructure for a civil society was pretty well non-existent: systemic institutions for public health, safety, and education were for the most part lacking. Sophisticated and shared notions of civil and human rights were also largely (though not entirely) absent for the majority of the populations in both cultures.

    On the other hand, the lack of sentimentality in Athens led them to have a democracy that truly did believe in accountability, an attitude I wish ours shared. Hence, for example, the great hero of Marathon, Miltiades, was brought into court on a stretcher in his last days and tried for peculation. And the great Roman historian Sallust could look with a cold eye and see that it was the power of money in politics that had helped change the Roman republic into an autocracy.

    Where I would take deep issue with your assessment, however, is where you imply that state business and religion were separated in antiquity. In fact, they were profoundly intertwined and it was impossible to separate the two. Recall one of the main charges against Socrates in the witch hunt after Athens’ loss to Sparta that resulted in his death was the introduction of new gods. Cicero’s De Legibus (On the Laws) and his De Divinatione (On Divination), were all about the place of religion in state and public life. Sacrifice and religious observance was key to any public business, and could be a political football at all times (Cicero’s orations and many of our other sources are full of this). The Romans in particular felt their pietas – knowledge of how to do right by the gods and strict religious observance in both a public and private context – was key to their success; Christianity was viewed as a threat when it came along in part because it asked them to abandon observance of gods who had given them an empire and helped them to run it successfully.

    The really interesting thing to note is that there were no religious wars or conflicts in antiquity; yes, the Romans put down rebellious Jews, but they continued to let them practice Judaism (though it was taxed), yes they moved to suppress human sacrifice, but while they might sneer at worshippers of exotic deities, they only suppressed religion if it was viewed not as a moral threat or theologically at odds with their views, but only if it threatened political stability within the Empire. Yes, they had to have the approval of the gods to leave the city on campaign or to give battle, yes they might deride the gods of their enemies as inferior, but Greek and the Romans simply did not go to war with others based on theological differences.

  5. This is the most absurd and twisted historical evidence I have ever read in defense of Western civilization that undermines and denigrates the contribution of Islamic civilization to the world. Dr. Majid, you are a professor of English and I suggest that you stick to that and leave history to the experts. It has become a culture of the West nowadays to put down Islam and those who follow the faith and you are trying hard to fabricate history to jump on that bandwagon. You have attributed all human civilization to the Greeks and Romans without bothering to mention the first ever recorded civilization of the world, the Egyptians. I am not sure if you have read the book, Egypt vs. Greece and the American Academy by Molefi Kete Asante, and if not, please read it and familiarize yourself on who were the first people to establish human civilization..
    No doubt the Egyptians who built the pyramids were not Muslims, but certainly they were not Greeks, Romans or Europeans, the so-called cradles of civilization according to your opinion.

    The Greeks and Romans contributed immensely to world civilization and Islam’s contribution towards that end is not a history that should be ignored. As an academic, I have no doubt that you have read books on the golden age of Islam with its tremendous contribution on art, philosophy, science and medicine, etc. but chose to ignore that in your blind adulation of the west. Are you even aware that some the founding fathers of our nations who gave us the wonderful constitution were slave owners? Authoring a beautiful piece of paper does not make one a student and follower of democracy. Women and people of color were not considered human enough to vote in our democracy until recently and you chose to admire everything western, warts and all, without mentioning any of its weakness. I would have said a lot, but I believe even professors have to learn before they try to teach.

    Dr. Cole, I have a great deal of respect for your thoughts and I read your column very often, but I suggest you should be very careful in selecting guest writers who are worth reading.


    • I don’t mean to defend Western civilization whose superiority to the rest of the world came through the use of better organized violence…

      However, the ancient Egyptians were an incredible civilization did not leave us a philosophical school as did ancient Athens. What political culture do you think we inherit from Ancient Egypt?

      At the height of Islamic civilization Greek philosophy and thought were influential. I think the author brings and important point to attention when he argues that such sources need to be revisited if we ever hope for inspiration for democracy in the Middle East as well as anywhere else in the world.

  6. It seems to me that this problem comes down to two things: one, that there was no defined process in the Koran for political succession, and two, that Mohammed’s tradition of ‘no monkery in Islam’ has not been enforced, or was not articulated well enough or in the proper place.

    The woes of Islam throughout history would appear to all originate from these two facts. Disputes about succession destroyed all the Caliphates, Andalus, and continue to this day. And there have been constant uprisings of the mullahs to interfere with civilian authority, undermining any notion of progress or stability.

    The Islamic world needs some sort of refreshing influence to address these two issues in a way consistent with the Koran, so that its societies stop making the same mistakes over and over.

  7. Anouar Majid is to be commended for noting the profound legacy of Greek and Roman culture and thought in the development of the West, and the devastating effect Muslim rejection of that culture and thought has had on Islamic societies. I would take Mr. Majid’s thesis one step further and suggest that the problem faced by Islamic societies today (particularly the Sunnis) is rooted in the Ash’arite school of Islam and Imam al Ghazali who, in the tenth and eleventh centuries, rejected the reason of Plato, Aristotle, and their followers, and instead taught that total submission to Allah, without question, was the only true path. The Qur’an was the only reference worthy of study and held the answer to all relevant questions. To reason and question outside of that framework was folly.

    The result of this effort was to shut down all inquiry and reason in the Sunni Muslim World. It was intellectual suicide, and its effects continue to be felt today. For centuries the printing press was banned by Ottoman Sultans because it was considered blasphemy to use it to disseminate the sacred Arabic script of the Qur’an. The result was the Islamic World fell ever further behind the West in inventions, military strategy, etc. The imprisoned Muslim mind could not advance because the resort to reason was unavailable due to the deliberate shutting off of such enquiry.

    What the Islamic World needs is not the equivalent of the West’s religious “Reformation.” What the Islamic World needs is the equivalent of the West’s eighteenth century “Enlightenment.” Islam needs to recognize a distinction between the sacred and the secular realms. I realize that many Muslims will respond that if it were to do so it would no longer be Islam. But the same thing was said about Christianity when the West went through its evolution from dogma to Enlightenment. There is no reason why Islam cannot do the same and recapture the spirit of reason and enquiry that existed before dogma imprisoned it.

    • Well said. A society which adheres to an “infallible spiritual document” such as the bible or Qur’an cannot foster open creative thought. After all, who can dare challenge the word of god? Religion should be a personal matter. Governments must be run on secular principles independent of any religion. Here in the USA in the 21st century it is frightening to me that there is increasing pressure to merge Christianity with government. The Arab spring has not yet shown that it can spring free from political Islam. Free thought and open debate based on facts and not beliefs are essential for a progressive society. And given the mega challenges facing all of humanity on this over stressed tiny planet in a sea of blackness, we need a world wide progressive people working together to solve these problems.

  8. So how come the Arabs made it their business to preserve Greek knowledge? Much of which has only been preserved in Europe via the medium of Arabic as other records had been deliberately destroyed. They also built upon it considerably, adding, for example, Sine, Cosine, ArcSine, ArcCosine and ArcTan to the original Greek Tan. And Newton, without which the modern world could not function, openly acknowledged he build his achievements mathematics also fresh from the medium of Arabic.
    In the end, we are all just part of a chain in these matters. Apart, of course, from the the end-of-history delusionals. I suspect they are not a new thing – just a particular, recurrent species of ‘Black Adder’ sycophant doing what they must to earn their keep.
    I agree about the present day radical Islamists – though **so called** Boko Haram (not their own name for themselves, BTW) cannot be taken as representative even of them. The joke to me is that these ‘radicals’ (we so abuse this word by using it this way) pine for the lost achievements of Andalusia and ancient Baghdad. If they had been in charge at the time I’m pretty certain things would have not turned out quite so well. I don’t think much would have been achieved. The point is, they weren’t.
    However, as regards the changes taking place now, a Benghazi doctor recently told me “Islam is about accountability”. All of his companions agreed. They went back out there the following week. We all imagine democracy to be a suitable medium through which to achieve that. With our legacy of Mr Blair raking it in Scot free, and what looks like End Game for fractional reserve banking, it amazes me they still think this is possible.

  9. Another angle into this interesting discussion is the experience of the Jewish Enlightenment.

    The case of Spinoza in the 17th C. is instructive. Famously, he was renounced by the rabbinic authorities of his own day and renouncing Judaism in turn. But in the Theological-Political Treatise, he turned to a pristince (idealized) version of the Mosaic legislation in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament to model a constitutional democracy based on the the integration of religion and politics AND on the separation of religious and secular authorities.

    For his part, the German-Jewish Enlightenment savant Moses Mendelssohn sought in his book “Jerusalem” a way to fuse traditional Jewish practice and Enlightenment aesthetics, culture, and politics. He too sought to fuse religion and enlightenment based on a separation of powers, political and ecclesiastical.

    In both casee, what we see are very complex interactions between artfully reconstructed “biblical” and “Greek” source materials, and a careful combination and separation of religious and political powers.

  10. One thing that is misleading in the article is that Boko Haram is actually not a self-attributed name but one chosen for the group by the local Nigerean media. Thus, it is NOT that the group chose to call themselves “Western education is a sacrilege”

  11. Islam’s purpose was to re-unite people, people who had divided themselves by using idols as excuses. For some reason Muslims returned back to idol worshiping by turning Islam of various colors into Idols. The human biological need for idol worshiping is so profound.

  12. [Muslims need to overcome this mental barrier and not be fooled, once again, into renouncing the rich heritage of the ancient Greeks and Romans. It was the Greeks who first created democracy and explained the reasons for doing so; they also coined much of the terminology we use today. Even though the Romans invaded Greece, they learned from them and built the republic that inspired America’s Founding Fathers. The latter were deeply immersed in this ancient history; they read Roman authors and quoted them in conversations, essays and letters. One can’t imagine the American Republic without the Founding Fathers’ knowledge of Greece and Rome.
    Yet the call for democracy in the Arab world today is unfolding without any education in Greek and Roman political histories.]

    I hate to say this, but this language looks extremely naive at best.

    First, if you think about Homer’s The Ilyad, it is nothing else than magnificent depiction of a religious war! This is why gods are involved the hostilities.

    Next, one does not need to know much about the Greek Roman history and culture to find out that it has very little to do with nonviolent social progress which the author supposedly advocates.

    Finally, just have a look for example at this wonderful Shia musical composition on youtube. Why should those who make and enjoy such things need primitive lectures on the importance of Western culture? link to

    • Re: Henry James: “First, if you think about Homer’s The Ilyad, it is nothing else than magnificent depiction of a religious war! ”

      No, the gods in Homer are embodiments of forces essential to the human experience on both sides, but the nature and worship of the gods is NOT NOT NOT in question. It’s Greek gods involved in a civil dispute. Their envy of one another causes the war, but in human terms there is NO theology involved, NONE, ZILCH, OUDEN, NIHIL, NADA, and in fact, GREEK gods are portrayed as arraying against one another variously on both the Trojan and Greek side. That is, Greeks and Trojans worship the same gods (and in the same way) as depicted on Homer.

      It was a sexual peccadillo, Paris’ kidnapping of Menelaus’ wife Helen that caused the war, it only had to do with religion insofar as Hera and Athena were ticked off that they lost to Aphrodite in their little beauty contest on Mt. Ida (Paris had to choose who was mot lovely of the goddesses – he choose Aphrodite).

      That having been said, the ancients were a deeply religious people, and contra the 50s costume flicks with which I grew up, in which as soon as the Christian message got out it was embraced, pagan religion died very very hard and slow.

      I must say that I get mighty tired of these “Egyptian’s came first” and “backward Greco-Roman” arguments. Any scholar of antiquity knows ancient Near Eastern society was much older and that Greco-Roman society was indebted to it, nay, even fascinated by it (witness Herodotus book 2 and his Egyptian Logos). But is Shakespeare’s contribution to literature any the less because he didn’t invent drama? Should we throw Tacitus out the window even though, despite his elitist, even racist attitude, in historical terms he contributed mightily to this very discussion about diversity and democracy? (And by the way, Thomas Jefferson called him ‘the first among authors without peer’, and Tacitus contributed significantly to Jeffersonian thinking).

      And before we condescend about the cruelty and barbarity of the ancients – who compared to us had little access to information and were technologically backward – we better think about how we stand as somehow morally superior when we see fit to bomb poorer countries on specious pretexts and then let people suffer under the rubble as we poke away at our blackberries in willful ignorance.

      On the whole, it’s hard to see how contemporary, modern democratic society would have been possible without Greece and Rome, despite the elite attitudes of their thinkers and rulers. And that includes the emancipation of women, the civil rights movement, and this discussion about the nature and possibility of emergent democracies. All you can hope is that those new emerging democracies don’t bollux up their path to democratic societies the way we have, for somewhere in our journey to the future I’m afraid that we have become our past.

      • [the gods in Homer are embodiments of forces essential to the human experience on both sides, but the nature and worship of the gods is NOT NOT NOT in question. It’s Greek gods involved in a civil dispute. Their envy of one another causes the war, but in human terms there is NO theology involved, NONE, ZILCH, OUDEN, NIHIL, NADA, and in fact, GREEK gods are portrayed as arraying against one another variously on both the Trojan and Greek side. That is, Greeks and Trojans worship the same gods (and in the same way) as depicted on Homer.]

        We are not the ones to discuss Greek beliefs in any details, one needs to know much more about Greek philosophy for this.

        But one thing is for sure – faith in Greek Gods was completely different from what we now take for religion. In the end, we can even say that Greeks were secular in the modern sense.

        However, the fact is, the Gods participated quite actively in the Trojan war. For example, although both Greeks and the Trojans worshiped Athene and Apollo, Athene was on in the Greek side and Apollo was on the Trojan side.

        Sure, this has nothing to do with WW2, Korea or or Vietnam because these wars were purely secular. But, if we take Sunni-Shia conflict, we see that it has nothing to do with the secular conflicts of the 20c, but Homer can provide us with some useful metaphors to think about it.

        Yes, of course, modern Western democracies are based on the Greco-Roman culture. But same is true about the Western absolutist monarchies of the past. Not to mention some well known examples of the early 20c…

        And, knowing about the Muslim-Greek connections in the Middle Ages, why we should claim some sort of supreme guardianship of the ancient legacy? I really don’t think such claims have anything to do with genuine respect for the Greco-Roman tradition.

    • “Yet the call for democracy in the Arab world today is unfolding without any education in Greek and Roman political histories.”

      Well, Henry James, that is precisely why the upheavals in the Arab World today may fail. There is a major difference between a “call for democracy” and the practical “implementation of democracy.” So far, we have seen the “call” but we have not seen the “implementation.” The “call” is the easy part. Perhaps the “implementation” would be more secure if the Arab World had retained some knowledge of the Greek and Roman heritage that we in the West take for granted. It is a precious heritage, and the Arab World is the poorer for having rejected it.

  13. South East Asia has plenty of examples of development and tolerance/co-existence these days; is it just because external interference has stopped/is less?

  14. C/o BBC:
    In World War II, the Allies dropped 3.4 million tons of bombs across Europe and Asia. In Vietnam, an incredible seven million tons were dropped on Indo-China.

    The cost has also increased. In the second Gulf War, the US launched its wave of shock and awe against Iraq by firing 800 Tomahawk Cruise missiles over a period of just 48 hours.

    Each one cost $0.5m. Today, a single Eurofighter Typhoon costs around £50m and the proposed Joint Strike Fighter is likely to come in at more than £100m each.

    For entire campaigns, the scale of spending is staggering.

    It is estimated that the war in Afghanistan has already cost the British taxpayer £18bn. And yet for all the sophistication of its military equipment, Nato’s victory over an opponent armed with little more than Kalashnikovs and homemade bombs is far from certain.

    Having the best weapons is usually decisive, but not always.

    Saul David is Professor of War Studies at the University of Buckingham

  15. Just for you Professor:-
    Latest News!
    UN Treaty Bans Aerial Bombing Worldwide!
    Wall Street has worst Crash since 1930’s
    US Government revokes Foreign Policy of: – We’ll Bomb You into liking Us
    Iranian portable personal reactor eliminates the need for oil, fits in cars and boats too!

  16. Both this article and the great majority of the comments present deeply corrupt versions of history. This is so as the Greek heritage was well-maintained in the Muslim world throughout the Ottoman period- only after the advent of colonialism did the Muslims cede their classical heritage to the Europeans.

    Ghazali did not reject Aristotle’s logic, nor did the ‘Asharites- that was left to ibn Taymiyya, which thinker even still did not abandon the use of logic as such.

    At any rate, if anyone would like a more precise understanding of these issues, they should read the following article by Cambridge scholar Timothy Winter:

    link to

    Here is an excerpt: “An older Orientalism will claim that Islam, the major Semitism, sniffed briefly at Greece but then turned away from it. This is the notion of the theologian al-Ghazali sounding the death-knell of Greek philosophy in the world of Islam…

    But the best recent scholarship, such as the work of Robert Wisnovsky, has blown this apart: we are now more likely to see Juwayni, Ghazali and Razi as the great advocates of a selective but profound internalising of Greek reason. Greek ethics lives on powerfully on the pages of Miskawayh, al-Raghib al-Isfahani, and al-Ghazali. In political thought, particularly, the old themes also lived on in manuals of statecraft studied carefully by Ottoman, Safavid and Moghul emperors and their grand viziers. And if Plato was modified drastically by the Sira, that was no bad thing, given that Plato has so often been an enemy of the open society.”

    • You are simply wrong about al Ghazali, Samuel. You should read a bit more thoroughly about Islam during the tenth and eleventh centuries. You would find that al Ghazali indeed rejected Greek reason, Plato, Aristotle, and all that up to that time had been accepted by Islam. Al Ghazali shut the door on reason and enquiry and thereby was instrumental in the closing of the Muslim mind.

      Your statement that “only after the advent of colonialism did the Muslims cede their classical heritage to the Europeans” is absurd. They ceded no such thing after the advent of colonialism. Islam ceded it long before colonialism in the Near East.

  17. All you guys are on the wrong tact: historical antecedents have little if anything to do with how history actually evolves. Santillana was right, in terms of patterns, but thats as far as it goes, especially with modern mass communication when (RELATIVELY) conventional wisdom could give the patina of managed progress some arguable validity. The Truth about how politics unfold appears to me far more complex and chaotic, and totally beyond this academic stuff. ,

    To the original post: is North African culture any more monolithic than that of Southern Europe? Maybe so, but when you look closer, even the common Arabic spoken isn’t all that consistent between Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt.

    Mass communications are bound to influence cultural evolution more than academic memories of past glory. This is not to say traditional Islamic culture won’t have an influence, but the weight of cultural influences seems to be tilted toward modernity (secular or not), due to worldwide media which is continuously being dripped on the youth, who are by human nature receptive to all things new and hip.

    To expect any elite academic understanding or establishment to exert effective control over the youth, who are by nature looking for their own identity, strikes me as futile, whether it is the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Chinese Communist Party, with the pathetic attempts at the repression of culture progress we now see. In the past, paternalism worked because it was a world defined by the speed of a horse and the clan/family could dominate the youth, who could not support each other or effectively resist, but the genie of mass communication is now out of the bottle.

    Simplistic, paternalistic, and command-based fundamentalism within the various traditions will always exist to support the poor, desperate, and socially isolated. But, unless the youth as a whole chooses to steer itself toward the fourteenth century as the next new thing, it seems to me they stand to be increasingly marginalized.

    Its getting to be a bottom up world, and that doesn’t mean any allegiance to history. Maybe not the End Of History, but in another way, just maybe. We all need to get used to it.

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