The Vantage Point

Old or New? City or Countryside?
Defenders of God or Reason?

Last week I came upon the Book “Fundamentalist city?” edited by Nezar AlSayyad and Mejgan Massoumi.

The title did attract my attention since I have been reading and discussing Fundamentalism as Socio-Political thought and investigating the policies and outcomes affiliated with it. As the Book quotes at its opening chapter by Professor AlSayyad, ‘Fundamentalism’ is an ideology formed in conflict with Modernism. Modernism as New value system was disliked due to three of its foundations:

1-Preference of Secular rationality

2-Priviledging of Individualism

3-Adoption of religious Tolerance and relativism

The people who stick to the idea are likely described as excluding groups with authoritarian and charismatic figures with certain behavioral rules regarding speech, dress, eating, entertainment, and family formation and as I can add to the list, probably their space making typologies let’s say their Architecture.   In short Fundamentalism in the built environment is addressed by the Book as “spatial practices declared and enforced by some and accepted by others to mange urban life”.  

The critiques

One good point that I made out of the critiques review of different conceptions of Fundamentalism is the fact that we are not talking about Rambo in Afghanistan with High-Tech arsenal against clumsy rookie militants (well you can replace Afghani with Vitnamese, Russian, Japanese, … based on the American preference in time and place) but in fact the ones that are actually Good consumers of Modern products but refusing its very theoretical framework and value systems. But this does not show an inherent contradiction of The Fundamentalist worldview?

Apparently you cannot benefit from the progressive products of Modernity if you do not sign the user agreement of the producer’s value system and foundations stated above. In fact Modernity as a result of 18th century Enlightenment did progress quickly since it was able to mitigate the encumbrance of other value systems (namely the religion). This conception that the product is not value free from its producer’s worldview is even challenged in the modern sciences. But still Modernity by though and Modernity by physical products seem to be not completely overlapping as one can have the so called ‘traditional’ attitude toward the very Modern Material.   

As a result, assuming that The So called Fundamentalist attitude is bound to a strict top-down descending moral activism seems to be not only embracing many religious sects but probably also many modern cults that are even more confining and exclusive.  

There is no doubt that such ideologies will affect the way individuals define their territories and shape their environments as the Book Cover suggests, the religious fundamentalists have already speeding up in the high way toward the MODERN urban-scape and apparently the historical Christianity has fallen behind the Jewish one and both are behind the Islamist one foregoing on their way toward the city!   

I am still reading the book an I will be posting on it as I progress.  
The common View on Fundamentalism (Book Cover by David Hay, 2007)
This is another classsical on  Fundamentalists. i wonder why there are no Synagogue symbols included!

8/1/2011 04:23:16 pm

I think although fundamentalism has many defects, sometimes it will raise hatred and terrorrism, it sometimes has the fuction that mrdenity lacks, it can combine the country and make the people live in an elegant way.
As in China, we always focus on the speed of economic development.but at the same time, we disregard what really lies in the Chinese people' s heart. To know that ,we need to rethink the philosophy of Confucianism. Only in this way can the development seves as for the people's real happiness


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