You ain’t no fundamentalist bruv!

Model_1_of_Fundamentalism_sculptureNow that the fuss has died down about that insanely pathetic knife attack at Leytonstone tube station by a supposed “fundamentalist”, it is worth a little bit of Zizek to calm our nerves and self-congratulation and sense of defiance.

What is a fundamentalist?

My former Principal once made a dismissive passing comment that fundamentalism these days is all ‘mental’ and no ‘fun’!  I thought it was a clever way to carve up the word, but this comment has stayed with me over the years and actually, has more truth than I thought possible.

As that wonderful, instantaneous phrase suggests, the man carrying out a cowardly, random act of violence, is no Muslim.  But what I think would be more shocking for the perpetrator, is to discover that even if he is a Muslim (which he obviously is, even the liberal West can’t take that away from him), he ain’t even no fundamentalist!

Slavoj Zizek, a philosopher I love and hate to read, captures the heart of this issue  in his magnificent book Living in the End Times, when he writes,

Zizekbook“…, are the so-called fundamentalists, be they Christian or Muslim, really fundamentalists in the true sense of the term?  What they lack is a feature easy to discern in all authentic fundamentalists, from Tibetan Buddhists to the American Amish – the absence of resentment or envy, rooted in a deep indifference towards the non-believers’ way of life.

If today’s so-called fundamentalists really believe they have found their way to Truth, why should they feel threatened by non-believers (emphasis mine), why should they envy them?  When a Buddhist encounters a Western hedonist, he hardly condemns him.  He simply denotes benevolently that the hedonist’s search for happiness is self-defeating.

In contrast to the true fundamentalists, pseudo-fundamentalists are deeply bothered, intrigued, and fascinated by the sinful lives of non-believers.  It can seem that, in condemning the sinful other, they are struggling with their own temptation.  This is why the so-called Christian or Muslim fundamentalists are a disgrace to true fundamentalism” (emphasis mine).   p.469-70

So despite our current political language, fundamentalists today are not fundamentalists, and actual fundamentalists are nothing like this present perversion of fundamentalism, or diet-fundamentalism.  As one Australian comedian said regarding the war on terror, “I can’t believe it’s not terror!

Prophetic comedian truth aside, it is not merely that Islam has been hijacked; it is far worse – fundamentalism itself has been hijacked!  And that is no joke!

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