In the chapter "The Wrath of God" found in Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies, in what ways do the authors Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit draw a distinction between secular...

In the chapter "The Wrath of God" found in Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies, in what ways do the authors Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit draw a distinction between secular Occidentalism and religious Occidentalism?    What do they see as the defining characteristics of religious Occidentalism?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The main difference between secular Occidentalism and religious Occidentalism is that secular Occidentalism focuses on criticizing the political ideals of the West, while religious Occidentalism sees the West as nothing more than barbaric heathens who have left no room for truly worshiping God.

Occidentalists see that the commercial West has built its political system around democracy in order to promote peace and prosperity. In the eyes of the West, war harms commercial businesses, so peace must be promoted. Peace is created through compromise, and compromise can only be supported through democratic governments. In contrast, Occidentalists like Osama bin Laden support the idea that war is needed to strengthen people and societies, just like Nazi totalitarians believed. So, rather than supporting a compromising, democratic government, seeing compromise as weak, Occidentalists support totalitarianism.

Commercialism, which leads to democracy, was also developed through industrialization, and the religious Occidentalists see the inevitable result of industrialization as being turning away from God. Industrialization can only be achieved through science and technology. An increase in scientific study and technological advances lead to new explorations of how our world works. Rather than a belief in creation, the industrialized West, through science, developed a belief in evolution. Other scientific inquiries led to other conclusions about the world's causes and effects that are very different from religious teachings. Hence, religious Occidentalists see industrialization as a "removal of the spell of religion that clouds the relation of what causes what" (p. 112). Such a removal of God leads to jahiliyya, which means ignorance or barbarism (p.105). Industrialism also leads to materialism, and materialism leads to a lust for anything earthly, such as the flesh and riches. Hence, religious Occidentalists see the West as a "gigantic brothel, steeped in animal lust, greed, and selfishness" (p. 117).

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