Paradoxically, these attractions and achievements have at times led to monasticism assuming considerable economic and political power see Religion: Mobilization and Power be it that of the great medieval religious foundations Grande Chartreuse, Cluny, Citeaux, Monte Cassino with their vast benefices and endowments; or the self-governing republic since of the influential monastery of Mount Athos in northern Greece; or the three centuries of state control assumed by the Dalai Lama, the chief abbot of Tibetan Buddhism; or the impact since of the Senusi Islamic brotherhood on Sudan and the eastern Sahara.
What Marxists want
There is a continuous tradition of criticism of the worldly foibles and contradictions of monastic elites down the ages, from Vigilantius fourth century , through Chaucer, Erasmus, Luther, and Calvin, to Voltaire and modern anticlerical republicanism worldwide. The inherent tension between its this-worldly and other-worldly parameters accounts in great measure for the transformative capacities of monasticism which owes its survival and dynamism to an ongoing internal reform impulse the Gregorian Reforms, for instance. The nineteenth-century Oxford Movement saw fit to revive monasticism within Anglo-Catholicism Hill Come the age, come the religious order.
Each new age of monastic life and religious congregations addresses the perceived apostolic needs and ecclesiastical interests of the epoch be that for grand monastic citadels, hostels for crusaders and pilgrims, sanctuaries from plague and persecution, hospitals, schools, orphanages, hospices, food kitchens, or way stations for state policies of care in the community. Monasticism serves as a ligature binding civilizations east and west to their pasts and a bridge across which lessons of the religious quest are passed over into civil society.
Not surprisingly, militant secular regimes see Secularization have found pretext to sequester monastic assets and secularise and worse religious personnel. William J. Paradoxically, these attractions and achievements have at times led to monasticism assuming considerable economic and political power see Religion: Mobilization, and Power be it that of the great medieval religious foundations Grande Chartreuse, Cluny, Citeaux, Monte Cassino with their vast benefices and endowments; or the self-governing republic since of the influential monastery of Mount Athos in northern Greece; or the three centuries of state control assumed by the Dalai Lama, the chief abbot of Tibetan Buddhism; or the impact since of the Senusi Islamic brotherhood on Sudan and the eastern Sahara.
The nineteenth-century Oxford Movement saw fit to revive monasticism within Anglo-Catholicism Hill, Several developments in the s signaled to scholars that the conventional wisdom regarding Latin American religion needed reassessment. Vatican II —5 launched far-reaching reforms within the international Catholic church in an effort to reconnect the faithful to the immediate and worldly relevance of Catholic belief. In Latin America, many younger priests participated in new initiatives such as worker-priest movements that resulted in a heightened social and political awareness of poverty.
The overwhelming image of Latin American society offered by Latin American economists, sociologists and political scientists was one of chronic and grinding poverty resulting from Latin America's economic dependence on the United States, and backed up by military repression and US imperialism. At the same time, progressive bishops, inspired by the writings of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire and liberation theologians such as Gustavo Gutierrez , embraced a radical agenda of social justice, political democracy and economic redistributive policies. Liberation Theology , like other historical Christian movements, is based on the Old and New Testament prophesies of the coming of the Kingdom of God, at which time all humanity will live in peace, justice and equality.
According to liberationists, traditional Catholicism supports the status quo of oppression and dehumanization by calling on the poor to bear the travails of this life in expectation of eternal salvation, and exhorting the wealthy to appease their consciences by giving to charity. From the New Testament, liberationists argue that Jesus chose to reveal his message to the poor and meek, linking Christian faith with solidarity with the poor and their temporal struggle for social justice.
Unlike traditional Catholicism that relies on charity to the poor, liberationists call on Christians to embrace political reform, even the overthrow, if necessary, of oppressive and repressive regimes. The church also adopted a pastoral strategy centered on base Christian communities or CEBs, the acronym for comunidad eclesial de base. According to many observers, the CELAM meetings in Medellin signaled a change within the Latin American Catholic church from the traditional alliance with the landed elite to an activist and progressive agenda Lernoux The first scholar to examine the implications of changes within the Catholic church was sociologist Ivan Vallier.
Vallier's interest in the Latin American Catholic church was shaped by the concern for economic, political and social modernization that dominated US social sciences in the s and s. During the s and s, the dominant focus in US scholarship shifted from the challenges of economic and political modernization to the crises associated with military dictatorship throughout Central and South America. Between the s and s, democracy had failed throughout Latin America. Under the progressive leadership of a number of highly visible and vocal bishops, national hierarchies in countries such as Brazil, Chile, and Peru supported a wide range of grassroots organizations whose purposes ranged from ensuring the survival of the poor, to protecting human rights victims of the state, to organizing massive prodemocracy mobilizations.
The prodemocracy leadership on behalf particularly of the poor and political dissidents provided by bishops, priests, nuns and lay leaders made the church, itself, a target of military repression. Not surprisingly, the majority of studies during this period focused on church progressives and the host of new forms of social organization that grew under the protection and encouragement of progressive church structures Levine , Mainwaring and Wilde Beginning in the s, Latin American redemocratization allowed a reassessment of progressive trends in the Latin American Catholic church.
On the one hand, the Vatican, under the leadership of Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , has orchestrated a conservative reversal of much of the progressive political commitment made by Latin American hierarchies during the dictatorships.
Pope John Paul II, a populist well-beloved by Latin America's poor and dispossessed, nevertheless is a staunch opponent of church political activism on behalf of the poor. Of particular concern to the Pope and Cardinal Ratzinger is liberation theology's use of Marxist categories of analysis for understanding Latin American conditions and liberationists' calls to concrete political action, even to the point of joining forces with Marxist movements in some cases.
Cardinal Ratzinger has moved to silence several well-known Latin American theologians, including Brazilians Leonardo Boff and Ivone Gebara, a noted feminist theologian. In addition, the Vatican has filled vacancies for new bishops and archbishops with strong church traditionalists who have withdrawn much of the church's previous support for grassroots organizations and political organizing in favor of a traditional pastoral focus on individuals' private morality, charity and individual sin.
In addition, many have noted a certain desire, even among many progressives, for the church to withdraw from explicitly political, even partisan, activities and positions in favor of the spiritual and moral work that is the proper work of the church. In the s, many younger clergy are drawn to a more traditional view of the role of the church in society than their counterparts during the dictatorships Cleary and Stewart-Gambino Although the previous focus on progressives created the illusion of a new consensus within Latin American hierarchies, the return of democracy allowed longstanding tensions among bishops to reemerge, dividing national hierarchies and thus reducing their visibility in public debates and controversies.
The renewed debate within national churches regarding the proper role of the Catholic church in contemporary society shifted scholarly focus away from changes within the institutional Catholic church and their effects on Latin American societies, to the varying experiences of the faithful themselves. Recent studies, often authored by anthropologists and sociologists, focus less on national-level institutional behavior and more on local groups and how their religious identities shape their interaction with larger economic and political forces.
Individuals and local groups differ substantially in terms of the way and degree to which their religious beliefs are influenced by official church programs and pronouncements. In turn, individuals and local groups differ in terms of how their religious beliefs shape their own political behavior, depending on such factors as local opportunity, both material and symbolic resources, and the like. Gender also affects the intersection of religious belief and individual religious, social or political behavior Mariz , Burdick Also in the s, the fall of the Soviet bloc returned US scholars' attentions to perennial questions concerning the nature and requisites for democratic institution building.
Like new post-Soviet states, many newly democratic Latin American nations lack a dense or complex civil society. With the decline of progressivism in the Latin American Catholic church, much of the search for religion's contribution to civil society is found in studies of the continued growth and expansion of Latin American Pentecostalism.
Building upon the long-standing traditions of grassroots social movements, critical pedagogy and activism, and legacies of critical race, decolonizing, and feminist theories Smith, ; Kelley, ; hooks, ; Torre, ; Freire, ; Fals Borda and Rahman, , PAR's historical roots traces different interdisciplinary lineages from around the world, from liberation theology , to critical psychology, sociology, and geography Martin-Baro, ; Lewin, ; Wormser and Selltiz, ; Du Bois, ; Bunge, Within the United States, the theory and methods of action-oriented research in the social sciences is often attributed to the work of the social psychologist Kurt Lewin.
Lewin's description of action research involved a spiral of self-reflective cycles of fact-finding, action, observation, evaluation, and then replanning and more fact-finding, action, and evaluation. One such method, formalized through the leadership of Margot Wormser and Claire Seltiz, was the Community Self-Survey that brought together diverse teams of community members and researchers to engage in large-scale participatory research on discriminatory practices in housing, employment, education, and public services in their communities see Torre and Fine, Instead they each argued for structural analyses of race- and class-based oppression, asking what are the policies, institutions, and social arrangements that enrich and limit human development?
Working with communities in the Appalachian Mountains, Miles Horton, a co-founder of the Highlander Research and Education Center used participatory education and research to organize communities around worker and civil rights beginning in the s.
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With inspiration from the Hull House, Horton's work emphasized community participation, arguing that effective institutional change would come about only with solutions determined by people who were directly experiencing the problem and who would be most affected by any actions taken Lewis, Drawing on Lewin's action research, Fals Borda was the first to expressly articulate a praxis of participatory action research in his work with villagers in Boyaca, Colombia. At the heart of PAR's South American lineage is Paulo Freire's participatory approach to social change through conscientization, a process wherein people develop critical consciousness through a reflexive process of collective inquiry, reflection, and action on the economic, political, and social contradictions they are embedded in.
PAR has continued to be developed in and across universities and communities in South America and around the world in countries such as Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, England, India, and the United States, among others. The dualism that existed between the public and the private realms allowed homosexuals to carve up intimate socializing spaces in Latin America's bigger cities in the s and s. However, these activities did not have political objectives. Political activism did not emerge until the late s and s in the Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico within a context of broader sociopolitical processes both domestic and international.
On the domestic front, the bigger countries began a process of industrialization during the postwar years, which contributed to the expansion of a middle class, growing urbanization, higher levels of education, and increased secularization. A new generation of Latin Americans, one that was more critical of established understandings of social and sexual relations, began to adopt more liberal ideas regarding gender relations and sexuality. This generation began to challenge norms regarding contraception, patriarchy, and traditional values.
In several countries of the region multiple countercultural groups emerged. At the same time, liberation theology , which called for a new interpretation of Christian scriptures to bring about social change, was adopted by numerous young Catholics. It spread throughout the region and motivated various sectors of society to mobilize as it rejected passive acceptance of perceived injustices. By the late s, Argentine and Mexican homosexuals decided to organize to discuss collectively their personal experiences with sexuality and the social stigmatization of homosexuality.
The first organizations were thus formed. While the Stonewall riots of of New York are widely viewed as catalyst for the emergence of the gay and lesbian movement in the United States, and according to some, in the world, some Latin American homosexuals began to organize before then. Inspired by the development of the first gay liberationist groups in the United States and some western European countries, and the literature produced by the US organization the Black Panthers , these early groups began to articulate a discourse based on the need to liberate homosexuals from the oppression created by social stigmatization.
These organizations were formed mostly by leftist students, intellectuals, and activists from union movements and had a Marxist bent. They were for the most part urban, middle-class individuals who adopted antiestablishment positions and called for an end to imperialist oppression from the global North.
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An important characteristic of these early groups was the uneasy relationship they had with the institutional Latin American left given its traditional understandings of sexuality. Many of the first activists were not welcome by established leftist movements and some were actually expelled from Communist parties, which had official positions declaring homosexuality to be a bourgeois practice. In spite of their isolation, Latin American gay activism has since then taken a decidedly leftist position on politics. The same was not true for relationships that many activists formed with other social movements.
A salient aspect of early activism in Latin America was the close relationships that activists formed with women's groups early on. Gay and lesbian activists were heavily influenced by second-wave feminism and forged close relationships with women's organizations.
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Steeped in feminist debates, some activists included a broader perspective in their early struggles and argued against patriarchal oppression and for gender equality. Given that the important role students and intellectuals played in early activism, activists were steeped in the theoretical discussions regarding homosexuality that gathered pace at this time in advanced democracies.
In countries in which gay activists organized and mobilized, they managed to ignite public debates regarding sexuality in the early s. Through the publication and distribution of bulletins, flyers, and magazines, and in some cases television interviews, they were able to begin national discussions regarding the ethics and medicalization of homosexuality. However, it is important to note that gay mobilization at this time was limited to the capital cities of some of the largest countries Argentina and Mexico.
In most of the region it would take years, and in most cases decades, for gays and lesbians to decide to mobilize. Prevailing theories of modernity and modernization in the mid-twentieth century assumed that religious movements, identities, and practice had become increasingly marginal to modern or modernizing societies, and that only those religious intellectuals and leaders who attached themselves to the nation-state would continue to play a significant role in public life.
As Casanova notes, by the late s this prevalent view rapidly eroded through the impact of several nearly simultaneous developments: the Iranian revolution, the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the role of liberation theology in political movements throughout Latin America, and the return of Protestant fundamentalism as a force in American politics. Religion continues to play a significant role in politics and society worldwide. Even locally rooted movements benefit significantly with transnational sponsors or supporters, whether emigrants, states, or others sharing a group's objectives.
Opposition to the Shah's regime was firmly rooted in Iran, but the safe haven provided for opposition leaders in exile and their transnational ties and freedom of movement and action were integral to the revolution's success. Contemporary religious transnationalism and the identities it supports take many forms. In making his case for , Caryl maybe misses a trick by ignoring the closest thing American democracy has to the elevation of a new pope.
Volcker took the hard decisions on interest rates that brought inflation under control while allowing unemployment to skyrocket, and he took much of the flak as well. He did it because Wall Street wanted the medicine, and the public no longer had the stomach to put up much of a fight. The real story of the late s in the democratic West is that people were tired of political and industrial strife and were willing to try something different, however uncomfortable.
In Iran, of course, they had a real revolution in It had modern communications and healthcare systems, car factories and hydroelectric dams. Literacy was expanding, among women as well as men. Then, during , it fell apart. The security forces opened fire and killed dozens of them.
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Khomeini immediately published a statement calling for more demonstrations. Over the following months he got his wish. By September the government had declared martial law and on 8 September hundreds of protesters were mown down by helicopter gunships in the centre of Tehran, an event known as Black Friday. In the same month the oil workers went on strike. Food and fuel were running short. Khomeini began to assemble a shadow government ready for his return: the Revolutionary Council, which was made up of student activists and ex-security officials who had fallen out with the old regime.
On 16 January the shah left the country. Two weeks later Khomeini came home to take charge. It is not an especially evocative date in the Julian calendar, but in the Islamic calendar it is one of the most significant of all anniversaries: it corresponds to the year , when the Mahdi, the Islamic messiah, is supposed to reveal himself to the faithful and usher in a new age of eternal justice.
David Runciman reviews ‘Strange Rebels’ by Christian Caryl · LRB 26 September
In the secular West, simply spelled the wearisome finale of a dispiriting decade. To many Iranians, it marked the dawn of the apocalypse. Khomeini played on this fervour throughout the year, stoking it as well as channelling it towards his own political ends.