Theory of Fundamentalism: An Inquiry into the Origin and Development of the Movement   [open pdf - 132KB]

The author of this study addresses the roots of fundamentalist theory and the fundamentalist movement. To understand fundamentalism, one must return to the 1970s and the period of the Cold War. The movement sprang from the clash of rightist and leftist forces; this circumstance- -of being a product of the Cold War--shaped its development. This study argues that U.S. policymakers need a deeper theoretical appreciation of Islamic fundamentalism that will explain the many complexities of the movement, in particular, why the fundamentalists have such drawing power within Islamic societies. The study probes the beginnings of groups like the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS); the Gamiyat; Hamas; Hizbollah; the Jewish fundamentalist organization, Gush Emunim; and the elusive Muslim Brotherhood. The author finds a pattern in the way that all of these groups came into being and later developed--the Jewish as well as the Muslim ones. He also notes some ways in which the groups differ among themselves. Taking everything into account-- similarities as well as differences--the paper presents a theory about fundamentalism that explains not only the current activity of the fundamentalists, but also alerts policymakers as to what might reasonably be expected in the future.

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