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New Political Religions, or an Analysis of Modern Terrorism Hardcover – July 7, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0826215314 ISBN-10: 0826215319 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Series: ERIC VOEGELIN INST SERIES (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of Missouri (July 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826215319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826215314
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,437,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"New Political Religions is clearly written, and it includes enough basic information, and enough fresh understanding, to be recommended to all newcomers to the discussion."—Wilson Quarterly


"Virtually alone within the flood of volumes on September 11 and its aftermath, this study brings us inside the terrorist mind-set. It does this by taking seriously what terrorists say as a guide to the motivations for their horrendously inexplicable actions. Where most of the instant scholarship that has appeared is still floundering to find the appropriate mode of analysis, Cooper has identified the new terrorism as a form of apocalyptic political religion."—David Walsh

About the Author

Barry Cooper is Professor of Political Science at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of numerous books, including Eric Voegelin and the Foundations of Modern Political Science; Faith and Political Philosophy: The Correspondence between Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin, 1934–1964; and Philosophy, Literature, and Politics: Essays Honoring Ellis Sandoz, all available from the University of Missouri Press.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Fritz Wagner on December 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Barry Cooper has a new book this year entitled NEW

POLITICAL RELIGIONS, OR AN ANALYSIS OF MODERN TERRORISM,

(University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 2004). The title puts

the reader in mind of Eric Voegelin's POLITICAL RELIGIONS, which

originally appeared in 1938 and dealt with the murderous mass

political movements of that era. In this work, Dr. Cooper has

brought his understanding of political theory to bear on what he

calls "Islamism," that fraction of Muslim society which

believes it has a God-given task to bring the world under Islamic

control, using murder and suicide as routine instruments for

conquest.

One of the epigrams for the volume is from Graham Greene, "They

won't believe the world they haven't noticed is like that"- and

it was certainly true for this reader! I thought in the years

following 9/11 that I had acquired a good grasp of the problems

faced by the West and particularly the US, but it soon became

evident to me on reading this book that I knew too little.

The book is divided into five chapters. The first, "Context,"

brings in Hannah Arendt and Voegelin on totalitarianism, terror

and spiritual disease in light of 9/11. The second, "Concepts,"

explains "pneumopathology" and "second reality" and discusses

them in relation to the Japanese revolutionary movement Aum

Shinrikyo. This lends needed emotional distance for the analysis

because it is not about 9/11 directly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By dnw on June 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Cooper's book draws on Voegelin's analysis of the ideologically driven movements of the 20th century (Marxism, Nat'l Socialism). He applies this to Islamic terrorism and does a good job of tracing the roots of the movement. He ultimately points to the pneumopathology of the terrorists as the main "cause" of their tactics. This disease of the spirit allows for a second reality to be created, which suppresses common sense reality. This is what allows the terrorists to justify the slaughter of innocents and to ultimately try to "perfect the world." Cooper gets beyond the superficial motivations often attributed to terrorism and shows us why it is impossible to reason with them. I found the book to be very enlightening and easily the best on modern terrorism that I have come across.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a psychological look into modern religious based terrorism.

While it attempts to explain and understand todays Islamic terrorists, it does so with a long history of struggles that have been religious based. Of course the Palestinian/Israeli struggles are discussed, but so is the more general concepts of what happens to any religious based 'government.' The trouble with the 'Rule of God' is that it is administered by mere humans. God's word as handed down in documents from a thousand or two years ago don't reflect everything that can go wrong in today's world. Acid rain, for instance, caused by a power plant a thousand miles away in another country is not to be found in the Bible or the Koran. When men speak, then, with God on their side and no questioning allowed, the result isn't freedom but tyranny. Galileo and the catholics for instance show just one example.

His conclusions are not happy. The situations that created the terrorists in the past continue. The regions of the world from which they come are not improving, and do not seem to have an improving future. He says that heis not directly interested in the 'clash of civilizations' made famous by Sam Huntington, but to me the situations he describe seem to fit Huntington's work very well.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A little dated, but a terrific book in so many ways. Very enlightening and informative. I really enjoyed it.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Williams on May 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
Cooper does a great job of applying the theories of two fascinating political theorists, Arendt and Voegelin, with modern day terrorism. The incorporation of Voegelin's pneumopathology and second reality is quite correct.

However, where this work loses credibility is its implication that this "spiritual disease" is the cause of modern day Salfi/Takfiri extremists. This "spiritual disease" is the product of various other social-cultural factors. While Voegelin's work is perfect for describing Takfiri ideology, it does not properly describe the causes of Takfiri terrorism. Voegelin would agree that Islam, like any other religion, is what you make of it.
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