A Theory of Fundamentalism: An Inquiry into the Origin and Development of the Movement

  • September 01, 1995
  • Dr Stephen C Pelletiere

Islamic fundamentalism is growing at such a rapid rate that many believe it threatens to take over the Middle East. To prevent this, enormous resources have been summoned, not only from within the region, but in the West as well. Yet, for all the efforts to contain, if not turn back the fundamentalists, the movement appears likely to pose a security challenge well into the next century. Dr. Stephen Pelletiere points out that containment of fundamentalism depends first and foremost on accurate information about the nature of the movement. He examines the origins of the various fundamentalist groups that are challenging the area's governments, and explains why they were able to grow in the face of official repression by some of the most sophisticated and well-equipped security services in the world. The author concludes by building a theory about fundamentalism, which implies a need to redirect policy for coping with it. Dr. Pelletiere maintains that the solution is not to try to crush the movement--that has been attempted numerous times and consistently has failed. Rather, the way to proceed is to locate and act on the basic split within the movement between its socially constructive and other more violent elements.