Burning Books

Armed conflict has ravaged Syria for over four years. The initial protest against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has escalated to a civil war that has drawn intercession from major world powers, arguably exacerbating the situation, and maintaining the issue of ideological conflict at the forefront of popular culture and media.  After the recent attacks in Beirut, Paris, and Bagdad, discussion has centred particularly on Islamophobia and the increasingly perceived dichotomy between Islamic and Western political systems.  After Francis Fukuyama famously declared the end of the great ideological battles, Issue 22 of FORUM looks to explore instead Jasmine Gani’s suggestion that we should be “bringing back ideas,” when analysing this new era of entrenched conflict.  

We might define ideological conflict as the mental, verbal or physical manifestation of dissension between two cultures with different sets of beliefs.  Such cultural hostility might be characterised by xenophobia, ‘otherness’, or racial prejudice, all of which are saturated with the violent historical precedent which helped construct them. What light can be shed on today’s hostilities by the analysis of past example?  

Conflicts can be between political systems, economic systems, religions, races, and even social philosophies, however, it doesn’t always occur on a grand scale - at a state or global level. The notion of private ideology also brings with it an internal conflict between personal belief and societal hegemony, raising questions about how an individual contends with this, imaginatively or pragmatically.

Chiefly, the violence that results from ideological conflict has been analysed using a rhetoric of ‘terror’ and ‘persecution’, yet the value of terms like these is clearly limited. How do we go about differentiating between nationalistic and religious components of ideological conflict? What purpose do we have for denotations such as ‘terrorist’, which are being used increasingly to justify state-sanctioned violence? And what of the notion that juxtaposed ideologies necessarily result in conflict?

Issue 22 of FORUM engages with the debate about ideological conflict and the use of ideology as a tool of analysis.

Editors: Emma Sullivan and Matthew Tibble

Review Team Spring 2016: Anahit Behrooz*, Kenneth Chan, Adam Clay, Camille Feidt*, Alex Grafen*, Julia Haase, Niki Holzapfel, Jo Hsu,  Alice Kelly, Harriet MacMillan, Vicki Madden*, Genevieve McNutt, Bridget Moynihan, Kanokporn Nutchananonthep, Robyn Pritzker, Sarah Rengel, Vivek Santayana*, Thanos Spiliotakaras, Sarah Stewart, Joanna Wilson, Kelvin Wong Article editors are marked with a star (*)

Published: 30-May-2016