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Sandu FRUNZA, U.B.B.

EXECUTIVE EDITORS: Michael JONES Temple University Mihaela FRUNZA U.B.B.


Diana COTRAU, U.B.B.

Alina BRANDA, U.B.B.

Demeter ATTILA, U.B.B.

Nicu GAVRILUTA, U. Al. I Cuza, Iasi Stefan ILOAIE, U.B.B.

Moses NODA, U.B.B.

Nicoleta POPA, U. A. Vlaicu, Arad Calin SAPLACAN, U.B.B.

Ana-Elena ILINCA, U.B.B.


Liviu POP (html version)




American University of Beirut

Ioan BIRIS, Univ. de Vest, Timisoara Vasile BOARI, U.B.B.


Teodor DIMA, U. Al. I Cuza, Iasi Michael FINKENTHAL, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Mircea FLONTA, U. Bucharest Ladislau GYEMANT, U.B.B.

• No. 3 • winter 2002

Edited by S.C.I.R.I.

ISSN: 1583-0039


Hebrew University of Jerusalem Moshe IDEL

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Marius JUCAN, U.B.B.

Ioan-Vasile LEB, U.B.B.

SALAT Levente, U.B.B.

Mircea MICLEA, U.B.B.

Adrian MIROIU, SNSPA, Bucharest Camil MURESANU, U.B.B.

Toader NICOARA, U.B.B.

Dorothy NOYES Ohio State University Dan RATIU, U.B.B.

Traian ROTARIU, U.B.B.

Leonard SWIDLER Temple University Ioan TULCAN Aurel Vlaicu University Leon VOLOVICI

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Jean-Jacques WUNENBURGER Universite Lyon III



Acknowledgements • 4



Religious Fundamentalism and the Globalization of Intolerance • 5


Reflexii neortodoxe despre toleranta Unorthodox Thoughts on Tolerance • 17


On Tolerance and Acceptance of the Other • 22


Toleranta : etica si/sau politica?

Tolerance : Ethics and/or Politics ? • 28


The Limits of Religious Tolerance – a European Per- spective • 39


Reconciliation : On the Border between Theological and Political Praxis • 52


On Tolerance - Sketch of a Christian Interpretation • 65


The Interpretive Possibilities of the Paradox of the Minority Condition  • 72



The Romanian Jewry:

Historical Destiny, Tolerance, Integration, Marginalisation • 85


Uniate /vs./ Orthodox: What Lays behind the Con- flict?

A conflict analysis • 99


The Roman Catholic Denominational Education be- tween the World Wars • 115


The Orthodox Church and the Minority Cults in Inter- War Romania (1918-1940) • 131


The Connection between the Unitarian Thought and Early Modern Political Philosophy • 142


The Community of Lipovean Russians from Romania • 158



Comunitatile catolice din Moldova

Studiu de caz - Satele cu populatie romano – catolica din vecinatatea orasului Roman

Catholic Moldavian Communities. Case Study : Ro- man-Catholic Villages near Roman • 167


The Veil as Metaphor of French Colonized Algeria • 173



The Challenge of Diversity Answers and Dilemmas • 189


Fetzele patriarhatului. Faces of Patriarchy • 208



Jean-Jacques Wunenburger, Omul politic intre mit si ratiune - o analiza a imaginarului puterii

The Political Man between Myth and Reason - an Analysis of the Imaginary of Power • 228


George Voicu, The Evil Gods. The Culture of Con- spiracy in post-communist Romania • 233


Sandu Frunza, Iubirea si Transcendenta. O introducere la problema spatiului median al experientei religioase in Iudaism si Crestinismul

Rasaritean . Love and Transcendence. An Introduction to the Problem of the Median Space of Religious

Experience in Judaism and Eastern Christianity • 237


Publilius Syrus, Maxime . Maxims• 239


Michel Foucault, Istoria nebuniei in epoca clasica . The History of Madness in Classical Age • 244


The Romanian Journal of Society and Politics • 248


Andrei Oisteanu, The Image of the Jew in Romanian Culture • 251



We, the editors of JSRI, would like to express our gratitude towards several persons and institutions. We are especially grateful to the members of the Advisory Board, who supervised the texts from this issue and from the previous ones, and who made invaluable sug- gestions. Special thanks are addressed to Diana Cotrau and Michael Jones, for their efforts to review and cor- rect the English texts. We also acknowledge our grati- tude towards all the authors who contributed to this is- sue.

Partial funding for the 2002 issues was given by the Open Society Institute, New York, through the pro- gram Grant for Open Access Journals. The opinions expressed herein are the authors’ own and do not nec- essarily express the view of OSI. We are especially grateful to Melissa Hagemann and Marta Lukacs, and we thank them for their support and encouragement.

The Editorial Team of JSRI

Cluj, December 2002


Sandu Frunza

Religious Fundamentalism and the Globalization of Intolerance


Lecturer, Ph.D., Chair of Systematic Philosophy, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania

e-mail: [email protected]

After the fall of communism, there emerged the idea that ideology was extinguished, and that ideological conflict has been reduced to silence. The increasing importance of the new “spiritual rebirth” movements raises the question of the global phenomenon of the resurrection of ideologies on a religious basis. The experience of secularization involves a secularization of identity. We have chosen as an example the case of Marxism, with its attempt at a reconstruction of identity with the help of the “disenchanting” of religion and the theorizing of the praxis. As a consequence of the crisis caused by the secularization of identity, today we are facing new religious movements. These are no longer important from the point of view of their tradition or past, but rather are important as religious ideologies that announce the possibility of the emer- gence of an ideological global conflict.

To many thinkers, the end of the Cold War seemed to open a new era, one in which the world either should have been under the monopoly of a great power and there should have been no more room for ideological conflicts, or the world should have become a multiplic- ity of powers, without an ideological pattern.

Far from the anticipated “end” of ideologies, we are today facing new ideological patterns, seeking to take part in this vast game of globalization. The end of ide- ologies is only a myth, lying alongside other myths: the death of art, the death of philosophy, the death of reli- gion, etc.

It is true that modernity determines a deep change in these fields, but the announcing of an “end” is noth- ing other then a mythical-eschatological scenario for the embellishment of the postmodern man’s cultural experience. The effects of modernization upon the in- dividual and his community seem to have a real strong


influence upon the existence of an individual identity in a global world. One of the most interesting points of view on the reconstruction of identity in the XX-th cen- tury reveals the crucial role of the relationship between religion and modernity in the dynamics of identity. Ac- cording to Gilles Kepel, the causes that brought the view about the “end” of religion at the beginning of the XX-th century are the same causes which, in the 70’s, initiated a turning point in the relationship between reli- gion and politics, determining, in this context, a new re- ligious discourse1. In the context of secularization as an ideal to the Modern Age, Kepel perceives the birth of a movement that claims the founding of a new society upon the solid ground of the sacred. Due to the col- lapse of communism in the Eastern Europe, we can see that the reaction to the globalization of the Western World in the ex-communist countries and in the world’s global relationships involves the rising of a large variety of religious movements of “rebirth”. This is the basis for the rebirth of an ideological global con- flict.

The secularization of identity

Modernity brings a certain change of view which determines a transfer of symbols and mechanisms, of signification and power, from the structures connected to religion to those connected to social life, and espe- cially, to those connected to politics. We can find here a continuous transfer from religious imagery to political

imagery, from religious behaviors to ritualizing of every day life, and especially, to ritualizing of the social and political behaviors.

This phenomenon is the result of a long process, in which the substitution of religious principles by mod- ern ideologies gives credit, for a while, to the secular- ized shaping of the world. The need for myth and reli- gion is compensated by a series of mythologies created by European modernity.

Perhaps the most significant and the most influen- tial of all these mythologies, even if reduced today to a lower level of activity, is the mythology of communism.

Daniel Bell perceives the fact that, as early as the XIX-th century, there has been an endeavor for the “disen- chanting” of religion. The “disenchanting” theme finds some remarkable references for itself in Feuerbach’s anthropological critique of religion or in Marx’s materi- alistic critique. This “disenchanting” theme has the mis- sion to remove the interest from man’s spiritual meta- morphosis towards the social change and the

transformation of reality2.

Following this line of argument, we mention the fact that, for Feuerbach, “Religion, at least the Chris- tian religion, is the approach of man towards himself or, more exactly, towards his being, but an approach to- wards his being as towards another being. The divine being is nothing else but the human being, or more pre- cisely: man’s being separated from the enclosures of the individual man, that is truly, bodily objectified, that is perceived and worshiped as another being different from him; consequently, all the determinations of the


religious fundamentalism, ideology, Marx, Lenin, iden- tity, secularization, religion, politics, ideological conflict


divine being are determinations of the human being”3. Therefore, the essence of religion is not a theological essence, but an anthropological one. This conclusion determines the need for a new kind of being-in–the- world and a new construction of identity. The human being is no longer a creature analogous to the Divine, following God’s values or God’s commands; the world no longer has this transcendent impulse, which deter- mines its dynamics. The man and his world shape and actualize the personalized transcendent and the world made by the model of the archetype-world. Thus, the anthropological critique of religion reveals the fact that

“religion is man’s spiritual dream. But even our dreams have a trace of reality, except that we cannot see any- thing real or necessary, but delightful, imaginary and ac- cidental. Thus, I do not constrain religion – neither the speculative philosophy or theology – to anything else but to the opening of its eyes, or, more precisely, to the opening to the outside its insight-oriented eyes, that is, by transforming the object of the representation into an object of reality”4.

Marx follows the same path when he denounces the fantastical reality of the Heavens. Just as Feuerbach, Marx also considers that the Heavens are nothing more but the reflection of the image of man, that religion is nothing but an alienation of human realities. Religion inspires a delusion-world, which gives birth to the need for the illusion. The Marxist critique of religion has the mission of unmasking the alienating dynamics of reli- gion, the mission of setting us free. This critique is very important for Marx, but only as a first step in the un-

masking of many alienation processes. The historical task of Marxism is to unmask, as a first step, the alien- ation caused by religion; than, as a second step, the un- masking of the secularized forms of alienation5.

To Marx, religion is the ideological form par excel- lence. The crisis of religion offers the pattern for the generalized critique of every idealism, and especially, of every ideology. In The German Ideology – which says that Marx and F. Engels tried “to settle accounts to our own previous philosophical conscience”6 – ideology is said to propose an upside-down image of the world, a dis- torted reality.

Trying to outrun any ideological dissimulation of re- ality, Marx shows the fact that the imaginary explana- tion of the world and of man must be forgotten, that any view of the world must begin with the real man and with “the production of material life in itself” 7. The way in which individuals “make” production is consid- ered to be determining not only for their understanding of the way they are, but also for their social and politi- cal relationships, for the way in which the new spirit of Marxism can function as an option and as a scientific view of the world.

At least two elements, I think, might be helpful for the understanding of man and the deconstruction of ideology theorized by Marx. These elements are in- cluded in the well-known Theses on Feuerbach. In the sec- ond thesis we are told that the truth is not a theoretical problem, but rather a practical problem. In the eleventh thesis it is stated that the problem consists not in the terms of the philosophical interpretation of the world,


but in the practical action of its change. Therefore, the dismantling of the mechanisms of ideological thinking can be made with a magic key of Marxism contained in the formula “It is not the conscience that determines life, but it is life that determines the conscience”8.

Gradually, there comes out in the evolution of Marx’s thinking the fact that this negative concept of ideology permits a positive view about ideology. In the Preface to the work Contributions to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx presents to us the well-known thesis concerning the relationships between the real economi- cal basis and the super-structure to which correspond the determined forms of the social conscience. In this framework, there is a real opening towards the Marxist integration of ideology as a revolutionizing science of material production. “We ought to make a distinction between the material revolutionizing of the economic conditions of production, which can be established sci- entifically, and political, legal, religious, artistic or philo- sophical forms, in one word ideological, forms in which people become aware of this conflict, solving it by struggle.”9 Marx strictly relates the changing of ideo- logical forms to the revolutionizing of the economic basis. Once the bourgeois forms of structuring of mate- rial production are annihilated, Marx thought that he could radically change “the entire huge superstructure”.

Once the antagonistic forms of the “social production process” are eliminated, the “pre-historical age of hu- man society”10 should end, and man should find a new identity for himself.

The revolutionizing of the economical structure by the practical development of Marx’s and Engels’s ideas is accomplished by Lenin. Lenin fights against exploita- tion and oppression, using intolerant and rebellious methods found in the previous tradition of Marxism, to which he gives a new meaning, by announcing the ne- cessity of a proletarian dictatorship. Lenin considers that economical oppression inevitably determines vari- ous political and social forms of oppression, as well as the decay of the spiritual and moral order. In Socialism and Religion, Lenin writes, “religion is one of the forms of spiritual exploitation, which oppresses people”11. Following Marx, he affirms “Religion is opium for people”. He also understands this expression, most fa- vorite of Marx, in the way that “Marxism always sees religion and contemporary churches, all the religious organizations, as instruments of the bourgeois reaction, which serve the defending of exploitation and the nar- cotizing of the working class”12.

Lenin agrees with the contemporary thinking that proposes a separation of religion from the State; thus, religious institutions must be separated from the State, the State must not recognize any official religion, it must be atheistic; the citizens must not beneficiate from rights depending on some religious affiliation. Though, Lenin asserts, “on no account can we consider religion as a private problem concerning our own party”13. He achieves an ideological paradox in considering that reli- gion is a private problem for the State, but that it is not a private problem for the Proletarian Party. The party must struggle “with the help of the ideological weapon”


for the elimination of “religious obscurantism” and for the “advancement of atheism”. To Lenin, the problem of religion must not be rationally treated, but rather it should be integrated into the class struggle14. Despite all this, Lenin does not militate for the permanent inter- diction of religion, nor for a total war against religious beliefs. He adopts an ideological struggle that should lead to the recovery of the primary elements of religion and faith, and that should also follow “the removal of the social roots of religion”15. Integrating the struggle for the enlightenment of masses into the general struggle of the Communist Party, Lenin shows that

“the Party pursues the annihilation of the relationship between the exploiting classes and the organizing of re- ligious propaganda, as well as the real liberation of the working class from religious prejudices, by organizing to the greatest extent possible a scientific, educational, and anti-religious propaganda with this view. At the same time, one should carefully avoid any offending of the religious beliefs, which would only result in the re- inforcement of religious fanaticism”16. We should not imagine that this care for the religious emotions of the people endowed with religious beliefs is a concern of Marxism. These cautions are taken only to avoid a new separation, that between the believers and the non-be- lievers, in a theory which idealizes the accomplishment of the unity. This is not an act of social tolerance to- wards religious beliefs. The course of the events, espe- cially in the Soviet Union, as well as in other countries influenced by Marxism, shows that the relationship of political structures to religion took the form of a viru-

lent propaganda and radical attitude towards religion. A climate of generalized intolerance was specific to all Marxist totalitarian regimes.

The whole effort of the opposition of the Party doctrine against religion is the logical result of the will of Marxism to change the world with the use of non- transcendent principles. The narcotizing of religion, Lenin argues, is nothing but a imaginary remedy, which produces alienation (as Marx explains). The escape from religion is an opening to the praxis and to the cre- ation of a world made by the principles of the working class. This aspect involves a secularization process gen- erated by the transformation of the economic basis, with all the consequences implied in the changing of the superstructure.

According to Engels, Marx discovered the general law of historical development. In the name of this law, Marxism justifies any revolutionary changing of the world. This is that which is supposed to help us return to what is fundamental: the praxis and the real man; to the certainty that nobody can elude the unique law, which Marxism establishes as an absolute law. Any ex- ception from the strict rule of Marxist ideology means banishment from the system. In the ideological field, conversion is a strict necessity. It is a form of recogniz- ing yourself as a human being, capable of adapting to an implacable historical destiny. The Entmythologisierung (disenchanting) of religion leads to the establishment of a new ideological eschatology. Exploited by the ideolo- gies in his struggle against religion, the modern man has to look for another source of “sense” or “reason”.


One must find a new basis for the definition of identity. Marxist ideology replaces religion, assuring a strong basis for the construction of identity. The hu- man model of the working class is no longer religious; it is ideological. The Marxist thinkers show that the ideo- logical forms, which correspond to the various forms of social conscience, do not exhaust that which is con- sidered to be the Marxist ideology. Although it is the view of a single social class, Marxist ideology would best correspond to a global understanding of society, because, as a result of the Marxists opinion, the ideals of the working class would better correspond to the ideals of man in general. Such a belief could justify any action of the proletarian “conquest” of the world. The classical Marxist thinking and all its theoretical devia- tion can be viewed as a whole. This thinking could be described, as Hannah Arendt said, as the logic of an idea. This basic idea is Marx’s work. This idea develops itself in theoretical and practical structures, as the unique dynamic of a coherent system (Marxism). This said, we do not want to diminish the importance of theoretical and practical Marxism. We merely want to sustain that Marxism is a global conceptualization of modernity, which can be understood as the develop- ment of a modern myth, with multiple sequences and rituals, integrated into a unique story. It is the story of the human being, shaped by a particular ideological model.

The case of Marxism is an example of what moder- nity brings to identity reconstruction, using the

deconstruction of religion for the structuring of the hu-

man universe. We could choose here Nietzsche and his

“God is dead”, with all his impact on the XXth century, with all the prestige of his work in the academic com- munities. We could choose psychoanalysis and its revo- lution of the interior and spiritual world of man. We preferred Marxism as an example, because the ideologi- cal aspect is much more consistent and clear. More than that, we can say that the political separation be- tween the “socialist” and the “capitalist” world not only determined a separation of the world, but it also initi- ated an ideological conflict.

The persuasive force of Marxism can be explained in many ways. Concerning the central ideological model of the world, it might seem important that Marxism de- veloped under the influence of a total ideology, which made it a “secularized religion”17, employing all the en- ergies of religion in a political transformation of the world. Concerning the relationship between ideology and religion, we take Rene Girard’s opinion as highly important: “The tendency to completely eliminate the sacred prepares the tacit return of the sacred, in a form not transcendent but rather immanent.”18 Actually, de- spite all the secularization, the political imaginary pen- etrates the transparent tissue of ideology and accom- plishes the mediation role, analogous to ‘mystery’ in case of the sacred. It is not an accident that ideology seeks to regain the totality of the real for the human be- ing, acting as do theological systems, in the founding of the cosmic, human being. In this context of seculariza- tion of the human being and of identity, a conflict ap- pears between religious groups and modernity. The


consequences of the influence of modernity involve a crisis of identity and a global rebirth of religious move- ments.

The “spiritual rebirth” movements and the new ideological conflict

Today we are facing a unitary phenomenon, which, in a variety of forms, seems to implicate the democra- cies of the West, the Eastern European countries and, more evidently, the Middle East and Arab countries.

We are talking about the rebirth of interest in religion and the appearance of politically religious movements in the new world order.

One of the most famous analyses on this subject, despite all the generalizations and errors, is S.

Huntington’s theory of the “clash of civilizations”. Ac- cording to this theory, if in the time of the Cold War, the world was bipolarized and divided is a sum of states engaged in an ideological, economic, and military com- petition, after the Cold War, the world has become multi-polarized and multi-civilized. The new separa- tions in international relationships do not involve ideo- logical features so much as cultural aspects. The clash determined by political ideas is replaced by a clash of civilizations, of culture and religion. In these global reconfigurations, a central place is occupied by the problem of identity. The new division of the world no longer cares for political interests, but rather for soli- darities of identity, especially solidarities that rely on

common or related religious identities19. Another im- portant finding of Huntington is that, while the great religions are a creation of cultures outside of the West- ern World, all the great ideologies are products of our civilized world. Huntington even considers that non- civilized people are incapable of producing ideologies.

But “the ideologies that have embodied the late West- ern civilization are in decay, and their place is taken by religions and by other basic cultural forms of iden- tity”20.

We agree with the increase of importance of the cultural aspect, and especially the religious aspect, in the new dynamics of the international relationships. It is evident that the problem of identity is a stringent prob- lem, in the context of a deepening internal crisis of mo- dernity and its dynamics. But we have strong reserva- tion regarding Huntington’s thesis on the decline of ideologies.

My view is that Huntington, following Kepel, gives a good explanation of the movements of spiritual re- birth both in the Western field and in the spaces that, indistinctly, without a negative shadow, we name the Orient. Modernization involves both the individual and the society. This process involves an increase of eco- nomic and political power, but also the alienation and crisis of the individual. The social and the individual consequences have an important role in the process of cultural and religious rebirth21.

This is the phenomenon that can be observed in the case of the Western spiritual “rebirth” movements of the 70’s, or in the ex-communist countries after 1989.


The identity crisis generated by the secularized reli- gions, like ideologies, has created a response that seeks for a rebirth of a model that came from revelation or traditional religions. The clash of civilizations, the inter- religious conflict, prophesized by Huntington, is far from being separated from the ideological field. The new movements that arise on the structure of the great religions are more like religious ideologies than they are like spiritual “rebirth” movements. That’s why it is nec- essary to distinguish between Islam and Islamism (po- litical Islam); we have to distinguish between the vari- ous forms of Christianity and the nationalist or religious ideologies growing in this field; between Judaism and political extremism; the list is always opened. To distin- guish more clearly between religion and ideological reli- gion claiming the name of a particular religion, we will speak about the notion of fundamentalism.

A strict separation between religion and religious fundamentalism is not an easy task. Lawrence J.

Silberstein sees fundamentalism as an ideal model, as a mental construct. In this case it would be necessary to show more clearly what characteristics we have in mind when we talk about fundamentalism. But the majority of authors show the difficulty of defining the essence of fundamentalism. It is almost impossible to reveal a series of intrinsic characteristics that could be detected repeatedly at the level of the various movements or views that we put under the sign of fundamentalism. A definition of the essence of fundamentalism would make the concept itself impossible; thus, we would see fundamentalist acts without fundamentalism.

We are obliged to shape the frame of a possible separation between real religious tradition and ideologi- cal forms, that is, the political movements guised as re- ligious tradition. From this motive, we will here attempt to present the eleven “family traits of fundamentalism”, exposed by Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby.22

1) Fundamentalism is a form of religious idealism.

In this context, the transcendent is the only immutable force; it offers a strong and irreducible basis for the personal and communal identity; beneath this identity lays Divine revelation seen as the whole, undifferenti- ated Truth.

2) The shaping of identity on the basis of revelation makes the fundamentalists refuse secularized reality or any trace of relativism.

3) The identity is shaped by a series of dramatic events of Divine origin. In this sense, fundamentalists give credit to some particular moments of history, which they relate to their tradition or their sacred texts and interpret according to an esoteric reckoning of time and space.

4) Based on the dynamics of opposition, fundamen- talists mythologize their enemies. They see their en- emies in a mythical or eschatological scenario, with the help of the rhetoric of negation. Thus, without even searching for the real identity of their enemy, funda- mentalists trace limits which protect and purify the group.

5) Another characteristic is the aggressiveness of fundamentalist missionary activity. Often, the moderate


parties, which try to live in peace with the other, are ex- cluded from the group.

6) The ingredient that moves fundamentalist activ- ism is the idea of an imminent danger. Fundamental- isms appear and develop in periods of crisis. This crisis can be real or imaginary, but it always appears as a threat. The crisis is a crisis of identity.

7) The rhetoric of the crisis justifies any extreme measures. Fundamentalism contains a totalitarian im- pulse. In many cases, fundamentalism desires a total transformation of society, with the help of the replace- ment of existing structures with a system emanating from religious principles.

8) In developing this kind of system, which includes society, politics, and economy, fundamentalism proves to be selective towards the tradition and modernity.

Fundamentalists carefully select from the original doc- trine only these elements that serve their ideological purposes. The fundamentalists extract the ancient doc- trines our of their original context, institutionalize them, and use them as ideological weapons against all those elements that seem hostile to them.

9) The charismatic leadership plays a central role in the interpreting of tradition, in evaluating modernity, and in the selective extraction of elements from both of these spheres.

10) Fundamentalists prove that their strategies are more closely related to modernism then to tradition.

With all the resentments towards modernity, they use its weapons to fight against secularization.

11) Fundamentalists appeal to the masses. The ap- peal to the masses could be successful because of the use of mass communication systems (radio, television, etc.). Marty and Appleby illustrate very convincingly the fact that the centers of the new identities are not syna- gogues, churches, nor mosques, but rather radio and television. These elements are significant to the cultiva- tion of the intolerance which can be seen to be a global phenomenon.

We could probably see aspects of fundamentalism in religious activities that do not seem quite ideological.

What is characteristic to the religious ideologies is their totalitarian instinct. As was in the case of secularized religion (Marxism), the totalitarian impulse generated violence and intolerance.

Marty and Appleby also mention the fact that the constant component of fundamentalism is the idea of fighting. This struggle is intrinsic to all family traits of the spiritual “rebirth” movements, under the sign of funda- mentalism. Although it is usually known as violence, the idea of fight has many meanings: 1) Fighting back – by which we see that fundamentalists are militants and retaliate because they see their identity threatened. 2) Fight for – a view of the world adopted or inherited, which they want to strengthen or impose as a universal view; 3) Fight with – implies a use of “weapons“. These include elements that are considered fundamental and are transformed in fetishes; 4) Fight against – the others.

The others are real or imaginary enemies, but also can be moderate elements which try to adapt their personal beliefs to the conditions of modernity; 5) Fight under


God – more visible in the case of the theistic religions, referring to personalized transcendence23. All the traits explained by these two authors have a strong ideologi- cal characteristic.

Michael von Bruck shows that when we talk about fundamentalism, we must be conscious of two aspects of this movement: on one side, the negation of every relativity of the knowledge specific to the fundamental- ist movement; and on the other side, its refusal to ac- cept any integration or assimilation in the name of rela- tivism. Western relativism created a large variety of negations and refusals. The tendency of the Western world to expand its forms outside the Western world makes inevitable an increase of the crisis of identity and the expanding of relativism in the territories outside the Western world. Von Bruck emphasizes two sources of negation and refusal: an individual source, based on the fear of the individual of loosing his or her identity or the identity of his community, because of his week faith in God; and a social source, which exploits the political aspect, that is, the insecurity of individuals within a much larger group. Many groups, for political reasons and for the purpose of establishing a unique, absolute identity, evidence the desire for comfort and security offered by a strong identity24.

Fundamentalism is a religious idea. Restating the re- ligious aspect might seem redundant, because every fundamentalist movement claims to be a spiritual “re- birth” movement. But problems appear once we try to explain the ideological character of these movements, to reveal their social and political transformation pur-

poses, with the help of a particular form of power. Re- flecting upon the ideas of James Davison Hunter, Hava Lazarus-Zafeh, Laurence L. Silberstein, Joan Scott, Lionel Caplan, Bruce Lawrence and others, we can as- sert that: 1) fundamentalism is a product of our moder- nity, and its sources of ideology cannot be situated later that the beginning of the XX-th century; 2) the crisis of identity is the central component of the fundamentalist movements, and their opposing politics fight against secularization; 3) The various forms of the conflict be- tween the religious groups and modernity involve more of a dialectical movement, than a real opposition move- ment; 4) fundamentalisms produce, legitimize, and pro- mote social forms and particular cultures as absolute; 5) fundamentalism seeks particular identities for individu- als and groups, identities seen as a model for the “re- birth” of all humanity; 6) fundamentalism defines and structures experience following a set of beliefs, views, and assertions, which are vague enough not to consti- tute a very coherent and rigid doctrine, creating space for future developments and adaptation; 7) fundamen- talisms contain too large a variety of political ideas, so- cial needs, and legitimatising schemes to embody a unique essence.

If we judge it in the context of globalization, we will observe that fundamentalism has a large variety of forms, that it claims its existence from different cultural contexts and religious doctrines. Fundamentalism is a global phenomenon that constitutes itself as a plurality of fundamentalisms, which do not have a certain terri- torial or cultural circumscription, which are not related


to certain territories, but rather to global influence zones.

If we should speak of a new conflict of ideologies, that is, of the conflict between religious fundamental- isms and democratic order, than this conflict should not separate the world into “political blocks” or “politi- cal worlds”. There is no “Iron curtain” that should draw strict lines between two worlds. The fundamental- isms have a local structure that integrates itself in a large net of global structures. The conflict between a democratic ideological order and fundamentalist reli- gions determines another kind of polarity, a polarity in which the “local” becomes “global”, and the “global”

follows the trace of the “local”. Religious ideologies create identity types, which can sustain the most unex- pected solidarities. The solidarity between intolerance and violence is a common pattern of totalitarian ideol- ogy. The new religious ideologies become totalitarian ideologies because of their tendencies to influence the new global order and to engage in conquest of an abso- lute “vital space”.


* Translated by Stefan Maftei

1 Gilles Kepel, Dumnezeu îsi ia revansa (God takes revenge), Ed.

Artemis, Bucuresti, 1994, p. 8.

2 Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology in the West, in The End of Ide- ology Debate edited, with an introduction by Chaim I. Waxman, A Clarion Book Published by Simon and Schuster, New York, 1986, p. 89.

3 Ludwig Feuerbach, Esenta Crestinismului (The Essence of Christianity), Ed. Stiintifica, Bucuresti, 1961, p. 45.

4 Ludwig Feuerbach, Esenta Crestinismului (The Essence of Christianity), ed. cit., p. 21.

5 “The critique of Heavens becomes the critique of earth, the critique of religion becomes the critique of right, the critique of theology becomes the critique of politics “, cf. K. Marx, F.

Engels, Despre religie (On Religion), Ed. politica, Bucuresti, 1960, p.

38. 6 K. Marx, Contributii la critica economiei politice (Contributions to the Critique of Political Economy), Ed. de stat pentru literatura politica, Bucuresti, 1954, p. 11.

7 K. Marx, F. Engels, Ideologia germana (The German Ideology), Ed. de stat pentru literatura politica, Bucuresti, 1956, p. 22.

8 K. Marx, F. Engels, Ideologia germana (The German Ideology) , ed. cit., p. 23.

9 K. Marx, Contributii la critica economiei politice (Contributions to the Critique of Political Economy), ed. cit., p. 10.

10 K. Marx, Contributii la critica economiei politice (Contributions to the Critique of Political Economy),

ed. cit., p. 10.

11 V. I. Lenin, Despre religie, Ed. de stat pentru literatura politica, Bucuresti, 1956, p. 7.

12 V. I. Lenin, Cu privire la atitudinea Partidului

muncitoresc fata de religie (Concerning the Attitude of the Party to- wards Religion), in Despre religie (On Religion), ed. cit., p. 19.

13 V. I. Lenin, Despre religie (On Religion), ed. cit., p. 8.

14 V. I. Lenin, Despre religie (On Religion), ed. cit., p. 10 15 V. I. Lenin, Cu privire la atitudinea Partidului

muncitoresc fata de religie (Concerning the Attitude of the Party to- wards Religion), in Despre religie (On Religion), ed. cit., p. 21.

16 V. I. Lenin, Din “Proiectul de Program al C.C. al P. C.

(b) din Rusia” (Extract from “The Project of The Party in Russia”), in Despre religie (On Religion), ed. cit., p. 49.

17 Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology in the West, in The End of Ideology Debate edited, with an introduction by Chaim I. Waxman,


A Clarion Book Published by Simon and Schuster, New York, 1986, p. 96.

18 Rene Girard, Violenta si sacrul (Violence and The Sacred), Ed. Nemira, Bucuresti, 1995, p. 349.

19 S. Huntington, Ciocnirea civilizatiilor (The Clash of Civiliza- tions), Ed. Antet, Bucuresti, 1998, p. 36.

20 S. Huntington, Ciocnirea civilizatiilor (The Clash of Civiliza- tions), ed. cit., p. 77.

21 S. Huntington, Ciocnirea civilizatiilor (The Clash of Civiliza- tions), ed. cit., p. 111.

22 We synthesize the eleven “family traits” from the analy- sis of the authors in Fundamentalism Project, vol. I, Fundamentalism Observed, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1991, pp. 814-833.

23 Martin E. Marty, R. Scott Appleby, Fundamentalism Project, vol. I, Fundamentalism Observed, ed. cit., pp. IX-X.

24 Michael von Bruck, Identifying Constructively Our Interreli- gious Moment, in Interfaith Theology, A Reader, ed. by Dan Cohn- Sherbok, Oneworld, Oxford, 2001, p. 48.


Camil Muresanu

Reflexii neortodoxe despre toleranta

Pedanteria, urîcioasa deformatie profesionala, îmboldeste pe erudit sa înceapa aproape orice discutie prin a explica de unde provine conceptul sau cuvîntul puse în cauza.

Asa si acum: toleranta, dupa o escapada prin limba franceza, descinde, aproape neschimbata, din latinescul tolerantia, cu neidentificate radacini indo-europene mai vechi.

Împlinindu-si prima etapa a datoriei, eruditul con- tinua cu o definitie sau cu o istorie a problemei ce se vrea riguros articulata, încît sa lumineze si sa-i faca sa cada în admiratie pe toti aceia care pîna atunci crezusera a sti si singuri despre ce era vorba.1

C. Mureseanu presents in an essayistic approach the history of tolerance as a concept. Its very domain may be described as regarding the relations among human beings. The concept has been dealt with different approaches as the philosophical, moral and political one. The article focuses especially on the religious tolerance, and also on the opposition of the pair of terms: tolerance vs. intolerance.


Member of Romanian Academy, Prof., Ph. D., Director of History Insti-


Ca multe alte performante ale spiritului evoluat, sindromul tolerantei si cel al intolerantei îsi au originile în reactiile biologice instinctive ale fiintei umane, de autoconservare fata de altcineva sau altceva. Ele s-au insinuat, treptat, si în reactii de ordin psihic, initial si acestea în forme elementare, iar pe încetul – tot mai


Privind prin aceasta optica, se deduce ca la început a fost intoleranta. Pe cei care, în lupta pentru viata, au riscat prematur a se aventura în atitudinea opusa, selectia naturala i-a sanctionat, decimîndu-i.

Augmentarea fortei, a iscusintei, a mijloacelor de autoaparare au substituit treptat brutalei si instinctivei reactii primare de respingere, o senzatie de siguranta relativa în fata agresiunii, sau a unei pure si simple prezente alogene.

A jucat un rol si ceea ce s-ar numi, peste masura de pretentios pentru acele vremuri „de început de leat”, - cresterea economica. Ea a evidentiat inutilitatea

nimicirii celui învins, a consumarii sau alungarii lui.

„Celalalt” putea sa fie folositor, ca supus ori ca tovaras.

Indivizii izolati sau grupurile umane mici erau slabe în lupta pentru supravietuire. Asocierea era de rigoare, marind randamentul actiunilor de procurare a hranei, în primul rînd din vînarea animalelor mari si puternice. Nu numai asocierea din necesitate, dar si transformarea în rob a celui dintîi învins în lupta au fost – oricît de

hazardata ar parea afirmatia – un prim gest de toleranta.

Evident, unul dictat de interesul instinctual, si lipsit cu totul de vreo conotatie morala.

Într-un sens demult întîlnit, în vechi licariri de constiinta, dar dezvoltat pîna în ziua de azi, alaturi cu alte nuante ale sale, a tolera însemna a rabda, a suferi ceva din partea unor agenti obiectivi, carora nu li se putea opune o riposta (de ex. a rabda o nenorocire).

Omul percepea, prin urmare, forte irezistibile ce se abateau asupra-i. În fata lor nu putea face altceva decît sa se resemneze. Împacarea cu soarta, atitudine întîlnita frecvent în cultura antica, era substantial diferita de gestul tolerantei, fiindca acesta din urma presupunea acceptarea deliberata macar a cîtorva din

inconvenientele unor situatii alternative cu care omul se confrunta. Toleranta nu are ca substrat pasivitatea, ci este o atitudine cu resorturi la fel de active ca si intoleranta: dipoli spirituali, cu reactii contrare la un anume stimul exterior.

Toleranta e diferita si de indiferenta preconizata de un Cioran; fiindca indiferenta se constituie prin

anularea interesului fata de tot ce te înconjoara, chiar si fata de propriul destin, pe cînd toleranta recepteaza universul ambiental, ia o atitudine „in petto” fata de componente ale acestuia, admitîndu-le legitimitatea si libertatea de exprimare chiar atunci cînd e în dezacord transant cu ele.

Abia cînd se insinua pe teritoriul relatiilor interumane, toleranta începe sa devina ea însasi:

respecta prezenta si comportarea dezagreabile ale cuiva, cel mult tinîndu-se la distanta de ele, dar nu bruscîndu- le, ci consumîndu-si tacit repulsia.

Pîna la stadiul autocenzurarii reactiilor de respingere acuta a expresiilor sau ideilor rostite de cineva, toleranta


tolerance, intolerance, religion, Christianity, Islam


a fost subminata de orgolii si de conceptii obtuze, expresii ale infatuatei multumiri de sine, refuzînd întelegerea a ceea ce nu era plamadit dupa chipul si asemanarea sa.

A mai fost alterata si de alcoolemia organica a certitudinilor, a convingerilor proclamate ca fiind de necontestat.

Pe ele, acelasi Cioran le-a desfiintat, interzicînd acomodarea cu cele eventual scapate cu viata: „Cînd refuzi sa admiti ca ideile pot fi schimbate între ele, sîngele curge ... Sub hotarîrile ferme se înalta un pumnal; ochii înflacarati prevestesc crima. Niciodata spiritul sovaitor, atins de hamletism, n-a fost

primejdios. Principiul raului rezida în tensiunea vointei, în inaptitudinea pentru pacea desavîrsita, în megaloma- nia prometeica a unei rase care crapa de idealuri si explodeaza sub convingeri ...”.2

Necesitatea acomodarii cu altii s-a ideologizat în formule generale, religioase si filosofico-morale.

Delimitarea între aceste doua sectiuni ale spiritului reclama unele precizari. Filosofia si morala s-au înteles în a considera pe om ca specimen universal,

esentialmente identic cu el însusi, avînd aceleasi atribute fundamentale, oriunde si oricînd, si îndreptatit a benefi- cia de acelasi tratament.

Cu religiile, lucrurile sunt mai nuantate, spre a nu spune mai complicate. Evident, din punctul de vedere al conceptului pus aci în discutie nu are sens a fi

invocate decît marile religii universale, care continua în lumea contemporana, si pe ale caror conceptii socotim ca le cunoastem bine.

În interiorul tuturor sistemelor respective, toleranta a fost uneori un concept rigid, alteori o idee „în mers”, în evolutie, în transformare în sensuri divergente.

Cîteodata o religie a practicat, initial, spiritul de

toleranta între membrii ei, sau în raport cu adeptii alteia, pentru ca ulterior sa instaureze, treptat, teze si practici din ce în ce mai restrictive. În alte cazuri, evolutia a decurs invers: de la o îngustime initiala de vederi, spre un larg orizont de comprehensiune – cel putin unul declarativ.

Crestinismul a avut o scurta perioada de claustrare în sine, dupa care a pasit spre o deschidere „catre toate neamurile”; apoi a coborît catre un climat intolerant, ale carui limite sunt a se fixa, „grosso modo”, între

cruciade si secolul Luminilor. În prezent, parcurge din nou un drum invers.

Nu se poate însa omite faptul ca religiile, în speta crestinismul, au fost alterate de ingerintele salbatice ale puterii lumesti. De ce fel de toleranta se putea vorbi, orice ar fi încercat sa spuna biserica, în societatea franca descrisa de un Grigore din Tours sau un Pseudo-

Fredegar? Asemenea exemple au fost, din nefericire, prea numeroase ...

Islamul a fost si a ramas intolerant, brahmanismul cam tot asa. Nici iudaismul nu e dispus la recunoasterea adevarurilor altor credinte. Desi acuzat, cu ura absurda, de felurite grozavii, el a manifestat însa, în realitate, mai mult un fel de „intoleranta defensiva” fata de alte

credinte, severitatea exercitînd-o cu precadere înauntrul sau. Budismul, cu a sa profunda meditativitate de


factura morala, nu pare pornit sa persecute pe cei de alte convingeri.

Toleranta si intoleranta stau în relatie cu apetente ale psihicului, cu o anumita terapeutica interioara a acestuia, pe care si-o realizeaza cînd printr-o metoda, cînd printr-alta: prin a-si impune liniste, sau,

dimpotriva, a prefera starea de tensiune.

Îndeobste, sufletul omenesc se simte împacat cînd nu are probleme, îndoieli, ci se complace în certitudini,

– obiective, sau create de el si absolutizate subiectiv.

Credinta, ca stare sufleteasca, este – în orice religie care merita acest nume – generatoare de certitudini

odihnitoare. O terapeutica recunoscuta ca eficienta.

„Nelinistita e inima mea, pîna nu se odihneste întru Tine, Doamne!” – a spus Sf. Augustin.

Pierderea credintei, absenta ei, indiferent de motive si circumstante, lasa sufletul sa pluteasca între doua ape, nesigur în alegerea cailor sale, tulburat din aceasta

cauza, „bolnav de-amurguri” – cum frumos a spus cîndva un poet.

Victoria pe care si-o proclama ratiunea în momentul în care crede a fi descoperit un adevar nu se compara cu starea oferita de credinta patrunsa de adevarul ei, revelat si imuabil.

Prima este o euforie, agitata maladiv de obsesia autodepasirii în drum spre alte descoperiri în nesfîrsitul si aleatoriul univers al adevarurilor posibile.

A doua înseamna pace, împacare întru sine. Dupa celebrul vers al lui Leopardi, e un „dulce naufragiu în imensa mare a infinitului”. Rezulta ca toleranta nu are cum sa fie o componenta organica a credintei, ca

aceasta nu o proclama, atunci cînd o face, decît conven- tional, „pentru imagine”. Credinta, si atunci cînd se distanteaza, declarativ, de orice veleitate tiranica asupra mintii si a sufletului, continua a se socoti în posesia unui adevar unic pe care, cu oricîta blîndete l-ar propune, nu-l poate, prin definitie, împarti cu un altul.

Asa cum si simtul comun o percepe, toleranta este cu precadere apanajul spiritului rational, al libertatii de gîndire, al intelectului evadat din edenicul spatiu dog- matic si patruns de celebra sentinta a lui Montaigne:

„Le monde n’est que variété et dissemblance”3, Disjunctia dintre credinta si spirit rational nu constituie, din parte-ne, o evaluare, o ierarhizare, ci o constatare perfect neutra. Sunt spatii diferite,

complementare, cel mult cu sfere tangente, dar principial non-interpenetrabile.

Fiindca l-am amintit pe Montaigne, se cuvine sa încheiem cu o reverenta dinaintea unor scurte cugetari asupra temei noastre, pe care i le datoram.

„Vazut-am, în timpul meu, vina aducîndu-se unor scrieri, fiindca sunt curat omenesti si filozoficesti, fara amestec al teologiei.

... Dumnezeiasca învatatura îsi tine rangul mai bine deoparte, ca doamna si stapînitoare, ce trebuie sa fie mai presus de tot, fara sa ceara învoire si sprijin.

... Filozofia – spune Sf. Ioan Crisostomul – de aceea este alungata din sfînta învatatura, ca o slujitoare de prisos si socotita nevrednica sa vada, fie [si numai] în treacat si din prag, altarul sfintelor comori ale învataturii ceresti, fiindca vorbirea omului are tipare mai prejos si


nu trebuie sa se foloseasca de maretia, înaltarea si taria cuvîntului dumnezeiesc”.4


1 Spre a-i multumi pe neopuristi, am propune sa nu se zica

“toleranta”, ci “întreolalta îngaduinta”. Numai ca istoria

neamurilor si a limbilor evolueaza asa de repede si de învalmasit, încît de la o vreme autohtonismele încep sa para neologisme si viceversa …

2 Précis de décomposition, Paris, Gallimard, 1949, p. 8.

3 Lumea nu e decît felurime si neasemuire. Eseuri, II.II.

4 Eseuri, I, LVI (6).


Nicu Gavriluta

On Tolerance and Acceptance of the Other

In one of his essays published in El Pais, Umberto Eco considered a mere gaffe minister Berlusconi’s statement on the superiority of Western culture, a mi- nor fact, in other words. “What is not minor and what should preoccupy us all: politicians, religious leaders and educators alike, is that some expressions and even impassioned articles legitimated these declarations and transformed them into subjects that captivate the teenager’s mind and possibly lead him to rash conclu- sions as dictated by the moments’ feeling”1. To hate, dissension, and intolerance, eventually.

Basically, Umberto Eco is right. The mass media to- day has a colossal influence. It creates leaders (false ones at times), it demolishes statues, and changes men-


Lecturer, Ph.D., “A. I.

Cuza” University, Iasi, Romania

e-mail: [email protected]

In this text, the problem of tolerance is discussed in the light of recent works of Umberto Eco and Stefan Afloroaei. The author argues that in the case of tolerance, the success lies not in tolerating the other, (not even in the weaker sense of the word), but rather in accepting him. The acceptance of the Other is the complete and powerful meaning of tolerance. Accep- tance ends where the very presence of the concept of tolerance is undermined and compromised by its history of colonialism and exploitation. Therefore, the primary solution to understand and apply tolerance is the recognition of alterity, in an inner and outer meaning alike.


talities. True indeed, in the process of taking over and commenting upon them the premier’s words may lead to confusion and intolerance. Still, I am not willing to excuse the Italian Prime Minister as Eco has. His was no minor gaffe. As a matter of fact, Berlusconi’s state- ment is extremely important on account of the current political and symbolic position of the initiator. A public statement, be it false (as the example above) or not, be- comes real by the very fact that it is interpreted as real (the celebrated sociological theorem of Thomas).

Unfortunately, I am under the impression that Silvio Berlusconi has not reconsidered his belief by ad- mitting the mistake. He continues as a prisoner of the stereotypes of the Enlightenment and of progressive origins, which regard the West as the hub of the uni- verse, with all the other religions, cultures and civiliza- tions as mere appendices to the European history. I do not think that Berlusconi has graduated – as quite a few European politicians have indeed - any course in the history of religions or cultural anthropology. Then I can only assume that he lacks a profound knowledge of the Islam as well as the culturally activated propensity to understand and tolerate his Muslim fellows. Perhaps it is not far from the truth to say that Silvio Berlusconi is through his famous statement the prototype of the Western politician. Pragmatic, tactful and diplomatic, but hardly knowledgeable in issues of the philosophy of alterity and the social imaginary.

The public persona of Berlusconi embodies the weaker form of the concept of tolerance. For him, “to tolerate” means that the parties involved are necessarily

situated on different positions. From this perspective, X in his capacity of Western politician tolerates the other, because X is a priori invested with a special status, a superior one by necessity, and the other, whether part of the minority or not, lives by his consent only. X toler- ates in the sense that he accepts the proximity of the other’s residence in the community. Still, X does not necessarily honor the other, all the less impart the coor- dinates of his “superior” culture. His logo reads as fol- lows: By the very fact that the Other is different from myself, he is inferior to me. To a certain degree, I can tolerate him, but I needn’t bear his cold smelly breath down my nape. Keeping the distance is compulsory2. Still, the risks of this weaker form of tolerance can be quite vehement. In the extreme, they might lead to intolerance and crime.

The sequences of this malefic intellectual mecha- nism are hardly a novelty in history. To start with, due to its differentiated status, the Other is beheld as charged with negativity. This intolerability may easily pass into discourse and into actions. In one of his splendid texts, Stefan Afloroaei illustrates the road from “being different” to “being considered the adver- sary” by different situations drawn from history3. Stefan Afloroaei exemplifies the negative load of the al- ter by using the Latin equivalent, where alter means only the other, the adversary, the opposite, etc. Moreover, in public confrontation altera pars (the other party) is suggestively associated with avocatus diaboli. Also, altera avis (the other bird) refers to imminent misfortunes and stands for the implicit evil of the time. Not to mention alter homo, equated to the barbarian, hardly a chance associa-


tolerance, alterity, men- talities, dictatorship of the minority, Eliade, Afloroaei, Eco, Girard


tion. His social condition is often that of the foreign wanderer, the plebeian and the servant, the insane and the damned.

Oftener than not, the encounter with the Other takes the shape of the relation between the nomad and the sedentary. This is the case of Borges’ Histories on Horsemen and of the binary, classical by now, “Euro- pean-Indian” in The Discovery of America by Tzvetan Todorov. The famous Night of Saint Bartholomew, alongside the dark September 11, have become appar- ent indications of the demonization of the Other and of an impressive failure of tolerability.

Today, all these can not be imputed to either one side. To a certain degree, politicians, citizens, public in- stitutions and the media alike are to be blamed. The media have their own instruments to cultivate and to perpetuate some dichotomous social relations that in certain contexts may favor an increase in intolerance.

This is possible when crime becomes symbolic through stigmatization, manipulation and intolerance. The spe- cific reference is to such Manichaean pairs as “we – they”, “white - black”, “Christians – non Christians”,

“civilized – barbarian”, “Europeans – Orientals,” etc.

One such element copiously used is the stereotype. The term entered the Humanistic Sciences in the 1930s. To- day, it circumscribes the assembly of rules and at- tributes of which some represent personality traits. In the media, the stereotype takes the form of a synthetic and necessarily simplified presentation of the quotidian events.

In the quick pace of events today, journalists do not pause to analyze and to understand what is happening.

Perhaps they are not sufficiently trained to do so. Un- der these circumstances, the journalists fall into a trap infinitely more injurious to us all: they merely recount, fully persuaded that nothing else needs to be done to facilitate understanding. This explains the manner in which the Other (be he Christian, Protestant, Oriental, or Muslim) is depicted in the Romanian media. Availing oneself of the description only of the alterity, one can not accede to the truth of the alterity, to its symbolic and religious meanings. This is where the stereotype in- tervenes as “the expression itself of the collective knowledge that claims validity in any historical circum- stance”4. What was said yesterday about my fellow, who is different and thus tolerated, is perfectly valid to- day, and will be tomorrow, too. It should not come as a surprise, then, that terrorism is “Arab”, fundamentalism is “Islamic,” and despotism is unquestionably “East- ern” to most of us. These “old remnants” (in F.

Tönnies’s terms), handed down generations via prosaic communication are kept alive and potent in our minds and by our social conduct. Just as textbook science, they stand for a truth as formulated, among others, by Thierry Hentsch5. According to him, “the collective imaginary of the West about the East (especially the Muslim East), expresses much more truth about the subject (he who sees) than about the object (he who is seen)”6. In other words, it says much more about our deficient tolerance for the Other than we are feel in-


clined to understand and accept, and infinitely less about the object of out tolerance.

I argue that in the complicated alchemy of tolerance one should focus on those who tolerate. The success lies not in tolerating the other, (not even in the weaker sense of the word), but rather in accepting him. The ac- ceptance of the Other is the complete and powerful meaning of tolerance. Acceptance ends where the very presence of the concept of tolerance is undermined and compromised by its history of colonialism and exploita- tion. Umberto Eco considers the acceptance of the Other as the great bargain of cultural anthropology to- day.Cultural anthropology “has been developed with the intention of amplifying the culpability of the West to- wards the others, with the Others particularly defined as barbarians, as societies without history or as primitive communities”7. By paraphrasing Mircea Eliade, I argue that a definite therapy for the Western culpability is the creative hermeneutics and the history of religions.

Why? Because the mentalities and the life styles of the others, be they exotic or not, are ultimately religious.

The knowledge of religions, of symbols and of the sa- cred rituals is yet the key to understanding and accep- tance. This is also valid for the cases where the motives of the modern West are not repentance and remorse over past history nor a detached curiosity for the Other’s culture and life style.

Eliade’s considerations need to be updated. Today, the problem is not only to accept the Other as one’s equal yet different, but also to ascertain him as a free

citizen in one’s own home. Yesterday, “the anthropologist said that one should respect the others’ life style as long as they keep their places”8. Today, they have moved into ours and we ask legitimately if the rules still hold. At this point I subscribe to Eco’s simple answer: it depends. I can ac- cept/tolerate the Other to pierce his lips, nose, navel or eyebrows. I can accept/tolerate him to practice circum- cision or rogation five times a day. Yet, in Eco’s terms, I can hardly tolerate western ID cards with photos of women wearing a veil, the refusal of blood transfusion for sick children, or the wish of the last cannibal in New Guinea to have a barbecued child for every Sun- day lunch, to use Eco’s exemplification.

Everywhere in the world there are written and un- written rules that can not be disregarded. An exagger- ated enforcement may lead, paradoxically, to a dictator- ship of the minority and to a reversal of the tolerance ratio.

In such situations, the tolerated could very well be a representative of the mainstream: heterosexual, ortho- dox, and invariably tributary to the classic testamentary models and the establishment. The only solution I see to avoid the occurrence of these inverted replicas of the world is to respect the established mores. (Cases where a fundamentalist or a totalitarian regime sets up the standards are by definition exempt from the above rules).

Despite the mistakes it has made, the West is fully entitled to this. As Eco emphasized, the West “invested money and energy in the study of the habits and cus- toms of the others”. In contrast, the others have never been permitted to study the habits and customs of the




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