Important of Culture in Promoting

HOW IMPORTANT IS CULTURE IN PROMOTING AND SUSTAINING CONFLICT?

Dr. Prem Singh Basnyat

A culture comprises of religion, ethnicity, social custom and values. Obviously, a person cannot be parted from his culture and he will be moulded as a good or evil citizen. The culture is the aura of human impression and it continues until the end of life. However, It may depend on the education and other social environments too. The culture has divided the world into different societies, states, region and continents too. Gradually, culture has been dominating to world politics. In fact culture should be remained for the welfare of human beings as living together, working together and helping one to another principle. But man used it as driving tool of politics and power. Many bad deeds have been accruing in the name of cultural conflict and it is very sad part. It goes without saying that there are many countries with good cultural harmony in the society. In act there were not scientific basis for considering human beings innately aggressive animal, inevitably committed to conflict on basis of biological nature. War or conflict is the result of socialization and conditioning, a phenomenon of human organization, planning information processing that plays an emotional and motivational potentialities.[i]

Unfortunately, cultural has become a universal threat. The intra-state and inter-state are the main problem in present context and is like the computer virus. It is very difficult to detect its size, shape, types, means and method. And the cultural dissatisfactions have translated into terrorism. An American has nicely stated about their viable future dangers: “We can assure that our enemies and future adversaries have learned from Gulf war. They are unlikely to confort us conventionally with mass armour formation, air superiority forces, and deep water navel fleets of their own, all areas of US strength today. Instead, they will find new way to attack our interests, our forces, and over our citizens. They will look for ways to match their strengths against our weaknesses”.[ii]

We had many wars in our old days too. But the enemies were distinct and it was easy to fight the battles. Now, it is just adverse. We can think about our potential conventional enemy but we cannot for terrorism, which are motivated from cultural inspiration. The escalating blood shed amongst many nations continues to permute the consciousness of developed societies. So the culture (religion, ethnicity and separatism) has become a sensitive factor in New World Order.

Historical Background

Obviously we had some cultural conflicts during our early days too. Many Muslim kings invaded into Christian and Hindu nations and they converted existed religion and culture into their own. Similarly, Christian and Hindu kings have same story. Human being is a violent by nature. So, it makes violence for betterment of his/her life. But, violence keeps under control and society runs with harmony. Due to this reason the society can bear some short of conflict but limited and overt. The covert and clandestine act is very dangerous and stronger than biological weapons. The latest example of the ethnical conflict is the ‘Super Terrorism’ and tragic inevitability to the USA on 11 Sep.2001. It is purely identified as anti-elite action, super terrorism, non-state actor, equivalent to weapons of mass destruction and asymmetric conflict.

The colonial and cold war era are also responsible to bring cultural conflicts in the world. As the European powers colonized South Asia, Middle East and Africa and they brought there many secular governments and other different institutes. In fact that was the period of ‘Divide and Rule’. The western power divided a unified culture into many frictions and finally they succeed to rule over them. This is an example saying is “Secular nationalism spread throughout the world with an almost missionary zeal and was shipped to the newly colonized areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America…(colonial powers) provided their colonies with the political and economical infrastructure to turn territories into nation states”.[iii] On top of that the colonial powers created new boundaries between modern day state in those regions without regard for their religious and cultural values, which became the one of the strong cause of present cultural conflict of terrorism. When the colonial power departed after World War II, they left their weak and secular states not compatible with local political boundaries and local religions not representative of local cultures.

We should not forget about the three events of the late 1970s, which brought of the current wave of religious political uprisings. In addition to the above points the deposing of the Shah of Iran in 1979, the war between USSR and Afghanistan in 1978 and establishment of Sindinista Government are to be taken as consideration.[iv] The three events are:

  1. The fundamentalist movements since the late 1970 are the attempts of secular governments to modernize their societies along western lines. Many people died during dealing with sweeping the economic and technical change. Many poor countries turned to religious movement to provide a buffer between modernity and their inability, which improved as “Struggle to make sense of what was happening to them. Not infrequently, in …… the contemporary Third World; the explanations they came up with had a strongly religious form”.[v]
  2. The acceleration of fundamentalist activities during 1990 is another key point. It was the onset of information era. So, information technology aided different fundamentalist leaders by providing a free flow of secular ideas. Especially, the Internet has provided a free exchange of ideas and views on the use of religion and ethnicity for instituting political change.
  3. The end of the Cold War era caused the rising number of fundamentalist (cultural) movement in the world. Most of the Third World countries were provided financial or military assistance either by USA or USSR. Those assistances were disappeared after cold war era and they started many secular activities in the name of religion, race and ethnicity.[vi]
  4. USA has been paying an immature games to born many cultural conflicts unbelievable terrorism. For an example many Tibetans have been founding to lunch terrorism activities against China through Nepalese land. Osama Bin Laden was groomed by US against former USSR, while they were in Afghanistan, the Croats were funding against Serbs in former Yugoslavia and she founded to Somalian rebels during cold war time, Kurds against Saddam Hussein, acts against Federal Castro of Cuba etc.[vii]Creation of hostile tactics and terrorist is a double edged weapon. Which can cuts either side! Though America has targeted from different cultural groups. Because America has been involving in Arab-Israeli conflict since 31 years, four years intervention in Balkans states, relation with the ruling parties of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and enmity with Iraq, Iran and Libya.[viii] But fact never dies. Every nation must think that “evil born evil”. On top of that many other countries have same tactics to provide instability to weaker and small neighbouring states by powerful countries.

Types of cultural conflicts

We can find many reasons of conflicts. Although they all are related with each other. Surprisingly, the cultural aspect is being the tunnel/conduit of political change in the world. In other words it is like the banner for political change. As a result the world has been suffering from violence, smuggling, terrorism, rise of asymmetric warfare etc. By contrast, a number of factors seem to favor increased terrorist activities by non-state actors. The root cause of cultural conflicts are considered mainly as following:

Religious conflict
Religion has become as a political instrument and it is suppose to be no done. In other world it is using as “us vs. them”.[ix] For an example Israel is a country built on the religious persuasion of citizens who proudly identify themselves as JEWS. Like that the Protestants and Catholics of Northern Ireland has been fighting for religious value, nationalism and economic matters. Kashmir problem between India and Pakistan also becoming a never-ending problem in SAARC region. Human beings have misused religion. In fact religion is” a system of thought embodied in social organizations that posits the existence of an active super natural that can be influenced by human action and it is belief in powers higher than man and an attempt to please them.”[x] But religion is serving as an ideal rallying point for violent conflict which could be more accurately described as a stimulant of the masses.”[xi] Now the world has two religious challenges e.g. Muslim Vs Christian and Muslim Vs Hindu. Muslims have very strong belief in their religion. They are ever ready to die in the name of religious faith. They have emerged as a hardliner. In Muslim’s view “Christian wants to abolish to Muslim and Muslim always treated like evil. So war is imminent between these two/three religions”.[xii] So it is not only a big problem rather is very deep problem. For an example Hans Kung has argued that “there will be no peace in the world without peace, among the religions; no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religion.

Fundamentalism
It is another burden from Cultural Conflict. In general view “Fundamentalism is a strategy by which believers attempt to preserve their group identity. It involves revival of former beliefs, which are modified by leaders in varying degrees to achieve political goals. The strategy often innovative and rejects secular politics in Charismatic fashion to renew group identity and expand popular support.[xiii] It is battle between good and evil and is in the name of the God. Which boosters to strengthen the unity between fundamentalist they can be a domestic, transnational or international. Now they are being as a great enemy of Global Peace. However the Afghan Mujahiddin were good one time for their nation, who used US military aid to contain and abolish the Soviet Colonialism. Even though, religious fundamentalism also facilitating as a good conduit for political change and terrorism and creating a threat to Global Security. As early mentioned, the foundation of fundamentalism is also are the old colonial periods, End of Cold War era, development of information technology and failure of secular governments. Which caused trouble mainly in following countries: -[xiv]

  1. Algeria has been suffering from Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). A big insurgency exists and over 30,000 deaths have been reported between conflicts.
  2. Latin American has insurgency and is ongoing peasant revolt in the Chiapas region of Mexico by Peruvian Sendero Luminoso guerrillas.
  3. India has secular clashes between Hindu and Muslim. In fact it is started after deviation of India as Hindustan (India) and Pakistan by the British ruler.
  4. Many innocent Pakistani people have died due to the secular clashes between Sunni and Shiite Muslim groups.
  5. Many Egyptians have lost their lives in fundamentalists’ clash between Gamma al-Islamiya and Islamic Jihad.
  6. The Nigerian are suffering from the conflict between Southern Christian group and Northern Muslim group. They are fighting for separate Government.
  7. Sri Lanka has not ended the war between Singhalese Buddhists and Tamil Hindus. The war had been running as conventional interstate war.
  8. Turkey, Sudan, Central Asia, Indonesia, Vietnam are other examples (spots) of fundamentalists’ insurgency. They are also the obstacles to the development of a nation. Which supports that “it is widely and correctly assumed that religion is in general an obstacle to modernization”.[xv]



Islamism
It is considered as a Global Threat. This group is very strong in their unity and achieving the goal. Hindu had more conflicts rather Christian in early days in South East Asia. Since 31 years (Arab-Israel problem) it has turned to the Christian powerful states. Especially USA has been costing a lot (lives and money) due to Islam terrorists’ attack. Other NATO countries may suffer by this group. Because, NATO is against their violence and terrorism. Islamic (not all) thought that they are powerful and more dangerous against the enemy of ‘Nations of Islam’. Their visions are considered as “on the wall of one of the Palestinian leaders in Gaza is a map of the world on which is superimposed the KORAN drawn as it had hands extending from Morocco to Indonesia”.[xvi] However, we should not blame to Muslims as a whole. They all are not terrorist, many Muslim nations and their people are against of such type of terrorism.

Sacrifices
In other word it is Nationalism. People are ready to sacrifice their lives for their cultural heritages. A sacrifice is entity for which a person is willingly ready to die or kill to anybody for his or her ideology.

Ethnicity
In fact “an ethnic group is a human collectively based on an assumption of common origin, real or imaginary”.[xvii] In other word, ‘these group function as conduits to carry forward the cultural traits of a people, and further, they serve as a metric for evaluating the ‘self-definition’ of a person.[xviii] Ethnicity is good if it has got worthful goal for human welfare. Preservation of ethnicity is a necessity in social history. In the contrast ethnicity has become as a death flood in many countries in the world. Ethnic cleansing are biggest problem and even UN has not succeed to stop these disasters.

Future Perspectives
This is the age of high technology. Men made a drastic scientific change. There are no conventional tensions like it was in during Cold War era. Now the world has been changing to globalization. The numbers of conventional armies have been decreasing and high technology has replaced in those vacancies. Many discoveries have found about conventional warfare. A continent may be destroyed by another continent. It is not necessary to be there physically so some of the countries fell themselves as conventionally powerful nation. But they all have difficulties to find the distinct enemy. And they are worried from intra-States and inter state terrorism. Nobody knows when it happens? So, following points are considered as future perspectives:-

  1. Islamic violence will remain continue unless and until the Israel - Palestine and Iraq’s problem are not solved.
  2. Beside US, ethnic terrorist may target to U.K., France and other few NATO countries. Because they have strongly supported to US.
  3. Terrorists have been changing their means of violence day by day. So limited Biological, Chemical and Nuclear weapons may be used in huge cities.
  4. If US launched attack against Afghanistan and Iraq that means it will be as the attack as on behalf of its allies too. So, many more terrorists will be borned against Western nations and their foreign diplomats offices.
  5. Terrorists’ agents will lunch more espionage activities against Western nations.
  6. General people may not feel safe and remain frightening from terrorist’s unbelievable disaster.
  7. Other violated organizations (beside Islam) may be encouraged by latest Super terrorism in World Trade Centre, New York, USA and so on.
  8. The trend of the asymmetric warfare may be raised. The numbers of non-state actor (violent) may be raised.
  9. Terrorist may use poisonous gasses rather than heavy instruments in future days.


To support this topic, differences in cultures is the natural gift. We can’t expect the culture in the world. Obviously culture is the heritage of any society and presumed that a culture always protects and preserves human betterment. As mentioned in previous paragraphs, culture contains the social customs, religion, ethnicity and human adoptability. Culture runs generation to generation. It is an automatic process. People were religious minded in early days and they were (except very few) good for the human mankind. Now science has changed the religious faith and people believe on only the fact. Unfortunately, people started as out of social discipline. And evil-minded persons polluted culture. Accordingly, some of the cultures have explained as culture is the means of social struggle and misleading to people to the unrest and death. It has been happening not only poor and illiterate countries but also in rich and educated countries too.

Some of the culture are sustaining with the ideology of developed versus undeveloped nations, poverty versus wealthy society, Islam versus Christian, Hindu versus Christian or Muslim, progress versus jealousy, politics versus religion and so on. It is true that with the end of cold war, however global conflicts are conclusively occurring in developing countries. During 1993, 42 countries experienced 52 major conflicts and another 37 countries suffered from political violence. Of these 79 countries 65 are in the developing world.[xix]It means, normally illiteracy and poverty born evil-minded society. And they use culture as defense mechanism to hide their jealousy.

Culture promotes conflict, if it is misused. If culture uses as means of conflict then it brings violence, unrest and terrorism. Culture may divide the groups into many parts e.g. religion, ethnicity, races, poverty, wealthy, developed, underdeveloped and so on. Cultural conflict has suffered to mankind. For an example, Islam became a terror group and their religion has been promoting the violence. Hindu and Muslim group in India have same tendency, Balkan fought for ethnic cleansing and their culture insisted it. Sri Lanka insurgency is open book of ethnic fighting. Culture influences to society and society influences to politics. Ultimately a nation can use as cultural tool against other. This is a danger phenomenon in the world, which hinders human betterment. Culture promotes conflicts and it “can expect not only violent and deadly turbulence but also difficulties in the process of economic and political development.”[xx] UN has been spending huge amount of money to prevent and stop the violence.

To conclude, culture relates to sustain and support the conflict. Human being, culture and conflict make a cycle, since our beginning. The types, aims and motives have been changing according to the change of time. The identification of cultural conflict has highlighted after the development of information super highway era. Moreover, our history, colonial days, cultural experiences, end of cold war era, poverty and illiteracy are the prime causes of cultural conflicts. Culture itself is not separate. It comprises religion, fundamentalism, sacrificism, ethnicity, separatism and so on. They all have not starting and ending point. They are correlated with each other. It is not a new topic in general. But it has become a dangerous means of violence and terrorism. It is the outcome of misuse of cultural values.

The means, types and tactics of conflicts have been changing. Many non-state actor and mercenary agent have risen to lunch violence and terrorism. They are using civil plane, train, vehicles and innocent peoples as the means of terrorism. Moreover they can use any nuclear (less likely) chemical and biological means. This is big threat to modern world. The super powers are in surprising because of unseen enemies. As Prof. Dr. Chris Bellamy “By contrast, the operation now underway has the hallmark of the new kind of conflict that military experts have dread for years. Nations face an asymmetric war, in which the enemy is an elusive non state actors with no recognizable military infrastructure to hit.”[xxi] However prevention is better than cure and super power nations have to review their policies and attitudes towards third world nations. It is mentioned as “unless we are able to be serious about our foreign policies, the practical result is likely to be that the press will determine, when there will be intervention.[xxii] And make them together to punish and abolish to these bad deeds. Ultimately, unity is power. Finally, Huntington’s quotation is remarkable before stop writing.

“ The end of cold war does not mean the end of political, ideological, Diplomatic, economic, technological, or even military rivalry among Nations. It does not mean the end of the struggle for power and Influence. It very probably does mean increased instability, Unpredictability and violence in international affairs”. -Samuel Huntington.

 [i] John Mark, “The Enemy System, in Vamik Volkon, (edt),The Psychodynamics of International relationship, ( Lexington:1990 ), p.58.
[ii] A Clear and Future Danger,HTTP://www.com.org
[iii] Mark Jueirgenrmeyer, The New Cold War, Religious Nationalism Confronts the secular State, (Berkeley: University of California Press,1993),p.153.
[iv] Jeff Haynes, Religion On Third World Politics, ( Boulde Colo: Lyne Rienner Publications, 1994),p.29.
[v] Ibid, p.1.
[vi] Jeff Haynes, Ibid, p.2.
[vii] Juergensmeyer, Ibid, p.23.
[viii] The writer has worked in some of those nations under UN Peace Keeping Troops.
[ix] http // www, Ibid.
[x] Karl P. Magyar,Global Security Concerns (edt), ( Alabama : Air University Press, March, 1996), p.33.
[xi] Rondey Stark, The Future of Religion, ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), pp 3-5. [xii] Karl P., Ibid,pp 31-35.
[xiii] Some of my Muslim friend's feeling at cranfield University.
[xiv] Martien E. Marty and R. Scott Appley, (edt), Fundametalisim and the state, ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1993),pp 67-68.
[xv] Karl P., Ibid,pp.33-41.
[xvi] Douglas Eugene Smith,Religion and Political Development, ( Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1970), p.xi
[xvii] Juergensmeyer, Ibid, p.47.
[xviii] Andrew M. Greely, Why Can,t They be Like us? ( New york: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1971), pp 41-42.
[xix] Human Development Report, (New York: Oxford University press, 1994), p.47
[xx] Max Singer and Aaron Wildavsky, The Real World Order, (Chatham, NJ: Chatham House Publishers, 1993), p.7.
[xxi] Christopher Bellamy, “ The Dawn of Asymmetric Conflict “ The Independent ( daily), Friday, 21 Sept 2001.
[xxii] Ibid.

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