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International Studies
Brian Orend

INTST 101: Introduction to International Studies Brian Orend Unit 10: Religion and Culture ³5HOLJLRQ´ derives from a Latin term, re-ligio, literally meaning to tie one, or link one, back to something. Obviously, in this case, it means to link oneself back to God, or to the origin of the universe, or to whichever force or forces are behind the origins of the universe. Religion is clearly an important part of culture, which I guess would mean how people live their lives in a given land. There is a famous GLVWLQFWLRQ▯ EHWZHHQ▯ ³KLJK´▯ DQG▯ ³ORZ´▯ FXOWXUH▯▯ according to which ³KLJK´▯ FXOWXUH is sort of privileged and given elevated social status, for instance by being taught in schools and/or shown in museums or otherwise rarefied venues for culture like the opera house. So, in English culture, Shakespeare obviously counts as high culture. So would the paintings of Van Gogh or Picasso. And so on. Low culture might mean that a piece of art or literature or PXVLF▯PLJKW▯EH▯YHU\▯SRSXODU▯DQG▯LQIOXHQWLDO▯▯EXW▯LW▯GRHVQ¶W▯ quite have the same social status or label of quality which experts in what Arthur Danto IDPRXVO\▯FDOOHG▯³WKH▯DUW▯ZRUOG´▯KDYH▯JLYHQ▯LW▯▯▯3RS▯and rap music would fall under this category, as would many Internet and web-site creations, video games, Hollywood movies, and so on. Popular, and widely talked about, but just not of the same quality or merit as higher products of culture. Culture is broader than religion, though often, at least historically, it has been inspired in a major way by religion. So many aspects of Western culture, for instance, have come out of Christianity and, before that, Greek and Roman religious practices and holiday celebrations. And, obviously, the way people live in the Muslim world, e.g., is heavily influenced by the teachings of the religion is Islam, and so on. 1 INTST 101: Introduction to International Studies Brian Orend Connecting Culture to International Studies :KDW¶V▯WKH▯UHOHYDQFH▯RI▯UHOLJLRQ▯DQG▯FXOWXUH▯WR▯LQWHUQDWLRQDO▯DIIDLUV▯DQG▯LVVXHV"▯7KHUH▯DUH▯ several important things to note: Peace and Conflict: In the past, religious and cultural differences have sparked wars. Think, e.g., of the Crusades (from about 1000 AD-1300 AD) between Christianity and Islam. Or of the Wars of Religion in Western Europe, between Protestants and Catholics (which ended with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which we saw before marks the birth of modern international law). Foreign Policy and Power: Recall the difference, explained in the lecture on foreign policy and diplomacy, between so-FDOOHG▯³KaUG▯SRZHU´▯DQG▯³VRIW▯SRZHU▯´▯5HDOLVWV▯DVVXPH▯ that international affairs are all about countries pursuing power to the fullest extent they can. And power is the ability to get what you want. They make a famous distinction between hard and soft power, wherein hard power is defined as military and economic resources, whereas soft power is defined in terms of cultural influence²the spread of RQH¶V▯ODQJXDJH▯▯UHOLJLRQ▯▯ZRUOG-view. We noted then how the realists argued that, in the short term, hard power is the most decisive and effective, in terms of securing your goals. But, in terms of the long term, it is often said that soft power is where you want to be, VLQFH▯REYLRXVO\▯WKHUH¶V▯QR▯PRUH▯WKRURXJK▯ZD\▯WR▯H[HUFLVH▯SRZHU▯RYHU▯VRPHRQH▯WKDQ▯LI▯ you can persuade them to think as you do, and believe as you do, and to behave as you do. Witness this phenomenon throughout history, especially regarding the recent European empires, and how they extended their rule not just militarily and economically but also via the spread of their language, their literature, their political and philosophical ideals and, of course, their religious and spiritual beliefs as well. This is all to say that, quite often, it is a major long-term foreign policy goal of countries to try and spread their 2 INTST 101: Introduction to International Studies Brian Orend cultural and religious influence as far and as fully as they can. Think of today, for instance, wherein America not only flexes its muscles militarily and in terms of growing its economy though free trade, but also by spreading American ideals through Hollywood movies, TV programs, advertisements, the Internet, and so on. Also, a shockingly huge number of foreign political and business leaders get educated in the United States. Human Rights: Human rights issues come up with religion and culture in a host of ways. For instance, one of the very first human rights ever claimed was freedom of religion and the freedom to practice religion freely and openly. A number of thinkers even argue that human rights culture comes out of Christian civilization, especially with its concern for LQGLYLGXDO▯VDOYDWLRQ▯DQG▯LWV▯SULRULW\▯RQ▯DQ▯LQGLYLGXDO¶V▯VRXO▯DQG▯WKH▯SURSHU▯WUHDWPHQW▯RI▯ others. Other thinkers prefer to think of human rights norms as expressing values which DUH▯WUXO\▯XQLYHUVDO▯▯DQG▯FRQVWLWXWH▯LQ▯PDQ\▯ZD\V▯D▯NLQG▯RI▯³OHDVW▯FRPPRQ▯GHQRPLQDWRU´▯ across the moral teachings of the various world religions and cultures. Global Public Health: In terms of global public health, culture is obviously of paramount importance. How people live²what they eat, what they drink, how they behave, how they spend their days (do they exercise, e.g.), do they have access to clean water, what kind of sexual practices do they engage in, etc., all have a big impact on what health problems countries confront, and what has to be done, or overcome, or changed, to help societies improve their health status. Global Governance: We shall see that, historically, attitudes toward world government, at least in the West, have often depended²or at least have been correlated²ZLWK▯RQH¶V▯ religion. Protestants tend, historically, to be suspicious of global governance whereas Catholics have been more supportive, because of the greater comfort level with the idea RI▯³RQH▯XQLYHUVDO▯FKXUFK▯´ Aid and Development: Even international aid and development have been affected by religion and culture, because for instance quite often it was true that the very first ³LQWHUQDWLRQDO▯ DLG ZRUNHUV´▯ ZHUH▯▯ LQ▯ IDFW▯▯ :HVWHUQ▯ PLVVLRQDULHV▯ NHHQ▯ RQ▯ VSUHDGLQJ▯ 3 INTST 101: Introduction to International Studies Brian Orend Christianity as far as they could. Even today a great number of international humanitarian NGOs are, or at least began as, religious organizations. Think, for instance, of the Red Cross (or Red Crescent in the Islamic world), or the Mennonite Central Committee. So, those are some of the clear and important links between religion and culture and the various international topics we have been discussing. Weber on Protestantism and the Rise of Capitalism Now, you might have noticed the absence of mention above regarding international trade and the economy. Is there no link between such and religion and culture? Max Weber, an influential sociologist, was one of the first to forge and illustrate such a link. Weber argued that one of the major reasons why free market capitalism came to dominate Western Europe, and now much of the world (at least in terms of free market trade norms), is because of the influence of Protestantism. Protestant Christianity put more emphasis on the salvation of the individual, and on the LQGLYLGXDO¶V▯ GLUHFW▯ UHODWLRQVKLS▯ ZLWK▯ -HVXV▯ DQG▯ *RG (through prayer and personal Bible reading, as opposed to Mass and regular Church attendance), as opposed to Catholicism where there had been more emphasis on the individual as a member of a larger Church community. Individualism, and self-regard, is obviously cornerstones of capitalist thought. Moreover, 3URWHVWDQWV▯YLHZHG▯VXFFHVV▯LQ▯WKLV▯OLIH▯DV▯HYLGHQFH▯RI▯UHFHLYLQJ▯*RG¶V▯JUDFH▯▯DQG▯DV▯being nothing to be ashamed of. So, effort and success and wealth and thriving became more LPSRUWDQW▯ WUDLWV▯ WKDQ▯WKH\▯ KDG▯EHHQ▯XQGHU▯WKH▯&KXUFK¶V▯IRUPHU▯PRQRSRO\▯▯*UDFH▯▯IRU▯ example, is no where near as large a concept in Catholicism as it is in Protestantism. Finally, Weber said that the Protestants liked to save more of their hard-earned money 4 INTST 101: Introduction to International Studies Brian Orend than Catholics did. They did this because of two things: they generally had fewer (costly!) children; and Catholics were much more vigorously encouraged to give extra money they had to the Church for social assistance, poor relief, and the growth of the Church in general. This created a big pool of savings in Protestant communities, which could then be invested in new technologies and the general growth and sophistication of the cities and countries in which a majority of Protestants lived. They were, so to speak, able to take their gains and grow them even further. So, Weber concluded that it was no PLVWDNH▯RU▯DFFLGHQW▯RU▯P\VWHU\▯DW▯DOO▯ZK\▯WKH▯ZRUOG¶V▯ILUVW▯WUXO\▯IUee markets societies developed in countries that were historically Protestant: Holland; England; and America. There was a direct connection from the religious and spiritual and cultural ideas to the very shaping of their economies. The truly permeating affects of soft power. +XQWLQJGRQ¶V▯&ODVK▯RI▯&LYLOL]DWLRQV In 1991, when the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union ended, ZLWK▯$PHULFD¶V▯YLFWRU\▯DQG▯5XVVLD¶V▯ loss and collapse, a Harvard professor named Samuel Huntingdon asked himself: what would the future of conflict be? In particular, who would be the next big enemy for the West? His startling conclusion: the Islamic ZRUOG▯▯ ,¶G▯ OLNH▯ WR▯ GLVFXVV▯ KLV▯ FRQWURYHUVLDO▯ WKHVLV▯▯ DV▯ LW▯ LOOXVWUDWHV▯ WKH▯ LPSRUWDQFH▯ RI▯ differences in cultural and religious ideals creating the difference between war and peace. Huntingdon refuses to believe that wars are caused mainly by fights over natural resources, like oil, or that they are caused by huge empires fighting over who gets to be the global hegemon. He thinks that the origin of war re
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