Six Steps Toward Violent Fundamentalism



This chapter first reviews the current debate on so-called violent radicalization and extremism. It argues that it is theoretically richer and analytically more useful to situate the discussion of violent religious “extremism” or “radicalism” within the wider rubric of a religious fundamentalism energized by an embattled, constricted religiosity and animated by a highly tuned Manichean Mindset. The chapter suggests that a more nuanced understanding of cognitive radicalization and the related terms “cognitive radicalism” and “cognitive extremism” is warranted in order to better shed light on the key psychological mechanisms that help precipitate actual out-group violence. The chapter subsequently unpacks six mutually reinforcing intervening factors that need to be taken into account to explain how religious fundamentalism ultimately tips over into out-group violence: social humiliation, a tight counterculture, a protean charismatic group, intragroup psychic dynamics, an enabling environment of weak governance, and an enabling ideology. The key analytical construct of the charismatic group is also examined, in the process unpacking the third element of the Human Nature Triad, beyond binarity and religiosity: complexity, as well. It will be seen that the protean charismatic group – essentially what some social network and complexity theorists would call a superorganism – functions much like a complex, self-organizing, adaptive system seeking to preserve equilibrium with the ever-evolving environment. In essence, the chapter sheds explanatory light on the intervening processes that help ensure that the nascent violent potentials within religious fundamentalism are ultimately realized.


Extremism Radicalism Religious fundamentalism Charismatic group Complexity Superorganism Social humiliation Intragroup psychic dynamics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.S. Rajaratnam School of International StudiesNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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