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Palgrave Macmillan

Sacred Violence

Political Religion in a Secular Age

ISBN 9781137328076
Publication Date August 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Rethinking Political Violence

Sacred Violence examines the place that ideology or political religion plays in legitimizing violence to achieve a condition of worldly perfection. In particular, the book focuses upon Islamism as a post modern political religion that considers violence both necessary and purificatory. It also examines the western democratic states' response to the threat political religion poses to its secular politics. As Jones and Smith show, the western state response consistently misunderstands and misreads the nature of the appeal of political religion and the leaderless form of resistance it legitimates, which has consequences for its internal and external policy responses.
This book offers a unique insight on terrorism, a perspective that is much needed in contemporary internal relations and policy debates. Given the shift from state-based to non-state-based violence and warfare in the post-Cold War era, it provides a timely rethink of the links between ideology, violence and strategic theory which will be of great benefit to the foreign policy and defence communities as well as IR scholarship more broadly.

David Martin Jones is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Queensland, Australia.

M.L.R Smith is Professor of Strategic Studies, King's College London, UK.

1. History Restarted
2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being British
3. The Commentariat and Discourse Failure
4. Counter insurgency (COIN): The Military Revolution that Failed
5. Non–western terror and counter-insurgency: the case of Jemaah Islamiah
6. Beyond Belief: Islamist Strategic Thinking and International Relations Theory
7. Political Fiction and Jihad – The Novel Response to 9/11
Conclusion Terror the Polis and Political Religion


'A devastating exposé of how progressive Utopian ideologies have turned international critical theory into a source of legitimacy for enemies of Western values and – in particular - violent Islam.' - Ruth Dudley Edwards, Journalist, UK
'This is an erudite, incisive and combative book. The two authors take on the Big Question of how best to understand the origins of religiously justified terror as basis for effective response. They believe that that this is widely and systematically misunderstood. Their argument indicts a pernicious thicket of intertwined errors: the euphemisms of mainstream political discourse, the compulsive utopian anti-occidentalism of 'critical scholarship ', the evasions of Islamist apologists, and even the cultural despair of post 9/11 Anglophone novelists [...] Sacred Violence is deliberately provocative. The responses of those who will most dislike it should be instructive.' - Paul Schulte, Honorary Professor, Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security, Birmingham University, UK,and Non-Resident Senior Associate of the Nuclear Policy Programme of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
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