Friday, May 7, 2010

Desacralisation and the Intellectual

"Desacralisation" was a phenomenon that occurred in western Europe between 1500 and 1900 AD. This was the identification of the sacred and the profane, and began with Martin Luther's pronouncement that all work was sacred, not just a priest's work (the conclusion that if all work was sacred, then no work was sacred apparently did not occur to him). The work was carried on by the so-called Enlightenment. Consequently, today, in Europe, God is just a word without meaning, and even in America religion is only one among several possible world-views, as pointed out by Charles Taylor.

Therefore, our intellectuals have imbibed these ideas from the west, and have regurgitated them here (another sad came of 'commit and vomit'). This explains their hatred of Islam. This also explains the appeal of the anti-Muslim Awami League to these intellectuals, while only practical types, especially businesspeople, are drawn to the BNP - and, latterly, those hostile to the anti-Islamism of the League.

So far, so consistent.

But consistency is not the hallmark of the Bangladeshi intellectual. While he (or she) may hate Islam, he doesn't hate all religions. And how can he? The experience of desacralisation occurred over 500 years in a particular corner of the world, and however much we may imbibe ideas, they can never be part of our digestive system: we can never feel them in the 'guts'.

Consequently, intellectuals have a passionate fondness for Hinduism, and by extension all things Indian. I have described a bureaucrat, who is currently a secretary, in my blog An Evening With A Lunatic. I have met countless incoherent lunatics like him - all Awami Leaguers.

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