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Reviews

Fundamentalism on the Left

by Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro 
Princeton University Press
336 pp., $29.95
 
Fundamentalism has long been considered a religious phenomenon, a narrowmindedness that only afflicts Bible-thumping extremists. Yet fundamentalist thinking is everywhere today, and leads naturally to the authoritarian mind and the one-party state.
 
Despite the use of fundamentalism as a derisive term, Morson and Schapiro avoid tearing into religious conservatives in their new book. The real danger, they think, resides elsewhere, particularly in left-wing political parties and movements that seek power through violence and intimidation. They describe a society wracked by polarization, unwilling to compromise over civil disagreement. Anyone who does not follow a party line is thought to be “willfully stupid or deliberately malicious.” If legitimate disagreement is not allowed and learning from each other is impermissible, “there is no reason not to have a one-party state.” 
 
According to Morson and Schapiro, a fundamentalist...

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