Chosen peoples

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By JOSÉ LUÍS FIORI*

Fragmentation and radicalization are advancing in global geopolitics, being present even in societies that seemed immune to this type of religious fundamentalism

“We thank God that the atomic bomb came for us, and not for our enemies; and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways, and for His purposes” (President Harry, S. Truman, quoted in Perry Anderson, North American foreign policy and its theorists, Boitempo, p. 42).

From a strictly logical point of view, it is impossible to imagine a God who is unique and absolute, and who at the same time makes choices of any kind whatsoever. But this idea of ​​the unilateral monopolization of the “divine will” by some people seems to be very old and persistent, especially among those who profess monotheistic religions.

The best-known example is perhaps that of the Hebrew people, as described in one of the five books of Moses, the Exodus: “Then Yahweh called Moses and said to him: Now, if you will listen to my voice and keep my covenant, you will be a peculiar possession for me among all people, because the land is mine. You will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus, 19).

But this same conviction can be found in Zoroastrianism, and in Ahura Mazda's preferential relationship with the Persian people and with the Achaemenid Empire, with Cyrus, Darius and their descendants; in Allah's relationship with successive Islamic empires, since the 7th century AD; or in the relationship between the Christian God and the European peoples and his project of expansion and conversion of the world, from the 16th century onwards.

And this same idea is behind the North American certainty about its “manifest destiny” to lead humanity. A vision built by its “founding fathers”, and which remains alive today, as can be seen in President Harry Truman’s epigraph; or in President John Kennedy's idea that “the USA should move forward to lead the earth… knowing that here on Earth God's work must, in truth, be our work”; or even, in the certainty of President GW Bush, that “the American nation was chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model for the world”.

This monopolization of “divine truth” may be absurd from a logical point of view, but in fact it became a “powerful idea” that played a decisive role throughout human history, both among the “chosen peoples” and the “people not chosen” by God.

Without this image of itself, perhaps the Hebrew people would not have been able to resist the harassment of the Assyrians, the Romans and many other more powerful peoples, overcoming their age-old feeling of inferiority and siege; the Persians had not conquered their gigantic empire of eight million square kilometers, in Africa, Europe and Asia, Islam had not expanded in such a continuous and victorious way, from the 7th century onwards; and the Europeans had not been able to impose their colonial domination around the world, starting in the 16th century.

Always moved by the same ethical certainty that led George Kennan to say, looking at the German destruction after the Second World War, “that he was reassured by the fact that the USA had been chosen by the Almighty to be the agents of that undoing".

In this story, however, it is essential to distinguish the decisive role of religions in the construction of human civilizations, from their monopolization and instrumentalization by territorial powers and by human groups that proclaim themselves superior and with the exclusive right to impose their values ​​on others who are being subjected, converted or exterminated by the advancement and “ethical tranquility” of the “chosen people”.

This unilateral and monopolistic vision of “divine choice” has always been – and continues to be – behind all religious fundamentalisms responsible for the demonization, disqualification, humiliation, and exclusion of all who think differently. A radicalization that seems to be repeated throughout history, in all major moments of rupture and “loss of horizon” on the part of humanity, as is happening again at the beginning of the 21st century.

After the end of the Cold War, and particularly in this third decade of the 21st century, the USA is experiencing an unprecedented moment of fragmentation of its establishment, its political system and its society mobilized by an increasingly aggressive and exclusionary religious fundamentalism. And the same is happening in Europe, where the ideological hollowing out of the unification project has opened the door to a continuous increase in intolerance within its own territory and within its entire former zone of colonial domination, particularly in the Greater Middle East.

A regional panorama that is further worsened by the recent distance between the USA and Israel, two peoples who consider themselves “chosen” and who share the same divine genealogy. But this fragmentation and radicalization are no longer restricted to these strategic points of global geopolitics, and have advanced even in societies that seemed immune to this type of fundamentalism and that now appear divided by intolerance and the explicit proposal to deny dialogue and coexistence. , and exclusion – often – of the opponents’ own physical person.

As is the most recent case of Brazilian society, which until today considered itself “cordial”, and simply “blessed by God”. Faced with this situation that tends to worsen across the world, it is only possible to resist intolerance with tolerance, irrationality with reason, fanaticism with the tranquility of those who know that there are no “chosen ones” nor are there people superior to others. Along with the uncompromising defense, at the international level, that the time has come to bury once and for all, in the relationship between nations, the arrogant and absurd fantasy of the “people chosen” by God.[1]

* Jose Luis Fiori He is professor emeritus at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of Global power and the new geopolitics of nations (Boitempo). [https://amzn.to/3RgUPN3]

Note


[1] This article was first published in February 2015 in the newspaper Valor Econômico, with the title “Divine choices”.


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