Faculty Writing: On Authoritarianism in Bangladesh and the Political Theology of Conservatism

Writing in Jamhoor, Nafis Hasan explores the tangled historical roots of an acute, and increasingly violent, “identity crisis” in Bangladesh—between Bengali and Muslim identifications: “The identity crisis, arising from the scars of the 1947 Partition and carefully nurtured by political parties in the last five decades for political gains, has brought the specter of authoritarianism once again to haunt Bangladesh.” Then, Hasan accounts for the Bengali left’s struggles to coalesce and present a sustained challenge to the ruling Awami League. “If there is to be a successful mass movement against authoritarian rule,” he contends, “it will come from a synthesis of identities, just as it had for the country’s liberation, not the pyrrhic victory of one over the other.”

In New Statesman, Suzy Schneider parses the political-theology of post-liberalism with an incisive analysis of the nationalist, “political-theological” conservatisms of Patrick Deneen and Yoram Hazony. In Deneen’s conceptualization of a Christian America, and Hazony’s of a Jewish Israel, national projects serve to advance the “will of God,” and the dominant political position of the religious majority. Though described as “traditionalists,” these “dangerous minds” aren’t looking backward, Schneider argues, but towards “the advanced technologies of governance—from state schooling to surveillance and criminalization—to create a body politic that accords with their vision of the nation.”

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