Finding common ground in the clash of civilizations

The Left Must Embrace Its Radical Western Roots by Slavoj Zizek is an old piece, written in the wake of the Paris terror attacks of 2015, but still worth reading for its nuanced navigation of cultural divides and Western liberal values.

…one has to do two things. First, formulate a minimum set of norms obligatory for everyone that includes religious freedom, protection of individual freedom against group pressure, the rights of women, etc.—without fear that such norms will appear “Eurocentric.” Second, within these limits, unconditionally insist on the tolerance of different ways of life. And if norms and communication don’t work, then the force of law should be applied in all its forms.

Witch hunts as political tools

Between 1560 and 1630, the Great Witch Hunt raged in Europe, which resulted in 80,000 accusations and 40,000 deaths? Why did this phenomenon grip the continent? Two economists argue that the underlying reason was to gain more followers. This took place against the backdrop of the Protestant Reformation.

To bolster their point, the authors point out that from about 900 to 1400, the church didn’t want to acknowledge the existence of witches; and consequently, it didn’t try people for witchcraft. In 1258, Pope Alexander IV even prohibited the prosecution of witchcraft. Yet a few centuries later, the church reversed its decision. According to the economists, it was because of the Protestant Reformation.

Sounds suspiciously familiar to our own modern phenomenon of the “Drug War.”