Régis Debray on religion and modernity


In Cairo, Tunis and elsewhere along the rim of the Mediterranean, the first headway made by Islamists in the student world occurred initially in technical institutes, then in engineering faculties and finally in scientific universities—in other words in the most modernist sectors and those most exposed to the outside world.

But did our sociologists not tell us that all things religious emanated from the soil, from history and from tradition? Had our historians and philosophers not proclaimed a century ago that technological and scientific progress, industrialization and communications would without doubt erase nationalistic and religious superstitions? Don’t we daily speak about the “opposites” inherited from the 19th century: the sacred vs. the profane, the irrational vs. the rational, archaism vs. modernity, nationalism vs. globalism?

Apparently, we got everything wrong. Our modernist vision of modernity has itself turned out to be only an archaism of the industrial age.

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