Global Jihad: A Brief History

Forthcoming Stanford University Press, October 2020


From the Preface: "This book makes two broad and original arguments.  First, and most important, it constructs a typology that suggests that global jihad is best understood as four quite distinct iterations, or waves, each stemming from a unique set of crises and each having significantly different ideological answers detailing the way ahead.  Second, the book seeks to situate global jihad among the universe of violent political movements of the past century.  Global jihad is not sui generis, or unique unto itself.  Rather, global jihad can be more usefully understood as a variant form of a ‘movement of rage,’ as opposed to more typical revolutionary or anti-colonial movements.  While relatively rare, movements of rage across different cultures and continents share distinctive sociological and ideological features. Seeing global jihad in this light rebuts both those who argue for its historical uniqueness (or even the exceptionalism of Islamist movements writ large) and those who argue that global jihad is just another form of revolutionary movement.  Revolutionary movements, be they of the Left (e.g., Marxist), the Right (e.g., Fascist), or the broad Center (e.g., National Liberation) are all based on Enlightenment ideals, that their struggle will produce human progress, a better society that is more equal, freer, or more advanced. Like with other movements of rage, the ideologues of global jihad do not make an Enlightenment case for their cause.  Rather, global jihad is profoundly nihilistic (in the political, not philosophical, sense of the word) and apocalyptic in its ideology and behavior."

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