This is a starter (like Windows 7 starter I suppose) on the abstract form of hierarchical power precipitating social conflict inclusive of sectarian war. Perhaps I will write more on the issue later. One finds the U.S. Government bureaucracy stimulating wars in Syria, conflict in Egypt and strife in Ukraine with sectarianism being an issue in each instance. There are other parties involved of course, and the assignment of blame isn’t plain and simple or evens my intention here. The purpose of this post is to not the action of social hierarchy as the causative agent for religious conflict.
The philosopher Thomas Hobbes’ wrote a brilliant conservative thesis named The Leviathan describing the right of the absolute monarch to be in effect the only real individual around whom every citizen receives light. That is an extreme representation of the nature of hierarchy manifesting in imperial, corporate and ecclesiastic power. As power and wealth are concentrated dissent is increasingly eliminated. Absolute power tolerates no dissent. Free expression and political independence dies. In the Orwellian state thought is for-itself usurped by hierarchical programming of citizens. The nature of bloody religious wars is inextricably linked to hierarchical government and church structures. Especially in Erastian or government rule of religion, yet also in established hierarchical bureaucracy doctrine is all-important. Free thought and reform are verboten. Absolute hierarchies are intolerant of doctrinal differences and any sort of pluralism politically or ecclesiastically. Thus Martin Luther’s world-changing concept of justification by faith rather than doled out by bishops.
Luther; a monk, learned of the problems of monastic life and the corruption of Rome and the papacy after visiting Rome himself. He found the sale of indulgences and more church practices that weren’t justified by Biblical guidance. Various Popes had become too powerful believing that had a right to rule not only Christians but government too. This isn’t then place for a critique of the troubles of the papal form of church government with a more equal than other bishops primate-they were at war with themselves too now and then even with as many as three rival popes at once. The issue is the hierarchical structure of the church. Pope Hildebrand thought it best for priests to be celibate in order that they would be more like an international collection of soldiers (of a spiritual sort). A Pope would be something like an Eisenhower. Pope John Paul II-just canonized, was a Polish Catholic, and Polish catholic historical efforts to take over Ukraine for Poland resulted in the formation of a half-catholic, half-orthodox Uniate Church as well as an Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Today there are Protestants in Ukraine too.
‘Bloody’ Mary Queen of Scots and England executed nearly 300 Protestants and other Catholic persecutions of Protestants occurred. She died in 1578 and with her the brief Catholic restoration. In 1572 Catholics massacred Protestants across France and Ireland in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. The back and forth 16th and 17th century reprisals against the reformation of the Christian Church probably was a probably reason that the Puritan Cromwell invaded Ireland and treated them so badly in 1649. John Milton-the author of Paradise Lost was a member of Cromwell’s government. Puritans were founders of the U.S.A. too.
The Bishop’s war of 1639 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishops%27_Warsis said to have been a prelude to the English civil war. Charles I wanted an Episcopal church form (with Bishops) instead of that of a Presbyterian (elders) structure. There are innumerable historical examples of church hierarchies ruled by government as well as of governments ruled by religious hierarchy. The problem is not religion-at least not Christian religion-as a source for conflict, but the sociological structure of hierarchies exerting the taught controlling power over citizens.
Hierarchy cannot tolerate doctrinal dissent and political free thought. The Inquisition and other government and church executions of individuals killed far more people of faith than scientifically inclined people, yet of course moderns would almost have one think that the church was a great repressor of science generally rather than its sponsor. The church with the benefit of modern science and technology ought easily move toward a priesthood of believers egalitarian structure with three ranks-beginner, intermediate and elder reading standardized with room for improve liturgies in role sharing groups. That might help the ecumenical movement, support real rather than corporate democracy and reduce international conflict.