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Triumphalism is the attitude or belief that a particular doctrine, religion, culture, or social system is superior to and should triumph over all others. Triumphalism is not an articulated doctrine but rather a term that is used to characterize certain attitudes or belief systems by parties such as political commentators and historians.
The term is sometimes used to refer to relatively inconsequential behavior, such as excessively demonstrative glee at the defeat or failure of a sports rival. People experience triumphalism in this recreational form as collective pride (e.g., school spirit) or sports fanaticism ("We're Number One!").
A triumphalist may derive a sense of pride, security, or virtue from their sense of superiority and expectation of ultimate triumph. However, those who believe in their own group's superiority or inevitable ascendancy do not typically claim the label 'triumphalist'. Instead, the term usually has a negative connotation.
Triumphalism may both benefit and prove detrimental to the survival of a doctrine, culture, or social system. Dangers include:
- Impaired ability to judge the value or morality of the group's actions;
- Cessation of creativity and innovation within the group;
- Blindness to other groups' strengths and innovations;
- A tendency to over-reach against the group's competitors, based on an inflated sense of the likelihood of triumph in conflict.
At the same time, triumphalism also provides impetus to proselytization, conquest and the general expansion of a group or doctrine. Many successful historical movements have worked from a triumphalist base. Examples include the Islamic conquests of the 7th century, European colonialism, and the concept of manifest destiny which helped the United States to dominance in North America.
This section contains too many or overly lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. (October 2013)
- However, soon after this euphoric capitalist triumphalism, capitalism seems to be heading to another cross-road, which is capable of undermining the aforesaid euphoria. As capital is now set to continue its accumulation, expansion and profitability, unemployment is on the rise, as government ability to create lasting employment has become ineffective due to the privatisation of the public sectors, retrenchment by private business, etc. The state of affairs is exacerbating the crime rate (both within nations and globally), ethnic and global tension, poverty and ill-feeling. Hence, there could be other better global alternatives to the current single capitalist triumphant orthodoxy. Wilfred I. Ukper, Andre D. Slabbert
- The upshot of the matter is that to reduce Islam—with its transcendental moral essence which is based on commitment to 'enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong’—is universal. (Qu'ran 3:103) Those who reduce Islam to an ideological agenda, under the socio-political reality...and all the Muslim triumphalism that this brings, simply have not understood the message of Islam comprehensively. Tarek A Ghanem, in Islam Online
- Yet in addition to being self-defeating, sectarian triumphalism undermines core Jewish values of common peoplehood and mutual bonds between Jews worldwide. Steven Bayme, in The Jewish Week.
- The abasement rituals at Abu Ghraib were most generally conditioned by the climate of impunity created by triumphalist strategy, ideology and rhetoric, which led, at least, to dismissive negligence and then cover-ups by authorities. Michael A. Weinstein, in the Power and Interest News Report
- A better understanding of science should lead not to triumphalism but to the kind of humility recently expressed by Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Francois Jacob in Of Flies, Mice and Men: "Science cannot answer all questions. . . . It can, however, give some indications, exclude certain hypotheses. Engaging in the pursuit of science may help us make fewer mistakes.” Jon Beckwith, in American Scientist Online
- Christian triumphalism has been the energy that has marred our missionary efforts around the globe and in all ages. Consider what we have done to the Native Americans in this country - from the time of Columbus to the time of the great Western Migration. .... Just read Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible to get a sense of the effects of Christian triumphalism.” The Rev. Canon Elizabeth Kaeton, in a sermon preached at Christ Episcopal Church, New Jersey on September 23, 2001
2014, United States
- Now there are once again signs of a Cold War. This process can and must be stopped. After all, we did it in the 1980s. We opted for de-escalation, for the reunification (of Germany). And back then it was a lot tougher than now. So we could do it again. I don’t want to praise our government too much. It has also made quite a few errors, but today the danger comes from the American position. They are tortured by triumphalism. Mikhail Gorbachev, The Telegraph.
- But Obama’s ego, spurred by Democratic triumphalism and the boundless credulity of the establishment press, led Obama to not take Romney seriously and to fail to adopt his preferred persona of a reasonable man working in an unreasonable system.” Chris Stirewalt, Power Play, Published October 4, 2012
- Bentley, Canon Fredrick. "Is Roman Catholicism Suffering from SRT Syndrome?"
- Kimball, C: "When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs", HarperCollinsSanFrancisco, 2002
- Triumphant capitalism and the future of human, social and economic progress in the post-Cold War era International Journal of Social Economics Volume 35 No. 6 pp: 417-422.
- Helping Disaster Victims, IslamOnline Archived March 11, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
- Rev'd Canon Elizabeth Kaeton. Stella's Song: A Celebration of Women in the Midst of the War on Terrorism
- Mikhail Gorbachev accuses US of stoking ‘new Cold War’
- Chris Stirewalt