Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Left and the Islamists

The 'this' in the first sentence refers to the identification in the parts of the Left with Islamism.

All of this is – at least to those with historical awareness, sceptical political intelligence, or merely a long memory - disturbing. This is because its effect is to reinforce one of the most pernicious and inaccurate of all political claims, and one made not by the left but by the imperialist right. It is also one that underlies the US-declared “war on terror” and the policies that have resulted from 9/11: namely, that Islamism is a movement aimed against “the west”.

This claim is a classic example of how a half-truth can be more dangerous than an outright lie. For while it is true that Islamism in its diverse political and violent guises is indeed opposed to the US, to remain there omits a deeper, crucial point: that, long before the Muslim Brotherhood, the jihadis and other Islamic militants were attacking “imperialism”, they were attacking and killing the left - and acting across Asia and Africa as the accomplices of the west.
From 'The Left and the Jihad' by Fred Halliday.

Does this argument remind you of others? For example, the 'deeper, crucial point' that Al-Qaeda, when it was fighting the Russians in Afghanistan, was financed by the CIA? Or 'deeper, crucial point' that Saddam was armed by the US when he was slaughtering Iranians? Oh, the unfathomable hypocrisy of the perfidious Yankees!

It is a simple point: times change. As do people, political systems, economies and enemies. For how long was France the Great Enemy of Britain? 500 years? Did anyone point to the hypocrisy of fighting by their side during WWI? Halliday goes on to list the occasions on which the Islamists were 'used' to fight the Left (there have been a good number)and to conclude that the "modern embodiments of this left have no need of the 'false consciousness' that drives so many so-called leftists into the arms of jihadis". This he counts as "disturbing", but does not seek to explain why it is happening. It may be that he suspects the truth: that the Left is now nothing more than a cracked sounding brass that may deafen but will never again ring.

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