Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Christopher Hitchens thinks that the term 'Islamofascist' is a good one; ie it is truly descriptive of the phenomenon it refers to.

The most obvious points of comparison would be these: Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind. ("Death to the intellect! Long live death!" as Gen. Francisco Franco's sidekick Gonzalo Queipo de Llano so pithily phrased it.) Both are hostile to modernity (except when it comes to the pursuit of weapons), and both are bitterly nostalgic for past empires and lost glories. Both are obsessed with real and imagined "humiliations" and thirsty for revenge. Both are chronically infected with the toxin of anti-Jewish paranoia (interestingly, also, with its milder cousin, anti-Freemason paranoia). Both are inclined to leader worship and to the exclusive stress on the power of one great book. Both have a strong commitment to sexual repression—especially to the repression of any sexual "deviance"—and to its counterparts the subordination of the female and contempt for the feminine. Both despise art and literature as symptoms of degeneracy and decadence; both burn books and destroy museums and treasures.

I think there's another reason to allow the term. That is, it is a reaction to the liberal tradition that stems from the Enlightenment. Just as Communism was a sort of Enlightenment Fascism and Nazism (and Fascism itself, though to a lesser degree) an anti-Enlightenment extremism, so the thought and action covered by the term Islamofascism is a radical reaction to the world created the forces of economic and political liberalism.

It is important that we remember that. It is the product of weakness and cultural failure; it does not even present any putative alternative, which is a where it differs from Communism and Fascism. It is an expression of incapacity, one that will help neither its practitioners nor those they claim to represent.

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Hazar Nesimi said...

I have a problem with this term, not the least because it is employed by anti-muslim hate groups (aka JihadWatch, BanIslam etc) (I know you are not!, but many people who use it, use it in a certain context I find appaling) and also because it is partly misleading. Fascism is an authoritarian political ideology that considers individual and other societal interests subordinate to the interests of the state. Fascists seek to forge a type of national unity through oppression and coercion, usually based on (but not limited to) ethnic, cultural, or racial attributes. The Salafi movement which feeds current jihadi ideology can only be defined in religious terms as a Puritan Iconoclastic and not fascist. The Fascism and Communism are ideologies devoted to building a new society and a new man employing the language of modernity. Salafism and Jihadism are strictly religious movements harking back to their understanding of golden age in 7th century Arabia - an absolute impossibility to achieve. It is not a reaction to liberal tradition, for no such thing existed in the Middle East and never did - it is a reaction to modernity and Western influence in the futile attempt to resist it, rather than to adopt it. There are some elements of the movements that adopted modern political discourse(aka Hizb Ut Tahrir party) as a tool to achive their goals- so some of the ideology is a mixture of secular and religious, but overall i still see it as such. So yes, but mostly no.

NoolaBeulah said...

The points you make are good ones. Your view of these groups will be more nuanced than mine, or Christopher Hitchens' because you have a more intimate knowledge of their sources, language and mentality. For us, looking at it from a Western secular standpoint, the similarities are notable. Even that desire to re-create the past was shared by Nazism and Fascism though to a lesser degree.

It may also be that we are using the term 'fascism' is a less precise way than you are (it is, in fact, one of the most abused words in existence). But if you take away the nationalist appeal of 'classical' fascism, you are still left with a totalitarian ideology that crushes dissent, holds up one Truth to which all else must be subordinated, places the individual far below the group (however that is defined), sees itself as besieged and engaged in a final battle, which when won will usher in a completely different world.

Remember we just see this in secular terms and the relgious element as a sort of phantom superstructure.

Hazar Nesimi said...

I would prefer a terms designating an "Islamic Totalitarianism" or "Islamic Puritanism" ideology, which somehow sounds less offensive to me (it may be to others). And yes, "fascism" is almost a playground level offense it is so overused. Neednt be the case, but in the current usage it is

NoolaBeulah said...

I would accept your terms.