Sunday, 17 July 2005

Two Civil Wars

There are two civil wars going on now, one large , one small.

The larger of the two is the war within Islam: the Counter-Reformation.

Islam outgrew its rather bloody roots of the 7th century sometime around the 14th. From being a very militantly prosletysing "cum scutum et ignis" - by Sword and Fire - movement, it matured, and led by example rather than conquest. But there it stopped. While Christianity slowly stopped burning witches as public amusement, stoning adulterers or the immodest still remained on the lawbooks of Sharia, sometimes practiced, sometimes not.

It was only in the early part of the 20th century that militant Islam, Islamofascism, call it what you will - got hybridised with the more malignant Utopian ideals coming from Europe, and degenerated into a nihilistic death cult.

What is left, from what I can see, is a fractioning of Islam into three distinct parts.

The first part, which appears to be the majority in the west, are those who "just want to get along", and is composed of people with a variety of attitudes, ranging from "Muslim in name only" the way that many people are "Christian in name only" or "Jewish in name only", all the way to very devout people who look forward to the day whan everone is a Muslim, and work towards that ideal by living a life exemplary of morality and humanity.

The second part, which appears to be the majority outside the west, are similar, but more ignorant and bigotted. They have had little or no exposure to non-Islamic faiths, so genuinely believe the rubbish that's sometimes fed them by oppressive governments or demagogues. They tend to be Anti-Semitic, sometimes virulently so, but only because they've never actually met anyone Jewish. Again, they have their counterparts in the west, many people are virulently anti-Islamic simply because they've never actually met a practicing Muslim, they only know what the media reports tell them. Again, they vary between the "Muslim in name only" and the ultra-pious. The difference between the two groups is, that the ultra-pious are more likely to engage in "honour killings", to be the one to cast the first stone, etc. Intolerant, Brutish, Ignorant and Bigotted. Indistinguishable from the "God Hates Fags" brigade.

The third part, a powerful and well-funded minority, are the Islamofascists. They hide amongst the second part, and even the more terminally thick of the first, who give them aid and comfort out of a sense of "Muslim Brotherhood". They feed off, and recruit, the offspring of the other two groups, children who out of zeal to change the world for the better, become mere rounds of ammunition to be expended for The Great Cause. The main victims of the Islamofascists are not worshippers of other religions, they're Muslims. Just look at the casualties in Iraq. Or the continuing bombings of Shia Mosques in Pakistan and elsewhere. Or the fact that the recent bombings in London happenend in or near Muslim neighbourhoods, and killed at least one Muslim woman.

In the UK, the battlelines are already being drawn up. The clash may be delayed for a while, or it may occur soon. The time when the normal, decent "just folks" Muslims of all stripes and varieties start actively working against the Islamofascists, rather than sitting on the fence and uttering pious plattitudes. Some have already done so, we couldn't have had as much success in the "War on Terror" as we've had without a lot of decent people saying "enough is enough". As for the second group, it will take political, economic, and if neccessary, military pressure to get rid of the oligarchs and demagogues who have always kept their peoples in ignorance. This is a job that will take generations, and can never be completely successful. You can fool some of the people all of the time, after all.

And that brings me to the second civil war, the war within the Far Left. To quote Christophet Hitchens :
And then, most depressingly, after September 11, 2001, you defined your position until it was not just with sometimes, or without sometimes, but actually against quite a bit of the left—people who thought jihadism was in some way an expression of anti-imperialism. There was the reflexive view that somehow the jihadists must represent a grievance or protest against poverty or oppression. Everybody knows what the grievances of the jihadists arethey're very easy to identify. They grieve for the loss of the caliphate. They're not anti-imperialists—they're pro-imperialists. There's an empire they lost and want back. They're offended—deeply, grievously offended—by the sight of an undraped woman or the existence of a Shiite Muslim, or a Christian, or a Jew. These things they consider to be offensive. They believe God gives them the right to erase these things. Let's not understate the fact that they do have deep-seated grievances. But to hear this ventriloquized on the left as some sort of perverse populism was too much for me.
I can tell you exactly when the breaking point came, actually. I was invited by Michael Moore to be his interviewer at the Telluride Film Festival for his awful, baggy, dishonest, boring movie, Bowling for Columbine. In that film, clips about the Kosovo war from Serbian television are used as objective. Moore implies that the bombing of Kosovo might have inspired the murderers in Columbine. You don't know where to start with someone as mentally lazy as this. This was on the anniversary of September 11 terrorist attacks, and he said, "Well, if it's true that bin Laden did this thing in New York . . ." It was early in the morning; just a second, I thought. "Say that again? If they did this?" He said, "Well, if they did this." And he opposed the toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan—a reactionary, conservative position couched in radical anti-imperialist language. My Marxist training tells me things don't remain the same. Reactionary-left positions won't hold for long; they will metamorphose into reactionary-right ones. He says he considers the Iraqi resistance—the beheaders and kidnappers and rapists, the people who throw petrol and explosives into the mosques of rival Muslims, among other things—the equivalents of the Minutemen of the American Revolution. This is the statement of a flat-out brown shirt. It has to be described as such. And all the people who thought that was a great movie to rock the vote, they should be fucking ashamed. There is no room for compromising on a thing like this. He's a lying, fascist, thug.
And a drink-soaked Trotskyite :
Since Sept 2001 I have seen the crevasse change. It was always there, but it was ill-defined and could easily be skipped over. It was partially refilled with the Berlin Wall in 1989.

However some have always been camped on Hitch's side, and as the crack opened others have evaluated the two sides of the gap and jumped. Each successive tectonic groan has made the chasm wider. Last Thursday's explosions widened the gap to the limit. You can still make it across, but those on the other side are becoming committed. It's only a matter of time until the breach is too wide and both sides become distant to each other - with shouting their only form of communication.

I despair that so many have left it so late to jump.
The war in the Far Left is between Orwell's "objectively pro-Fascists", and those who go back to the Fundamentals of anti-Fascism. A repeat of the same split that happened with the Ribbentrop-Molotov "non aggression pact" between Hitler and Stalin in 1940. You can see it happening, at Crooked Timber, at Normblog, at Harry's Place, and the Socialist Workers Party.

Lest those of us on the Right take some degree of pleasure, schadenfreude, over this, let's just remember what we're supposed to be For, not Against. The enemy is not the Far Left, it's the deeds that have been committed in their name. It wasn't all that long ago when some of those on the Right were saying "He may be a bastard, but he's our bastard.". We have far more in common with the Far Left anti-fascists, than the various Antisemitic Paleocons at the Westboro Baptist Church. Just as the Paleocons are indistinguishable from the likes of "Gorgeous George" Galloway, Fisk, Monbiot and their ilk.

We differ from the anti-fascist Far Left only in methodology, not basic respect for humanity. Some of those on the Far Left even realise it, and hope that we'll "see the light" one day, or at least, can work with us for worthwhile ends.

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