“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

No Dissent?

with 2 comments

In an age when there seems a premium on political cretinism and vulgar “anti-imperialist” thinking, it is nice to have a fresh humanist, secular and dissenting point of view, so I look forward to reading the rest of the latest Dissent, a magazine.
There are many online articles at Dissent, but in particular Fred Halliday’s The Jihadism of Fools is worth a second read.

I have highlighted some of the points that he raised:

“Over the last few years, and especially since the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003, there have been indications across the world of a growing convergence between the forces of Islamist militancy, on the one hand, and the “anti-imperialist” left on the other. Leaving aside widespread, if usually unarticulated, sympathy for the attacks of September 11, 2001, justified on the grounds that “the Americans deserved it,” we have seen since 2003 an overt coincidence of policies, with considerable support for the Iraqi “resistance,” which includes strong Islamist elements, and, more recently and even more explicitly, support for Hezbollah in Lebanon. In the Middle East itself, and on parts of the European far left, an overt alliance with Islamists has been established, going back at least to the mass demonstrations in early 2003 that preceded the Iraq War, but also including a convergence of slogans on Palestine—supporting suicide bombings and denying the legitimacy of the Israeli state.


More important, of course, and separate from support for Islamist guerrilla groups, has been alignment at the state level: Iran, for example, has received increasing support from Venezuela. Hugo Chávez has been to Tehran no less than five times. This partnership has been made all the easier by the shift noticeable over the past two decades whereby solidarity based, at least formally, on class or socialist grounds has been replaced by identity politics as the basis for political activism. Inchoately perhaps, a new international united front is being created.

Even more relevant to the situation today is the early record of Hezbollah, which, in its bid to establish itself as the dominant force within the Lebanese Shiite community, not only engaged in a fierce attack on a rival, more moderate group, Amal, but also assassinated a number of left-wing Lebanese politicians and writers who stood in its way.

To this history of jihad against the left, over many decades, must be added one further fact, namely the deep differences that should separate any conceivable program of the radical left from that of Islamist parties. Whether on the rights of women, on secularism, or on free speech, the two political currents are radically opposed; they espouse what should be incompatible positions. So too are they opposed on another issue: the complete absence from the Islamist program of any inclusive internationalism. Instead, while appealing to the community or umma of Muslims, the Islamists, be they al-Qaeda or Hezbollah, appeal only to particular communities and pour out the venom of an unrelenting chauvinism toward nonbelievers, Jews, and even toward Muslims of a different sect than their own. Their rhetoric against Jews far exceeds anything of which the earlier generation of secular Palestinian nationalists was capable. Few today seem to recall the remark of the German socialist leader August Bebel, that anti-Semitism “is the socialism of fools.” Presumably those on the left today who ally with Islamists do so by reference to some concept of false consciousness. It is open to question, however, whose consciousness is the most mistaken.”

Well said Fred!

Written by modernityblog

21/03/2007 at 02:35

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Good post.

    I’m not third camp, but I oppose both imperialism and Islamism.

    Renegade Eye

    21/03/2007 at 19:06

  2. FYI. The Spring Dissent is out and posting online. It’s symposium is on Exporting Democracy: Learning from Iraq.


    18/04/2007 at 21:39

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