Friday, October 22, 2004

Conservatism and terrorism

It should really come as no surprise that there are links to social conservatives and terrorists. After all, in the extreme, social conservatives have become fundamentalist terrorists (think, bombing abortion clinics, bombing Oklahoma federal buildings, etc.).

Abdal-Hakim Murad makes the case that suicidal terrorism has it's philisophical roots in Western thought and not in traditional Muslim philosophy. It's a fascinating, long read that is well worth grappling with.

The targeting of civilians is more Western than otherwise; contemplating the Ground Zero of a hundred German cities, this can hardly be denied. Yet it will be claimed that suicidal terrorism is something new, and definitively un-Western. Here, we are told by xenophobes on both sides, the Islamic suicide squads, the Black Widows, the death-dealing pilots, are an indigenously Islamic product. And yet here again, when we detach ourselves from the emotive chauvinism of the Islamists and their Judeo-Christian misinterpreters, we soon find that the roots of such practices in the Islamic imagination are as recent as they are shallow. The genealogy of suicide bombing clearly stretches back from Palestine, through Shi‘a guerillas in southern Lebanon, to the Hindu-nativist zealots of the Tamil Tigers, and to the holy warriors of Shinto Japan, who initiated the tradition of donning a bandanna and making a final testament on camera before climbing into the instrument of destruction. The kamikaze was literally the 'Wind of Heaven', a term evocative of the divine intervention which destroyed the Mongol fleet as it crossed the Yellow Sea.

As this article appears, a film is about to be shown in the BBC titled The Power of Nightmares. The Guardian interviews the writer and producer of the documentary, Adam Curtis. He set out originally to produce a film on the rise of the American conservative movement and while doing so, found ties between it and and the philosophical underpinnings of Islamic fundamentalism. This article is shorter than the first, but together they provide an analysis we are unlikely to hear from mainstream media. Certainly in America, these thoughts would be out of bounds for most.

Straussian conservatism had a previously unsuspected amount in common with Islamism: from origins in the 50s, to a formative belief that liberalism was the enemy, to an actual period of Islamist-Straussian collaboration against the Soviet Union during the war in Afghanistan in the 80s (both movements have proved adept at finding new foes to keep them going). Although the Islamists and the Straussians have fallen out since then, as the attacks on America in 2001 graphically demonstrated, they are in another way, Curtis concludes, collaborating still: in sustaining the "fantasy" of the war on terror.

Via Shaula.

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