January 27, 2007


AS A POLITICALLY CONSCIOUS American, I have for as long as I can remember gleaned considerable pride from my nation’s rejection of ideology in favor of pragmatism: the belief, taken so much for granted it often goes unspoken, that the ultimate test of a policy, a law or even a principle is summed up in the question, “does it work?” Throughout most of our history (and with the very notable exceptions of slavery, the Indian Wars and Prohibition), our national pragmatism has served the greater good (as in the New Deal and its successor the Great Society). But sometimes -- typically when the public is deliberately misled (as in the genocide-by-neglect deliberately built into Clinton/Bush “welfare reform” and the DemoPublican Medicare Prescription Drug Lord Benefit) -- pragmatism is subverted, Enron-fashion, to serve only the board-room fat-cats and their Wall Street factotums.

Thus pragmatism’s great strength and its great weakness: while history generally proves it to be the most reliable (and reliably democratic) path to the best solution possible, it nevertheless depends for its function on a well-informed and thoughtful electorate -- something that corporate mass media and corporate-run public education seems increasingly determined to deny us all.

Pick up a U.S. daily newspaper, and with fewer than a half-dozen exceptions (and every one of those from cities east of the Mississippi River), you will find the publication edited with a frustrating subtext of triviality, in which some local chamber-of-commerce festival -- daffodils, flapjacks, tulips -- invariably takes precedence over the Next World War brewing one continent away, the conflict that -- even as we read how Suzie Suburban is now Primrose Prom Queen -- is being brought ever closer to a boil by politicians and military/industrial profiteers in one or all of the world’s capitols. Television meanwhile is a deliberate celebration of the vacuous: for every five hours of Britney Spears, missing blonde co-eds and Hollywood sex scandals, we are doled out maybe five minutes -- if even that -- of pseudo-news, its presentation cunningly decorated by the glitter of random violence, the Shakespearean sound and fury that deliberately hides the idiot’s-tale exclusion of anything that might provoke genuine contemplation or serious reflection. As to the Next World War, it’s not mentioned at all.

Our schools are even worse. The individual citizen’s ability to think logically is the core requirement of liberty, but with the high schools turning out graduates who can neither read nor even master the third-grade mathematics required to make change, with college ever more reduced to vocational school (and even that increasingly closed to all but the rich), no wonder Enron has become the ultimate symbol of the U.S. economy. Indeed it seems we are increasingly too dumbed-down to mount even the tiniest resistance to corporate despotism, whether at home or abroad. Thus are we all reduced by moronation into the shrunken confines of Moron Nation, the global Jurassic Park where capitalism’s Inner Tyrannosaur runs amok, deliberately freed to prey on us at will -- downsizing and outsourcing to its infinitely greedy heart’s content.

Another aspect of moronation is that we are seldom if ever allowed the facts that confirm observation and common sense. We see, for example, how even in the early 1990s, the presence of illegal immigrants in the economy of Whatcom County, Washington had lowered the prevailing wage of heavy equipment operators from $20-something per hour to a mere $10, but we are damned as bigots if we dare point this out, and god forbid we should be allowed to know that scabbing and union-busting by illegal immigrants is undeniably forcing U.S. wages downward nationwide -- no wonder the corporate fat cats want to open our borders to all comers. We see terminal climate change in action every minute of every day -- our own senses tell us our planet is getting warmer and wilder -- but the Bush Regime nevertheless continues its Abrahamic war on science by denying us the data that confirms what the relentless northern advance of certain subspecies of crickets has been demonstrating for years. And even those relatively few of us who give a damn about the nation’s elderly have to look long and hard to discover that -- thanks to the Medicare Prescription Drug Lord Benefit -- pharmaceutical profits are up by half even as the denial of life-sustaining drugs is killing people as dead as the corpses still turning up in the ruins of post-Katrina New Orleans.

But nowhere is the Moron Nation syndrome more evident than in our declining knowledge of history. In a land where two out of three college students could not correctly identify George Washington as the general in charge of the nation-founding battle of Yorktown, it’s not really surprising to read -- as I read on a certain leftist website a few months ago -- the embarrassingly ignorant claim that Islamic hostility to the West is retaliation for the Crusades. As I pointed out in response, though the Crusades (1091-1295) were instead the counterattack of Westernesse against 400 years of Islamic aggression, they ended with the destruction of the crusader-kingdom of Jerusalem and the ouster of the crusaders from all their other middle-eastern conquests. This was not just a huge victory for the forces of Islam, but a pivotal event leading to the final collapse of the Classical world -- Islamic overthrow of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire via the sack of Constantinople in 1458 -- which in turn led directly to the Balkan conflicts that precipitated World War I.

Never mind these are facts most historians accept without question, including the associated sequence of cause and effect -- that the related academic argument is almost entirely an ideological clash over the assignment of blame -- I was immediately branded a “ bigot” merely for having pointed out the correct chronology of events. From then on, everything I posted there was subjected by the site’s moderators to the strictest doctrinal scrutiny, even as my personal history was deeply probed for any evidence that might be twisted into ideological damnation. Predictably, I was eventually denounced and then of course ousted: proof that not even facts are allowed to stand in the way of political “correctness.”

All of which provides a perfect example of how, once dumbing down has plunged beneath a certain depth, the process of moronation becomes self-sustaining.

Not that the Right is any more enlightened. I have been similarly denounced, on Lucianne Goldberg’s News Forum, for supporting homosexual marriage; for refusing to accept the notion of Presidential Infallibility; for supporting universal health care and restoration of the New Deal; for repeatedly posting links that expose the huge threat of theocracy implicit in Christian fundamentalist political action; and for even daring to point out that Christianity in general eternally jeopardizes our freedom: that it is no accident the entire post-Roman history of Westernesse -- even after the Peace of Westphalia ended the 30 Years War -- is mostly the history of theocracy. But in deference to Ms. Goldberg and her moderators, let me also point out that neither she nor anyone else there ousted me for my ever-more-frequent unorthodoxies. Indeed she and her staff provided me with the space and opportunity that brought about my self-restoration as a writer; I left her site merely because (A), I grew tired of being attacked by other posters every time I opened my virtual mouth, and because (B), the encounter with the tyrannosauric reality of capitalism imposed by my involuntary return to urban living had shocked me into a quest for more robust alternatives to the Libertarianism I then espoused.

Alas -- perhaps incontrovertible proof I suffer from a severe learning disability of my own -- I have spent the past 18 months seeking an ideologically comfortable electronic roosting-place. But now, after yet another encounter with self-proclaimed “leftist” malice on yet another website, I have given up my quest as nothing more than a fool’s errand: a search for community that is even more impossible than finding the Fountain of Youth or the Seven Cities of Cibola. Here is what happened:

A poster flatly proclaimed, in a discussion about the site’s form and content, that America is “not in any danger” from the forces of radical Islam.

I responded in haste -- it was a working day for me -- noting that the threat was not only proven by 9/11 (never mind how the Bush Regime had manipulated it into a new Reichstag Fire), but was demonstrated also by the entire post-Roman history of Europe. Which, I added, illustrates the seemingly impossible dilemma of what we as a nation are facing today: we are assaulted, within and without, by the forces of tyranny: terrorism and Islamic theocracy on one hand; the ever-more-overtly fascist (and potentially theocratic) rule of corporate authoritarianism on the other.

Sidestepping for a moment the debate over whether there remains any genuine Left (or leftists) anywhere in the United States, both Left and Right have failed abysmally to identify the totality of the onslaught. Generally, Left emphatically denies the threat from abroad and focuses only on the despotism of the Bush Regime -- thus the underlying absolve-Islam significance of 9/11 conspiracy theory -- while Right fervently denies the domestic threat and focuses only on the depredations of the Jihadists. But in truth we are faced with a combined threat the like of which we have never before encountered: precisely why (if we are to respond with any effectiveness), we must first acknowledge its totality.

(It is an aside -- though an especially relevant one -- that the Democrats have come much closer to such acknowledgement than the Republicans: no doubt the underlying reason for their sweeping victory in the 2006 Congressional elections. But even the most allegedly “Left” Democrats still stubbornly refuse to admit the extent to which capitalism has unleashed its Inner Tyrannosaur -- not only the source of the domestic threat, but also, though often indirectly, the origin of the Islamic threat as well.)

In any case, my acknowledge-the-totality-of-the-threat argument was ignored -- in fact I might as well never have posted it -- even as the entire Islamic-threat history was furiously rejected as manifest ignorance and/or “Zionist“ propaganda. Thus, later the same day -- still (stupidly) believing some degree of rapprochement was possible (if I could but make myself heard) -- I posted a more elaborate response, “Ten points re: the chronic aggressiveness of Islam and how its recognition is an essential step in the process of building a functional political alternative (and thus relates to the totality of this discussion).” The following is revised only slightly:

{1}-The notion of Islamic aggression is not "my thesis" -- it is history and the consensus of historians as taught in the entire Western World before the suicidal dogma of moral equivalence imposed its infinitely dangerous brand of revisionism from the 1980s onward. Though my BA (1976; for which thanks to President Lyndon Johnson for the Vietnam Era GI Bill enacted in 1966) is technically in "interdisciplinary studies," about a third of the associated work was in European history, and my most influential instructors were not "Zionists" but Marxists -- with the selfsame Marxist contempt for religion that originally fueled exposure of the innate savagery in ALL the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

{2}-Despite politically "correct" revisionism, Christianity cannot be blamed for the Islamic invasion of post-Roman Europe in the 600s: this was Islamic aggression (urged on by Muhammed himself) pure and simple. Christians thus tasted Islamic savagery long before, via the Crusades, Muslims tasted its Christian counterpart.

{3}-Save in instances of direct reprisal (as in how the Red Army repaid the Germans for their genocidal savagery in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe) -- the savagery of one group can hardly be used to justify or even explain the savagery of another.

{4}-It is in fact historically accurate to acknowledge that the ability for savagery and sadism is part of human nature, and that the ultimate test of a given system of ideals is how well it restrains the human penchant for savagery.

{5}-By the test of savagery restrained, all the Abrahamic religions fail abysmally. The historical portions of the Old Testament prove the genocidal murderousness of the Hebrews; the histories of the Inquisition and genocidal warfare against the peoples of the Americas does likewise for Christianity; and the blood-drenched history of Muslim conquest -- including the extermination of 80 million Hindus -- does likewise for Islam. Moreover -- though Judaism and Christianity have each largely leashed their Inner Savage, the practice of suicide bombing proves that Islam has not been able to do so -- and all three religions remain implacably hostile to woman and Nature.

{6}-To argue that Torquemada doesn’t represent Christianity or that the Ottomans (or Abdalla the Cruel) don’t represent Islam is like arguing that Hitler doesn’t represent Nazism. As I learned history, the Inquisition is the quintessence of Christianity, just as Abdalla’s beheading of all Spanish Christians who refused to become Muslims is the quintessence of Islam.

{7}-I am well aware that the United States financed Islamic extremism as a means to counter the wildly growing popularity of Marxism in the Middle East during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Thus the U.S. continued a policy developed by Hitler and von Ribbentrop during the mid-1930s.

{8}-Those who acknowledge that we created the threat and then in the same breath deny that the threat is real are illustrating (by the fact they are hopelessly trapped within a contradiction), the ultimate unsustainability of the dogmas of moral equivalence.

{9}-The tyranny implicit in Islam is embodied in its very name, which means "submission." (The claim that Islam means "peace" ironically originated as a Hard Right talking point, born of the Grover Norquist scheme to build a pan-Abrahamic coalition of fundamentalists -- Christians and Muslims -- both to bolster the Republican ranks at home and, in the broader sense, to rule the planet: Christian theocracy in the West, Islamic theocracy in the Middle East and Far East. I have repeatedly posted links on this vital matter, and if anyone is interested, I will post them again here.

{10}-For a general introduction to the subject of Islamic aggression, Google "Islamic invasions of Europe" and "Islamic invasions of India." Better yet, read Paul Fregosi's violently suppressed book Jihad in the West: Muslim Conquests from the 7th to the 21st Centuries. This was finally published by Prometheus Books in 1998 after Little Brown, which had paid Fregosi a generous advance, backed out of the deal in terror of bomb threats.

My point -- which I hope is now clear -- has nothing whatsoever to do with whether Islam is better or worse than Christianity: a pagan/agnostic, I am equally hostile to all Abrahamic religion (and to patriarchal religion in general). Indeed I regard the Abrahamic credo to be the most willfully tyrannical, infinitely murderous belief system ever spawned by human consciousness -- its murderousness especially evident in capitalism and ever more undeniable as capitalism inevitably matures into fascism. Thus I am merely re-acknowledging a related truth suppressed by the political “correctness” of the past two decades: the equally undeniable fact of radical Islam's oft-demonstrated and historically proven hatred of Western Civilization, a hatred in which 9/11 -- the U.S. government’s curious obliviousness to the threat aside -- is merely another exclamation point.

But beyond that is a much broader and far more pivotal point: as I said before, our situation is historically unique -- and uniquely difficult -- in that we are equally threatened from within and without: from without by the forces of radical Islam, from within by the forces of tyranny mustered by the Republicans and their Democratic collaborators in service to corporate fascism. Moreover, each of the two threats originates ultimately from the core ethos of Abrahamic religion: the notion of a master race or ruling class of “god’s chosen people” that animates not only Islam but also capitalism and in fact fuels the capitalist transition to overt fascism as well. And until we acknowledge these facts -- which I believe the vast majority of Americans already sense at least dimly -- any solutions we might propose will be invalidated by contradictions.

Just as U.S. foreign policy deliberately inflamed Islamic extremism (ultimately to defend capitalist depredation), so does Madison Avenue deliberately inflame the frenzies of acquisition that motivate so much domestic crime. But in neither case does the cause of the assault relieve us of the necessity for self-defense: not unless we are suicidal.

However, once we have come to that realization -- and once we stop the foolish adoration of the alien implicit in the denial of Islamic history and dogma -- we are finally and at long last in a position to begin thinking about how the redistribution of wealth (both at home and abroad) might actually bring humanity not only to the threshold of world peace but to a realistic possibility of surviving the impending double apocalypse of petroleum exhaustion and terminal climate change.

Obviously I believe socioeconomic change is the key -- in fact the only key -- to all of this. I also believe the American public is ready to embrace such a change -- that what we must do is set aside the self-defeating fantasy we somehow magically have the power to “enlighten” the public but rather and instead learn how to express the public’s yearnings in a manner sufficiently dynamic to convert expression to action.

Which is, of course, the great advantage still inherent in our Constitutional system -- never mind its present-day captivity in the Avignon of corporate tyranny.

The response to these points was a rampage of denunciation, ongoing even now (five days later), in which my arguments were labeled “bullshit” and my writing attacked as “smoke puffs and loud clanging noises and other Wizard of Oz shit”; in which I was damned as “openly reactionary,” my opinion characterized as both a “Big Lie” and a “big crap you are trying to take on us about how it’s our moral duty to go kill some A-rabs”; in which everything I had written was finally dismissed once-and-for-all as the ravings of a lunatic: “hey this guy is nuts.” All this on a site presumably dedicated to the open discussion essential to arrive at some sort of meaningful socioeconomic and political statement that addresses the present crisis that afflicts the United States -- Islamic aggression from without, capitalist aggression from within -- potentially our nation’s destruction whether by way of additional suicide-bombings or the slower but equally deadly ruination of downsizing and outsourcing that is subjugating all of us into sweatshops and wage slavery.

Thus -- even on a website that vowed its dedication to transcending ideology and searching directly for pragmatic solutions to the crisis (and never mind the fact my hostility to all Abrahamic religion is well known) -- the membership required me to regard Islam as not just beyond criticism but so utterly sacrosanct, even its true history is to be suppressed. And when the site-moderator strenuously objected to the fact I was being not debated but trashed, he too was attacked, the validity of his protestations first denied, then dismissed as “over-dramatic bull shit.”

Though I had been drawn to the site by my great respect for its moderator (an admiration now further reinforced by his bold refusal to be shouted down by my detractors), and though I was genuinely smitten by the site’s unique promise of pragmatism, the astonishing venomousness of the ensuing controversy quickly convinced me my participation there was pointless, and I posted my withdrawal accordingly. Subsequent admissions of premeditated malice -- “hey this guy is nuts” (as if to say, “and therefore good riddance“) -- merely confirmed my adversaries had imported their hatefulness from elsewhere and had carefully nurtured it in anticipation of an opportunity for ambush.

It was admittedly an uncomfortable experience but it was also undeniably worthwhile.

In the first place -- slow learner that I am -- I can no longer avoid the fact the label “Left” in the United States has degenerated mostly into another fad-name (perhaps synonymous with “liberal” and “progressive”) for a vindictively conformist cult of romantic delusion. The cult is based on the reflexive deification of everything that is alien: the paradoxical notion anything foreign (or any one foreign-born) is intrinsically superior to anything (or any one) indigenous to the United States -- even if the alien ethos is defined by the practice of torturing women and children to death for the alleged crimes of adultry, fornication and homosexuality. Hence the cult’s gatekeeper-doctrine -- the test that determines whether one is admitted to the ideological inner sanctum -- is mandatory denial of the Jihadist threat. Fail this test (as I did by asserting the historical reality of Islamic aggression), and you’ll be forever excluded from the entire American leftist community, no matter your views on class struggle or terminal climate change or the ultimate slave-world that lurks within the New Order of the Global Economy. There are a few other such arbitrary tests too: support for illegal immigration, forcible disarmament, politically “correct” subversion of First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. Fail any of these tests -- this is by far the most memorable lesson of my 18-month odyssey through the leftist sector of the blogosphere -- and you’ll be relentlessly hunted across electronic space by a coterie of self-appointed Robespierres, all frothing at their virtual mouths to expose your slightest deviation from political “correctness” and thus ensure you are denied any significant audience.

In the second place, now I am finally beginning to understand why it is at least arguable the current anti-war movement is merely another expression of the Left-cult’s adoration of everything and anything non-American: note that its definition of peace activism never extends to demands for a moratorium on capital’s endless war against U.S. labor, or on the bourgeoisie’s campaigns of contempt and belittlement perpetually waged against blue-collar and rural citizens of North America. It is not so much anti-American as it is indifferent to Americans: why else, for example, do the cults’ members -- even as they rail against battlefield deaths 12,000 miles distant -- so often ignore the domestic atrocities of deaths in the workplace and fatalities inflicted by denial of medical care?

In the third place, I realize that what my online writing has become is an expression of my political independence -- and it is in fact a huge compliment that neither it nor I have been granted any sort of ideological home. Why then should I not consciously make it also a celebration of my independence? Especially since it was out of this very independence I crafted the name Wolfgang von Skeptik.

For now I see more clearly than ever before how America’s one ultimately defining trait -- the hugely creative, vastly productive, intuitively democratic pragmatism I cited at the beginning of this piece -- is being undermined by moronation: another victim of the ignorance, conformity, intolerance, anti-intellectuality and self-destructiveness of the Moron Nation in which we are increasingly confined by our corporate masters, an affliction ever more obvious no matter where on the political spectrum one happens to focus.

Posted by Loren at January 27, 2007 01:23 AM | TrackBack

hey Loren

believe it or not, I feel bad about the things you describe, and I am not going to post anything inflammatory on your blog here.

However, you did coompletely and intentionally take the line about "this guy is nuts/headcase" out of context and reader's of your blog should be aware of that.

That line was meant as a DEFENSE of you vs those who were hurtling that accusation (you know who they were) and in the process of presenting this one-sided entry you have alienated of you biggest (and few) unconditional supporters.

I wish you the best

Posted by: kidoftheblackhole at January 27, 2007 04:27 PM

If your intention was as you say, KOBH, it was surely not clear to me or to the moderator, who took the "nut case" comment exactly the same way I did. Nevertheless, there was neither misrepresentation nor quoting out-of-context, since I very deliberately avoided any individual attribution of the remarks (which as you acknowledge were quoted accurately), chosing instead to portray not the individuals but the collective malice underlying the entire episode. Moreover -- and just as you admit -- "hey this guy's a nut case" was in fact among the central allegations of my detractors. Thus neither of us have said anything here for which retraction is due -- all the more so since your identity remains safely concealed behind your screen name. And of course I appreciate your input, for which thanks.

Posted by: Loren Bliss at January 27, 2007 05:41 PM


Will you expound on this please sir?

I am ignorant of the term but for blindpig's reference that it (may/) orginate with HRR Tolkien.

I might have some other questions. As you can see by the early reference to this word in your piece, I have not yet covered all of the ground before stopping to ask this. Nor have I read the linked article from the Economist yet.



Posted by: pple at January 27, 2007 07:30 PM


I already have another question, this time regarding a comment I had not yet read either.

the line about "this guy is nuts/headcase" out of context.

That line was meant as a DEFENSE of you vs those who were hurtling that accusation (you know who they were)

--end quote--

This is illuminating (and most unexpected!) though I hope for further illucidation.

For a bunch of people hating on you Loren, we sure do admire you!

Knock me over with a feather.

Then teach me something while I am still and quiet, dazed by the communication breakdown :)


Posted by: pple at January 27, 2007 07:35 PM

Pardon the spelling error above. No edit function EXPOSES me every time!

Posted by: pple at January 27, 2007 07:36 PM

Hello Rusty. "Westernesse" is indeed a Tolkienism, used here (as I have used it for a long time) as a synonym for Western Civilization mainly because I think it is actually a better, more inclusive and far more accurate term than "Christendom," not the least because Western Civilization begins not with the Cross but with the Standing Stone (as in Stonehenge) and is thus about 2500 years older than we have been led to believe. As to the "nut case" quote (and the fact it was NOT out of context as I used it here), please see my response to KOBH above.

Posted by: Loren Bliss at January 27, 2007 08:37 PM


Even your elucidation falls short of the complexity of this writer's approach... his premise "Poltical Islam is a threat."

Copyleft: Mansoor Hekmat Internet Archive (marxists dot org) 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
Written: Winter, 2001
First Published: Porsesh, a Quarterly Journal of Politics, Society and Culture, Number 3, Winter 2001 in Persian. Others participating in the round table were: Olivier Roy, Graham Fuller, Ervand Abrahamian and Ian Lesser.
Source: Worker-Communist Party of Iran (WPI Briefing)
Translators: Fariborz Pooya, Maryam Namazie
Transcription/Markup: Worker-Communist Party of Iran/Brian Basgen
http:// www. marxist s .org/archive/hekmat-mansoor/2001/misc/rise-fall-islam.htm

Question: What is your interpretation of concepts such as Islamic fundamentalism and political Islam? What is the difference between the two?

Mansoor Hekmat: I do not use the expression Islamic fundamentalism because I believe it is a calculated Right wing interpretation, which deliberately presents a misleading image of contemporary Islam and Islamic movements. What is real is the emergence of political Islam. In my opinion, political Islam is a contemporary reactionary movement; which has no relation, other than in form, to the late 19th and early 20th century Islamic movements. As for its social content and socio-political and economic objectives, this new movement is completely rooted in contemporary society. It is not a repeat of the same old phenomenon. It is the result of a defeated - or better put - aborted project of Western modernisation in Moslem-inhabited Middle Eastern countries from the late 60s and early 70s as well as a decline in the secular-nationalist movement, which was the main agent of this economic, administrative and cultural modernisation. The ideological and governmental crisis in the region heightened. With this political-ideological vacuum and the local bourgeoisie's confusion, the Islamic movement came to the fore as a Right-wing alternative for the reorganisation of bourgeois rule to confront the Left and the working class, which had emerged with the rise of capitalism. Even so, without the 1978-79 developments in Iran, these movements would still not have had a chance and would have remained marginal. It was in Iran that this movement organised itself as a state and turned political Islam into a considerable force in the region.

In my opinion, political Islam is a general title referring to the movement which sees Islam as the main vehicle for a Right wing restructuring of the ruling class and creating a anti-Left state in these societies. As such, it confronts and competes with other poles within the capitalist world, especially hegemonic blocs, over its share of power and influence in the world capitalist order. This political Islam does not necessarily have any given or defined Islamic jurisprudent and scholastic content. It is not necessarily fundamentalist and doctrinaire. This political Islam encompasses a varied and wide range of forces- from the political and ideological flexibility and pragmatism of Khomeini, to the rigid circles in the Right faction of the Iranian government; from the 'soft' and Western-looking Freedom Movement of Mehdi Bazargan and Nabih Berry's Amal, to the Taliban; from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to the 'Islamic Protestantism' of the likes of Soorosh and Eshkevari in Iran.

Western powers, the media and their academic world have put forth the notion of fundamentalism in order to separate the terrorist and anti-Western veins of this Islamic movement from its pro-Western and conciliatory branches. They call the anti-Western sections fundamentalist and they attack fundamentalism so they can maintain political Islam as a whole, which for the moment is an irreplaceable foundation of anti-Socialist and Right wing rule in the region. The anti-Western currents, however, are not necessarily the fanatic and rigid factions of this movement. The most fundamentalist sections of the Islamic camp such as the Taliban and Saudi Arabia are the closest friends of the West.

Question: To what extent is the gaining of power by Islamists a sign of religious regression? Is this religious regression in these societies, a return to religious values and beliefs in personal and social life?

Mansoor Hekmat: I think that this not rooted in a revival of Islam as an ideological system. This is not ideological Islam, rather it is political Islam based on specific political equations. Clearly, with the rise of the power of political Islam, pressure to revive religious appearances in society intensifies. This, however, is a political pressure. The people sometimes yield to these pressures. This Islamic 'renaissance' is backed by violence and terror, which takes one form in Algeria and another in Iran. In Iran, quite the reverse, the reality is that the rise of political Islam and religious rule has caused a staggering anti-Islamic backlash, in both ideological and personal spheres. The emergence of political Islam in Iran has become the prelude to an anti-Islamic and anti-religious cultural revolution in people's minds, particularly amongst the young generation, which will stun the world with an immense explosion and will proclaim of the practical end of political Islam in the whole of Middle East.

Question: Some say the fall of the Islamic Republic will not be the last nail in the coffin of the Islamic movement, because other trends, particularly non-Shiites, could disassociate themselves from this defeat. Do you agree with this analysis?

Mansoor Hekmat: In my opinion, the Islamic movement in the Middle East and internationally will run out of breath with the fall of the Islamic regime in Iran. The question is not that Islamic Iran will be a defeated model, which others can disassociate themselves from. The Islamic Republic's defeat will arise within the context of an immense mass secularist uprising in Iran, which will touch the foundations of reactionary Islamic thought and not only discredit but condemn it in world opinion. The defeat of the Islamic regime will be comparable to the fall of Nazi Germany. No fascist can easily hold on to their position by merely distancing themselves organisationally and ideologically from this fallen pole. The entire movement will face decades of stagnation. The defeat of political Islam in Iran is an anti-Islamist victory, which will not end within the confines of Iran.

Question: You do not accept descriptions of countries like Iran as 'Islamic countries'. Why not?

Mansoor Hekmat: Any classification and labelling has a purpose behind it. Islam has been around in Iran for one thousand four hundred years and has obviously left its mark on certain things. But this is only one element in portraying this society � the same way that oppression, monarchy, police state, industrial backwardness, ethnicity, language, script, political history, pre-Islamic way of life, people's physical characteristics, international relations, geography and weather, diet, size of country, population concentration, economic relations, level of urbanisation, architecture, etc. are. All of these express real characteristics of the society. Now if out of the hundreds of factors that create differences between Iran and Pakistan, France and Japan, someone insists on pointing to the presence of Islam in some aspects of life in this society and brands all of us with this label - from anti-religious individuals like Dashty, Hedayat and you and I to the great majority who do not see themselves as believers and are not concerned about Islam and the clergy - then they must have a specific agenda. Iran is not an Islamic society; the government is Islamic. Islam is an imposed phenomenon in Iran, not only today but also during the monarchy, and has remained in power by oppression and murder. Iran is not an Islamic society. They have tried to make it Islamic by force for twenty years and failed. Calling the Iranian society Islamic is part of the reactionary crusade to make it Islamic.

Question: Do you see political Islam as a durable force in the political structure of Middle Eastern and North African Moslem-inhabited countries?

Mansoor Hekmat: Durability is a relative concept. Eventually there will come a time when the region will completely repel Islam and turn it into an antiquated phenomenon. Though it will still exist for people to watch, research, and even follow, it will in practice not play any part in people's lives. When this time will come, however, entirely depends on political trends in these countries and specifically the struggle for socialism and freedom. It is possible that still more generations will be forced to endure this Islam; and most definitely, some 'scholars' will see Islam as eternal. But there is nothing eternal and structural in the Middle East's Islamism. Progressive movements can close Islamism's chapter. The time to rid Iran of Islam can arrive very soon. In my opinion, the Islamic Republic and with it political Islam is in the process of being eradicated in Iran. If the political pressure of Islam and Islamism is eliminated, then the shallowness and emptiness of what is called the cultural dominance of Islam in a society like Iran will quickly become obvious. From being the stronghold of political Islam, within a few years, Iran will be the centre of and a leader in the fight against it.

In my opinion, terrorism is one of the forms in which political Islam will continue to exist in the region. The fight against Islamic terrorism will continue in the region after the victory of humanity over Islam for a few years. Sweeping away Islamic terror groups will require more time.

Question: In some earlier writings, you have largely linked the Islamic movement's renewal to the Palestinian Question and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Other participants in this roundtable discussion do not share your particular emphasis on this linkage.

Mansoor Hekmat: I think they have a static view of the issue. The issue is not only what problems and tensions have given rise to the Islamic movement. Although even within this limited context, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Palestinian question and the presence of an ethnic-religious-imperialist 'enemy,' to which Arab nationalism and secularism have succumbed, is a main source of the emergence of the Islamic movement as an alternative claim to power. The more important question is: what direction would the dominant ideological, political and cultural trends in the 20th century push the Arab- and Moslem-inhabited Middle East, if there were no Palestinian question and Israel had not been created in this particular geography? How much could this region have had the opportunity to get integrated into the 'Western' world order, like Latin America and South East Asia, for example? How far could capitalism, technology, industry and Western capital - with all its administrative and cultural levelling and assimilating force -- develop in the Middle East? How much could Islam like other 20th century religions become a recognised, modernised, moderated and absorbed strand in world capitalism's political superstructure? The issue is not whether or not the Palestinian question and this ongoing conflict have given rise to the new political Islam (though I think it has had a large share in it), but rather to what extent this conflict has prevented Moslems and Moslem-inhabited countries from integrating into the mainstream of the 20th century and the world capitalist system. How much has economic development, transfer of technology, integration into dominant Western culture, the development of the foundations of a capitalist civil society, the growth of Western-style political and administrative institutions, and the development of Western intellectual and cultural trends of thought (including secularism, modernism and liberalism) in these countries been hampered by the Palestinian question?

The process of modernisation, secularisation and westernisation of Islam-ridden countries had begun at the beginning of the 20th century and had, until the 1960s, achieved numerous results as well. The West, however, regarded the integration of the Middle Eastern society into the Western capitalist camp as unfeasible and unachievable because of the Palestinian question, a regional conflict that echoed a fundamental global polarisation during the Cold War, and because of its own strategic alliance with Israel. The real challenge to religious reaction can now only come from Socialism, but historically the rise of militant political Islam in the Middle East was the result of the defeat of bourgeois nationalism, secularism and modernism in these countries, which theoretically could and was even about to digest Islamism. Even if there was no talk of 'Islamic Protestantism', this process could have at least put Islam in these countries in the same position as Catholicism in Ireland. The condition for this bourgeois victory, however, was capitalist and industrial development and the transfer of technology and capital, which the West was reluctant to do because of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Cold War context. Since the creation of Israel, the Middle East and its people have been perceived as evil in the West's political culture; they are among the main negative personages in the West's political culture. For the West, the Middle East is not like Latin America and South East Asia. It is a no go area. It is unstable, perilous, unreliable and hostile. Political Islam emerged in this black hole. If the question of Israel did not exist, the problems of Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq would have been like that of Brazil, Peru and Mexico. Political Islam would still certainly exist, but it would have lingered on as a peripheral and sectarian movement and would not have entered the political centre stage in these countries.

Posted by: pple at January 28, 2007 12:02 PM

Comment Submission Error
Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:

Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content: marxists dot org

Please correct the error in the form below, then press Post to post your comment.



Posted by: pple at January 28, 2007 12:08 PM

I'm very sorry Rusty, about this censorship for "content submission errors." I have already inquired of MuNu administration why this is happening (it happened to Mike too). I suspect it is due to the fact the entire MuNu network has been under extreme attack from spammers lately, and that any message containing links (or even originating from a possibly commercial e-mail address) is thus subject to rejection. However this is admittedly just speculation; I am by no means nurd enough to understand all that is involved, particularly since the alleged "logic" of computers is so often contra-intuitive, even to one who is reasonally grounded in the sciences. Meanwhile I have added the marxist.org link to my recommended reading as "Marxist Reference Library," and when I tested it a few moments ago, the link worked perfectly.

In any case, if this sort of auto-censorship happens again, send the material directly to me
-- and again my apology.

Posted by: Loren Bliss at January 28, 2007 01:15 PM

Rusty (PPLE), I note you posted this on another site:

"Wolf's offense was wrong."

Your language is revealing. The fact you describe my views on Islam (or anything else) as an "offense" strongly suggests adherence to doctrines of political "correctness." Which in turn suggests your efforts here -- especially your attempt to portray a probable computer glitch as deliberate political censorship -- are a continuation of the effort to discredit me that began elsewhere. Of course I hope I am wrong (and I surely apologize if I am), but...

Posted by: Loren Bliss at January 28, 2007 02:38 PM

Re: Mansoor Hekmat. Essentially he claims that Israel -- and not anything intrinsic in Islam -- is the cause of all the troubles that originate from the Middle East. I disagree, and vehemently so: this is like claiming -- as pacifists in England and the United States did in 1939 -- that Poland's refusal to surrender to Nazi Germany was the cause of World War Two.

Here is an alternate view:

It needs to be said: Islam considers itself doctrinally a religion whose destiny it is to dominate and rule the world. In the spiritual sphere it believes it has taken over from the older Jewish and Christian religions. It considers them outdated and itself therefore entitled to the recognition of its true and superior status, and to their deference. Politically others see Islam and it sees itself as the would-be successors of the Russians and now, strangely enough, of the Americans. Let us never forget the ideological dimension of Islam.

In Muslim countries which are far from the West and its protective mantle -- Pakistan, the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, among others -- Islam requires submission from its own people. Prison or death can be the penalty for those who do not acquiesce.

After the past 150 years of political eclipse, Muslim countries are no longer under colonial tutelage, and thanks to their oil deposits, they are now rich and powerful. They intend to make full use of these advantages and, in fact, are already doing that. Hopefully, some will draw their inspiration from tenth-century Cordova, where a gracious and highly cultured mixed civilization of Muslims, Jews, and Christians flourished. But I fear that an anti-Christian miscalculation may take over, inspired by the overconfidence that the presence of a few million Muslims in Europe may give. A Muslim friend in Paris told me a couple of years ago, “Our great strength is that people are afraid of us.” That type of thinking is also likely to lead to a major miscalculation in the way Islam approaches the West… (Paul Fregosi, Jihad, Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY: 1998; pgs. 411-412)

Written in the late 1990s, these words have since been proven prophetic by 9/11 and the subsequent attacks on Europe.

And then there is this:

...a British publisher who rejected this book, because it feared reprisals, told me, “We have to play the game according to Muslim rules.” Obviously I have failed to do so. (ibid., pg. 412)

Indeed it is my own refusal “to play the game according to Muslim rules” -- another expression of my huge and lifelong commitment to the freedoms guaranteed by our First Amendment -- that prompts me to reject the politically “correct” adoration of Islam and the implicit submission to tyranny therein.

Posted by: Loren Bliss at January 28, 2007 04:07 PM

Your language is revealing. The fact you describe my views on Islam (or anything else) as an "offense" strongly suggests adherence to doctrines of political "correctness."

I meant offense in the sense of gamesmanship, not in the sense of feelings, just to clarify. A capricious and poor choice of words. You're quite right.

As for the latter, I'll eschew responding to your supposition. I hope that is sufficient to let it pass.

With admiration, as always.

I'll give you further comments a read. I am glad my link engaged you.

Posted by: pple at January 28, 2007 04:58 PM

Essentially he claims that Israel -- and not anything intrinsic in Islam -- is the cause

I rteject your premise for want of precision and the messy complication precision would induce.

Posted by: pple at January 28, 2007 05:00 PM

Essentially he claims that Israel -- and not anything intrinsic in Islam -- is the cause

I reject your premise for want of precision and the messy complication precision would induce, a mess more completely tackled by the writer whom you seek to controvert by opening your post with that false frame.

Posted by: pple at January 28, 2007 05:01 PM

pretending that you are somehow above everyone else and under more scrutiny because you reveal your identity online is..ummmm. I mean you chose to do that, no one forced that on you. Maybe this is more about your recriminations about that choice since you can't exactly take it back?

As you well know, I approached you the a site where you were another mere random - just like me - exactly the same way as I approach you now.

I think you are just picking up mikes lame argument and running with it. Personally I'd drop it faster than a turd sandwich.

So, what is the intent of that argument? That I should be browbeat into revealing myself in some way as though that has any significance?

Secondly, I didn't say I thought or think you are nutcase and that is what you are misrepresenting.

Make no mistake, I'm still going to browse your stuff, I'm just going to totally back away from any discourse about it.

I really do wish you the best wolf

Posted by: kidoftheblackhole at January 28, 2007 05:30 PM

Hi, Glad you're back, although I miss your service as a sort of "missing link" as an L dotter.

Posted by: Mr. Nice Guy at January 30, 2007 07:43 AM

Thanks, and good to have you back too. If enough Ldotters asked (and of course if Ms. Lucianne approved), I might start occasionally posting there again. Intelligent disagreement (as on most of my domestic socioeconomic views) is always preferable to rabid name-calling and froth-at-the-mouth denunciation.

Posted by: Loren Bliss at January 31, 2007 04:41 PM