Friday, September 21, 2007

Globalization versus Islam: the unspeakable versus the inedible

David Seaton's News Links
There is a movement afoot in the world's Muslim community, sometimes violent, sometimes democratic, at its center it is "anti-imperialist".

"Imperialism" here is taken to mean the domination of non-Christian, non-European peoples, by European or Euro-American-Christians (since roughly the 1950s the Jewish people of the United States under the neologism, "Judeo-Christian" have been given the status of "honorary Christians", in much the same way that the Japanese were considered "honorary whites" under the former apartheid regime of South Africa). Certainly for the inhabitants of Muslim countries the distinction between Zionists (read Jews) and "crusaders" (read Christians) has become rather blurred over time.

At first the political tools used by "third world" countries to resist this domination were nationalism (emphasizing local sovereignty, UN seat, nationalized-socialized economy, etc.) and in many cases simultaneous alignment with the Soviet block in "national liberation struggles". In order to weaken the allure of left-wing nationalism the United States and her allies often encouraged Islamic fundamentalism and encouraged the growth of movements such as the Taliban, Hamas and Hizbullah. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the advent of globalization, secular nationalism and socialism lost practically all their usefulness as tools for loosening the grip of aliens on the economies, lives and customs of non-"European" peoples.

However, by now, many Muslims have discovered that, for better or worse, Islam is the one idea, culture and "way of life" that cannot be dissolved or co-opted by the omnivorous powers of synthesis and the economic and military hegemony of the "New World Order". Thus, as day follows night, with nowhere else to turn, "Islam is the Answer" has now become the default slogan of anti-imperialism among Muslims and may, who knows, begin to resonate among
disaffected, heretofore non-Muslims, that find themselves helpless victims of American-led globalization. DS

Democracy, not terror, is the engine of political Islam - Guardian

Abstract: Six years after 9/11, throughout the Muslim world political Islam is on the march; the surprise is that its rise is happening democratically - not through the bomb, but the ballot box. Democracy is not the antidote to the Islamists the neocons once fondly believed it would be. Since the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, there has been a consistent response from voters wherever Muslims have had the right to vote. In Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey and Algeria they have voted en masse for religious parties in a way they have never done before. Where governments have been most closely linked to the US, political Islam's rise has been most marked.(...) in concentrating on the violent jihadi fringe, we may have missed the main story. For if the imminent Islamist takeover of western Europe is a myth, the same cannot be said for the Islamic world. Clumsy and brutal US policies in the Middle East have generated revolutionary changes, radicalising even the most moderate opinion, with the result that the status quo in place since the 1950s has been broken. Egypt is typical: at the last election in 2005 members of the nominally banned Muslim Brotherhood, standing as independents, saw their representation rise from 17 seats to 88 in the 444-seat people's assembly - a five-fold increase, despite reports of vote-rigging by President Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Alliance. The Brothers, who have long abjured violence, are now the main opposition. The figures in Pakistan are strikingly similar. Traditionally, the religious parties there have won only a fraction of the vote. That began to change after the US invasion of Afghanistan. In October 2002 a rightwing alliance of religious parties - the Muttahida Majlis Amal or MMA - won 11.6% of the vote, more than doubling its share, and sweeping the polls in the two provinces bordering Afghanistan - Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province - where it formed ultra-conservative and pro-Islamist provincial governments. If the last election turned the MMA into a serious electoral force, there are now fears that it could yet be the principle beneficiary of the current standoff in Pakistan. The Bush administration proclaimed in 2004 that the promotion of democracy in the Middle East would be a major foreign policy theme in its second term. It has been widely perceived, not least in Washington, that this policy has failed. Yet in many ways US foreign policy has succeeded in turning Muslim opinion against the corrupt monarchies and decaying nationalist parties who have ruled the region for 50 years. The irony is that rather than turning to liberal secular parties, as the neocons assumed, Muslims have lined up behind parties most clearly seen to stand up against aggressive US intervention.(...) the religious parties tend to be seen by the poor, rightly or wrongly, as representing justice, integrity and equitable distribution of resources. Hence the strong showing, for example, of Hamas against the blatantly corrupt Fatah in the 2006 elections in Palestine. Equally, the dramatic rise of Hizbullah in Lebanon has not been because of a sudden fondness for sharia law, but because of the status of Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbullah's leader, as the man who gave the Israelis a bloody nose, and who provides medical and social services for the people of South Lebanon, just as Hamas does in Gaza. READ IT


Anonymous said...

DE has a good understanding of the dynamic governing ME history. His observations are plausible, except for the statement that the West encouraged Hizbullah. Of all "Islamic" movements, Hizbullah started, and continues to be anti-Israeli and anti-USA, driven initially by its resistance to IKsraeli occupation of parts of Lebanon. While amost all other Arab-Islamic movements were either started ot encouraged by outside Western interests, such as the Moslem Brotherhood who were encouraged as a counter balance against Nasser's pan-Arabist Arab socialist policies, which the West was highly uncomfortable with (remember the 1963 Suez crisis). I think the link between taliban and Al Qaida on the one hand and the USA and its chief ally Saudi Arabia during the Soveit invasion of Afghanistan need little elaboration.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

When Israel invaded Lebanon they were welcomed at first with rice and flowers by the Shiite community that were sick of the Sunni, Palestinian gunmen of Arafat's Al Fatah. The Shiites thought things would go better with the Israelis. So I would say that in its origins even Hizbullah as a natural outgrowth of the Shiite community meets the minimum requirements I have oulined in my post.