Harris, L. 2007. Why we fear ‘fanatic’: The lesson of the red mosque. TCS Daily. July 12, 2007. Available online: http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=071207A (emailed in my Michael DeWitt of Spooky Action).
Joseph Goebbels was proud of being a fanatic. To him, fanaticism was a term of praise, and not abuse. The Hebrew Zealots looked with contempt on those who were unwilling either to die or to slaughter their own families. In the culture of the modern West, however, to call someone a fanatic is to insult, and not commend, him. Yet, as the incident at the Red Mosque makes clear, our own attitude toward fanaticism is simply an example of ethnocentricism. By refusing to use the word fanatic to describe Ghazi and his followers, we are approaching them through the standards and practices that are observed in our culture, but not in theirs.
Indeed. “Extremism in defense of liberty….“
At the Boyd Conference, William Lind made the good point that the Arab world has been in a cycle of corruption-internal reform movement-revolutionary-corruption. By supporting corrupt states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, we interrupted this cycle, between the generation of the internal reform movement (primarily the Muslim Brothers) and the revolution which would bring on either their corruption… or possibly a way out of the cycle. Assuming the old governments of the Middle East have our, or their own people’s, best interest at heart is foolish.
As I’ve said before, Islam is the answer. The governments of the Muslim world are the problem.
Of course, not all of Lind’s points were so flattering or helpful…
Slashdot links the Guardian‘s summary of what the UK Ministery of Defense fears the world may look like in 30 years. Some thoughts below:
Actually, this would be a revolutionary petite bourgeious…
“The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx,” says the report. The thesis is based on a growing gap between the middle classes and the super-rich on one hand and an urban under-class threatening social order: “The world’s middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest”. Marxism could also be revived, it says, because of global inequality. An increased trend towards moral relativism and pragmatic values will encourage people to seek the “sanctuary provided by more rigid belief systems, including religious orthodoxy and doctrinaire political ideologies, such as popularism and Marxism”.
Resentment among young people in the face of unrepresentative regimes “will find outlets in political militancy, including radical political Islam whose concept of Umma, the global Islamic community, and resistance to capitalism may lie uneasily in an international system based on nation-states and global market forces”, the report warns. The effects of such resentment will be expressed through the migration of youth populations and global communications, encouraging contacts between diaspora communities and their countries of origin.
… is perhaps optimistic. Of greater concern to Europe are European Islamic No-Go Zones.
Nice bit about China though:
Tension between the Islamic world and the west will remain, and may increasingly be targeted at China “whose new-found materialism, economic vibrancy, and institutionalised atheism, will be an anathema to orthodox Islam”.
The world would be very different in 9/11 had been directed against Shanghai and Beijing. Perhaps, as China connects with more and more New Core powers and threatens Islamic ruleset absolutism, that day may still come.