The European Left and Islamism

Michael Laubsch, political scientist

People hold placards reading "report racism" (L) and "the women together" as they take part in a demonstration march near the Gare du Nord, in Paris to protest against Islamophobia, on November 10, 2019. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

Religion, as Marx already described this paradox, embodies both resistance to and oppression within social conditions. As a result, uprisings in Islamic countries often turned into murderous civil wars. Islamists knew how to channel the anger of the majority. They’re radicalism is a “utopia that emanates from a fallen faction of the new petty bourgeoisie.” Meanwhile, left thinkers in the West argued that Islamist radicals should not be supported in the suppression of women, homosexuals and ethnic or religious minorities, but neither should they be criticized for their actions. Instead, it was underlined that if “Islamists are in the opposition, our rule should be: We sometimes work with the Islamists, but never with the state.”

Where does the confusion of many Leftist Europeans come from? They are demanding the right not to wear the hijab, but also the option to do so everywhere “in racist countries like France”, not only for Arab-speaking people in Algeria, but also for French-speaking people and the Berbers. The result is a political mess in argument, but also in terms of solidarity, promoting human rights and the protection of minorities.

The “leftists of Allah” do not care about the consistency of their arguments. They only trust the following strategy: to infiltrate the Islamist movement in order to benefit from its panache and political energy, and at the same time trying to readjust the actual goal of the movement. A high-risk strategy that can also backfire. The hope of a left minority to use Islam as the spearhead of a new insurgency movement is ultimately a pact between tactically similar movements – with a double delusion outwardly: one side supports the wearing of the veil in Europe as a fight against Islamophobia and state racism, while the other side appropriates revolutionary rhetoric and pretends to criticize the market and globalization in order to get the message across to be able to spread the Quran.

Common decline and common enemy

The radical left is certain that radical Islam has the wrong kind of radicalism. For them, it is a misguided energy that gets lost in dogmas instead of attacking the capitalist monster. But these mutual ties against a common enemy, big business, are not only of an opportunistic nature. Beyond leftism and religious devotion, the two camps share the same experience – that of historical decline. The communist dream burst in 1989, and Islam fell into a state of decline centuries ago. This decline was exacerbated after Ataturk decided to build a secular state and abolished the long-standing caliphate in 1924. Islam, “dismayed by its deposition”, dreams of restoring its lost greatness. Panic is the cause of systematic terrorism. Extreme violence, in turn, is a consequence of its impotence.

When the left woos totalitarian theocracies as it did with one-party dictatorships, it is also doing so out of solidarity with the losers. It takes revenge for its defeats and setbacks and allies itself with the only power that can distress the Western world, Islamic fundamentalism. It is an amalgamation of resentments in the milieu of the big losers.

The mujahideen, the martyrs of Hamas or al Qaeda take the place of the proletariat, the guerrillas, the damned of this earth and the Palestinians. The revolution, this great absentee, is now supported by the supporters of the crescent moon. The greatness and dignity of Muslims derive from the very fact that they are now the sole bearers of the promise of the revolution. To show solidarity with the Muslims, for the left it simply means swinging another stick to beat bourgeois society, which it has not been able to destroy. This shift within the left goes back to the time of the overthrow of the Shah in Iran in 1979 and 1980, when this communication was created.

It was Michel Foucault who rushed forward here with his own distinctive style. He, who was never a Marxist and had made fun of the failed revolutions of 1848, the Paris Commune, the revolutions in Russia, Cuba, Beijing and Phnom Penh, drove enthusiastically to Iran. He was looking for a special thrill, a spiritual revolution that would make the old anti-colonial theories seem obsolete: no more creeds on the class struggle or anti-imperialist struggle that had been hard-won. It turned out that religious beliefs cast a greater spell on people than the naive hope of the dawn of socialism.

Foucault, the nowaday’s top reference for any supporter of post-colonial studies and “wokeness” saw in Tehran as in the whole of the Middle East the resurrection of the sermons the return of political spirituality. According to him, it was the uprising of men with their bare hands who put the enormous burden, the weight of the whole world, on each of us, but above all on them, the oil workers and peasants on the borders of the great empires want to throw off.

According to him, the Iranians not only wanted to change rulers, “they wanted to fundamentally change themselves and their existence […] by reconnecting with a spiritual experience that they believe to have found in the heart of the Shiite religion.” The theocratic executioner Khomeini was even described by the philosopher as an old saint in exile in Paris.

Despite his impressive clarity and his will to invent a kind of transcendental journalism, he ultimately succumbed, like so many Europeans before him, to the exoticism of a Far Eastern savior. In a text full of nuances and embarrassments, Foucault explains that insurgent potential resides in human societies even if they lead to a new form of tyranny. But this statement does not simply make up for the previous song of praise for the Iranian revolution. Apparently, Michel Foucault lacked the anti-totalitarian wisdom for which the dissidents of the communist world gave eloquent examples.

In this regard, it would have been enough to read Ayatollah Khomeini’s texts, which are very clear in their hatred of parliamentary democracy and the Western world, in order to gain clarity about what is ahead.

A more classic left-wing diction saw the revision of the revolution by the mullahs as proof of their vitality. In this view, Iran presented itself as the only active force challenging the strategic monopoly and terrorism of the two great powers. Whether at the cost of religious fanaticism, moral terrorism or even just ordinary barbarism, it doesn’t matter. Undoubtedly only ritual, by no means archaic violence, the violence of a religion, of a tribalism, which rejects the models of the Western world, can represent such a challenge to the world order.

We are the murderers – the victims are always the others

Unfortunately, to this day, part of the left has not learned this lesson about Islamism. On the contrary, the available arsenal of justifications even for the deeds of the murderers is almost inexhaustible,including the self-abandonment of the West. Leftist scientists explained the Paris terror attacks 2015 by saying that “the café terraces are intimidating places for the young people of the ethnic minorities, places where you do not dare to sit down, where you are not welcome, where you are not served, and if you are allowed to order, the prices are extremely high. They are among the most traumatizing places […]. Basically, one can say that the perpetrators of social violence, whose victims they have been permanent victims since the age of sixteen, have imposed jihadist terminology on them.”

This revisionism in real time reverses the situation in a significant way: the murderers on the terraces were the traumatized, while the victims were the privileged. The conclusion is obvious: the victims were unaware murderers and the murderers were the unfortunate victims. A group of Danish artists organized an exhibition in Copenhagen in May 2016, honoring the terrorists, who carried out suicide attacks in Brussels.

The perception of the slaughter is subject to an extreme distortion, called the Stockholm Syndrome: the identification of the victims with the perpetrators is reinterpreted as a subversive act.

The victims should be responsible for their own fate

While some left intellectuals acquit the murderers by benevolently diagnosing social trauma in them, others blame the victims, whether in the past or the future, for their own fate. Aren’t they even ashamed to go to a café and approve of the First World War, the Vichy regime and the colonial wars? Be prepared that drinking a glass of wine in a bar will soon become a nationalist crime. The blue-white-red culture of France is inherently questionable. It has already been established that ordering sausages for an aperitif makes you right.

Shortly after the attacks on “Charlie Hebdo”, French radical left parties had nothing better to do than a gathering convened in Saint-Denis to denounce “Islamophobia and the climate of security mania”, together with the Muslim Brotherhood and its their sub-organizations. One had just cold-blooded the cartoonists of “Charlie Hebdo”, security guards, in line with the anti-Semitic diction of Islamism murdered customers of a kosher supermarket, but the organizers literally went crazy to accuse the supposedly ruling “Islamophobia”.

The murders were of course explained by “the emptiness and despair caused by the aggressive dominance of Western capitalism and the states serving it.” Others felt to be intellectually superior to journalists who only react to current events. The French state was solely responsible for the deaths, together with an “Islamophobic” policy in the West.

Those “Third World ideologies” forever worship the same thing: that the liberal, capitalist and imperialist West is responsible for all misery on this earth. The assassins are in reality fighters for a better world, the terrorists resistance fighters against our drones and our airplanes. A ceasefire must be negotiated with the “Islamic State” and that it has a right to exist. The fighters of Islamism expressly thanked for this, as the BBC revealed.

All those statements, made by atheists, are reintroducing original sin, an old ideological tenet of Christianity. “I’m getting hit, so I’m guilty too.” The jihadists are reduced to their supposed social origin, far from being regarded as murderers if they are ennobled as angels of vengeance, for whose deeds we are to blame. “These monsters are a product of our society,” it is often said.

In this way, an exoneration and reinterpretation mechanism has been set in motion, blaming the West for all crimes committed by Islam and at the same time reinterprets its warmongering against us as an aggressive act on our part. A tedious and crazy endeavor that is very indicative of the state of our society. Ultimately, all this leads to the fact that critics of Islam are banned and should be silenced – while all sorts of vagueness in political and social analysis is allowed. Better could not be played into the hands of the Islamists.

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