Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fascism and Islamic Movements – II

A friend, Rick Rice, commented on my first post on Fascism and Islamic Movements and this prompted me to say a few more words on this subject. Rick, thanks for taking the time.

In that post I pointed out to a common characteristic between Fascism and Islamic movements. This commonality is not equality and I tried to point that out also. My perception is not to try to create a model and I think such an attempt is futile and counterproductive. The differences are important and consequential in how we confront the Islamic movements.


German Fascism was based on the concept of German nationalism and national superiority. Nationalism in Europe during reformations broke the grip of the catholic church on their societies. It was progressive and a solution to that particular problem. In the twentieth century, facing the economic problems of post WWI, nationalism could not be a solution and was reactionary. The concept that something in our past could be a salvation to our future proved to be reactionary. For one thing nationalism of the reformation era was entirely different. It was the dawn of personal freedoms.

Nationalism of Islamic movements or their claim to "self determination" does not have anything to do with progress or self determination. It is against self determination. It is even more archaic than the German nationalism and Fascism of the last century.

The Islamic movements do not have the cultural resources of the early twentieth century Germany and as such are incapable of creating a havoc such as WWII. Islamic movements are much more widespread, with a deeper gulf in cultural differences between the democratic world and them. This will make the conflict a protracted one. I believe it is the nature of this conflict which will determine how we have to confront them, politically and militarily. An all out war like Iraq or Afghanistan is incapable of resolving the problem. It is like marching into mud, once you are out at the other end you are yet left with the mud.

This does not preclude military conflicts and there will be some but the methods and the goals need to be defined differently. It is this lack of understanding about the nature of our conflicts with the Islamic movements which has turned the military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq into a debacle. The U.S. entered with a perception that it will be freeing the Afghans from the Taliban but it became a protector of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with all kinds of religious provisions in the legal code. Just imagine if after the defeat of the fascist Germany the democratic world became the guardian of a government with a name like "Fascist Republic of Germany" with all kinds of legal code about German superiority.

This confusion can be seen in the conflict with the Islamic Republic in Iran also. The Obama administration's tone is that if the ruling clergy abandons its aspirations to nuclear arms then their claim to "sovereignty" would be recognized. The modern world should not recognize any claims to sovereignty or self determination when half of the population are clearly second class citizens. In Iran women's rights is not a matter of definition, it is a vital political question which a huge number of women in Iran are clamoring for it day in and day out. The Islamic Republic in Iran does not have any rights to sovereignty or self determination as long as it sees itself as the guardian of a legal code that is dedicated to the suppression of women's rights and freedom of thoughts and expression. This confusion about principles is also impacting and dividing the progressive forces in the Western societies with repercussions in the policies that are implemented.

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