Monday, January 14, 2008

Follow-up on Islamism and Socialism

On last week's post, "Obama's Questionable Allegiances," in which I summarize Daniel Johnson's report of Barack Obama's vocal support on foreign soil for Kenyan lefty Islamo-sympathizer Raila Odinga, reader Jon S asks a good question: "How does one reconcile Odinga being both a communist and an Islamist? A fervent commitment to one seems to cancel out the other. Or is he just a garden variety socialist?"

I don't know if Odinga is still a communist per se. New reports indicate that he has been trying to convince Kenyans of his capitalist orthodoxy, though his having to do that is telling. Nonetheless, with a promise of further investigation, I responded: "I don't know the details on this guy, but I do know that much of communism has been or became a simple power grab. There are more than a few Islamists who used to be socialists or communists. The most obvious connection is totalitarian power on the one hand and fashionable political trends on the other, i.e. opportunism."

I consulted our resident expert on Islam here at The King's College, Dr. Robert Carle, who offered these "scattered thoughts."

What Marxists and Islamists have in common is a narrative in which the West exploits, abuses, and marginalizes the Islamic world. A quote from Flemming Rose (Danish journalist and cultural editor at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten): “The Role of the victim is very convenient because it frees the victim of any responsibility, while providing a posture of moral superiority.”

The mainstream Islamist position is that Western ideologies (capitalism, communism, and democratic government) all need to be replaced by Sharia law, but we face today a quirky alliance between Mideastern dictators, radical imams, and Europe’s traditional left wing. This alliance, however, is fragile. Khomeini deposed the Shah with the help of Marxist students. Once in power, he banned Marxism and killed off its leaders. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who favors stoning gays, is a supporter and good friend of gay rights activist Red Ken (mayor of London). Islamist parties in the Arab world are generally composed of people who are very poor, and this may account for their use of anti-capitalist rhetoric.

Some history: Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Muslim youth gravitated toward Marxism. They rarely touted their Muslim identities, and most viewed the folk Islam of their parents as moribund. 1989 represented a huge shift for Muslims. With the collapse of the communist regimes in the East, Marxism ceased to be a credible alternative to European liberal society, and the Rushdie affair inspired Muslims to mobilize around the banner of Islam.

Flemming Rose and Giles Kepel write about this phenomenon.

A brief search on my part turns up "Europe's Politics of Victimology" by Flemming Rose, and two books by French scholar Giles Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (2003) and The War for Muslim Minds (2006).

Pamela Geller, in Israel E-News, is troubled by this Muslim connection and Obama's reluctance to discuss it ("Obama, the Muslim Thing, and Why It Matters").

1 comment:

Dilawar Khan said...

It's amazing how within the US the media manages to present the African American community as unified, but the reality in Africa is completely different. Perhaps the politics of Africa should remind us that there is no savior to be found in Obama.