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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The SWP/UAF Analysis of Islam and Islamoterrorism

[Below: Kevin Ovenden of Respect... or
is he of the SWP/UAF?]

- A non-Marxist analysis of Kevin Ovenden’s Marxist analysis of ‘Islam, the US and Terrorism’

GOVERNMENTS and the media are saying that they do not want the destruction of the World Trade Centre to lead to a racist backlash against Muslims. [It wouldn’t be a ‘racist backlash’ because Muslims do not constitute a single race. It would be an anti-Muslim backlash. The ‘racist’ label is simply a term of political or ideological convenience for far leftists. They more or less say, in explanation, that if brown and black people are ‘the oppressed’, then any attack by any or all white ‘oppressors’ must be racist. It’s a very convenient subterfuge.]

Yet [Governments] have contributed to such an atmosphere by virtually equating Islam with irrational violence for more than a decade. [That may have something to do with Islamoterrorism, the hate-filled Koran and the numerous other violent aspects of Islam and Muslims. These things go back 1,300 years and are not exclusively to do with any recent political events.] Islam does not equal terror. Like any of the world's major religions it is a body of often contradictory beliefs which are open to very varied interpretation. [Like Nazism? There were many aspects of Nazism which cannot explicitly - or even implicitly – be 'equated' with ‘terror’. For example, the Nazis building of the first motorways in Europe. There are ‘contradictory beliefs’ in fascism; but its core beliefs and message are objectionable - just as is the case with Islam.]

Look at Christianity. It is the professed belief of "liberation theologists"-radical priests who fought against class inequality and brutal US-backed dictatorships in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s. It is also the religion of the Bible belt and the Christian Coalition in the US, which supports naked US power, capitalism and those same dictatorships. There is just such a range of political positions among people who consider themselves Muslim. [The SWP prides itself on its lack of a wide ‘range of political positions'. That’s why it is ‘scientific’! Or at least that what Marx himself believed.]

The ruling family of the US's closest Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, is Muslim. So are most of the workers and peasants in the Middle East who oppose the US. Islamic fundamentalism is a loaded term used in the West. [The term ‘the West’ is also ‘loaded’. As the SWP often says about Islam: The West is not a homogenous monolith. Neither is the US. Neither is ‘capitalism’, etc.] It refers to a variety of movements which look to versions of Islam to express some of the bitterness of masses of people in predominantly Muslim countries. [To believe that Islam is really for the ‘masses’, not for the ‘corrupt ruling regimes’, is to conflate Islam with… well, Marxism or the SWP.] These are most concentrated in the Middle East. It is not hard to see why. The region sits on the greatest known reserves of the most important commodity to world capitalism, oil.
The rulers of the Gulf states are fabulously wealthy. [But still Islamic!] Yet the mass of people face grinding poverty and oppression. The royal family of Saudi Arabia has built golf courses in the desert along with one of the most brutal regimes of repression to hold down impoverished workers and peasants. [A bit like all existing communist regimes as well as those in the past.] Yet such rulers all sickeningly claim to be pious Muslims representing a community of believers which knows no distinction of class or status. [Again, the SWP/UAF thinks that Islam is revolutionary socialism in a religious form. But there are very many references to ‘booty’ and ‘bounty’ in the Koran. And that’s just the start.] Behind them stands the colossal economic and military power of the US. Nothing has intensified the rage of millions of people in the Middle East more than the unconditional support the US has given Israel in its war against the Palestinians. [Or so Trots have it. In that case, how is the 1,300-year history of Islamic jihad explained? What about the Muslim Brotherhood bombings and persecution of Jews which started in the 1920s – 20 years before the creation of Israel and 50 years before ‘the Occupation’ of Gaza and the West Bank? The blaming of the West or the US for all Islamic crimes is itself racist. It offers a different moral analysis for what brown exotics do and think which is not applied to Westerners or non-Muslims. The upshot is that Muslims are barbarians but it is not their fault – it is the fault of the West or the US.

Also, at one point Osama bin Laden hardly ever mentioned Palestine. He was far more concerned with the Americans in Saudi Arabia. He, as does many Islamists, also sees Spain (Andalusia) as ‘occupied’, along with many formerly-Islamic places throughout the world, including places in China!]

Deep suffering is not the sole reason why radical Islamist movements can gain support. [Why haven’t the Tibetans, the Kurds, the Armenians, the southern Sudanese, the Buddhists of southern Thailand, etc. also resorted to terrorism? Haven’t they have witnessed ‘deep suffering’ too?] They also gain from feeling that ordinary people cannot bring an end to that suffering. For there have been mass movements in the Middle East before. A wave of nationalist revolts after the Second World War brought independence from colonial empires.

The use of individual terror was marginal to these movements. But their leaders quickly made their peace with the world system and turned their guns on the mass of people to prevent radical social change. The turning point came in September 1970, "Black September", when Jordanian forces massacred tens of thousands of Palestinians. [I’m glad monomaniacal anti-Zionists have reminded us of that. But what about the Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian massacres of Palestinians as well?] Palestinian militants became isolated. Some looked in desperation to individual terrorist acts to sustain the struggle. [Islamoterrorism has little to do with ‘desperation’. That is a Marxist myth and something sold to Trots by Arafat and Hamas. Terrorism is a tool of choice. It works! It often comes before 'terror' and occupation – not after!]

The 1970s saw the growth of an array of political Islamic movements. Across the Middle East there are now small groups, embittered by US imperialism and corrupt local regimes, but also isolated from mass forces (even though they can win some popular passive support). [These ‘small groups’ of Islamists are not against the lack of democracy in these Muslim countries, or the lack of freedom or things like that. They are against these Muslim 'ruling regimes' because they see them as not being fully Islamic. They do not incorporate sharia law in full. If these Islamists gained power, things would be worse, not better, than the conditions under Muslim corrupt regimes. There would be less freedom and democracy, not more. The only thing which would lessen is corruption – but we cannot even be sure about that because ‘power corrupts’.]
They are drawn largely from a social layer which itself is not part of the working class or peasantry. They are often people who have been to university but find that all their education still leaves them with few prospects. [The Islamist ‘vanguard’ in other words? Just like the SWP vanguard, eh? In fact, Ovenden’s description almost perfectly fit the SWP: SWP/UAF members are drawn largely from a social layer which itself is not part of the working class or peasantry. They are often people who have been to university but find that all their education still leaves them with few prospects.]

Many went to fight against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, against the Russians in Chechnya, against Serbian forces in Bosnia and Kosovo, against the Indian state in Kashmir, and elsewhere. [Just as the Trots interfere everywhere and support any group which is against any ‘ruling regime’.] The West turned a blind eye to them until they threatened its interests. Now out of rage they use terrorism to try and hit out at the rulers of the West. [No. It has little to do with ‘rage’ against the West – or at least that’s not the whole story. Islam has been raging for 1,300 years. How did the Islamic Empire become so huge? Through Islamic violence or through ‘rage at the West’?] But their tactics are as likely to hurt workers as their rulers. And they provide those rulers with an excuse to strengthen their power. They are desperate methods which socialists oppose. [So join the SWP instead! Or at least become revolutionary Trotskyists. Only then will you have the ‘correct Marxist analysis’ of… well, everything.] They hurl back a portion of the brutality of the world system in a vain attempt to fight it. The US state is now set upon wreaking a terrible revenge. That can only encourage further terror attacks in response. There is only one way out of this vicious cycle of state terror and individual counter-terror. [That is, join or form your own SWP. Or become Trotskyist revolutionaries. That’s the only way. Marxism is the only true ideology]

It is building a movement that offers an alternative to the suffering of the impoverished masses. The international anti-capitalist movement that has mushroomed over the last two years offers that hope. [That is, the SWP and those groups controlled - or infiltrated - by the SWP.] It is more vital than ever to throw ourselves into building it. [So buy Socialist Worker. It only costs a quid or so.]

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