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Weekly Column - 08.11.2006

ISLAM AND FASCISM
by J. R. Nyquist

America’s overall position in the Middle East continues to worsen. America’s “moderate” Arab friends now shed their friendship. President Bush opposes terrorism aimed at Israel. He believes that Israel has the right to strike back against the Islamofascists. These are the Hezbollah fighters who belong to the Shiite sect of Islam (guided by Iran). In Bush’s strategy, they are to be distinguished from the Shiite government of Iraq, which is somehow different because Iran’s agents are advanced by popular vote and with the backing of U.S. troops. This sanctifies them in the eyes of the administration. If an Islamofascist is elected in Baghdad, it makes no difference. If he resides in Lebanon and fires rockets at Israeli civilians, then he is properly dubbed an Islamofascist. According to the Wikipedia, “Islamofascism is a neologism and political epithet used to compare the ideological or operational characteristics of certain modern Islamist movements with European fascist movements of the early 20th century….” Hezbollah and the Iranian government, as well as al Qaeda, are considered to be representatives of Islamofascism. The Wikipedia says that none of these “label themselves fascist, however, and critics of the term argue that associating the religion of Islam with fascism is both offensive and historically inaccurate.”

The term “fascist” is often used as a label for politicians or policies we don’t like. Many on the far Left believe President Bush is a fascist. Others believe that the Left’s push for more and more government regulation is fascist. We have all heard the conspiracy theorists refer to 9/11 as Bush’s “Reichstag fire.” One might ask, indeed, whether the term “fascist” has any validity at all. If the political exaggerators think President Bush is a fascist, they have failed to know what real fascism looks like. Unlike communism, it is a popular movement. It seeks to mobilize the vulgar masses with vulgar propaganda and thrilling violence. The fascist leader is often a supreme performer, an actor, a narcissist, a petty novelist or painter. His thuggish retinue, drawn from the scum of society, makes anti-capitalist noises. They array themselves against the classical liberals and conservatives. This is because fascism is a revolutionary creed, like communism. 

And what form does fascist government take? It is best described in the words of Benedetto Croce as onagrocracy (i.e., government by braying asses). It is a form of dictatorship attended by much sound and fury. To be sure, the United States has many braying asses, but they aren’t necessarily fascists because they aren’t revolutionaries and they aren’t surrounded by thugs. Not yet. In the Islamic world, however, Osama bin Laden is certainly a performer and a dramatist. His associates use assassination and murder to impose their will upon society. The group that murdered Egyptian President Anwar Sadat claimed that he was a Muslim in name only. They justified his assassination by saying he was an apostate whose death was mandated by the Koran. True fascism is about pageantry and violence. It is thuggery elevated to high theater, just as 9/11 was high theater. It rallies support through breathtaking violence, dramatic killing and more. 

In a book titled Anatomy of Fascism, Robert O. Paxton addresses the question of whether Islamism may be considered a form of fascism. Noting that fascism tended to embrace secularization, he wrote that Mussolini and Hitler were circumstantially anti-Catholic. But the religion-embracing fascism of Falange Espanola, Belgian Rexism and the Finnish Lapua Movement offer religiously infused versions of fascism. According to Paxton, “Religion may be as powerful an engine of identity as the nation; indeed, in some cultures, religious identity may be far more powerful than national identity. In integrist religious fundamentalism, the violent promotion of the unity and dynamism of the faith may function very much like the violent promotion of the unity and dynamism of the nation.” As a reaction against democracy, and against bourgeois modernization, Islam may not be an exact fit with fascism. Admittedly, it does not arise in reaction to democracy (as it did in Italy, Germany and Spain). It may be argued, however, that an indirect revolt against America (as a symbol of democracy) is the object against which the Islamists are reacting. We must recall the Ayatollah’s statement – oft repeated – that America is the Great Satan. One must ask why this would be? Why wasn’t the atheist Soviet Union the Great Satan? This is a point of interest, suggesting that the Islamist is reacting against the idea of democracy, even if that idea exists in a faraway land on the other side of the ocean. The fact that the Shiites are using democracy in Iraq to gain power is merely an example of that same opportunism that we find in the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. 

The Islamic world craves a great leader. It doesn’t dream of democracy, though democracy may be exploited to the advantage of Islamic power. The essential fact is America’s liberal creed (in the classical sense). The American president sees the rockets falling on Israeli civilians and he recognizes the terrorist signature. He wants democracy and peace. The Islamists are against both. He therefore opposes Hezbollah and sympathizes with Israel. Unlike his rivals from the Democratic Party, President Bush is clear with regard to his Western identity. He does not imagine himself in Arab garb reading the Koran. He is a professed Christian, and all his nonsense about the “religion of peace” is mere confusion. Deep down he knows what is abhorrent to Western values and what is acceptable, in terms of the larger struggle. And yet, his incoherence makes him a supporter of Iranian stooges in Iraq. He needs to realize that Muslim thoughts are not American thoughts. A parting of the ways is built into reality. How can Bush build a democracy in Iraq while supporting Israel against its Shiite Muslim enemy? This cannot be done, now or ever. The national feeling of Iraq cannot accept an America that sympathizes with the Jewish enemy. A division exists, and a parting of the ways is clearly indicated. “You are not our friend,” say the Muslims to the Americans. The Americans are bewildered. What do you mean? Of course we are friends! Of course we can work together! Why not? We are bringing you democracy. 

But what does this democracy bring in return?

The mentality of the Arab politician partakes of a fascist perspective which sees in Western interests a more monstrous chauvinism, imperialism and arrogance than that of the Faithful. Iran and the United States are involved in a proxy war. And now the Sunnis, despite themselves, begin to cheer for Hezbollah. The fractured Muslim world is drawing together. As noted by Arnaud de Borchgrave in the Washington Times on Aug. 7, Mustafa Bakri announced to the Egyptian parliament that “Condoleezza Rice is a murderer, just like Olmert and Bush. She has come to ruin and destroy. We must stop pinning our hopes on these people. These are our true enemies. America is the head of the serpent, and the greatest enemy we must confront…. Nasrallah [of Hezbollah] is reviving the history of Saladin and Gamal Abdel Nasser…. You can come and see the pictures of Nasrallah in our homes … and in our streets…. It is our hope Nasrallah will be the leader of this nation, who will unite it, Allah willing.”

The head of the Shiite terrorists, Sheik Nasrallah, has captured the Sunni imagination. He has done what nobody expected. Shiites have won Sunni sympathy, even as they crush the Sunnis in Iraq. The raw calculus of power, of the fascist imperative of answering the wounded pride of a humiliated people, is now at work. Nobody in the West can say anything or make any offering to stop this process from snowballing. We are now headed for calamity. Iran has the initiative in the struggle, and is gaining momentum. Hezbollah’s leader, the cleric Nasrallah, is urging Arabs to leave Haifa. “I have a special message to the Arabs of Haifa,” he said. “To your martyrs and to your wounded. I call on you to leave this city. I hope you do this…. Please leave so we don’t shed your blood, which is our blood.” 

The initial panic of the Iranian leadership at the Israeli offensive is past. The Shiites have broken through – not militarily but psychologically. The possibility of grave mischief opens up as Europe trembles, ready for appeasement. The world economy can be held hostage now, as grand theater and its supreme performer rally the Arabs in a deep and emotionally charged way. True fascism is about pageantry and violence. The law is replaced by naked force, reason by emotion. Fascism arises in times of great stress, when the modern democratic formula has failed. Those who wish to promote a tribal or sectarian interest are the fascist mainstay. They seek to unify a people. (In this case the Muslim Nation.) They vilify the enemy – the American and the Jew. It is a case of group narcissism, a mass identity disorder in which a people’s self-image is falsified and their hopes are raised by a mythological savior (part writer, part actor, part soldier). The whole is further infused with the sadomasochism of the gory end. 

© 2006 Jeffrey R. Nyquist
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