Full piece here.
Worth a read:
‘This traditional mélange of authority relationships masquerading as a modern state, as it were, were bound to confound Westerners, Americans in particular. Most Americans think their forms of government and the civic habits that go with them are universal in character. As far as the average person is concerned, they somehow just fell out of the sky one day in the 17th or 18th century, and we are so lucky to have been chosen to receive the tablets first. (We broke them in civil war and so had to have a second set carved out.) That average person also believes that people are essentially the same in all places and ages and that they’ll come around to our liberal democratic “best practice”—for we and the world all together of course are progressing, that being the faith of the thinly veiled “secular” eschatology of the Enlightenment.’
Garfinkle points out that should the Palestinians get their own state at some point, the record of stable Muslim states isn’t looking so hot. It may be better than the current status quo, but in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring,’ its best to take a more sober view of what’s possible.
Despite the Palestinian condition, I’m guessing the aspirations of unity under Islam as opposed to national identity for all the family/group/tribal loyalties throughout the Muslim World creates deep chasms. Desert nomads can live in pre-modern material conditions, for example, but also for large majorities throughout the Muslim world, our Western concepts of individual liberty and functioning democratic and constitutional Republican States are often worlds away.
History is long while ethnic, linguistic and religious differences abound. Islam as a unifying force, despite its many strengths, hasn’t undergone anything like an Enlightenment as many understand it in the West, which has produced the Westphalian, Weberian, and State models which those in the West have exported and at times, imposed. Islam’s transcendental claims are absolute, and submission of the will in faith a requirement, which only adds to the confusion.
In such a light, the grievances and resentments of Muslims living under genuine Western colonial and imperial activity, but usually under their own military autocrats, competing factions and dynasties along with their own contradictions, ancient divisions and hatreds, and in some cases, pathologies, can be understood a little better.
From such depths, modernity itself could be seen as an imposition. The appeal to drive the infidel from the Arabian peninsula, to be in control of something, and the desire to return the Muslim world to an to Islamic, pre-modern utopia for which its universals are the true universals finds a lot of sentiment. The problem is, this program is also pursued by trained and murderous ideologues, the radical Islamists with whom we are essentially at war.
These are battle-hardened fighters, many of whom have guerilla skills and not much else.
Sometimes, you’re dealing with such ideologues, thugs and ahistorical holy warriors that it’s not hard to spot them. Recruiting kids is usually a tell.
From a reader:
It’s interesting to get reports from the ground. Vice embedded with some ISIS now just IS (Islamic State) people in Iraq. The connection with Syria is pretty obvious:
How are they similar to other groups with Western-style, fascistic elements like Shining Path in Peru (Maoist revolutionaries), and how are they similar to the Islamic revolutionaries in 1979 Iran?
How are they different?
Tell me what I’m getting wrong. Your thoughts and comments are welcome.
From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’…Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’
Fareed Zakaria At Newsweek: ‘Terrorism’s Supermarket’Via Youtube: ‘Roger Scruton On Islam And The West’…
Inside Everyone Is A Western Individual Waiting To Get Out?-Repost-Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’
Has Fukuyama turned away from Hegel and toward Darwin?Update And Repost-Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’
Statism abroad, statism at home: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’
Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’…Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill
Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’…Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’…Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others…