donderdag 31 oktober 2013

The Political Islam: Enemy or Ally? (2)

Although the article below is somewhat outdated, it still hasn´t lost its relevance in 2013. Therefore, also in the light of the recent situation in the Middle East, we have decided to publish this article once again on this blog.


Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003, Libanon 2006, Gaza 2008 - the "free West" is at war. "You are either with us, or you're against us", as George W. Bush stated once. Still, the majority of the left is more busy ignoring these events as well as focussing on other things.

It's a fashion in almost all shades of the left wing to declare solidarity with the vicitims of the " War on Terror" - at least on the moment these victims are brought into hospital, shredded or bombed to pieces by Western bombers. It's a whole different case if they are able to succeed, like in Iraq, to be one step earlier and dodging the deadly American rain of bullets and/ or if they are able to go underground. It's also a different case if they, like in Gaza, give their vote to the "wrong" political party. In these cases the left relies on three principal arguments, with which they declare why political Islam would be "bad" (according to some even worse than American imperialism):      

1. Islamists are reactionary. They deny that religion serves as "the opium of the people" (Marx). Instead of preaching class struggle, they preach religious war and instead of calling for the liberation the women they are calling to veil the women.

2. There are in recent history no known positive examples of an alliance between the left and Islamists, nor a positive example of an Islamic state.

3. Anti-imperialism denies the class contradictions in the imperialist lands itself, as well as those in the countries attacked by imperialism. For example American soldiers would be "exploited workers", while many resistance groups only want to restore the domination of the "local exploiters" and therefore can only be supported with huge reservations.

The left and Imperialism

It's a positive development that finally such a discussion is started, because the left has entered the 21st century rather hopeless. They are against an invasion of Iraq, but also against Saddam Hussain as well as against the (non-Ba´athist) armed resistance in Iraq. In the case of the liberation war for Palestine the left has put its hope (in vain) on a "fraternizing working class" of both sides, this while one "working class" is bombarding the other "working class" with phosphorus bombs on their densely populated residential areas.

With this the uncertainty and wishful thinking of the left has become quite obvious. This in a time in which the old world order is replaced by a new one and a religious tainted movement fights the old and now even stronger enemy that is Western imperialism.

Some communists have consistently become Muslim (1). However most of them nowadays concentrate themselves rather on Latin-America; Here lies Cuba, here you´ll find the Zapatista´s and Hugo Chavez, all leftwing projects, with which they are able to indentify themselves. From here however subcommandante Marcos of the EZLN sends his fraternal greetings to the opressed people of Gaza (the so-called "antisemites" who have voted on Hamas), it's here where Chavez meets the secretary-general of the Hezbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, while the leftwing government of Bolivia expells the ambassador of the Israeli zionist state.

Furthermore there is no open war in the region. There is - not withstanding the inspiring initiatives - no project that directly threatens the survival of imperialism. In the Middle East this is however certainly the case. The US, with the military power standing behind her clenched interests, is involved in a direct showdown; in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Palestine. Already in 1967 Ché Guevara wrote, several months before his execution in Bolivia; "We need to be aware that imperialism is global, a global system, the last fase of capitalism. It can only be beaten in one big, global confrontation."

So also for our Cuba-friends and Venezuala-enthusiasts, the Middle East is of great importance: not only because their idols have given clear statements on the events and the situation there, but also and foremost because imperialism as a global system can emerge stronger from this confrontation, and by that it could also become a direct threat to the liberation projects of the left. Without exaggeration, we can claim that without the defeats in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan the pressure of US imperialism on Latin America would be much stronger - including the related military agression and coups d´etat. Last but not least this point makes one thing very clear: The by old Stalinist groups up to the Trotskist youth groups spreaded and the in the introduction summarized argumentation examples are very problematic.

Lack of information and misunderstandings

What makes the left have such a dismissive attitude towards the strongest threat against world imperialism since the revolutionary tidal wave of 1968? There are several causes which partly overlap each other;

1. Incomprehension of the Arab culture and the Islamic religion, of which the differences between that culture and beliefs and their own are substantially greater than those between them and the countries in Latin America. 

2. The universal claim of the communist idea is questioned by Islamism, because it adopts traditionally "leftwing" issues (social justice, national independence, anti-repression and armed liberation struggle). 

3. Finally many are happy to cite the "classics" (Marx, Engels, Lenin), who in their day never knew such a movement, nor such a threat from the side of imperialism. Furthermore there are little serious information sources about the Islamist movements. The bourgois media is professionally working towards the new enemy image of Islam.  

Anti-imperialism and national + social liberation

These days imperialism is not only the foundation for the big multinational concerns and the financieroligarchy, but also nessacery for the profligate and mass-oriented lifestyle which is propagated in the West and which has ensured that the working class is mostly integrated in the existing system as well as stripped it of its revolutionary potential.     

Without the destruction of imperialism on a worldscale, no revolutionary break through is possible. Since 1945 the American imperialists carried out serious interventions in over 70 countries in the world. The reason for these interferences were mostly of an economic or strategic nature. The absolute condition for national and social liberation is therefore the defeat of the "Military Industrial Complex" (NATO imperialism) and the destruction of the myth of the invincibility of the last remaining superpower in the world (the USA). With this we have arrived at those who fight this battle; In the Middle East, the frontline of the current anti-imperialist liberation struggle, this is without a doubt a religious movement.   

The womens issues 

The many shades of the Islamist movement have just as many shades of role image about women. In Iraq women are a tight component of the armed resistance, in Palestine the Islamist resistance movement Hamas knows a firmly-rooted basis among the women, while the Lebanese Hezbullah carries out explicit programs to promote womens emancipation. 

At the same time some simple numbers from the BRD (Germany): The year sales of cosmetics amounts up to 11 billion euro´s, while in the same timeframe more than a million cosmetic surgeries are performed. It's at least doubtfull to which extent this glorification of a so-called "perfect" physical beauty, which apparently doesn´t make emancipated Western women happier, would be superiour to the Islamist view in which the woman accepts her body as a gift from god and in which physical temptations are deliberately not openly shown.     

Religious war and Jihad

Fanatical, vengeful and ruthless - this is how the war in the name of Islam is seen by many. Accordingly the unsympathetic, terrorists are sketched as a mirror of the Western Crusades.

However the Jihad is bound by concrete restrictions and goals. Among these rules we do not only find the commandment to make no innocent victims, but also the commandment to retaliate in moderation and to take up any peace offering. "The most important goal of Jihad (anti-imperialist defensive war) is offering help to those who are oppressed and ensuring a good future for them", thus the Islamic Army in Iraq. An "Islamist State" would also guarantee the protection of the (mostly religous) minorities as well as social justice, enviromental protection and stimulation of education and scholing. Ofcourse also here - just like with the communists - there is a gap between pretension and reality; still the broadly association of the Islamic society with the not so serious reports from the culturally very different and underdeveloped Afghanistan are of a very limited use if one wants to examine the concept of the Islamist resistance movement.        

The Islam as civilization

To get a better understandingof the Islam, especially for the left, one must see that Islam is not "just" a religion, but also asks for very concrete regulations and values for the organization of society. This is also an important difference with traditional Christianity: instead of comforting believers by referring to the afterlife, Islam unmistakenly calls up for active resistance against injustice, oppression and abuses. Also by the ban on usury and the obligation of every muslim to donate 2,5 % of his possesion to the poor and needy on a yearly basis (as well as the payment of Zakat - the faith accomplice tax which immediately flows back into the community) , the values of the Islam are in full conflict with those of the free market.   

"Religious people believe in the Prophet, Bush believes in Profit", as George Galloway, ex-Labour-parliamentary representative and current leader of Respect, put it once.  

This ofcourse doesn't mean political Islam hasn't got immense problems. Just like traditional European communism declared itself universal, but at the same time was deeply divided, we see the same in Islamist circles - not just between Sunni and Shi´a.   

The left and Muslims; Traditional Enemies

Finally arriving at this point, the left falls back on the last two arguments. One argument states that Muslims have never had a society as it's desired by the left. Apart from the fact that Muslims could make exactly the same argument with regard to the communists, ofcourse all models of society are subjected to internal (human failure) as well as external (enemy threat) factors and thus threats or destructions.  

The other argumentation sounds more logical. After the islamic revolution in Iran of 1979 many members of the communist Tudeh-(=workers) Party were prosecuted and executed as spies of the USSR by the Islamic revolutionary government. Similar incidents took place in Algeria, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan and Iraq, mostly deadly conflicts during the 70s and 80s. 

But we need to mind two things in this regard;

First; the hope of the mainstream-left during these days was put upon the USSR, which by Islamist forces was seen as simply the opposite side of the other superpower (the US imperialism). (By this theory which was in that time propagated by chairman Mao and vice-chairman Lin Piao, both superpowers - the USA and USSR - represented two sides of the same imperialist coin, who wanted to divide the world among each other. In this theory the USSR represented the superpower of social-imperialism; socialist in words, but imperialist in actions.)   

Second; The left has always resisted granting any religion whatsoever a positive role. A Moroccan Islamist, who studied the ideas of Mao Tse Tung during the '70's, asked the following question; "Do we renounce the communists because of the social justice they pursue, or because of the fact they mock the Profet" - the answer was ofcourse the latter. 

Nowadays besides the negative experiences with these kind of cooperations, also several positive experiences have took place; under this last category we count the cooperation between Hezbullah and the Communist Party Lebanon (in the context of the United National Front), the cooperation between the Islamist resistance movement Hamas with the marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) (in the context of the Popular Front) as well as several alliances in Europe, like the partnership Respect in Great-Brittain. In this regard it's mainly important which individuals from the Islamist scene work together with which persons from the leftwing scene and for which common goals.    

This is what matters; Keeping an eye on the common interests between the left aswell as muslims. The primary victims of US agression are found throughout the Islamic world, who in their anti-imperialist struggle for liberation fall back on the religion that has shaped their society for many centuries. These kind of phenomena have occurred troughout history and are not necessarily in contrast with the goal of a social and just society. Even if the situation of the Iraqi women would deteriorate on a short term under Islamism, as many in the left scene proclaim, then however on the long term the foundations are shaped by the national liberation war for her obviously legitimate struggle; Because an end is made to the bombings and tortures of the Americans, the Iraqi´s themselves get the opportunity to reshape their own society.     

Claiming in advance that the Arab woman in such a situation would not be able to fight for her rights is nothing more than pure racism and sexism. This even more, because the Prophet formulated human and womensrights over a thousand years before the European feminist movement formulated them.  

As long as an unjust and barbarian economic order (the globalist capitalism) exists, it will be attempted to bring alternative models of society into practice. As long as the armies of the US and NATO keep on occupying other countries, so that the great capitalist concerns can plunder their natural resources, armed resistance against this will keep on taking place.    

The cardinal issue here is on which side of the frontline the leftwing movement is. It comes to providing serious information about resistance movements, in regard of the Islam and the Arab culture. Furthermore, on the ability to be unprejudiced and to have self-criticism. A catholic Chavez is for few in the scene a problem; a shiíte Nasrallah on the other hand is. In reality it's not about retaining any "emancipatory values" whatsoever. It's about the success of the Islamphobic smear in the bourgeois media which arouses irrational fears. Those in the leftist spectrum who do not convincingly take their distance from this, are unequivocally disqualified as exponents of social change and allies to the rejected of the world. 

<<Create one, two - many Vietnams!>> (Ché)

Against global imperialism - the global Vietnam!

Anti-imperialist Resistance!

An answer to Eric Krebbers a.o. (as a reaction to 'Breakthrough against Muslimfundamentalism' - Jan/Feb 2009. Gebladerte series Nr. 32)

--------[1] Some examples of famous Communists who converted to Islam are: The Venezuelan international Communist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (more known by his name de guerre 'Carlos'), the French Communist (and former member of the Political Bureau of the PCF in the sixties) Roger Garaudy and the, also, French Communist and internationalist Jacques Vergès (co founder of the Parti Communiste de Réunion in the fifties).

donderdag 24 oktober 2013

The second edition of Resist Magazine is out now!

The second edition of the ACN/AKN affiliated periodical "Resist Magazine" is out now!

The paper version is available through the usual channels.

The online version can be found here:   

donderdag 17 oktober 2013

The Political Islam: Enemy or Ally?

"The Islam doesn't intent to impose its faith upon people, but Islam is not solely "a faith". As we indicated before the Islam is a declaration of human freedom, of the service to other humans. Therefore from the outset the aim is to abolish all those systems and governments, that are based on the domination of one man over the other." -  Sayyid Qutb in Milestones

Nowadays we witness the development of an ever-growing anti-Islamic trend. This enemy image is mostly based on the theory of "the clash of civilizations", which is formulated by the American zionist and neoconservative Samuel Phillips Huntington. Huntington suggested that after the Cold war a new contradiction would arise; namely one between different cultures and in particular between the Islam and the Western civilization. In this idea the Islam represents the face of barbarism, which does not wish to accept the so called "progress" and "liberties" the Western civilization has to offer. Within these neoconservative retorics "civilization" is defined in the sense of Western liberal values such as "universal liberty" and "democracy". After the fall of Communism it kept the paradigm of the Western civilization against the rest of the world intact. Therefore the theory of Huntington is of a purely ideological nature and wants to portray the Western liberal-capitalist system as the only possible form of "civilization" which has some kind of universal legitimicy and to which all people on earth should submit themselves too.  

The so-called "war on terrorism" which serves the purpose of a public justification for the imperialist agenda of the Western powers, uses this simplistic enemy idea to its advantage. The attack on the WTC towers in New York on 9/11, as a retaliation for the US agression in the Islamic world, was quickly abused by the US gorvernment under President Bush as so-called "evidence" to support Huntington's theory, so that the US imperialists supported by the public opinion were able to live up to their imperialist ambitions in the Middle East. This provided a breeding ground for some of the most radical forms of Islamphobia as well as a broad smear campaign against Muslims in general and against "Islamism" (better known as political Islam).  

Within the nationalist movement, which is by now becoming one of the biggest executors of this anti-Islamic smear, a lot of confusion can be found. The "clash of civilizations" retorics made sure many nationalists let themselves be seduced by neoconservative rightwing-populism in exchange for legitimicy. By that they knowingly or unknowingly are doing the dirty work of the imperialist and zionist camp. In this article we will try to explain our position on Islam and Islamism from a national-revolutionary point of view.  

The Islam
No holy book is able to inspire people for many centuries, if it doesn't contains different messages that are open for individual interpretations and which can be applied under different circumstances. This is also the case with the Quran. In this sense the Islam does not differ from the other big monotheist world religions (such as Christianity). Just like other religions Islam adresses the poor and opressed as well as the rich and the opressors. Just like Christianity, Islam lends itself as a desire for a better life, but also as a tool to protect the priviledged position of the powerfull. Therefore religion is not a historic force on its own, because although religious institutions and ideas played an important role in world history, this role cannot be seen apart from the material reality it is in. People were always able to give their own interpretations to the religious ideas they had. Usually these interpretations relied on their particular material situation, their relations with other people and the conflicts in which they found themselves.       
In this context Islam arose in the Arabic society of the 7th century, which was mainly organized along tribal lines. The founder was the Prophet Muhammed, he belonged to the clan of the Quraysh, the Hashemite, who lived on the Arabic peninsula. The first revelations of the Quran took place in 610 on mount Hira near the city Mecca. The first Islamic document was the "treaty of Medina" in which the Profet secured the rights and duties that were drafted for the Umma (the Islamic community). With that the first Islamic state was born. But Islam only really florished after the development of several consecutive imperia (known as Caliphates). The survival of this religion was, just as with Christianity, mainly dependend on its ability to adapt to the different interests of the different classes. The Islam offered a balance between a certain degree of protection for the opressed and some protection for the opressing classes against an uprise of the opressed classes.   
Just like most other religions, Islam doesn't represent a homogenous system of ideas. After the Islam spread across large parts of the Eurasian continent and Africa, many of the peoples who became part of the Islamic society introduced their own old religious traditions, which led to the development of new tendencies and variations within the Islam. We can draw the conclusion that the Islam is not fundamentally different compared to its sister-religions (Christianity and Judaism). On the contrary it knows huge resemblances. Therefore as national-revolutionaries we do not grant the Islam another status with respect to other religions.

The Political Islam

In the 20th century an Islamic revival took place. This revival happened as a reaction to the imperialist expansion of the West, who used their military supremacy to conquer, oppress and exploit the Middle East. This was accompanied by a lot of bloodshed and the disastrous consequenses can be feld up till this day. Even now the natural recourses and oil supplies of the Middle East are being exploited in favor of several multinationals at the expence of the local peoples. The Arabic leaders squandered the interests of their people, who were forced to live in utter poverty. In this situation Islamism, also known as political Islam, developed itself. According to the Islamists the situation in the Middle East was the result of a corruption of the Islamic values. Only a return to the "true Islam" could lead towards a recovery of the Islamic community. In the post-colonial era, during the economic crisis of the ´80s, the attraction of Islamism grew even more under the influence of the ever-growing contradictions between the poor masses and the rich elites. The rich elites who owned most of the wealth had a decadent westernized style of living and soon became accused of "un-Islamic" behaviour by the poor masses.  

One of the founders of political Islam was Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), who after experiencing the decadent Western lifestyle in the USA for two and a half years , returned to his fatherland Egypt to join the Muslimbrotherhood. In his works he critized the decadency of the modern "Western" culture. In his vision the Islamic world was ruled by corrupt and westernized dictators and princes, their spiritually careless and ignorant policy could only be compared with that of the Jahili Arabs (= the pagan Arabs before the revelation of the Islam). Sayyid pled to overthrow these corrupt regimes to reinstate the "true Islam".  He mostly based his ideas on the works of the Hanbalist* jurist and purist Ibn Taymiyyah (1268-1328). Sayyib his concept of political Islam must be seen in the context of an ideology which is aimed to unite the opressed of the Islamic world in their conquest for social-, economic- and political justice.   

By this, Islamism distincts itself as a tendency because it doesn't want to maintain the old order in a conservative manner, but wants to change modern society based on Islamic values. The strive for resurrecting a mythical past, does not mean keeping the current society in tact, nor a return to the Middle ages, but a radical transformation of the modern society. The renewal promoted by Islamists must be seen as a struggle against the state and against the political domination of imperialism. It developed itself in societies which cried for resistance as a result of the drastic consequences of capitalism. Thus, Islamism is the political expression of people who grew up in these societies with respect for the Islamic ideas and values, and who apply these ideas and values in an attempt to fight injustice. The biggest support of the Islamists is found among the poor peasants on the countryside and those who migrated to the big cities in a desperate search for work. However the most important element that maintains Islamism is the new middle class (the petit-bourgeoisie) that developed as a result of the modernization of the Arab world. They form the indispensable cadre of Islamists, who spread the teachings of political Islam among the poor masses. Many of these Islamic intellectuals are well educated and form a bridge towards the poor masses in the slums and on the countryside. They are convinced that Islam can achieve a huge social change and social justice.  

Final Conclusion

Because political Islam is carried by the middle class it has a petit-bourgeois class character which can be compared with that of the classic corporatist movements. Just like classic corporatism (Peronism, etc.) the political Islam was born in the streets as a petit-bourgeois movement, which was able to mobilize the poor masses. Just like classic corporatism Islamism knows a contradictory character which contains both reactionary and revolutionary elements. The problem with the petit-bourgeoisie is that, as a class, it's not able to find an independent and consistent direction. On the one hand the petit-bourgeoisie hopes to take advantage of a radical change, while on the other hand the security of conservatism continues to beckon. So - just like classic corporatism - political Islam fails to name the material exploitation, because it limits itself to cultural imperialism (westernization) as the source of all evil. Although the political Islam is perfectly able to mobilize the bitterness of the population, it paralyzes it at the same time because it is not able to provide a true anticapitalist solution. The project to change society on the basis of the Islamic values that were preached by the Profet Muhammed during the 7th century, is nothing more than an utopia that originates from the impoverished part of the petit-bourgeoisie and which gives hope to the opressed people in the Islamic world.  
Let us be clear; the political Islam as a petit-bourgeois movement is not our real enemy! The Islamists are not to blame for the globalist-capitalist system. They are not to blame for the subjection of peoples in a strive for more and more profit, and neither are they to blame for the imperialist wars of agression which are fought worldwide! In fact Islamism has a destabilizing effect on the interests of the monopoly capital in the Middle East and they are an important obstacle for the colonial enterprises of Zionism. Although Islamists are representatives of a petit-bourgeois class that tries to influence the proletariat, thus not making them allies, we can also not take an aloof position about them. In their Islamic communities they are the vanguard of huge social groups that suffer from neo-liberal and imperialist exploitation. Their spirit of revolt can be used to serve revolutionary goals as long as the upcoming workersstruggle can play a determining role. The political Islam is the product of a deep social crisis, but it's not capable of offering a real solution because they don't proviode an anticapitalist alternative. Although we disagree with Islamists on several very important issues, we will in many cases stand on the same side with the Islamists in the worldwide struggle against imperialism and zionism. Therefore their resistance deserves our critical solidarity on the basis of the right on national selfdetermination! 

*The Hanbali school (madhhab) is one the schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. The jurisprudence school traces back to Ahmad ibn Hanbal (855) but was institutionalized by his students. 

Source: Free Nationalists North Brabant / Network National Socialists