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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Islam Is What Happens When Civilization Loses

Saudi Arabia and Qatar aren't talking to each other. Syria and Turkey are shooting at each other. Not only are the Shiites and Sunnis killing each other in Syria, but the Sunni groups have been killing each other for some time now. There are even two or three Al Qaedas fighting each other over which of them is the real Al Qaeda while, occasionally, denying that they are the real Al Qaeda.

There's something about Syria that splits down everything and everyone. Even Hamas had to split between its political and military wings when choosing between Iran's weapons and Qatar's money. Doing the logical thing, the military wing took the weapons and the political wing took the money so that the military wing of Hamas supported Assad and its political wing supported the Sunni opposition.

It's not however money and weapons that splits Muslims over Syria. Money and weapons are only the symbols. What they represent is Islam. And what Islam represents is the intersection between identity and power.

A modern state derives its power from its identity. That is nationalism. The Japanese and the Russians were willing to die in large numbers for their homeland during WW2. Both countries had undergone rapid de-feudalization turning peasants into citizens with varying degrees of success. Japan and Russia however had historic identities to draw on. The rapid de-feudalization in the Arab world had much messier results because countries such as Jordan and Syria were Frankenstein's monsters made out of bits and pieces of assembled parts of history stuck together with crazy glue.

The Middle East is full of flags, but most are minor variations on the same red, green, black and white theme. The difference between the Palestinian flag and the Jordanian flag is a tiny asterisk on the chevron representing the unity of the Arab peoples.

The Iraqi, Syria and Egyptian flags differ in that the Egyptian flag has an eagle sitting on its white strip and the Iraqi flag had three green stars (now it only has Allahu Akbar) while the Syrian flag has two green stars. The Iraqi flag was originally the same as the Jordanian and Palestinian flags. So are most of the flags in the region which are based on the Arab Revolt flag which was in turn based on the colors of the Caliphates.

Every time you see the Al Qaeda "black flag" of Jihad, it's already represented in the black stripes on the flags of every Arab nation. What Al Qaeda has done is strip out the other colors representing the various succeeding caliphates and gone back all the way to the black of Mohammed's war flag.

(Mohammed hadn't originated the black flag. Like the rest of Islam, it was a tribal adaptation. Black had been the color of the headdresses worn into battle. It symbolized revenge. As a warlord, Mohammed often wore black. Black came to symbolize Islam, the color which does not change, for the religion that does not change. Impermeable, offering no illumination or light.)

Syria is split, roughly speaking, between the Kurds, who want their own country, Greater Kurdistan, to be assembled out of pieces of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, the Sunnis, many of whom want to form it into a Greater Syria, to be made out of pieces of Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, and the Neo-Shiite Alawites.

Greater Syria was the original agenda of the Palestine Liberation Organization. It's still the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. And Al Qaeda in Iraq has become the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and is fighting for its own version of a Greater Syria tying together Iraq and Syria.

What is Syria? The civil war answered that question. Like the USSR, it's a prison of nations. It exists only by virtue of men pointing guns at other men. As long as all the men with the guns agreed on what Syria was, the country existed. Once they no longer did, there was no longer a Syria. The same is true of much of the Middle East.

There are questions that you can resolve with democracy within a functioning country, but when your country has less of an existence than the conflicting religious and ethnic identities of its people, democracy only makes the problem worse. Democracy in Iraq means Shiites voting to be Shiite, Sunnis voting to be Sunni and Kurds voting to be Kurds. Democracy in Syria would mean the same thing. And that way lies a federation and then secession and civil war all over again.

The problem in the Middle East isn't a lack of democracy. It's the lack of anything to be democratic about.

Everyone in the Middle East (who isn't a Jew, Christian, Kurd, Bahai, Zoroastrian, Armenian, Circassian, Druze, etc.. ) agrees on the importance of Arab and Islamic unity and that their specific flavor of it, their clan, their tribe and their Islamic interpretation should be supreme.

It's not surprising that the Middle East is constantly at war. It's only a wonder that the fighting ever stops.

Arab nationalism is the ideology that Arab elites used to complete the de-feudalization of their population from peasants into citizens. But what worked in Japan and Russia fell flat in the Middle East where tribe and religion are still supreme. The peasants didn't become Egyptians or Syrians. They remained Ougaidat or Tarabin. After that, they were Muslim. Their national identity came a distant third.

What the Arab Spring truly showed is how little national identity mattered as democracy and the fall of governments demonstrated that there was no national consensus, only the narrower one of class, tribe and institution. It's not something that Americans should be too smug about. The left's efforts are reducing the United States to the same balkanized state in which there is a black vote and a white vote, a rich vote and a poor vote, but no national identity that transcends them. We too are becoming ‘Sunnis’ and ’Shiites’. It's no wonder that Islam finds the post-American United States and the disintegrating territories of the European Union fertile ground for its work.

It's the same reason why Islam is rising in the Middle East. The rise of Islam is a striving for an era before nations and before whatever remnants of civilization accreted to the Mohammedan conquerors over the years. It's a desire for pre-civilization, for the raid, the noble savage and the twilight of morality. It's a heroic myth dressed up as a religion cloaking the naked savagery of it all.

Islam rose out of the death of the Roman Empire. It's rising now out of the death of the West, but it would be a mistake to call that a clash of civilizations when it’s civilization succumbing to barbarism. Western civilization has grown degenerate and the only things resembling civilization that the other side has, it has borrowed from the same civilization that it is preying on.

Hasan al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood's founder, wrote, "Our task is to stand against the flood of modernist civilization." Syria is the desert that remains when the flood of civilization has passed. The atrocities there show us life in Mohammedan times when banditry was the only civilization that there was.

Islam can't unite Syria. It can't even unite Sunni Islamists. It can't even unite those Salafis who identify with Al Qaeda.

It can't unite, because Islam is a disruptive force that achieves its unity through violence. It's a supremacist ideology whose final solution is always the sword. Mohammed won his debates by killing his enemies. A rising Islam is forcing Christians out of the Middle East while obsessively hurling its force against the Jewish State. But it doesn't end there. A religion that can't co-exist with other religions... also can't co-exist with itself.

How do Muslims settle religious arguments with each other? The same way they settle them with Jews and Christians. That is what we are seeing in Syria.

This isn't civilization. It's the complete collapse of civilization. At its barest minimum, civilization is co-existence. Islam is the opposite of co-existence and of civilization. Its sheer age only means that there is even more in its past to fight over.

Arab nationalism failed to provide the modern identities that its people needed. Instead they are reverting to Islam which provides an identity of war, an endless splintering of cities into armed camps, brigades into bands and nations into quarreling ethnic and religious groups at each other's throats.

Islam is the conscious abandonment of civilization and co-existence for the nomadic life of the Jihadi who drifts from place to place, his weapons on his back, destroying cities and farms, taking anything and anyone he likes, and moving on to the next fight and the next burning city.

The Jihadist is at war with civilization, with the city, the family and the settled way of existence. He is a nomadic raider rolling back time to pre-history. He is the savage warrior of the savage past.


Syria is what happens when Islam wins. When Islam wins, civilization loses.

32 comments:

Davieboy said...

All of your articles are brilliant, but some are even more brilliant than others!

Ward Dorrity said...

Islam is an abomination worthy only of extinction.

Anonymous said...

Please excuse if something akin to this double posts, my pc has a stomach ache.
Recently, I saw an ad for some sort of home office product that promised the buyer they "would never have to leave home again."
As Americans scurry down their respective rabbit holes and think they are safe, this is going on:http://www.barenakedislam.com/
Interacting with our fellow man is part of society and society is part of having a civilization.
Meanwhile the savages are running loose in America too. We need to reconnect with our neighbors and fellow citizens before our commonality is lost.. It seems to me all that remains is the National Anthem at sporting events, and that is not enough.
Agreed about the M.E. Daniel .. The Powers that Were might have done better if only Legos had been invented at the time, they surely could not have done worse.

sophie

Anonymous said...

Sadly true, Sophie. Our national pride is on display only at sporting events, and after tragedies such as the Boston marathon bombings (Boston Proud) or Sept. 11 (I Love NY, G-d bless America).

Keliata

Jonathan said...

Great piece.

Jonathan said...

Great piece.

Anonymous said...

Civilization seeks comfort, Islam seeks pain. Western politicians are but mere heroin fixes seeking larger doses to dull their senses. The cost for the next fix will keep rising, we are hooked!

Philip S said...

I can't agree that Islam rose out of the "death" of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was far from dead in the seventh century--its political and cultural center of gravity had moved east to Constantinople, and it had become more Hellenic in nature, but it was definitely still around.

It would be more accurate to say that Islam got its opportunity from the fact that the (eastern) Roman empire and the Persian one had exhausted each other in a war to the finish between themselves. However, even with that, the New Rome later found a second wind--Persia, not so much.

Anonymous said...

I am convinced that the natural man has no understanding of correction because of love or compassion - but the natural man does understand pain, greed, power and all of the most base motivations. For the natural man to build anything, the purpose is completely centered upon self - which is the same reason Muslims destroy and inflict pain.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, Islam will destroy itself from within. When somebody reads a false book (Quran) it encourages a false identity based on false beliefs. Most Muslims from poorer countries when they immigrate to Christian countries they can only be described as intellectually challenged and hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

Islam is like a cancer in society. And as we all know, the only way to get rid of cancer is radiation and chemotherapy.

Anonymous said...

I'm all in favor of Muslim bashing, but green is the color of Islam. There is no black on the KSA flag.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Anon, all of the colors are political. They represent different caliphates. Green is one of the colors of Islam.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Philip S, we're essentially saying the same thing. Islam rose out of the prolonged death throes of the empire gaining opportunities from its decline. It filled a growing power vacuum.

Kol Bo Gary said...

Great piece, Daniel. Thank you. But the real question is whether Israel, the Euros, the U.S., will survive their appeasements of it all.

Phloda said...

"The problem in the Middle East isn't a lack of democracy. It's the lack of anything to be democratic about.

Everyone in the Middle East (who isn't a Jew, Christian, Kurd, Bahai, Zoroastrian, Armenian, Circassian, Druze, etc.. ) agrees on the importance of Arab and Islamic unity and that their specific flavor of it, their clan, their tribe and their Islamic interpretation should be supreme."

It suddenly hit me. This is the way the U.S. is headed. And this is why the progs love the Islamists so much. Progs want to copy their way of doing business.

I am even more afraid for our future.

LFMayor said...

So..... Sell them all guns and keep the festival going. Sort of like what Reagan did with Iran and Iraq. It was brilliant.
When we're ready to thin them off for good, we'll just cut all the food imports.

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting article.

Druze...how do they manage to survive in both Israeli and Arab worlds? Is it true that they basically live in peace wherever they are?

Keliata

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

the druze, like most middle eastern minorities, try to adapt by assigning loyalty to whoever runs the place

Anonymous said...

When will the West wake up ? Sometimes it seems like sitting in Starbuck's playing with our phones is all we do as a community.
In past times, societies united over a common enemy. Americans Have a common enemy, regardless of how nice they find that Muslim couple down the street.. If recent history did not jolt us out of our national slumber, I don't know what it will take.

sophie

Anonymous said...

I suppose it was this same ethos that attracted the gang-bangers from L.A. to go to Syria.

"who drifts from place to place, his weapons on his back, destroying cities and farms, taking anything and anyone he likes, and moving on to the next fight and the next burning city.

natskvi said...

Brilliant, as always. Thank you, Daniel.

Anonymous said...

True, and it helps that they are monotheistic and don't missionize.

Keliata

DenisO said...

I disagree, again, that you cannot define half or more of the people on this planet as enemies. That is essentially what we do when we follow your logic, Daniel. There has to be a workable answer. We're dealing with ignorance, people who only know their "pack" and do what their leaders tell them. Their leaders tell them to fight an "enemy" that is convenient, for only one reason -to maintain power. Each "pack" leader is jealous of his power, and other powerful leaders of other "packs".
How do you deal with animals. pack animals? You take out their leaders, and they follow the strong winner. Either that, or you deal with their ignorance, but that is an impossible goal, because they revel in their ignorance and their religion which unites the "pack".
Credit anyone you like, but it seems that the drone strategy does the trick. Keep them fighting each other, as much as possible, and when they look our way, take out their "pack leader", the current Alpha Dog. Let them howl and make threats, put when one leader dies, they all take notice.
Regards,

Anonymous said...

Another wonderful post, Daniel, and great comments as well.

Lightbringer

James Vaux said...

Great piece Daniel.

Edward Cline said...

"The problem in the Middle East isn't a lack of democracy. It's the lack of anything to be democratic about." It's also about the absence of individualism, or the idea that a man is an autonomous person responsible for his own actions and bound by the law of the non-initiation of force against others to attain his values. It's the idea that he's not an automatic member of a tribe or collective or a group of any kind, that he must forge his own identity, and not borrow it from the group. And that idea is certainly an anathema to Islam in particular, and to fascism and communism.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Denis,

if the people choose to define themselves as your enemy, there isn't a thing you can do about it.

Islam considers non-Muslims living outside Islamic law to be the enemy.

You can take out their leaders, that's a perfectly sound strategy, but you have to be realistic about the ideology.

DenisO said...

"...Islam considers non-Muslims living outside Islamic law to be the enemy." Not!

Islam is a "term" that cannot consider anything. What you're saying is that Islamic people consider us enemies, and I disagree. The Mosques define the enemies, and tell the people, who are ignorant and superstitious, who the enemies are.
If we call all Muslims enemies, we are doing what the Imams are doing, and probably what they want us to do.
Not that I'm sensitive about calling them enemies, it just won't work. I said you can't expect to educate them or convince them with logic and example, but if the Leaders are killed, they'll focus on easier enemies. That's how dogs and punks react, and though my way is not pretty, neither was 9/11.
My way will work, and some people in the Pentagon apparently agree. Obama loves approving drone strikes, I'm sure, because it makes him feel powerful. Somebody is giving him the list, and it is working. What I would like to see is anonymous strikes on the Imams, who urge the violence.
Regards,

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Islam is an ideology. Ignoring its content is foolish.

It's not up to us to decide whether Muslims will be our enemies. It's up to them.

Burke said...

Islam is religious mysticism, and religion is the rejection of reason for a dogma. The difference between men and the other animals is that men have the faculty of reason.

Look around and you will see that it's those who reject reason who run around killing people all the time.

Anonymous said...

Democracy can never work in the middle east, because it is a product of our cultural evolution over thousands of years. During those millennia, these cultures were evolving in a different direction completely, not toward individual responsibility but toward violence and warlordism(is that a word?) The idea that "all men are created equal" is distinctly western, and goes against their "survival of the fittest" ( most vicious) ethos.

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