The Capitalist State and Islamism: The Dangers and their Political and Social Roots

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Jan 20 2015 02:25
The Capitalist State and Islamism: The Dangers and their Political and Social Roots

Another piece from the Internationalist Perspective blog - Fischer

To the obscene spectacle of dozens of the leaders of world capital celebrating democratic freedom in Paris last Sunday, one must now add the determination of many of those same leaders (Cameron and Merkel for example) to provide their governments with enhanced powers of surveillance and control of social media in the name of the defense of “freedom,” as well as the ramping up of police and military power on the streets of Western cities. The danger of Islamist terrorism (not unlike the danger of “communism” in the 1950’s) will be used by the capitalist state in the West (“democratic” to be sure) to mobilize the population behind new witch hunts and xenophobic reactions directed against the Muslim population of the West, and to justify expanded military action in the Muslim world in the name of “self-defense.” The danger represented by capital and its state power in the West, abetted by the mass media (the capitalist organs of mass manipulation), is growing by the day, as recent events in both the Middle East, and Western Europe have demonstrated. But it is not the danger represented by capitalism and its social relations, but the danger of the eponymous “Muslim” or potential terrorist next door, from whom the capitalist state must protect us, that is increasingly targeted as the imminent threat to which we must respond.

But no less real is the danger of Islamism both as an increasingly powerful reactionary ideology, and a political and even military challenge to the core states of capital in the West and their partners in the Muslim world, and of course to the civilian populations in the West who are also targeted by the Jihadists whether Jews, apostate Muslims, or the editors of secular publications that have offended the faith. In the Islamic world too an ideological and military mobilization is underway, from ISIS to AQAP, from Boko Haram, and the Taliban to al Nusra. The mass victims of these movements, armies, and proto states, in the first instance are the Muslim population of the Islamic world (and of course the non-Muslim minorities that still remain there). The social roots of Islamism lie not in deeply rooted tradition and still tribal societies, but rather in the social decay wrought by the destruction of traditional social patterns, themselves the outcome of the global spread of capitalism. In the first instance the emigration of large numbers of people from the Arab and North African world over the past half century escaping poverty and seeking jobs in the Western world, and now facing both unemployment, marginalization, and growing hostility there as capitalism’s economic crisis in the “metropoles” deepens. And in the second instance, the effects of Western military intervention, war, and occupation, and the concomitant spread of impoverishment and desperation in the Muslim world itself, and the hopelessness and resentment that it has created. That very hopelessness and resentment then feeds the xenophobic ideologies of Islamism and its “promise” of resistance by the Muslim “nation” (the Ummah), providing a mass base and source of recruits for the “jihad” that these political movements are waging.

The military struggles in Syria, Iraq, Libya, the whole of the Sahel, Afghanistan and Pakistan, are intra-capitalist struggles, struggles between rival factions of the capitalist class. Whether the West and its local allies solidly reestablishes it rule over the Muslim world or Islamist (Jihadist) states emerge, the power of capitalism will be consolidated. Social existence in the capitalist West will become increasingly militarized, increasingly subject to censorship and surveillance. Social existence wherever Islamist factions gain power will see the imposition of total control over the lives of its subjects, material, economic, cultural, and “private” in the name of their vision of Sharia law. Western democracy and Islamism, seemingly mortal enemies on the inter-imperialist battlefield, both constitute bulwarks of the social relations that condemn the mass of their populations to increasing misery and human degradation, the differences between their specific ideological or legal forms, paling in comparison with the same reactionary social system that each seeks to protect and perpetuate.

Mac Intosh