Will it never end ? Quebec’s terrorist attack.

Will it never end ? Quebec’s terrorist attack.

Another atrocity, six innocent men gunned down, while at their devotions, 19 others injured and 5 remain in a critical condition. Again we are witness to innocent people, slaughtered as thy try to get on with their lives and again we know that wives have been left widowed and children fatherless for no reason.

This time, it seems highly likely that a young man with right-wing nationalist views (Alexandre Bissonnette) is responsible for this horror. If it is he, we will no doubt discover that he, like Dylan Roof and  Omar Mateen and many others before him, was a warped young man unable to tolerate those he disagreed with, unable to tolerate those different to him. It is no surprise that these people choose their targets by features which mark out their group as different to his group; the white supremacist attacking those performing their religious duties while the jihadist identifies those participating in banned activities.

Terrorists from both groups are much more similar than they would like to imagine, both see themselves as warriors defending their group against the others or avenging wrongs done by the other group. While these are extreme members of their groups, this tendency to see politics and life in terms of groups is a major problem. It does not matter if the group is defined by religion or race, nation or class, heritage or any other  tribal banding, viewing the world in this manner distorts our society.

Humans are intrinsically social animals. We don’t survive in isolation and instinctively seek out our fellows. Despite what dystopian films and novels may tell us, in good times and bad we band together to cooperate, help and trade. We find ways to be with others that is mutually beneficial. It is important to recognise that xenophobia and fear of others is commonest in people who have little contact with other groups. When we have to opportunity to mix and mingle we find ways to make this benefit both ourselves and the others and fear quickly dissipates. When we are left to our own devices we create an emergent order which is beneficial to all. This only goes wrong when we are grouped and ruled.

This is not simply the old story of “divide and rule” but rather “categorise and control“. When we are encourage to see ourselves as members of groups ( American, Christian, Black, Lesbian, Working Class, Welsh, Jewish, Islamic, Aryan, etc) we are encouraged to see the differences we have with others. We are encouraged to view others as being not only different but wrong and potentially threatening. We are encouraged to feel under threat and in need of protection. And in responce to this perceived threat, there are usually a group of people (politicians, clergy, kings,  inspired leaders, etc) who will guard us and look after our interests. These are the people who benefit from this grouping, they now hold the power (and usually a great deal of the wealth) as they control how we may and may not interact to preserve our group. All their power comes from controlling spontaneous  activity by individuals  and disappears if people are allowed to interact freely.

Once in our groups we are encouraged to view all problems in terms of this. It leads to partisan and transactional politics. Our group is always right, the other always wrong. Our problems come from the malevolence of the other group. While watching the coverage of Quebec I noticed on social media the cheerleaders of each group swinging into action. Those on the alt-right ecstatic when it looked as if a muslim might have been involved (erroneously), the progressives cock-a-hoop at having another timely white nationalist terrorist just in time for the fight with Trump about closing borders. Our politics have descended into this. We are unable to discuss issues without this being along the lines of our group identities. This means we fail to develop and change as quickly as we might otherwise be able.

The Quebec tragedy will end up being defined as a battle between those fearing islamophobia and those fearing islamofascism. Left to their own devices, followers of different faiths would cooperate happily and beneficially. When they are individuals they find a way to coexist in a way that benefits all, it is only when they are pushed into groups that hatred such as this arises. It is leaders who lead us down these dark alleys of discrimination and violence.

Remember the men who lost their lives in Quebec, remember them as real people like you or I, remember them as fathers or sons like you or I, remember them as individuals.  Don’t think that their religion makes what happened to them explicable in any manner, nor does it explain their murderer’s actions.  Don’t force them into a group and don’t let yourself be forced into a group. When we stay as individual units we remain individually responsible and recognise that we have the same rights as everyone else. Maintaining this is our only hope of preventing future tragedies. The first step in murder and maltreatment is making the victim an exemplar of a group rather than an individual. The second step is removing our own individual responsibility by passing it to a higher authority.  Don’t be pushed to take these dangerous steps.

 

 

Never let a good tragedy go to waste.

Never let a good tragedy go to waste.

Yasmin Alibhai Brown is usually wrong and she is again.  She is a useful bellwether for current events. If you are not sure what is the best thing to do, read her articles and opt for the opposing point of view. You will usually be right. She has done so again. In the Independent (15/11/15) she calls for an increase the power of the state to defeat terrorism. This article is slightly unusual as even she knows she is wrong as she rights it ..

“Yes, I realise the state may well misuse these powers and maybe I will be sorry for letting go of a precious liberty.”

There is no good reason to believe that increased policing will improve our security in this area. Indeed some argue that excessive policing of young muslim men creates a well of alienation and anger which foments terrorist activity as it pushes them away from mainstream society.
The risks of being the victim of a terrorist attack are considerably lower than those of being struck by lightening and the costs of surveillance are extremely high. It may cost as much as $8,000,000 to watch each individual suspect (Australian estimates). The French think that they may have to watch around 200 at any given time. So this very high cost covers and extremely low rilivertysk and has no proven beneficial outcome.

While the benefits of surveillance are unknown at best, the hazards are well established. It is unheard of for the state to give away powers that it has gained without  a considerable fight. We can not presume that after the “emergency” has gone the powers will be rescinded and revoked.

We are in the midst of a fight between two diametrically opposed cultures. Our own liberal and democratic culture against the fascist culture which is personified, at present, by ISIS. We seek to preserve freedom for our people while they seek to impose the will of the  state (through the guise of God). In all areas; the freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of association they wish to remove these from us. It is no surprise that their recent attack struck where it did, as it signifies their disgust with our morals and behaviour.

We can not defend these freedoms by giving them away. If we allow this tragedy to encourage us to give up our liberty we have started to loose the battle. As others have said, we need to remain strong in our belief that our culture is correct and behave in a manner that shows we believe it. We will destroy islamofascism eventually  but only if we know what and why we are fighting.

 

Glimmers of hope?

Glimmers of hope?

It could not be otherwise and the the media continued its attention to the Paris attacks. Unfortunately the liberal press, in the main, continued to miss the point and continued to try and separate the attacks from Islam. Though there are glimmers of light. This article in Left Foot Forward raises the importance of tackling this issue. As it reports..

“But something somewhere is seriously wrong when prejudice against a community is one’s primary concern on the day a nation suffers the biggest acts of violence in decades.”

and we are unlikely to be able to tackle this problem unless we discuss it. Dissenting voices in the Muslim community need to be encouraged and removing the link removes the impetus for change.

Why, after all, would we Muslims work on solving a problem that isn’t ours to being with?

it is also increasingly clear that facing this problem with Islam could also help deal with the problem of Islamophobia.

It’s a no-brainer that once Islamist extremism is curtailed, anti-Muslim bigotry will be gradually snuffed out in synchrony.

The need for anti-fascists has not waned.

The need for anti-fascists has not waned.

Islam-kill-insult-650
During the 1970s and 1980s in Britain there was a strong and initially vibrant anti-fascist movement. Through organizations such as the Anti-Nazi League (ANL) it involved the young and with Searchlight is spread the word and kept the world aware. However, it seems that the antifascists feel they have done their job, they can retire content in the knowledge that they have defeated the enemy. Certainly the state of the far right in UK politics, particularly the weak and inconsequential states of the British National Party (BNP), National Front (NF) and English Defence League (EDL) might suggest we can rest on our laurels. Occasionally writers raise the warning flag after the Europeans support Golden Dawn, Pegida or the French National Front, and at home attempts are sometimes made to tar UKIP with a racist or fascit brush. But there is a problem.

Much of the fascism that was met previously used simple racism to whip up fear and support. When the fascist was a thug who expressed his hatred of people because of the colour of their skin he was easy to spot, and easy to tackle. Some fascists shifted their focus from “the blacks” to “the muslims” in the hope that they would be able to maintain their fearmongering and calls for power. In part this worked, campaigns against Hallal meat and honour crimes did gain more traction. People who would never fall for a racist move based on skin colour were sometimes drawn into campaigns of racist anti-islamic feeling under apparently liberal and humane banners. But there was a further problem.

While it is true that our home grown fascists use islamophobia to garner support it is also true that some groups with Islamic origins are themselves fascistic.Indeed, it is these fascists who prove the greatest threat to our future. Christopher Hitchins spoke of “fascism with an Islamic face” as he disliked the term Islamofascism but he did recognise this as a valid term (1). Our fears to avoid stoking islamophobia mean we avoid this term and it leads us towards much more dangerous problems. Many on the left, who would be naturally anti-fascists, find themselves allied with anti-Semitic and frequently fascist groups. Even Owen Jones has started to realize the blindness that this causes (2).

Make no mistake, it is not that these groups are ‘partially’ or ‘in a fashion‘ fascistic. They are fascist at their core. An old, but still valuable, piece by Lee Jenkins (3) was quite celar in the common core of the ideologies of ISIS and its related organizations. He noted :-

  • Glorification of Violence
  • Hyper social conservatism
  • Strength through Unity
  • Anticapitalism
  • Sexism and brutalhomophobia
  • A yearning for a Golden Age
  • Nihilism
  • Ideological purity

are all themes that these organizations hold in common. There is very little to separate ISIS, Hamas, Al Qaeda and Hezbolla from other fascist groups. A difference in victim does not avoid the obvious conclusion. As Michael Onfray has said the Islamic Revolution “gave birth to an authentic Muslim fascism” (4).Just as in the middle of the last century we were called on to fight and destroy fascism developed in Europe. This century we face the same task dealing with the fascism developing out of the the middle-east.


Links
(1) Defending Islamofascism. C. Hitchins. Slate. 2007
(2) Antisemitism has no place on the Left. O Jones. Guardian 26/8/15
(3) Islamism Is Our Generation’s Fascism. L Jenkins. 25/7/13
(4) Michel Onfray: Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Carlton, Vic. 2007, pp. 206-213.