Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hegelian Thoughts on Globalized Islam(ism)

Reflections on this blogpost by Thomas Barnett.
Maybe corrupted Hegelianism would be more accurate, but anyway--some thoughts.

Overly simplified form we have (something like) thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

What is often missed in debates about the Islam versus the West, specifically Islam within Europe is this Hegelian insight, that the thesis and antithesis flow together are made possible by a prior movement of which they are mirror images.

Which for the moment I'll say is globalization--makes me sound more Marxist than Hegelian I guess. I actually do believe the deeper deeper thrust could be called intentionality/eros but that'll just get cause more trouble than it is worth.

In other words, how did all these people who don't want to assimiliate get to Europe in the first place? By a reverse Crusade, a declared jihad? Or because of job opportunities, demographic shifts, modern travel/communications?

Take again an example I return to often--Christian American Prot. fundamentalism. Fundamentalism in the US Prot. circles started in the NORTH!!!! Not the South. The South was pre-modern/pre-fundamentalist. Only where liberal modern ideas/technologies infiltrate do you have such reactionary movements.

Fundamentalism got big in the South during the 60s and 70s because those damn liberal ideas of Civil Rights, Women's Rights, and more importantly economic modernization hit their full tilt then.

So why is there such Islamism and retrogade movements at this moment? Why has there only been so for the less than a hundred years? [Prior wars and so on were imperial not Islamist].

Because the West is deeply penetrating into the Middle East--as much in fact much much much more so than Islam is penetrating the West.

Why would we be hearing about a Muslim preacher in Australia having to apologize for his sermon which said that women who went outside without covering were like meat left out for the animals to feed on?

First off, why do I know that? Because of GoogleNews right. Second, why did he have to apologize--because of a firestorm of controversy and he was shamed. Third, why would that bother him--because the women of his community do see women out there dressing freely AND (here's the anti-thesis) see those women degraded as are all women in Western society and treated above all as sexual objects. He's not right about women having to cover and be controlled by men (thesis on this one) but he is right that the current system hurts women profoundly in ways it did not in the olden days (anti-thesis), so you need some kind of freedom for women to be non-objectified (synthesis).

The anti-thesis always hold a truth (an inverted truth) forgotten in the thesis. Some initial thoughts as to what that worldview still holds: remembrance of poverty, traditional culture-religion, the massive pain of modernization. And most importantly for Islam I think is the desire not to fall prey to the individualism and secularism of the West. What I have called here before an Islamic way of being modern. Just as there is/will be a Chinese and Indian and Brazilian way of being modern. And that these together will have their own massive differences but overall will be in ways more markedly different from say the French and Scandanavian versions of being modern. Perhaps even the French and US way of being modern. I don't know, we'll find out.

The population bulge that is hitting the Islamic world has already peaked btw. So in 20 years we'll see a middle-age Islamic bulge. Think it's not coincidental that this is uptick in violence has anything to do with the fact that the bulge is a lot of unemployed young men? Check the demographics right before the French Revolution and the later conservative Napoleonic Restoration as a parallel--hint: violence when young, calming down when older.

Europe has deep soul-searching to do and asking whether they should have the political right to say whatever they want, which looks on the surface pretty big, earth-shaking, is actually (given the Hegelian context) not a very big deal at all. Barely scratches the surface truth be told.

The real question for Western Europe is how they are going to live in a post-colonial, post-racial world? The postmodern guilt-ridden, "tolerance" model has failed. Their relative separation even "backwardness"--minus some Asiatic and German "hordes" flooding in periodicially--and dominance for 500 hundred years abroad, their embracing for a time of the idolatrous doctrine of nationalism and the carnage that ensued as a result, has left them now only arguing non-arguments about whether individuals born in their countries but not considered of the proper stock/mentality should wear headscraves or not. Whether you should be tough or tolerant on these people. As short-sighted, in their own, as the Americans are with foreign policy.

Europe is based more as people identity. British, German, etc. The US, for all its manifold sins abroad, does relatively well at home (minus Native and African Americans) because it is a Republic of citizenship, which so long as we hold to that bodes well for the future.

Holding to the identity of a people (not a constitution) is the cause of the violence and separatism the world over. Europe is hardly unique or even nearly the worst in this sense. There will always be insurgencies by French Muslim youth so long as that is the French model. Not whether or not their sisters can wear hijabs to class.

All these questions about is there a limit to tolerance (Dutch) or not, miss this key issue. It is not that those are unimportant questions--they are important to a degree. It is that they take place outside what is occurring, what is arising. Toleration or non-toleration, expanding immigration/curbing immigration, need to be asked in light of the movement to a post-people identity. That is the synthesis, if you like, for Europe.

There can be and will be disagreement as to the tactics around certain forms of dress, who is integratable who is not, deportations, inflitirations/closing down of mosques, etc. Fine. This is a wide angle lens for a moment. That's not the concern for now.

I read arguments like: "the standard is really whether people are open to debate or not. We (fill in the blank) are a people who reason, have rules, etc." And that would be true if it also acknowledged that the definition of who is French, British, Dutch, whatever were something like: we are all those things plus historic ethnic makeup.

The synthesis "wants", as I see it, that thesis (rule of law, post-patriachial, pluralistic) plus the anti-thesis (end of ethnic-national makeup) as a, I'm sure I'm being utopian here, merger of the two.

Now it could be that those reactionary forces, like all patriarchial regimes, keep breeding until Eruope is in fact Eurabia and becomes just a further swath of the failed Sunni Middle East/North Africa. Those immigrant groups may not follow pretty much the standard course of immigrants--have less children, moderate, become conservative (in the good sense). They may not be offered a choice--because of the identity issue--and therefore rebel. Or at least a small enough, strong enough minority does to keep the rest held to their illegitimate ends.

I don't want to come off as coy about that. That is a real possiblity---I did say trajectory not inevitability. I'm not that Hegelian.

If that is what happens that W. Europe will be left as failed states. The Descent of Western Europe will be complete. But the future belongs to the South and East anyway. To be uber-hard nosed for a second, politically-strategically-militarily the US' eyes aren't there anyway.

I want to make that's not me supporting violence against women or against so-called non-believers. Or saying that the West deserves terrorist attacks, or that Islam doesn't need to go through both a Reformation and a move into modern Islamic theology.

I'm saying there is something much larger at work. It is halting and painful, never-ending, always struggle to maintain the great gains it has made.

Or white Europeans kick in and bump up their demographic numbers. Or technology massively extends lifespan, energy needs are more taken care of and the tyranny of sheer numbers slightly abates.

Europe is only really going to learn how to deal with differences domestically if it takes a much wider gaze and much stronger pull outward--this time not as colonials but as the backbone of the SysAdmin function that daily calls out for its naming.


At 2:00 AM, Blogger Tuff Ghost said...

"but he is right that the current system hurts women profoundly in ways it did not in the olden days"

Not buying it Chris. The guy is an Anti-American, Anti-Semetic (on the record, hasn't apologized) Anti-Female bigot.

His comments: While not specifically referring to the rapes, brutal attacks on four women for which a group of young Lebanese men received long jail sentences, Sheik Hilali said there were women who "sway suggestively" and wore make-up and immodest dress ... "and then you get a judge without mercy (rahma) and gives you 65 years".

He's blaming Women for rape, and blaming women for arousing any sexual feeling in men. That comment is deeply anti-female, but also profoundly anti-male.

It may be right that the current system 'hurts women profoundly' (debatable, but I'll say that I broadly agree) but that's not his point, to suggest he's making an equivalent statement to, say, Ariel Levy, is not correct, in my opinion.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger CJ Smith said...


i'm not saying he is consciously aware of speaking such a truth. you're right he certainly didn't seem to intend that.

and you're right, he's anti-Semitic, anti-American, all the rest. I'm not apologizing for that; I don't support that.

He was blaming women for being abused. I think that's despicable. I am not blaming women for rape.

but to me it's like the shadow. a collective shadow maybe. the shadow always has a wisdom forgotten by the conscious, but the shadow's "logic", if that's the right word, twists and warps this truth into very destructive forms. The key is to extricate the truth (retrieve it) from the destructive spin into which it has found a home.

If ALL we do, emphasis on all, is criticize the guy's statements and shut him up--that's good. That's the first step no doubt. But if that's all that occurs, a moment is lost to examine the depths.

if you've seen the numbers on how many young women in modern societies have eating disorders, say they feel often or very often upset about their bodies. I don't we guys can't get it, no matter how much we read the numbers. emotionally i think we just can't comprehend what it is like. there is nothing coincidental about that trend.

as far as I'm aware, there are no mass incidences of anorexia in traditional agrarian societies. I'm not saying we should go back--cause there were a slew of problems associated with that--but that as Habermas says it's the dialectic. Every new good movement brings with it something else that can go wrong and creates new problems.

and in a twisted, warped, way with all his own prejudices and insanities latched on, there was an echo of this collective shadow coming through (for me) this debate.

Western society is profoundly ignorant of how powerful the Feminine energy/sexuality is. Which seems odd given how it is everywhere in our society. To me the ancients understood how powerful a force it was and that it needed to be respected. Especially Kali-energy, Dark Feminine.

Women aren't given a voice to that energy, so many end up resentful, bitching, kvetching---leaking the energy out in immature ways. Which keeps them in-fighting, dispersed, and less powerful.

Now it used that mysterious-force as an excuse to control women. So it's no good going back but no good what we're doing now either. Sure if you had to choose, it's obvious the Western version is better, or at least the lesser of two evils.

But to me, it's still far from good.

In this idea of the coincidence of opposites, the forgotten truth--proper sense of humility around these powerful forces--in the context of social-political-economic freedom.

The level of thinking that has created a problem is not the level that can solve it.

The only place to get energy to push into that new level of complexity comes from the shadow, from retrieving the lost wisdom and creatively finding a new way of being with that truth.

At 3:17 PM, Blogger Simon said...

Just to keep the witches at bay here: IMO nothing positive "comes from the shadow". Growth, CJ's energy I think, comes from acknowledging and ...mmm... absorbing...oh all right!..., transcending and including (how about "transcenduding" folks? Maybe "inclending" is more economical?) the shadow. What comes FROM the shadow is Hilali-ism, Snoop-Dogism, Beyonce-ism, etc. ad nauseum.

I get a bit antsy when smart folks start reifying metaphysical entities and attributing "powers" thereto. If you will, that confusion is at the heart of what CJ diagnoses as European nations' "people centred" ID, precisely ethnocentricism: the reification of the supposed entity of The People, that wonderful formulation that is found so often in aboriginal groups characterisation of themselves in relation to the rest of the world.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger CJ Smith said...


thanks for the pushback.

i think that there really is no transcend and include--or very little of it anyway.

i think it is mostly in our world negation. i don't think i'm reifying powers--at least I don't want to but maybe your right that my words are sloppy--in the sense that I think there is very little by way of inclusion.

i think since it's a slogan people assume at so-called 2ndtier/integral wave it will happen.

my experience is that it doesn't. even if a person argues that integral is currently in the transcend phase and only later will be in the include phase, I still don't really buy it.

that is why I think things get forgotten or lost if you like. i didn't mean shadow in the sense of repressed previously conscious material--as your point about gangsterism correctly i think gets to--but rather stuff that has gone into the wastebin from neglect.

the "energy" comes from retrieving and transmuting (tantra-like) aspects forgotten. they have to
be placed in a new frame and be remagined in an entirely different way. particulary in this instance in a non-patriarchial frame.

it's the same basic point imo that tg took exception to. i don't think the negation is deep enough to free things up to be re-included.

peace bro.


Post a Comment

<< Home