Monday, 21 May 2007

Islamism, Liberalism and Multiculturalism

A penetrating analysis by someone I don't always agree with!


The Barefoot Bum said...

Her analysis is hardly "penetrating", it's pretty much utter bullshit, attacking what are at best marginal and at worst entirely straw-man versions of multiculturalism and over-permissive liberalism.

While both deserve much criticism, Neither Islamism nor permissivism are threats to modernity and progressive values. Neither have have very much power, nowhere near enough coerce even small changes to liberal democracies, much less destroy them altogether. These movements are narrowly constrained to ideological backwaters.

They serve as handy bogeymen, though, for the real threats to modern, progressive, classically liberal democracy: Authoritarian Republicans allied with Christian conservatives. Even the most superficial analysis shows that George W. Bush and his band of evil henchmen have done far more damage than Osama bin Laden and the humanities faculty of East Buttfuck State College to our own liberty and values.

anticant said...

Thanks for dropping by, BB. I think you are a tad too dismissive of what's happening in UK and across Europe now, though. I agree with you that Islamism SHOULD pose no threat to modernity and progressive values - especially as it doesn't hold a candle to them intellectually - but they are flexing their muscles and gaining demographically, while at the same time there is an appeasement NuLab Government policy of curbing free speech, encouraging 'faith schools', etc. and a very vocal 'Muslims are victims' leftist claptrap brigade. It's high time for many more people to say NO to all this multiculturalist postmodern rubbish very loudly.

I agree about the Bushite neoCons and barmy born-again and 'Rapturist' nutters, but that's your home-grown problem for you over there to sort out. As was immortally said, 'the trouble with so many born-again people is that you wish they hadn't been born the first time'!

I enjoy your blog.

The Barefoot Bum said...

I don't know much about the political situation in the UK/Europe.

Here in the States, the bad sort of multiculturalism is totally isolated, even on the political left. They are used here entirely as boogeymen to justify Christianism and bash anyone who suggests the tiniest bit of cultural pluralism and social tolerance.

I enjoy your blog as well.

pela68 said...

The political arena in Europe is very different from that of USA. Scandinavian politics is on the other hand quite different from UK politics.

When we here in Europe critizises multiculturalism- we are doing it from the standpoint of the ideology being sinister and just really a socialistic social experiment (read Bat Yeor´s Eurabia for an insight).

Being liberal here in Europe means something compleatly different from being a liberal in the USA. A liberal here are most often considered to belong to or be on the right hand scale of the political spectrum.

While being a liberal humanist- I see a great threat to our continent posing by islamism. Not only by the 42 miljon Turks, maby soon to be implemented into EU, but also by the numerous millions already living here.

Polls and stats have shown over and over again that a majority of the muslim community supports islamistic ideology and sharia laws (about a third of the muslims actively supports it and a total of 60% does´nt oppose it- openly).

Mell Philips does indeed have some valid points. Not only that, she is spot on. Just think of the situation in USA if 1/9 of the citizens were muslim immigrants! Think about how it would be if NY, LA or Chicago had a majority population of muslims- demanding special sharia courts and seperated legislation while they at the same time burn up cars and throw stones, molotov cocktails and cinderblocks at fire rescuers and police while they try to enter the separated enclavic areas where theyre at! That is the situation in many Europeian citys today!

As I understand it, you have between 2,5-5 miljon muslims in USA (including black and white convertites). That would be about the total amount of muslims in London alone I believe...

Multiculturalism is a poison, slowly killing western way of life, democracy, basic human rights and pluralism. You have just not got taste of the real deal yet.

Now for a disclaimer: I have not got ANYTHING against muslims (I´m of muslim heritage myself). I ceartinly have not got anything against arabs or any other ethnic group. But what I do dislike is the totalitarian, imperialistic and murderous ideology of islam- yes, ideology, because that is what it is! Much like communism and nazism (with wich it has much more in common than there are differences). It´s no surprise that adolf hitlers "Mein Kampf" is a bestseller in virtually every muslim dominated country, selling millions of copys- year after year after year. Mein Kampf translated to arabic would of course be "jihad".

So multiculturalism is a dead end road. Maby even the dead end for western civilazition. But in the USA you have just a miniscule procentage of the problems we here in Europe are facing to day. Muslims are not bad people. But many of them are in the wrong place! If you want to be ruled under sharia laws and courts- Fine! Move to a country that provides you with that.

But not here! Not as long I´m standing and breathing. Not here!

The Barefoot Bum said...

As I mentioned earlier, I am not well versed in UK or European politics. Furthermore, as a US citizen and resident, I have very little standing to press for change in your society.

On the other hand, there are general philosophical, psychological and sociological topics that are true of all human societies.

There are many problems with Phillips essay. First of all, she gives very little actual evidence regarding the size and power of "Islamism" as opposed to ordinary Islam. Islamism is certainly a repellent ideology, but how much of a threat is it?

Phillips states that, "Many Muslims in Britain and around the world are deeply opposed to [Islamism]; indeed Muslims are the most numerous victims of the jihad." On the other hand, the Islamist threat is "mounted through the pincer movement of both terrorism and cultural takeover." It would seem that the vast majority of ordinary Muslims would have to simultaneously support and be victimized Islamism for its "pincer movement" to be effective.

I'm also concerned about Phillips hysterical rhetoric. "Islamism and liberalism... are currently engaged in a fight to the death. ... Our corrupted liberal culture has torn up the key precepts of liberalism so that it no longer knows what they are, let alone stands ready to defend them to the death." I am always very suspicious about this sort of statement: It seems often the deaths of others that these sorts of statements seem to exhort.

Phillips critiques of multiculturalism reek of straw man fallacies and unsupported generalizations: "But these distinctions have been destroyed by a combination of hyper-individualism —which grew out of liberalism — and a form of cultural Marxism whose agenda is to destroy liberal values. ... All lifestyles were now deemed to have equal status. Social or moral norms were intolerable because by definition they excluded by those who lay outside them. .... And ‘universal’ human rights law became the judicial weapon for minorities to overturn the values of the dominant culture." The last quoted sentence seems to deprecate universal human rights, which seems to contradict the author's central thesis that "true" liberalism depends "upon making moral distinctions between good and bad."

If "[m]any people think multiculturalism just means showing respect and tolerance to other cultures and faiths," then why should we not believe that's what multiculturalism actually is? Why should we believe Phillips denial and her alternative characterization as "It holds that all minority values must have equal status to those of the majority. Any attempt to uphold majority values over minorities is a form of prejudice. That turns minorities into a cultural battering ram to destroy the very idea of being a majority culture at all. And so, since no culture can assert itself over any other, liberalism cannot assert itself as a dominant cultural force. Instead society must fragment into a kaleidoscope of equal — and opposing —values, and liberal values must give way to their opposite." (I would also note that the last sentence is blatantly contradictory.)

These examples are typical of Phillips essay. Pontification, straw men, contradictions and unsubstantiated assertions.

I don't know even what the real problems are integrating Islamic immigrants into European societies, much less how to solve them. But it seems that this sort of hysterical, fallacious rhetoric—completely blind to the institutional racism of Western societies that is certainly a component of the issue—cannot be helpful.

anticant said...

I hold no brief for Melanie Phillips, who used to be a fairly balanced liberal commentator but has recently switched over into a much shriller, right-wing mode. But the Barefoot Bum's logical criticisms of her OTT rhetoric and inconsistencies don't, in my view, dent the validity of her main thrust - namely, that multiculturalism will only work if all communities are prepared to accept a degree of mutual tolerance and openness in society.

This is not the case with Islam - whether extremist or 'moderate'. The vast majority of Muslims in Europe may well be peaceful and disapproving of terrorist jihad, but they keep very quiet about it and usually offer excuses for it on the grounds of US/UK foreign policy. It is certainly true that a large percentsge of them want sharia law and other special privileges, as numerous polls have shown.

The 64-dollar question is: are Islam and pluralist democracy compatible? I have yet to see any convincing evidence that they are; and if I am right, we are all in for a very worrying, and dangerous, future. It will affect Europe first, but the USA will not be immune either.

Islam is a totalitarian theocratic ideology which does not know the meaning of the word 'compromise' except for temporary, tactical advantage. See, e.g, Robert Spencer.

The Barefoot Bum said...

The 64-dollar question is: are Islam and pluralist democracy compatible?

Of course not. But the $128 question is: Are we willing to abandon pluralist democracy to suppress Islam? Are we willing to condemn ordinary tolerance and pluralism (i.e. "multiculturalism") itself with the same broad brush we use to condemn actions deemed illegal by a democratic society?

anticant said...

I'm not sure, BB, whom you mean by "we" in your question 'are we willing to abandon pluralist democracy to suppress Islam?'

I am certainly not willing to abandon pluralist democracy for any reason whatsoever; nor, I imagine, are you. But what is currently happening is that our rulers, in both USA and Britain, have since 9/11 been eagerly jettisoning the hard-won historic safeguards of everyone's civil liberties and personal freedoms under the pretext of fighting a misconceived and bogus 'war on terror'.

Even more alarming, they seem to have scared the majority into believing that this will make them safer, when in fact it makes us all potential victims of a police state if we indulge in the luxury of disagreement.

I agree with you that the most urgent task for libertarians is to reverse this slide into 'velvet despotism'. How to deal with the Muslim challenge to our values is a different issue, and a much longer-term problem.

Any ideas?

Multiculturalism as it is increasingly preached and practiced is not synonymous with 'ordinary tolerance and pluralism'. It is about tolerating the intolerable, which is the ultimate absurdity.

Does your question make any sense if we rephrase it as "are we willing to abandon pluralist democracy to suppress totalitarianism "?

The answer, of course, is that if we don't ensure that our values prevail, totalitarianism will suppress us. Many of us are convinced that the same is true of Islam.

Our pluralist, democratic values have an increaingly slim chance of surviving unless we replace our present authoritarian-minded governments with new leaders imbued with a much stronger sense of what true liberty means.

Where are they?