Re: [OPE-L] Islamic Fascism?

From: Ian Hunt (ian.hunt@FLINDERS.EDU.AU)
Date: Sun Nov 19 2006 - 19:26:16 EST

Thanks for circulating this link. The article is interesting and well
argued. However, it poses a problem of how to assess Islamic
fundamentalist movements without solving it. The difficulty lies in
the definition of fascism and the glossing over the essentially
popular form of fascist political movements. German fascism was not
simply a political vehicle for suppression of anti-capitalist or
socialist movements. It was a political vehicle for German
imperialist capital in uniting the German nation for expansionist
policies. It was a movement not just for security but also for space
for German capital.
It was populist and revolutionary in its beginnings, although the
article correctly points out that it was elevated to power by
industrialists and conservative politicians. This alliance led to a
purge of anti-capitalist elements in the movements in both Italy and
Germany, with a consequent elevation of nationalist romantic themes
and racism in securing its popular base (the 'socialist'and 'worker'
in 'National Socialist Workers Party became hollow). So the article
does not sufficiently distinguish between political movements like
fascism and Pinochet's regime in Chile, which accommodated Chile's
inclusion in the US sphere of influence rather than attempting to
carve out an independent and competing domain. Nazism distinguished
between properly German  and 'cosmopolitan' (usually but not
exclusively Jewish) capitalists. Pinochet would never have
contemplated this in Chile.

It is also worth noting that fascism strictly speaking is a
resolutely secular romantic reactionary political movement. However,
its Falangist allies in Spain and Portugal used religious ideology in
the way that Nazism and fascism used nationalist ideology. This use
of religion was strengthened after they abandoned their earlier
anti-clerical wing after coming to power.

What Islamic fundamentalism shares with fascism is violent
suppression of socialist and worker's movements (in the UK,
supporters of the Taliban refused to march in the UK protests because
they included socialist groups like the Socialist Worker's Party) and
violent exclusion of the influence of 'cosmopolitan', 'liberal' or
'unIslamic' capital. They share with Nazism a distinction drawn on
religious rather than racist lines between an 'in' group and 'out'
group': a 'brotherhood' versus 'infidels' rather than 'Aryan' versus
'non-Aryan'. This distinction  excludes the 'out' group from moral
consideration. It also has sympathizers within Islamic capital (more
mercantilist than industrial). Islamic fundamentalism has only seized
power on two occasions, in Iran and Afghanistan. In Iran it has been
relatively benign ('relatively benign' does not imply 'benign', as
Iranian trade unionists and socialists, who have been hung in large
numbers, and followers of the Baha'i faith would attest). But the
exclusion of women from education and their imprisonment under male
supervision carried out by the Taliban is as violent a suppression of
a subordinate class seeking liberation from its traditional position
as you will find anywhere.

This is not to say that US militarism and imperialism is not pursuing
its own objectives in the struggle with 'Islamic fascism', as Bush
puts it. It has, in  fact, pursued those objectives so well that it
is likely to fail in Iraq. The similarity with Vietnam is overdrawn
by some but it is there: you cannot exercise power-even locally
overwhelming power-everywhere. Having engaged in a
'de-Baathification' much more stringent than 'de-Nazification' in
Germany after WWII, shown their hypocrisy and contempt for Iraqi
people at Abu Grahib (the life of just one American soldier justifies
the use of extensive torture and religious humiliation for local
tactical purposes) and with their policy of spending billions on
destruction but none on construction of Iraq (they are to use their
own oil money), having used weapons of mass destruction as a cynical
pretext for their invasion, and having supported Israeli annexation
of parts of the West Bank (thereby signalling support for a
'two-state' solution similar to that adopted in South Africa under
the Bantustan policy), Bush was left as the US was in Vietnam without
sufficient local support for his occupation. Without that local
support the superiority of US troops at any point could not maintain
order in the country. The contrast with the situation in Kurdish
areas and in other contested areas between Sunni's and Kurds/Sunni's
and Shia demonstrates this point. The US military has never got
beyond the mind-set revealed in Vietnam with the slogan "If you have
them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow". This may be
true of anyone at any one time, but not of everyone every time, a
lesson the US military has still to learn, it seems,

>----- Original Message -----
>Subject: Islamic Fascism?
>Dear Friend:
>Just wanted to share with you a paper I have written on the
>so-called "Islamic Fascism." Please do not hesitate to pass it along
>to your contacts and/or e-mail lists. Here is the link to the paper:
>Best wishes,
>Ismael Hossein-zadeh
>Drake University (Economics)

Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
Dept  of Philosophy, School of Humanities,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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