Terror and Liberalism
by Paul Berman
W.W. Norton and Company, 2003
Dust jacket: "The war of liberalism against its enemies has always been a war of ideas, and so is the Terror War. Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism is a guide to that war."
"The Terror War is nothing new or unprecedented. It is the same battle that tore apart Europe during most of the twentieth century - the battle between liberalism and its totalitarian enemies. Islam is not the cause of this war. Islam is the arena in which the war is presently being fought. (cover jacket)
In one sentence, this book argues that Islamism is a kin to fascism and communism and liberal society must fight it just as it fought fascism and communism.
COMMENT: Book is an extension of an essay in New York Time Magazine. A little book with a stark white cover and black lettering and a stark message.. No footnotes. No index. But has some powerful ideas.
POV: Berman's book is about Liberalism v. what he argues is the latest variant of totalitarianism -- radical Islamism. But he also calls himself a man of the left and implies he's a democratic socialist. So his liberalism is "liberal-left" liberalism.
Berman tells the story of anti-war socialists in France (who were stronger than the anti-Nazi Socialists) and who went along with some Nazi arguments to justify their refusal to fight the Nazis. Germans were mistreated, Jews were bourgeois exploiters much of time, etc. why not be conciliatory to the Nazis?
"The belief underlying those anti-war arguments was, in short, an unyielding faith in universal rationality,. It was the old-fashioned liberal naiveté of the 19th century - the simple-minded optimism that had blown up in the First World War but that, even so, indestructible, had lingered into the 20th century imagination. That belief was the other face of liberalism - not liberalism as the advocacy of freedom, rationality, progress, and the acceptance of uncertainty, but liberalism as blind faith in a predetermined future, liberalism as a fantasy of a strictly rational world, liberalism as denial. That was the philosophical doctrine lurking within the anti-war imagination in France. ... anti-war Socialist gazed across the Rhine and simply refused to believe that millions of upstanding Germans had enlisted in a political movement whose animating principles were paranoid conspiracy theories, blood-curdling hatred, medieval superstitions, and the lure of murder." (p.126)
Contrary to Chomsky and Pale propaganda, Clinton's 2000 offer to the Pales did not "shrivel the proposed new Palestinian state to an archipelago on lonely islets, swamped on every side by Israeli soldiers ... "
Clinton's principle negotiator, Dennis Ross, has explained that in the offer to Arafat, the new Palestinian state was gong to be entirely contiguous, except for the Gaza Strip. And even Gaza, in its far away corner on the Mediterranean, was going to be connected to the West Bank by means of an elevated highway and railroad across Israel ... It conceded to the Palestinians all but a very small portion of what Arafat had vociferously demanded for many years, and even that small portion was to be compensated with other lands. ... (p.128-9)
So how did the Pales react?
"And at that decisive moment, Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad - the two factions of Palestine's Islamist movement - finally succeeded in dominating the Palestinian political scene, at least for the time being. The suicide terror campaign, simmering for many years, now began to display the qualities of a genuinely popular impulse - the crowds changing approval, the wailing mothers calling on their children to die, the masked young men pledging to do as the mothers demanded ... the cult of the dead. Militias from Arafat's nationalist organization joined in the campaign ..." (p.129)
52 Pales dead in Jenin (26 Israeli soldier dead) is a slaughterhouse. "Typing in the combined names of Jenin and Auschwitz on Google on the Internet I came up with 2890 references." Millions died at Auschwitz. (p.137)
Liberals reacted to the terror bombing by lining up to testify for the Pales. The Parliament of Writers sent a delegation to Ramallah. Israel was compared to South Africa. chosen people were the Herrenvolk (master race) Portuguese novelist Nobel prize winner Jose Saramago reinterprets the story of David and Goliath to a be a blond David using the superior technology of a slingshot to fell at a distance a hapless "unfortunate and oppressed Goliath" "Sharon's siege of Arafat in his compound was `a crime comparable to Auschwitz`, though no one was killed" (p.139)
The blond David of yesteryear survey from a helicopter the occupied Palestinian land and fires missiles at unarmed innocents; the delicate David of yore mans the most powerful tanks in the world and flattens and blows up what he finds in this tread ...
Intoxicated mentally by the messianic dream of Great Israel which will finally achieve the expansionist dreams of the most radical Zionism; contaminated by the monstrous and rooted `certitude` that in this catastrophic and absurd would there exist a people chosen by God and that, consequently, all the actions of an obsessive, psychological and pathologically exclusivist racism are justified ... will always be inferior to that which they themselves suffered in the Holocaust, the Jews endlessly scratch their own wound to keep it bleeding, to make it incurable, and they show it to the world as if it were a banner. .... From the point of view of the Jews, Israel cannot ever be brought to judgment, because it was tortured, gassed and incinerated in Auschwitz." [p.140-1, source: Jose Saramago's essay ran in El Pais, April 21, 2002 and was answered a few day later in that same newspaper by Barbara Probst Solomon.]
"The high tide of the terrorist attacks, in the early months of 2002, proved to be the very moment when, around the world, large numbers of people felt impelled to express their fury at the Israelis." But then a funny/sad thing happened. Israel cracked down on the Pales and suicide terror bombing diminished.
" .... as the Palestinian situation grew more desperate, the wave of protest around the world, instead of growing, began to recede. Perhaps not in every way .... " (p.142)
Why? "The suicide bombing produced a philosophical crisis among everyone around the world who wanted to believe that a rational logic governs the world." If people are murdering civilians instead of non-violently protesting .... well, well ... it can't because they're irrational or hateful. It must be because the oppression they suffer is incredibly evil and the fight against it must be scaled up accordingly. Tactics must become extremely ruthless and drastic.
"There is another, slightly creepier explanation. It nearly jumps up at us from the pages of Camus. The sinister excites, Camus observed. The transgressions of suicide murder arouse a thrill that sometimes takes an overtly sexual form. The readers of Baudelarie will find nothing surprising in this observation, not to mention the readers of Sade."
Example: "One of the New York newspapers ran a photograph of women in Madrid parading [in] skimpy faux suicide-bomb belts worn as bikinis." (p.143)
Chomsky is "one more thinker with a theory of human behavior that rests on a tiny number of factors - in this case, two factors, in dialectical opposition.
The first of those factors is a greed for wealth and power, which is embodied in the giant American corporations - though Chomsky has always recognized that powerful institutions in other countries sometimes draw on that same instinct and behave pretty much the same ways that American corporations do. The corporations wish to maximize power and profits. They command the service of governments, and they buy and bully journalist and intellectual to create, on behalf of the corporations, a picture of the world that makes the general public bend to the corporations' will. And, with government and the intellectuals and the press at their disposal, the corporations, acting in their own interest, drench the world in blood and misery.
"... a second factor intervenes in world events, and this second factor, he has suggested, may even be further genetic trait ... It is an instinct for freedom. The instinct for freedom leads people around the world to resist the giant corporations. And so a giant battle deploys across the globe, the giant corporation and their intellectual and governmental servants on one side, and people who are animated by ... instinct for freedom on the other ... The corporations usually win, due to their immense power.... but these two factors suffice to explain everything - or very nearly. ...world events, upon close examination, torn out [to be] a seemingly complex and murky phenomenon that can actually be illuminated through a simple accounting of a very few number of predictable factors." (p.146)
Fighting against contrary theory that the world was complicated, that there had been genocide in Cambodia by the socialist Khmer Rouge and corporate imperialism could not explain this phenom, "Chomsky assembled immense supplies of alternative data, which he drew from the recollections of random tourists, wandering church worker, and article in little-known left-wing magazines. The alternative date, in his interpretation, refuted the accounts of the well-known journalist." All this was in a two-volume book by Chomsky called The Political Economy of Human Rights which argued "that genocide had never occurred; and conversely, ... that, if genocide did occur, it was the fault of the American military intervention, which had driven the Cambodian mad." (p.148)
Following 9/11 "the notion that radical Islamist ought to be taken at their word and that Shariah and the seventh-century Caliphate were their goals, and that Jews and Christians were demonic figures worthy of death ... al of this was, from Chomsky's perspective, not even worth discussing." (p.149)
Chomsky "compared 9/11 to Clinton's missile strike on Sudan in 1998" where "a pharmaceuticals factory ... was demolished. One person was killed - possibly two people. ... Clinton's missile strike was exceptionally deadly, Chomsky thought, because it destroyed the Sudan's supply of medicines, destroyed the Sudan's political tranquility, and destroyed the Sudan's economy, all of which led to far more death and misery than were produced by the 9/11 attacks. ....
Yet his tally was preposterous ...
The Sudan had other pharmaceuticals factories and other ways to buy medicines; radical Islamism and other factors had already destroyed the political tranquility; and a single missile attack was not going to destroy the economy. The loses that came out of the attack on the United States on 9/11 were, on the other hand, simply staggering." (p.150) (from an internet polemic mounted by Leo Casey, in the archives of Z magazine, www.zmag.org")
To many people, Sweden and Switzerland with their neutrality, avoiding wars and military actions, have a moral superiority to the US. But of course one of the wars they sat out was World War. But neutrality or not, is there any doubt the Nazis would have crushed them after they were done with the allies?
"The Swedes and the Swiss achieve wonderful things with their own societies, and those achievements were the envy of the world. But the survival of both places [is] owed entirely to the fighting spirit of other people. If Hitler had won the war, he would have crushed the Swedes and Swiss anyway. But they could hope that other people would ensue that Hitler lost. ...
Sweden and Switzerland resembled in this respect the little republics that have floated into existence from time to time throughout the history of the West, beginning with Athens and the Roman republic. and continued through the city-states of the Middle Ages - fragile republics that reflected a brilliant light for as long as circumstances were benign." (p.167-8)
Lincoln and death. "He did not see in death the Ideal, ... He did not think, as Qutb did, that ... death is a garden of delights. He did not find brotherhood in death ... but neither did he avert his eyes from death. He spoke about death as `the last full measure of devotion,` which Union soldiers had given. ... Death was not their goal; but death was the measure of their commitment. `From these honored dead we take increased devotion, he said. He was explaining that a liberal society must be, when challenged, a warlike society; or it will not endure. That was the meaning of his conclusion - `that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.`" (p.170)
Berman's Image: "Saudi Arabian society was secretive, closed, obscurantist, feudal, and oppressive. Journalists penetrated almost never. From time to time excepts from the Saudi press appeared in English translation, expressing sentiments and superstitions so bizarre and medieval as barely to seem possible. The beheadings, the veils, the oppression of women, the intolerance, the Satanic conspiracy theories about Jews - this was, in Saudi Arabia, the visible aspect.
It was striking, to, that in the aftermath of 9/11, the Saudi government rushed to protect bin Laden by spiriting his relatives out of the United States, which prevented any of them from revealing his whereabouts. And it was striking that, when the United States launched its air attack on Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia declined to permit full use of the American air bases. The Saudi declined even to allow American investigators to interrogate al Qaeda prisoners in Saudi Arabia. Such was the princely response exactly ten years after America fought a war partly on the princes' behalf ..." (p.14)
" .... What is, for instance, the tally of America's military interventions in recent years? There have quite a few interventions - this is a bellicose epoch in American history - and oddly enough, most of those actions have been undertaken in defense of Muslim populations. There was the Gulf War itself, fought in defense of the Kuwaitis, the Saudis, and nearly everyone else in the Middle East ....
COMMENT: You wont get too much mileage out of that one Berman
Fascism and communism were violent enemies of each other - bitter opposites. But, caught in a certain light, the bitter opposites looked oddly similar. ... Was it possible that fascism and communism were somehow related? ... Mightn't fascism and communism be tentacles of a single, larger monster from the deep - some new and horrible creature of modern civilization, which had never been seen and never been named but was, even so, capable of sending up further ghastly tentacles from the sinister depths?"
... Mussolini had embraced the word `totalitarian` to describe his own movement .... (p.23)
Fascism: from Dario a Latin American poet and fascist
The Latin race will see a great future dawn,
And in a thunder of glorious music, millions of lips
Will salute the splendid light that will come from the East
... as Glucksman has shown, every one of those modern versions of the ancient ur-myth kept more or less rigorously to the general shape and texture of the biblical original.
There was always a people of God, whose peaceful and wholesome life had been undermined. They were the proletariat of the Russian masses (for the Bolsheviks and Stalinists); or the children of the Roman wolf (for Mussolini's Fascists); or the Spanish Catholics and Warriors of Christ the King (for Franco's Phalange); or the Aryan race (for the Nazis). There were always the subversive dwellers in Babylon, who trade commodities from around the world and pollute society with their abominations. They were the bourgeoisie and the kulaks (for the Bolsheviks and Stalinists) or the Freemasons and cosmopolitans (for the Fascists and Phalangists); and sooner or later, they were always the Jews (for the Nazis, and in a lesser degree for the other fascists, and eventually for Stalin, too). (p.48-9)
Baudelaire, in a haughty spirit of impudence and provocation, rebelled against God Himself and declared for Satan. Baudelaire composed his Flowers of Evil and presented one of the editions to the public by saying
If you haven't studied rhetorical
method with Satan, the cunning master,
Throw this book away! You'll understand nothing,
or will think me hysterical.
"... Camus quoted Baudelaire: `The true saint is the person who whips and kills the people for the good of the people.`" (p.30)
"Camus pointed to Dostoevsky,... who says `Everything is permitted.` .... The young idealists in Dostoevsky's The Devils loathe the restraints of ordinary morality, and put their loathing into action ..." (p.31) (The poem I quote by Baudelaire is `Ephigraphe pour un livre condamne,` from the 1868 edition of Les Fleurs du Mal.)
"A young man named Nechaev organized a conspiracy called the Society of the Ax in 1866, whose purpose was to overthrow the tsar and make a social revolution - a libertarian purpose, with human progress as the goal. But the Society of the Ax required its members to swear total obedience to secret leaders, known to no one, whose principles were to break every principle. Nechaev murdered one of his followers and ended up in jail, and his conspiracy evaporated. But the taboo had been broken ....
"In 1878 a young woman named Vera Zassulich shot the governor of St. Petersburg - and, as Camus carefully recorded, launched a kind of fad for political assassination. It was mostly a Russian fad. Someone tried to kill the tsar in 1879, and two years later a little circle of revolutionaries did kill him - a sensational event. Minor officials were killed right and left. But the fad became more than Russian. There were attempts on the emperor of Germany and the king of Spain. The empress of Austria was murdered in 1898. The king of Italy was killed by an anarchist from New Jersey. In 1901, Pres. McKinley was murdered in Buffalo, NY. And the assassinations and attentats, as they were called, rolled on, until the grand duke of Serbia was killed at Sarajevo, which sparked the First World War ...." (p.32)
A Social Revolutionary by the name of Kaliayev `The Poet` assassinated Grand Duke Sergei. But "the first time that Kalaiyev set out to kill Grand Duke Sergei, he held back, because when the grand duke's carriage came into view, children were at the grand duke's side, and the children were innocent of any crime." (p.32)
"Then the fastidious yielded to the not fastidious. Immigrant anarchist ... Luigi Galleani ... led his followers into a violent campaign based on indiscriminate killings. ... His idea was a life of absolute individual freedom, of freewill, governed only by the freely accepted moral code of workers and artisans and by the aesthetic sensibility of the finest art. ... (p.34)
... One of Galleani's followers tried to poison the archbishop of Chicago and some 200 guests at a banquet in the archbishop's honor. The arsenic caused the banqueters to vomit up the poison instead ... no one was killed.
But in 1920, somebody from Galleani's group planted a bomb on Wall Street, in order to avenge the arrest of a couple of members of the group, Sacco and Vanzetti. The bomb killed a random crowd of 33 people. The Wall Street bomb remained for many years the bloodiest terrorist act that America had ever seen - until Timothy McVeigh's bombing .... Why detonate an explosive on Wall Street? For symbolic reasons, of course. Why kill those 33 people in particular? for no reason. Because they happened to be walking by." (p.35-6) (see: Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1991)
"The cult of death and irrationality now took hold of entire mass movements ... Lenin's was the first of these new anti-liberal movements ... `Shoot more professors,` was one of Lenin's secret orders. Not even Saint-Just had ever given such an order." (p.42-3)
" .... in Egypt during those years [1930 and 1940s], a sympathy for the European extreme right and even for Nazism was fairly common. The militants of the Young Egypt Society, the `Greenshirts,` were openly pro-Nazi. The Muslim Brotherhood's founder, Hassan al-Banna, expressed - I am quoting now from Malise Ruthven, from his A Fury for God - `considerable admiration for the Nazi Brownshirts.` His organization did choose to designate its organizational units as kata'ib, or phalanges, in the Franco style." (p.59)
"In 1943, with German victory in the war still likely, the Arab Baath ... Party met in Damascus and established its own, more radical branch of the Pan-Arabist movement - a revolutionary version, dynamic and determined. The inspiration that went into this movement was openly racist. Sami al-Jundi, one of the early Baath leaders, explained very clearly - I am quoting him from an essay by Bernard Lewis - `We were racists, admiring Nazism, reading its books and the source of its thought, particularly Nietzsche ... Fischte, and H.S. Chamberlain's Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, which revolves on race.`" (p.55)
There "were many ... partisans of racial theory ... in Egypt and even included a few Nazis on the lam, in the years after their defeat in Europe. (To cite a famous example, Hermann Goebbels's adjunct, Johann von Leers, the author of The Crimes of Judaism, found a refuge in Egypt during the 1950s, converted to Islam, and went to work in Nasser's propaganda agency.)" (p.77)
"Then again, some of the intellectual fathers of the Baath, men who had done their university studies in Paris, began to write, in the 1930's, for the Communist press in Syria. So there was a smidgen of leftism, too, in the origins of the Baath ...." (p.55)
The Muslim Brotherhood's vision, "the return to the seventh century, turned out to be strikingly similar to Baath Socialism's Naturally, there were differences - more of a spiritual emphasis among the Muslim Brotherhood, more of a racist emphasis among the Baath Socialists, ... The Baathi and the Islamists were two branches of a single impulse, which was Muslim totalitarianism - the Muslim variation on the European idea. The whole phenomenon of people wearing monochrome shirts and organizing phalanges and calling for the resurrection of ancient empires was definitely a trend of the moment." (p.60) That moment being the 1930s.
"In the Baathi myth, there was a people of God. They happened to be the Arab nation. The people of God had been corrupted and polluted from forces within and forces without. Makiya quoted Michel Aflaq, the greatest of the Baathi theoreticians: `The philosophies and teachings that come from the West invade the Arab mind and steal his loyalty.` The Arabs needed to `return to the `Arab Spirit.`" Berman then states (but doesn't quote Aflaq) that the Arab spirit "was the spirit that had once been embodied by the Prophet Muhammad himself, which is to say, the spirit of Islam ..." (p.56)
Qutb was "10 years old when he completed the task of memorization" of the Quran. (p.61)
Prison: "Conditions during his first three years of prison were evidently very bad. He was tortured. In later years, though, he was given a bit more freedom and from his cell, he returned to his religious studies." (p.63)
"Qutb's analysis was rich, nuanced, deep, soulful, and heartfelt." (p.77)
COMMENT: Is this flattery to compensate for later implied sugestions that Qutb was a little nuts, and more than a little dangerous in his obsessive hatred for Jews?
Qutb, judging from Islam: the Religion of the Future, admired the writings of Alexis Carrel, a French eugenicist and Nobel Prize winner, famous for his Nazi sympathies during the Vichy period. But what Qutb liked about Carrel was his condemnation of modern materialism and its encroachments on the `values of man,` the humanistic side of Europe's extreme right - and not Carrel's scientific approach to the modern crisis ..." (p.77-8)
"My editions of Qutb's writings list these cities on the publication pages: Cairo; Doha, Qatar; Kano, Nigeria; Nairobi, Kenya; Karachi, Pakistan; New Delhi and Bombay India; .... Leicester, UK, Oneonta, New York." (p.186-7)
"... in a society in which some people are lords who legislate and some others are slaves who obey them, then there is no freedom in the real sense, nor dignity for each and every individual.` These are anarchist ideas, virtually. Luigi Galleani could have written those sentences, if you substitute the words `anarchy` and `anarchism` for Qutb's `shariah` and `Islam.`" (p.96)
COMMENT: Here I think Berman is full of shit and the Islamists right. It was HUMAN legislation that Qutb opposed, not slavery. Slavery to God following every little sharia regulation was good. It was slavery to human legislators that was bad.
The Following are the foundations on which Islam establishes justice"
- Absolute freedom of conscience.
- The complete equality of man.
- The firm mutual responsibility of society.
"And what did this last point, `mutual responsibility,` mean? It meant that any person who commits a crime will have to take responsibility by yielding up an exact equivalent of the damage that has been wrought. Qutb quoted the Koran on the punishment for killing or wounding:
`a life for a life, an eye for an eye, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds the equivalent.`That was the code of shariah." (p.97)
Fornication, too, was a serious crime because, in his words, `it involves an attack on honor and a contempt for sanctity and an encouragement of profligacy in society.` Shariah specified the punishment there, as well.
The penalty for this must be severe; for married men and women it is stoning to death; for unmarried men and women it is flogging, a hundred lashes, which in cases is fatal.False accusations were likewise serious ...." All this from Social Justice in Islam (p.97)
Shariah was, in a word, utopia for Sayyid Qutb. It was the abolition of servitude. It was freedom, both for society and for the individual. It was equality. It was social welfare. It was morality. (p.98)
"In Social Justice in Islam, Qutb described jihad as a defensive war - Islam's campaign to protect itself. But that was in the late 1940s, when his Islamist views were still relatively moderate. In later years he decided that jihad, examined in a properly Islamic light, had to go beyond mere defense." (p.98, source: Social Justice in Islam translated by John B. Hardie, revised with an introduction by Hamid Algar (Oneonta, NY; Islamic publications International, 2000)
"In a passage on Surah 2 from In the Shade of the Qur'an, he discussed the people `who claim to be Muslims but perpetrate corruption,` the people who `oppose the implementation of God's law` - that is, the people who oppose the vanguard of true Muslims. Those people, the perpetrators of corruption, `are seriously lacking in faith and loyalty to God and Islam.` Their efforts will come to naught. `They shall have not protection whatsoever against God's punishment, which is bound to come, keen as they may be to avoid it.` But what will be the nature of God's punishment? This is left to our imaginations; and we can imagine." (p.100)
COMMENT: Qutb bugging out? Is it just hell? Is it being put to the sword? Was he writing with the Egyptian government's security service in mind?
"The statement, `Culture is the human heritage`, seemed to him, all in all, a Jewish conspiracy. This had to be explained. Qutb wrote repeatedly and at length about the Jews, and did so the best of theological grounds, given that, as he says, `the story of the Israelites is the one most frequently mentioned in the Koran.` ... They dominated Medina financially and even morally, because of their ability to interpret holy scripture." (p.83)
Qutb is against Zionism But "[m]ostly he worried about the Jewish role in modern culture. And he worried about Jewish conspiracies against Islam around the world. In the commentary on Surah 5, he wrote:
The Jews have always been the prime movers in the war declared on all fronts against the advocates of Islamic revival throughout the world. Moreover, the atheistic, materialistic, doctrine in our world was advocated by a Jews.-- Here he refers to Karl Marx
and the permissive doctrine which is sometimes called `the sexual revolution` was advocated by a Jew-- who must be Sigmund Freud.
Indeed, most evil theories which try to destroy all values and all that is sacred to mankind are advocated by Jews.(p.86)
"Muhammad and the Jews disagreed over dietary regulations. Finally, the Jews simply refused to accept Muhammad's claim to be a divine messenger. The Jews benefited materially from their monopoly over scriptural interpretation in Medina, which means that, if Muhammad were acknowledged as the messenger of God, the Jews would lose their advantages -- their `money, wealth, and worldly aggrandizement.` So they plotted against him." (p.83)
Qutb "explicitly warned against emphasizing the Koran's tolerant expressions of forgiveness of the Jews. Nor did he want to look at the story of Medina as merely an event from the seventh century. In Qutb's interpretation, the sins and crimes of the Medina Jews in the seventh century have a cosmic, eternal quality -- rather like the sins and crimes of the Jerusalem Jews in some of the traditional interpretations of the Gospels. In his commentary on Surah 2, Qutb speculated that, during their time of slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt, oppression may have corrupted the Jews, with permanent effects on all Jews everywhere. They acquired the slavish trait of being submissive when defeated, but vicious and vengeful when victorious." (p.85)
In his commentary on Surah 5, he explained that aggression against the champions of truth was another eternal Jewish custom. He made this point repeatedly. In the commentary on Surah 2:
The war the Jews began to wage against Islam and Muslims in those early days has raged on to the present. The form and appearance may have changed, but the nature and means remains the same.
Again, in the commentary on Surah 5:
The Muslim world has often faced problems as a result of Jewish conspiracies ever since the early days of Islam.
History has recorded the wicked opposition of the Jews to Islam right from its first day in Medina. Their scheming against Islam has continued since then to the present moment, and they continue to be its leaders, nursing their wicked grudges and always resorting to treacherous schemes to undermine Islam.Qutb's commentaries are from In the Shade of the Qur'an, translated by M.A. Salahi and A.; A. Shamis, Vol. I Markfield, Leicester, and Nairobi, Kenya: The Islamic Foundation 1999. Vol.4 is the same except 2001.
Qutb wrote bitterly about European imperialism, which he regarded as nothing more than a continuation of the medieval Crusades. Sometimes he denounced American foreign policy. He complained in Islam and Social Justice about America's decision, in the time of Harry Truman, to support the Zionists. Qutb regarded America's support for Israel as `puzzling,` and he attributed it to philosophical Pragmatism and to Pragmatism's downplaying of the `idea of right and justice` -- `in conjunction, of course with other factors,` by which he probably meant the role of Jewish usurers. He complained about Secretary Dulles and his policies during the Eisenhower administration -- the greatest effort `ever exerted by an international politician to fight Islam by spreading a network of espionage and counter-revolutionary organizations all over the world.`" (p.89)
Qutb is described as trembling with rage over "Kemal Ataturk and his secular reforms in Turkey." Quoting Qutb in Islam: The Religion of the Future, Ataturk `who put to an end the Islamic Caliphate, separated religion from the State and declared the purely secular State.`" (p.91)
Islamist antipathy to the Soviet Union made the movement attractive to still other people, and not just to the state Department and the CIA. The governing elite in Pakistan .... In Egypt, Anwar Sadat ... The Israeli government looked on the Islamist movement with a similar set of hopes. ... the Israelis, too allowed the Islamist movement to develop freely. That was in the 1970s. The Islamists right away set out to kill dozens of Muslim women, who were accused of various crimes and sins. ... And yet, the Islamist movement was profoundly pious and charitable, and the Israelis hoped that on balance, the Islamist would make better neighbors than the Palestinian nationalists and leftists."
... the French government likewise decided to promote the preachers of the Islamist cause, in the hope of channeling Muslim energies into zones of piety and charity. ... It is easy to say, in retrospect, that all was a gigantic error. But I think that even the Islamists themselves did not really know where their movement was heading." (p.101)
If Qutb back in the 1940s saw no difficulty in adapting a few slogans from Eleanor Roosevelt, there was no reason why Khomeini, in a similarly open-minded and modern sprit, couldn't accept some helpful tips from the Paris left. And so, he managed to transform the Islamist cause into a version of liberation theology, except Muslim and Middle Eastern instead of Catholic and Latin American." (p.106)
Khomeini's "Islamic revolution offered a curious example of `salami tactics` turned against the Communists, instead of used on their behalf - the revolutionary leaders cutting one slice after another off the revolutionary salami. But the result was entirely traditional, and by the end, no one was left except their leader and his party, who were the Islamist clergy." (p.106)
COMMENT: GOOGLE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sheikh Abdullah Azzam "in the course of his life had befriended the Qutb family in Egypt and went on to teach in Saudi Arabia." (p.114)
"Jeffrey Goldberg has reported in the New Yorker that Lebanon's Hezbollah ... operates on an annual budget of more than $100 million." (p.159)
Norman Mailer said, `There is a tolerable level to terror, and illustrated his claim by observing that car crashes exact a higher toll than terrorist attacks. But ... Islamism's cream of the cream would blow up entire cities, if it could, and it may yet." (p.159)
One of Berman's hero's is French socialist and anti-Nazi leader Leo Blum who the Nazi's sent to Dachau but who survived to come back to France and fight a new war against totalitarianism the anti-Communist war.
"He knew that right-wing politicians and conservative social movements could not possibly out-argue the Communists in the trade unions and in the working-class neighborhoods, and that conservative intellectuals would never be able to out-argue the Communists and the fellow travelers in the universities, either. And so, Blum called for a `Third Force` in Europe, which was not going to be conservative and not going to be Communist, either - a Third Force of democratic socialists, trade unionists, and people with similar views, ready to lead their own fight against the Communists and fellow travelers. Blum wanted to out-compete communism on the left: to offer better trade unions that the Communist unions, better social agencies, truer hopes for a better future. He acted on this program, too. ... [for what does it mean to be leftwing] if not a commitment to international solidarity and active engagement? .... The Communists vilified this Third Force as imperialist reaction. .... Blum and his allies and supporters proceeded, undaunted." (p.187-8)(source of Blum stories is The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron and the French Twentieth Century, by Tony Judt (Chicago and London; University of Chicago Press, 1998)
The panorama of the Terror War cried out for this kind of activism in our own time, as well - a Third Force, different from the conservatives and the foreign policy cynics who could only think of striking up alliances with friendly tyrants; and different from the anti-imperialists of the left, the left-wing isolationists, who could not imagine any progressive role at all for the United States. A `Third Force`, neither 'realist' nor pacifist - a Third Force devoted to a politics of human fights and especially women's rights, across the Muslim world; a politics of ethnic and religious tolerance; a politics against racism and anti-Semitism, no matter how inconvenient that might seem to the Egyptian media and the House of Saud; a politics against the manias of the ultra-right in Israel, too, no matter how much that might enrage the Likud and its supporters; a politics of secular education, of pluralism, and law across the Muslim world; a politics against obscurantism and superstition; a politics to out-compete the Islamist and Baathi on their left; a politics to fight against poverty and oppression; a politics of authentic solidarity for the Muslim world, instead of the demagogy of cosmic hatreds. A politics, in a word, of liberalism ..." (p.189) "phantasmagorical demands that rested on paranoid fears of Crusader-Zionist plots." (p.198)
What to do in the face of brainless arrogant American leadership? (This book was written before the War in Iraq turned into the fiasco it is.)
"Bush will do what he will do. Let us press, even so ... Germany's pacificists do not approve the American policy. Germany's pacificists can participate, even so." German fascist philosophies influenced Qutb and others. "Let the Germans go door to door throughout the region, issuing a product recall" of those philosophies.
"The French are indignant over capital punishment. Let the French look to places where the victims are buried by bulldozers. The French do not need American presidents to lead them in that directions."
The Democratic Party has no Roosevelt .... American trade unions [played] a farsighted role ... in Europe after the second World War" against totalitarianism. "Maybe the trade unions are no longer up to that kind of task. All right, then we have wealthy foundations today. We have human rights organizations." "Al Qaeda is a loose network. Let us be an even looser network...." (p.209)
"Over and again, the theoreticians have explained that apocalyptic solutions appealed to them because non-apocalyptic ideas likewise appealed to them, and giant battles were taking place in their own minds. The whole purpose of totalitarianism, Schlesinger wrote in 1949, was to combat the `anxiety` that is aroused by the lure of other, better ideas. Molotov, Stalin's lieutenant, explained at the height of the Soviet terror that in Communist society the `vestiges of capitalism` were `extremely persistent in people's consciousness` - which showed the need to keep the firing squads at work, especially against deviationists and freethinkers within the Communist Party itself. Half a century later, we know that Molotov had good reason to worry, and vestiges of a non-Communist idea did prove to be extremely persistent in the Soviet Union, even among Communists, and the vestiges triumphed in the end.
"Qutb, fretting about the `cultural influences which had penetrated my mind`, expressed Molotov's point exactly. Qutb worried about the hideous schizophrenia of modern life because he knew that Muslim society, and not just the culture of the West, was torn by conflicting ideas. Aflaq mad the same observation in his comment about the `philosophies and teachings` that invade the Arab mind and steal his loyalty.` Influences and philosophies do penetrate and invade, and they do steal loyalties." (p.190-1)
What was the Bush approach to Foreign Policy? Do for Foreign policy what Reagan did for domestic economic policy.
"They put their faith in the natural dynamism of American business. They considered that American military and economic power could make big and positive changes in the world, if only the new administration could shake off the restrictions and timidities of the past. The Kyoto Protocol on gas emissions, a proposed treaty limiting the spread of biological weapons, the old Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, the International Criminal Court - every one of those things, in their eyes, was a rope holding America down, and they wanted to wriggle free. They wanted to unleash American technology. They contemplated Reagan's ancient dream of an outer-space missile shield, and though no such shield existed, and the first set of tests was a disaster, and also the second set, and the third, and so on - undismayed, they oohed and ahhed. ...." (p.192)
"And these attitudes of his remained pretty much the same after 9/11. The Afghan War got underway, and the American forces captured several hundred people who appeared to be Taliban fighters or militants of Al Qaeda, and the prisoners were brought to the United States military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where the military interrogations could proceed without any of the pesky limitations of domestic American law. And even that much freedom for the officers in charge seemed insufficient, and the government announced an intention to evade the Geneva Conventions of war, in regard to military prisoners. Laws, formal treaties, the customs of civilized nations, the legitimacy of international institutions - these were the dross of the past, and Bush was plunging into the future." Even though "international law, human rights, `Europe`, and humanitarianism had willy-nilly become the language of liberal democracy around the world." (p.193)
"Bernard Lewis has observed that, if any single factor can account for the Arab world's difficulties in adapting to modern life, it must be the status of women in Arab societies. Anyone who wanted to go to the heart of the Arab predicament would have to speak about women and their place in society, then - at least, in the degree that Lewis was right. The Islamists themselves were noticeably defensive on that topic, as if not entirely convinced of the soundness of their own doctrine, Islamism promised modernization in a version that was going to be distinctly Muslim and not Western, a Koranic modernization; but Islamism's Koran was not, on its face, especially modern. Anyone who reads Qutb, or from our own day, Tariq Ramadan will notice that these writers, the grand Islamist theoreticians, the super-radical and the not-so-radical, get very prickly on women's rights - an obvious sore point, with them. Whoever advised Bush to raise this question was a very clever person." (p.194)
"But Bush and his team, ... held back from [debates about rape by Serbs in the Balkans as a war crime] ... They had never shown anything but indifference to the cause of women's rights at home. They had tried to roll back the legal right to abortion. They had forbidden American contributions to sex education abroad. Sometimes the administration had made itself look positively ridiculous. Bush's attorney general, prodded by his own unusual religious obligations, arranged for statues of naked women at the Justice Department in Washington to be demurely covered with burqa-like drapes .... " (p.194-5)
"Many people have wondered why Bush never asked his own country to accept a few sacrifices for the common good - why he never made the slightest move to reduce America's dependence on Arab oil, never asked for higher taxes to pay for a stronger military and security program ... but the strange omission of all was his failure to take up the larger war of ideas." (p.195)
To counter Islamist propaganda there was no "war of ideas" "Instead he launched a program to produce Hollywood TV ads about the virtues of America. The ads ran on Arabic television. The State Department took out ads in Pakistan, affirming that America felt no bias against Muslims. That was laughable - mere ads to counter the most scholarly of doctrines, the most learned of religious authorities the greatest of modern authors. Mere ads, a couple of sunny images, to break through clouds of Koranic exegesis and dark preachings in a thousand mosques and madrassas!
"The Pentagon proposed a bureau to be called the Office of Strategic Influence, mandated to diffuse false information among foreign journalist - this, when the whole problem in places like Pakistan was precisely the food of false information. The Office of Strategic Influence was laughed into oblivion. Yet the Pentagon came back a few months later with a proposed new directive, authorizing the military to carry out secret propaganda operations in neutral and even in friendly countries. Such was the war of ideas ..." (p.196)
COMMENT: Berman doesn't see the pre-emptive war idea as a rationalization for the War in Iraq because there were non-pre-emptive reasons for attacking Iraq. It was a rationalization for something that didn't need a rationalization. The U.S. going out of its way to suggest to the International Community that they could expect the U.S. to be more aggressive in the future. To spend the 9/11 good will of Europe and the rest of the world on the unilateralist doctrine that they would have no say in what the US did.
"The war with Saddam, having begun in 1991, had never come to an end, such that, even as the White House issued its report on preemptive wars, Baathi artillery was still firing at American planes, ... I suppose that people might argue about he definition of war, but I would think that gunfire ought to be regarded as an indication. Why speak of preemptive war, then? The American half of the Terror War was all too post-emptive. But the White House did speak of preemption, and the world responded in a predictable manner, which was to worry about the White House." (p.201)
Bush did not give Nixonian reasons for invading - i.e. that "to make clear to everyone around the world that, no, you cannot fight the United States" - nor Wilsonian reasons for invading - to get people to think along different lines ... to invest their hopes in building a liberal society". He "held back ... from offering any sort of systematic explanation." (p.199) and gave "either unconvincing (the argument that Saddam was conspiring with Al Qaeda) or convincing but less than supremely urgent (the problem of Saddam's weapons program)." (p.199-200) ... other people wanted to judge the reasoning for themselves, and to them, Bush's arguments looked dishonest ... like Lyndon Johnson's invocation of North Vietnamese attacks in the Gulf of Tonkin ..." (p.200)
Nothing said about how to deal with Lebanese Hezbollah. Nothing about Saudi Arabia. "Peace and safety may not be compatible, in the end, with the existence of a fanatical, obscurantist, intolerant, anti-Semitic, obsessively patriarchal, polygamous, terror-minded, theocratic, supremely wealthy petro-monarchy that insists on spreading its missionary message to the world." but "none of this was even broached" by the Bushies. (p.200)
"the lesson of the Vietnam War, America could be withstood. ... There was no reason not to go on attacking the United States - no reason to hold back, no reason to fear what might happen next. ... The Islamists of the Sudan tested this lesson. They attacked the Marines in Mogadishu - and sure enough, the Marines fled, just as they had done in Lebanon, a few years earlier." (p.197)