Islamic Terrorism and English Archbishops

By Kershaw, Roger | Contemporary Review, July 2004 | Go to article overview

Islamic Terrorism and English Archbishops


Kershaw, Roger, Contemporary Review


NOT the least memorable of the images generated, directly or indirectly, by events on the Islamic terrorist scene in March 2004 appeared in a Friday supplement of The Times (2 April). It comprised the contorted or smirking faces of six of 'Britain's young Muslims' bawling jihadi slogans from behind a placard emblazoned 'Islam will dominate the world'. The train bombings in Madrid on 11 March and the dramatic moves of the security services to frustrate a conspiracy by nine 'Britons of Pakistani descent' in the London area do not seem to have been bad for morale on the radical wing of Islam.

Not Quite the International Class Struggle

As an erstwhile teacher of political science with experience at the receiving end of Marxist-orchestrated 'student revolt', I do suffer from an ingrained inclination to formulate questions and classify today's players in the terminology of that earlier movement for global control. Evidently, the home-grown radicals of Muhajiroun and other such groupings, named or unnamed, see themselves as a 'revolutionary vanguard' with bright prospects in the 'contemporary historical process'. Although the successes in 'the struggle' on the Spanish front owed much to the existence of a 'rear area' across the Mediterranean (the North African lands of origin of many migrant workers in the E.U.), in Britain a resident and increasingly citizen population of one and a half million Muslims (largely part of a diaspora from the Indian sub-continent--though, significantly, a band of ten Iraqi Kurds and North Africans were arrested in the North of England and West Midlands in mid-April) form a ready 'popular base' for 'political education'. This means indoctrination along the lines that hope of equal treatment under the 'pseudo-liberal' British state is a case of 'false consciousness'. The 'objective conditions' include a state which is an 'instrument of fascist interests', targeting not only the 'peace-loving masses' of Afghanistan and Iraq with 'imperialist aggression', but also 'fraternal elements' in Britain through its 'organs of oppression'. The effect of these operations by the state is to mire the 'ruling class' in ever deeper 'contradiction', as the increasing 'alienation of the exploited strata' forms in turn the foundation for 'the next stage in the dialectic'.

Needless to say, the Islamists of Britain could never themselves use such terminology, it being tainted by its origins in an atheistical and materialistic ideology. Yet it does express fairly closely the subjective dynamics of the struggle that emerges from the lines, or between the lines, of al-Qaeda training manuals; while some activists in the Muslim Association of Britain will be acquainted with the jargon through interaction with the Socialist Workers' Party. On the other hand, Islamists have the distinct--and genuine--advantage over Marxist-Leninist and Maoist counterparts of yesteryear (and those unlikely Trotskyite bed-fellows in Britain today), that encouragement as to the correctness of the Islamic historical vision does not have to be sought in shifts in the 'social formation' or 'concrete conditions' on a single-century timescale. Rather, if at all upon earth, the place to look is in a seventh-century transcendental manifesto. Indeed, one reason why Islamists can so readily embrace martyrdom is that it is futile for them to survive holy war in the hope of seeing in person the early signs of the seismic historical shift which their action may have set in train. Essentially, the legitimating proof of validity and virtue awaits them in paradise, admission to which, with its attendant confirmations, is dependent on death. The Islamist 'dialectic' works on a distinctly pre-Hegelian plane. Nor is al-Qaeda a state, as the Soviet Union was, with a recognisable rationality and accessible to negotiation.

All this being said, Islamist conspirators would hardly disagree with one classical Marxist tenet about the weakness of states and societies of the West European zone of 'bourgeois liberal-democracy': the concept of 'internal contradictions' in their 'hegemonic structures' and 'dominant cultures'. …

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