Thursday, September 16, 2010

Abdel-Samad: Islam like the Titanic

The above is the second part of Abdel-Samad's article for the Globalist. Abdel-Samad compares Islam with the Titanic in an interesting way. I couldn't help noticing however, that his portrayal of modern-day Islam is very like Francis Fukuyama's. I suspect now that Abdel-Samad has not read The End of History and the Last Man, but he should. Fukuyama predicted back in 1992 when he wrote his book just what it is that Abdel-Samad is presenting as his original thinking.

It could be just that. Abdel-Samad through his experiences in Egypt with the Muslim Brothers and then later as an expatriate in Germany could be seeing things much as Gilles Kepel and Olivier Roy do. These are the two historians Fukuyama relies upon in his America at the Crossroads, Democracy, Power and the Neoconservative Legacy. They argue that there is no long-term Islamic (or Islamist) threat -- only individual radicals bent upon indulging their rage.

Abdel-Samad is more open-ended in his view of the threat. He accepts that there are a lot of angry individuals out there, pumped up by Islamist teachings, who are willing to cause as much harm as possible. There may be more than the few Olivier Roy sees. However, that's a minor point in light of the overall agreement he has with Roy, Kepel, and Fukuyama. They all see Islam as being a fading ideology. Yeah, if you listen to the intense raging of present-day fanatics it sounds like there is enough potency in this movement to carry it through to victory, but they are self-deceived.

Someone today referred me to a 180-page document produced by the "Center for Security Policy." An overview appears at The Center for Security Policy is a Conservative Think-tank created during the Reagan administration. A lot of evidence exists that Islam and Islamism are moving in sync to take over the world. The threat is real. Muslims are willing to give their lives in pursuit of the Islamist goal. Abdel-Samad, if he read this report, wouldn't quibble with its evidence, but he would draw a different conclusion. Whatever these Islamists have in mind, and however forceful their wills, they can't accomplish their goal. They are a group of disorganized primitives engaged in a fool's errand. He would have them give it up and join the modern world.

Whenever I encounter this Fukuyama, Kepel, Roy, Abdel-Samad view I can see the plausibility of it. The future may be just as Fukuyama predicts. Liberal-Democracy may indeed win out at some point in the future. But the evidence also supports the other view. That is, we can build just as plausible an argument indicating that the Islamists will win out in the long run. If they continue, generation after generation to be as intense as they are today, then they will surely win. But Abdel-Samad takes a page from Eric Hoffer's The True Believer when he argues that no intense belief continues on generation after generation with unabated intensity. These intense Islamists won't be able to pass on their intensity. A new generation of young Muslim men will grow up and want computers and automobiles, fashionable clothes, and a chance at the beautiful women that will smite them with their eyes. And Islamism will be over.

If they are right then the Islamic world may very well sink like the Titanic. We worry year after year about the depletion of oil reserves; which for us in the West means that we had better scramble to get some new means to power our automobiles and aircraft, but if we turn our attention to the Islamic world, the implication of oil-loss is far more serious. They have never been willing to utterly abandon a 7th century way of life. They still want Sharia Law. Very well, but nations with a 7th century religion with its inextricable law won't be able to compete with the modernity of the rest of the world, and a nation must compete to be viable.

Even though I credit this Abdel-Samad view as being plausible, we are faced, as Abdel-Samad conceds, with Islamists who are a long way from giving up. They may lose their holy war, but they won't unless we fight against them. Fighting against them may be an easy task, if Abdel-Samad is right, but it is nevertheless a task that needs to be accomplished. The views of Pastor Terry Jones and the Think Tank "Center for Security Policy" may be overly pessimistic in their view of the future, but they are not inaccurate in regard to their view of the present.

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