Monday, March 07, 2011
There is a reason leftists and Islamists collaborate: totalitarianism.
MARCH 5, 2011 4:00 A.M.
There is a reason leftists and Islamists collaborate: totalitarianism.
The one thing that absolutely could not be tolerated was true freedom,
the liberty of the individual. For Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the "social
compact" would otherwise be "an empty formula." The irreducible core
of the utopia he envisioned, the "undertaking which alone can give
force to the rest," was quite simply this: "Whoever refuses to obey
the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body."
Ah, yes, the "general will." For this, every modern totalitarian
movement is indebted to the 18th-century Genevan philosopher who
claimed, in The Social Contract, that a man's compulsory servitude to
the state — the embodiment of this general will — "means nothing less
than that he will be forced to be free." Rousseau was what we today
call "Orwellian" long before there was an Orwell. "Freedom" was
nothing more than submission.
That is why Rousseau so admired Islam.
The history of Islam and the modern Left is one of cooperation when
there is some obstacle to their divergent concepts of "social justice"
and the perfect society. These are always marriages of convenience,
enduring no longer than the enemy that drives them into each other's
arms. But, reliably, it is they — the Islamists and the leftists — who
come together when there is a third party in the mix. Rarely will one
collude with a common enemy against the other. Today, the common enemy
of Islamists and leftists is individual liberty, especially the
social, economic, and political freedom guaranteed by the American
Constitution, as conceived by the Framers. Conceived, that is, by men
who saw government as a necessary evil to be rigorously limited lest
it devour true freedom — not as an essential good to be empowered for
the very purpose of enforcing servitude.
Collaborations between Islamists and leftists — past examples and
those happening right before our eyes — are numerous, so much so that
I admit to being dumbfounded by the frequency of the question of
whether they really happen. That there is collusion is undeniable.
That collusion is a major theme of my book The Grand Jihad: How Islam
and the Left Sabotage America — "grand jihad" and "sabotage" being the
Islamists' own terms for what they describe as their plan to "destroy
Western civilization." By the time the book was published last spring,
the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New Left flagship created by
radical lawyer William Kunstler in the 1960s, had spent nearly a
decade spearheading the representation of jihadists captured making
war against the United States. The Muslim Public Affairs Council
(MPAC) — whose founders were ardent admirers of Hezbollah and the
Muslim Brotherhood, and whose current executive director said, right
after the 9/11 attacks, that "we should put the State of Israel on the
suspect list" — was at the forefront of Islamist organizations then
campaigning for the enactment of Obamacare, when MPAC wasn't otherwise
occupied by the numerous executive-branch agencies that regularly seek
its input on any number of issues.
This should have been no surprise, for history is littered with
Islamist/leftist confederations — e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood's
support of the military coup led by Soviet puppet Gamal Abdel Nasser
to overthrow the British-backed Egyptian monarchy; the avowed "Islamic
socialism" of the Pakistan People's Party; the blend of Islamists and
leftists that has always composed the Palestine Liberation
Organization. Let's say that this hadn't been the case, though. Let's
pretend that the last 30 years hadn't seen everything from Iranian
Communists rallying to support Khomeini's revolution to last summer's
"peace flotilla," a joint effort by Islamist operatives and avowed
Communists such as Bill Ayers to break Israel's blockade of
Hamas-controlled Gaza. The everyday cooperation between Islamists and
leftists right under our noses would still be manifest.
The interesting question is not whether it occurs, but why. To anyone
who studies the matter, as the liberty-loving Muslim reformer Zuhdi
Jasser has, the Islamist enthusiasm for statist schemes like Obamacare
is easy to decode. Islamist organizations are collectivist groups, Dr.
Jasser explains. They fall squarely in line with the socialist
platform of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is, as Dr. Jasser puts it,
to "increase the power of government through entitlement programs,
increased taxation, and restricting free markets whenever and wherever
possible." That platform is the legacy of Brotherhood founder Hassan
al-Banna and of Sayyid Qutb, the Brotherhood's most formidable
theoretician. Decades after their deaths, both these men remain
required reading for budding Islamist activists in
Brotherhood-inspired redoubts like the Muslim Student Association, the
Islamic Society of North America, and the International Institute of
An animating goal of these organizations is to have Islamic principles
recognized by government and enforced through the state's coercive
power. These principles needn't be known as "Islamic" any more than
leftist pieties are advertised as "leftist." They need only reflect
what Islamists, like leftists, call "social justice."
This is perhaps most clearly illustrated in Qutb's tract, Social
Justice in Islam. The book teaches that Islam is about the collective,
and that those who resist the Muslim ummah must, as Rousseau would
have said, be "forced to be free." According to Qutb, "integrating"
humanity in "an essential unity" under sharia is "a prerequisite for
true and complete human life, even justifying the use of force against
those who deviate from it, so that those who wander from the true path
may be brought back to it." The overarching principle is the
"interdependence and solidarity of mankind," with the individual's
well-being achieved by his submission to the Islamic state. And
"whoever has lost sight of this principle must be brought back to it
by any means." Thus, Qutb elaborates, sharia makes "unbelief" a
"crime" that is "reckoned as equal in punishment" to the "crime of
murder." Forms of treason such as apostasy and fomenting discord in
the ummah are capital offenses. As in all totalitarian systems,
freedom is an illusion: security through enslavement.
Thus is Islam virulently opposed to capitalism, true freedom's
economic form. Qutb expounds on Islamic economic tenets: Human life is
demeaned by great agglomerations of personal wealth and by the
enrichment financiers attain by collecting interest on loans (which
sharia forbids). These arrangements are said to enslave debtors and
the working classes, making men the gods of other men. To be sure,
Islam endorses private property — nominally — and it is less
indifferent than the Left about incentivizing human achievement. But
this is only because individual achievement is ultimately a corporate
asset, increasing the dominance of the ummah. The property "owner" is
merely a custodian; his wealth belongs to Allah. It is subject to
confiscation by Allah's agent on earth, the Islamic state, for what is
deemed to be the collective good of the Muslim Nation.
This is Islam's version of the general will: sharia's enforcement of
the central conceit that there is no God but Allah. Freedom, for Qutb,
was a release from the servitude of men to men. Not, however, a
release from all servitude. Freedom was "submission" to Allah — and
not just spiritual submission, but total submission. Authority in
Islam is unitary and indivisible. It recognizes no distinctions
between the sacred and the secular. Sharia is not simply a set of
spiritual principles. Islam is a comprehensive political, economic,
social, and military program with its own legal code, governing every
aspect of life.
There can be no compartmentalizing or narrowing. To narrow the breadth
of sharia — as Qutb put it, "to confine Islam to the emotions and
ritual cycles, and to bar it from participating in the activity of
life, and to check its complete dominance over every human secular
activity" — would reduce it to something other than the divine law. It
would no longer be Islam. Therefore, mankind is not at liberty to
constrict Allah's law, much less to enact provisions that contradict
it. Legislatures in the Islamic state are not democratic in the
Western sense, even if they have been elected by the community. In a
sharia state, as Brotherhood guide Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi has observed,
legislators don't really legislate; they are merely vessels of the
divine law, which has substantially been set in stone for more than a
In Islam, it is Allah's sharia that fills the role of Rousseau's
general will. Thus did Qutb observe of Rousseau's great upheaval, the
French Revolution, that what it "theoretically established by human
laws . . . was established as a matter of practice by Islam in a
profound and elevated form more than fourteen centuries earlier."
Such symmetry had not been lost on Rousseau, for whom statism would be
the "religion of the citizen." Above all, it would merge the sacred
and the secular under a single authority. As in the pagan states of
antiquity, Rousseau's vision of the ideal regime included
its gods, its own tutelary patrons; it has its dogmas, its rites, and
its external cult prescribed by law; outside the single nation that
follows it, all the world is in its sight infidel, foreign and
barbarous; the duties and rights of man extend for it only as far as
its own altars.
The similarity to Qutb's Islam is striking. For the Islamist, all the
world is divided into irreconcilable spheres: the perfect social
justice of Dar al-Islam, the realm of the Muslims, and the
unenlightened darkness so tellingly called Dar al-Harb, "the realm of
war" — infidel, foreign, and barbarous.
Small wonder, then, that Rousseau lavished praise on Islam. But not
just any Islam; his accolades were reserved for the early Muslims,
Islam's first generations. "Mahomet held very sane views," Rousseau
opined in The Social Contract. The prophet "linked his political
system well together," the civil and the spiritual as one. "As long as
the form of his government continued under the caliphs who succeeded
him, that government was indeed one, and so far good." It was only
when "the Arabs" departed from this model — when, "having grown
prosperous, lettered, civilised, slack and cowardly," they were
"conquered by barbarians" — that Islam fell victim to what Rousseau
(and Qutb) saw as the Christian dystopia: "the division between the
two powers" of religion and the state.
The Muslim Brotherhood, it bears remembering, preaches a Salafist
ideology: a retrenchment to the principles of the salafia, the
"rightly guided caliphs" who were Mohammed's immediate successors. The
reform of Islam urged by Banna and Qutb was a purge of the same
barbaric influences — particularly Western, Judeo-Christian influences
— that Rousseau had seen as so corrupting.
Islamists and leftists have several significant differences. Qutb saw
communism as far preferable to capitalism but too obsessed with an
economic determinism that discounted the spiritual. The two camps part
company on the equality of women and of non-Muslims, on matters of
sexual liberty, and on abortion. If the world were populated only by
Islamists and leftists, they could not coexist. Their marriages of
convenience can have savagely unhappy endings once the common enemy
that has drawn them together has been overcome. In Egypt, the
Islamists were brutally persecuted by Nasser; in Iran, the secular
leftists were routed by Khomeini.
Nevertheless, for all their differences, what unites Islamists and
leftists is stronger than what presently divides them. They both
support totalitarian systems. They would both attempt to recreate
mankind, intending to perfect us by indenturing us to their utopian
schemes. Their general will cannot abide free will. They both abhor
individual liberty, unfettered reason, freedom of conscience, equality
of opportunity rather than result, and bourgeois values that inculcate
a devotion to bedrock Western principles and traditions.
That is why Islamists and leftists work together. It is why they will
continue working together as long as there is resistance.
— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review
Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam
and the Left Sabotage America
2. Fighting back in Berkeley:
3. We all are familiar with the wonderful holy work performed by
ZAKA, the Israel-based group that performs when people are injured and
killed in terrorist activities, traffic accidents, and natural
disasters. ZAKA operates out of www.zaka.org.il, and those wishing to
support it may do so through that web address. HOWEVER, there is a
different group of people with no connection whatsoever to the real
ZAKA, calling themselves "Zaka-Israel," and they are attempting to
misrepresent themselves as the real ZAKA and siphon away contributions
for their own purposes, which probably means for their own pockets.
This bogus "Zaka-Israel" group is now under investigation by the
police in Israel. Their internet address is www.zaka-israel.org.il.
It may even have underworld connections. Please be advised that
anyone representing himself or herself as "Zaka-Israel" is NOT a bona
fide representative of ZAKA and should be regarded with extreme
suspicion. Please make sure that any contributions you would like to
make to support ZAKA go to the real Zaka and not to the imposters.
The phony Zaka site contains no information at all about the uses
of funds it raises, other than claiming they are used for unspecified
"projects." The phony Zaka site contains photos of rabbis, letters of
testimonial. I do not believe any of these are genuine. The true
ZAKA was set up by Yehouda Meshi-Zahav. The phony ZAKA has invented a
list of board members, probably none of them real people. One person
listed on its board is "Rami Meshi-Zahav." The telephone directory
and Hebrew Google are unaware of the existence of any such person. It
may be that the crooks invented the name to help confuse people and
make them believe that the real Meshi-Zahav is involved. The real
Meshi-Zahav is chareidi, and no chareidi family would name their kid
"Rami," a secularist sabra name. There are very few real
Meshi-Zahavs in all of Israel.
4. Speaking of imposters:
5. Why calling for a "two state solution" harms Israel: