Islamism and the politics of identity

November 22, 2015 at 9:16 pm (Islam, islamism, Rosie B, Uncategorized)

Kenan Malik, always worth reading:-

There appears, nevertheless, to be something especially potent about Islam in fomenting terror and persecution. Contemporary radical Islam is the religious form through which a particular kind of barbarous rage expresses itself.

So, to understand why jihadis have been drawn into a moral universe that allows them to celebrate inhuman acts, we have to understand why political rage against the West takes such nihilistic, barbaric forms, and why radical Islam has become the primary vehicle for such rage.

Jihadis view themselves as warriors against western imperialism. Yet few anti-imperialists of previous generations would recognise jihadis as ideological kin.

There is a long history of popular struggles against colonialism and empire. While such movements often used violent means to pursue their ends, they were rarely “anti-western” in any existential sense. Rather they worked within a universalist moral framework that stressed freedom and emancipation for all humanity.

Over the past few decades these anti-imperialist traditions have unravelled. The new movements that have emerged in their place are often rooted in religious or ethnic identity, and are sectarian or separatist in form. This shift is linked to the wider decline of progressive social movements, the loss of faith in universalist values, and the replacement of ideological politics with the politics of identity. Moral norms have increasingly become tribal rather than universal. Political struggle for a better world has given way to inchoate identity-driven rage.


  1. Robert R. Calder said,

    You should be able to find Tony Judt’s last article online.
    It is a condemnation of all the crap about IDENTITY….
    I have been looking again at the poetry of Sorley MacLean, who was very pro-USSR during the late 1930s, associating the USSR with a moral centre, and the commercialising west and capitalism with Hitler….

    The man’s concern was ETHICAL, MORAL, it was all conscience, and the loss of his Gaelic culture to commercialism was a loss to human life, but idiot trendies and academics go on about IDENTITY!!!!!

    iDENTITY PSYCHOSIS or how not to be human

  2. Glasgow Working Class said,

    We live in a blame game world now where people enjoying a good living and look back and are bitter.
    On the Telly last night was a guy travelling around Ireland. Nice scenery as usual but it was the English to blame for the Famine. Sorry sir it was not it was a disease and there was no known cure and it was a British Parliament that did not help the poor including the Irish. Then he moved to Derry and another bitter Republican telling sad stories about poverty in the Catholic community. Sorry sir but poverty in the sixties was equally as bad in Belfast, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and London. Most of us did not go around killing people but fought in the Labour and Trade Union Movement like our ancestors to improve life. And the hard done tae ticket is still being used as an excuse to kill.

    • political tourist said,

      You don’t half love the Orange Lodge word view.
      Sure doesn’t the Pope fund those Islamists.

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Pt, it is so easy to bring you from under the shamrock.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Orange Lodge word or World view? That view is almost as bad as the Irish republican World view. Pfffft, nationalism of any stripe is the enemy of the working classes. As for the Pope, that role belongs in the dustbin of history. Though the pope funding the jihadists? That is not even a kite that the OL could get off the ground, next you’ll be saying that Mao helped Pinochet come to power to suck up the US, that could never have happened!

  3. Political Tourist said,

    And Brit Nationalism is the worst of all.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      So which nationalism is your bag then PT?

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Bitter hatefull Nat si.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Well he said the British variety was the worst, so I’m assuming he must think there is a best variety. I’d hazard a guess it is Palestinian, the left love that variety.

  4. Steven Johnston said,

    I presume PT supports the austerity measure of the Conservative government? As it would be bizarre to want to strengthen the British state whilst complaining about British nationalism.

  5. Ben said,

    The Arab states have four challenges before them. Firstly, they need to establish institutions of governance that derive their authority from the citizenry. Secondly, they need to develop technology based economies that will allow them to produce and compete internationally. Thirdly, they need to harness Islam so that it will nourish their societies with values that engender cohesion, such as solidarity and identity, while neutralizing violent factions that look to the premodern past. And fourthly, they need to shake off neo-imperialist influences and the meddling of external powers so that they can conduct themselves in the international arena as independent actors.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Ben. Nice Dream. Dreams are banned in Islam on pain of death.

      • Ben said,

        If you will it, it need not remain a dream, even in Islam.

  6. Steven Johnston said,

    “And fourthly, they need to shake off neo-imperialist influences and the meddling of external powers so that they can conduct themselves in the international arena as independent actors.”

    …and we will all live happily ever after on that day huh? Hahahahahahahaha. Meddling of external powers…yes, the idea to meddle in the affairs of others is an idea that just dropped out of the sky and fell into the heads of those pesky, Western imperialist politicians and is not at all, not in the slighest, not even a little bit, driven by our capitalist society. I’m sure when these countries, who are already doing this, conduct themselves in the international arena they will behave at gentelman, playing by the queensbury rules. Just what us socialists have been praying for, some capitalist nations, that have not yet seperated church and state, to start flexing their muscles. Eh comrades?

    • Ben said,

      The strong imperialist powers prey on weak states by manipulating rivalries and enmities that exist among them and then offer them protection, for a price. This age-old technique of extortion can be effectively countered by wise leadership of the weak states that rejects the temptation to eschew solidarity with your neighbours and instead confronts and punishes the imperialists with a united front.

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