Let’s talk about Islam, and its evil. (Beause as we know, the only reason we’re even talking about the religion is because it is evil.)
We should be under no illusions about the evil of Islam, but neither should we grant it any more power than it has: as Ayn Rand used to say, evil on its own is impotent. Evil can only achieve its values through the actions of others—by that which we let evil-doers extort from us.
Never has this underlying impotence been more true of any ideology than Islam:
- whose allegedly heroic beginnings in historic “conquest” were less the bold display of any great martial ability than the result of occupying the vacuum that emerged after the collapse of the Roman and Persian empires—after which these illiterate marauding heroes cobbled together a religion from the mostly heretical cultural remnants of the desert towns and places they occupied. (Read Tom Holland’s ground-breaking history In the Shadow of the Sword.)
- whose historic golden age was wholly the result of borrowing from Greek thinkers, contained remarkably few original additions-- and was stopped overnight by the philosopher, Al-Ghazali, more responsible than most for turning Islam into the thing that pulled the pin on Paris (Read my own post ‘The Greatest Story (Hardly) Ever Told’ and Andy Clarkson’s ‘Yes, You Can Blame This Guy For Paris’)
- whose modern violence has been indirectly financed by the oil purchases of the west, largely armed from the stockpiles of left-behind western military materiel, and whose belligerent limits are imposed only by the acquiescence and appeasement of of western political and intellectual leaders. (Read the relevant chapters of Daniel Yergin’s classic The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power and Elan Journo’s Winning the Unwinnable War.)
- whose very tactic of terrorism relies not on conquest–it is never going to establish a caliphate in Paris—“but through scaring us into panicking, overreacting, and changing our behaviour.” (Read, for example, a former IS hostage’s article: ‘I know Islamic State. What they fear more than bombs is unity,’ and reflect on why western cartoonists and writers—Danish cartoonists, Salman Rushdie, Charlie Hebdo--ended up in the front lines of this battle)
- whose very western recruits are frequently just idiots with empty lives seeking something seemingly meaningful to fill them. (Reflect, for example, on the comment on the would-be Garland terrorist: “He had been going down a bad path and then he found Islam.")
Face it, the only reason we are even talking about the double-damned religion is because from a population of 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide a few dozen terrorists and just a few thousand ISIS fighters, financed by states long known to finance terrorism but for which the west has little appetite to say so, are allowed because of that appeasement to put whole continents on the alert. (Read the report’s and mis-reports overnight, for example, of panic in the streets around European soccer stadiums.)
It truly is the mouse that roars militarily.
Because these fuckers can’t even send their own fighters to do their job! Astonishingly, little has been written on this highly telling fact, but reflect on this: that with only trivial exceptions all those carrying out the horrors in Europe, from London to Glasgow to Madrid to Paris, have not been fighters sent on a mission from far away but have been educated, prosperous and homegrown. (Read for instance my 2014 post Home-grown horror, and Adam Taylor’s piece yesterday The Islamic State wants you to hate refugees: And the plan may be working.)
The real failure is not that the evil is strong—it neither has been nor can be—but that the good has been weak. While western hipsters download zombie films, we have allowed ourselves to be attacked by literal self-made zombies—zombies who are self-admitted death worshippers. As a commentator said yesterday: ”Can a civilisation cowed by campus millennials summon the resolve to defeat Islamic terrorists?” Even more important question in stopping psychopaths and disaffected youngsters find value in these anti-life zombies—if these awkward kids see the west’s intellectual and political leaders so brazenly apologetic about the values of their own culture, especially when the contrast between life and anti-life is so stark, then why in hell (those few who are seduced must wonder) should anyone at all take these values at all seriously?
Why wouldn’t they wonder if there isn’t something in a fundamentalism from the stone age?
Why wouldn’t they embrace meaning where they do find it—in barbarism?
“The truly and deliberately evil men are a very small minority; it is the appeaser who unleashes them on mankind; it is the appeaser’s intellectual abdication that invites them to take over. When a culture’s dominant trend is geared to irrationality, the thugs win over the appeasers. When intellectual leaders fail to foster the best in the mixed, unformed, vacillating character of people at large, the thugs are sure to bring out the worst. When the ablest men turn into cowards, the average men turn into brutes.”
~ Ayn Rand (from ‘Altruism as Appeasement,’ The Objectivist, Jan. 1966)
By espousing the moral clarity eschewed by those they hear in the west, young homegrown jihadis find something they hadn’t realised existed—and once again Islam steps into a vacuum of others’ creation. The primary problem here of course being that the powerful cultural force they should be hearing from westerners who are sure of their values have instead been silent in defence of the values and moral certainty that make the west great, while pretending that a stone-age culture is in any way equal. As Daniel Pipes asks, how is that “a majority population accepts the customs and even the criminality of a poorer and weaker community? It is the result of a conquest ideology taking the measure of a civilisation that no longer values its heritage, no longer regards itself as worthy of defence.”
some of these [homegrown killers] will simply be psychologically susceptible to the nastiness of a violent religion. But what else are they hearing? Where are the voices proclaiming the virtues of reason, individualism and liberty? Where today will they hear these values proclaimed proudly and unashamedly? Where will they learn of the superiority of reason over religion, of freedom over tyranny?
When Britain was exporting liberty to much of the known world, these values were unapologetically front and centre. These were the values that built western civilisation. These were values absorbed by immigrants and locally-born alike. People moved to Britain and the west because of these values.
In a word: multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism taught that the values of civilisation and those of barbarism were equal.
It taught that liberty and slavery were simply different choices.
It taught that if any culture should be shamed it should be western culture. That the west is responsible for all the world’s horrors, and the rest of the world simply a victim. This is the perversion now taught and promulgated in schools, in universities and in learned commentaries peddled by perfumed academics for the consumption of the self-anointed.
So for all the decades that we’ve been told that Islamic terror is the result of ignorance and poverty, leading westerners have been silent about the superiority of western health, wealth and freedom over a stone-age theocracy in which beheadings, clitorectomies, slavery and crucifixions still play a part.
So let’s fight for the enlightenment—for Reason, Science, Modernity, and Civilisation--and fill the vacuum.
The Enlightenment is a long-term strategy.
In fact, many westerners would have to discover the enlightenment. The Enlightenment encourages us to be reflective. But to reflect on whether we are doing the right thing, isn’t an invitation to stop doing the right thing. As a civilisation we have become paralysed by self-doubt when we should have become energised by self-reflection. As we have discovered (or as many knew all along) is that a moral and ideological vacuum will be filled by others – as it turns out savages and barbarians.
Yes, as an emailer suggested to me, there’s a parallel between the impotence of Islam and the impotence of another evil ideology: communism—in that like all anti-life evils they are necessarily parasitic on the good. (Evil is an absence and a negation; evil is impotent and has no power but that which we let it extort from us.)
Observe, for example, that both Marx and Lenin understood that a country could only go communist after it had a period of capitalism—because only then would there be something decent to loot. (Read Marx’s Capital, if you can, and Lenin’s ‘What Must Be Done.’)
Observe that in a country where chess is a spectator sport, stealing wealth and technology was a necessary feature of the Soviet Union, without which neither production nor progress was possible. (Read Werner Keller’s fabulous history on this, whose very title explains the relationship: East Minus West Equals Zero.)
Observe too that while conservatives focussed their anti-communism on arresting the alleged strength of the evil empire, thinkers like Ayn Rand and Ludwig Von Mises who understood that impotent ideology knew that totalitarianism is not a system that ever produces wealth, and that the Soviet Union faced inevitable economic collapse. (Read Mises’s Socialism and Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth. And compare, for example, the technology-stangant dystopia in Ayn Rand’s Anthem to the technology available in either Huxley’s Brave New World or Orwell’s 1984—or even the films of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games.)