Friday, January 30, 2009

Matt 24 Watch, 78: Lessons of history, the post-colonial narrative and the IslamIST challenge to our region

Santayana warns us that if we neglect the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat its worst chapters.

His second lesson is grimly sardonic: by and large, we neglect the lessons of history. That is why we so often repeat what Barbara Tuchman aptly called "the march of folly." (Of course, she balances this with the equally true observation that because what makes for bad news is more likely to be remarked, we tend to percieve both history and current events as more dire than is strictly warranted.)

However, the reality of the march of folly is plain enough that we need to heed the ANC's classic motto: understand the past, act in the present, build the future. For, as the Russian proverb admonishes: dwell on the past, you lose an eye; forget the past, you lose both your eyes.

Thus, we come back to one of the treasures of my personal library, Alistair Horne's To Lose a Battle.

Horne there paints an opening scene on Sunday afternoon, July 13, 1919, as the crowds and the participants prepared for what was at once the grandest and saddest, most bittersweet Bastille Day ever. For, on that Monday, France (which had lost 1.4 million men) and the other Victorious Allies jointly celebrated their costly victory over the Central Powers of the Great War of 1914 - 1918.

But already, the Third Republic was falling into bickering and divided counsels, and the Versailles Treaty was such that Marshall Foch refused to sign on to it, declaring that "this is not peace, it is a twenty-years truce." Also, a bitter Austrian [Lance-]Corporal who had fought in the German Army was practising his oratorical and political skills, being paid by the German Army to spy on the German Workers Party that he had joined and was soon a leading activist in.

(The party was initially little more than a beer-drinking and grousing club, as was common at the time in defeated, half-starving Germany. However, by 1923, one of the leading Generals had lent it his name: Erich Ludendorff. And, under a new name, it was soon implicated in a coup attempt; the aptly named Munich beer hall Putsch. The new name? National Socialist German Workers' Party, Nazi for short. [And yes, Nazism, strictly, was a statist, leftist ideology; one smart enough to ally itself with the leading cartels and the military -- instead of threatening to put them on show trials and shoot them.] The former Corporal, Hitler, turned his trial into a stinging indictment of the postwar German Republic, and took time in prison to write a book on his struggles; in which he laid out his intent of "survival of the fittest"-inspired conquest and even hinted at genocide. Few-- apart from Churchill -- listened.)

Then, in 1939, Marshall Foch's prediction came true and a divided France, led by mutually discredited men and with an army led by tired men from the last war, faced Hitler's Panzers [including -- thanks to the ill advised "peace in our time," "land for peace" Munich Pact of 1938 that handed Czechoslovakia's defenses over to Hitler -- several hundred purloined Czech LT 35's and LT 38's] , 88 mm anti-aircraft and anti-tank cannon, Messerschmitt Bf 109 Fighters and Ju 87 Stuka dive-bombers. France lost this time around -- in six weeks altogether (the decisive breakthrough battle and following tank dash to the English Channel under Guderian, Rommel et al taking about a week) -- and the allies suffered a devastating defeat that evicted the surviving allies from continental Europe. Soon, Mussolini's Fascist Italy joined with Hitler; and, Britain had to rely on Indian, Australian, New Zealander and South African troops to resist Axis advances in the Middle East. Next, in 1941, Hitler came within an ace of knocking Communist-led Russia out of the war, and in 1941 - 42, Japan joined in, carrying out a stunning sweep across the Pacific Ocean and Indo-China, right up to the doors of India.

With that, the era of unchallenged western domination of the globe -- for the first time since Jan III Sobieski of Poland led his winged hussars and other cavalry in a desperate charge against the Turks at the gates of Vienna, Sept 12, 1683 -- was over.

And so, we come to the present post-colonial era, in which the United Nations charter provides the umbrella for nationalism and liberation from colonial rule, until today there are over 200 independent member-states of the UN. But also, we went straight from one world war to another: the Cold War, in which Communists used national liberation struggles to push on the global stage the concept that was summarised by Saul Alinski in his 1971 Rules for Radicals:
"A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists. [NB: Lenin's "definition" of Imperialism is: the export of capital [implicit: backed up by gunboats] i.e. this (plainly deeply flawed) Marxist thesis also takes in the issue of decolonialisation.] From this he logically proceeds to the revolution to end capitalism, then into the third stage of reorganization into a new social order of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and finally the last stage -- the political paradise of communism." p.10
Of course, between 1989 and 1991, Communism collapsed as a global force, exposing the story of the rise of the Marxism-inspired agitator class as the most ruthless dictators in history, with over 100 millions dead due to their tyranny.

However, the Marxist view has deeply coloured post-Colonial discourse, and the intelligentsia habitually think in terms of the Capitalist West's ruling classes -- especially those who ate not socialists of one stripe or another -- as the prime locus of political, economic, social and environmental evils in the world across time and today. This even extends to the way we view the past of 1,000 years ago. For instance, Bostom reports how the crusades are frequently viewed as the first imperialistic project of the Christianised West, by citing Alan Riding [at pop culture level] and John Esposito [at academic level]:
...[The C]rusades were waged, [by] European monarchs, lords, knights and their armies of devout followers to fight — and settle — in an area stretching between what is today Syria and Egypt. The Muslims responded [emphasis added] with their own sporadic jihads until finally, by 1291, the Christians had been driven out.' [Riding, Review of ''Kingdom of Heaven,'' NYT, April 24, 2005]

Five centuries of peaceful coexistence elapsed before political events and an imperial—papal power play led to centuries—long series of so—called holy wars [emphasis added] that pitted Christendom against Islam and left an enduring legacy of misunderstanding and distrust. [Esposito, Islam The Straight Path, New York, 1994; cited, Bat Ye'or.]
This turns the history on its head, using the "he hit back first" fallacy. For in fact, under Mohammed and his early successors, between 622 and 732, Islam expanded by that religiously rationalised military conquest known as jihad, from Yathrib, in the Hejaz [S W Arabia; now known as Medina] to within 150 miles of Paris in the West, and to India in the East. They were only stopped and then with great difficulty over centuries turned back by force, in both the East and the West; a process that includes the crusades, which -- as problematic and wrongful in many ways as they were -- were in fact directly provoked by continual raids into Christian Europe (including Rome itself) and the rise of a new wave of militancy occasioned by the Islamised Seljuk Turks, which led to invasions of Anatolia [Modern Turkey], and preying on Christian pilgrims in the Holy land.

As Bostom summarises:

Within several centuries of Muhammad's death in 632 C.E., based upon the 'proto—jihad' campaigns he waged in Arabia, Muslim jurists and theologians formulated the institution of permanent jihad war against non—Muslims for the submission of the known world to Islam.

The essential pattern of the jihad war is captured in the great Muslim historian al—Tabari's recording of the recommendation given by Umar b. al—Khattab to the commander of the troops he sent to al—Basrah (636 C.E.), during the conquest of Iraq. Umar (the second 'Rightly Guided Caliph') reportedly said: [7]

Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, (This is to say, accept their conversion as genuine and refrain from fighting them) but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. (Qur'an 9:29) If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency. Fear God with regard to what you have been entrusted.

Jihad was pursued century after century, because jihad, which means 'to strive in the path of Allah,' embodied an ideology and a jurisdiction. Both were formally conceived by Muslim jurisconsults and theologians from the 8th to 9th centuries onward, based on their interpretation of Qur'anic verses [8] (for e.g., 9:5,6; 9:29; 4:76—79; 2: 214—15; 8:39—42), and long chapters in the Traditions (i.e., 'hadith', acts and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, especially those recorded by al—Bukhari [d. 869] [9] and Muslim [d. 874] [10]).
So, if we will heed the lessons of history, recent and remote, we should soberly recognise the ideological and military implications of IslamISM in our time, motivated by Quranic texts such as :
9:5 [the Sword Verse -- an Islamic title] When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God [i.e. Allah] is forgiving and merciful.

[. . . . ]

9:29 [the verse of Tribute -- likewise an Islamic title] Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Yusuf Ali).
However, the lesson does not stop there, for in the Hamas Charter, 1988, we may read some disturbing news for us in the Caribbean, once we factor in the further [yes, disputable and even dubious, but history proves that such mere "academic" quibbles do not faze ideologues] arguments of Dr Sultana Afroz of UWI's History Department.

First, Hamas:
[Article 12] . . . the enemy has trampled on Muslim soil. In such a situation, launching a holy war [against] him and confronting him become the personal duty [fardh ‘ayn] of every Muslim man and woman: the woman goes out to fight [the enemy] without her husband’s permission, and [even] the slave [is obliged to go out to fight the enemy] without the permission of his master. There is nothing like it in any other political system, and that is an indisputable fact . . . .

[Article 15] The day enemies steal part of Muslim land, jihad [becomes] the personal duty of every Muslim. With regard to the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, it is a must to fly the banner of jihad. That means the propagation of Islamic awareness among the masses – locally [in Palestine], the Arab world and the Muslim world. The spirit of jihad must be disseminated within the [Islamic] nation, the enemies must be engaged in battle and [every Muslim must] join the ranks of the jihad warriors [mujahidee].
In that light, how then should we interpret Dr Afroz's assertions? For, it is inferred [by Afroz] that the majority of Jamaicans are descended from Islamic Moors [by a process of expanding "Moor" from the OED's peoples of mixed Arab and (Caucasian) Berber ancestry, to include the Negroes of Africa who may have had any significant contact with Islam; cf my discussion here] who were brought here as slaves by the Spanish or the British, so that:
“[c]ontemporaneous to the autonomous Muslim Maroon ummah, hundreds of thousands of Mu’minun (the Believers of the Islamic faith) of African descent worked as slaves on the plantations in Jamaica.” [“The Jihad of 1831–1832: The Misunderstood Baptist Rebellion in Jamaica,” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. 21, No. 2, 2001, p. 227. (Provably false, as the some 300,000 slaves in Jamaica at Emancipation were mostly Animist, and then increasingly Christian, often of Baptist persuasion. The Maroons, similarly, per the main weight of the historical and anthropological evidence were overwhelmingly animist, not Islamic. Even the fact that the Maroons, since Spanish times, were famous for Jerked Pork, is a relevant counter-example. Cf. rebutting discussion
by Prof Maureen Warner-Lewis.)]
Specifically, the Maroons are viewed as resisting the British invaders of 1655 by jihad, as Saladin resisted and finally defeated Richard the Lion Heart and the other Crusaders in the Middle East. Slave revolts, similarly, are reinterpreted by Dr. Afroz as jihads, especially the 1831/2 “Baptist War” rebellion:

Jihad became the religious and political ideology of these crypto-Muslims, who became members of the various denominational nonconformist churches since being sprinkled with the water by the rectors of the parishes. Despite the experience of the most cruel servitude and the likelihood of a swift and ruthless suppression of the rebellion, the spiritually inspired Mu’minun collectively responded to the call for an island-wide jihad in 1832. Commonly known as the Baptist Rebellion, the Jihad of 1832 wrought havoc of irreparable dimension to the plantation system and hastened the Emancipation Act of 1833. [Afroz, p. 227. NB: This set of claims is most improbable .]

Thus, it is concluded by Islamic advocates that the Caribbean’s ancestral and cultural roots are largely Islamic. Islam, then, seeks cultural legitimacy in the Caribbean as being linked to our predominantly African identity, which is specifically tied to an emphasis on jihad as military struggle. On this basis, Caribbean peoples are in effect invited to turn away from both secularism and the Christian religion of our oppressors, and “return” to Islam.

Now, in Jihad, the first phase is an invitation, sometimes called the Dawah: however artfully or persuasively put, strictly, it is the call to surrender from rebellion against Allah and his prophet, law and warriors, on pain of military attack.

So, we are evidently in the preliminary -- often apparently "peaceful" -- phase of the Jihad
against the Caribbean.

A jihad that is in Islamist eyes, rendered more intense by the direct implications of the Afroz claim that Jamaica in particular is "Muslim soil" captured by crusade and with the Muslim inhabitants compelled to "convert" by force and ruthless propaganda. And, that claim extends by rather direct implication to the other originally Spanish settled islands [and onward to Mexico and Latin America]. Then, too, by virtue of the further claim that the slaves of the Caribbean [and by extension North and South America] were predominantly Muslim, the claim also extends to the other islands settled and colonised by the British, the French, the Dutch or even the Danes [i.e what is now USVI].

So, whether or not we wish it to be so, the Caribbean is now a theatre of operations in the current global IslamIST Jihad to finally subjugate the world under dar ul Islam in this Century. [Cf map here. (NB: I personally saw and first archived this striking -- and very disturbing -- map and the associated, even more disturbing, commentary -- when it was live on the Internet.)]

Now of course, we here must in all fairness make and underscore a valid distinction between the peaceful majority of Muslims, and the radicalised minority of IslamISTS; indeed, let us hope that the moderates can prevail in the debates within Islam over its history of supremacism, militaristic expansionism and oppression of subject peoples and women.

But in so doing, let us not forget the warning of a few days ago on a related lesson of recent history:
I used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War II. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.

“Very few people were true Nazis,” he said, “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.” . . . .

The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars world wide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or execute honor killings. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard, quantifiable fact is that the “peaceful majority” is the “silent majority,” and it is cowed and extraneous.

. . . . Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because, like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.
(And, worse, [courtesy a certain reader of this blog] we now have a video warning here [warning, has graphic violence elements], on what tends to happen as the Radicalised Muslim population trends ever upward in a country. [Some may wish to dismiss this as alarmist rubbish, but it would be wise to check out the claimed facts first; starting with the striking correlation between the claims and the world news headlines ocver the past few years.])

So, now, history seems to be speaking to us, yet once again.

What are we going to do about its lessons, how, and why? END

UPDATE, 02:02:
Minor cleanups.


Maya said...


Hi. Assuming that you're the same KairosFocus who posts on Uncommon Descent, I'd like to ask your opinion on DaveScot's removal of all of R0b's posts from the Complex Specified Information thread.

R0b was politely carrying on several conversations with UD regulars on that thread. The removal of his posts is not just intellectually cowardly and rude, but detracts significantly from the value of it.

Since I've been banned from UD for the unconscionable sin of disagreeing with DaveScot, I hope you'll be willing to stand up for intellectual integrity and open debate by raising this issue there.

Thank you,


Gordon said...


I am indeed the same KF. And, because of the importance of the concern you raise, I will publish your comment as a comment here; though it has but little to do with the topic above.

I did not know of events overnight at the UD thread that DS describes as "my thread"; until you brought them to my attention.

As one who has felt DS' "gunny sergeant" lash myself [along with GPuccio], I symapthise with your concern; though I would note that there is a real problem with trollish behaviour and with general incivility, much moreso on the Darwinist than the ID side. (Indeed, it is trollish behaviour that led me to a strict moderation policy here, and has led Denyse O'Leary to cut off comments.)

Having noted on both sides, as this very blog host system indicates, you are perfectly free to spend 15 minutes and put up your own blog on the net.

So, first of all, the issue of being thrown out of a blog's commenting system -- even if unjustly -- is not at all the same as the situation of censored, manipulative, spin- and- agenda- driven dominating mass media and indoctrination- under- false- colour- of- education systems. And, there are many other blogs where your point can be made, indeed would be welcome.

Perhaps, what you really want to do is to make your case concerning evolutionary materialism. If so, why not start your own blog?

If you want, I would be willing to do a blog-blog dialogue* with you.

On the UD case, it will take some delicacy for me to address the issue, but I will definitely look into it. [I only reluctantly have commented in recent times at any thread hosted by DS, for the reasons pointed to above.]

All best


*PS: I think you will find that the term "debate" is, for sadly well- warranted reasons, a dirty word for me. For, too often it is "that wicked art that makes the worse appear the better case, being therein abetted by rhetoric, the art of deceptive persuasion, not proof." [paraphrased from Jefferson, echoing Socrates.] I am in favour of open, mutually respectful and warrant-anchored dialogue, not debate.

Maya said...


Thank you for your quick and polite response. One of the reasons I sought you out is that you seem to be one of the UD regulars who values open communication. I may not agree with your views, but you're always willing to discuss them.

My reason for raising the issue with you here is to find out if you're willing, as a respected member of the UD community, to object to the actions taken there. Certainly R0b is free to start his own blog, but the problem is that not only was he prevented from continuing to post on DaveScot's thread, but all of his contributions to that point were removed.

R0b is neither impolite nor a troll. His posts were on topic and incisive. His only problem is that he disagrees with DaveScot and can support that disagreement well.

DaveScot's behavior is not acceptable in a venue that is supposedly dedicated to open discussion of the issue. It gives every impression that he, and the rest of the UD management, by extension, is unable to answer R0b's arguments and afraid to leave them up for others to see. I hope you will consider raising this for discussion on UD.

Thank you,


Gordon said...


I have raised the issue for discussion, on a thread that DS does not control; and in a context that hints that we had better nort become like those we object to.

Now, as to the matters on the merits, let's just say that as one who has had to deal with Rob's arguments, I do not at all find them incisive or insightful. indeed, on points -- sadly -- they verge on willful obtuseness.

for instance, I think the man in the Clapham bus stop, presented with the case of a falling and tumbling die, would find that it is reasonable to perceive the aspects that are mechanical forces at work [falling], those that are contingent, and to see that there is difference between uncontrolled undirected stochastic contingency [a fair die], and those that are directed [a loaded die].

Similarly, on being presented with a functional informational string of 1,000 bits or more of capacity, and observing its functionality, such an ordinary man would at once realise that lucky noise is a far inferior explanation than design. [Cf this comment . . . ]

Thirdly, if an ordinary man were to stumble across a computer in a field, he would infer on "like causes like" to design. Biologists exploring the cell have stumbled across an autonomous, self-assembling nanomachine- based computer, complete with sophisticated information storage and processing beyond human technical capacity at present. On inference to best -- and empirically anchored -- explanation, you would have to come up with very strong points to lead such a person in a fair forum to conclude that the result is credibly a chance + necessity only one.

So, I am not at all sure that Rob's arguments at the thread in question -- very similar to those he has up currently in several other threads at UD -- would carry the day.

As I noted earlier, I have no brief for Mr Scot's behaviour. I do believe on fair comment that the others currently involved in managing UD have a very different approach.


Maya said...


You're a gentleman and a scholar (my Dad always adds "and a good judge of bad wine", but I don't know you that well).

I look forward to following the discussion between you and R0b on UD.

Thank you,


PS: And thank you for letting me hijack this blog thread.

Maya said...


I forgot to ask, could you provide a link to the thread discussing this?



Gordon said...

I am unsure of your intent, but my remark is in the Iowa Faculty thread at UD.

Maya said...


I was actually hoping for a separate thread specifically on the topic of the moderation policy. I fear the light you shine in the last paragraph of your comment will be hidden under the bushel of other comments in that thread and the number of threads started since then.



R0b said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gordon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gordon said...

I have set up a follow up thread for this off-topic exchange.


Gordon said...


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