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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

a strange thesis « Previous | |Next »
December 29, 2006

Tanveer Ahmed in an op-ed in the Courier Mail warns against the Australian left aligning itself with the Islamist movement. He says that:

the French scholar on European Islam, Oliver Roy, notes: "Islam has replaced Marxism as the ideology of contestation. When the Left collapsed, the Islamists stepped in." This trend is being displayed politically most clearly in the Arab world, where a large number of old socialists are finding it easy to slide into Islamist parties.Veteran foreign correspondent Mary Ann Weaver writes in her book A Portrait of Egypt: "A number of my former professors from the American University of Cairo were Marxists 20 years ago; fairly adamant, fairly doctrinaire Marxists. They are now equally adamant, equally doctrinaire Islamists."

That refers to the Middle East and the European disapora, but not Australia. Still, let us accept that there is an odd alliance between sections of the Left and Islam, and that Islam is the ideology of contestation now that Marxism has faded away. Contestation against what though?

What Ahmed then says is that the growing overlap with Islamist interests should worry large sections of the Left because:

There is just too much of a gulf between Islamic groups and the Left in the areas of civil liberties to sustain any meaningful bond. Islam openly despises homosexuality and views the liberation of women suspiciously, believing it is the major cause of an apparent breakdown in the family. Many leftist groups also have a strong anti-religious flavour. Their potential for overlap and co-operation remain largely limited to foreign policy, where their ideological alliances are clearer.

Fine. Yet Ahmed undermines this by when he says that the leftist organisations and sympathisers urges for social protest is mirrored within Islamic groups, risks undermining their hard-won gains.

Is it the case that the Left see their urges for social protest mirrored in Islamic groups? Hardly. Defending a multicultural Australia from conservative attacks or deepening democracy, or fighting a corporate form of globalization does not imply identification with right wing Islamic groups. Far from it. Moreover, isn't there a tradition of hostility of Islamism to leftwing movements?As Fred Haliday argues Islamist programme, ideology and record are diametrically opposed to the left – that is, the left that has existed on the principles founded on and descended from classical socialism, the Enlightenment, the values of the revolutions of 1798 and 1848, and generations of experience.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:33 AM | | Comments (6)


Now who ever said that Leftists and disaster dont go together.

And who ever said that the Mujahideen arent Left.

All the muslim societies that I have visited and spent time in are extremely socially , politically and culturally conservative. I am not sure where progressive left wingers could fit in. As you mention the role of men and the attitudes towards the role of women are anything but progressive.

Hello Gary

Thanks for including me in your list of South Australian Blogs. Minor typo adelaide not adeliade

All the muslim countries that I have visited and spent time in are very conservative politically, culturally and socially. It is hard to see how these cultural models have anything to do with progressive left thinking. I mean throw in some of the things that you mentioned and you have a very backward society compared to some of the ideals of the left. I can see how some would identify with the muslim underclass in some European societies, but it is the fact that these people are disenfranchised and divorced from the main stream. The fact that they are muslim is somewhat adjunct.

typo fixed. Thanks. I make that mistake all the time.

well the Mujahideen were fighting for their country against foreign (Soviet) invasion. Hence it is national self-determination. Can the same be said of the Taliban?

i see that Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald talks in terms of the growing Muslim threats and violence as part of what is now a global confrontation between Western values and medievalism.

Would be say that right wing fundamentalist Christianity is a medievalism that is involved in a confrontation with Western values?