Friday, November 21, 2008
The Anti-Islam Movement: Prospectus for Improvement
The Anti-Islam Movement currently suffers from a certain degree of incoherence and confusion. This incoherence and confusion could be remedied to a large extent by an effort on the part of participants to crystallize what is now an inchoate and amorphous movement into a formal organization guided by a consensus of goals, policies, methodology and ideological clarity.
1. General Terms:
There is a difference between a movement, and an organization.
a. A movement may be incoherent both pragmatically, in terms of policies and activism, and ideologically, in terms of the ideas that would guide its pragmatism toward goals reached by a consensus of its members.
b. An organization, on the other hand, is the endeavor by its members and leaders to have coherency of policies, activism, ideas and goals. And coherency requires a degree of consensus.
c. When a movement acquires coherency, it becomes an organization.
d. Organizations that have made the transition from being movements into organizational coherency tend to be more sociopolitically influential and have wider scope than mere organizations in the technical sense (e.g., organizations of business associations, technology, science, etc.).
e. Organizations tend to have better capability for financial support than social movements, and this in turn serves to help realize the goals of the movement.
f. Various political parties of Western nations are examples of organizations in the sense intended here.
g. The Anti-Islam Movement as organization would be, of course, international in scope, and broad-based in terms of membership, embracing members of all faiths except for Islam, and all non-Muslims irrespective of race, gender or political affiliation.
h. Various implications of 1(g) above will, of course, have to be discussed and agreed upon as part of the process of forging consensus that is entailed by the crystallization of the movement into an organization.
2. Specific Problems:
The Anti-Islam Movement has not yet made the transition to being an organization.
a. Currently in the Anti-Islam Movement, with regard to ideological coherency, there is a high degree of incoherency, some degree of confusion, a lack of consensus, and a relative lack of even an ostensible interest in creating consensus.
b. One amusing (if annoying) indication of this ideological incoherency are indications that many members and a few of its influential “leaders” would likely be uncomfortable with the rubric of “Anti-Islam” for the movement of which they are otherwise enthusiastic and committed participants! What then, exactly, are they “anti-”? Some would probably propose the overarching guiding rubric to be “anti-Jihad”. Would everyone in the movement agree to this? I think some of us would consider this too limiting. Some of us would also consider such a rubric to imply a distinction between “Jihad” and “Islam”—a distinction that not only seems artificial, but also reinforces a protection of “Islam” (or, at best, some indeterminate part of “Islam”) that is, by logical implication, not “Jihad” and therefore not a problem to occupy the concern of the movement. Such a distinction would solidify the movement’s acquiescence in an axiom too closely for comfort resembling the PC MC paradigm. Furthermore, there are currently a few “leaders” and quite a few “civilians” who seem to have a conception that positively avoids identifying Islam qua Islam as the problem, and Muslims qua Muslims as the problem as well. The same ideological difficulty noted above applies to these movement members as well.
c. Nevertheless, a consensus can be reached even though disagreements would persist among its members—as long as dissenting minority opinions are at least fairly represented in the organization’s manifesto.
d. Aside from ideological incoherency, the Anti-Islam Movement also shows signs of pragmatic incoherency. This is only logical, since if a movement lacks ideological coherency, it will most likely proceed in terms of policies and activism in a slapdash manner. Granted, there are many brave and respectable individuals forging ahead in terms of traveling around the country if not also around the world to do speaking tours, to participate in public debates, to participate in round table discussions, to write books and to engage in certain types of social activism. But what exactly are they advocating, and what exactly are they opposing? The effectiveness of these fine individuals, and of the aspirations of their “civilian” supporters, would be better served and augmented if ideological coherency became an explicit desideratum—for the movement will not be able to make the transition to an organization if it does not develop ideological coherency. And a mere movement will be less effective than an organization.
e. There is something of an apparent paradox in the process of the transition from a movement to an organization: in order to make that transition, ideological coherency is required. But in order to develop that ideological coherency, there has to be a mechanism for developing consensus—and that mechanism requires at least the bare bones of an organizational structure. This apparent paradox can be resolved, by simply making the goal of reaching a consensus about ideological coherency the first priority.
3. Prospectus for Implementation:
In the spirit of this priority discussed above under 2(e), the following is a suggestion of what should be done:
a. All the “leaders” of the movement should agree to meet to discuss this issue of ideological coherency and to hammer out a consensus that would balance compromise with respect for differences. This meeting ideally should last several days.
b. This meeting should be coordinated with an on-line hook-up to all the “civilian” supporters. One ideal vehicle for this coordination would be the Paltalk live voice chat venue. Another would be to set up one blog on the Net as a Command Center, where proceedings of the meeting are posted, and consensus points up for arbitration are posted for on-line voting. Those consensus points that carry a majority both of the “leaders” in the meeting, and of the “civilians” participating in tandem through the Command Center, would carry the day.
c. Prior to this meeting and its Command Center hook-up, there should be a period of time of discussion about it—ideally several months in advance—through the same Command Center. This would give a chance for the “civilians” to register their opinions on what they would like an ideological consensus to look like. Severe restrictions on word count for opinions should be imposed, to inhibit the bewildering verbosity that is a common problem on the Internet.
d. After the consensus has been reached at the close of the meeting, the task of growing the structures of policy and activism can be embarked upon.
e. One crucial part of the ideological consensus would be the agreement by everyone not to continue disputing the other points of the ideological consensus. Future meetings can be scheduled to revisit the discussion (perhaps one meeting per year), while during the time before those future meetings, ideological disputes should cease, in order to endow the pragmatic policy and activism with optimal effectiveness.
4. First Steps:
Okay, the ball is now in the court of the “leaders”. As a “civilian” myself, and thus lacking their degree of influence and networking contacts, I can do little more than make this proposal. It is up to the “leaders” now to set the actual gears in motion.
a. The very first step would be to publicize the Command Center discussion that would precede, by several months, the actual meeting of “leaders”. The best way to publicize this would be for all the “leaders” to do so at their respective blogs. Imagine if Jihad Watch, frontpage.com, LGF 2, Gates of Vienna—and then all the anti-Islam bloggers out there by word-of-mouth snowball effect—made this a top priority and published a notice about it once a week for several months!
b. The second step would be to create a Command Center and set a time period for the discussions.
c. After the discussion period, the “leaders” should read through all the opinions from the “civilians” which they posted on the Command Center which, since they will be severely restricted in word count, will not be that onerous of a task.
d. With the opinions and recommendations of the “civilians” under their belt, the next step will be for the “leaders” to decide on a venue and a date for their meeting or symposium to hammer out a guiding manifesto of ideological consensus.
e. Part of the process of the symposium of “leaders” would be the live hook-up with the “civilians” through the on-line Command Center. The main function of this hook-up will be to give a chance to the “civilians” to vote for consensus points, not to participate in the discursive hammering out of a consensus—as they already had their chance to weigh in during the discussion period described in 3(c) and 4(c) above.
5. The Next Step:
a. All right, chumps & humps, I got the ball rolling. Now it's up to you.