Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Robert Spencer: From Wilsonianism to Glazovianism

In a recent Jihad Watch notice, Robert Spencer wrote:

I don't subscribe to Wilsonian pipe dreams of bringing democracy to the benighted masses, and in reality there is little one can or should do for the oppressed if they do indeed love their oppression and wish to remain under its boot...

Then added:

...but the fact remains that I am not "anti-Muslim."

In unpacking what it means to be "not anti-Muslim", Spencer went on:

Some years ago here at Jihad Watch I had an exchange with an English convert to Islam. I said: "I would like nothing better than a flowering, a renaissance, in the Muslim world, including full equality of rights for women and non-Muslims in Islamic societies: freedom of conscience, equality in laws regarding legal testimony, equal employment opportunities, etc." Is all that "anti-Muslim"?

Now, Spencer added that his Muslim correspondent considered that all these, well, neo-Wilsonian ideals, were in effect anti-Muslim; for he reported that his correspondent answered:

"So, you would like to see us ditch much of our religion and, thereby, become non-Muslims."

And Spencer observed:

In other words, he saw a call for equality of rights for women and non-Muslims in Islamic societies, including freedom of conscience, equality in laws regarding legal testimony, and equal employment opportunities, as a challenge to his religion.

But from that astute observation, Spencer then lurched in the wrong direction:

To the extent that they [i.e., these neo-Wilsonian ideals] are [a challenge to his correspondent's Islam], these facts have to be confronted by both Muslims and non-Muslims.

No, they don't "have to be". Only things that reasonably could be, are things about which we can demand, or expect, that they "have to be". There are some things in life that will reasonably never happen -- you know, the usual litany of Miss Universe Ideals: an end to war, an end to all hunger, an end to disease, an end to all animal abuse, an end to old age; etc. To which we can add, an end to Islamic Muslims.

And Spencer in the same quote continued to elaborate and defend his Wilsonianism which at the beginning he had declared to be a pipe dream:

But it is not "anti-Muslim" to wish freedom of conscience and equality of rights on the Islamic world -- quite the contrary.


My title is not meant to be literal, but ironic: In fact, there is no real evolution or change from Wilsonianism to Glazovianism. The latter is a term I developed to describe that particular type of unreasonable hopefulness about the expectation of a reformation of Islam among Muslims that would be of a sufficient magnitude to solve our problem which their Islam, through themselves as carriers and agents, is causing us. That unreasonable hopefulness may manifest shadings in degree which can be plotted along a spectrum, from the most extreme (the Pipes Dream), to the slightly less extreme musings of our eponymous Jamie Glazov, to the more boldly vague recommendations of Geert Wilders, to the somewhat more realistic -- but therefore that much less coherent -- non-positional position of Spencer.

While I have noted Spencer's Glazovianism before (cf. my now retired blog Jihad Watch Watch), I still found it rather breathtaking that in the same breath, Spencer rejects Wilsonianism and then immediately launches into a defense of... Wilsonianism.


欣來 said...

You are flattering me..................................................

Nobody said...

The first statement - about his not wanting a Wilsonian democracy - is directly contradicted by his next statement that he made to one Saleem Smith, a Muslim convert apparently, who challenged him on this.

I've made this case to people on JW before, and it's not just Islam, it applies to non-believers of any faith. Just as it's not the job of gentiles to try and get rid of Shibboleth slaughter in Jewish kosher meat, just as it's not the job of Protestants to end the Hindu caste system, just as it's not the job of Buddhists to get Zoroastrians to accept converts into their religion, just as it's not the job of Catholics to get Jains to allow non-vegetarianism in their religion, just as it's not the job of Sikhs to get Catholics to allow abortion,

Similarly, it's not the job of non-Muslims to introduce women's rights, pluralism of any kind, democracy or anything else in Islam. The only job non-Muslims have wrt Islam is to note that Islam demands that Muslims pursue Jihad - the only thing that affects non-Muslims, and noting that, they accordingly work to recognize Islam as a worldwide geopolitical cult and act accordingly.

the author said...


I agree with you; however, it goes beyond anybody's "job" to the extent that Islam is a problem endangering societies -- so anything that would work to effectively curtail or nullify that danger should, of course, be done, regardless of whose obligation it is. The point focused on by my essay is whether Glazovianism is a realistic way for us to minimize that danger.

the author said...

Nobody and any other readers:

I've changed my sign-off from "Hesperado" to "the author".

Westward Ho said...

About PCMC, and the challenge of untangling its subtle logic, this comment made me think of your work.

the author said...

thanks Westward, it was interesting, and I posted a question to that "Ray in Seattle".