Tuesday, December 28, 2010
The "still inchoate anti-Islam movement"
As my readers (here, and in various Jihad Watch comments threads over the years where, under the name "Hesperado", I had written copiously, until I was unfairly banned by Marisol and Robert Spencer) probably know, the titular phrase -- viz., the still inchoate anti-Islam movement -- has become a leitmotif in my analyses of the problem of Islam.
I refer regularly to the A.I.M. (the Anti-Islam Movement) as "still inchoate" for various specific reasons. Chief among them, the A.I.M. remains unorganized.
What this negative adjective refers to positively, in turn, is an organization with the following qualities.
I. Qualities of the A.I.M.:
1) Definitively universal: It will be the sole organization representing all individuals and groups worldwide concerned about the dangers of Islam.
2) Democratic: It will try to represent as many of its "civilian" members as possible -- without, of course, dissolving into a centripetal anarchy of disagreements -- and its leaders will comport themselves as managers and representatives, not as czars who wield shadowy power and who carve out cliques of friends while bickering against enemies thus fostering fragmentation of the movement. Disagreements about procedure, methodology and ideology related to the movement and its cause will be adjudicated democratically, not behind closed doors.
3) Transparent: In keeping with #2, its leaders will submit their finances to regular scrutiny, and they will participate in regular "town meetings" amongst the civilian membership where questions may be asked of the leaders and staff without censorship and with an expectation of complete responsiveness to all reasonable questions.
II. Benefits of the Qualities:
1) The chief benefit of organization is that it will for the first time enable the development and publication of a standardization of a most desperately needed intellectual and rhetorical weapon in the War of Ideas: a definitive, comprehensive, yet concise Manual of the Problem of Islam -- one half of it containing all the important facts about Islam that make it problematic (plus all the important facts about Muslims that demonstrate that they are in fact putting problematic Islam into practice); the other half of it containing all the important responses and refutations to the claims of Islam Apologetics (as found either in Muslims or in PC MC).
2) The other chief benefit is a no-brainer: any movement that is more organized will be more effective in championing and realizing its cause.
3) Another benefit may not seem so beneficial to some individuals: For example, one gets the indistinct impression that many of the more visible and active anti-Islam individuals seem to be exploiting the inchoate nature of the movement: Whether only incidentally as a by-product, or cleverly knowing what they are doing, it does seem as though the movement's inchoate state, with its lack of organization and centrality, conduces opportunistically to certain individuals who surf-ride its disorganized yet dynamic waves to jet-set around the world participating in debates & colloquia; to attach themselves to events that become controversial public spectacles; and to write and sell their books. And while a Robert Spencer, for example, is regularly beleaguered by the dominant and mainstream PC MC atmosphere which tends to vilify him (when it doesn't altogether ignore him), one gets a sense sometimes that he rather enjoys and feeds off the negative energy. And, as the saying goes, even negative publicity is publicity. Even if I'm not quite as darkly cynical as Lawrence Auster is about Spencer & Geller, there is some indefinable whiff of an Elmer Gantry dog-&-pony medicine man show one detects now and then from some of their "events". This wouldn't be the first time that a noble cause was being exploited; nor are individuals who are otherwise sincerely conscientious in their endeavors necessarily perfect saints devoid of the possibility of mixed motives -- no matter what their acolytes might fervently insist.
III. Ideological consistency and definition
I may come to regret this particular quality, if it became realized in an organization of the movement, insofar as the content of the more consistent and defined ideology that might ensue would enshrine a softer stance on Islam than I would like. I would therefore advocate a type of formulation or platform for the movement that advocated no specific positions, per se, but rather a neutral umbrella by which a spectrum of positions and policy recommendations would be included -- anywhere from total deportation of all Muslims from the West, to a range of relatively milder positions.
The official stance of the movement, then, would be something along the lines of:
"While it may very well be that total deportation would be the least costly, the least messy and the least bloody way to manage the problem of Islam, and while many may persuasively argue that all the facts and conclusions contained in our official Manual on the Problem of Islam would lead to such a policy, others within the movement have articulated and advocated relatively milder recommendations. A fundamental lack of consensus on this issue remains in the heart of the Movement; but as the Movement is not supposed to be an institution of sociopolitical policy, nor even an organ of official recommendations to our sociopolitical leaders in government, our preferred and more reasonable role as an ongoing gadfly at the cutting edge of a hopeful paradigm shift that would result in the deconstruction of PC MC..."
On a less overarching but still important level, we have the emblematic -- and amusing -- problem of quite a few representatives and analysts of the movement who would not, or do not characterize their stance as "anti-Islam" at all. Some positively eschew it (as Robert Spencer has); others never use the term, opting for other more palatably moderate-sounding bites like "the Counterjihad Movement" or the "Anti-Shariah Movement" or the "Stop the Islamisation" movement; and so forth. All these parallel around-the-bush-beating phrases strike me as avoiding the Camel in the Room -- which is ironic when the same analysts rightfully berate or mock the mainstream for its avoidance of the I word or the M word. Why not be against the whole enchilada? Why settle for less?
How Do We Get There, From Here?
I'm not an expert in forming organizations out of inchoate social movements; in fact, I've never done it before. At the very least, however, I would suggest that the process of formation must include the involvement of all interested civilians, through the medium of a virtual town hall on the Internet.
Furthermore, this process of formative discussion should take its time: while of course we are in an exigent hurry, one should remember one of one's Aunt Ruth's saws to the effect that rushing into something will only result in a waste of time later. Thus, there should take place several of these virtual town hall meetings, during which maximum input, discussion and debate is aired out, as part of a process leading to the next phase, which would be a formation of a platform to be voted upon.
Of course, one should not expect (though one can always hope) that the A.I.M. will remain forever unified and will not develop splinter factions. This unfortunately happens to most, if not all, movements in history. Even after such developments, however, a predominant unity may well be viable in many flexible ways. Nor should one expect the A.I.M. to be perfect. Nevertheless, one may expect that, at this emergent era in which we live, this most exigent cause will be benefited by its solidification into something less... inchoate.
More details on my suggestions for improvement of the movement -- which perforce entails a transformation into an organization -- may be found in my essay The Anti-Islam Movement: Prospectus for Improvement.
Other related essays:
The Big Tent
Addendum to the Prospectus: A mechanism for appropriate ostracism
Leadership in the Anti-Islam Movement: Addendum 2 to the Prospectus
Who speaks for us in the anti-Islam movement?
It's time to deputize the JW ComCom
The Gentlemen's Agreement of Silence