Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Tunisia and Realislamik
In September of 2009, Hugh Fitzgerald asked the presciently rhetorical question:
In Tunisia, where Ben Ali continues, thank god, to ruthlessly round up those who oppose the secularist tendencies of his regime, which merely continues what Habib Bourguiba and the Destour Party started, what would happen if the secret police stopped their work?
As I have noted several times, Tunisia's first independent post-Colonial ruler Bourguiba represents a modern Islamic type within a framework limited by Islamic pathology: In the wake of the dismantling of Western Colonialism after WW2 (with roots going back to the First World War and the abolishment of the Islamic Ottoman Caliphate), the Islamic Umma was carved up into Western nation-states -- the most humiliating carving, for Muslims, who find no cause for thanksgiving in it, being the drastic whittling down of the Ottoman Empire into Turkey.
Among these 50-plus nation states, the typical Islamic penchant for a servile and deformed population to seek a "strong man" (i.e., a modern tin-pot Sultan) to rule them with an iron fist -- a sociopolitico-cultural version of a perverse S&M relationship between Ruler and Ruled, mirroring their servile submission to Mohammed -- has tended to be the norm. And so, one after another Muslim polity in the last half century has tended to be autocratic, tyrannical, and despotic. The so-called "Islamists" who have opposed these various dictators over the years do not so much oppose despotism: what they oppose is the choice many (if not most) of these despots have made to try to have their cake and eat it too -- to try to maintain a relatively Islamic state whilst compromising with the New World Order in which politico-economic alliances (however sly and treacherous) with the Great Satan (the West, with America at its vanguard) are pursued in such a way as to seem to settle the concrete of Infidel hegemony of the world, which the more impatient "Islamists" see as hindering the only true political science of Islam: world domination by conquest under a restored Caliphate.
Within this framework, we have seen a handful of such despots (some tin-pot, others of somewhat brassier mettle) take and hold the helms of various Muslim regimes erring on the side of alliance with the Great Satan rather than with their Islamic imperatives: Indonesia's Sukarno and Suharto in the wake of the dissolution of Dutch control; Turkey's Ataturk in the wake of WWI; Iran's Pahlavi dynasty, the father and son Shahs; Mohammed V of Morocco (whose son, Mohammed VI, who gained the throne in 1999, must be looking uneasily now over his shoulder at his neighbor Tunisia only a couple of doors down the block); and Bourguiba of Tunisia -- whose successor Ben Ali just fled in a panic this past weekend from his own rioting people.
Of these five despots, perhaps the Shah of Iran was the one who ventured furthest toward a genuine modernization and secularization of his society. All, however, were "secularist" by default -- insofar as they used their despotic power to suppress the natural appetite for Islam among their populace, which would have overthrown them in the name of the gnostic "purity" that inflames the Muslim mind. This despotism took various forms, such as limiting or outlawing the full (or even partial) hijab in public; censoring Friday sermons in mosques; rounding up Muslims who were engaged in activities dangerously Islamic; torturing (all too reasonably) suspected Islamic purists Jenna-bent on exploding -- all on the reasonable pretext that such Islamic expressions are essentially seditious to any state that has decided not to become a full-blown Islamic Shabaab shiskabob, which would perforce mean a revolution against the New World Order in Islamic terms, in turn necessarily including a rebellion against the political configuration of nation-states operating in a secularist system of international cooperation that supports, and perpetuates, Infidel hegemony over the world economy and geopolitics.
I.e., the way it is now. (It seems only Muslims, rag-tag Communist dregs, and right-wing extremists have a better idea for how to organize society in the new millennium.)
That is to say: because the natural demos of Islam -- that is, the Muslim people -- is sociopolitically diseased by Islam, rendering it incapable of genuine democracy, modernity and secularism, any Muslim polity must be constrained by the iron fist of dictatorship just to keep it barely in line with the modern international order. In this context, and with the volatile metastasis of an Islam Redivivus unfolding post-911 around the world (including deep within the West), we must at least temporarily recognize the pragmatic wisdom of a Realislamik -- a version of the Realpolitik the West pursued during the Cold War, by which we supported lesser evils against the greater evil of the global revolution being actively and avidly pursued by the Communists (mostly from its epicenter, the U.S.S.R., as well as Red China in Asia).
We did in fact pursue at least a de facto Realislamik when, in the more politically enlightened 1950s and before, we supported the Pahlavi dynasty in Iran -- though that was done more in terms of propping up an anti-Communist "bulwark" than it was a consciously literate strategy against Islam (since, as we have seen, apparently even Eisenhower found nothing wrong with Islam per se).
Other types of Islamic political leaders (i.e. "Strong Men") in the 20th century reorganization of the world order after the dismantling of Western Colonialism -- such as Saddam Hussein, the Saudi dynasty of Arabia, the military theocracy of Pakistan, and even Nasser of Egypt and his successors -- reflect basically the same have-your-falafel-and-eat-it-too formula of Ataturk, the Shah of Iran, the Mohammeds of Morocco and Bourguiba of Tunisia, but skewed in favor of promoting Islam rather than the West, even if their promotion of Islam is not enough for the more fanatical purists among them which the disease of Islam naturally breeds.
A Realislamik, then, would unhesitatingly support a despot like Ben Ali, seeing in his police-state control a necessary suppression of the natural fanaticism among Muslim people that feeds, and leads to, international terrorism (i.e., jihad); and would see in the prospect of any revolution (even a jasmine-flavored one) against such a despot a dangerous trend.
That said, however, the pragmatism of Realislamik would also weigh the costs of supporting a Ben Ali when the situation unravels too far (i.e., from last Sunday to Monday).
I.e., were America to support Ben Ali at this point and help force him back into power by supplying military advisors, increased money, or weapons, air power, or even troops (even if only pregnantly aboard a carrier off the coast of the Tunisian Riviera), this would likely trigger an inflammable Muslim reaction around the world, poking-a-stick-in-a-hornet's-nest-wise, with repercussions that would make our situation even worse. Perhaps that might not be a bad thing, bringing-a-pus-filled-blister-to-break-wise, since we can't keep forestalling the problem of Islam forever, and wouldn't it be nice if we could begin to take it seriously before a few million of us get mass-murdered by WMD attacks plotted by innumerable assiduous Muslim fanatics whom we will never be able to be lucky enough to pinpoint every time?
Nevertheless, the West is currently in a state of slow transition, reconfiguring itself from the pleasant numbness of Islamo-amnesia to the uncomfortable sobriety of waking up: and as such, since we do not yet quite have our wits and reflexes about us, we need to be cautious about those myriad minions of hornets called Muslims -- even if a good deal of that caution happens to take the form of unwitting, and witless, hebetude.