Posted by: Sam Carson | 15 April, 2007

Fukuyama on the Mechanics of Radical Islam

Francis Fukuyama, author of the End of History and the Last Man seems to be everywhere lately.  He has some very interesting ideas, and though he is often referred to as a founding architect of the Neo-Conservative movement, I think he was largely on the fringe of it.  At least, that seems to be what he claims these days. 

However his politics, he is an interesting thinker and has some observations on radical Islam that I would like to repeat from this article (well worth a complete read):

As Olivier Roy and Roya and Ladan Boroumand have argued, radical Islamism is best understood as a political ideology. The writings of Sayyid Qutb, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or Osama bin Laden and his ideologues within al-Qaida,
make use of political ideas about the state, revolution, and the
aesthetisation of violence that do not come out of any genuine Islamic
tradition, but out of the radical ideologies of the extreme left and right – that is to say, fascism and communism – from 20th-century Europe.

These doctrines, which are extremely
dangerous, do not reflect any core teachings of Islam, but make use of
Islam for political purposes. They have become popular in many Arab
countries and among Muslims in Europe because of the deep alienation
that exists in these communities. Radical Islamism is thus not the
reassertion of some traditional Islamic cultural practice, but should
be seen in the context of modern identity politics. It emerges
precisely when traditional cultural identities are disrupted by
modernisation and a pluralistic democratic order that creates a
disjuncture between one’s inner self and external social practice.

This is why so many violent jihadists like Mohammed Atta, organiser of the 11 September attacks, or Mohammed Bouyeri, murderer of the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh,
were radicalised in western Europe. Modernisation has from the
beginning created alienation and thus opposition to itself, and in this
respect contemporary jihadists are following in the footsteps of anarchists, Bolsheviks, fascists, and members of the Baader-Meinhof gang in earlier generations.

At some point in the next few months (probably after my exams), I would like to examine the “End of History” thesis, as well as Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” and Robert Kagan’s “The Coming Anarchy” ideas.  I have read each of them briefly, but would like to explore them further.  The Clash of Civilizations thesis in particular seems to get a lot of press these days, or at least bastardized versions of it.  I think it makes for a good sensationalized sound bite, but much of the nuance is missed.

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