Thursday, December 23, 2004

Here's an article from today's Avui by Pilar Rahola, which I've translated from Catalan. The title is "Francis Fukuyama is right: the militant anti-Americanism of Zapatero and his Islamist friends".

A general thesis, famously explained by such great thinkers as Hegel, Nietzche, and Tocqueville, states that modern democracy is no more than the secularization of Christianity. If we look at it in those terms, it is evident that it is difficult to visualize the democratization of Islam, since we are dealing with a history, a culture, and a tradition different from the West. In one way, this is the pessimistic vision of Samuel Huntington in his famous The Clash of Civilizations, which a good friend of his, Francis Fukuyama, is arguing against in his latest book, The Construction of the State. Revising his "end of history", which has been rotundly disproven by events and which he himself analyzes autocritically, Fukuyama makes two fundamental asseverations: the values of the Enlightenment are universal and universalizeable, and that radical Islamism, because of its own suicidal nature, will burn out in ten or fifteen years. He adds a statement that is pure common sense: "People want to live in freedom", even under the most strict Koranic regimes. They want it, in the same way they want scientific and medical advances, they want economic well-being, and they want social organization. That is, Islam is not incompatible with democracy, because the values it is based on are basic to human needs, beyond the religions or the cultures that define those needs.

I started this article with these notes on Fukuyama because, with all modesty, I have supported the same thesis for a long time. I maintain the conviction, which I have expressed in several articles, that the asphyxiating vacuum of freedom that millions of people suffer in the name of Allah is not caused by a cultural impossibility but a political will. And I maintain, as a consequence,that what we must do is denounce the stereotypes, take off the masks, and show the real face of the monster. It's not a god. It's not a religion. That which condemns a Nigerian woman to be stoned to death, which teaches Palestinian children of eight years to love martyrdom and death, which can kill a child from Ossetia in the name of a cause, which prays to Allah while it crashes an airplane into a tower, which fills the burning ruins of a train with death, or writes books which teach how to beat your wife, all this has one origin, the political will of certain regimes and leaders to traumatize Islam and convert it into the transmissor of a totalitarian ideology while sustaining the chain of social privilege. It is not true that Islamism is alien to the West, and the clearest example is Osama Ben Laden himself. Dressed as a medieval sheikh, with a royalist aesthetic included, ben Laden uses Western communication methods perfectly, his ideology has a nihilistic base which is rooted in the twentieth-century European totalitarianisms, and many of his practices have drunk from the fountains of Stalinism. As if it were a perfect symbiosis of Fascism and Communism with an Islamist aesthetic. That is: it is perfectly transmissible to the West, even though it bases part of its ideology on hate toward the West.

What, then, are the roots of the problem? The thesis I personally defend and that I now see corroborated in Fukuyama's magnificent book identifies those responsible for the Islamic conflict and does not get lost in the ethereal conflict of cultures and religions. The theocratic regime of Saudi Arabia is first on the list of the guilty, the real motor of the exportation of a paranoid, totalitarian, and violent Islamism, and the base of the Salafist ideology (doesn't she mean Wahhabist?-JC) that feeds the brains of the suicides and the hearts of their bombs. Saudi Arabia is a disastrous country, in submission to stratospheric corruption, governed by a bunch of despots who, during decades of wealth, have built nothing more than poverty, fanaticism, and anti-modernism. And which exports its totalitarian ideology to the whole world. Behind every imam who preaches the disrespect of freedom and enlightenment in European mosques, the Saudi hand is there. Behind the subsidies to the parents of the girls who cover themselves up there is the Saudi hand (or didn't you know that the veil is subsidized?). And the ideology that all the ideologues of terrorist fundamentalism support was born among the Saudis. Even in the case of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Obviously, countries like Iran, the direct financier of terrorist groups (like those which are staining the Iraqi Christmas with blood), or the terrorific Sudanese government, the paradise of Islamist totalitarianism, or also Syria, are on this list too. But, as Fukuyama himself says, no country is as dangerous as Saudi Arabia.

Where am I going with this? Toward some theories of political do-gooderism, of which Rodríguez Zapatero and his project of an alliance of cultures are the main exponents. I want to go there because I have the impression that his focus and the people he chooses to deal with are both incorrect. We don't have a problem with Islam, but with those who condemn Islam to be interpreted in a totalitarian way. And these are exactly the people who Zapatero wants to make into his allies. Maintaining the profound political imbecility of militant anti-Americanism, Zapatero thinks that King Fahd or the president of Syria or that of Iran should form part of the round table of the new world, as if it were logical that democracy should give its seal of approval to totalitarianism. Despots like King Fahd have never formed part of any solution to the Islamist problem; rather, they are the hard core of the problem, they are its source, they are today its focus. And at the same time Zapatero elevates them to the category of friends, while he puts down the evil Yankees. Could anyone be so wrong so honestly? Certainly, as the wise man said, there is no one more ignorant than he who is sincerely ignorant.

I love that phrase, "the profound political imbecility of militant anti-Americanism". I'll be using it in the future.

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