Friday, December 31, 2004
Professor Alam and the Western Chimera
In perhaps the most loathsome display of academic animus against America since the Nicholas de Genova affair, M. Shahid Alam, a professor of Economics at Northeastern University, writes that the 9/11 hijackers were like the American Revolutionaries.
On April 19, 1775, 700 British troops reached Concord, Massachusetts, to disarm the American colonists who were preparing to start an insurrection. When the British ordered them to disperse, the colonists fired back at the British soldiers. This "shot heard 'round the world" heralded the start of an insurrection against Britain, the greatest Western power of its time. And when it ended, victorious, in 1783, the colonists had gained their objective. They had established a sovereign but slave-holding republic, the United States of America.
The colonists broke away because this was economically advantageous to their commercial and landed classes. As colonists, they were ruled by a parliament in which they were not represented, and which did not represent their interests. The colonies were not free to protect and develop their own commerce and industries. Their bid for independence was made all the more attractive because it was pressed under the banner of liberty. The colonial elites had imbibed well the lessons of the Enlightenment, and here in the new world, they had an opportunity to harness liberty in the service of their economic interests. Backed by the self interest of their landed and commercial elites, and inspired by revolutionary ideas, the colonists had a dream worth pursuing. They were prepared to die for this dream - and to kill. They did: and they won.
On September 11, 2001, nineteen Arab hijackers too demonstrated their willingness to die - and to kill - for their dream. They died so that their people might live, free and in dignity. The manner of their death - and the destruction it wreaked - is not merely a testament to the vulnerabilities that modern technology has created to clandestine attacks. After all, skyscrapers and airplanes have co-existed peacefully for many decades. The attacks of 9-11 were in many ways a work of daring and imagination too; if one can think objectively of such horrors. They were a cataclysmic summation of the history of Western depredations in the Middle East: the history of a unity dismembered, of societies manipulated by surrogates, of development derailed and disrupted, of a people dispossessed. The explosion of 9-11 was indeed a "shot heard 'round the world."
Exploring Professor Alam's ouevre gives us more than mere occasion for an orgy of outrage. It affords us an anatomy of the Red-Green alliance, the working relationship between Islamic radicals and the anti-globalization Left.
It has been much remarked (1,2) that Islamic anti-Semitism has borrowed many of the topoi of its European predecessor. To be sure, we need go no farther for corroboration than the web site on which Professor Alam published. Iviews.com (the name presumably parses to "Islamic Views dot com"), is replete with anti-American and anti-Israeli material. Particularly striking is its collection of political cartoons, which are identical to some of the worst, Der Sturmer-like caricatures to appear in modern Islamic media. Some examples (the titles are mine):
Iviews is connected to Islamicity.com, a radical Islamist recruitment site whose viciousness caused the US government embarrassment last May when it unwisely deployed one of its administrators, Mohammed Aleem, as a witness against an alleged terrorist shill. From Islamicity.com, you can purchase one of the most venerable modern anti-Semitic texts, Henry Ford's The International Jew. Just follow the link in the Products pane in the bottom-right of the Iviews.com homepage.
Moving on to Professor Alam's own web site, we are immediately greeted with an image advertising one of Alam's products, a book called Is There an Islamic Problem? The book's cover reengages the theme expressed in the latter Iviews cartoons of cognate Israeli-American evil. (At FWG, we know this to be a fundamental Leftist theme, one which forms a vital ideological bridge between Islamists and their Leftist fellow travelers.) In the Preface to Islamic Problem? we read:
Only a few years back, Francis Fukuyama had announced to the world that man had finally reached the 'end of history,' that Hegel's Zeitgeist, after successively wrestling and defeating the fascist and communist challenges to freedom, had delivered history into the long-awaited Valhalla of liberal capitalism. The American model, combining free markets and democracy, had triumphed. There might be a few road bumps ahead, but henceforth, it would be a straight and narrow path, paved with peace, prosperity, and, not to forget, unchallenged American supremacy.
Perhaps, the attacks of September 11 have ended this end-of-history fantasy. At least, some oracles are now proclaiming that history could not be sent into retirement; not just yet. Sorry, there is one more dragon to slay. A new fascism has reared its ugly head. It is fascism in its Islamic variant. Saint George must again sharpen his lance to slay the Islamic dragon. Why this unseemly retreat from a triumph that seemed complete just a few years back?
Notwithstanding its horror, September 11 was a symbol that spoke unmistakably of the manifold connections that tie the United States - through Zionism, through its messianism, through its links to an older past, through wars, through sanctions, through tens of billion of dollars in military aid, through coups, through partnerships with corrupt monarchies, through vetoes at the Security Council, through demonization of Islam, through the brothels of corporate media - to Palestinians, to Iraqis, to the Arab world, to the Islamicate world, to Africa, Asia and Latin America: in a word, to the Periphery. September 11 was a souvenir from the dark dungeons of our secret history, a digitized, televised image from the lost and forgotten Abu Ghraibs of decades past.
Here Alam interestingly stands the modern history of totalitarian ideas on its head. We no longer find the West, having born and purged the salvationist creeds of Communism and Nazism, battling a religious fascism snatched from the waning fires of its own secular eschatology. Rather we detect in Alam's gloating prose that America, simultaneously a Crusader-like oppressor of Muslims and a callous bastion of capitalism, is edging toward the conclusion of its own millenarian endgame. From his Marxist grab-bag, Alam produces a familiar historical determinism and weds it to the 9/11 hijackers in the service of destroying the capitalist/Orientalist chimera.
The reimagining of Michael Moore's minutemen as Mohammed Atta and his thugs is the main thrust of Alam's vile Iviews essay. In the acknowledgements section of the Preface to Islamic Problem?, we clock a source of this Third-Worldist hatred of a hegemon:
My final acknowledgement is paternal. It goes to my son, Junaid, from whom I have learnt far more than he has from me, at least in the years during which he was negotiating his rites of passage. Instead of writing poetry, as I did to ease my passage, he was reading Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky. I think it all started when a teacher gave him a copy of Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth. I may have helped it along by giving him access to my copy of Aimé Césaire.
Césaire and Fanon were Third Worldist demagogues. Fanon, a Martiniquais psychiatrist, was a violent purgationist whose writings were formative for the French-educated founders of the Khmer Rouge (see Karl D. Jackson's Ideology of Total Revolution, reprinted in Jackson's Cambodia, 1975-1978: Rendezvous with Death, pg. 73). Alam seems to have drunk deeply:
"For the native, life can only spring up again out of the rotting corpse of the settler... for the colonized people this violence... invests their characters with positive and creative qualities. The practice of violence binds them together as a whole, since each individual forms a violent link in a great chain, a part of the great organism of violence... (Fanon 1963:93)"
The autogenesis of a people through revolutionary violence is redolent of the writings of Fanon-precursor Georges Sorel, the proto-fascist, anti-Semitic (see Zeev Sternhell's The Birth of Fascist Ideology, pp. 83-86) father of revolutionary syndicalism. And of course, in Professor Alam the coterminous hatred of America and Israel is mirrored by a complimentarity of anti-Semitism and revolutionary fervor.
Despite being a member of the modern academe, in Zionist Thesis and Anti-Thesis, Professor Alam is not above riffing on the junk-science Khazar Pseudo-Fact to divorce modern Jews from any historical connection to the Holy Land.
"Apart from the legal questions, it would be a little hard proving that European Jews, those who demanded the right to emigrate to Palestine, were in fact descended from Abraham. Even the world’s leading geneticists would feel challenged, trying to establish a connection between a present population and a putative ancestor whose existence has never been established historically. What if this connection was tenuous, or a stronger connection was discovered between Abraham and the Arabs?"
Further down and throughout, in a display of more traditional anti-Semitism Alam is gripped by the simultaneous loathing and admiration of Jews.
Israel has drawn, and continues to draw, upon the world’s most sophisticated pool of manpower-the Jewry of United States, Europe, and Russia.
Our Martian observer also had little notion of the resources commanded by the Jews. Already, by the sixteenth century, the Jews had established themselves as Europe’s leading bankers, since the Church banned Christians from usurious activities. In turn, the European Enlightenment brought equal rights for all citizens, allowing Jews to move out of the ghettoes, and rise to distinction in various professions. Far from being an "inferior race" -- as the Goyims [sic] claimed -- the Jews demonstrated that they had enormous gifts.
As with the hardy anti-Semite ex-Prime Minister Mahathir of Malaysia, Alam invests the Jews with mystical, collective talents and outsize power while seeking to undercut them. In another example, Alam argues in A Predatory Orientalism, that "the Jews, as junior partners of the imperialist powers, would seek to deepen the Orientalist project in the service of Western power".
Indeed, conspiratorial Jews everywhere besiege the edifice of "anti-Zionism", even Alam's own contribution. In response to an e-mail by LGF reader Dean Levitt, sent in protest of his Iviews essay, Professor Alam asked:
Why is it that the only hateful mail I have received is signed by Levitt, Hoch or Freedman?
Alam's writings comprise a kind of anatomical model demonstrating the ideological nexus between Marxism and Islamism. They illustrate the fluidity with which one set of theories informs the other. And, as Alam hints in the Preface to Is There an Islamic Problem?, in the passing of the ideological baton from father to son we discern the practical need to combat this totalitarian hybrid in its earlier stages.
From Jihad Watch.
Postscript: In a Faurisson-lite gesture, the always-dependable Noam Chomsky donates this quote to the bookjacket of Is There an Islamic Problem?:
The analysis is careful and serious, and will be of considerable value to anyone concerned with the crucial and timely issues Alam addresses, whether they come to agree with the conclusions or not.