Imbalance and Its Inevitable Outcome
The world is sliding rapidly to greater chaos and more conflict. Consider these fundamental imbalances:
Europe is rich, atheist, pacifist, but with a rapidly dwindling labor force and military, with borders too difficult to defend practically, even assuming they were willing to defend them ideologically. Now facing them, just next door, is an Islamist adversary. Poorer, illiterate, superstitious, but armed with a fatalistic and supremacist ideology, along with a far greater surplus of military age men and the will to build and use nuclear weapons.
It doesn’t take much imagination to see that these inequalities will resolve themselves in entirely predictable ways.
At the heart of this very temporary balance are a clash of two ideologies that represent either survival or death for the civilized world. This is the struggle of our time: On the one side, Islam, led by the ideological forces of the Islamic State or ISIS. And on the other, the West, led by its secular, atheist, multi-cultural, liberal elite.
The Dual Personality Disorder of ‘Islam’
First a word about Islam. Not ‘militant’ Islam, or ‘extremist’ Islam, or any other qualifiers. The simple facts are these: The Koran, the Hadith and the Sura that make up Islam contain both conciliatory statements (“There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned.” Quran: 2:256), and rejectionist statements that contradict the former (“Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers” Quran 3:151). The follower of this faith must somehow reconcile these dual personalities – with ultimately limited success. Any Muslim looking to activate their grievances against the ‘other’ can find ready ideological ammunition within the Islamic texts.
Islam Creates Grievance that Creates More Islam
However, what sets Islam truly apart is the fatalism woven into the religion and culture itself that stifles the Islamic mind, turning its adherents away from individualism, self-criticism, scientific curiosity or even humor. As Winston Churchill observed in his account, The River War in 1899, “individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die: but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.”
And it is this retrograde force that lays the very groundwork for many of the stark inequalities we see in the Islamic World today – less progress, less equality and less overall well-being. These inequalities create grievances that are channeled into even more Islam through the idea of a glorious future and power over the infidel – achievable only through Jihad. In effect, the culture of Islam creates inequalities which create ammunition for more Islam – a vicious cycle that ultimately destroys both the Islamic adherent and everyone he comes in contact with.
The West’s Approach – Inadequate, Self-Defeating and Dishonest
In the fight against Islam, the West has already proven woefully inadequate, self-defeating and intellectually dishonest. Promoting concepts such as freedom, democracy and multiculturalism are ridiculed and looked down upon by Islamists. Why be surprised? If you follow Islam, then of course God’s law is better than the lying usurper’s. Of course Islamic submission is more praiseworthy and righteous than Western hedonism, and of course the unlimited pleasures due to the loyal Muslim in the next world outshine any temporary pleasures the infidel may experience in this one. And from there it’s an easy step to pursuing death over life.
Quality of Life Cannot Compete with the After-Life
In the mind of the Islamic adherent, ideas relating to ‘quality of life’ therefore cannot compete on a level playing field with promise of the ‘after-life’. In the same way, Atheism cannot compete with a God that empowers the aggrieved or dispossessed. Individualism cannot provide the sense of identity of the collective. Multiculturalism cannot instill the pride that comes of being a follower of God’s chosen and final messenger.
And because such ideas cannot compete with Islam, and as the Islamic idea of a ‘super-religion’ with a glorious destiny for its adherents takes stronger hold of the Muslim mind, the West has resorted to intellectual dishonesty: by attempting to placate Islam – by taking Islam out of the equation. And so after every terrorist attack in the name of Allah we hear that it’s not Islam – only ‘violent extremists’ who have marital issues, mental issues, mortgage issues or workplace issues – any issues other than Islamic ones. But of course this cowardice simply vindicates to the Islamists the righteousness of their cause – and so they strengthen, recruit and grow.
Islam Lives in the Past and the Future
Withdrawing from the battle will also not placate Islam. The grievances of Islam cannot be mitigated by anything the West may say or do at this moment. Instead, their impetus is both historically based while also being messianic in nature. 9/11 for example, was planned and executed to coincide with the anniversary of the Battle of Vienna, on the 11th of September 1683, the last major battle in which Muslim forces faced off and lost against the forces of Christianity. And looking forward, the Islamic Caliphate’s ultimate plan is to subjugate the entire world within its boundaries – and through this, usher in a future world of perfect peace. Placating Islam will not change any of that.
The Military Strategy – Another Failure
While the West cannot mitigate Islam’s war against it through appeasement, it can easily encourage it further however. And this it has done with its failed military strategy. The more the West attempts to militarily destroy the forces of Islam as represented by groups such as ISIS, the more it reaffirms the perceived grievances of all 1.3 billion Muslims, and the more it ignites the religious fire for Jihad and the after-life for millions of Muslim youth.
Is the situation lose-lose for the West then? As it stands right now, maybe. But there is an alternative way that I now put to you.
Taking On Islam – On Its Own Ground
Atheism won’t succeed in converting Muslims – not on a large scale anyway. And not when their entire outlook is predicated on a belief in a God and an after-life. Instead, the West must take on Islam on its own ground. And in so doing, it must rediscover and fortify its own cause.
How? Most people recognize that Islam and indeed, Christianity are outgrowths of Judaism, the original monotheistic faith. Both borrow many of their core principles from Judaism – but over the centuries, much of the founding principles of monotheism have been lost in translation.
A re-focus on these original ideas will help to create a clear argument against both Islam in its current form, and atheism, which has contributed little if anything in terms of real human progress or betterment for the West.
Original Monotheism – Elevating, Not Escaping the Physical
Abraham was the first true monotheist. However, he did not invent the idea of single God. There were plenty of religions of the day that recognized a single God. However, these were all based on the principle that God has his place and man has his separate place. And that to achieve closeness to God, or ‘spirituality’ you first had to distance yourself from the distractions and crassness of the physical world.
Abraham’s defining eureka was to state that there are no separate kingdoms of man and God, where God intervenes only on a must-needs basis. Instead, God is infinite – and therefore in reality there exists nothing else whatsoever. From this realization, the task of man is to demonstrate God’s presence in every aspect of the world – by elevating the physical and imbuing it with spirituality. In Jewish terms this is known as ‘tikkun olam’ – the ‘repair of the world’.
Challenging Authority When We See Wrong
And unlike in the later, altered versions of monotheism, ‘tikkun olam’ demands that man stay firmly rooted in the world – and not escape from it. Human work becomes a holy task – scientific advance, rational thought, questioning the obvious, righting injustice where we see it, clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, as well as treating others as we ourselves would want to be treated – regardless of race or creed or religion.
Abraham’s idea of monotheism demanded that we look at even our mundane tasks as spiritual tasks – that we look at every individual, however different, as created in God’s image. Just as Abraham bargained with God for the lives of the people of Sodom (Genesis, 18, 16-33) so we must demand of ourselves that we implement our own cognitive abilities to ensure that right prevails over wrong – even if that means challenging authority, established norms or popular trends. The entire effort of man is placed in the service of perfecting the here and now – which is considered at least as important as, if not more important, than the next world.
Western Civilization – A Triad of Hebrew Ethics, Greek Logic & Roman Law
This is, of course, a very brief summary. Putting these ideas into practice does not require of anyone to actively become Jewish. The principles of Abraham were always intended as universal ideas. Western civilization as we know it is a triad that rests upon Hebrew ethics, Greek logic and Roman law. Remove any of these legs and the edifice collapses.
By re-examining the original ideas of monotheism and bringing them back into the debate, the West may discover new approaches to its own burgeoning problems – issues such as substance abuse, depression, egoism, the breakdown of marriage and the family, personal responsibility, modesty, respect for elders, care for the vulnerable – all problems that Islamists have pointed to to justify their own violent and extreme ends.
Time to Fight an Ideological War of Attrition
But on a more immediate note, we must begin to use the ideas of original monotheism to fight an ideological war of attrition against Islam, and those who blindly follow it. We must begin to use Abraham’s original message to show Islamists that, instead of honoring their faith’s original founding principles, they have betrayed them and turned Abraham’s legacy into anathema.
The original ideas of monotheism have been preserved by the Jewish people for nearly 4000 years – through unimaginable persecutions and wanderings. The Jewish people have always seen their role as the preserver of Abraham’s unique message – to be handed intact and unaltered to the world at a time when it would most be needed. Now is that time. The future of Western civilization may depend upon it.