Following the fall of communism the European Left was largely discredited. Yet there was little recognition that most people are only comfortable with a middle ground in their every-day existence. The politics of envy that communism exploited could no longer attract a mass following unless it could surround itself with disgruntled followers who could be convinced that an “us and them” scenario still existed. The issue was not that poverty had ceased to exist or that injustice was no longer rife in the world but that in only a few kinds of society was the possibility for improvement so stifled as to create mass dissatisfaction.
80 per cent of people living in the Western world are now classified as belonging to the middle class and the rest of the world is rapidly joining them, thus making the pool of malcontents to exploit working class dissatisfaction too small to pose a significant threat to societies. There is an issue here. We should care for the poor more than we do but the Left no longer enjoys a constituency of limitless potential to inflict damage on the establishment. It is part of the establishment and very comfortable at that. It has not created a political debate that would animate a significant minority of the population to force a momentum for change in order to help alleviate the suffering of the marginalized poor. And most of the poor are protected by some sort of safety net. It is not that people are not vulnerable but a critical mass of people who need our help, even where they do exist do not automatically turn to the Left as their savior.
We do not possess clear cut definitions to tidily fit a Marxist revolutionary model. Class definitions based on social identity and economic capacity are no longer necessarily connected. Social class is relatively stable and defined by cultural affinity while socioeconomic class is far more fluid. The lower classes barely exist compared with the past other than as small marginalized groups whose problems are complex and not easily fixed. The working classes often earn far more than their professional class ‘rivals’. The working classes are likely a sub-set of the middle classes as both an economic and a socioeconomic group.
The lower classes have been replaced by an underclass of resource poor families and individuals and this group now includes members of the middle classes – their common denominator is their poverty but not their education or even their social background. The rapid growth in food banks attests to the issue of resources as being the most immediate problem. There is little debate about how to solve the unemployment issue in society. Civil society has failed to confront the ethical question behind what is a manageable, acceptable level of unemployment or under-employment. Instead, society treats the unemployed as a statistic, as an economic lever that is useful for manipulating wage policy or as an inevitable aspect of any economic cycle. The reality for humanity is that it remains as it has always been, a damaging cyst eating away at the vitality of every society.
The left clings to the tired clichés of nineteenth and twentieth century envy populism to sell an anachronistic product whose starting point is predicated on encouraging conflict and division. But today, those issues are further complicated by religious extremism.
The countries with most pronounced inequality are unequal for all of the traditional reasons such as structural deficiency which fails to protect the weak from the strong, tribal domination and social stratification which permanently traps the poor in hierarchical disadvantage.
If in previous centuries the poor were trapped by their powerlessness, modern weaponry has changed the usual outcomes of enslavement or persecution but it has also created the conditions for unending warfare and ever increasing numbers of casualties. Relative advantage is never assured but the balance of power has shifted from the state to anyone able to buy modern weapons and attract followers.
The next change from the past is that many of the disenfranchised poor are in the Muslim world which paradoxically contains the world’s greatest concentration of material wealth. However in this case, class tensions are a product of ethnic and tribal rule resulting in rising income inequality and increasing unemployment with vast numbers of people simply shut out from any possibility for a future not mired in extreme poverty because they are not part of an empowered group. Egypt and Turkey, two of the largest Muslim nations, are, in particular, guilty of this divide. It has created the political conditions required for revolutionary change to occur. Except that while prior to the late nineteenth century, movements were reactionary and fundamentalist, from the late nineteenth century and onwards they were ‘revolutionary’ – a mixture of secular populism and in the Muslim world, Islamic populism. After many decades this mix has been proven to be successful in rallying a wider group of disaffected and marginalized fighters but as ineffective as previous movements in solving the issue of class-tribal inequality. Islamic populism overcame its secular rivals by creating a social movement that at least in theory supported community, social justice, religious authority and a return to glory days of Islamic and Arab domination. And the religious movements learnt the lessons of past demagogues.
Historically successful movements in the Islamic world were horrendously ruthless in subjugating their enemies and conquering their neighbors. The Islamic State (IS or Daesh) as well as those movements that preceded them (such as Al Qaeda) can quote the Koran to justify total rejection of modern civilization in favor of extreme acts of violence and brutality. Other faiths are condemned for having moved on from their early history. The peculiar nature of Islamic society is that its civil society has never been separated from its religious infrastructure (except in Turkey during the Kemalist period spanning 1923 and 2010) and so the faithful justify everything by claiming fidelity to the violence and barbarism of Islam’s Seventh Century of the Common Era (A.D.) foundation. Classic concepts of cultural and physical conquest are based on ferocity, fear and theft; it represents a rational assessment of historical Islamic precedents of conquest. Slaughter everyone who resists you and the next area you invade will either fight you to the death or will collapse in fear, more likely the latter than the former. Islamic history has glorified this strategy and it has nearly always worked.
The Arab Spring truly became a winter of discontent (and bloodshed). The only way the extreme left could justify its existence is by allying itself with a Pan-Arab kindred spirit. And that is frightening because, given what we now know of their brutal suppression of opposition, this partnership places the extreme Left squarely alongside the Nazi political continuum. The kindred spirit to which they aspire to cooperate in “revolutionary resistance to Western society” is Muslim.
If pan-Arabism and Islamism are both viewed as progressive kindred spirits then their religion is untouchable, beyond criticism. In their Manichean world Israel is a malformation that must be excised from the region for the greater (Muslim-Arab) good. This is the well-spring from which all Jews are damned, unless that is, they are Jewish Uncle Toms, the professional anti-Semites who wield religious identification as a sword to strike down their co-religionists. The ideological basis for this anti-Judaism is as ruthless as it is consistent with the historical record of brutality they try to conceal.
Fascism is a movement that aggressively denies its foes any voice in protest against their persecution. It is dependent on regimentation and suppression of contrary ideological positions. Albert Camus, writing in “The Rebel” says that “Fascism is an act of contempt. Inversely, every form of contempt, if it intervenes in politics, prepares the way for, or establishes, fascism.” And Leon Trotsky (on National Socialism in 1933) “Fascism has opened up the depths of society for politics. Today, not only in peasant homes but also in city skyscrapers, there lives alongside the twentieth century the tenth or the thirteenth (century)….”
In its desperate need to prove that it is still relevant the Left has moved towards the hinterlands of political activism by its unquestioning embrace of Arab – Islamic causes. Though Islamofascism threatens to further compartmentalize the Middle East into mutually intolerant ethno-fascist cantons, the Left continues to drift further into a democratically fatal accommodation with them.
Israel will one day have to make peace with bad people. But it must not compromise on either the issue of lack of trust or the ongoing incitement, which negates any efforts to construct a solution that serves the cause of peace – for both sides. Prior hostility is the root cause of present day racism-antisemitism and it predates Zionism. Western ‘liberal’ fascism has collaborated with anti-Judaism for too long and it makes the task of achieving peace all the more difficult. This is because that hostility to Jews in Europe as well as in parts of America makes trust almost impossible to prove.
The credibility of political fascism is based on the assumption that demanding a blood sacrifice will placate the butchers for whom 1,400 years of blood and conquest has only created greater enthusiasm for killing, not less. The theory of appeasement has never worked but its enthusiastic supporters do not stop trying because they never have to make the sacrifice. Where time and again it was the Jewish peoples “turn” for sacrifice it is now Israel’s turn. So appeasement is justified by first preparing the public. The assumption that the Jewish people will be coerced into placing their collective heads into the gluttonous Islamic lions jaw, and that their probable sacrifice will assuage the blood-lust of a faith for whom cultural conquest and physical domination are intrinsically theologically fused into a single vision of a world ruled by them and for them only – is fundamentally flawed. Appeasement never works. But society is only accustomed to a flawed status-quo where we scapegoat others to compensate for our failures.
The Islamic inheritance is not entirely the responsibility of its Muslim followers. But prejudice and intolerance, theological and political violence are a historical part of the Islamic heritage that helps to explain the flood of Western Muslims to Daesh (IS). The ethics of decapitating ones enemy with a rusty knife is not part of current Western discourse nor is it part of OUR civilized behavior. To outgrow twentieth century fascism the Muslim world needs to have experienced shame, not humiliation. Humiliation is what it feels because of a perceived “War on Islam.” The secular order understands and condones attempts at appeasement because it does not attach any importance to an Islamic threat to that order, at least not in the Western World.
Shame is something altogether different. In this century alone, millions of people have died so that those on the Left can feel comfortable not facing up to their own ideological prejudices, myopia and historic failures. Maintaining silence and ignorance about Islamic theological outpourings sanitizes the crimes of the Left as well as those of Islam and the absence of shame encourages and facilitates further atrocities. There can be no respite from terrorism and no movement towards peaceful co-existence anywhere in the world while Israel and Jews are demonized for the sake of the appeasers, not even for “Peace in our Time.”