Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bloody Horsemen of Apocalypse: Islamism, Nazism, Communism

The 20th century was very big on messianic political movements. Europe was a particular hotbed of messianic utopian revolutionaries. First communism, then Nazism.

Communism promised a return to an Edenic paradise, once the evils of capitalism and the bourgeoisie were eradicated from the earth. This was to be a paradise of the proletariat, the true heirs of the earth. There are still true believers in communist/socialist paradise, lurking under dead logs, in universities, in the media, and such. Many of these true believers stand ready to join in the final revolution to place the rightful dictators on their thrones.

Nazism was supposed to be the messianic triumph of the true people--the Aryan race--over the "inferior" races of the world. There are still holdovers from that messianic movement. Many of these true believers stand ready to re-ignite the race struggle, to trigger a race war, to place the "rightful" race on top of the world.

Islamism was reignited in the 20th century by Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood. This messianic movement is based upon the ascendancy of Islam over the world of infidels. It consists of both Shia and Sunni movements which often collaborate toward a common goal, in spite of the hatred and distrust between Shia and Sunni.

Islamism aims for a world that is under the boot of Islamist leaders, although true paradise for Sunni islamists is achieved through "martyrdom"--a euphemistic term referring to a death that involves killing as many non-islamists as possible, including women and children. Paradise for Shia islamists can be achieved through martyrdom, but there is also the mystical messianic element of the twelfth imam.

Apocalyptic thinking

"It means a belief that a cosmic transformation is imminent. The coming transformation of the world can take two forms. The first is that it will end entirely (eschatology). Alternatively, it can be the coming of the Messianic Age. This latter expectation is often called 'millennialism' (mille = 1000, anni = years) not because of the advent of a 1000-year marker like the year 2000, but because it promises a 'thousand-year messianic kingdom'.

"In moderate forms, millennialism exists everywhere since most people have the hope that the world is going to fundamentally improve. But rarely do millennial beliefs become apocalyptic, sweep up groups, movements and whole populations in a frenzied belief that the millennium is now!

"Among believers in an imminent apocalyptic transformation, two major schools exist. The more common passive one says: 'God will cause the transformation, which will lead to either the end of time or the earthly millennium.' The activists claim: 'we are God's agents and have to bring about the apocalyptic transformation.' When they believe that the apocalypse calls for cataclysmic destruction, they deem they can 'save the world by destroying it.' Often their first and most feared targets are Jews and Judaism.

"Hitler's aim for a thousand year 'Reich' - a millennial kingdom - represented the quintessence of the most negative aspects of violent, apocalyptic action. Nazism exploded from a toxic cocktail of conspiracism, rage at a perceived humiliation of the German people, and complete contempt for human life, all the while using the discourse of the salvation of the Aryan race to win over converts. It could thereby inspire 'modern' people, capable of handling sophisticated technology, to engage in the most inhumane activities with a good conscience. The Holocaust was an apocalyptic deed."

.... "According to this teaching, Muslims stand at the brink of a glorious global victory for Islam and a devastating destruction of the West, starting with Israel. Then the world can enter the peaceful millennium of the global Dar al Islam. For many Muslims, Bin Laden is a central player in a cosmic battle between the warriors for truth against Satan's agents in the world, i.e., the West and, in particular, the United States and Israel.

"These are recycled concepts from the time Islam originally spread. Then, Muslims thought that once they threw out the world's bad governments - the Roman/Byzantine and Persian empires - God's dominion would be everywhere. With this ideology, Muslims conquered and spread to half the world, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. However, modern times have treated Islam badly. In particular, from the time of Napoleon's invasion of 1798-99, they have found their political - and now, despite all their oil wealth, economic - inferiority a source of great pain.

...."Jihad operates on two major levels. The first is outright violence. Its aggression emerges in most places where Islam has a border with another culture. From Nigeria, on the Atlantic, across the sub-Saharan divide to Sudan, across Asia to the Pacific, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

"Apocalyptic Jihad in the global era has intensified both the rhetoric and the action. It now emphasizes terrifying hadiths, in which the end marks a genocidal slaughter of Jews, when even the rocks and trees will call out 'Oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!' Others include the Christians in the carnage, a theme common in the 'secular' nationalism of Arab riots in the pre-Zionist period: 'First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.'

"Lately, disturbing evidence suggests that the hadith that claims that at the end of time, every Muslim will have 'a Jew or Christian to substitute for him in hell,' has been interpreted to mean that every Muslim has a Jew - or a Christian - to kill in order to be saved. The Arab Muslim French youngster who slaughtered and mutilated a neighbor since childhood, a successful Jewish disc jockey, last winter, came up to his parents' apartment with bloodied hands and said, 'I've killed my Jew, I can go to Paradise.'

.... Landes considers that we have to watch how the apocalyptic discourse's momentum is developing. "It's common to say that Jihadism is an extremist, marginal form of Islam. In order to comprehend its potential role in current events, we need to understand it in terms of apocalyptic dynamics. Successful millennial movements, like the Nazis, spread from the fringes to the center. And in cultures that are vulnerable to apocalyptic messages - e.g., the conspiracist and disoriented Arab world - technology greatly amplifies its impact. Instead of local pockets, a critical mass of people can grow very quickly.

"Once such a mass has developed, a society's leaders use apocalyptic rhetoric, as has the Palestinian Authority. Thus, this discourse becomes predominant in public. Anybody who disagrees is on the defensive and keeps quiet."

When asked what the future will bring, Landes says: "A billion Muslims are at least attracted to an Islamic millennial scenario in which they take over the world. The vast majority is not yet apocalyptic, but it is certainly possible that both Arabs and Muslims worldwide could get swept up in a fever of apocalyptic hope and violence. Such a scenario may strike us as ridiculous. But in millennial matters, since the millennium never actually comes, unintended consequences play a major role. The more violent and active the apocalyptic scenario, the more destructive its consequences can be, no matter how unrealistic its goals.

"The West cannot afford to dismiss these fantasies because we consider them as unrealistic. We have to listen to what the Jihadists say, and especially, what they say to each other. The West needs - at the very least - to stop encouraging the apocalyptic thinkers by wrongly pretending that they are just upset about the Israeli occupation or American imperialism. Jihadis do not read our self-critical breast beating as a cause for moderation but rather to the contrary, an invitation to further violence.

These three messianic riders of the apocalypse are bloody through and through. Communism killed over a hundred million people in the 20th century, and if Fidel and Kim could work their will there would be many more millions dead in the 21st. Nazism killed ten million or so in the 20th century, and if the neo-nazis succeed in provoking race wars, millions more may follow.

Islamism is the most active bloody horseman of the apocalypse, and given its strong ties to the billion+ strong religion of Islam, it is the messianic horseman with the greatest staying power, and destructive potential.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of Putin are quite different than nuclear weapons in the hands of an Ahmadidinejad. The Iranian madman plans to eradicate entire nations and peoples--he intends radical genocide, lacking only the means, for now. Previous calculations of mutual deterrence do not apply to a messianic.

To understand messianics, a person should have once been a messianic himself. Otherwise it is difficult to think like a messianic, to understand what the radical apocalyptic is thinking and planning. That is the shortcoming of most western analysis. A further shortcoming of western analysis--particularly leftist analysis--is making the a priori assumption that western civilisation is bad, so that any civilisation opposing western civilisation must always be given the benefit of the doubt.

This undercutting of the west by so many western analysts leaves a profound vulnerability, an unpreparedness, in large sectors of the west. That bodes ill for the inevitable conflicts to come. Nevertheless, it is discussions such as this which allow second, third, and deeper level currents in the west to prepare for what is coming. To paraphrase Kyle Reese from The Terminator:

Listen! And understand! They are out there. They can't be bargained with! They can't be reasoned with! They don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!

Hat tip augean stables blog.

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