Thursday, September 4, 2014
Progressivism and Radical Redemption
The spark that ignites a revolution may initially be progressive but in the aftermath of all that is created is embedded the seed for self-extinction. This is because in order to maintain the momentum of its creative spark, paradoxically, the revolution becomes reactionary, expending all of its energies strengthening its grip on a population that must be impelled to embrace the self-evident virtue of the embryonic political entity. The rulers become bogged down in the minutiae of administration and the initial creative surge is followed by slow deterioration fed by the only thing left to them in order to retain control over the revolutions’ captive neophytes, terror. Fascism is the legacy of all revolutions and death, its inheritance.
Note: The US and Israeli wars for independence were revolts against injustice and I would argue that they were not therefore true revolutions even if their birth surge created revolutionary changes to their societies. But the impetus to the initial revolt was not revolutionary change but the overthrow of an oppressive master.
The central issue of the revolutionary process is that if the initial outburst is the expression of a violent ‘popular’ will and if its purpose is the overthrow of one or more tyrannies, it is inevitable that what replaces it will be another tyranny. Idealism may drive revolution but it is often a cover for gross injustice. As soon as it is challenged by an opposing ideology it can only justify its control by the willingness of its followers to continue to take orders. Those people that are unwilling to follow must be excluded, marginalised even killed. Self-justification demands converts. The greater the corruption of the cause, the higher is the price to be paid by those people that oppose it. This is how incipient religious faith develops its theological infrastructure; by sowing fear in friend and foe.
It is ironic that while Communism may be a non-theistic faith, it remains the closest in structure to modern Islam. Like all orthodoxies, deviation from the norm is viewed as ideological distortion and a threat to the prevalent camp. If theology is the study of the supreme being and the attributes of divinity, then texts viewed as holy writ are to be regarded as inviolate truths and approached with appropriate reverence.
A theology that excludes the non-believer quickly adopts measures to enshrine its dominance over both public and private life. The ends cannot begin to justify the means but I can think of no revolution that has not used terror to enslave the masses even when the many embrace the terror for their own benefit against the minority.
The ends not justifying the means remains a key post-exilic, post second temple period, Jewish religious concept and it is the single most rigid reason that anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox Jews enjoy a measure of sympathy amongst ultra-orthodox communities worldwide. A state not begat by God, cannot be founded by men (and women).
Progressivism means moving forward. It is defined as advocating progress, change and reform; viewed as moving towards an improved society and ‘therefore’ it has to oppose the status quo. It must inevitably be measured by substantive improvement in the socio-economic conditions of its populace. Democratic choice has no logical standing in the progressives’ revolution. Clarity of vision demands personal subjugation to the greater ‘good’ and that can only be achieved by embracing fascism or dictatorship. Contempt for our opponents fosters dehumanization. The increased sophistication of communication eases the commoditisation of human society. When the granularity of existence has been reduced to the level of commodity worship, human beings become mere disposable objects. This happened in Roman times, it happened with Fascism in the 20th Century and in the 21st Century it promises to depersonalise and objectify all human beings.
In its lust for the violent validation of its superior purpose the Islamic world could be compared with the era of western piracy that began with Henry IV of England (early in the 15th Century). State legalised privateers engaged in acts of war but because of the privatisation of their activities this transfer of ‘services’ to the private sector effectively prevented all-out conflict from erupting between nations while successful privateers enriched the English treasury. Exploited by governments eager to take advantage of the profits that acts of piracy generated, the down-side to this activity was the fear and destruction piracy sowed in weaker nations.
Piracy ultimately precipitated the degradation or collapse of society wherever it was tolerated.
To survive, nations were forced to rise up against it. Islamists today are being ignored in a not dissimilar, short-sighted policy of both benefit and fear.
Those people who preach hatred can rarely if ever withdraw from the language of violence. To argue that time cools the passions of the radical thinker is to discount history, theology and the limitless influence of modern technology to reach out to poison the hearts and minds of every human being.
That fear manifests itself in the paralysis displayed by Western governments in dealing with all forms of violence. Hate is one of these violent expressions of extremism we refuse to adequately challenge.
One definition of fascism is that it is anything that is opposed to the established order. Fascism is characterised by chauvinism, authoritarianism and militant intolerance. Intellect without ethics leads in turn, to an apocalyptic betrayal of human values. Harold James in “A German Identity 1770-1990” described progressive radicalisation as a loss of inhibition which contributes to its own momentum. An ideocracy (a government derived from the claim to be fulfilling a supreme purpose) enables genocide to be explained away as the fulfillment of that supreme purpose.
While Israel’s enemies often employ theocracy as justification for their prejudice, Operation Protective Edge created the excuse for an expansion (perhaps to the next level) of global antisemitism, an excuse that was masked as a protest against the war. Radicals, hiding behind a unitary ethical conviction that has a sole victim (in Palestinians) and a multi-dimensional aggressor (in Israelis-Jews-Zionists) will never accept the concept of a war being waged by (radical) Muslim HAMAS against (Jewish) Israel.
Redemption enables the bigot to bed down with people whose usual behaviour would make them social lepers. By equating Israel’s actions with that of World War 2 Germany not only are all debts cancelled but equally of importance, the revulsion we feel for past crimes may be transferred to a new global pariah. Redemption, like baptism, washes away not only sins of commission but also sins of omission and any future sins we hope to commit.
Redemption is a miraculous thing. In the Western world the ongoing breakdown of social order has created a radicalization of dissent. Totalitarian political correctness has led to the cessation of cultural dialogue amongst the majority in society and a repetition of 1950’s style McCarthyism that leads to denunciation and suppression of any viewpoint running counter to the accepted political orthodoxy. This time it is an unholy alliance of Islamists, left wing fascists, radical Greens and anti-globalisation activists who strive to exercise control over the global media. Those of us who fight them are accused of harbouring hegemonic pretensions; it helps too, if we are Zionists. The clichéd Orwellian response of the fascist to any complaint by supporters of Israel is always to stifle our debate for the sake of their freedom of speech.
The doublespeak expresses itself most eloquently in examples such as follows: “Understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important.” (Judith Butler) When we scrutinize the ersatz philosophy of the Judith Butlers of the academic world we reveal the emptiness of the ideas they express. It is frightening that they hold positions of intellectual authority in our universities because they are charlatans but more important than this, because they sanctify the bigot.
Zionism pictured a Jewish utopia in Palestine. Its vision was of a pluralistic, technologically advanced, secular society with equality for all. Zionism, by its utopian nature was naïve. Nevertheless, its founding vision remains the only true progressive vision for the Near-East. The question that remains is how to counter the reactionary totalitarian response to it as the anti-Israel movement bares its antisemitic teeth and builds a momentum fuelled by Muslim immigration and a ‘progressive’ fascist disinformation war that Israel has, until recently, refused to acknowledge, let alone engage.