September 14, 2007

Islamofascism, Basilisks and Other Mythical Beasts

[T]he type of fascist dogma which is an inherent feature of Islamism.

--James Kirchick

If “fascist” is more than a political swear word, I don’t see how it applies to Islamists, not even Hamas.

If “fascism” as an analytical category has any meaning in the Middle East, it might be applicable to the Ba’ath or the Lebanese Kataeb (Phalange). These are groups founded on a party structure with a strong authority, national/ethnic chauvinism, and a self-conception as future-oriented (”progressive”) revolutionaries. They aren’t sectarian and often appeal to minorities such as Christians and Allawites.

The Islamists, on the other hand, tend to look beyond nationality and ethnicity to a dreamed of pan-Islamic order that will restore an imagined past when sharia reigned. They are reactionary, which fascism is not. (Hamas is a bit more nationalist; although springing from the Ikhwhan (”Muslim Brotherhood’), they put more emphasis on the Palestinian cause than on the Caliphate.

The “Islamofascist” concept appeals to people for whom it is always 1938, and for whom every diplomatic démarche is another Munich. Jihadis are a real threat, perhaps more intractable than the European isms of the Thirties, but they’re not fascists, and it’s not 1938.

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