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Previously, I noted that while US President Bush never equated Islam and fascism, it was not advisable to use this term as a slogan in official political rhetoric because it angered Muslims and labeled the speaker or writer as an Islamophobe. "Islamo-Fascism," like the term "Fascism" itself, was born out of the need for political spin. As such it appears to have outlived its usefulness.
Regardless of its attractiveness as a political slogan, we can ask whether "Islamo-Fascism tells us something about the relation between Islamist extremism and Fascism.
In the Sunday Times, historian Michael Burleigh carefully lists all the similarities and parallels and relation between radical Islamism and fascism, and then obscurely vetoes the use of the term because Islamofascists is a dangerous label. Some excerpts:
Having ably made the case for why Islamism is like Fascism, Burleigh tries to destroy it. He writes:
But of course, it was the collapse of real nationalism - as exemplified by Czechoslovakia, and the collapse of real socialism, that produced Fascism. Any delusions about the relations of Fascism to socialism should have been removed by Hitler's purge of the S.A.
Extreme nationalism is not incompatible with empire building. On the contrary. Mussolini was intent on conquering Ethiopia, Albania and Greece, and Hitler, far from being content with a one-nation Reich, was intent on conquering and enslaving all of Europe and Russia, as well as North Africa, Palestine, and whatever else he could conquer. The Japanese were likewise intent on empire. Most fascists, like Islamists, were empire builders. The only fascist who didn't go after an empire was Spain's Franco, and if you count him as a Fascist, Juan Peron of Argentina.
Burleigh gives some sound advice about dealing with Islamism, but he never explains why he thinks the term "Islamofascism" is 'dangerous."
At Tharwa, Mary Ann Tetreault and Clement M. Henry offer two more views of fascism and of whether or not Islamism is fasicsm. Henry writes:
Indeed, who was the fascist, Adolf Hitler, or the judge who put him in jail for the Munich putsch attempt, Mussolini, or Winston Churchill, who mobilized opposition to Hitler and Mussolini by "strong arm tactics?" Good thinking, Clement Henry.
Henry also offers his own version of the Marxist definition of fascism:
That was hardly the appeal of Mussolini to the workers of Italy, nor was it the popular appeal of Hitler. Hitler used the threat of Bolshevism to enlist German capitalists in his cause, as well as eliciting sympathy from the British upper class. But the workers didn't vote for Hitler because they feared communism. Popular support for fascists in Spain, Italy and Germany came from those who feared egalitarianism and Western liberalism and blamed them for the problems of their country. In any case, President Ahmedinejad and Osama Bin Laden has established records as anti-Bolsheviks that would make both Hitler and Mussolini proud.
Mary Ann Tetreault incidentally demolishes Burleigh's argument that Fascism was born of Nationalism and Socialism when she notes,
Unlike Henry, she is willing to allow that some Islamists are pretty much like fascists.
Evidently different experts are divided on the nature of fascism and the nature of Islamism. Burleigh explains exactly why Fascism and Islamism are similar, and then retreats from his conclusions. Henry gets confused between the good guys and the bad guys, while Tetreault uses arguments that contradict those of Burleigh and Henry.
In the next essay on this subject, I will examine the relation between Islamism and fascism by two other methods.
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Replies: 4 comments
"...but they share a similar nihilistic pleasure in chaos and destruction." - Michael Burleigh
Posted by OMFG @ 10/06/2006 11:36 PM CST
Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 10/07/2006 06:12 PM CST
OMFG, you are confusing Nihilism as a movement with "nihilism" as a popular adjective. Obviously Islamists are not Nihilists in the proper sense as they have a very strong belief in "Allah" and his supposed teachings.
Ami, regarding "fascism [was] a counter-mobilization of elements of society that viewed...organized workers as a threat." I think your second argument is infinitely better than your first. Working-class and lumpen fascists regularly cite anti-Communism as their primary motivation. On the other hand, the Iranian state has very effectively atomised the workers' movement and slaughtered communists of the Tudeh party and others. The Islamist websites regularly denounce communism as an alien "western" ideology.
Posted by Spike @ 11/08/2006 03:36 PM CST
Your splitting semantic hairs about the meaning of the word ismalic fascism is rediculous. You ignore that the Muslims supported the Nazis before WWII ever started ala Iraq and syria. Maybe you should apply the same obfuscation against the word Palestinians like you do with islamofascists, is not it true that the arabs took a 2000 year old roman latin curse against the Jews and twisted it onto the muslim body politic, but only after 1964. So islamic fascists exist, while paestinians do not.
Posted by James Just @ 11/23/2006 09:06 AM CST
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