We know the Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists, the radical Islamic fundamentalist and the suicide bomber. September 11 has engraved these images of the enemy all too well in our minds.
However, as we contemplate the next phase of the war on terrorism, there is a subversive side of our enemy we do not know well.
This Enemy Works From Within
He is inside traditional Islam and undermines its structures. His eclectic style defies modern labels. His profile challenges our stereotypes. His methods are unorthodox and unpredictable.
His goal is revolution, the overthrow of the present social structures and the establishment of something entirely new.
We cannot view him as a terrorist without ideology or write him off as a mere religious fanatic. This enemy, revolutionary Islam and especially its “Islamist” movements, has a unified doctrinal core, and a unique and electrifying mystical vision. It is organized and operational.
These are not mullahs isolated from a corrupt world. Rather, they are versed in our languages, attracted to our technology and even imbued with our ways.
Embittered by real and imagined grievances against the West, these are forlorn children of modernity united in a rejection of popular culture and consumerism. However, they are only too willing to live in and use our own culture in their jihad against the philosophy, political institutions and values of the vaguely Christian West.
Ironically, these same militants also mobilize their own tradition against itself. They have developed an a-historic sharia, or “sacred law,” to fit their new ideology. These politicized but not necessarily pious malcontents freely interpret the Koran to suit their struggle with modernity which they see as an extension of the age-old clash with Christian civilization.
Thus, our enemy does not seek to go back to a historical past. Hiding behind appearances to the contrary, they have actually destroyed traditional hierarchies, tribal structures and ancient customs in countries where they now rule such as Iran, Iraq and Sudan.
Indeed, using modern technology, radical Islam aspires to a coming Islamist society. This enemy dreams of a new world aborning, based on a yet “purer,” more “authentic” form of Islam.
Roger Garaudy, the French Marxist theoretician turned Moslem, expressed it well: “Islam needs to become again an Islam of the poor against an Islam of the princes and ulema who make it the ‘opium of the people.”1
Claiming to be neither capitalist nor communist, Islamist society is a markedly egalitarian and even anarchical third way. To quote the often subtle writings of Islamist theoretician and “prophet” Sayyid Qutb, the Islamist seeks an entirely new order where authority is leveled and subject to Allah alone: a state where there is “no sovereignty except God’s, no law except from God, and no authority of one man over another, as the authority in all respects belongs to God.”2
In fact, Islamism represents a turbanned version of the radical utopian ideas that so plagued the troubled twentieth century. Our enemy is a vocal minority that has succeeded in putting many in Islam at the service of a confusing mixture of Marxist economics, anti-Western politics and postmodern angst. It seeks to pit a “poor” and “oppressed” Islam against the industrialized secular West in a global class struggle that threatens to escalate and intensify.
However, this clash finds resonance beyond Islam’s domain. And with this, the danger is compounded.
It resonates among jetsetting anti-globalists who wander about the globe clamoring against “neo-liberalism,” American “terrorism” and consumerism.
I think it very little that one plane hit the Pentagon. Twenty-five planes should have hit it.
It resonates among liberation theologians who have set Latin America aflame with their gospel according to Marx. Brazilian Leonardo Boff, a founder of the movement, recently exclaimed: “I think it very little that one plane hit the Pentagon. Twenty-five planes should have hit it. We must destroy the whole Pentagon.”3
It resonates with the anarchist fanning anti-American sentiment in Europe or the professor railing against Western values in academia.
It resonated at the recent World Social Forum in Brazil with shouts of “Another world is possible!” amid banners with hammer and sickles and posters of Che Guevara.
In combating our enemy in the war against terrorism, we would do well, then, to expose the Marxist global class struggle of our adversaries both within Islam and the West and their increasingly united front to destroy what little remains of Christian order.
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP)
Published in The Washington Times, March 7, 2002.