I addressed the question of ISIS in the context of communism. I meant ‘new communism’ and refer to the framework we see in Last and First Men: last-and-first-men.com
My point here is that the violent energy of radical Islamism always strikes me as misplaced: fighting to conserve an unstable Islamic civilization, as in projecting a new Caliphate, is still one more of the long list of ways to beat one’s head against modernity: can another way be found to channel this energy. The apparent intent of such a statement is still another round of free advice about modernization, secularization, and submitting to the dictates of imperialist capitalists…. Hey, wait, the two parts are at odds, and no longer connect. Is it really modernization to submit to the depravity of American imperialism, capitalist exploitation, and secular write offs of religion? If it is then it is hardly a duty of anyone to submit. The postmodernists go to this point and fumbled the ball. Why? The idea was that ‘modernity’ was ‘over’ and in a ‘post’ situation one could start over, and soon the traditionalists got a hold of the idea and proposed the restoration of elder religious legacies. The minute they did that the idea backfired. Maybe there really was something to modernity after all. What are we talking about?
It is hard to figure out this problem, but my model of world history can help: we see that there is a progression of epochs. The onsets of these epochs show transitional phases of innovation. That innovation is hard to come by later, as the epoch goes into a kind of steady state. But there are also ‘come lately’ mideonic, i.e. medieval or middle-era ‘restarts’ that try to realize the seeds of the source transition and rescue something from disaster in the long decline from the start of the new epoch. There is no inherent reason why decline is inevitable. Unless it is an entropic issue. Xtianity, and then Islam are the two most classic examples of efforts to restore an energy of civilization, and their character, seen to us now as ‘religious’ as opposed to secular, was in reality ‘ideological integration’, completion of the outstanding project to phase out paganism, and the creation of a political project, in the Occident confronting the Roman Empire, some kind of ‘revolutionary’ projection to replace empire with a new moral order. This the way the seemingly false contradiction between sacred and secular arises. It is still more stark in the contrast of the modern ‘secular’ definitions, and the older ones. But in the end the ‘religions’ of the Axial Age are simply integrators for their age periods. Chase plane rescue vehicles. Rome was one of the idealistic projections of the sphere of the Greek transition, as if one of its city-states, an echo of Athens projected onto the oikoumene of the coming Hellenistic, then indeed, Roman oikoumene, the Athenian starting point clearly included Italy. But Rome’s republic was one of the great starts of the Axial Age. We barely know of its starting point. The Roman Republic bore the same aura of innovation at the onset of a new age that we see in the legacy of many modern republics, viz. the American. The long degeneration we see in Rome, which many now claim to see in the American ’empire’, was subject to the ‘delayed fuse’ revolution (nothing like the modern revolution occurred in antiquity, but the revolt of Israel against Rome was an earlier fossil version) that chaseplaned the empire monster until it fell over dead and was easy prey to the ‘almost a revolution’ of the triumph of Xtianity. Islam was another complex version of this. The point was not religion as such but a new moral and spiritual order in the context of medievalism and defunct empire. This became an obsessive issue of the order of ‘god’ in history. Actually, despite the allergic reaction of modernists there is nothing wrong with this idea, as long as you don’t bungle the job. You can just as well replace ‘god’ with a versions of science, if you don’t again bungle the job, as with scientism. Perhaps a better version of god might help. Better yet to see that sacred/secular issues don’t revolve around antiquated idea of god created by men recently pagan unable to resolve ‘god’ before science. The point then is to let ‘god obsessions’ yield to a new era of thought, where ‘god’ can be reconceived, or whatever. Whatever the case the Reformation shows that ‘god’ can enter secularism without trouble. We need to conserve our energies for more important questions!
In modern times these come to seem obsolete, and the impulse of modernity is set to replace them with secularization. But secularists have forgotten their history. The onset of a new epoch began with a Reformation of Xtianity. Moslems should have long ago sat up to take note: this reality ensured the track of Xtianity into the new epoch. The failure of Islam to follow this course springs only from its disconnect from the Eurocentric impulse and starting point of the new era. But the larger context of a global post-Eurocentric modernization field rapids catches up to Islam and asks for an equal modernization. But as my model of history suggests Islamic countries are outside the modernization focal point. They do not receive the system action found in the Protestant Reformation. This distinction of system action and free action in the macro model is the key to much of the confusion. An Islamic Reformation requires action without the ‘system action’ we find in the West. It must be created systematically via ideological methods.
But this is strange: that’s the same situation that confronted the early revolutionaries in the wake of the French Revolution. The slingshot effect of the modern transition had waned and the onset of future revolution could only come through ‘free action’ in states of ideological reconstruction. The one great success there, but still unrealized, were the twin ideas of socialism and communism. Just as the Isrealite conception of that earlier era conceived a ‘revolution of monotheism’ against an older era, and cast the seeds of a revolutionary monotheism into the future, so the modern transition in its secular phasing beyond older religions, via Reformation, then as secular culture as such, cast the seeds of a future revolutionary cultural integrator (religion, a term no longer functional in the new context). Careful study of this confusing analogy will show the way that communism is really the first of the new ‘Xtian/Islamic’ type chase planes on the scent of the soon decaying modernist experiments. If it was atheistic, so what. But there is no inherent reason to adopt the stance of the generation of Marx. Communism is isomorphic identical to the kind of revolutionary vehicle we see in Xtianity and Islam. Which does not mean we can graft one onto the other.
Islam cast in the mode of an older era is helpless here. But there is an outside chance of its becoming a cousin to the Xtian Reformation and adapting to the secular sphere and both resisting the onslaught of modern constructs in decline: the now fake modernities of capitalist imperialism as neo-barbarism and/or American dollar imperialism. There may be a teleological phantom driving antiquity toward democracy, modernity, and, ahem, capitalism, as the Fukuyamas, via Hegel claim, but there is no such teleology for capitalist exploitation, American degenerate capitalist war to prop up failing economies, and the whole sordid abortion of modernity in the realization. It was here that nascent communism emerged as the vehicle to rescue a system from disaster. And here the kind of ‘finite transition’ model as in LFM can help: it is as if the height of modernity is reflected in the transitional period 1500 to 1800, after that the decline begins at once, and the chase plane rescue vehicles begin to smell the scent of modernity combinations going into nosedive. It was clear to many at the start that capitalism would start to wreak havoc and turn into a new barbarism. This is the situation Islamic countries confront at its worst: behind Israel and the dollar imperialism of the Yankee turkey shoot barbarism doing globalization, the ideals of the Enlightenment are far behind. The system that emerges isn’t religion as Reformation, offers nothing economically except neoliberal screwjobs, and nothing at all in the way of democracy. So at that point the Islamic world can justly say phooey to you: this a fraud and a decayed modernity that is nothing of the kind. At that point the cleverest trick is a better version of modernity in possibly communist guise, with a perfect good Islamic figure of speech, but moving via enlightenment reason into a new order of religion. Mohammed would have endorsed it. This is compatible with a capitalist transition. But Islamic countries are getting the shitty end of the stick. They were all closer to modernization in the early nineteenth. In every case there is a version of this that aborted, or was destroyed by imperialists. The Americans even stooped to fixing a fake Islam on modernists they wiped out. That degree of depravity makes the communist resolution significant to consider. That’s what it was designed for: modernization aborted during globalization due to capitalist jackals.
And at this point even secular communism has failed. With some cunning, and some philosophic profundity of insight into historical dynamics, a clever construct of a new Islam that replaced the sharia with a communism ethos rescued from the confused version of the marxists, could be a rescue vehicle for modernity itself. Its first attempts might fumble the ball and fail to see the cogency of the Reformation, but at some point a communist Islam, as the vehicle of some kind of ‘transmodernity’ could integrate culture, religion, and economics into a genuine form of modernity for an arriving postcapitalism. That’s a tall order, but, strange to say, it’s best to try it, because the American Yankee barbarians aren’t going to provide either modernization, democracy, or secularism. How could the degenerate psychopaths of the neocon American nuthouse provide anything. After the massive war crime of Iraq the point is obvious that if the Islamic world is to reach the modern world, the modern economy, the modern ideology, it won’t come from the American yankee doodle method of capitalist disneyland genocide. It is here that the idea of communism can provide the yeast for a real self-defense. That won’t really come from marxism, which has created a lot of redherrings. But the basic concept is sound and is the same dna as the older religious/mideonic rescue vehicles. Sadly, the first attempt at communism in Bolshevik terms confused the whole question. But it is eminently possible for an Islamic version. We can see the clutching at straws in the idea of a Caliphate by the ISIS group. It can’t work. But a communist ‘Caliphate’ that can bring a brand of modernity and economy, with a Reformed religious heritage that can also speak modern language, could reintegrate Islamic orphans into a new futurity that speak to and beyond modernity.
It won’t come from Yankee psychopaths, so it is time to return to the fundamentals of real secularism which can show how to adapt religion to an oikoumene with enlightenment credentials, not after the fashion of nineteenth century degenerations, but at its core in the early modern.
Study the modern transition as in my model: it is an embarrassment of riches suddenly taken over at the end by jackals. We see modernity through the lens of capitalism. But the men of the modern transition had never heard of it. Adam Smith comes at the end, and does the work of a mediocrity, and suddenly the capitalist mentality becomes the new religion. The communists emerged immediately in this situation to become the chaseplane rescue vehicle. In the age of Ayn Rand we can see that it can only get worse and worse. If the Protestants can adapt to modernity, so can the Moslems. The Protestants also invented ‘communism’ (to come after no doubt a Calvinist phase of economic sin) in the name of Jesus. A Moslem marxist can well salaam an atheist Marxist and then overtake him without bothering about atheism, if he can learn the lessons of that old grouch, Karl Marx.