We take them for granted in the West now, but the democracy, freedom and Human Rights we enjoy as part of a civilised life today have only had a century of life and could disappear as readily as they appeared.
In a 2008 Washington Post opinion piece, Francis Fukuyama wrote:
“Democracy’s only real competitor in the realm of ideas today is radical Islamism. Indeed, one of the world’s most dangerous nation-states today is Iran, run by extremist Shiite mullahs. But as Peter Bergen pointed out in these pages last week, Sunni radicalism has been remarkably ineffective in actually taking control of a nation-state, due to its propensity to devour its own potential supporters. Some disenfranchised Muslims thrill to the rantings of Osama bin Laden or Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the appeal of this kind of medieval Islamism is strictly limited.
Today, with the horror of Isis, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-quaeda and countless other Islamist factions stalking the globe, this assertion of Fukuyama’s seems sadly outdated.
Further, with Islamic groups such as Hizbut tahir trying to set up a global caliphate and anti-Western preaching in Mosques within our borders, it would seem the consensus that democracy and freedom are even desirable is being threatened.
This is a good time to examine what should be the moral code which we in the West want to stand by, promote to our children and incomers, and if needed, fight for.
- Morality (from the Latin moralitas “manner, character, proper behaviour”) is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good or right and those that are bad, evil or wrong.
We should have a debate within our Western nations about what we value, what we want our world to look like in the future, and what we can frankly do without. We should be having this debate in our schools, in politics, and in our media. We should reach a consensus and stand by it, because if we don’t, we could very easily sleepwalk into a situation where all that is good and dignified in our world is reduced to dust by the oncoming of Islamic aggression.
It has been considered in the past – if we in the UK were to come against a foe similar to Hitler, which side would our Muslim minorities be fighting on? Would it not in fact probably be an Islamic fascist threat – and then where would we be?
Already today there are more than twice the numbers of Muslim fighters fighting Jihad in Iraq and Syria than in our British armed forces. Anjem Choudary says Muslims are ‘Muslim first, British second’. The theoretical position seems to have played out and in reality it’s much more worrying than any reasonable person would have expected.
We as a Nation, and all Western nations need to have a debate, starting now, about how we feel about that. Are we happy to allow a large number of our citizens to openly voice hatred towards the rest of us? To fight for those that would annihilate us, and then to come home to try and do the same to us?
Our traditional tolerance and respect for others is being undermined, as well as our democracy and liberties, by this regressive and fascistic discourse of Islamism.
In Europe, a study of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants found that:
“Two thirds of the Muslims interviewed say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live. Three quarters of the respondents hold the opinion that there is only one legitimate interpretation of the Koran.” (Research of 6,000 Muslims in Europe).
Fukuyama’s thesis in The End of History is that there is a “part of the soul” which has been known to philosophers since the dawn of time, called thymos by Plato, which strives for recognition and dignity, just as the first part of the soul struggled for knowledge and the second for satisfaction of animal desires. “according to Hegel”, this craving for recognition emanating from the thymos is the “driving force of history”.
This, as with Freud’s Id, Ego and Super Ego, sums up the essential conflict within humans between the impulses which either leads to civilisation or chaos, depending on which impulses win out.
Simply, we all need to eat and reproduce, but if all we do all day is eat and copulate, we won’t be very civilised humans. We need to combine the animal parts of our selves with those higher functions linked to learning and acquiring knowledge. Essentially thymos straddles both base and higher functions – the desire for recognition and dignity can lead to a person being driven by ambition to master a discipline, find a cure for a disease or create a beautiful artwork. It can also lead to a person recognising the thymos of another and acting with kindness and empathy and disciplining our baser instincts for the good of greater humanity.
When the urge for recognition is subverted, in a psychopathic personality for instance, it leads to the repudiation of the need for dignity and recognition of others. It leads to the oppression, abuse and rejection of others. This, in a large enough subset of society can clearly lead to anarchy, mob rule and chaos.
What is happening with militant Islam at the moment is precisely this – Islam’s demands on its followers prioritise thymos to a irrational extent. ‘Islam is being blasphemed against – we must kill’ for example, is the reaction of people who believe the need for dignity and recognition of Islam is as one with or greater than their own. On top of this it offers unending fulfilment of physical desires in the afterlife. A potent mix.
We in the West do not on the whole understand a belief system which requires this submission of individual identity. Islam requires its followers to pray five times a day, it lays down very specific rules for the way Muslims must behave in all areas of life. Non-Muslims are not to be believed nor befriended. This does not encourage any love or understanding or dialogue to occur between Muslims and non-Muslims. And we want a world of kindness and consideration, don’t we? Don’t we like it when people are helpful and polite and trustworthy?
There are exceptions, Muslims who have integrated and are Westernised, but we have to face up to it – these are the ones which the most believing Muslims look down upon. The abiding Muslims have not and will not integrate because everything in their belief system, their satellite channels and online sources tell them that the West is to be overthrown and despised. The Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Somalian, Moroccan or Turkish Muslims who want to retain their Muslim cultural identity over that of the West are not going to be able to live in harmony with us, nor contribute to our civilisation.
We have become complacent in our belief that democracy, the rule of law, freedom and Human Rights are immutable. Yet in Islam these values are not relevant. Islam prioritises the law of Islam over others, and the needs of Islam over the needs of the individual.
We need to now decide in the West whether we can accept this rejection by Muslims of the values we hold most dear, or not. Clearly, as all the attacks on us by Muslims have shown, for their part, there is no room for negotiation.
We in the West don’t want to persecute or kill Muslims, that’s good and well. Frankly we who oppose Islam only want peace and security in our own lands, free from forces who want to do us harm.
We may be offended by the idea that some forms of culture and civilisation are better than others but we should want to protect ourselves and all we hold dear from destruction by the forces of regression and oppression.
Yet surely it’s not hard to see – a civilisation which prizes freedom, peace, tolerance, goodness, enlightenment, equality and democracy surely is obviously better than one which prioritizes violence, oppression, intolerance, hatred, inequality and darkness?
What the key values are which make us who we are in the West it should be clear are our love of freedom, tolerance, democracy, our sense that human dignity is essential and must be protected, our belief in rational scientific endeavour and the enlightenment, and our striving for progress. That is what makes us truly Human, and the forces of Islam are so regressive and obscurantist as to be anti-Human.
Whether we want to protect these values is something we need to debate – as currently our leaders do not seem at all concerned that they have let in a large mass of millions of Muslims many of whom do not share most of these values. How we go about protecting these values is another part of the debate – but not debating this is simply not an option, for if we simply let the forces of history take over we renege on our commitment to civilisation and to what makes us human.