Tweedledee and Tweedledum
On the surface, the Left and Islam have nothing in common. Islam is a religion and the Leftists are usually secular people. But three years after the war against Islamism (aka as the war on terrorism) began, it is now clear to me that the two groups have many similarities.
It is true that Communists, unlike Muslims, do not believe in God. But this difference is misleading. Both ideologies require in its followers a high degree of faith. A Leftist has a deep faith that it is possible to change human nature so that one day a perfect, just and equal society will emerge.
This is the Communist Utopia. Their dictum, "From each according to his ability. To each according to his needs", reflect their idea of an ideal world. To them, the evils of the world have its source in Capitalism, whose champion is America. Capitalism is based on individual self-interest in which only the fittest survive and the devil takes the hind-most.
Capitalist economies have succeeded in creating wealth and economic growth. But the price of Capitalism is that inequalities will develop as those who more energy and abilities will outstrip the weaker individuals. The Leftists see inequality in wealth as an injustice. In their ideal world, everybody happily works for the common good and all shares any wealth created equally. To the Leftists, the big corporations are seen as agents of greed and exploitation who exploit labor so as to enrich the idle capitalist class.
They also believe that the poverty in the third world is caused by exploitative capitalist economies and their multi-national companies. This view is soothing for the Islamists who can then blame the poverty and backwardness of the Muslim world on an external entity instead of looking inwards for a probable cause. I have always argued that Islam plays a central role in the backwardness of the Muslim world. See my article, "The Problem with Islam".
The Soviet Union, which the Left sees as the closest mankind has gotten towards their Socialist Utopia has collapsed and has moved towards the Capitalist model. The world is heading towards freer trade and jobs are being re-located to places with lower wages. The left is infuriated with these trends.
They are also blind or make excuses about the abuses and human rights violations in the Soviet Union and Cambodia, where millions were murdered or died in the Gulags and killing fields. Prominent Leftist Naom Chomsky at one stage even claimed that the tales of Communist atrocities in Cambodia were invented or at most localized.
Meanwhile, the Muslim world is equally beset with frustrations. Most Muslims are living in poor countries ruled by corrupt, incompetent dictators. This is especially true in the Middle East. For them, Islam is the Final Revelation and hence Muslims are supposed to be the Best of Mankind. Yet, they have fallen behind. Defeat and western colonization during the past two centuries brought this home to them. In more recent times, the success of the East Asian countries brought fresh humiliations.
This lament for their low estate can be seen in a poem, called Shikwa, written by Iqbal, an ideologue of the Pakistan movement. The poem asks why Allah is unfaithful to Muslims when Muslims remain faithful to Him. A part of the poem says:
“Your blessings are showered on homes of unbelievers, strangers all. Only on the poor Muslim, Your wrath like lightning falls.”
Over the past two centuries, reformers like Al-Wahhab, Sayed Qutub and al-Afghani diagnosed the malaise and concluded that Muslims have strayed from the original teachings of their Prophet. All preached violent jihad.
Like Luther, Calvin and Zwingli, these men wanted to strip away all the accretions that accumulated in the practice of their religion. Today, the Islamists seek to unite Muslim countries to restore the Caliphate. It seeks first to overthrow secular Muslim countries so that they can be replaced with Islamic states united under one Caliph as in the days of old. Their ultimate aim is to dominate the world so that Allah’s laws is supreme. Islamists see the Islamic state much the same way as Communists see the Communist Utopia - a Shangri-la world where their idea of justice prevail.
That neither has attained their respective goals does not deter them. For both, it is a matter of faith. Faith is belief in something that is not proven. In fact, the available evidence is that both Communist and Islamic Utopias do not work. All attempts in establishing them failed. The Soviet experiment failed. Instead of providing justice and prosperity, it created a sick economy, which required cruelty and oppression to sustain. For the Islamists, Afghanistan under the Taliban is as close as one can get to the Islamists' ideal state. The result is hell on earth, not heaven.
For the Leftists, it is difficult to admit that capitalism, a system built on the greed and self interests of the individual actually produces greater wealth and freedoms than Communism does. Their ideal society, which requires the individual to subordinate his interests for the greater good of his society, cannot be put into practice because it is against human nature.
For the Islamists, it is difficult to admit that their vision of the perfect Islamic state ruled in accordance to God's laws does not work because that would be saying that their religion is false. Muslims are expected to follow closely the words and deeds of their Prophet who lived 1,400 years ago as recorded in the Koran and Hadith. It is of course blasphemous of them to ask if their Prophet's behavior is still relevant or practical today. Both Leftists and Islamists are following false ideologies sustained by the faith.
Failure to establishing their respective perfect societies does not prevent Leftists and Islamists to see America as the enemy of their world-view. This is rightly so as America is the chief defender of the democratic/capitalist combination that is sweeping the world and leaving them behind.
The Islamists are hostile to the idea of democracy. To the Islamists, democracy is a form of idolatry. It means that man makes the laws through the ballot box. Thus man's law is supreme and not God's laws as revealed 1,400 years ago to the Prophet. It means that democracies worship man, not God.
The Communists are suspicious of Democracy. Democracy, whose champion is also America, is a mask to disguise the fact that it is the greedy capitalists who control this world and not the people. Thus America's wars in Afghanistan and the two Gulf Wars immediately aroused suspicions that these wars were fought at the behest of oil companies seeking profits.
For the Islamists, any attack by an infidel nation is an attack on the Muslim Ummah. It does not matter if America is trying to replace the evil Saddam regime with a more humane democratic regime. What matters is that Iraq is a Muslim country, which is part of darul Islam. When Saddam caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, neither the Leftists nor the Islamists organized any protests.
For both groups, the US is an example of a polity that competes with their vision of where the world should be headed. For the Leftists, it is the Socialist utopia. For the Islamists, it is the Islamic state and ultimately the world ruled by a Caliph in perfect obedience to God's laws. Thus the beliefs of both Leftists and Islamists in their respective false ideologies have given each of them a blind spot.
Both Islamists and Leftists even have the same excuse for their respective failures. After the failure of the Soviet Union, the Leftist will say, "That is not true Socialism". After the failure of the Iranian, Saudi and Taliban Islamic states to provide a better life for their people, Islamists will say, "That is not true Islam".
But both still persist in their fantasies and have formed ad hoc alliances with each other. When America attacked Afghanistan, both opposed it. Both came up with ridiculous conspiracy theories to justify their opposition. September 11 was a plot concocted by the CIA or the Jews. The invasion of Afghanistan was to allow greedy companies to build an oil pipeline.
When Bush wanted to pass the Patriot Act, both opposed it. They know that without the Act, America's efforts to pursue terrorists would be blunted. Of course, not all who opposed the act are acting maliciously with intent to blunt America’s ability to deal with terrorists. Some are genuinely concerned with the erosion of civil liberties. But each society must strike a balance between civil liberties and the need to save lives.
After the Patriot Act was passed, the Center for Constitutional Rights successfully challenged a key provision aimed at blocking support for terrorist groups in a Los Angeles Court on behalf of the Kurdish Workers Party in 2001.
According to the book, "Unholy Alliance" by David Horowitz, the Center for Constitutional Rights was founded in 1966 by members of the Communist Party or allied with the Left. Some of its key members are also active in the National Lawyers Guild, who had a long history of supporting the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
The ruling by the LA court in favor of the Kurdish Workers Party was called "a setback for government anti-terrorism policies" by the Wall Street Journal.
Most Muslim organizations, both moderate and Islamist, also dislike the Patriot Act because they believe that it was directed against them.
In 2003, CAIR, American-Arab-Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor (MCA), Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) and the ACLU filed suit to declare Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act to be declared Unconstitutional.
Both the Islamists and the Leftists apply a double standard against America. While we don't hear of protests from both groups against atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein, the Iranian Mullah and the Taliban against minority groups and women, we hear no end of the Abu Gharib scandal where nobody was killed.
This is because both groups see in America a successful example and advocate of an alternative vision to theirs on the way human society ought to be organized. Communism and its twin brother Islamism are totalitarian ideologies that seek to sacrifice the individual on the altar of their utopian ideals. Democracy and capitalism, of which America is the champion, celebrates the triumph of the individual. Democracy and Capitalism do work and what the Leftist and Islamist advocate do not. That is why the Leftists and the Islamists are like tweedledee and tweedledum living in fantasyland.
Leftists believe that religion is the "opium of the oppressed". Once their perfect society is achieved, there won't be any need for religion and it would wither away. So they dismiss the Islamist threat. America then is their chief enemy. They would do well to remember what happened to their brethren in Iran after they helped Ayatollah Khomeini to achieve power. They were slaughtered.
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