Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Islamist-Straussian folie á deux

I recently referred to an upcoming BBC documentary "The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear". This article by Andy Beckett on that documentary considers surprisingly deeply and fairly issues which are part of pure conspiracy theory. It refers to the thesis of the program based in the thinking of producer and writer Adam Curtis:

"The Power of Nightmares began as an investigation of something else, the rise of modern American conservatism. Curtis was interested in Leo Strauss, a political philosopher at the university of Chicago in the 50s who rejected the liberalism of postwar America as amoral and who thought that the country could be rescued by a revived belief in America's unique role to battle evil in the world. Strauss's certainty and his emphasis on the use of grand myths as a higher form of political propaganda created a group of influential disciples such as Paul Wolfowitz, now the US deputy defence secretary. They came to prominence by talking up the Russian threat during the cold war and have applied a similar strategy in the war on terror.

As Curtis traced the rise of the 'Straussians', he came to a conclusion that would form the basis for The Power of Nightmares. Straussian conservatism had a previously unsuspected amount in common with Islamism: from origins in the 50s, to a formative belief that liberalism was the enemy, to an actual period of Islamist-Straussian collaboration against the Soviet Union during the war in Afghanistan in the 80s (both movements have proved adept at finding new foes to keep them going). Although the Islamists and the Straussians have fallen out since then, as the attacks on America in 2001 graphically demonstrated, they are in another way, Curtis concludes, collaborating still: in sustaining the 'fantasy' of the war on terror."

Some things I'm really tired of:

  1. the war on terror;

  2. its evil twin, the war on drugs;

  3. constantly harping about terrorism while never even mentioning the significantly more violent state terrorism which precipitated it (all news coverage on Israel falls into this category, and the entire war on terror seems to be part of a planned Israeli propaganda war as reflected most clearly in the writing of Benjamin Netanyahu);

  4. blaming every mysterious act of violence on 'al Qaeda', before any facts could possibly be gathered, to the point where it would make as much sense to blame it on Martians (an example of this is the recent bombings in Egypt which were blamed on 'al Qaeda' before the dust settled);

  5. conversely, the reductionist claim that al Qaeda doesn't exist and never existed (but it is certainly legitimate to question whether any particular attack is the work of al Qaeda or some group attempting to defame Muslims).

We can't stop the disgusting news media from perpetrating these lies, but we should at least learn to recognize the consistent signs of when we're being lied to.