On the surface they seem so incompatible. One group vociferously promotes homosexual rights, women’s rights, abortion rights, any rights which can be dredged up. The other thinks that homosexuality is a crime punishable by death, that women should walk several steps behind men and that abortion is never to be allowed. Yet they appear willing to work together with hardly a comment on each other’s extreme positions. They sometimes, as in the case of the increasingly deranged George Galloway, even merge totally.
Why are Western progressives so keen on excusing the speech and actions of radical Islamists? Although a shared view of America as the Great Satan is a prime motive for co-operation this goes deeper than the principle of “my enemies’ enemy is my friend.”
Progressive and liberal intellectuals have always been willing to support authoritarianism, whether of the right or the left. Writing in 1942 George Orwell remarked that:
“One feature of the Nazi conquest of France was the astonishing defections among the intelligentsia, including some of the left-wing political intelligentsia. The intelligentsia are the people who squeal loudest against Fascism, and yet a respectable proportion of them collapse into defeatism when the pinch comes. They are far sighted enough to see the odds against them, and moreover they can be bribed.”
This is not just the squalid but straightforward bribery of brown envelopes stuffed with used notes. There is also the bribery of influence, of position, of the ego boost of having powerful people seem to listen to one.
Stalin did not need to pay HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw, the Webbs, Doris Lessing and so many others to walk through famine and see plenty, to visit terror and see freedom.
These progressive intellectuals saw only that which would support their own ideological position, they shut their eyes to anything which might cause them to rethink that position, and were flattered into subservience.
More revealing than the fellow travellers, those Lenin supposedly termed ‘useful idiots,’ are the similarities between the radicals in their undiluted forms. Below the surface differences they share certain underlying core presuppositions and methodology.
Both groups are totalitarian in outlook. They want a centralising elite, political on one side clerical on the other, to control the lives of ordinary people. One group holds to Rousseau’s concept of the General Will, the other to the revealed will of Allah in the Koran, but both concepts require the interpretation of a self-appointed elite, themselves. For both groups it is imperative that the individual must submit his or her will to the collective as articulated by the vanguard.
In order to achieve their utopian goals the followers of Marx and the Muslim Brotherhood follow the same Gramscian strategy, with the same purpose, that of transformation from within. Both groups wish to fundamentally alter the nature of Western society and remake it in their own image. Progressives and Islamists are millenarian in their outlook envisioning the creation of a perfect state. The road to utopia involves many a harsh decision and strange alliance.
Maximilian Robespierre, the grandfather of ideological progressive terror, welcomed the Terror in 1790 with “On ne saurait faire une omelette sans casser des oeufs.” One of the eggshells to be easily discarded by political and cultural revolutionaries is that of ideological purity
Credit where it is due, the unnatural alliance of radical progressives with Islamo-fascists has a notable record of success. Western progressive dominated governments, particularly that of the USA, along with the mass media have been remarkably effective in helping to install the Muslim Brotherhood or their sympathisers in positions of power throughout the Middle East, the most volatile region on earth.
Just as the autocrat Romanovs were replaced in Russia with the much more terrible soviet communists so the Arab Spring has replaced the previous dictators with another and more all-encompassing authoritarianism, Islamic supremacism. The ruling Isamists in Tunisia, once the most secular country in the region and the cradle of the Arab Spring, have just introduced a draft law which would make insulting Islam a criminal offence.
The Arab Spring sees democracy only as a means of gaining power. The sharia espoused by the Muslim Brotherhood does not recognise freedom of speech, of worship or of the right of the individual to make his or her own decisions. That is OK with Western progressives as neither do they, and it all serves to push back Western Enlightenment values.
This morning in the Herald a group of right on luvvies, Liz Lochhead, Iain Banks, AL Kennedy amongst them, demanded that the Batsheva Dance Company be banned from the Edinburgh Festival because it is a “global ambassador for Israeli culture.” The intolerance of one group of artists who claim to uphold freedom of expression demanding that another group of artists be silenced just because they come from the only functioning democracy in the Middle East is totally lost on the progressive fellow travellers of radical Islam.