Interesting article from Stephen Howe, Professor in the History and Cultures of Colonialism at the University of Bristol, in this month’s New Humanist magazine on what he calls the “general, dreadful intellectual poverty of today’s political Islamism.”
He seems to be taking issue with those, largely on the political left, who believe Islamism is “engaged in a global, world-historical struggle of the oppressed.”
Howe, however, cannot locate any coherent progressive politics in Islamism and instead finds “weary clichés about “The West” and about sexual promiscuity or about racism and Islamophobia”
The whole ideology, he believes, is built on the same kind of vague and lazy psychological and cultural explanations beloved of multiculturalists:
What is striking is the utterly marginal place given to politics, to history and ideas. Nobody – well, nobody serious, anyway – would have dreamed of “explaining” the actions of, say, IRA or Ulster Volunteer Force militants purely in terms of their psychological instabilities, sexual frustrations or warped childhoods.
No doubt many such people did have all those but it was always known that, nonetheless, their actions were motivated, and must be explicated, in political, ideological, historical terms.
For jihadists, though, crude psychologistic or reductive culturalist “explanations” seem far more often than not to be thought adequate – and most disconcertingly, that seems to go for the published self-analyses of former Islamists themselves, not just for hostile or ignorant outsiders.
Hat tip: Scoop Shachtman at Drink Soaked Trots
On the ongoing discussion on the limits of multiculturalism and the left, a lot of people are liking Kenan Malik.
Hat tip: Paul Stott at I Intend to Escape …