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No surprise that a fascist foresaw National Islamism

Reader comment on item: Muslim Life in 2021, as Predicted in 1921

Submitted by Dave (United States), Feb 25, 2021 at 12:52

I should really read his book before spouting off, but it's hard to resist the idea that someone attuned to National Socialism would foresee National Islamism, as the two have much in common.

The Nazi movement, as well as Italian fascism, involved a combination of Socialism and extreme nationalism. Most of the fascists had a background in Socialism or Communism. Those philosophies are both universal - "Workers of the world unite!" - and are therefore supra-national in concept. Modern fascists, however, concocted an heretical form of Socialism which was nationalistic in nature. In a parallel sense, Islam is also universal, appealing to the worldwide Ummah, regardless of ethnicity or nationality. In modern times, however, we see a nationalistic, unorthodox form of Islam, often called "pan-nationalism". It has been seen in various incarnations and places, such as in Syria, Egypt, Iran, or, most strikingly perhaps today, in Turkey. Erdogan is just an old-fashioned chauvinist, nothing "pan" about him, truly Mussolini's doppelganger.
National Socialism combines the coercion implicit in maintaining an unnatural Socialist economy with a racist and chauvinist version of nationalism, while National Islamism combines the coercion in Sharia with a jihadist version of nationalism. It's no accident that the Nazis made warm friends with Islamists.

As for Western influence, one can easily see that antisemitism and imperialism resonated nicely with many of the trends present in Islam, and added new justifications for them. The good Western stuff, like Democracy, individual rights and religious pluralism, seem to have been better welcomed in non-Muslim lands previously under colonial rule, such as Hong Kong and India.
And yes, Stoddard took ideas seriously. Ideas, particularly religiously inspired ones, have a tremendous potential for overcoming self-interest. The most enduring communes were always the religious ones. The Israeli kibbutz, a collective inspired by Zionism and Socialism, usually lasted through three generations before collapsing into a glorified resort fueled by private enterprise.

Ultimately, however, I think his optimism is justified, as Islamism is simply too impractical to endure, although it may take many, many years to fade out. Crazy nationalism is another story.

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