May 12, 2011

UNDERSTANDING OBL IS THE EASY PART...:

For Osama, there’s no hope of resurrection (Olivier Roy, 12 May 2011, New Statesman)

With the killing of Bin Laden in Abbottabad, al-Qaeda is as good as dead. This was never a mass movement, or one with connections to real-world struggles like the Arab spring — it fed off the fantasies of loners and theatrical mise en scène. [...]

The great wave of democratic revolts in the Arab world has shown the extent to which al-Qaeda had already been marginalised, as much organisationally as in the form of a political discourse. Al-Qaeda, which has never had roots in social movements, ceases to exist if it isn't on the front pages and on our television screens.

In fact, the marginalisation of al-Qaeda corresponds, as I have noted in previous articles in the New Statesman, to a paradigm shift in the Arab world that is religious as well as political. The demand for freedom and democracy in a national context has displaced the imaginary umma, the world community of Muslims, in its struggle with the west. Charismatic authoritarian personalities such as Bin Laden no longer exert any fascination on an individualistic and rather pragmatic younger generation.


...the great mystery of the era is why otherwise sensible folk of the Right imagined that there was any chance of qaedism having a broad appeal and of it representing any threat to the West. At least when Whittaker Chambers and Aleksandr Solzenhitsyn had their great crises of confidence in the West, there was cause for concern--socialism, after all, does have broad democratic appeal and many in the West were ready to give up the fight against the USSR. Of course. Ronald Reagan understand matters rather better and was properly dismissive of the whole Marxist project. He was especially devastating when he noted that Marxism was doomed not just because it had failed on our terms, but on its own.

How much odder then that just twenty years later so many conservatives imagined Islamicism to be on par with Marxism/Communism.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at May 12, 2011 7:18 AM
  
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