Monday, September 20, 2010

Call me Causobon because I make things up

When Taches d'Heiule is quoting DFW, things have gotten weird on the internet. And since the internet happened, we can really write whatever we want to on it. So in the interest of saying whatever I want, I'll run through a DFW-style thought experiment, and one that flies in direct opposition to what I said in my last post.

Instead of talking about the future of Islamicism, what if the entire concept of Islamicism didn't really exist? What if, because it is so difficult to really define a movement that is so disorganized and de-centralized, we can see if the movement exists at all? If its not, instead, a teleological explanation of numerous different disparate movements?

I'm not just saying stuff to be all Hipsterrunoff, I swear. The main crux of my argument is that Islamic governments and movements don't help each other out without a good reason. Kosovo, for all of it being the Muslim Outpost in Europe that all Muslims are supposed to want, has gotten very little aid - or even recognition, from other Muslim countries. Kashgar, a metropolis in Xinjiang/East Turkestan, the Far East of Islam, has been similarly ignored. Simply put, the sort of people who are big on the world stage don't want to upset Russia or China unless they absolutely have to. Growing the Caliphate and sticking the white flag all over does not qualify as worth it.

And on the same point, the folks that do want to stick it to Russia have no problem supporting political Islam in one way or another. Definitely-not-Muslim Poland recently sorta-arrested-but-then-didn't a Chechen separatist. And there's a wikipedia list of places that are named after Dzhokar Dudayev. Guess where they are.

Islam as a political movement is, of course, complicated. The whole uncited mess that is "Iran donates to AKP's Campaign" makes little sense from an economic standpoint ($25,000,000? For what?), from a diplomatic standpoint (why are only un-named Foreign Service officials the ones talking about it?), and also from a Islamic-axis standpoint (why is a Twelver supporting Sunni orthodoxy?). If true, it only makes sense from a political standpoint, that is, Iran is supporting their neighbor and trading partner. Religion, honestly, doesn't apply. If its true.

Islamic Finance has fascinated me for a while now. It is presented as not just a morally superior way to bank, but also a corruption-free way to bank. Which is, of course, awfully nice but may not always be true. Corruption is as corruption does. Corrupt dudes (and chicks) live all over the world despite any purported religious leanings.

So on my quest for finding the underpinnings of Islamic Banking, I kept on running into the same answer. Islamic Finance, according to those who know, is a fig leaf. As one of those experts said:
...engagement with the [Islamic Banking] industry can only lead to one of two outcomes: (i) co-option and corruption if one remains engaged and perpetually engaged through incoherent justifications, or (ii) frustration, demoralization, and eventual disengagement. 
So they're just like any other bankers. Cretins. Jackals. Makes sense, actually.

This is where my train of thought leads. Purportedly Islamic actors still act for their own gain, not any particular Muslim leaning. They do what will help them gain/retain power (I mean politicians here, not Imams, Hafiz, or any other sort of legitimately religious person. Just politicians). Selling "their own" down the river is done just as often as, well, anyone else does. Window dressing may be different, but the underlying shittiness of politicians is the same.

And until someone can convince me otherwise, I'm going to go with the current understanding I have of Islamic finance. That its just an excuse for dudes who want a lot more money to do so under the name of Islam. Makes sense, actually. So I'm sure (and I welcome!) someone will correct me, yeah, this at least makes the argument cohesive.

If you believe all of the following, political Islam is a paper tiger. Sure, there may be some really bad dudes who use Islam as a rallying call, but that's hardly new news. And if political Islam is a paper tiger, then real, religious, Islam, is nothing to fear. And thus articles like Andy McCarthy's make no sense.

Terrorists get pointed at as terrorists solely because they fall under the scope of political Islam. Which is a logical fallacy if you subscribe that political Islam doesn't exist as a movement. And thus conversionaires who are doing their task to convert people to Islam aren't just creepy proselytizers, but instead nefarious masters-of-dark-arts who are destroying America. There's a whole entire diabolical conspiracy there that involves labelling any Others as, well, Others, that there's really a strong argument against existing.

And I should reiterate that I'm not completely convinced that everything I just wrote is true. It's much more of a Foucault's Pendulum assemblage of facts into something that looks like a coherent theory but may not be.

But its food for thought. Not saying that you should believe it, but saying that if you run into Andy McCarthy, you can say "well, but I read this thing once..." and have fun with it from there.

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