An excellent piece in The Nation’s September 11 2006 issue criticises the misuse of the term ‘fascism’ in today’s political dialogue, as well as the nonsense of a concept of ‘Islamic-fascism’ (or ‘Islamo-fascism).
“Islamo-fascism” enrages to no purpose the dwindling number of Muslims who don’t already hate us. At the same time, it clouds with ideology a range of situations–Lebanon, Palestine, airplane and subway bombings, Afghanistan, Iraq–we need to see clearly and distinctly and deal with in a focused way. No wonder the people who brought us the disaster in Iraq are so fond of it.
Crystalising perfectly my feelings about this silly term, Katha Pollitt only hints at what I’ve said before about who precisely is closer to fascism if one compares Osama bin Laden and George Bush, Jr. At least I can be sure of one thing: some people out there continue to care about the meaning of words.
Oh, and while I’m here, I’ve a nice article in the works about Melanie Phillips, the sour-mouthed darling of the right-wing blogging world.
4 thoughts on “‘Islamo-fascism’ – an emotional term”
I still care. The term “Fascism” is one of the most abused and misused in political debate. Fascism doesn’t mean gas chambers, anti-semitism, genocide etc. When it comes down to it, Fascism is simply an economic system, like Capitalism or Communism, that involves state co-ordination of unions and big business – with the emphasis being on big business. It basically defines a very close and mutually beneficial alliance between corporations and the state. As you say, from this perspective, America is perhaps closer to fascism than any state in the Middle East or even the world. It’s interesting that whilst we increasingly hear the term “Islamo-fascism”, the term “Christo-fascism” doesn’t even exist. I agree with the author that the term, like “anti-american”, is just an emotionally simplified empty term to stop any serious debate.
Hi Nicholas! Sorry but I must not agree. Fascism, as you mentioned, is an economic system based in the items you said, but also is composed by certain elements like ideology and non democratic carachteristics. What you mention is autoritarism, which is not a system, but a carachteristic of any politic system. Even democracies become more and more autocratic and autoritarian when they are “in danger”. After all, Fascist grew in Europe in a moment of unstability and terror, with a very weak economy and social reminiscences from the 1st WW.
Islam, in other hand, cannot be defined as fascist, but as medieval. We must remember that the sociocultural context in which most of the islamic countries in the world (but luckily not all) is comparable to the catholic feudalism in the Middle Age.
The islamic-fascism is therefore a sociocultural problem: the equivalent to the confrontation between the fanatic catholics and the well educated muslims of X century. What we have now is the same, but working in the opposite way.
Can we blame to these countries when we have definitely contributed to the composition of the actual geopolitical frame? Remember it was US who supported Talibans, Al-Qaeda and S. Husseim as a tactic advantage to maintain the supremacy against Comunism.
PS: Just to make it clear. This does not mean I support in any way islamic terrorism or muslim oppresive cultures.
PSPS: Sorry for the spelling today… after a month in the beach my english got crappy 🙂
Coco, the point I was trying to make is that ‘Islamo-fascism’ simply doesn’t exist. It, along with a wide variety of terms employed by neo-conservatives (‘terrorism’, for example) are, as Katha Pollitt put it, emotional terms masquerading as analytical terms.
Besides which, to refer to Islam as ‘medieval’ is a huge generalisation. It may well be that most Islamists hark back to a time when Muslims ruled Spain but most Muslims aren’t like this at all.
Islamo-fascism is more a term of abuse, than a real attempt at a definition of anything. Its a way to get over all those irritating details like the differences between shia and sunni muslims, or that Hamas are not the same as Al-Qaeda. It’s also especially handy for those who used to be on the left but have now made the journey to neocon heaven – allows them to carry on using leftish sounding rhetoric at the same time as they embrace right wing ideas. Look forward to the article on Melanie, hopefully you won’t suffer any temptation to be too polite!