I received lots of feedback on my last post, What Is To Be Done (apologies to Lenin). Some correspondents said that I should have distinguished between ‘radical Islam’ and plain old Islam. The radical kind is our enemy, they suggest, and I damage my case by attacking Islam in general. Some said that I was crazy to call for the West to fight 1.4 billion Muslims.
I have been writing this blog and its predecessor since 2006, and while I’ve been critical of Islam before, I’ve always drawn the distinction between radical Islam and the theoretical moderate or reformed Islam. My decision to stop making this distinction was a considered one.
Although there are those who would reform Islam (here for example) the public face of Islam is that it is what it is. With small exceptions (whose adherents are considered apostates by mainline Muslims) there are no counterparts to Reform or Conservative Judaism. The leading Islamic universities and madrasas all teach what they see as an orthodox Islam. Obviously there are differences between Sunni and Shia Islam and less important divisions, but in any particular case (both Sunni and Shia) there is no room for ideological divergence. And in many cases, the penalty for it is death.
Islam will not reform itself in the near future, and it goes without saying that non-Muslims are not able to reform it. There really is no such thing as ‘moderate Islam’. What there are are moderate Muslims who for whatever reason don’t strictly follow the dictates of their particular branch of Islam. While they may behave in a more civilized manner than their more ‘religious’ brothers, they don’t represent an ideological movement.
In other words, there is no such thing as ‘radical Islam’ either, just radical Muslims. This explains why radicals so often get support from the supposedly more moderate community. The community doesn’t disagree with the radicals in a theoretical sense; they just aren’t comfortable going out and blowing people away.
I don’t believe that we need to fight 1.4 billion Muslims. Clearly we need to fight the radicals, who are somewhat fewer. But we also need to fight the ideology of Islam, to establish that Western culture is superior and deserving of emulation. And one thing that stands in the way of doing that is multiculturalism and its partner cultural relativism, the view that no culture is any better than another.
Western culture has certainly made moral mistakes. Where were the vaunted values of the Enlightenment when the American continent was colonized? When black slavery was considered acceptable? In Nazi Germany? But unlike Islam, it is capable of learning from them.
There are about 7.3 billion humans living on Earth today. I’m convinced that only classical Western culture, with its tradition of moral contemplation and its ability to foster scientific and technological progress, can prevent the descent of this population – via a process accompanied by unimaginable misery and death – into a new dark age. Certainly its proposed solutions to humankind’s problems are far superior to those of Islam.
It is being challenged for supremacy on the planet today, precisely by Islam. At the same time, it is being corrupted from within by the cultural diseases of affluence – postmodernism, lack of intellectual rigor, narcissism, greed, and more.
But there’s no alternative. Either we get our culture back on track and defeat our enemies or we lose. And if we lose, all humanity loses.