By Dr Saulat Nagi
Like any other phenomenon, religion cannot be analysed in isolation from all the maladies that inflict the people at any given time
Like any other religion, Islam too has co-existed for centuries with poverty, hunger, oppression, illiteracy and human rights violations. Turkey, despite boasting about its Islamist credentials, has no qualms in eliminating the Kurds, refuses to sever its ties with Israel and continues to toe the US line against Assad in Syria. In history, the systematic genocide of the Kurds can only find a parallel with the occupied
Palestinian territory or the East Timor massacre. As the west looks the other way, the illegitimate and ruthless regimes of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are relentlessly shedding the blood of their own citizens. Their only demand is their right to exist as modern civilised nations unfettered by the chains of most coercive monarchies. Who can claim to be more fundamentalist than the Saudis who with their petrodollars have instilled their own brand of lethal political Islam that has brought havoc to the rest of the largely peaceful Muslim world, threatening to take it back to the cave age? Islamic fascism was an unknown entity prior to the Saudi intervention. Despite exporting terrorism, it continues to be the blue-eyed boy of America.
Like any other phenomenon, religion cannot be analysed in isolation from all the maladies that inflict the people at any given time. A symptom may be an indication of a disease, but it is hardly a disease in itself. Instead of blaming the system, it is typical of bourgeois intellectuals to divide human beings into two definite camps where they are conveniently stereotyped as good or ugly. In human societies, people are not born with labels. A human being is nothing but an ensemble of social relations that exist independent of his will. The totality of these relations (of production) constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure, which is the legal, political and ethical way of life and corresponds to a definite form of social consciousness. In addition, it is suggestive of the level of development of the productive forces. A primitive society that is deprived of basic human needs — health, education, employment and freedom of expression --cannot be expected to provide the majority of its people with a dignified human existence, let alone a sophisticated culture. The constant deprivation forces an individual to find refuge in metaphysical powers, in a utopia that develops its own philosophical importance as it begins to dictate his life. He finds himself entangled in property relations. The fetters restrict his mind and blur his vision. In life, property (and not pious ideas) determines his relations with other individuals, society and nature. Hence, an inverted ideology that demands every phenomenon to be natural and eternal overtakes him, thereby alienating him not only from reality but from his individual being too. In these moments of helplessness, people are vulnerable to hostile ideas. Religion itself is an idea, and having no scientific foothold, only faith, it is susceptible to these inversions. Furthermore, it finds itself wanting in carrying out a dispassionate analysis; hence, it is prone to embrace terrorism. If this fatuous response is dealt with in an identical vein, without addressing the underlying economic grievances, it is more
likely to conflagrate. In Iraq previously and now in Afghanistan, the US and NATO are duly experiencing this phenomenon. Violence is breading more violence. The balance of forces rests with those who were turned into savages by design and deprivation. By bringing them into the mainstream, and ultimately through altering the mode of production, a permanent solution can be sought.
In Europe, Lutheranism could not have been materialised without the onset of capitalism. Islam never had its share of Lutheranism (or Calvinism) because none of the Muslim countries managed to enter the capitalist mode
of production. Almost all Muslim countries have tribal or feudal relations of production. These primitive relations are the main fetters in making progress. It leaves these countries extremely backward — materially and culturally — thereby providing a fertile ground for fundamentalism, a lacklustre ideology devoid of any programme for political or social uplift. The present anarchy in capitalism and the ultimate weakness of the US and NATO may prove decisive for the Muslim world. Once the masses scent liberation, they will break the stranglehold of their rulers. They themselves will be their leaders and dialectically change the course of their struggle from religion to freedom, which will be real economic liberation and not a capitalist mirage of sham democracy.
Dr Saulat Nagi is based in Australia and has authored books on socialism and history.