Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On 'Islamo-fascism' (again)

I have touched on 'Islamo-fascism' once before on my blog, but I am prompted to do so again after making the awful mistake of going over to Harry's Place, the Glorification of State Terror and War Crimes by Israel Blog, which was making much of the picture below, allegedly of 'the young Nazis of Hezbollah'.

As the HP blogger comments, 'the most chilling thing about this Hezbollah ceremony is that it took place just across the border from Israel-- the houses in the background are in the northern Israeli town of Metullah. Are people like Galloway even capable of imagining what an elderly Holocaust survivor who happened to glance across the fence might have felt?'

Well, firstly, I doubt very much whether any Israeli citizen would have been able to 'glance over' as it is not just 'a fence' but a very high, concrete wall designed to perpetuate an apartheid system.

But the main question I want to ask is this - is it enough for Harry's Place to keep showing pictures of Islamic group Hezbollah members giving Nazi style salutes, to have proved that there is such a thing as 'Islamo-fascism' and for them to then start giving lectures on why the Israeli State therefore is fighting 'fascism' and why progressives in the West now have to rally behind George Bush as our saviour against 'Muslim totalitarianism'?

I think not. To see why this is the case I think a historical parallel might be usefully drawn with the movement that formed around the politics of Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), (pictured right, below)

Garvey, born in Jamaica, was an opponent of colonial rule and became the founder of the 'Back to Africa' movement which took black America by storm after Garvey went on a lecture tour to the US in 1916. Garvey took pride in race so seriously that his organisation to some extent was a stylistic pre-cursor of the European Fascist movements of the 1920s and 1930s. Garveyites dressed up in military uniforms, and marched around as if they were storm troopers. By 1920, Garvey's group had over one thousand branches in more than 40 countries. Garvey himself approved of the American white supremacist terror group, the Ku Klux Klan (the KKK), because it sought to separate the races. 'On one occasion in early 1922 Garvey went to Atlanta, Georgia for a conference with Edward Young Clarke, Imperial Giant of the Ku Klux Klan, to see whether he could hope for Klan support for his Back to Africa program.'

Yet here's the beef. Garvey was a follower of Christianity who was happy to make kind remarks about Fascism at times - yet why didn't the vast majority of anti-fascists at the time not denounce his Universal Negro Improvement Association as 'Black Fascism', or a 'Christian totalitarian movement'? Why didn't 'progressive', 'decent' 'secular Leftists' condemn Garveyism as 'Christiano-Fascism'?

Might this have been because it was so patently obvious that the reason why black Americans (and black people internationally) rallied to Garvey was not because of his dodgy remarks about the KKK but because of oppression? It was not that they particularly wanted to go 'Back to Africa' - but because here at last was someone who talking about 'Black Power' at a time of racial segregation and massive racism in the US. Indeed, Garveyism is today recognised and seen as the most significant black nationalist movement of the twentieth century and, as such, the sheer organisational achievement of Garvey - for all his grotesqueries and appalling politics - has to be marvelled at. One gets some sense of his importance by seeing how much he was demonised and detested by the Western ruling class throughout his life.

If one really wants to understand Hezbollah's popularity, and the massive support for its leader Nesrallah, similarly, surely one has to look at the long history of state terror waged by Israel against Lebanon and the glorious history of resistance to that terror led by the group? Surely a child of five can grasp that young Lebanese men want to join Hezbollah not because they get the chance to do the odd Nazi style salute, but because it is a mass movement of resistance to occupation and the most brutal oppression imagineable?

Mind you, when it comes to those who try to justify and cover up the lies and crimes of Imperialism, it is no wonder that simply putting on a blindfold on to such realities and simply shouting over and over again that 'Israel has a right to self-defence' and that Hezbollah are 'Islamo-Fascists' is the easier option. If one says anything enough times, and with enough conviction, one tends to believe it as the truth in the end.

Edited to add: Justin Horton on HP.

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At 6:17 pm, Blogger Martin Wisse said...

Also, you know, just doing that salute, does not necessarily make you a nazi.


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