The deterioration of Islamism


(to be published in Arabic for Arabi21)

The election of Donald Trump to the American presidency takes place within the context of a global trend towards Right-wing nationalism.  This trend takes place within the context of global discontent with a status quo that has been managed for decades by center-Left political parties.

In France, which will hold elections next year, Francois Hollande has a lower approval rating than George W. Bush at the nadir of his popularity.  The National Front (the anti-Europe, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, overtly racist far-Right party) is the most popular political party in France; it is expected to win at least 40% of the votes in the upcoming election, which will see Neo-Fascists take the government.

In Italy, there is to be a constitutional referendum on December 4th which most Italians view as a vote for or against the authority of Brussels.  Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said that he will resign if the referendum’s proposal is rejected, and it will be rejected; thus Italy will be forced to hold elections. In all likelihood, this will result in a Right-wing coalition taking power.

The administration of Angela Merkel in Germany is also vulnerable, and will most likely fall next year, again, being replaced by a far-Right, nationalist government.

Left-wing parties are less able to harvest the fruits of popular discontent primarily because they are relentlessly attacked by the center-Left.  Bernie Sanders in the US was sabotaged by his own party, and the major European Left parties have been the prime opponents of Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain, and so on.

How will this shift to the Right impact the Musllims?

The obvious answer to this question is that it will make life considerably more difficult.  And, frankly, I expect that we are beginning a new era within our Ummah of, for lack of a better term, secularization.  Advocating Political Islam is going to become entirely too dangerous, and more and more people will feel it is wiser to compromise and capitulate with a power structure that will be increasingly vicious.

But the real blame for this, in my opinion, cannot be laid at the feet of the ultra-Right, but rather Islamists themselves are responsible.  Whether we are talking about the Muslim Brotherhood at one end of the spectrum, or Da’esh at the other end; the voices of Political Islam have miserably failed to offer a clear, constructive, and responsive program.  In the absence of any articulate policies and comprehensive plans, it is not realistic to expect people to stand up and face the very real risks involved with advocating Political Islam.

Da’esh as a territorial project is essentially over. They will continue to struggle through small scale terrorist attacks and setting up franchises around the world, no doubt, but this will only push more people away from the concepts they champion; quite simply because 1.) people will have to distance themselves from such ideas for their own safety, and 2.) because, at the end of the day, not only do terrorist attacks do nothing useful to advance the ideas advocated by the perpetrators, but they also do nothing helpful in terms of the real issues affecting people’s lives.

We are entering an era in which people will no longer tolerate empty slogans, but it is also an era in which people are entirely open to radical change.  This should be a marvelous opportunity for Islamism, but unfortunately, Islamism’s proponents have failed to do the serious intellectual work that would make it a viable alternative to either the status quo or to the ultra-Right wing.  Therefore, I expect, the relevance of the Islamist project will be diminished year after year, and our people will turn elsewhere for solutions.  We have no one to blame for this but ourselves.

 

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