In her treatise entitled It’s Time For Islam To Mature Or Perish: Authentic Islamic adaptation to the modern world may not actually be possible, author Rachel Lu, the apparent owner of a PhD in Philosophy from Cornell and three rugrats, endeavours to reveal all that’s wrong with Islam today. Despite her efforts in that direction, Rachel in fact reveals far more as to what’s wrong with the latest incarnation of progressivism, that is, whatever is here two generations after the modernity that postdated WWII; post-post-modernity, I suppose.
The problems of modernity in all its masked duplicities are several, silly, and perhaps best summed up by Nassim Taleb, who said that modernity has resulted in “routine in place of physical effort, physical effort in place of mental expenditure, & mental expenditure in place of mental clarity,” and “youth without heroism, age without wisdom, and life without grandeur.”
As the preponderance of fantasy filmsi at the local theatre and the number of
children adults glued to iPad screens well demonstrates, progressivism requires a deep divorce from reality. So cold is the realisation of one’s relative unimportance in the face of so much cheap empowerment tawk that escapism is quite simply the path of least resistance.
Not that life in modern times is unsalvageable, far from it, and certainly not any more so than life in any other time. For one, we now have the Internet, which is empowering a new generation of global citizens, dead set on extracting
themselves ourselves from the clutches of middle class oppression imposed by nonagenarian skullduggery. We’re hellbent, unrelenting, and we’ve got math on our side. So it’s only a matter of time before the rigid adherence to platonic ideals dies, shattered by a million events “no one could’ve predicted” and a healthy smattering of intelligently administered cryptography.
Not that this changing of the guard is evident to everyone, far from it. So let’s dig in to Rachel’s article here to see what it looks like to cling desperately to the failed lens of post-post-modernity, such as it is:
Suddenly, it feels like we all need advanced degrees in theology. How else are we going to make sense of the violence Muslim extremists perpetrated in Paris last week?
Suddenly! Out of the blue! People without education need to learn more good and stuff!!!1
And, of course, such learning can only be provided for within the confines of the degree-granting Soviet institution because what else were you going to do with those 7 prime years of your life, $500k, and that unconventional noggin of yours?
Here’s an idea: Islam is at war with Christianity, Judaism, and pretty much everything else because that’s how life works! For every organic system, be it a business, a religion, or an individual, you’re either growing or you’re dying. That’s not really much of a stable status quo in-between to speak of, not one worth chasing after certainly. So ya, Islam is on the up-and-up. It’s success as a lifeform is plainly evident from its growing numbers and influence.
But this Paris thing, and Islam in general, either affects you personally or it doesn’t. If it affects you, it doesn’t have to “make sense,” it just is, so it’s up to you to respond accordingly. Simple as that. If it doesn’t affect you, don’t stick your nose where it doesn’t belong. It’s not like being an “informed citizen” is for everyone anymore than being a citizen of any warranted description is for everyone, all the fucktardedly cruel expansion of the franchise be damned.ii Telling a potato that he can now be a fruit doesn’t make him one, no matter if you decide to start pronouncing his name with the more dignified “pah-tah-tah” rather than the more base “poh-tay-toh” to help ease his transition to fruitdom. It doth not make a lick of difference.
How curable is the disease that affects at least a significant portion of the Islamic world?
For the record, you don’t get to call something “a disease” just because you don’t agree with it, or much less because its running roughshod over your pretenses of importance. This generation of modernity is going to die one way or another. Islam is merely accelerating progressivism’s inevitable march towards totalitarianism. A top-down expulsion of free speech and freedom in general is the only road that nation states have available, so that’s the one they’ll take.
You have to laugh at the irony of it all. I mean, think of it this way: in order for nation states to stem the growth of a threatening organism, they have to precisely imitate it and ultimately remove the one difference between themselves and said organism. Funny that they’re presently so at odds, eh?
At this point, both conservatives and liberals have pretty thoroughly covered the point that, yes, this is an Islam problem and not just a problem with religion as such. We don’t spend much time worrying about Catholic extremists, Mormon extremists, Hindu extremists, Buddhist extremists, Zoroastrian extremists, Baha’i extremists, or Rastafarian extremists. We worry about Muslims, because they’re the ones who are murdering people in the name of their God.
You don’t spend much time worrying about other religious extremists because other religious extremists suck – they’re ineffective to the point of irrelevance. In the same way, you only worry about the bully on the playground who could throw you off the top of the slide at a moments notice; you don’t worry about the quiet girl in the corner of the park by the fence, picking her nose and building a little mountain of dandelions for herself.
As a free society, we believe in protecting freedom of religion, even for those who use it to rail against our society’s core values.
The only thing “free” about Rachel’s wholly imagined “free society” is the freedom to shop ’til you drop. There’s no free health care, no free education, and increasingly little freedom of speech. Even if she’s just referring to her little cosmopolitan experiment, there’s no guarantee that it’ll work by default, just because it’s “morally superior.” Being tolerant (particularly in a high-and-mighty sort of way) of otherwise intolerant people doesn’t make them tolerant in kind, especially not when intolerant people are ready and willing to kill your ass.
We can’t ban the Islamic faith.
Sure, but if you’re trying to protect yourselves, which would sorta make sense in a war unless you actively want to be raped, who says your little patch of real estate, be it physical or digital, can’t have barriers to entry?
The murder of innocents may technically be “against the rules” within Islam, but obviously it is still happening on a fairly large scale, with the support of even more people than are actually willing to participate.
Rachel stumbles upon a good point here. The words of those who wage war are necessarily deceitful. Censorship of one’s own citizens is “fighting terrorism,” expanding one’s economic influence is “spreading democracy,” etc. Islam isn’t stupid; quite the opposite, in fact. It sees that it can buy the time it needs to hop the Mediterranean by placating progressive idealists with stories of love, peace, and cuddliness.
How deep does this problem run? Is Islam necessarily and inexorably locked into a death match with free, democratic societies, or are extremists more of an aberrant fringe phenomenon?
Yes, Islam is in a death match against democratic societies, but as democracy is anything but “free,” it sorta doesn’t matter who wins the ground war. The clouds don’t give a shit whether the red ants or the black ants win the war for the backyard.
Some contend that Islam is simply a violent and barbaric religion, full stop. Thus, we should destroy it before it destroys us. Muslims in Europe may have reason to be concerned at this point, since anti-immigrant sentiments are rising. Violence against Muslims has been more imagined than real up to this point, but of course that could change if the situation worsens. Everyone has plenty to lose if the standoff precipitates more violence in the years to come.
This “everyone will lose if war starts” bullshit is too typical and too rich. Seriously, how else are we to distinguish the winners from the losers, the strong from the weak, the sane from the insane, the possible from the impossible? See who gets more votes??
War is happening. It’s happening between Islam and Christian Europe, it’s happening between Bitcoin and Gavincoin, it’s happening between China and the rest of the world, and it’s happening pretty much everywhere else you might care to look. The simple fact of the matter is that war is necessary whether you choose to believe in its goodness or not. The world cares not what you feel unless you’re able and willing to forcibly impose yourself on it. So go for the fucking throat already!
We shouldn’t oversimplify and assume that Muslims are by nature violent reactionaries. But we also can’t hide from the genuine possibility that authentic Islamic adaptation to the modern world may not be an achievable goal. Sometimes a faith or philosophy really does find itself so wildly out of step with the conditions of the times that the foundation starts to crumble. It’s possible that Islam is in this position now, immovably stuck in a pre-modern age. We may be witnessing (as David Goldman contends) the spasms of a dying civilization. In these kinds of desperate straits, some will prefer to go out with a bang, rule book be damned.
Rachel and David are right to recognise that there’s a dying, spasming, shriveling pseudo-civilisation here, they just miss the mark by thinking that it’s Islam rather than western democracy. But hey, when reality doesn’t do what you want it to, it’s reality that doesn’t understand how the world works!
Obviously that’s a grim prognosis, and we should give peaceful, sincere Muslims the space they need to explore other possibilities. In doing so, we also need to be clear about what’s we’re asking. “Adaptation to the modern world” doesn’t mean throwing every tradition overboard and heading to Victoria’s Secret for a shopping spree.
Lol! Talk about a Freudian slip! Because of course “free democratic society” isn’t just about shopping! It’s about other things too that I could totally name if I wasn’t so busy at this exact moment!!!
And as if “we” could ever be clear about anything without being a completely totalitarian nightmare. “We’re all about open, free thought that converges towards a single holographic representation of something loosely resembling life in heaven.” Right.
If Muslims could likewise position themselves as a mature and peaceful critics of the modern age, that would be fine. But it needs to be possible to remain robustly Muslim while also being a peaceful citizen of free and democratic societies. Muslims seem deeply divided among themselves as to whether it is, and how.
Yawn. Another example of chickens should be more like oranges because I like oranges and if only chickens would make up their mind about how best to please my every carnal desire I’d sooner let them in my treehouse club.
Don’t be fooled by the confidence of its more frighteningly zealous proponents. Islam is a religion in crisis. Some will always be attracted to lost causes, and of course for many, Islam is attractive precisely because it seems so uncompromisingly anti-modern. But most people will always prefer to live their faith, rather than killing and dying for it. If Muslims wish to salvage something of their civilization, they need to convince their adherents that there is a way forward for them that does not involve a choice between mass murder and capitulation to the assumptions of the secular world.
Interestingly, the only reason that the nation states preaching modernity won out against the noble monarchies or yore was because they were better able to mobilise those quite specifically ready to kill and die for their cause. Of course, now that there’s been a few generations of apathy and mollifying peace in the west, they’re getting rickrolled by the new kid on the monotheistic block – the one still willing to cut a bitch.iii
It’s quite up to the “secular world,” that is, adherents to the consumerist nation states of the world, whether they want to capitulate peacefully, be mass murdered, or I dunno, fight back.
So why can’t we all just get along? Because anything organic, anything alive, must either grow or it must die. There’s no middle ground.
Life is war.
We either mature or we perish.
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- Be they based on comic book superheroes, vampires, dystopian futures, it’s all the same pulp. [↩]
- Suffrage in Britain in the early 20th century was quite explicitly designed to make all-out war more palatable. If you have skin in the game, or at least the perception thereof, you’ll mind dying and starving that much less, y’know? [↩]
- Ok, so the Jews in Israel are also ready to drop gloves, Putin is representing the Orthodox Christian world nicely, and Merkel is repping Protestanism like a boss, but where are the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Evangelical defenders of the cross? Maybe they’re there and I’m just not seeing them. [↩]