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<nettime> FW: [smygo] Extreme Islam & Hatred of Capitalism
Bruce Sterling on Sun, 17 Mar 2002 11:07:02 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> FW: [smygo] Extreme Islam & Hatred of Capitalism


------ Forwarded Message
from: "Clore Daniel C" <clore {AT} columbia-center.org>
organization: The Soylent Green Party
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date: Wed, 13 Mar 2002 23:01:17 -0800
to: "smygo {AT} egroups.com" <smygo {AT} yahoogroups.com>
subject: [smygo] Extreme Islam & Hatred of Capitalism

News for Anarchists & Activists:
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March 8 - 14, 2002 

Diss Belief 

Extreme Islam and Hatred of Capitalism

by R. U. Sirius

If you pick up Extreme Islam expecting to have some easy
yuks at the expense of Muslim fundamentalists, you may be
disappointed. Don’t get me wrong. Adam Parfrey, (in)famous
for his Apocalypse Culture collections and for publishing
the complete works of Anton LaVey, is an equal-opportunity
blasphemer, an infidel of the first order. And he comes out
shouting with his opening essay, excoriating Muslim scholars
(and, by implication, the
Western mainstream in general) for pussyfooting their way
around the violent exclusivity explicit in the Koran. ("Slay
them wherever you find them . . . fight the idolators
utterly . . . Fight those who do not believe in Allah and
the Last Day and who forbid not what Allah and his messenger
have forbidden — who do not practice the religion of the
truth.")

So, yes, parts of Extreme Islam simply expose fundamentalist
Islamic, and a smattering of relevant Orthodox Jewish and
fundamentalist Christian, texts to our examination, and
invite us to re-experience the same fears, and the same
sense of superiority, that have already been drummed into us
by the media. But fortunately, as with the Apocalypse
Culture books, there are other, deeper currents also at work
here. Sure, Parfrey plays the cynical ringmaster once again
pulling back the curtains to give us a glimpse at that most
perverse aspect of humanity — the things people manage to
believe. But the attentive reader won’t be wearing that
self-satisfied smirk for long. Extreme Islam contains essays
that will (or at least should) render you serious, humbled
and even a bit sympathetic.

This is only partly because Parfrey’s eclectic collection
doesn’t limit itself to fundamentalist texts — he also
includes political moderates, Marxists, historians and
human-rights documents. And it’s not entirely because so
much of this material is suffused with legitimate outrage at
the historic colonial arrogance of the West, or the
brutality of Israel’s occupation and military adventures,
that the religious madness almost becomes the subtext.
Extreme Islam’s deranged carnival actually succeeds in
shocking most when the “extremists” themselves are lucid,
poignant and poetic.

On the crazy end of the spectrum, we have the expected list
of Taliban laws ("Ban on male tailors taking women’s
measurements or sewing women’s clothes. Non-Muslim
minorities must [wear a] distinct badge or stitch a yellow
cloth onto their dress to be differentiated from the
majority Muslim population"). And we have the Hamas
columnist Atallah Abu Al-Subh advocating anthrax in the U.S.
water supply. There’s the meeting between Hitler and the
Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. And there’s Louis Farrakhan, who
gets the prize, in Parfrey’s estimation, for "bursting the
limits of weirdness," at a 1989 press conference
(transcribed here in full) in which he warns of a genocidal
racial war planned by George Bush the First and Colin
Powell, based on a warning he received by the (long
deceased) Elijah Muhammad inside a flying saucer.

As strange as Farrakhan’s prophetic channeling is, clearly
the most batshit-crazy text included comes from Zionist
Christian fundamentalists at TempleMount.org, whose
expressed wish to start the final war of Armageddon over the
Temple Mount inched toward plausibility when Ariel Sharon
visited the site in 2000 and provoked the current
escalations between the Israelis and Palestinians. In the
essay "The Approaching Battle for Jerusalem and the War of
Gog and Magog," they write, "The prophet Zechariah states
that the weapons (the nuclear, chemical, and biological
weapons) will backfire and will hurt the enemies of Israel
and not Israel . . . (Zechariah 14:12, 13)." Comparatively,
contributions from the political heavy hitters of the
Islamic world, such as Khomeini, Hussein and Qaddafi, only
expose the evil of banality. These texts are dull —
Arabic/Islamic versions of the same kind of mind-numbing
rhetoric and enemy bashing all politicians engage in.

The real challenges in the book come from the writings of a
few eloquent Islamic true believers. Pieces like
"Revolutions Are Never Brought About by Cowards and the
Imbecilic" by Maulana Maudoodi, and especially "Islam and
the Death of Democracy" by Shaykh Abdalqadir as-sufi
al-Murabit, strike nerves with insights into the alienating,
deadening nature of a Western culture that has been reduced
down to "nothing but price tags." Al-Murabit engages in a
thoroughly contemporary analysis, dropping Western academic
buzzwords like hermeneutics. But he really brings his point
home when discussing an anthropological photograph in which
the "primitives" appear noble, healthy and proud while the
white interlopers are "bloated, fat, pinkish, suited,
seated, frozen, impacted, opaque, dead creatures — there was
really something so completely suffocating
and stifling in their lack of transparency, so utterly
geared to infantile projects."

It’s a clever, sophisticated piece. More importantly, it
manages to convey the sense of fearlessness, joy and deep
connection that accompanies the Islamic sense of commitment
and certainty about God’s love. And this is what’s so
troubling. Al-Murabit’s poetic alienation from vacant,
decadent, consumerist Western culture in favor of the
vitality and authenticity of the God-intoxicated primitive
reads profoundly countercultural, almost reminiscent of some
of Hakim Bey’s neo-Sufic anarchist treatises. And yet for
al-Murabit, the answer lies in rejecting democracy, free
debate, pluralism and multiculturalism in favor of surrender
to an absolute religious authority. One can’t help imagining
that Western anarcho-counterculturalists, in their atavistic
hunger for authenticity in the midst of this chaotic
corporate postmodern swirl, might wish to anchor their
neo-primitivist dreams in some totalizing belief system,
Islamic or otherwise.

The contradiction between this hunger for authentic
experience and the liberating elasticity of postmodernism’s
inconclusiveness is stitched into nearly every page of
Hatred of Capitalism. This mistitled collection of essays
from the hipster avant-garde periodical Semiotext(e), edited
by Chris Kraus and Sylvčre Lotringer, offers up text from
many of the usual suspects: Foucault, Burroughs,
Baudrillard, and several dozen other theorists and writers.
In a very loose sense, Kraus and Lotringer try to present
the avant-garde’s transgressive experiments in art and
philosophy as a kind of conceptual revolutionary terrorist
attack against the boundaries of the civilized ego and the
alienating mediocrity of consumer capitalism. Read in tandem
with Extreme Islam, the artistic terrorism seems rather pale
and anemic, to which I can only say thanks be to Allah for
small favors. On the other hand, the stylish European 1970s
guerrilla Ulrike Meinhoff, of the Red Army Faction’s
Baader-Meinhoff brigade, contributes some real
cold-bloodedness to the artist’s pose of real cool
extremism. Indeed, aside from the actual writings of
Meinhoff, the entire book is oddly contextualized by
Baader-Meinhoff. They pop up here and there, name-dropped,
analyzed and, of course, romanticized.

Tim Leary, who gets a bit of a bashing in one of the pieces
here, once said of Weather Underground leader Bernadine
Dohrn, "Awww . . . she was just being naughty." And for the
most part, it’s easy to forgive Semiotext(e) its radical
chic — and see it as part of its experimentalist project.
However, Jean Baudrillard’s atrocity, "Our Theater of
Cruelty," should not be allowed to pass without comment.
"Terrorism is not violence in itself," Baudrillard writes,
"it is the spectacle it unleashes that is truly violent."
This sort of abstraction just doesn’t seem cute anymore.

Discourses like the one by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
on France’s 1968 revolt, and Foucault’s contemplation of
homosexuality and friendship, more than make up for the
occasional piece here in which language tries to see how far
it can crawl up its own ass. But the most poignant moments
are not in the essays. Fragments of fiction, diary notes,
poetry and interviews anchor Hatred of Capitalism in
experience, and reveal a project that goes beyond
fashionable radicalness. Assata Shakur’s prison notes, Nina
Zivancevic’s memories of Yugoslavia during the war with
Croatia, Kathy Acker’s study of romantic sexual desire
between individuals separated by colonialism and borders,
Jane DeLynn’s tale of surrender to the mysterious, Michelle
Tea’s goth remembrance, Jack Smith’s queen-bitch complaints
— all seem to share a common ground. The writers are
desperately trying to break through their fear, their
vacancy, their numbness, not by embracing the simplicity of
a rulebook God but by locating authenticity in an
experimental relationship with the unknown.

R.U. Sirius' book, The Revolution: Quotations from
Revolution Party Chairman R.U. Sirius, was published in June
2000 by Feral House, which also published Extreme Islam.

EXTREME ISLAM: Anti-American Propaganda of Muslim
Fundamentalists Edited by ADAM PARFREY | Feral House |
317 pages | $16 paperback

HATRED OF CAPITALISM: A Semiotext(e) Reader | Edited by
CHRIS KRAUS and SYLVČRE LOTRINGER |
Semiotext(e) | 430 pages | $17 paperback

-- 
Dan Clore
mailto:clore {AT} columbia-center.org

Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
http://www.wildsidepress.com/index2.htm
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1587154838/thedanclorenecro

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