ISIS, Scotland and The Politics of Mimicry
By Gilad Atzmon
Is the fact that half of the Scots want to split from Britain and the news that hundreds of young Muslim Brits are fighting with Jihadi militant groups in Syria connected?
Of course they are. These two social phenomena are intrinsically linked, yet in the intellectual desert in which we live, no one dares to address the subject. The boundaries of our curiosity are limited by our deference to political correctness and Zionist sensitivities.
From a political perspective, Jihadi enthusiasm amongst young Western Muslims is an outcome of the emergence of tribalism in the West; but isn’t the call for Scottish independence driven by a similar tribal urge? From both a philosophical and dialectic perspective, Jihadi identification and the Scottish call for independence are the antithesis of the New Left and its corrosive Identity (ID) politics that have been spread in our midst for too long.
In the last five decades we have witnessed a relentless attack on nationalism and patriotic values. These attacks are commonly associated with the ‘New Left’ and have been led in large part by the Jewish intelligencia. It was the Frankfurt School’s thesis on Authoritarian Personality (Adorno & co) and Wilhelm Reich’s take on ‘Mass Conservatism’ that suggested that there was something wrong, dangerous and even vile to be found among the masses and their ‘reactionist’ political orientation. Contemporary Left cosmopolitan icon Noam Chomsky has been calling for the abolishment of borders and states (except, of course, the Jewish State* for many years. Chomsky is proudly hostile to patriotism and nationalism. Yet we must examine the alternative offered by Chomsky, The Frankfurt School, The New Left and The Guardian – the media outlet that enthusiastically disseminates these ideas.
For reasons that I have discussed numerous times, the New ‘Left’ and the Jewish intelligencia have vigorously advocated the replacement of the national patriotic discourse with ID politics. In practice, this was intended to break the cohesiveness of the working class and the national bond and replace it with a score of marginal and sectarian discourses. The Left that once claimed to be a universal voice for the working people was hijacked. It became the mouthpiece of ID groups, most of them defined by biology (gender, skin color and race), sexual preferences (LGBT) and even religion (Jews only).
The outcome has been devastating. ID politics that initially purported to promote authentic thinking ended up promoting the opposite. It dismantled authenticity and replaced it with ‘Identification.’ Instead of being who we really are (John, Sue, Nahida or Abraham) we’ve been trained to identify with group ideology. We adopted a new manner of speech. We convey our thoughts ‘as a’; ‘as a Jew,’ ‘as a woman,’ ‘as a gay,’ ‘as a black,’ instead of expressing our own and very personal authentic feelings and beliefs as we experience them in an unmediated existential mode.
In practice, we have replaced authenticity with detachment, alienation and mimicry. Instead of celebrating Being in the most existential manner we learned to pre-mediate what being a ‘woman’, ‘Jew’, ‘black’, ‘gay’ should sound like. We learned to envisage what our identification ‘may entail’ and to react as our identification demands. What I describe above is the practical result of the ‘forgetfulness of Being,’ a term coined by the great German philosopher Martin Heidegger. But it is at this point that tribal awareness; nationalism and patriotism are reinvigorated and seem to be gaining ground.
In order to explain this shift, l would like first to examine the case presented by Zionism, Israel and Jewish progressive politics.
Those who attend progressive meetings become accustomed to the righteous Jewish manner of speech. Many Jews launch their speeches with the ‘as a Jew’ cliché. Needless to mention, neither I nor any other scholar of Jewish ID politics have ever managed to figure out what this cliché means. The reason is that it doesn’t mean a thing.
For years I have asked many Jews to address this question and haven’t received a sound reply. The ‘as a Jew’ seems to convey a meaningful logos, but in practice it is used to block critical discussion of the emptiness of the notion of Jewish progressive ID. In truth, there is no Jewish value system and as the great Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz observed in the 1970s, there is no such a thing as ‘Jewish ethics.’ The Jew is expected to follow Mitzvoth and laws (halakha) instead of acting upon his ethical judgment. The conclusion is devastating - ‘as a Jew’ is an empty expression. It is a deceptive mode used to convey an image of a Jewish ethical heritage that doesn’t exist.
This is where Zionism and Israel intervene. They offer the Jew an opportunity to rid himself of the sham of clichés and offer a glimpse of authentic redemption. Zionism and Israel say to the young Diaspora Jew - instead of speaking ‘as a Jew’ why don’t you just ‘Be a Jew?’ – take the first El Al flight, come to Israel, join the IDF, learn how to drive a tank. By the time your transformation is complete you will be able ‘to pour your wrath on the Goyim’ in the name of the Jewish people and in accordance with Jewish heritage (as the Zionist interpret this heritage).
Whether we like it or not, Israel and Zionism give meaning to Jewishness.
The Zionist call is very appealing to young Diaspora Jews (American, British, French, Australian). The IDF is saturated with lone soldiers who arrived in the ‘promised land’ just to wear the uniform and serve their people.
Israel and Zionism provide an authentic patriotic answer to the anti-patriotic mode that has become the voice of the New Left.
ISIS and other Jihadi groups offer the young Muslim a similar product. Instead of talking ‘as a Muslim,’ a statement that means very little within a consumerist, materialist, multi cultural society, the Islamic State and other Jihadi organizations offer their young Western followers the opportunity to Be a proper Muslim. Instead of participating in the inauthentic ‘as a’ game, ISIS calls on its followers to participate in a holy war, the ultimate form of true spiritual fulfillment.
It would be foolish to tag ISIS Western combatants as “bad Muslims” or ‘evil fundamentalists’ while turning a blind eye to the rising popularity of Jihadi culture within Muslim communities in the region and in the West. I recommend that we examine the popularity of ISIS amongst young Muslims in the light of the popularity of the Zionist cause within Western Jewish communities. I can’t see why a young British Muslim fighting in Iraq is worse than a Jewish British citizen serving in the IDF and ruining the lives of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
The rise of nationalism and tribalism is prevalent throughout Europe and much of the world. This week Britain is on the verge of breaking up. Half of the Scots prefer to split from the Kingdom. What is going on in Scotland is a repetition of the same pattern. Instead of subscribing to a watery meaningless British ‘collectivism;’ Scotland, as a unifying symbolic bond has much more to offer its people.
To sum up, it seems that the attempt by the New Left to weaken the Nation state by promoting ID politics has backfired. It has led toward a sharp rise of tribal orientation and local patriotism. This reading may also help us to grasp the historical failures of the New Left and its mentors at the Frankfurt School. As we know, the masses never joined the Left. The promised revolution never occurred either. And the reason is plain: real working people didn’t have cause to impersonate working people - they were the working people.
The Left’s advocacy of mimicry was not without its benefits. It brought itself some popularity amongst middle class Guardian readers and progressive Jews. But the current outburst of tribalism suggests that our society is changing direction. Society may never be the same, and this may be a very positive occurrence.
*In a complete contradiction of his opposition to nation State, Chomsky actually oppose the One State Solution in Palestine, he prefers the Two States in accordance with ‘International Law’.