The Sociology of Arab Imperialism (according to Schumpeter) -- Part Two
[Schumpeter, Imperialism, p35]People today in the 21st Century can savor what our medieval ancestors might have felt in the face of aggressive jihad warfare by the early Muslims. Perhaps in those days, people were less naive than today about military aggression, and understood that they were being attacked, whereas today, various powerful interests seek to convince us that all the Arabs want is "liberation" from outside control, social justice, to be rid of "occupation" and "imperialism." Yet, the political terms used by Arab/Muslim spokesmen have to be understood in their historical and cultural-religious context, as well as in their use as propagandistic or psychological warfare weapons. Arab/Muslim spokesmen are sensitive to the negative, pejorative connotations of such words as occupation and imperialism in Western culture, influenced by Marxist-Leninist- Stalinist views and by the memory of World War 2. "Occupation" can mean Infidel control of any place that was once under Muslim control. Hence, some Islamist/jihadist spokesmen have frankly admitted that Spain, once under Muslim rule, is considered "occupied." "Imperialism" usually means non-Muslim conquest of Arab or Muslim countries. However, Arab/Muslim conquest of non-Muslim lands, such as the southern Sudan, is not considered imperialism. It is jihad and jihad is just in their minds. Conversely, the term "resistance" took on a positive connotation in view of WW2 resistance movements. So jihadist terrorism is labelled "resistance," even if it slaughters civilians, which was not the tactic of the WW2 resistance partisans. Even the slaughter of thousands of civilians inIraq, fellow Muslims, is labelled "resistance." Bear in mind that most of the slaughter is committed by Sunni Arabs against Shi`ite Arabs and against Kurds [in fact, mostly Sunnis].
There were three elements that brought this Arab world to the stage of ferment. First of all, there was the alien rule of the Byzantines and Persians. . . Secondly, in the realm of ideas, there was the religious bond that existed between the tribes. This was objectified in the ancient sanctuary of the Kaba at Mecca, where all the tribes met and were exposed to religious currents of every description, especially from the Semitic world, and where they created a cultural as well as a religious center. The center itself, the breeding place of new trends, was in the possession of a single tribe, the Koreishites, who thereby assumed a privileged position, often at odds with other interests. Even within the Koreish tribe the holy place was in charge of a special clique, as always happens in such cases. In the third place, an urban commercial culture, reaching out to draw in certain individuals, clans, and tribes, developed in the centers of communication, especially Mecca. This was bound to wear down many corners of the old order and way of life and thinking, at the same time opening a gulf between the elements so affected and the simple, old-style Bedouins, to whom these things appeared alien and dissonant. There appeared, at first purely by way of reaction, a movement of social reform or revolution, beginning in the early seventh century. Pristine simplicity, a softening of the contrasts between poor and rich, a voluntary relinquishment [p 36] of the pursuit of profit --these were Mohammed's first thoughts. He threw down the gage of battle to established interest and "acquired right," and his first practical demand was for a purge of the stain of money-grubbing by means of almsgiving.
Whatever his adherents may have thought, the interests that were threatened recognized the situation with the clarity peculiar to them and acted promptly. But their measures failed to destroy Mohammed, merely driving him out, and only a year after the Hegira [the migration from Mecca to Medina] he was able to make himself master of Medina. Thus all they succeeded in doing was to force him, first, onto the defensive and, then, the offensive, with a corresponding shift in his viewpoint. The reformer of the sacred tribe became the aggressive fighter against the "Infidels." Inner communion gave way to the call for war on behalf of the faith --the jihad-- as the most important practical demand, the normal outward attitude of the faithful.
All this notwithstanding, political leaders and prominent academics in the West work hard to convince us that the demands of today's jihadists are reasonable and even just, without a thought of the imperialistic history of the Arabs themselves and of other Muslims.
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To be continued
Also coming soon: More on oppression of Jews in Jerusalem under Muslim and Arab control