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Emet m'Tsiyon

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sociology of Arab Imperialism (according to Schumpeter) -- Part Seven

This is the last excerpt from Schumpeter on Arab imperialism. Here he explores psychological and religious motives for holy war, jihad.

[p 42]
This does not, of course, mean that we deny the signifigance of religious commandments in the consciousness of the people. Had an Arab been asked why he fought, he might, as a born warrior, on proper reflection have countered with the question as to why one lived. That is how self-evident, how far above all rational thought, war and the urge for expansion were to him. But he would not have given such a reply. He would have said: "I fight because Allah and his Prophet will it." And this reply gave him an emotional prop in his struggle, provided him with a mode of conduct that preserved his character as a warrior. Religion was more than a mere reflex, certainly within the body social. It is not my intention to pursue this approach to the extreme, particularly since we here touch on problems that reach far too deeply to be disposed of within the framework of our topic. It was for that reason that I emphasized just now the possibility of the religious idea's taking on a social life of its own, in the example of Christianity. But the imperialism of a people or a state can never be explained in this fashion.
Arab imperialism was, among other things, a form of [p 43] popular imperialism.
Here we have it. Arab imperialism was an imperialism of the people. Democratic no doubt. The people wanted it. The Arabs seem to have enjoyed living off the labor of others, the dhimmis who paid tribute. To sum up Schumpeter's views on Arab imperialism: 1) the warlike, conquest-seeking nature of Islam flows from the warlike nature of the pre-Islamic Arabs; 2) the early Arab-Muslim empire was concerned with living as a superior, parasitic warrior caste ruling over non-Muslim subject peoples and exploiting their labor and economic productivity.
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coming soon: oppression of Jews in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Land of Israel

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