Is Islamism like Fascism?

A friend of mine recently became very agitated over this story: a non-binding UN resolution has been passed against ‘defamation’ of religions. This measure, though of little definite impact in itself, is part of a broader drive towards legitimising blasphemy laws in various countries which are already being used to suppress social progress.

So I have no particular issue with criticising this measure. Nor do I have any issue with pointing out that Islam is disgusting, at a philosophical level, a moral level, and a political level. Whether we call it islamism, political islam, islamic extremism, or islamic fundamentalism, it is, as a set of ideas, a steaming pile of poo.

I do think, though, that there is an important point that sometimes gets blurred over, and that is this: it is often suggested that an analogy can be drawn between political Islam and secular far-right movements like Italian Fascism and neo-Nazism. Similar rhetoric of fighting totalitarianism and standing up for our freedom before it’s too late is employed in the two cases.

Now that may well be a reasonable parallel to draw, in many respects, in majority muslim countries. In places like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, the struggle against islamism may well bear a great resemblance to the struggle against fascism in 20s and 30s Europe or wherever else. Different islamist groups differ in different ways, but in at least some cases the analogy may hold.

But the same just isn’t true in that community, national, cultural, and linguistic, that I and my friend inhabit – what might roughly be called ‘the West’, or ‘the Anglosphere’. In these countries, muslims are and will for the foreseeable future remain a minority of the population, and a marginal one at that. There is thus no prospect of political islam entering government.

That’s not to say that there is nothing to worry about. Political islam has a presence and can potentially do a number of bad things. A strand of it poses a public safety risk – in the USA, for example, about 3,000 people have been killed by political islam in the last decade or so. This compares with about 400,000 from motor vehicle accidents, and about 5,000 killed trying to cross the US-Mexico border illegally.

But a public safety risk is not the same as a political threat. If the fascists are never going to hold power, their political role is profoundly different. Indeed, if they are liable to be, for the foreseeable future, opposed by those in power, wrongly arrested, held without trial and tortured in secret prisons, or used to generate support for foreign military action, then their political role bears really very little resemblance to that of fascism.

Moreover, to suppose that they do pose the same kind of threat, makes sense only on racist assumptions. To fear that the government of the UK or France will be taken over by islamists makes sense only if we attribute to muslims a supernatural ability to 1) carry out amazing secret plots and schemes, and 2) breed so fast that they come to outnumber everyone else. It makes sense only if we suppose that the mere presence of a muslim community has the potential to erase everything non-muslim in the UK – its culture, its government, to make everyone speak Arabic and eat halal food, etc. These kinds of ideas are exactly the sort of racist ideas that are used to argue against open borders – they msut be controlled, because if they are given any opportunity, they, not through any normal method but by the corruption they carry in their hearts like a disease, will ‘swamp us. The concern with breeding, the feeling of a culture ‘under threat’, the unrealistic fear, etc. are all traditional racist tropes.

I don’t think my friend is remotely racist, by the way. But I think if you blur over the difference between 1) a minor public safety risk in western non-muslim countries, 2) a political threat in muslim-majority countries, and 3) a supposed political threat in western non-muslim countries, you are propounding fears that could only be substantiated and made rational by introducing implicitly racist ideas.

Learning about and writing about political situations in countries which are geographically or culturally or historically remote is fine and cool. But insofar as political speech is liable to have much effect, I think that effect will be mainly on audiences within my own country/community, people familiar with the same things I’m familiar with, people situated similarly. Where I and most of the people I know are situated, islamism is a nasty set of ideas but is not a mortal political threat to freedom – moreover it is not obviously a greater threat than ‘anti-islamism’, the idea that islamic terrorism must be fought by any means necessary.

That is all.

P.S. Jesus Christ. Looking for an illustration, I google-imaged ‘islamic terrorist’ (eventually decided against illustrating) and result number one is an arab woman in skimpy underwear and a veil with her boobs out. *sigh*. Internet.

8 Responses to “Is Islamism like Fascism?”

  1. centurean2 Says:

    You are assuming that the Government in the UK issues the correct stats on the number of muslims living in the UK mainly England.
    In 1978 there was infact one million muslims then in Briain.
    Stats published then in 2001 stated 1.6 million,an obviuos lie.
    Each year from that date there were thousands of brides brought over with her close relatives, after complaints the flood was made into a trickle standing at 30.000 wives a year today plus her relatives.

    With mass immigration mainly from the sub continent but also many other muslim states add to this polygamy and high birthrates,
    Todays figure of 1.7 million is an absolute joke.

    But then the Government lie regarding the population figures period.
    61 million…81 million plus as of October 2007.

    Farming today BBC radio 4 states 77 million plus.
    Independent agriculture production companies rate the figure at around 80 to 81.

    The big four supermarkets agree with the 81 million after all theres’ only so many meals one can consume.
    One breakfast lunch etc.
    When they sell a certain amount this allows them to know the stats.
    Also urine testing of water!
    The Migration watch ignored the stats.
    The optimum population trust did not, stating they had to use official stats, but had seen all the evidence sent to them.

    Off the record an employee at the national stats office did confirm the figures but too afraid of losing their job to go on record.

    What Government is asking people to do is; deny their own lying eyes.

    BNET also the Independent october 2007 Printed the article.
    Arabammaco the stats re the amount of muslims in Britain 1978..The French figures were higher but off-hand can’t recall them.

    The Barcelona agreement will come into force in 2010 when eleven muslim dominated countries will be given free movement into Europe,although kept from the public, this agreement was signed in 1995 by Malcolm Rifkin MP.
    Part of the EUMED Region.

  2. centurean2 Says:

    You already Halal food if you live in the UK.
    This was implemented over 20 years ago!
    Asda Tesco and Co All Sell this method of slaughtered animals.
    I’m not a meat eater thank God.
    Schools and Hospitals use Halal meat.

    Take a trip to And he’s no racist in any shape or form.

  3. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    I’m “assuming” that muslims are a small minority of the British population. I don’t care whether you think that urine testing of water indicates that official demographic data are mistaken. I’m a cleromancer, Jim, not an ethnographer!

    Islamism as an ideology does not have even a potential political base in the UK (let’s not get into actual, or talk about how unpopular Islamism tends to be among many muslim populations). If it was to stand any chance of taking over the government it would need, apart from actually appealing to sufficient muslims to begin with, for muslims to have the kind of overwhelming political, economic, and military dominance that the whites in South Africa did. Or the kind of global secret conspiracy that the Elders of Zion did.

    They conspicuously don’t have that – how many of the UK’s billionaires are muslim? how many of its biggest corporations are muslim-owned? how many people in either house of parliament are muslim? how many muslim generals in the army?

    Consequently Islamism does not present a threat of taking over government. This was my point.

  4. Emperor Penguin Says:

    In your second paragraph did you mean to say Islam at all various levels is disgusting and then did you make a seperate point about Islamism. Or where those two things the same. I assume the later is true because you say ‘whether we call it…’ But I think this is unclear. It could be construed so as to mean the entire faith is the same as islamism/whatever and that all Islamic ideas are comprehended in the same pooey lump. Which would be a bit stinky.

  5. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    Well, I guess I’d say that whatever is specifically religious in something with religion in it (like a metaphysics, a life philosophy, a political ideology, etc.) is liable to be bad, because religion is ultimately a bit stupid, a stupid things tend to produce bad effects. But obviously religion isn’t a single homogenous thing, it’s refracted by the prism of human history, society, and psychology, into a multitude of forms. Some of those forms are better than others, but it’s typically because of their non-religious elements. The more distinctively religious the origin of some aspect of a phenomenon, the more prone it is to evil wackiness

  6. Emperor Penguin Says:

    OK, but what are you classing as distinctly religious? Which parts of the Torah say, are more acceptable due to non-religious elements?

  7. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    Well, if we put things on a spectrum, then:

    At one end: respect the lives of your neighbours. If the Torah didn’t say it, someone else would. All sorts of things can be appealed to in defense of it, from across the world’s traditions and disciplines.

    At the other: do not eat shellfish, but do eat fish. WTF? No rational reason is given or can easily be supplied (and don’t you go telling me there’s some health-related nonsense). It’s just because God says so. So it’s specific to God and to this religion.

    More politically, at one end: respect the judgements of old people who have studied extensive humanistic literature. If I didn’t believe this was a good idea, someone might try to explain to me why it is.

    At the other end: respect the judgements of rabbis, but not of bishops or imams.

    Do you see from where I am coming?

  8. Emperor Penguin Says:


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