Friday, March 26, 2004


The possible electoral defeat of President Bush by John Kerry raises the question of whether the Global War on Terror ultimately requires a war on the Left.  That is to say whether a political defeat of the Left is a prerequisite for stamping out worldwide terrorism. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many in the Left, at least, believes that the GWOT is a war on them. America, not Osama Bin Laden is the putative enemy, and their fire is directed accordingly. Conversely, many conservatives are conditioned by the sight of a de facto alliance between the Left and Islamism to think that both parties are on the same side of the fence. But must it necessarily be so?

Answers in the affirmative normally rest on the presumption that the Left is engaged in a protracted Gramscian program of Western civilizational suicide in which Islam serves as a convenient means of attaining quietus. For those who truly subscribe to this theory, it is the Left not Islam which is Western civilization's strategic enemy. The inevitable implication of this concept is that the principal battlefield in the Global War on Terror is not Iraq or Afghanistan, but the newsrooms of the major Western cities. Supporters of this idea will point to the fact that the stunning military successes of the War on Terror were easily overturned in Spain by the cynical actuations of the Socialist Party. If President Bush is defeated by John Kerry the case will be made. The Left will have fixed him as the man responsible for 9/11 in the same way that Vietnam is now described as "Nixon's War", proving once again that the lie is mightier than the sword.

Dan Darling at Regnum Crucis suggests that the Islamists themselves on a certain level understand that their main force does not consist of armed Jihadis, nor even of the system of prosletyzing madrassas, but of the battalions of the secular Left. He quotes an Al Qaeda document as seeing the world in this way: "We can describe the international a spider web. And whereas it is also all interlinked like a spider web, even a light wind is sufficient to tear apart this web." And they aim to achieve this by harnessing the power of toppling dominoes, using the potential energy of Western political hatred to achieve their goals in much the same way that the weight of the Twin Towers was used to pulverize it. Force, in Al Qaeda's most recent view, must be used as a precise scalpel for manipulating political events in the West -- for casting the dominoes. In their calculation, once the Left has hamstrung the conservatives, the carcass of what was known as Christendom will be easy meat for the Jihadis.

Answers in the negative are predicated ironically on the malignity of the Left itself. According to this view, the Left desires, not a Gramscian extinction but power above anything else. The power to regulate all aspects of human existence, all human relations, all cultural attitudes, all state authority. And while the Left might make temporary alliance with the Jihadis, the attainment of ultimate power requires an eventual liquidation of the Jihad. There is only room for one scorpion in a bottle. In this context, the assertions by Eurosocialists and John Kerry that they will be more effective in fighting terrorism are meant to be taken literally, however ludicrous that may appear at first glance.

Yet in either case, the liquidation of conservatism, with its backward notions of natural law, national sovereignty and the like, is the first order of business. For both Osama and the Western Left,  the defeat of President George Bush is the priority event after which all things are subsidiary. The question of which survivor will prevail as they struggle over the grave of their common foe is only of academic interest. One answer is that it will not matter: that a existence under a Western jackboot is little to be preferred to life under smelly cloths.

There remains a third answer. That the existence of these two great religious totalitarianisms -- one secular only in name and the other religious only in dissimulation -- is required for their mutual defeat. It relies on the observation that both the Left and Islamism react together to produce an extremely toxic combination which neither could have achieved alone. It takes some reflection to remember just how far both the notions of Islamism and Leftism have moved since September 11. The former was an unknown towards which the man in the street would have been indifferent while the latter was a kind of eccentricity, rough yet without danger. Neither will be again. Both have mutated in interaction or perhaps have become that which they really were.

Both are struggling for the space in which conservatism can never go and for the prize which no sane man ever covets: the dominion of souls. Without their mutual presence either could have occupied a kind of cultural sanctuary in which they would brood, proof against interference from people with simple day jobs. Together they guarantee that their places of safety, every media outlet, every school and every place of worship will be transformed into arenas of unparalleled ferocity -- to the possible benefit of the world. Is the Global War on Terror necessarily against the Left? We shall see. We shall see.

"There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach."