Who’s Afraid of Eurabia: Fisking the Economist

The Economist, reportedly one of the most level-headed of European weekly news journals available, tackles the problems of Eurabia. The results are pretty astounding. Economist in blockquote bold. (Hat tip: LGF)

Contrary to fears on both sides of the Atlantic, integrating Europe’s Muslims can be done

THIS week George Bush was in Vienna, doing his best to mend relations with his allies. The list of disputes between the United States and Europe remains long and familiar: Guantánamo, Iraq, Iran, the common agricultural policy. Less easy for Mr Bush to talk about, let alone fix, is the equally long list of different attitudes from which so many transatlantic tensions seem to spring—opposing prejudices on everything from capitalism and religiosity to Mr Bush’s “war on terror”.

These underlying emotions—what a British historian, Sir Lewis Namier, once called “the music to which [political] ideas are a mere libretto”—occasionally converge around a particular issue, such as Guantánamo Bay or Hurricane Katrina.

I have identified one of the key elements of this music, the one that explains much of the European anger over Guantanamo, Iraq, Iran, outsourcing torture, etc., namely ressentiment of the most self-destructive kind, disguised as moral indignation.

This can be unhelpful: Katrina made America look like a failed state, Guantánamo is not a typical example of American justice. Now a similar caricature—this time about Europe—is forming in America (see article). It is known as “Eurabia”, and it represents an ever-growing Muslim Europe-within-Europe—poor, unassimilated and hostile to the United States.

No, hostile to the West… including Europe.

Two years ago, the White House’s favourite Arabist scholar, Bernard Lewis,

That’s quite a way to describe one of, if not the most prominent scholars of the Middle East (definitely more than an “Arabist”) alive today.

gave a warning that Europe would turn Muslim by the end of this century, becoming “part of the Arab West, the Maghreb”. Now there is a plethora of books with titles like “While Europe Slept” and “Menace in Europe” (see article). [ed: and Eurabia?] Stagnant Europe, goes the standard argument, cannot offer immigrants jobs; appeasing Europe will not clamp down on Islamofascist extremism; secular Europe cannot deal with religiosity (in some cities, more people go to mosques each week than to churches). Europe needs to study America’s melting pot, where Muslims fare better.

That’s a fair description. Why do I get the sense that it’s about to be dismissed rather than elaborated?

Londonistan calling

Such advice gets short shrift from European leaders, who often blame Muslim militancy on American foreign policy.

Isn’t that just what European Muslims do? See the debate between Melanie Phillips and Asghar Bukhari of the MPACUK: Bukhari explains how the terrorism is the product of English foreign policy, as if terrorism is an appropriate way to express dissent in such matters (in which case one would imagine that the house of Parliament should have been blown up by Jews sometime between 1945-48 when Britain prevented survivors from Hitler going to Palestine, and sandbagged the creation of Israel, wouldn’t one?).

This argument that terrorism is a response to foreign policy is a staggeringly contemptuous comment about civil society, as if anyone who has a complaint has, if not a right, an understandable indulgence to engage in this kind of morally abhorrent violence aimed at innocent civilians. The moderator tried to take on Bukhari’s argument himself, rather than letting Melanie Phillips do it (mistake), but surely one response is to say, “Sir, if you can make this argument, you have no idea what democracy is about. Surely you can’t expect me to take your arguments seriously.”

But the British (and Europeans, and our “left”) are astoundingly vulnerable to this argument. Why so, is puzzling. But I suspect that part the appeal of the idea that Muslim militancy is a response to American foreign policy is a brilliant way to scapegoat the USA for hatreds that derive far more from the infinitely more brutal and intrusive imperial adventurism of 19th and early 20th century Europe. At this point the hostilities are so deep and so systemic that the idea that a “nicer” foreign policy can have any real impact on them is close to delusional. It’s also, in conditions of Eurabia (which the Economist is trying to dismiss) suicidal.

But something similar to Eurabia scares many Europeans too. Terrorism is part of it, thanks to the Madrid and London bombings (as well as September 11th). But it goes wider than that: the past two years have seen riots in France’s banlieues, the uproar about Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, the murder of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch film-maker, and now the virtual exile (to America) of his muse, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Oh that…

Pretty short list of worries. How about honor-killings, and mosque hate preaching, and plans to take over Europe… for starters?

Fears about “Londonistan” and so on have helped Europe’s far right;

I think that a great deal of the reluctance of the media — including the Economist — to let people know how bad it is, to, for example consult and cite the kind of horror show MEMRI and PMW reveal about the media in the Arab and Muslim world derives from a fear that if people knew how bad it was, then they would vote right wing. One French media moghul said as much during the riots last November: “Politics in France is heading to the right and I don’t want rightwing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television,” says M. Dassier, owner of France1 TV.

on the other side of politics, a bizarre alliance has sprung up between the anti-war left and Islamic hardliners.

Thanks for mentioning that.

But the respectable centre is split between France’s strict integrationist approach (banning Muslim children from wearing head-scarves in state schools) and the more tolerant multiculturalism of Britain and the Netherlands. The debate about Turkey (and its 71m Muslims) joining the European Union is increasingly a Eurabian one. Meanwhile, at the centre of all this fuss Europe’s Muslims are themselves riven by inter-generational arguments on everything from whether there is a European version of Islam to which cricket team to support.

Ah, so here’s the payoff to first mentioning the far right and far left. Then you can present the vapid center as “respectable.” The lamentable situation, that this brief summary gives you no clue to, is that both the integrationist and multiculturalist approaches have failed for similar reasons. At least in both the French and Dutch case it comes from a profound indifference and lack of engagement with these immigrant communities — they do their thing we do ours — which has ended up transporting the culture of the southern Mediterranean, with its tribal patterns (including honor killings and turf battles) to the North.

The British case, however, is even more worrisome. They actually have — America-like — succeeded in integrating many of their Muslims. And still that hasn’t worked. The blokes who blew up the London subway last July were highly successful members of British society. And the latest Pew Poll finds that hatred of the West is highest among British Muslims and non-Muslim distrust of Muslims correspondingly lowest in Britain, something that may just be related to Britain’s exceptional multi-culturalism and tolerance.

As Melanie Philips says (this is reason #2 of 3):

Britain’s grievance culture, which holds that minorities cannot be blamed for any wrong they may do because they are all victims of the majority, has lethally reinforced the sense of paranoia and victimisation which fuels the jihad.

This goes deeper than we want to imagine.

Take for example, the last line of the last paragraph in question:

Meanwhile, at the centre of all this fuss Europe’s Muslims are themselves riven by inter-generational arguments on everything from whether there is a European version of Islam to which cricket team to support.

Wow. You wish. Not a mention of the debate about whether to denounce terrorism, reports on which are deeply disturbing.

Dutch Muslim rapper Yassine SB wrote a song about his anger over Van Gogh’s murder but scrapped plans to perform it out of fear of being ostracized by the Islamic community. He also turned down requests by a popular Amsterdam radio station to sing a song against terrorism.

“If you sing that, it’s like you choose the Dutch, not Muslims,” said Yassine SB — the initials stand for his surname Sahsah Bahida — who is popular among Dutch North African youths like himself for his songs against racism.

People will say ‘you are a traitor,’” said the 20-year-old musician…

But there is another reason for the silence — one that for many overrides all others.

Why, many Muslims ask, should they have to speak out against, or apologize for, actions of radicals who do not represent them — people they do not even regard as true Muslims?

Many find the very idea of being asked or expected to denounce such acts “extremely offensive and insulting,” said Khurshid Drabu, a senior member of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Nice piece of demopathy, Mr. Drabu. We Muslims are insulted by being asked to denounce Muslims who, shouting Allahu Akhbar, blow themselves up in the midst of infidel civilians. And they successfully address this kind of indignation to the same audience that won’t allow Israelis in the country without denouncing their government’s “apartheid policies.” They know their target audience.

Note that the composer of this article introduces this last remark with the comment that “for many” this overrides all others, even as it contradicts the previous rapper’s deeply disturbing comment on how if he were to criticize, he’d be ostracized by the Muslim community which Mr. Drabu claims to represent. Given the choice between the two contradictory explanations — fear of the Muslim consensus in support, or sense of indignation at being asked to denounce people who do not “represent” them — I’ll go with the former in a minute, and so, apparently, will Big Pharaoh, who knows “bullsh*t” when he reads it. The reporter, however, gives us the demopaths explanation as overriding for many Muslims. After all, that’s probably what she heard most often.

Is Eurabia really something to worry about? The concept includes a string of myths and a couple of hard truths. Most of the myths have to do with the potency of Islam in Europe. The European Union is home to no more than 20m Muslims, or 4% of the union’s inhabitants. That figure would soar closer to 17% if Turkey were to join the EU—but that, alas, is something that Europeans are far less keen on than Americans are. Even taking into account Christian and agnostic Europe’s lousy breeding record, Muslims will account for no more than a tenth of west Europe’s population by 2025.

It doesn’t take a majority for a mafia to take over an area. The idea that you can a) calculate how many Muslims are in Europe now (French estimates vary from 3-7 million — a gap of 4 million!), b) know how many there will be in 20 years, and c) draw any intelligent conclusions from those numbers based on past experience with other minorities, is unworthy of serious intellectual discussion.

Note that there is no mention in this perfunctory analysis of the demographics of the stunning age differential.

The ratio of Muslims to the total population of the EU countries ranges between 3.5 and 5.5%. However, the ratio of Muslim youth (between 45 and 50% of the Muslims) to EU youth is between 16 and 20%. In other words, in a few years Muslims will constitute 16 to 20% of the European workforce, and could therefore influence policies and decision-making.

And this doesn’t address the issue of the newest school cohorts, starting in kindergarten, with upwards of 25-30% Muslims. Does this matter? Or, in the words of a Dutch reporter to whom David Pryce-Jones commented that in a generation Holland would be a majority Muslim, “So what?”

Well, Muslim students are in fact problematic to say the least, and when they hit a critical mass, you get school meltdown. For those who don’t know, a tournante is a gang rape, a specialty of the “lost territories.”

But not to worry, these demographics of youth appear below in the Economist’s editorial as “good” news.

Besides, Europe’s Muslims are not homogenous. Britain’s mainly South Asian Muslims have far less in common with France’s North African migrants or Germany’s Turks than they do with other Britons.

Now here’s a pretty piece of cognitive egocentrism. Part of what is so terrifying about the latest developments is the emergence of a new, global Islamic identity that has enormous appeal to the second generation of immigrants to Europe from the Muslim world. This new identity has a large component of Salafi and Wahhabi traits which, even as they unite and give a Muslim identity to those who adopt it, inject ferocious hatred towards the West in its adherents. So this “Europeanization” of the younger generation of immigrants, many of whom do not even know their native tongues, does not mean they’ve been converted/seduced by the consumer paradise of tranquil, post-testosteronic suburbia. And to think that it does, ignores some vital evidence.

Arguments about alienation are also more complicated than they first appear. Many European terrorists were either relatively well-off or apparently well-integrated. The Muslims who torched France’s suburbs last year were the ones who seldom attend mosques. First-generation immigrants (with the strongest ties to the Muslim world) seem to be less radical than their European-educated sons and daughters. And the treatment of them is far from uniform either: for all the American charges of “appeasement”, the FBI is a downright softie compared with France’s internal security services.

Here’s a good case of intellectual obfuscation. All the details here appear in my previous comment to indicate there’s something to worry about. Here it appears as a laundry list to illustrate how “complicated” matters are (soon they’ll be called “subtleties”) with no further analysis… in other words as an impediment to drawing any (negative) conclusions. And the fact that we have varying kinds of hostile Muslims in Europe — from the “well-integrated” born-again Muslims to the scarcely disciplined racaille of the French suburbs — does not mean there is no connection between them. But of course, that would mean considering hostility to Western values and life-style (including women’s rights) as a source of the problem… and we all know it’s just America and Israel they hate.

Give us jobs, education and a seat on the city council

Given these subtleties, perhaps the most dangerous myth is the idea that there is one sure-fire answer when it comes to assimilating Europe’s Muslims. In some cases, integrationism goes too far (France’s head-scarf ban was surely harsh); but multiculturalism can too (Britain is now reining in its Muslim schools). America’s church-state divide and its tolerance of religious fervour are attractive, but its fabled melting pot is not a definitive guide either: many American Muslims are black, and many Arab-Americans are Christian. In some ways, a better comparison (in terms of numbers and closeness of homeland) is with Latinos—and nobody in Europe is (yet) talking about building a wall to keep Muslims out.

This is a deeply confusing paragraph, skimming the surface of “fine” distinctions, made with a confident touch (“surely harsh,” “fabled melting pot not a definitive guide,” “better comparison”), that really lead nowhere. The subject is dealing with European Muslims, and ends with a comparison with Catholic Hispanic immigrants to the US, in which the ideology of Jihad, the propensity and support for terrorism, and ambitions for global Sharia have vanished.

As for the wall to keep Muslims out, thank you for the (yet). Of course given how morally outraged (and deeply unfair) the European World Court was about Israel’s attempt to defend herself from the assault of her Muslim neighbors, it will be all the more difficult for Europe to resort to the same techniques… which they’ll do long before they suffer the kind of injuries and deaths that the Israelis did before they built their wall.

Yet amid all this hyperbole, two hard realities stand out. The first is the importance of jobs. In America, it is easy for a newcomer to get work and hard to claim welfare; in Europe the opposite is true. Deregulating labour markets is a less emotive subject than head-scarves or cartoons, but it matters far more.

Okay, I’m not an economist, and I’m definitely not up on the situation of European labor markets. I do know that in France the latest efforts to even a partial deregulation aimed at making youth more employable provoked riots, so I’m not sure why the Economist would call this “less emotive.” But beyond that, do I detect here a classic expression of that great PCP bromide “poverty causes terrorism?” Didn’t this same author just point out the economic well-being of England’s terrorists? And this is billed as a “hard reality”? Did I miss it? Was terrorism dismissed as a myth? Or is it the second “hard reality”?

Second, the future of Europe’s Muslims, no less than that of America’s Latinos, lies with the young. For every depressing statistic about integration—France’s prisons hold nine times more young men with North African fathers than ones with French fathers—there are several reassuring ones: a quarter of young Muslim Frenchwomen are married to non-Muslim men; Muslims are flocking to British universities and even popping up in white bastions like the Tory party.

I guess after the first “hard reality” we should have expected something like this, but it has me slack-jawed. From bromide to valium. Muslims flocking to British Universities, where they will learn from their post-colonial professors all about how to explain, expand and exploit their grievances (as does the “well-spoken” Mr. Bukhari), to employ demopathic arguments in order to dupe liberal cognitive egocentrists like the editorialists at the Economist… this is good news? As Melanie Phillips says (reason #3 in explaining why the more the Brits are nice to their Muslims, the more they hate them):

The specific paranoid conspiracy theory which animates Islamist grievance, which holds that the West is on a mission to destroy Islam and that the strings of the West are being pulled by the Jews, is actually reflected back and reinforced by the accepted discourse in Britain which holds that America is a rogue superpower out of control, which talks up western ‘atrocities’ in Iraq, which demonises Israel and which proclaims that the Jews are a conspiracy which has hijacked American foreign policy in the interests of the Jewish state.

When I was a graduate student in medieval history, what impressed me the most about Brits was that, no matter how much beer and scotch they drank, they had incredibly sharp and critical minds. What’s happened?

In 50 years’ time, Americans may be praising this generation of European Muslims for leading the enlightenment that Islam needed.

From your mouth to God’s ear. But it won’t happen if you close your eyes and hope it will. Like the Oslo “Peace Process,” that’s backfiring. Eyes wide open, and work hard to communicate the values that we all share and that Islam must learn to share if there is to be a peaceful global community — about mutual respect, about not nurturing hatreds, resentments, and imperialist ambitions, about tolerating criticism.

Europe’s Islamic experience will be different from America’s: geography and history have seen to that already. Integration will be hard work for all concerned. But for the moment at least, the prospect of Eurabia looks like scaremongering.

Are we waking up yet? Apparently not… “for the moment.”

Update: MP Michael Grove writes this in today’s Times about the problem (hat tip Drinking from Home):

The British State does not have the courage to face down the advocates of political Islam. Islamists in Britain scent weakness. Just as Islamists abroad believe the West does not have the stamina to resist for long, so Islamists within the UK believe the momentum is with them. Islam’s Leninists have drawn the bayonet, probed, and found mush.

“Mush…” not a bad description of the Economist editorial.

29 Responses to Who’s Afraid of Eurabia: Fisking the Economist

  1. Bravo Richard…. and wasn’t it clever how they managed to write so many articles, including 4 book reviews, without mentioning Bat Ye’or once?

  2. RL says:

    It’s pretty amazing, but the Bat Ye’or book is an real sore spot. She spoke at the conference in Jerusalem where I gave my paper on Conspiracy theories. The Europeans there, especially the French, were indignant and accused her of conspiracy theory. She responded that it’s (to use the English expression) a purloined letter — fully public, not hidden conspiracy. But apparently reading her book is too harsh medicine to digest. Our take on this is here.

  3. Ignorance and Bliss

    Richard Landes takes a look at the Economist’s recent cover story, Tales from Eurabia, an attempt to whitewash the concept of Eurabia, and does his usual admirable job demolishing their arguments. In his post, Who’s Afraid of Eurabia: Fisking the

  4. An update on Jihadi terrorism

  5. Yehudit says:

    It would be interesting to compare the Guardian article to this one in the NYTimes. Yes, it’s the NYTimes. But it’s Christopher Caldwell. I skimmed the Times article and it seems a bit more realistic than the Guardian.

  6. Grif says:

    Bernard Lewis may not be an Arabist, but he is certainly not “one of, if not the most prominent scholars of the Middle East alive today.” Lewis is a medievalist scholar of the Middle East, not of the modern Middle East. That has been his focus of study throughout his career, and in academic circles that’s a distinction worth making.

  7. RL says:

    response to Grif:

    While I would agree that it’s a distinction worth making, but not too insistently. Lewis has written several books that follow themes from the MA to the present (in the Middle East — even more than in the West — the continuities of medieval and modern are substantial). that would make him a scholar of the ME with one of the longest points of view. many scholars, especially in the post-Saidian mold, pursuing the dogma of “no difference” have a tendency to ignore many of the things that Lewis pays attention to.

  8. “Offended” is a Buzzword for the Muslim Cultural Offensive

    Augean Stables conducts a precision intellectual strike into The Economist’s cover story, “Eurabia: The Myth and Reality of Islam in Europe,” making the magazine look like a wan and spiritless dentist’s office read.

  9. Lawrence Barnes says:

    The Economist seems to be sinking into the slough of delusion. Its recent pronouncements on the political situation in Thailand (where I live) have been bizarre, leaving me wondering what why the magazine has abandoned reality and reason. What a shame….it used to be such a good source of news and opinion!

    I have to wonder whether the decline of The Economist is the due to the ideological evolution of the British elite I refer to as “The Oxbridge Axis.” That’s too simple, I’m sure, but we might consider whether the syndrome (anti-US bias, moral equivalence, cynical rejection of capitalism and individualism, a failure to understand what civil society is, and so on) is one of the West’s signals to Islam that now is the time to attack.

  10. RL says:

    who in the axis cd you identify as key players? i’m particularly interested in what you call the “failure to understand what civil society is”. as opposed to the french with foucault and derrida and baudrillard et al. i can’t really think of a major british thinker.

  11. Lawrence Barnes says:

    R.L.: You pin me down, and I must admit I can’t give you a list of academics or philosophers who speak for or have defined the Oxbridge Axis. I have never attempted to become familiar with works of the leading lights of the political elite that gives the BBC its anti-US slant (there are several websites devoted exclusively to the bias of the Beeb) and makes the press what it is in Britain.

    My understanding of the Oxbridge Axis is that it stems from the socialist/neo-Marxist orientation of British academia (the Webbs, G. B. Shaw, et al.) and has crafted much of the news media’s outlook. It’s a noxious amalgam of anti-globalization, anti-fair trade, virulent anti-capitalism, moral equivalence, warmed-over peacenik simplemindedness, and “they are just like us” thinking — seasoned with a dash of unadmitted Jew-hatred. Robert Fisk may be considered a prime exponent of the bias, and the popularity of John Pilger in Britain is also worth mentioning. Too, the “Left” in Britain adores Noam Chomsky; AFAIK, only Oliver Kamm on the “Left” sees Chomsky for the intellectually dishonest rascal he is. (Kamm’s website is very interesting, q.v.)

    My view: the Brits have yet to recover from the loss of empire. They are bitter. They wax nostalgic about an impossible Utopia they never knew, but only imagined: that wildly impossible socialist society envisioned by Eric A. Blair, before he realized that he had to write Animal Farm. The collectivist dream dies hard, and a naive, frustrated generation of intelligent Oxfam types is out to set things right. Pity.

    That’s a superficial list, of course, but my interest has been in the fact of press bias, not in the intellectual wellsprings of the anti-US sentiment that dominates so much of the news in the UK. The exceptions, particularly the efforts of one newspaper reporter to expose the Saddam-Al Qaeda links, are notable for their rarity.

    So…”thinkers” among the members of the Oxbridge Axis? I could be sarcastic and say that is a contradiction in terms, but if Chomsky is a “thinker,” then I suppose there are quite a few who sit and “think” along similar lines — and lecture their students accordingly.

    A final note: Mark Steyn recently left The Spectator, and his comments were to the effect that it had been a tense, difficult relationship for all parties. A man of his sentiments is likely to be “wound up” almost continuously by hectoring colleagues, or simply ostracized. The prevailing theme: “Tony is Bush’s lap dog.” Those who see the major issues of the day as you do, R.L., are definitely politically incorrect in the UK, and often regarded as mentally deficient. BTW the Poms here are so commonly anti-US, and so likely to be obnoxious about it, that I avoid them as a rule.
    Fortunately there are exceptions, but most of those folks watch the BBC and accordingly do not understand current events.

    That’s the best I can do toward answering your question, I’m sorry to say. Forgive the undiscovered typos, please.

  12. Lawrence Barnes says:

    Oops, sorry, I forgot to mention the misunderstanding of “civil society.”

    When I first saw this term, I was puzzled. Its meaning was obscure to me, so I wondered: civil as opposed to uncivil, which would refer to manners? Or civil as in civilian, as opposed to military? How, exactly, is civil society distinct from society, period? Why do we need this term??

    The more I looked at the way the “civil society” is used, the more confused I became. A lot of what I see here is written by Thais, and they follow British rather than US traditions in writing and government, so I assumed that the term originated in the UK. I never heard or read it when I was living in the USA.

    When you presented a discussion (on your other website) of what you mean by the term, I grasped the point and realized that very few academics here in Thailand know what they are talking about when they toss “civil society” into their articles for the popular press (in English). Here it’s more of a shibboleth, or even gratuitous jargon intended to impress, than a contribution to the discussion.

    I take it as obvious that the political correctness that is so common in Britain is incompatible with the civil society you define. CMIIAW. In any event, when I use the term, your definition is what I mean.

    It could be that my understanding of your definition is influenced by my personal libertarian orientation, however, so we might have a lively discussion.

    Overall, I see civil society as a concept that is an extension of individual morality into politics. Here in Thailand, the individual is definitely secondary, and I suspect that is true in Britain, as well. Thais do not understand free speech, for example — they simply don’t believe in it. When I look at the libel and slander laws in Britain, I conclude they don’t understand it there, either.

    In what I understand to be your concept of a civil society, the transformation of London into Londinistan would be impossible. Yet there it is.

  13. RL says:

    So…”thinkers” among the members of the Oxbridge Axis? I could be sarcastic and say that is a contradiction in terms, but if Chomsky is a “thinker,” then I suppose there are quite a few who sit and “think” along similar lines — and lecture their students accordingly.

    okay, i agree with everything you say. how is this imaginable? how can intelligent people end up thinking so astoundingly self-destructively, stupidly? (was that three adverbs?)

    A final note: Mark Steyn recently left The Spectator, and his comments were to the effect that it had been a tense, difficult relationship for all parties. A man of his sentiments is likely to be “wound up” almost continuously by hectoring colleagues, or simply ostracized. The prevailing theme: “Tony is Bush’s lap dog.” Those who see the major issues of the day as you do, R.L., are definitely politically incorrect in the UK, and often regarded as mentally deficient. BTW the Poms

    is that pomos?

    here are so commonly anti-US, and so likely to be obnoxious about it, that I avoid them as a rule.
    Fortunately there are exceptions, but most of those folks watch the BBC and accordingly do not understand current events.

    now there’s a remark pregnant with meaning. how many people of good common sense and innate fairness call it wrong because they can’t believe the media could become such an augean stable.

    That’s the best I can do toward answering your question, I’m sorry to say. Forgive the undiscovered typos, please.

    only one maybe…

    …mention the misunderstanding of “civil society.”

    When I first saw this term, I was puzzled. Its meaning was obscure to me, so I wondered: civil as opposed to uncivil, which would refer to manners? Or civil as in civilian, as opposed to military? How, exactly, is civil society distinct from society, period? Why do we need this term??

    there is a distinction btw polite and civil: polite is “don’t say certain things lest they lead to violence,” and civil is: “you can say what you feel you need to say and there won’t be violence.”

    The more I looked at the way the “civil society” is used, the more confused I became. A lot of what I see here is written by Thais, and they follow British rather than US traditions in writing and government, so I assumed that the term originated in the UK. I never heard or read it when I was living in the USA.

    my guess is it goes back to the mid-80s (but i haven’t really explored this), and it’s true in america. in kramer’s ivory towers on sand, he goes into its impact on the anti-orientalist butchery of the middle east situation.

    When you presented a discussion (on your other website) of what you mean by the term, I grasped the point and realized that very few academics here in Thailand know what they are talking about when they toss “civil society” into their articles for the popular press (in English). Here it’s more of a shibboleth, or even gratuitous jargon intended to impress, than a contribution to the discussion.

    I take it as obvious that the political correctness that is so common in Britain is incompatible with the civil society you define. CMIIAW. In any event, when I use the term, your definition is what I mean.

    It could be that my understanding of your definition is influenced by my personal libertarian orientation, however, so we might have a lively discussion.

    Overall, I see civil society as a concept that is an extension of individual morality into politics. Here in Thailand, the individual is definitely secondary, and I suspect that is true in Britain, as well. Thais do not understand free speech, for example — they simply don’t believe in it. When I look at the libel and slander laws in Britain, I conclude they don’t understand it there, either.

    In what I understand to be your concept of a civil society, the transformation of London into Londinistan would be impossible. Yet there it is.

    well i guess we agree pretty thoroughly. if the brits understood civil society (if they had or could listen to blake — always be ready to speak your mind — and not get offended), then any muslimification of london would entail the emergence of a civil islam. what the brits are doing is allowing is a form of islam into its body social and body politic which is radically inimical to the civil society that have spent the last ten (or more) centuries trying to construct… one that is fair to all its inhabitants.

  14. Lawrence Barnes says:

    Yes, yes, and yes. And: “Pomos.” LOL!!

  15. [...] to the topic, in which they did not review Bat-Ye’or’s book, and in which they basically dismissed the problem. The thesis, critics cl [...]

  16. [...] e West is, right now, faced with a formidable foe and your current modus operandi makes it hard for anyone to even talk about a problem like Eurabi [...]

  17. [...] his process, and the exceptional denial that permeates French public life on the issues of Eurabia and global Jihad. 4. The fundamental significa [...]

  18. [...] squint your eyes, and imbibe only French media, you can be excused for not realizing that real dangers loom ahead. And, of course, none even know [...]

  19. [...] — as a peevish obsession. No wonder people — especially Europeans — are so little prepared to think clearly. So the bien-pensan [...]

  20. [...] n spent 15 years at the Economist. This one has the same shakey grasp on reality that the Economist’s take on Eurabia displayed. The clash [...]

  21. Antei Dax says:

    By and by the Jews did commit terrorist acts against the British in Palestine…and therefore the west??

    Cetainly you have to say foreign policy has some bearing on recruiting young europeans to an extremist position.

    Understanding that fact as a cause does not equate with accepting it as a legitamate form of protest, it allows us to better tackle the problem of integrating our new arrivals into European society.

  22. RL says:

    your logic escapes me. the israeli “terrorism” — which was, even under the worst circumstances, far milder than palestinian — targeted the british precisely because they behaved so terribly after the holocaust, not because they represented “western values.”

    and as for “foreign policy having some bearing on recruiting young europeans to extremist positions,” i don’t have to admit anything of the sort. not that it can’t — british policy towards israel right after the holocaust really did drive some (few) palestinian jews to violence. but not american jews, or british jews. for what you call “european youth” but what you really mean is muslims from immigrant families. and the notion that british foreign policy in iraq is somehow responsible for the extremism of people whose only connection is their muslim identity, strikes me as pretty wide of the mark.

    on the contrary, i’d say that what produces the extremism is not the british behavior, but the muslim extremism, which, like the danish cartoons, uses any excuse to throw a violent tantrum.

  23. Antei Dax says:

    Hmmm…I along with any objective comparison would call it terrorism, and to use the holocaust as an excuse to perpetuate violence is a non starter; Palestinmans have used their forced exile as an excuse for volence. The fact that it was short lived and so “mild”, does not make it acceptable, I certainly don’t see Israel as a modern western style state, it more resembles an early 19th century European state; obsessed ethnic and religious purity.

    These men are young Europeans, thats the reality. Because their families are immigrants, or they are Muslim does not negate that, nor our responsibilities toward them.

    To say that Iraq and Israel has no relation to Islamic extremism seems to me to bare no relation to common sense. The fact is terrorism seeks to provoke terror, an over reaction; which Neo-cons et al were sadly more than willing to provide; rather than hold a frank and honest disscussion on America and the Muslim world, work constructivly toward resettling the Palestinans in a viable homeland, and rebuild Afghanistan after overthrowing the Taliban as a shining example against the extremists. Instead we are treated with the bumbling antics of the powerful, whose use of power has provided the extreamism with a generation of recruits, and America with reduced civil liberties, a tarnished image, and the west with no moral high ground.

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