I am not an Islamic scholar and know little about the sectarian divisions within Islam, and still less about Islam itself. I do not regard this as a required qualification for my presentation- although it is required knowledge for its own sake. I am concerned about the religious bigotry and rank hypocrisy that is being thrown about, from imperialist warmongers and ideologues, from Muslims across the spectrum, and from other bigoted religious perspectives, in discussing the ISIS.
The Politics of Inter-imperialist Rivalry
No doubt, ISIS is born of the soil, nourished by the tears and grounded in the reality of horrendous crimes, including repeated genocide and wholesale destruction and degradation committed against the oppressed Muslim nations, people and whole communities throughout the Greater Middle-East-North African- Gulf-Caspian region, for decades. Exercising strategic domination and control over this Greater Middle-East Region has been a critical dimension of two inter-imperialist world wars and continues today to play that role in much more decisive, explosive and horrendous forms. ISIS is both a product and a concentration of the logic of this imperialist rivalry and contention for asserting global strategic supremacy and hegemony.
Fertilized in the soil of domination, exploitation and oppression, yet, the ISIS is a product of the politics of imperialism and regional hegemony. Its role and function is defined by, and within, this frame. The ISIS, like Al Queda, Al Nusra, Moslem Brotherhood, Hezbollah, PLO, HAMAS, the so-called Jihadists, is a response to intensifying imperialist domination, terror, horror, degradation and oppression. It is principally a result of the politics of inter-imperialist rivalry, including and concentrated in proxy wars being fought between and among contending imperialist powers and their allies and alliance structures. The politics of imperialist rivalry and contention is for asserting global economic dominance and strategic supremacy. We should remember that two world wars have been fought due to the working out of this logic, and the sparks of a possible third, thermo-nuclear world war are igniting.
Imperialist Horror, Or a Way to a New World and a New Future
It is in this light that we have to establish the truth and the real politics behind the ISIS. This is to expose the whole game being played on a world scale that will decide the future of humankind. This is to begin to think and act on an alternative path of social evolution; A path and a way of life towards organising human society on the basis of the highest, most noble of human aspirations; Aspirations for freedom, for love and solidarity, aspirations for sharing, caring and nurturing Nature as we would ourselves; Aspirations to be wrapped together in a common quest to discover, realize and optimize universal, conscious, creative self-determination. Aspirations to discover beauty, joy and freedom in the other. It is in the context of this objective polarization and conjuncture between a dying, decaying world order and the rising bright new world order, that the true historical significance of ISIS can be seen as the venom spurted out by a cancerous, monstrous system of human social organization that lives and thrives upon terror, death and destruction. So, the stakes are high, where the whole trajectory and path of social evolution and the future of humankind is to be decided through the politics of imperialist rivalry and contention for global hegemony. So, we should exert effort to get at the root of this whole phenomenon of the ISIS, which is but a concentrated expression of the politics of imperialism and the logic of escalation of inter-imperialist war.
The Logic of Intensification of the Politics of Inter-imperialist Rivalry
World politics today is principally determined and decided on the basis, and in the context of intensifying contention for asserting geo-political strategic superiority and global economic dominance between rival imperialist powers and their respective global power blocs and alliances. Each such imperialist power is driven by the same and equal logic of necessity for sustaining, expanding and consolidating its own empire of blood, profit and plunder at the expense of all its rivals. The US stands on top of the imperialist powers, along with the Zionist State of Israel, that have waged wars of aggression, occupation and genocide and caused unspeakable destruction of lives, property and livelihood of tens of millions of people throughout the Region. Russia stands next in line, along with Britain, France and Germany. The US is irrevocably driven deeper into this vortex of imperialist rivalry and contention. It cannot afford to lose any vital strategic territory anywhere in the world, either to its direct enemies such as Russia and China, nor, secondarily, to the competing world powers within its own camp. It is a declining empire and a sole superpower gasping desperately for breath and lashing about with dragon’s fury and fire, and getting ever deeper in the quagmire, to stay on top. In fact, the US is expanding its strategic and military base facilities throughout the Greater Middle-East, Africa, Gulf and Caspian Region. This is while Israel has its nukes poised and aimed at Iran and elsewhere to maintain, expand and consolidate its regional hegemony, backed by the US. Nor can Russia or China afford to lose any vital political, economic, strategic and military advantage and superiority to its contending enemies – the ‘Western Bloc’ symbolized by NATO. The conflicts throughout the Region are, in essence, proxy wars between this US-led bloc, Russia and China. The civil wars in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere are ultimately expressions of violent contention between these rival camps. There is collusion, compromise, partnership and shifting alliances among these competing rival powers. This does not mean that there is a basis for lasting peaceful coexistence within the prevailing system of world imperialism. The logic of the politics of empire is to expand or die’ to keep seizing and expanding vital strategic resources and advantage, lest rival predators shall take over. This logic defines the essence of the politics of modern world imperialism.
Inter-Imperialist Proxy Wars or Religious Wars?
The vast majority of the oppressed and subjugated masses most affected by inter-imperialist politics throughout the region are those who profess Islam, as their one, true religion and identity, with passion and conviction. They are readily mobilized behind the slogan of a ‘fight unto death to defend the one true Almighty God against all infidels and apostates’. The reactionary Christian and Jewish industry also claims the authority of an Almighty God, and declares this war to be final. So, evidently, it appears, and is made to appear, that the whole issue of ISIS is a question of a religious war, a clash of civilizations, that may even irrevocably lead to the ‘predestined apocalypse’. A third world war! Armageddon. A divine prophecy being fulfilled. This is sheer deranged demagoguery, from all sides. The Thirty Years War from 1618 to 1648, which devastated much of Germany and Central Europe is claimed to be a religious war between Protestants and Catholics. In reality, this war was a result of the violent contest for asserting European hegemony between the Bourbon and Hapsburg monarchies and their respective dynastic empires. The ISIS is not a product of a religious war. It is not a clash of civilizations. It has been made to take the form of a religious war, a clash of civilizations. Yet, in its basic origin, nature, function and role, it is a product of imperialist politics. Although being grounded in the relentless reality and politics of imperialist domination and subjugation, the ISIS represents the mirror opposite of reactionary, fanatical Christian and Judaist theological traditions. It relies on invoking, mobilizing and unleashing the most backward, narrow, distorted and degenerate forms of human passions to achieve its goals, all duly referenced and quoted from the Quran and Sharia. Yet, how is this any different from the ideology and politics of ‘Manifest Destiny’ and ‘Whiteman’s Burden, of Zionism, and the Christian missions to save the souls that have legitimised and sanctified centuries of colonial occupation, slavery, genocide and barbaric terror and world war?
ISIS: A Concentration of the Politics of Imperialism and Religious Bigotry
There is no question in my mind that the ISIS is one of the most outrageously degenerate and despicable political phenomena of our times, next to the imperialist powers. It’s ideology is introverted, narcissistic and perverted, from wherever it is derived. It belongs to an archaic medieval age that is long past and buried. The ISIS draws its roots and its inspiration from the medieval-tribal-martial traditions born in an age of generalized chaos, anarchy, raging conflict and war within and between rival tribes, and all the blind brutality and savagery that it prescribed and entertained. This was at the time of the political rise, expansion and consolidation of the Islamic empire. On this basis, Jihad is interpreted by ISIS to mean all out perpetual war against all apostates and infidels, all enemies and traitors of the one, true, unchanging and eternally abiding Almighty God. This means to carry out the will of god as according to the Quran and Sharia law, as to be interpreted, applied and enforced by a supreme religious council headed by the chief Imam of the Caliphate of ISIS. That would offer a unique model of a theocratic-fascist, absolutist, monolithic state never imagined or attempted before, with beheading, amputation, stoning to death of women and barbaric torture as prescribed in the Quran and constitutional Sharia law.
Just Think. The yearning and motivation for ISIS is for hastening the apocalypse – the self-destruction of the world through war – as the overpowering goal, the singular obsession and passion for the establishment of a Caliphate; a caliphate that is internally scripturally bound to expand and seek world domination through the violent elimination of all apostates and infidels from the Earth. Now, this ideology and its politics are simply, unthinkably, grotesque and horrifying. And it is happening, it is taking shape and form, and is a living, growing, accumulating and expanding reality, each passing day, before our very eyes. The Quran and Sharia law are quoted, chapter and verse, to authorize, legitimise and justify this system of governance and its jurisprudence, that calls for crucifixion, beheading, slavery, willing subjugation by, and open discrimination of non-Muslims, and declares wars of genocide as the essence and path of its messianic mission. All duly quoted and referenced, and where the commanders, fighters and devotees of the caliphate shall recite and imbibe its values, virtues and prescriptions, like lobotomised, de-humanized, mechanical robots. This fanatical religious vision, this fascist political ideology, this strategy for global domination, the whole program and plan, all its actions are claimed to be derived from and authorised by Allah through Prophet Mohamed as written down in the Quran and interpreted in Sharia. This trend find inspiration from such quotes as; “And kill them wherever you find them, and expel them from where they expelled you, as persecuting people to sway them from God’s Religion is worse than killing. But do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque, unless they fight you there. But if they do fight you, then slay them; This is the recompense of the disbelievers.” (Qur’an 2:191).
There is much distortion and confusion of the true origins, parentage and patronage, and the historic mission of ISIS. Now, the interesting thing is that there are competing interpretations of the Quran itself and of the ISIS. The majority of the Muslims in the world would, perhaps, agree that ISIS is an anti-Islamic phenomenon. In their denunciations, they would refer to such quotations as; …Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind…” (Qur’an 5:32). Even Barrack Obama says that ISIS is not an ‘Islamic phenomenon’. For Barrack Obama, it is the need not to make it into a clash between Islam and the ‘West’, since it is backing Saudi Arabia which is backing ISIS, and because it relies on the most degenerate reactionary Arab states and regimes. Also, he wants to appear sane and rational in order head off some incredibly fanatic contenders for the Presidency who are gaining popularity, and who may become mainstream. Ted Cruz has declared that if elected, he would ‘ carpet bomb the ISIS state and see if sand can glow in the dark’. Donald Trump has called for ‘bombing the Muslims back to the middle-ages and killing their families’. Chris Christie has threatened war with Russia. Back to the Holy Crusades, with the likes of Trump or Hilary driving the horses – the nukes. Like ISIS, they will find legitimization from an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent male creator god and refer with equal barbaric fervour to their own scriptures, the Bible, and the Torah.
Some Muslims, the majority, may say that ISIS is not an Islamic phenomenon, to denounce and distance themselves from it. Some argue that nowhere in the Quran does it justify killing civilians. But this reference is contradicted by the open call for killing all infidels and apostates, for beheading and slaughtering, which can also be referenced, and are liberally quoted by the leaders of the ISIS, including by Abu Bakr Bagdadhi – and thousands are flocking to this version every day. So, what is the correct interpretation of ISIS and Islam? There are those Muslims who distance themselves from ISIS, but argue equally passionately for the unquestioned truth and law as revealed in the Quran, which does legally and spiritually prescribe genocide and slavery, stoning women to death in public, amputation, crucifixion, torture. Just as barbaric as does the Bible and Torah! Check out Deuteronomy. Some of these Muslims say that these exhortations, expressions and prescriptions should be read in their historical context, in relation to the concrete conditions prevailing at the time, but yet claim that the Quran and Sharia is absolute and should be applied to the letter. No Muslim would dare to contextualize Islam and declare it to be relative and relevant according to conditions and the times. That is not permitted. It would be a crime of apostasy. Nor would any fundamentalist Christian nor Jew contextualize the Bible or Torah and openly denounce the barbaric provisions contained. At best, they would wriggle about in trying to somehow contextualize, legitimise and justify it. At worst, they would refer to these verses and passages with relish and passion. None of these mystified interpretations and dogmatic-absolutist religious trends offer any solution to the prevailing madness and horror, nor certainly a path to universal human emancipation. That is why all these religious ideologies have been thrown into internal fracture and crisis, and the solution shall be sought in wars for asserting world domination – in the name of god and country.
All universalistic, monotheistic ideologies and religious doctrines, and religious ideologies in general, have some humanist elements and principles, calling for universal love, brotherhood, peace and coexistence, in the name of a merciful god. Of course, love, peace, stability and coexistence must be equally propagated and secured, as much as waging war, to sustain and govern a society, or an empire. But, their essence is defined by mutually exclusive claims to a monopoly of absolute truth, based on the invocation of a divine, omnipotent, supernatural authority to implement that truth as prescribed in ancient scriptures. These archaic scriptures and prescriptions are proclaimed as eternal and unchanging, codified as divine law, where all who do not follow are regarded as unrepentant sinners and traitors. All these ancient monotheistic scriptures call for waging wars of conquest and genocide, call for enslaving, beheading and torturing infidels. All of them call for the absolute authority of a patriarchal male god and corresponding subordination and degradation of women, given that they are defined as the source of original sin and the eternal damnation of humankind. These exclusivist, supremacist and essentially racist and chauvinist, doctrinal premises, assumptions and claims lead inevitably to perpetual wars of conquest and occupation and the universal enslavement of women. These ideologies all play a reactionary role in modern history. There are those progressive monotheistic ideologies and trends, such as ‘liberation theology’, that interpret their religious doctrines to serve the cause of the liberation of the oppressed and stand in opposition to all forms of domination,. These trends have to be respected and united with. However, their allegiance to the hypothesis of an almighty, patriarchal creator god who shall deliver justice and liberation in some life after death, and calling for reposing blind faith in this mythical supernatural power, is idealist, metaphysical and unscientific, and can never lead to genuine human emancipation.
The Role of Religion
Now, how and where do the politics of imperialism and rank hypocrisy come in? Believe me, that is an important and revealing topic. Before I get into that, and before I am accused of being ideologically contaminated myself, let me state that being a revolutionary Communist and a confirmed atheist, and adopting a strictly scientific-sociological perspective, I regard all religions as being ideological reflections and intellectual-cultural productions that give expression to the historical and political conditions of struggle and survival of particular societies and human communities, through a process of human social evolution. Therefore, I have no prejudice against any particular religion, even though I find basic the values and principles of these religions to be wholly repugnant. Beyond that, I consider myself duty-bound to defend the right of any person to follow the religion of their choice, without any form of hindrance, discrimination or subjugation, so long as it does not involve violence and political conspiracy. But, I certainly reject and revile any doctrine, thought, principle and action that blinds people to the truth, to see reality as it is, and to engage in conscious, organized revolutionary struggle to transform the world and eliminate all forms of domination, exploitation and oppression, inspired by a secular, universal, scientific vision of achieving universal human emancipation – here on Earth. I do not have any need whatsoever for the surrealistically and deliriously oppressive hypothesis of a male, patriarchal, omniscient and almighty, unquestionable authority, standing over me, as my judge, jury and executioner, hidden beyond all time, space and reality, playing his game as he pleases. That thought itself is, for me, puerile, irrational and an abdication of one’s intelligence, rationality and social responsibility.
I believe, with no prejudice whatsoever, that all monotheistic religions that are based on blind faith in a creator-god who shall deliver justice and liberate humanity after death at his divine will, is not only absolutely false, but a dangerous illusion. It gives rise to each and every interpretation of that belief and faith competing to claim that only one such interpretation can be true and that all other interpretations are false and constitute mortal threats to the one, true, original scriptural truth. By its very basic nature and character, these competing claims are beyond rational debate, discussion and persuasion. They are mutually exclusive and irreconcilable and have to be ultimately resolved politically through violence and WAR. These competing religious doctrines are historical expressions of political ideologies driven by the need for economic dominance, territorial conquest and imperial expansion, in order to establish world hegemony and undisputed authority of the one, true, ever conquering Almighty God – one that wins through brute, barbaric destructive power. The question of who is the true god is to be decided forever by the force of arms. Throughout history, these competing claims have resulted in the most bloodiest protracted wars of genocide, along with the most horrible atrocities, including rape, torture and slavery. Each of the original scriptures, the sole and supreme doctrinal authority of the ‘Abrahamic’ monotheistic religions, whether it be the Bible, Quran, or the Torah, all contain references to and justifications for war, occupation, genocide, rape, mutilation, beheading, amputating, torture, slavery, and the abominable and general degradation of women. You may pick and choose which quote and reference you may wish to open or hide, but I challenge anyone to debate this historical reading. The ISIS is but a product and continuation of this ideological-political legacy of claiming absolute truth and the supreme moral authority to establish its hegemony through war, common to all monotheistic religious traditions. As much as Zionism and the State of Israel is a supreme product of this very same legacy and tradition of naked aggression, invasion, occupation, colonization and genocide. The ISIS Caliphate could be said to be the mirror opposite of the Zionist State of Israel, both having common parentage in the politics of imperialism and theocratic absolutism.
This is not to say that polytheistic and atheistic doctrines, such as Hinduism and Buddhism respectively are any better. Like all major religious ideologies, their original, rational and humanizing content as expressions of struggle, suffering and oppression has given way to becoming reactionary political instruments of enforced ignorance and blind illusion, and weapons of domination. As political ideologies in command of reactionary ruling classes, they have also festered protracted wars with equally grotesque violations of humanity and have been perverted into the most reactionary political ideologies of our times.
Let’s take an example from our own experience in the Land of Lanka. Buddhism is renowned and respected for its integrated and unified philosophy of universalism, atheism, rational-logical reasoning, being grounded in a doctrine of boundless compassion and loving kindness towards all beings. Although bounded, limited and defined by historical times and circumstances, and being based on a basically idealist-metaphysical worldview and methodology, Buddhism is regarded as one of the foremost enlightened, universal and emancipating ancient world philosophies of Asia. This great doctrine of universal human emancipation – the Dhamma – was interpreted and applied by the State, and the Rajapakse Regime to rationalize, legitimise, justify and sanctify a brutal and barbaric war of aggression, occupation and subjugation of the Tamil nation, its people and its homelands. This war was a continuation and intensification of a colonial policy of divide and rule applied by every successive ruling fraction to keep the masses at each other’s throats, instead of theirs. The LTTE committed military suicide by trying to outdo the very same colonial politics of the State. Every successive regime has manipulated Buddhism, the Maha Sangha – the Buddhist priesthood- and the majority of oppressed Sinhala masses into believing that their own political survival as a fraction of the ruling class is unequivocally equated with the survival of the ‘Motherland of the Sinhala-Buddhist Nation and its chosen people; That the defence of the State and its ruling class is the highest patriotic duty amounting to the defence of the Land, Language and Religion of the ‘Sinhalayas’. Now, this is the same ruling class that takes turns in duping the masses through elections to bring them to power, that enslave them and perpetuate the system. How is it possible that Buddhism can be so equated with its polar opposite to be applied as a deadly, overpowering weapon of deception, division and manipulation, creating the conditions for a bloody and brutal internal civil war, by a congenitally corrupt, degenerate, parasitic and terrorist neo-colonial Capitalist ruling class, that would even desecrate and plunder the legacy of the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha, for the cause of its power and perpetuation?
ISIS; A Product of the Times
The first case of religious bigotry and foul hypocrisy lies in anyone trying to demonstrate that the ideology and politics of ISIS is an extreme aberration or some irrational, pathological phenomena, uncommon to all the rest of the players. The US established its global empire to become the sole nuclear super-power in the world through a legacy of wars of genocide against the native, indigenous tribes, through enslaving the Afro-American Nation, through colonization and conquest, through exercising inhuman and barbaric massacre and torture throughout the world. The atomic bombs that incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the deliberate depopulation, deforestation and genocide in Vietnam, and so on, – all this was perpetrated because of the claim that ‘God is on our side’. Centuries of colonial domination, occupation and plunder was carried out with the Bible in hand. Palestine was occupied with genocide with the Torah in hand. Two world wars have been fought and hundreds of millions of people have been slaughtered, mutilated and incinerated to decide which imperialist power shall rule and dominate the world, in the name of the one, true, Almighty God. And the banner of religion has always and everywhere played its indispensible role as the standard-bearer of patriotism, patriarchy, racism, and genocide. So, what’s new with ISIS? Even former Communist States have been seized by imperialism and have been transformed into predator world imperialist powers, as in the former Soviet Union and China. Any banner, whatsoever, whether religious or secular, can be applied by imperialism and reactionary forces to delude, divide and rule the masses and mobilize them behind their class interests and agenda, on the basis of patriotism, racism and chauvinism.
ISIS inherits this historical legacy of savagery and barbarity carried out in the name of the one, true, almighty god. This has been the role of religion, as political ideology, in history. ISIS is the newly born child of religious bigotry and the politics of imperialist hegemony and domination. It did not fall from the sky. ISIS is the natural, inevitable and direct outcome of the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US and its coalition. ISIS is promoted and financed by Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the region. It is protected and assisted by Turkey, A member of NATO. Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA, and so is the Taliban, and ISIS is a breakaway trend from Al Qaeda. So is Al Nusra in Syria supported by MOSSAD. Does Israel support and encourage ISIS to destabilize the region and provoke Iran to war? Did MOSSAD play a role in 9/11? Is this whole scenario, in essence, a proxy war between the US-Western bloc against Russia and China? So, who is really funding, sustaining and advancing ISIS and the caliphate, and all its unthinkable monstrosities and horrors. So, what’s new? Global terrorism has been provoked, funded, assisted and promoted by the very same coalitions of imperialist powers that claim to wage a ‘global war against terrorism’. This logic of evolution can only breed and perpetuate even more horror, terror and destruction as never ever imagined. This is how fatal this game of imperialist politics, religious bigotry and foul hypocrisy is.
Our Path and Our Tasks
This is why it is important to strip away the layers of enforced illusion, self-delusion and blind ignorance, the layers of deception and manipulation, to get at the essence of the phenomena, such as the ISIS, but everywhere. This is the way to train our minds to grasp reality in all its essentials, dimensions and complexity to reveal the real class interests and the real politics that are at play. This is so we may adopt the science and the art of our own politics, learn how to play our own game, our own way, come what takes, to liberate our Land and the People of Lanka from the stranglehold of centuries of colonial subjugation and plunder. This is so to stand tall, united and proud, independent and self-reliant, as a beacon of freedom to the people of the world, and advancing the cause of the universal emancipation of humankind. We have to stand up, share and advance this vision and path in every way we can, if are to save humanity from the impending, unimaginable horror and destruction. Only such a vision and path could bury the historical legacy and transcend the era of war, carnage and barbarism, and universal destruction and degradation, along with all its attendant reactionary ideologies, and leap towards a whole new path and a new era of human social evolution and organization, based on conscious, voluntary union and self-determination, united guided and nourished by the most advanced, enlightened and emancipating scientific philosophy and practice, embracing all humankind. In anthropological terms, it could be said that this new era of social evolution would open the doors to live and experience life and the universe as one, indivisible, integral human species, where the bonds of interdependence shall give rise to ever higher thresholds of discovery, creativity, initiative and freedom.