Marxists and Islamists, Oh My


A wingnut who works for the Center for Security Policy, Frank Gaffney’s collection of bigoted crackpots who see conspiracies under every bed, has declared that a coalition of Islamists and Marxists are working together to destroy America. Naturally, the Worldnutdaily is promoting him:

A noted specialist on Islamic law and ideology from the Center for Security Policy, who has been cited as an expert for the Pentagon, says a coalition of Islamists and Marxists is working to destroy the United States…

He recently addressed the Northern Virginia Chapter of ACT! for America, where he quoted terrorist Carlos the Jackal, who said, “Only a coalition of Islamists and Marxists can destroy the United States.” Thus, Coughlin said, “If we’re going to get a grip on this, we have to know their narrative and understand it. We know that when the other side has language that’s locked into doctrine, we need to hold them to it.”

Come on, that’s the best you can do? What about the gays? And the zombies? And you call yourself a wingnut…

Let me inject a little reality into the conversation: Bin Laden hated socialism and Marxism. That’s why he hated Saddam Hussein, who was a socialist. He declared Hussein to be an infidel, which means someone who must be put to death, because of his socialism.

Comments

  1. says

    Yes, because some random quote from a terrorist is exactly the same as a well-established fact.

    (And what the hell is that word salad comprising the final two sentences in the section quoted by Ed? I’m trying to parse it and it doesn’t mean anything.

  2. raven says

    Not to mention that the Afghanis fought for years against a vaguely leftist regime supported by the commie USSR with troops and arms. And won.

  3. Randomfactor says

    “We know that when the other side has language that’s locked into doctrine, we need to hold them to it.”

    It means Gaffney’s a follower of Saul Alinsky. Which makes him one o’them Marxists himself.

  4. doublereed says

    Marxists? Like followers of Karl Marx. The guy who said “Religion is the opium of the people.” Yea, I’m sure there’s a strong alliance there.

    /facepalm

  5. lpetrich says

    Seems to me that Islam and Islamism have become the new Communism.

    Cold Warriors must be very miserable from being deprived of their favorite villains. Eastern European Communism is kaput, the Soviet Union is broken up, China, Vietnam, and Laos have become capitalist roaders, and North Korea and Cuba are pipsqueaks by comparison to the Soviet Union and Mao’s China.

    Back in 2011, Michele Bachmann praised Communist China for supposedly being super capitalist: Michele Bachmann Is Completely Unaware That China Is Communist So where were the Cold Warriors back then?

  6. Larry says

    Are there really marxists anymore or is that just a boogie man to pull out of the closet to scare the children? Like hippies.

  7. otrame says

    Larry,

    Depends on what you mean. If you mean the kind of “Marxist” that took over several goodly chunks of the world, dragged said chunks kicking and screaming out of the 12 th century, but ultimately failed to survive long-term, then not really. If you mean people who think some of what Marx had to say makes sense, then yeah (raises hand).

  8. raven says

    Are there really marxists anymore or is that just a boogie man to pull out of the closet to scare the children?

    They just use words like humpty dumpty. To mean whatever they want them to mean.

    The Marxists these days were once known as old style Republicans. People like Richard Nixon and Barack Obama.

  9. CaitieCat says

    I’m with otrame – Marx had plenty of good ideas, and I still think he has plenty of usefulness to us. There has been an unfortunate tendency for Marx’s work to be cited by authoritarians as a palliative for the masses while they centralize their dictatorial power (cf. Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot. Kim I II III, Hussein), but I don’t think their misuse tars the man anymore than modern Republicans blot democracy as a concept.

  10. David Marjanović says

    Saddam Hussein, who was a socialist

    …juuuuust enough so he could get Scud missiles from the USSR because the USSR thought he was a lesser evil than Iran.

    BTW, “Hussein” isn’t his last name. He had no last name, unless you count the fact that his clan is called “al-Tikriti”.

  11. Larry says

    Otrame, It would be my strong guess that Gaffney is referring to the former, even though the society formed by Lenin based upon Marx’s works no more truly represented his concepts than Disneyland’s Adventureland represents the true old west. People like Gaffney are incapable of understanding the differences between a concept, such as proposed by Marx, and its implementation, as created by flawed human beings.

  12. Synfandel says

    Carlos the Jackal, who said, “Only a coalition of Islamists and Marxists can destroy the United States.”

    A coalition of libertarians and Christian whack-a-doodles are taking a pretty good crack at it.

  13. dingojack says

    The earliest record I can find on the internet dates back to April 2009. Guess who the source for that [totally unreferenced] quote? Yep, one Stephen Coughlin.
    Quelle suprise!
    Dingo

  14. says

    Caitie Cat @10: I’m with otrame – Marx had plenty of good ideas, and I still think he has plenty of usefulness to us.

    I was reading the Communist Manifesto a couple months ago right after reading a hefty historical tome that partially covered the British imperial system and covered the breakdown of the European imperialism leading up to the First World War. It shocked me just how closely Marx’s contemporary critique of the British system matched with the historical critique of the faults of the British system.

    Moreover, one of the big issues in Britain at the time was that the free market imperialist types would not allow anyone to even suggest promoting alternatives. They thought that by busting into foreign markets and getting the people there to sell them raw goods which could then be manufactured into finished goods in Britain and sold back the benighted heathens of the nether regions of non-Europe would all be elevated. They also considered the infrastructure, like ports and railroads, that they built in those countries so they could better exploit the native resources and send the manufactured good out to the countryside and use a relatively small number of soldiers to police a huge territory a big investment that the native folk had better thank them for and pay them back. It was simply convenient that the wealthy exploiters were making money from both ends by bringing this “freedom” and “investment” to the people of Asia and Africa.

    Marx hit the points about how terrible that set of ideas was and how it was nothing but a bill of goods sold by corrupt and greedy jerks square on the head. And he was writing long before WWI exposed the rickety underlying structure of the whole venture.

    The chilling thing, though, is that you could easily fast-forward the entire stretch from 1870-1914 until about, oh, 1980-now and you’d basically have history repeating itself economically speaking. The free market types are making the exact same arguments and keeping other people from the dialog. They’re exploiting the masses and pretending that an obviously unfair system will actually magically fix everything for everyone everywhere because the free market is magic.

    The place where Marx goes wrong, though, is his solution to the problem. I’m less interested in a worker’s revolt and a fundamental change to the social structure than seeing what the US and Europe did between the end of World War II and the 1980s: strong labor and government regulations combined with progressive tax structures. It worked pretty well when it was actually a thing.

  15. CaitieCat says

    Geds @ 16 – thanks for the reply, I think we agree in the largest part. I regularly re-read Marx’ works, sometimes in German (though the translations are really very good), and am amazed at how often I can see what he’s talking about in our current situation (I’m in America-Lite, aka the Great White North, racist implication definitely not excepted).

    I’m not even completely sure that the whole historical dialectic thing is completely wrong. I’m seeing more and more people talking in public places (media, blogs) about the myriad ways unfettered capitalism is failing badly as a societal organization/foundation institution. I don’t see how a revolution could come about – but then, nor could Mubarak, or Qaddafi, or Assad, or the Shah, all of whom had great government hard power and were nevertheless overthrown when they lost the consent of the governed.

    The main worry I have in such a situation is that history tells us that a revolution will be succeeded not by the initiators of it, but by whomever it is that is most organized before it starts. So we’re seeing in Egypt, the long-standing Muslim Brotherhood is taking more and more control (more seats in cabinet in a recent reshuffle, Islamist ideas in the new constitution), while the secular progressives are still disorganized and trying to find a unifying theme.

    Which would lead me to worry that if/when a revolution does come in the US, that it will be the most organized who will profit: the religious right. There isn’t any other unified bloc that comes close, and they’re also closely politically allied/intermixed with the gun-clutchers.

    The reason I don’t want a revolution isn’t that I don’t think we need it; it’s that I worry we won’t be the winners, and that I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale.

  16. kylawyer says

    First rule of wingnuts is they are fearful. Second rule is this makes them hate. So they basically take all the things they fear, like communists and “Islamists,” socialists, gays, Democrats, atheists,Obama and conflate them into this singular evil entity that they can hate without regard to the reality behind the fact that these things are not all the same.

  17. konrad_arflane says

    People like Gaffney are incapable of understanding the differences between a concept, such as proposed by Marx, and its implementation, as created by flawed human beings.

    So Karl Marx wasn’t a flawed human being, is that what you’re saying? ;-)

  18. velociraptor says

    @17 Catie Cat “The main worry I have in such a situation is that history tells us that a revolution will be succeeded not by the initiators of it, but by whomever it is that is most organized before it starts. So we’re seeing in Egypt, the long-standing Muslim Brotherhood is taking more and more control (more seats in cabinet in a recent reshuffle, Islamist ideas in the new constitution), while the secular progressives are still disorganized and trying to find a unifying theme.

    Which would lead me to worry that if/when a revolution does come in the US, that it will be the most organized who will profit: the religious right. There isn’t any other unified bloc that comes close, and they’re also closely politically allied/intermixed with the gun-clutchers.”

    Very, very well spoken. Put another way: “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.”

  19. Synfandel says

    I read Capital (in English translation) back in the early ’80s when I was a political science student and the cold war was still a daunting reality. It’s a dry, tough slog at times and it helps if you have some background in microeconomics, but it’s worth the effort.

    Marx’s prediction of, and call for, communist revolution in the most advanced industrialized countries (i.e., initially England, France, and Germany—most definitely not Russia and China) was rooted in his theory of dialectical materialism, which was an inversion of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s concept of dialectical idealism, and was, in my opinion, a thoroughly flawed way to understand history, let alone predict the future.

    That being said, as an analysis of the internal workings and ultimate contradictions of capitalism, Capital is unequaled to this day and is still very relevant. It changes the way you read your newspaper’s business section and how you understand the front page.

  20. caseloweraz says

    Carlos the Jackal? What about Norman the Hedgehog, who said, “The only coalition that could destroy America is a coalition of wild dogs and feral cats, which they form after sleeping together.”

  21. Synfandel says

    Getting a little off-topic, CaitieCat @17, I’m in America-Lite too, and l love that term, because the Great White North really is much more like the US than like anywhere else, even if Americans do look across the border and see a hippy-dippy, free-loving, pot-smoking, abortion-permitting, same-sex-marriage-celebrating, tax-tolerating, gun-controlling, public-health-insurance-providing, labour-rights-upholding, bilingual, multicutural, geographically-literate, hockey-obsessed, poutine-eating Gomorrah.

    We tend to see ourselves in contrast with Americans, because they’re so close-by and have such a huge economic and cultural impact, but we’re much more similar than dissimilar. We like to think that we’re a quiet people, but really we’re just the second loudest people in the world. America-Lite.

  22. lpetrich says

    So Karl Marx got it right about the flaws of capitalism, though his proposed solution, a workers’ revolution, didn’t work out that well. In practice, Communism produced a new ruling elite, and a horribly autocratic one at that. It was not even very capable of producing very much; its economics did not work out very well.

    As to revolutions not turning out very well, CaitieCat is often right about some well-organized group often moving in, like in Iran and Egypt. It’s arguably the case for Russia, where the Provisional Government took over from the Tsars, only to be overthrown by the Bolsheviks. However, that’s rather doubtful about the French Revolution, and it does not seem to have happened with the American Revolution.

  23. says

    lpetrich @24: As to revolutions not turning out very well, CaitieCat is often right about some well-organized group often moving in, like in Iran and Egypt. It’s arguably the case for Russia, where the Provisional Government took over from the Tsars, only to be overthrown by the Bolsheviks. However, that’s rather doubtful about the French Revolution, and it does not seem to have happened with the American Revolution.

    I think it largely depends on how the revolution starts and how much gets broken in the process. In the United States and France the revolutions were largely started and maintained by people who had a clear idea of what they wanted and how to achieve it. Of course France went more than a little off the rails at the end and enough of a vacuum and demand was created by the way it all went lopsided to allow Napoleon to move in and seem like a good idea.

    America was helped by its relative isolation and the fact that the revolutionary generation was basically an untouched succession from the mid-1770s to around 1820. Jefferson, Madison, Adams, et al. might have had their differences and their problems, but they were ideologically pretty close when it came to their visions of a just society and they were the guiding lights during the crucial years of development.

    That’s the big difference, I think. There are always self-interested forces and I think there’s a window where it can either hold together or fall apart. If there aren’t strong forces holding those interests at bay or if those interests are the strong forces, that can be really bad times.

    Back to the original point: I’d say it’s somewhat accurate that the Christian Right is the only concentrated bloc in America. But if there were a revolution I would expect that the country itself will fracture, probably along more-or-less red state/blue state lines, but more likely into regions. That could be the worst possible outcome, as if there’s a shift it means that the red areas would get all the agriculture and the blue areas would get the manufacturing and too much population to actually, y’know, feed.

  24. CaitieCat says

    Geds @ 25, disunion would be worse than that, I suspect; it would allow the tragedy of the commons to overtake the entire US continent.

    In the blue states, the environment would get more protection. This would drive the polluters to the red states. But how much does it help blue California’s shining green future if the Colorado has been thoroughly polluted upstream by red states with low-regulation incentives to those industries that dearly love to not pay for their externalities. California gets to pay for the bad parts of the upstate red states, while the red states get to pollute all they like and pass of the crap on others.

    Similarly, air pollution, the Gulf Stream (New England is “downstream” from Georgia in the Atlantic), so much more – the red states, given their predispositions, would build a big military. Blue America would have less of one. How long before that disparity becomes North Korea South Korea? Also, who gets the nukes, and how do you feel about President Palin with her hand on Righteous Red Amurrika’s nuke stash?

    Disunion would be one of the worst things that could happen to the continent. I fear it like I fear being Austria to the Religious Right’s Brave New Reich. It doesn’t keep me up at night, but it does make me worry when I’m reading the news sometimes.

  25. CaitieCat says

    Urgh. “US continent”. for this, read “North American” continent. I shouldn’t always comment when I’m taking advantage of the lesser-criminalized regime of certain herbal remedies here in America Lite, it doesn’t make my brainz work so gudz.

  26. meg says

    Fascinating conversation. Seriously – enjoying it, and will have to go back and reread CM. Or perhaps someone has some suggestions for modern analysis/interpretations?

    (One of my favourite ways to annoy the older, conservative, I’m always right, brother is to mention I have a copy of the Manifesto at home. It always takes him 5 minutes to remember I studied modern European politics and Russian history.)

    Two thoughts:

    I was explaining the general idea behind Communism (and how it isn’t what actually exists in China or North Korea) to a teenage friend recently. I had to dumb it down a little, but he found the concept intriguing. Then mentioned that it failed to take human greed into account.

    With regards to modern revolutions, I suspect one of the major differences is the speed with which they have happened. Things like social media have played a direct role in making revolutions happen faster. Russia in 1917 (and 14 and 05) it took time to get pamphlets printed and distributed, time for leaders in exile (Lenin) to get back and take control. That seems to now not be an issue. I wonder if it’s making the initial revolt leaderless and rudderless to a degree.

  27. dingojack says

    Ipetrich – ‘produced not much’? So the Soviet army moved into (and controlled) half of Europe with imaginary T-34’s and wooden truncheons then? I guess the Americans in Korea were flying the ‘Imaginary MIG Alley’ as well. And don’t get me started on the whole Sputnik hoax! :)

    Various – you could say the American Revolution got ‘taken over’ by a right-wing clique of ‘gentleman farmers’ who made sure it wouldn’t come back to bite the ass of propertied* classes Few revolutions are ‘owned’ after the fact by the revolutionaries themselves. (I suppose once the revolution’s won, they become the new ‘anti-revolutionaries’ by definition. A kind of ”treason never prospers’ situation).
    Dingo
    ——–
    * that is owners of both land and their fellow humans.

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