The Islamic Vortex (Part 4)

The story that follows was stolen from somewhere, but I’ve not been able to recover the source. It has a definite neoconservative edge to it, which isn’t surprising given the early-nullities brain-feed it was no doubt extracted from, but it’s neat enough to be passed on.

If Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires in space, the First World War was the equivalent burial ground in time. The German Second Reich, the Austro-Hungarian (Habsburg) Empire, the Russian (Romanov) Empire, and the Turkish (Ottoman) Empire were all interred by it. In their place arose new geopolitical entities based upon an unstable mixture of ethno-nationalist self-determination and moral-universalist internationalism. The role of American ideas in the New Order – most immediately conveyed by the vehicle of ‘Wilsonism’ – was both substantial and ambiguous. A tight swirl of Americanization and Anti-Americanism would be essential to everything that followed.

If Austro-Germanic imperial collapse can be considered one thing, for the sake of elegance, the true narrative marvel of this story can unfold, because each dead empire was the germ of a world war, structuring history in its fundamentals up to the present day. From each imperial grave, in succession, came a challenge to the Anglophone global order, distinct in certain respects, but also displaying common, recognizable features.

Given what is being said of their origins, we can think of these sequenced global challenges as Undead Empires, re-animated from the ruins of the old order. In each case a supra-national ideological wave was radiated from an extinct crater of traditional authority, married in complex ways to ethno-nationalist impulses, and self-defined in explicit opposition to Anglo-Jewish planetary capitalism. First Central-European National-Socialism (1933-45), then Russo-centric Bolshevism (1946-89)*, and finally – because this narrative implies completion – from out of the Arabian hinterland of the broken Ottoman empire came the last of the great Undead Empires, the one that concerns us still.

The Eurasian Undead Empires have ceased to moan. Ghoulishly re-animated, then re-broken, and rebuilt, Germany dominates Europe once again, and Russia  has re-established itself as an assertive  autocracy with extensive, but strictly finite, reach. Neither any longer pursues its interests in the name of a cosmic ideology, as if its traumatic grievance deserved to shake the heavens. Neither still aches to burn down the world, in order to share the ruin it has known. The sullen grumbles they might still nurse have ceased to awaken the dead. Only normal disgruntlements remain.

Islam remains in a very different place. The collapse of its last — Ottoman — Caliphate  was constitutionally formalized by Kemal Atatürk, the first President of the new Turkish Republic, on March 3, 1924. The cosmic ideology of Islamism is unintelligible without reference to that event. What political Islam wants, centrally, is the revival of the Caliphate. The Great War’s last curse thus determines it as an Undead Empire dreaming, in the lurid crypt-chatter of blood and screams …

… which was the neoconservative nightmare, best articulated by center-left hawk Paul Berman in his Terror and Liberalism. In compliance with the pattern of historical analogy here outlined, only one outcome was conceivable — a fourth world war. The ‘War on Terror’ was thus predicted, and promoted, until — after the best part of a decade — it had bled out into a parody of itself. The grating disproportion between the WoT’s tawdry squabbles on the one hand, and the apocalyptic confrontation which the narrative demanded on the other, had become unbridgeable. In a sense it was over. At least, attention wandered. Yet nothing had been settled, or laid to rest.

Realism has to be more than ceasing to think, just as it must be more than a call to action. The story of the Undead Empires, now freed of neoconservative excitability, has either to be discarded for a reason,  or more thoroughly explored. Despite the directionless adventures that have attached themselves to it, the intrinsic plausibility of the narrative itself has not, by an iota, been diminished.

This is most clearly demonstrated through simple elaboration of the pattern. World War II was an extremely intense global conflict, with a number of theaters simultaneously active, and total duration of less than a decade (from the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 to the surrender of Japan in 1945). World War III, in contrast, was so prolonged, and dilute (or ‘cold’), that it is generally considered not to have happened at all. Between the major hostile powers, deterrence predominated over active engagements, with the latter generally conducted as peripheral, asymmetric conflicts. (US military deaths approached 100,000 a year during WWII**, close to the country’s total toll — almost entirely from Korea and Vietnam — suffered over the 40 years of ‘WWIII’).

Of course, simple extrapolation into WWIV gets nowhere near to a forecast. All it tells us is that there was never any reason to expect compact, burning Armageddon. The crude trend line (counting for nothing) projects 30,000 US military deaths over the course of a 200 year hyper-diffuse cryo-war. American narrative fundamentalist would depart from that as the ‘norm’. Not the ‘clash’, but the slow squelch of civilizations.

Perhaps more suggestive is the trend to involution. National Socialists, despite the diversion of the Holocaust, spent most of their time killing foreigners. The communist regimes of ‘WWIII’, in contrast, focused almost entirely on massacring their own populations, reaching a 9-figure body count over their ‘lifespans’. The vague narrative  ‘prediction’, therefore — which the word ‘war’ increasingly obfuscates — is that the long struggle to revive the Caliphate is an opportunity for Islamo-demographic self-cannibalization, on a scale that has only been delicately hinted at so far. The default pattern points to an extended hideous occurrence that is, almost entirely, inflicted by the Ummah upon itself.

The only reason to be persuaded by this pattern is that, right now, it’s the only pattern we have …

[Some involutionary carnage  in detail next]

* These are Cold War dates, rather than internal Bolshevik regime dates (1917-89). The latter would contribute to a more intricate time structure, in which sequence took the form of historical envelopment, rather than simple succession. I’m trying to keep things cognitively manageable, for the moment.

** December 1941 – August 1945

August 5, 2013admin 25 Comments »
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25 Responses to this entry

  • fotrkd Says:

    The pattern is certainly elegant and not one I’d considered before. As well as linking neatly with 3b, it sent me back to Urban Future 1.1 only to be confronted by the following:

    [Unfindably Lost!]

    404 404 404 404 404 404 404 404 404 404 404 404
    FOU儿 O FOU儿
    You’ve ventured into uncharted territory.
    GO HOME!

    You might want to update your link (I won’t take it personally). I was actually looking for this.


    admin Reply:

    The UF1.1 platform has been so comprehensively wrecked by now that I don’t even think it has an identifiable URL, so updating might be impossible. I’ll dwell on the problem (sullenly).


    Posted on August 5th, 2013 at 10:06 pm Reply | Quote
  • David Says:

    Might one consider the demise of the Qing in this scheme of things? If China’s last imperial dynasty disintegrated in the face of immense pressures from the European imperial powers, America, and Japan (with Russia waiting in the territorial wings as well) just ahead of WWI, the time frame fits. And China’s paralyzing sense of deep and humiliating loss arguably turned toward rage-fueled intimations of restored greatness with the May 4th movement just after WWI and the Treaty of Versailles’ granting of Germany’s China concessions to Japan. Though geographical distance from the hot center of things in Eurasia and the Near East obscure China’s profile, the events that culminated in WWI were of the same larger global(izing) event stream that buried dynastic imperial China, while the European ideological and technological viruses that infected and mutated within the Qing corpse gave rise, ultimately, to Mao & co. These days, certainly, Chinese imperial prospects seem to have been reanimated (given new, legitimate life, even), enough to offer a serious counterbalance to the Anglo-American “democratic” project while also resisting dark dreams of new caliphates in central Asia (deep China remembers the Battle of the Talas River preceded the An Lushan rebellion and Islam’s subsequent penetration far into Tang China’s western heartlands). Interesting to think through much recent and current history with the added China dimension (for instance, all those US Cold War deaths, especially in Korea, not to mention [probabalistic futures]).


    admin Reply:

    The trouble with this piece of ingenuity is that if we’re going to add the Qing to the roster of Undead Empires, we need to schedule another world war, and we’re all booked up until 2179.

    Seriously, though, the China angle does have to be dealt with. I was shelving it due to cognitive resource management issues.


    David Reply:

    Indeed, if World War IV is unwinding in super slo-mo, it would certainly premature to call the next one, or to implicate China. Then again, every time (and it’s often enough) I read about this kind of thing I can’t help wonder if the long, slow warm-up to what might count as WW V isn’t somewhat already underway somewhere in cyberspace. Perhaps the nature of these increasingly long-duration global wars running counter to Anglo-American power, with their decreasing intensities of concentrated physical mayhem and diminishing front-page front-line death tolls is manifesting future-ghost-in-the-machine-style hereabout now & nowabout here. We’ll just have to check back in a couple hundred years and see.


    Posted on August 5th, 2013 at 10:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • Kgaard Says:

    I’m curious how you think Pakistan fits into this whole process. I’ve been there twice in the past two years. Strange place. Very insular. A little unsettling. But … it feels a LOT better than Egypt. Cairo is just scary. The people seem crazy. The Pakistanis do not strike me as crazy. Pakistan is one of the best-performing stock markets in the world this year (up about 30% in US$ terms). IQs are rising about 0.7 points per year. Literacy rates are rising even faster. I wonder if they have the same hang-ups with the west as Egypt has. I sense that they don’t. I walked all over Lahore two months ago and never saw another white person. And there are 7 million people there …


    Posted on August 5th, 2013 at 11:50 pm Reply | Quote
  • Neo Says:

    There was one event that, had it gone slightly differently, would have averted tens of millions of deaths of the Maoist Purges, the 8 to 14 million deaths of the Holodomor, the tens of millions of deaths during WW II, the Stalinist purges and the Cold War.

    Quoting Wu Shang-Yin’s “Sun Yat-Sen and Land Reform in China”:

    Early in 1931 an attempt -was made to -put the land law in operation and I was appointed executive head of a newly created central land administration. Just as I started making preparations to put things in shape about February, 1931, political turmoil fell upon the nation. As a result all normal functions of the government came to a standstill including land reform, and the land administration closed its doors. From this time onward Sun Yat-Sen’s principles of land reform only served as a subject matter for academic discussion or sometimes being made use of by the government for propaganda purpose. It Is true that a central land administration continued to exist after V-J Day in 1945 and was promoted to a cabinet status. But nothing towards the Sun Yat-Sen goal has really been done. Some measures indeed have been taken to lessen the burden of the farm tenants in their excessive rent to landowners, but that was far from effective in the way of realizing the Sun Yat-Sen program of land reform.

    This “political turmoil” preventing Sun Yat-Sen’s Georgist version of land reform in China in 1931 set the stage for the collectivization approach to land reform in the Ukraine, which caused the Ukranian Famine in 1932. Had the Ukranian Famine not killed 8 to 14 million farmers the German people would not have been as prone to extreme defensive reactions and Hitler wouldn’t have been elected to power in 1933.

    Moreover, with people in a position to pay no taxes unless they were land owners, a lot more of the population of the world would have participated in economic growth and retained the fruits of their labor.

    What I haven’t been able to discover is what exactly happened in early 1931 to ultimately cause all the horrors of the 20th century to unfold?


    spandrell Reply:

    Why would anything in China set the stage for collectivization in Ukraine? Talk about a non-sequitur


    Posted on August 6th, 2013 at 2:26 am Reply | Quote
  • Solex Says:

    never mind China and Pakistan: once more – where is Israel in this narrative? 1924 may have been crucial, but what about 1948?


    admin Reply:

    There are 30 Pakistanis for every Israeli — get a sense of proportion.


    Solex Reply:

    So Pakistan is 30x more important? Does it all come down to quantities?


    admin Reply:

    Israel might be centrally important, all sense of proportion aside, but if it is, the very last reason to believe so is that so many voices are insisting on it. Remember when the fact that Apartheid South Africa still hadn’t been brought under Afro-Marxist government was unquestionably the most important problem in the world? Doesn’t that strike you as highly comparable?

    Anyway, I’ve thrown in a skeptical ‘Quote note’ on this question, for now. Israel will probably be brought into the main series, but only when geostrategic logic — rather than Islamo-Leftist PR hysteria — makes that decision compelling.

    Alex Reply:

    Jews are an object of mesmerised fascination in part because their impact on history has been so out of proportion to their numbers, no? In that sense, if in no other, one Israeli might be worth 30 Pakistanis.

    As for South Africa, I do remember when all right-thinking white folk, especially the young, were expected to desire the Afro-Marxist triumph with passionate intensity. Considered as a stage along the Via Dolorosa of cultural self-abasement, that maybe wasn’t so insignificant.


    Alex Reply:

    (Hmm. I think I might have misread your point about South Africa — in which case, apologies. To clarify, the insistence of many powerful voices should undoubtedly put one on guard against uncritically aligning oneself with them … but it does suggest there is an issue of real importance there.)

    admin Reply:

    To clarify, I was making a claim about the rationality of the ‘great cause’ of the moment, not about its significance. Its irrationality is its significance. A whole bunch of crazed lefties really did seem to think that collapsing Afrikaaner rule in SA would solve all of Africa’s problems at a stroke — at least. Ditto the fetishization of Israel-Palestine in regards to the ME.

    Posted on August 6th, 2013 at 8:37 am Reply | Quote
  • Baduin Says:

    Israel in MIddle Eastern context is a PR and minor mercenary company hired by Saudi Arabia, and the least important part of the Axis of Good: Saudi Arabia, US, Al Qaida, Israel.

    It is used by all actors as a substitiution topic. Ahmadinejad loved to do it, why not Obama and Kerry? If Israel and Palestine were transferred to Mars, it would make no difference to MIddle Easter politics – provided the TV continued its reports as usual.


    admin Reply:

    Yes — “Look, a zionist squirrel!”


    Posted on August 6th, 2013 at 3:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • Neo Says:

    Why would anything in China set the stage for collectivization in Ukraine? Talk about a non-sequitur

    I didn’t say it necessarily happened in China.

    As for the connection between collectivization in Ukraine and China, I think you underestimate the degree of involvement of the Western literati in providing international support for Stalin’s collectivization. Collectivization was an intellectual fad among them and this gave Stalin a lot of slack with which to do his dirty work. Stalin found it necessary to make statements justifying his actions to ideologues and The New York Times (see clearly played a role in supporting these apologetics.

    Moreover, in “The politics of American Jews.” In M. Sklare (Ed.). The Jews: Social patterns of an American group. Glencoe, IL: Free Press, Werner Cohn states (pg. 621):

    By 1886 the Jewish community in New York had become conspicuous for its support of the third-party (United Labor) candidacy of Henry George, the theoretician of the Single Tax. From then Jewish districts in New York and elsewhere were famous for their radical voting habits. The Lower East Side repeatedly picked as its congressman Meyer London, the only New York Socialist ever to be elected to Congress. And many Socialists went to the State Assembly in Albany from Jewish districts. In the 1917 mayoralty campaign in New York City, the Socialist and anti-war candidacy of Morris Hillquit was supported by the most authoritative voices of the Jewish Lower East Side: The United Hebrew Trades, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, and most importantly, the very popular Yiddish Daily Forward. This was the period in which extreme radicals like Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman were giants in the Jewish community, and when almost all the Jewish giants among them Abraham Cahan, Morris Hillquit, and the young Morris R. Cohen were radicals. Even Samuel Gompers, when speaking before Jewish audiences, felt it necessary to use radical phrases.

    This hotbed of radicalism was the reason Leon Trotsky made his pilgrimage there prior to departing to hijack the Bolshevik revolution. It is also why NYC financier Jacob Schiff was a major if not the major financial supporter of revolution in Russia. This activist core was crucial to maintaining a political blackout on Stalin’s famine. If there had been an actual implementation of George’s ideas in China — which was a contemporaneous hotspot of radical foment upon which the eyes of the literati were fixed, it would have significantly weakened the unity of this activist core and put pressure on Stalin to pursue a less extreme path to land reform.


    fotrkd Reply:

    The next year a three-man delegation was sent to inspect the plateau. Its high elevation gave it a temperate climate, making it suitable for European settlement. However, the observers found a dangerous land filled with lions and other creatures. Moreover, although it was sparsely populated by small bands of Maasai (themselves having recently conquered the Sirikwa tribe), the Maasai were hostile to other tribes and outsiders.



    Posted on August 6th, 2013 at 5:22 pm Reply | Quote
  • Neo Says:



    Posted on August 6th, 2013 at 5:35 pm Reply | Quote
  • Neo Says:

    Also note that Hitler’s rise to power was critically dependent on hysterical fear of communism. As Germany’s leading socialist, he benefited from fear of communism via both both farmers (who feared similar collectivization to what they were seeing in the Ukraine) and industrialist leaders. Had there not been this fear of communism it is unlikely he would have been appointed chancellor and even if he had been the Reichstag fire would not have been as effective at galvanizing the populous behind him. Moreover Hitler’s negotiations with Stalin would have taken on a very different character and the invasion of Poland, a very marginally supported move by Hitler, probably would not have taken place.

    A rational route to land reform could have come into play at any of these stages to substantially defuse the situation.


    Posted on August 6th, 2013 at 5:36 pm Reply | Quote
  • John Hannon Says:

    “The crude trend line projects 30,000 US military deaths over the course of a 200 year hyper-diffuse cryo-war.”

    Within just a fraction of that time, however, the military will probably have perfected proxy war in its ultimate form – namely robot war. Swarms of ultra-sophisticated drones will do the actual fighting, while the military stays at home hacking into the enemy’s computer systems.


    Posted on August 7th, 2013 at 10:24 am Reply | Quote
  • Chris B Says:

    Have you come across Monnerot’s work before?


    Chris B Reply:

    At the risk of going gnostic crazy, it does seem to me that the deep link between the left and Islam in the form of Jihadism is the Gnostic structure underlying both.


    SVErshov Reply:

    at least in islam they say : secrecy is a god.


    Posted on May 19th, 2015 at 9:27 am Reply | Quote

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