[lit-ideas] Re: Radical Islam and Radical Americanism

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 2 Nov 2010 12:04:21 +0000 (GMT)

--- On Tue, 2/11/10, Mike Geary <jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>I have time and time and time again equated Radical Islam with fascism -- just 
>as I equate Radical Christianity and Radical Judaism and Radical national 
>movements such as ETA and the IRA and some groups in South America with 

In the Mike Leigh film "Life Is Sweet" there is a dysfunctional young woman who 
hurls the epithet "Fascist!" at anything that provokes her anger. There is a 
danger of trivialising "fascism" as a notion by over-applying it. It might be 
better to say that some of these groups share a fascist belief in using force 
to get their way; but this would not make them fascist anymore than this belief 
makes the Cosa Nostra fascist. Max Weber was no doubt on the right lines in 
suggesting a state, including a democratic state, is partly defined by its 
claim to a monopoly on the legitimate use of force [including its sanction of 
such force by others (say, by way of self-defence)]; and democratic states can 
only survive against violent, non-democratic attack by using force to get their 
(democratic) way. This does not turn a democratic state into a fascist one, 
unless we are to expand "fascism" to a point where its meaning is so wide that 
its application becomes vacuous
 and misleading.

Mike mentions the IRA. The IRA can hardly be said to be fascist in its aims or 
ideology: of course, by using lethal force, the IRA uses a method that fascists 
have used, but also a method used by communists and by democratic states. This 
is surely not sufficient to make them "fascist". 

But the anti-fascist character of the IRA's aims and ideology goes much 
further. The IRA's constitution (its 'Green Book') states that it had the 
legitimacy to use violence because the IRA is an interim military government. 
So, despite the old question, in their own view they are not either terrorists 
or freedom-fighters; the IRA regarded itself as the interim military government 
of all-Ireland pending the end of partition, at which point the interim 
military government is to cede to a democratically elected all-Ireland 
government. Whatever you make of this, it's hardly "fascism".*


* The reason the IRA took this view goes back to the 1916 Proclamation of a 
Republic, at the point of the Easter Rising, which it regarded as setting out 
the all-Ireland constitution of which it was the serving army in the ensuing 
War of Independence. The PIRA descend from that strand of the IRA that did not 
accept partition because it was, to them, a betrayal of the all-Ireland 
constitution on which the War of Independence was fought. The issue of 
partition split the IRA into the faction who accepted the Treaty (as a 
necessary if temporary compromise), who became the Free Staters, and those who 
did not, who remained the IRA. These factions then fought each other in the 
Irish Civil War. The IRA eventually called a truce with the Free State, which 
ended the Irish Civil War, but the IRA did not surrender (this truce was 
effected through standing-order No.8 in the Green Book). The IRA remained of 
the view that both the Free State government in the south,
 and the Stormont government in the north, were illegimate - a view reflected 
in the electoral philosophy of Sinn Fein of "We can stand, but we can't sit." 
The IRA therefore continued with its campaign to achieve a united Ireland, with 
the 'British-controlled' north the focus of its military operations. Mike says 
"Get your facts straight, Lawrence." Irish people, who know something of their 
history, might wonder if he is "straight" with these facts?

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