Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Interesting recent history - coalitions of the left, right and political islamists

An interesting analysis of the recent history of political coalitions, and the potential ideological dilemmas and conflicts posed by these in the US and UK is found in

Double Bind: The Muslim Right, the Anglo-American Left, and Universal Human Rights   by Meredith Tax.

There is an extended excerpt from this book at 


Below are 2 quotes from that excerpt.

"Historically, the left has stood for certain values—at least in principle: separation between religion and the state; social equality; an end to discrimination against women and minorities; economic justice; opposition to imperialist and racist wars. In the last ten years, however, some groups on the far left have allied with conservative Muslim organizations that stand for religious discrimination, advocate death for those they consider apostates, oppose gay rights, subordinate women, and seek to impose their views on others through violence. This support of the Muslim Right has undermined struggles for secular democracy in the Global South and has spread from the far left to feminists, the human rights movement and progressive donors.
The far left’s embrace of Islamic fundamentalism mirrors distortions about Islam put about by anti-immigrant conservatives—the far right talks as if all Muslims were potential terrorists, while the far left talks as if salafi-jihadis represented all Muslims. Both ignore the fact that the vast majority of Muslims are like everybody else; they just want to survive and live their lives in peace. Very few of them support the interpretations and actions of salafi-jihadis, who no more represent all Muslims than the American Nazi Party or English Defence League represent all Christians."
"If solidarity with feminists and progressives in the South is essential for any hopeful political project in the North, so is defence of secular space. Since the end of the Cold War, secular spaces all over the world have come under siege by various forms of fundamentalism, and the instrumentalization of religion for political gain has become a problem in regions as varied as Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, Africa, South America, Western Europe and North America. In all these places, religious identity politics has muddied discussion of class, racism and discrimination against women and sexual minorities. Democratic governance is based on the idea that the authority of the state is delegated by the people rather than coming from God, and separation of the state from religion is essential to democracy because gender, religious minority and sexual rights are issues whenever human rights are limited by religion, culture, or political expediency.
In order to cut through the double binds described above—so we can defend ourselves and others against terrorism and counter-terrorism, empower civil society, promote universal human rights and strengthen democracy—we must think about both solidarity and secularism. These are not the only social remedies needed in a world torn by conflict and poised on the brink of ecological disaster, but both are essential to our ability to move forward."