Radical Synthesis

September 19, 2010 at 9:32 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , )

The conventional wisdom when it comes to politics is that extremism is to be avoided. The perceived danger from the extremes is that utopian views are taken too far and the people end up being the victims of ideological experiments which bring nothing but instability.

From a Realist perspective though, today’s threats to international stability and the most radical universalists are found not on the extremes but on the combined extremes. Concurrently, those that sit in the extremes rarely gain power and when they come close to it, they are quickly and easily removed.

The neo-marxists for example have not risen to power anywhere because they simply do not inspire trust after the fall of the socialist bloc and the same is valid for neofascists. Unlike what we may think the same happens with religious fundamentalists.

The militant salafis of Al-Qaeda do not represent the traditional religious fundamentalists of the Muslim world: they do not carry the legitimacy of the elderly ultraconservative clerics and they have based their jihadism on western political ideology. Qutbism is as much a reaction against the west as it is derived from western philosophy; the truth is that Sayid Qutb and his acolytes forsook the tribal and local imperatives of classical Islamic political-theological revolutions and Al-Qaeda is an urban ideology, contemptuous of local and grassroots loyalty structures and enthusiastic of a globalist industrial and totalitarian, almost exclusively political ideology.

The neoconservatives of the Leo Strauss school are equally combining largely incompatible views. On one hand they claim to stand for the liberal conquests but on the other they wish to use conservative tools to preserve them. There is a will to intervene in the international stage on behalf of a moral agenda but making use of instruments of power politics.

Ahmadinejad too does not represent the ultraorthodox wing of the Iranian regime. The Pasdaran are comfortable in a military dictatorship and have no compunction in using populism for their aims. While certainly in the best tradition of the Islamic Republic, they are loathed by the truly conservative wing of the clerical establishment which would prefer a pious subtle and condescending rule.

Hitler and the Nazis had themselves to compromise to reach power. They were forced to play politics and adopted a more traditional conservative platform in order to garner the sympathy of Germany’s traditional right. But it was not Prussia and its noble elite who made up the rank and file of the NSDAP, it was failed and unemployed lower middle class from Germany’s industrial regions. The nazi regime brought about a sexual revolution in Germany, not a ‘return to old values’. In their own way the Nazis were a more plebeian 20s generation seeking a break with the old patriarchal religious and traditionalist society. Thus they rejected religion and looked to paganism and the occult (not unlike today’s astrologist and ever more abstract hippie derived tendencies), hence their internationalist and anarchist roots. And then again there is their official designation of National Socialists which combining ultra-patriotism with socialism could only lead to a messianic foreign policy.

Needless to mention Stalin for the analogy is the same.

In Venezuela Hugo Chavez is not a devout Marxist because he is a nationalist and a populist. Take one part of the ideological soup he has cooked away and his regime would collapse.

Yet for all the unholy mixes we can find, it would not be fair to say that these people are moderates simply because they try to combine values and doctrines. Centrism is in itself an orthodox view as well, in so far as it compromises ideological glamour for practical governance. It is a natural tendency for moderates to resort to populism – for this too is pragmatism induced – it is not if one is a self-proclaimed uncompromising revolutionary.

When it comes to universalism it would seem to be the norm that real threats originate in combinations of extremes but not in extremes tout court.


  1. World Wide News Flash said,

    Radical Synthesis…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    • M. Silva said,

      After visiting your website I have to admit that I don’t think you understood the point I made about Ahmadinejad. His not being ultraorthodox is not compliment, quite the opposite: I believe that he is combining radical fundamentalism with populism and authoritarianism and that such an attitude by the Pasdaran is destabilising the region and hurting Iran’s interests.

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