TAG | postmodern conservatism
An interesting criticism of the notion of “Islamophobia,” translated from French, has made an appearance at Charnel House, a Marxist blog that’s nearly equally fascinated by architecture. (They say the last remaining Marxists are to be found in English departments, but that’s not the only place, perhaps.) Dubbed “On the Ideology of Anti-Islamophobia,” the piece by Alexandra Pinot-Noir (heh) and Flora Grim is an interesting window into the thinking on a part of the left that is far from in vogue in 2016.
Even though the term “Islamophobia” probably dates back to the early twentieth century, it only recently came to designate racism against “Arabs” in its widespread use. Through this artifice, religion is assimilated to “race” as a cultural matrix in what amounts to a “cultural mystification… by which an entire cross-section of individuals is assigned, on the basis of their origin or physical appearance, to the category of ‘Muslims.’ Any criticism of Islam is perceived not as a critique of religion, but as a direct manifestation of racism, and thus silenced.” […] We mainly recognize the specter haunting the left as third-worldism [emphasis added], which entails uncritical support for the “oppressed” against their “oppressor.”
The authors likewise point to the phenomenon of the New Right and its “identitarian” orientation as being in perfect solidarity, so to speak, with the general framework used by the “culturalist” left, e.g. in their essentialism that links anyone who’s Arab with Islam; hence Islamophobia, hence racism.
The position of far-left anti-Islamophobes regarding political Islam is, to say the least, ambivalent. They want to bar any criticism of the Muslim religion, a practice they say is racist. This moralizing outlook reveals a lack of analysis of how political Islam has evolved in the world since the 1979 Iranian revolution and, for some, a denial of its very existence. Nor does jihadism disconcert these anti-Islamophobes. After each attack perpetrated by jihadists in Europe — adding to their long list of atrocities, especially on the African continent and in the Middle East — they worry mainly that it might lead to fresh outbreaks of “Islamophobia” and repressive measures, with good reason. So they ascribe sole responsibility to Western imperialism.
Or in the case of some of among the trendy hoi polloi, a denial that the attacks are even Islamic.
For these worthy anti-Islamophobes, the issue is quite simple: the Muslim religion must be viewed with exceptional benevolence as the “religion of the oppressed.” They apparently forget that social control is the function of all religions and that political Islam in particular proclaims everywhere its determination to keep tight control over the society it intends to govern.
Read the rest, but don’t be surprised to find yourself rolling your eyes at points, when the class talk rears its head. These are Marxists after all…
Larry Arnhart is surely the best proponent of Darwinian Conservatism, and not just because he has a blog with the same name. In his view, an evolutionary biological account of nature properly captures our intellectual and moral capacities, the emergence of consciousness itself, and grounds a political and cultural conservatism by demonstrating our natural limits as political and social beings. Does this count as a species of postmodern conservatism? It might fail as appropriately conservative since nature is made all too dynamic–if our current human condition is nothing other than the latest stage in a train of evolutionary developments then on what basis can we privilage this one as the final one? Does Darwinian conservatism require an End of History, some kind of final eschatology? Also, does evolutionary biology do justice to the real human person as we experience ourselves or is there something about our characteristic resistance to nature and eros for transcendence that eludes Darwinian categories of explanation? If the heart of postmodern conservatism is an experiential realism that rescues the real human person from modern abstraction, Darwinian conservatism might fail by identifying human nature too closely with our bodily selves, with nature as such. So is Darwinian Conservatism insufficiently postmodern and insufficiently conservative?
Nature is dynamic, but very fast evolution works on the order of tens of generations. I perceive political orders as the possibilities of the present. What is conservative in one age varies from what is conservative in another age. Why demand of Darwinian Conservatism what one does not demand of conservatism writ large? Darwinian Conservatism does not do justice to the human individual, but it is much more serviceable in addressing human populations, what we might term societies. The true interlocutor which Ivan is looking for is “Psychological” or “Cognitive” Conservatism, which might focus on individuals as natural phenomenon which develop over a lifetime.