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Review at MLToday of "From Postmodernism to Postsecularism"

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In August 2013, Marxism Leninism Today editor Zoltan Zigedy reviewed Eric Walberg’s new book From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization

Zoltan Zigedy summarized Walberg’s writing in the following terms

1. The last great secular social justice project — socialism — has failed with the demise of the Soviet Union.
2. Islam and its attendant political-social-economic doctrines are viable alternative routes to social justice.
3. Islam is the only alternative that can deliver social justice. Therefore, Islam is the universal way to social justice.

My -comments to Zoltan's >points:

>the rise of Islamic civilization that Walberg foresaw was dashed on the rocks of divisiveness and foreign intervention

-I see this 'Islamic awakening' as coming in waves. the 2013 coup in Egypt is a trough, but the process of evolution/ revolution continues. the openness and experience of the Islamists cannot be put back in the djin's bottle.
I recall young Egyptian friends who were 'politicized' after the 2011 uprising. they didn't join secular groups, but the Muslim Brotherhood -- a huge move by millions of Egyptian youth. this has never been mentioned anywhere in the press. the ongoing demonstrations are courageous and principled, and deserve our respect and support.



>sordid role in collaborating with Israel in the destruction of secular nationalism and the Palestinian left

-that Hamas possibly got support from Israeli sources is part of the age-old imperialist use of Islamists, but it backfires. Hamas didn't sell out. Fatah/the PLO had a long time to discredit themselves and now seem to be empty shells. is Hamas's relationship with Fatah/ Israel really 'sordid'?

>the current shift in the leadership of the Catholic Church toward the cause of the poor and against the ravages of capitalism

-i hadn't noticed. JPII's encyclicals were very socialist, but empty words. the church is always siding with the poor in theory, and then consistently blessing imperialist wars. no Islamists ever blessed imperialist wars.

>Absent usury, Walberg believes that a comprehensive practice of charity will provide Islam with a complete program of social justice

-you're not being fair to my argument. 'Islamic economics' is a complex and rapidly evolving concern.
gharar (risk)/ riba (usury/ exploitation) are condemned in the Quran. a post-capitalist/ Islamic economy would not be based on ghara/ riba (usury), so it would probably resemble socialism/ anarchism. charity really just means 'redistribution to keep social wealth differentials within socially determined bounds'. charity is more than just dropping coins in a box, it is part of a moral order in which the 'economy' is embedded.
my sections on economics ch1&5, the section on Baqir al-Sadr p188, and ch6 deal with this.

>Should believers read those texts with earnestness, they would undoubtedly become Communists as well as believers exactly.

-p27 When it comes down to it, Islam could be replaced with almost any other religion (or, conceivably, reinvigorated communism), but only Islam has proved durable. The real-world bottom line is the return of morality to politics and economics, after it was banished with the rise of capitalism.
that's my main point. i still feel you're lumping all religions together and saying 'it is better to have a secular revolution against capitalism'. that's a 'value judgment' ha, ha.
my conclusion is from the 18th Brumaire: Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.

-re labor theory of value (LTV), I knew this would be a red flag. I thought about it a lot (I did a research paper on 'unproductive labor' way-back-when). I wish I could get the LTV/ transformation problem clear, but I don't think anyone has 'solved' it. it continues to plague us all (and, I now  suspect, is a 'red herring'). Thomas Sekine came closest to solving the complex riddle, but his rewrite of Kapital is so removed from reality, it seems to me moot. I have read many books/ articles over the years and never found 'the solution'.

>Marx recognizes a value contribution in ALL necessary labor culminating in the production of a commodity, including the research, innovation, essential organizational management, etc.

-but not in the calculation of 'value', certainly not in my reading or that of many others.
the musician, teacher etc don't produce measurable 'value'. thus their 'price'/ wage is arbitrary. no?

>Further, he sees a necessary value deduction in the labor essential for a commodity's circulation.

-don't understand

>What he does not recognize is any value created or socially necessary from the mere fact of ownership.

-agreed. that is the whole point of the exercise, and we shouldn't lose sight of this.

>a counter synthesis:
●class struggle as the path to social unity
●the family and spiritual life AND material production
●revolution leading to the realization of these values
which could readily open the road to a Marxist-Islamic understanding and cooperation.

-nicely put, though making 'class' the defining category is a value judgment which divides people who may be on the 'same side' and predetermines the analysis. Islamists start with the essential unity of mankind as caliph/ steward. as long as we acknowledge where we are coming from and agree on where we are going, there is no reason why anti-imperialists of different stripes can't work together.
now if only the secularist lefties in Egypt had not been so willing to join hands with the Mubarakites... Egypt 2013 reproduced the Iranian dynamic that led to the tragic slaughter in the 1980s (Tudeh requires volumes of research -- we'll never know the full story).
remember, I lived 5 yrs in Cairo leading up to 2011, knew as colleagues and sort-of friends leading lefties, one of whom became a prominent organization of the 3 July coup. these lefties are already ruing their pact with the military, but too late. they refused to work with the Islamists from the start. this intense hatred for Islam will never lead to a successful socialist revolution in the arab world. never.
think: 18th Brumaire. but history (the collapse of monarchies in Europe in 1848, the temporary alliance of socialists/ liberals, and the subsequent betrayal by the liberals who sided with the reactionaries) is repeating itself as tragedy in Egypt 2013.

>For Marxists, the major religions are a sometime ally in the struggle against imperialism.

-that is too cynical. that thinking helps explain why Tudeh was wiped out. the 1980s were hell in Iran and liberal/lefties like Soroush moved to work with the Khomeinites (some are doing well -- Soroush is a rather typical sellout to the West). MeKh et al chose the same side as the liberals/ lefties in egypt. endnote 109 p274: The first post-revolutionary president, Abulhassan Bani-Sadr, and Mujahideen-e-Khalq tried to overthrow the government in June 1981 at the height of the war with Iraq, resulting in assassinations and leading to a new purge.
Muslims take alliances seriously, as the Bani Qurayza Jews learned the hard way after the Battle of the Trench in 627AD.

>One hopes are for the revival of a vibrant Marxist-Leninist movement in these countries to nurture these developments from rebellion to revolution.

-sorry, it's just never going to happen. the Egyptian communists have no following. I read an interview in Akhbar (Arabic) with the leader of the main communist party (I believe the one that MLToday publishes) -- his hatred for Islam was shocking. whose agenda is he (and the fanatical secularists) serving? who are the imperialists using/ manipulating in Egypt these days?

-I am please that you saw some of the 'trees', though our 'forests' are -- in good postmodern fashion -- somewhat different.
the purpose of From Postmodernism to Postsecuarlism is to create a bridge that can bring together all anti-imperialists -- secularists, Islamists (Sunni and Shia), liberals, lefties and conservatives.

>nothing of what Mr. Walberg is writing about comes from direct knowledge

-not true. i lived in cairo, studied at an azhar-affiliated language school, university of cairo, and then worked at ahram weekly for 5 yrs up to and including the 2011 uprising. on the contrary, i think hesham's views are distorted, reflecting the secular mubarakite elite. his knowledge of egypt seems to be from the perspective of the secular elite.
hesham is a secularist, a lebanese christian, who wants islam to be neutered as is christianity in the west. i had egyptian christian friends as well -- some were a bit islamophobic, but some were not worred about the prospect of living under an islamic government. christians are the most westernized of egyptians.
i don't know if hesham is a socilaist like my secular lefty friends, who want their off-the-shelf socialism safe and pre-packaged.  I knew as colleagues and sort-of friends leading egyptian lefties, one of whom became a prominent organization of the 3 July coup. these lefties are already ruing their pact with the military, but too late. they refused to work with the Islamists from the start. this intense hatred for Islam will never lead to a successful socialist revolution in the arab world. never.
I recall young Egyptian friends who were 'politicized' after the 2011 uprising. they didn't join secular groups, but the Muslim Brotherhood -- a huge move by millions of Egyptian youth. this has never been mentioned anywhere in the press. the ongoing demonstrations are courageous and principled, and deserve our respect and support.

>a clear majority of Egyptians decided to oust them from power. If you don't see that ALL Egypt was out on the 30th of June and later on the 26th of July then you should change channel.

-again, not true. The number of Egyptians opposed to the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi has risen to 69 per cent, 25 percent of Egyptians support his current detention, according to a study by the Egyptian Centre for Media Studies
it would be nice to 'change channels', but egypt's media (not to mention western) is disgustingly islamophobic (and sadly, a 'leading' channel is sawiris's - the richest egyptian, a christian who backed the coupmakers with millions of dollars). while many christians are among the 70% who back morsi, the prominence of sellouts like sawiris makes christians the targets of angry muslims. very sad.

>MB as neoliberals

-there is no real evidence of the brotherhood's love of neoliberalism. now, if the mubarakites had been willing to gamble and let the MB rule for 4 yrs, then we would be able to clarify this charge.

>This Brotherhood has been thriving in blood since it started 80 years ago.

-not true. mere slander. they have been the victim of state violence for 80 yrs. some angry young men left the MB and became terrorists over the years -- most notably, in the service of the US in afghanistan and then returned to egypt to fight 'sadat the peacemaker'

>Brotherhood militias are killing their own sympathizers in the back

-nonsense. hesham is repeating islamophobic slander.

>Anti-imperialism has never been so strong in Egypt since Nasser's days

-toothless, mubarakite 'anti-imperialism'. US financial and cultural hegemony has never been stronger. the murderous generals were all trained by the Brits and Americans and merely followed orders, first with their postmodern coup, then with their vicious 'modern' coup.

i stand by what i wrote.

posted originally at 21century manifesto



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