Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Myths & Movements

All great social movements ... have come about by the pursuit of a myth. To analyze a myth or to inquire whether it is true - even to ask whether it is practicable - is meaningless. For it is essentially an image that can evoke sentiment and that supplies the cohesion and drive to release revolutionary energy. A political philosophy is not a rational guide to action but an incitement to fanatical determination and blind devotion. ... Conceived as a myth[,] philosophy is a vision of life but not a plan, and still less is it a theory that depends on reason. It is rather a release of the deep-lying instincts of a people, inherent in the "life-force" itself, or in their "blood" or "spirit". - Georges Sorel, French Social Philosopher [Source: A History of Political Theory by G. H. Sabine]
I came across this some time ago. It jumped out of the page at me, since it fits Islam to a T.

Muhammad, the prophet, understood much about the ways of the world. He understood very well the above theory put forward by Georges Sorel. He knew how to create a myth, so he set about creating one; he knew the effect that myth would have on the world if people would only start to accept the myth as fact and true, so he fought the people till it was accepted as true. A myth was created, and the rest, as they say, is history!

In Muhammad's case he would retire to a cave, where the Archangel Gabriel is said to have descended upon him, requesting him to recite in the name of the Lord!

People were simpler back then. They must have been able to believe such a myth. Imagine coming home to your own spouse or family member saying that the Archangel Gabriel had visited you in a cave, asking you to recite in the name of the Lord! I know what my family would do! They'd call the doctor to ask him to commit me! My guess is that yours would probably do the same. Alas, way back then, they obviously didn't; otherwise we wouldn't be where we are today: with a great struggle on our hands. We wouldn't be left with the task of rolling back the frontiers lest we be subsumed into Dar ul Islam!

Islam is, however, a very clever myth, since it portrays itself as the perfection of religion for man for all time, deen al kamal. You've got to hand it to Muhammad, he invented something which many find difficult to refute. He also included all the other prophets that went before him, so as to try not to alienate the other believers. That didn't quite come off, but still, the movement has grown around the world like Topsy. There are said to be way over 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide, and we're still counting! This, despite the gruesome nature of attacks on infidels! It never ceases to amaze me what people will fall for.

But then we know that people are gullible and gregarious. Therein lies one of Islam's strengths. I dare say that Prophet Muhammad was well aware of these characteristics of human nature.

These days, the myth has been given a new lease on life because of the oil wealth generated for the home of Islam: the Middle East. Our businessmen, of course, ever ready to make a fast buck, and having little understanding of our own civilization, still less any respect for it, happily and willingly curry favour with the movers and shakers of the oil-rich desert fiefdoms of the desert. One could almost say that they suck up to their masters there. I've seen the fawning that goes on. It's a sickening sight to behold!

The politicians and the businessmen - these are the people who are selling us short. These are the people who lack the spine to behave with more dignity, and, as a result, give away more of our freedoms by the day. Weakness, I tell you, abounds! These people simper and fawn and suck up. It's a case of yes, sir, no, sir, three bags full, sir. After all, the businessman's bottom line - profit - and his bank balance are far more important to him than anything else.

We're in a mess, though, aren't we? A right old pickle! Moreover, it's going to take a complete U-turn to change direction and win back what we have already lost. And it won't come cost-free either.

Isn't it strange how Western leaders have changed in just a few decades? It was less than sixty years ago that we, in Great Britian, were being led by Winston Churchill. He took a dim view of the strictures of Islam. Not so our leaders today. Now they do nothing to keep Islam at bay; instead, they do everything in their power to integrate the Islamic world into our own world, and there are syncretist forces at work to meld our two religions. But this, of course, will not work. Never will they manage to do that! Muslims, for a start, will not allow their message to be changed in any way. They are rigid. Extremely rigid!

Christianity, too, is based on a traditional story, or myth (myths don't have to be untrue): the story that Jesus was the Son of God, and that He was crucified to save our souls, to redeem us. And inasmuch as this was done to Him, He became our Saviour.

This has been an exceedingly powerful story for us, guiding us for over 2000 years. The problem today is that many have ceased to believe in the story, or if they haven't ceased to believe in it, they have become indifferent to it. Because of this, the development of the West, based as it is on this story, is losing steam. As it continues to lose its steam, it will decelerate and weaken. We simply cannot have it all ways. For, as Sorel says: ...it is essentially an image that can evoke sentiment and that supplies the cohesion and drive to release revolutionary energy.

In Islam, the image is still exceedingly strong; in Christianity, it is considerably weakened. We shall, however, have to find a way of strengthening it again, or else we will have nothing to 'fight' for, nothing to 'fight' to maintain, nothing to hold us together! The story of Christ was the buckle that bound us. It was our guiding light, so to speak. Modern day secularism will not be strong enough to stand up to the onslaught of Islam, since it is hard - very hard - to become passionate about a 'nothing'! To my knowledge, no great movement, either religious or political, in the history of the world, has been founded on a non-story. The myth is all important! No myth, no movement!

©Mark Alexander
All rights reserved

No comments: