Friday, November 13, 2015

ISLAMIC STATE, FUNDAMENTALISM AND THE WEST

NB I published this piece a few hours before the Paris attacks took place. I'd had an idea come to me about the way we project our own fundamentalism onto Islamic State, and I realised I had a blog to write. But the timing is interesting, as though the idea had drifted in to my mind from the collective.

Medieval Christianity got us in the way of thinking that there is only one reality, and we have continued to think in that way since modern science superseded Christianity. Thinking that there is only one reality is a definition of fundamentalism.
 

It all comes back, according to one theory, as to whether a religion arose in the jungle or the desert. In the jungle there are many realities, and you get polytheism. In the desert it is much more like one reality - the sand, the blue sky and the scorching sun - so you get monotheism. Which of course isn't always fundamentalist, but it lends itself to it more easily.

Christianity and Islam both arose in desert countries.

It can be hard to see our own fundamentalism in the West. I guess it's hard for anyone to see their own fundamentalism, as it's a shadow quality, one that we don't want to admit to. You just think that what you are seeing is the truth, the way things are. "Of course God didn't create the universe, there is no evidence for it; whereas there is plenty of evidence for the Big Bang." It depends HOW you think that: some are quite happy to think that and let others have their own views, whereas others - the 'New Atheists' -  want to root out religion wherever they find it. 


Others may not go that far, but when you hear the mocking tone as soon as you mention e.g. tarot or homeopathy (which in my view are essentially divinatory rather than scientific), then you know you haven't just got disagreement - which is fair enough - but a degree of fundamentalism. And that mocking tone is very common, it can be almost de rigeur amongst some academics.

The real fundamentalists, of course, are over there in the Middle East, particularly in the form of 'Islamic State'. Or, as even the BBC calls them, 'so-called Islamic State'. Or, as David Cameron calls them, 'ISIL' - a name they stopped using a while back. Either way, the official line seems to be to refer to them in such a way as to suggest we cannot possibly take these people seriously.


Which is understandable, even desirable, but it is also a case of collective projection. It is hard for us to see the extent to which we view our own form of knowledge - science - as the only form of knowledge, and our political system - democracy - as better, as superior, as more evolved, the only acceptable system. No, we are tolerant and fair, we seek real knowledge and a better world. 

Witch Hangings
It is people like Islamic State - and Islamists generally - who are the real ignorant fundamentalists. Of course, particularly in the USA, there are plenty of Christian fundamendalists (Europe having exported many of its religious extremists to the New World several centuries ago), as well as scientific fundamendalists, but at least they can unite in pointing the finger of intolerance at IS.

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And we are right in thinking all these things about IS. They really are all these awful things that we say they are. 

But we also enjoy judging them, disapproving of them, it makes us feel superior - well, some of us, at any rate - and that, I think, can be the sign that we deny those same qualities in ourselves. And it's an unconscious process. People are sincere in their hypocrisy. When we disapprove, we are saying to ourselves that we have none of those qualities in ourselves. But we do. We all have tendencies to fundamentalism, intolerance and violence.

Ironically, IS is an almost direct creation of the West, it is a shadow thrown up by our own imperialism - it is therefore part of us rather then just something 'Other'. It went something like this. Iraq was ruled by its Sunni minority. The West ousted the Sunnis and put the majority Shias in power, the 'democratic' solution. The Shias then discriminated against the Sunnis (because they are not an 'advanced' democracy like America and the UK), and the Sunnis fought back in the form of IS. This was predictable in advance, which is why I say IS is an almost direct creation of the West. IS, it seems, was created by ex-officers from Saddam's army, who knew all about fighting, and they put Al-Baghdadi as the figurehead, to give it religious legitimacy. At least, that is one story of how it came about.


IS has a very powerful idea behind it - the re-creation of a Caliphate stretching across the Middle East and beyond - so its origins will quickly be engulfed by mythology. (Rather like 9/11 was).

IS - or even the Taliban - versus the West is the latest version of the the old struggle between Islam and Christianity. Historically, they seem to be as bad as each other. Islam had been encroaching on the Byzantine Empire - which was Christian - for centuries before the Crusades began. When the West invaded Iraq, like it or not, it was carrying this mythology of the ancient enemy. You can either be conscious of it or unconscious of it, and if you deny that history - as a politician has to, at least in public - then it becomes unconscious.

Nowadays we do not call our Islamic enemies 'infidels'. We call them 'terrorists', which amounts to the same thing. In reality, we are engaged in a power struggle with Islam in the Middle East, just as we were 1000 years ago, and just as we did then, we de-humanise the enemy. Just as they de-humanise us.

The 1st Crusade occurred in 1096, and its immediate aim was to allow pilgrims access to the Holy Land, which had been denied to them since it came under Muslim control; its ultimate aim was to re-unite the 2 branches, East and West, of Christendom.

1096 was the aftermath of a Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Aries. Uranus-Pluto hard aspects, which occur every 40 years or so, herald periods of radicalism and power struggle. The conjunction is the most formative of the aspects, and Aries, as the 1st sign of the zodiac, begins things, by going to war if necessary. The Crusades began something - the power struggle between western Christianity and Islam - that continues even now.

The actual crossings of 2 outer planets churn up what is underlying, but we often don't see the results until a few years afterwards. Like the 11th century Uranus-Pluto conjunction. And like the Uranus-Pluto square of the late 20s-early 30s: Nazism came in its wake. And the conjunction of the mid-60s: the summer of love and many of the protests followed afterwards.

And it's the same now. Uranus and Pluto finished squaring in early 2015, soon after IS made its first big gains, but the real battle is only just beginning. 


And the main point I want to make is that Islamic State - 'so-called' or otherwise - is not just evil and 'other': it embodies tendencies that we all have, and more than that, it arose almost directly out of us westerners acting on those same tendencies, creating a situation of mass slaughter in Iraq: has IS killed as many people as the 250,000 or so killed by the sectarian fighting in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion?

13 comments:

Susyc said...

Interesting timing for this post.

Anonymous said...

So Barry, how long might we expect this to go on? How might it pan out?

Anonymous said...

So Barry, how long might we expect this to go on? How might it pan out?

Ross Hendry said...

I have been assuming that the Uranus-Pluto square ends in 2018 (using an orb of 12 degrees). Is it normal to use a smaller orb, thus making the ending 2015?

Dominique Pahud said...

Yes very interesting timing for this blog indeed.

Gemstone said...

Very Well Written . But When will this Barbarism Stop.

Amit lamba
Amit

mike said...

I wouldn't say that Uranus square Pluto has ended, though the last exact square has concluded. The two are 3* applying square currently, with Uranus in retrograde motion. January, 2016, the two will be separating by 1*, and 2* in March. They won't reach 5* separation until May, 2016. The last gasps of the Uranus-Pluto square currently overlap with the Jupiter-Saturn-Neptune tense aspects that will highlight now through most of 2016.

Religious wars and persecution never end. There's a lot of something good to be said of Pantheism.

buddababy said...

Ridiculous to compare Islam-a religion and politics of war, and christianity, a religion of healing, love, forgiveness and peace as if they were equal and the same. OK, for a short time they hung or burned witches. but WE DON'T STILL DO IT. Jesus came to fame for his power of miracles;healing and providing food for the masses. Mohammed only gained 150 converts in 10 years of trying to grow his religion. Islam only grew as a political movement. Not equal. Not the same. Islam demands all infidels to be killed. Christ permits people to choose.

Des Crowe said...

Why would Western Governments bomb Daesh if they were not evil?

Barry Goddard said...

Irony, what we we do without it?

Anonymous said...

Good article, Barry. Very well said. I agree that this epic drama of us vs them is deeply entrenched in our collective unconscious. It apparently is our soul journey as human beings to muddle through the illusion of separation and "otherness" until we reach an awakened state...whenever that may be!

Greg Smiths said...

ISIS's actual birth chart contains some worrying features. Are you aware of any explorations of that by qualified forensic astrologers?

Barry Goddard said...

Geoffrey Cornelius was one of the first to come up with a chart, but I'm not sure where you can find it....