The West and the Rest.
Roger Scruton is a well-known political philospher whose many books have contained perceptive analyses of cultural and social questions. The West and the Rest comprises an analysis of Moslem culture and of the relationship between Moslems on the one hand and Christians and Jews on the other, and relates the modern manifestations of Islam to wider social movements such as "political correctness", "multiculturalism", "feminism" and "globalism".
Scruton is concerned by the underlying "multiculturalist" agenda. He observes that the "multicultural" idea has become a form of apartheid: "All criticism of minority cultures is censored out of public debate, and newcomers quickly conclude that it is possible to reside in a European state as an antagonist and still enjoy all the rights and privileges that are the reward of citizenship."
Scruton points out that those who express doubts about the "multicultural society" are not, as their opponents hasten to call them, racists. The doubting are trying to remind people "that we in the West enjoy a single political culture, with the nation-state as the object of a common loyalty, and a secular conception of law, which makes religion a concern of family and society, but not of the state".
Scruton compares feminism with Marxism, which are both essentially destructive of Western values: and political correctness generally has culturally subversive undertones: "While exhorting us to be as 'inclusive' as we can, to discriminate neither in thought, word, nor deed against ethnic, sexual or behavioural minorities, political correctness encourages the denigration of what is felt to be most especially ours. ... The gentle advocacy of inclusion masks the far-from-gentle desire to exclude the old excluder: in other words to repudiate the cultural inheritance that defines us as something distinct from the rest." Scruton sees the European Union as a political expression of the culture of repudiation, which seeks to over-ride traditional values by legislative and bureaucratic means.
On the specific problem of Islam Scruton has many valuable insights. He describes the intensity of the Moslem religion and its ability to absorb its members completely and remove them from modern realities. His history of the Moslem Brotherhood - one of the sources of Islamic extremism today--from its formation in 1928 is of particular interest. The Brotherhood developed murder and destruction as political weapons, taken over by Al-Qa'eda.
Pessimistically, Scruton notes that the new confluence of Sunni orthodoxy and Shi'ite extremism has laid the foundations for a worldwide Islamic revival.
Scruton touches on the position of Israel, and is inclined to view Israel as an emanation of Western culture, regarded inimically on this ground by Moslems. However it is clear that the recent emergence of radical Islam has been triggered by expansionist Jewry, and Jewish influence upon the United States is so strong (in particular through the actions of the wealthy New York Jewish community) that in some respects the United States has become a Jewish proxy. The United States' excessive subservience to Israel was the essential cause of the 11 September terrorist attacks.
The West and the Rest is an important book, which may be usefully read by those who seek to understand modern political and social movements in Australia and abroad.
DR. I.C.F. SPRY, Q.C. is Editor of National Observer, a Queen's Counsel and a former member of the Melbourne University and Monash University Law Faculties.
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|Publication:||National Observer - Australia and World Affairs|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2003|
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