Monday, August 14, 2006

Terrorism and the failure of leadership

The rise of Islamic-inspired terrorism, and its ability to attract groups of educated young people in countries like Britain, is not simply a response to the imperial policies and actions of the Washington-London axis. That is certainly the driving force for radicalising opponents of the new, globalised corporate world that Bush and Blair are seeking to impose on other countries in the name of 'civilised values'. The flourishing of theocratic terrorism is also, it has to be said, a reflection of the absence - as well as past failures and betrayals - of secular leadership, in both the developed capitalist world as well as poorer countries.

Countries like Egypt, for example, became pawns in the rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States. The USSR, whose Stalinist leadership was duplicitous and bureaucratic, dominated and distorted the political process in Egypt when Nasser was in power during the 1950s. Moscow had short-term interests in achieving a balance of nuclear terror with Washington and was opposed to full-scale revolution in Egypt in favour of peaceful co-existence.

This policy was inevitably doomed. The nationalist fervour which inspired Nasser to nationalise the Suez canal 50 years ago, could not develop beyond itself. Alternative, socialist viewpoints were repressed or fell prey to Moscow's influence which made them subordinate to the nationalist movement. Egypt eventually succumbed to a series of brutal dictatorships which embraced Western capitalism. It is no surprise, therefore, that the Muslim Brotherhood - which inspired the formation of Al Qaeda - has such a strong base in Egypt. Similar stories of political degeneration, corruption and dictatorship can be found in countries like Iraq, Algeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Syria.

In Britain, the secular leadership remains largely in the hands of bureaucratic, narrow-minded trade union leaders and a Labour Party that has been transformed into a capitalist party by the march of corporate globalisation. In addition, the political process offers very little to anyone, let alone minority communities. That is why the challenge posed by modern terrorism does, in the end, come down to creating a secular leadership that has a revolutionary perspective of going beyond the status quo.

Paul Feldman, communications editor

No comments: