10 September 2006

The Age of Horrorism

Martin Amis has a remarkable essay in today's Observer, "The Age of Horrorism."

An extract:

By the beginning of the 20th century the entire Muslim world, with partial exceptions, had been subjugated by the European empires. And at that point the doors of perception were opened to foreign influence: that of Germany. This allegiance cost Islam its last imperium, the Ottoman, for decades a 'helpless hulk' (Hobsbawm), which was duly dismantled and shared out after the First World War - a war that was made in Berlin. Undeterred, Islam continued to look to Germany for sponsorship and inspiration. When the Nazi experiment ended, in 1945, sympathy for its ideals lingered on for years, but Islam was now forced to look elsewhere. It had no choice; geopolitically, there was nowhere else to turn. And the flame passed from Germany to the USSR.

So Islam, in the end, proved responsive to European influence: the influence of Hitler and Stalin. And one hardly needs to labour the similarities between Islamism and the totalitarian cults of the last century. Anti-semitic, anti-liberal, anti-individualist, anti-democratic, and, most crucially, anti-rational, they too were cults of death, death-driven and death-fuelled. The main distinction is that the paradise which the Nazis (pagan) and the Bolsheviks (atheist) sought to bring about was an earthly one, raised from the mulch of millions of corpses. For them, death was creative, right enough, but death was still death. For the Islamists, death is a consummation and a sacrament; death is a beginning.

© Martin Amis

Update: Amit Varma offers astute commentary on Amis' essay at India Uncut.

The photograph was taken at Kom Ombo, Upper Egypt.