P. Philip Bounds holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Wales. He is the author of British Communism and Literary Theory (2007), Cultural Studies (1999) and Orwell and Culture: The Dialogue with British Marxism (forthcoming). His essays, articles and reviews have appeared in a wide range of journals and newspapers. This essay was first published in hardcopy in the July 2007 issue of The Individual, the journal of the Society for Individual Freedom.
The Grotesque Alliance
Metaphorical references to “borders” and “frontiers” have been a staple part of Western culture since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. If the dreadful events in New York and Washington achieved nothing else, they made it uncomfortably clear that the border between Islam and the West was far more porous than we previously supposed. It is no longer possible for even the most purblind Westerner to believe that Islam is something which happens “over there” in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Nearly everyone recognises that it has now established a significant and perhaps immoveable presence in the heartlands of the West, bringing much that is beneficial and much that is ugly in its wake. There are now at least two million Muslims in the USA and a staggering 53 million in Europe. The issue of how the “host communities” should relate to them is one of the most important in international politics. Should the border between Muslims and non-Muslims be pushed back, heavily guarded or even dismantled altogether? The coming decades will tell.
One of the most disheartening aspects of the interchange between Islam and the West is also one of the least noticed. Over the course of the last five years, largely as a consequence of the Western intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, we have seen the emergence of a grotesque alliance between militant Islamists and certain sections of the Marxist left.1 Devout followers of Muhammad and excitable disciples of Leon Trotsky have joined together to oppose the wars and even to found new political parties and movements.