For Whom the Bell Tolls - The Trojan Horse Autopsy Toolkit

For Whom the Bell Tolls - The Trojan Horse Autopsy Toolkit


Hajj Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison FFAS

Sidi Ibrahim Lawson FFAS

Sidi Jakob Werdelin MFAS

Hajj Abdassamad Clarke FFAS


Abstract

If, as more than one well-informed Muslim educationalist has affirmed, the Muslim teachers at the core of the Birmingham schools ‘Trojan Horse’ conspiracy are “guilty as charged”, then this document serves to elucidate that their guilt is in fact of a very different nature from that in the charge, and that the Trojans and the Greeks in our metaphor are not at all whom we assume them to be. The real starting point of the essay that follows is thus the passage in which we take seriously the metaphor of the Trojan Horse and, in so doing, come to an entirely different perspective, that the Trojans are the ordinary men and women of the United Kingdom and the Trojan Horse is the various ways the political class inveigles them into accepting the state’s blandishments and then disenfranchising them when they accept them. Muslim teachers are just the tip of our iceberg, for we are all Trojans, and their guilt is in their having accepted the beguiling offer of the state to the right to an education for all its citizens within the frame of the welfare state. Their guilt is in their accepting the right to be citizens of a democratic society with a right to pursue their own paths to wellbeing, tolerating others and being in turn tolerated. Their guilt is in believing that one has freedom of expression, for that freedom only belongs to those who express what the political class and media élite consider to be in accord with their own prejudices. Their guilt is in actually believing in British values more than British people themselves do, and certainly more than the political class and media élite do.

Thus, our essay necessarily weaves a number of themes together: the nature of the nation-state and its collapse in our times; the political class and their uneducated posturings and anti-democratic rule by diktat; the nature of knowledge, particularly rational knowledge and enquiry and the ability to think and to question; the way that knowledge, character and the ability to judge complex issues are transmitted through education; and the collapse of education itself resulting in the kind of uneducated responses such as those of the political class, which, alarmingly, are not only irrational but arguably go against the legal basis of our society. That is all merely the symptom of a condition that affects people at every level of our society and is the deep story behind the demise of the state and a short-lived international order that had pertained until comparatively recently. Enlightenment values are disintegrating and in the face of the liberating forces emerging, the intellectually challenged react dictatorially, thus revealing their bankruptcy.

The nub of the essay lies in the section on opening up thinking as questioning. This will come as a surprise to outdated votaries of Enlightenment rationality, otherwise known as ‘modernity’, who have taken it as rigid dogma unaware of the tremendous upheavals that have taken place in thought and that have opened thinking up to entirely new vistas. It will also come as a surprise to many Muslims tempted by the seeming security of the modern Islamic dogma being forged in our age that holds no water, neither with respect to the traditional perspective nor to the exciting and challenging post-Enlightenment approaches to which Muslims are surprisingly the natural heirs. 

The next important part of this essay is the section on the transmission to children of this ability to interrogate issues in a constructive and liberating way, for what is the Western and thus British system of education if not the opening up of the faculties of the student to equip them to be able to hear, see, think and then act in ways that are positive and life-enhancing? This needs reiteration. The political class have in this century overseen the reduction of education – from the kindergarten to the post-graduate, doctoral and professorial levels – to nothing more than equipping people to be servile citizens of the modern state, which is already outmoded, and functionaries to serve the corporate and banking oligarchy, who are even more outmoded. We cite as evidence of the ending of the ‘age of finance’ the increasing numbers of suicides among high-level bankers and financiers. They know something the populace at large don’t.

The paradoxical core of the issue, which is all paradox and in which nothing is what it proclaims itself to be, is that the proclamation of noble ‘British values’ is being used for precisely the opposite purpose by a self-serving political class intent on servilely carrying out the wishes of an oligarchic financial order that is itself in terminal collapse and bringing the entire global civic order down around our ears. This is certainly not an issue that is confined to UK plc. 

The paradoxical outcome of the case will probably be that alert Muslims will awaken to the nature of the deceptively named ‘social contract’ and begin to establish what they know to be true, but in a more humble and communitarian way. Understanding these tremendous global themes, they will go to work locally but without fanfare. The age is tired of grand rhetoric and wants to see genuine action. In that global understanding, the time has come for intelligent people to abandon useless and outdated facades, such as that of the nation-state, and think globally. In the case of the Muslims they will think of the Ummah but when they do so they will also need to remember that the Ummah always comprised Muslims, Christians, Jews and a variety of other groupings. If the Muslims take things forward they must do so on behalf of everyone, everywhere.

 

The Autopsy

Food for Thought or Sound Bites

We are primarily concerned here with understanding the historical forces and dynamics at play in order to offer, not only the beleaguered Muslim community but readers at large, the means to articulate more than just an emotional reaction to the constant stream of press ‘revelations’, especially since the overriding emotional environment that has been generated by government policy over the last decade has been one of fear. We hope that it will be a useful resource for people who are seeking building blocks solid enough to begin to construct for themselves something more than a transient, superficial, media driven reaction or a  sensationalised impression of WHAT IS GOING ON? and WHY THE BIG DEAL? To that end we are taking the unusual step of highlighting those items we consider to be significant as ‘sound bites’ or ‘food for thought’ that will serve as tent pegs so that the delicate intellectual construction work of finding the language and asking the questions that will lead to the emergence of meaningful reflections or a deeply rooted understanding, is  less likely to be swept away in the hysterical blizzard of breaking news, investigative speculation, meaningless statistics, the selective parade of bewildered parents, students and assorted locals providing vox populi pieces to camera, and the hollow grandstanding of competing politicians and community ‘spokespersons’. 

We hope this overview will be of some assistance to people wishing to reach a slightly more detached and elevated vantage point from which to get a steady view of the broader picture. This is highly important given that what the Muslims are being subjected to today, others were subjected to yesterday, and yet more will be subjected to tomorrow. Therefore, a detailed forensic examination of the so called ‘facts’ of the case or of the arguments being traded by politicians and pundits are not our priority. We have fundamental questions to ask, for it is the questions we ask, rather than the answers we get, that will open the way to the thinking and the path to meaning that is crucial.

 

The Trojan Horse Metaphor

But before coming to that let us first be clear as to the significance of the ubiquitous metaphor of the eponymous ‘Trojan Horse’. According to the Concise OED it is: “something intended to undermine or secretly overthrow an enemy or opponent – ORIGIN from the hollow wooden statue of a horse in which a number of Greeks are said to have concealed themselves in order to enter Troy.” In other words, it is a well established byword, recovered from the rich and ancient stock of the Homeric European legacy, for a strategic military subterfuge (in this instance taking the form of an impressive tributary offering aimed at the disguised penetration of the enemy’s position. Whence the well known admonition: ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts!’) Let us now come to one or two important questions: 

Who are the ‘Greeks’ and what exactly constitutes the ‘Trojan Horse’ in this drama? In the scenario that we have been fed by way of the ‘breaking news’ there are several discrete sets of candidates for these central roles: Govt. ministers; schools; parents; students; boards of governors; extremist conspirators; Ofsted. Of course, we are supposed to believe that the extremist Muslim plotters represent ‘Greeks’ who have conspiratorially infiltrated the Boards of School Governors (Trojan Horses?) in order to take over a number of state schools in Birmingham (or Troy?). The metaphor breaks down instantly, since, according to legend, the Greeks and Trojans had been engaged in a protracted war, finishing up in a lengthy siege. Are we to imagine that the state educational apparatus in Birmingham (Troy?) and across the nation as a whole, has long been at war with and held under siege by Muslim extremists (the Greeks)? Did the Muslim extremists then, true to legend, build the eponymous Trojan Horses (School Boards)? No, they didn’t. It is important to understand who did build them because that will identify the Greeks. Well, the so-called extremists actually found these Boards of Governors ready and waiting, which makes them sound much more like the poor old Trojans, does it not? 

The Boards of Governors were actually constructed by Central and Local Government, and so we are forced to reinterpret the scenario accordingly, meaning that we are compelled to consider a rather unexpected, but by no means uninteresting reinterpretation: namely, that the state (Greeks) had been engaged in a protracted process of systematic state-formation, which in order to succeed required the complete subjugation of an autonomous, proud and hence intractable and suspicious British population (Trojans) to ‘law and order’ (progress). Therefore they built for them an entire national school apparatus, with the added incentive of Boards for parent governors – do these not sound more like the Greek gifts (Trojan Horses) we heard about, the ones to be wary of? Therefore, after long years of resistance, the hapless Muslim community of Birmingham (the Trojans) get up one fine morning to find themselves face to face with an entire state school apparatus, complete with Boards of Governors, ready and waiting for them. The most adventurous and enterprising of them decide to climb aboard and get it to work for them only to find themselves surrounded by armed Greek enforcers (Ofsted), there to make it plain that Greeks are not in the habit of giving something for nothing and that they expect to have things done their way, or not at all! 

There are more questions to be asked: Are all of these wonderful state facilities set up as traps for the unwary? What are schools for? What are Academies? How ‘free’ are ‘Free Schools’? What lessons does the Trojan Horse legend teach us about how to approach the tempting blandishments of the state? But, what is the state? These are just some of the questions that are pressing in upon us, so let us turn to the business of questioning.

 

On Asking Useful Questions 

There are two perspectives on this scandal which must be kept separate, initially at least. On the one hand we have what might be thought of as a rational and informed discussion about serious and important issues. On the other hand we have this sort of thing (from the Daily Telegraph, where else?):

 

“Teachers and governors involved in the alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ Islamic takeover plot face life-long bans from all schools in Britain under new powers being taken by Michael Gove.”
Mr Gove, the Education Secretary, wants to use the new powers to ensure that anyone found to have been involved in the plot – allegedly designed to Islamise secular state education in Birmingham – is prevented from working in schools elsewhere in the country.”

 

This text would be ideal for use in an introduction to thinking skills lesson, for two reasons. Firstly, the content itself exemplifies the kind of sloppy use of language and reasoning that seems to characterise much of what we read on the internet. How, for example, can someone be involved in an alleged plot? To be involved in something, it has to exist; if it only allegedly exists then you can only be allegedly involved, surely? Are we to understand that the government is proposing action against people for being allegedly involved in an alleged plot? If that were the case then an allegation would be sufficient as proof; there would be no difference between the two. Of course, the allegation by itself is enough for the hard of thinking, for whom evidence and argument are merely confusing.

The second paragraph builds on the license established by the first – notice that “the alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ Islamic takeover plot” has become simply ‘the plot – allegedly designed to Islamise secular state school education’. One is reminded of a book on the richly fertile imaginary life of young children entitled, ‘Let’s Pretend this is a Snake – By the Way it is a Snake’. Now we have graduated to, ‘Let’s Allege there is a Plot – By the Way, There is a Plot’.

The problem with this kind of deceitful ‘logic’ is the second reason why it would be useful in a thinking skills lesson: why do we need to improve our thinking skills? Because once we accept nonsense, we open the door to the kind of dangerous idiocy exemplified in the comments on the article, helpfully also published by the Telegraph:

 

thecccuuttsman • 3 days ago

Ban them from schools for life? They should be on “conspiracy to incite terrorism” charges. If these four were Irish & we were living in the 70's they would be looking at 20 years. If I remember correctly wasn’t a British citizen sentenced to death just for handing out Christian leaflets or something similar in Pakistan? Surely it’s got to be “an eye for an eye” when Muslims in this country are found to be doing what these four were planning.

Unionjackjackson  thecccuuttsman • 3 days ago

There’s thousands more like them living amongst us

rugbyboy  Unionjackjackson • 3 days ago

Yes, and time to root them out!

moraywatson  rugbyboy • 2 days ago

Or, we could properly identify Islam as a political ideology and stop appeasing the bogus “religious” demands of its Muslim adherents.

haphaestus  moraywatson • 2 days ago

This is so important. Islam is NOT a religion. Words are important, definitions are important! As long as we can’t even call something what it is, we can’t win.

London Eye  haphaestus • 2 days ago

Correct. Islam is a cult and ideology not a religion per se. It’s main objective is conversion of ALL the Worlds infidels and kuffirs by indoctrination and finally, if all else fails by the sword . The Muslim Brotherhood manifesto, which is locked in those secret rooms at the back of all Mosques is quite clear. The conversion of the unenlightened and those following the wrong path, will be at first, by covert indoctrination and the infiltration of our Islamic brothers into positions of authority and power. The rightful path must be taught to ALL regardless of their present or past beliefs. Only Allah’s teachings are the way to a complete and fulfilling life on this Earth. So now you know why these radicals kicked out the white heads and put themselves into positions to spread their vile and oppressive ideology!

Bruce Hamilton  moraywatson • 2 days ago

I agree. I think of Mohammed as having been a very worldly and ambitious, confused Christian.

pete_marsh  moraywatson • 2 days ago

The best definition if Islam I heard was ‘an expression of Arab nationalism with some religion thrown in’.

It’s 90% ideology in the UK, and I have honestly come to believe that it’s a bigger threat to Anglo-Celtic culture than Hitler.

the_ferryman  pete_marsh • 2 days ago

Main Kampf or the Koran? A tough call.

Phantomsby  the_ferryman • a day ago

Mein Koran?

Ethelwulf  rugbyboy • 2 days ago

“What you sow shall you reap.” And this is exactly what the LibLabCON have been doing these past 40 years.

Whatever the Quislings in Britain say, Islam is a THREAT to this nation.

 

What a rich resource for teachers! 

Irony aside, what does all this mean? Is this just par for the course and nothing to be overly concerned about? Or is it the ominous rumblings of an incipient totalitarianism coming soon to a democracy near you? How worried should we be? What should be our response? And who do we mean by ‘we’?

People following this scandal may well be reminded of the Salman Rushdie affair where there seemed to be a similar clash between liberal secular values and those of Islam, or some/many/most Muslims at least. It appears to be the same issue and that not only has it never gone away, it has been building inevitably towards further and further conflict. Even if some kind of temporary compromise is achieved regarding state policy on schooling in the UK – and the issue will inevitably re-surface regarding independent ‘faith schools’ – the underlying problem has not yet been identified, let alone addressed.

What, then, lies behind this scandal? Is it an inevitable clash between reason and religion, as many think? Or is it the lack of reason? Could it be the lack of (real) religion? Is it a failure of multiculturalism? Or the result of unchecked xenophobia? Probing deeper, it might be a consequence of neo-conservatism and the need to manufacture consent, in Chomsky’s memorable phrase. Manufacturing consent for the demonstrably insane policies of the political agenda set  by neo-conservatism1 requires a narrowing of the public debate to simple black and white alternatives, which inevitably creates an ‘us and them’ narrative and consequently a useful enemy on whom to focus attention.

It all depends on where you want to set out your stall. What kind of overall paradigm is the right frame for the Trojan Horse Schools scandal? And here, it might be as well to remember an old adage of social research: a theory can be judged on three criteria – it can be simple, generalisable or true, or any two of these, but never all three. Try it for yourself and you will see. What it means in this case is that whatever explanation we tend towards in the case of these schools we have three choices, not four. Our explanation will be either:

Simple and generalisable to all schools/communities/Muslims/politicians/Ofsted inspections etc; in which case it will be false

Simple and true, in which case specific only to the particular schools/communities/Muslims/politicians/Ofsted inspections etc. and not generalisable (i.e. not a basis for policy)

Generalisable and true, but unfortunately not simple (sorry about that).

What will be lacking, if the principle is accurate, is the highly desirable but impossible luxury of an explanation that is true – surely what we all want – simple – so we can all understand it easily, even Telegraph readers et al – and generalisable – so that it can be turned into government policy for use on all similar occasions. Wouldn’t it be nice if the world worked like that? If all schools, all communities, all Ofsted inspections, all governments could just agree on and stick to a  basic set of undeniably true and easy to understand principles.

To think more deeply about this, we can ask: where did we get such an idea from? Whence this desire for complete and simple explanations? Why do we so often hear the claim that ‘it is all very simple…? What is wrong with people that we can’t all just agree and get along?’ Is that the goal of human civilisation? Are we hoping one day to emerge into the pure light of a utopian rationality where we finally, collectively realise that all life really is simple and easy to understand and explain?

Or is that starting to sound like some kind of ideological requirement? If so, where did this demand for what Wittgenstein calls ‘the crystalline purity of logic’ come from? Why are we so uncomfortable with the idea of irreducible complexity?

Let us consider the suggestion that communication between two parties always involves an aporia or impossible necessity. This is true even in our ‘internal’ communication with ourselves, i.e. our own personal understanding of anything and everything. An aporia is an unbridgeable gap (Greek: aporos) but more than that, it is a gap that also has to be crossed somehow. What transpires is that all attempts to cross are ultimately provisional. In terms of linguistic communication, we recognise Plato’s observation of the ‘weakness of the logos’. But this is an advantageous weakness, a necessary weakness because without it there could be no language at all; and without language, there would be no being, to reference an earlier philosopher, Parmenides of Elea. In other words, without language there would be no human world, no humanity.

How then does this weakness of the logos constitute the essence of language, of our being human? And conversely, how does the attempt to remove this weakness and discover a final answer to every possible question lead to an inhuman non-world, where, paradoxically, nothing is true and everything is permitted?

These are, of course, philosophical questions and, for serious thinkers, philosophy is the court of ultimate appeal whenever there appears a seemingly irresolvable crisis in the sciences, natural or social. This is important to recognise: philosophy can sit in judgement on scientific truth, but not vice versa. Wisdom is nobody’s handmaiden. 

Briefly, for there are no simple answers, the meaning of a word, of a text, is porous; there is no one, final and complete meaning and so there is always room for further interpretation. This is partly because language is always meaningful in some context of use, and contexts themselves are uncontainable or boundless. What this entails is a process whereby meaning is always being constructed by the participants in a discourse or exchange of language and this is potentially infinite. What makes a discourse, and language itself, aporetic is that not only is no final and complete meaning ever attainable, but neither can judgement be indefinitely postponed on that count. All acts of communication can therefore be seen to be creative, to introduce new meaning into the world, and thank goodness for that.

This is a higher order consideration and not something which our Telegraph commenters will particularly appreciate. Nor, one imagines will our Ronseal Men at the helm of the ship of the state who would rather that reality be ‘exactly as it says on the tin’. But then, this is a feature of political discourse where complexity and nuance are considered signs of weakness and ‘flip-flopping’. 

This, however, is a cause for hope. Rudolf Steiner believed that society had three elements that were not only separate but had to be kept apart. The three can be summarised as ‘politics’, ‘economics’ and ‘spirit’. The world of the spirit includes everything which is specific to ‘internal’ human realities and well-being and so extends from health and sanity, to morality, art and spirituality, and, especially, all that is meaningful to us. Politics is the science of power over others and economics the realm of material possessions and all that concerns their acquisition. Clearly, there is a degree of overlap; but the importance of separation can be seen when we ponder such questions as ‘Is there a price on health?’ ‘Should bankers be able to buy politicians?’ ‘Can the government really tell us what to believe?’ ‘Are politicians to be relied upon to run the finances of the state?’ ‘What happens when religious scholars are put in charge of society?’ and so on.

The conclusion is that we can recognise that politicians today HAVE to take a black and white, simplistic view, that religion and science do not occupy the same space of reason, that greed is an unworthy, and unsustainable, basis for social morality. We must try to see that everything important in life is and must be endlessly questionable in the positive sense that the obligation to THINK is never discharged and questioning builds the unique path that every single one of us is on individually from birth to death. Of course, this thinking is never merely ratiocination; it is what makes us who we are and we lose sight of this at our peril.

 

Cooperative Learning and Critical Thinking for the Classroom 

As the Islamist ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal picked up speed in the media,  governmental agencies and political spokespersons vied with each other to present ever more draconian measures to defend the administration of schools from extremist infiltration.

An extremely pertinent question for our educators might be: How do we arm the minds of the children? – for the truth is that the children, not the schools, are the real target. (And remembering, of course, that this arming of the minds must be done without preaching specific versions of faith systems, even that of secularism).

The Norwich Muslim community’s interfaith outreach group is in the process of developing a series of RE discovery exercises aimed at primary and secondary schools. We have found that structural Cooperative Learning, being firmly grounded in social constructivism, offers a unique tool to teach learners to cope with opposing viewpoints and provides tools to de-construct messages, discovering and working outwards from their own understanding. Being told to be critical of certain material presented in the context of a 60 minute lesson is not the same as teaching critical thinking as a life skill – all the more so because critical thinking without a stable vantage point (i.e. argument for argument’s sake) is little more than an exercise in nihilistic futility. 

The key to this vantage point is to help learners reflect – at their individual levels – on issues of epistemology (“How do I know something?”) and ontology (“What is this world that I am in”) in the very practical zone of personal beliefs and experiences in the classroom. The recently published book 21C Trivium is recommended reading for those of us in favour of re-invigorating the teaching of logic and rhetoric. Also to be recommended is the very inspiring, and pleasantly surreal, experience of discussing the logical categories of what must necessarily be, the conceivable and the inconceivable – with a Year 6 class at a village school in Suffolk. 

A parallel and very practical aim of these exercises is of course to provide the sense of personal integrity and boundaries that will allow the student to engage antagonists inside and outside of the classroom in a positive and respectful way, without feeling threatened by the opinions they are presented with. We are not talking about holding one’s ground at all costs – we are talking about the ability to consciously choose when and how much to accept or reject of an interlocutor’s viewpoints.

Note that in the structured pair and teamwork debating exercises afforded by Cooperative Learning, the candid verbalisation of otherwise hidden thought processes gives teachers a unique insight into the assumptions and real-time thought processes of each individual student on which to base follow-up (which in turn creates a truly interactive classroom as the real-time development of meanings paves a more realistic way than any abstract lesson plan). 

“Deep thinking” is an endangered species, and never has it been as urgent as it is at the present time to speed its recovery, since children have ready access to and are unavoidably exposed to the conditioning power of an ever expanding cloud of acculturation floating through constantly multiplying combinations of worldwide digital media and peer interaction, that have supplanted and undermined the socially binding processes and narratives that have traditionally operated within the nation state and more specifically, within the geographically localised communities and families in which most people live their everyday lives. The defencelessness of the state in the face of the enveloping transcendency of globalised technique, has destabilised the very ground required for the cultivation of localised narratives and shared values, seriously compromising any sense of certainty with respect to identity – and therefore, with respect to the solidity of subjective reality itself –  it is all ‘up for grabs’. This vulnerability mirrors the earlier crisis of helplessness of the individual, the family, the tribe, the clan and the entire existential order of the ‘ancien regime’ in the face of the overwhelming ascendancy of the modern state in the wake of the French Revolution. ‘What goes around has come around!’

Returning to the Trivium, it is worth quoting Dorothy Sayers at this juncture:

“Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that today, when the proportion of literacy throughout Western Europe is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard of and unimagined? Or (…) do you sometimes have an uneasy suspicion that the product of modern educational methods is less good than he or she might be at disentangling fact from opinion and the proven from the plausible?”

“Information wants to be free.” No governmental control can stop “radical” or “extremist” ideas from reaching our children – in fact, given the free flow of sewage that is flushing around in the bowels of the worldwide web, Islamists may be the least of our worries – but we can make sure the Trojan horse is dismantled and burned, if not politely rejected at the door. And should the Greeks have something to offer – well, that’s at the discretion of a forewarned and fore-armed Trojan Commander-in-Chief to determine.

Coming full circle, it just so happens that grammar, rhetoric and logic (mantiq) formed an integral part of the traditional Islamic madrasa curriculum; so no radical Muslim cleric can object to UK state schooling for implementing them in the curriculum.

 

The Trap 

We have collectively wandered into a minefield. But what minefield? The nation-state and the complex set of supranational protocols that have attempted to hold everything together, more often unsuccessfully than otherwise, are clearly over. Ukraine; Syria; Iraq. Even relatively minor instances such as the Scottish referendum and Catalonian autonomy are a symptom of the overall disintegration. All of them together place great strain on a creaking and makeshift experimental apparatus. That is bad enough but when you consider that they are merely the diplomatic and political results of an entire worldview that is in collapse, then you begin to understand the dimensions of the problem.

Mr. Cameron’s and Mr. Gove’s political forebears of earlier generations were global beings with a wide understanding of disparate societies and cultures. They were men and women whose subjects were ordinary Muslims of diverse cultures, and they knew the Muslims and Islam too well to fall into the kind of hysterical prejudices that their ‘heirs’ have fallen prey to. Churchill, for one, considered the British Empire to be Muslim because of the great preponderance of Muslims among its peoples without that in any way imperilling ‘British values’.

The problem is: how do human beings of different cultural leanings, creeds, ethnicities and languages get on together? It is not merely a British problem. All over the earth, the borders are vanishing, and immigrants and refugees come and go. In Turkey, there are almost five million Crimean Tatars. Over the last century, Turkey took in countless Macedonians, Bosnians, Croatians, Daghestanis and more. Saudi Arabia was until recently an almost automatic destination for the destitute Muslim refugee. And so on.

“The multicultural” has been tried, but when the nation itself is in disarray, how can it work? The American potpourri model has been seriously proposed, but its main failing is that it has to be imposed at the barrel of a gun and over the dead bodies of those it intends to ‘accommodate’.

Nothing is made any safer by the concomitant rise and emergence into the foreground of the financial undertow that created the necessary conditions for the whole saga in the first place. And it plays a not inconsiderable part. It has intellectually transformed British society from one predicated on a commitment to public service and indeed, ‘noblesse oblige’ however imperfectly carried out,  into one whose quotidian reality is selfishness. Thus, when the Secretary of State for Education posits British Values, is he citing those of Margaret Thatcher and James Buchanan, the philosopher who derided altruism? It is a very real problem.

Now the Muslims arrive on these shores. The overwhelming majority of them have not come as zealots, but rather as economic migrants determined to make their way in the world and to a very large degree with a fulsome admiration of ‘British values’ as something advantageous for themselves and for their children. They are, however, somewhat shocked at the signs of decay they have encountered here, both moral and economic, although they have not the historical tools to make proper sense of what they see. They enter their children into the school system determined to get the benefits of a modern technological and scientific education at any cost.

Because of their complete commitment to it, their still undiluted thrift, industry, temperance and an almost abstemious way of life; and because of their determination to see their children succeed, they make a positive mark in these schools. Of course, that is only one side of the story and there are many examples of dysfunctionality and community breakdown, divorce, youth criminality, drug-taking and many more unsavoury outcomes. Nevertheless, many educators have seen large numbers of highly motivated third and fourth generation Pakistani and Indian children. And now, finally,  there is also a generation of Muslim educationalists, trained and qualified within the British system.

If there is any truth to the original ‘Trojan Horse’ missive, and this is by no means certain, then it may indicate the presence of a dangerous kind of hubris and triumphalism on the part of some of these Muslim educationalists. That it should amount to a conspiracy is highly unlikely. Surely, we have moved beyond the paranoia of the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” type.

But what of the event itself? The reaction of the Secretary of State for Education and Ofsted is an attempt to enframe the situation within the Enlightenment paradigm, being able to count upon a general unawareness of its origins and its nature and, in the process, also an attempt to enframe Islam and Muslims likewise, even though they originate outside of this paradigm. We can see this writ large all over the world although it is certainly not conspiracy. But we see the determination to regard the so-called ‘Sunni-Shi’a split’ as somehow parallel to the ‘Catholic-Protestant’ schism, thus indicating the necessity for an ‘Islamic Reformation’. This assumption is somewhat hasty for, as Mark Twain observed, “History does not repeat itself, although it does rhyme”. 

Mr. Gove’s attempt to enframe Islam and Muslims within a set of Enlightenment values that are themselves in deep crisis, by calling on ‘British values’, when the British themselves are flailing around hopelessly as they struggle to define them, presents a degree of paradox. Values such as binge-drinking? Credit card abuse? Neglect of the elderly and vulnerable? Parliamentary expenses fraud? Total war? Killing peaceful protestors? Police corruption? Rejection of refugees? Institutional racism? Sexual license and promiscuity? Abortion on demand? Assisted suicide? Freedom of speech in the form of ubiquitous hardcore pornography?…  What exactly does he mean? Or perhaps it refers to that great cosmopolitanism that made the Empire. Or perhaps not. Let us see...

 

On Western or British Values

May we set aside the superficial distractions that are offered as reasons for what is beginning to emerge, and ask what the real issues which underlie this scandal are?

The discourse that is being presented for us to believe, the ideological state position, is that the UK is at serious risk of attempts at violent overthrow by hordes of brainwashed fundamentalist extremists, immune to reason and totally opposed to our civilised way of life.

These hordes, some of them as young as two, are currently in British schools where unscrupulous teachers and governors plot incessantly to raise a generation of Islamist Jihadists – at taxpayers’ expense! – who will eventually wage war against British civilisation and values in order to establish a medieval code of punishments for anyone who disagrees with them.

In order to prevent this from happening, schools where this brainwashing is already established must be given over to new teams of management, who will undo all of the damage that has been done to young minds and set them on the path to enlightenment values such as freedom and democracy. Schools which have not yet been inspected will be immediately spot-checked without notice, so as to prevent them from hiding the disgusting practices which they no doubt have been concealing from us up until now. No stone will be left unturned until all Muslim children are safe from the risk of becoming violent extremists.

If this sounds exaggerated, it is not. Teams of inspectors have been sent into kindergartens and found them to be ignoring (deliberately?) the risk of extremism to which these 2-4 years olds are exposed. The message is clear – if nothing is done, we all risk violence from these children when they grow up. Similarly, Michael Gove is on record as believing in the ‘conveyor belt’ principle – shown to be false in empirical studies – which holds, for no good reason, that a conservative Islam will lead to fundamentalism, then extremism and then violent extremism, if not in all, then in a significant number of cases. Research on who is actually involved in violent extremism shows, on the contrary, that religious conservatism and even fundamentalism and extremism have no causal role. Terrorists may declare that Islamic principles are the motive for their actions, but socio-psychological problems are the underlying cause revealed by scientific studies of the phenomenon. What this means is that we have two sides in these events, both declaring high-level moral principles which they only superficially espouse while the real motivations are only thinly veiled if not out in plain view. Does anyone really believe that Tony Blair declared war on Iraq for humanitarian reasons?

So we might conclude that the war on Muslim majority and Islamic schools is less about a concern for the safety of children and the general public than it is an expression of plain old racism and xenophobia. If we look at what is actually being said and done regarding this issue, that conclusion is not difficult to come to.

The most obvious feature of the recent and ongoing scandal is that just about everyone involved has no, or very little, personal experience of Muslims, Muslim schools and Muslim communities. It springs from the ‘Little Englander – Great Briton’ mentality of the generations who now lack the global cosmopolitan experience administration of the Empire once assured although they somehow aspire to that long lost glory. What is being argued over endlessly is based almost entirely on what people have read in the press or seen on television; it is a media event. This phenomenon was confirmed by research  several years ago which revealed that the vast majority of British people had learned almost everything they know about Islam and the Muslims from the infotainment industry – newspapers, magazines and television. Today, this material gets recycled through the blogosphere, producing all manner of mutant hybrids and memes.

Consequently, the most obvious scandal has been a huge increase in ill-informed and aggressive attacks on Islam and the Muslims of this country. These attacks extend from sly innuendo to thinly veiled calls for ethnic cleansing, with every degree of unpleasantness in between.

This is paradoxical to anyone with half an eye. The main reason given for the avalanche of hatred being poured out on the Muslim communities is that there are fundamentally important values operating in the UK, which Muslims are implacably opposed to and therefore Islam has no future in this country. If, moreover, Muslims try to maintain that Islam is not opposed to ‘Western’ values then they are either lying or deeply confused about the nature of their own beliefs.

These Western values, which Muslims are supposed to be against, are, among others:

Freedom of thought 

Respect for others rights

Tolerance of difference

Respect for the Rule of Law

Equality of treatment

Democracy

Yet what are Muslims being told now? You are free to think what you like as long as you agree with us? Rights only apply to people who agree with us? Diversity does not include being Muslim?

The problem here is that secular liberalism is really rather intolerant of those who refuse to accept it in its entirety, who may have doubts about some of its consequences – such as the abolition of any meaningful religious faith. It is clear that you can be tolerated, respected and given freedom only within the somewhat problematic limits of enlightenment rationalism. 

But these are relatively abstract considerations in the current context of calls for the eradication of Islam in the UK. More seriously, respect for the rule of law rings very hollow in the context of British society today where a thoroughgoing disdain for legality appears to be the order of the day in both the international and domestic spheres – from assisting in torture and secret rendition to participation in unilateral US wars of aggression and regime change, from bankers to politicians, policemen and journalists, entertainers and educationists, no sector of society has not recently come under scrutiny for lack of probity amongst some of its leading representatives. If there is a swamp to drain, we don’t have to look very far; to single out the Muslim communities is blatant prejudice.

Equality of treatment? If Muslim publications were full of the kind of propaganda against the ‘enemy’ we find in the mainstream press there would be an outcry. If the comments sections then included the kinds of hatred and calls for violence we find on the internet, endlessly recycled and repeated, new laws would be passed and millions spent on controlling extremism, because it would be (even more) Muslim extremism. Yet anti-Muslim extremism, or Islamophobia, is now the everyday reality for Muslims and Muslim institutions. The asymmetry is mind-boggling.

And finally, democracy. What this word is even supposed to mean is contestable; it is not just a system of government but a code word for the ethos of western-style liberal societies. Everyone kind of understands what it means more or less. It is about being safe from violence, having a reasonable standard of living and a range of shopping and entertainment options. Once you have that, you cannot really ask for more. The social institutions that support this comfortable lifestyle include education, health, a working economy, sport and leisure industries, police and judiciary reasonably free from corruption, a free press and a system of representational government.

So which of these are Muslims supposed to be opposed to?

And, conversely, which of these are immune to critical examination? Frankly, there are problems with all of it and if Muslims have something to say on this score, is that automatically a problem? Let us see... 

Question: What is the State? The disturbingly prescient and automatically demonised philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, rightly took this to be a question worth asking and his reflections are chilling:

 

“The state? What is that? Well then! Now open your ears, for now I shall speak to you of the death of peoples. The state is the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies too; and this lie creeps from its mouth: ‘I the state am the people’...”

 

In the light of this it can hardly be surprising to see, in the current debate concerning British values and identity, how inextricably the state has woven itself into the fabric of the matter. Firstly, we note that the terms of the debate have been dictated by the state itself through its leading ministers, quite literally by way of issuing what can best be understood as a challenge that dares Muslims primarily to expose themselves to the consequences of professing an identity or ‘values’ that do not expressly and explicitly owe recognition and affirmation to the state, whether in terms of ‘nationality’, ‘citizenship’, patriotic allegiance or undying gratitude. This presumption is made possible because we have passively, over the centuries, absorbed the poisonous lie identified by Nietzsche, to the effect that the state and the people are indivisibly one and the same. The well known Muslim intellectual and founder of the Norwich Muslim community, Shaykh Dr Abdalqadir as-Sufi, demonstrating the grasp for which he is rightly recognised, if not always fully appreciated due to being somewhat ahead of the times, reveals further sinister dimensions to Nietzsche’s profound question, which are particularly relevant to our thesis regarding the nature of the state, its trajectory towards tyranny and the very real dangers contained in the profession of or association with anything other than what might be deemed ‘British values’ (i.e. the values of ‘the people’):

 

“The pharaonic [state] model is marked by the deification of creational realities in the triple (trinitarian) coding “people=state=leader.” Thus, opposition to any one of the three terms is taken as opposition to the others in the series. That the people cannot be an ontological reality, let alone an existential organism that can be experienced or known in any holistic way, indicates the essentially mystical and religious nature of the doctrine. The first term implies that the collective reality of the social body is in its turn equal to each and every individual member, and so any statement made about the collective reality will be a valid statement on each citizen. It is clear from this that any citizen who should from his own existential reality, whatever its condition, feel forced to question or negate the social project, must be considered deviant and, more drastically, could be defined as a non-person, since he no longer fulfils the required definition of a person, i.e. one who confirms the social project in all its ramifications.” (Resurgent Islam 1400)

 

Leaving aside the physical elimination of its own citizens by executive order without due judicial process (as in the case of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki who, having taken refuge in the Yemen, was sought out and assassinated by drone strike, we have also recently witnessed the most egregious examples of the state’s readiness to consign its own citizens, by bloodless administrative device, to the twilight zone of ‘non-person’ status: The USA’s strategic revocation of the whistleblower Edward Snowden’s passport leaving him stranded ‘stateless’ in the transit zone of a Moscow airport stands out, as does the cynical case of the Australian Wikileaks activist Julian Assange, indefinitely trapped within the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, potentially for life, in the name of justice and the rule of law. The UK’s repeated threat to nullify the passports of anyone leaving the country to fight alongside ‘jihadists’ in Syria or Iraq against the despotic Assad or Al Maliki regimes, respectively; this has been the response of the British state to the repetition of a noble precedent set by tens of thousands of idealistic young citizens from Western democracies (including the UK) who left the peace and safety of their homes to join the International Brigades and risk their lives fighting alongside the Republican forces against General Franco’s Nationalist Regime during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930's. Of course, there has never been any denial that their willingness to depart stood for anything more sinister than idealistic political naivety, or anything less than the altruistic expression of the highest of Western values. Today the reward for such ‘naivety’ or ‘altruism’, as the case may be, is arrest and/or imprisonment or statelessness. How Western values have progressed! The awful truth, even in the very midst of the recent self-congratulatory claims being made by government ministers to an impressive list of universally recognised civil aspirations as exclusively ‘British values’, is that democratic civilisation has degenerated into unimaginable levels of tyranny and lawlessness as the nation state gives way to the ‘world state’. MFAS Chancellor and legalist, Abu Bakr Rieger writing on the subject of Nihilism and Human Rights, draws upon the insights of radically independent and highly regarded Western political philosophers in order to arrive at the following sinister revelations regarding the ultimate trajectory of modern state power:

 

“In a seminal work Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life written in the late nineties, the philosopher Giorgio Agamben introduces the concept of the concentration camp into the centre of the political discourse. According to Agamben the goal of modern power-politics is no longer the national, sovereign state but, shockingly, the concentration camp. He portrays the camp as the true symbol of the modern age. The ultimate in world-political sovereignty and power is revealed in the camp, that is, in the decision to strip speech, law and space from ‘bare life’. This prophecy is being fulfilled in Guantanamo and in the known and unknown camps of that world state which is emerging today. To Agamben the camp is now an integrated and long-term component of the global nomos. The famous definition of Carl Schmitt regarding political sovereignty, namely, ‘Sovereign is the one who decides on the state of emergency’ is thus given a terrible extension of meaning: ‘Sovereign is also the one who is able to set up a camp.’ [...]

 

“Let us reflect a moment upon the meaning of the world state, about which Carl Schmitt rendered another interesting definition. According to him, nihilism is the separation of order from location. In other words, to him the world state is nihilistic as it separates order from location. Or, as the Italian philosopher Antonio Negri defined it in his work The Empire: ‘The world state is an empire without any recognisable centre.’ If we now think of Agamben and Schmitt’s insights together, the following remarkable, almost mathematical equation is revealed. Again we take as our point of departure the principle that nihilism is the separation of order and location. The following conclusions may be made about the concept of the ‘camp’ and the ‘state of emergency’:

 

The camp symbolises location without order. It is a bio-political nomos which transforms life into ‘bare life’. The state of emergency, on the other hand, symbolises order without location, a nomos devoid of legality and without a centre.” [see MFAS Politics of Power Module lecture 7 ‘Democracy and the Post-nation State’]

 

The Collapsing Edifice

As the main title suggests, we are concerned with offering a detached ex post facto perspective on the exaggerated and disproportionate public panic that has been triggered by what has turned out to be a hoax letter sent last year to Birmingham City Council warning of an active ‘Islamist’ plot to take over state schools by infiltrating and ‘stacking’ their boards of governors. Whoever engineered the release of this hoax certainly knew which ‘buttons’ to press in order to detonate the explosion of hysteria and paranoia which, following America’s neoconservative lead, has been stoked to fever pitch as a matter of their extended domestic and foreign policy logic obsessed as it is with national security against the nightmare of Islamic terror and maintaining the heightened atmosphere of fear and imminent danger best understood as the permanent state of emergency that is required to justify the imposition of even the most extreme encroachments upon pre-American civil liberties and principles of justice, whether in terms of almost limitless secret surveillance of its own and the world’s citizens, the assassination, secret rendition, torture and imprisonment of its own and the world’s citizens without due process or the immunity of its armed forces to prosecution for their criminal behaviour overseas and resort to the judicial transparency of the Star Chamber at home, all in the name of protection against a deadly ‘Islamist’ threat that there is growing evidence to show is being actively promoted and invented, certainly in the US, by major government security agencies such as the FBI by means of ‘profiling’, ‘entrapment’ and what one very comprehensive investigative report by forensic lawyers Downs and Manley has termed ‘pre-emptive prosecution’:

 

“They term the government’s approach to Muslim suspects ‘preemptive prosecution,’ defined as ‘a law enforcement strategy, adopted after 9/11, to target and prosecute individuals or organizations whose beliefs, ideology, or religious affiliations raise security concerns for the government. The actual criminal charges are pretexts, manufactured by the government to incarcerate the targets for their beliefs.’ Just so. Go after Muslim men because, by dint of being Muslims, they might be inclined to become terrorists. Nail them before they have the chance. Downs and Manley found that 289 out of 399 (72.4 percent) of the convictions boasted of by the Justice Department were purely preemptive, and another 87 out of 399 (21.8 percent) contained elements of preemption, meaning the defendants might have been engaged in ‘minor, non-terrorist criminal activity’ but the activity was manipulated and inflated by the government to appear to be terroristic.”

[http://blog.timesunion.com/carlstrock/inventing-terrorists/467/] 

 

The whole amounts to a shocking manifestation of the nihilistic chaos and current breakdown of law and order unmistakably evident in the democratic nation state model that results from the separation of order and location, as identified by the legist Carl Schmitt and the logic of the concentration camp revealed by Giorgio Agamben referred to previously. 

Therefore, what better pretext than even the vaguest whiff of an ‘extremist’ plot against one of the state’s most formative and crucially important domains to spur into action Theresa May (sensitivity to White House expectations being a prerequisite for the key post of Home Secretary) and Michael Gove (neoconservative by nature and inclination, following the unbroken recent line of ‘special relationship’ persuasion from Thatcher and Joseph; to Blair, Mandelson, Blunkett and Clarke; and now we have Cameron, Clegg and May)? And what an irresistible prize for the extremist conspirators! A prize that is much more likely to be seized, if Gove has his way, by privateering corporations, preferably ‘shock doctrine’ style, in the wake and under cover of some enormous disaster, be it natural or manufactured, after the American charter school model!

Is it simply the case that Muslim communities in the West find themselves occupying the ground floor of a collapsing building? As we have seen, the UK is unravelling at the seams as a coherent and viable sovereign entity. Once confidently and assertively situated at the centre of a powerful worldwide empire, it is now stripped down to a small island nation awkwardly displaced off mainland Europe (both physically and politically) and looking with hopeful longing for affirmation and friendship out across the American Sea (or the Atlantic Ocean) for a ‘special relationship’. Her inhabitants are now experiencing a crisis of identity, whereas once upon a time they were wont to find it reinforced through instant recognition and positive affirmation on every continent. Now small minded ‘English nationalists’ such as the EDL (English Defence League) and Britain First complain that the distinct English identity has been subsumed within the British Union as surely as the cross of St. George has been submerged into the ‘mishmash’ of the ‘Union Jack’. The situation has been made still worse by the political orthodoxy of multiculturalism that has washed in from across the Atlantic with its innovative ‘pick ‘n mix’ of hyphenated-Americans used as a Cold War propaganda ‘bag o’ tricks’ to project an image of American inclusiveness embodying the human diversity of the free world, whose leadership it claimed, in answer to the inviting cosmopolitan outreach of the Marxist International and those who would raise the question of America’s shameful and embarrassing civil rights record, Jim Crow segregation laws, lynchings and imprisonment of Blacks (now African-Americans), the rampant discrimination against all visible minorities (Latino-Americans, etc.) and the genocidal mistreatment of the continent’s Aboriginal peoples (Native-Americans) in the name of Manifest Destiny (or White Supremacy), while claiming superiority over Soviet communism and any other potential rivals. Hence, it was necessary to convey worldwide the universalism of the American way, whilst at home imposing upon Blacks and other radicalised and dissatisfied minorities, a rationale that would justify the demand for their unquestioned patriotism, rather than be led by the example of Malcolm X, who had begun to look to the Third World for humane support and solidarity, and to the UN (perhaps naively) for legal redress against the US government regarding the open abuse of their human rights, and whose infamously unpatriotic response to the assassination of JFK (“Chickens coming home to roost”) resulted in his suspension from his position as leading spokesman for the Nation of Islam. Though not nearly so acute in the UK, the rationale was analogous. However, in both cases the advent of multiculturalism would provoke a backlash from nationalist elements within the white majority, for whom this multicultural logic was yet one more shroud over the corpse of the historical white British and American WASP preferred self-image. Add to this the world banking crisis of 2008 and the inability of national governments to shield their populations from the resulting economic recession, job losses, evictions and austerity measures; or from the ‘unfair’ competition from migrants and refugees for scarce jobs, housing and welfare benefits.

As an exercise in socio-political engineering the technocratically driven project of centralised national government and social organisation on a national scale has continued for some 350 years, having obliterated along the way any surviving traces of prior modalities of societal organisation, identity and governance, substituting any true historical record with a compulsory narrative predicated upon the irresistible logic of a linear evolutionary progression of human civilisation from the cruel darkness of monarchic despotism and feudalism to the sunny uplands of liberal democracy as we know it in the 21st century. This failing experiment, undertaken in the name of scientific progress was born within the crucible of the so called Age of the Enlightenment and the forces of bloody carnage unleashed by the French Revolutionary call to ‘Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité’, which resulted in the subsequent template for the modern nation state provided by the Napoleonic dictatorship. What has this to do with Schools in Birmingham? It is relevant because in this modern democratic society in which it has been our collective privilege to be informed and educated, history in any real sense has been all but replaced by an entertaining preoccupation with the narrowly private focus of online family ancestry searches. The serious study of history is also well on the way to extinction in most secondary school and even university courses and curricula; except as a source of dates, soundbites and imagery for the reinforcement of feelings of national pride and fealty to the state; history has been devalued within the educational system as unlikely to lead to a remunerative career or to make much of a contribution to the economic growth of ‘UK plc’. It is important to realise that there is a world of difference between constant exposure to the determined ‘presentism’ and distraction of breaking news headlines, and exposure to the processes of historically contextualised reflection that might enable us to understand how and why we have arrived at this present juncture and where we are most likely to end up. The prospects are grim. 

Apart from what we have already observed regarding the imposition of state structures upon people’s natural, traditional or otherwise chosen means of exercising their once free and inalienable right and responsibility to organise themselves, whether it be along tribal, ethnic, religious lines or all combined. Peter Hitchens highlights an interesting case in point in his Mail Online blog of 9/6/14:

 

“Thanks to various treaties between church and state, in which the Churches were in a strong position because of the work they had done, the state conceded large freedoms to the churches, especially the freedom to continue to maintain schools in the state system, which had a religious character and which are allowed to choose many of their pupils on a religious test. In my view the Church of England were diddled, because the promise they extracted in return for ceding control [to the state] of many schools, that all state schools would have a ‘broadly Christian’ daily act of worship, and that the national faith would be taught as such in schools, has been comprehensively broken. I use the word ‘comprehensive’ deliberately. The creation of vast new American-style high schools has made it far easier for these obligations to be shelved, forgotten or bureaucratically obstructed. ‘We just don’t have a hall big enough. We can’t fit it in to the timetable. We don’t have the qualified teachers’, etc. I’d be very interested in a survey of how many non-RC state schools actually deal with the Christianity question. I think it would show that most pupils could get through their school careers without ever encountering anything resembling organized Christianity, as a living faith. Now, one of the things I really like about Muslims is that they are not having any of that. They value their faith, they believe in it, and they see it is one of their main duties in life to pass it on, undiluted, to their sons and daughters.” 

 

 

Looked at more closely, it is not really that “the Church of England were diddled”, but that the English people, whose Church it was, have been ‘diddled’ and that this was the general pattern across the board of traditional social institutions, organisations and functions. 

The point here is that the Trojan Horse legend is far more persuasive as an analogue for the enforced usurpation of peoples’ inherent freedom to take direct responsibility for the independent and autonomous management of their own affairs (including their children’s education and upbringing) on a traditional social scale in keeping with their own local and immediate needs and requirements. Instead, however, with the state being in a position to impose its vast defence, education, transport, health and welfare infrastructures upon the population, it has exacted various forms of taxation in exchange for these ‘gifts’ and in order to pay off the national debts and balance of trade deficits accumulated in our names as collateral. Matters are made worse by the increasingly obvious fact that the vast national scale of social organisation as a technocratically driven experiment over the past three centuries is failing. The accelerating collapse of the national project under the entropic stresses created by the uncontrollable cyclical financial shocks inherent in the global corporate and banking order we refer to as ‘the Markets’, and by the supranational imposition by the US, or NATO, or the UN, or the EU, of untenable political, military, financial and logistical pressures. 

In addition to this there is the centrifugal pull away from the centre towards the devolution of powers and calls for regional independence, as evidenced in cases such as the Scottish referendum in the UK, Catalan and Basque separatism in Spain, and the Northern League in Italy, whilst in the Ukraine we can bear witness to the breakup of a nation in the tug of war between the nationalist impulse in the East towards Russia and the ‘technically constituted’ citizenship of the EU in the West and even as we speak we are treated to the dramatic spectacle of state collapse in Iraq and Libya both defenceless in the face of international intervention. However, within the EU itself, recent national and European parliamentary election results have revealed the tensions between a growing right wing nationalism, which has arisen in countries across Europe in reaction against the perceived advance of EU integration at the expense of national identity and sovereignty, and also point to unprecedented levels of instability and uncertainty regarding the nation state’s survival as the key structural component and repository for sovereign legitimacy within the international world order as once understood and accepted throughout the 20th century. On the basis of the ‘last in first out’ principle, Muslims are well advised to run the risk of appearing ‘unpatriotic’ and head for the nearest exit before the whole thing comes down on top of us (we’ll be blamed for it anyway!). We must seek refuge in and recover our natural identities as denizens of the world, rather than submitting to the pressures of political correctness and volunteering for ‘democratic’ toleration, administrative containment and intolerable isolation as suspect ‘citizens’ within the artificial silos of dangerously unstable and increasingly autocratic nation states be it UK, USA, Russia, Egypt, Ukraine, Syria, Turkey or Iraq.


1 The neo-conservative connection is particularly worrying because of the ‘noble lie’, a widely misunderstood concept that has demonstrably led to actual lying with disastrous outcomes in recent history. Thus, Michael Gove’s engagement in neo-conservatism is deeply troubling.