Saturday, February 4, 2017

Communism, Islam and the Cosmos

I've recently been watching some interviews (although they are more like conversations) between William F. Buckley and Malcolm Muggeridge.

One thing that strikes me is the prominent place that communism and the Soviet Union occupies in their discussions. At one point, Muggeridge says that the resurgence of Christianity in the Soviet Union is the most important fact of his lifetime. They speak a great deal about the dissident writer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who embraced Christianity, giving him a kind of paradigmatic significance. Who speaks about Alexander Solzhenitsyn now?

The struggle against communism at that time assumed a kind of cosmic significance, leading Christians and conservatives to define themselves against it to a great degree. As we know now, this had the unfortunate consequence (in the case of conservatism) of making freedom the overriding value, overshadowing tradition and authority and all the other good things conservatives should strive for.

The health of Christianity in Russia now seems far less of a concern than the health of Christianity in continental Europe and other places which never suffered under communism.

Today, my fear is that conservatives and conservative Christians will begin to see Islam in similar cosmic terms, as the enemy against which it defines itself.

I admire some things about the former Soviet Union-- the value it placed upon culture, its social realist art, the emphasis upon social solidarity. This doesn't take away from the fact that communism was (and is) evil and godless.

In the same way, (and although I'm in no way suggesting Islam is evil), I admire certain things about Islam-- its commitment to prayer, its self-confidence, even its reverence for the name and honour of its founder.

I think we should be careful not to see the current confrontation against Islam as a cosmic battle. Islam is an older opponent than communism, and perhaps it will remain until the end of the world. But the current situation will pass. The cosmic enemy is not Islam but Satan. Let's keep our eyes on the big picture.


  1. Séamus(Australia)February 5, 2017 at 3:03 AM

    I always feel the same way. We live near an Islamic college and many immigrants and their large families have moved into our area. The ladies of course are extremely visible in our shopping centre. I see it as a challenge to strive for preserving what we stand for and, indeed, to ask ourselves what that is rather than make it an "us vs. them"so much

    1. Indeed.

      I think the same is true of political correctness. The overreaction to political correctness is to say: "Let's have no good taste, no civility, no taboos". I've written about my admiration for Milo Yiannapoulous on this blog, but I do think he takes it too far. Maybe he has to take it too far, as a corrective measure, in our extraordinary circumstances. But I certainly don't think reverence and restraint and civility and even taboo are bad.