A reader responds

You wrote:

Radical Islam and the Left have a secret thread in common: at bottom, both worship power. Leftism’s fealty to Radical Islam starts to make sense when you recognize that the Left has always adored those who seek power ruthlessly.

I think you’re on to something. Voegelin believed the central motivating characteristic of the Gnostical Mass Movements of the Left (e.g. Marxism) as libido dominandi, the desire to dominate. This characteristic appears to be central to Islamism as well. De Lubac similarly identified this tendency in the philosophy of atheist humanism championed by Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, and Comte. What’s more, he noted that the philosophical systems produced by these folks were at their core anti-Christian. This is not surprising. Christ said Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last. (Luke 13:30) Those who worship power contend the first will be first and the last will be forgotten.

I think there is one more thing in play here. Leftists and Islamists believe that power has been ordained them; they assert the inevitability that in time they will rule all. Leftists tend to ascribe this to the pseudo-mystical “Historical Process” proposed by their prophets Marx and Comte, whereby societies will naturally (and scientifically!) evolve, struggling against reactionary forces, until the Leftists acquire the reins of power. That struggle, of course, is to be guided by the rational philosophies and stratagems of the enlightened Left. Islamists, on the other hand, look to the Quran, which tells them that Mohammed is the last and greatest prophet, that Ye (Muslims) are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind…” (Surah 3:110), and that those who belong to Dar al Islam will be in constant struggle (Jihad) with Dar al Harb until such a time that the world has converted to Islam. That struggle, of course, is to be guided by the rational theology and stratagems of enlightened muhajadin.

It may seem surprising at first that the atheist Left and the hyper-religious Islamists – with all of their differences – behave so similarly and indeed seem to have allied themselves in their worldly pursuit of power and their opposition to the Christian world. This, however, is a simple consequence of being motivated solely by libido dominandi. This dynamic was observed by the author of the book of Wisdom: But let our strength be our norm of justice; for weakness proves itself useless. Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; … (Wisdom 2:11-12). How true are the words in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10: What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us.


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