The global struggle against 'terror' looks set to become one of the defining characteristics of geopolitics in the new century. Despite increasingly frantic calls - especially after the London bombings of July 7 2005 - for western leaders to 'understand Islam better', there is a still a critical distinction that needs to be made between 'Islam' as religion and 'Islamism' in the sense of militant mindset. In this provocative new book Meghnad Desai argues that it is quite wrong to treat the followers of Osama bin-Laden and other jihadists, whether home-grown or not, as qualitatively different in their thinking from extreme ideologies such as Leninism, Trotskyism or Maoism ; or from the Baader-Meinhof Gang and the Red Brigades, who were also prepared to unleash savage violence against their own countrymen. As the author sees it, it is not - as George Bush and Tony Blair have claimed - a more nuanced understanding of Islam that will help the western powers defeat terror, but rather a proper understanding of Islamism: a political ideology quite distinct from religion (just as in the same way the IRA could not reasonably be equated with Roman Catholicism). While Islamism may be draped in religious imagery and suffused by apocalyptic language, it nevertheless is similar in nature to secular ideologies of terror. And once, the author holds, this is properly appreciated, the ways to defeat it will become much better evident. Historically sophisticated and passionately argued, Rethinking Islamism makes a powerful case by a master theorist of political philosophy. It will be essential reading for students and policy-makers alike in the fields of politics, current affairs, and religion.
The Ideology of the New Terror