The following text is a transcript by V. S. of part of Jonathan Bowden’s interview at the Union Jack Club in London on Saturday, November 21, 2009, after his famous lecture/performance on Punch and Judy. The title is editorial.
Question: Liberals are very afraid of Islam, militant Islam.
Jonathan Bowden: Yes, I know.
Q: Are they right to be so?
JB: Yes, they are, actually, because it’s illiberalism as a religion. I’m slightly odd, of course, because I don’t want the Islamification of Europe or of this country, but I admire Islam. I’m known to be slightly dissentient on these things. They should exist in their part of the world between Morocco and Indonesia. They have their part of the world. They basically have a sixth of the world. They should keep their bloc; they should keep the ummah; they should keep their potentialities. It’s a different way of being human.
Most Westerners can’t even understand a metaphysical objectivism which is so absolute and you’ve surrendered to the slavery of God’s love as the basis of the system. Most Westerners can’t even begin to understand what that’s about partly because they’ve drifted into such a degree of secularity, all religious ideas leave them slightly cold in present modernity, post-modernity.
Islam is a very real threat to contemporary liberalism, because they have misunderstood the nature of the multiculturalism they’re trying to bring about. One, many of the people who are flooding into the West are less liberal than the people who are here already. Two, many of them don’t like quite a bit of what they see in the West, and it’s not that they feel sorry for us. They feel that we’re a bit weak and hopeless and will be pushed aside.
Islam is a very Right-wing, if you want to use that conception, sort of system of the world. That’s why extremist Catholics converted to it after Vatican II. Some Fascists and National Socialists converted to it as well. Because it’s total and absolute.
It’s not our way. Our civilization is based upon, in my review, a reverse principle of open-mindedness and reflexiveness and the evidentialism of which Lady Renouf speaks and the Socratic tradition. I see Western civilization as primarily, but not exclusively, Greco-Roman, primarily in the discourse it uses to think about itself. We begin with the view that there are certain absolutes and certain truths, but we are slightly less certain of what they are, and we wish to test them through life, struggle, evidence, and so forth. That doesn’t mean that there are no truths. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that stand outside life. What’s happened is we’ve become confused about our own ideas as a civilization, and that’s made us autumnal. We’re now in danger from other groups because we’re hesitant and have lost the convictions which the West has been traditionally based upon.
Islam’s not really a threat to us, because it can’t conquer the West from inside. This is my view. It can conquer the West from outside, physically through violence, through demographic shift, through militant propagandization. But the West is based upon a contrary civilizational ethic, and therefore it can’t conquer in here. If you notice, virtually no indigenous people, apart from radical extremists and outsiders, have any interest in it at all. It doesn’t attract Westerners. It doesn’t attract the Western mind. Even people who are interested in it for reasons of religious parallelism or perennialism or discourses of that sort, deep down hardly ever convert, and if they do they convert to Sufism, the most open-minded element of it, or they move away very quickly. So, it can’t come from the inside. It can only conquer from the outside. But, of course, if people are weak and broken down and somebody’s stronger than them they can hold a gun over them. That is true.
Q: You mentioned Islam from the Maghreb to Indonesia and many Western, or so-called Western, politicians have a sort of dual loyalty to a certain country in the Middle East, which used to be called Palestine.
JB: That’s right. Yes.
Q: How would you regard the Islamic challenge to this part of the world?
JB: Well, I think on that issue from their point of view, which is not the same as our point of view . . . This is the point, you see. You can understand another’s position, but you don’t share it. Liberalism has thought about these relativities, you see. I feel your pain so much I want to stand in your place. Well, no one would really do that in relation to us. But that’s a logical position. I mean, the Islamic condemnation and/or the Arab nationalist and sort of persons of color attitudes towards Israel is completely legitimate, because it’s a terrorist state which has seized Palestinian land and held it by force.
It’s not totally our problem, but we will always be dragged into it by virtue of the power that group has and manifests in the United States and the fact that Britain is beholden to the United States to such a degree. Michael Portillo virtually said in the 1990s when he was Defence Minister under the Tories, “We have no foreign policy. It’s dictated to us by the United States.” This means we are drawn endlessly into their firefights and their micro-wars and their micro-just-about-to-go-major wars in the Middle East and further afield, all of which, in an attenuated way, are done in order to make that state safe.
However, that state is armed with nuclear weapons and is determined to tough it out and fight it out if there’s no other option. So, it’s a very difficult proposition, and the trouble is that liberals have made a mess of things. They have mixed everything together. There could be a benign outcome, there could be a middling and confused outcome, and there could be a terrible outcome for many, many people as yet unborn. And we don’t really know.
Don’t forget, when Obama came to power, the CIA–who got many, many things wrong including weapons of mass destruction in the destroyed country of Iraq, but then again they may have known that these theses were incorrect from the very beginning–told Obama that there would be a nuclear war, that means a nuclear exchange, in the Middle East in the next 25 years. And they don’t get everything wrong, because they predicted the war between Georgia and the new Russia under Putin and Medvedev a year before it happened. Now, it’s only an intelligence report, and they produce these reports all the time. Russia had a war game recently in which Poland and the Czech Republic were annihilated. So, governments and states do these things all the time. But there is a real civilizational flashpoint there, a tectonic plate flashpoint between the peoples and cultures of the world, and Israel is there forcing, forcing, forcing the flashpoint as a charger.
My view is that the West should decouple from Israel. They have their own destiny. They should do what they want. My view, ultimately, is the view of Islamic radicals in reverse. That they leave the West, that they build Islam in the ummah. But there’s a price to pay there for us and that is that we leave the Middle East, we leave trying to meddle, we leave trying to seize their oil, we leave intervening in their countries, we leave overthrowing groups in their countries that we don’t like. It’s not our business. We’re in a post-imperial world now.
And we throw Israel over, and we say that Israel is not our concern. People will put it in different ways and people will say they’re not really anti- but they wish to be neutral and so on, but the consequence is the same. We move back and there’s a separation.
Deep down, many Muslims want a separation. They want a world of blocs, because they sort of realize that they might conquer the West in certain demographic terms, although many worry that Muslims will secularize under Western influence. Western ideological power is very severe, and the West is very weak but incredibly highly armed. Bush took down Saddam’s regime in 10 days, and it was one of the most ferocious governments in the Third World. Never forget the power the West can unleash. Leaders even like Nick Griffin are not liberals. If they had power they would use it in certain circumstances.
Blair once said that we are going to war in relation to Iraq and these other matters because if we don’t, and we don’t protect Western societies even in their present constitutedness, others will come behind us who do not share our values, and they will do it for the masses. He’s talking about what he would call non-humanist forms of opinion, by which he means certain well-known political tendencies, about which liberals think all the time. They never stop thinking about these tendencies, because they are their inverse, you see.
Q: Do you think there will be a war with Iran? Israel–Iran? America–Iran?
JB: One doesn’t know. It’s difficult to predict. There are tendencies both ways. I think if there was going to be a really devastating first strike it would have happened under Bush. Ashkenazi lobbies in the United States never trusted Obama, don’t really want it, didn’t really want him to be president, wanted Hillary Clinton to be president. She was really their candidate. She promised a devastating attack upon Iran if Israel ever experienced a first strike.
Iran is still quite a way off a nuclear weapon. My understanding is they’ve hidden their nuclear sites in 56 or 57 places. Many of them are under schools; many of them are under hospitals; many of them are under mountains. My view is that they will probably be able to develop fissionable material for a warhead each year from now on, but Mossad is said to believe they won’t be able to weaponize it until at least 2015. That’s a window of 5 to 6 years.
One doesn’t know. If Israel is to hit them, they will have to refuel in the air. They will not take the risk of their pilots having to bail out across the Middle East where they will be hunted down and killed by whatever Arab country they come down over. America will have to refuel them, which means we’ll have to basically allow the strike to take place. Russia has sold Iran a lot of very advanced kit, which they can use to hit the Israelis if they attack them in the air. Iran is basically on the cusp of developing a large number of missiles that can hit all the American bases in Iraq and in Afghanistan. If Iran orders the Shia to rise against the American forces inside Iraq there will be utter chaos, and the Shia are loyal to them, not to anyone else.
Americans have achieved the exact opposite of what they wanted in the Iraqi adventure. They’ve extended the Shia caliphate from Tehran to the borders of Israel, and that’s exactly the reverse of what they wanted. Yet another example of people get the worst of what they want.
What we have to do is try to decouple ourselves from Third World revenges, particularly against this state in the Middle East, that don’t really concern us and that we could be dragged down into the welter and tail-end of in a way that’s totally counter-propositional and not really in our interests at all.
Q: So, if we decouple ourselves from Israel how will the very influential Jewish minority in Britain . . .
JB: Particularly in the United States. Well, they’ll go berserk and they’ll start screaming and screaming and screaming. You’ll just have to face that screaming down. I believe you adopt the following proposition: that no one is physically harmed, but the West has certain specific interests which are its and with which it must align with if it is to survive.
I take the example of the Mel Gibson film. I’m not a Catholic. I’m not a Christian. When Gibson, who is a Hollywood star admittedly, the son of Australia’s most controversial man, he’s a combination of the Pope and Colin Jordan as was, produces a film and everyone in American mass media screams and screams and screams for months. And yet it’s on at every multiplex, he gets it distributed by Disney affiliates and by Icon Films; it’s on every bus shelter kiosk; it’s in every WHSmith’s; it’s on Amazon; it’s on the side of billboards. It’s now grossed 500 million dollars. It’s the ninth most successful film in world cinematographical history.
So, what do we think of that? In the end, he’s just stood up to a lobby and stood up to its screaming, and he stood up to its abuse, and he’s faced it down. He’s still alive and he’s made other films, one film anyway, and he’s gone on. In a way, you have to sort of take the screaming and fight the cultural war. But many people find it very, very difficult not because they’re so frightened that when somebody waves their fist at them they won’t do anything. It’s a moral fear.
Again, it’s to return to what we began with in our little question and answer session here tonight, and that is ethical issues. I think that everything that is wrong with the West isn’t structural, isn’t socio-economic. These are the epiphenomena and the symptoms of the decline. The decline is inside, and the decline is mental. Only when the mental processes change all the physical outside phenomena can naturally be reorganized. Not easily, it will be very difficult, but when the mentality is different everything else changes. What you see around you is the expression of the mentality, not the reverse.
The real question you always have to ask is why have Westerners got so slothful about their self-regard and why do they believe in ideas which could be sleepwalking towards the near extinction of their kind, their culture, their civilization? No one knows how it will work out, because no one ever does. But why are they so asleep in relation to the processes which are occurring? But the truth is they aren’t asleep, because they talk about these things often in a silly and attenuated way all the time.
Q: Someone likened the inherent existence of the Jews as a race to the giant panda as a species. The giant panda is often referred to by naturalists as a species already on the brink of extinction via natural processes and that the giant panda’s continued existence may only be attributable to external intervention. Do you agree with this view and, if so, to what extent?
JB: Yes, I haven’t had it put like that. Many Jewish leaders, of course, are deeply worried by the processes of assimilation, nice humanism, and integration that are eating into them. The Jewish census says that 3,000 Jews cease to be Jews in a self-definitional way every year within Britain. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who is the leader of that community in a titular way and is a conservative man really, believes that they are being assimilated to the point of semi-destruction, and there’s a streak of truth to that.
But of course you cannot proselytize a liberal humanism, particularly from the reform Jewry’s perspective, for decades and not expect it to boomerang and come back on you. Many people aren’t vanguardists. You know, most people just want an easy life based on commerce and family, and any chance to deconstruct they’ll take it. So, if you advocate the deconstruction of groups it will reverberate and come back on you.
No group can escape the logic of part of its own thinking. Particularly, you cannot say in this world, “What I want for others is not what I want for my own group” if you’re spreading a universal message. If you’re a tribalist, which is philosophically a nominalist, you can talk in specific group-based terms. But not if you want the whole of the rest of the world to be different from the way that you are. You would just join the rest. And the gentilization of many Jews is well underway in Western Europe, so much so that Israel is too much of an indentification. Many of them do not want to go fight for that country, do they? They want to stay here in the West.