The positions that reduce Isis as simply a conspiratorial tactic of the regime and/or of Imperialism, are forgetting a very important dimension of the nature of Isis, which is that Isis represents a transformation in the strategy and politics of radical political islam, a new pole of attraction set against Al-Qaeda's decaying strategy that is mainly focused on destabilising the enemy without approaching the question of assuming power.
But for the case of Isis, establishing power is at the centre of its politics and strategy, where the establishing of the Caliphate is an attempt at creating a new dual power that is contesting the central State both territorially and ideologically, and that is the strategy that gained it relatively higher recruiting abilities, and of course better funding.
And that is an important shift within the spheres of radical political islam, and it is quite noticeable that what joins Al-Nusra front and Isis, is rivalry and violent 'debates' over strategy, but not as the ‘ultimate enemies’ and they commonly join forces, and that understanding is central at understanding these movements, not in simple conspiratorial terms, that only shows them as agents of 'others' rather than seeing them as highly opportunistic and radical political interventionist currents that do not have a problem in collaborating with big capital.
At the end of the day what the leaders of Isis aspire to achieve from the Islamic State, is another Capitalist State, and they are definitely not building a feudal structure! Both the control of the oil wells and the developing bureaucracy of this ‘state’ are obvious indicators of the capitalist nature of this ‘state’. And if anyone is having a problem combining between political islam and capitalism, can have a look at both the Saudi and Iranian states.
Dismissing these political, ideological and strategic dimensions will simply obscure them and render mass-consciousness about them more distorted, and leave people to be mobilised in support of the ruling states as they ‘lead a fight against terror’, i.e. to rescue themselves from their own history of terror and crisis, and by rejuvenating their legitimacy in becoming ‘heroes’ of the fight against terrorism.
And this is why we have to think not of how to best cheer for the state in its ‘war against terror’ (where a large portion of this war is directed at ordinary refugees) but how to win a position of solidarity and anti-sectarianism within the masses (both Lebanese and Syrians in the case of Lebanon, and between the different communities in Iraq) that can be employed in defending themselves against Isis and fending off sectarian and racist attacks from the state against refugees or communities.
And not posing the question of building revolutionary organisations that are able to forge such solidarity and such politics, and immersed within the working class, is a strategy of utter hopelessness, and despair that the left should never adopt.
Bassem Chit | 6 September 2014· Beirut, Lebanon ·