Ultimately, what the pseudo-left thinks about jihadism or extreme Islamism does not matter, because the SWP is not, in fact, going to achieve its aim of establishing a revolutionary socialist society (a task which incidentally would put them in direct conflict with their allies du jour, the Muslim Brotherhood). They are they are not important, except to this extent:
– they are a vector for the mainstreaming of extreme Islamist views
– they are a diversion which paralyses liberal and left opinion; and
– their political movements are likely simply degenerate into unprincipled, populist and communalist adventures.
I disagree only with Will and SIAW’s terminology. I think that jihadists are “political” in the sense of being “ideological”. The level of interest in ideology will differ from level to level of course. The foot soldiers of fascist movements rarely engage with more than a shadow of the high theory of its “thinkers”. But perhaps I am using the word “political” incorrectly.
The jihadists are in any case certainly “perfectionists”, in a philosophical sense, and so – unlike the Muslim Brotherhood – they are not significantly interested in the day to day politics of compromise by which people achieve small goals. Rather they are revolutionaries, and are interested chiefly in strategy and tactics, which significantly rely on the twin weapons of murder and terror.
I am also certain that the relationship between the pseudo leftists and the jihadists does indeed operate something like this:
By refraining from a critique of the content of Islamist ideology, they remain indifferent to it, and render themselves incapable of doing anything but envying the jihadists for doing what they, not so very secretly, would like to do: giving up on the whole time-consuming, complicated, often disappointing and inadequate project of seeking social change through democratic political contestation, in favour of attempting an immediate, simple, satisfying leap into a new world run by a new elite (themselves), by way of the spectacular and overwelmingly violent destruction of the present world – including, if they happen to find it “necessary”, the deaths of bus and Tube passengers, schoolchildren, unemployed men seeking work, teenagers in bars and nightclubs, and anyone else who fails to share their vicious ideas.
But their theoretical, rather than emotional, position is that described by Chris Harman as “with the Islamists sometimes, with the State never“. That is their major theoretical justification for excusing terror.
Their official reasons for running this line are chiefly that they think it will help them to recruit “radical” (i.e. non mainstream) Islamists to their cause. They are, of course, completely deluded.
What would *you* rather do if you had “radical” ideas? Sell some papers and attend some trade union branch meeting or be a James Bond figure and a hero of your faith?