The New Totalitarians: Social Identities and Radical islamist Political Grand Strategy

  • January 01, 2007
  • Dr Douglas J Macdonald

The author argues that the social identity theory behind the “clash of civilizations” thesis is useful for analyzing the tasks before us in the “Long War” on Terrorism. The “clash of civilizations” is not actually occurring, he argues, but is rather the end goal of radical Islamist political grand strategy. Radical Islamist terrorists, like the Fascists and Communists before them, cannot allow alternative value systems to exist in areas they control. Their goal is to spread such totalitarian beliefs to the entire Muslim world in order to create a violent “clash” with non-Muslim societies, and, in some versions, radical Islam is expected to spread to the entire world. The author argues that the first thing to understand about the enemy is that there is nothing to negotiate with them because of their radical totalitarian nature. He warns that the first imperative of any strategy in the “Long War” on Terror must be to prevent such a totalitarian ummah from being created in order to prevent a “clash of civilizations.” This can best be accomplished by supporting the majority of mainstream Muslims, rewarding moves towards moderation, and avoiding unnecessary irritants to Muslim sensibilities.