The 4 Freedoms Library

It takes a nation to protect the nation

Francis Fukuyama v. Samuel Huntingdon: Who wins? - by Alamgir Hussain

The Islam-West Conflict: A Historical Study


The current conflict between Islam and the West — from human rights issues in Muslim countries, to anti-Western violence by radical Muslims, to their campaigns against liberal lifestyle and ethos and for instituting Sharia law in Western countries — should be seen not as separate from the historical Islam-West conflicts. Theologically, Islam was born to create a global Islamic state governed by laws of the Quran and Sunnah, i.e. Sharia. But most Muslims understand that the age-old campaign for the imposition of Sharia law through violent means in the West is unrealistic under current circumstances. However, current demographic trends suggest that Muslims would become — resulting from high birthrates and their increasing influx from overpopulated Muslim countries amidst decline in the native population — the dominant religious group in many Western countries by the middle of this century.[64] The current ratio of Muslim to non-Muslim birthrate is 3:1 in Europe;[65] Muslims constitute only 10% of the population in France, but 30% of the youths under the age of 20 are Muslims.[66]Lewis predicted in 2004 that ‘Current trends show Europe will have a Moslem majority by the end of the 21st century at the latest… Europe will be part of the Arabic West, of the Maghreb.[67]

With the Muslim population growing in leaps and bounds, the campaign for instituting Sharia laws, and, therefore, Islamic governance in Western countries will, in all likelihood, intensify over the coming decades. Whether or not would this campaign succeed remains to be seen. If it does, Islam will overcome its long-standing hurdle to Islamize the globe resolutely held back by the West for so many centuries.


With Marxist-Communist regimes’ collapse ending the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama argued in 1989 that liberal democracy may signal the end-point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the final form of governance, which would eventually be adopted globally.[1] Fukuyama’s thesis had two seminal assumptions:

(a) Triumph of civilized liberal democracy globally

(b) Emergence of a nonconflictual world civilization

Samuel Huntington’s Civilizational Clash thesis, proposed in 1993, challenged both assumptions of Fukuyama. Regarding the triumph of civilized liberal democracy globally, Huntington emphasized that ‘Law and order’, ‘the first prerequisite of Civilization,’ were evaporating or under threat everywhere — China, Japan and the United States included. Globally, ‘Civilization seems in many respects to be yielding to barbarism… a global Dark Age possibly descending on humanity,’ he wrote.[2] Opposed to Fukuyama’s proposed emergence of a nonconflictual world civilization, Huntington emphasized that conflicts in the world were not over. However, future conflicts would likely be fought along civilizational fault-lines over cultural or religious differences, not along national lines over ideological (political) or economic reasons. ‘The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future,’ he predicted.[3]

Identifying seven to eight major civilizations, namely Indian, Chinese, Asian, Islamic, Western etc., Huntington emphasized that, instead of converging towards universal liberalism globally, human consciousness within these civilizations is increasingly parochializing: people are becoming increasingly conscious of their cultural, religious or civilizational values. Huntington’s thesis gets a significant space for Islamic resurgence, simply because religious resurgence amongst Muslims in recent decades much outweighs the rejuvenation of civilizational consciousness amongst other peoples. Islam has Bloody Borders, Muslims are involved in majority of the world’s conflicts, says Huntington, which is rather evident. ‘The overwhelming majority of fault line conflicts, however, have taken place along the boundary lopping across Eurasia and Africa that separates Muslims from non-Muslims,’ he writes, adding, ‘wherever one looks along the perimeter of Islam, Muslims have problems living peaceably with their neighbors.[4]

Although Huntington analyzes how different civilizations would likely interplay in reshaping the world-order in the emerging era, his analysis regarding Islam has become a bone of contention. Critics have attacked his whole thesis as a forced construction of an inevitable Islam–West conflict, nonexistent in reality. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, argues Robinson, is based on ‘the old Western polemic against Islam, Western fears of Islam, and a strong dose of Orientalism’. Robinson emphasizes that ‘there is a long history of the Muslim and the Christian civilizations drawing on each other, and being enriched by each other, and this is a process which, whatever the rhetoric, still continues.[5] With Communism brought down, many critics have argued that the inherently hegemonic and militaristic West needed a new enemy: Huntington’s thesis was an effort to invent one. It set out ‘to identify “new sources” of international conflicts in the post-Cold War world.[6] Said mockingly called Huntington’s thesis The Clash of Ignorance, concluding: ‘‘The Clash of Civilizations’ thesis is a gimmick like ‘The War of the Worlds,’ better for reinforcing defensive self-pride than for critical understanding of the bewildering interdependence of our time.[7]

After the September 11 (2001) attacks in the U.S., the international media was abuzz with Huntington’s thesis: his supporters saw his prophesy being fulfilled, while his opponents intensified their attacks on him for deliberately creating a paradigm that may fuel a fateful conflict between Islam and the West. His more avowed conspiratorial critics suggested that, prompted by Huntington’s thesis, the U.S. administration itself committed the 9/11 attacks for advancing its hegemonic interests: the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, for example. On Huntington’s dilemma, Ayaan Hirsi Ali concludes: ‘Foretelling the future can be fun for astrologists, prophets and crystal-ball gazers. For academics, it is not. If you get it right, you will be damned like Samuel Huntington. If you get it wrong, you will be called a certified idiot.[8]

To former U.S. President Clinton’s assertion that the West has no problems with Islam, Huntington retorted:

The relations between Islam and Christianity, both orthodox and Western, have often have been stormy. Each has been the other’s Other. The twentieth century conflict between Liberal Democracy and Marxist-Leninism is only a fleeting and superficial historical phenomenon compared to the continuing and deeply conflictual relations between Islam and Christianity.[9]

A historical investigation, however, proves Huntington right. Islam, just two decades after its birth, came in conflict with the Christian West, and it has remained so except for rare brief respites. Who can deny the existence of the Crusades or the European colonial occupation of Islamic countries? Still, numerous scholars and critics have trashed the idea of Civilization Clash, especially one between Islam and the West. Christian Europe, not Islam, they argue, has been historically intolerant to non-Christians: Jews in Europe and Muslims in Spain. On the contrary, Christians, Jews and even Heathens found tolerance, peace and prosperity in the Muslim land. It is the Christian West that captured much of the Muslim and non-Muslim lands in the abhorrent colonial era. Islam could, therefore, pose no threat to the West.

In this study, the historical conflict between Islam and the West will be investigated aiming to understand what factors fueled it, and how its legacy affects the present Islam-West relations.

Islamic doctrine and the birth of Islam-West conflict

Islam was founded by the Prophet Muhammad in the Arabian Peninsula during the last 23 years of his life (610–632 CE). While founding Islam, he had directed 70–100 raids and wars. These wars were inspired, even directed, by verses of the Quran, the Islamic holy book, which Muslims believe, contains God’s words in immutable forms for guiding humankind. Having captured the Arabian Peninsula, Muhammad organized two campaigns against the Christians of Muta and Tabuk in Syria, a part of Byzantium—the world’s most powerful empire. The commands of Islamic God (Allah) contained in Quranic verses are binding on Muslims for all time, whilst the Prophet Muhammad’s actions and deeds constitute ideal templates for them to do likewise. Therefore, after Muhammad’s death, his successors continued the tempo of his conquests. Within two decades, Muslims overran the world’s second-mightiest empire, Persia, and captured the prized territory from Byzantium. Islamic depredations of Western Europe began in 652, exactly two decades after Muhammad’s death when Muslims occupied Spain in 711, establishing Islamic rule lasting some 780 years. Europe sustained numerous Muslim attacks until the last decade of the seventeenth century.

In this context, it is critical to understand the Prophet Muhammad’s doctrine of war that had inspired and enabled Muslims to easily overrun often much stronger oppositions over great parts of the world, and enabled them to own half of the know world.

The Islamic doctrine of war: The Prophet Muhammad, born in Mecca in Arabia c. 570, grew up as an idol-worshipping Pagan like his compatriots. At the age of 25, after marrying a wealthy Christianity-influenced woman, Khadija, and associating with her devout Christian cousin, Muhammad stopped worshipping idols. He allegedly obtained prophethood from God for preaching Islam in 610. Allah, his God, was the same Christian or Jewish God, who had allegedly sent 124,000 prophets, Muhammad being the last. Islam, claims Allah, is His final perfected religion chosen as His favor to all humankind [Quran 5:3][10] and it must be proclaimed over all other creeds [Quran 48:28]. It was chosen as the sole religion—abrogating the rest—for all mankind.

The Prophet Muhammad tried to preach his religion persuasively in his hometown, Mecca, for 13 years with very little success. His messages were hostile and insulting to existing religion and customs: he called himself and his followers the righteous, and those, who ignored his messages, were wicked, liars, wrong-doers and inventors of falsehood; he consigned them to eternal hellfire [Quran 56:41–46, 17:20, 16:104–5]. The Meccans generally ignored his message; he never faced violence from them. Having failed in Mecca he relocated in 622 to Medina—about 250 miles North of Mecca—where his creed becoming popular. Medina was inhabited by two religious communities: Pagans and Jews, the latter wealthier and more influential.[11] The Pagans joined his creed in large numbers, while the Jews mostly rejected it. Allah revealed many verses exhorting the Jews (also Christians) to accept Muhammad’s new creed [Quran 2:30–38, 240–261], but failed to impress them.

Muhammad’s community now strengthened and secured, Allah changed his strategy for making Islam to prevail over all religions. He then revealed the doctrine of ‘Jihad’ or ‘holy war’ against non-Muslims, who reject his faith. ‘Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you’ [Quran 2:190]. Allah now commands Muslims: ‘…slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter[12] [Quran 2:191] and ‘…fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah’ [Quran 2:193]. Allah repeats: ‘…fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere…’ [Quran 8:39].

Muhammad’s followers were unwilling to engage in this God-sanctioned violence against otherwise innocent people to which Allah revealed another verse to make fighting binding on Muslims even if they disliked it [Quran 2:216]. Still some peace-loving converts had hesitated about fighting, fearing bloodbaths; Allah admonished them as diseased and faint-hearted [Quran 47:20].

This way Allah gave Muslims the divine right to attack non-Muslims. He sanctioned: ‘…some ye slew and ye made captive some. And He [Allah] caused you to inherit their land and their houses and their wealth…’ [Quran 33:26–27]. In other words, Allah commands Muslims to kill some (normally the adults) and enslave the rest (the women and children) of non-Muslim communities, and makes their lands and properties divinely sanctioned booty for Muslims. Alternatively, Allah sanctioned the banishment of non-Muslims enabling Muslims to acquire their homes, properties and lands: ‘Allah had decreed banishment for them… because they resisted Allah and His Messenger…’ [Quran 59:3–4]. Allah sanctioned that Muslims can keep the women, captured in such holy wars, as sex-slaves (concubines): ‘O Prophet! Surely We [Allah] have made lawful to you your wives… [and] those whom Allah has given to you as prisoners of war’ [Quran 33:50].

The Islamic doctrine of global imperialism: Islam is a complete package of divine guidance for governing the spiritual, social and political aspects of human life and society. ‘[Islam] is an all-embracing system, a complete code of life, bearing on and including every phase of human activity and every aspect of human conduct.[13] Through violent holy wars, Allah wants to establish Islamic rule, governed by the Islamic holy laws (Sharia), over all peoples. Allah owns the heaven and earth [Quran 24:42, 34:1] and holds absolute authority over them [Quran 57:5, 67:1]. He would make Muslims the inheritors of the earth [Quran 6:165], and help them triumph over it [Quran 24:55]. In order to realize His dream, as Muslims wage holy war, Allah will assist them in the fighting—thereby, helping them capture the lands of non-Muslims bit by bit [Quran 21:44, 13:41].

In summary, Allah outlines in the Quran a blueprint for establishing a religio-political imperial state over the entire globe through Jihad. To inherit the earth, Allah commands, Muslims must kill the Polytheists wherever they are found, and enslave their women and children for converting to Islam, thereby capturing their lands for establishing Islamic rule [Quran 9:5]. For acquiring the lands controlled by monotheistic Jews and Christians, Muslims must fight them, Allah commands, until they feel subdued and subjugated to Muslim rule and pay special taxes [Quran 9:29]. Allah’s desired global triumph of Islam will, thus, be completed.

With these unrestrained Godly sanctions of aggressive violence for establishing a global Islamic state, the Prophet Muhammad started attacking and plundering the non-Muslim communities of Medina and Arabia. In 624, he attacked and exiled the Jewish tribe of Banu Qainuqa from Medina, taking possession of their homes, lands and properties.[14] Next year, the same fate was visited the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadir.[15] Banu Quraiza, the last Jewish tribe of Medina, was attacked in 627. Their adult males—600 to 900 of them—were slaughtered, and their women and children were enslaved.[16] Medina, which had given Muhammad refuge a few years earlier, was thus denuded of non-Muslims.

Medina became the first seat of Muslim power. From here, the Islamic imperial state was to expand in all directions. Khaybar—a Jewish stronghold, some 115 kilometers North of Medina—was overrun in 629. Mecca, the heart of Islam and Muhammad’s birthplace, was overrun in 630. Muhammad’s biographies by pious Muslim historians list 70–100 raids and wars directed by him, personally commanding 27 of them. In his attacks, he exiled entire tribes or slaughtered the men, and enslaved the women and children—the enslaved generally had to embrace Islam. Muhammad brought entire Arabia under the feet of Islam during his nine-year campaign of conquests.

In 628, Muhammad, still quite weak militarily, dared sending emissaries to the world’s most powerful rulers—the King of Persia and Emperor Heraclius of Byzantium—demanding that they submit to Islam, and accept Muhammad as their master, or face consequences.[17] Those rulers—to their own peril—ignored his threatening letters as the exuberance of a madman. Prophet Muhammad himself dared leading a 30,000-strong army in October 630 to the Byzantine border in Syria, but returned without going on the offensive.[18] His successors carried forward his Jihad campaigns for realizing God’s dream of establishing a global Islamic kingdom. Within two decades, Muslims overran the mighty Persian Empire, and captured the Levant and Egypt—the crown territories of Byzantium. Central Asia was annexed within the seventh century; North Africa was conquered in 698; Northwest India in 712–15; Central and North India by the early thirteenth century; and South India in the late sixteenth century. Similar conquests were undertaken in other fronts. Islamic campaigns against Western Europe and the ensuing conflicts are discussed in following sections.

The clash between Islam and the West


Conflicts in the Mediterranean Islands and Sicily (652–1091): Muslims brought Prophet Muhammad’s campaign of holy war to the far-off shores of Western Europe exactly two decades after his death. The Mediterranean island of Sicily suffered the first Jihad raid involving pillage and plunder in 652, which was repeated in 669, 703, 728, 729, 730, 731, 733, 734, 740 and 752. Muslims also attacked other Mediterranean islands — Sardinia, Ischia, Corsica and Lampedusa, then under the Byzantine control. They devastated Ischia and Lampedusa in 813, attacked Sardinia and Corsica in the same year and Crete in 824.

The early Muslim incursions (652–752) on Sicily failed to gain a foothold for Islam. The Islamic conquest of Sicily started in real earnest when an Aghlabid Muslim army from Tunis landed in Mazara del Vallo in 827. This started a long series of battles: Palermo fell in 831, Pantelleria in 835, and Messina in 843. Cefalù and Enna resisted Muslim assaults for many years before being overrun, and razed to the ground in 858 and 859, respectively. Syracuse succumbed to Muslim assaults in 878, and its whole population—including those taken refuge in churches—were massacred.[19] Catania fell in 900 and Taormina in 902. Sicily came under Muslim control completely in about 915. Palermo, renamed al-Madinah, became the new Islamic capital of the Emirate of Sicily, and Arabic replaced Greek as the national language. A Norman conquest of Muslim Sicily, started in 1061, led to eventual expulsion of Muslims in 1091.

Spain and France: In 711, Musa ibn Nusair, the Muslim governor of North Africa and his General, Tariq, crossed the Mediterranean Sea to attack Spain. The reigning Visigoth King Rodrigo was defeated followed by mass slaughter and enslavement, plunder and pillage; the churches and synagogues were destroyed, and often replaced by mosques. The whirlwind march of Muslim conquest moved northward: Toledo, Barcelona, and Girona were easily captured. By 716, most of Iberia, except a few northern tracts, was under the Muslim control.[20]

Meanwhile, Caliph al-Walid called Musa back to Damascus. He marched back in a Romanesque procession with the Caliph’s one-fifth share of the spoils: caravans of un-dreamt of wealth and slaves, including 30,000 virgins captured from the Visigothic families alone.[21]

The Muslim army crossed the mountainous borderline of the Pyrenees into the Frankish territory. The Visigothic Kingdom of Septimania [Languedoc] in Southern France quickly succumbed (720). Muslims marched on, and attacked Toulouse in 721, suffering severe reverses by an Aquitanian-Frank confederate force led by Duke Eudo of Aquitaine. An allegedly 375,000-strong Islamic army was thoroughly destroyed.[22] Although the figure is undoubtedly hyperbolic, it was, nonetheless, one of the worst military defeats in Muslim history.

The Muslim army, dedicated to holy wars in the cause of their God, could hardly be restrained. In 725, their raids reached Autun in the Frankish territory. A 60,000-strong Muslim army marched on penetrating deep into France, and defeated Duke Eudo at Aquitaine. Muslims sacked Aquitaine, and burned down Bordeaux. They defeated Duke Eudo again near Agen with Eudo fleeing northward. As they engaged in plundering, pillaging and burning the towns and churches, Charles Martel joined Eudo, and took up position between Poitiers and Tours. As the Frankish army stood immobile like awall of ice, the Muslim army made repeated small-scale charges only to be beaten back every time. They tried all trickery to dislodge the Frankish line, which, despite suffering heavily, stood its ground for one whole autumn. Muslims launched the final charge on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan (732 CE). In order to rally the sagging morale of his increasingly disheartened fighters, Muslim commander Abd al-Rahman, the governor of Al-Andalus [Iberia], led the charge himself, and perished, which led to retreat of Muslims overnight. Balat ech shuada — the road of the martyr of the faith — had ended on this front.

From Spain, Muslims continued, albeit unsuccessfully, their incursions on the French borders for another two centuries.[23] Had they succeeded in this battle, there was no one to stop them in Europe; Europe would be Islamic today.[24] Edward Gibbon remarked tellingly: ‘…perhaps the interpretation of the Quran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford and her pulpit might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet.[25]

An indigenous Spanish revolt against Muslim occupiers, called Reconquista, began in 718 lasting nearly eight centuries, and the Muslim colonists were completely dislodged from power in 1492.

Southern Italy:[26] The Muslim warriors, checked at the border of France on the Iberian front, also made strenuous efforts to penetrate into Europe through the Mediterranean Italian Coast. The invaders devastated the coastal town of Centumcellae [Civitavecchia] in 813 and again in 829. Hereafter, Islamic incursions into mainland Italy came from Sicily, where Muslims had established a colony.[27] In 840, the Arabs made an incursion deep into Italy and devastated the monastery of Subiaco. In 840, they conquered the coastal towns off Benevento; Carolingian Emperor Ludovico II succeeded in ousting them in 871.

In 845, the Arabs penetrated deep inland capturing Capo Miseno (Naples) and Ponza near Rome, making it their base for attacking Rome. In 846, they ransacked Brindisi, and conquered Taranto near the Southwest tip of Italy; Byzantine Emperor Basil I succeeded in freeing Taranto in 880.

On 28 August 846, a Muslim fleet arrived at the mouth of river Tiber, and sailed to attack Rome. Meanwhile, a Muslim army from Civitavecchia and another from Portus and Ostia marched on-land to join the expedition. They failed to penetrate the enclosing walls around Rome, solidly defended by the Romans. The Arabs vandalized and plundered the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul. The Saxons, Longobards, Frisians and Franks staunchly defended St. Peter, perishing to the last man. The invaders destroyed all the churches of the district of Suburb. Pope Leo IV, forced to flee Rome briefly, appealed for help from the neighboring kingdoms. Responding to his plea, Marquis Guy of Spoleto counterattacked and defeated the Arabs. While fleeing partly towards Civitavecchia and partly towards Fondi, the Arabs indulged in ruin and devastation of the country. At Gaeta, the Longobard army clashed with them again. Guy of Spoleto found himself in serious difficulties, but the Byzantine troops of Cesarius from Naples arrived in time to rescue him. This attack prompted the Pope to undertake the construction of the Civitas Leonina in 848 to protect the Vatican Hill.

In 848, Muslim invaders attacked and sacked Ancona on the western coast of Italy. The next year, a huge Muslim naval fleet set off to attack Rome, and met the Italian naval fleet at the mouth of river Tiber near Ostia. In the confrontation, the Arabs were routed.

In 856, the Arabs attacked and destroyed the Cathedral of Canosa in Puglia. They assaulted and occupied Ascoli in 861, slaughtered the children, and carried away the inhabitants as captives. In 872, they attacked and besieged Salerno for six months, before being freed by Emperor Ludovicus II.

In 876, they entered the Roman territory again, and attacked Latium and Umbria, slaughtering the inhabitants, enslaving them and sacking the villages, before marching towards Rome; they turned the Roman country into an unhealthy desert. Pope John VIII (872–882) defeated the Arabs at Circeo, and freed 600 enslaved Christians from 18 Muslim vessels. He attempted to expel the Arabs after the depredations, but with little help from European kings forthcoming, he failed and was forced to pay tribute. Muslims continued their devastation of Latium both on the coast and inland. Subiaco was destroyed for a second time.

Muslim invaders continued consolidating their conquest of the Roman country: they went on to capture Tivoli [Saracinesco], Sabina [Ciciliano], Narni, Nepi, Orte, Tiburtino countries, Sacco valley, Tuscia and Argentario Mountain. Their depredations continued through the 880s and 890s. By this time, Muslims had plans to establish an Emirate in Southern Italy. In 916, Marquis Adalbertus of Tusca, Marquis Albericus of Spoleto, Prince Landulf of Capua and Benevento, Prince Gaimar of Salerno, the dukes of Gaeta and Naples and Byzantine Emperor Constantine entered into an anti-Arab alliance, with Pope John X personally heading the land troops. The Arabs were totally defeated, and mainland Italy was freed from the invaders, although Sicily remained under the Muslim control until 1091. Later on, Muslims attacked Venice (Italy) in the 1420s, albeit from another front.

Ottoman attacks on Europe form the Byzantine front: At the time of Islam’s birth, Byzantium (Eastern Roman Empire) had bridged tracts of Europe with West Asia and North Africa. Muslim invaders captured Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Tiberias, Cana, Tyre, Sidon, Damascus, Caesarea and Egypt from Byzantium quite early in bloody battles. They made naval attacks on Constantinople, the Byzantine capital, first in 674, then in 677–78 and 717–18, suffering severe reverses in each case.

In 838, Amorium (Anatolia) was captured and devastated, yielding so large a number of slaves that Caliph al-Mutasim sold them in batches of five or ten, while Sultan Alp Arslan devastated Armenia (also Georgia) in 1064: those not enslaved were slaughtered.[28] The biggest Muslim blow to Byzantium yet came in 1071 when Sultan Alp Arslan defeated the Byzantine army at Manzikert (Armenia) bringing the Muslim army ominously close for a land-attack on Constantinople. By the mid-fourteenth century, the Byzantine Empire on the east was mostly captured except the tiny Bosporus or Istanbul Strait. This enabled the Ottoman army to cross over to Europe via Thrace, east of Constantinople, in the 1350s. In the 1360s, Islamic invaders seized Adrianople [now Edirne] and Philippopolis [Plovdiv]. Adrianople became a royal residence in 1366 to facilitate the Ottoman conquest of Europe.[29]

In the early 1370s, General Murad started making incursions deeper into Europe. Having himself become the Sultan in 1383, Murad intensified his campaigns, capturing the Bulgarian capital Sofia and the city of Niš in 1385. Although the Serbs inflicted a crushing defeat on the Ottomans in 1387 in the battle of Plocnik, they marched anew deep into Europe two years later (1389). They defeated a Serbian-Bulgarian coalition army at the battlefield of Kosovo Polje. Murad quickly advanced into Bulgaria, and captured the cities of Dráma, Kavála and Seres (Serrái), but the Sultan was killed by valiant Serb warrior, Miloš Obilic. Having lost the capital Kosovo, the Jerusalem of the Serbian Empire, the Balkan was lost to the Muslim invaders.

Sultan Murad’s successor Beyazid I ordered mass-slaughter of all captives to avenge his father’s death, earning him the title of Yildirim, the Lightning Bolt. He went on to capture most of Bulgaria and northern Greece in 1389–95, and laid a long-lasting siege on Constantinople in 1391–98. At the 1396 battle of Nicopolis, his forces met the Venetian-Hungarian army, reinforced by Frankish knights, and led by king Sigismund of Hungary. In a deceptive ploy of feigning negotiations, the Ottomans tricked the Bulgarians and Frankish knights into laying down their weapons, and then slaughtered them mercilessly, winning the battle.

In the 1410s, the Ottomans moved their capital to Adrianople on the European side of Constantinople for reinforcing conquest and control in Europe. Sultan Mehmed invaded Albania and the Byzantine-controlled areas in Southern Greece. Following Mehmed’s death in 1421, his son Sultan Murad II laid a siege on Constantinople for a couple of months in 1423, extracting additional tributes from Byzantium.

In 1423, Sultan Murad II initiated Jihad against Venice by attacking Salonika (Thessaloniki), and killing several Venetian soldiers. In response, Venice declared war against the Ottomans. Sultan Murad swiftly sent his forces to seize Salonika, while Venetian reinforcements arrived, leading to a battle situation. The Ottomans, again in a deceptive ploy of negotiating peace, sent a delegation to the gate. The delegation, comprising of deadly Janissary soldiers—seeing an opportunity—suddenly fell upon the unprepared Venetian guards stationed outside, slaying them swiftly before forces inside could react, and then set the wooden gate on fire using naphtha balls. Once the gate collapsed, the Ottoman forces charged on, forcing the Venetians flee to their ships. As the Turks began plundering the city, the Venetian fleet started bombarding it, forcing them to flee. New Venetian reinforcements arrived to rescue the city. In 1430, a large Ottoman fleet again made a surprise attack on Salonika. Unable to withstand sustained Ottoman attacks, desperate Venetians surrendered Salonika and the surrounding lands in 1432.

In 1441, the Holy Roman Empire, Poland and Albania made an alliance, and inflicted a number of humiliating defeats on the Ottomans in 1443–44. The Ottomans soon recovered, and defeated the Hungarians in the second battle of Kosovo in 1448; they went on to invade Serbia, and attack Central Albania. In 1450, they attacked Albania again.

Under the next Sultan, Mehmed II (r. 1451–81) — known as Fatih, the Conqueror — the Ottomans inflicted the final blow on Constantinople. After a three-month siege, it was overrun on May 29, 1453. The Sultan allowed his soldiers to plunder and slaughter for three days, which they were entitled to. The Christian (Greek) population were mercilessly slaughtered; nearly four-fifths of the city was burned down. The magnificent Cathedrals were reduced to rubble with some converted to mosques; the Basilica of Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque in 1462. Having defied repeated Muslim attacks for 780 years, Constantinople — the long-coveted capital of the Eastern Roman Empire and eastern centre of Christianity — finally fell into the Muslim hands.[30]

With Constantinople fallen, Ottoman assaults on Europe gained a new momentum. They attacked Serbia in 1454, Novi Brod and Krusevac [Alacahisar] in 1455, while Moldavia agreed to pay tributes. In 1456, the Ottomans attacked Belgrade, and defeated Serbia in 1459. In 1460, they captured the Duchy of Athens and much of the Morea, while they captured the last Byzantine state of Trebizond (Trabzon) in 1461, and conquered the Genoese holdings in the Aegean Sea. In 1463, they annexed Bosnia, conquered Herzegovina in 1465 while the Crimean Khanates were reduced to Ottoman suzerainty in 1475. In 1476, the Ottomans waged campaigns against Hungary and Wallachia, making Wallachia a vassal state. In 1477–78, they raided Italy and captured the Venetian forts in Albania. In 1480, they landed at Otranto in Southern Italy, and laid the first Ottoman siege on Rhodes in 1480–81. In 1497, the Ottomans made the final subjugation of Albania, conquered Montenegro in 1499, and battled with Venice in 1499–1502. Moldavia was made a vassal state in 1512.

In 1529, the Ottoman Turks stunned Europe by laying a siege on Vienna, the capital of the Holy Roman Empire (Austro-Hungarian Empire), and the gateway into Germany (Prussia), Switzerland, France and Italy. Pope Innocentius XI appealed for a joint European resistance to which Spain, Portugal, Poland and various Catholic princes of Germany responded. As the Ottomans moved close to Vienna, a German volunteer-force — consisting of teenagers to septuagenarians, led by seventy-year-old Niklas Graf Salm — heroically beat back the invaders.

By the 16th century, extensive Ottoman conquest had reduced Western Europe into a heavily truncated and cornered Christian landmass, desperately resisting an inescapable Ottoman takeover. Meanwhile the Safavid dynasty of Shiite Islam rose in Persia (1502–1736). Viewed as heretics by the Sunni Ottomans and vice versa, a sustained internecine confrontation between the two leading Muslim powers ensued. The Ottomans engaged the Safavids in bitter wars in 1514–16, 1526–55, 1577–90, 1602–12, 1616–18, 1623–38 and 1705–15. This brought much sought respites to beleaguered Europe. Busbecq, the ambassador of the Holy Roman Empire to Istanbul (1554–62), resonated with this desperate sentiment in remarking that it was the threat from Persia to the Turkish Empire that saved Europe from imminent Ottoman conquest.[31]

While distracted by Safavid Persia in West Asia, the Ottomans engaged the Habsburg rulers in Hungary in 1528–33, in the Mediterranean in 1532–46, and again in Hungary in 1537–44 and 1551–62. Renewed Ottoman assaults in the Mediterranean (1551–81) led to the famous Battle of Lepanto(Greece, 1571), in which the Turks suffered their first major defeat in Europe. This victory sent out waves of joy across Europe, while the Turkish archive rather nonchalantly mentioned: ‘‘The fleet of the divinely guided Empire met the fleet of the wretched infidels and the will of Allah turned the other way.’’[32]

The Ottomans engaged Hungary again in 1562 and Poland in 1614–21. In 1645–70, they engaged the Venetians, while they attacked Transylvania in 1657–62 and Poland again in 1671–76. The stage for the final battle to decide the end-point of Ottoman incursions into Europe had arrived. Control over Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary consolidated, the Ottomans attacked Vienna again in 1683 in their final sally to overrun Europe. On 14 July 1683, a 140,000-strong Ottoman force laid a two-month siege on Vienna. As Vienna was about to collapse, Austro-German and Polish contingents came to the rescue. Jan Sobieski, the Polish warrior King, leading his 30,000-strong army, showed brilliant commandership, breaking the Turkish siege on September 12. The invaders lost some 15,000 fighters, while Western allies lost 4,000 lives. The Turks, nonetheless, returned with a massive 80,000 white slaves,[33] a coveted commodity in the Muslim world.

Muslims at some point ruled the whole of Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. They ruled parts of France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. The second Ottoman retreat from Vienna, whilst saving Europe, also decisively proved Europe’s military supremacy over their Muslim opponents. The fortune of Islam-Europe confrontation had dramatically changed in Europe’s favor. The Ottoman rulers were progressively expelled eventually from all parts of Western Europe. They continued ruling some Balkan regions until the early 20th century, which ended in the 1910s. Moreover, starting in mid-18thcentury, Britain, Holland, France and Italy (Portugal and Spain to lesser extents) eventually captured most of the Islamic lands by the early 20th century.[34] Only Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia — of little economic or strategic importance — plus Iran and the Ottoman Turkey, remained outside the European control. When European powers eventually withdrew from their formerly Muslim-ruled colonies, countries dominated by Muslims came under Muslim control. Elsewhere they lost political powers to non-Muslim indigenous majorities (i.e. India) often through democratic processes.

Crusades: European counterattack against Jihad

The Crusades (1096–1291) — launched by Christian Europe to take control of Jerusalem, the birth place of Jesus Christ and the Christian Holy Land — is the most condemned chapter in the collective European history. The Crusades, the Christian Holy War, were in reality a counterattack against Islamic Holy War (Jihad), waged aggressively some 470 years earlier. Prophet Muhammad had himself sent an expedition against the Christians of Muta in Syria, while he himself led another holy war expedition against the Byzantine border in Syria, bringing a number of small Christian principalities under the Muslim control. On his death-bed (632), he had instructed his followers to expel the Jews and Christians from Arabia,[35] which was completed by 644.[36] Two years after his death, Muslims captured Palestine (634), and Jerusalem in 638 from Byzantine control. Sophronius, the Christian patriarch of Jerusalem (634–638), who surrendered the city to Muslim invaders, saw them as ‘‘godless barbarians’’ who ‘‘burnt churches, destroyed monasteries, profaned crosses, and horribly blasphemed against Christ and the church’’. The devastation was so extensive that, the next year, ‘thousands died as a result of famine and plague consequent to the destruction and pillage.’[37]

Caliph Omar (r. 634–644) allowed the Jews and Christians to live as ‘dhimmi [protected] subjects’ in Jerusalem under the sufferance of many humiliating disabilities, and payment of discriminatory taxes [jizyah] as outlined in the canonical Islamic ordnance, the Pact of Omar. According to the Pact, the life of dhimmis was out of the pale of law if they refused to do anything Muslims demanded, said anything unfitting about Prophet Muhammad, his religion and the Quran, committed fornication with or married Muslim women, robbed Muslims, turned Muslims away from Islam, or helped Muslims’ enemies or spies. They had to wear zunnar [cloth-belt] clearly visible above their clothes (to distinguish themselves from Muslims), and use peculiar saddles and manners of riding, and make theirkalansuwas [cap] different from those of Muslims. They could not take the crest of the road, nor the chief seat in assemblies when Muslims were present. They could not display the cross, nor build a church or place of assembly for prayers, nor beat the Nakus [church bell], nor say Jesus was the son of God.[38] The Christians and Jews of Jerusalem lived under these degrading terms and economic exploitations for centuries, although not all Muslim rulers imposed these rules strictly.

The rather belated Crusades to free Jerusalem were galvanized by a series of preceding events. Christians, including from Europe, were required to pay exorbitant fees to visit their holy places in Jerusalem. In 943, Muslims destroyed the churches of Ramleh, Caesarea and Ascalon; Fatimid Caliph Muizz burned part of the Church of Holy Sephulchre in 969; the patriarch of Jerusalem was burned alive in 975 on spying charges. In 1009, Caliph Hakim unleashed violent persecution of Christians and Jews, stopped pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and destroyed the Church of Holy Sephulchre, rebuilt by Byzantine Emperor Constantine VIII.[39]

Meanwhile, the Millenarian Christians in Europe, anticipating the impending end of the world a millennium after Jesus, flocked to the Holy Land in large numbers for experiencing a blessed death. These pilgrims were harassed and maltreated by Muslims in Jerusalem. They returned with humiliation and anger, and spread their stories of sufferings in Europe. Later on, when the famous French pilgrim and zealot, Peter the Hermit (d. 1115), tried to visit the Holy Land, he was prevented and tortured by Muslims. Returning home, he went about telling his humiliating tales agitating a campaign for freeing Jerusalem. His revivalist campaign mobilized crusading sentiments across Europe creating a sense of Christendom united against Muslims (Islamdom).[40]

Meanwhile, the defeat of the Byzantine emperor in Manzikert (Armenia) in 1071 had brought Islamic incursions close to Constantinople. In 1076, the Seljuk Turks captured Jerusalem from the Fatimid rulers of Egypt, and committed atrocious cruelties on the inhabitants arousing indignation in Europe. With the Byzantine emperor defeated, the persecuted Christians of Jerusalem could now appeal only to Europe for their protection.[41] Fearful of impending Turk encroachments on Constantinople, Byzantine Emperor Alexis, foregoing his pride and rivalry with the Pope, also appealed to Europe for assisting their eastern brothers and sisters.[42]

All these factors were converging together when the Normans, blessed by the Pope, had just evicted Muslims from Sicily (1191). Pope Urban II, excited by all these factors, took up the cause of freeing the Holy Land from Muslims. In 1095, he delivered an unprecedented, emotive and high-pitched, speech in Southern France for freeing Jerusalem, reciting ‘tales of Moslem atrocity’ and ‘distributed crosses’.[43] Also desirous of uniting the Eastern and Western Churches, Pope Urban urged the bickering Christian rulers of Europe to unite on a ‘Truce of God’. In an enthusiastic response, an armed cavalry force of 15,000 — consisting of 5,000 knights and the rest infantry — were soon marching eastward wearing large red crosses. Meanwhile, Peter the Hermit had led an enthusiastic peasant-force through Europe ahead of the knights, the so-called Peoples’ Crusade.

There began the infamous Crusades: the harrowing battles between Cross and the Crescent, between the Christian West and the Islamic East — a clash between two inimical civilizations. The Crusades were poorly planned and armed, and often disunited, military campaigns primarily meant for recapturing the Holy Land. The Crusaders also focused on recapturing the former Christian lands of West Asia and North Africa occupied by Muslims. This inaugurated a series of eight campaigns from Christian Europe to Muslim West Asia, beginning in 1095. In the first campaign, three great Crusader contingents, marching separately from France, converged on a Constantinople rendezvous before marching forward. They went on to restore some territories to Byzantine suzerainty, and also established four Latin kingdoms in West Asia: 1) Edessa in Armenia (1098), 2) Antioch, the cradle of the first organized church (1098), 3) Jerusalem, incorporating territories from Beirut to the Red Sea (1099), and 4) Tripoli (1109). These were the first and the last acquisitions by the Crusaders.[44]

Thereafter, Muslim power improved, while disunity amongst the Crusader Kingdoms weakened their position. The first Muslim counterattack against the Crusaders fell upon Edessa in 1144. In 1187, the famed Sultan Saladin inflicted the decisive blow upon the Crusaders. Saladin devised a trap that the legendary and revered True Cross, allegedly disappeared from Jerusalem after its capture by Persia in 612, was in his possession. Aware of the reverence Christians held for it, and the effort they would make to acquire it, Saladin challenged the Crusaders that if their God really willed, they would be able to recapture it from his hands. If so, he promised: ‘I shall return to the faith of Christ’.

Saladin chose Hattin, two days’ journey from Jerusalem, as the place of confrontation amidst a searing Middle Eastern summer. He had sanded up all the water-wells along the way, and destroyed the Maronite Christian villages that could have supplied the Crusaders with water and supplies. Falling into Saladin’s trap, the Crusaders left their fortified position in Jerusalem and Antioch, marching across the hot and dry desert of Northern Israel towards Lake Tiberias. They reached Hattin, exhausted and burning with thirst. Meanwhile, the Muslim army had hidden itself, nowhere to be seen. Thinking that it was a false call, the thirsty Crusaders left their vantage position, and rushed towards the Lake. As they started gulping water, Muslims came out of their hidings, and subjected the unprepared Crusaders ‘to an incessant shower of arrows the like of which they had never experienced. Of the 20,000 knights and footmen, only a few remained alive through apostasy or capture’.[45] Having destroyed the main Crusader army, Saladin marched on and captured Jerusalem, where all Crusaders were put to death, and the Christian population was captives, and sold into slavery.

This loss of the Holy Land shocked Europe, rousing a renewed Crusading zeal. A series of new Crusades were undertaken in 1189–92, 1202–04, 1212 and 1217–21, and a few more thereafter, but all failed. In the 1189–92 Crusade, the three mightiest sovereigns of Europe — Phillip Augustus (France), Frederick Barbarosa (Germany) and Richard the Lion-Heart (England) — jointly marched to recapture Jerusalem again. Spectacular battles with brilliant military valour on both sides were fought particularly at Acre (Akka), but the military genius of Saladin won. The strategic and strongest Crusader garrison at Antioch fell to Muslims in 1268; all the 15,000 fighters captured therein were slaughtered, and some 100,000 Christians enslaved and sold.[46] Acre, the last city of some military importance held by the Crusaders, fell in 1291. The Crusaders had been exterminated from West Asia.

The brutalities committed by either side in the course of the Crusades were harrowing, with the Crusaders probably outdoing their opponents to a good extent. They enacted every cruelty Muslims had inflicted upon Christians over the previous five centuries, but with a greater intensity. Worse still to modern conscience was the Children’s Crusade of 1212, in which thousands of children from Europe marched to the Holy Land. Most of them died of hunger and disease; the rest were enslaved and sold by Muslims.

The Crusaders, especially in their first campaign, also committed unspeakable cruelties against Jewish communities that they came across along their journey. According to Prof Gerard Sloyan, ‘The Muslims were the “infidel” targets in the attempted recapture of the holy places in Palestine. However, the pillage and slaughter committed by Christian mobs against Jews on the way linger long in Jewish memory.[47] The first Crusaders killed nearly 10,000 Jews during the first six months alone.[48]

Nonetheless, barbaric cruelties were committed by both sides in the course of the Crusades, each side suffering millions of deaths. There were ‘…savage barbarities on both sides. Both were guilty of rapine and plunder and the wholesale massacre of civilian populations, including women and children,’ writes Walker.[49]

The colonial era


The Crusades, although failed, held back Muslim incursions into Europe for more than two centuries. Having driven out the Crusaders, the Ottoman Turks renewed their religio-imperial expansion into Europe; and they were poised to overrun Western Europe in the sixteenth century, if not for the intra-Muslim Ottoman-Safavid conflicts. Meanwhile, Renaissance had begun in Europe bringing new vitality and excellence in science and technology. When the Ottomans were repulsed from Vienna in 1683, Europe’s military supremacy over her age-old dreaded eastern enemy had been decidedly established. Muslims were gradually driven out of Western Europe, while Russia rolled them back from Central Asia. The Ottomans tried to master Western warfare technology but failed. Having suffered humiliating defeats one after another, Turkey, the long-standing terror of Europe, had become the ‘sick man of Europe’.[50]

The subsequent industrial revolution in Europe, and the discovery and mastery of sea-routes, brought European merchants to the Muslim world, beginning in early sixteenth century. This commercial interest later turned into imperial ambition. The British East India Company, which had come to India as merchants in 1600, ousted the Muslim governor of Bengal in 1757, and obtained the tax-collecting authority in 1765. It eventually took political control of most of India by 1850. The Portuguese had similarly ousted Muslim rulers from the Malay Peninsula in 1511, later replaced by the Dutch and British. The Spaniards stopped the advancing Muslims in Southern Philippines in 1565. France, Britain and Italy captured Muslim-ruled lands in Africa. In the course of the First World War, Britain and France occupied the Turkish lands, namely Syria and Palestine, while the Balkan territories gained independence in 1910s.

When Western imperialists — namely Britain, France, Holland and Italy — extended their colonial rule, there was much change in Europe: following the Enlightenment, secularism had taken hold, replacing theocracy in political systems. The European colonists, except the Portuguese and Spaniards, came mainly for commercial interests; they had very little interest in proselytization, although missionaries also came with them. The European colonists tried to secularize the Islamic polity in occupied Muslim lands, which often had large non-Muslim populations groaning under the yoke of cruel Islamic laws (i.e. Sharia).

Islamic jurists have traditionally divided the world into two domains: Dar al-Islam (House of Islam) andDar al-Harb (House of war). Dar al-Islam is the domains under Muslim rule, while Dar al-Harb is a territory under non-Muslim rule, against which Muslims must declare open-ended war (i.e. Jihad), until it has been brought under the Muslim control. The non-Islamic colonial rule in Muslim lands, therefore, caused strong revulsions amongst Muslims. To Allah, non-Muslim rule is tyranny and oppression. He commands Muslims even to migrate from such lands to Muslim-ruled ones [Quran 4:97–100]. As a result, Jihad, which had inspired Muslims to undertake conquests to most parts of the known world, again became handy for them to inspire the Muslim masses to drive out the European colonists. While European powers found it relatively easy to deal with their non-Muslim subjects, Muslims waged the dreaded Jihad against colonial rulers causing serious problems for them. Jihad excites the pious on a suicidal mission, because it opens to them, they believe, the opportunity for martyrdom, which lands them directly in the Islamic Paradise [Quran 9:111], which is the sole aim of their earthly life. Therefore, a small number of dedicated Jihadis can cause great damage and destruction to their opponents. Armed Muslim resistance against colonial Western powers — namely the revolts of Dipa Negara (1825–30) and Atjeh-war (1873–1904) in Indonesia, the Mahdist movement against the British and Italians in Somalia (1899–1920), the nineteenth-century Islamic resistance against the British in India (including the Sepoy Mutiny, 1857), the Algerian resistance against the French, the nineteenth-century Urabi resistance against the British in Egypt, the Sanusi resistance in Libya against the Italians, the Mahdist resistance led by Muhammad Ahmad (d. 1885) in the Sudan, the Ottoman Jihad declarations against the Western powers (1914), the Muslim resistance to British colonialism in Palestine — were all instigated and fought under the banner of Jihad.[51]


Edward Said laments the fact that Islam was believed in Europe to ‘be demonic religion of apostasy, blasphemy and obscurity’ and ‘a fearless and warlike creed’ set about destroying Christianity during most of the Middle Ages and the early part of Renaissance.[52] This is indeed true, but Said ignores the fact that this Western disdain of Islam was mutual, not a one-way thing. In truth, Islam was born believing that Christianity is an erroneous religion. ‘Just as Christianity long viewed Islam as a heretical movement stemming from their own faith, Muslims see Christianity as an earlier and faulty version of Islam,’ notes Pipes.[53] To Muslims, argues Lewis, ‘Christianity was an abrogated religion, which its followers absurdly insisted on retaining instead of accepting God’s final words (i.e., Islam).[54] ‘Muslims saw Western Europe as a cold and inhospitable region, inhabited by barbarians,[55] while, ‘Europe was seen [by Muslims] in the same light as the remoter lands of Africa—an outer darkness of barbarism from which there was nothing to learn and little even to be imported except slaves and raw materials.[56]

If history is to be the judge in conjunction with the fundamental creed of Islam, medieval Europe was correct in viewing Islam as ‘a fearless and warlike creed’. Concerning the European claim that Islam was a heretical Christian creed, Muhammad, indeed, founded Islam by absorbing the current religious and cultural ideas, thoughts, and practices of the Arab society, borrowing most heavily from Christianity. ‘Muhammad knew Islam was not a new religion and the revelations contained in the Koran merely confirmed already existing scriptures… of the Jews, Christians and others’, notes Ibn Warraq.[57] The Islamic world, likewise, was also somewhat correct in seeing Western Europe as a land of barbarians, because the Muslim holy warriors, bursting out of Arabia, had captured the world’s greatest civilizations—Persia, Levant, Egypt, North Africa, India and parts of China—acquiring their wealth, intellectual treasures and brains. This enabled them become the world’s richest and intellectually advanced civilization. Muslims also acquired the brilliant intellectual treasures of ancient Greece, which, following the trail of Alexander’s conquest, had also moved eastwards to Egypt and the Levant. At the same time, Europe was sunk in darkness and semi-barbarism, caused by Christian obscurantism, as well as the battering and conquest of Western Europe by the so-called barbarian tribes of North Europe — the Goths (Visigoths, Ostrogoths), Vandals, Vikings and Normans etc. — from the fifth century.

Undeniably, there was a fierce sustained clash between Islam and the Christian West. Islam was born to wage this conflict not only against Christendom, but also against all peoples of the world. And ‘Europe had been threatened or attacked in its front, rear and soft belly (by Muslims),’ writes Hitti.[58]In this conflict of Islam against the rest, Western Europe stood out as the most obstinate, even dreaded, opponent. ‘Europe was by far the most important infidel enemy. …the great Jihad per excellence, the major battlefields of the House of Islam and the House of War, was in Europe,’ writes Lewis.[59] Muslims captured non-Muslim lands in North Africa, West and Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Indian Subcontinent making them their eternal colonies or abode. But in Europe, they faced the strongest resistance; they were uprooted from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Hungary, France, Germany, and so on. Europe also struck back as the dreaded Crusaders, and again as the colonial masters.

The early Islam-West conflict, the Crescent against the Cross or Jihad against the Crusades, had changed to Jihad against secular-liberalism in the colonial era. Economic exploitations aside, the European colonists succeeded in secularizing the polity in Islamic countries to a significant extent. Sharia, hitherto unquestioned governing laws in Islamic lands, was mostly dismantled except in family matters. The heavily oppressed, degraded and exploited non-Muslim subjects were liberated, and made equal citizens; widespread slavery and slave-concubinage were largely abolished. Western ideas of liberalism, secularism, feminism, democracy, socialism and social equality etc., diametrically opposed to Sharia law, also came to the Muslim world, heavily influencing the Muslim elite. Kemal Ataturk in Turkey and the Shahs in Iran instituted liberal secularism dismantling Sharia, gave non-Muslims equal rights and liberated women.

Whilst these transformations were taking place amongst educated Muslim elites and rulers, Wahhabism — a militantly puritanical Islamic movement, born in Saudi Arabia in the 18th century — was spreading amongst Muslims globally. It called for purifying the religious, social and political orders of Muslim societies to conform to the holy Quran and prophetic traditions. After the West evacuated, the relatively secular ruling elites in Muslim countries came under increasing pressure from this movement, forcing them to increasingly de-secularize and re-Islamize the polity. Since the spike in oil-price in the 1970s, Saudi Arabia has invested tens of billions of dollars to promote the puritanical Wahhabi Islam amongst Muslims globally, including in the West. Iran and Libya, amongst others, have also invested heavily to promote Islamic revivalism.[60]

Whatever secularization the colonial West had left behind in their former Muslim colonies is being wiped out, while Muslim immigrants in the West, visibly more receptive of puritanical Islam, are trying to undermine secular-liberal values and way of life in their adopted homelands. All major Islamic organizations in the West — from the Muslim Council of Britain to the Council for American Islam Relations (CAIR, USA) — seek to institute Sharia laws. Omar Ahmed, Chairman of CAIR, hoped the Quran to ‘be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth’.[61]According to a recent poll, some 40% of Muslims in Britain support the introduction of Sharia and 37% oppose it. Some 33% support the creation of a worldwide Muslim caliphate with only 25% opposed to the idea.[62] The British government recently conceded to making the rulings of a Sharia Court legal in civil and some criminal matters (domestic violence).[63] Sharia Courts for Muslims, operational in Canada since 1991, were abolished in 2006 after a vigorous campaign by human rights activists.

Freedom of expression, homosexuality and coeducation etc. amongst many other things, not compatible with the Sharia or Islam, are already being strained or attacked by Muslims in many Western countries. While mainstream Muslims push for the introduction of Sharia laws through nonviolent means, the age-old violent confrontation is being revived and intensified by al-Qaeda and like-minded radical Islamic groups in recent decades. Despite the difference in modus operandi, both the militant and the Sharia-loving nonviolent Muslims have the same end goal: the rule of Sharia globally.


The current conflict between Islam and the West — from human rights issues in Muslim countries, to anti-Western violence by radical Muslims, to their campaigns against liberal lifestyle and ethos and for instituting Sharia law in Western countries — should be seen not as separate from the historical Islam-West conflicts. Theologically, Islam was born to create a global Islamic state governed by laws of the Quran and Sunnah, i.e. Sharia. But most Muslims understand that the age-old campaign for the imposition of Sharia law through violent means in the West is unrealistic under current circumstances. However, current demographic trends suggest that Muslims would become — resulting from high birthrates and their increasing influx from overpopulated Muslim countries amidst decline in the native population — the dominant religious group in many Western countries by the middle of this century.[64] The current ratio of Muslim to non-Muslim birthrate is 3:1 in Europe;[65] Muslims constitute only 10% of the population in France, but 30% of the youths under the age of 20 are Muslims.[66]Lewis predicted in 2004 that ‘Current trends show Europe will have a Moslem majority by the end of the 21st century at the latest… Europe will be part of the Arabic West, of the Maghreb.[67]

With the Muslim population growing in leaps and bounds, the campaign for instituting Sharia laws, and, therefore, Islamic governance in Western countries will, in all likelihood, intensify over the coming decades. Whether or not would this campaign succeed remains to be seen. If it does, Islam will overcome its long-standing hurdle to Islamize the globe resolutely held back by the West for so many centuries.

Tags: Alamgir, Francis, Fukuyama, Huntingdon, Hussain, Samuel

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Replies to This Discussion


  1. Bostom AG (2005) The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims, Prometheus Book, New York
  2. Erdem YH (1996) Slavery in the Ottoman Empire and Its Demise, 1800-1909, Macmillan, London
  3. Fukuyama F (1989) The End of History?, The National Interest, Summer
  4. Hitti PK (1961) The Near East in History: A 5000 Year Story, D. Van Nostrand Company, New York,
  5. Huntington SP (1993) The clash of civilizations? Foreign Affairs, New York, Vol. 72:3
  6. Huntington SP (1996) The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon & Schuster, New York
  7. Ibn Ishaq (2004 imprint) The Life of Muhammad, trans. A Guillaume, Oxford University Press, Karachi
  8. Ibn Warraq (1995) Why I m Not a Muslim, Prometheus Books, New York
  9. Lewis (2002) What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response, Phoenix, London
  10. Lewis B (1993) Islam and the West, Oxford University Press, New York
  11. Maududi AA (1993) Towards Understanding the Quran, (Trs. Ansari ZI), Markazi Maktaba Islamic Publishers, New Delhi
  12. Muir W (1992) The Life of Mahomet, Voice of India, New Delhi, (reprint of 3rdEdition, London 1894)
  13. Nehru J (1989) Glimpses of World History, Oxford University Press, New Delhi
  14. O’Shea S (2006) Sea of Faith: Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World, Walker & Company, New York
  15. Peters R (1979) Islam and Colonialism: The Doctrine of Jihad in Modern History, Mouton Publishers, The Hague
  16. Pipes (1983) In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power, Basic Books, New York
  17. Pipes D (2003) Militant Islam Comes to America, W W Norton & Company, New York
  18. Quran, The; Three most accepted translations here:
  19. Robinson F (2000) Islam and Muslim history in South Asia, Oxford University Press, New Delhi
  20. Sahih Al-Bukhari, trans. MM Khan, Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi, 1984
  21. Said EW (1997), Islam and the West in Covering Islam: How the Media and Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World, Vintage, London
  22. Simpson L and Finney N (2007) Minority White Cities? Annual Conference of the British Society for Population Studies, September 11-13
  23. Triton AS (1970) The Caliphs and Their Non-Muslim Subjects, Frank Cass & Co Ltd, London
  24. Umaruddin M (2003) The Ethical Philosophy of Al-Ghazzali, Adam Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi
  25. Walker B (1998) Foundations of Islam: The Making of a World Faith, Rupa & Co, New Delhi


[1] Fukuyama F (1989) The End of History?, The National Interest, Summer, p. 4

[2] Huntington SP (1996) The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon & Schuster, New York, p. 321

[3] Huntington SP (1993) The clash of civilizations? Foreign Affairs, New York, Vol. 72:3, p. 22-23

[4] Huntington (1996), p. 255-56

[5] Robinson F (2000) Islam and Muslim history in South Asia, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, p. 42

[6] Hossein-Zadeh I (2006) The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, p. 100

[7] Said EW (2001) The Clash of Ignorance, The Nation, 4th October

[8] Ali AH (2006) The Owl and the Ostrich, 2006-2007 Grano Speakers Series, Toronto, 11 October.

[9] Huntington (1996), p. 209

[10] Quran 5:3 stands for The Quranic, chapter 5, verse 3. Three most accepted translations of The Quran, intended for Western audience, is found here:

[11] Maududi AA (1993), Historical Background to Surah Al-Hashr; In Towards Understanding the Quran, (Trs. Ansari ZI), Markazi Maktaba Islamic Publishers, New Delhi

[12] This verse is directed against the community of Mecca. The claim that the Meccans had driven Muslims out is not supported by historical documents. The Prophet’s biographies clearly say his emigration was willing. It, at best, meant that Meccans’ rejection of his creed made him leave, not forcibly driving him out. The ultimate purpose of Allah’s command for holy war was to “prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere” [Quran 8:39]. This means that any non-Islamic religious practice or opposition to Islam is “injustice” or “Tumult or oppression” in the language of Allah or the Quran.

[13] Umaruddin M (2003) The Ethical Philosophy of Al-Ghazzali, Adam Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi, p. 307

[14] Ibn Ishaq (2004 imprint) The Life of Muhammad, trans. A Guillaume, Oxford University Press, Karachi, p. 363-64

[15] Ibid, p. 437-439

[16] Ibid, p. 461-70

[17] Muir W (1894) The Life of Mahomet, London (reprinted by Voice of India, New Delhi, 1992), p. 368-74

[18] Ibn Ishaq, p. 602-9

[19] Bostom, p. 421-22

[20] O’Shea S (2006) Sea of Faith: Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World, Walker & Company, New York, p. 66-69

[21] Hitti, PK (1961) The Near East in History: A 5000 Year Story, D. Van Nostrand Company, New York, p. 224-25,229-30

[22] O’Shea, p. 70

[23] Hitti, p. 308

[24] Nehru J (1989) Glimpses of World History, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, p. 146

[25] Pipes (1983) In the Path of God, Basic Books, New York, p. 86

[26] Most of the information in this section is taken from Mediterranean Sea: From Centumcellae to the Garigliano

[27] Hitti, p. 308

[28] Warraq, p. 231

[29] Hitti, p. 330

[30] Hitti, p. 331

[31] Lewis (2002) What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response, Phoenix, London, p. 10

[32] Lewis (2002), p. 12

[33] Erdem YH (1996) Slavery in the Ottoman Empire and Its Demise, 1800-1909, Macmillan, London, p. 30

[34] Russia took large parts of Central Asian regions, while China, Burma and Thailand also captured lands, previously conquered by Muslims

[35] Ibn Ishaq, p. 525

[36] Sahih Al-Bukhari, trans. MM Khan, Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi, 1984, p. 307-8 (This a 8-9th compilation of prophetic traditions, consider semi-sacred by Muslims)

[37] Ibn Warraq (1995) Why I m Not a Muslim, Prometheus Books, New York, p. 219

[38] Triton AS (1970) The Caliphs and Their Non-Muslim Subjects, Frank Cass & Co Ltd, London, p. 12-24

[39] Walker B (1998) Foundations of Islam, Rupa & Co, New Delhi, p. 243

[40] Nehru, p. 178-79

[41] Walker, p. 243

[42] Nehru, p. 179; Hitti, p. 308

[43] Hitti, p. 308

[44] Hitti, p. 310-12

[45] Hitti, p. 313

[46] Hitti, p. 316

[47] Sloyan GS, Christian Persecution of Jews over the Centuries, Unites State’s Holocaust Memorial Museum;

[48] A Brief History of Antisemitism, In The Holocaust Project;

[49] Walker, p. 245

[50] Hitti, p. 342

[51] Peters R (1979) Islam and Colonialism: The Doctrine of Jihad in Modern History, Mouton Publishers, The Hague, p. 39-104; Lewis, B (1993) Islam and the West, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 39

[52] Said EW (1997), Islam and the West in Covering Islam: How the Media and Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World, Vintage, London, p. 5

[53] Pipes D (1983) p. 77

[54] Lewis (1993), p. 7

[55] Pipes (1983), p. 80

[56] Lewis (2002), p. 4

[57] Ibn Warraq, p. 34

[58] Hitti, p. 308

[59] Lewis (1993), p. 10

[60] Pipes (1983), p. 297-331

[62] Gardham D, Muslim students back killing in the name of Islam, Telegraph (UK), 27 July 2008

[63] Matthew Hickley, Islamic sharia courts in Britain are now ‘legally binding’, 15 September 2008

[64] Pipes D (2003) Militant Islam Comes to America, W W Norton & Company, New York, p. 23-25; Simpson L and Finney N (2007) Minority White Cities? InAnnual conference of the British Society for Population Studies, September 11-13

[65] Shabeeb, Nabil, Muslims in Greater Europe, Islam Online, 01 July 2004

[66] Stein, Mark, It’s the Demography Stupid, The Spectator, 16 November, 2005

[67] Islamic Europe? The Weekly Standard, 4 October 2004

Europe is slowly strangling the life out of national democracy

Decisions affecting the lives of voters are being taken by bureaucrats and unelected 'experts'


Every so often one comes across a book, a poem or a work of art that is so original, perfectly crafted, accurate and true that you can’t get it out of your head. You have to read or look at it many times to place it in context and understand what it means.

In the course of two decades as a political reporter my most powerful experience of this kind came when a friend drew my attention to a 20-page article in an obscure academic journal.

Written by the political scientists Richard Katz and Peter Mair, and called “The Emergence of a Cartel Party”, it immediately explained almost everything that had perplexed me as a lobby correspondent: the unhealthy similarity between supposedly rival parties; the corruption and graft that has become endemic in modern politics; the emergence of a political elite filled with scorn and hostility towards ordinary voters. My book, The Triumph of the Political Class, was in certain respects an attempt to popularise that Katz and Mair essay.

Several months ago I was shocked and saddened to learn that Peter Mair (whom I never met) had died suddenly, while on holiday with his family in his native Ireland, aged just 60. However, his friend Francis Mulhern has skilfully piloted into print the book he was working on at the time of his death. It is called Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy, and published by Verso. In my view it is every bit as brilliant as the earlier essay.

The opening paragraph is bold, powerful, and sets out the thesis beautifully: “The age of party democracy has passed. Although the parties themselves remain, they have become so disconnected from the wider society, and pursue a form of competition that is so lacking in meaning, that they no longer seem capable of sustaining democracy in its present form.”

The first half of Mair’s new book concentrates on this crisis in party democracy. He tracks the sharp fall in turn-out at elections, the collapse of party membership (the Tories down from three million in the Fifties to scarcely 100,000 today, a drop of 97 per cent) and the decay of civic participation. Mair shows that this is a European trend. All over the continent parties have turned against their members. Political leaders no longer represent ordinary people, but are becoming, in effect, emissaries from central government.

All of this is of exceptional importance, and central to the urgent contemporary debate about voter disenchantment. However, I want to concentrate on the second half of Mair’s book, because here the professor turns to the role played by the European Union in undermining and bypassing national democracy.

He starts with a historical paradox. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 was in theory the finest moment for Western democracy. But it was also the moment when it started to fail. Mair argues that political elites have turned Europe into “a protected sphere, safe from the demands of voters and their representatives”.

This European political directorate has taken decision-making away from national parliaments. On virtually everything that matters, from the economy to immigration, decisions are made elsewhere. Professor Mair argues that many politicians encouraged this tendency because they wanted to “divest themselves of responsibility for potentially unpopular policy decisions and so cushion themselves against possible voter discontent”. This means that decisions which viscerally affect the lives of voters are now taken by anonymous, unaccountable bureaucrats rather than politicians responsible to their voters.

Though the motive has been understandable, the effect has been malign, making politicians look impotent or cowardly, and bringing politics itself into contempt. In Britain, for example, David Cameron can do virtually nothing to head off Bulgarian or Romanian immigration. The prime ministers of Greece, Portugal and Spain are now effectively branch managers for the European Central Bank and Goldman Sachs. By a hideous paradox the European Union, set up as a way of avoiding a return to fascism in the post-war epoch, has since mutated into a way of avoiding democracy itself.

In a devastating analogy, Mair conjures up Alexis de Tocqueville, the 19th-century French thinker who is often regarded as the greatest modern theorist about democracy. Tocqueville noted that the pre-revolutionary French aristocracy fell into contempt because they claimed privileges on the basis of functions that they could no longer fulfil. The 21st-century European political class, says Mair, is in the identical position.

To sum up, the European elites have come very close to the abolition of what we have been brought up to regard as politics, and have replaced it with rule by bureaucrats, bankers, and various kinds of unelected expert. So far they have got away with this. This May’s elections for the European Parliament will provide a fascinating test of whether they can continue to do so.

The European Union claims to be untroubled by these elections. A report last month from two members of the Jacques Delors Institute concluded that “the numerical increase of populist forces will not notably affect the functioning of the [European Parliament], which will remain largely based on the compromises built between the dominant political groups. This reflects the position of the overwhelming majority of EU citizens”.

I wonder. In France, polls suggest that the anti-semitic Front National, which equates illegal immigrants with “organised gangs of criminals”, will gain more votes than the mainstream parties. The Front National has joined forces with the virulently anti-Islamic Geert Wilders in Holland, who promises to claim back “how we control our borders, our money, our economy, our currency”. In Britain it is likely that Ukip will win in May. Anti-European parties are on the rise in Denmark, Austria, Greece and Poland.

These anti-EU parties tend to be on the Right, and often the far-Right. For reasons that are hard to understand, the Left continues enthusiastically to back the EU, even though it is pursuing policies that drive down living standards and destroy employment, businesses and indeed (in the case of Greece and Spain) entire economies. In Britain, for example, Ed Miliband is an ardent supporter of the European project and refuses even to countenance the idea of a referendum.

Like Miliband, Peter Mair comes from the Left. He was an Irishman who spent the majority of his professional life working in European universities in Italy, the Netherlands or Ireland. And yet he has written what is by far and away the most powerful, learned and persuasive anti-EU treatise I have come across. It proves that it is impossible to be a democrat and support the continued existence of the European Union.

His posthumous masterpiece deserves to become a foundation text for Eurosceptics not just in Britain, but right across the continent. It is important that it should do so. The battle to reclaim parliamentary democracy should not just belong to the Right-wing (and sometimes fascist) political parties. The Left and Right can disagree – honourably so – on many great issues. But surely both sides of the ideological divide can accept that democracy is still worth fighting for, and that the common enemy has become the European Union.

The above article touches on many ideas we've covered at 4F - although the writer is very naive in some areas, like when he says its incomprehensible why the 'managerial class' (see Burnham) of the left support the EU project. And of course, the big fascist threat for him comes from the "far right", with all their mythological hatred, that he's been indoctrinated into believing they have.

This is the book referred to above:

The Death of Democracy

In his latest essay El Inglés tackles a contentious topic: modern Western democracy.

The Death of Democracy - by El Inglés    
Weds, 24 March 2010

A Question About One of Our Foremost Democracies

The legislative branch of the United States federal government is divided, as are many such institutions, into an upper and a lower house. The lower house, the House of Representatives (Congress), currently has 435 members, with each state having a number proportional to its population. The upper house, the Senate, has 100 members, with each state having two senators. Why the seats in the two houses should be apportioned differently is an interesting question, whose seemingly innocuous answer is of great significance.

Seats in the lower house being distributed amongst the states on the basis of population is an intuitively obvious arrangement: 10 times the population, 10 times the amount of influence in Congress. This requires no particular explanation. It is the structure of the Senate that requires that. Why should the smallest of states have the same influence in the Senate as the largest? Given that the structures of the Congress and the Senate were devised at the same time by the same people, why should a principle considered sound for Congress not have been applied to the Senate?

In effect, Congress considers individuals to be equal and insists that each of their votes is weighted identically, whereas the Senate considers states to be equal and ensures that each of them has identical influence, quite irrespective of their populations. This means that states with small populations such as Maryland have, on net balance, disproportionately great political power and that states with large populations, such as California, have disproportionately little political power. Now, this is clearly somewhat undemocratic in at least some sense of the term. So how did it come to be the case at all?

What Is Democracy?

Upon reflection, it appears to this author that the following definition of democracy is rather a good one: democracy is an organizational mechanism for allowing parties a) with divergent interests, but who b) wish to function as part of the same polity, to reconcile the divergent interests in a) to such a degree that b) becomes possible. Having defined democracy in this fashion as a mechanism, I am forced to conclude that it is a means, not an end, and that it therefore possesses no more intrinsic moral value than a truck or a pair of scissors, themselves devices for achieving certain ends. This point, probably contentious for many, will be explored in greater detail throughout the rest of the essay. It is helpful, in this vein, to observe the sheer variety of organizations that are not organized democratically. Militaries, government bureaucracies, corporations, NGOs, families, sports teams - the list goes on and on. If democracy is intrinsically morally superior to other decision-making systems, are we to conclude that all these organizational types are immoral because they do not use it?

I do not mean here to do down democracy. The point is simply that all mechanisms, be they physical or organizational in nature, have only a finite ability to accomplish their goals and that, when the challenges they face are too great, they will fail. More obviously, they will also fail to do things that they were never designed to do at all. 

Consider a society in which everybody agrees with everybody about everything, in which there is simply no disagreement at all. Democracy is not only not required by such a society, it is meaningless in such a society. Any conceivable decision-maker or set of decision-makers drawn from the population will arrive at exactly the same conclusion in response to any and all issues. It makes no difference, therefore, how these decision-makers are selected or how they are held accountable for what they do (which they will not need to be, as everyone will always agree with whatever decisions they make). Democracy has no advantages, moral or otherwise, over an absolute dictatorship in such a society.

If we start to introduce disagreement into this society, what happens? At first, not much. When only minor disagreements exist, most policies will be very close to what most people approve of most of the time, and citizens will be able to grin and bear those policies that are not to their liking. However, if we start to introduce major, deep-rooted disagreements on matters of great importance, then decision-making mechanisms and the selection of decision-makers start to assume crucial importance. If the absolute despot who was tolerated when agreement was complete is still in place, he is going to start encountering difficulties when this consensus collapses, and his opponents will simply no longer have any reason to accept his previously unquestioned power. Only now does democracy start to present itself as a decision-making mechanism worth the time and energy it requires. In fact, it now starts to look indispensable, for how else can people live in peace and prosperity with each other if they feel that the interests of others are being prioritized over their own?

We see that democracy is only meaningful in, and only possesses any utility in, the context of disagreement. Moving from complete agreement out into the uncharted wilds of gradually increasing disagreement, the utility of democracy becomes more and more apparent. However, unhappily for us, this relationship is not a linear one. On the contrary, as disagreement increases, democracy’s utility passes through a maximum, and starts to head towards zero. Eventually its utility will become negative, which is to say that it will a) fail to enable people to live in peace and prosperity, and b) hold them together in a state of conflict, in a single polity, when they would be better going their separate ways. Of course, if they do eventually go their separate ways and become independent, then any new polities may again decide to conduct themselves democratically, with all the benefits this tends to result in. The point I wish to make here is simply that democracy stretched out to breaking point to hold together mutually antipathetic groups is worse than useless. One could, in principle, squash (politically speaking) all five Scandinavian countries together into a single democratic country. But what would be the point? The status of these five countries as separate countries despite their similarities and very strong historic and cultural links suggests that even relatively minor divergences of interests are best handled by independence.

A Closer Look At the Functioning of a Democracy
- - - - - - - - -
I would like to consider here how democracies operate from a very particular point of view. I am not interested in the relative strengths and weaknesses of representative vs. direct democracy, or proportional representation vs. first-past-the-post systems such as we have in the UK. Rather, I am interested in the natures (zero-sum, positive-sum, or negative-sum) of the games that the multitudinous players in any real democracy engage in. To oversimplify for a moment: people participate, and continue to participate, in democratic politics because they consider it to be in their interests (individual or group), to do so. They do not do so because of some morally elevated commitment to the wonder-that-is-democracy. When times are good, they may think that that is what they are doing. But they are mistaken.

A healthy democracy is one in which two things are true: a) interactions between different constituencies within the polity are positive-sum in the long term, and b) participation in the democratic polity is positive-sum for all constituencies in the long term. These conditions are crucial to an understanding of democracy, so we will explore them with a concrete example of a simple game.

Let us imagine a coin-tossing game played between two people, A and B. A coin is tossed. If it comes up heads, A wins 10 pounds and B loses 5, if it comes up tails, the result is reversed with B winning 10 pounds and A losing 5 pounds. However the coin lands, there is a net gain of 5 pounds between the two players, which means the game is positive-sum. This satisfies the first of the two conditions for a healthy democracy, that interactions are positive-sum in the long-term.

What of the second condition? Are interactions positive-sum for all players in the long term? They most certainly will be in the coin is a normal coin. Both A and B will win half of all games, with every two games resulting, on average, in a win and a loss and a net gain of 5 pounds. However, if B can replace the coin with a two-headed coin and contrive to call heads every time, then the game, though still positive-sum, will result in an unbroken string of benefits for B and costs for A. Assuming A is not so dense as to fail to notice this, he will quickly decide that he must do one of two things: a) reintroduce an unbiased coin, or b) quit the game. There is no first-principles moral argument that could convince him that he should stay in the game as it is. Why should he? Is he a slave, to sacrifice himself for the benefit of B?

This is democracy in a nutshell. The democratic process, whatever its exact manifestation in a given case, is an attempt to ensure that the players in the game can all be kept in a democratic ‘sweet spot’ in which both conditions above are met. If they are met for all players in a particular democratic game, it can be expected to continue in an amicable fashion until such time as these conditions change. Note that it is not necessary for all players to benefit equally, a point to which we must return later when we answer the question we posed earlier about the structure of the United States Senate. 

It is a simple matter to stitch together the two threads we have introduced so far: 1) democracy as a reconciling of divergent interests between parties who wish to live together, and 2) democracy as the maintenance of participating parties in a positive-sum sweet spot. Consider the following: If I think the minimum wage should go up by 50p and you think it should go down by 50p, then we have a divergence of interests. If the issue is decided through a referendum, we will have reconciled our divergent interests through democratic means. It is crucial to understand exactly what this means. The referendum is a zero-sum game; if you win, I lose. However, let us say that I am confident that it has been conducted fairly, and that I will sometimes be on the winning side in future contests. Let us also say that I do not begrudge you your victory, nor does it represent catastrophic damage to me or my way of life. Furthermore, our ability to amicably resolve disputes in this manner sets the stage for further productive and peaceful cooperation between us, which is a huge benefit for us both quite irrespective of the result of the referendum itself. This creates benefits for us both, with my benefit outweighing my loss in the referendum, thereby creating what is a positive-sum game for all players in the long-term. The referendum is zero-sum, discrete, and what I will call local, while the entire background game of democratic politics of which it is a part is positive-sum in general, positive-sum for all participants, open-ended, and what I will call global.

From this example, we can see that our two seemingly distinct concepts of what democracy-as-mechanism is are simply two ways of describing the same thing. Now that we understand this, we can start to consider more rigorously when and why democracy will start to run into difficulty. 

The Connecticut Compromise

I left unanswered above the question of exactly why the upper and lower houses of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government are structured the way they are. Now we are in a position to understand. The answer lies in the Connecticut Compromise, hammered out at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, which sought to provide a more permanent constitutional basis for the United States than existed at the time.

The Connecticut Compromise was just that; it was a compromise between the larger and the smaller states over the nature of the U.S. constitution. It was not an attempt to create some theoretically pure and unsullied democratic polity that some alien super-intelligence could admire in all its perfection. It was not an attempt to realize democracy-as-ideal, which is what the common, reflexive notion of democracy always concerns itself with. It was an attempt, and an extremely successful one at that, to implement democracy-as-mechanism, which is to say democracy as a mechanism for reconciling the divergent interests of disparate constituencies by keeping them all in a democratic sweet spot.

The problem collectively facing the states in 1787 was as follows: implementing a ‘pure’ democratic system in which number of seats in the federal legislature was proportional to population would create a situation in which the smaller states (such as Delaware) would have virtually no influence at all. Though technically democratic, the resulting system could hardly be expected to be one favorable to Delaware, as essentially all decisions would be made by representatives of other states who had no particular reason to care about the interests of Delaware. This being the case, why should Delaware agree? The theoretical purity of the democracy so created would have no utility from the perspective of Delaware. Accordingly, unless we believe that the Delawareans had some sort of moral obligation to spend the rest of eternity as the doormat of the larger states, we must conclude that there would be no reason for them to accept such a system. And indeed they did not.

This ‘pure’ system was known as the Virginia Plan. The smaller states at the convention responded with the New Jersey Plan, which proposed to create a single house, with representation split equally among the states, each having the same number of seats. At this, the larger states baulked. If Virginia had, say, 20 times the population of Delaware, how could it settle for equal political influence in the single legislative house? How could individual Virginians? Each Delaware voter would have, proportionately, 20 times more influence than each Virginia voter, which could hardly serve the interests of Virginia voters. Such a system would be grossly unfair. 

In response to this impasse emerged the Connecticut Compromise, in which the larger and smaller states effectively split the difference. There would be two houses, a lower house in which seats were distributed on the basis of population, and an upper house in which each state had equal representation, with each house having certain unique powers. This brilliant fudge has allowed the United States to boast one of the longest records of continuous democratic government in the world (we will sidestep the U.S. Civil War here out of deference for the sensibilities of our American cousins). However, the vote of a Delawarean is still worth, on net balance, more than that of a Virginian in determining the make-up of the two houses of the legislature. Is this not undemocratic in some sense of the term?

The answer is clearly yes, if one is concerned with democracy-as-ideal. But if one is concerned with democracy-as-mechanism, it is not obvious that this should be so. In terms of the local game between larger and smaller states, the smaller states won. Relative to population, Delaware has proportional influence in Congress, but disproportionate influence in the Senate. Virginia has proportional influence in Congress and disproportionately little influence in the Senate, and has therefore suffered a defeat of a sort. However, in the global game, both states have enjoyed the massive, long-term benefits of being part of a strong, politically unified state with a consensual politics and all the benefits that derive therefrom, resulting in all states being winners on net balance. Perhaps Delaware did ‘win’ in some sense. But the Connecticut Compromise kept all the players in the democratic sweet spot, and they are all, at least in this regard, still in it today.

We start now to see the problem with democracy-as-ideal. There is simply no reason to believe that, in any given case, a system created to implement democracy-as-ideal (however any given individual conceives of it) will even come close to implementing democracy-as-mechanism, and it is democracy-as-mechanism that allows democracy to work. Delaware was simply not morally obliged to sacrifice its interests to further those of Virginia. If Virginia wanted Delaware on board, then it had to give something up. This is real democracy. I can insist that Denmark and Pakistan should form a single democratic state with the Pakistanis winning every single election and referendum, and that the Danes are evil and undemocratic if they disagree. But unless the Danes are simply the dogs and slaves of the Pakistanis, there is no reason for them to accept this, however perfect a democracy some third party might believe would thereby be created.

Democracy-As-Mechanism and Tribalism

Democratic politics faces certain classic and acknowledged problems such as short-termism, slowness in decision-making, and the capturing of policy-making influence by special interests as described by public choice theorists. Ignoring these particular problems, I will continue to cut my own slice through this topic and ask how powerful democracy-as-mechanism is at accomplishing the goals implicit in our two (equivalent) definitions; reconciling divergent interests and keeping all constituencies in a democratic sweet spot. 

Imagine we have two uninhabited tropical islands, and 2 million people to be distributed on them to create two separate countries. One million of these people belong to group X and one million to group Y. Groups X and Y are racially, culturally, religiously distinct, with quite different levels of technological, political, and economic achievement. We would like each of our two countries-to-be to operate on the basis of an amicable, democratic politics. This being the case, how should we divide our 2 million people up? Should we put half of each group on each island, thoroughly mixing up X and Y? Or should we keep the groups intact, putting X on one island and Y on the other?

If democracy-as-mechanism were infinitely good at doing what it is supposed to do, it would make very little difference how we split them up. However, I believe that no intellectually serious person could believe that to be true. We are fairly obviously going to improve our chances of having prosperous, functional societies if we put all of A on one island and all of B on another. Does this require explanation?

This brief thought experiment impresses upon us the limitations of democracy-as-mechanism. Reconciling divergent interests is obviously going to become more problematic the greater the divergence in question and the larger the sub-populations belonging to the divergent constituencies. Democracy-as-mechanism is not a magic wand, and there is no reason to believe that all divergences can be resolved in some amicable fashion, or that all, or even a majority, of constituencies in a democratic polity can be kept in the democratic sweet spot at any given time. This is why democracy-as-mechanism has the greatest potential to work well when the divergence of interests in a polity is minor, and the democratic sweet spot commensurately large.

The best way to maximize the chances of this being the case is to ensure that the population of the polity is indeed a demos, a group of people who feel themselves, on the basis of shared ethnicity, religion, language, culture, history, and narrative, to be a single people. I do not wish to romanticize such groups. There is no guarantee whatsoever that a polity inhabited by a demos will be prosperous, peaceful, or even democratic. The ever-present possibility of political, class, and economic strife should remind us that there is no panacea with respect to the human tendency towards division and conflict. My point is simply that many potential sources of strife are absent in a country-with-demos (such as, until recently, Denmark) that are worryingly prevalent in a country-without-demos (such as India), and that the task of would-be democrats in the former is proportionately easier than in the latter.

Note that this point is widely made and not considered controversial when the legacy of, for example, European imperialism in Africa is being discussed. Our unfortunate historical habit of splitting up huge chunks of territory by drawing lines on a map with a ruler has, we are told, created great difficulties for the states that have come into being as a consequence. Tribal groups have been thrust together and ripped apart at random, creating polities that, though supposed to operate democratically, have no chance of doing so in any meaningful way due to their lack of a demos. Taking mutually antipathetic peoples with no overarching civic identity, weak or strong, and expecting to reconcile their divergent interests with any set of policies at all seems absurd. Surely there will be no sweet spot at all on the democratic tennis racket, with all its strokes clunking the ball wildly out of court?

I am not qualified to form a conclusion as to the extent to which this problem isactually responsible for Africa’s troubles with democratic politics (and also not sure that African tribes are contiguous and concentrated enough to have their own states at all, though that is a separate matter). But it seems plausible that it is a very serious problem for these relatively young and fragile states, and theoretical considerations and the empirical evidence both suggest that it is so.

Why then, does this unobjectionable and relatively ‘right on’ argument (Africa’s problems were caused by the white man) become so politically radioactive when it is applied to European politics? Why is it that people who would be the most inclined to accept such an argument in the context of Africa will not accept it in the context of Europe? The reason is that the same idea cuts across two different taboos in completely different directions. For some, it is taboo to suggest that Africa’s problems are anything but the work of the white man, and such people will also be inclined to adhere to the taboo which states that the presence in Europe of ever-larger numbers of Third World peoples, most of them disproportionately criminal, parasitic, and ideologically subversive, can only be a blessing for the Europeans. Thus the schizophrenic conclusions, which make clear the unhappiness of the non-empirical mind.

For my own part, both political developments in Africa and in Europe (and, for that matter, everywhere else) are strongly suggestive of the weakness of democracy-as-mechanism in the face of disparate tribal actors in the same polity. With the same underlying dynamics, we would expect to see the same emerging problems. Are we not all human?

Third-World Tribalism in European Democracies

It is clear to even the most casual observer of human affairs that our species has a tendency to division and strife. I do not suggest that this is the totality of what human beings are; nor am I blind to the great cooperative efforts that we are capable of making. I simply claim here that any large grouping of human beings will find that it contains distinct constituencies whose interests are divergent and not always easily reconciled. Political stability and positive-sum interactions can hardly be taken for granted in any human context.

Sadly, their absence can be taken for granted under circumstances that are now prevalent throughout Europe. If an economically and technologically advanced country whose people enjoy access to great financial and social capital (capital they themselves created) starts to populate itself with racially, culturally, religiously, linguistically different people who hail from decrepit, miserable societies with little in the way of any sort of civilizational achievement at all, at a stroke a situation will be created in which democracy-as-mechanism will be incapable of reconciling the interests of all groups or maintaining all players in any sort of democratic sweet spot at all.

It will be intuitively obvious to anyone suffering from the contamination of untrammeled third-world immigration that this is so, but it is important to understand exactly why. The situation is clearest with respect to Muslims, so let us consider the influx of Somalis into Sweden. I must preemptively discount here the predictable objection that I am ignoring the huge ‘cultural enrichment’ enjoyed by the Swedes as a consequence of their rapidly-growing population of child-mutilators and tax-eaters. I would like to keep the discussion serious, and even the most mindless multicultural zealot will eventually realize that gang rape does not enrich its victims.

Every single interaction between Swedes and Somalis in Sweden is at best a zero-sum game, bar none. The enormity of the error the Swedes have committed in allowing Somalis into their country, the sheer mind-numbing magnitude of it, becomes clear when we consider this point carefully. Economically speaking, the Somalis are a huge drain, both in the sense of the direct transfers made to them and the costs of their crime and dysfunctionality. Their horrendous crime rates are part of a game which is zero-sum at best and negative-sum at worst. Simply by virtue of being in Sweden, the Somalis enjoy access to a degree of social capital that their compatriots will never, ever create in their ‘country’ of origin, social capital which has in effect been transferred to them from the Swedes, who now enjoy less due to the crime, pathology, and psychopathology the Somalis have brought with them.

This is bad enough. But even more terrifying is the fact that Sweden is slowly handing political influence to these people in the form of the franchise. Many Somalis are doubtless too far from the Swedish mainstream to consider voting, and others disqualified from doing so due to criminal records. Nonetheless, as the community grows larger and more organized, it will start to corral its votes more effectively. What can the Somali community be expected to vote for in Sweden? Why, the same things that any tribal and dependent population will always vote for: more welfare payments, more immigration from its country of origin, and more political concessions and ‘sensitivity’. Every single one of these things will represent a continuation of the zero-sum games already mentioned. And the ongoing immigration and higher birth rates of the colonizers will simply guarantee that the scale and severity of these games increase with time.

Note that each of these interactions is what I earlier called local. Strictly speaking, even a situation as hideous as this could keep the Swedes in the democratic sweet spot if there were some global interaction which was massively positive sum, with huge compensating benefits for the Swedes. But the exact opposite is in fact the case. Across Europe, mass immigration of hostile and subversive Muslim peoples is shattering the confidence Europeans hold in their elected representatives and political systems, destroying their sense of being in control of their own historic territories, and filling them with justifiable dread for what the future may hold. Muslims and Europeans are not exactly Delaware and Virginia, embarking on the great historical enterprise of building the United States of America together. All the global games are negative-sum in the long term for the Swedes, making Somali immigration an unmitigated catastrophe for them.

There is no democratic sweet spot between the Swedes and the Somalis. Nor will there ever be. The only remaining questions are how exactly things will get bad, and how bad exactly things will get. Democracy-as-mechanism is no more useful in reconciling the divergent interests in this system than a hammer is for sawing a piece of wood in two. If the Swedes had taken in large numbers of, say, South Koreans, who have proved to be model immigrants in the U.S., then the democratic sweet spot would have been large and easy to stay within. But they decided to be ‘compassionate’ with the world’s most degenerate people, and hurl their country out of a 10th-story window in the process. They may not have hit the ground yet, but they are approaching it fast. People who look at the massive influx of Somalis, Iraqis, and other Third World peoples into Sweden and see a happy ending for anyone should explain their reasoning.

The Death of Democracy

Needless to say, the franchise has been extended to alien and hostile peoples in European countries because this is the ‘right’ thing to do. By and large, universal suffrage is accepted in a completely reflexive fashion in the West today. It is one of the most important pillars of democracy-as-ideal as usually conceived. But as we have already established in detail, democracy-as-ideal is not what enables democratic polities to function and prosper. Only democracy-as-mechanism can do that.

Universal suffrage has worked thus far in the West because it has had a useful role to play in the democracy-as-mechanism that evolved to suit the political needs of Western countries. Smeared out to include alien, hostile, and tribal peoples, it will eventually force democracy-as-mechanism to fail. One cannot simply let political influence bleed away to civilizational incompetents who will suck all the marrow out of the bones of a country and then cry for seconds when the carcass is dry. The presence of parasitic Muslim peoples in Europe is an existential problem in its own right. Extending the franchise will simply hasten the death of the status quo, and democracy with it. When though, can we expect it to die?

It is important to understand that, though the status quo is being destroyed by the presence of Muslims, they will not be the ones who finally put a stake through its heart. Their presence destroys it, but they benefit from its continued existence, and will therefore try to maintain it. It will be the rage of Europeans that destroys it, so it will only be destroyed when a sufficiently intense rage exists. If the status quo is still in place, we must ask ourselves why a sufficiently powerful rage has not yet swept it away. There are several reasons for this, which we will consider in turn.

1. Costs per Person

The accumulated per-capita financial and social capital of European countries are, by and large, so huge that there is a great deal of ‘slack’ in the system. By this I mean that a fairly substantial degradation of that capital can take place before things will really start to bite on a personal level. We can be sure, even given the atrocious game structure between Swedes and Somalis as outlined above, that the Swedish people, on average, still enjoy a very high standard of living, even interspersed as their lives may now be with the occasional to-them-inexplicable piece of ‘cultural enrichment’. The withdrawal of the franchise from hostile Muslim aliens is the last thing on their mental horizons. The losers of a string of zero-sum games though they may be, they have still not suffered enough to want to change the system.

2. Switching Costs

The sheer scale of the upheaval that would be required to politically marginalize Muslim fifth columnists and devise a permanent solution to the problem they pose would be so vast that even many who understand the nature of the difficulties will tend to shy away from it. The unacceptability of a given state of affairs is not a guarantee that it will be changed. Just as an unacceptable utilities account (water, electricity, etc.) may go unchanged for some time due to the time and effort that would be involved in changing it (the switching costs, to use the technical term), unacceptable political developments will also go unchallenged for some time due to the costs that reforming the system would require. The costs of allowing the status quo to continue will have to become more severe than one might otherwise expect before a switch will occur.

3. Moral Intimidation 

The initial response to criticisms of democracy-as-ideal on the part of a) those who really believe in it, and b) those who simply consider it to work to their advantage, will be to assert that the franchise is a fundamental right of all in a healthy democracy, and that it is fundamentally immoral to suggest taking it away from part of the population. As already explained, this is an assertion of the primacy of democracy-as-ideal, which will, in the long term, only ensure that democracy-as-mechanism fails. Intellectually serious people who propose to defend their countries against foreign invasion and infiltration will pay it little heed. But we are not all equally robust in the face of this moral intimidation, and its ability to cow and silence otherwise concerned individuals is considerable. Having your car incinerated by an Arab is annoying. But for many, being called a racist is a fate worse than death. I do not understand why such charges concern people one way or the other, but that they do is a reality that cannot be ignored.

4. Belief in a Turnaround

Lastly and most pathetically, we have hope and its eternal springing. Maybe ‘they’ (meaning the political class which created the problem) will now solve the problem. Perhaps the Somalis in Sweden will refrain from engaging in their usual criminal antics and perfect quantum computing technology instead. Perhaps the Iraqis will abandon the raping and molesting of Swedish girls and prove (or disprove) Riemann’s Hypothesis, thereby contributing to the general edification of mankind. Well, perhaps they will. But they seem to be getting everything they want out of Sweden already, despite their not-inconsiderable savagery and dysfunctionality. Why try to improve on a winning formula? A turnaround remains unlikely, but as long as people hold out for one, the rejection of democracy as it is currently constituted will not take place. 

In Closing

Readers may wonder why I decided to write such a pessimistic essay. After all, I have identified a problem without suggesting that there is much of anything to be done about it.

The scale of the collapse awaiting us in Europe is so vast, and the measures that we will be required to take so severe, that we should be asking ourselves right now what, if anything, can be salvaged of democracy on the other side. It is a sad truth that the existential crisis that Europe has brought onto itself in the form of Islam has not been ameliorated in the slightest bit by democracy as practiced there in the last sixty years. Enlightened dictatorship has rarely looked better.

Whether democracy, in the very long term, is a good idea or not is a question that will be asked more and more frequently in Europe as the crisis worsens. A committed democrat myself, I would like to suggest here that democracy is still just about viable if it is understood rather than romanticized. The latter task seems to have been taken care of already; this essay is my attempt to carry out the former.

Even if you use fake email addresses, even if you use a proxy server, even if you turn off javascript in your browser, you are still being tracked and "fingerprinted" during your web-browsing.

Never mind that ISPs keep records of where you go based on your home computer.  Even if you were to visit an internet cafe which took cash payments, and you just viewed a handful of your regular websites, plus maybe your throwaway email account, it would be possible to identify that it was you in that internet cafe.  I'm not saying that this is going on -- but it is the clear implication of this study.  So far it looks like most of this tracking of "anonymous" users is actually for advertising purposes, there's no reason why this technique cannot be used for more nefarious purposes (and this may already be happening).

It seems that democracy isn't all its cracked up to be. It works as long as you have some oppression to fight against, so people unify against the oppression. So you get a Women's Rights movement, then a Gay Rights movement. You get the Welfare State to get rid of oppressive poverty levels.

Once you've got rid of all the oppression, all you are left with, is a disparate bunch of individuals, pursuing their own self interest. Then, once introduce a strong unified gang into the middle of it, like the Muslims, it doesn't stand a chance.

I've just re-watched the series on civilisation by Richard Miles.  It is superb (apart from the ghastly music), and gives a real insight into how civilisations grow, then shine, then decay.  Its also the case that they are constantly changing anyway, so Roman Republic was only a republic until emperor Solus, and from then on was an autocracy.  It helps to put the transitory nature of our own gods (democracy, free speech, human rights), into a deep historical perspective.

Following threats that he should be stoned together, the jewish MP for Ilford (North) no longer holds open meetings with his constituents.

Have you seen how islamic Ilford is?  

But I'm sure that like Stephen Timms MP, this one will go to his grave insisting that islam is the religion of peace.  No doubt he despises the EDL, who are not promoting an ideology of assassination, torture, beheading, enslavement and forced conversion.

The muslima MP for Bethnal Green and Bow also only meets her constituents with security guards and multiple "assistants" present with her in the locked room.

The Islam Apologists are doing Western Civilisation a great disservice. They should be condemning Islamic countries for not promoting democracy and freedom. We in the West evolved the principles of freedom and democracy more or less by ourselves, learning from history, our own experience and our desire to live in just societies. We had few examples to follow.

The Muslims have no excuse to continue with the barbarity of Islam. They have all of the free democratic countries before them as examples. All of the principles of justice, freedom and equality that we hold dear in our democracies are perverted in Islam, and they are being perverted by those amongst us that are sacrificing our freedoms in order to appease Islam. 

Our democratic societies are free to evolve, and hopefully improve. Islam is locked into the myth of the one single eternally perfect and unchanging society.


For the journal, see Kyklos (journal).

The Kyklos (Ancient GreekκύκλοςIPA: [kýklos], "cycle") is a term used by some classical Greek authors to describe what they saw as the political cycle of governments in a society. It was roughly based on the history of Greek city-states in the same period. The concept of "The Kyklos" is first elaborated in Plato's Republic, chapters VIII and IX. Polybius calls it theanakyklosis or "anacyclosis".

According to Polybius, who has the most fully developed version of the cycle, it rotates through the three basic forms of government, democracyaristocracy, and monarchy and the three degenerate forms of each of these governmentsochlocracyoligarchy, and tyranny. Originally society is in anarchy but the strongest figure emerges and sets up a monarchy. The monarch's descendants, who because of their family's power lack virtue, become despots and the monarchy degenerates into a tyranny. Because of the excesses of the ruler the tyranny is overthrown by the leading citizens of the state who set up an aristocracy. They too quickly forget about virtue and the state becomes an oligarchy. These oligarchs are overthrown by the people who set up a democracy. Democracy soon becomes corrupt and degenerates into mob rule, beginning the cycle anew.

Plato and Aristotle have somewhat different beliefs. Plato only sees five forms of government. Aristotle believes the cycle begins with monarchy and ends in anarchy, but that it does not start anew. He also refers to democracy as the degenerate form of rule by the many and calls the virtuous form politeia, which is often translated as constitutional democracy.

Machiavelli, writing during the Renaissance, appears to have adopted Polybius' version of the cycle. Machiavelli's adoption of anacyclosis can be seen in Book I, Chapter II of his Discourses on Livy.

All the philosophers believed that this cycling was harmful. The transitions would often be accompanied by violence and turmoil, and a good part of the cycle would be spent with the degenerate forms of government. Aristotle gave a number of options as to how the cycle could be halted or slowed:

  • Even the most minor changes to basic laws and constitutions must be opposed because over time the small changes will add up to a complete transformation.
  • In aristocracies and democracies the tenure of rulers must be kept very short to prevent them from becoming despots
  • External threats, real or imagined, preserve internal peace
  • The three government basic systems can be blended into one, taking the best elements of each
  • If any one individual gains too much power, be it political, monetary, or military he should be banished from the polis
  • Judges and magistrates must never accept money to make decisions
  • The middle class must be large
  • Most important to Aristotle in preserving a constitution is education: if all the citizens are aware of law, history, and the constitution they will endeavour to maintain a good government.

Polybius, by contrast, focuses on the idea of mixed government. The idea that the ideal government is one that blends elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Aristotle mentions this notion but pays little attention to it. To Polybius it is the most important and he saw the Roman Republic as the embodiment of this mixed constitution and that this explained its stability.

Ochlocracy (GreekὀχλοκρατίαokhlokratíaLatinochlocratia) or mob rule is the rule of government by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of legitimate authorities. As a pejorative for majoritarianism, it is akin to theLatin phrase mobile vulgus meaning "the fickle crowd", from which the English term "mob" was originally derived in the1680s.

Ochlocracy ("rule of the general populace") is democracy ("rule of the people") spoiled by demagoguery, "tyranny of the majority", and the rule of passion over reason, just as oligarchy ("rule of a few") is aristocracy ("rule of the best") spoiled bycorruption, and tyranny is monarchy spoiled by lack of virtue. Ochlocracy is synonymous in meaning and usage to the modern, informal term "mobocracy", which emerged from a much more recent colloquial etymology.

Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning "few", and ἄρχω (arkho), meaning "to rule or to command")[1][2][3] is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, religious or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term.

Throughout history, oligarchies have often been tyrannical, relying on public obedience or oppression to exist. Aristotlepioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich,[4] for which another term commonly used today isplutocracy.

Especially during the fourth century BCE, after the restoration of democracy from oligarchical coups, the Athenians used thedrawing of lots for selecting government officers in order to counteract what the Athenians saw as a tendency toward oligarchy in government if a professional governing class were allowed to use their skills for their own benefit.[5][page needed]They drew lots from large groups of adult volunteers as a selection technique for civil servants performing judicial, executive, and administrative functions (archaiboulē, and hēliastai).[6] They even used lots for posts, such as judges and jurors in the political courts (nomothetai), which had the power to overrule the Assembly.[7]


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Muslim Terrorism Count

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

Mission Overview

Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.

Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.

We need to capture this information before it is removed.  The site already contains sufficient information to cover most issues, but our members add further updates when possible.

We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.

The 4 Freedoms

These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 
1. SP Freedom of Speech
Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms
2. SP Freedom of Election
Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms
3. SP Freedom from Voter Importation
Immigration is allowed - except where that changes the political demography (this is electoral fraud)
4. SP Freedom from Debt
The Central Bank is allowed to create debt - except where that debt burden can pass across a generation (25 years).

An additional Freedom from Religion is deducible if the law is applied equally to everyone:

  • Religious and cultural activities are exempt from legal oversight except where they intrude into the public sphere (Res Publica)"

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