"Al Qaeda & What It Means To Be Modern", by Jo

In the above-noted and strongly recommended book, John Gray seeks to define modernity in its present day manifestations. A society or civilization is governed by a “ruling myth”. The West’s is that “modernity is a single condition, everywhere the same and always benign.” It is a faith in the ability to remake the human condition through reason, science and other purposeful action. Gray claims that this myth was destroyed on September 11, 2001.

Gray claims that Al Qaeda showed there are many ways to be modern, obserrving how it is a global multinational that uses the byproducts of globalization to achieve what it deems to be progressive and righteous ends. Al Qaeda understands the tools of modern society as much as do Westerners. Thus, claims Gray, they are modern and share a common desire with engineers of American hegemony to transform the world.

Gray’s true intention is to attack the neo-liberal doctrine of the “end of history” set forth by Francis Fukuyama, that free markets have been demonstrated to be the successful economic model and command economies of thje Marxist model have failed, so the world will join the global market economy which will encourage democratic polities to follow. As states modernize (ie. Americanize), values are expected to converge, and conflict to disappear.

But the ability to maintain the global free market is challenged by more than opposition from groups opposed to American values. The neo-Liberal (or, if you like, neoconservative) model is threatened by the instability of the American economy, increased resource scarcity and population growth, failed states, and the reluctance of Americans to maintain, paying the blood and the treasure for, global hegemony. This is the message around which Gray’s arguments and references is intended to deliver.

Two crucial issues are left unfully answered. How should we fight terror and, does Gray even think we should do so? He recognizes terror as a problem that must be addressed if we are to preserve “any kind of civilized existence”. But what is conspicuously absent from his conclusions is the language of right and wrong. Even if he believes terrorism is wrong, he gives no indiction that he believes it is any worse than American universalism. Gray’s argument is valuable because it questions the version of internationalism, now perhaps abandonned, adopted by the Bush administration.

Al Qaeda doesn’t want to modernize the world they want to destroy it. And John Gray sounds like a conspiracy theorists quack.

Al Qaeda wants to destroy Your world. You must njot have read my review too closely. Gray is simply making the point that both Al Qaeda and the neoconservatives of the Bush Administration have visions of modernity and that the reaction to 911 showed the flaws in the Pax America vision. Gray is critizable where he seems to withold any judgment that terorism is much worse than the export of American values, though in fairness I’m sure this is an oversight. Gray is against conspiracies and umasks them.

I’m sure nobody really wants to destroy the world. What’s the point if there is no world?

A religious militant nihilist would do it.

Religion ensures against nihilism. Nihilism is the absence of belief in any meaning, in life or in anything beyond life. So if the the militant nihilist wished to destroy the world, he must be carrying out orders of his god. With a god, the can be no nihilism. If his god ordered him to destroy the world, he would not be doing so as a nihilist.

A lot of verbiage just to make a useless point, i guess.

I get what he is driving at, but he’s off base imho.

It’s about “what is civilization,” modernity is not the point, really.
Islam is clashing with modernity, and will suffer the same fate that Christianity has suffered.

And I thank God for that. :wink: