From Postmodernism to Postsecularism

Book: Re-Emerging Islamic Civilization
Author: Eric Walberg
Clarity Press, Inc.
Available in the US from Clarity Press, etc.
Year: 2013
Pages:  369 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-9853353-8-0
Price: $26.95  

A Gateway To Understanding Islam

This work is a logical continuation of Walberg’s earlier book, Postmodern Imperialism, looking more closely at the Islamic project since the founding of Islam in the seventh century. It addresses the parallels with past crises in Islamic civilization, which gave impetus to reforms and renewal from within, relying on the Qur’an and hadiths, and interprets recent history from the viewpoint of the Muslim world, how it sees the imposition on it of western systems and beliefs, and how it views the new shift in forces that the Iranian revolution and Arab Spring portend.

The current Great Game being played in the world by the powers-that-be will come to an end, bang- or whimper-style. The gathering banking crisis could lead to the collapse of the subjective acceptance of capitalist hierarchy. In the aftermath, we could do with an appreciation of Islam as a viable system with robust moral/ethical limits, grounded in community and nature, not money and commoditization.

Islam, like communism and unlike capitalism, openly proclaims itself as an alternative socio-economic system which strives to eliminate exploitation. Capitalism, on the contrary, hides the surplus produced by society in order that it can be expropriated without causing protest by those who do the producing.

Understanding Islam as a basis of social organization requires considering first methodology (how we see the world) and epistemology (the nature of knowledge and its limits). People in the West or in the western tradition have a certain mindset which inevitably colours the lenses through which we see the world, by which they identify ‘truth’. To understand the world from the viewpoint of re-emerging Islamic civilization requires taking off these glasses and looking at the world through different lenses, using a different ‘map’.

This book gives the reader a glimpse of the sweep of Islamic civilization, permitting a vision of Islam’s re-emergence today as a positive development, possibly the most important one for realigning ourselves with Nature, and rediscovering humanity’s spiritual evolutionary path.

The Arab Spring is really an Islamic one and the logical result of a century and a half of imperialist intrigues to incorporate the Middle East and Central Asia into the imperial project.

How did this come about? What are the chances of the Muslim world asserting an independent position in the face of American empire and the rising non-imperial world bloc, BRICS?

The book critiques modernity and postmodernism from both left and right, and Islam is seen as both an alternative worldview and world order. As the West continues its decline, the insights that Islamic civilization provides point to a new-old civilizational alternative. Key actors and milestones in the struggle to free the Muslim world from the imperial yoke are discussed.

All the monotheisms have a linear concept of time/history, which in the case of Christianity/Judaism led logically to capitalism, Marx and the communist apocalypse. The Islamic project contains its own socio-economic solution which prevented the rise of capitalism/ imperialism, making it the loser in the technology race of the 19th-20th centuries.

Walberg provides an overview of imperialism and colonialism in the Muslim world, recapping his thesis in Postmodern Imperialism of the historical movement in the “Great Games” (the colonialism of the British and other empires, and the neocolonialism of the US empire) through to the current Great Game confronted by the revival of Islam.

The Islamic reform traditions from the 19th century on (deriving from Al-Afghani, Sayyid Qutb) incorporating the Islamic critique of the West are addressed as well as the Sunni/Shia, mainstream/Sufi/ Salafi divisions. The 20th century experience of Islamic states (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) is reviewed, as well as the current dynamics of the Muslim world (Saudi, Iran, Qatar, Turkey, and now Egypt/Tunisia/Libya).

Eric Walberg, a Canadian scholar, is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s. He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio. His articles appear in Russian, German, Spanish and Arabic and are accessible at his website Walberg was a moderator and speaker at the Leaders for Change Summit in Istanbul in 2011. His book, Postmodern Imperialism, is also published in Chinese, Turkish and Russian.