How Many Muslims Still Support Terrorism?

This article summarizes a forthcoming analysis by the author under the tile Islamism, Arab Spring and the Future of Democracy: Developing a World Values Perspective, under contract at Springer Publishers, N.Y.

Sixteen years ago, on a bright and beautiful September morning in New York, Islamist terror against the West reached a new stage. The attacks, which began at 8:46 local time, killed 2,996 victims.

To equate “Muslims” with terrorism is unjust—just recall the heroic example of the Jordanian Air Force pilot Muath Safi Yousef Al-Kasasbeh, who, on January 3, 2015, was burnt alive by ISIS after his F-16 crashed during an operation across ISIS territory. He, too, was a believing Muslim and a Jordanian patriot. “Muslims” today also include the 9 percent of the Arab population who, according to data from the ACRPS Institute in Qatar, advocate the diplomatic recognition of Israel, despite the prevailing climate of anti-Israeli hysteria.

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Islamism and Gender Issues in the Muslim World

This article develops new empirical perspectives on the growing gender policy and gender role clash of civilizations now looming ahead in Western countries. The very same European governments that welcomed hundreds of thousands of migrants from countries with what the Muslim feminist Ziba Mir-Hosseini called “compulsory dress codes, gender segregation, and the revival of cruel punishments and outdated patriarchal and tribal models of social relations,” are untiringly promoting gender mainstreaming, which is now a top priority for European Union policymakers. Western feminism is at a turning point. Will it share with large sections of the green and left political currents in the West the cowardly silence about the threat of Islamist totalitarianism and terrorism, or will it develop solidarity with Muslim feminism?

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Critical Theory of the Contemporary: Nationalism, Populism, Islamism

In addition to its main focus on original sin in modernity, Telos 178 (Spring 2017) features a special section of topical writing, introduced here by Russell A. Berman, that continues our ongoing commitment to setting forth a critical theory of the contemporary. Telos 178 is now available for purchase in our store.

Not that long ago, debates over politics were anchored in a clear opposition between universalism and relativism. Proponents of an inclusive structure of, at least aspirationally, all states—the new world order—envisioned an unchallenged entrenchment of democratic capitalism everywhere. Where dictatorships endured, as in North Korea, they were treated as bizarre outliers, exceptions that proved the rule of the progress of mankind toward Kant’s perpetual peace. Universalist values held sway; ultimately all rights were to become human rights, due to all humans solely on the basis of their humanity, implying that rights pursuant to national citizenship, to membership in any particular national community, would dwindle in significance: no borders, no sovereignty, no traditions. However this conceptual expression of globalization faced sophisticated critics, variously postmodern, which treated that universalism with disdain and suspicion, insinuating to it an imperial agenda and offering an alternative program of multiplicity, diversity, and multipolarity. That was the historical moment of the theoretical opposition between Habermas and Derrida, the universality of communicative reason versus the insistence on difference. Inclusion and integration stood opposed to multiculturalism, as did generally applicable norms to the particular claims of local culture and tradition.

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Alexander Kluge's Counterproducts and Public Sphere Theory

Michael Bray’s “Openness as a Form of Closure: Public Sphere, Social Class and Alexander Kluge’s Counterproducts” appears in Telos 159 (Summer 2012). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue here.

This essay analyzes the seductions and impasses of the “openness” of public sphere theory in class society. It does so by sidestepping the more obvious limits of formal-discursive models of publicity and critically engaging with the theory and practice of Alexander Kluge, whose foundational work with Oskar Negt, Public Sphere and Experience, continues to ground experiential and affective models. For Kluge, this experiential turn was necessitated by the classist exclusions rationalist forms of publicity enact and it also made clear the need for “counterproducts” (rather than theoretical accounts) to combat audiovisual pseudo-publicity and construct a “proletariat public sphere.” Drawing together Kluge and Negt’s compelling account of exclusion and the specific character of Kluge’s own film and television counterproducts, shows how the latter fail to answer to the concerns the former, and helps explain the peculiar substitution, in Kluge’s films, of “feminine labor” and protagonists for the proletariat. This substitution, I suggest, is paradigmatic for the continuing shift of the “new left” away from issues of class. In closing, I propose the potential of a “populist public sphere” to more adequately address both the exclusions diagnosed by Kluge and Negt and the issues of gender “ciphered” in Kluge’s films.

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