Abu Nayif the Çorbacı said:
Thank God, and bless Muhammad. With the All-Powerful’s aid today I conclude the second moon of the Postmuslim cycle, having substituted Wednesday for Friday to accommodate newspaperly schedules, may the good deeds tip my heavenly balance.
It is with considerable ease that I embark on this blessed summing up. For the message of my last three epistles hardly bears spelling out. And I am assured in my heart, fellow Endarkenment basher, that you know what I endeavoured to demonstrate. By reference to Matthias Énard, Paul Bowles and Edward Said, that is, may He have mercy on the last two and preserve the first. As well as being Contraliberal (and critical of multiculturalism in particular), that is, a Postmuslim must also be passionately Cosmopolitan. Such is the way of virtue.
Instead of repeating myself, therefore, let me share a few sentences on the lessons of the Arab Spring. These shall come by way of an oblique appendix. But it is well to remember that it was with the majesty and the horror of popular revolt shortly after my supernatural experiences that I was prodded into a cyclical exploration of such concepts as liberalism, cosmopolitanism and — well, do try and guess which ism comes next — till Wednesday.
I had been taking issue with champions of the Arab Spring from among the West’s liberal left. I had been saying that the Arab East they spoke of turned out to be just as fantastical as that of Delacroix or Flaubert, may they rest in the gardens of eternity. If there is an untrue and privileged perspective on what the Orient is or what it should be, in other words, it is those champions’ perspective.
For, while the problems are undeniably there, their answer cannot simply be procedural rigour or ethical transparency, as such grassrootsy commentators and sympathetic policy makers continue to claim even now. Problems of governance reflect failures of the people as much as of the authorities. And, all across the Arab world, political freedom remains hostage to oil money. The sectarian cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran and the medievally minded forces engaged in fighting it play a greater role in our lives than “the will of the people” ever could. Meanwhile the only democratic model in the region remains not only racist-sectarian but very nearly genocidal.
Thus it is that any attempt at democratic transformation within the jihadi-vs-atheist dichotomy imposed on us in the absence of a Postmuslim sensibility must turn into plausible conspiracy-theory fodder. And God knows best.