The one thing that absolutely could not be tolerated was true freedom, the liberty of the individual. For Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the “social compact” would otherwise be “an empty formula.” The irreducible core of the utopia he envisioned, the “undertaking which alone can give force to the rest,” was quite simply this: “Whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body.”
Ah, yes, the “general will.” For this, every modern totalitarian movement is indebted to the 18th-century Genevan philosopher who claimed, in The Social Contract, that a man’s compulsory servitude to the state — the embodiment of this general will — “means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free.” Rousseau was what we today call “Orwellian” long before there was an Orwell. “Freedom” was nothing more than submission.
That is why Rousseau so admired Islam.
The history of Islam and the modern Left is one of cooperation when there is some obstacle to their divergent concepts of “social justice” and the perfect society. These are always marriages of convenience, enduring no longer than the enemy that drives them into each other’s arms. But, reliably, it is they — the Islamists and the leftists — who come together when there is a third party in the mix. Rarely will one collude with a common enemy against the other. Today, the common enemy of Islamists and leftists is individual liberty, especially the social, economic, and political freedom guaranteed by the American Constitution, as conceived by the Framers. Conceived, that is, by men who saw government as a necessary evil to be rigorously limited lest it devour true freedom — not as an essential good to be empowered for the very purpose of enforcing servitude.
Collaborations between Islamists and leftists — past examples and those happening right before our eyes — are numerous, so much so that I admit to being dumbfounded by the frequency of the question of whether they really happen. That there is collusion is undeniable.
That collusion is a major theme of my book The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America — “grand jihad” and “sabotage” being the Islamists’ own terms for what they describe as their plan to “destroy Western civilization.” By the time the book was published last spring, the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New Left flagship created by radical lawyer William Kunstler in the 1960s, had spent nearly a decade spearheading the representation of jihadists captured making war against the United States. The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) — whose founders were ardent admirers of Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, and whose current executive director said, right after the 9/11 attacks, that “we should put the State of Israel on the suspect list” — was at the forefront of Islamist organizations then campaigning for the enactment of Obamacare, when MPAC wasn’t otherwise occupied by the numerous executive-branch agencies that regularly seek its input on any number of issues.
This should have been no surprise, for history is littered with Islamist/leftist confederations — e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood’s support of the military coup led by Soviet puppet Gamal Abdel Nasser to overthrow the British-backed Egyptian monarchy; the avowed “Islamic socialism” of the Pakistan People’s Party; the blend of Islamists and leftists that has always composed the Palestine Liberation Organization. Let’s say that this hadn’t been the case, though. Let’s pretend that the last 30 years hadn’t seen everything from Iranian Communists rallying to support Khomeini’s revolution to last summer’s “peace flotilla,” a joint effort by Islamist operatives and avowed Communists such as Bill Ayers to break Israel’s blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. The everyday cooperation between Islamists and leftists right under our noses would still be manifest.
The interesting question is not whether it occurs, but why. To anyone who studies the matter, as the liberty-loving Muslim reformer Zuhdi Jasser has, the Islamist enthusiasm for statist schemes like Obamacare is easy to decode. Islamist organizations are collectivist groups, Dr. Jasser explains. They fall squarely in line with the socialist platform of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is, as Dr. Jasser puts it, to “increase the power of government through entitlement programs, increased taxation, and restricting free markets whenever and wherever possible.” That platform is the legacy of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and of Sayyid Qutb, the Brotherhood’s most formidable theoretician. Decades after their deaths, both these men remain required reading for budding Islamist activists in Brotherhood-inspired redoubts like the Muslim Student Association, the Islamic Society of North America, and the International Institute of Islamic Thought.
An animating goal of these organizations is to have Islamic principles recognized by government and enforced through the state’s coercive power. These principles needn’t be known as “Islamic” any more than leftist pieties are advertised as “leftist.” They need only reflect what Islamists, like leftists, call “social justice.”