Monday, November 07, 2005

C'est la mort?

Okay, so I'm a coward. I didn't want to comment on the riots in France until I thought I understood them. Damn near two weeks into the violence, I still can't really say that I've got a handle on what's going on, but I've seen the major arguments and have some opinions, so here we go.

It's only natural, given the apparently largely Arab/Muslim composition of the mobs, to speculate that the riots are Islamist in nature, and possibly even the opening move of an Islamist revolution in France. Unlike some other libertarians, I don't consider such speculation paranoid. As a matter of fact, there's considerable evidence of organized Islamist involvement -- web postings to organize Islamist rioters for nightly outings, attacks on synagogues, etc.

The counter-argument, of course, is that the mob is just an irrational mix of people pissed off about the deaths of two youths who, fleeing police, were electrocuted while they tried to hide in a substation, people pissed off that they can't find jobs or don't get the government aid they think they deserve, people pissed off just because they're pissed off, people who think that burning cars is a neat way to pass the time, and people who figure now's as good a time as any to smash and grab some new tennis shoes or a nice color TV.

Thing is, these could both be true. A mob without a purpose attracts purposeful participants. A mob with a purpose attracts purposeless participants, and participants with purposes all their own. But I don't think it's a good idea to reject out of hand the notion that al Qaeda and/or other Islamist organizations are playing a role in the riots and have objectives in mind which they think the riots will help them achieve.

Brad Spangler makes some smart observations about underlying causes that aren't necessarily rooted in religion or jihad.

Pat Buchanan sees the death of Western civilization foreshadowed in the riots. Not that that's anything new, of course, but for some reason the case just packs more whang when it's Paris on fire.

For anti-statists, there are some tough calls to be made. In my view, a united front with Islamists versus the state is simply not an option; but neither am I inclined to enter into a united front with the state versus the Islamists. I'm not sure precisely what Tim Starr had in mind when he said the following (I kiped it from Billy Beck's blog, and it appeared originally on a list I think I've been kicked off of for inability to demonstrate sufficient bloodthirstiness), but I'm beginning to warm to the sentiment as I understand it:

"We need to fight the Islamo-Fascists as if there were no State (or any more than a minarchist state), and fight the State as if there were no Islamo-Fascists."

Reads like a great concluding paragraph for a libertarian Zimmerwald Manifesto.

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