Liberty, Islam, and the West – Interview on Kevin Barrett’s Truth Jihad Radio, 23rd March 2015

Sean Gabb

Sean Gabb on Liberty, Islam, and the West – Interview on Kevin Barrett’s Truth Jihad Radio, 23rd March 2015.


  1. The old, pre dominance of P.C. (or “Critical Theory” if people say that “P.C.” is the wrong term) reference works list the various attacks on the West by the forces of Islam over the last 14 century (indeed I have such a old chronicle of the years upstairs) – there has been no century without such attacks, from the unprovoked aggression against the Byzantines in the 7th century, to the Bulgarian massacres of the 19th century, to the Armenian (and other Christian) genocide of the 20th century, to the driving out, or killing, of the remaining Christians in the Middle East (and terrorist attacks around the world) of the 21st century.

    However, evil deeds by some of the self described followers of a religion (whether they are slaver raids as far north as Iceland, or the Islamic sack of Rome [which seems to have gone down the Memory Hole]. or 9/11) do NOT prove a religion is evil – after all many Christians have done evil things, very evil things.

    To judge Islam one must look at the life and teachings of Mohammed himself – not just those who declare themselves his followers.

    I think that a fair look at the teachings and deeds (for his life is supposed to be the example that Muslims should copy) shows them to be, on balance negative. For example Mohammed’s reaction to being mocked by the versus of an old blind poet – he sent in men to pretend to be friends so they would be welcomed at the camp of the poet and then murder their host (Mohammed was a military commander of genius – and treachery was one of his most favoured tactics, to promise peace and then attack). Or his reaction to the protest, by a pregnant female poet, against the murder of the old blind poet – the lady was murdered as well.

    When Christians do evil things (and, I repeat, some Christians have done very evil things) one can say “Jesus would have condemned what you have done – Jesus weeps for your victims”. But when, for example, the warriors of Islam kill a mocking film maker in Holland or Denmark (or wherever) one can not really say this about Mohammed – after all he ordered this sort of deed himself.

    As for philosophy…….

    There was a habit among some 18th century Western thinkers (and some later ones also) to praise mainstream (Sunni) Islam for its determinism (its denial of real human agency – the human capacity for real choice, to do other than we do) and for its rejection of moral natural law (mainstream Islam holds the position that whatever God commands is good and whatever God forbids is bad BY DEFINITION, and that there is no independent way reason can tell moral right from moral wrong – one is reminded of the sneer “that whore reason” from Martin Luther [a determinist and hater of reason – he regarded the support of such freedom as “Jewish” or “Greek” and hated both], or that “slave” reason from David Hume).

    I oppose the philosophical position of mainstream Islam for the same reasons that some 18th century (and later) Western thinkers praised it.

    Although I would point out that there was a powerful movement that was pro free will (pro agency – pre reason) within mainstream Islam, which was defeated about a thousand years ago.

  2. It should also be noted that the support of philosophical and political liberty of Ralph Cudworth (against the support for the view of Thomas Hobbes that humans are just flesh robots without the capacity for moral choice, and that tyranny is the inevitable and correct system of government) is in no way refuted by changing the subject and saying that Cudworth believed in witchcraft. After all the existence of witches is in no way central to Cudworth’s arguments against philosophical determinism (the denial of human agency) and political tyranny. And other pro freedom thinkers, such as Thomas Reid, did not believe in witchcraft.

    One might as well say that Harold Prichard’s arguments against Wittgenstein are refuted by Prichard having a cough.

    Harold Prichard was dying when he met Wittgenstein on the latter’s visit to Oxford – and if the best the defenders of Wittgenstein can do is sneer at Prichard’s cough, they clearly have naught of importance to say.

    If a human being can not do other than he or she does – if they have no capacity for real choice, then Thomas Hobbes is indeed correct that freedom has no moral importance. Freedom would then just be an absence of external physical restraint – like the wall of water after a dam is blown up (hardly anything to be defended – indeed not a good thing at all). The support for political tyranny in Hobbes follows quite naturally from his denial of philosophical libertarianism (human agency).

    It is much the same with mainstream Islam. And with some other movements.

    The only “freedom” they offer is “freedom” from shame and guilt – as everything (they falsely claim) is predetermined, so nothing is one’s own fault.

    Martin Luther and John Calvin still clung to the Christian God (although they rejected human agency as either “Jewish” or as “Greek” – meaning Aristotelian), the followers of the German Chancellor from 1933 onwards got rid even of this fig leaf. They were “free” from the burden of morality – the “blond beast” (supposedly a positive term) would act in accordance with his animal instincts, without the “illusions” of ethics, of moral agency.

    Just as the followers of the Black Flag of ISIS are “free” today. They are “free” from the burden of the “illusion” of moral choice – following solely the dictates of the Supreme Leader of the Universe (everything they do is, supposedly, predetermined by Him).

Leave a Reply