Welcome to Planet Blitcon

Trying to catch up (a hopeless undertaking) with some of the unread stacks (well, virtual stacks, i.e. e-versions of articles from various magzines & journals “saved” into an ever growing folder called “articles to be read”), I came across an piece by Ziauddin Sardar in the New Statesman of 11 December. Entitled “Welcome to Planet Blitcon,” it is a scathing attack on what he percieves as the evil anti-Islamic triumvirat of three Bristish literary pundits Amis, Rushdie & McEwan:

The British literary landscape is dominated by three writers: Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan. All three have considered the central dilemma of our time: terror. Indeed, Amis has issued something of a manifesto on the subject he terms “horrorism”. In their different styles, their approach and opinions define a coherent position. They are the vanguard of British literary neoconservatives, or, if you like, the “Blitcons”.

Not surprisingly, Sardar then goes about exhibiting the links of his Blitcons to the US literary and political/cultural scene, thus:

The Blitcon project is based on three one- dimensional conceits. The first is the absolute supremacy of American culture. Blitcon fiction is orientalism for the 21st century, shifting the emphasis from the supremacy of the west in general to the supremacy of American ideas of freedom. This shift can be traced back to Allan Bloom, the influential academic and author of The Closing of the American Mind (1987), who argued that American culture was the best in this best of all possible worlds. Bloom was a close friend of the novelist Saul Bellow, who promoted Bloom’s ideas in his fiction: his 1970 novel about a “western-civ” thinker, Mr Sammler’s Planet, is a good example. By the time Bellow wrote his last novel, Ravelstein, in 2000, his views had become more overtly aligned with the political establishment – it includes lightly fictionalised and highly sympathetic portraits of both Bloom and Paul Wolfowitz, the former Bush administration apparatchik, now head of the World Bank.

I am not in total agreement with Sardar’s stance, as he develops it in the rest of the essay — behind the sharp, intelligent cultural critic there seems to lie a religious believer who will excoriate Rushdie’s or (with much more reason) Amis’ takes on Islam not so much because he can show them to be wrong in themselves, but because, he argues, there exists what he calls a “generality of Muslims, people who believe in something other than the Blitcons’ understanding of Islam, people who live humdrum lives on the streets of Bradford, Karachi or Jakarta, people far removed from the festering imagination of the Blitcon.” But just because there are multitudes of humdrum believers in Islamic, Christian or whatever religion is not proof that what religious faith is based on and framed by, i.e. religious systems (that, in the final analysis, are all more alike than different from each other), are not all frauds and con-games that have had terrifying and lethal consequences for humans throughout the ages. Still, the essay is worth reading & having argument with — which you can do here.

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