Friday, 5 July 2013

(Self) righteousness exalteth a nation...

...but sin is a reproach to any people. (Proverbs 14:34)
I hadn't given much thought to the congruence between Islamism and the sort of austerity conservatism so disastrously fashionable across the Western world until I read Juan Cole's piece on Morsi.

In a narrow sense, there's a very specific resemblance between the conservative values of any actually existing  or envisioned Islamic Republic and the Christian Republic of America that the religious right have been working and praying for.

But there's a similar tone to the broader ideology that now dominates secular Europe, too. Europeans, (and that includes Brits), don't do God in such a fervent way as the USA's serious God-heads (a few nominally "Christian Democrat" parties and a moribund established church on Europe's major offshore island notwithstanding). But the whole conservative narrative boils down to a seemingly endless, arse-numbing sermon, a preachy morality tale about backsliding and lack of moral fibre that must be atoned for by sacrifice and a wholesome diet of Austerity All-Bran.

The decrees of the political and financial elite are couched in the same tone of self-righteous moral authority as any Papal Bull. Which isn't surprising, as the purpose is the same - to give the stamp of authority and moral seriousness to a doctrine backed up by little or no evidence and to ensure that the laity continue to pay obeisance - and more importantly, tithes - to a parasitic priestly caste.

In the unlikely event that Morsi was ever allowed to seek asylum à la Snowden, there would be plenty of places where someone with his level of moral seriousness and command of pious cant would fit right in, from the US Republican right, to Fox News, to the European Central Bank, to a UK tabloid.

Or perhaps we should reverse the flow in this thought experiment and imagine practising extraordinary rendition to an Egyptian jail on a few members of our own predatory political and financial elite, the sort of people who pose far more of a threat to millions of ordinary citizens than the handful of incompetent religious maniacs and unlucky bystanders previously handed over to the tender mercies of human-rights-lite regimes?