Creative Destruction: Exposing the Ideological Roots of Modern Terrorism

Dr. Robert Dickson Crane

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“Creative Destruction”: Exposing the Ideological Roots of Modern Terrorism

by Dr. Robert Dickson Crane

Part One: Introduction

  Two days after the newly renamed terrorist organization, “Al Qa’ida in Mesopotamia”, bombed a wedding party in a Jordanian hotel in November, 2005, the entire world, and especially Muslims, tried to understand how anyone could commit such a horrendous crime, much less try to justify it. 

  The same question might be asked about justifications for terroristic counter-terrorism.  What is the difference between a terrorist wrapped in explosives who bombed a room in a Jordanian hotel, in which a wedding party happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a carefully planned operation by the U.S. Department of Defense some months earlier to bomb a near-by city, Falluja, with chemical weapons?  According to the March, 2005, issue of the U.S. Army’s Field Artillery Magazine, in the article, “The Fight for Falluja,” the U.S. Marines fired vast quantities of White Phosperous bombs, known by the troops as WP, continuously over a period of two days in a strategy of shock and awe.  These were used not merely to illuminate targets, as the spin-masters later claimed, but to inflict horrible burns that can continue to eat away at live human flesh for years and to release deadly chemical clouds that reportedly can kill up to a tenth of a mile in all directions.

  The childish answer on both sides would be simply that the other guy started it all.  But, this is a never-ending debate that can stretch back centuries.  The so-called counter-terrorists can argue that the bombers of Al Qa’ida in Mesopotamia are allied with the followers of Saddam Hussein, who used poison gas against the Kurds and would have been willing to use weapons of mass destruction against the Jews in Israel.  The Al Qa’ida bombers, however, can argue that Donald Rumsfeld shook hands with Saddam Hussein to show support for his use of poison gas to wage a proxy war against the liberation of Persia from an American puppet.  The arguments back and forth can go on endlessly, but can they possibly justify the subsequent actions by either side?

  One can more credibly argue that neither the terrorists nor the terroristic counter-terrorists even considered whether their actions could be legitimated by the just war requirements universally recognized by all the world religions.  Are such actions necessary in self-defense?  Is the resort to force limited to what is minimally essential?  Are there other more humane and ultimately more effective means to restore justice?  These are three of the seven standard criteria that the Papal Legate explained in an urgent hour-long meeting with President Bush a few weeks before the American attack on Iraq in March 2003. 

  One can argue that there is no moral equivalence between the hotel bombers and the U.S. marines.  The bombing of Falluja might be justified because there were more than one thousand armed insurgents among the population of 80,000 civilians who had remained in the city.  The restoration of law and order required decisive action in self-defense.  Efforts were made to limit civilian casualties.  And there was no other way to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. 

  But, one might argue also that the defenders against foreign occupation can oppose superior military force only by guerrilla warfare, that shock and awe are even more important psychologically in guerrilla warfare than in conventional war, and that there is no peaceful way to secure political and economic justice in a world dominated by unjust institutions and unjust policymakers.  Again, there can be no end to the justifications for war even if both sides would care at all about the morality of what they are doing.

  In order to answer the question why anybody could possibly want to blow up a wedding party in Amman or horribly disfigure thousands of civilians in Falluja and then occupy and close hospitals so that they could not receive treatment and disclose what had happened, one must delve deeper into the parties’ underlying motivations and global strategies.

Part II:  Terrorism by Muslims

  The motivations of the terrorists who proclaim that they are Muslims can be explained as compassion for the oppressed and by hatred for the oppressors.  My dozens of articles published in The American Muslim [1] over the past five years since 9/11 detail both of these motivations. 

  In the issue of November, 2005, the editor of the online journal The American Muslim,  Sheila Musaji, has published a special section of articles under the title, “A Long History of Justice Ignored.” [2]  These articles provide a great deal of background on possible motivations.

  The other of the two major explanations for terrorism by Muslims is the hatred that they have been taught by officially-sanctioned, religious perverts in Saudi Arabia, which has spent billions of dollars to impose its own national religion on Muslims all over the world.  The first of my articles on this subject after 9/11, entitled “Terrorism: Playing into the Hands of the Extremists,” appeared in the January, 2002, issue of The American Muslim. [3]  It exposed probably the most blasphemous translation of the Qur’an ever published.  This is known as the Khan/Hilali Qur’an after its two principal perpetrators.  As a result, the Saudi embassy within weeks of this publication stopped all distribution of this translation to the hundreds of mosques in America, but the damage had already been done and still lingers. 

    This propaganda rag, distributed as a legitimate copy of the Qur’an, fully justifies what Richard John Neuhaus calls Osama bin Ladens “monistic fanaticism.”  The Saudis have outdone the professional Muslim bashers in their distortions and total reversal of classical Islamic teachings.  Even their technique is diabolical.

  The official Saudi translators are embarrassed by Surah al MaҒida 5:69, which they correctly translate as “Surely, those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and His Messenger Muhammad and all that was revealed to him from Allah), and those who are Jews and Christians whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and works righteousness, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”  They eliminate this troublesome passage by invoking the spurious doctrine of “abrogation,” whereby God supposedly changes His mind and overrules prior passages or decides that they are simply no longer appropriate.

  According to the official Saudi Qur֒an, this Surah al Maida 5:69 is abrogated by Surah Ali Imran 3:85, “Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers.” They interpret this by asserting that Islam means submission to the official Saudi view rather than submission to God, despite the fact that Surah al MaҒida 5:69 explicitly spells out the only three requirements for submission to Allah, namely, belief in God, belief in divine justice, and the practice of good works.

  Once such “difficult passages” are overcome, the official Saudi extremists lay the groundwork for Osama bin Laden by translating Surah Ali Imran 3:110 to read, “You [true believers in Islamic monotheism and the real followers of Prophet Muhammad and the Sunnah] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind.”  This, according to the official Saudi annotation, means “the best for the people, as you bring them with chains on their necks till they embrace Islam (and thereby save them from the eternal punishment in the Hell-fire and make them enter Paradise in the Hereafter.”

  The Saudi mullahs and their political henchmen who dare to approve such a Qur’an are plumbing the depths of darkness.  Their reigning pseudo-religion in Saudi Arabia is a mockery of everything Islamic.  In no century of Muslim history and in no Muslim culture have self-proclaimed Muslims preached and proselytized such a bizarre distortion of divine revelation.  They have given birth to the mother of all black sheep among religions. And the rabid ram, Osama bin Laden, is its true son.

  Unfortunately, freedom of speech does not permit the confiscation of this inflammatory incitement from the hundreds of mosques all over America.  Or does it?  If not, the responsibility lies on the “silent majority” of Muslims to “bite the bullet” themselves, because this English version of the Quran and the annotations are truly bullets aimed at the American people and at all civilization.

  The most insidious weapon in this war against civilization inspired by official Saudi doctrine is what is called mimetic warfare. [4]  This is the manipulation of words to capture the minds of unsuspecting victims. [5] The grossest forms of terrorism make sense to the perpetrators only if the terrorist masterminds can justify them semantically by perverting terms that have been developed over the centuries to explain the message of the Qur’an. [6]

  The most egregious perversion is the term jihad. [7] The extremists among Muslims reverse its meaning so that it justifies what in classical Islamic thought is called hiraba. [8]  This is the legal term accepted by all classical scholars for what today is termed “terrorism”.

  The term hirabah refers to public terrorism in a war against society and civilization.  In legal terminology it is defined as ғspreading mischief in the land, but its precise meaning, as defined by Professor Khalid Abou el Fadl, is ԓkilling by stealth and targeting a defenseless victim in a way intended to cause terror in society.  This Islamic definition of terrorism is the very opposite of jihad.

  The term hirabah comes from the root hariba, a verb that means to become angry and enraged.  By derivation the nown harb (pl. hurub) means variously ԓwar and ԓenemy.  Over the centuries, and especially during the Crusades, known in Arabic as the hurub al salibiya, extremists have extended the meaning of this term, harb, to demonize all non-Muslims.  They came to designate the entire world not controlled by Muslim rulers as the dar al harb, the House of the Enemy or the House of War, as distinct from the dar al islam, the House of Islam.  The modern extremist, Sayyid Qutb, proclaimed: ԓThere is only one place on earth that can be called the House of Islam, and it is that place where an Islamic state is established and the shariah is the authority and GodҒs laws are observed.  The rest of the world is the House of War.œ

  Over the centuries, there have always been scholars, particularly those politically funded, who have designated the fundamental dichotomy as the realm of Islam, dar al islam, versus the dar al zulm, the realm of evil (resembling Mordor in The Lord of the Rings), or versus dar al kufr, the land of those who are going to hell because they deliberately reject the truth. This type of extremism, found in all civilizations, is the psychological origin of both personal and state-sponsored hirabah and of most terrorism, by both Muslims and non-Muslims, in the world today.

  The majority of Muslim scholars have always welcomed the diversity inherent in the unity or tawhid of the universe, including its different races and religions, in accordance with the clear teachings throughout the Quran.  They speak of the dar al ijaba, the land of those who have accepted Islam, in contrast to dar al daҒwa, the land of those who still need to be educated about Islam; or dar al taqwa, the land of those who stand in loving awe of Allah, in contrast to dar al ahd, the land of those with whom one has treaties of friendship and cooperation.

  Unfortunately Western polemicists in recent years have bought into the perversions of the Qur’an popularized by Muslim extremists and thereby legitimized them.  They translate jihad as Holy War, when, in fact, only fringe elements among Muslims consider that war, even a carefully circumscribed just war, can be holy.

  The Quran itself refers to jihad only in terms of intellectual effort to apply divine revelation in promoting peace through justice: Wa jahidhum bihi jihadan kabiran, ғStrive with it [divine revelation] in a great jihad (Surah al Furqan, 25:52); and Wa tammat kalimatu rabika sidqan wa ԑadlan, The Message of your Lord is perfected in truth and in justiceӔ (Surah al Anam 6:115).

  Two other forms of jihad were identified by the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu ґalayhi wa salam, namely, the jihad al akbar or greatest jihad to purify oneself, and the jihad al saghrir or lesser jihad to defend the human rights of oneself and others.  Some Muslims today refer to various other kinds of jihad or effort, such as jihad al tajdid or effort to renew or revive Islam.

  There is no such thing as Islamic terrorism, but there have always been Muslim terrorists. Today there are many alienated extremists who rely on their own resort to violence in protest against perceived injustice, rather than relying on the jihads of akbar, saghrir, and kabir, with the help of Allah and ecumenical cooperation in peacefully building a better world. In effect, these extremists rely on and worship themselves. They are exhibiting the most serious crime condemned in the Quran, which is the root of almost all the other crimes, namely, arrogance. This leads them to commit the crime of hirabah, which is the attack on the very roots of civilization, and to justify it in the name of Islam. There can be no greater evil and no greater sin.  If there is to be a clash of civilizations, a major cause will be the muharibun, those who commit inter-civilizational hirabah.

  There is only one effective cure for such hirabah. This is cooperation by the heretofore silent majority of both Muslims and those of other faiths in a jihad to marginalize extremism by putting their own houses in order through the pursuit of peace through justice.
Part III:  Terrorism by Non-Muslims  

  Two can play this game of mimetic warfare to subvert the minds both of one’s own followers and of the enemy.  If “jihad” is the major psychological weapon by and for Muslims, what is the equivalent psychologically by and for non-Muslims?

  Two candidates for this designation may be the two reinforcing paradigms of thought known as “freedom and democracy” [9] and “creative destruction”. These are the two mimes or word symbols that messianic ideologies in the Atlantic world have adopted to accomplish the Dajallian feat of reversing good and evil, so that evil appears to be good and good appears to be naive. 

  The mimetic assault on the human mind through the use of the mantra, “freedom and democracy”, is discussed in many of my articles, including my most recent one, “Mimetic Warfare: A Neo-Con Strategy to Capture the Muslim Mind” [4].  As a fellow word-smith, Jeremy-Henzell Thomas addresses this technique of psychological warfare in the same issue of The American Muslim in his article “Freedom and Ideology”, where he quotes one of the Neo-Cons’ mentors, John Stuart Mill, as saying, “Liberty consists in doing what one desires,” to which Hegel wisely replied that this definition is a call not for liberty but for bondage.

  Once the normative stage or end goal is established in any ideological paradigm, the next step is to provide a grand strategy to achieve the goal.  Analysis of the modern ideology known as Neo-Conservatism suggests that the all-informing strategy to accomplish what the vast majority of the people of the world consider to be terroristic counter-terrorism is known by the euphemism, “creative destruction”.  As I have suggested elsewhere, the concept was first clearly articulated half a century ago by the Lenin of the Muslim Brotherhood, Syed Qutb, but it was not given a name until the Neo-Cons further popularized the concept as a “clash of civilizations.” 

  Although the reputed father of this concept, Bernard Lewis, never said that such clash is good or even inevitable, the Neo-Cons expanded on this conflict paradigm by insisting that such a clash is both inevitable and good, because it provides the fuel for the real engine of human progress, namely, the creative process of destroying the old in order to make way for the new.

  The use of words both to express and shape human thought is the subject of semantic analysis.  To understand the function of a word or phrase, one must first analyze its etiology or origin, because the origins often reveal the hidden agenda of those who use it.  To understand the insanity of the Neo-Con ideology, one must ask where they got the phrase “creative destruction”.   

For this history we need only consult the writings of Jeremy Henzell-Thomas, unfortunately mostly unpublished.  He writes that “Creative Destruction” is a term coined in 1942 by Joseph Schumpeter in his work, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, to denote a “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” Schumpeter goes so far as to say that the “process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.”

  The idea of Creative Destruction, according to the Wikipedia Encyclopaedia, ғderives from the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, but scholars today agree that Schumpeter, although he did read Nietzsche himself, took the concept and phrase from the work of fellow economist Werner Sombart.  Though a conservative, Schumpeter gained much of his understanding of competition and the essence of creative destruction from Karl Marx. 

  Henzell-Thomas remarks that such ideology infects the messianic outpourings of the leading Neo-Con gurus, such as Michael Ledeen, who, as holder of its Freedom Chair, has long been ensconced in one of the citadels of Neo-Conservatism, The American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., where he is a trusted adviser in the White House and applauds the virility of Italian Fascism.  In his book, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership: Why Machiavelli’s Iron Rules are as Timely and Important Today as Five Centuries Ago, Ledeen writes on page 173: “Paradoxically, preserving liberty may require the rule of a single leader - a dictator - willing to use those dreaded ‘extraordinary measures’, which few know how, or are willing, to employ.”

  The prime objective of creative destruction accordingly is domination.  In commerce, this ideally means a monopoly.  Wikipedia gives as an example the corporation Wal-Mart, which ԓincreasingly dominates retail markets by using new inventory-management, marketing, and personnel-management techniques, at the expense of older or smaller companies.

  In their book Creative Destruction: Why Companies That Are Built to Last Underperform the Market Ԗ And How to Successfully Transform Them, Richard Foster and Sarah Kaplan explain how successful companies obtain competitive advantage by creating new businesses and selling off or closing down businesses or divisions whose growth is slowing.  They also abandon outdated, ingrown structures and rules and adopt new decision-making processes, control systems, and mental models.  Corporations, they argue, must learn to be as dynamic and responsive as the market itself if they are to sustain superior returns and thrive over the long term.  Never mind how many employees and entire communities are discarded en route. Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School and author of The Innovators Dilemma, commends the book to anyone who ғis interested in staying ahead of the competition, even though he also finds it ԓsomewhat frightening.

Henzell-Thomas comments that ԓthe tenor of creative destructionђ is thus essentially autistic, and he reminds us of Kiesling’s letter referring to his dismay at the “solipsism” of American foreign policy which was bent on “dismantling” relationships.  ԓIt is the modus operandi, he claims, ԓof the socially inept bully who cannot sustain any kind of positive relationship.

  In his book, The War Against the Terror Masters, ably critiqued in John Laughland’s article, “Flirting with Fascism,” [10] in the June 30, 2005, issue of The American Conservative, we encounter what reads like a prophetic approval of the policy of chaos then being visited on Iraq. Ledeen wrote:

“Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad.  We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law.  Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace.  Seeing America undo traditional societies, they fear us, for they do not wish to be undone.  They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence - our existence, not our politics - threatens their legitimacy.  They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission.”

  What strikes Henzell-Thomas about this is its ԓmessianic drive, manic self-belief, and paranoia verging on insanity. He observes that ԓLedeen’s whirlwindђ echoes Schumpeter’s description of creative destruction as a perennial galeђ and points out that it’s not just a one-off - it’s a process of ӑincessant (to use a phrase of Schumpeter) and irresistible ґtearing down and ґdismantling (to echo Kiesling) aimed at ґundoing traditional societies”.  He adds that ғthe phrase reaping the whirlwindђ is appropriate to describe the outcome of such wanton obliteration of tradition masquerading as creativityђ and energyђ.

  ԓCreativity, he continues, ԓis not the incessantђ subversion or tearing downђ of anything, not a whirlwindђ of rootless innovation, but the contextualisation, rearrangement, and transformation of existing forms in the old orderђ.  It rests above all on deep knowledge of those forms and that order.

    Henzell-Thomas concludes that ԓthe idea of tearing down the old order day by dayђ (to use Ledeen’s adolescent terms) is a kind of gross parody of Ibn ‘Arabi’s idea that the manifestation of the Divine Essence is continually being renewed in every moment.  If Ledeen and his ilk knew of such ideas, then their admiration for creative destructionђ would be a blasphemous misappropriation, for Ibn ‘Arabi is not describing the destructive replacement of old forms but the perpetual renewal of the Original Form. This, is after all, what developmentђ means: the unwrappingђ of what is existent.

  John Laughland’s article in The American Conservative about Ledeen continues:

“This is not the first time Ledeen has written eloquently on his love for ‘the democratic revolution’ and ‘creative destruction’. In 1996, he gave an extended account of his theory of revolution in his book, Freedom Betrayed - the title, one assumes, is a deliberate reference to Trotsky’s Revolution Betrayed.  Ledeen explains that ‘America is a revolutionary force’ because the American Revolution is the only revolution in history that has succeeded, the French and Russian revolutions having quickly collapsed into terror.  Consequently, “[O]ur revolutionary values are part of our genetic make-up. ԅ We drive the revolution because of what we represent: the most successful experiment in human freedom.  We are an ideological nation, and our most successful leaders are ideologues”.’ “

  Laughland continues: “As Ledeen shows, the Italian fascists expressed their desire ‘to tear down the old order’ (his words from 2002) in terms that are curiously anticipatory of a famous statement in 2003 by the Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.  In 1932, Asvero Gravelli also divided Europe into ‘old’ and ‘new’ when he wrote, in Towards the Fascist International, ‘Either old Europe or young Europe.  Fascism is the gravedigger of old Europe.  Now the forces of the Fascist International are rising.’ It all sounds rather prophetic.” 

  The principal error of the Neo-Conservative movement, so well illustrated by Michael Ledeen, is their total misreading of the traditionalist movement that produced the American Revolution.  This Great American Experiment did not derive from the European Enlightenment, which was built on destroying the old.  Instead America was built on what is known as the Scottish Enlightenment, best represented by the head of the minority party in Parliament, Edmund Burke, who was the principal mentor of America’s Founders. 

  Burke taught that the interdependent goals of order, justice, and freedom can be developed and secured only by creative construction, by reviving the best of the past to build a better future in full recognition that civilization must be a construct of the sacred as revered in every world religion, or civilization will not be at all.


[1]  The American Muslim   
[2]  A Long History of Injustice Ignored: Index
[3]  Playing into the Hands of the Extremists? (Khan Qur’an), Dr. Robert D. Crane
[4]  Mimetic Warfare: A Neo-Con Strategy to Capture the Muslim Mind, Dr. Robert D. Crane
[5]  The Nature of Evil and Mimetic Warfare Against Islam: “Gnosticism” and “Traditionalism” as Weapons of Disinformation, Dr. Robert D. Crane
[6]  Islamic or Muslim Terrorism and Extremism: Are they all Contradictions in Terms?, Jeremy Henzell-Thomas
[7]  Against the Nihilism of Terror: Jihad as Testimony to Transcendence, Dr. S. Pervez Manzoor
[8]  Hirabah versus Jihad: Rescuing Jihad from The al Qaeda Blasphemy, Jim Guirard
[9]  Freedom as Ideology and Counterfeit Coinage:  Why We Must Attend to the Meaning of Words, Jeremy Henzell-Thomas

Source: The American Muslim.  Publication allowed with this link intact.