World In View: Nihilist Daesh attacks humanity, history

March 11, 2015

From the March-April 2015 issue of News & Letters

by Gerry Emmett

In response to its recent losses on the battlefield in Kobanê and elsewhere in Syria and Iraq, the so-called “Islamic State” (scornfully called Daesh) has amped up its atrocities with more high-profile beheadings, the burning alive of a captured Jordanian pilot, the kidnap of hundreds of Assyrian Christian villagers, and the barbarous destruction of precious, irreplaceable cultural artifacts and manuscripts in Mosul, Iraq.

The murder of 21 Egyptian workers in Libya, singled out as Coptic Christians, is a bloody testimony to the spread of their murderous ideology.


Daesh thugs smashed classical statues many thousands of years old. Hypocrites that they are, of course, they smashed what was too big to sell. The black market sale of antiquities has become another important income stream for them. There is no Chinese wall between the nihilism of IS/Daesh and the world counter-revolution whose essence it expresses—that is, the rejection of all human self-development and freedom.

Daesh has actually gained most of its strength only because the bourgeois world preferred the “stability” of a fascist regime like that of Syria’s Assad to the mass uprisings of the Arab Spring.

Arab Spring revolutionaries recognized the deadly nature of Daesh, in particular, and have been very clear on it. The late Syrian writer Alisar Iram, for one, saw where they were heading, long before they took their hammers into the Mosul Museum. She wrote:

“What is happening in Syria is stranger than fiction, an epic genocidal violence released by the regime which has severed the life forces of the nation, arresting its heart or leaving it in a comatose state, which gave the lurking monsters of barbarism the chance to unveil themselves and claim God and religion among their first victims. This is not restricted to the barbarians of Sunnism, wearing the mantle of al-Qaeda, but also to the barbarians of Shiism…

“The world is marching towards unravelling the mysteries of the universe, while al-Qaeda and affiliates (ISIS) are marching light-years backward in the direction of the void in an attempt to cancel civilization, history, cognition and cultural heritage…

“It is the absence of the humane and humanizing content, the absence of a vision of a better world, a more equitable and just world, that makes ISIS, for instance, the horror that it is…

“ISIS is a calamity born of a calamity. They are part of the chain of events that started with tolerating Assad against his people. We warned and warned about the vacuum that was created in consequence of the savage, terrible onslaught by Assad on the Syrian people and their towns and cities.

“We pointed out that Assad has managed to annihilate the flower of the Syrian youths, the best of their activists, the would-be leaders culturally and morally, in addition to the bulk of the viable civil institutions, the coordination committees and community efforts at organization and maintaining the law, but to no avail.

“Sacrificing that phase of the Syrian Revolution paved the way to the institutionalization of the violence of Assad and eventually the emergence of the so–called Caliphate of Daesh” (“Meditations on ISIS [Daesh]: The Birth of Islamic Colonialism,” July 11, 2014).

The bourgeois world, preferring counter-revolution, has little solid ground to oppose Daesh and its ilk. U.S., Russian, Chinese, Saudi and Iranian imperialism have all had their part in its growth. That’s why the most effective struggle against this horror has been carried on by Syrian revolutionaries, and by the heroic defenders of Kobanê.

Paris, Nov. 1, 2014: Kurdish organizations march at the World Day Against Daesh, for Kobane, for Humanity.

Paris, Nov. 1, 2014: Kurdish organizations march at the World Day Against Daesh, for Kobane, for Humanity. Photo by Jiel Beaumadier.

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