The following is an extract of the draft english translation of an excellent recent book entitled 'Political Concepts' which was published in the Arab world in 2005. I will be posting more sections of the book in future.
Politics is taking care of the affairs of a nation (ummah), internally and externally. This is conducted by the state and the ummah. The state conducts that practically; whilst the ummah takes the state to task over that.
Taking care of the affairs of the ummah, internally and externally, by the state is discharged through the implementation of the ideology internally; and this represents the domestic policy.
As regards taking care of the affairs of the ummah externally, by the state, it consists of her relations with other states, peoples and nations, and propagating the ideology to the world; and this represents the foreign policy.
Understanding of the foreign policy is fundamental for safeguarding the entity of the state and the ummah; it is essential for the enablement of conveying the da’wa to the world; and it is indispensable for the sound regulation of the relations of the ummah with others.
Since the Islamic ummah is entrusted with carrying the Islamic da’wa to the whole mankind, it is thus indispensable for Muslims to stay in contact with the world, where they comprehend its circumstances, understand its problems, be aware of the motives of its states and nations, pursue the political actions that take place in the world. In this context, they have to pay attention to the political plans of the states in terms of the styles they use for the execution of such plans, the relations between these states, and the political manoeuvres they use. Therefore, it is indispensable for Muslims to understand the reality of the situation in the Islamic world in the light of understanding the global international stance. This is vital for them so that they can find out the style of work they use to establish their state, and to convey their da’wa to the world.
However, it must be understood that the situation of any state would not remain the same internationally. It rather goes into many changes, in terms of strength and weakness, power of influence or its absence, and in terms of difference and change of its current relations with other states. Therefore, it is not possible to draw constant and general guidelines for the international position, and nor giving a constant thought about the position of any of the existent states in the world. It is rather possible to give a general guideline about the political situation at a certain period, taking into notice the possible change of this position. It is also possible to give a specific thought about the situation of any state at a certain circumstance, bearing in mind the possible change of such position. Therefore, it is necessary that the politician has to pursue with the ongoing political actions in the world and to link them with his previous political information. This is necessary for him so that he can properly understand politics, understand whether the political situation remains the same or has changed, and understand the political situation of every state and whether such situation remained the same or has changed as well.
Change of the international situation is subject to the change of political situation of some states from one circumstance to another. Such change of a political situation of a state is either because it became stronger or weaker, or because its relation with other states became stronger or weaker. In such a case, a change in international balance would result due to change in the balance of powers existent in the world. Therefore, understanding of the situation of each state that has influence on the international situation is the basis for understanding the international situation. Accordingly, attention must be focused on obtaining information about each state; because this is the first pillar for political understanding. Understanding of the situation of each state is not related to its position in the international situation; it is rather related to any thing related to its domestic and foreign policy. Thereupon, it is necessary to be acquainted with the thought upon which the policy of each existing state in the world is built; particularly those states that might have influence on the stance, which the Islamic ummah must take towards them. It is also necessary to know the plans and styles used by such states. This knowledge of the plans and styles must be linked with pursuing them constantly and with the extent of their change. Understanding of the motives behind such change or the reasons that forced such states to change these plans and styles is necessary as well; besides the sound knowledge of the matters that affect these states or drive them to change their plans and styles.
Politics is a thought and a method
As regards the thought upon which the policy of a state is established, it is the thought on whose basis the state builds its relation with other nations and peoples. The thoughts of the states that do not adopt an ideology, are different and dissimilar; besides such thoughts are open to change. The policies of such states would be studied through the study of their political plans and styles; where the study of the political thought is irrelevant.
As regards the states that adopt and ideology, their thought is constant without a change. This thought would be the propagation of the ideology, which it adopts, to the world via a constant method that does not change, regardless of the change of styles; so the study of the political thought applies to such states.
Accordingly, the present states in the world have to be viewed based on the assumption that each one of them has a basic thought for drawing its relation with other nations and peoples; whether this thought was constant or not. It also has a specific method for executing this thought, whether such method was constant or not. In the light of its thought and method, it draws the plans, and follows the styles that help it to realize its objective. However, the present states in the world today give free rein to themselves in terms of the styles. So, they would follow a style that realizes the objective, even if it violates the method; and thus they follow the rule that says: “The end justifies the means”.
Whatever the case may be, all the states draw political plans that change according to the need; and they follow styles that differ and diversify in accordance with the situations.
The states undertake political actions so as to take care of the interests of the ummah. They build relations with other states in accordance with the interests. Despite that, there is a big difference between the states. The state that doe not adopt a certain ideology would make the interest alone as the effective factor in its international relations. As regards the state that adopts a certain ideology that conveys to the world, it makes the ideology an effective factor in its international relations, and makes the interest assigned by the ideology a supportive factor in this course. Therefore, it is necessary to understand a state in terms of the thoughts it adopts, whether it adopts an ideology or not. Then the factors that affect its international relations would be understood. Since an ideology affects the state that adopts it, and consequently it affects the international relations and the international situation, therefore it is necessary to be acquainted with the ideologies that prevail in the world today. It is also necessary to know the extent of effect each ideology has today on international politics, and its possible effect on international arena today and in future. In the light of these ideologies and the extent of their effect at present and in future, the international relations can be understood.
When we examine the world today, we find it dominated by three ideologies only, which are: Islam, communism and capitalism, where hundreds of millions of people embrace each one of them. However, Islam has no state today to adopt; therefore we do not see any effect to it in the international relations and international situation that prevails the world today. As regards the actions that are undertaken by the states of the world to prevent the return of the Islamic state to life, after the unrest amongst Muslims became quite noticed, this has nothing to do with the international situation, and nor it affects the international relations. This is because effect on the international situation and international relations requires the presence of a state that adopts Islam as an ideology, upon which it conducts its domestic and foreign policy.
As regards that which is noticed, in terms of the prospects of international, particularly American, politics for attempting to reshape the Islamic region via plans of hegemony, such as ‘Greater Middle East Initiative’ in 2003. All of this is due to the growing fear of these states that emergence of a state to Muslims is potentially near. It is not because Islam affects on international politics the way it would do when there is a real Islamic state.
As regards the other two ideologies, each one of them has a state, rather more. Therefore, they have effect on international relations, international situation, and international politics, particularly when the Soviet Union (SU) was present, and before its downfall. One sign of their effect is that world was divided into two camps: the eastern one and the western one. However, after the collapse of the eastern camp, and fragmentation of Warsaw Pact, the bi-polar policy in the world came to an end. So, Communist ideology is no more implemented, even formally, except in China and North Korea. Accordingly, struggle in the world ceased to be international; it rather became regional. This is because after the downfall of SU, its (communist) thought ceased to have effect on the global politics. This was due to the fact that the propagation of communism, upon which its foreign policy was established, ceased to be implemented. As regards the states that still adopt communism, their foreign policy is not based on this thought. Chinese policy, as an example, is not built on propagating communism in the world. This is due to the reality of Chinese people, which was content with influence in the Asian neighbourhood; and it did not historically aspire for a global role. Due to this reality of the Chinese people, China did not strive any time to prepare itself and its resources for acquiring an effective position in the global politics. All the Chinese activities are still focused on winning regional influence in the neighbourhood.
As regards the capitalist camp, the thought upon which its policy is built is the propagation of capitalism, which is separation of religion from life affairs, worldwide. Though there are numerous and different states that adopt capitalism, all of them work to propagate their capitalist intellectual leadership in the world, and to make their viewpoint about live dominate over the world.
As regarding the method, which the capitalist camp follows for executing its thought, it is colonialism; ie imposing the political, military, cultural and economic authority over the conquered peoples for the sake of their exploitation. This method of colonialism is constant, and does not change regardless of the change of governments and their laws. Colonialism is not as Lenin described, where he said: ‘It is the last stage of capitalism’. Rather, colonialism is part of the viewpoint of capitalism; and it is the method by which capitalism is propagated to the nations and peoples. Therefore, the foreign policy of the capitalist camp is constant, in terms of its thought and its method; and it does not change following the change and competition of states. Thus, Britain is like America, France, Italy and any other capitalist state; where its policy is based on propagating its ideology and its viewpoint about life, through colonizing the nations and peoples.
For understanding the method of the western camp, it is worth noticing that though this method, which is colonialism, is constant, however the styles of realizing colonialism and view towards it have developed a little in the western camp. This was in term of its link, as a method, with capitalism, as a thought, through time. And also in term of change of styles and difference in the view towards colonialism, which occurred as a result of this development. As regards the change in the styles of the method (colonialism), it used to depend on military domination in what was known as old colonialism, but then it became to depend on other matters in what was called new colonialism. So, America started to depend on the economic side, such as loans, development projects, experts and the like; this is beside political pressure and harassment. However, America returned to use, beside these styles, the style of military domination over the nations and peoples, so as to subjugate them to her influence and will. She also began to endeavour to building military bases in her colonies so as to safeguard her influence in them. England became to depend on finding agents for her, English intelligence, making rulers as agents for her and on notorious trading deals. Her dependence on loans retreated because of her weak financial situation. Likewise, her dependence on military bases diminished due to her weak international influence, though she still holds fast to her military garrisons and bases in her colonies, as in Cyprus, or close to those colonies. Thus, change of styles became an inseparable attribute of colonialism.
As regards the change in the view towards colonialism, concerning its link (as a method) with capitalism (as a thought), this view started to fluctuate between two matters. On one side is the strength of this link, i.e. colonialism is just a method for propagating capitalism, which means the prime attention is for propagating capitalism. On the other side is the weakness of this link, ie the prime attention is colonialism, itself, while the second attention is propagating capitalism. In this case, colonialism was close to become an objective. The strength and weakness of this link depend on the country, which the capitalist states want to dominate. Has such country a civilization, where these states want to invade it and enforce the corrupt capitalist civilization on it, so as to enable its control and pillage of its wealth? Or, is it empty, having no civilization to be attacked; they rather colonize it for robbing its resources and controlling it only? This is manifested in the fact that the severity of competition between the western states over the colonization of Africa was for its exploitation, and the propagation of the capitalist thought hardly existed. Civil war in Uganda and Rwanda continued for many years, causing hundreds of thousands of human victims. In the events of Zaire (Democratic Congo), there was only material greed and competition over influence between Europe and America. Britain and her European allies, together with America, did not look for anything in Africa except for material benefit. Thus, colonialism in Africa was close to become an objective rather than a method. However, in the Islamic world: the Middle East and North Africa or in Central and South Asia, the colonial powers, including America, besides they struggle to exploit its material resources, they strive to propagate capitalism as well, as represented in their attention to the conferences of ‘freedom of women’ and ‘consolidation of women’, the contents of the American plan for the Middle East, imposing the cultural hegemony as manifested in ‘rebuilding of cultures’, dialogue between religions, meeting of civilizations, and focus on changing or modifying the education curriculum; all of that is for breaking the attachment of Muslims to their civilization and culture. Thus, the method of capitalism started to develop with time. However, colonialism is a fundamental pillar in capitalism, whether it was a method for propagating capitalism or a method that is more to become an objective.
The full book is available from Revival Publications