Paul Berman seems to have started a trend. Waller Newell has a go at tracing a genealogy of contemporary political Islam to European fascism, this time connecting Ahmadinejad to Heidegger’s Nazism via Ali Shariati and Franz Fanon. (Wasn’t Fanon, not too long ago, supposed to be just a tawny immitation of Sorel? Or is he now just a third-world Rorschach for the political right?) Now if someone could work Charles Maurras into it, then we could also get the French in there. In The Weekly Standard:
A number of writers including Bernard Lewis and Paul Berman have stressed connections between al Qaeda and European ideologies of revolutionary extremism. The Iranian revolution’s connections with these ideologies are, if anything, even better documented. The key figure here is the acknowledged intellectual godfather of the Iranian revolution, Ali Shariati. To understand Ahmadinejad’s campaign to return to the purity of the revolution and why it leads him to flirt with nuclear Armageddon, it is necessary to understand Ali Shariati.
Ali Shariati (1933-1977) was an Iranian intellectual who studied comparative literature in Paris in the early 1960s and was influenced by Jean-Paul Sartre and Frantz Fanon. He translated Sartre’s major philosophical work, Being and Nothingness, into Farsi, and coauthored a translation of Fanon’s famous revolutionary tract The Wretched of the Earth. Sartre and Fanon together were responsible for revitalizing Marxism by borrowing from Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of existentialism, which stressed man’s need to struggle against a purposeless bourgeois world in order to endow life with meaning through passionate commitment. By lionizing revolutionary violence as a purifying catharsis that forces us to turn our backs on the bourgeois world, Sartre and Fanon hoped to rescue the downtrodden from the seduction of Western material prosperity. Fanon was even more important because he imported from Heidegger’s philosophy a passionate commitment to the “destiny” of “the people,” the longing for the lost purity of the premodern collective that had drawn Heidegger to National Socialism.