The concept of the state and developments of the radical phenomenon

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran

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What radical movements and revolutionary countries have in common is their absolute hostility to the concept of the state. It’s dangerous to ally or make friends with these groups and entities whose major goals are toppling the state. This can be specifically said about the joint alliance between al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood in the guardian of the jurist system in Iran.

The supreme guide and his circle have been talking about the possibilities of the collapse of countries, such as Saudi Arabia, ever since the Iranian revolution in 1979. To achieve their aims, they went as far as working with other revolutionary groups such as communist ones which oppose the Gulf countries. Although these groups are outdated, they are still present especially in media outlets affiliated with the axis of “resistance” in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

These groups have not comprehended that ideologies which were famous and common in the 20th century have come to an end – that’s except for the radical phenomenon which historian Eric Hobsbawm said continues to flourish in the 21st century, unlike other totalitarian movements which came to an end.

Radical groups which are guarded and nurtured by Iran aim to undermine the concept of the state. This turns the conflict into one between the civil war and the social contract, the state and the militia and totalitarian despotism and individualism.

In his book The Barren Sacrifice: An Essay on Political Violence, professor of philosophy Paul Dumouchel spoke about the state, violence and groups in chapter 2. Dumouchel said “the concept of the state, as political theorist Carl Schmitt says, presupposes the concept of the political.

Radical groups which are guarded and nurtured by Iran aim to undermine the concept of the state. This turns the conflict into one between the civil war and the social contract, the state and the militia and totalitarian despotism and individualism

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran

The concept of the state

This means the field of politics is bigger than what is called the state which has been the focus of political thinking ever since the days of Hobbes. The political aspect is not only bigger than the concept of the state but it presupposes it and is more essential than it because it clarifies the circumstances of its emergence and disappearance.

According to Hobbes, the state as we know it and as the entity that monopolizes legitimate violence – in reference to Max Weber – is only a possible expression of the political aspect. According to Schmitt, the characteristic of every political relation is the friend-enemy distinction.”

What’s more important for Schmitt is to specify the standards of friendship and enmity between states. He compared internal enemies with foreign ones as the former threatens the state’s existence. This enables Sunni or Shiite radical armed terrorist groups and ideological parties that delegitimize the state. According to Schmitt, the ruler specifies who the enemy is, and he will thus “establish and reinforce the system which can be used to implement legal standards.”

This is similar to devising a strategy to confront internal enemies where the law sets the rules of discipline among individuals and protects institutions from individual and isolationist whims and separatist attempts. At this point, the state will have fully grown. It will be vibrant and capable of achieving internal peace. This is the summary of Schmitt’s explanation about the internal enemy, and it is useful here to further explain Dumouchel’s concepts and implement them on our present.

According to Schmitt, resorting to force as a means to resolve foreign conflicts is only an option and it’s not a continuous policy. Schmitt does not differentiate between the threat of foreign and internal enemies on the people and he rather compares these enemies and their ability to undermine state institutions.

Evil alliance

Sometimes, foreign enemies partner with internal enemies to stir chaos, topple the state and spread terror and brutality. This is specifically happening in our experience in Saudi Arabia as a “brotherly” country and another “regional” one work to create new phenomena to harm Saudis Arabia. A hostile theocratic regime like Iran has been doing so since the 1970’s. This has been happening with the brotherly country Qatar since the 1990’s as it made the historical alliance between it and the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda.

The alliance with the Brotherhood is well-known. To serve its aims of harming state institutions, it established the Academy of Change and dozens of dailies, magazines, centers and awards to gain the support of young generations and appeal to their sentiment.

During the peak of Saudi Arabia’s battle with al-Qaeda, Abdullah Al-Nafisi appeared with Al-Jazeera’s host Ahmed Mansour several times and defended arrested terrorists and al-Qaeda organization on the basis that it’s an organization that – according to its whims – implements the prophet’s hadiths regarding expelling polytheists from the Arabian Peninsula.

Fortunately, these episodes from defending Bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s ideology to the ones tackling Saudi Arabia’s war on al-Qaeda, are all available on the internet. They were cheerful as they claimed it will be difficult for the state to eliminate terrorism. It was therefore an alliance between two enemies, a foreign sponsor and an internal enemy. This aggression, however, was harshly defeated.

The conflict is now between the state and the militia. Saudi Arabia and moderate countries are protecting and defending the concept of the state amid the suspicious attraction of some parties to terrorist militias. This behavior has serious consequences. “And you will surely know [the truth of] its information after a time.”

This article is also available in Arabic.
Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.

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