Al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki couldn't let the glorious Arab Spring blossom without tossing in a bouquet of ragweed.
In an essay published a few days ago in al-Qaeda's on-line magazine "Inspire," Anwar gave al-Qaeda's policy position on the recent Middle East turmoil.
My blog has posts on Anwar al-Awlaki (11/23/2010, 11/12/2010, 10/31/10, 10/15/2010), known as the "bin Laden of the Internet." A cleric hiding in Yemen, he is on America's targeted killing list, i.e., hit list. Born in New Mexico, Anwar holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State (1994); he studied for a Ph. D. in human resource development at George Washington University. Daddy was a Fulbright Scholar, Agriculture Minister of Yemen, and university president.
Conclusion: in, around, and in spite of himself, Anwar al-Awlaki is a middle class rebel.
For readers of The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion, Anwar's latest refrain is familiar, all too familiar ...
We do not know yet what the outcome would be, and we do not have to.The outcome doesn't have to be an Islamic government for us to consider what is occurring to be a step in the right direction. Regardless of the outcome, whether it is an Islamic government or the Iikes of al-Baradi, Amr Mousa or another miIitary figure; whatever the outcome is, our mujahidin brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and the rest of the Muslim world will get a chance to breathe again after three decades of suffocation ... Even without this wave of change in the Muslim world, the jihad movement was on the rise. With the new developments in the area, one can only expect that the great doors of opportunity would open up for the mujahidin all over the world.
We do not have to. What the ... ? Why so flat? Why such a wooden tongue?
Answer: Anwar cannot do otherwise. He is condemned to sing the same song over and over again, until he recognizes and accepts a secret he keeps, even from himself. Unfortunately, no middle class rebel has ever said what he is. Anwar al-Awlaki -- an unexceptional man with an unexceptional story -- will not be the exception.
As analyzed in The Source of Terrorism, one of the key tenets of middle class ideology is that ideas
are not social in origin. Rather, they are are considered to be ultimately individual, sacred and probably eternal, and definitely independent of socio-economic class. However, once a social origin is denied, all that remain are quasi-mystical explanations ... " (p. 300).
It is not difficult to see how a middle class man is attracted to anything claimed to be the word of god; he is already halfway there. Nor is it difficult to see how he would be inclined to view not just ideas but symbols in general as other-worldly:
Because a symbol always transcends its carrier, mystification of symbols is an inescapable temptation. This temptation is especially strong in the middle class precisely because it denies the social origin of words and other symbols, and therefore needs to fill in the very void its own ideology constantly creates. (Ibid.)
The sheer volume of Anwar's lectures and articles provides a case study in what happens when words are assigned an extra-terrestrial origin:
Given the belief that words are magical keys to a magical kingdom, the political consequence of mystification of symbols is an inordinate emphasis on speeches, declarations, slogans, manifestos, proclamations, programs, platforms, pronunciamentos. (Ibid., p. 303.)
Absolutely convinced he is attuned to absolute truths, the middle class rebel engages in idiosyncratic political behavior. To trace its basic contours, we turn to someone eminently experienced in the subject: Karl Marx, a lawyer's son and middle class rebel par excellence. With tongue in cheek -- but not entirely -- Marx wrote 150 years ago that anyone wishing to lead in a militant, middle class rebel milieu needs to have
a nucleus of idees fixes, he must be a man of principle in permanent pursuit of his mission to redeem the world. By means of sermons at the front and sustained didactic propaganda, he must impart a consciousness of this higher idea to every man individually and in this way he will transform the whole troop into sons within the faith. If this higher ideal is tinged with philosophy or mysticism or anything that surpasses normal understanding, if it is something Hegelian by nature ... then so much the better. (Ibid., p. 303.)
A la Hegel, Anwar insists that it makes no difference what regimes sprout in the Middle East -- that whatever the outcome is, it will be a step in the right direction. "Heads we win; tails you lose": clever, no?
Sorry -- been there; done that. Marx remarked of the militant, middle class rebel leader:
Even in peacetime he does not lose his indispensable assurance and just as in wartime every setback spurred him on to proclaim victory on the morrow, so now he is forever expounding on the moral certainty and the philosophical inevitability with which 'it' will start to happen within the next fortnight. (Ibid., p. 305.)
Decades ago, a TV game show "Name That Tune" presented a visceral challenge to contestants. They had to identify a well-known song after hearing only a few notes.
Do not have to; regardless; one can only expect; on the rise: even after so many notes, Anwar cannot name the tune he is playing. Neither can his politically tone deaf, middle class rebel disciples -- Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad and Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan, among others.