Hi, it’s Grey Greyvara, social conscience at the Greenygrey. When Marc Latham was studying for his PhD from 2000-2005 he was considered a Jew in a derogatory Islamo-fascist-liberal way for daring to say the Middle-East was a cycle of violence; mostly influenced by the work of media analyst with a cool surname Gadi Wolfsfeld.
Islamo-fascism continued in the area Marc lived, and that persecution of anything criticising Islam probably helped inspire some of those involved in the 7/7 bombings of 2005.
British Left-Wing Support of Islamism
Marc was still quite a radical socialist during that time, so was critical of Islam for its social inequality and human rights abuses. But criticism of Islam at university was decoded and demonised as being pro-West, pro-Israeli and right-wing.
Marc understands this is the way the world is divided between east and west; highlighted in the Syrian conflict recently. Marc doesn’t like the U.S. blockade of Cuba, but also doesn’t like Cuba’s alliance with countries such as Syria and Iran; although the West’s ally in the Middle-East Saudi Arabia also has a terrible human rights record.
While that might sound Islamophobic, Marc enjoyed his time in Islamic countries when travelling through them in the 1980s. It’s not Islamic people on the whole that Marc criticises, it is their rulers and ideologies.
Unfortunately, Islamism has risen since the 1980s, inspiring more people to become extremists. This has had a knock-on effect in other countries and religions, with more Christian and Jewish extremists, as well as more radical atheists.
As a focus on Islamism took over the left in the U.K.; originally through New Labour, and now epitomised by George Galloway; and 7/7 happened; Marc moved to the political centre, and out of academic life, leading to Greenygrey theory on this here websitey.
From Marxism to Scandinavian Democracy
Marc moved from being a bit of a British Marxist, common in 1980s Britain, to a Scandinavian style democratic socialist; although Scandinavia has also changed politically since the Utopian post-World War II era, and many parts have become more capitalist.
However, it still scores highly in most standard-of-living and democratic ideals ratings: equality, press freedom, freedom of speech, environmental innovation etc.
So I was interested to hear Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus express similar views to Marc on religion recently, published on the British Rationalist Association website; and in particular on the negativity and threat of Islamism.
Moreover, our ol’ pal Marc Latham replied on September 18th, before the latest explosion of Islamism in Kenya (and Pakistan, where dozens of Christians were killed in a Taliban suicide bombing attack):
‘Israel has some responsibility in the Middle-East, because of its expansionism, but it is only Islam that is still spreading religious war around the region, and out into the rest of the world.
And even then, Judaism was around for about 1000 years before Islam, and Christianity for about 500 years before Islam, and they are both trying desperately to hold on to some land/a foothold in their Middle-East homes.’
Marc hopes that Iran’s election of the more moderate Rouhani and his recent peaceful overtones to the ‘West’ can bring a new era of hope to the Middle-East.
Bjorn Ulvaeus Swedish Humanist
I didn’t know that Bjorn Ulvaeus was a Swedish humanist until I read that interview, or that he’d had a similar religious journey to Marc Latham until watching the following interview.
Bjorn Ulvaeus was also a secular freedom of speech advocate who didn’t take much interest in religion until the rise of Islamism and 9/11: