chapter  1
Resisting the empire
Pages 34

Over the last 200 years, until the threshold of the twenty-first century, Mus-

lims around the world have been engaged in a vital confrontation first with European colonialism and after the demise of that calamity with the rise of

the US empire. This fateful confrontation has meant a systematic corrosion

of the innate cosmopolitanism of Islamic cultures and its gradual mutation

into a singular site of ideological resistance to foreign domination – in both

political and cultural terms. The rise of Islamic ideologies worldwide corro-

borated the centrality of European capitalist modernity in which its colonial

edges were categorically denigrated and denied agency – a reality against

which a series of anti-colonial ideologies and movements took shape, among them both Christian and Islamic liberation theologies. In this chapter I

intend to give an account of the outdated bipolarity between ‘‘Islam and the

West’’ that for two centuries defined the terms of domination and resistance

in the entire Muslim world. My intention here ultimately is to argue that the

amorphous nature of capital in its current stage has generated an equally

amorphous empire, and the dialectic of these two historical forces will per-

force generate a succession of different and differing modes of resistance to it

by people inevitably disenfranchised by its operation and devastated by its ravages. My ultimate intention in this book is to see in what particular terms

might militant Islamic movements, beyond and above the current vicious

cycle one can call the Bush-Bin Laden syndrome, have a share in this legit-

imate resistance to a predatory empire.