chapter  5
20 Pages

II SEPTEMBER 2001 AND ALL THAT

The United States has now come to accept Russia’s percep­ tion of Afghanistan. So alarmed was Moscow in 1979 by the mounting influence of Muslim clerics and their followers that it launched its ill-fated invasion in a vain attempt to defeat the spiritual magnetism of Islam by military means. They suffered from two great weaknesses: they were foreigners and they had only a secular vision of the world to supplant Islam. The Soviets promised greater material wealth, the mullahs promised spiritual self-fulfilment based on material selfdenial. Moscow took it for granted that modernisation or sec­ ularisation was what all developing countries needed. It was so self-evident there was no need to justify it. Marxism bor­ rowed its economic goals from capitalism. They both shared the same goal: plenitude on earth. Different routes would be taken to the promised land: capitalism would bank on indi­ vidual initiative and endeavour and communism would get there collectively. There was no third way: there was no Islamic way. Both the capitalist and communist models left

talist countries. Everyone is free to seek his or her own spiri­ tual salvation. To underline this there are over 33,000 different versions of Christianity. Under communism, the spiritual dimension was suppressed. The new Soviet man and woman did not need the prop of religion. In modern capital­ ist countries the state and religion are separate. Economic and political decisions are normally taken without consulting the churches, indeed any spiritual authority. For many, one’s spiritual life is private and should not impinge on one’s secular role in society.