Tuesday, 12 November 2013

What Green Means


Alexandre del Valle writes of a “green-red-br0wn” coalition of political forces. At first I thought he meant “environmental, Marxist & Fascist” political forces, which seemed to me rather far-fetched. But eventually I discovered he meant a coalition of “Muslim, Marxist & Fascist” political forces. This seems considerably more likely, since I have observed several prominent leftists defending Islamism and even Islamic terrorism. James Petras, a classic Marxist theorist of Latin America’s rebelliousness against the US, now seems to granted Islamists equal standing with Latin American desarrollistas and Marxists to challenge the West.
I was repelled by the notion that the rational economic analysis of Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Raúl Prebisch, and countless others be put on the same pedestal as the frenzied outpourings of obscurantist cutthroats like Sayyid Qutb and his ilk.
But then I started to wonder about the political ambiguity of the color green.
Why is green the color both of Islam and of the ecological movement?
And in which respects do these two movements differ?
For environmentalists the color green stands for what they wish to protect against the encroachments of aggressive economic development -- generally conducted for the benefit of a privileged few.
On the other hand in Islam, the color green symbolizes salvation.
But why is salvation green?
The color was evidently selected on the basis of early Islam’s geographic location. Mecca and Medina, the seats of early Islam from where Islam rapidly spread through conquest during the first centuries of its existence, are located in the midst of the world’s largest expanse of desert, which stretches unbroken from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to beyond the Persian Gulf in the east.
In a desert, as I can tell from my own experience, the color green is remarkably infrequent. When a green patch appears on the horizon, weary desert travelers rekindle hope. An oasis is nearby!
That is the meaning of the color green in Islam.
So unless I err, when environmentalists use the color green, it stands for the object of their solicitude, namely the terrestrial biosphere.
Islam, by contrast, appears to use the color green as a mere advertising gimmick to convey its transcendent spiritual message: “Islam provides fast relief for your discomfort!”
I am reluctant to press a point, especially since this is merely a hypothesis that has not been systematically analyzed, nor tested against a representative data set for its empirical falsification.

Nonetheless I sense a pattern here, one that repeats itself ad nauseam in the Islamic ideology:  the prevalence of appearance over substance, of words over facts and of violence over truth.