Friday, 2 November 2007
Britz hit our screens a few nights ago promising something exciting and a bit glitzy with a comprehensive ad-campaign in the run up to its four hour screening, including an accompanying DVD release.
The reaction to the show seems to have been mixed with the ever-progressive Telegraph suggest it expressed the show was largely expressive of an inherently simplistic “old-fashioned agitprop politics". This comment can only be understood in reference to the hamfistedly deadpan script and acting provided for the duration of the second instalment, unable to provide a degree of nuance beyond that perhaps expected in a book entitled ‘The Dummies Guide to Why I Became A Terrorist’.
What’s interesting is that while the program addressed many of the suggested featured involved in the ‘radicalisation’ of young British Muslims (including the screening of films displaying atrocities committed against Muslims in Palestine and elsewhere for example) the characterisation didn’t convincingly display a person being radicalised. Even with the use of running-commentary – roughly paraphrased as “oh, god, this is terrible, maybe that terrorist sympathising bloke had the right idea” - provided by the protagonist for the sake of the viewer. That said, the cardboard-cut-out approach to characterisation involved in the second episode occasionally provided a few laughs; when a comrade sees the main protagonist semi-naked and objects she dejectedly comments, with all the frustrated nuance of a teenager being asked to tidy her room, “what does it matter, I’ll be dead in an hour!” While this was perhaps intended to be something akin to the criminal in Albert Camus’s The Outsider rejecting his last rites, it instead comes across as more of a blunt instrument labelled ‘pathos’ smacked around the viewer’s head.
Text provided at the end of the episode cited statistics noting the number of those opposed to the war in Iraq and the resulting fear of persecution within Muslim communities. These figures may lend themselves to associations between a rise in terrorist activity and the increasing frustration felt by many Muslims about British imperial adventures within Muslim dominated countries. These are points that have readily been made by Stop the War Coalition leaders such as John Rees in reference to the perceived absence of ‘civil liberties’. While this is likely to retain strong elements of truth – an approach which limits the causes of terrorism to this factor alone seems unable to raise wider commentary on the nature of political-Islam, ignoring this phenomena for the sake of a good/bad duality of limited scope and vision.
As Mike Mcnair notes in the Weekly Worker, the focus of the U.K. as a target for the actions of Jihad is not a new phenomena while the rise of Jihadism must be understood in reference to the rise of political Islam, operating in a vacuum in which Communism has not the hegemonic appeal as the alternative to the alienation and commodification of capitalism. This fact operates within a context in which advocates of Marxism seem gripped by inertia and a dramatic absence of confidence in their own ideas. As Mcnair suggests the left, in this sense, has provided no solutions to the frustrations of members of those aforementioned working-class communities within the U.K. While Yassmine Mather and Ardeshir Mehrdad have commented that in order to understand the role of political Islam we must first understand the nature of the “economic, political and ideological” crisis enveloping those states in which Radical Islam has been resurgent, the role of a form of Neo-Liberalism seems key to this process.