Far from being the "obscure cranks" that the Wall St. Journal claims, the makers of this film have links up to the very tops of the US capitalist class and its representatives, including the editorial writers for the Wall St. Journal itself!
While two US destroyers and 50 US marines headed towards the Libyan coast after the embassy there was burned and its ambassador was killed recent or ongoing riots were reported outside the US embassies in both Egypt and Yemen and the Berlin US embassy was evacuated due to a terrorist threat. Meanwhile, the US presidential election has been thrown a curveball, in which the focus is now on foreign policy rather than the economic crisis at home.
Whoever would have thought that a collection of two bit charlatans, hucksters and racist/religious fanatical demagogues - individuals that in less volatile times wouldn't even merit a footnote in history - would have such an impact on world events? "The Innocence of Muslims" also serves as a reminder of the political crisis of capitalism and of the fact that relations within and between the capitalist class are a vital aspect of the world revolution and counter-revolution.
We are referring, of course, to the events surrounding the film "The Innocence of Muslims", a movie that is so amateurish in its production that it's hard to believe that it was not intentional. Let us start with the history of this film - one which is so poorly made that it actually makes the last "Batman" film appear as a brilliant work of art.
History of Film
It went unnoticed when a trailer of it was first posted to the internet back in July by a man apparently using the pseudonym Sam Bacile, who claimed to be an Israeli Jew who'd allegedly raised $5 million in donations from fellow Jews. When the film went unnoticed, one Morris Sadek translated it into Egyptian Arabic. Sadek is an Egyptian Coptic Christian who has links to the Christian fanatics in the US. At that time, the Koran burning fanatic Christian minister Terry Jones started promoting it. Also involved in producing the film was one Steve Klein. Klein is a special forces Vietnam vet who is also deeply involved in the Christian fanatical anti-Muslim cabal here in the US.
Anti Muslim Christian Fanatics
And who is involved in this crowd?
As the Center for American Progress in a report entitled "Fear Incorporated" writes, they include:
• Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy
• David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence
• Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum
• Spencer, of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America
• Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism
Meanwhile, seven foundations have donated no less than $40 million to Islamophobic think tanks like these over the past ten years. They are:
• Donors Capital Fund
• Richard Mellon Scaife foundations
• Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
• Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust
• Russell Berrie Foundation
• Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald Family Fund
• Fairbrook Foundation
Who are these people?
Richard Mellon Scaife, of the Mellon "robber baron" family, was the main financial backer of the Whitewater "scandal" that nearly drove Bill Clinton from office. The Donors Capital Fund is chaired by Adam Meyerson, who is Vice President of the Heritage Foundation. He also has links with the groups that are pushing the privatization of public education in the US and is a former editorial writer for the Wall St. Journal who maintains his editorial ties with that bedrock of US capitalism. The politicians involved in this crowd run the gamut. They go from Villa Park city councilwoman Deborah Pauley to US Representatives Peter King (R. N.Y.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) to former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
It also seems relevant that the maker of this film posed as an Israeli Jew. What could he and his confederates hope to gain from that but trying to provoke an attack on Israel, which would hopefully (in his mind) lead to a US counter-attack and possibly a wider war in the region (maybe including with Iran)?
Thus, far from being the "obscure cranks" that the Wall St. Journal claims, the makers of this film have links up to the very tops of the US capitalist class and its representatives, including the editorial writers for the Wall St. Journal itself!
This shows how in a period such as the present, the capitalist class can unleash forces that then go well beyond their own control -- forces that in a less volatile time would not even merit a footnote in history.
Religious Fundamentalists Interdependent
Far from a mass movement (like the Arab Spring truly was), the protests at the embassies in Yemen, Egypt and Libya involved a reported few thousand. In the case of the burning of the Libyan embassy and the killing of Ambassador Chris Stephens, it is believed that this was the premeditated act of a Salafist group called Ansar al Sharia. Undoubtedly, though, the release and publicizing of the film will help their cause, which is exactly the intent of the movie makers and their cohorts, in part. After all, these reactionary religious fanatics (of all religions) depend on each other to justify their own existence. However, the increased role of groups like Ansar al Sharia also are an indication of the weakened role of US capitalism worldwide as well as of the general crisis of world capitalism.
Reactionary Role of Arab Capitalist Class - Linked to US Capitalism
Just as the overthrow of the Shah of Iran (1979) led to the rise of an Islamic state there (after the workers' movement was defeated), so the overthrow of other secular dictators is helping create a similar development now. We see the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the increased support for Islamic fundamentalist groups in the war in Syria and the same in Libya and Yemen. While the Wall St. Journal and the Christian fanatics moan this development, they have actually helped create it. After all, where do the main forces for the Islamic political fundamentalists come from but Saudi Arabian Wahabiism? (For Westerners: Wahabiism is the austere, fundamentalist wing of Sunni Muslimism developed by the Saudi Arabian ruling class. It is interesting to note the close link between Wahabi/Salafi fundamentalism and Christian fundamentalism, both of which advocate a literal interpretation of their particular religious book - either the bible or the koran.) And who have been the main supporters of the ruling regime in Saudi Arabia and its Wahabiism but US capitalism?
In reality, what these Islamic fundamentalists represent is an increasingly assertive wing of the capitalist class in the Arab world and the Islamic world in general. In some cases, perhaps in particular with the Shia wing of Islamic fundamentalists (Iran), they are linked with some of the main rivals of US capitalism (Chinese and Russian capitalism). At present, the US capitalist class is divided over how to meet this challenge. Up through the Bush administrations, the main approach was, as Obama has called it, to "shoot first and aim later". This involved the belief that US capitalism did not need allies and that all that was required was blunt military superiority.
Global Weakening of US Capitalism
US capitalism learned a lesson in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The result was that the major wings of that class installed Obama as president to carry out a more strategic foreign policy. Now the other wing is counter-attacking. Today's (Sept. 13) Wall St. Journal's main editorial is worth quoting extensively. They comment on the "slowly building tension and disorder that seems likely to flare into larger troubles and perhaps even military conflicts," and refer to "the world's bad actors [who] are asserting themselves to fill the vacuum." They are referring to Islamic fundamentalists here, as well as their main rivals - Chinese and Russian capitalism. The recent attacks on US embassies "fit a pattern of declining respect for US power and influence," and complain that "the US has done little to shape events and is increasingly irrelevant." They bring in the increasingly assertive role of Chinese capitalism in the South China Sea as well as Iranian defiance of US capitalism and worry that the US "won't be respected or feared." In another editorial, they talk about "the necessity of America's global leadership." As they write, the "lesson… is the ancient one that weakness is provocative."
They are right about one thing: US capitalism is politically weaker relative to its rivals than it has been for over 100 years. This, however, is an objective fact, not one due to weak policies. It is beset with an economic crisis at home and strengthening economic rivals (especially Chinese capitalism) abroad. The danger - and the contradiction - comes from the fact that this weakness does not include a military weakness. Thus there is a continual tendency for US capitalism to resort to this one strength.
Division in US Capitalist Class
This present crisis is also a reflection of another general tendency worldwide. The United States is not anywhere near a revolutionary or even a pre-revolutionary situation. In fact, a generalized workers' movement here has really not even begun yet. However, in other countries that process has started, and one thing that develops when the capitalist class confronts a generalized workers movement is an increased division within the capitalist class. One wing advocates increased repression while another wing advocates concessions. Each wing increasingly bitterly attacks the other on the grounds that their opponents' strategy will only drive the working class forward. Each wing is correct. On a global scale, as the US capitalist class faces an increased crisis, a similar division within their class is evident. One wing advocates concessions and another wing advocates a hard line. Both wings are right in their criticisms of their opponents, but the strategy of neither wing can stem the tide.
World Workers' Movement
In its essence, this turmoil is a symptom of two main factors: First is the sharply increasing conflict between the works capitalist powers and factions of that class. We should note that it was exactly such a crisis (WW I) that brought about the first world workers revolution in 1917. On the other hand, there remains the fact that although it is developing, the world workers' movement is still quite retarded in relation to the tasks history imposes on it.
There is another lesson to be learned for the world workers' movement: All wings of the capitalist class are reactionary in this world period. It is clearly so for the US capitalist class, but equally so for the underdeveloped world. Look at what happened in Egypt. The secular dictator Mubarak was in power for decades. He repressed the workers' movement and privatized publicly held industries. He was overthrown by a revolt from below, but that revolt temporarily led to the rise of a wing of the Egyptian capitalist class linked with political Islam - the Muslim Brotherhood. Now that wing is repressing strikes while it hypocritically hides behind what could be called Islamic nationalism.
The decks have been cleared of the rotten role of Stalinism. The attacks of the capitalist class are increasingly clear everywhere in the world. The disaster looming from capitalism's destruction of the environment is also becoming increasingly clear as the worldwide drought hits more and more. What is also increasingly clear to workers is that their problems cannot be solved on a national basis. This is seen in the movement of the South African miners who are starting to organize across the border.
World Workers' International
What stands as the salvation for the human species as well as for life on earth is the yet-to-be born world workers' international. Time is short, the full lessons are yet to be learned and fully put into place. That is the full conclusion from this film that in other times would never have even been noticed.
John Reimann is a retired carpenter and an expelled member of the Carpenters' Union in the United States. (He was expelled for leading rank and file struggles against the union bureaucracy.) He is a long-time socialist, who organized for a number of years in Mexico. He is presently a member of the Industrial Workers of the World.