John Game

What Colonialism Did for Them

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I agree with some of Neil Davidson's analyses and all of his political conclusions ("Islam and the Enlightenment", SR, March). But in my view he makes far too many concessions to the "trouble with Islam" diagnosis that informs so much discussion of the war on terror.

The notion that there is some sort of "trouble with Islam" bears more than a passing resemblance to previous arguments about the Middle East.

Back in the good old days, Western scholars argued that the "trouble" was the absence of strong leaders in the Arab world who could build strong states, like Bismarck did when he built the German state in the late 19th century. But this argument completely ignored the material circumstances of attempting to build modern states that could serve as vehicles of capital accumulation in a world already dominated by European colonialism.

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