What is God trying to tell us?
Written by Dorotea Pospihalj
Dialectical analysis of the article published in Družina, written by Branko Cestnik
The following text was inspired by the original article published in the weekly magazine Družina (Family), in Slovenia.
In the text I will analyse the dialectics used in the article and argue why certain terms and words were used and what or who are they addressing. Public space and media, as we know it, contributed to the general accessibility of the information to the vast number of people, the number of people that are well informed in today’s modern society is greater than ever before in human history. This should make us feel quite optimistic and content of the achievement. However, there is also a far more sinister side to the freedom of information, as well as speech. Information can be based on empirical, scientifically proven facts, occurrences of events, of a purely fictional narrative. All of the above can be a subject to covert agendas or have a very specific purpose.
I tend not to read populist propaganda or articles, newspapers that advocate for conservative far right concepts. At the same time, I must admit that those can be a rich source of bewilderment and entertainment. Until I don’t realise that people who read these outlets, unlike me, take them quite seriously. This is probably where my hysterical laughter turns into pure rage. By pure coincidence, I came across an article (forwarded to me by my father, apparently he is also deeply engaged in the research and analysis of the fascist phenomena present in the press). Anyway, the article was published in the weekly magazine called Družina (Family in Slovenian), it could be quite well considered a propaganda leaflet distributed directly by the church. The text starts with the following statement: “ In 20 years all Slovenians will be praising Allah”. Now, beyond the fact how insane this statement is, I do have to admit that it has this potent and inviting charge, that compels you to read further. The article, of course, gets more absurd, despite the very short length of the text. As I will point out later on, that this also has a precise function, short and direct communication, that is not time and mind consuming.
Mr Cestnik, the author of this text, tells this anecdote of a Muslim Gipsy, that comes to visit him occasionally. He continues to quote the Gipsy; “that the truth about Allah is so great, that the human heart would fail not to know and acknowledge it”. Whatever that might actually mean. Mr Cestnik continues to explain how the Gipsy, then invited him to pray towards Mecca, where he then narcissistically turns him down and quite explicitly belittles the person’s views and beliefs and finally calls him naive. He explains to a clearly “blind” man that: “Even so we both believe in one God, we are not of the same religion. My God did not reveal himself in Mecca”. Well, this could be already the first factual inconsistency and we are two sentences into the article. If we were to examine the Qur’an briefly and follow the mainstream Muslim philosophy, it would become very evident that Allah never revealed himself in the first place (1). Apart from the clear ignorance in regards to both religions (Christian and Muslim), Mr Cestnik with his statement, in a quite grandiose manner, insinuates superiority of his beliefs or his God if we will. This attitude becomes ever more obvious in later statements.
‘Islam is here and it’s presence will continue to grow’. This statement is problematic on many levels, firstly, ‘Islam is here’, here where? It is a living entity that is shaping and shifting continuously. As if Islam has it’s own will and decision-making agency. Secondly, the use of generalities, with no specific indication or details, of where is Islam, it’s just Here… how big is the Muslim community (for example in Slovenia, as I suppose he is addressing Slovenian readers), it will continue to grow, we can well imagine the analogy that would fit along the line of a malignant tumour, that is spreading…
The idea is that Islam is spreading because of it’s ‘evil strategy’, as Mr Cestnik expressed, that it is pushing young Muslims to venture across the Mediterranean and entering Europe, as a consequence of an unconscious drive, that makes them ‘invade’ other continents. He identifies himself with the other pole of opinion, that believes that there is so much empty space in Europe, that ‘by nature’ these people migrate from their own countries where they grew up and lived all their lives, to this unknown continent, crossing the Mediterranean sea, dying along the way, losing their loved ones, all because there is this subconscious drive or better the will of Allah, that is forcing them to go on a deadly crusade. You would have to be an idiot to believe this kind of narrative, however, Mr Cestnik is confidently defending his standpoint, without a shrivel of a doubt. The logic that he is proposing is very simplistic, as well as it has no real grounds in the reality of circumstances. I also have to point out that personification of certain notions such as ‘evil strategy’ of Islam, that is ‘pushing’ sort of like an urge, makes it very easy to identify with the threat, it becomes a living entity that we should fear, similar to the personification of the market today, or the invisible hand that is regulating the market dynamics. The God (whichever it is), is in charge and responsible for our faith, we should not question it too much. However, if this were the case, if Mr Cestnik would really believe that God is the creator of all and imposes the will upon its subjects, it would be correct to assume that in the case of Islam penetrating Europe (which is not the case), there would be very little we could do about it. Since this is not the real aim and objective of the article, we can understand the hypocrisy of the matter. The article is written purely in the spirit of addressing the scared masses, that have no real understanding what they are actually afraid of, mobilising them into these groups of proud defenders of national and cultural values and interests. Protecting our land and our women, kind of narrative. A real man has to be ready to sacrifice himself and defend his women against the foreign, very precise threat embodied in the Islam.
To move into the second paragraph of the article, Mr Cestnik goes on describing the demographic condition of Europe saying; “it is a demographically empty space”. That Europeans have very little children. By now we can confidently conclude that this article is full of this kind of empty signifiers, or impossible conceptions of the subject. Dialectical formation ‘demographically empty space’ is not only nonsensical, it is an ontologically impossible condition. If we would take this contradiction as effectively true, we would be describing a space without content, or to put it differently, a space without people. I am wondering why did he have to use the word demographics, as the de facto condition for demographics is people, you cannot have demographics without people. If Slovenia would be in fact a ‘demographically empty space’, there would be just woods and deer running around freely. The idea behind this use of ‘fancy’ words, justifying his thesis that an empty space will by nature be filled, in this case by the Other, ‘demographically different’ entity.
Europeans cannot be bothered to produce offspring, to ensure their own existence. Logic would be, that if one entity disappears or is unable to survive, another will take its place. Like the Darwinian theory of evolution. If Christians cease to procreate, Muslims will come, take over and turn everyone Muslim. As this is the common praxis in nature. The author is convinced that this new entity that will take over is, in fact, a Muslim culture. Not, for instance, Hindu, Jewish or perhaps not even different ethnicity or other animal species for that matter. The idea here is that at some point the world will become a Muslim planet. This is the outcome of Christians not being interested in preserving and of course defending their own values and beliefs.
To go a step further and make things even more absurd, he goes on stating that we are inhibiting not only demographically empty space, but also spiritually empty. Yet another contradiction implies that even these tiny entities that still somehow persist in this space, are clearly dead inside, exempt of their spiritual dimension. “European women and men live as though there is no God. They live passed the God and at times systematically against God”. It is quite obvious that Mr Cestnik has never heard about or read Nietzsche, but I would not expect him to make use of critique of his own convictions. Again he is talking down to the people, as a true messenger of God, the mighty conveyor, that is talking to the ‘Nation’ as a father would to a child. Europeans are naughty children that are scrutinising God, and intentionally disobeying his will and authority. We might encounter these dialectics in a lot of authoritarian regimes, and particularly fascist propaganda made/makes regular use of such formations, to mislead and frighten the masses, keep them in the ignorant state. It is the position of the prolonged symbiosis, that is formed and maintained long after it’s necessary or natural period, namely the healthy symbiosis of the mother and the child, that should be resolved in a natural manner after the child has reached full autonomous maturity (2). Fromm argued in many of his articles considering authoritarian personalities, that tendentially, authoritarian personalities, dictators haven’t developed their personality in a way that they are self-sufficient, they grasp for identification and merging with entities such as nations for instance, that are man-made concepts, therefore fictional, or non-real. I could well imagine the personality of the author, being disturbed in that direction, he needs to advocate violence and defend the categorisation us vs. them, in order to feel OK with himself. He is using terms such as ‘The house without firm foundations is bound to fall’. This is a typical conviction that you would hear from your parents or grandparents, these injunctions usually have no real grounds in facts, they are implemented culturally, to remind us of some strong beliefs about our ‘cultural foundations’. He also adds the warning of prophecy what happens to the nations or formations that forget about their ‘true cultural foundations’ and neglect their own God. This could be literally translated into something like this; “Beware, children, if you refuse to obey your father!” Of course, there is a quote from the Bible as well, to add to the convincing material he already laid down. To conclude this message he also goes to mention Atilla the mighty warlord, even so, he was not Christian, he found this lesson quite useful, namely that Atilla in his times was referred to as ‘the stick of God’ (stick or a branch that you would potentially use to hit others with), perhaps we could use the term whip as in those times people would be whipped heavily for their sins. The insinuation being, God sent Attila for a very precise reason, the barbaric destruction of Attila was a clear message from God and the ‘meaning of our times’, as Mr Cestnik defined this prophetic reading. He goes further clarifying his thesis; “similarly, today, with the Islam knocking on our doors, we can see the message or warning of God and ask ourselves: What is God trying to tell us?” Of course this is not a rhetorical question, you are truly meant to answer it, and of course conveniently, the correct answer to the question is that; “perhaps, a Muslim, is this last warning we will receive, that there is still time for our women and men to turn back to Jesus Christ, the real father of our civilisation”. I believe I do not have to argue that this is an open invitation for a discrimination of Islam and Muslim culture. Those immigrants fleeing their countries and coming to Europe is not the consequence of the war wagered against the Middle East (that we actively contribute to), but they are translated into this perverse message from God trying to make us restore faith in him and stop acting in this blasphemous way, by trying to defend and help the misfortunate refugees. In this case, God is this selfish individual that is trying to get back to his children that betrayed him. He is deeply offended and angry. Also, he will make us suffer, because we showed compassion and love for the other. The idea that our love should be reserved only for our closest (being family and of course God), he, she who decides to deliberately disobey this ‘natural’ way of relation, will be judged as a traitor to his nation and a heretic.
- Aqida of Imam Abu Jafar al-Tahawi (239-321): “38. He is beyond having limits placed on Him, or being restricted, or having parts or limbs. Nor is He contained by the six directions as all created things are.” “51. He encompasses all things and that which is above it, and what He has created is incapable of encompassing Him.”
- Fromm, E.(1957). “The Authoritarian Personality”.First published: in Deutsche Universitätszeitung, Band 12 (Nr. 9, 1957), pp. 3-4