At no other time has the image of Islam gained so much public attention. Yet, this image is replete with misinformation and ignorance about the theology, history and practice of Islam.
In the Mosaic of Islam Perry Anderson and the acclaimed historian of Islam Suleiman Mourad aim to introduce the long history of Islam and its reception, from Muhammad to the present, in an open and accessible manner. In this extract from the book, Anderson and Mourad discuss the antagonism between Shiʿis and Sunnis, the causes and effects of the Arab Spring, Israel's place in the Middle East, and the history of Pan-Arabism.
"The failure of the future haunts capitalism: after 1989, capitalism's victory has not consisted in it confidently claiming the future, but in denying that the future is possible. All we can expect, we have been led to believe, is more of the same - but on higher resolution screens with faster connections. Hauntology, I think, expresses dissatisfaction with this foreclosure of the future [...]
Part of the battle now will be to ensure that neoliberalism is perceived to be defunct. I think that's already happening. There is a change in the cultural atmosphere, small at the moment, but it will increase." — Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher (1968-2017) published his first book Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? in 2009. He had been writing an acclaimed blog as k-punk for some years and was centrally involved in the birth and development of the Zer0 Books (the staff have since left and formed Repeater Books). In 2010, Rowan Wilson interviewed Mark for Ready Steady Book about the 'para-space' of Zer0, blogging and cyberculture; capitalist realism; hauntology and lost futures.
Mark Fisher's Introduction to Savage Messiah by Laura Oldfield Ford captured a vision of London paved over by neoliberalism, but where glimmers of a different world were visible through its cracks. We share the text in memory of his life and work – his brilliant, expansive writing. ‘Savage Messiah is written for those who could not be regenerated, even if they wanted to be. They are the unregenerated, a lost generation, ‘always yearning for the time that just eluded us’... So many dreams of collectivity have died in neoliberal London.’
‘I regard my work as diaristic; the city can be read as a palimpsest, of layers of erasure and overwriting,’ Laura Oldfield Ford has said. ‘The need to document the transient and ephemeral nature of the city is becoming increasingly urgent as the process of enclosure and privatisation continues apace.’ The city in question is of course London, and Savage Messiah offers a samizdat counter-history of the capital during the period of neoliberal domination. If Savage Messiah is ‘diaristic’, it is also much more than a memoir. The stories of Ford’s own life necessarily bleed into the stories of others, and it is impossible to see the joins. ‘This decaying fabric, this unknowable terrain has become my biography, the euphoria then the anguish, layers of memories colliding, splintering and reconfiguring.’ The perspective Ford adopts, the voices she speaks in – and which speak through her – are those of the officially defeated: the punks, squatters, ravers, football hooligans and militants left behind by a history which has ruthlessly Photoshopped them out of its finance-friendly SimCity. Savage Messiah uncovers another city, a city in the process of being buried, and takes us on a tour of its landmarks: The Isle of Dogs... The Elephant... Westway... Lea Bridge ... North Acton... Canary Wharf ... Dalston... King’s Cross... Hackney Wick...
In one of many echoes of punk culture, Ford calls Savage Messiah a ‘zine’. She began producing it in 2005, eight years into a New Labour government that had consolidated rather than overturned Thatcherism. The context is bleak. London is a conquered city; it belongs to the enemy. ‘The translucent edifices of Starbucks and Costa Coffee line these shimmering promenades, “young professionals” sit outside gently conversing in sympathetic tones.’ The dominant mood is one of restoration and reaction, but it calls itself modernisation, and it calls its divisive and exclusionary work – making London safe for the super-rich – regeneration. The struggle over space is also a struggle over time and who controls it. Resist neoliberal modernisation and (so we are told) you consign yourself to the past.
Juliet Jacques pays tribute to Mark Fisher aka k-punk, who died on Friday 13th January, 2017. Our thoughts are with Mark's family, friends and colleagues at Repeater.
It feels particularly cruel to have lost Mark Fisher at this moment, when his passionate and incisive voice is needed more than ever. A rare example of a popular British academic, Mark was renowned for his work on culture, politics, and mental health, from the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit in the late 1990s, through his influential k-punk blog of the mid-2000s, to his publications with Zero and Repeater Books, most famously Capitalist Realism (2009), but also Ghosts of My Life (2014) and most recently The Weird and the Eerie (2017)
Mark was notable for confronting life’s harshest realities head-on, offering an unflinching analysis of neoliberalism and how it enforced its hegemony by colonising the minds of its subjects. His work on depression epitomised his approach: he took something that has been characterised as a modern epidemic and moved it from a medical context to a social one, emphasising that we live at a time when class consciousness and collective politics are at a historical low, and when the promotion of cruelty, selfishness and self-blame have become integral to the maintenance of the established order.