Islamism & the Left: A Match Made In Hell
“So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot” – George Orwell
Islamism & the left. As we are all no doubt aware, there is a concerning, ‘it’s complicated’ love affair taking place between what has become the regressive left, and Islamists, in the form of a wild and platonic tryst, with a dash of hysterical cognitive dissonance thrown in as a Brucie bonus. The mobs of ironically named ‘ANTIFA’ fascists, Stalinist, pseudo-intellectual types, political malcontents and populists, and many other delightful figures have all spent several years falling over one another whenever anyone voices the mildest concern about Islamism, or Islam as an ideology, while maintaining a deafening silence in regards to atrocities and other acts of barbarism carried out with self-righteous gusto in the name of the faith.
The novelist Salman Rushdie once said of the faith;
“No, I don’t think it’s fair to label Islam as ‘violent.’ But I will say that to my knowledge, no writer has ever gone into hiding for criticising the Amish.”
Just in the interest of dispelling any misapprehensions about Islam as a faith, I find myself inclined to agree with Mr. Rushdie. I think it would be unfair to suggest that Islam is in itself, any more violent or otherwise repugnant than many other faiths, particularly the other two Judeo-Christian monotheism’s. The holy texts of all of these faiths, and the vast majority of faiths, with the possible exception of Jainism exhibit very similar violent, genocidal, oppressive and totalitarian tendencies. However, it ought to be noted that the consensus regarding violence and its acceptability varies greatly, depending on how literally the scriptures are taken. Very few Christians I know will take the Bible to be the pure word of God, and take its teachings as, well… as gospel. In the same that a great many Jews may as well be atheists in all but heritage. The same cannot be said of the vast majority of even moderate Muslims. For even the moderate, it tends to be a case of application as opposed to the actual validity. Hence, virtually no Christians or Jews believe stoning to be an acceptable punishment for adultery, for example, even if many still wish to crowbar their faith into the legislature, turning democracy to theocracy. This is a slippery slope also, but as you see, there are greatly varying degrees of fanaticism and piety, and none necessitate violence. Abu Khalil stated in Habib 2007:143;
“Religion… is much more than a holy text. Religion is a holy text, plus interpretation, plus local culture plus local condition”
But I digress.
One of the most popular culprits today is the leader of HM opposition, Jeremy Corbyn. That scruffy old protester and malcontent, endlessly railing against the ever elusive ‘oppressors’ of the world. And always seeming to miss all the big ones.
In October 2014, less than 24 hours after the video footage of the beheading of Salford taxi driver and aid worker Alan Henning by infamous Mohammed Emwazi, or ‘Jihadi John’, was released online, Jezza attended a ‘Stop The War’ rally, announcing he was “Pleased that we started with a period of silence for Mr Henning… because we have to remember that the price of war, the price of intervention, the price of jingoism, is somebody else’s son and somebody else’s daughter being killed.” I wonder, does he at all regret laying a wreath at the graves of Islamist terrorists who butchered sportsmen at the Munich Olympics? Does this not constitute international meddling?
He has on numerous occasions stated his support for ‘dialogue’ and ‘peaceful negotiations’ with the Islamic State and on live Iranian television he described the death of Osama Bin Laden as a ‘tragedy.’
In 2013 he attended a demonstration consisting of several Islamist activists carrying banners in support of notorious Islamist terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and has been captured on video describing them as his ‘friends’.
The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said in an interview with The New York Times in 2004 “If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” And was quoted by the New Yorker two years previously as saying;
“If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak, and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology, and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli”
Muddassar Ahmed of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee and the Cross Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred, ran aggressively anti-Semitic smear campaigns against Labour MPs Jack Straw and Lorna Fitzimons, urging Muslim electorates not to vote for them on the grounds that Fitszimons, at least, was Jewish. She isn’t actually Jewish, however the sentiment remains. But of course, there is no problem with anti-Semitism within the Labour Party or Islamic communities at large…
Sadiq Khan notoriously claimed that terrorism is ‘part and parcel of living in a big city.’ The same Sadiq Khan whose primary concern in the immediate wake of every single Islamic terror attack is Islamophobia.
Andy Burnham, now mayor of Greater Manchester, appealed to the Muslim electorate by following the example of every single Muslim group, pressure group and committee (with the exception of perhaps Quilliam) and called for the scrapping of Prevent the Government’s only anti-extremism programme, with no alternative suggestions.
The link between the left and Islamism is unmistakable, and incredibly dangerous. But why is this the case? Both I and my colleagues here at Kipper Central have asked this question many times, and explored potential explanations. To a degree, all are correct.
The link that eludes many, however, is in part, why Jihadist groups and Islamists are often so successful in their own communities and countries. They are themselves inherently left wing, and the vast majority of ‘modern Jihadism’ is based on forms of communism and national socialism.
This is not to say that Jihad and Islamism are problems exclusive to recent history, this has been going on for centuries, from the Umayyads and the Abbasids, the Ottomans and beyond, there have been massive Caliphs and Islamic empires since the six hundreds, the last being abolished in 1924, less than a century ago. However Islamism as it is today, modern jihad, as it were, stems primarily from Egypt, with some influences from the conflict in soviet occupied Afghanistan.
In Egypt, in 1928, Hassan al-Banna, a schoolteacher, formed the Muslim Brotherhood. A political group and party, with a modern political structure, vision and tactics, while a conservative religious and social goal in mind, and was based peripherally on its Indian counterpart founded in 1926, Jamaat Islami. The idea behind both was religious and cultural revival, with largely conservative interpretations, by the medium of non-violent political and social activism. This was the origin of Islamism. The kind we see from groups like The Muslim Council Of Britain. An Islamic, theocratic goal, via peaceful political antics, to put it simply.
This went on well enough until about mid way through the 1960’s, by which time Britain, along with other, mostly European powers, had withdrawn much of their military and political presence from the Middle East, after essentially re-drawing the map, adding borders and more or less granting sovereignty to several new nations, such as Iraq and Syria. Many of the governments and regimes that were either elected or took control in the wake of western departure, adopted many western approaches to their policy making. Nationalism, a form of democratic socialism, mixed with a capitalistic economy, and largely secular policies. These, particularly the last, were seen as nothing more than imposed, imperialistic, and often quite radical imports from the west. As in the case of post-Saddam Iraq, the change was welcomed by many and rejected by many others, and for very similar reasons.
By this time, there was a growing sentiment of anti-western, inter-faith solidarity, a ‘Islam and everyone else’ sort of outlook, despite many sectarian divides still being rife within communities. And many other social and economic conditions had begun to take their toll on the Egyptian people, especially the young.
Many young Egyptians, and young Muslims from elsewhere, flocked to Cairo in the 1960’s, particularly. Cairo was the center of education in the Middle East at the time, with the best universities in the region, and many middle-class families sent their children, mostly sons, to study. The population of Cairo in 1950 was 2.5 million. By 1970, it was 6 million. By 1980, 10 million. Between 1950 and 1980, the entire population of Egypt doubled from 20 million to 40 million. Yes, Cairo now contained one quarter of the entire country’s population. I still recall my own visit to Cairo in 2010, where I stood in Tahrir Square the day before former president Mubarak stood trial for the first time. The sight of what still remains of the ramshackle huts and slums, thrown together in the cemeteries to accommodate the swelling population and the mass migration of young, prospective students to the city. Uncleared to this day.
The young were herded together in these shanty towns for some time, and with growing demand, like anything else, tuition fees rose, and many prospective students were unable to meet the requirements. Combine the poor living conditions with lack of education, a shortage of food, which was expensive when available, and what many saw as a crisis of values and morality, i.e. a lack of Islam, to suggest that many of these young men felt betrayed and disengaged would be a vast understatement.
The country’s leader, president Anwar Sadat was also unloved by the disengaged youth. A very pro-western politician, he sought to grow beyond theological shackles and the socialist style economic policies of years past, and replace it with a capitalist system, pumping vast amounts of money into tourism, among other things, in a bid to increase investment. In the first ten years of his presidency, the top 5 per cent of the population’s national income grew from 15 per cent to 24 per cent, while the lowest 20 per cent saw a decline from 17 per cent to 13. The middle ground’s was halved. Healthcare was privatised, millions were pumped into building new roads, while there was little to no investment in public transport. Even when I was in the city, I don’t recall seeing a single bus. Whereas the battered old jalopies that everyone drove were packed like sardines, with very little indication that anybody had any concept of ‘the rules of the road.’
Here we have a mixed sentiment of enormous inequality, and cultural and moral invasion. The idea that religion had been removed from the public sphere, and replaced by western capitalism and imperialism. Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?
President Sadat was assassinated on the 6th of October, 1981, by twenty six year old army officer Khalid Ahmed Shawqi al-Islambouli, from the town of Mallawi, was one such man.
Two very prominent Muslim writers, whose work greatly influenced the politics of the day and the opposition to the western, capitalist, vaguely secular Sadat, were Muhammad abd-al-Salam Faraj, and Sayyid Qutb. Qutb is arguably the most interesting of the two, and the least contemporary, hanged in 1966 for his role in conspiring to assassinate Egypt’s leader at the time, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser led a coup of the nationalistic Free Officers Movement to overthrow the pro-Western government under King Farouk of the Muhammad Ali dynasty in 1952, much to the delight of Qutb and his cohorts of the Muslim Brotherhood, who espoused what they saw as a ‘just dictatorship’, empowering and liberating the pious and the virtuous. The Brotherhood was, of course, a much less significant group back then, yet still held notable influence, due to it’s numerous social programs, mostly theological. As such, Nasser secretly formed another group specifically to prevent the Brotherhood from gaining any notable influence over his regime. He, and other members orchestrated a plot to assassinate Nasser once his agenda was realised, and they were confident that he would not govern in a purely Islamic fashion. He was arrested shortly after the attempt was foiled. It was during this period in prison, where, even subject to torture, he wrote his two most influential works, the Fi Zilal al-Qur’an (In the Shade of the Qur’an), and his attempt at an Islamist manifesto Ma’alim fi-l-Tariq (Milestones), which was largely plagiarised from the communist manifesto (see here, and chapter two of The New Threat From Islamic Militancy by Jason Burke) In milestones, one may, for example, find commentary supporting ultra conservative Islamic, theological principles such as abrogation, whereby the later verses in the Qur’an, which tend to be more violent and totalitarian, and more focused on the grisly details of, and the application of Shariah, take precedent over the previous verses and Surahs;
“Thus, wherever an Islamic community exists which is a concrete example of the divinely ordained system of life, it has a God-given right to step forward and take control of the political authority so that it may establish the divine system on earth…. When God restrained Muslims from Jihad for a certain period, it was a question of strategy rather than of principle; this was a matter pertaining to the requirements of the movement and not to belief. Only in the light of this explanation can we understand those verses of the Holy Qur’an which are concerned with the various stages of this movement. In reading these verses, we should always keep in mind that one of their meanings is related to the particular stages of the development of Islam, while there is another general meaning which is related to the unchangeable and eternal message of Islam.”
Qutb is interesting, insofar as he actually came from a secularist position, which he held with what one might call deep religiosity until he performed a staggering U turn and veered off into the realm of theology and theocracy. It is speculated that his attraction to religion, or a particularly pious form of it, came to him in the form of two epiphanies on his visits to the United States. The first one the ferry there, when he observed the precarious and violent ocean, while his vessel remained stable and afloat throughout the journey, without capsizing. He interpreted this to be demonstrative of the power of God. Not unlike the experience of the Francis Collins, who ran the American Human Genome Project. Who happened across a frozen waterfall, snap-frozen and suspended in three streams, which he interpreted to be indicative of the grace and beauty of God, and representative of the ‘trinity’, held to such reverence by Christians. The second, came when he stood atop a mountain by San Francisco, where he recorded that he could see ‘the entirety of Gods creation laid out before him’, and ‘realised the beauty and harmony that existed amongst the creation as a whole.’ (See The Lives of Hassan elBanna & Syed Qutb, page eighteen)
What influenced his more theocratic ideas are disputed, but Sam Harris, noted Neuroscientist, philosopher and celebrated author, speculates that he found the petty and material concerns of many in the west to be trivial, hollow, and lacking any spiritual or religious conviction or sincerity. Lacking any real virtue, or solidarity with one’s fellow man. This certainly seems plausible. He wrote in Milestones, about his perceptions and disdain for many political systems found in the west, both social and economic, seeming to hold both capitalism, which he saw as inerrantly western, material, and exploitative of both labourers and the solidarity between people, and as such, to be recommended against, and it’s antithesis, socialism, in relatively equal contempt. Yet, in Milestones, he writes;
“Democracy in the West has become infertile to such an extent that it is borrowing from the systems of the Eastern bloc, especially in the economic system, under the name of socialism. It is the same with the Eastern bloc. Its social theories, foremost among which is Marxism, in the beginning attracted not only a large number of people from the East but also from the West, as it was a way of life based on a creed. But now Marxism is defeated on the plane of thought, and if it is stated that not a single nation in the world is truly Marxist, it will not be an exaggeration. On the whole this theory conflicts with man’s nature and its needs. This ideology prospers only in a degenerate society or in a society which has become cowed as a result of some form of prolonged dictatorship. But now, even under these circumstances, its materialistic economic system is failing, although this was the only foundation on which its structure was based. Russia, which is the leader of the communist countries, is itself suffering from shortages of food. Although during the times of the Tsars Russia used to produce surplus food, it now has to import food from abroad and has to sell its reserves of gold for this purpose. The main reason for this is the failure of the system of collective farming, or, one can say, the failure of a system which is against human nature.”
Something of a mixed review, to say the least. He also echoed other socialist writings, including The Communist Manifesto when he wrote;
“After annihilating the tyrannical force, whether political or a racial tyranny, or domination of one class over the other within the same race, Islam establishes a new social and economic political system, in which all men enjoy real freedom.”
A.A. Maududi writes in Jihad In Islam;
“Islam is a revolutionary ideology and program which seeks to alter the social order of the whole world and rebuild it in conformity with it’s tenets and ideals.”
Faraj was much more directly relevant at the time. Not dissimilar to Qutb, he was executed in 1982, following the assassination of president Sadat, on conspiracy charges, for his role in planning and coordinating the murder, and leader of the Egyptian Islamist group al-Jihad (what an original name). He was also a noted writer and commentator at the time. He followed the example and teachings of Qutb, arguing that jihad was a Fard al-Ayn (an individual duty incumbent upon every Muslim), dismissing the notion, more widely accepted by moderates today, Jihad is an inner, spiritual struggle, as opposed to a militant one, and as such advocated the role of militancy, violence and armed combat. As a writer, he was engaging and charismatic, with his own most notable and arguably still influential works to this day, Al-Farida al-Gha’iba (The Neglected Duty, or Obligation, depending upon translation), which was found by the police investigating his involvement in the assassination plot. It was circulated and distributed widely. Like many Islamist and Jihadist groups, he prioritised and advocated the fight and the struggle against the ‘near enemy’ (subversive, un-Islamic governments, foreign military presence, dissident groups) as opposed to the far enemy (infidel foreign powers, intervening governments, etc), a tactic followed by many other Jihadist groups, from al-Qaeda to Hezbollah, al-Shabaab, even the Islamic State. And he made his clear in his work;
“Muslim blood will be shed in order to realize this victory [over Israel]. Now it must be asked whether this victory will benefit the interest of Infidel rule? It will mean the strengthening of a state which rebels against the Laws of God [the Shari’a] … These rulers will take advantage of the nationalist ideas of these Muslims in order to realise their un-Islamic aims, even though at the surface [these aims] look Islamic. Fighting has to be done [only] under the Banner of Islam and under Islamic leadership.”
This may not seem relevant to the leftist nature of Islamism, but observe the nationalist nature of his commentary. Many of the dictatorial, theocratic Islamist regimes found in the region have been based on national socialism, taking on accretions from Stalinism and fascism, speaks volumes of the agendas. However, actions speak far louder than words, and it is interesting to observe how various Islamist, particularly Jihadist groups use populist, nationalist, socialist tactics to engage the local populace, often even preferring it over extreme violence and public executions, as applied in other situations, or when control and approval is lost.
It has been remarked on countless occasions, how Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organisation which aims to exterminate the Jewish people (disturbingly reminiscent of similar Catholic anti-Semitism in Europe, which provided the basis for the holocaust) is so popular, among other reasons, because it provides social services to it’s people. The Islamic State can be seen doing the same, in territories it controls. It provides education (purely Islamic, of course) up to a certain age, places caps on utility bills, an equivalent of our own food banks, in some cases even attempting to compensate where it, and almost every Jihadist organisation has failed, in sanitation, clean water and rubbish collection. More often than not due to it’s largest expenditure being war, weapons, etc. This is where insular militant groups, particularly of the fascistic, Stalinist variety, inevitably fail. This can be observed not only in IS, but the Taliban, al-Qaeda and it’s numerous affiliates; AQIM, AQAP, JAN (which preceded IS in Syria), al-Shabaab, etc. While a great deal of revenue is deliberately pumped into social projects, outreach projects and propaganda, it is much like any insular state, East Germany, North Korea and Iraq under Saddam Hussein; once the money starts to run out, the only things that invariably still work is the military and the police (or secret police, as in many such states the military act as a police force of a kind). Jason Burke states in his book The New Threat From Islamic Militancy;
“The maintenance of the infrastructure alone in the areas ruled by IS in Iraq was estimated to be around $200 million per month. The implacable laws of the market still functioned too, even in a revolutionary religious proto-state. So, for example, air strikes on oil production infrastructure had pushed up the price of fuel in IS-controlled zones by spring, 2015. In Mosul, locals reported, IS was forced to introduce price caps on gas and petrol. Electricity supply everywhere was intermittent, hospitals were short of basic medical equipment and rubbish collection systems, always a weak point for municipal authorities in even stable middle-income countries in the developing world, had broken down. Clean water was rare due to a lack of chlorine and available from the tap for only a few hours pr week. ‘We use the river water for washing, but it’s very dirty. Children … are getting sick [from] it,’ one resident said.”
Now, I would not consider myself to be a particularly left-leaning character, at least not today. When I was in my late teens I admit to having very socialist, borderline communist views (albeit with no understanding of the various inter-communist, sectarian divides), and I would still consider liberalism to be my natural constituency, as it were. My jurisdiction. However, the left, such as it is today, has been poisoned by identity politics. Today it’s all about who one is, as opposed to what, or more importantly how one thinks (if indeed, one is capable of independent thought). It’s about speaking in slogans and allying with your deadliest enemy on account of nothing more than ‘privilege points’ and how oppressed one is alleged to be, by some unspecified, ambiguous, far-right conspiracy. The late Christopher Hitchens, a personal hero of mine, picks up on this in his memoir Hitch-22, reminiscing his own days as a Trotskyist, echoing;
“From now on, it would be enough to be a member of a certain sex or gender, or epidermal subdivision, or even erotic ‘preference’, to qualify as a revolutionary. In order to begin a speech or to ask a question from the floor, all that would be necessary by way of a preface would be the words ‘Speaking as a…’ … I will have to say this much for the old, ‘hard’ left: we earned our claim to speak and intervene by right of experience and sacrifice and work. It would never have done for any of us to stand up and say that our sex or sexuality or pigmentation or disability were qualifications in themselves. There are many ways of dating the moment where the left lost or – as I would prefer to say – discarded it’s moral advantage, but this was the first time that I was to see the sellout conducted so cheaply.”
Journalist and commentator Douglas Murray has made many similar observations. However, in the defence of the left, I am able to observe, as I suspect, are you, that the phenomenon of identity politics is in no way exclusive to them. On the right, in the centre, even here at Kipper Central, I see people opening arguments with, or going out of their way to identify themselves as homosexual, Christian, supporters of this party or that party, all silently shrouded in the banal and outrageous idea that this somehow entitles them to a smidgen more authority, or somehow validates their standpoint beyond that of any other primate. I should like to think that these values or lifestyles, or ‘identities’ if one must insist on being so petty, are irrelevant to the point at hand, and that one ought to be perfectly capable of making such a point without attempting to claim more transcendental understanding on the back of identity. But while this is a card played by those of all colours (I say this in the context of the colours one flies, before anyone elects to throw a hissy fit), it is impossible to argue that this technique is not predominantly exercised by those on the left. From the race baiting to the claims of solidarity with other ‘oppressed minorities’ (notice how the selection is very particular, for instance how the left fall over themselves to support Palestinians, even the terror organisations like Hamas and Hezbollah, yet haven’t a word to say, regarding the free Kurdish people of northern Iraq – the only truly secular region of the middle-east, even compared to Israel, and the largest minority in the world without a state and with no real international representation, and how they’re all very busy shuffling their feet and looking at the floor whenever anyone mentions the Sudanese genocide) and in doing so, often arm them against us. Just look at so called British Islam. I have written at length on this topic before, one may find two other essays on the subject here at Kipper Central, but people still don’t seem to be grasping the point. I despise Islam as much as I despise Christianity and every other delusion of the same kind, and I do my very best to make the distinction between Islam as a personal belief system regarding God, and Islam, or Islamism as a political movement. We are told that the majority of Muslims in Britain tell us we should not fear Islam because Prophet Mohammed told Muslims to respect authority and laws in the land where they live. That one crucial verse is highly contentious in Islam. “O you believe, obey God and obey the Messenger and those in charge among you” (Qur’an 4:59) Allah tells Muslims obey God first, then his Prophet Muhammad, but accept authority of those chosen to govern among them. The Arabic word “Ulil-amr” in this Ayat is a ‘catch-all word’ referring to anyone in authority I find that contention an issue often sidestepped by British Muslims who tell us what we want to hear or avoid the truth because they are on the defensive. This contentious issue creates mistrust of British Islam. Especially, when a rapidly growing number of British Muslims (Revivalist political Islam) believe there are no laws other than god’s laws and the entire British population must revert to Islam. Our leaders and elected representatives, especially those on the left of the spectrum, like to bury their heads in the sand, stick out their arses, and hope for the best. There seems disproportionate police interest in white racist and supremacist groups and a ‘walking on eggshells approach’ to the same hate, racism and supremacy taught in some British mosques. People who oppose Islam often state our political class are cowardly and appease Islam to avoid confrontation. They state leaders like May, Merkel, former President Obama, Macron, etc make Islam the future’s problem. They may be right, but this may also be irrelevant. Clearly, inertia rules the day to create political space for extreme groups and populism that are recently a bigger threat to everyone (not just Muslims) than Revivalist Political Islam. All of these extreme groups feed one another. And while I despise the left, or rather, what it has become, I still cannot quite feel the same disdain for either Islam in it’s entirety, or socialism in it’s entirety, as some of my colleagues here do.
Upton Sinclair demonstrated a rather jaundiced view of the utilitarianism and ruthless efficiency of capitalistic industries, whilst equally echoing Marx’s element of awe at the same features, in his 1905 novel The Jungle, where he described the day to day utilisation of animal products beyond meat, at the place of employment of his protagonist;
“No tiniest particle of organic matter was wasted in Durham’s. Out of the horns of the cattle, they made combs buttons, hair-pins, and imitation ivory; out of the shin bones and other big bones they cut knife and tooth-brush handles, and mouthpieces for pipes; out of the hoofs they cut hair-pins and buttons, before they made the rest into glue. From such things as feet, knuckles, hide clippings and sinews came such strange and unlikely products as gelatin, isinglass and phosphorous, bone-black, shoe-blackling, and bone oil. They had curled-hair works for the cattle-tails, and a ‘wool-pullery’ for the sheep-skins; they made pepsin from the stomachs of the pigs, and albumen from the blood, and violin strings from the ill-smelling entrails. When there was nothing else to be done with a thing, they first put it into a tank and got out of it all the tallow and grease, and then they made it into fertiliser”
I can’t help but feel moved by a certain dark realism in this description, and I would have to mistrust anyone who does. It is rather clear that this would not be the ideal approach to industry, as it is so exploitative of everything and everyone within it’s system that bile rises in my throat even upon paying it consideration. But clearly, the current relationship between my own natural disgust at such marketplace exploitation of humans and resources cannot be compatible with the aggressive, revivalist, supremacist and separatist Islamism that it helped to inspire. I am also certain that the solution to this is not pure capitalistic, conservatism and Christianity. This is merely another path to the same theocratic totalitarianism under a different banner. I refer to both my previous works on Islamism, and the essay I am, thus far, the most proud of, Secular First, when I say that the only solution I can possibly conceive is a secular, socially democratic state with a godless constitution. And again, to quote my beloved, late Hitch. “Mr Jefferson, build up that wall.”