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Asabiyya (punished)

Updated: Jun 30, 2023


You’ve heard the term “asabiyya” before—I’ve used it myself, with some reservations (and will not do so again). It refers to “group morale”—to an idea put forward by the historian Ibn Khaldun that charts the cyclical rise and fall of empires. The cycle: 1. men with firm in-group loyalty found an empire, their asabiyya is strong (religion, taboo, tribe); 2. the empire grows successful—the ties loosen, individualism and scepticism reign; 3. another group from the periphery with high asabiyya sweeps in and pushes away the decadent individualists—a new empire is born.

The feel is Dune (desert planet) and there is a definite Arab-Muslim sensibility about it—the theory concerns “the tribe” and it has a geographical aspect where empires emerge on the periphery (in the desert) and then sweep into (the scented gardens of) Baghdad or Cairo. Nevertheless, it has been adopted—especially on the radical right—as an explanation for the rise and fall of empires. Today we could say the British had high asabiyya in the 1780s, when they conquered India, but now have low asabiyya and so are set to be replaced by the new Muslim arrivals who still serve “the tribe and Allah”.

I don’t disagree with the general process so described, but the right shouldn’t use the term “asabiyya”. Why not? Because to use the term demonstrates low asabiyya. I am pretty sure this theory—which is not complicated—has an analogue in Greek thought; and I am sure that it has been promoted, especially post-2001, in a progressive effort to indoctrinate us into the view that “the Muslims were a sophisticated scientific and philosophic people from whom we learned (‘stole’) so much”. So when a rightist YouTuber, like Edward Dutton, speaks about asabiyya he contributes to a decline in our asabiyya.

Other possible terms—well, there’s Männerbund but that describes an organisation that has asabiyya (not the spirit itself); there’s “group morale” but that is two words and unwieldy—finally, I settled on thymos (spiritedness) because that covers the concept and is within the Western tradition.


Progressives like to pretend that Victorian and Enlightenment scholars, when they weren’t raping their indigenous servants or “looting artefacts”, were “ignorant” of men like Khaldun due to “sheer prejudice” against the wogs (progressives wouldn’t say “wogs”, that would cause them an ideological aneurism—but that’s what they mean).

As usual, it’s the opposite—I’ve seen Khaldun mentioned in Victorian texts; and, of course, men like Richard Burton and Edward FitzGerald were engaged in precise and popular translations of 1001 Nights and The Rubáiyát (both wildly popular with Victorians and Edwardians).

Of course, it’s no good to say to a progressive that Victorians and Edwardians adored Arab Muslim texts, ate them up like the Marvel cinematic universe, because the progressive will turn round and say, “That’s because they sentimentalised, exoticised, and patronised the Middle East—pure ‘Orientalism’, pure objectifying Western gaze.” You can’t win, if the Victorians didn’t take an interest in Islam it was due to “racism” and “ignorance”, but if you show they had a favourable impression of the Islamic world it’s “Orientalism” and “exoticism”. It’s almost like this isn’t a good faith debate…

So Khaldun was known—it’s actually the West’s strength that it takes in and absorbs the “diversity” found in other cultures, then remixes what is found into a highly drinkable cocktail (to be consumed on the colonial verandah, perhaps). Meanwhile more tribal (and surly) people refuse to “experience other cultures” (before Eat, Pray, Love there was Richard Burton) and so never make use of gunpowder and the printing press, even if they “had these first” (*technically*).

So the Khaldun cult is just progressive propaganda and they want us to use foreign words to break down our group morale—and venerate the “wise Muslim historian”. Other examples: Beijing not Peking, Kyiv not Kiev, and, most ridiculous, in the latest Dune film a character played by a Chinese (Republic of) actor is credited in Chinese ideograms as “張震”—which means nothing to a Chinaman, for whom the whole experience would be dubbed and all the cast list translated anyway (it’s purely there to be “inclusive” and make the Western audience feel clever and cosmopolitan).


Why is it done? It’s pretentious—it’s chic decadence; it’s “in-group low-status, out-group high-status”. You can tell it’s pretentious because you would never say “Paree” for “Paris” or “Roma” for “Rome” (except to be ironic)—yet “Beijing” and “Kyiv” are just that bit further away, not only geographically, but also psychologically, being non-Western, so that the pretentious progressive, keen to signal noblesse oblige for non-Westerners, pronounces the capital city with the “authentic” pronunciation (the locals will love you for it; as they say in the phrase book introductions, “a few words in the local language will take you a long way!”).

“A few words in the local language will take you a long way.”

So this habit demonstrates low thymos. We’re in the individualistic—look how special I am—phase where we “try out” exotic pronunciations to look special and unique and not to “impose” our vile in-group sensibilities on these poor foreign “victims”. So we kowtow when the Chinese say it’s “Beijing” not “Peking”—although, of course, it turns out an “expert” has revised the transliteration system and this is “correct and high-status now” anyway.

Except it’s like Arabic—there is no “correct” transliterated spelling of an Arab name or word (“asabiyya” or “asabiyyah” as you please—or as is fashionable), so this is just a turkey-shoot for bored academicians and people who like to “look smart” to compete over the (entirely arbitrary) “correct”, “respectful”, and “authentic” pronunciation. As the wise Muslim himself might observe: Individualistic, self-absorbed—no longer caring for long-cherished customs and traditions, soon to be overrun by a tribe from the periphery.

The tendency extends into many areas. I caught an “aviation historian” from a university absorbed in the suggestion that we should no longer call Japanese aircraft from WWII by their Allied designations. So instead of the “Zero” (I’ll just assume that as a man reading this you’ll just know roughly what I mean by “Zero” and Japanese plane from WWII) you would write “Mitsubishi Karazaki Mk. II”—or whatever. So far as I can tell there was no point to this suggestion other than for the scholar to denigrate in-group and promote out-group—even if they were fascists, but the Japs were non-white and were victims in the end (atom bomb) so, on balance, better to defer to them today.

What struck me was that this “concern” for the “other” just creates confusion—because it’s pure narcissism, just an attempt to look good. I doubt this man spoke Japanese—neither do most men with an interest in military aviation from WWII, you know what these men are like (they like photo-realistic paintings of Vulcan bombers and spend their time taking engines apart). To use the Japanese names when people have said “Zero” for decades just spreads confusion, especially when the actual audience is not composed from linguists.

Indeed, looking at this “aviation historian” (PhD), the sort of person who ends up running museums, I thought “he doesn’t look like a guy who is interested in aircraft”—by which I mean the type who just spend 9 or 10 hours (with occasional tea breaks) looking at the cladding on an engine manifold. These types, “mechanics” or “engineers”, are silent and stoic—they’re image-thinkers, working on schematics (electronics, piping). They’re not sociable, they’re quite disagreeable—they’re laconic. In fact, they’re the type who called a “Zero” a “Zero” in the first place, to facilitate quick no-fuss ID.

So the “custodian” doesn’t know his audience—doesn’t really like aircraft; and he’s the type, in fact, to wilfully destroy what makes an aviation museum work for its audience, because there aren’t enough Muslims and women interested in the development of the Rolls-Royce turbofan (if only it were presented in a more accessible way though…). It’s a bit like the fact the Nixon Presidential Library ended up curated by the most camp Jewish fag imaginable—and it’s deliberate, it’s inversion of the substantial by the superficial (the superficially clever).

Nixon <gruffly>: “Henry, I know these people have to exist, live in the world, but goddamit, do they have to run my presidential library?”

It’s about cohesion. The same applies to the way, in Britain, regional accents are used everywhere now. The thought here is to break down the class system, to break down the old Received Pronunciation. Here’s the problem though: RP was used as the standard “presenter” voice because it was clear (“the cut-glass English accent”) and so everyone could understand it. As it happens, a thick Geordie accent and a thick Devon accent and a thick Glaswegian accent and a thick Jamaican accent and a thick Cockney accent are not mutually intelligible—hence if you encourage “regional accents” nobody can understand each other easily anymore, like the proverbial Tower of Babel.

“But it’s more equal this way—diverse, regional accents are represented.” And nobody can understand each other, and nobody has any sense that they live in a coherent country because they hear something announced in an accent and they think, “You what? Can you say that again?”. It’s more fair this way of course, now nobody can understand each other (equality)—and everyone feels alienated from each other (but we don’t want to say, because to say you don’t understand might cause offence).

For now, we still have clear-cut announcements on the Tube “Mind the Gap” (for the tourists) but soon, very soon, these will be replaced by a more “representative” Pakistani accent—which only represents 12.3% of London or whatever, and so will contribute to the universal alienation that bit more.

So you see the problem’s extent—and it’s only getting worse. That’s why we can’t say “asabiyyathat’s to break down our group morale and to favour an alien group that day by day attains more power in our countries. It may be that the West (in Spengler’s sense, circa 1000-2000 AD, is over) but the Hyperborean civilisation to come, built on a European racial substrate (as the West was, as Rome was), will want to make a Hegelian Aufheben (there is no English equivalent to this word, so it’s not pretentious to use)—to incorporate and raise up what remains vital in the West, even as the West is cancelled. That’s why we can’t talk about asabiyya, but we will talk about thymos.


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