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[P]
Is the Muslim world inherently inferior to the West?

By Demiurge in Op-Ed
Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:07:41 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

I recently came across an article entitled Why the Muslims Misjudged Us: They hate us because their culture is backward and corrupt

Now, the title does seem rather incendiary. but as I read the article, I felt it made some interesting points.


What Hanson is saying, more or less, is that the distrust and antagonism much of the Muslim world feels towards the West in general and America in particular is due to that fact that their anger has been misdirected by the despotic rulers of many Middle East regimes, and that the Western tradition of democracy, egalitarianism, and secular government make it inherently superior to the Muslim world.

As Mr. Hanson puts it:
The catastrophe of the Muslim world is also explicable in its failure to grasp the nature of Western success, which springs neither from luck nor resources, genes nor geography. Like Third World Marxists of the 1960s, who put blame for their own self-inflicted misery upon corporations, colonialism and racism--anything other than the absence of real markets and a free society--the Islamic intelligentsia recognizes the Muslim world's inferiority vis-à-vis the West, but it then seeks to fault others for its own self-created fiasco. Government spokesmen in the Middle East should ignore the nonsense of the cultural relativists and discredited Marxists and have the courage to say that they are poor because their populations are nearly half illiterate, that their governments are not free, that their economies are not open, and that their fundamentalists impede scientific inquiry, unpopular expression and cultural exchange.

While I feel there are some flaws in the editorial(for example, the author disregards the role played by "guns, germs, and steel"), it raises some interesting points that are hard to refute.

For example, why is Israel, an open, democratic, Western society, wildly successful in comparison to its Islamic neighbors? It is, as this article suggests, due to the superiority of Western culture and values? And why is there such condemnation from Muslims in the Middle East over Isreali actions in the Palestinians territories, but when Saddam slaughters hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Shiites, or when Syria's Hafez Assad butchered 20,000 Muslims, no one seemed to bat an eye in the Muslim world. Could it be because, as Victor Hanson suggests, the despotic rulers like the House of Saud are simply focusing the anger of their citizens on anything besides their corruption?

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Poll
The Muslim world is...
o inherent inferior to the West, due to the difference in values. 18%
o inherent superior to the West, due to the difference in values. 3%
o neither superior nor inferior to the West. 34%
o inferior due to Western oppression. 6%
o inferior due to corrupt, despotic rulers. 37%

Votes: 223
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Why the Muslims Misjudged Us: They hate us because their culture is backward and corrupt
o Also by Demiurge


Display: Sort:
Is the Muslim world inherently inferior to the West? | 550 comments (509 topical, 41 editorial, 0 hidden)
isreal (2.33 / 21) (#1)
by nodsmasher on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:35:22 PM EST

while isreal might be open and democratic its also represive towred palistinians and flagrently violates teh geniva convention (no colecive punishment)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
-Tatarigami
Learn to spell (3.50 / 4) (#13)
by greenrd on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:10:13 PM EST

You need to learn to spell, but your comment didn't deserve a 0 rating.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

or ... (2.00 / 2) (#45)
by j1mmy on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:54:54 PM EST

Maybe you need to learn to read between the letters. =)

I've always wondered why people can be so nitpicky about language (I'm guilty of this, too). As long as the message gets across, does the presentation really matter?

[ Parent ]
[OT] Message vs. presentation (4.16 / 6) (#59)
by yosemite on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:03:07 AM EST

As long as the message gets across, does the presentation really matter?
Just like you can drive your car when all the tires are flat, you can deliver your message with a poor presentation. Just don't expect to get very far.

--
[Signature redacted]

[ Parent ]
There are limits [also OT] (4.33 / 3) (#118)
by gazbo on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:03:17 AM EST

I agree that it is not always necessary to criticise spelling and grammatical errors, but I find that credibility is very much linked to the poster's command over the English language (I would say the same for other languages, but unfortunately I don't feel I am at a level to point out errors ;-)

Being incapable of using common grammatical structures or spellings implies to me, possibly unfairly, that the opinion that has been so butchered is probably worthless. Sure, I won't complain about a typo, or a complex word that has a small spelling error. To frequently criticize split infinitives (sorry) is also unreasonable.

However, is it really unfair to expect the names of countries to be spelled correctly, or even the simplest of words? Surely the apostrophe cannot fall into the category of 'exotic complex construct' and thus allowed to be misused by somebody claiming to have an opinion I should listen to? I realise that the poster had not abused the apostrophe this time, but the point stands.

I suggest going through the original poster's history - I am actually in two minds as to whether he is a troll, the English is so bad. I mean, who actually thinks you get into bed for the purpose of 'sleaping'? Oh, it's worthwhile noting that in one of his posts he complains about being subjected to English lessons - how appropriate. I checked his web-page: he's 17. No excuse.

-----
Topless, revealing, nude pics and vids of Zora Suleman! Upskirt and down blouse! Cleavage!
Hardcore ZORA SULEMAN pics!

[ Parent ]

spelling (5.00 / 1) (#225)
by nodsmasher on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:37:13 PM EST

while i am intgieed with you opionoins on my spelling (which hapends to be a disibility on my part, i also have un readable hand writing) what do you think of my coment ?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
-Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
Ok... [OT] (none / 0) (#302)
by Noodle on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:46:16 PM EST

This HAS to be intentional :)

I mean, I know lots of people who can't spell. My older sister is terrible at spelling. But either you didn't even make an attempt to review and correct what you just wrote, or you never meant to try.

Or you're just a really funny dude who REALLY can't spell for the life of him, and we all get to laugh at you now :P

{The Nefarious Noodle}

{The Nefarious Noodle}
[ Parent ]

Re: Ok... [OT] (4.00 / 1) (#304)
by K on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:44:25 PM EST

This HAS to be intentional :)
Not if he's dyslexic. I don't want to be presumptious, because there are other possible problems. But a good friend of mine from college was also dyslexic. As many times as he could, he'd go over his writing. But he could not get grammar or spelling correct, or even close. His ideas were sound, however. I know it's difficult to determine when someone doesn't care and when they can't; there are legitimate issues, though.



[ Parent ]
And his spell checker is dyslexic as well? (none / 0) (#305)
by krait on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:50:39 PM EST

nt

[ Parent ]
dyslexic (5.00 / 1) (#452)
by nodsmasher on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:37:25 PM EST

its not dyslexia (i can read fine) but something like that
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
-Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
Geneva Convention (2.33 / 3) (#260)
by n8f8 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:31:16 PM EST

Does not apply to non-combantants.If Hamas put on uniforms, lived in garrisons and marched into battle then they would qualify for protection. The Geneva Convention exists to protect non-combatants. By hiding among the general population and deliberatly targetting civilians they deserve no protection.

I actually think Israel shows quite a bit of restraint. Could you imagine what the US would do if some terrorist group started targeting civilians like that? We'd hunt them to the ends of the earth and Fck!@!ing obliterate them.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]

I don't think the issue... (none / 0) (#539)
by ariux on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 12:31:43 AM EST

...is what Israel does in its war against Hamas; I think the issue is that some elements in Israel are waging a systematic campaign to destroy the property of noncombatants and force them off their land.

The United States is not shipping Californian settlers into Afghanistan to build ski resorts on the sites of destroyed villages. Unlike some militants in Israel, it is just aiming for the actual terrorists.

[ Parent ]

Other theories (3.77 / 9) (#6)
by Ebon Praetor on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:43:20 PM EST

I saw a book review on the same subject in Time a few weeks ago which sparked my interest. One of the most noticable things about the Islamic culture is that it has never undergone an 'Enlightenment' in the same way Europe did. Even the successful Asian countries like Japan did (the Meiji Reformation). The Islamic world had a period of relative brilliance during the European dark ages, but never had a period where it seperated church and state and allowed science to exist outside the bounds of religion.

As a result, Islamic culture is still mired in its religionand hasn't reached the (possibly incorrect) conclusion of the West: the state must exist seperately from the church. Otherwise, the rulers can keep a population in check by telling them that it is the will of Allah/God that they be opressed. Without the (selfish) desire to better oneself, the people of these areas will continue to be as it was summed up in Lawrence of Arabia: 'a little people...petty, cruel, and barbarous.'

Maybe theres something to be said for capitalistic greed after all as it seems that was what brought parts of the world to such material prosperity and freedom.

interesting premise but... (4.80 / 5) (#11)
by bani on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:56:47 PM EST

"As a result, Islamic culture is still mired in its religionand hasn't reached the (possibly incorrect) conclusion of the West: the state must exist seperately from the church."

The problem with this premise is that there are several countries in the middle east with (presumably) secular governments -- Iraq (and, I believe, Libya) immediately springs to mind. Yet they wallow in misery as deep as Iran or any of the other arab theocracies.

I would suggest that the mere existence of a secular government does not guarantee success. Islam itself needs a reformation, it needs to extinguish its fundamentalism and come to grips with the modern world. As long as Islam glorifies suffering, elitism, antimodernism, antisemitism, the circle of misery will continue.

[ Parent ]
Iraq and Libya... (4.25 / 4) (#30)
by SvnLyrBrto on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:55:00 PM EST

Well, secular or no, neither Iraq nor Libya are good examples, as they both happened to decide to torque off the US; Iraq by invading an ally of the US and subsequently violating the terms of the cease-fire by refusing to cooperate with UNSCOM, and Libya by sponsering a whole mess of terrorist bombings and such during the '80s.

As a result of various sanctions and embargos, the economies of both are rathar depressed. Plus, just how secular IS Iraq? I don't pretend to know the details of the politics there, but I seem to recall reading that it's a fairly big deal there that the ruling Baath party is made up of Sunni muslims, who have been taking out their fusterations on the Sheite muslims.

(Yah, I'm sure I spelled both Sunni and Sheite wrong there).

Perhaps a better example would be Turkey: a formerly islamic government working hard to seperate the influence of religion from affairs of state; and no sanctions or embargos to deal with. They certianly seem to be doing pretty well compared to much of the middle east. And, IIRC, they are even launching a bid to get into the EU, and thus become part of Europe, seperating from the middle-east entirely.


cya,
john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

Turkey... (4.00 / 1) (#97)
by bani on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:31:53 AM EST

I would suggest Turkey's relatively liberal Islamic stance is influenced largely from its geography. It borders greece, its a land bridge from europe to the middle east. Its a geographical crossroads of commerce for the region, and the political groups appear to be drawn across industrial/business/worker lines, rather than religious/racial lines.

I think turkey would make a strong argument that the best mechanism for social progress is global commerce and industrialization.

Aside from the discovery of petroleum in the middle east, most arab nations have done very little commerce-wise or industrially except to other arab nations, which does little for social progress.

[ Parent ]
Funny thing about Turkey (none / 0) (#435)
by zhermit on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:50:33 PM EST

Turkey is almost as hated by the Arab world as America is. It's probably holdovers from the Otomman Empire and deeper cultural differences(though I could be wrong on this); but couldn't it also be because they've westernized, and the rest of the Arab world hasn't?

I have a sig?
[ Parent ]
Turkey hated by the Arab world? (none / 0) (#464)
by bani on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:08:42 PM EST

Turkey is almost as hated by the Arab world as America is.

Do you have any references for this claim?

[ Parent ]
No direct links but an experiment (none / 0) (#490)
by Curieus on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 04:24:32 AM EST

If you happen to live in a place where there are both turks and morocans/egyptians/arabs do a little experiment.

Call the turks morocan/egyptian/arab and most will get angry.
Call the morocans/egyptians/arabs turk and most will get angry,
Call the morocans/egyption/arab by one of the other two nationality and most will merely be annoyed.

[ Parent ]
Or maybe (none / 0) (#487)
by Zeram on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 03:19:51 AM EST

it's because Turkey nose is far up Americas ass it'll porbably never see daylight ever again.
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
well, no (none / 0) (#530)
by nusuth on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:11:14 AM EST

During the first world war, arabs decided that they are better off being a british colony and fucked our empire thru all eastern fronts. Sometimes fighting with the enemy, sometimes revolting, sometimes doing both, Arabs are the main reason Ottoman empire didn't survive 1st WW (not that it would be a good thing if she did survive...) That's why we, modern Turks, dislike them. Obviously, they had a reason for doing that, favoring christian ruling over muslim ruling, a reason conveniently called "hatret" I would assume.

Now, the hatret between arabs and turks are actually have much deeper roots. The reason I quote what happened during WW1 is that for about 600 years or so, we did live together without great fuss. The Prophet's sayings includes very disturbing references to Turks. The turks were converted to islam by exceessive use of violance. We never forgot it but decided to rule rather than kill Arabs. I think that had been a very dumb decision o our part.

Anyway, all of this preceeds our affairs with USA by a fair margin. So your "analysis" is totally incorrect.

[ Parent ]

Interesting Theory... (none / 0) (#517)
by Alias79 on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 05:52:17 PM EST

But I'd have to agree with the idea that even with a distinct separation of church and state, the problems of the Islamic world would not be eradicated. These problems have a deeper root, associated with the upbringing and culture in the region moreso than their religious affiliations. One suggestion, although quite implausible is education of the masses. The Kuran is very strict, but encourages peace and comaraderie. It is the interpretation and the illiteracy of the people that makes them believe what their political leaders say is the "voice of Allah". I feel it is unnecessary to undermine the religion as a whole when it is in fact one of peace. Education would give these people the ability to read and interpret the Kuran for themselves. This suggestion, is just that. Separation of church and state isn't what insures a prosperous nation. It has more to do with is peoples thirst for justification, which is quenched by their faith / what they believe is their faith. I'd also like to point that now more than ever is not a good time to point out America's success due to our segregation from the church. (George W. Bush is in office)
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." -Dante Alighieri
[ Parent ]
Islam != Authoritarian (4.68 / 16) (#9)
by Pseudoephedrine on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:50:59 PM EST

I'm giving this a +1 because I want to encourage debate over it, even though the title is a bit unfortunate.

Looking at what he is critiquing, it seems the title should be 'Are authoritarian nations inherently inferior to individualistic ones?' But, phrased that way here in the developed world, the question is axiomatic.

The current critique of Islam should more appropriately be directed against Wahabbism, the specific branch of radical fundamentalist Islam supported by the Saudi government, and taught in the Saudi-support madrassas (religious schools) throughout Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia and the Middle East.

There is nothing fundamentally undemocratic about Muslims or Islam in general - Ralph Nader himself is of arabic descent, and the 4 million or so American Muslims of middle-eastern descent have integrated into western democratic society without serious problems. Rather, the various Islamic governments use Islam (and specifically Wahabbism) the same way European governments used to use Christianity - as a means of social control of the population.

To answer the original question: No, Islamic socities are not inherently inferior to western ones. But authoritarian _states_, whether western, muslim, chinese or otherwise _are_ inferior to free ones.

"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Wahabism (3.50 / 4) (#23)
by elzubeir on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:37:29 PM EST

While Wahabism originated from Saudi, and did migrate toward the east (Afghanistant, parts of Pakistan, etc) it does not cover the entire Middle East region. In fact, once you cross the Red Sea and cross over to Africa, fudamentalist Islam takes a whole different look. So, quit bashing on Saudi as if it is the only mother of all evil ideologies.

Islam, like Christianity and other religions, is going through its dark ages phase. In all Muslim countries, there are cults and strange fundamentlist ideologies. Those cults are taking a mainstream form in those countries, which is what brings an entire religion to its dark ages.

[ Parent ]
African Islam and Middle Eastern Islam (5.00 / 2) (#38)
by Pseudoephedrine on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:24:07 PM EST

The difference between African Islam and Middle Eastern Islam deserves to be looked at, I agree.

In Africa, Islamic fundamentalism tends to be internally directed - the Islamic populations of Nigeria and Sudan, for example, tend to operate within relatively local areas to where they inhabit. While I'm not going to downplay the horror of say, the Sudanese civil war, these are primarily local conflicts and dealt with locally.

On the other hand, Northern Africa through to Pakistan tends to have _externally_directed_ fundamentalism. Algeria causes trouble for France, Libyan agents shoot down planes over Scotland, Palestinians hold Israelis hostage in Germany, Iranians hold Americans hostage in Tehran, Saudis organise 9/11 and Afghanis shelter them from America.

The international nature of this fundamentalism is what makes it dangerous. People who are uninvolved in the situation are threatened or killed.

And Wahabbism is not the _only_ strain of fundamentlist Islam, it is one of the more prolific and dangerous versions. With its internationalist and strongly fundamentalist notions, it encourages the madrassas, who themselves are responsible for groups like the Taliban and Al Qaida. What makes it particularly dangerous compared to other branches is that it has the funding and support of the Saudis, who can furnish Wahabbi groups with material that they otherwise wouldn't have.

"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[ Parent ]
cultural relativism is overrated (4.72 / 22) (#10)
by dukethug on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:52:17 PM EST

I'm not sure where to begin responding to this comment. I feel like an absolute appeal to cultural relativism would ring hollow. However, I think that we should always start from a position of skepticism when it comes to assigning "values" to cultures. It seems to me that it's very hard to pick a suitable metric without making a whole lot of preliminary assumptions. For example, you could say that Western culture is better because we have a higher standard of living than Muslim countries. On the other hand, you could say that Islamic culture is better, because all Western infidels are going to burn in hell for violating the Qu'ran.

I just feel like the whole argument is tautologous- it's kind of like saying "Western culture is superior to Islamic culture because Western culture does a better job of achieving the goals of Western culture." It just doesn't seem very valuable to me to engage in these sorts of discussions. You would peak my interest if you argued that Western culture is superior because it does a better job of fulfilling Islamic values.

I would highly recommend "The Diamond Age" to anyone interested in these sorts of issues, because it is very much related to the differences between Eastern and Western culture. In addition to being a very enjoyable read, it sends the message that no matter how long one culture appears to be dominant or superior to another, the "lower" culture will always rise up to bite the "superior" culture in the ass, and the wise are those who have knowledge and understanding of all cultures.

Cultural Relativism (2.18 / 11) (#21)
by Demiurge on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:31:56 PM EST

The reliance on relativism in morality by many liberals has always bothered me. It's just not a defensible position.

People make the mistake of assuming since there's no absolute moral authority, it's impossible to judge a culture on moral or ethical grounds. I'd say more about Heidegger and Sartre's concepts of anxiety and authenticity, but I'll save that for another story.

I don't want to get bogged down in some debate over semantics, so if you prefer, pretend the title of the article says "Is Western Civilization inherently more free, democratic, secular, and egalitarian than the Muslim World?"

[ Parent ]
relativism and standards. (4.42 / 7) (#76)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:08:36 AM EST

People make the mistake of assuming since there's no absolute moral authority, it's impossible to judge a culture on moral or ethical grounds.

Well, then how the hell are you going to judge another culture on moral and ethical grounds? This is *the* central point behind relativism: of course you can set standards and judge, but any such standard is going to be, ultimately, arbitrary.

You may have some methods of deciding in favor of some standard over another, but if you can't arrive at a supreme standard, and your best candidates differ in substantial points, then there will simply be things you *can't* judge fairly.

--em
[ Parent ]

Ethical standards (2.66 / 6) (#88)
by Demiurge on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:45:21 AM EST

Ethical values can be grounded from within a reflective understanding of the conditions under which individuals can attain authenticity in their lives. To carry relativism to its logical endpoint is to be unable to judge any act as good or evil. Don't tell me you never ever make value judgements regarding anything.

[ Parent ]
strawman detection (3.50 / 2) (#156)
by speek on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:44:27 PM EST

Ethical values can be grounded...

Uh-oh. My philosophical bullshit-o-meter gets primed...

...from within a reflective understanding ...

Oh dear, we're registering bullshit.

...of the conditions under which individuals can attain authenticity ...

PING-PING-PING!
Time to introduce the strawman argument:

To carry relativism to its logical endpoint is to be unable to judge any act as good or evil. Don't tell me you never ever make value judgements regarding anything.

Just because I make a judgement, doesn't mean it was correct or valid. It also doesn't mean I made it believing I was universally correct. My value judgement may simply have been "that's ugly". By doing so I do not invoke a universal standard of beauty, but only my personal, current feelings on the matter.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

I thought we were beyond good & evil? [n/t] (1.50 / 2) (#315)
by Nick Ives on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:32:55 AM EST



[ Parent ]
A popular fancy.... (none / 0) (#361)
by Curieus on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:03:46 AM EST

It is a popular fancy that mankind will/has progress/ed beyond "good and evil".
It will never happen. No distinction between good and evil clashes with almost all people.
For it means that there is, for the ego/self no difference between picking up a hitchiker in the streaming rain or running over him.
It would mean that there is no valid reason to get mad at the rape of a wife/sister/daughter/self beyond the pure property value. "They raped my daughter, now she is damaged,i demand recompensation, say $100000.."
Everyone, but a select few will see that this is not a normal reaction. Most will be shocked and say that such behaviour (the rape, and the mere $100000 claim) are at best indignified. If these people would not have an idea of good/evil (lets just call it propriety), then this indignation is a nonsensical reaction.

To conclude, given the fact that most people will feel indignation, the idea of good and evil will never disappear for all practical purposes. Another good idea is to look at children, they usually have a pretty good idea at what is and what is not fair.

[ Parent ]
It was intended as a joke, but... (none / 0) (#536)
by Nick Ives on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 03:33:01 PM EST

What if mankind was to loose its sense of ego? Maybe something akin to Dr Leary, the whole world on acid so to speak? Maybe if the nanotech singularity happens and people start thought uploading in a manner in such a manner that we become subsumed within a bigger collective conciousness it could happen I suppose, but then we wouldnt really be humans anymore, that would be something different.

Maybe we can fineally get rid of good and evil with the evolution to the second men, but I perfectly accept that it isnt something that's possible right now =).

--
Nick
Hurm...

[ Parent ]

i prefer some things, but i don't say they're good (none / 0) (#496)
by sayke on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 06:50:03 AM EST

and, in the same way, i dislike some things - but i don't say they "are" bad. see the link in my sig if you want to explore the ramifications of carrying this to its logical conclusion.


sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

One caveat (4.57 / 7) (#123)
by dennis on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:33:38 AM EST

Your remarks are completely valid, but only as long as the Muslims really don't complain about their relative lack of economic success, etc. The moment they say something like "the West is oppressing us economically," they've bought into our values, and it's valid to look at whether it's really the West's fault, or whether the structure of Muslim societies is preventing them from achieving something that they want after all.

According to some articles I've read, the general population in Afghanistan really doesn't share our values. I don't know about the rest of the Muslim world.

[ Parent ]

You`re missing the point of the question (3.00 / 3) (#142)
by FredBloggs on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:53:40 AM EST

"you could say that Western culture is better because we have a higher standard"

That`ll only help you know which is better now. The question is - which is `inherently` better.

It could be that Islam is `inherently` better, but at the moment is suffering from bad luck (in terms of natural resources in predominantly Muslim countries), and bad treatment at the hands of currently more powerful nations, and it will recover and overtake `Western` countries in the future.

[ Parent ]
Eh (5.00 / 1) (#295)
by bugmaster on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:53:05 PM EST

Sorry, I guess I am kinda dumb, but what was so superior about the uprising culture in the Diamond Age ? Sure, Dr. X showed Hackworth "a ractive simulation as big as all of China" of utopian paradise, but Hackworth knew full well (just as the reader does) that the Fists have burned, raped, killed and plundered their way to victory. Giving those people the Seed would be like giving a nuke to a pissed-off five-year-old. Sure, the Fists were able to "kick ass" -- but they won through sheer numbers and brute force. I don't expect their new mega-phyle, which kills its female babies as a matter of course, to achieve the same standard of living as the Vickys did. In fact, I predict than in 5-10 years (sooner if they get the Seed) their new kingdom will totally fall apart.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
biting 'em in the ass (5.00 / 1) (#299)
by dukethug on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:09:58 PM EST

I wasn't claiming that the uprising culture was superior- I was just claiming that they were biting the nominally "superior" culture (the Vickys) in the ass- do you agree with that?

[ Parent ]

Sure (5.00 / 1) (#313)
by bugmaster on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:14:40 AM EST

Sure, like I said, they beat the Vickys out of Atlantis/Shanghai by sheer manpower. So what ? In a few years, the conquering empire would disintegrate, and the Vickys would walk right back in. After all, they still have Atlantis/London and Atlantis/Everything else. If anoyone is the truly superior culture in the DA world, it would be the Drummers -- they are the only ones who clearly benefitted from all this. Of course, they can hardly be considered human, or even a culture in any conventional sense...
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
A very similar question (4.23 / 21) (#15)
by Delirium on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:18:53 PM EST

  • Are Africans inherently inferior to Europeans, and thus unable to form the stable sorts of governments we see in Europe?
One doesn't ask such questions in polite company, of course. But it seems as of late that the Arab-bashing is exempt from this sort of taboo.

oh, please (2.69 / 13) (#26)
by gibichung on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:43:57 PM EST

This is a discussion of culture and ideology, not race. When you're finished beating on that straw man, feel free to join in.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]
I don't see how mine was different (4.25 / 8) (#32)
by Delirium on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:04:59 PM EST

I was referring specifically to the residents of Africa, not to black people as a race. I don't see how a discussion of Muslim culture being "inferior" vs. a discussion of African culture being "inferior" is singificantly different. If I were discussing race, I would've compared Blacks to Arabs.

[ Parent ]
I disagree (4.25 / 4) (#58)
by gibichung on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 11:59:22 PM EST

Let's see your original post:
Are Africans inherently inferior to Europeans, and thus unable to form the stable sorts of governments we see in Europe? One doesn't ask such questions in polite company, of course. But it seems as of late that the Arab-bashing is exempt from this sort of taboo.
Note that you say "are Africans inherently inferior to Europeans," not "is African Culture inherently inferior to European culture." If that isn't enough:

It obvious that, when referring to people, the words "European" and "African" can have two meanings:

  • A person living on the continent of Europe or Africa
  • A member of a European or African race
However, the word "Arab" has only one meaning:
  • A member of the Arabian race
Now, the article itself is not about "Arabs," it is about Muslims. And yet, you make the claim:
But it seems as of late that the Arab-bashing is exempt from this sort of taboo.
Keeping our two definitions of "European" and "African" in mind, you said:
Are Africans inherently inferior to Europeans, and thus unable to form the stable sorts of governments we see in Europe?
I'll take it that you are not completely ignorant of history and demographics. The continent of Africa consists of two geographic regions and three demographic regions. North Africa is not populated by "Blacks." Sub-Saharan Africa is. The government of South Africa (the country) was formed by European colonists. The claim
Are Africans inherently inferior to Europeans, and thus unable to form the stable sorts of governments we see in Europe?
maintains that "Africans" do not live under stable governments. However, South Africa has a stable government. Most North African countries have stable governments today, and all of them have at some point in history. Since your claim obviously applies only to the use of the word "African" to describe a race, where are we? Lastly, we should consider:
One doesn't ask such questions in polite company, of course.
As cultural and religious comparisons are not and have never been "taboo," this statement can only be inferred to be a comparison between African and European races, which is in line with the tone.

Even if your original comment was not intended to compare the editorial linked in the article to racism, this was nevertheless accomplished. And, if you want to continue to believe that no comparison to racism is implied, the original comment has absolutely no basis in fact otherwise.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]

Though (5.00 / 1) (#68)
by medham on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:28:32 AM EST

I don't like taking away people's own private hanging rope, I should point out nonetheless that "race" is a biologically meaningless concept, and that "Arabian race" [sic] just isn't going to work--even if you are a believer in the concept of races. "Ethnicity" might be what you're looking for, though it's hard to tell.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

race (4.00 / 1) (#73)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:01:54 AM EST

I don't like taking away people's own private hanging rope, I should point out nonetheless that "race" is a biologically meaningless concept

Yes, it is biologically meaningless. But cultures do have symbolic elaborations of ancestral groups distinguished by visible, inheritable traits, which they endow with significance. The word "race" is perfectly applicable to such classifications.

--em
[ Parent ]

Fool (1.00 / 1) (#81)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:18:52 AM EST

Actually, since the Arabs of the Gulf states tend to have long family histories and compact genealogies, they are a far better candidate for what you might call a "race" than those disparate collection of people who have black skin.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Jackass (5.00 / 1) (#163)
by medham on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:01:27 PM EST

Did I write anything about anyone being a better candidate for what I call "race?" No, I wrote that the concept is biologically meaningless, which it is.

If you want to talk about a cultural concept of race, as the other respondent noted, then "ethnicity" works just as well.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

The word "race" (none / 0) (#71)
by gibichung on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:34:33 AM EST

I feel that it is important that I clarify my use of the word "race." The word "race" has many meanings, and does not necessarily imply any biological meaning. The biological aspect of race is an arbitrary, subjective, artificial classification. However, Marriam-Webster OnLine describes one definition of "race" as:
2 a : a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock b : a class or kind of people unified by community of interests, habits, or characteristics (the English race)
As such, there is an "Arabian race," in much the same way as there is a "Human race."

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]
You seem to have a very thin grasp... (5.00 / 2) (#196)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:05:46 PM EST

... on the principle of conversational charity. If Delirium says that the words were refering to residents of areas and not races, then that is indeed what they meant. Maybe you think that could have or should have been expressed differently. However, even you admit that such a reading is possible, so you have given up any case that Delirium wasn't communicating at all.

If you don't like the way someone says something, you can only suggest that they clarify themselves in some way. You can't tell them that they really meant something else.



[ Parent ]

Nice Troll (3.00 / 3) (#162)
by briandunbar on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:00:46 PM EST

People are not inferior. Cultures are.
Feed the poor, eat the rich!
[ Parent ]
Until Western Europe got itself sorted out ... (5.00 / 1) (#357)
by ragnarok on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:30:59 AM EST

we were just as bad as the [foo | whoever]. Corruption, religious bigotry, etc, ran rampant.

It took several centuries of having the issues thumped out and tried and tested, etc, before they managed to coexist with each other and political stability.

One shouldn't expect instantaneous results from the [Arab | African | Asian | Latin American | whatever] people. It takes time - and also suffering - to get anywhere.


"And it came to healed until all the gift and pow, I, the Lord, to divide; wherefore behold, all yea, I was left alone....", Joseph Smith's evil twin sister's prophecies
[ Parent ]

Yes but (none / 0) (#462)
by Woundweavr on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:54:31 PM EST

"We" did sort them out didn't "we". The other groups didn't appear halfway through. They've had the same time, so to say that instantaneous results are needed is kinda shortsighted.

[ Parent ]
Haha! (2.36 / 19) (#25)
by valeko on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:41:18 PM EST

And after this, you expect that the Wall Street Journal will retain any last remnant of credibility. After publishing this bigoted, criminal tripe? Hah!

That the Wall Street Journal permits such crap to grace its editorial pages speaks much of the plutocratic parasites to which it caters.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart

Valeko, everybody. Give him a hand? (2.00 / 2) (#35)
by Demiurge on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:19:51 PM EST

If you ever read more than Soviet-era issues of Pravda, you might want to try the WSJ. Also, you might want to look up the word "editorial", or "opinion".

[ Parent ]
Why is it called OPINION and EDITORIAL? (3.66 / 6) (#36)
by rebelcool on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:20:14 PM EST

Shall we all begin censoring our opinions too because they disagree with your worldview? You're as fascist as those you claim are.

I think the article makes several good points inbetween the inflammatory words (the first part was good, though later on it started to ramble).

If you disagree, make some respectable points instead of clamoring for silence.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

I'm not clamouring for censorship! (3.25 / 8) (#40)
by valeko on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:27:22 PM EST

I'm clamouring for recognition that this is what the WSJ really stands for, in contrast to the popular view that it's a well-balanced, informative publication.

If you think that because it is an editorial/opinion article it is exempt from criticism because it presents a certain viewpoint, I think you're wrong, however. I'm not demanding that the WSJ be censored; please, they can publish more tripe all they want. That's the essence of freedom of the press, right? Besides, if I really wanted to censor viewpoints that I regarded as disagreeable, don't you think I would go after this asinine moron first?

However, you're far too idealistic and detached from reality if you think that "respectable" publications excercise their editorial discretion impartially in order to present both sides of the issue, or whatnot. They may project the appearance of doing so, but ultimately it is the viewpoints and the stories which a publication chooses to include that determine its character. This particular piece reflects very badly upon the legitimacy of the WSJ, in my eyes. That doesn't mean they should be denied printing.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Uncle Noam (3.66 / 3) (#48)
by medham on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 11:00:46 PM EST

Has made the insightful point on several occasions that the editorial pages of the WSJ are cartoonish at best, whereas its general reporting is among the best of all newspapers. His idea is that it (the reporting) has to be, because the WSJ's audience is people with real power whereas the NYT and preach to the choir of indoctrinated liberal elites. I'm not sure how the editorial page fits into this schema, though it's certainly comical.

Safire's editorial in today's (Monday's) NYT was nearly as offensive as this, though.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

because "purile butt splooge" is too man (1.70 / 10) (#43)
by turmeric on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:45:24 PM EST

der

[ Parent ]
The Wall Street Journal (4.75 / 4) (#80)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:16:45 AM EST

Actually, what you're reading there is the op-ed page of the Journal. It has a separate staff, and is practically regarded as a separate paper by the mainstream staff of the Journal. The WSJ Op-Ed doesn't even have any credibility within the WSJ; however the paper itself remains extremely good (although appallingly designed)

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Specify, do not characterise. (5.00 / 1) (#218)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:11:44 PM EST

Do you have anything to say beside hurling pejoratives at the author?


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Inherently (4.33 / 12) (#39)
by Neuromancer on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:25:25 PM EST

No, it's not INHERENTLY inferior to the west.

1) The political climate is similar to the brinksmanship that we suffered less than 10 years ago. Only on a smaller scale. We can't fault them for not being big enough to really mess up the world.

2) The active warfare is similar to wars that are faught ALL over the world, not just in the middle east.

3) Western culture has suffered holy war before.

So, what am I saying. Well, economics and politics has held the countries back from achieving what we have. Modern technology has enabled radicals to be dangerous. We can't fault a country for being less developed than we are. We CAN fault them for what they do. There's nothing INHERENTLY wrong with them and their culture that causes them to be this way. There ARE assholes in power, but then again, Hitler was in power less than 100 years ago. Was there something INHERENTLY wrong with Germans?

I believe the west invented the holy war (2.50 / 8) (#42)
by turmeric on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:43:45 PM EST

There was this thing called 'the crusades', about 1000 years back, quite naughty really.

[ Parent ]
hardly the first.. (3.16 / 6) (#46)
by rebelcool on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:58:42 PM EST

holy war is as old as religion itself.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Nah (3.66 / 6) (#49)
by Neuromancer on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 11:07:31 PM EST

I hope you're not just playing "Blame the Christians." There have been plenty of holy wars in history. We didn't just pick a fight.

However, if you would like to point a finger. I could point you HERE Which discusses the motivations for the first crusade.

As well as this one.

Alexius Comnenus, the eastern emperor, needed reinforcement. A couple of years previously, he had seen a group of western knights under the command of Count Robert of Flanders and returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He had been impressed by their fighting ability and decided to try to hire about 1200 such warriors. he sent his request, and the reasons for it, to Pope Urban II.

[ Parent ]
The quote fails to mention (none / 0) (#266)
by Neuromancer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:48:35 PM EST

That Alexius Comnenus was hiring these solders to defend from turk invaders in the Byzantine Empire.

Lets not forget Istanbul was Constantinople. (He he he)

[ Parent ]
Holy war (4.00 / 8) (#52)
by gsl on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 11:28:20 PM EST

I know you're probably trolling but what the hell...

The concept and practice of jihad predates the Crusades by centuries. My understanding (somewhat limited) is that its origins were defensive but in the 8th century came to be an "obligatory aggressive war" which was conducted against the Byzantine empire.

It is, after all, Islam that divides the world into Dar al-Islam (the House of Submission) and Dar al-Harb (the House of War). I can't recall a similar Christian doctrine (but then I'm a lapsed Discordian so not an expert).

Geoff.



[ Parent ]
Well, if we're getting into it... (4.40 / 5) (#54)
by rantweasel on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 11:43:35 PM EST

Read through the Old Testament, just pick a random book. There was a whole mess of holy war going on, whether the Jews were fighting Hittites, Canaanites, Philistines, etc. It's way older than Islam, and I suspect that holy wars have been going on a lot longer than any recorded religious history.

mathias

[ Parent ]
The west invented holy war?! (4.20 / 5) (#114)
by elefantstn on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:24:39 AM EST

Read some history, man. Holy war is as ancient as holiness itself. For as long as there have been things to worship, there have been people willing to kill other people about which things they worship.

[ Parent ]
Then you should look more closely. (5.00 / 2) (#217)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:10:30 PM EST

The Muslim expansion itself was a holy war, and it happened 400 years beforehand.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Nazis are INHERENTLY wrong (5.00 / 1) (#182)
by mulvaney on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:24:59 PM EST

I think you are misinterpreting the article. The author is not saying there is something fundamentally wrong with Muslim people, or with the inhabitants of the Arab world. He is saying there is something inherently wrong with the culture and political system of the Middle East.

Your Hitler analogy is a good one. There was something inherently wrong with the Nazis. Any regime that intolerant can not last. But there is nothing wrong with the German people -- they just had a flawed culture there for a while.

You cannot make Nazism "work" -- it is inherently flawed.

-Mike

[ Parent ]
Intolerant regimes (none / 0) (#230)
by wji on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:46:17 PM EST

There was something inherently wrong with the Nazis. Any regime that intolerant can not last.
The Spanish Inquisition lasted 350 years. So what are you basing that statement on?

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
It didn't last? Did it. (none / 0) (#388)
by wiredog on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:51:36 AM EST

It's gone now. Yes, it lasted hundreds of years, but it did fail. However please note that, during that time, Catholic Spain was fighting the Moors for control of Iberia. The Inquisition was as much a war fighting tool as a religious instrument.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Ummm... (none / 0) (#395)
by wji on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:54:24 AM EST

It's gone now. Yes, it lasted hundreds of years, but it did fail.
So anything that doesn't still exist is a failure? That would place the Roman Empire in the 'failure' category... 2002-1776 = 226, so is the United States less 'sucessful' than the Spanish Inquisition?

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
What about the dinosaurs? (5.00 / 2) (#403)
by mulvaney on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 11:58:01 AM EST

They lasted for millions of years, they must have had the best civilization.

Give it up, this is a stupid argument.

-Mike

[ Parent ]
It hasn't failed yet (5.00 / 1) (#433)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:41:17 PM EST

If/when the US does fail, then historians will debate on why. The Roman empire DID fail as did the Spanish Inquisition.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Thirty Years War (3.00 / 1) (#356)
by ragnarok on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:25:57 AM EST

hey, there was a period in Western Europe when Religion equaled War. Oh, and Martin Luther, one of the first German nationalists, declared that though you owned your own conscience, your body while in the army, was owned by the state. That was one of the worst ethical statements a Western European could make.


"And it came to healed until all the gift and pow, I, the Lord, to divide; wherefore behold, all yea, I was left alone....", Joseph Smith's evil twin sister's prophecies
[ Parent ]

And Hundred Years War (4.00 / 1) (#387)
by wiredog on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:49:45 AM EST

Those wars did much to advance the idea of the secular state.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Then we agree... (5.00 / 1) (#408)
by Woundweavr on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:12:52 PM EST

The Western World of today is inherantly superior to that of the Western World in the 1600s. Nothing to do with this article but thanks for playing.

[ Parent ]
A few thoughts (4.00 / 7) (#41)
by Canthros on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:29:35 PM EST

I voted this up because I figured, like several others, it would generate some worthwhile discussions.

I feel it necessary to note that Israel is not well liked in the Middle East because it is a nation that was constructed by outside forces (US, Britain, others?), forced out pre-existing residents, and occupies Jerusalem, location of the Dome of the Rock, an important site in the Islamic religion. And they enforce their position with the same violence used against them (regardless of who the real instigator was). I doubt Israel is despised solely because of any economic success.



--
It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
RyoCokey
Plus, they're Jews (3.00 / 2) (#176)
by epepke on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:53:56 PM EST

Oh the Catholics hate the Protestants/ and the Protestants hate the Catholics/ And the Hindus hate all the Moselms/ and everybody hates the Jews.--Tom Lehrer

I feel the need to point this out because there's a lot of creative interpretational rationalizing going on here. Usama bin Laden, several years back, put out a very well produced recruitment tape for his organization. The bad guys in the tape were The Jews. Not Israel. Jews. So "Western liberals" get this information and think "homina homina, Palestinian state, justifiable indignation, blah blah blah." Nope. Usama bin Laden has never in the past had much to do with the Palestinians, and they, to their credit, have never had much to do with him. He doesn't like U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and he doesn't like Jews.

As far as Isreal's foundation being the cause for resentment, I find it ironic that the people who talk about this are not savvy enough to know that the U.S. wasn't a significant ally of Israel until the late 1960's and was actually a moderate opponent of them in the 1950's. The first AWACS planes were actually a bit of a scandal. Most of this stuff about how the U.S. set up Isreal to be mean to the Mideast by proxy is though up by people who don't even know history as far back as 1967! I don't think there's a snowballs chance in a blast furnace that they know 1945 all that well.

Don't I keep hearing about how poor Arabs suffer from lack of education? Well, if people who are supposedly educated, on a site that is supposed to be for people who like to think, consistently can't go back 35 years, it's pretty unlikely that most of the people in the Mideast fare any better. They probably remember back about 10 years if they're lucky. Anything before that is myth, and the myth in the Mideast is thousands of years of Jews versus everybody else, until the Jews went to Europe for some reason, but now they're back, and it's like the Days of Legend again. Oh, yeah, there was a Crusade, with had something to do with a cup, but that was by Christians, aka Jews Lite.

I very seriously doubt that more than a few academics have a more detailed or nuanced picture of history than that.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Muslims Like Jews (none / 0) (#310)
by EraseMe on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:06:21 AM EST

Just not lately.

I challenge you to find a significant example of anti-Jewish sentiment in the Muslim world before 1948. Muslims and Jews have lived together quite harmoniously for centuries.

I'm not saying Israel deserves all the venom it gets from Muslims. I'm just saying it's a new phenomenon.

[ Parent ]
Anti-Jewish Riots (none / 0) (#323)
by Bad Harmony on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:13:37 AM EST

In semi-recent history (1900-1945), there was a series (1921/22, 1929, and 1936/38) of anti-Jewish riots in Palestine.

See A Brief Chronology of anti-Semitism for a broader overview. Although the Europeans are the unchallenged leaders in killing Jews, there are a number of incidents in the chronology from Islamic countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

54º40' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (none / 0) (#365)
by Curieus on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:20:07 AM EST

Before WWII, long before, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem instigated several large scales riots.
That same Grand Mufti has been so nice as to visit a certain european "statesman" also known as A. Hitler. During WWII even.

IIRC: According to the Koran (dutch spelling), muslims, christians, and jews are all "people of the book". However the Koran is the only unflawed transcript, both other religions have a flawed version. Being "people of the book" the christians and jews were given exemptions from several measures that were inflicted on "total infidels". As soon as the christians became a factor of power in neigbouring countries their position in the muslim world deteriorated, certainly relative to the jews. (5th column and all that). The jews however never had such a powerbase outside the muslim world and were therefore not so great a threat. (Of course you could never trust a jew as you could trust a muslim). This all significantly changed with the advent of Zionism, where the jews were getting a powerbase in palestine...

[ Parent ]
A rejoinder. (none / 0) (#216)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:09:17 PM EST

No, the reason Israel is not liked is that it is filled with uppity Jews who refuse to play the submissive role they used to play in Arab society. If violence was the issue the Arabs would focus on the many far worse offenders, like for example, themselves.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
umm.... (none / 0) (#521)
by ChannelX on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 01:30:52 AM EST

the Palestinians werent the pre-existing residents of the region either.

[ Parent ]
The only thing (3.16 / 6) (#50)
by medham on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 11:08:40 PM EST

Of worth about this piece is that it may provoke some analysis of the social pathology that produced it. The cretinous (because the author believes it, though "mendacious" wouldn't change the equation too much) comments about "third-world" Marxists, for example, beg for ideological articulation.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

Yet, (3.00 / 2) (#67)
by Demiurge on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:06:44 AM EST

Your own profundities on this matter are strikingly absent. If he's wrong about 60s Marxism, why is he wrong?

[ Parent ]
Well (3.33 / 3) (#69)
by medham on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:39:03 AM EST

He uses the phrase "Third World" Marxists, as if there were such a homogenous entity for starters. And his "criticism" of it is as plain an instance of instant self-refutation as I've seen in a while: these "third world" countries, if they share anything, share a history of pillage and rape by colonial forces intent on imposing "markets" upon them. If you (or the author) don't believe that, it's a matter of simple ignorance or seeing the world precisely as it isn't (these examples gloriously demonstrate how complicators of the camera obscura metaphor have it all quite wrong...)

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

You are wrong (4.50 / 2) (#79)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:14:05 AM EST

"Third World Marxism" was used entirely correctly in the article; it refers to a particular school of Marxist thought popular in the 1960s in African client states of the USSR, and which, IMO marked one of the nadirs of Marxist scholarship. The author also, IMO, more or less fairly summarises the main points of Third World Marxism, and demonstrates admirably why the world needed Edward Said and other, better anticolonialist theorists.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Am not (none / 0) (#166)
by medham on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:07:57 PM EST

The author has no such specificity in mind, and is merely interested in Procrustean red-baiting.

I'd be interested in knowing where Said departs from the article's listed attributes of "Third World Marxism," being quite confident that he--like any thinking, historical conscious person--regards them as self-evident (which is not to say that he didn't elaborate upon the theory of colonialism, he didn't dispute the tenets offered).

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Ok then (3.00 / 2) (#170)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:36:37 PM EST

I'd be interested in knowing where Said departs from the article's listed attributes of "Third World Marxism,"

Well, if you'd be so interested, I suggest that you read a fucking book.

being quite confident that

"Being quite confident" about the contents of a book you've never read is a sure way to get found out. Which is what has just happened to you, laddie.

Faker.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

What books (none / 0) (#172)
by medham on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:45:10 PM EST

Do you want to here about, cpt.? I've very likely read everything of his that you have, and the less crossover stuff that you haven't.

You made the original claim about Said. Back it up. I have my copies of Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism on my desk for another matter as is.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

streetlawyer summary service (1.50 / 2) (#175)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:50:29 PM EST

I have my copies of Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism on my desk

"I have access to amazon.com".

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Is this the best you can muster? (none / 0) (#213)
by medham on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:05:06 PM EST

Really?

Make a silly comment about an academic you know little--if anything--about, and then claim it's the other person who doesn't know anything about him?

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Give over, Medham (none / 0) (#273)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:21:52 PM EST

If you knew anything about Said, you'd have posted it. In fact, he hasn't said anything that might be considered to endorse the crude form of Third World Marxism outlined above, and apparently, he hasn't even said anything that could be distorted that way in a from that your web search could find. In my estimation, you're currently at the level of a professional wrestler who always brings a bullwhip to the ringside but never actually cracks it. You're bluffing with jack high.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Sisyphus, (Labors of) (none / 0) (#306)
by medham on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:55:23 PM EST

First of all, I should point out, again, that you yourself have presented no evidence from Said. Rather, you've claimed that Said represented a great leap forward over what you characterized as the "nadir" of 20th C Marxism. I made the point that the beliefs ascribed to this particular chimera ("Third World Marxism," it calls itself) were simple truisms, and ones that Said would certainly accept.

Here's why: the author of the article in questions writes

"Like Third World Marxists of the 1960s, who put blame for their own self-inflicted misery upon corporations, colonialism and racism--anything other than the absence of real markets and a free society--the Islamic intelligentsia recognizes the Muslim world's inferiority vis-à-vis the West, but it then seeks to fault others for its own self-created fiasco. "
The best evidence that could be offered for the discussant's claim, of which I would be reluctant to venture that he is actually aware, might be Said's discussion (Orientalism 153-154 et passim) of Marx's theory of "Asiatic production" and how he [Marx] believed that England's economic imperialism, e.g., might have made the conditions for revolution possible in India. Said proposes that Marx's internalized Romantic views about the Orient tainted his ability to analyze colonial conditions there with the same objectivity that he was able to in Europe.

Fair enough. This is a far cry, however, from saying that Said would fundamentally disagree with the putative entity of "Third World Marxists" who are defined by this article as blaming others (colonialism/capital) for their self-inflicted misery. This itself is such an unsettling example, for this historical moment, of "on the one hand there are Westerners, and on the other hand there are Arab-Orientals; the former are (in no particular order) rational , peaceful, liberal, logical, capable of holding real values, without natural suspicion; the latter are none of these things" (49) that Said would likely have to attribute the expressability of such sentiments to 9/11.

Fanon, to pick a specific example. Third World? You bet. Accurately described by the above? You betcha (in a vulgar way). Relationship to Said? Let's turn to pg 167 of Culture and Imperialism. Note that the Third World nationalism of which they are both critical is, by definition, a different beast than the mythical "Third World Marxism" with its self-evident tenets.

Now, present some evidence of Said writing anything resembling what you claimed or throw your chair in the ring and run with jiggling rubber bands and belly-rolls down the aisle, ducking flung beer and chaw along the way.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Good Lord (none / 0) (#321)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:09:42 AM EST

I am bookmarking this post as a marvellous example of a certain tendency in the internet. Medham has just managed to admit that I was right and he was wrong, while simultaneously trying to pretned not only the opposite, but that he is better read than me.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
The trick is (5.00 / 1) (#327)
by medham on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:51:32 AM EST

You have to explain why you think that's the case. I find your mulishness of considerable internet-sociological interest myself, but it's fairly silly to assume anyone cares one way or the other.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

tell it to a cushion (1.00 / 1) (#330)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:23:16 AM EST

Dio Mio. You've admitted that "Third World Marxism" means what I said it meant, not what you said it meant, and that I was correct to bring up Edward Said as a theorist who was an advance on Third World Marxism. Then you've cut and pasted a few random quotes and tried to pretend that I made some claim about Said that needs "backing up", whereas in fact, all I ever said was that he was good. Pretty standard internet verbal judo, but your form is basic, and poorly executed.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Listen up (5.00 / 1) (#410)
by medham on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:22:58 PM EST

Show me, please, where I admitted that you were right about "Third World Marxism." You were wrong, as I pointed out, about at least the following things:

  • "Third World Marxism" was a homogenous intellectual movement in Soviet-client states.
  • The qualities attributed to "Third World Marxism" by the article are (the first part about the obvious correlation between colonialism/capitalism and current conditions, not the ignorant "self-denial" part) are not shared by Said.
  • The quotes from Said being "random," when they're pretty obviously pertinent. It is you, of course, who either haven't read or don't remember anything of consequence about him.

I'm sure that your own brand of "internet judo" works wonders with maladjusted adolescents, but it's rather sad to try it with adults.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

That's not how it looks from here.... (5.00 / 1) (#421)
by unDees on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:18:55 PM EST

From here, it looks like medham repeatedly asked you for clarification, which you did not give because (as you say later on) you didn't feel like giving a crash course on the topic to anyone today.

Finally, in frustration, medham basically says, "Well, I don't see where you're getting that angle on Said's work, unless it's in this passage here. But the passage is only tangentially related to the issue and doesn't really prove your point for the following reason...."

To which you reply words to the following effect: "See, you've proved my point for me."

Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
[ Parent ]

Just one point (none / 0) (#426)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:48:12 PM EST

I've never said anything about Edward Said's work (except that it was better than that of the Third World school of Marxist colonial theory), so I regard all requests that I "back up" a claim about Edward Said's work as so much smoke-blowing.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
I'll add (1.00 / 1) (#427)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:56:02 PM EST

That the "Third World Marxists" repeatedly did make the mistakes the original article ascribes to them. They constantly claimed that the regimes they represented were Marxist states, which they weren't, and that the colonial states they had replaced were capitalist, which they weren't. The Third World Marxists had a bastardised Stalinist version of Lenin's already quite bad mangling of Marx's theory of colonialism, and repeatedly ignored the fact that their societies (which had been stuck in the phase of primitive accumulation) had never actually experienced the social relations of capitalism; the original article also makes this point. I only ever mentioned Said in order to provide a contrast with this appallingly bad colonial theory, lest anyone think I was of the opinion that all colonial theory was bad, or that colonial theory was in some way irrevocably tainted. Medham seems to believe that just because it's a fact that the problems of the Third World are largely a result of colonialism, that there is no difference between Said's theories and Stalinist apologetics. This is akin to saying that Harry Browne should be considered a fellow traveller of Noam Chomsky because they are both against interventionist foreign policy for the USA.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
What we have here... (5.00 / 1) (#431)
by medham on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:22:50 PM EST

Not all "Third World Marxists" are Stalinist hacks. The qualities attributed to them by the article are truisms, for the nth time. Fanon, for example, whom Said nominates as a major influence in Culture and Imperialism, is a "Third World Marxist," in any meaningful sense of the phrase.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Reading these threads is frustrating (5.00 / 2) (#215)
by sab39 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:08:23 PM EST

I've noticed this before and figure it's worth mentioning; it's not like anything I say is going to *lower* the quality of the wonderful discussion that's going on here, anyway.

As an outsider, I often find myself reading these wonderful threads from people who obviously know an awful lot of stuff that I don't, going back and forth on issues of politics, culture and philosophy. I read down into the thread in hopes of learning something: watching two opposing viewpoints arguing is a great way to get a somewhat unbiased view of a topic.

And then just when it looks like the debate has narrowed down to a specific enough point that a consensus could possibly be reached, a misconception cleared up, or perhaps a core difference of opinion exposed, one of the participants posts a reply that completely ignores the substantive content of the previous post and focuses on insulting the poster on a technicality.

So, for those participating in these threads, please bear in mind us poor saps who don't have the background to judge for ourselves; if the other poster's comment really was moronic, descending to an insult merely makes you look like the moron.

I'm posting this on the offchance that streetlawyer's participation in this thread was originally something other than pure troll, and that he/she is smart enough to actually have a worthwhile response to the previous poster, if he/she could be bothered to post it. Remember when you post that you aren't just arguing with the single person you're replying to, but (in theory) educating other readers of the thread.

A post like this just leads me to the conclusion that in fact, you are admitting that in all important aspects you were wrong (and also that you're an asshole, in that you're unwilling to admit it explicitly).

I'm aware that probably IHBT, but making this post doesn't cost anything, and could potentially clarify matters for me. Hopefully it will be obvious to such smart people as yourselves exactly what form the clarification will take.

Stuart.
--
"Forty-two" -- Deep Thought
"Quinze" -- Amélie

[ Parent ]
That was not a troll (none / 0) (#272)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:18:01 PM EST

It's simply my opinion that, given that only two posts above Medham was asking for clarification about what Said said (haha I made a funny), and claiming to be "sure" that he was a Third World Marxist, his statement isn't to be believed when he suddenly claims to have read (in fact, to have right in front of him on his desk) Said's two most commonly known works. I think he's just done a quick web search and is bluffing.

Since I don't like to waste time arguing with people who are bluffing, and I don't have time to spend on carrying out a crash course in Said's political views for someone who isnt arguing in good faith, I simply became abusive. This is more out of annoyance at having had my time wasted than anything else.

I'm sorry, but there it is. The only site on the Internet that you're really going to be cleverer for having visited is Amazon.com.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Again (none / 0) (#311)
by medham on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:10:31 AM EST

I'll refer you to this comment for details.

I have these books, and virtually all of Said's works on hand because he's important to my academic work. I find it somewhat touching that you beg off your own bluster by attributing it to "impatience" and "time-wasting."

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

And also (5.00 / 1) (#312)
by medham on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:12:41 AM EST

I never claimed that Said was a "Third World Marxist," having stated pretty clearly that category doesn't exist. I did agree that Said, or any other thinking human, would agree with the truisms stupidly attributed to this chimera by the author of the article in question.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

furthermore (none / 0) (#275)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:24:11 PM EST

there is no "worthwhile" reply to give. I corrected Medham for misusing the term "Third World Marxism". He seemed to think that the fact I'd mentioned Edward Said would give him enough play to claim that he was right all along really. That isn't the case. In fact, Said's "Orientalism" is a far more devastating critique of colonialism than the crudely materialistic one which makes up the half-baked Leninism of the 3WMarxists. But I'm just not able to summarise it here.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Actually (none / 0) (#309)
by medham on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:06:20 AM EST

It was you who misused the term "Third World Marxism."

And you're switching claims.

See my other comment for details re Said.

I won't continue with your callow gambling metaphors, though the wrestling ones were too much to resist.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Voting up (2.45 / 11) (#51)
by J'raxis on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 11:12:19 PM EST

...because I can’t wait to see this get torn to shreds.

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]

Interesting, but wrong (4.46 / 15) (#53)
by rantweasel on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 11:30:20 PM EST

This is an interesting point of view, but I think it is fatally flawed:

1 - Hanson manages to dismiss outright the differences in resources between the Middle East and the rest of the world, but the fact is that most Middle Eastern economies are tied very tightly to oil. If the oil market is doing poorly, those economies suffer. It is easy to say that the economies should be opened, but what good is that if there are no goods to export? Even with a strong oil market, oil exports will only benefit those who have oil wells.
2 - Hanson falsely claims some things as resources for Middle Eastern countries that are not in fact benefits or helpful resources. The Nile is fertile, but it benefits only a small percentage of the land of the countries that it passes through. The same is true of the Tigris and Euphrates - the rivers, though fertile, cannot support the entire countryside. In addition, reliance on a single river for local agriculture makes a drought or a flood particularly devastating. If the Nile's seasonal floods are too high (or not high enough), Egypt's economy suffers significant damamge. Huge populations are also as much a hindrance as a help. Certainly they provide a larger labor pool, but they also require more food, more medical resources, more educational resources, etc.
3 - Hanson is just completely irrational. Values and traditions explain why the western world went and conquered other countries, and that illustrates the wonder and enlightenment of the western world? Will he next point out that Arab nations that tried to conquer other lands are barbaric invaders? Yes, he tries to deflect this very criticism by saying that "military power is not a referendum on morality", but his entire argument is based on a premise of moral and political superiority.
4 - Hanson tries to use immigration patterns as a metric, but this is an invalid measurement. Migration can be have any number of causes, economic being one of the most significant. See point 1 as to why people might tend to migrate towards the western world rather than to the middle east. Even given that, people DO migrate to the middle east. Qatar and Kuwait have large immigrant populations, primarily people who came looking for jobs in the oil industry, working as unskilled labor, or providing domestic services for the oil rich.

mathias

Hey, actual points... (4.18 / 11) (#60)
by mech9t8 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:24:40 AM EST

...instead of posturing like most of the message here.

1. The Arab nations have had tons of time to covert to modern diversified industrial economies. Their enormous oil wealth would only *help* that endeavour, not hurt it, as it provides the money for capital and education and research and whatnot. However, they have completely failed to take advantage of that situation, whereas other countries without enormous oil wealth (or, really, any resources at all) have evolved strong economies (ie. Japan, South Korea, many of the Asian Tigers, Israel, etc. etc.)

2. Again, many Western countries have defeated adverse conditions.

3. If the non-Western countries were less warlike, with happier general populations, that might be a valid point. But since they are not, those moral points cancel out, and you are left with the West's benefits: higher technology, quality of life, and greater freedom for all.

4. Qatar and Kuwait have immigrant labourers from countries not fortunate enough to have all the oil wealth; they do not have any Westerners at all unless they pay them obscene amounts of money - and they tend to leave as soon as they've made enough. You're right, people tend to immigrate for a variety of reasons: economics, freedom from persecution, greater opportunities for advancement, etc. All things Western countries have because of their Western values.

Your arguments seem to hinge on the oil. Again, let me emphasize: oil is an enormous source of wealth. It is a boon. It is a good thing. It is a resource that they have completely squandered, as their dictatorial leaders grow rich (buying expensive goodies from the West, paying to go to Western schools, etc etc) while their economies go down the toilet.

--
IMHO
[ Parent ]
A few responses: (4.00 / 3) (#63)
by Demiurge on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:26:53 AM EST

1- Oil is a good to export. A very lucrative one. I'd dispute the fact that Middle Eastern countries are poor in resources, but so is Israel, yet it flourishes. 2- Like I said, there are national resources, including oil. But the counterargument I posed to your first point applies. Even if there are few material resources, it's possible to build a services and technology based economy. 3- The article deals with the present day. In the 21st century(and for the last thousand years or so), the Western world has been triumphant.

[ Parent ]
re: A few responses (none / 0) (#190)
by Maserati on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:50:49 PM EST

The large waves of Jewish immigration into Palestine were only possible with a carefully planned irrigation and agriculture program. The Zionists had to increase Palestine's agricultural capacity to feed the immigrants.

<rant> Hey if you live in a desert, THERE'S NO FOOD THERE. If you want an economy you have to start with agricultural infrastructure. Here's a pile of shovels, we'll lend you a civil engineer with irrigation experience and an agricultural specialist. If you don't want to borrow an expert or let us train one for you - well, there's fresh water over there, and soil that will take irrigation here - good luck. Economies start growing from surplus food supply, try it. Just sending food is like lending your no-good brother-in-law money.</rant>

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

Benefits of Oil (4.00 / 1) (#104)
by linca on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:22:27 AM EST

I'd dispute the fact that Oil helps that much on building a stable, healthy economy.

The problem is that the ruling families in most of those states do care about a stable economy. They want the wealth for themselves. And why should they care? When the present day is happy, why should one spend money in long-term development?

The reason why they don't care about building a modern economy is that they simply don't feel the need...

[ Parent ]
That's a flaw in their system (5.00 / 1) (#145)
by mech9t8 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:12:41 PM EST

If they had free speech, the people would be free to point out the rulers are greedy bastards. If they had elections, the people could elect governments which would tax the oil profits and invest them in the people, education and the economy. And thus, the corrupting effects of oil wealth would be somewhat moderated.

Note that I'm not arguing that oil wealth is not a corrupting influence. Even in our society, that is the case. I was countering the argument that oil was an excuse for having a poor economy. It is not.

--
IMHO
[ Parent ]
Problem is (none / 0) (#340)
by linca on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:48:57 AM EST

In Saudi Arabia, people are rich. Who cares about free speech and right to vote when one is indeed getting rich fast? Not enough people to ensure a revolution.

[ Parent ]
Transitional economy. (5.00 / 1) (#126)
by Alarmist on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:54:39 AM EST

The Arab nations have had tons of time to covert to modern diversified industrial economies. Their enormous oil wealth would only *help* that endeavour, not hurt it, as it provides the money for capital and education and research and whatnot. However, they have completely failed to take advantage of that situation, whereas other countries without enormous oil wealth (or, really, any resources at all) have evolved strong economies (ie. Japan, South Korea, many of the Asian Tigers, Israel, etc. etc.)

I might point out, in vague defense of the Arab nations you refer to, that they see no reason to diversify their industry at the moment.

The nations you mentioned as counter examples all had excellent reasons to diversify their economies: namely, they didn't have one easy product to sell to other people. They saw education as the way out because they couldn't compete as effectively in other areas.

A diversified economy will crop up in the oil-producing states, but probably only when it becomes patently obvious that they're almost out and they'd better find another way to make a living fast. That, or they will decide to try to take what they need by force from others. Maybe there's a third option. I don't know yet.


[ Parent ]

Why do the others have sucky economies? (none / 0) (#147)
by mech9t8 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:17:54 PM EST

The nations you mentioned as counter examples all had excellent reasons to diversify their economies: namely, they didn't have one easy product to sell to other people. They saw education as the way out because they couldn't compete as effectively in other areas.

Of course, the middle-eastern countries without oil tend to have even worse economies than the oil-producing ones. So again, it becomes a question of why the Westernized countries are successful vs. the non-Westernized countries.

--
IMHO
[ Parent ]

Good point. (none / 0) (#153)
by Alarmist on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:30:33 PM EST

I'm not sure why, exactly, that would be the case. I've had a glaring lack of knowledge about affairs in the Middle East for some time now, and it looks like I've got the perfect excuse to bone up on it now.


[ Parent ]
Yearly Flood (4.00 / 1) (#103)
by linca on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:18:40 AM EST

The Nile yearly flood is over. Because of the Assouan barrage, the flow of the river doesn't change anymore.

[ Parent ]
Punditry at its finest. (4.30 / 10) (#57)
by demi on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 11:50:04 PM EST

Is the Muslim world inherently inferior to the West?

No.

But I don't see, in the article that you cited, where the author might have expressed that opinion. So in a sense you are taking an inflammatory piece that was already in danger of being misinterpreted, and with that title, exaggerating its central thesis in a way that's not very helpful to any of us. That's a shame, because one of the very important details of the article, IMO, was this sentiment:

Americans, reluctant to answer back their Middle Eastern critics for fear of charges of "Islamophobia" or "Arab smearing," have let such accusations go largely unchecked.

And the reason that legitimate criticism of 'America's Foreign Policy' has evolved into a nebulous catch-all excuse for hatred of the US is because we (fearing a PC backlash in our own country) have failed to respond with appropriate rhetoric. That's bad because there are real problems in the Arabic countries with regard to their stance on democratic rights, gender equality, and global economic integration, and our rhetorical weakness makes it difficult to help anybody short of military intervention.

Their leadership situation is terrible, with monarchs, dictators, and war-torn police states to choose from. The opaque relationships between their rulers, politically untouchable Muslim clerics, and some anti-western extremists, makes human beings become suicidal puppets of political opportunity. There is no freedom of speech per se, no constitutional guarantees of a person's natural rights, no free access to information, or even a public debate to ever secure those rights or improve the situation in any substantial way. And as long as hatred can be concentrated on the US and Israel and away from their real problems, and as long as we fail to address that hatred with compelling and intelligent rhetoric, the Muslim world will continue to exist in a state that is inferior to the West.



Insignificant nitpick (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:55:12 AM EST

But I don't see, in the article that you cited, where the author might have expressed that opinion.

I think that, deep down, the difference between "inherently inferior" and "backward" is not all that important in this context.

--em
[ Parent ]

How ludicrous does this sound? (4.66 / 6) (#111)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:07:10 AM EST

And the reason that legitimate criticism of 'America's Foreign Policy' has evolved into a nebulous catch-all excuse for hatred of the US is because we (fearing a PC backlash in our own country) have failed to respond with appropriate rhetoric.

The USA is not worried about calling North Korea (nuclear weapons, senile and possibly insance leader) and Iraq (chemical weapons, possibly biological weapons, less likely but still possibly nuclear weapons, population on the edge of starvation) an "Axis of Evil". It's happy to declare a fighitng war on a terrorist organisation of unknown scale and destructive potential, going out of its way to inform the bad guys that it's acting alone and that there is no point in bombing, say, France. The USA isn't scared of saying things that offend actually destructive, dangerous, insance human beings.

But it fears a "PC backlash"? Get real. Are you suggesting that Antioch College controls the Trilateral Commission or something? Whatever else motivates the Bush government, it isn't that.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Soft diplomacy. (4.00 / 1) (#135)
by demi on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:05:39 AM EST

The USA is not worried about calling North Korea (nuclear weapons, senile and possibly insance leader) and Iraq (chemical weapons, possibly biological weapons, less likely but still possibly nuclear weapons, population on the edge of starvation) an "Axis of Evil". It's happy to declare a fighitng war on a terrorist organisation of unknown scale and destructive potential...

Those regimes (Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Al-Quaeda) are actually regarded as erstwhile enemies of the US, which explains why there isn't much sympathy for them here when chests are thumped. What would be a problem, on the other hand, is direct criticism of the leadership situation and attitude toward technological and social progress that is prevalent in the Middle Eastern and North African countries (the ones we have diplomatic relationships with). Why? Because among the most vociferous of the anti-Western fanatics are extremist mullahs, imams, and other religious figures that often are directly behind the acts of terrorism but rarely criticized. To indict them would be to attack Islam, something that would be basically unthinkable in the most fiercely pro-Muslim countries, and before Sept. 11 it would have seemed very callous and ignorant at home. We need to make a compelling, and most of all, friendly case that our foreign policies are the result of a desire for stability and peace, and show that our actions are evidence of it.

Here's an example. We look at the Saudi monarchs and see that they are distantly threatened by a possible fundamentalist takeover in much the same way as Iran in the 1970's. US military bases have been operating on Saudi Arabian soil since the Gulf War. Why are they still there (please hold all conspiracy theories until the end, kthx)? Shouldn't there be, at the very least, a well-known official justification for our continuing presence, rather than a periodic series of diplomatically opaque statements about the 'good health of the US-Saudi relationship'? Especially when bin Laden claimed that his prime motivation for his fatweh against the US was the quartering of American troops in Riyadh (although expelling the US troops is surely not his ultimate goal), shouldn't we at least try to convince people that our presence is warranted?

Instead, it's the imams that do the talking for us, and what results is this situation that confuses so many of us here in the US: we send our money and our troops to help them, and they only hate us in return. What's wrong with them people over thar?



[ Parent ]

The Problem With The Muslim World (4.36 / 22) (#64)
by WombatControl on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:27:22 AM EST

One could go on and on arguing the notion that there's something inherent in the Islamic faith that generates totalitarian socities. However, there was a time when the Islamic world was a center of the arts and sciences and Europe was a relative cultural wasteland. While there's some merit to the idea that the teachings of Muhammad are militaristic, the same could be said of much of the Old Testament.

However, right now the Muslim world is in it's own version of the Dark Ages. The mullahs which control many Muslim countries have stifled such basic necessities as education and free speech in favor of Islamic sharia law. Even the more "progressive" Muslim countries have severe problems with basic human rights and free press. Of all the Muslim nations in the world, only one, Turkey, has what can be considered a progressive state.

President Musharraf of Pakistan has berated the Muslim world for it's failure to advance educationally or scientifically, instead falling into abyss of fanaticism and terrorism.

"Today we are the poorest, the most illiterate, the most backward, the most unhealthy, the most un-enlightened, the most deprived, and the weakest of all the human race."

President Musharraf deserves to be commended for his words. He's right. The Muslim world needs to engage in some serious self-criticism. The current path of fascism, fanaticism, anti-Semitism, and hostlity towards the West is a path that can only lead to ruin for the Muslim world. Instead, a path that uses education, technology, and mdernity can be forged without losing the cultural heritage of the Muslim world. Musharraf is doing his best to lead Pakistan in the steps of Kemal Ataturk's Turkey - to Westernization and secularization. His success or failure could have great impact on the way in which the Muslim world succeeds or fails.



"President" Musharraf? No way. (3.00 / 1) (#183)
by hardcorejon on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:33:15 PM EST

Mr. Musharraf's title is largely symbolic - he is a self-elected president, former (current?) military general, serving a term of indeterminate length. Hmm... these are all hallmarks of a DICTATOR.

This is not to say that his words and views should be completely discredited, only that the words and views of a dictator should always be taken with a grain of salt. I also find it misleading to keep using the term "President" when he is in fact a dictator .

- jonathan.



[ Parent ]
dictator isn't the right term... (none / 0) (#268)
by nads on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:03:44 PM EST

... He might be a dictator technically, but the word has too negative of a conotation for what he is doing. I have several relatives in Pakistan, and they all view his arrival as a welcomed change. Pakistan has fluctuated between dictatorship and democracy several times in the past. The problem with democracy is that the democratic governments either become a) too corrupt or b) try to nationalize things (and thus kill economic growth). The regime he replaced was extremely corrupt. That is why no one in the country really cares.

[ Parent ]
laudatory goals for Mr. Musharraf (none / 0) (#198)
by ethereal on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:10:27 PM EST

But isn't it a little disingenuous for the West to encourage all this Westernization and secularization under the leadership of a military dictator? Is Westernization really more important than self-determination? Maybe that's easy for me to say, already having (to some degree) both.

In the very least it betrays the value we place on democracy if we are willing to say that it's better for Pakistan to do without it at the moment, at least until they have their citizens fed, clothed, and healthy.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Europe, ever a "relative" cultural waste (none / 0) (#276)
by Chep on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:24:43 PM EST

>>>However, there was a time when the Islamic world was a center of the arts and sciences and Europe was a relative cultural wasteland. <<<

If you except perhaps the period between 4th and 7th centuries CE, formerly Roman Europe has never been a 'cultural wasteland'. Even during that era, the relative lack of evidence for culture is certainly not proof of lack thereof. There are very rich largely non-written cultures, even right now (Amazonia, Nunavut, Central Africa, etc.), and many cultures have been obliterated without a single trace: we have only little idea what the culture in Eastern and Nordic Europe could be like before Muhammad's life. We already have a lot of trouble reconstructing the texts from the early so-called "dark ages". But we know they existed.

What we know for sure is that people from the time, at least in Gallia, had trouble understanding that they weren't Roman anymore, and that their language had evolved so much they were /different/. Sure, for those few who knew how to read, they knew their language was not the same as latin, still, they thought of latin as the written form of the various roman dialects they spoke.

We also know that while some "barbarian" tribes went there for pillage, other went there out of fascination for the Roman manifiscence, and to grab their share of it (not the same -- in the first case, it's a loot plain and simple, in the second, it's looting to resemble the looted. Of course it doesn't matter that much for the victim...)

From Charlemagne onwards, the picture is very different: a /lot/ of texts have been preserved, and we know a huge pile more have not. We also know that while they thought at the time they'd lost a lot of skills from the Romans, in fact there was a lot of innovation going on, but curtained by a belief things were immutable. Over the 500-1200 CE period, with hindsight, it is obvious immutable they were not.

(one example: the stirrup. The Romans didn't know the stirrup. Neither did the (recently Muslim) Arabs. At the Battle of Poitiers, that innovation gave Charles Martel's cavalry a decisive advantage)

What Dark Ages again? Yes, from a Roman perspective, there was no more Roman Empire. Yes again, the elites of that time thought there was nothing worth, politically and culturally wise, than the Roman Empire, which was no more. They just didn't want to consider their indigenous culture as 'culture'.


--

Our Constitution ... is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the greatest number.
Thucydide II, 37


[ Parent ]

Why Americans Hate France (4.27 / 22) (#74)
by fraise on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:03:19 AM EST

[satire] Because Their Culture Is Backward And Corrupt

Since September 11, we have heard mostly slander and lies about France from mainstream American media in their defense of the war against terrorism. The French mainstream--diplomats, intellectuals and journalists--has bombarded the American public with an array of unflattering articles and remarks, suggesting that the criticism from France may not be a French eccentricity, but rather a representative slice of the views of millions of Europeans.

Two striking themes--one overt, one implied--characterize most American invective: first, that there is some sort of equivalence--political, cultural and military--between the US and French world; and second, that France has been exceptionally ungrateful toward the US and should pay for it. Both premises are false and reveal that the temple of anti-Frenchism is supported by pillars of utter ignorance.

Few in the US have a clue about the nature, origins or history of democracy, a word that, along with its family (constitution, freedom and citizen), has no history on the American continent before the arrival of European immigrants, or indeed any philological pedigree in any language other than Greek and Latin and their modern European offspring. Consensual government is not the norm of human politics but a rare and precious idea, not imposed or bequeathed but usually purchased with the blood of heroes and patriots, whether in classical Athens, revolutionary America or more recently Eastern Europe. Democracy's lifeblood is secularism and religious tolerance, coupled with free speech, the defense of human rights, and economic liberty.

American government, corrupted by commercial interests and left untouched by the majority of American citizens, is better than tyranny, surely; but it does not make consensual government. Nor does the US' constant refusal of UN measures, with which only non-democratic nations agree. None of the commercial interests are elected by an unbound citizenry, free to criticize the corruption of their heads of state without fear of moral, psychological or physical reprisal, or even to speak openly to journalists about the failings of their own government.

We are surprised at the duplicity of the US in defusing internal dissent by redirecting it against France, forgetting that such is the way of all dictators. Corruption can be seen in the regimes supported by the US, such as the royal family of Saudi Arabia, which cannot act out of principle, because no principle other than US funds and CIA support put and keep them in power. All the official jets, snazzy embassies and expensive press agents cannot hide that these corrupted rulers are not in the political sense democratic at all.

How sad that intellectuals of the American world profess support for democratic reform from Berkeley or Oregon but secretly fear that, in mainstream media, they will be defamed, lose their jobs, or have a visit from the FBI. The fact is that democracy does not spring fully formed from the head of Zeus but rather is an epiphenomenon--the formal icing on a pre-existing cake of egalitarianism, economic opportunity, religious tolerance and constant self-criticism. The former cannot reappear in the American world until gallant men and women insist upon the latter--and therein demolish the antidemocratic and medieval forces of purely commercial interests, authoritarian decision-making and several flavors of fundamentalism.

How much easier for nonvoters of the American world to vent frustration at France, as if, in some Machiavellian plot, a democratic France has conspired to throw mud at the Greek/Roman invention of democracy! Democracy is hardly a Western secret to be closely guarded and kept from the special interests. America is welcome to it, and even once had it. Yes, we must promote the return of true democracy in the American world; but only they, not we, can ensure its success.

To tackle illiteracy, gratuitous state-sanctioned killing (the death penalty), and the economic sclerosis that comes from corruption and state help would require the courage and self-examination of Eastern Europe, Russia, South America, even of China. Instead, wedded to the old bromides that dissent causes their misery, that corrupt leaders and dependency on overseas oil has had no role in their disasters, that the subjugation of the poor is a "valid" rather than a foul (and foolish from a humanitarian view) custom, American intellectuals have railed these past few months about France "not appreciating our help in WWII" half a century ago, and they have sat either amused or even publicly condemning (Ashcroft's comment on dissent) while the mob in their streets chants in praise of a flag. Meanwhile millions of Americans tragically stay sick, homeless and hungry in silence.[/satire]

idiot (1.75 / 4) (#77)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:09:26 AM EST

Find and replace makes a poor substitute for a sense of humor.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Find and replace? Noooo.... (4.66 / 3) (#86)
by fraise on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:39:04 AM EST

Do an in-depth analysis of my satire and you'll find that I actually did a bit more of that, but in essence, the whole point is that the satire is valid. Care to refute it? Or is "idiot" your refutation?

[ Parent ]
idiot ^2 (1.40 / 10) (#94)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:02:16 AM EST

The fact that you regard it as a victory for you if I fail to "refute" your "satire" is, ironically, refutation itself.

Note that in the above, the word "ironic" and the instance of "refute" outside scare-quotes were used correctly, while the word "satire" and the other instance of "refute" were used in accordance with your own, wrong usage.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Okay, I'll bite... (none / 0) (#422)
by unDees on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:36:52 PM EST

Are you referring to the difficult-to-grasp notion of "refuting" a satire? But that's also your usage of "refutation," both inside and outside those quotes that seem to frighten you so. Or am I missing something?

So let's suspend our disbelief and assume that a satire--or at least a claim that a particular piece is satire--can be discredited. While the absence of refutation is certainly not proof, said absence doesn't exactly help your case, either.

Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
[ Parent ]

Perhaps (4.50 / 2) (#105)
by linca on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:26:58 AM EST

Perhaps you'd need to be aware that this anlysis, in less emphatic terms, is really shared by a fair amount of French people. Really.

[ Parent ]
Not a very good analogy. (none / 0) (#146)
by seebs on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:17:00 PM EST

France is having a lot of trouble keeping up with America economically; this suggests that the economic problems are on their side.



[ Parent ]
A lot (none / 0) (#350)
by linca on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:07:57 AM EST

A lot might be exagerating... We don't need to put one percent of our population in jail to reduce unmployement ; we have decided to put a bit more emphasis on reducing inequalities rather than overall wealth. It is a different choice of society, not a problem about keepin up economically.

The problem is that America is judging the rest of the world on its own terms, while the rest of the world may have other ways of judging success.

[ Parent ]
I'd say "a lot" is fair... (none / 0) (#399)
by seebs on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 11:28:41 AM EST

There's a reason people giggle at headlines like "French workers go on strike to protest lower productivity".

We don't "need to put 1% of our population in jail to reduce unemployment". Putting 1% of our population in jail isn't helping us much, and indeed, it works strongly against us in most ways.

Your point about inequality is interesting; what on earth do you think it has to do with anything? You may be *trying* to reduce inequality, but you *are* reducing overall productivity.

The only truly equal economy is the one where everyone is broke. Past that, you will always have some level of inequality, and, for whatever reason, you often see a fairly broad range in a functioning economy. Trying to eliminate it without understanding the causes is just silly.


[ Parent ]
Liberty Equality Fraternity (none / 0) (#492)
by linca on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 05:25:28 AM EST

That is the motto of the French Republic. So yeah, we do care about equality and fraternity, whereas you care about productivity. I care less about productivity than about equality, as in trying to build a "just" society. Inequalities mean those born poor have less opportunities than those born rich : that is not justice.
We already produce enough to destroy poverty. We try to reduce (did I say suppress? no) inequalities because too much inequalities mean some people will be broke, which is something that doesn't work.
And about low inequalities reducing productivity, have you ever been to Scandinavia? Noone is poor there, but the countries don't strike me as being unproductive.

[ Parent ]
you fucking rule (1.00 / 1) (#485)
by turmeric on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 12:59:21 AM EST

i posted a story called 'is white culture inferior to dark culture' but it got ..... i dont know.. something happened to it.

[ Parent ]
A vastly more interesting question (4.71 / 28) (#75)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:08:22 AM EST

One opening point; we are talking about the Arab world here, not the "Muslim" world. Malaysia is a Muslim country and so are parts of Indonesia. Libya is also an example of an Islamic country which has a surprisingly high standard of living for its people. The problems of Pakistan and Bangladesh have little to do with Islam, and both states have approached modernity in the twentieth century at least as many times as many in Latin America. That example it quite apropos, btw; we might certainly ask "Is the Catholic Church inherently inferior to the Protestant?" if we ignored Italy and Spain and pretended that all Catholics could be represented by the most numerous group.

But the "vastly more intersting question" of my title would be Why is the Arab world inherently inferior to the West?

I find it strange that someone can carry out such an in-depth analysis of how the Arab world suffers from inward looking, undemocratic rulers without wondering why this might be the case.

The answer is actually quite simple, and as you might guess, it has something to do with a) oil and b) imperialism.

In fact, from the beginning of this century, there was a powerful secular, democratic movement at work in the Arab world (the formation of modern Turkey by Kemal Ataturk is an example of this tendency at work, for example). This movement was somewhat derailed by the Second World War, but in the immediate aftermath of the War, there were strong opposition movements in most of the Gulf states, composed of educated Arabs who wanted to build modern nations on the basis of oil revenues, and who wished to develop secular governments on the Western model.

However, this was the beginning of the Cold War, and in a number of these nascent Arab states, it looked very much as if the Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party (remnants of which still hang on in Iraq) were going to form a majority. The US and UK did not fancy this idea, given their substantial oil interests in the region. As a result, when they moved the troops out, they financed the monarchist and clerical movements, and installed the backward-looking, horrendously stupid and often corrupt (but pliable) regimes that we know and love to this day.

So that's why the Arab states are so bloody awful in so many ways; because they aren't democracies. And they aren't democracies, in the most part, because we couldn't handle Arab self-determination.

This isn't to say that the world would have been great if only the evil Brits and Yanks had stayed out of it; my personal opinion is that the Ba'athists were half-baked and would have seriously screwed up the oil wells after nationalising them. But we can't walk away from the fact that the current situation is one of our making.

jsm

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

Hmm... (2.60 / 5) (#98)
by bani on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:41:50 AM EST

Are you saying the arab hatred of the west only sprung out of post-WWII governments?

Because I can find evidence of arab anti-western attitudes going back to before the 19th century...

[ Parent ]
well no (3.66 / 6) (#99)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:50:40 AM EST

The clue to your question "are you saying ..." can often be found be reading what I wrote. If I said it, then nine times out of ten, I'm saying it. If I didn't say it, then it's quite likely that I'm not saying it.

I didn't say anything at all about the roots of Arab anti-westernism (or for that matter, Western anti-Arabism. And I don't propose to start now, so you might as well start a new top-level post with all your no doubt interesting material.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Most amusing, but... (1.33 / 3) (#173)
by bani on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:45:51 PM EST

Your dripping sarcasm doesn't make your reply clever, or even interesting.

[ Parent ]
It wasn't sarcasm... (5.00 / 2) (#424)
by unDees on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:42:21 PM EST

...and it was clever and interesting. IMNSHO.

Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
[ Parent ]
Correction (4.50 / 2) (#335)
by abiogenesis on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:11:35 AM EST

Turkey is not an Arabic country, has never been. In the Ottoman times Turks have ruled the Arabic world, and most Turks are muslim, but they certainly are not Arabs.


[ Parent ]
what a mistake to make (4.50 / 2) (#353)
by streetlawyer on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:11:32 AM EST

You are quite right and I have no idea what I could have been thinking of. Although, of course, both Ataturkism and Ba'ath were revolutionary movements aimed against the Ottoman Empire.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Personal Repsonsibility (4.00 / 1) (#417)
by Woundweavr on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:45:44 PM EST

First on a sidenote, I just want to compliment you on the admitting that you feel the Ba'ath party would prolly have been successful. I actually agree with this and though it is a side issue, its nice to see some honesty even when it slightly weakens the pragmatic aspect of the argument. Now onto the responce....

The problem with saying the state of the Arab world is the way it is today is the West's fault it twofold. First, as you said the people supporting change were reformers, not the existing power structure. It is possible that had oil not been discovered they would have created a Western-like society. However, recall that for several hundred years, approaching a millenia, the region had already been a hot bed of internal strife, non-Western government and religious war. Mohamedd was a warrior himself in these conflicts. Before oil, arable land was what the people fought over. Oil just brought in some (more) foreign players. Even had these reformers gained (and somehow, held) power, there is no guarentee that they would not act as the remainder of their party has (Iraq).

Second, there was ample interference in the creation of Western ideals in Western society. The Catholic Church and monarchy tried quite hard to hold onto power. Despite this, countries became democratic. The Ancient Greeks were no more Christian than Muslim, and could have been taken as a role model by either or both cultures. The West did, partially because of the Roman admiration of them. However, the Arab world could too this day take the words of democratic idealists from Plato to Locke

Lastly, on a only slightly offtopic sidenote, I'd like to point out that revolutionaries in the Arab Muslim world come in two main flavors : extreme fundamentalist or anti-West (or both). There is no great movement to create a democratic society in the Middle East.

[ Parent ]

from the Hanson `article' (4.47 / 17) (#78)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:13:04 AM EST

Few in the Middle East have a clue about the nature, origins or history of democracy, a word that, along with its family (constitution, freedom and citizen), has no history in the Arab vocabulary, or indeed any philological pedigree in any language other than Greek and Latin and their modern European offspring.
Eh, the writings of Plato, and very specially those of Aristotle, were studied widely by Arab scholars in Medieval times. In fact most of what we know about Aristotle we owe to the Arabic world. I would say the word `democracy' entered the arabic vocabulary back then.

I think after that I saw that I didn't need to read any further.

--em

You "assume" (2.75 / 4) (#95)
by Demiurge on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:02:33 AM EST

In that case, what's 'democracy' in Arabic? Once again, the article deals with the present day. Perhaps I should have made that more clear. Hanson isn't saying that the Muslim world has always been worse off than the West, only that is now.

[ Parent ]
Balls (3.71 / 7) (#109)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:02:20 AM EST

Perhaps I should have made that more clear. Hanson isn't saying that the Muslim world has always been worse off than the West, only that is now.

This assertion (that Hanson isn't simply engaging in racist Arab-baiting) is quite obviously undercut by the direct quote from the article above, making me suspect your motives in posting the link in the first place. Be more honest.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

re: from the Hanson `article' (4.33 / 3) (#186)
by Maserati on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:38:27 PM EST

Those writings aren't widely studied now are they ? Sr. Martinez appears to be confusing academic circles with the population as a whole; and is further arguing that scholastic activites 600 years ago translates into a populist society now. Is he asserting that the Middle Eastern population as a group is conversant with democratic principles, civic duty, and constitutional government ?

I read Aristotle and Plato at both the secondary and college levels. In "general education" courses in academic programs so designed that avoiding the Greek Classics was very difficult. In English 1A I read Orwell and martin Luther King Jr., authors selected both for persuasive power and their profound effect on Western culture. Are any dissidents or social critics on the required reading list in Middle Eastern schools and universities ?

I'd like to see examples of peaceful transfers of power in the Middle East. America does that whenever a sitting president loses an election. Lincoln (who did suspend habeas corpus during the war [1]) and Roosevelt, both wartime presidents, ran for re-election during the war and were seriously concerned with losing the election. When is Saddam Hussein up for re-election ? Who voted the House of Saud into power ? Name a Middle Eastern country where you can execute a writ of habeas corpus and force the government to produce a prisoner ?

I think Sr. Martinez should have kept reading. But I'll look out for his answers to my questions, not all of which are rhetorical. [1] Due to accidents of geography, Maryland had to be secured, or the Federal government would have conceded defeat when the rail lines into the capitol were cut.

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

your (4.00 / 2) (#209)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:48:31 PM EST

Sr. Martinez appears to be confusing academic circles with the population as a whole; and is further arguing that scholastic activites 600 years ago translates into a populist society now. Is he asserting that the Middle Eastern population as a group is conversant with democratic principles, civic duty, and constitutional government?

No, I am doing nothing of the sort. I merely commented on a severe factual failure in part of the author of the piece, and expressing my conviction that I have better things to do than read diatribes by people who obviously care less about the facts than about their agendas.

The rest you brought into the picture, and says much about you, nothing about me.

--em
[ Parent ]

Palestinian population (none / 0) (#352)
by linca on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:11:27 AM EST

At least, is one of the most academic in the world. As in, it has more scholars than Israel, proportionnaly to the number of adults. So it is quite educated, and knows what a democracy is.

Something not so sure in America, where only a low proportion of the adult population even bothers to go voting.

[ Parent ]
I'll see your Plato and raise you one al-Ghazali. (5.00 / 2) (#214)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:05:15 PM EST

Centuries ago, the Arabs saved Plato from being forgotten. Nowadays, Arab society has closed itself to the Greek classics as being un-Islamic, because of antirational Muslim theologians.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
israel (1.21 / 38) (#83)
by gromgull on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:26:20 AM EST

For example, why is Israel, an open, democratic, Western society, wildly successful in comparison to its Islamic neighbors

Could it be because they have had their success by ass-raping everyone else? They are backed by the syphilis ridden so-far-up-their-own-asses-they-can't-even-see-the-sun god-blessed america? And because europe is filled with wimps and buftys to fucking scared that Mr Bush might choke on another pretzel if they raise their voices and tell Mr. Sharon what they really think?

Omphf, you have gotten me upset well before 10 o'clock now
--
If I had my way I'd have all of you shot

I don't normally do that. (3.80 / 5) (#93)
by ti dave on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:02:09 AM EST

I feel that buried somewhere in your comment, is a sincere opinion.
I'd like to hear your opinion, but you really should express it with some eloquence.

Oh, BTW, that's "too", not "to".


"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Use the farce, puke. (none / 0) (#437)
by zonekeeper on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:20:23 PM EST

I sense in you *much* envy. Envy leads to fear. fear leads to...Ohhhh forget it. When one resorts to name-calling, failing to checkj grammar, and mispelling, one cannot ever hope to have one's opinions taken seriously. Run along now kid, you bother me. -- TDM

[ Parent ]
Religion != politics != culture (4.69 / 13) (#84)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:30:38 AM EST

...even for (gasp) us Muslims. I've tried stating this point before throughout many articles, and have yet to see how/why Islam is the only religion where its followers' religion, politics, and culture get lumped into one single catch all phrase.

You can see major cultural differences between Muslims just by crossing the border from Pakistan to India. You can see political differences by going from Saudi Arabi to Philippines. And even if those differences don't have radical polar opposites (culture with a Britney Spears loving population, or politics that support democracy or communism), it does not mean that culture and politics are the same as religion for Muslims.

Painting with broad strokes, but (3.66 / 3) (#90)
by Demiurge on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:57:59 AM EST

you can hardly dispute that it's possible to notice correlations between predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East, not just in religion, but in government and society. Hence, to speak of the "Muslim world" is to evince a collection of political states, just as you would when saying "Christendom" during the Middle Ages.

[ Parent ]
what? (5.00 / 5) (#108)
by streetlawyer on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:00:31 AM EST

you can hardly dispute that it's possible to notice correlations between predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East, not just in religion, but in government and society

What correlations are there between Iraq (secular one-party state), Iran (theocratic democracy), Saudi Arabia (theocratic monarchy), the UAE (largely secular monarchy), Turkey (secular democracy) and Egypt (secular deomcracy)? Quite apart from the abuse of the word "correlation" as if it were a posh synonym for "similarity", this assertion is rubbish. It has little enough to recommend it as a characterisation of the Gulf states; as a statement about the Muslim world as a whole, it's worse than useless.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Correlations? (4.00 / 1) (#125)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:52:49 AM EST

Can you explain what you mean? There are some things similar, but that does not mean that they are even alike. If that was the case, I could say Russia and the US are very alike. I could even say Nigeria and the US are very alike.

And even if these countries were exactly alike, countries and politics should not be related together by their religions. Terrorists get blamed for doing this against Israel and the US.

[ Parent ]
Question (4.33 / 3) (#119)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:08:16 AM EST

Is it not true that politics and religion are still more closely tied together in the Muslim world than in the West ? It looks to me as if religious groups are much more influential in politics - even in secular countries like Egypt and Turkey - in the Muslim world than here.

I've wondered whether this is because of the history of Islam versus that of Christianity. Jesus refused to take any interest in politics (at least that is the usual understanding), whereas Mohammed ended up ruling an empire. Similarly, doesn't the Quran say that it is law ? whereas the New Testament is addressed to men as individuals, as something they should do, but not as an attempt to organise society as a whole.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Yes (5.00 / 4) (#121)
by wiredog on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:32:00 AM EST

In Islam, the church is the state, and vice versa (in theory). The Quran is an interesting read, though the organization is difficult. It's been years since I read it, I took a middle eastern civ course at GMU in 84. That course also required me to write a research paper on Saladin.

In the West the Church used to be superior to the state, but then came the reformation, counter-reformation, along with the Hundred Years War and the Thirty Years War. Those wars (which were also about secular power, religion was often a cover) did quite a lot to push the idea of separation of church and state as being neccessary. Islam hasn't had those internal disagreements, the closest is the Sunni/Shiite split. And while the Sunni/Shiite split has resulted in much violence, it hasn't been on the scale of the wars that racked Christendom, and caused Christendom to become the West.

Studying the wars of religion in the West, and the Crusades, makes me truly fear Islamist terrorism, and is why I think it must be opposed by overwhelming force. When people are fighting for God anything, except negotiation, is permissible. The Spanish Inquisition wasn't the worst thing that happened in the West.

"Deus Lo Vult!" God Wills It! "Kill them all, God will know his own!"

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

Response (4.50 / 2) (#131)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:34:37 AM EST

Church and state are only tied together in an Islamic state. If a Muslim does not live in an Islamic state, he/she is supposed to follow the secular laws applied to him/her.

Why do you fear "Islamic" terrorism the most out of other religious-based terrorism like that of Ireland?

Also, you went to George Mason University? I'm attending right now pursuing a Syst. Engineering degree. What did you major in? And by your email address, I assume you're in northern VA? Don't worry, I'm not a/s/l you...just weird to see someone local on K5.

[ Parent ]
Islamist/Islamic (4.00 / 1) (#133)
by wiredog on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:48:35 AM EST

There's a semantic problem in trying to separate Islam from Islamic terrorists. The preferred term, right now, seems to be "Islamist" for the radically violent sorts.

The Islamist terrorism seems more likely to be exported than the Irish type. The IRA/INLA/etc restricted their attacks to Ireland and England. I've never heard of them setting bombs off in Scotland or Wales. The protestants in Northern Ireland have restricted their attacks to Northern Ireland. Also, Ireland's less of a "God wills it!" fight.

Yeah, I went to GMU, was on the crew team. I was there in 83/84 and 84/85. Then I was academically expelled. Middle eastern civ was the only course I passed. Officially I majored in math. In reality I was majoring in recreational pharmacology. I ended up graduating from SUU in 93, CS major. I live in Reston.

There's several of us k5ers in the dc area. DJBongHit (in College Park) and, I think, TheR. Possibly others. There's sort of an idea of maybe getting together for a k5 party someday. In our Copious Spare Time.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

I don't see it as a "God wills it!" figh (3.00 / 1) (#250)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:56:24 PM EST

I agree that the terrorism produced in Ireland is nothing compared to that of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc. But the motivation for these larger terrorist numbers is because of a uniform belief that US policies are oppressing Muslims and/or Arabs among Muslims and/or Arabs. The majority of Arabs that I know feel that way, but deal with that anger in a much more controlled way. We post on sites like K5, hold Islamic awareness seminars, and write our elected leaders.

The problem is that the minority of fanatics among us blow themselves/others up much like a twisted publicity stunt. These fanatics come off as doing this for their religion, which couldn't be further from the truth. The top gripes that Arab Muslims have is either oppression against Palestinians (comprised of Muslims and Christians), the corrupt House of Saud regime (purely political), or sanctions against Iraq (another political issue).

These three things are all political power struggles over valued land. But the OBLs of the world wrap it up in religion as a battle cry. Sadly, these sorts of actions gain attention fit for a publicity stunt....short lived.

So my point is that believing the terrorists to have this "God wills it!" mindset is inaccurate on both sides. The terrorists use it to garner attention and increase numbers, while the majority of media believes the terrorist ring leaders that these actions are purely religious. True Muslims sit realize that both are wrong because Islam condemns the killing of innocent women and children, regardless of stipulations.


[ Parent ]
But... (4.50 / 2) (#386)
by wiredog on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:45:45 AM EST

In the West, we have the history of the Western wars of religion as an example. Christianity also bans wars of aggression, and the killing of innocents. And yet, "Kill them all, God will know His own." So when we see fanatics of any religion saying they are fighting for God, well, we know (from experience) that what the religion says is unacceptable will have little bearing on what the followers of that religion will do.

Yes, the majority of Muslims may well deplore what has happened. It's the minority that doesn't that worries us. Even if bin Laden himself doesn''t think he's fighting for God, some of his followers do. Western history shows that people who believe they are fighting for God are capable of extreme atrocities.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

Oh, OK (4.00 / 1) (#389)
by ahsyed on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:11:33 AM EST

Point taken. I misunderstood your comment as thinking that Islam thinks that God wants us to kill infidels or something. But if you were saying that it is only the motivation for the terrorists, then you're right and I agree.

[ Parent ]
Irish Terrorism (4.50 / 2) (#233)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:02:51 PM EST

... is not particularly religious in nature. The principle issue is the political status of various bits of Ireland. Religious affiliations just serve as convenient markers for the "sides", since most Protestants are Unionists and most Catholics are Republics. History, however has quite enough Protestant Republicans and no doubt a few Catholic Loyalists. For these reasons the Irish paramilitaries have restricted their military actions to Ireland, and especially Northern Ireland, with occasional attempts to attack the Irish Republic or England.

In contrast al-Qaeda seems vastly more dangerous. Their goals - as I understand them - are utterly unacheivable. Their methods - killing more people in a single incident than various Irish terrorists and the British army managed to kill between them in 25 years - are horrendous.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
It may not be religious... (5.00 / 2) (#303)
by ecarter on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:52:28 PM EST

...but the victims are just as dead afterwards.

What exactly are al-Qaeda's goals as you understand them, anyway? Osama bin Laden never claimed he was attempting to convert the whole world to Islam by force; he said he wanted the US out of the Middle East (that is, its military out of Saudi Arabia and its money out of the Israeli government's pocket). Neither of those seems unacheivable in principle to me, without regard to whether any useful goals at all are acheivable by his preferred methods.

[ Parent ]
The goals (5.00 / 1) (#384)
by wiredog on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:33:44 AM EST

I can't read or speak Arabic but people who can, and whose opinions I trust, have looked at many of the Islamist websites over the past few months. Web sites that celebrate al Quaeda and bin Laden. They do want to convert the whole world to Islam. By force if necessary.

It doesn't take many people fighting for God for the body count to go up tremendously.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

Sigh (none / 0) (#456)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:08:27 PM EST

Indeed the victims of secular terrorism are just as dead. I wasn't condoning it, just poitning out that its nature is quite different.

As I understand them, al-Qaeda's goals are those of the most radical parts of the Wahabi sect of Islam. They want to "restore" a very "pure" vision of Islam to the entire Islamic world, and put it all under a single Islamic state. For these people, kicking the USA out of Saudi and the Israelis out of Israel are just the beginning.

For the avoidance of doubt, thats a pure vision of Islam that involves tearing down ancient architecture and replacing it with concrete bunkers, desecrating graves, persecuting Shiites and Sufis and even liberal Sunnis, let alone non-Muslims, and so on. They emphasise their more acheivable goals - Americans out of Saudi, Israel out of the occupied territories - because those are popular in the Islamic world, whereas the rest isn't.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Warning Nitpicking, just correcting historic info (none / 0) (#491)
by Curieus on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 04:54:31 AM EST

In the West the Church used to be superior to the state, but then came the reformation, counter-reformation, along with the Hundred Years War and the Thirty Years War.

The hundred years war was about the succession of france and occurred in the IIRC in the fourteenth and fifteenth century.
The war you are looking for is a the Eighty years war. This war was mainly about the right if provinces in relation to their ruler.

At that time Filips II, as king of Spain and count/duke/etc of the various dutch provinces (current Netherlands, Belgium and parts of Northern France) tried to impose uniform rules on all and remove power from the provincial gouvernment (gewestelijke staten) and the general gouvernment (Staten Generaal).

Several points made gave resistance popular support:
The garrisoning of spanish troops in Netherlands cities (Netherlands used in the sense of area related the the Staten Generaal).
The burning of "heretics".

While many agreed that those protestants were heretics, they also acknowledged that many of their accusations against the catholic church were valid.
Secondly, burning a man and confiscating his property, leaving his wife and children penniless was considered, cruel and unjust punishment unbefitting a christian ruler.



[ Parent ]
Yes and no (4.50 / 4) (#129)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:26:08 AM EST

You're right where Islam is supposed to be a way of life and that politics and religion are supposed to close. But this sort of Islamic state is all but a pipe dream in today's world.

A true Islamic state (as recognized by the Quran) does not sell alcohol, drugs, and treats every person the same morally and politically (to name a few criteria). Another major requirement is to enforce Islamic law only in the established Islamic state.

The Taliban were often claimed to be the closest thing to an Islamic state, but many Muslims laughed every time they heard that. The Taliban often traded alcohol, grew and exported drugs, and obviously did not give women the same moral and political rights as men.

So if the "closest thing to an Islamic state" is so far from it, imagine how far the "moderate" states are. I would understand the "Muslim world" label a lot more if there were actual Islamic states. That is clearly not the case and causes even more frustration and confusion.

[ Parent ]
Ok, but... (3.00 / 2) (#278)
by trhurler on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:30:31 PM EST

That still isn't satisfactory, as far as I'm concerned. I don't think anyone has the right to link his religion to a government which has the authority to use force against people who may not even agree with that religion. I'm utterly uninterested in claims of how benign this government would be, because anyone who knows anything about history knows that governments are corruptible and generally tend towards greater oppression over time, and also because my argument against theocracy is partly on principle.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Response (5.00 / 2) (#385)
by ahsyed on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:36:46 AM EST

I don't think anyone has the right to link his religion to a government which has the authority to use force against people who may not even agree with that religion.

You only have rights to how close _your_ religion is to your government. Everyone else can/should/does decide for themselves. If I want my government to mirror my religion, that is my right. That probably won't happen in the US, especially with the huge mixture of religions. But you can't say other states don't have a right to mix religion with government.

And as far as using force against people that don't agree with that religion, you can say that about all governments. The US, rightfully so, encourages democracies and gives aid and/or support based on the country's democratic adoption. China, I would assume, rightfully does the same thing for communist countries. That is always going to be the case in both religion and government, so singling out a "religious government" for doing so really doesn't change much.

[ Parent ]
Hypothetical... (none / 0) (#466)
by bani on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:26:16 PM EST

I am curious to know your opinion, do you think Arab nations would be better off with, or without Islam.

That is to say, have Arab nations been better off or worse off the past 100 years from the dominance of Islam? How would things be different today if Islam had collapsed say around the 1900s?

I know it is a purely hypothetical question, but surely you have at least some opinion on the matter.

[ Parent ]
No more political than in the US (4.00 / 2) (#256)
by rantweasel on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:05:41 PM EST

Take a look at Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, John "anoint me" Ashcroft, George W Bush, the Christian Coalition, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, the motto on US currency, prayer in school, and the last three words of every state of the union that I've been alive for, and you'll see that religion isn't all that far from US politics, either. If you really look at other western nations, is it really all that different? I don't think that predominantly Muslim nations are all that different in terms of politics blending with religion, it's just that they aren't trying to claim that there is a seperation between the two.

mathias

[ Parent ]
Philippines? (3.66 / 3) (#127)
by skipio on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:54:40 AM EST

9 out of 10 people in the Philippines are Christians (mostly Roman Catholics). 5% of the population is Muslim.
In that sense, I totally agree with your statement that one "can see political differences by going from Saudi Arabi to Philippines" :)

Are you perhaps confusing the Philippines with Indonesia?

[ Parent ]

You're right (none / 0) (#259)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:30:55 PM EST

I actually wasn't confusing it with Indonesia. I wonder what I got mixed up about. Regardless, you're right where the Philippines is hardly a Muslim state.

[ Parent ]
not quite ... (3.50 / 2) (#130)
by karb on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:32:36 AM EST

Your prophet followed his illumination by conquering most of the middle east. I'm not much of a student of islam, and I am loathe to try to apply christian mores to it, but doesn't that provide some sort of mandate for a muslim state?

On the other hand, while christianity has seen itself as the 'official' religion of states, jesus was decidedly apolitical. So, I would guess that there's a lot more impetus to a muslim state than a christian state.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
[ Parent ]

Glad you think so... (3.00 / 1) (#137)
by bobpence on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:24:46 AM EST

Because I'm sick of hearing the word deem bandied about as a way of saying that religion and politics cannot be separated for Muslims, saying that religion is a way of life that infuses culture and government.

Of course those who assert this ignore the long period of Western history when the Church crowned and deposed kings, regulated art, and judged science. And no doubt they're not very happy about Hanson's editorial, even if it implicitly concurs with their points about Islam being a deem, and not just a religion.

Secularism, in my opinion, is even more important than democracy, which I believe is a fruit secularism bears in time.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

Islamic fundamentalism (5.00 / 2) (#141)
by epepke on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:49:11 AM EST

"Islamic fundamentalism" is probably a better term. Fundamentalism has been a problem in the United States (yes, they are backward, and yes, they do hate everyone who isn't, and yes, that's why they so hate). Of course, they haven't taken over whole countries yet, unless you count the Puritan foundations of U.S. culture. It's a little bit different, though, due to the fact that many different theocrats in the U.S. had to figure out some way not to kill each other.

This brings us to the other word, "islamic." While "Muslim" is an adjective that specifies the religion (of a person or idea), "Islamic" seems stronger, somehow. I think an Islamic state roughly corresponds to, say, Calvin's theocratic state; an entire government based on the religion, at least putatively.

So, while Islam and Muslims are generally perfectly fine (to the extent that any human being can be, which isn't much), there is a problem with Islamic fundamentalists. That having been said, I do notice more "in your face" behavior by Muslims than any other religion. An "in your face" Christian is easily dismissed as a Fundie, but moderate Christians, Jews, and Hindus generally don't seem to call attention to themselves as much.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
In this case, I do not believe you. Here's why. (5.00 / 1) (#151)
by trhurler on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:24:30 PM EST

You see, in college one of my good friends was a guy from Saudi Arabia. A nice enough guy in most respects, pretty bright, hardworking, and so on. We spent quite a few nights at Denny's after finishing up work in the lab, sitting around talking about religion, politics, culture, and so on.

This guy was a moderate, even by US standards. He wasn't some fundie wackjob. Even so, he firmly believes that his religion mandates that the only proper government is a Muslim run government that enforces Muslim religion as the law of the land. Granted that to some extent this is a backlash against his own very secular, very backwards, and very corrupt government, and granted that he has limited opportunities to express such a backlash(back home it'd get him in very, very deep shit,) you still have to realize that this is totally alien to the western notion of secular government.

Essentially, he's advocating a society where "everyone is free" as long as by "free" you mean "free to behave like a Muslim."

Also, his views on women, while kept mainly to himself, seemed to me to be somewhat... revolting. I'm sure Electric Angst, who also doesn't understand why I know any racists, will now chime in to ask why I ever willingly spoke to this guy. When I dutifully ignore this inanity, I expect that everyone will understand why:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Agree 100% (1.80 / 5) (#160)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:52:11 PM EST

There was this huge fat guy on Jerry Springer who was a racist, a member of the KKK, and married to his 13 year old sister to boot.

Makes you wonder, what kind of folks live in the US, after seeing a specimen like that.

Good thing you met that Saudi too, otherwise you wouldn't have known what the other billion Muslims are really like.

[ Parent ]

idiot (3.00 / 2) (#164)
by trhurler on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:02:36 PM EST

The guy showed me text from the Koran that supports his claim about government, and using the wonders of text search, was also able to show me that there were no other references to government that might contradict him. Basically, where Christianity can coexist with my athiesm by way of the old "give unto Caesar" motto, it appears to me that Islam, to be practiced in full, requires a theocracy.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Please read... (5.00 / 1) (#265)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:45:27 PM EST

...this.

[ Parent ]
We're busted... (2.00 / 1) (#264)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:43:43 PM EST

...you're right, all of us are exactly the same. There is no distinction. We're all plotting to kill you right now. Please leave the door open.

[ Parent ]
Nit (3.00 / 1) (#206)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:38:51 PM EST

Saudi isn't secular. They have sharia law, and the House of Saud is heavily dependent on the Wahabi sect for their power. It is, if I understand correctly, the state religion, and that of the royal family. Members of other sects - such as Sufis and Shias - apparently get a rather hard time.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Truth vs party line (3.00 / 2) (#208)
by trhurler on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:48:20 PM EST

Their government is officially religious, but then Baptists go to church to show off how "religious" they are too, and yet how many do you know that really are? Their government is horrendously corrupt, amazingly cynical, exploits religious fervor routinely, and clearly doesn't really believe in Allah or any kind of afterlife; if it did, it wouldn't behave in a way guaranteed to NOT get any of its members into that wondrous afterlife!

It is amazing what you find out about foriegn countries when people from them can actually speak freely and you therefore have a better source than some CNN story based on US State Department horseshit.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 0) (#221)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:17:59 PM EST

That sounds pretty much like any other theocratic state to me. Being slime doesn't make them secular.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Response (4.50 / 2) (#263)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:41:22 PM EST

Even so, he firmly believes that his religion mandates that the only proper government is a Muslim run government that enforces Muslim religion as the law of the land.

Please read this.

Also, his views on women, while kept mainly to himself, seemed to me to be somewhat... revolting.

This is purely cultural and proves my point again. I agree with you that Arabs do have a prejudice, to put it lightly, against women. But that is not the Islam way. The Quran has endless passages about how mothers should be treated better than fathers, women should vote (and did in Muslim states well before the west), should own their own land, and be treated on par with men. Don't take my word for it, if you're truly interested...ask a Malwee (Muslim priest) or read the Quran.

And if you're thinking it...no, I'm not trying to convert you to Islam. I'm just recommending it so you can see exactly what is expected of a Muslim and not see my ramblings as double talk.

[ Parent ]
Theology vs Practice (4.00 / 1) (#404)
by Woundweavr on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:03:09 PM EST

The Koran(Quran, however you want spell it in English) says a lot of things. So does the Christian Bible. However, in the end it is does not matter what a group says they value or what they say their ethics/morals are based on. All that matters is what is put into practice.

The Quran(Koran) advocates, more or less, a theocracy. The Bible (some obsolete Old Testament passages aside) does not. This has been used as justification for creating Islam states. Under Islam this is fine and correct. However, these governments are corruptable and in today's world, often despotic in their enforcement of the state religion. Just as kings of divine right used religion to justify their injust actions, so too do these regimes. Pretending that because the Koran is a righteous (as I believe it to primarily be) religion excuses the fact that in the Modern World that Islamic theocracies are tyrannical is just hiding your head in the sand.

Christianity no longer (directly) controls Western governments because certain secular ideals rose to balance and counter the excesses of the religion. Ideas like Free Speach and Freedom of Religion as well as Democracy do not allow theocracies to exist, at least not in an oppressive form like those practiced in the Middle East and other Third World countries.

That is the point of the article. In the Muslim world, religion dominates and thus freedoms that are important to the West, and have lead to economical and scientific success are nearly non-existant. It is the lack of these ideals, perhaps because of the theocratic nature of these countries, that the Muslim world is 'inferior'. It is not meant as a dig against the religion, just the culture it creates. When a religion creates a government that eliminates any non-approved culture, sometimes Religion==Government==Culture is true.

[ Parent ]

Arab prejudice against women... (none / 0) (#467)
by bani on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:30:59 PM EST

I agree with you that Arabs do have a prejudice, to put it lightly, against women. But that is not the Islam way.

If it is not the Islam way, why IS it still the prevailing attitude?

[ Parent ]
Norway is backwards, then... (3.50 / 2) (#383)
by elgardo on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:31:28 AM EST

Because a lot of people in Norway believe that the only proper government is a Christian run government that enforces Christian religion as the law of the land. Of course, saying this publicly will now have me stamped as being pro-terrorist.

[ Parent ]
Tell that to your qadi. (4.00 / 1) (#212)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:02:30 PM EST

These three get lumped together because the Muslim clergy for centuries worked hard to keep these lumped together. Muslim preachers openly boast that Islam demands an attachment of mosque and state.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Please read... (none / 0) (#261)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:33:08 PM EST

...this. I've already posted about this topic and would like to limit my rehashing.

[ Parent ]
Church and State (5.00 / 1) (#382)
by elgardo on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:27:57 AM EST

The Christian Church is part of the Norwegian government. Norway is considered a western (representative) democracy, and yet they are keeping this connection. So here you have a Western country that does the exact same thing as you're saying (and commonly believed that only) Arab countries do. And I'm sure Norway is not alone.

[ Parent ]
Heh. CounterExample: The Jews (3.00 / 1) (#239)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:29:08 PM EST

From the outside Jewishness all by itself ties religion, politics, and culture into one. For example: no matter how many parties have members in the Israeli parliment, to Americans it looks like one monolithic lump.


--
When using a nigh-omniscient computer to run your evil empire, do not install Windows. Also, be sure to disable the AppleTalk protocol - woul
[ Parent ]

Is the Western world inferior to the Muslim world? (4.06 / 15) (#87)
by Andy Tai on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:42:21 AM EST

Let's look at 8th Century to 14 Century AD.

Europe was in the dark ages. The people of Europeans were called barbarians. Civilization, or what was there, from the Romans, was destroyed. They have to look to the East, the Eastern Roman Empire in Greece, or the Arabian world, for enlightenment. Arabs led the Europeans in science, art, and technology. Arabs were richer than European countries. Arabs had paper (learned from the Chinese via the Battle of Talas, 751 AD) before Europeans. Arabs tolerated different religions more than the Europeans. In fact, it may be interpreted that partly due to Moslims who conquered the East Romans that some "civilized" people moved to Italy which also brought back some wealth, the old Roman and Greek teachings and art that laid the foundation for Renaissance.

(For more historical information, see the middle part of this article from The Washington Post)

Should we conclude that Arabs are superior to the West?

----

Also, China is on the rise. 100 years ago people talked about how the Chinese culture was inferior. Now there are people talking about the culture of East Asia as superior. Aren't things changing?

China (3.00 / 1) (#89)
by delmoi on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:56:53 AM EST

Also, China is on the rise. 100 years ago people talked about how the Chinese culture was inferior. Now there are people talking about the culture of East Asia as superior. Aren't things changing?

Damn shame what happened with those Ming. Damn shame. Although that wall is kinda cool
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Perhaps, but the article address the modern day (4.00 / 1) (#91)
by Demiurge on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:00:23 AM EST

I think that's obvious. Debates on which culture was ascendant a thousand years ago have no real merit in discussing the same cultures ten centuries later.

[ Parent ]
Further on the history of middle east and ... (5.00 / 1) (#122)
by gauze on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:32:52 AM EST

it's decline (towards the end)

HONORIS CAUSA - SCIENCE IN THE MEDIEVAL MUSLIM WORLD
There's nothing wrong with a PC that a little UNIX won't cure.
[ Parent ]

Then don't drag the past into today's arguements (none / 0) (#258)
by rantweasel on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:19:24 PM EST

It's all well and good to dismiss the pervious point with what you just said, but if you do that, you can't rely on arguments about the history of Islam to denigrate it or dismiss it as inferior.

mathias

[ Parent ]
wtf? (none / 0) (#159)
by klamath on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:51:25 PM EST

Should we conclude that Arabs are superior to the West?
I don't understand how you can start with "Let's look at 8th century to 14 Century AD [sic]", and then conclude with a statement in the present tense. Your information about ancient Arab culture has absolutely no bearing on the present day.

Just as you have evaluated that Arab culture from 8th-14th centuries AD was superior to European culture during the Dark Ages, so the author of the article has evaluated modern Western culture to be superior to that of the East.



[ Parent ]

re: Is the Western world inferior to the Muslim w (none / 0) (#179)
by Maserati on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:19:22 PM EST

Let's compare the Western World in the 20th C. with the Arab World in the 14th C. The Arabs had paper, we have computers. The Arabs were a theocratic culture, the West is a democractic culture.

An absolutely meaningless comparison, but just as valid as the original poster's example.

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

WAS the West inferior to the Muslim world? (none / 0) (#211)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:00:57 PM EST

Yes. Is it inferior now? No. It's the other way around.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
"Inferior" is an opinion (4.20 / 10) (#96)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:04:43 AM EST

This goes hand in hand with the relativism comments before me, but inferior is just a fancy word for worst. Both are mere opinions that should be based on what you find important.

For example, I was raised in Karachi, Pakistan. Karachi is usually considered to have the highest crime rate throughout Pakistan. But when I went to school, I never thought "I might get shot sitting in this seat". But during the height of the Columbine scare(s), I at least thought about that while sitting in an American high school.

Now do you see how incredibly biased that comparison was? I was comparing one of Pakistan's strengths (IMHO) to one of America's weaknesses (IMHO). That does not mean America's inferior to Pakistan. It also does not mean that Pakistan is superior to America. It is just one meter that could be used to compare two countries or cultures. People living in separate countries or cultures have inherently made that comparison.

Quick Question (4.33 / 3) (#115)
by br284 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:26:18 AM EST

Where do you live now? Where are you making your K5 posts from? If it is in the West, why do you find yourself in the West rather than Pakistan? If it's not the West, ignore me.

-Chris

[ Parent ]
I live in America (4.33 / 3) (#132)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:43:36 AM EST

My family moved to America in 1987. I live in northern VA only 20-30 mins away from DC.

My family moved to America mainly because of education. My Father had a much better position in Pakistan, but decided that America's education system was better than Pakistan's. I'd like to move back to Pakistan when I'm done with my masters.

Pakistan's education system is, IMHO, inferior to America's. But I will not go as far as making a generalization that Pakistan is inferior to America. That is very opinionated and based on each person's world view.

[ Parent ]
Moving Back (3.50 / 2) (#134)
by br284 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:48:38 AM EST

Interesting... For what reasons do you want to move back to Pakistan rather remaining in the United States? Are you going back to try and raise the bar in Pakistan with your education, study some aspect of Pakistani culture / society, or just because you would rather live in Pakistan?

-Chris

[ Parent ]
Reasons (4.00 / 1) (#242)
by ahsyed on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:33:24 PM EST

I would say really all of those things. My initial reason was that if I start up a business or am monetarily successful, the trickle down effect would be much greater in Pakistan. Meaning if I run a successful business and make a 6 figure salary, I'm really not _that_ special in the US. But if I go to Pakistan, that money and business would go a lot further.

But aside from my personal fantasies, I think Pakistan is more practical for younger Pakistani children. Meaning living in a third-world country shrinks your ideas of necessities while increasing your ideas of luxuries. It did that for me at least.

Don't get me wrong, I love living in the US. My family and I are all citizens. The education, opportunity, and freedoms are second to none...especially not Pakistan. But I'd prefer my children to have both points of view rather than just one.


[ Parent ]
Norway (3.00 / 1) (#381)
by elgardo on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:06:52 AM EST

I live in Norway. However, I spent 1.5 years in Canada, 2.5 years in the USA, and another year in Canada again before returning to Norway.

I live in the west because I currently do not have the opportunity to live anywhere else. I have certain things that I wish to do, and can therefore not work directly for someone else. Work visas in other countries (including Canada, mind you) would limit my employment, and hence affect the rights for my project, and thereby affect the projects themselves.

Given the chance, I would love to live in Turkey, Indonesia, the Phillippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, China, India... oh yes, India... call me reverse racist, but I find Indian women more beautiful than Norwegian women, even though I'm a Norwegian myself. Pakistan? I wouldn't mind going there, either. And quite a few African countries are interesting, too.

Do you count South America as "the West" or "the South"? Because I would love to do something in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador or Chile. And how about Cuba? Do you count Cuba?

In short... if you want to hire me in and send me off to one of those countries, and I had to live there for a few years... sign me up! Just keep me out of Iraq and Afghanistan: Too much D.U., and I'm not trying to get cancer from radiation any time soon.

[ Parent ]

Columbine scares media generated (4.33 / 3) (#144)
by wurp on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:08:15 PM EST

Why would you have been scared sitting in a classroom? These episodes are _exceedingly_ rare; it's only the media hype around them that makes people think "It could happen here!" All sorts of things _can_ happen, but we have to be reasonable about what is _likely_ to happen.

Now, if you're saying that Pakistan is superior to America in that the media hypes such things less and people are less likely to experience the herd mentality that gives them these unreasonable fears, that I'll buy. But if you're saying Pakistan is superior in that a one in a million chance of being killed by a psychotic teenager, that's just silly.

---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
Pakistan nor US are superior (none / 0) (#326)
by ahsyed on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:47:42 AM EST

I used the Columbine incidents as an example. There are plenty of weaknesses in the US, and comparing that to a strength of another country is extremely biased. Then to pass that bias opinion off as inferiority or superiority is also wrong, since these are mere opinions and created differently based on each person.

[ Parent ]
Expectations and reality... (4.33 / 3) (#149)
by seebs on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:21:32 PM EST

I suspect, though, that you were at higher risk in Pakistan than you were in America.

Inferior in general is very hard to measure, but it's not entirely a matter of opinion; I think that, at some point, everyone would agree that a country that had 90% illiteracy, 80% serious risk of starvation, 92% unemployment, and no functioning educational system, was "inferior" to one with 15% illiteracy, 4% serious risk of starvation, 10% unemployment, and some kind of educational system.

No, the real examples generally aren't that extreme... But there's a point at which we have to say "Yeah, this is clearly busted."


[ Parent ]
Opinions are rarely deduced by numbers (none / 0) (#324)
by ahsyed on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:42:43 AM EST

I suspect, though, that you were at higher risk in Pakistan than you were in America.

I disagree. Killing a child, much like the US, was extremely different in Pakistan compared to killing an adult. When that separation is combined with Pakistan's criminal punishment, you would be hard pressed to find murdered children especially at the hands of other children.

Inferior in general is very hard to measure, but it's not entirely a matter of opinion

I disagree, I think it is only based on opinions. For example, you could say a new Gateway for $1000 that can do billions of calculations in one second is far superior to the same-priced (in its hay day) Commodore 64. But I know plenty of people that would love a C64 more than a PC boxed in a cow pattern. Same goes with cars, consoles, and even choosing a mate. Each have "inferior" options, but plenty of people still desire that "inferior" product.

[ Parent ]
Inferior is not an opinon (4.00 / 1) (#161)
by briandunbar on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:59:04 PM EST

Sorry.

Inferior in every standard that matters (did you READ the opinion piece?). To take but one criteria - people are voting with their feet. Pakistanis migrate in large numbers to the west. The reverse is not true.


Feed the poor, eat the rich!
[ Parent ]

Validity of an opinion (none / 0) (#235)
by Nuup on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:16:39 PM EST

More people believing in a certain idea does not make that opinion anymore valid than another. "Blue is a beautiful color." "..... Actually 3/4 the people of the world say blue is a ugly color, therefore it is not beautiful." Superiority/Inferiority are nothing more than opinions, views of the masses do not validate one or the other outside of their individual perspectives.


-------------------------------------------------
Did you exchange a walk on part in the war, for a lead role in a cage?
[ Parent ]
doesn't evade the issue (none / 0) (#317)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:47:57 AM EST

Inferior in every standard that matters (did you READ the opinion piece?).

Inferior in every standard *you believe* matters, you must mean.

To take but one criteria - people are voting with their feet. Pakistanis migrate in large numbers to the west. The reverse is not true.

Why should we take this to be anything other than a contingent fact of history?

--em
[ Parent ]

What about Iran? (3.50 / 6) (#100)
by dash2 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:53:58 AM EST

In this context I would be interested to hear any informed* opinions about Iran. It seems to be the most democratic of Muslim states - although by no means a perfect or full democracy - and in many ways the most culturally advanced (as indeed Persia always was). The measure of political democracy Iran possesses is the outcome of its revolution, which was carried out against an oppressive American puppet dictator.

Does this bear lessons about Islam or Arab nations? I'd love to hear from anyone with direct experience.

There is also a very interesting article in the current issue of Granta, the UK-based magazine of new writing, called Mecca, written by an English muslim and attacking the barbarism of the official Saudi Arabian interpretation of Wahhabi Islam. (The latest issue isn't yet mentioned on the website, but it's entitled What we think of America and has 24 pieces by writers around the world on that subject - which makes it pretty topical in general.)

* uninformed opinions not welcome
------------------------
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.

Iran (5.00 / 1) (#107)
by linca on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:40:55 AM EST

Turkey is probably much more democratic than Iran, because although the president and the congress are democratic, the real power lies in the hand of the Judiciary branch, which is controlled by the clergy. But it is true that it seems Iran is on its way to become more democratic, and even be able to combine the muslim religion and democracy, something Turkey has not been so good at.

[ Parent ]
Another Turkey in the making. (none / 0) (#210)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:59:07 PM EST

(First of all, the Shah's Iran had the outer trappings of democracy, too. The Mullahs were not an improvement.) It's only a matter of time before something (CIA, perhaps?) pushes the Iranians over the brink and topples the Mullahs. At that point one can be quite optimistic about the Iranians.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Doubt it (none / 0) (#226)
by wji on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:38:07 PM EST

It's only a matter of time before something (CIA, perhaps?) pushes the Iranians over the brink and topples the Mullahs. At that point one can be quite optimistic about the Iranians.
I'm not trying to agree with dash2, who doesn't know what he's talking about, but I don't think you're right either. At least not if the CIA or some other intelligence service (ISI?) were to topple the government.

To my knowledge, no country has ever gotten a democratic regime out of a foreign coup. Certainly the CIA has an unbroken record of overthrowing 'left-wing' dictatorships and democracies alike and replacing them with good, happy, right-wing dictators. I don't see why the scenario should be any different in Iran -- overthrow the Mullahs and hold elections, and the Mullahs will win.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

Question (none / 0) (#442)
by elefantstn on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:59:53 PM EST

Why is left-wing in scare quotes, but right-wing isn't?

[ Parent ]
Answer (none / 0) (#446)
by wji on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:34:11 PM EST

Well, as I understand it, extreme left wing would be communism, while extreme right wing would be facism. Few of those governments I was talking about were actually communist. Guatemala was a capitalist society, Iran was mildly socialist, etc. The dictators who were put it after the CIA overthrow of both those governments could rightly be described as facists. So that's what I was getting at.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
Afghanistan (5.00 / 1) (#377)
by elgardo on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:48:54 AM EST

There's Afghanistan today, and there's Afghanistan some 20 years ago, both were forms of democracies. However, 20 years ago, the country got in the crossfire of the cold war, and the US ended up sponsoring local warlords who, after dealing with Russia, turned against eachother, only to later be thrown away by the Taliban after a very interesting political move.

Of course, the US did more than just support local warlords, as they also built training camps and supported no other than Bin Laden himself.

So the potential for democracy has been there for quite a while. Had it not been for the cold war, Afghanistan might have been a very well established democracy by now. Instead, superpower influence gave them 20 years of war and civil war instead.

[ Parent ]

Informed Opinion (none / 0) (#541)
by erotus on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 10:24:16 AM EST

Dash2,

First of all, I have a nit to pick. You stated "Does this bear lessons about Islam or Arab Nations?" I don't believe you were implying this, but I inferred that you grouped Iran under the "Arab nations" banner. Maybe you know and you meant otherwise, and I apoligize if this is the case, but I have to make this clear for other readers. Iran is NOT an arab country. The inhabitants of Iran are NOT arabs, the language of the country is farsi and NOT arabic, and the cultural values of Iran are NOT the same as it's arabic speaking neighbors.

Iran may seem to share similarities with it's arab neighbors, but those similarities are only on the surface. For example, Iranians use the arabic script to write, but the two languages, farsi and arabic, are two totally different languages. Iran may share similar religous convictions with it's arab neighbors, but Iran is predominantly Shiite while it's arab neighbors are Sunni. Another thing that I have noticed, is that while arab nations tend to be Muslim first, and Egytian second or Syrian second, Iranians are Iranian first and Muslim second. This last observation is very interesting in that this battle for Iranian vs. Islamic values is still going on today.

The government of Iran would like to supress Iranian/pre-Islamic cultural celebrations like the Iranian New Year on March 21. The Iranian people want more Iranian cultural celebrations. The Shah, which you labled as an oppressive puppet dictator was actually very pro-Iranian heritage and culture and less pro-Islamic. The dual identity crisis which Iran suffers from is the root of most of it's problems.

Many Iranians here in America will just smirk when you call the Shah and oppressive ruler. The truth of the matter is, the current Islamic regime is easily 100 times more oppressive in their eyes. Iranians in Iran also think the current regime is 100 times more oppressive, and before you start flaming, I know many Iranians here and I have many connections in Iran. I've said this before and I'll say this again. If the Islamic takeover in Iran is really what the people wanted, then why have millions of Iranians fled the country? Why have millions chosen not to live under a so called "democratic government?" Because it's NOT a true democracy. Iran's government is an illusion of democracy. All candidates running for office must meet certain criteria before and Islamic council. Sorry, a Jew, Christian, Zorastrian, or Baha'i will never be president of the Islamic republic.

The truth of the matter is, the people wanted to rid themselves of the Shah. The revolution was a backlash against what Iranians perceived as a puppet dictator and western values gone mad. The resulting revolution was initially welcomed, but the realization that the new devil was worse than the old one came a bit too late. The country was still in a state of anarchy shortly after the revolution. While the new Islamic government had taken hold, there was great unrest and many Iranians who had fled beleived that the entire situation would be resolved shortly. Never did they realize that they would never set foot into Iran again.

The US govt. seems to love to continually meddle in other nations affairs. The CIA seems to continually try to cover up one bad mistake with another one. When Mossadeq overthrew the Shah in the 50's and wanted to nationalize Iranian oil and have a democratically elected form of government, the CIA graciously helped the Shah return to power. Yes, this IS in your history books if you don't believe it. However, when the Shah considered doing the same in the 70's and thought about keeping oil prices high, it seems that the tides turned on him. Suddenly, he became an oppressive dictator in western media circles. It's amazing isnt it? I know an Iranian lady who gets really irate when people refer to the Shah as a dictator and think that the new government in Iran is somehow better because it has the word "democracy" attached to it. She also fumes at CNN when such rhetoric is freely thrown around. She is disbelief that political prisoners during the reign of the Shah attracted so much attention, but now that thousands upon thousands more are held in Iranian jails for far less crimes, the media is silent.

When the new government came to power in Iran, guess who gets military funding and assistance? Well, none other than our power hungry buddy Saddam Hossein in Iraq right next door to Iran who has been dying make a land grab. Hmmm, how many wrongs can the CIA right by doing more wrongs? I don't know the answer, but the saga still continues. Anyhow, lets go back to a year or two after the Islamic revolution in Iran. The Islamic regime is not very stable, and there are factions and infighting and disunity. Suddenly, Iraq attacks Iran and Iran's people rally behind their new theocracy solidifying the position of the clergy as the heads of state. Saddam Hossein would never have dared to attack Iran under the Shah. But now that he had no Shah to fear and had the backing of the US, he tried to do to Iran what he would later succeed in doing to Kuwait.

The pattern here is unmistakeable. Whether it is Khomeini, Hossein, the Mujahadeen, Allende, Castro, the Shah, or Mossadeq, it seems that someone in DC has enjoyed this grand chess match that has spanned many years and many nations.
It's no different than yesterdays CIA backed freedom fighters in Afghanistan, who today are enemy number one. Strategic short term allegiances for short term gain have backfired every single time. I hope that this time, we have a long term goal regarding Afghanistan and it's future.

Iran's destiny, however, is still unfolding. Looking back at history, the Iranian people have always withstood the test of time and bad rulers and foreign invasions. Whether it was Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan, The Arabs, Tamurlane, the Turks, the many different dynasties, or today's corrupt clergy, one thing is certain: the Iranian people have retained their uniqueness and their culture. Even today, Iranian's keep celebrating behind closed doors, much like the speakeasies of the 20's in America's history.

I believe the next revolution is around the corner and I think that women will be at the forefront of the next takeover. There is a lot of unrest in the country right now and the people have taken more than their share of hardship under the current government. Change is inevitable and it is only a matter of time.

[ Parent ]
Muslm culture (3.87 / 8) (#101)
by maroberts on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:08:03 AM EST

One of the good things about the European dark ages is that we did learn from Muslim culture and science whereas today it does seem as though the Muslim world does its best to shut its door to western culture and technology.

That isn't to say that everyting Western is good but I believe a society only advances if the door is at least ajar for new ideas and influences.
~~~
The greatest trick the Devil pulled was to convince the world he didn't exist -- Verbil Kint, The Usual Suspects
Do you know anything about the Middle East? (3.66 / 3) (#155)
by SIGFPE on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:36:33 PM EST

whereas today it does seem as though the Muslim world does its best to shut its door to western culture and technology
Does it? What cars do you think people drive in the Middle East? What satellite TV stations do you think they watch? Who makes their CPUs? Where do you think the nuclear technology came from? What OS do you think they run on their PCs? What format do you think they store recorded music on?

For example here's an Iranian ISP. Their servers run Windows 2000. Not Windows 1492, or even Windows 98.

Now many people in Middle-Eastern countries can't actually afford many of the things I've mentioned above. But that's quite a different matter from shutting out technology.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]

Isn't there a difference... (none / 0) (#493)
by Curieus on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 05:27:11 AM EST

I believe a major difference is that most of it is consumerism, not learning.
The products are bought, but not the knowledge on how to build them themselves. Often it is false riches, in the sense that no lasting improvement is made with the money involved.
Your example of that ISP may be the beginning of building an infrastructure capable of producing and sustaining a local IT sector. It may also be a mere channel for entertainment.
The first part is connected to learning, the second is connected to waste.

[ Parent ]
ah but ... (none / 0) (#354)
by ragnarok on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:12:21 AM EST

it took a bit of a shake-up for Western Europe to acknowledge the benefits of what the Muslims had recovered from the detritus of Greece and the Hellenistic Eastern Mediterrean. That shake-up was the fall of the Byzantine Empire, and the resulting flight of educated Byzantine refugees into Western Europe with their literature.

Read some of the late Western European literature, and note just how hostile it is towards the Muslims (the Saracens, Paynim, etc).

The problem with current Muslim culture is its fundamentalism towards its holy book, The Holy Quran. It's hard to take a detached view towards nature when you're told that all truth is to be found within the pages of the holy text, and that if you dissent, you pay big time. This just does not work.

So in some ways this article tells the unwelcome truth; in other ways, it repeats the same ol', same ol' misunderstandings. Go figure.


"And it came to healed until all the gift and pow, I, the Lord, to divide; wherefore behold, all yea, I was left alone....", Joseph Smith's evil twin sister's prophecies
[ Parent ]

Superiority? (4.10 / 10) (#106)
by varelse on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:39:35 AM EST

What does superior mean? Is a superior society one that does not slaughter people who it considers inferior or threatening? Or is a superior society one that makes more money? How do you measure superiority? Perhaps they "fail to grasp" the west because of our duplicity. We should practice what we preach before we go around claiming superiority and success. We in the west have a fair boatload of human horrors under our belt too. The horrors of the east are indefensible indeed, but don't forget to have a look at our own pile of bones when you start talking about a superior race/religion/politic. We do all the same things but for different reasons. Impeding scientific inquiry, unpopular expression and cultural exchange is done there on religious grounds and here it happens for money. We simply have different gods.
-=-
I was the kid next doors imaginary friend.
Superiority - A Simple Metric (4.66 / 6) (#113)
by br284 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:24:23 AM EST

One metric that can be used to illustrate superiority can be phrased in a simple question: "Where would you rather live? The West or the Middle East?" It's obvious that more Middle Easterners would like to live in the West than Westerners that would like to live in the Middle East, given measurable things like immigration and where the parents try to send their children after adolescence.

-Chris

[ Parent ]
None of the above? (5.00 / 1) (#374)
by elgardo on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:34:59 AM EST

Your measurement does not allow for the answer "none of the above". Indeed, dealing with the overly complicated society of the west, where escalators come prepacked with recorded audio instructions for how to use the escalator in order to avoid lawsuits, I'm beginning to think that China might not be a bad idea after all.

[ Parent ]
Money, actually (4.00 / 10) (#116)
by bugmaster on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:38:12 AM EST

Or is a superior society one that makes more money?
Actually, yes. Before you get shocked and mod me into oblivion, bear with me:
Impeding scientific inquiry, unpopular expression and cultural exchange is done there on religious grounds and here it happens for money. We simply have different gods.
It is true that corruption happens in every society. However, I believe that our society is still a tad less corrupt than many middle-eastern ones. It all stems from how we view money.

Money, by itself, is nothing. The piece of paper with "$100" printed on isn't worth much intrinsically; an arrangement of bits in some computer is worth even less. What makes that "$100" paper worth $100 is the value of labor, resources, and energy that went into obtaining it. In other words, money is just a symbolic representation of value.

People periodically get outraged when cost is used as an argument to evaluate the worth of human-services programs. However, studies have shown that human lives actually get undervalued when they are not measured with money. This makes sense when seen in light of the thesis above -- surely, a human life has a lot of value.

It also makes sense that a better society would generate more money. What is worth more money -- a mud shack, or an apartment ? Stale bread or a hamburger ? Praying for survival or penicillin ? Now, which of the above provide a higher standard of living ?

In a Western society, a citizen can usually provide a reasonably correct answer when you ask him, "how much money are you worth ?" He might answer, "well, there's my job which brings me $X, but my apartment rent is $Y. I also have some savings worth $Z, and I suppose if I sold my car I could get $W..." You get the idea. On the other hand, if you ask a typical Afghan peasant the same question, he might not be able to answer. A Western citizen has an intrinsic sense of his own value; a citizen of an oppressed third-world country does not. And money is the best semi-objective standard we have come up with so far for measuring value.

The problem with third-world and totalitarian countries is not just that they are poor -- it's that they value the lives of their own citizens less than dirt.

Now, I admit, the above is very idealistic, and does not map 100% on the reality of the Western society. Monopolies, manipulative corporations, paid-for politicians, etc., erode the rosy picture I have painted. However, I believe that my original thesis still holds: a more prosperous society is better than a poor one.

Ok, my asbestos underpants just came out of the wash, so I am ready now :-)
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

You bring up a good point. (5.00 / 1) (#138)
by derek3000 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:35:05 AM EST

I think what most people miss when they say "money bad!" is that money isn't the point. We go to school, work hard, try to get a good job--but not for money, really. For a better quality of life.

Now I don't necessarily mean having a bunch of shit--believe me, I've tried that route. I value nothing that I have, except my guitar, which will be worth thousands one day.

The money you earn is just a way to have a comfortable life--shelter, clothing, food, medicine, etc. The more money you have, the better you are able to deal with emergencies and disasters, etc.

To those who would still have a problem with money--what do you suggest we do? Just because I'm not into $200 pants and $300 bottles of champagne doesn't mean that I should be able to keep someone from a) making them or b) buying them.


-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Money indeed. (4.50 / 2) (#140)
by varelse on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:46:23 AM EST

You have illustrated my point here nicely. When you measure "value" in monetary terms, then you can make a case one way or the other. However, there is more than one way to determine the value of something. How do you quantify spirituality? Is it less valuable because it is difficult to quantify in scientific or mathematical terms? The west has chosen money as it's yardstick. So be it. The east has, or at least had, other metrics. Unfortunately, their system doesn't fit into our system of measurement and thus the confusion and yes, hatred on both sides.
There is certainly value in life, but there are innumerable ways to find that value and measuring with money is simply one way. Spiritually, kindness, artistic contribution are other ways to measure value and those ways are left out of a simple cash calculation. Perhaps, if we are so superior, we would have enough humility to re-calibrate our measuring system and realize that the value of a person/culture/society doesn't simply boil down to a dollar but encompasses a whole range of things, both quantifiable and ephemeral.
The typical Afghan peasant may not be able to answer simply because a dollar means nothing to them within their system, the same way Allah, Buddah, music, art, love or pride is something that you couldn't put a price tag on, let alone purchase, although advertising would have you believe otherwise, but that is another topic :)
-=-
I was the kid next doors imaginary friend.
[ Parent ]
My point exactly (3.33 / 3) (#188)
by bugmaster on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:46:13 PM EST

However, there is more than one way to determine the value of something.
As far as I see it, value is a measure of how much whatever it is we are trying to assess the value of matters to people. You say,
The east has, or at least had, other metrics.
but I fail to see any other unified system for measuring value, in the East or the North or anywhere. What are those other metrics you speak of ? Anyway, I think the problem you have with money is that you see money being used to measure groceries and (for example) art, and you exclaim, "surely art isn't the same as groceries !" Well, it's not. That's why it costs more. When you asess the worth (in dollars) of something, you are not making a judgement on its validity. You are merely asking the question, "How much would an average person give up in order to possess this ?"

It's true, "ephemeral" things cannot be measured with scientific means. But that's irrelevant. An average person would still give up a great deal for their art or core beliefs -- sometimes, even their own life. I think the real problem is that the amount of personal quality of living (which is measured with money) that one would give up for freedom or art is actually falling in our society. Freedom is getting cheaper. However, monetary cost is merely a way to gauge this sad trend -- not the cause of it.

It is patently false that

Allah, Buddah, music, art, love or pride is something that you couldn't put a price tag on
In fact, price tags are being put on such things every day. For example, if a new portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls would be uncovered tomorrow, how much do you think you would be able to buy it for ? The answer is "more money than you'll ever have in your entire life". Religion is very valuable; the same goes for art (how much is a Picasso ? Compare that to a burger), pride (how much damages would I pay if you won a defamation suit against me ?), and even love (some dating services are quite profitable). That does not "cheapen" or debase love, art or religion -- quite the contrary, it lends such matters much more respect that they'd otherwise have.

That brings me back to my original point. As a Western society, we know the value of things, both material things such as food and clothing, and "ephemeral" things such as pride and love, and even a human life. If you prefer, think of this in tech terms: money is the protocol used by individuals and organizations to communicate the amount of the quality of life they would be willing to give up for something (i.e., it's value).

In many middle-eastern societies, the amount of comfort one would give up to admire a work of art, or rescue a drowning man, etc., is zero. "The dollar [and, presumably, other currency] means nothing within their system" not because everyone there is spiritually enlightened, but because in their culture very few things have actual value. That's what makes our culture more successful.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

We agree then? (none / 0) (#199)
by varelse on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:27:34 PM EST

It's hard for me to really understand you. Your handle, bugmaster, tells me little. Perhaps you are a software specialist who works in QC. Perhaps you own an extermination company or are a entymologist. Perhaps your handle has nothing to do with anything that I have come to understand in my lifetime. I don't know if you live in the states or in peru. I don't what color, religion you are, whether you have a family, education, or a car. Nor do I know how much money you have and since that is the only way I can put a quantifiable value on somebody, you may as well be worthless. Same from you to me.
But I can't accept that. You present yourself in an intelligent way. You make some valid and interesting points, and since all I have to go on here is the few hundred words that we have exchanged, I would have to conclude, regardless of how little I really know about you, that you are a valuable person. I have valued this exchange that we have had here. I hope you have too, yet niether of us have or will receive a dime from it and, although the thread topic is money, the value of this has nothing to do with it.
I don't know what a muslim is all about either. I can read the words that muslims have written, look at pictures of them and make assumptions, but the reality is, I know nothing about their motivations, hope, fears and point of view. I can no more stand in their shoes than in yours. Yet I find their words presented intelligently and points interesting and I have to conclude also that they are valuable people.
If I measured my friends by how rich they are I'd be stuck with a gang of inferior people, but I respect my friends for reasons that have nothing to do with money. I'm sure you do too. That is all I'm trying to say.
-=-
I was the kid next doors imaginary friend.
[ Parent ]
Value of Communication (none / 0) (#246)
by harryh on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:50:21 PM EST

By the very act of communicating with bugmaster you have put a monetary value on the conversation.

I'm sure that instead of reading what he had to say you could have been writing code, or selling shoes, or cooking a meal or whatever else it is you do for a living. And by doing that you would have increased (if ever so slightly) the amount of money you made today (if not directly, indirectly by impressing your boss just slightly more).

But you found bugmasters words interesting enough to ignore these other duties for a short time. Undoubtedly if what he had to say was boring or otherwise uninteresting you wouldn't have been willing to pay (by ignoring other responsibilities) enough to read them.

So you see? You have put a monetary value on the conversation, even if you didn't realize it?

-Harry

[ Parent ]
Wow (4.00 / 1) (#296)
by varelse on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:53:16 PM EST

I have to say, I am enlightened. I had no idea that some people actually measure everything in terms of money. The people I run with don't operate that way. I realize that you can measure things that way, the same way you can measure the distance to Pluto in millimeters, but for some things it just doesn't make any sense to me. No wonder I'm broke. ;)
I do value your input however. I just didn't realize we were all getting poorer by having this dialog. I though quite the opposite in fact.
-=-
I was the kid next doors imaginary friend.
[ Parent ]
No Poorer (none / 0) (#522)
by bugmaster on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 02:59:48 AM EST

We are not getting poorer just by talking -- since no money actually trades hands. In fact, I would argue that we are getting richer, since the monetary value of our dialogue is probably higher than the value of our individual, unvoiced ideas. Unvoiced ideas are fairly uselss to others.

I think you are still thinking in terms of "money==bad", or maybe, "money==material gain". What I was trying to argue all this time is that money is just a metric of value, nothing more. People who measure everything in money aren't neccessarily less "broke" than you are -- just as those people who measure the distance to Pluto in mm aren't any closer to Pluto. It's just a way of looking at things. There is nothing magical about money itself -- just like there is nothing magical about, say, kilobaud. It's just a standard metric that everyone agrees on.

However, once you agree on a metric which can be used to measure the value of things, you have to implicitly agree that these things have value for you to measure. When you say, "rescuing these people from an earthquake will cost $X", you are implicitly agreeing that the people are worth rescuing. In many middle-eastern countries, for all their talk of the glory of god or whatever, they would leave the people there to rot.

The above sentence may be unnecessarily harsh, but I watch the news and behavior like that just pisses me off... sorry.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

Thanks harryh (none / 0) (#282)
by bugmaster on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:23:38 PM EST

I was going to reply, but I think harryh made it very eloquently for me (in a reply to the same parent). Just because you can put a monetary value on this communication, doesn't mean any explicit transaction actually took place.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
Honor. (none / 0) (#402)
by meryt on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 11:57:17 AM EST

To Allah, Buddah, music, art, love and pride, we could add the concept of Honor, something of no monetary value that is nonetheless highly valued in certain non-Western cultures.

And if must talk about everything in terms of monetary value, we could consider the practice of hospitality as well, since it makes a good example. Suppose a traveller comes to the mud hut of our peasant--not a beggar, mind you, but a traveller richer than our peasant, since we are talking about hospitality rather than charity. And suppose our peasant has one last scrawny chicken, and he slaughters it, and cooks a stew for the traveller, and then the traveller goes on his way and the two never see each other again.

The peasant is clearly poorer in monetary terms. He has gained nothing that can be valued in monetary terms, yet has "paid" the value of a chicken for it. Indeed, if the traveller had tried to reimburse him for the monetary value of the chicken, our peasant would have been insulted.

Now I don't know why our hypothetical peasant in this hypothetical Middle Eastern Arab and/or Muslim country has done something that seems so foolish to us Westerners. Does he consider that he is one chicken closer to paradise? Does he want to increase his standing in the mud village? Does he live all alone alongside the road and simply want to sleep well tonight knowing he has done as he should? In any case it is clear that there is something, call it "honor" if you like, that he and the people around him value more than the monetary value of the things they give up to posses it. WE can put a monetary value on the chicken and even the time he spent cooking the stew, as I am sure some of you will, but the point is, he doesn't, at least not in the sense of weighing the cost of this chunk of honor against the cost of his chicken.

Whereas, in certain Western cultures, it would certainly appear that money is valued above honor, wouldn't it?



[ Parent ]
Wildly successful? (4.11 / 9) (#120)
by Alarmist on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:16:48 AM EST

I'll give the Israelis credit for having existed on a war footing since their nation was founded, but I would hardly call the current conditions there a wild success.

By what criteria are you judging success, and which Muslim nations are you comparing Israel to?


Intellectual crap. (2.76 / 13) (#128)
by t0rment on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:05:18 AM EST

I don't mean to troll, or get a reaction out of anybody but this reminds me of a quote.

Some idea's are so stupid, that only intellectuals would believe them.

George Orwell(I think)

I think that really expresses what I think about that quote used in the story.

I really have no proof but this sounds like well though out propaganda. From my understanding there, it completely avoided the cause and effect, of the examples that it talked about.

No offense Demiurge. It is an intresting, yet misleading argument, in my opinion.


. - = [ t 0 r m e n t ] = - .

Anyone can become angry--that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way; this is not easy.

- Aristotle
re: Intellectual crap (1.50 / 2) (#157)
by klamath on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:45:08 PM EST

I really have no proof
Then why waste our time?

[ Parent ]
Oversimplifications and valuation (4.12 / 8) (#136)
by Teukels on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:21:28 AM EST

Unfortunate oversimplifications and inherent simple justification of such a point of view.
Israel is successfull because there is a steady stream of funds from the Jews overseas. Isreal is succesfull because they have thorough education program and it trades a lot with the (wealthy) west. Perhaps there even _is_ an _amount of variance_ to be explained by differences in life-philosophy. But how exactly can one tell by not researching that in particular?

I believe the questions asked are the wrong ones for it is just as easy to ask "whether the antagonism and selfishness of the West towards the islamic societies is justifyable" instead of taking the position of western minded and pointing to Eastern antagonism. (Even if one of both exists)

I refuse to take such values seriously, _from both sides_, because:

It implies knowledge not known until now. Since who can judge upon whose ideals are better and whose are not? Who can judge upon whose god exists and whose does not?

Pointing fingers is likely innate to humanity.. but;
In my opinion we would be better of looking at things we actually _can_ judge upon, things we can compare like number of teachers active per thousand inhabitants or number of hospitals or number of birthrate vs. death of infants.
Such numbers are more likely to grasp reality better and luckily fail to value that society in themselves.
Even better, it serves Western societies to for then we can _offer_ help and knowledge there where it is most urgently needed.

Here my idealistic rant ends.

Summary: pointing fingers seems innate to humanity because both sides use it. Valueing implies a responsibility which in itself makes one an antagonistic risk factor of anger I think. Measuring properties you can actually help with is proposed by me as a better measure in order to constructively add to end these differences between their and other societies.

Luuk

That's your turf. (3.00 / 1) (#203)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:36:40 PM EST

Actually, diaspora Jews have been diverting their money to other Jewish communities, like Argentina's, at Israel's request.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Thanks (none / 0) (#423)
by Teukels on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:37:36 PM EST

Thank you, I was unaware of this.

Luuk

[ Parent ]
Israel's Success (3.80 / 15) (#139)
by Baldrson on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:43:38 AM EST

For example, why is Israel, an open, democratic, Western society, wildly successful in comparison to its Islamic neighbors?

Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


And Egypt? (3.00 / 2) (#150)
by Stickerboy on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:22:02 PM EST

Egypt is the second largest recipient of US foreign aid - so logically, it should be a lot more successful than it is now.

Culture does play a significant part - although infusions of billions of dollars in aid tends to help.


[ Parent ]
So what? (4.00 / 4) (#154)
by Anatta on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:31:27 PM EST

As per my comments in an editoral portion of this article, Israel gets $600m (20%) more aid than Egypt does -- $2.8b for Israel, and $2.2b for Egypt. Israel has a GDP of $110b and Egypt has a GDP of $247b; clearly US Aid does not have a significant impact on the economies of either country. Israel gets $450 per person, while Egypt gets only $31 per person; however, US Aid only amounts to 2.45% of Israel's per capita income and it amounts to 0.89% of Egypt's per capita income. Both numbers are essentially negligible. In contrast, in 1999 Egypt got $4.2b in tourist dollars.

Suggesting that Israel is successful because of US Aid while Egypt is not is ridiculous. Israel is successful because it is a democratic country with a strong free market, capitalist system.
My Music
[ Parent ]

Israel's success predates the US's aid. (2.00 / 1) (#202)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:35:47 PM EST

And we pay a damn high price for that money.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
The real conflict is between science and religion (1.52 / 19) (#143)
by nodes on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:57:51 AM EST

Note: I'm posting this because I think it is germane to the discussion
even though it was written for another discussion.
It is written in a controversial tone to deliberately stimulate
response from those who assert the "spiritual superiority" of science
over religion. I think Muslims feel they have an inferior belief
system and are responding with violence against the west,
which represents scientific and technological superiority.
The real contest is between materiality and spirituality.

The entire article is also available on the net at:

http://nodes.org/new/metabase/read.htm?249.js

----------- Science is a Myth -------------

Science is a myth because it does not take us beyond mythology.
It was supposed to do so, but in fact it does the exact reverse of
its stated intention. It makes zealots for science who accuse anyone
who does not follow their dictates of being lazy and incompetent.

For example, a scientist may make an assertion that "sugar does not
create hyperactivity in children." He would point to scientific
studies which failed to prove a connection between the two things,
therefore there IS no connection.

He would then say that if you wanted to disagree with him you must
DIS-prove ( prove the negative, which in this case is a positive )
his assertion. This says that if you cannot disprove the assertion
then you are either lazy, incompetent or both. It's a head trip,
plain and simple. It's a mind game called "mental domination."

The onus of responsibility for knowing the truth has fallen on you,
the disbeliever, and you must use the processes of science to do so.
Anything other than science will be discounted as "inferior" to
the truth already asserted by the scientist ( which was a non-truth ).

The abscence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. In other
words, because there is no evidence of the causal relationship between
sugar and hyperactive behavior of children, this does not mean that
there IS no causative relationship between the two things.

Science is playing in a sandbox which has specific rules of behavior.
You may only play with sand. This means that all truth is relative and
can be re-formed and re-evaluated and re-interpreted ad infinitum.
There is no absolute truth, says science, only "operational truth."
If your sand castle is taller than mine, then that is the thing that
matters.

Science discounts anything outside the box, saying it has no value in
the determination of how to relate to our universe. Religion, for
example, is outside the purvue of science and therefore irelevant for
purposes of scientific discovery.

Science says that while subjective evaluation of results is possible,
it is irrelevant to judging the quality of the truth that science
preaches. By analogy, science says that your sand castle is bigger
than mine and that is the only thing which matters. The subjective
truth that mine is more beautiful is irrelevant. We are only evaluating
things which can be measured in the sandbox by tools allowed and
approved by the sandbox High Priests ( creators of scientific method ).

Science says that while we don't know what will happen, such as when
a sand castle will collapse, we can assert probabilities. These
probabilities do not exist anywhere outside the sandbox as anything
other than "conversation" between those in the sandbox. But inside
the sandbox these probabilistic assetions have the weight of truth.
They become the rules of the religion, so to speak. They are the dogma.

Science asserts that the truth is knowable but it does not look
outside the sandbox for such truth. Instead, it asserts that all
truth exists within the sandbox and can be evaluated from within
the sandbox, given enough time and dedication to the task of
exploring the truth.

Science assumes that the universe is consistent, that what proved true
yesterday will still be true tomorrow. This assumption mandates arrogant
disregard for everything outside the box (required ignorance) . For
example, if I throw a baseball outside the box and it lands on your sand
castle, destroying it compeletely, what was the probability of such an
occurance? From my perspective it was a certainty, since I was aiming for
your castle in the first place and would have thrown another ball if the
first one missed! From your perspective, within the sandbox of science,
it was an unanticipated event which must now be drawn into the
calculations and theories of what is happening in the sandbox. Never do
you contemplate looking outside the box, much less having a conversation
with me. The rules of the sandbox prohibit such activities.

Does prayer produce peace? How would science even begin to evaluate such
an assertion? Science is concerned with control over nature and peace is
concerned with harmony in nature. What would be the biochemical switches
in the brain which produce peace? Would that produce peace in the world
or only the individual? Does prayer throw these switches? You see the
difficulty of such an endeavor. Prayer is an expression of faith rather
than one of fact. You don't need to prove your prayers work, you know
it without proof. That's what makes them work.

Science retreats into the "it's too complex to know" escape mechanism.
"But some day we may be able to figure it out" is the hope science
proffers in its own ineptitude and arrogant disregard for other paradigms.
It doesn't know where the ball came from and refuses to look up.

Science subsumes all other paradigms by saying it is "spiritually
superior" to things like religion and belief. Science teaches the
primacy of science. It teaches that we can make bombs which will go
exactly where we want them to go and disregard the effects these bombs
have on the peace of humanity. Science is only interested in probablistic
accuracy of its truth, the "inner conversation of the sandbox."

Science is the abdication of responsibility and a love affair with
victimhood. Science makes us all the victims of the universe. The
universe works the way it does, science says, and there is nothing
you can do about it. Prayer to God won't change the way it works,
working together with others won't change the way it works, and surrender
to the guidance of the Holy Spirit won't change the way it works.

You are a victim of the universe and your only hope is to understand how
it works so you can learn to control events in your life in harmony
with these universal laws. Your job is to know the laws, not to make
them or break them or bend them. You are the victim of these laws,
not the one responsbible for creating them in the first place. This
is the message of science: you are the victim of the universe and you
had better stay in your place. Your only hope is to know the rules.
In order to know the rules, you must trust science to tell you the rules.

It negates responsbility for creation. It says that you cannot create
or re-create the way the universe works but only adapt to it based on
certain knowledge. Science will provide such knowledge and it is all
that you need to know in this life. Science continually adapts itself,
correcting errors of past "knowledge" so that is it constantly the
"best thing going" in the Truth department. That's the assertion and
anyone making another assertion is branded an "infidel." That's the
mind game of science, the one which produces mental domination and
surrender to victimhood. Science preaches "you are the victim" and
"there is no hope."

Science is a myth. The first myth of science is that it is NOT a myth.
Ofcourse it is. It asserts that the sandbox is all of reality, that what
happens in the sand box is representative of what happens everywhere. It
asserts that the truth is knowable and that there is an "ideal method" of
knowing it. It asserts that the truth is consistent, that what happens
once will happen exactly the same way in a future time and place. It
asserts that events in our lives can be controlled once we have
"sufficient knowledge" to reliably predict outcomes. All of these
assertions are unprovable by their very nature therefore they are the
substance of the myth of science.

Science dodges responsibility for its creations. Do scientists run for
public office? Do they preach the gospel of individual and social
responsibility for our actions? Do they acknowledge that their "truths"
are "best guesses" and not certainties? Do they assert that relative
"operational truth" is more important than "absolute truth?" Do
they discount faith in reality outside the sandbox of science?

Science preaches victimhood and practices mental domination by asserting
that anyone who disagrees with science must use the processes of science
to make their case. This is prejudicial by it's very nature. It is
akin to telling an Atheist that he must convince a Christian of Atheism
using the Bible as his only resource. Of course he will fail; the
task is an absurd endeavor from the outset.

Science should look at itself honestly, and keep a public accounting of
all of its errors, making these errors the "showcase of scientific
superiority." This will serve to humble science, because ultimately it
is the spirit of life itself which drives the hubris we can call
"the ignorance of certainty" and produces zealots in many flavors.

Life is a mystery and it shall remain one, despite the mind games played
by scientific zealots, religious zealots, or any other kind of dogmatic
assertions made by man. If you think you know the truth, think again.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Wonder itself is the gift of
genius. I wonder ...

It's a big playground. Come out of the sandbox and play with me.

Blessings!

Steve Moyer
http://nodes.org/steve

Sometimes you should pass by reference not value (3.40 / 5) (#148)
by SIGFPE on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:21:11 PM EST

Just the URL would have done.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
LOL (2.33 / 3) (#174)
by RandomPeon on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:48:33 PM EST

Your subject line says what I was thinking in a *far* better way. Funy as hell, thanks.

[ Parent ]
And in this case, a NULL pointer would have worked (3.75 / 4) (#181)
by John Miles on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:23:28 PM EST

(nt)

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]
Who's your dealer? (3.00 / 2) (#194)
by SIGFPE on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:01:19 PM EST

First you criticise science for using the "it's too complex to know" escape mechanism and then you use the classic "it's a mystery" escape mechanism.

Then you criticise science for being about 'mental domination' at the same time as being about 'victimhood'.

Make up your mind - hubris or humility.

And your complaints about scientists not running for public office are as silly as complaining that bakers don't all try to participate in the Olympic games. Once you step out of the sandbox you're not playing with sand any more. It's a trivial truth.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]

wow...well, you said you wanted discussion... (4.54 / 11) (#204)
by jpm165 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:37:37 PM EST

I haven't seen a troll this elaborate in quite sometime. Let's break this down bit by bit

Quote: Science is a myth because it does not take us beyond mythology. It was supposed to do so, but in fact it does the exact reverse of its stated intention.

OK, good start. You state a hypothesis based on your observation that science does not take us beyond mythology. Therefore, science is myth.

Quote: It makes zealots for science who accuse anyone who does not follow their dictates of being lazy and incompetent.

Well in defense of the zealots, a zealot is a zealot is a zealot. It makes no difference whether that person is a science-zealot, or a religious zealot, or even a linux zealot. The existence of zealots is irrelevant to the subject matter in which that person is a zealot. In other words, if science was to magically disappear, the science-zealots would switch to a different subject to be zealous about. This does nothing to prove your hypothesis that science is a myth, in fact, it is quite irrelevant.

Quote: For example, a scientist may make an assertion that "sugar does not create hyperactivity in children." He would point to scientific studies which failed to prove a connection between the two things, therefore there IS no connection.

That is not science. A true scientist makes an observation, then formulates a hypothesis, then attempts to disprove that hypothesis by observing the phenomena. If she cannot disprove the hypothesis, three things happen:

  1. The hypothesis becomes a theory, and
  2. She opens her research to the scientific community who are then free to attempt to disprove the theory.
  3. The most important thing: she attempts to make predictions based on the theory

If the theory is disproven (ie, a prediction fails to come true) by anyone in the whole universe, it is discarded, or modified, and the process begins again.

But most importantly, the scientist does not point to scientific studies as evidence, she observes the phenomena on her own. The scientist in your example sounds more like a marketing rep for the Sugar Company. He is not a scientist.

You may think of it this way: Science does not seek to prove anything, but rather it seeks to disprove.

Quote: He would then say that if you wanted to disagree with him you must DIS-prove ( prove the negative, which in this case is a positive ) his assertion.

Yes, exactly, you must disprove her theory, which can be very easy to do. But be careful. Dis-prove does not mean "Prove the negative". For example. If I observe a triangle to be blue, and I come up with a theory that "The triangle is blue", But you are color-blind and see that the triangle is green, then congratulations. You just dis-proved my theory! That does not mean that the negative of blue is green. That is absurd.

Quote: This says that if you cannot disprove the assertion then you are either lazy, incompetent or both. It's a head trip, plain and simple. It's a mind game called "mental domination."

It says nothing of the kind. If you fail to disprove the theory, then all you have done is failed to disprove the theory. You don't have to take offense about it. Just try again!

Quote: The onus of responsibility for knowing the truth has fallen on you, the disbeliever, and you must use the processes of science to do so.

Well, yes. Of course the onus falls on you. You are the disbeliever. The people who believe in the truth already have no incentive to seek another truth. However, the scientist is always eager to have people attempt to disprove her theory. Do you know why? Its because every failed attempt to disprove the theory makes the theory that much stronger, that much closer to true. But be careful...The theory will never be 100% true. This goes back to what I was saying about how science doesn't seek to prove, but rather to disprove. A theory can be not-disproved 1 million times, but if it is disproved on time number one million one, then the theory is disproved. Until that happens though, we use the theory to make predictions we can rely on. Does this bother you? Unless you live in a cave and farm your own food and live completely off of instinct like an animal, it shouldn't. The reason why is because every single facet of modern daily society and civilization is based on the predictions made by scientific theories. From the theories that allow us to manufacture mass quantities of food to feed ourselves, to the theories that allow the construction of churches. We simply operate as if the theories are true. But...they can be disproven at any time..and that is when progress occurs.

Quote:Anything other than science will be discounted as "inferior" to the truth already asserted by the scientist ( which was a non-truth ).

Not "inferior" but irrelevant. Its like comparing the tastes of apples and oranges. Its sort of like if I say that scientific observation allows me to create a wheel, and you say that Moldak, supreme keeper of light created the wheel acting through me. We will never really know for sure, will we?

Quote: The abscence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. In other words, because there is no evidence of the causal relationship between sugar and hyperactive behavior of children, this does not mean that there IS no causative relationship between the two things.

Absolutely right. But science deals with evidence, not lack of evidence. Your example is flawed because you suggest that science makes assertions based on lack of evidence. The scientific method would be to Observe hyperactive behavior in children, Hypothesize the cause for it, and then Observe and Experiment to rule out all other causes. But since all other causes can never be completely ruled out, once we get down to sugar being the cause, and we can't think of anything else it could be, we stop giving the kids sugar. If they stop being hyperactive...then good. That is the desired result. If someone down the road discovers that it was the keeper of light that made the children hyperactive, well, then we mdofiy our theory and let them have sugar again

Quote: Science is playing in a sandbox which has specific rules of behavior. You may only play with sand.

Yes, this is true, but the 'sandbox' is the entire universe and the sand is everything that exists. And worst of all, we don't know all the rules yet!

Quote: This means that all truth is relative and can be re-formed and re-evaluated and re-interpreted ad infinitum.

That, my dear sir, is the very basis of Science

Quote:There is no absolute truth, says science, only "operational truth." If your sand castle is taller than mine, then that is the thing that matters.

Yes, its kind of elegant in its simplicity. We can use science to "get down to brass tacks" as it were. When comparing who's sandcastle is taller. We only need to consider one dimension, and compare that to an arbitrary starting point. It makes no sense to compare height of sandcastle by comparing dimensions that have not to do with height.

Quote: Science discounts anything outside the box, saying it has no value in the determination of how to relate to our universe.

I would tend to say that the value of anything outside the system is negligable to anything that is inside the system. Now before you get your panties in a knot, remember that science considers 'the system' to be everything that exists. If something is discovered to be outside the system, it will have been discovered to exist, and therefore it was never really not in the system.

Quote:Religion, for example, is outside the purvue of science and therefore irelevant for purposes of scientific discovery.

Yes...and...your point is...? Let me ask you this: If you and I agree that the triangle is blue, then who cares what color God thinks the triangle is?

Quote:Science says that while subjective evaluation of results is possible, it is irrelevant to judging the quality of the truth that science preaches. By analogy, science says that your sand castle is bigger than mine and that is the only thing which matters.

But if we are using science to compare the heights of our sand castles, why do we need to consider any other variable? We are not comparing the castle as a whole, only select observable details. Science does not tell us whose sand castle is better...

Quote:The subjective truth that mine is more beautiful is irrelevant.

Not only is it irrelevant, but it is impossible to say. We might agree that your castle is more beautiful, but we might ask Sally and she might pick mine.

Quote: We are only evaluating things which can be measured in the sandbox by tools allowed and approved by the sandbox High Priests ( creators of scientific method ).

Correction: We are only using science to evaluate things which can be measured in the sandbox by tools allowed and approved...

For everything else we are using the other tools that the creator gave us. And make no mistake. The scientific method was not made by some 50 year old white man back in the day. We are born with it. Oh yes. If you don't believe me, watch a child sometime..they use it from the beginning.

Quote:Science says that while we don't know what will happen, such as when a sand castle will collapse, we can assert probabilities. These probabilities do not exist anywhere outside the sandbox as anything other than "conversation" between those in the sandbox. But inside the sandbox these probabilistic assetions have the weight of truth.

Remember, there is no 'outside of the sandbox'. The assertions made by science are given the weight of truth, yes, but as you said yourself, it is an operational truth. If we didn't have these 'truths' we would not have a society. If we didn't give them the weight of truth, then we wouldn't build buildings because we know that there is a chance, however infinitesimally small that they might fall down one day, but we don't know when that will be exactly. However, we use the 'truths' gleaned from millenia of observation of our environment to predict roughly when that will occur, so just to be on the safe side, we knock old buildings down from time to time and build new ones..

Quote:They become the rules of the religion, so to speak. They are the dogma.

There is NO dogma in science. Anything can be disproven.

Quote:Science asserts that the truth is knowable but it does not look outside the sandbox for such truth. Instead, it asserts that all truth exists within the sandbox and can be evaluated from within the sandbox, given enough time and dedication to the task of exploring the truth.

Science asserts that truth is knowable. It doesn't look outside the sandbox because there is no outside the sandbox. All truth that exists within the sandbox that can be evaluated from within the sandbox goes along way towards telling us that our buildings are not going to fall down anytime soon, and hence its safe to live in them

Quote: Science assumes that the universe is consistent, that what proved true yesterday will still be true tomorrow. This assumption mandates arrogant disregard for everything outside the box (required ignorance) .

Science assumes none of this. Science does not prove anything. Even in elementary school science they teach you this. THere is no 'outside the box'

Quote: For example, if I throw a baseball outside the box and it lands on your sand castle, destroying it compeletely, what was the probability of such an occurance?

Before the baseball hit, there was a percentage of probability that the baseball would hit the castle that is equal to 1 divided by the total number of things in the universe that could possibly affect the outcome of the event in a negative way. After the baseball hit, the probability became 1. Its interesting to note that as the baseball drew closer to the sandcastle, the probability increased from and astronomically high number all the way down to 1, because for every moment the baseball was in motion, avariables having to do with the spatial location were eliminated.

Quote:From my perspective it was a certainty, since I was aiming for your castle in the first place and would have thrown another ball if the first one missed!

Your intention to destroy my sandcastle was a certainty. The ball hitting it was not certain. You prove this yourself by saying that you were prepared to throw another one if you missed

Quote: From your perspective, within the sandbox of science, it was an unanticipated event which must now be drawn into the calculations and theories of what is happening in the sandbox.

Yeah..we have to modify the theory of building to account for the fact that sometimes a baseball comes from another part of the universe and knocks everything down. That doesn't stop us from building stuff though.

Quote: Never do you contemplate looking outside the box, much less having a conversation with me. The rules of the sandbox prohibit such activities.

It doesn't matter. You are stuck in the box with us. Maybe we don't want to talk to you because you keep knocking down our sand castle...did you ever consider that?

Quote: Does prayer produce peace? How would science even begin to evaluate such an assertion?

It would start by making an observation. Then it would formulate a hypothesis. Then it would attempt to disprove the hypothesis. If the hypothesis was not disproven, it would then begin to make predictions based on what was learning in the experiments and try to apply them to the real world. Why, how would faith handle that one?

Quote:Science is concerned with control over nature and peace is concerned with harmony in nature.

What's wrong with controlling nature? Evidently you see nothing wrong with using a computer...Question...how many computers have you used that were not the direct result of controlling nature? Science controlling nature doesn't preclude peace.

Quote: What would be the biochemical switches in the brain which produce peace? Would that produce peace in the world or only the individual? Does prayer throw these switches? You see the difficulty of such an endeavor.

No. I don't see any difficulty. Neither do you apparently. You have already done the first part of the scientific method without even realizing it.

  1. Observation: There is not enough peace
  2. Hypothesis: is there evidence to support biochemical switches in the brain which produce peace?

All you have to do now is design an experiment to test your hypothesis. Be careful though...I might just decide to try to disprove your hypothesis..then you would be forced to modify your theory...

Quote:Prayer is an expression of faith rather than one of fact. You don't need to prove your prayers work, you know it without proof. That's what makes them work.

Thanks for sharing. This is quite different than science, which relies on observable phenomena. Good thing there is room in the world for mor ethan one world view...

Quote:Science retreats into the "it's too complex to know" escape mechanism. "But some day we may be able to figure it out" is the hope science proffers in its own ineptitude and arrogant disregard for other paradigms.

So how is this 'ineptitude'? So we can't figure it out now. We may never. Should that stop us from trying? Also, it is not science that disregards other paradigms. It is religion that disregards other paradigms. You don't believe me? then why is a scientist responding to a religionists scathing article on why science sucks, and not the reverse?

Quote:It doesn't know where the ball came from and refuses to look up.

Science attempts to find out the reason why hte ball came, so we can avoid being hit by baseballs in the future. And anyway, how about this: Religion *knows* where the ball came from and still refuses to look up.

Quote:Science subsumes all other paradigms by saying it is "spiritually superior" to things like religion and belief.

No it doesn't. Science seeks to explain. Nothing more, nothing less.

Quote:Science teaches the primacy of science. It teaches that we can make bombs which will go exactly where we want them to go and disregard the effects these bombs have on the peace of humanity.

Religion teaches the primacy of religion. It teaches that we can incite people to crusade against unbelievers and make them go exactly where we want them to go and disregard the effects these people have on those who do not believe in what they believe in

Quote:Science is only interested in probablistic accuracy of its truth, the "inner conversation of the sandbox."

And that is all we really need to make all sorts of wonderful things like cars and buildings and computers, even to leave the house in the morning to go to church without fear that there is a chance, however small, that one may be hit by a bus

Quote:Science is the abdication of responsibility and a love affair with victimhood. Science makes us all the victims of the universe. The universe works the way it does, science says, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Well, nothing that is except attempt to understand and control it. Have you forgotten that just a little while ago you said that science attempts to control nature. How can we control nature AND be its victim?

Quote:Prayer to God won't change the way it works, working together with others won't change the way it works, and surrender to the guidance of the Holy Spirit won't change the way it works.

We don't know if that stuff will work, but we are not ready to rule it out just yet. I am still trying to disprove the hypothesis that prayer to gos won't change things, but i have not yet disproven it.

Quote:You are a victim of the universe and your only hope is to understand how it works so you can learn to control events in your life in harmony with these universal laws. Your job is to know the laws, not to make them or break them or bend them. You are the victim of these laws, not the one responsbible for creating them in the first place. This is the message of science: you are the victim of the universe and you had better stay in your place. Your only hope is to know the rules.

Funny, that sounds just like the bible.

Quote:In order to know the rules, you must trust science to tell you the rules.

No, we OBSERVE how things work, and FIGURE OUT the rules. Its like reverse engineering reality..

Quote:It negates responsbility for creation. It says that you cannot create or re-create the way the universe works but only adapt to it based on certain knowledge.

So how is this not the way it is? Or can you create a universe?

Quote:Science will provide such knowledge and it is all that you need to know in this life.

Oh really. I didn't know that any knowledge of the universe what-so-ever was required for living on this planet. Nobody told me any of that stuff..I had to figure it out for myself..through observation..(or indirect observation as it were)

Quote:Science continually adapts itself, correcting errors of past "knowledge" so that is it constantly the "best thing going" in the Truth department.

Yes..Elegant isn't it? I remind you that it is these 'truths' that science gives us that gets us through the day-to-day

Quote:That's the assertion and anyone making another assertion is branded an "infidel." That's the mind game of science, the one which produces mental domination and surrender to victimhood. Science preaches "you are the victim" and "there is no hope."

That is not science you are describing, its religion. Here is a question for you: If Religion is something that you have to believe in, have faith in if you will, that why does anybody try to convert anyone else to another religion? If they succeed, doesn't that automatically make the person who was converted into a hypocrite? How can you believe one thing, and than switch beliefs? When you believe something, you know it is the truth. So how can something that you know to be the truth all of a sudden become not-truth?

Quote:Science is a myth. The first myth of science is that it is NOT a myth. Ofcourse it is.

You have yet to offer any support whatsoever for that assertion

Quote:It asserts that the sandbox is all of reality, that what happens in the sand box is representative of what happens everywhere.

And what is honestly wrong with that? All science is doing is setting an arbitrary boundary. The sandbox could be as large or as small as we want it to be, and yet the scientific method still works just as well.

Quote: It asserts that the truth is knowable and that there is an "ideal method" of knowing it.

It asserts that we can know alot, but not everything. And nobody ever said that the scientific method is the only way to do that, but it works for most people. Really, its your choice though.

Quote:It asserts that the truth is consistent, that what happens once will happen exactly the same way in a future time and place.

Not exactly, but similarly enough given a set of circumstances that are roughly the same. Similarly enough to build buildings and automobiles and computers that work

Quote:It asserts that events in our lives can be controlled once we have "sufficient knowledge" to reliably predict outcomes.

controlled as much as possible. everybody knows that nothing is 100% predictable or controllable. Especially scientists

Quote:All of these assertions are unprovable by their very nature therefore they are the substance of the myth of science. How is this for a mindbender: You yourself are asserting something to be true which you cannot prove. The moral of the story: nothing can be proven.

Quote:Science dodges responsibility for its creations. Do scientists run for public office? Do they preach the gospel of individual and social responsibility for our actions? Do they acknowledge that their "truths" are "best guesses" and not certainties? Do they assert that relative "operational truth" is more important than "absolute truth?" Do they discount faith in reality outside the sandbox of science?

Most of the good ones do...all except running for public office that is. What you are doing is damning an entire group of individuals for the actions of a few. The ones who use science irresponsibly, that are in it for the money, that accept no respoonsibility..they are not scientistss any more than the priests who have sex with little boys or the inquisitors of the spanish inquisition are representative of the word of God. Think about that.

Quote:Science preaches victimhood and practices mental domination by asserting that anyone who disagrees with science must use the processes of science to make their case.

And anyone who disagrees with the properties of the orange, must use the properties of the orange, and not the apple, to make his case.

Quote:This is prejudicial by it's very nature. It is akin to telling an Atheist that he must convince a Christian of Atheism using the Bible as his only resource. Of course he will fail; the task is an absurd endeavor from the outset.

Ooh... I have a better one..Its like a telling a religionist that he must convince a scientist that God exists by using the bible as his only resource...

Quote:Science should look at itself honestly, and keep a public accounting of all of its errors, making these errors the "showcase of scientific superiority." This will serve to humble science,

it does. its called peer review and replicability. Any scientist can publich the results of his experiments and any other scientist is free to try to replicate them. if they can't, they are usually exposed as wrong, and modify their theory. sometimes, if it is an obvious hoax, it can be quite humorous and widespread. go to crank.net for some examples of this sort of thing.

Quote:because ultimately it is the spirit of life itself which drives the hubris we can call "the ignorance of certainty" and produces zealots in many flavors.

Amen to that brother.

Quote:Life is a mystery and it shall remain one, despite the mind games played by scientific zealots, religious zealots, or any other kind of dogmatic assertions made by man. If you think you know the truth, think again. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Wonder itself is the gift of genius. I wonder ...

But i hope you agree that there is no reason for every single aspect of the universe to remail a mystery. that is why we have science AND religion..to make the world a better place

Quote:It's a big playground. Come out of the sandbox and play with me.

There is no 'out of the sandbox' ;)

Quote:Blessings!

Peace!

"But then, why should you listen to me? For I know nothing..."
[ Parent ]

Taking Children Seriously (5.00 / 1) (#285)
by machcu on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:37:01 PM EST

You wrote:

For everything else we are using the other tools that the creator gave us. And make no mistake. The scientific method was not made by some 50 year old white man back in the day. We are born with it. Oh yes. If you don't believe me, watch a child sometime..they use it from the beginning.
This statement makes me think you'd be interested in the Taking Children Seriously philosophy. It has its roots in Popperian critical rationalism and it treats children as rational, intelligent creatures that should be respected and supported as autonomous individuals. Much of its philosophy can be applied to all human relationships.

Consent. It's not just for adults anymore.



David Schneider-Joseph
Director and Webmaster, Americans for a Society Free from Age Restrictions
Chief, Tewata

[ Parent ]
No Axioms? (none / 0) (#494)
by Curieus on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 05:45:41 AM EST

There is NO dogma in science. Anything can be disproven.

And yet you say:

Remember, there is no 'outside of the sandbox'.

This is one heck of an AXIOMA..... /P.

[ Parent ]

Cargo Cult Science (5.00 / 1) (#329)
by cooldev on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:09:03 AM EST

I couldn't force myself to read all the way to the end of your post, but one interesting article that addresses some of the things brought up is:

Cargo Cult Science by Feynman.



[ Parent ]
Excuse me - Re: israel (2.00 / 13) (#152)
by karjala on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:30:01 PM EST

For example, why is Israel, an open, democratic, Western society, wildly successful in comparison to its Islamic neighbors?

I beg your pardon.

Compared to the neighbors, we are. (1.00 / 2) (#201)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:34:53 PM EST

..For we are the nicest of the damned.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
I suppose that just about (none / 0) (#359)
by ragnarok on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:39:13 AM EST

wraps that issue up.


"And it came to healed until all the gift and pow, I, the Lord, to divide; wherefore behold, all yea, I was left alone....", Joseph Smith's evil twin sister's prophecies
[ Parent ]

Why we misjudge the Muslims (3.00 / 3) (#158)
by Hal9001 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:50:27 PM EST

Considering the things that Western Civilization has done to the Muslim world (the Crusades, giving away Muslim land that really isn't ours to give, etc.), is it any surprise that they hate us?
For example, why is Israel, an open, democratic, Western society, wildly successful in comparison to its Islamic neighbors? It is, as this article suggests, due to the superiority of Western culture and values?
Care to back up any of these assertions?
And why is there such condemnation from Muslims in the Middle East over Isreali actions in the Palestinians territories, but when Saddam slaughters hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Shiites, or when Syria's Hafez Assad butchered 20,000 Muslims, no one seemed to bat an eye in the Muslim world. Could it be because, as Victor Hanson suggests, the despotic rulers like the House of Saud are simply focusing the anger of their citizens on anything besides their corruption?
Is this really different from what happens in the Western world? We just call it war and say that it's justified on some political or economic basis (or more often, we hide the politics and economics behind a thin veil of "human rights" or "international law").

are you serious? (2.00 / 1) (#165)
by klamath on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:06:26 PM EST

Considering the things that Western Civilization has done to the Muslim world (the Crusades, giving away Muslim land that really isn't ours to give, etc.),
The Crusades? Do you honestly believe that? It happened before "Western civilization", as such, existed. The people and governments responsible for it have long since been deposed. This is absurd.

As for giving away "Muslim land", what are you referring to? The creation of Israel? AFAIK, that was owned by Britain. No one had any problems when the British owned it -- it was just when they gave it to the Jews that the problems started. Therefore, the issue here is not the ownership of "Muslim land" (it's not "Muslim" to begin with), but the anti-Semitism that is rampant among Muslims.

Care to back up any of these assertions?
It should be fairly obvious that Israel is more prosperous than its neighbors. The important question is: why?

[ Parent ]
There were problems when the British owned it... (3.00 / 1) (#167)
by bob6 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:28:37 PM EST

No one had any problems when the British owned it -- it was just when they gave it to the Jews that the problems started.
... like there were problems in any colony of any colonial power.
There were discussions amongst Jewish authorities and victorious countries about where should Israel be created. Land candidates included Palestine and, believe it or not, Madagascar.
At this point, the Great Britain manoevered to avoid their loss of Palestine : they promised independance to Palestinians. That's when problems began in Palestine/Israel.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
British colonial blunders (none / 0) (#332)
by Hal9001 on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:52:09 AM EST

The creation of Israel? AFAIK, that was owned by Britain.
To say that Britain owned Palestine is rather presumptuous. Last I checked, the British were not native to the Middle East...
It should be fairly obvious that Israel is more prosperous than its neighbors. The important question is: why?
Uh, because the U.S. gives them all kinds of aid to "defend" themselves from the "evil" Arabs?

IMHO, Israel and India/Pakistan are two former colonies whose independence Britain handled badly, plunging the inhabitants of both regions into a vicious cycle of hatred and violence.

[ Parent ]

british colonies (none / 0) (#468)
by klamath on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:36:58 PM EST

To say that Britain owned Palestine is rather presumptuous. Last I checked, the British were not native to the Middle East...
Last I checked, neither were the Palestinians, Irakis, Iranians, etc. The concept of being a "native" is meaningless.
Uh, because the U.S. gives them all kinds of aid to "defend" themselves from the "evil" Arabs?
That may well be (although I disagree); the point I was trying to make is that the original poster denied even the very fact that Israel is more prosperous than its neighbors, which is absurd.
IMHO, Israel and India/Pakistan are two former colonies whose independence Britain handled badly, plunging the inhabitants of both regions into a vicious cycle of hatred and violence.
Israel wasn't a colony, AFAIK; comparisons between the two are a stretch.

But even so, would you hold Britain responsible for the current situation in the Middle East? In what way did Britain handle the "independance" of Israel badly?

Many of the other colonies of the British Empire -- i.e. many parts of the world -- haven't devolved into the kind of situation that exists today in Israel and Pakistan. Why were Britain's other colonies able to prosper, while these two ran into problems?

[ Parent ]

Israel's "prosperity" (none / 0) (#474)
by Hal9001 on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:36:25 PM EST

the point I was trying to make is that the original poster denied even the very fact that Israel is more prosperous than its neighbors, which is absurd.
The original poster--me--was just trying to point out that the k5 article that started this whole mess asserted that Israel was "open", "democratic", and "wildly successful" without substantiating any of those claims. Thus far in this thread, no such evidence has been presented, either.

In general, I would agree that Israel is more prosperous than its neighbors (and qualify that by saying that I'm probably making that judgement based on American metrics of success, which may or may not be better than an alternate set of metrics), but a) I'd rather not see this claim made without supporting evidence (e.g. per capita GNP/GDP, standard of living, live expectancy, etc.), and b) I'm not sure that Israel's success is due to being "open" and "democratic". I would present Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as a counterexample and argue that their wealth is the result of being lucky and having a lot of petroleum within their territories.

[ Parent ]

Israel and its neighbors (none / 0) (#480)
by klamath on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:25:47 PM EST

the k5 article that started this whole mess asserted that Israel was "open", "democratic", and "wildly successful" without substantiating any of those claims
Are you denying that Israel is democratic? I think the reason this (and other) claims weren't "substantiated" is that most people take them for granted.
I'm not sure that Israel's success is due to being "open" and "democratic". I would present Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as a counterexample and argue that their wealth is the result of being lucky and having a lot of petroleum within their territories.
And yet, the GDP per capita in Israel is substantially higher than these two (e.g. double Saudi Arabia's) despite not having access to their enormous supplies of oil. And consider a country like Iran -- despite their access to oil, their GDP per capita is less than one third of Israel's. So while clearly natural resources are a factor in a country's economic prosperity, it is only one of many factors. In fact, if we compare the relative success of Israel to the woeful failure of Iran, it seems that natural resources play a fairly small role in a country's overall prosperity.

[ Parent ]
Finally, some evidence :-) (none / 0) (#484)
by Hal9001 on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 12:30:08 AM EST

Are you denying that Israel is democratic? I think the reason this (and other) claims weren't "substantiated" is that most people take them for granted.
OK, so I'm being deliberately obstinate and iconoclastic, but I think we consider too many things to be obvious and take them for granted, and I just think that every now and then we should substantiate those beliefs.
And yet, the GDP per capita in Israel is substantially higher than these two (e.g. double Saudi Arabia's) despite not having access to their enormous supplies of oil. And consider a country like Iran -- despite their access to oil, their GDP per capita is less than one third of Israel's. So while clearly natural resources are a factor in a country's economic prosperity, it is only one of many factors. In fact, if we compare the relative success of Israel to the woeful failure of Iran, it seems that natural resources play a fairly small role in a country's overall prosperity.
I will take your numbers at face value, but they don't necessarily correlate with anything. It may be that Israel's "open" and "democratic" society contributes to Israel's success and prosperity, but I imagine the U.S. has also been a large external and artificial force affecting Israel's economic development.

[ Parent ]
Uh, not exactly... (none / 0) (#520)
by wrffr on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 08:51:31 PM EST

Uh, because the U.S. gives them all kinds of aid to "defend" themselves from the "evil" Arabs?
The Israelis had no US aid during the Israeli independence war of 1948. Even then, they managed to beat the crap out of the Lebonese, Syrians, Jordanians, Egyptians, and Saudis.

[ Parent ]
Such bombast. (1.00 / 1) (#195)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:02:18 PM EST

I challenge you to find a Western military action that even approaches the horror of what Hafez al Assad did in Hama. The parallel you're drawing is tantamount to equating a neo-nazi to someone who admits that he detests gefilte fish.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
how about... (3.00 / 2) (#197)
by mujo on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:06:57 PM EST

...Nagasaki and Hiroshima???

[ Parent ]
Well.. (1.00 / 1) (#200)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:34:11 PM EST

Neither city was under surrounded by soldiers with orders to shoot any civilian who tried to leave.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Would you... (2.50 / 2) (#207)
by bob6 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:48:17 PM EST

...surround a city you are about to nuke with your own soldiers. I guess not.
Assad's deed in Hama is sure a loathe but in terms of brutality, of aggressivity and of ruthlessness, no one beats Europe and USA. We will be known in history as the ones who destroyed several entire civilisations.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
Sigh. (1.00 / 1) (#220)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:16:53 PM EST

Assad DID surround his own city with his soldiers to make sure nobody would escape alive. The US has not done any such thing.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Oh please! (4.00 / 2) (#227)
by mujo on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:38:50 PM EST

How would putting soldiers around those 2 cities make the bombing more of an attrocity?

I mean, come on! How are u going to run from a nuclear bomb thats been dropped on your city?!?!?

My point is that war is horrible and arabs countries arent more horrible in war than the US or any other state is.

[ Parent ]
Is this the right line of inquiry? (2.00 / 2) (#249)
by jolly st nick on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:54:41 PM EST

Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a problematic example. About 100,000 people were killed, however, this is about a quarter of the total casualties the army estimated in a land invasion of Kyushu, based on the experiences of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Arguably, this was the lesser of two atrocities, so it is a complicated comparison.

A better examplewestern culture gave us the Holocaust. Remember, we are comparing western civilization with muslim civilization, not democracies to dictatorships per se. The question is whether muslim civilization is sufficiently "advanced" to be democratic.

The bottom line is that people of all cultural stripes commit atrocities. You cannot assert an absolute moral superiority of one culture to another on such examples.



[ Parent ]

more examples (4.00 / 1) (#345)
by StrontiumDog on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:24:59 AM EST

speaking of Western atrocities, how about the murder of six million Jews in concentration camps? (No typical Western bullshit about how the crimes of Nazi Germany, imperial Japan, fascist Spain and fascist Italy don't count, either; as long as we are bashing Arab dictatorships we might as well get busy with the not inconsiderable number of appallingly inhumane Western dictatorships of the last century).

The firebombing of Dresden?

The slaughter of gypsies and homosexuals in Europe?

The use of napalm and Agent Orange on civilian territories in Vietnam and Cambodia?

The nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

As for evil, inhuman philosophies which put the supposed bloodthirstiness of Islam to shame, here's one for you: Mutually Assured Destruction. A.k.a when the West unilaterally decided the rest of the world was better off dead than Red. Thanks for asking us, folks.

[ Parent ]

Crusades... (2.00 / 1) (#231)
by Mzilikazi on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:56:49 PM EST

Ah yes, the Crusades... Evil Western Christians trying to take over the Middle East. Of course, for several hundred years *after* the Crusades, the Ottoman Empire was waging its own war of conquest across the Middle East, into Central Asia, North Africa, and even Europe (Greece, the Balkans, Austria). This went on well into the 19th century, and they weren't completely defeated until after WWI.
Background on the Ottoman Empire


[ Parent ]
Political Correctness (4.33 / 9) (#168)
by mech9t8 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:35:51 PM EST

Funny how everyone's pouncing on this article like it's an attack on all Arabs and on Islam. It is not. It is an attack on corrupt governments, using cultural and religious differences as excuses for doing corrupt dictatorial actions. Here are summaries his main points:
- Middle Eastern countries aren't democracies; even in those states that claim to have democracy, it is a smokescreen for a dictator.
Any arguments here? Or do people really think that representative government is *not* clearly superior to dictators?
- Democracy is feared in Middle Eastern nations because it is feared that the people will elect hardline religious Imans that will simply go and dismantle the whole democratic system in the name of religion, and simply become dictators again. The roots of democracy - egalitarianism, economic opportunity, religious tolerance and constant self-criticism - are not embedded in the culture, so there is no way for democracy to flourish.
If people's educations is unduly influenced by religion, they will elect religious leaders. That is wrong. That is not a criticism of religion, but of people: History has shown, time and time again, that human religious leaders are fallible and imperfect, that they will work for their benefit. They simply become dictators, accountable to no one. If someone is ruling you By Divine Right, you can't kick him out of office in the next election. To have effective government, you need education, and the ability to speak your mind, to depose leaders which have become corrupt.

Are people arguing that free speech and education aren't superior? That religious leadership hasn't been proven a bad idea?

- The nations acknowledge they are backwards compared to the West, but blame the West rather than their lack of real markets and a free society for their poor conditions.
The respective influence of each element could be debated; but it is undeniable that the West is not solely to blame. History is increasingly showing that those that embrace Western economic ideas are more successful, and that embracing Western economic ideas and societal ideals are linked.
- Western culture has led to indisputable military superiority. That does not, of course, stop the Middle Eastern leaders from making empty threats.
This is not a moral argument. It's basically a practical argument, letting these countries know that unless they embrace Western values, they will remain militarily inferior to the West.
- Middle Eastern media is not free, although it tries to give the appearance of being so. Thus, their people on get one side of the story.
Are there many examples of widespread debate on Middle Eastern TV stations? TV stations that present the Western point of view, that look skepically on their own government and religous leaders? That dare suggest that those are the primary cause of their problems, not Israel and the West? I've seen coverage of their anti-Israel and anti-West rants; I'd be glad to see evidence of anti-current-government rants.
- The Middle Eastern hate of Israel is caused largely envy of the fact that Israel is more successful in every way than the other Middle East states. While the repression of the Palestinians is a factor, it is a minor one - shown by, for example, the murder of Muslims in Algeria, Iraq, and Chechnya causing negligable pan-Arab rage. If Israel didn't exist, the Middle Eastern nations would just find something else to vent their rage and frustration at.
This one's pointless to debate, because no one's ever going to admit that that was the real reason. However, where was the rage of the Arab world over Bosnia? Kosovo? Are there rants on Arab TV stations about the civil war in Kosovo? Again, I'd be glad to see that.
- Foreign relations: The US gives more aid, in total, to Muslim nations than to Israel. The US restrains the Israeli military from going out a whipping some asses. The Arab nations try to play both sides, enjoying Western money, culture and technology, but supporting the terrorists enough to keep them friendly as well.
This is another whole debate in itself. However, I think there's enough evidence that the US is working for actual peace, rather than one-sided support for Israel.
- People would rather move from the Middle East to the West than vice-versa. Middle Easterners that rage against the West would really like to move there.
Anyone really going to argue this? There are millions of Arab immigrants through the Western world.

This is not an article against the Arabic people, it's a condemnation of most Arabic societies, which are being perpetuated by corrupt governments that are afraid of losing their control of the populace. When given a chance, in a free society, Arab immigrants thrive. It's got nothing to do with race.

This is not an article against Islam, for the most part. It's probably a statement against Islamist governments, against a lack of separate between church and state. The West used to have a church stronger than the government; eventually, we realized it's not a good idea. We got rid of the Devine Right of Kings centuries ago.

If we got rid of the religous aspect, this would be an open-and-shut case: Dictators maintaining their power, using the media to blame everyone else for their problems, suppressing free speech, supporting terrorism. Using Islam as a smokescreen to hide these flaws is just plain wrong.

--
IMHO

Dictators (4.00 / 1) (#171)
by hardburn on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:43:37 PM EST

Or do people really think that representative government is *not* clearly superior to dictators?

Many believe that a benevolent dictatorship would be the most perfect form a government. The problem is getting the "benevolent" part when humans are involved.

So no, a representiative democracy is not clearly superior to a dictatorship, it just tends to work that way in practice.


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


[ Parent ]
Dictatorship vs Republic (3.00 / 1) (#248)
by Cro Magnon on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:54:09 PM EST

A benevolent dictatorship is not possible to maintain. You may luck out with one leader, but it's only a matter of time before you get a bad one, and then you're SOL. With a representative REPUBLIC, you probably won't get too many great leaders, but you won't get a really terrible one either.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Oh yes you could... (4.00 / 2) (#369)
by elgardo on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:19:06 AM EST

With a representative REPUBLIC, you probably won't get too many great leaders, but you won't get a really terrible one either.

Between WWI and WWII. Germany. A guy named "Adolf Hitler" - heard of him? They said "Well, he'll just prove himself stupid and incapable of doing anything, and by the end of the term, he's out of the government." Only problem was, he changed some laws and went to war.

I still wonder how Dubbya made it to the White House. I mean, as long as there was no UN-observed revote in Florida (and a whole bunch of other states, apparently), I won't count on him really being voted in.

However, now that Dubbya is in the office, many of his actions are scaringly close to Adolf: Meetings behind closed doors, changing laws, removing civil liberties and holding bold nationalistic speaches.

"You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists" The world is not black and white. It's a way of reducing dissent, reducing self criticism. Suddenly it was "Anti-American" to have a differing political opinion.

Just happens to be that being allowed to have a differing opinion was a democratic right, a necessity for democracy to work. So if the fundamentals of democracy is "Anti-American", then being "Pro-American" would be Anti-Democratic, no?

This means that a lot of what Dubbya is saying and doing is anti-democratic. Well, the population is taking it peacefully and without a fight, so I suppose the culture is not capable of handling a democracy?

[ Parent ]

I stand corrected (none / 0) (#413)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:31:17 PM EST

However, the critical difference between WW2 Germany and the U.S. is the Constitution. Ravings aside, there's still a lot of laws restricting what the President can do. There is a danger that apathetic people in and out of government will let him go too far, but the very fact that we're posting such statements openly shows how much better we still are than the true dictatorships. BTW, while the election was a fiasco, Bush had as good, or better claim of winning than Gore.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Too much power? (none / 0) (#499)
by elgardo on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 07:23:39 AM EST

Dubbya granted himself the right to put anyone he wishes in a trial behind closed doors, where the transcript of said trial will be kept secret for decades for "national security purposes". The person being "tried" will not have access to legal counsil, and will not be allowed to defend himself against allegations made against him. The possible outcome of such a trial might be life imprisonment or death.

This leaves a lot of power in the hands of one person. In effect, he could throw people into mock trials and then have them executed as "terrorists", and nobody would know. Then take into consideration that he has claimed that "you're either with us, or you're with the terrorists". In other words, if you don't agree with everything Dubbya says/does, in theory you are a terrorist, and is therefore eligible to be thrown into said mock trial and be put to death.

We have yet to see this power being used, but we are likely NOT to hear about it, since everything is being done behind closed doors. There will only be stories about people disappearing, as several thousands of people already have (though it was later leaked that the INS were sitting on them, in undisclosed locations). In other words, we have no guarantee that this isn't already happening, because these are things that can't easily be proven once it starts.

[ Parent ]

The Pot and the Kettle (2.50 / 2) (#244)
by codejack on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:36:32 PM EST

Middle Eastern countries aren't democracies; even in those states that claim to have democracy, it is a smokescreen for a dictator.

in other words, they're just following our example, right? :P


Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
Oh yeah? (none / 0) (#419)
by Khedak on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:58:31 PM EST

If we got rid of the religous aspect, this would be an open-and-shut case: Dictators maintaining their power, using the media to blame everyone else for their problems, suppressing free speech, supporting terrorism. Using Islam as a smokescreen to hide these flaws is just plain wrong.

If we got rid of the democratic aspect, this would be an open-and-shut case: Corrupt politicians maintaining their power, using the media to blame everyone else for their problems, restricting freedoms in the name of security, supporting coercive diplomacy, and committing adultery with interns.

[ Parent ]
This article values other parts of the world ... (3.42 / 7) (#169)
by joegee on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:36:07 PM EST

... based on Western standards? Although I live in the West, and would certainly choose to live in the West, there are those in the world who choose lifestyles that reject Western values.

It never ceases to amuse me how quickly we jump all over the US' brand of cultural imperialism, but we all seem to be blind to Western cultural imperialism. I will concede that the views of the greater free world are probably more kind to the human condition than those of the United States, and yet if you scratch the surface there's bias there too.

France has their vision of how an equitable society in the Middle East should function. So does Germany. So do Russia and Great Britain. What makes any externally-imposed system morally "superior" to one created by a native populace?

We have all of these lofty sentiments we like to throw around when we deign to address the issues of the "less fortunate" masses: women's rights, freedom of speech, free elections, freedom of religion, improved living conditions, but basically what we want them to do is respect women our way, say things we want them to say, vote for the candidates who support our country, worship a religion we understand, and buy our products.

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
based on Western standards. So what? (3.50 / 2) (#185)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:37:22 PM EST

What makes any externally-imposed system morally "superior" to one created by a native populace? The abolition of slavery, is one example. Or how about this: when the French imposed equality between Muslims and Jews in Algeria, does that make the French-imposed system superior? It does in my book. Dare to judge, brother. It's good for the blood circulation.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
The French In Algeria (5.00 / 3) (#251)
by the trinidad kid on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:56:49 PM EST

After the French conquest of Algeria the French split Algerian Arab and Berber society by giving Jewish Arabs (around 10% of the population I believe) citizenship which was denied to the Muslim Arabs for the rest of the duration of French colonial rule (which ended with the death of a million Algerians). French citizenship was also offered to any other Europeans who wanted to emigrate to Algeria - mostly Italians but also some Spaniards and Portugese.

The same trick was applied in a number of different areas - the Balfour Declaration was to to create 'Israelis' out of Arab Jews in Palestine and encourage European immigration (of people who happened to be Jews) to the region.

The French tried the same tricks again in Syria - creating first the diverse country of Lebanon out of the (fairly solidly Christian) province of Mount Lebanon - and then trying (and failing) the same trick twice more in the 1920s with the Alawites and the Druze.

The Alawites are a theologically) extreme Ishmaeli Shia sect. A lot of Sunnis regard all Shias as heretics and the Alwaties as total Aliolators. The Druze have approximatly the same relationship to Ismaeli Shia Muslims as Christians have to Jews - ie a successor monotheistic religion.

The Alawites remain the military caste in Syria (Assad is an Alawite) and the Druze in Israel have split from their Arab Christian and Arab Muslim brethern (at least in part).

The seperation of the Jewish Arabs from their brethern is so complete that it is impossible almost to remember a time when it wasn't the case - but it stems from the priveliging of 'the Jew' over 'the Muslim' or 'the Christian'. This is not some particular attibute of the Arab world - the same effect has been caused throughout the world where nationalism 'modernises' society. Western colonial powers just happened to use it to consolidate their control of the Arab world.

Much of this story is obscured by the monstrous intrusion of the Nazis into the story and the projection of 1933-1945 backwards onto the history the region and forward onto the politics.

[ Parent ]
I'm speaking of a specific detail. (1.00 / 1) (#253)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:04:52 PM EST

Yes, the French did much more than that. BTW, if you call an "Arab Jew" an "Arab Jew" to his face, you will likely wind up eating a knuckle sandwich.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Which Detail? (none / 0) (#375)
by the trinidad kid on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:42:06 AM EST

To which detail of French treatment of Algerian Jews were you refering?

With regard to 'Arab Jews' - you are completely right - the day of Arab Jews is long over. But before the French in Algeria, before 1917, before 1948 there were significant Arabic-speaking Jewish populations in the Middle East who regarded themselves as Arabs of the Jewish faith.

There are also large numbers of 'Israeli Arabs' who would react likewise because they regard themselves as Palestinians.

My rule on calling people names is use the name they would like you to use - but the names people use for themselves changes. A single 90 year old Palestinian may have regarded himself as a Syrian, a Jordanian and a Palestinian over the course of the last century. A single 90 year old Israeli may have regarded himself as an Arab, a Yemenite and an Israeli over the same time. It is in the discussion of those changes of identity (and only in those) that I use the term 'Arab Jew'.

[ Parent ]
A difference between "rejection" and &qu (2.00 / 1) (#191)
by darthaggie on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:54:46 PM EST

Although I live in the West, and would certainly choose to live in the West, there are those in the world who choose lifestyles that reject Western values.

And that's fine. If that's all there was to it.

But the more radical of the Islamic world wish to shove their values down our throats, at gun point.

And that's not fine.

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

Inverse (1.00 / 1) (#205)
by marx on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:38:16 PM EST

But the more radical of the Islamic world wish to shove their values down our throats, at gun point.

I've always had the impression it's the other way around...

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

if they don't want Western values so much... (3.25 / 4) (#223)
by mech9t8 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:31:05 PM EST

...why do they have Western cars, Western technology, Western medicine? Why do they have Western weapons and Western militaries?

They want to have their cake and eat it to: taking advantage of all the benefits Western society has produced without acknowledging that they were produced *due to* Western culture.

Moreover, after their economies collapse due to their rejection of Western values like personal and economic freedom, instead of blaming their own lousy system, they blame us.

If they could make their system work, hey, go ahead. But there system doesn't work. Is the West entirely benevolent? Of course not. We're human. But if they had a viable system, they'd be able to succeed economically, culturally, and militarily despite Western interference.

--
IMHO
[ Parent ]

Worth discussing (4.96 / 33) (#177)
by jolly st nick on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:00:31 PM EST

There are some nuggets of truth here (as there is in any good polemic), but I think it should mainly be discussed for its defects. It is representative of a kind of pseudo-intellectual jingoism that is either commonly overt or close to the surface post 9/11.

Just a few points.

(1) Historical Triumphalism and Selective Memory
The author views us as the pinnacle of history. The fact is that throughout most of history, you'd be better of living in a muslim country than a European one. He also ignores the degree to which our very connection with our classical routes is dependent upon the muslim world and its role in preserving classical knowledge. The fact is that our cultures are historically intertwined.

His historical examples are selective. History just as obligingly provides counterexamples. For example, the Greeks were largely democratic and they did defeat the Persians, but what should we make of the conquest of democratic Greece by Imperial Rome?

Even his examples don't prove what he says. Greek independence was won due to superior naval tactics at Artemisium, and even that hinged on a lucky bit of intelligence. It didn't follow inevitably from a solid foundation of democractic values (although Persian monarchical arrogance may have played a role) -- it is more accurate to say it hung by a thread.

Greece does provide an important object lesson for today, though. Athenian society was handed a devestating and crippling defeat due to its democratically supported, public mania for imperialism.

(2) Creative Reinterpretation
Europeans, not Ottomans, colonized central and southern Africa, Asia and the Pacific and the Americas--and not merely because of their Atlantic ports or ocean ships but rather because of their longstanding attitudes and traditions about scientific inquiry, secular thought, free markets and individual ingenuity and spontaneity.

European colonialism had little to do with the ideals of democracy and scientific discovery and everything to do with natioanl prestige, and mercantile econmic theories. The great European colonial powers were by in large not democracies. Colonialism was the opposite of what we think of as modern capitalism: it wasn't about creating value in a free market, it was about using military power to extract value from a weaker people.

Commerce is also deeply embedded in Muslim tradition -- the prophet himself was a trader. Commerce, as well as conquest, brought Islam throughout Africa, South Asia, northern China, as far East as the Java and the Phillipines. You can hardly say that they weren't enterprising.

Much is made of 500 years of Ottoman dominance over a feuding Orthodox, Christian and Protestant West; but the sultans were powerful largely to the degree that they crafted alliances with a distrustful France and the warring Italian city-states, copied the Arsenal at Venice, turned out replicas of Italian and German canon, and moved their capital to European Constantinople.

Ottomans were early adopters of modern artillery. Subsequently, all the European powers including the Ottomans were copying each other's technology, just like they have in every subsequent arms race (e.g. iron ships). Eventually, as they always do, the empire ended up in dotage as its will to expand flagged and its holdings became to extensive. However, attitudes formed about the 19th C Ottomans as the "sick men of Europe" are historically myopic. In the 15th though 18th C they were a terror. And, in the end you can hardly point to a six hundred year era as an imperial power as a sign of cultural backwardness -- it's quite a respectable run as empires go.

(3) Plain Bigotry
Few in the Middle East have a clue about the nature, origins or history of democracy, a word that, along with its family (constitution, freedom and citizen), has no history in the Arab vocabulary, or indeed any philological pedigree in any language other than Greek and Latin and their modern European offspring.

So, arabs can't understand democracy because it isn't in their cultural or linquistic DNA?

Words are tokens, not magical talismans. None of the words he cites mean what they currentl mean to us in their etymological roots. Citizen comes from a latin root meaning city (immediately from an anglo french word meaning resident of a city). "Free" originally mean born to a certain set of fairly class between that of a serf or bondsman an the nobility. The idea that this would be the natural state of the bulk of humanity would seem absurd. Constitution is still not universally accepted to mean a formal document or charter granted to a government by the people. In its original sense it mean the traditional form of government (the king has certian powers, the lords, others, the commons yet others). This is a distinctly more limited sense than how we use this word today.

Other languages have this kind of linguistic flexibility too. In Mandarin, there is no need to borrow Greek roots for "democracy" -- the native word "minzhu" ("people rule") works nicely. As in western words which capture democractic values, it has an earlier, more limited meaning: "benevolent ruler" (literally "people's ruler").

(4) Moral Cowardice
Hanson inevitably trots out the two long toothed warhorses of conservative rhetoric: moral equivalency and an obsession with placing blame.

Moral equivalency is a convenient bit of rhetorical confusion. It confounds judging our own actions by the standards we hold others up to with finding ourselves to be equal in every way. We, in fact, are morally equivalent to others in that if something is bad for them to do in a certain circumstance, it's bad for us to do. The bombing of the Taliban can, and should be judged using the same standards of behavior we judge the WTC bombings. This doesn't mean we have to think one is the equal of the other, but it does mean they are part of a continuum rather than entirely distinct things. This means that other people will judge the nearness of the two in ways that disagree with ours. Well that's tough; you can't be universally liked. We just can't take our political ball and go home, we have to engage the rest of the world on this basis, and it has to be one based on respect. A level moral playing field is one aspect of this.

The blame game is another bit of avoidance of responsibility. The fact is, there's plenty of blame to go around. Who was involved with setting up the non-democratic states that the end of colonialism? We were. Who has propped up their corrupt rulers for decades as part of our larger geopolitical games? We did. Who helps keep the Saudis in power so we can enjoy cheap oil? We do. You may argue, and I'd probably agree with you, that many of these policies represent the least of several possible evils. However, you can't say we aren't involved.

If anyone is blameles in this whole mess, it is the hostile, anti-american, radical arab street. After all, they haven't had the benefit of free speech, free press and democracy -- and we have colluded in this even if it may have been for all the best of reasons.

(5) Naivite and emotional infantalism.
The whole tone of this work is one of dudgeon. How dare they not like us! And you see the kind of practical program this childish attitude leads to: Swallow your pride and become more like us!

The confounding of democracy with Western cultural superiority (1) is historically naive and (2) a certain formula for failure in promoting the advancement of democracy throughout the world. You simply cannot wake up one fine day and decide to have a different culture the way you'd decide to have a different breakfast.

For me, it is that the very idea that democracy is not the unique and inevitable result of our cultural roots that is a source of hope. The fact is dictatorship, bigotry, censorship are as much as part of our cultural heritage as democracy, egalitariansim and intellectual freedom. The fact is that our forebears chose a path towards freedom out of many possible, struggled with the conflicting urges of authoritarianism, and selected certain a very few parts from our history in defining a new identity, an identity that was at once a piece with the past but was a free one.

People in other cultures can do the same.



A rejoinder. (4.60 / 10) (#192)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:00:10 PM EST

(1) The fact is that throughout most of history, you'd be better of living in a muslim country than a European one. Not throughout most of history. That started around 900 CE and ended around 1300 CE. Also, it ended because Muslim theologians led by al-Ghazali turned Sunni Islam to a religion more antirational than Jansenist Catholicism. And besides, this is the 21st Century, and not only is one better living in a Western country nowadays (regardless of one's religion), but the reason for that is that Muslims have torn down everything that made their civilization great in the past, and are continuing to do so.

[...]but what should we make of the conquest of democratic Greece by Imperial Rome? Actually, most of the conquest was the work of Republican Rome, not Imperial Rome, and even in the days of the Empire, democratic and republican institutions persevered the whims of the emperor, the farther they were from the capital. Beirut at the time was the Empire's most famous law school. Greek independence was won due to superior naval tactics at Artemisium, and even that hinged on a lucky bit of intelligence. It didn't follow inevitably from a solid foundation of democractic values (although Persian monarchical arrogance may have played a role) -- it is more accurate to say it hung by a thread. It's not just Artemisium. There are plenty of other examples, many of which have to do with Persian soldiers skedaddling for lack of any rational reason to be loyal to their king.

European colonialism had little to do with the ideals of democracy and scientific discovery and everything to do with natioanl prestige, and mercantile econmic theories. Colonialism was enabled by these ideals. Why it was undertaken, however, indeed had more to do with national prestige. Mercantile theory, in the mean time, sprang up in Europe for a reason: intellectual freedom.

(3.) So, arabs can't understand democracy because it isn't in their cultural or linquistic DNA? Bad analogy. They don't understand it because it isn't in the culture nowadays. In 50 years that might be different. But I would not hold my breath, because in Arab culture political power is an asset to be gathered to advance the interests of one's family, rather than a public trust to be given to one deemed worthy of it. This, BTW, is the essential definition of feudalism, and the devolution of every Arab republic into a de facto monarchy shows that it is an accurate observation.




There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Nits with the nits. (4.50 / 4) (#237)
by jolly st nick on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:22:41 PM EST

And besides, this is the 21st Century, and not only is one better living in a Western country nowadays (regardless of one's religion), but the reason for that is that Muslims have torn down everything that made their civilization great in the past, and are continuing to do so.

Your point is well taken. I agree this in now, the twenty-first century I'd rather be here than in Iran. However that's not what I was trying to say. My point is that the author champions a kind of cultural determinism and historical parochialism. That fact is that if you looked muslim civilization vs. Christian civilization with that same kind of attitude in 1200, there is no way you would conclude that the west would become by far the greater source of political, technological and scientific progress. Civilizations wax, and they wane. The descendents of the people who made them up go on to do different things. We don't live or think like Medieval Europeans, nor is it inevitable that muslims should think like medieval arabs -- in fact many don't.

It's not just Artemisium. There are plenty of other examples, many of which have to do with Persian soldiers skedaddling for lack of any rational reason to be loyal to their king.

Oh, I would agree with you there. Absolutely, democracies tend to be slow to go to war but when they do they have the most formidable soldiers -- Thermopylae being just one example. I'd go even further to say the strategy and tactics of the Persians were somewhat deranged by wounded imperial pride. However, this is beside the point.

What I am arguing against here is historical determinisim.

I don't think it was inevitable that Persian tactics should have been flawed as they were or that Greek tactics should have been as good. Furthermore, Greek tactics would not have been as effective had fortune not given them the information they needed to draft their battle plan. And I would disagree with you to this degree: Artemisium was a must win: had the Greeks lost it would have been the end. I would disagree with Hansen in this regard: chance played a significant role in the Greek victory (as certainly did the superior morale of the Greek troops).

Actually, most of the conquest was the work of Republican Rome, not Imperial Rome, and even in the days of the Empire, democratic and republican institutions persevered the whims of the emperor, the farther they were from the capital.

This is a very accurate point. It's great to have a history buff in the discussion. Probably the conquest of Greece by Phillip II of Macedonia may have made my point in a more accurate way.

My point here is that Hansen has a kind of teleological viewpoint of history -- that it is a kind of machine that inevitably produces democracies as its end product. This is a comforting thought, but it smacks of superstition. Let's consider the history of Roman republic. Certainly it did replace a kingdom, but it in turn was suceeded by a dictatorial empire, one which lasted many centuries. This can hardly be taken as support for some kind of historically deterministic tendency toward democracy. Some people like to say that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. If you are a sincere historical determinist, this is merely a slogan.

They don't understand it because it isn't in the culture nowadays

Here, we are, I think, on the same page, but reading it differently. What matters is what is going on in peoples heads right now. What was going on in people's heads a thousand years ago bears on it, but its just one factor.

The question is, is there any point at all in trying to introduce ideas of liberty and equality to the minds of the people in the "muslim world"?

My belief is that if you take Mr. Hansen's viewpoint as gospel, the answer must be no, unless we can get them to abandon their culture wholesale. This is an operation no brain surgeon or psychologist knows how to perform.

However, I think that ideas are capable of making homes for themselves in surprising places. And people are very good at making post hoc explanations for why this is so, that make the results appear as if they were preordained. So be it; let's take advantage of this tendendy.

[ Parent ]

One again, Putting the cart before the horse. (4.00 / 6) (#269)
by Amesha Spentas on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:05:03 PM EST

They don't understand it because it isn't in the culture nowadays. In 50 years that might be different.

Actually they do understand democracy and some could argue that in their own way some are fighting for it.

When 9-11 came around I heard all sorts of nonsense about why Bin-Laden attacked the US. One of the most humorous was that he was attacking democracy. In some peoples minds USA=Democracy and an attack on the US was an attack on Democracy. Mr. Hanson seems to fall neatly into this camp. I have addressed this misconception before. Most Middle Eastern people want Democracy. Unfortunately for them, due to the abundance of exploitable natural resources, other countries will expend great effort in guaranteeing their governments support for the development and exploitation of those resources. Democracies are, even in the best of times, unreliable in guaranteeing accessibility to those resources.

So if you are a western power whose dominance relies upon the availability of another countries export, are you going to assist them in creating a representative government that may decide that your relationship with them is unacceptable, and vote to halt export or reduce the amount exported to your country? Or would you do anything, impose your own leaders, pay bribes, place military bases (Which your puppet government will happily invite into their country, to prevent a popular uprising from either their own military or the general populace.) to prevent such an occurrence.

In fact the only country in the Middle East with any useful amount of oil that contains a Quasi-democracy (Well at least a form of representational government) is Iran. The people there, by popular vote, decided on that form of government. Which is closer to a true representational government then all of the other oil producing countries in the Middle East. How did they achieve this democratic miracle? By removing any influence from the US. Iran paid the price for their independence though. The US helped Iraq immediately launch an attack on Iran after their revolution. The US never had any moral issues in supporting the dictatorship of Iraq.

In 50 years that might be different.

I believe that you will see dramatic democratic advances made in the Middle East shortly after the US widely adopts an alternate energy source or discovers a more easily obtainable (Read, cheaper) source of fossil fuel. Or, if you suddenly see a large number of democratic revolutions in the Middle East it will be followed by greatly increased oil prices.

They don't understand it because in Arab culture political power is an asset to be gathered to advance the interests of one's family, rather than a public trust to be given to one deemed worthy of it.

How is this any worse then in the western culture where political power is an asset to be gathered to advance the interests of one's own self or lobbyists and interest groups? At least the Arab culture has "Family" values".

This, BTW, is the essential definition of feudalism, and the devolution of every Arab republic into a de facto monarchy shows that it is an accurate observation.

It is interesting to note that the CIA has admitted to overthrowing the prime minister of Iran in (1949?) and installing their own monarch. When the feudal government is imposed from an outside source it is known as Colonialism or Imperialism. Also please note the timing of the resurgence of monocracies in the Middle East. I think you will find it occurred shortly after the presence of oil was found in the area.

If you are going to argue cause and effect, please get it in the correct order.

Registered to die for the government at 18, and had to pay postage on the registration form - AnalogBoy
[ Parent ]

Once again, willfull blindness. (3.00 / 5) (#280)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:56:01 PM EST

Actually they do understand democracy and some could argue that in their own way some are fighting for it. First off, "some would argue" for a lot of things. Some would argue that the earth lies on the back of a turtle. That's a poor way to present any argument. Democracy requires the willingness to hand power over peacefully and without a fight. In the Arab world, that just does not happen, for reasons of culture.

Most Middle Eastern people want Democracy. There is a big difference between wanting democracy and understanding it, and what it entails. Unfortunately for them, due to the abundance of exploitable natural resources, other countries will expend great effort in guaranteeing their governments support for the development and exploitation of those resources. Baloney. None of the Arab World's factions argue for the end of oil exploration and export. It is the only reliable source of hard currency coming in. Democracies are, even in the best of times, unreliable in guaranteeing accessibility to those resources. Did Mexico ever stop exporting oil? Did Canada? Western support for tyrants is due to the lack of a non-tyrannic alternative.

They don't understand it because in Arab culture political power is an asset to be gathered to advance the interests of one's family, rather than a public trust to be given to one deemed worthy of it.
How is this any worse then in the western culture where political power is an asset to be gathered to advance the interests of one's own self or lobbyists and interest groups? 1. Difference in degree. Huge difference in degree. 2. Difference in prevalence - not all of America is Chicago. 3. Difference in kind. People can flow into and out of various interest groups. Not so with clan.




There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Not without a fight! (4.20 / 5) (#368)
by elgardo on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:52:23 AM EST

Democracy requires the willingness to hand power over peacefully and without a fight.

You will say that the UK has been a democracy for a long time, yes? And that the US has been a democracy for a very long time also, yes? Even during the time the US was under British rule, there was a form of representative democracy in the US. Just not a whole lot of it - there were still a lot of decisions made in Britain. Was democracy "peacefully and without a fight" transferred to the US? And the fact that there was a fight, was this because the US culture was anti-democratic and thus incapable of handling a democracy?

Or go even further back, let's take the introduction of the Republic of France. Was power transferred to the new government "peacefully and without a fight"? And the fact that there was a fight, was this because the culture in France was incapable of producing a democracy?

Come to think of it, I don't think there is a single democracy that ever came into existance "peacefully, without a fight". There has always been some dictator/fascist/king/whatever that needed some killing.

[ Parent ]

India (3.66 / 3) (#438)
by sacrelicious on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:30:17 PM EST

Come to think of it, I don't think there is a single democracy that ever came into existance "peacefully, without a fight". There has always been some dictator/fascist/king/whatever that needed some killing.

India.
However, I'd probably say that it was "Peacefully, with a fight.

The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice. - Mahatma Gandhi



[ Parent ]

I stand corrected (none / 0) (#500)
by elgardo on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 07:26:14 AM EST

I should have thought of that. I was thinking too Europe-centric... Doh! Bad Gard! Bad Gard!

[ Parent ]
And yours is?... Another kind of blindness? (none / 0) (#528)
by Amesha Spentas on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 04:26:55 PM EST

First off, "some would argue" for a lot of things. Some would argue that the earth lies on the back of a turtle. That's a poor way to present any argument.

The "some would argue" reference is because these are not necessarily my beliefs however several people had made them as a counterpoint to the arguments you and others have made. I have been unable to disprove them so I believe they may be valid points. The way an argument is presented, I believe, is less important than the argument itself.

Democracy requires the willingness to hand power over peacefully and without a fight.

No the "Price of liberty is eternal vigilance"-Thomas Jefferson I'm paraphrasing here but I'm sure you are aware of the quote. People demand representational government when they struggle under an oppressive tyranny. The price for that representational government is the understanding that people in power will always take efforts to consolidate and increase that power. It is the eternal right/mandate to keep that power in the hands of the people. The founding fathers and most people who have studied representational government agree that it is a very rare thing for it to be handed over without a struggle. So rare I believe it has never happened. The point of India is that the British government did fight militarily but the Indian people did not. In the end the British decided that their self-image of bringing decency to the untamed world did not mesh with the steps that were being taken to preserve their colony. (I.E they finally realized that what they were doing was flying in the face of everything they said they were doing and stood for.)

In the Arab world, that just does not happen, for reasons of culture.

No in the whole world, that just does not happen, for reasons of culture.

There is a big difference between wanting democracy and understanding it, and what it entails.

Well technically according to your argument the founding fathers did not understand modern day democracy (I.E. A Parliamentary Republic) since it did not exist before they invented it. I would further argue that most (Perhaps all) of the people who live under a democracy do not understand it. Ask 12 dozen Americans what the difference between a "Right" and a "Law" are and they will get it wrong. This lack of understanding is even more harmful in a democracy due to the ability of people to directly effect their government.

None of the Arab World's factions argue for the end of oil exploration and export. It is the only reliable source of hard currency coming in. Democracies are, even in the best of times, unreliable in guaranteeing accessibility to those resources. Did Mexico ever stop exporting oil? Did Canada? Western support for tyrants is due to the lack of a non-tyrannic alternative.

You either just do not understand my point or are purposely trying to misunderstand. What I was saying is that if you are a superpower whose Achilles heel is your reliance on a resource from another country. You will do everything in your power to make absolutely sure that that resource is not detrimentally effected in any way, whatsoever. It does not matter that the chances of that country halting shipment of that resource is close to nil. The mere reduction (Perhaps from some form of embargo) would have severe consequences to your superpower. America learned just how dependent it was of the Middle East during the embargo in the seventies. Today with the SUV's on the road and our refusal to adopt any meaningful energy conservation tactics or alternate energy sources, we are even more open to slight fluctuations in the oil supply. The CIA has a hard enough time trying to predict what a dictator will do. I'm sure they would not want to have to predict which way several parliaments would vote in one of many referendums that I'm sure would come about from each of those countries having a democracy. Please remember as long as the west only has to bribe a few princes, it costs them only a couple of hundred million dollars. If a democracy were to realize just how much more money they could make just by reducing the amount shipped. A government "For the people, by the people" would surly vote to do just that.

Western support for tyrants is due to the lack of a non-tyrannic alternative.

And you claim that I am suffering from "willful blindness." This is tantamount to white southern farmers claiming, "Well we should keep slavery because those slaves have never lived any other way. And I don't think they would know how to live if we gave them their freedom." Tyranny is the lack of choice, so there is always a "non-tyrannic alternative", several in fact. The only country in the region that was able to escape the "slavery" was Iran. And when they decided on what type of government they wanted (Without US involvement) they decided on a form of democracy. (Well one that was closer to a democracy then any other in the region.)

How is this any worse then in the western culture where political power is an asset to be gathered to advance the interests of one's own self or lobbyists and interest groups? 1. Difference in degree. Huge difference in degree.

In what way? Both are examples of people in positions of power using that power to further their own agendas. Wither that agenda is for ones clan or ones self, it is still abusing that trust of authority.

not all of America is Chicago. I do not understand this reference please elaborate.

3. Difference in kind. People can flow into and out of various interest groups. Not so with clan.

How many politicians do you know who change "interest groups" willy-nilly? I personally know of none. They may vote one way on logging and another way on the budget. But they will always vote the way of the corporations. The only time there is conflict is when two corporations are in conflict. Remember Osama Bin-Ladin broke with his "Clan" and decided to attack the US rather then profiting from the US.

The final point is this, America is a superpower. You do not get to be a superpower without breaking every rule you don't like and dominating the weaker powers. America is the last real remaining superpower. Do you really think we got that way by playing fair? If we did, the best we could hope for is to weld power comparable to that of Canada. Did you also notice that Canada has never been seriously attacked militarily or by terrorism?

Registered to die for the government at 18, and had to pay postage on the registration form - AnalogBoy
[ Parent ]

More Nits with the nits (4.50 / 2) (#393)
by notcarlos on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:41:05 AM EST

From the fall of The Roman Empire (sm), it was better by far to live in the Americas, where disease was nonexistant, stadards of living were better, cultures were learned, and civilizations flourished. This is not to the detriment of the Islamic World (also sm), nor the Chinese, who were also pretty well off except for that whole Mongol thing <eg>.


He will destroy you like an academic ninja.
-- Rating on Rate My Professors.com
[ Parent ]
What are you talking about? (none / 0) (#436)
by elefantstn on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:15:18 PM EST

It seems like you learned everything you needed to know about pre-Columbian America you learned from "Cortez the Killer" by Neil Young.

[ Parent ]
Rome was not an Imperial state from the begining! (none / 0) (#486)
by johwsun on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 03:13:42 AM EST

>His historical examples are selective. History >just as obligingly provides counterexamples. For >example, the Greeks were largely democratic and >they did defeat the Persians, but what should we >make of the conquest of democratic Greece by >Imperial Rome?

I want to remind you that Rome became Imperial after they conquer too many lands. At the beginning they were a variant of Democracy. They turn to Imperial just because they had no computers at this age in order to organize their flow of information and be able to govern all their conquests.

[ Parent ]
Greece was democracy? (none / 0) (#508)
by xxxlucasxxx on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 12:19:59 PM EST

...the Greeks were largely democratic.

Really? I think this is discussing a moot point. The Athenians were the only democrates, the exception, while the rest of Greece was tribal. Sparta was an oligarchy, which I would say is an advanced form of tribalism. It's hard to even call the Athenians deomocratic when they still had slaves. Overall, Greece was not a democracy, not even close. Athens, maybe.

To assume Greece was a democracy is to be selective, to say so is selective. I'm being selective to my point. It's all selective. There is not enough time to be all inclusive.

[ Parent ]
misconceptions (4.18 / 11) (#178)
by codejack on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:15:41 PM EST

first of all, though i am sure this has been posted at least one hundred times, but seemingly needs to be rehashed, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS NOT A DEMOCRACY!

you will find nowhere in the constitution any wording that explicitly states that the U.S. is a democracy, because it's not. we are a republic, a (sort of) representative democracy, but even that is somewhat obscured by such artifacts as the Supreme Court (which can, apparently, overrule the states decision on how they count their votes), the electoral college (which can, though it never has, yet, vote differently than the states, and which has, since the founding of the nation, been altered so they must vote in a block, whereas before they could vote independently, giving a much closer result to the actual votes), election commissions (which can do such mind-numbingly preposterous things as design convoluted voting ballots); the list keeps going. The point is, we are not, and never have been, democratic, egalitarian, or secular (or am i the only one having state vs. religion issues in my home town; here it's the posting of the ten commandments on the courthouse wall). as a matter of fact, the separation of church and state is not explicitly stated in the constitution! it is only mentioned in the declaration of independence, which, however venerable and honored a document, has no bearing on the law.

As for Israel, it is "open, democratic, western" as long as you're jewish; if you happen to be Palestinian, you're a second-class citizen, subject to arrests, searches, interrogations, losing accomodations in hotels, restaurants, and airplanes when an israeli wants your seat/room/table, etc. this is not what i call open, egalitarian, or democratic; you may be right about the Western part, though


Please read before posting.

Lay off the crack (3.66 / 3) (#241)
by Stickerboy on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:30:45 PM EST

as a matter of fact, the separation of church and state is not explicitly stated in the constitution! it is only mentioned in the declaration of independence, which, however venerable and honored a document, has no bearing on the law.

The Federal Court system has ruled countless times that in order to protect freedom of religion (part of that whole 1st Amendment thingamabob, ya know), government cannot assist any one religion above any other religion. That's why you can have government funding of religious groups (see state colleges funding religious campus organizations) as long as you don't limit the funding to any one religion or group of religions.

the electoral college (which can, though it never has, yet, vote differently than the states, and which has, since the founding of the nation, been altered so they must vote in a block, whereas before they could vote independently, giving a much closer result to the actual votes)

And by the way, the States have the power to shift their electoral college votes any which way they like. Hence the strength of the electoral college: giving flexibility to the States on how they want their votes to count. If you're wanting proportional representation in the Presidential elections, write your state legislature, not bitch about the electoral college.

I'm too tired to rant on for pages about your own misconceptions. My suggestion: pick up an college freshman-level government textbook, and read it for your next post.

[ Parent ]
democracy versus republic (3.00 / 2) (#279)
by svillee on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:55:58 PM EST

It is interesting that you say the US is a republic rather than a democracy. Up until a few months ago, I felt the same way.

I recall learning the difference in elementary school: under a democracy, people vote on laws directly, while under a republic, people elect representatives who then vote on laws. I remember thinking that naive foreigners might be confused by the names of our two major political parties. They might think that the democratic party seeks to overthrow the republic and replace it with a democracy, while the republican party seeks to preserve the status quo.

But then a few months ago, I actually looked the words up in a dictionary, and sure enough, what I had been calling a republic was a representative democracy, and what I had been calling a democracy was a direct democracy. So the US could legitimately be called either a republic or a democracy.

Maybe your school teacher and mine read from the same book. Ultimately though, it's just a matter of semantics.

Another one of my pet peeves remains, though: using the word "America" to refer to the US. Strictly speaking, it is the concatenation of North America and South America. I wonder if people from other countries (e.g., Canada or Brazil) find it offensive that "America" refers to the US.

[ Parent ]

America and the US... (none / 0) (#284)
by Canar on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:26:52 PM EST

Another one of my pet peeves remains, though: using the word "America" to refer to the US. Strictly speaking, it is the concatenation of North America and South America. I wonder if people from other countries (e.g., Canada or Brazil) find it offensive that "America" refers to the US.

This is somewhat off-topic, I know, but I saw it and I had to respond. As a Canadian (may their hockey team live forever) I don't find it offensive at all. When I need a continental reference, I preface America with a little word called North, South, or even North and South. Myself, I use America to refer to the US of A rather frequently.

My pet peeve, on the other hand, is the way people call the USA just USA, without the definite article. That gets me going.

And, to be topical, in my opinion, a republic elects representatives to make laws, a democracy forces that task upon its populace.

[ Parent ]

The (none / 0) (#319)
by DodgyGeezer on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:21:16 AM EST

"My pet peeve, on the other hand, is the way people call the USA just USA, without the definite article. That gets me going."

I couldn't agree more. Some people do that with the UK, including my British parents!



[ Parent ]
norteamericano (5.00 / 1) (#287)
by Demiurge on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:08:19 PM EST

In my experience, Mexicans aren't offended at all that Americans are called Americans. The only people who are are ridiculous leftists.

[ Parent ]
Wha? (5.00 / 2) (#331)
by kzin on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:47:05 AM EST

Whatcha talkin' about, Willis?
As for Israel, it is "open, democratic, western" as long as you're jewish; if you happen to be Palestinian, you're a second-class citizen, subject to arrests, searches, interrogations, losing accomodations in hotels, restaurants, and airplanes when an israeli wants your seat/room/table, etc. this is not what i call open, egalitarian, or democratic; you may be right about the Western part, though
Arab-Israelis have the exact same rights as as Jewish-Israelis. The police can't search their houses or arrest them for more than 24 hours without a Judge warrant any more than it can do that to Jewish-Israelis. I've yet to hear about restaurants, hotels or airliners discriminating against non-Jews in such a blatant fashion, but if that happens I'd fully expectd the business in question to lose a hefty sum of money in a civil lawsuit and yet even more in publicity. You can disagree with Israel's foreign policy in Gaza and the West Bank, but that is tangential to the democratic nature of Israel itself.

[ Parent ]
Palestinian vs Israeli (5.00 / 1) (#364)
by elgardo on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:17:54 AM EST

The reference was not to Arab-Israelis, but to Palestinians in Israel. Palestinians belong to the country of Palestine, where Israelis belong to the country of Israel. Two different countries, two different governments, and one big chopped up area.

Some areas of what used to be called Palestine, are under complete Israeli control. Other parts are under Palestinian control, even though Israeli forces like to roll their tanks into these area on a regular basis.

Israel likes to set up road blocks. Palestinians who need to get from one Palestinian area to another Palestinian area to get to work, often find themselves not capable of getting to work because of an Israeli road block.

There's a documentary made by an Isareli journalist who lives in Palestine. I can't remember the name of it, perhaps someone else does? It was sent on Discovery in Europe about a week or two ago.

[ Parent ]
Democracy is a greek word and has a meaning! (5.00 / 1) (#347)
by johwsun on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:46:24 AM EST

You are right!
People use to change the meaning of the words. This is wrong because we cannot communicate eachother.You cannot call an apple orange. So you can not call USA or modern European states democracy.

Democracy has been defined in ancien Athens, and it is when PEOPLE VOTE ABOUT DECISIONS , NOT ABOUT PERSONS.
In ancien Athens, government were not elected but choosed randomly among citizens. The elections were take place if they were about to decide something. For example, they vote to go to italy and fight some other Greeks there. It was not the government that decided this war against greeks in italy. The people did.

[ Parent ]
Forgetting and monotheism (4.57 / 7) (#180)
by RandomPeon on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:23:10 PM EST

The author of this article makes some points that are surely debatable(see rest of thread), but one thing has always struck me as interesting about Christianity and Islam: how do you decide when to "forget" the obsolete parts of a holy book which is taken to be the recieved word of God?

The Bible condones slavery a dozen times. (Exodus 12:44, 21:20-21,32,23:12,Lev 19:20, Eph 6:5-9, Col 3:21-23, and many more) The bible also prohibits lending money at interest - what used to be called "usury". (Ex 22:24-26, Lev 25:36-38, Ner 5:9-11). In the same chapters where homosexuality is condemned, cotton-polyester is also prohibited.

Somehow even fundamentalist Christians have agreed to forget these things. The anti-slavery movement even claimed to be have a biblical mandate! And today not even the most ardent supporter of biblical inerrancy doesn't talk slicker than Bill Clinton when asked about his car loan. I assume that within in a century, the Biblical admonitions of homosexuality will go the same way - we just won't talk about them in Bible classes anymore, and they'll be historical deritus that fundamentalists will view as very annoying to defend.

For reason that I can't understand, a similar tradition has never appeared in the Islamic world. Many Muslims still observe the prohibitions against usury, a real economic downer. Ideas about the role of women are arguably equally outmoded in both books, but almost of of Christendom doesn't care about it. The Islamic world still cares very much, following such dictates to the letter in some cases.

How does this "forgetting" process happen? I think it has been a tremendous asset to the Western world to come to a consensus that we can ignore those portions of holy books which are absolutely counterproductive in the modern world. Is there any hope for this process in the Islamic world?

Monotheism and progress. (5.00 / 1) (#184)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:33:39 PM EST

Both Jews (by way of Maimonides) and Christians (by way of several canon law commentators and theologians) believe the Law handed down in Sinai was tailored to the circumstances of a tribe of barbarians (yes, Maimonides said this of his own ancestors) with the expectation that through the centuries the Law would evolve along with the barbarians becoming civilized. That is why both Judaism and Christianity have reconciled with the legacy of the Greco-Roman pagans, in order to form Western civilization.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Sure, but (none / 0) (#193)
by RandomPeon on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:01:07 PM EST

in far more recent times theological movements have rejected the idea that the Law or the Gospel is capable of evolving or even of interpertation. Fundamentalist Christians, for example, argue that the New Testament (at least) is the irrevocable word of God. While the New Testament seems to have been written as a more portable work - it doesn't dictate dietary or hygenic concerns, for example - it still contains passages that are absolutely incompatible with contemporary Western society. It endorses slavery, prohibits women from holding executive positions, forbids overthrowing governments under all circumstances, and so on. They're more than willing to selectively declare the Old Testaments behavioral rules correct if they like them and declare that Jesus abolished the other ones.

Even in America, hotbed of fundamentalism, religious extremists don't advocate re-legalizing slavery or condemning the American revolution. It seems that the Islamic world hasn't gotten the spirit of interperation yet.

[ Parent ]
What the NT says... (4.00 / 1) (#236)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:20:00 PM EST

it still contains passages that are absolutely incompatible with contemporary Western society. It endorses slavery, prohibits women from holding executive positions, forbids overthrowing governments under all circumstances, and so on

Okay, I addressed the slavery thing in a different post; but this statement is a wider version of the same issue. In each case you take a statement that Paul made about how Christians should interact with pagans (with forgiveness and love) and twisted it into an endorsement of their behaviour.

In particular, not putting women in high positions and avoiding public controversy were both aimed more at how to survive in a hostile environment than an assertion that we should support it.

And, of course, trumping all these things is the fundamental belief that a Christian's response to suffering should be to suck it up, and return hate with love - just the way Christ did. This is certainly at variance with modern western thought; but that is how a Christian is supposed to behave.

For example, if I lived in a country where I was forbidden to shave and my wife was forced to wear a bhurka, I'm pretty sure Paul's comment would have been "Why are you worrying about little things like that?"


--
When using a nigh-omniscient computer to run your evil empire, do not install Windows. Also, be sure to disable the AppleTalk protocol - woul
[ Parent ]

What about OT ? (4.00 / 1) (#292)
by bugmaster on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:33:50 PM EST

Ok, the NT is pretty mild compared to the OT. The OT explicitly endorses -- nay, orders -- genocide, rape and slavery, among other things. So, what happened to that ? Is the OT deprecated ?
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
As I mentioned in the other post (4.00 / 1) (#371)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:24:56 AM EST

The only reason the Christian bible has an OT is for making it easier to convert Jews. Seriously. Back in AD 100, the Xians wanted to be able to say "you know in the book of Daniel, where it says, blah blah blah, well in the book of Matthew Jesus fullfilled that prophecy!

Many of the books included in the Catholic bible (not so much the Protestant bible) are of very dubious origin and theology (Micah comes to mind) but are included strictly because of their prophetic content.

BTW - Did you realize that the Protestants removed several books they didn't like from the original Christian bible? I found that out as a kid when a protestant friend and I realized we had both been given the same "version" of the bible, but mine was thicker and said "complete edition" on the cover we went through it trying to figure out what his parents were trying to hide from him

This is a great thing to know when you run into someone who claims that the bible is inerrant and inalterable (i.e., God watches over the book to prevent it from being altered or abused). Heck, the KJV of the bible was written expressly to steal "market share" from bootleg protestant bibles that had very anti-monarchy content.


--
When using a nigh-omniscient computer to run your evil empire, do not install Windows. Also, be sure to disable the AppleTalk protocol - woul
[ Parent ]

Well different... (4.00 / 1) (#495)
by Curieus on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 06:22:22 AM EST

You are talking about the apocriphal (sp?) books.
The bible may be divided into two sets:
Cannonical books and deutero cannonical books.

The reason for the difference is that at the time the council that decided on this, deemed the now apocriphal books to have some truth but also to have several elements of confusion. They placed these books in a different set with the annotation that they are of "theological lesser value"

The Reformists chose to omit those deutero cannonical books since they felt that some teachings from these books had taken precedence over the teachings in the cannonical books.



[ Parent ]
Which is exactly my point. (5.00 / 1) (#505)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 11:23:35 AM EST

If the bible is perfect and unalterable, how come books had to be removed?


--
Knock Knock.


[ Parent ]
The Bible is a book. (4.50 / 2) (#512)
by Samrobb on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 04:07:09 PM EST

Without going into a lot of background on inspiration, cannonicity, etc. - the basic idea is that God inspired the writings that make up the OT/NT. As such, they are the word of God. Whether or not men recognize them as being inspired writings is an entirely different matter. It is this process of recognition (and mistakes made in that process) that have resulted in various books being added to or removed from the cannon.

There are a number of different criteria that were used when determining cannonicity - authorship, subject matter, harmony with accepted cannonical books and teachings, etc. In the first centuries AD, even some of what today are considered canonical books were disputed. For example, the author of the epistle the the Hebrews is unknown; so one good indicator - apostolic authorship - is missing, even though the book meets other requirements.

Norman Geisler & Nix's A General Introduction to The Bible is an excellent reference if you're interested in this sort of thing. For the record, while Geisler & Nix are devout Christians, this is a scholarly work (extremely so, and quite dry in a lot of places.) Non-Christians who are interested in understanding what Christians believe about the Bible, but who don't want a face full of preaching, would probably be more comfortable with this than most other Christian-authored works on the Bible, assuming you manage to stay awake through the discussion of various ancient manuscript text-types :-/



"Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment." Job 32:9
[ Parent ]
You mentioned slavery, so you must endorse it, too (4.50 / 2) (#255)
by Samrobb on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:05:13 PM EST

It endorses slavery, prohibits women from holding executive positions, forbids overthrowing governments under all circumstances, and so on.

As far as I can tell, all these assertions are based on popular opinion and misinformation, or deliberate misinterpretation and misatribution.

Slavery: The NT authors discussed slavery, since it existed at the time as a social institution - how a Christian slave should behave towards his/her master, and vice versa. We're discussing slavery here; that's hardly an "endorsement" of the institution.

As an aside, take the time to read something about the history of ancient Rome. While slavery in Rome wasn't a walk in the park, it was nothing at all like the inhuman institution of slavery practiced in the American south.

Women: The only NT references I am aware of regarding women "in executive positions" state that a bishop or elder should be a "man of one wife". The NT (and by implication, God) places the responsibility for religious leadership on men. In several of his epistles, Paul commends women for their work in Christ and their effort to spread the good news. There's nothing that prohibits a woman from attaining a position of importance outside the local church; even within the church, as far as I can tell, there is nothing in the NT that prohibits a woman from teaching or preaching the gospel.

I have seen 1 Timothy 2:12 used to argue the opposite: "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." (King James) In context, and in the Greek, I think it's fairly clear that the meaning is that women are not to have authority to decide spiritual or doctrinal questions.

Overthrowing governments: Almost true. Christians are called to submit to earthy authority, because God Himself has placed those people in authority. But consider:

The only circumstance that disobedience to authority is justifiable by scripture, is if it conflicts with the laws of God. Authority should be cooperated with except in those situations where laws depart from the basic moral and righteous principles of God's Word.
-Authority: What Christians Should Know

This is an area I've been meaning to investigate for some time; perhaps I'll dig into it some more. For now, I'll say that my understanding is that so long as an eartly authority does not openly oppose God, Christians are to consider that eartly authority as an appointed representative of God, and act accordingly.



"Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment." Job 32:9
[ Parent ]
Hold on there cowboy (none / 0) (#300)
by Cantara on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:14:08 PM EST

As an aside, take the time to read something about the history of ancient Rome. While slavery in Rome wasn't a walk in the park, it was nothing at all like the inhuman institution of slavery practiced in the American south.

I think that you may want to reconsider your stance on slavery and the Roman Empire.

While there were a few domestic slaves serving urban masters that may have had it relatively (for a slave) easy you should not forget the slaves that toiled in the fields nor the slaves that fought in the gladiatorial games. An excellent, albeit short, reference can be found here and an essay on the economy of slaves can be found here

While both the American south and the Roman Empire both held slavery as a legal institution I think that both held a distinction in the status between domestic and field labor slaves. Both are (in my mind) inarguably evil in that no matter how the slave is treated he/she is utterly without free will.

In the above quote there seems to be an apologists view of Roman slavery compared to American slavery and I find the assertion repugnant. Just as I find the dogmatic assertion that "For now, I'll say that my understanding is that so long as an eartly authority does not openly oppose God, Christians are to consider that eartly authority as an appointed representative of God, and act accordingly." hideously repugnant for the simple reason that as long as the "leader" is doctrinally and dogmatically correct they are beyond reproach as their leadership position has been appointed unto them by an infallible deity.

And who are you to question their edicts?

[ Parent ]
Thank you... (none / 0) (#318)
by Samrobb on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:15:18 AM EST

Interesting references on Roman slavery. I will point out that the Roman attitudes and laws regarding slavery changed over time, and that particularly by the 1st century AD, more humane treatment of slaves was starting to be expected by the populace at large, and codified into law. This is not intended as an apology for the institution - just an attempt to point out that, aside from the gross injustice of being a slave, there are problems with making an exact comparison of the life of a Roman slave in the first century with the life of an plantation slave in America circa 1850 (which is the life that I think most people are inclined to call to mind when the concept of slavery is discussed.)

As for my stance on submission to authority: may I change the wording slightly, and ask you if you find this statement repugnant as well? Not knowing anything of your political views, you might indeed find it offensive:

"For now, I'll say that my understanding is that so long as an earthly authority does not openly oppose the will of the people, citizens are to consider that earthly authority as an appointed representative of the will of the people, and act accordingly."

I believe this expresses the same sentiment, only in terms political (and democratic) rather than theological. Is this attitude really all that different from the workings of a democratic government? If the people of a democratic nation place someone a position of authority, that person is expected to excercise that authority in accordance with the will of the people. If they oppose the will of those who granted them their position of power, then they no longer have the right to excercise their authority. Until such time, though, they do have the right to excercise the authority they have been granted, and every right to expect those that they have been given authority over to respect their position and behave accordingly.

As for your statement:

...as long as the "leader" is doctrinally and dogmatically correct they are beyond reproach as their leadership position has been appointed unto them by an infallible deity.

Well, yes - that is the point. If you belive in an infallible diety, and that diety has placed someone in a position of authority over you, then so long as they, as leaders, are not opposing the will of the one who placed them in authority, they are agents of that power, and are to be obeyed. Whether or not they are "beyond reproach" is, in my mind, an entirely different matter. History (and the Bible) records the lives of many otherwise good, God-fearing men and women who have nevertheless managed to make outrageously incorrect and downright stupid decisions.



"Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment." Job 32:9
[ Parent ]
Proving my point (none / 0) (#334)
by RandomPeon on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:08:37 AM EST

Here begins the dissembling. The original question in my post never gets an answer, but the replies validate the point.

Instead of conceding a problem with the Bible, fundamentalist Christian (and Jews) start hand-waving when presented with radically obsolete social dicates from the Bible or Torah. Unless a pesky non-literalist brings up the very annoying parts of the Bible they are completely forgotten, not to be mentioned if possible.

Why is that Islamic fundamentalists don't behave the same way? The obsfucated explanations we get here are far better than the Islamic world's reponse, which is to just take something written in the 7th century as received truth and refuse to even dissemble it away.

Every now and then one comes across hints of it, like the idea that "jihad" simply means a struggle, and one can have a jihad against a personal adversity, etc. A prominent Egyptian newspaper wrote "Today's jihad lies in the construction of jet aircraft, not in the destruction of them" shortly after 9/11 in a editorial. They got death threats for their revisionism.

[ Parent ]
Not forgetting (5.00 / 1) (#398)
by katie on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 11:18:57 AM EST

Because their religion provides a convenient place to hang their issues on?

It's a nice convenient flag to hide behind?

Or just because it's simple?
You have this book, the book tells you to follow these people over here, they tell you what to do and think.

In the west we don't have that, we question the books and the people and don't have faith in them. And we also have a lot of stress illnesses.

It took a long time for the western/Christian world to get used to this idea that you can ask questions - we're still not completely there - there are still things you can't argue about. "We're not giving homosexuals proper human rights because it would upset the church because their book tells them to get upset about it." But the church doesn't rock the boat that much - someone describe the Church of England as a "teaparty with real estate" and real estate takes looking after...


Islam is a younger religion. It's still in its adolescence - trying to change the world. Maybe we just have to wait until it's a tired middle-aged wage slave who has to earn its way in the world and works out that upsetting everyone isn't the way to do that...?





[ Parent ]
Hmmmm. (none / 0) (#445)
by synaesthesia on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:22:06 PM EST

In context, and in the Greek, I think it's fairly clear that the meaning is that women are not to have authority to decide spiritual or doctrinal questions.

Here's the context I see it in.

1Ti 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

1Ti 2:13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

1Ti 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

1Ti 2:15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

In other words:

  • Women should be subordinate to men because they are made from spare ribs. [Do you really believe this? Are you a creationalist?]
  • Adam knew that what he was doing was wrong before he went ahead and did it, which somehow implies that he is less blameworthy than Eve.
  • If they serve as offspring factories, women stand a chance of being saved - but only if they are successful in dissuading their children from forming their own metaphysical opinions about the world.

Who could ask for anything more?!



Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
Context is not just the surrounding text (3.00 / 1) (#447)
by Samrobb on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:42:27 PM EST

Unfortunately, while you've included the surrounding text, you're still not examining it in the context of the discussion as a whole. Take a look at your above post - I could quote portions of it in order to advance the idea that you are some sort of radical, Bible-thumping misogynist, simply by neglecting to mention the context of the discussion as a whole.

I suggest you examine some of the commentaries available at Blue Letter Bible. In case you're not interested in taking the time to search through the site yourself, you might just want to jump straight to fairly good commentary on 1 Timothy.



"Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment." Job 32:9
[ Parent ]
What about the rest of the bible? (none / 0) (#459)
by synaesthesia on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:23:50 PM EST

Okay, fair enough. Context is not just the surrounding text. But nor does a fair assessment lie in a passage written by someone who has already assumed the consequent. You might want to examine a few commentaries yourself (follow the links). Here's another one which claims that although Christianity is misogynistic, Islam most certainly is not.

You could misquote me, but then, I don't recommend that people live their life by my words, particularly the ones said in irony.



Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
Hmmm (3.00 / 1) (#510)
by Samrobb on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 03:44:33 PM EST

The submission.org link looks interesting - I'll make some time to take a look at it in more detail this evening. On the other hand, I think I may have trouble accepting the idea that the "Dark Bible" pages at nobeliefs.org represents a completely unbiased viewpoint :-/



"Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment." Job 32:9
[ Parent ]
Dark Blue Letters (4.00 / 1) (#543)
by synaesthesia on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 02:43:21 PM EST

I think I may have trouble accepting the idea that the "Dark Bible" pages at nobeliefs.org represents a completely unbiased viewpoint :-/

Undoubtedly, and that was the point I was trying to make. From where I am standing, the Dark Bible pages paint a more realistic picture than the Blue Letter Bible pages, which are surely just as biased.

The submission.org link looks interesting - I'll make some time to take a look at it in more detail this evening.

Did it turn out to be any less biased?



Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
New Testement and slavery (4.50 / 4) (#234)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:10:37 PM EST

If my memory serves correctly, Paul's comments on slavery were all about how a Christian slave should behave and nothing at all about the morality of owning a slave.

Basically, while people try to use the OT (Old Testement) all the time to justify their odd-ball supposedly-Christian beliefs, but the core framework for Christianity is that Jesus superceded Mosaic law with a new covenent/relationship with God (in short, the New Testement "trumps" the Old Testement). The books of the OT that are part of the Christian bible were all chosen because they contained references to the messiah; not because their edicts still held. Otherwise, good Christians would be keeping kosher and dressing like their orthodox jewish brethren.

So, at least part of the answer you're looking for is that the "selective forgetting" began within a few years of Jesus' death and was fundamentally complete within a century.


--
When using a nigh-omniscient computer to run your evil empire, do not install Windows. Also, be sure to disable the AppleTalk protocol - woul
[ Parent ]

Christian vs Jewish (5.00 / 1) (#362)
by elgardo on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:09:09 AM EST

It is often argued that Jesus gave humanity a NEW agreement with God, rendering the Old Testament obsolete. The new laws would be the stuff in the New Testament. Hence, the question of when Christians decided to "forget" laws in the Old Testament is not nearly as interesting as when the Jews decided to "forget" certain laws in the Old Testament.

Of course, Islam is even newer than Christianity. But just like Christians cling on to the importance of the Old Testament, no matter how obsolete, Islam includes several "chapters" for purely historical reasons. And just like the Old Testament, these obsolete chapters are often used out of context in order to justify various things that we, today, find obsololete.

We must not also forget that Islam is just as individualistic with regards to interpretation as Christianity is. Hence, you will find that many muslims living in the west have adapted Islam to western culture, and thus found certain laws (oppression of women, etc) obsolete, outdated or even misinterpreted.


[ Parent ]
All true. (none / 0) (#372)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:26:30 AM EST

Sorry if I seemed to imply otherwise. Seriously, I try to avoid commenting on the theology of judaism and islam simply because I haven't had 12 years of religious training in them (i.e., "Catholic School" :-P)

--
Knock Knock.


[ Parent ]
Israel's Real Power (3.18 / 16) (#187)
by Baldrson on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:42:47 PM EST

Egypt receives the high degree of foreign aid it does from the US because of Israel's existence. Although Israel has been receiving high degrees of foreign aid for about 50 years and Egypt for a fraction of that time -- good accounting would count most of the foreign aid sent to Egypt as foreign aid sent at the behest of the Israeli PAC. The US has no vital interests in Egypt and there is no substantial Egyptian PAC in the US comparable to that of Israel. Israel's "need" is lower than virtually all the other countries to which the United States provides aid, yet it has, if one includes pay-off money sent to Egypt, better than 40% of the US foreign aid budget allocated to it.

The most important thing about Israel's dominant position in receipt of foreign aid from the United States is not that it receives so much direct economic benefit from it -- but what such extrordinary political dominance says about Israel's political power within the US and the implications of that political power for its benefit.

For example, Israel is the dominant trafficer of sex slaves from the Western world and no sanctions are imposed on it by the United States as a consequence. As Aristotle Onassis said, "If women didn't exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning. ." The presence of huge numbers of sex slaves from the former Soviet Union has a profound psychic effect on Israel that stands in stark contrast with the promotion of feminism in the United States and the rest fo the West. Certainly we can't expect the intellectually bankrupt fields of economics, psychology and sociology to provide us with answers about the economic impact of having huge numbers of fertile women at your disposal, but one might surmise that it helps ramp up the competitive juices of the beneficiaries rendering them unnaturally "alphaized".

Israel is in violation of more human rights than was Serbia according to UN standards and the US bombed Serbia back into the stone age. How much money is that sort of bias worth?

Israel is the favored nation for the security systems that pervade the United States's information infrastructure, and attempts by the mass media to expose the risks with which this is associated are met with firing of the government employees who dare speak out.

People think of these things in terms of ethics -- but then when it comes to economic benefit of ethical violations their minds seem to go blank for some mysterious reason.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


not quite... (4.00 / 5) (#228)
by neoptik on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:38:56 PM EST

Nowhere in the article does it state that Israel has the worst problem. Nor does the article state that Israel alone has serious problems; Italy and Turkey are both mentioned. And furthermore, the article goes to great lengths to point out that Israel is trying hard to stop their part of the problem (deporting workers who entered the country illegally, shutting down brothels, etc.).
*sigh....* so many distributed computing projects.....so few computational resources....
[ Parent ]
US interests in Egypt (none / 0) (#360)
by elgardo on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:55:47 AM EST

Sure the US has interests in Egypt. Namely the Suez Canal. Of course, it doesn't matter if the Suez Canal is run by Israel or Egypt, as long as the US has its presence there. However, the Israeli-Egyptian standoff is a good excuse for US presence, while at the same time keep SOME peace in the area. (Think of what would happen if Israel grabbed a big chunk of Egypt... I don't think the neighbouring countries would be too happy about it, to say the least...)


[ Parent ]
Something like the definition of "Chutzpah&qu (4.95 / 24) (#189)
by Lexicate on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:48:42 PM EST

I am certainly no apologist for the forces of fundamentalist Islam, but when the author of this piece, Victor Hanson, states: "How much easier for nonvoters of the Arab world to vent frustration at the West, as if, in some Machiavellian plot, a democratic America, Israel and Europe have conspired to prevent Muslims from adopting the Western invention of democracy!" He comes uncomfortably close to the "open secret" that the United States in fact has done an awful lot to deny the Arab world its right to democracy. After all, who are we presently holding up as the greatest statesmen of the Muslim world? General Pervez Musharraf, a dictator who deposed a democratically elected Prime Minister in a military coup. Who is strengthening the unpopular House of Saud over and against the people over which it rules? Who toppled Mohammed Mossadeq, Prime Minister of Iran and leader of a democracy movement hugely popular with the then-healthy middle class of his nation, and installed in his place the incredibly unpopular and autocratic absolute monarch, the Shah? The list of telling questions could go on and on.

In truth, when commentators decry the lack of "pro-democracy" voices in the Arab world, and thereby imply the inferiority of the Arab people, what they are really complaining about is the lack of "pro-American" voices, and simultaneously conveniently ignoring our own history of anti-democratic action in the region.

Honestly, ask yourself, if a truly democratic government was to come to Iran, and the Iranian people were to elect a leader who considered America a strategic competitor with regard to resources and local political influence, do you think for a moment that the American government would simply politely applaud for an orderly, peaceful transfer of power? Or do you think we would do to this hypothetical leader what we did to Allende?

Criticizing the people of the Middle East for the lack of democratic nations in their region is like criticizing the guy you just mugged for losing his wallet.

Competitive Dynamic Strategy (2.00 / 2) (#286)
by SittingDuck on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:53:59 PM EST

Asking to set the world back to a neutral state is unfair. It sounds right to say "in the absence of all other world powers we'd be great", but when have those conditions ever existed? The US came to dominance in a world where Europe had very similar characteristics, but with more resources and a longer history of warfare, science, medicine, etc. Still, the US managed to create/evolve a society that could out compete the rest of the world. While it is much more difficult to compare and evolve a society while every society is existing in the world domain at the same time, that is the only realistic path.

[ Parent ]
"Truly democratic governments" (5.00 / 3) (#373)
by The Smith on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:27:34 AM EST

A couple of years ago a truly democratic government came to Israel. The result was a former soldier who proceeded to embark upon a hard-line crackdown on the Palestinians.

It is quite true that Yasser Arafat was not democratically chosen by the Palestinians. Thank God for that, because if a truly democratic government came to Palestine tomorrow, it wouldn't include Arafat, who is far more moderate than most of his people. It would be Hamas, who already operate as a de facto government in many Palestinian areas.

Conclusion: you don't want democracy if most voters are stupid. And this applies to the West just as much as the Middle East.

[ Parent ]

Stupid Voters (none / 0) (#519)
by nidarus on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 08:35:09 PM EST

This is a really problematic argument you're making. It's true that sometimes the majority of the people is wrong, but I don't think that democracy is only about assuming that the majority is right. If you're a leader, and don't have the majority's support, you have two choices:

1. Form a terror regime, where everybody have to do as you say, even if they don't want to.

2. Become a powerless "leader", that lives in constant fear of a violent overthrow/civil war.

I'm not sure that Yasser Arafat doesn't have the support of the majority of his population (no matter how it seems), but if he doesn't, then he's stuck in option #2, and I don't see how it helps anyone.

You have to remember that, at least in the case of the young and volatile Palestinian Authority, the leaders don't matter. They only represent people. It's the people (the "voters") and their opinions that count. If the people are stupid, it doesn't matter if the leader is smart.

[ Parent ]

Robert Fisk's take on this (4.70 / 10) (#219)
by Lode Runner on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:14:39 PM EST

One can criticize the Islamic world for its exceptional violence without being anti-Muslim.

Robert Fisk, the Western media's champion of Arab and Muslim causes the world over, wrote one of the most frank pieces I've ever seen on the behavior of Muslim regimes. Here it is.

Fisk argues that although much violence committed by Muslim regimes has its roots in Western interference, much more stems from what he calls a "...dark, undocumented complicity of dictators with their people." All people, including Muslims, have a proclivity towards violence, and it's time Westerners and Muslims acknowledged this.

Whether or not you find this argument distasteful, pretty much everyone, Western and Eastern, agrees that Fisk knows what he's talking about. Unlike a number of people here on K5, Fisk seems to understand that the Muslim world must hold itself accountable for its members' actions if it wants to be regarded as civilized. (And yes, I'm aware that Fisk later contradicted his own argument when he held the USA responsible his near-lynching by an Afghan mob. People are inconsistent and complicated, okay?)

Even for those of us who disagree with many of Fisk's analyses, reading him (at his source, the Independent, not through selectively quoting middlemen) can give one a fairly good understanding of the situation on the ground. Indeed, Fisk is fervently anti-Zionist and anti-American, but there's no way an intelligent person can read his work and conclude that the only thing driving Muslim fanaticism and hatred of Israel and America is that Muslims are merely reacting to arrogant Western imperialism.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: it all boils down to responsibility. The only way out of this mess is if the West and the Islamic World act like responsible adults and treat each other accordingly.



Lynching (2.60 / 5) (#222)
by wji on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:27:51 PM EST

They'd had their homes destroyed and relatives killed by American bombing. So I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that they were understandably angry about that, not about some vague, miscellaneous hatred of 'Western Culture'.

Fisk is a damn good journalist, I think. Easy to distort through selective quoting, though.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

Turn it around (none / 0) (#529)
by Dyolf Knip on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 04:44:54 PM EST

Right after the WTC bombings, I don't recall seeing Arabs being mobbed in downtown Manhattan. I was first told of the attacks by a muslim, yet I don't recall wanting to string him up for it. We have shown infinitely more restraint and patience in responding to attacks than the Islamic world. When we do attack, we try very hard to only hurt the people responsible. When they attack, it's against anyone they can get their hands on.

---
If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Dyolf Knip
[ Parent ]

Robert Fisk (4.50 / 4) (#243)
by the trinidad kid on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:35:05 PM EST

Robert Fisk is not 'ferverently ... anti-American'. He is opposed to the US's policy on Palestine.

[ Parent ]
You've hit on a big problem there. (5.00 / 6) (#262)
by Pink Daisy on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:37:45 PM EST

When I look at the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, my views always end up in favour of Israel. At the end of the day, both sides act terribly to the other. Then, one side has reflects on what has happened and tries to learn lessons, and politicians do their best to hide their actions and resolve to do better in the future. Meanwhile, the other side jumps up and down for joy over the deaths they have inflicted. Until the Arab world is willing to look at itself and what it does, and figure out that it so much of it is bad, I hold those nations to be less civilized. When bad decisions cost lives, that's a problem. When the same bad decisions cost lives because they are made over and over and over, that's an atrocity. If some society does this, then I would say that it is an inherently inferior society.

I think it's not an inherent cultural thing, though. If you look back 800 years, you would have thought of Europe the exact same way: enslaved by a cultural and religious system that kept power away from most of the population. Obviously that changed somewhere. Protestantism had a lot to do with empowering the people, but the seeds for that had to come from somewhere. Whether it was admiration for the civilizations of Greece and Rome or some other internal or external source, it came. Non-western cultures are gaining at various rates. Asia and Africa are both experience problems, but those would probably seem natural to someone who observed the American revolution and civil war, or the various upheavels in Europe a few hundred years ago. If the Muslim world is behind in this then it is our responsibility to try and help them, even if we hold that eventually the change has to be driven from within, and not imposed by us.

[ Parent ]
Interactions of multiple parameters (4.00 / 2) (#283)
by SittingDuck on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:26:09 PM EST

Several seeming basic parameters usually interact to create very complicated and unique outcomes. For Europe 800 years ago, there may have been a lot of political and religious intolerance (like the Middle East now), but they also had a burning desire to create new technology and discover... things. Anything. This lead to discoveries like the longbow, which had a decided impact on the political landscape. The concept of open-ended, come-up-with-anything-you-can-as-long-as-you-can-prove-it-Science also leads to discoveries that weakened the dominance of the church (the world isn't the center of the universe, so you can use stars to navigate, sickness is caused by germs and not evil spirits). It's the combination of the implicit, cultural drive to discover in addition to other parameters of Western thought that lead to a very unique social structure that is currently the best one on the planet. It's possible that the Middle East has one or two of the same parameters as the West, but they don't have the same constellation of parameters. Being close isn't good enough (and I don't even think they're close.)

[ Parent ]
internal criticism (4.00 / 2) (#301)
by ecarter on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:16:25 PM EST

Sure, there are Israeli human rights organizations that criticize IDF actions and hold some hope of improving Israel's behavior as a military power for the better, but I don't see any sign that they're anything but entirely ignored by Israeli leadership. Ariel Sharon in particular doesn't seem to interested in changing from his past war criminal ways, even despite the fact that his approval ratings in Israel have fallen through the floor. Why should the mere existence of B'Tselem get Sharon off the hook?

[ Parent ]
The Philosophic. (4.33 / 3) (#224)
by me0w on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:35:00 PM EST

Inferior/ superior are difficult terms when it comes to ideas of cultre. Living in the west, our views are tainted by our culture - so that when we look at other cultures (whether Islamic, Middle Eastern, Asian etc..) we place value based on our own values. This hardly seems fair (since our own values could be considered misplaced), but it is an element of human nature - to value based on our lived experience.

The other real difference is the 'style' of the east and west. It is difficult in nations where there is a seperation between church and state to comprehend nations where that seperation does not exist. There is the idea in the west of fighting for one's country and in the east it is fighting for one's god. When is the last time the west fought in the name of their God?

I don't fault either value system. Both are just as important ... and equal. But it does anger me when I see labels of 'inferior' and 'superior' placed on cultures due to a lack of understanding, or 'seeing the big picture'.

"The only reason we PMS is because our uterus is screaming at our brain to go out, get fucked, and have a baby ... and it makes us angry."
I agree with you but... (4.00 / 1) (#229)
by mujo on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:44:02 PM EST

When you say that:

>>When is the last time the west fought in the name of their God?

I have to tell you that when you listen to the media talking about the war on terror it sure seems like the west is fighting for some holy cause.

check this video

[ Parent ]
Dare to judge. It's healthy. (3.00 / 1) (#232)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:57:28 PM EST

Sometimes people put the label "inferior" and "superior" becayse they see the big picture all too well. Tell me, in your view, is US culture post-1964 superior to US culture pre-1964? Is US culture post 1865 superior to US culture pre-1865? If you make these judgements across time, why not across space? There are many things about the Muslim World that make it inferior to the West. Why should we be afraid to stand up and say it?


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Judge, yes, but not too quickly. (none / 0) (#245)
by jolly st nick on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:37:06 PM EST

I don't think anyone really has absorbed cultural relativism to the point where they don't really, deep down, make judgements about other people's cultures, or their own culture's past.

So, since it is more or less inevitable, I agree: go ahead and judge!

However, it is also wise to remember that no person or cultural viewpoint is all-wise. We all make mistakes. So, you should question your judgement, try to truly see others' point of view, and hold every such judgement to be provisional.

After all, you can't say that being judgemental is healthy, without taking into account the quality of the judgements you make. Don't take the necessity of making judgements as a license for bigotry.

[ Parent ]

Dare to judge, but know what you're judging. (none / 0) (#270)
by DrJohnEvans on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:11:25 PM EST

Tell me, in your view, is US culture post-1964 superior to US culture pre-1964? Is US culture post 1865 superior to US culture pre-1865?
Is a fully-ripened apple superior to a half-ripened apple? In the case of those of us who consume and enjoy the apple, yes.
If you make these judgements across time, why not across space?
Now you're asking a different question. Is a apple of indeterminate ripeness superior to a grapefruit of indeterminate ripeness? That depends entirely on the taster's personal opinion. Western and Middle Eastern cultures evolved so differently that there exists no basis for comparison.

It's all very well for you to say "they're inferior"; however, that's your personal opinion. At this point, it's entirely a "your word against mine" debate. The absolute relativity of the argument makes any sort of debate almost pointless. The only solid proof will be provided to us by history; if Western society collapses, we'll then know that Middle Eastern society was "superior"; or vice versa.

Personally, I wish no culture any sort of collapse, and hope that the world's cultures remain as distinct as ours and those of the Middle East. Perhaps one day we'll be able to actually celebrate the differences. (Idealism? Hell yeah. It's a dirty job, but ...)

Yes, you're free to judge. But you are not allowed to assume that your conclusions are universally factual.

--
Proud member of the K5 Axis of Evil since 2002.
[ Parent ]

Comparing cultures (none / 0) (#281)
by Loki The Younger on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:19:01 PM EST

It's all very well for you to say "they're inferior"; however, that's your personal opinion. At this point, it's entirely a "your word against mine" debate. The absolute relativity of the argument makes any sort of debate almost pointless. The only solid proof will be provided to us by history; if Western society collapses, we'll then know that Middle Eastern society was "superior"; or vice versa.

Wait a minute here. First you imply that a given culture cannot be deemed superior or inferior to another by any objective metric; now you are proposing that "durability of the society" is such a metric! I'm completely confused. :)

Seriously, though, I think this brings up an interesting point. Two cultures can be compared objectively if you specify the metric by which you are comparing them. Now, I'd claim your "durability" metric isn't a very good one; I'd claim a society that lasts a long time but whose members are generally miserable is inferior to a short-lived society whose members are generally happy.

But I agree that it is practically impossible to judge one society as "inferior" or "superior" to another on any absolute scale that crosses all metrics. People can't even agree on what metrics should be considered, or which count for a society and which count against. Even within our own culture there is plenty of disagreement, for example, some people consider the freedom to own a gun to be essential to a good society, others strongly disagree. But we certainly can determine many individual metrics objectively; our discussions, I believe, should center around which of these are important to have in a good society and why. But if someone makes sweeping claims about a society being "superior" or "inferior" to another, then they are, as you've said, just spouting their opinion.



[ Parent ]
Very Well (none / 0) (#291)
by bugmaster on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:26:18 PM EST

Here is a metric I just made up:
Culture A is superior to culture B if it provides a higher quality of life for its members.

Quality of life includes, but is not limited to:

  • The amount of health care an average individual X can obtain
  • The ratio of (food consumed)/(food required to live healthily) per day for X
  • The reprecussions (or lack thereof) for X if he makes his displeasure with the current government publically known
  • The amount of leisure time X has per day; i.e. 24 hours - (time for sleep) - (time spend sustaining life)
I am sure you can see where I am going with this.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
Biased - Again! (none / 0) (#325)
by Quixato on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:44:42 AM EST

Unfortunately, this is just a case of one persons sole opinion. These are all qualities of life that a person in the western world enjoys; these points may not necessarily be valid from another point of view.

What about:

  • Religious piety?
  • Reverence for ancestors?
  • Respect of peers?
etc... I'm a westerner, so I'm just theorizing, but the things that we deem important in life probably are things of contempt in other lifestyles. Granted, food is important, but the things that we deem a basic inherent freedom are not necessarily things another culture would agree with. So I think your metric is invalid, as it's too western oriented. Sorry to be critical, but I'm feeling nuclear today! ;)

"People are like smarties - all different colours on the outside, but exactly the same on the inside." - Me
"Learn to question, question to learn." - Sl8r
[ Parent ]

Not really (none / 0) (#328)
by bugmaster on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:53:29 AM EST

I propose that if a person is starving, dying of disease, or slaving in the fileds 23 hours/day, he has no time to think about religion, ancestors (except the fact that he will be joining them shortly) or respect of peers. Now, I can foresess many replies to the effect of, "aha ! That's where you're wrong, Mr. imperialist pig-dog". However, I find it difficult to believe that human beings are really all that different across the world. But, really, it doesn't even matter. A society that keeps most of its members in poverty, disease and misery cannot truly claim to adhere to any lofty moral principles (such as, "well my leaders may have shot me in the gut for speaking out against them but at least they're doing God's work !"), since religious piety, reverence for ancestors, etc., usually come with respect for human life built-in. You can't have one without the other.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
Hey, you're preaching to the choir (none / 0) (#333)
by Quixato on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:53:17 AM EST

I guess maybe I sounded antagonistic, I'm pro human rights, and definately believe that we're doing well (in our western culture). But the problem is that things may or may not be as bad as they appear *over there*. How the hell can we tell, with no real reliable news source? Do you really believe that the majority of muslims live in the conditions you stated? That seems a bit naive. I'm not saying that their standard of living (as defined by us) is as evolved as ours, but they're certainly not as bad you seem to think they are, or else they would have all died off by now.

I don't agree with many of the things that the muslim world does, or *seems* to do, number one being their apparent lack of reverence for *all* life. I'm just saying that it's not really our place to judge them. You can almost think of it in a star trek-esque fasion - ie the prime directive. It's not up to us to determine their fates, they have to figure that out for themselves. Granted, when it affects us (ie WTC), we must take action, but other than rooting out the terrorist network, I'm convinced we should leave them alone to sort themselves out. If they want to join us and our standard of living, then I'm pretty sure we'd welcome them with open arms, but we CAN'T force it on them. Unfortunately, I can't really think of two societies that are more contrasting. Only the future can tell if we can live together.

"People are like smarties - all different colours on the outside, but exactly the same on the inside." - Me
"Learn to question, question to learn." - Sl8r
[ Parent ]

Re: Comparing cultures (none / 0) (#293)
by DrJohnEvans on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:37:54 PM EST

Wait a minute here. First you imply that a given culture cannot be deemed superior or inferior to another by any objective metric; now you are proposing that "durability of the society" is such a metric! I'm completely confused. :)
That'll teach me to try and comment when I'm supposed to be giving the appearance of productive and profitable work. In any case, I should have condemned the use of the word "superior" right off the bat, and used a more informative, more scientific, and less ambiguous term.

I meant my comparison not as a comparison of durability, but as a comparison of existence. I reduced the ambiguous term of "superior" down to its most basic form: binary. At any given moment, a society which exists has an edge over one which does not. I was not taking into account past and future situations; it was meant to be totally one-dimensional. That comparison is the only totally objective one that can be achieved, and it's obviously quite a useless one.

You are quite right-- one can correctly compare and contract two different cultures; but when the comparison has been made, what can be drawn from it? Yes, you can compare two cultures and observe that everybody in one culture loves the Toronto Blue Jays, and everybody in the other hates them. But what conclusion can you draw from this? Who is to say that loving the Jays is "right" or "wrong"? The comparisons, while possible, are pointless.

Anticipating the rebuttal, yes, there are certain aspects of humanity which are definitely morally bad (violence, hatred, &c.). But I'm quite willing to bet that the sum of the negative aspects of each culture (if they could be quantified) would be roughly equal. Their culture has problems; so does ours. We're just more familiar with, and thus less frightened of, ours.

Again, apologies for the ambiguity; I'll make an effort to avoid posting on company time. *g*

--
Proud member of the K5 Axis of Evil since 2002.
[ Parent ]

A quotation by Sartre? (5.00 / 1) (#238)
by Demiurge on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:23:29 PM EST

Then you should understand the concept of authenticity in making ethical judgements, assuming you're at all familiar with Heidegger as well.

Some common basic human values can be discerned over a great range of cultures and social groups: moral condemnation of the leader who uses his power to exploit and oppress his peoplem, the agreement, among radically different groups, about the need for impartial determination of disputes by an authorized individual or body. There are several 'basic forms of good' including knowledge, life, sociability, 'practical reasonableness', etc., which provides significant common ground between groups, and provide a perspective from which it is possible to make value judgements about different societies or one's own.

These are exactly the traits the Gulf states are lacking in.

[ Parent ]
Engage! (none / 0) (#271)
by underscore on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:17:58 PM EST

Lately Sartre's name has been bandied about as the most widely read and quoted philosopher. I enjoyed him as a writer of fiction but 'Being and Nothingness' was nothing short of hell.

The article was worth the read. While I agree the separation of church and state was fundamental to the founding of western civilization I don't think it's capable of supporting a broadreaching argument for the moral superiority of one nation over another. Much of our perception, here in the west, seems to have a Clausewitzian caricature cast to it suggesting the xenophobic machinations of despots seeking to deflect the disaffection of the population. I'm not suggesting Von Clausewitz's theory of war as an extention of foreign policy is not an accurate description. I am suggesting in times of international strife a more pragmatic less sterotyping approach might serve better.
a geek possessed of animal cunning
is a most fearsome adversary

[ Parent ]

Subjective vs Subjective (5.00 / 1) (#390)
by PrinceSausage on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:18:54 AM EST

Now, everything depends on your point of view:

You wrote:
moral condemnation of the leader who uses his power to exploit and oppress his people
----
 
There can be no doubt that numerous people around the globe have serious doubt as to whether the current american leadership isn't in fact exploiting and oppressing it's people by denying them information and by using inflammatory rethoric to further it's own goals. Exploitation and oppression doesn't just come in the form of Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein.

You wrote:
the agreement, among radically different groups, about the need for impartial determination of disputes by an authorized individual or body.
---

And this is where it gets interesting. How supportive have the US been in the work at the UN or for that matter the struggle to get an international court in place. Among the US citizens there are a number of persons who should be put on trial for war crimes charges (one of them Henry Kissinger) and the chance for this happening is nil as long as the US is flat out refusing to support an international court.

You wrote:
These are exactly the traits the Gulf states are lacking in.

And many others I fear.

[ Parent ]

The Lived Experience (none / 0) (#481)
by me0w on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 11:08:46 PM EST

The problem is that the judgements made are based on the lived experience - more along the lines of Beauvoir and Merleau-Ponty. In the west we are familiar with the concepts of democracy, of the seperation of church and state, equality etc. These are our experiences. We can only imagine what the lack of these are like, but we do not have the experience of not having these freedoms - so we will never know for sure what this is like.

It is difficult to take a different cultural value system and compare or even place it in one's own. Take, for instance, east asian philosophies. If you try to understand them from a western perspective, you will not get anywhere. The 'frame of mind' is completely different. Now, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the western perspective, but I do want to stress that one should not condemn a culture/group of people/philosophical belief/religious belief etc. because said 'group' has a different perspective. We may not like the activities of a group, but you need to remember that for some, this is their lived experience - it is their way of life and that needs to be respected.

As for ethical judgements, again, if you are looking from a western perspective I wold hold more towards the Kantian or Mill-ian ideas - and for eastern perspective, I would consult whichever religious material or philosophy that was pertinent to the area.
"The only reason we PMS is because our uterus is screaming at our brain to go out, get fucked, and have a baby ... and it makes us angry."
[ Parent ]
Reality Check Time(tm) (4.00 / 2) (#240)
by stinkwrinkle on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:30:18 PM EST

When it comes to war, one billion people and the world's oil are not nearly as valuable military assets as MIT, West Point, the House of Representatives, C-Span, Bill O'Rilley and the G.I. Bill.

Hello? Bill O'Riley, a military asset?

free (well, somewhat) speech (none / 0) (#307)
by emmons on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:56:02 PM EST

I do believe that he was talking about the somewhat free speech and press we enjoy. C-Span, on the other hand, I don't know where that came from. :)

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
The benefit of CSPAN (none / 0) (#509)
by skim123 on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 12:56:32 PM EST

I think the author is trying to say that for a democratic government to work, the populace needs/should be able to view the government in action. That is, the government can't make its decisions secluded away in the Ministry of Truth.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: The benefit of CSPAN (none / 0) (#549)
by emmons on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 11:47:28 PM EST

I realize that, I was just trying to make a joke. :)

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]
Ah (none / 0) (#550)
by skim123 on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 11:19:37 AM EST

Perhaps you should have posted a disclaimer: "[For those who have no sense of humor, this was a joke.]" :-)

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Israel? A DEMOCRACY?!? (3.28 / 7) (#247)
by Noodle on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:51:16 PM EST

Saying that is almost like saying the USA is a democracy. :P

Before you even pretend to know anything about israel's status as a democracy, you need to do a little more research than just having read an american newspaper yesterday morning.

I'd start with this book, an excellent piece of cartoon (though not funny) journalism, by Joe Sacco.

{The Nefarious Noodle}

{The Nefarious Noodle}

Compared to the neighbors, yes. (4.00 / 1) (#252)
by Apuleius on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:02:26 PM EST

'nuff said.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Depends... (none / 0) (#294)
by Noodle on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:41:10 PM EST

...on whether you rate a corrupt, oppressive semi-democracy above a government that doesn't even pretend to be democratic.

{The Nefarious Noodle}

{The Nefarious Noodle}
[ Parent ]

In which case, (none / 0) (#314)
by Apuleius on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:24:18 AM EST

Israeli ranks higher since the neighbors do pretend to be democratic.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Poor Defense (none / 0) (#316)
by PhillipW on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:40:28 AM EST

Just being better than neighboring countries does not qualify Israel as a good democracy. Israel also has a higher standard of living than it's neighbors, but I would never say that they have a good standard of living. In fact, I would say it is a bit on the poor side, and I would say the same thing about their Democracy. It's piss poor.

On a side note, I would advise you to look at Quatar for a better example of a democracy in the Middle East.

-Phil
[ Parent ]
South Africa (5.00 / 2) (#274)
by annenk38 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:22:21 PM EST

You can also say in confidence that South African governance under apartheid was a democracy. (A restricted one, to say, less than 15% of the general population, but a democracy nevertheless.)

And if my left hand causes me to stumble as well -- what do I cut it off with? -- Harry, Prince of Wales (The Blackadder)
[ Parent ]
Reread Dune (2.00 / 3) (#254)
by engel on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:04:56 PM EST

Considering the events of the WTC, and considering the rhetoric against Muslim values and how horrible various arabic groups are... I think everyone should really read "Dune" again. And then think about it. Then think about it some more, until you understand what it means.

So Al Qaeda is going to attack with sandworms? (2.00 / 3) (#257)
by Demiurge on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:11:52 PM EST

Dune? Hardly one of the great classics of world literature. Drawing your arguments from sci-fi novels is not a way to win over opponents.

[ Parent ]
Must you be so literial? (3.33 / 3) (#277)
by Amesha Spentas on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:26:14 PM EST

The reference to Dune is what many people believe (Was it ever confirmed?) that it was an allegory to the Middle East.

The Fremin (sp?) were the indigenous people of the dunes who held the secret of the spice. (I.E. The people of the Middle East.)

The Harkonen, were the totalitarian, brutal, exploitative group whose logo just happed to have a lot of red in it. (I.E The U.S.S.R)

The Atraides, a positive guiding force who just happens to also require the use of the (Spice, Oil) is analogous to the US. (Also the Atraides logo looks a lot like an eagle)

Even the military tactics of the Harkonen and the Atraides draw parallels. The Atraides heavy use of technology (I.E. The wirding module) and the Harkonen's use of large numbers and brute force.

I'll leave the rest of the parallels up to you to uncover.

Registered to die for the government at 18, and had to pay postage on the registration form - AnalogBoy
[ Parent ]

The Weirding Module (4.50 / 2) (#289)
by Colonol_Panic on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:16:20 PM EST

Even the military tactics of the Harkonen and the Atraides draw parallels. The Atraides heavy use of technology (I.E. The wirding module) and the Harkonen's use of large numbers and brute force.

Well, that's a bad example. The "Weirding Module" was completely made up by Lynch for the movie, it was not in any of the books. What made House Atreides so successful was their superb training (the Weirding Way). The only combat technology they typically used were personal shields that deflected anything moving at a lethal speed, and small hand weapons such as knives.

What Dune is really about (and I'm talking about the whole six-book series) is what goes wrong when you mix religion and government; how it starts out with an honest leader and eventually falls into corruption and tyranny. And that is very topical.
Here's my DeCSS mirror. Where's Yours?
[ Parent ]

correction about the Weirding ways (none / 0) (#370)
by boxed on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:23:12 AM EST

The "Weirding Ways" are the name of a Bene Gesserit martial art. This is NOT used by the House Atreidies except Pauls mother (because she was Bene Gesserit-trained). Furthermore it is clear that in the books, that Harkonnens use FEAR and Atreidies use LOYALTY, not "large number and brute force" and "heavy use of technology".

Notice also that Spice is an analogy of not only Oil but water.

[ Parent ]

Yep (none / 0) (#525)
by Amesha Spentas on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 01:49:16 PM EST

You are right. The Weirding Ways were a Bene Gesserit martial art. Sorry I just saw the SCI-FI version recently and it's been so long since I read the book that I had forgotten. Also most of my paralells were drawn from the TV and movie version. I have never read the rest of the books.

Does anyone know if the analogy was ever confirmed?

Registered to die for the government at 18, and had to pay postage on the registration form - AnalogBoy
[ Parent ]

yea sure (none / 0) (#537)
by boxed on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 05:49:21 PM EST

I have read an interview with Frank Herbert where he explicitly says that Spice is an analogy for water and oil.

[ Parent ]
re: correction about the Weirding ways (none / 0) (#540)
by Colonol_Panic on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 10:18:07 PM EST

Yes, you're right; the Weirding Way is a Bene Gesserit skill. I don't know if I would call it a martial art, although Herbert never described what exactly the Weirding Way was. However, after Jessica broke the rules and taught Paul the Weirding Way, he then taught it to the Fremen as a battle technique and it was used against the Emperor Shaddam's Sardaukar. So, the Atreides forces did in fact employ the Weirding Way but I was way too vague in my original post.

This is getting way OT anyways.


Here's my DeCSS mirror. Where's Yours?
[ Parent ]

well... (none / 0) (#542)
by boxed on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 12:28:18 PM EST

calling the Fremen an "Atredies force" is simply ignoring the facts of the books. The Fremen, not the Atredies, started the jihad that swept across the Empire.

OT r0x j00 s0x :P

[ Parent ]

no such distinction (none / 0) (#546)
by Colonol_Panic on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 10:26:10 PM EST

It depends on the time frame of the story. Prior to Leto I's assination, yes they were separate. But After Paul became Muad'dib the Fremen gradually began to revere him as a god, and his son Leto II after that. Leto II ruled the entire universe for 3500 years, and he was born and raised a Fremen. From the overthrow of Shaddam IV onward, House Atreides and the Fremen were pretty much one and the same.
Here's my DeCSS mirror. Where's Yours?
[ Parent ]
I disagree (none / 0) (#548)
by boxed on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 03:36:27 AM EST

Although I understand your point, I disagree. The only element of Atredies in the Fremen people were Leto II for a long time and he was a strange entity with, in reality, nothing left of his Atredies heritage in him. The Fremen swallowed up their God, making him into them, not the other way around imho.

[ Parent ]
Um (none / 0) (#290)
by bugmaster on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:18:42 PM EST

Yes, I am sure if I tried real hard, I could find all kinds of parallels in it. For example, Baron Harkonnen had some skin disease in the movie (I forget whether he had it in the book), so he is "obviously" supposed to represent Gorbachev (with that thing on his head). And the Bene Gesserit represent the Illuminati or whatever. Hmmm, come to think of it, this is true of other books as well. For example, the Little Red Riding Hood is "obviously" a suicide bomber who is trying to get past the Israeli border patrol officer (the wolf). And don't get me started on the 3 little pigs.

The bottom line is, while I am sure Dune was inspired by the middle eastern conflict, it's hardly political satire. If you try hard enough, you can read any statement into any book, but that doesn't make it true.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

No, no, no (none / 0) (#298)
by bugmaster on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:02:40 PM EST

They won't just attack with sandworms. They will wait until the sandstorm shuts down our shields and then attack with sandworms.

I mean, duh :-)
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

Give it up (none / 0) (#308)
by hansel on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:57:23 PM EST

Dune was not about the middle east conflict at any time. Herbert had many general themes he wanted to explore, and any parallels you draw between Dune and any particular world circumstances or episodes are accidental at best. I refer you to the forward for Children of Dune (I believe), where he discusses some of the important things on his mind, never once mentioning any specific historical event.

[ Parent ]
Hanson's article (2.00 / 1) (#288)
by mami on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:15:17 PM EST

... the first and last effort from the "Office for Strategic Influence" ... the author seemed to have shot in the wrong direction ... was the K5 crowd the strategic target the DOD wanted to reach ? (I guess Hansen got fired today).

"Russian Mafia", Sex Slave Traffic and I (1.91 / 12) (#297)
by Baldrson on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:58:33 PM EST

The "Russian Mafia" is the dominant trafficer of sex slaves from eastern Europe and Russia -- and picked Israel as their portal into Europe and the United States. The "Russian Mafia" also picked Brighton Beach as their center of operations in the United States. What's so special about Brighton Beach? It's a Jewish neighborhood and it has become so inundated with "Russians" that it is now known as a "Russian Jewish" neighborhood.

Brighton Beach, Brooklyn (Brightwater Avenue, on the Coney Island peninsula)

This is an eastern continuation of the beach and boardwalk that begin at Coney Island, so expect to find crowds here, too. Brighton Beach's half-mile of sand abuts the burgeoning Russian Jewish neighborhood of the same name...

and in Israel...

Mobster's ParadiseThe Jerusalem Report, 1995
On December 25, 1994, half a dozen men gathered in a hotel suite on the Tel Aviv beachfront to plan the operations of a multi-billion-dollar international concern based in New York. The meeting was held in Russian. The business under discussion was crime. The men were top figures in one of the five 'families' that make up the Organizatsiya - the dreaded Russian underworld that plays a major role in drugs, prostitution, extortion and theft in the U.S. Like other high-level members of the families, all had passed simple requirements for advancement: time served in the gulag, and two murders. The meeting, The Jerusalem Report has learned, was at least the third by top Organizatsiya figures in Israel in the last two years. Israel has become a safe haven and a base of operations for the Russian mobsters. Exploiting Israel's weak connections to international law enforcement, the crime kingpins gather here to make decisions that can include which competitors to rub out, how to invest millions of dollars earned in criminal businesses, and how to channel drugs to Europe. While those meetings have focused on Organizatsiya operations elsewhere, the U.S.-based mobsters and their compatriots in the CIS also exploit Israel's liberal currency and banking regulations to launder money from crime in Russia and syphon it to the West. And Israel also serves as a transit point on a drug route from South America to Europe ...Perhaps the biggest of the Russian 'dons,' says the FBI, is Boris Nayfeld. A burly bodybuilder, Nayfeld allegedly controls an international ring smuggling millions of dollars worth of heroin into the U.S."

-------- Empty the Cities --------


Russia-Israel Dual Citizenship (none / 0) (#498)
by Sattwic on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 06:58:40 AM EST

can't say what this has in relation to the article in focus, but one point is overlooked. Israel and Russian Federation have dual citizenship accord with each other which very well facilitates the 'nexus' that the author of the above post has tried very hard to demonstrate.

[ Parent ]
The Separation of Mosque and Caliph? (3.83 / 6) (#320)
by EraseMe on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:03:36 AM EST

While the prudence of church-state separation is considered by many in the West to be embarrassingly self-evident, this is not the case at all among Muslims. And if you think about it, it's not unreasonable that they feel that way.

Let me summarize 1300 years like this:

For Westerners: As you go further back in history, public life is more religious, and civilization is worse.

For Muslims: As you go further back in history, public life is more religious, and civilization is better.


And really, those are all the relevant facts. And they may not even be actual facts; you probably want to dispute them or point out exceptions. But that is what everyone believes, which is all that matters anyway.

So why should Muslims believe in secularism? What did secularism ever do for them? Why should they spurn religion in government, when Islamic civilization was their Golden Age? Why should they believe that it is not possible to have a society which is both theocratic and advanced, when in fact it's not only possible but already happened?

Western opinions about church-state issues are informed by a long, struggle-filled history. So are Muslim opinions. Trouble is, they are exactly opposite histories. We forget that a lot.

Oversimplified (none / 0) (#401)
by wiesmann on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 11:44:40 AM EST

I thing you oversimply the situation a lot and mix up two different issues:
  • When westerners look back in history, they consider that civilisation is worse. Every civilisation looks back to its golden age, with a certain fondness. The weaker and oppressed the civilisation / nation the more people will long for the "good old days" and forget the bad aspects of those days. Why do you think that there are people who miss the nazis and fachists in western europe, the communist in eastern europe?
    This is has nothing to do with western or muslim culture, its a human trait. If this are bad we long for the past. This is way most mythologies have a golden age, paradise, whatever.
    The US are somehow an exception because the country is very strong and is not much past to look at anyway (then again, I have the feeling that some minds are back in the 50's).
  • The muslim world is has no separation of church and state. First separation of church and state in the West is far from perfect, I've heard to many "God Bless America" and talk about "crusades" lately to belive this. There are many laws with heavy religious undertones still in use in Western countries. What country has laws that forbids sodomy? What country wants to outsource social aid to the church? Indeed separation of church and state is embarrassingly self evident.
    As many people pointed out, all non religious governement in the muslim world were stiffled by the West. If a foreign super-power had helped the Royalists and Church approved governements in France and the British Colonies, guess what, there would probably be no separation of church and state in the West - probably no democracy either.
    If we follow your logic, what about the jews? The separation of church and state in Israel is far from clear, so is this civilisation also inferior?
Actually what annoys me the most is that people are seriously considering this BS. Then again, in the 30's, a lot of people believed that Jews were racially, culturaly etc. inferior to the Aryans.

In fact, some people in europe found the attitude of the US in the Olympic Games sickening [Article in French], and the comparison with the 1936 games come to mind. The worst of it is that people believe that the US is the paragon of western civilisation [sight]...

If you read French or have fired up BabelFish already, search for the missing plane.

[ Parent ]

What a BS story (4.07 / 14) (#322)
by DodgyGeezer on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:10:05 AM EST

"What Hanson is saying, more or less, is that the distrust and antagonism much of the Muslim world feels towards the West in general and America in particular is due to that fact that their anger has been misdirected by the despotic rulers of many Middle East regimes, and that the Western tradition of democracy, egalitarianism, and secular government make it inherently superior to the Muslim world. "

What Hanson isn't saying is that our views towards the [Middle Eastern Arab] world are also heavily effected by our leaders and their propaganda.

What is up with the title and the annotation by the submitter? This is quite blantantly not about the Muslim world, and is actually an uninformed dig only at parts of the Middle Eastern Arab world. I could list off several countries in Europe, Asia and Africa that would fit the "Muslim World" description.

From the article: "Egyptian Nobel Prize-winning novelist Naguib Mahfouz reportedly announced from his Cairo home that America's bombing of the Taliban was "just as despicable a crime" as the September 11 attacks--as if the terrorists' unprovoked mass murder of civilians were the moral equivalent of selected air strikes against enemy soldiers in wartime."

Firstly, if the author believes that "selected air strikes" didn't effect anybody but "enemy soldiers", and certainly didn't terrorise any civilians, they have been smoking too much crack and have consequently swallowed whole the western propaganda and rhetoric, hook, line and sinker.

Secondly, would these comments been so easy to dismiss in this manner if it were somebody closer to home? For me, I'm looking for to seeing a programme called "HARDtalk" on BBC World, broadcast here in Canada tomorrow night. From the programme description on their web site:

"Wednesday February 27th, NOAM CHOMSKY, American political philosopher - with Tim Sebastian
Noam Chomsky is one of America's foremost intellectuals. Some see him as a free thinker, others as a dangerous and fanatical liberal. He stuck his neck a long way out when he said the bombing of Afghanistan was illegal and rejected President Bush's foreign policy in the region. He has also said that he can understand some of bin Laden's hatred of America for the `evils it has committed'. He justifies his views to Tim Sebastian. "

Jeez, the amount of effort it takes to get alternative points of view on this continent. The likes of CNN and Fox News are running around with their movie-like titles, e.g. "America Strikes Back". These guys are an insult to journalism, and in their rush to be first on the air, just regurgitate the government's propaganda. I recently saw an investigative documentary on the History Channel about the Yugoslavian civil war in the early nineties, which of course is current with Slobodan now being tried. It claimed that the first and the worst of the ethnic cleansing actually happened on the other side, the side the West favoured. In fact, that it was partly organised by a small handful of former high-ranking American military men acting as behind-the-scenes "advisors" and mercenaries.

I don't think we can point our fingers at the policies of the Middle East until we stop acting like hypocrites. It's unfortunate, but most of the unwashed masses don't even realise how their government is representing their country overseas. Most of those people believe the mainstream reporting as seen on TV without assuming that it could incomplete and/or biased.



Commentary (5.00 / 6) (#344)
by katie on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:18:18 AM EST

I think the point the author of the original article is trying to make is exactly illustrated by your post.

YOU get to ask whether your government is acting like hypocrites in a public forum without worrying about people coming to kill you tonight.

It's exactly that freedom for every person to ask questions, to criticise, to discuss that generates western society. In a world where there's one right opinion and someone tells you what it will be or else, you don't get to ask this question.

Your ability to ask this question without fear is a freedom much of the world doesn't even UNDERSTAND, never mind HAVE.


[ Parent ]
Freedom? (3.00 / 2) (#411)
by dneas on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:26:12 PM EST

Whilst its true that the west enjoys particular democratic freedoms superior to those in other parts of the globe, this is often tainted by media ownership, political elites and the insular nature of the media's view of "public opinion." It is not a total freedom - its a paper freedom which is influenced by many other factors. What appears to be free, objective knowledge could simply be the tittle tattle bounced around a few newsrooms in London or New York. And fine, express yourself on a weblog - will your opinion be of any consequence?

I'm not saying that democracy is bad, or that america is bad, or that the west is bad, but that the idea that we in the West live in a harmonous world of freedom of expression is misguided. To use it as a battering ram against other countries - even against an abstract concept or nationality, is even more bogus and frightening. Suddenly, our cherished traditions of debate and consensus become terranical and war-mongering. How on earth can America set an example to the Arab world when it bombed the only centerpoint of objectivity in the whole region?

A case of do as I say, not do as I do. Or perhaps it is the latter, considering the knee-jerk ignorance of much of the peace movement in the U.S. by the corporate mediaa after September 11th. Sigh.


-- "The car is on fire, and there's no driver at the wheel." Cut out the spam block if you need to email about something.
[ Parent ]

Our government (3.00 / 2) (#415)
by Khedak on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:39:47 PM EST

YOU get to ask whether your government is acting like hypocrites in a public forum without worrying about people coming to kill you tonight.

That's all well and good for us, and they may even get some bad guys. But it doesn't help the innocent people who worry about our government coming to kill them tonight, or those our government supports. His point is that our freedoms do not prove that our government must be just. In many cases, it may not be just.

Your ability to ask this question without fear is a freedom much of the world doesn't even UNDERSTAND, never mind HAVE.

Yes, but the sad thing is that even though we have this freedom, we can still be manipulated and lied to by our government. And our government can continue to commit war crimes and atrocities, sometimes with our enthusiastic support, sometimes with our implicit consent, but sometimes with the truth concealed from us entirely.

[ Parent ]
Editorial Comment (none / 0) (#392)
by notcarlos on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:34:06 AM EST

"Affect" is a verb. "Effect" is a noun.
That is all.


He will destroy you like an academic ninja.
-- Rating on Rate My Professors.com
[ Parent ]
You're wrong. (none / 0) (#482)
by forii on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 11:23:51 PM EST

Both "affect" and "effect" can be a noun AND a verb.

Affect:
verb: "The wind AFFECTED the ball's trajectory."
noun: "The stroke patient had a neutral AFFECT."

Effect:
verb: "The storm effected a drop in production."
noun: "The storm had an effect on production."


Proud member of the ACLU, the NRA, and the EFF.
[ Parent ]
Metric for comparison (4.16 / 6) (#336)
by Quixato on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:20:37 AM EST

I've been arguing that there is no metric on which you can conceivably compare two entirely different cultures, as what is important to one may not be to the other. But upon reflection and reading bugmasters post, there is one. In fact, it's so incredibly basic that it should be fundamental to society, no matter what, race, creed, or religion. Its simple really:

ALL LIFE IS SACRED.

Reverence for individual's lives, not in a general sense or on a nationalistic level, but for an INDIVIDUAL's life is probably the most redeeming quality in any human being. On this basis you CAN see a difference in western and muslim culture. Violent death in north america is abhored, hated, reviled, and repugnant. This does not seem to be the case in the muslim world. Judgement and stereotypes are easy traps to fall into, but if 15% of the people surveyed here believe that the WTC attacks were morally justified, then that's a whole heck of a lot of people that I consider socially BACKWARD. RESPECT for a fellow human beings life is the basis for a civilized society, and so far, the westerners are up, 3000-0.

"People are like smarties - all different colours on the outside, but exactly the same on the inside." - Me
"Learn to question, question to learn." - Sl8r

Not really (2.50 / 2) (#337)
by Hopfrog on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:31:16 AM EST

I bet you'd see a 70% approval rating on the afghanistan war. A war means killing so many people that others get afraid of dying, and give up.
The west wants Afghanis dead, the Afghanis want the west dead. Nobody should take the moral high ground in this issue.
Death has always been part of the human culture.

Hop.

[ Parent ]
What are you talking about? (2.00 / 1) (#338)
by Quixato on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:46:34 AM EST

Because we killed in the past, this is just something we should accept? Sure it's human, but human values CHANGE! How many veterans died in Vietnam? 30 years later, 10 soldiers die in Afghanistan, and it's headline news! People are concerned! Why? Because our values and morals have changed, and for the BETTER! History is the only thing holding us back, we keep referencing past deeds, past battles - living in the past only leads to a cyle of never ending violence. FUCK HISTORY. Only use it as a comparison to how we're changing, not as justification for atrocities.

"People are like smarties - all different colours on the outside, but exactly the same on the inside." - Me
"Learn to question, question to learn." - Sl8r
[ Parent ]

I'm talking about dead Afghanis (none / 0) (#342)
by Hopfrog on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:10:52 AM EST

You see. You don't even count them, because they aren't american.

Hop.

[ Parent ]
Good Point (none / 0) (#346)
by Quixato on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:25:35 AM EST

I'll concede that I haven't mentioned their side, because I have no knowledge of their point of view. How can I defend them, and their lives, when everyone is telling me that they're responsible for the death and chaos of 9/11?

The war is costing lives, more on their side then the americans. In a perfect world the instigators of that attack would be located, tried, and jailed if found guilty. Unfortunately, the people who committed that crime and the people who support them are not going to come out into the open, in fact they're hiding like criminals, like guilty criminals. We don't live in a perfect world, we can only minimize the damage we do in the pursuit of justice, and I'd say that the Americans have probably done that to the best of their ability with precision bombing, special ops missions, etc. It's a far cry from carpet bombing in WWII and napalm from Vietnam. THAT is moral evolution, and it is GOOD, despite what some may think.

"People are like smarties - all different colours on the outside, but exactly the same on the inside." - Me
"Learn to question, question to learn." - Sl8r
[ Parent ]

So if (5.00 / 2) (#349)
by thePositron on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:55:05 AM EST

Some one kills your mom or a relative of yours and you think you know who did it does this mean you have the right to bomb the house where the person who killed your lives if the person chooses to stay in the house with others who had nothing to do with it?
While you are planning your bombing the person who did the crime escapes and you end up killing his whole family awho HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CRIME is this justified?


Or do you wait and use a more intelligent method of finding the person who commited the crime without the attendant chaos and death caused by the bombing?

How sacred is each human life?





[ Parent ]
Well of course thats not right! (2.00 / 1) (#363)
by Quixato on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:11:23 AM EST

If you take that example, of course it sounds like butchery. But then what would YOU have done? To go back to the bigger picture, 3000 lives were lost, and two of the greatest structures were destroyed in the blink of an eye. The economy destroyed, a recession started, all because some madmen believe that the US is the root of all their problems. Whether it is or not is NOT the question here, you are questioning whether the united states had the right to root out the terrorist network that caused all this damage. There are no easy answers to questions like these, but I can hardly blame the states for responding as they did. They had to try and destroy the Al Quaeda network. What were they to do, sit back and wait for them to strike again? A dirty bomb at the superbowl, the poisoning of the water supply of LA? You CANNOT negotiate with terrorists. They are extremist, totally unreasonable people, who HAVE NO REVERENCE FOR HUMAN LIFE. I didn't see the US pre-emptively striking Afghanistan. Sure their foreign policy is shit, and should be re-evaluted, but I'm not a politician, not even an american citizen!

Questions like these are all grey, there is no black or white, right or wrong answer. All I was EVER saying is that people should has absolute respect for human life. I haven't seen american soldiers wantonly destroying the citizens and property of other countries, so I can hardly blame them for their response.

In answer to your last question, EVERY life is sacred, but in our unfortunate warlike nature, civilian casualties occur. You CANNOT say that they haven't been minimized as much as possible AT THIS TIME.

So what would your 'more intelligent method' be? CIA operatives? I think we can safely say the intelligence of the CIA and FBI have more or less been trumped up myths created by conspircy theorists and the x-files. No one is infaliable, everyone makes mistakes. The response the americans made had to made, the government to do SOMETHING or else they would have had blood thirsty riots on their hands!

Why do I bother arguing? There's no answer. It's all subjective. bleh.

"People are like smarties - all different colours on the outside, but exactly the same on the inside." - Me
"Learn to question, question to learn." - Sl8r
[ Parent ]

Every life is sacred, except when as collateral (5.00 / 2) (#366)
by Hopfrog on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:20:38 AM EST

damage. As much as you don't want to hear it, the americans that died in the WTC are collateral damage for the terrorists.
They believe you are attacking them, and they are responding, you believe the same thing.
Stop talking as if you live on the moral high ground. Life isn't sacred to you or to them.
You aren't any better than them, because you kill as many people as they do. If you want to prove your superiority, you cannot use respect for life to do this, as your military has killed more humans than theirs have.
And you think an afghan herdsman is responsible for the WTC attacks? The criminals lived in germany, for heavens sake. UBL has not been proven to be guilty. If he is guilty, he only sponsored it, and didn't take a direct role.
For this, through some unexplainable logic, this undeducated herdsman has his entire family blown up by a bomb.
Don't say you respect life, when you have trouble seeing an Afghan as a human who can mourn.

Hop.

[ Parent ]
There's a difference (none / 0) (#425)
by Demiurge on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:44:57 PM EST

Between a bombing campaign expressly designed to prevent civilian casualties, and a terrorist attack that targetted them. You'll see plenty of criticism of the war in Afghanistan and the resulting civilian casualties in US media. You think any Al Qaeda members are mourning over the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Americans? There are other metrics as well. Education. Health. Life-expectancy. Freedom from government oppression. Impartial and fair judiciary. I could go on. In every one, the West is superior.

[ Parent ]
And the arab population? (none / 0) (#449)
by Hopfrog on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:53:51 PM EST

This is not about Al Quada. Of course they won't feel any sympathy. Rumsfeld wasn't crying when I saw him on TV, either. Same thing, they are armed combatants.
But the arab population condemed the attacks.
Education. Health. Life-expectancy. Freedom from government oppression. Impartial and fair judiciary. I could go on. In every one, the West is superior.
If these are your measures of superiority, the west is superior to africa, south america, the arab world, and large parts of asia.
It doesn't have a thing to do with being muslim or being arab. It has to do with being third world.

Hop.

[ Parent ]
Collateral Damage (none / 0) (#453)
by jolly st nick on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:45:08 PM EST

As much as you don't want to hear it, the americans that died in the WTC are collateral damage for the terrorists.

Well, I understand the spirit in which you are saying this, but it is not literally true. Collateral damage is damage to targets that are not the intended targets. This would cover things which the attacker did not know in advance would be hit, or things which the attacker knew would be hit but didn't care either way.

Creating civilian casualties was the intent of the suicide bombers, so clearly the WTC casualties were not "collateral". There is no rational reason that the US would want to kill civilian noncombatants in Afganistan, so clearly these are collateral casualties.

This does not necessarily absolve the US of culpability in these casualties, nor does it preclude moral parity between the US and Al Qaeda. Both forseeable and unforseeable collateral casualties can be the result of reckless disregard for human life. However, if you accept that military action is ever justifiable, then you must accept that some instances of collateral damage are not reprehensible. It's not a cut and dried issue either way

If you want to establish the moral equivalency between the US government and Al Qaeda, you have to do more than associate them by means of this term. You have to do one or more of the following three things:

  1. Show that bombing in general is wrong.
  2. Show that bombing in the context of the Afganistan campaign in particular was wrong.
  3. Show that a particular mission was planned and executed in a way that was wrong.


[ Parent ]
The buildings where the target (none / 0) (#458)
by Hopfrog on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:20:01 PM EST

And not the people. Pentagon, WTC. Prominent landmarks.
If they wanted to kill people, they would have done it differently.

Hop.

[ Parent ]
What about (none / 0) (#470)
by wiredog on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:12:33 PM EST

the people on the airplanes. Clearly they were intended targets. Or are you just ignoring little details like that?

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
People in the airplanes (none / 0) (#526)
by jolly st nick on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 02:12:47 PM EST

People in the airplanes were collateral damage.

This perfectly makes my point: the fact that a human being died as part of "collateral damage" doesn't make the actions of others leading to that death OK. The plane that crashed in PA killed none of its intended targets.



[ Parent ]

Misses the point (none / 0) (#475)
by jolly st nick on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:39:14 PM EST

I think they wanted to create a large number of casualties. If they wanted to just destroy the buildings, they could have done it on a weekend, or at night. Really, before they went after the WTC, it wasn't really an important symbol, like the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. When did you ever see a souveneir paper weight of the WTC? The salient things about the building is that it had tens of thousands of people working in them.

In any case, you missed my main point, which was that the fact that damage is "collateral" doesn't mean that you automatically escape any kind of moral blame.



[ Parent ]

Woah There (none / 0) (#440)
by PhillipW on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:45:42 PM EST

To go back to the bigger picture, 3000 lives were lost, and two of the greatest structures were destroyed in the blink of an eye. The economy destroyed, a recession started,

I think you blew things way out of proportion. The economy wasn't destroyed, and we were well on our way to recession. In fact, if I recall correctly, there was a report that the economy has been in recession since March.

As far as the substance of your argument, I think you are using some bad logic. You say that all human life is sacred. However, because some people have no care for human life, they must be killed, and there will be some collateral damage, which is acceptable. That makes little to no sense.

-Phil
[ Parent ]
Missed the point (none / 0) (#469)
by Quixato on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:52:36 PM EST

Of course my logic is flawed - I'm only human and not entirely rational. The thing is though, I think you've missed the point of the original conversation. I am attempting to compare these two cultures based on one metric, that of reverence for life. While I see the muslim world coming up short, that doesn't necessarily mean that the western culture is some shiny noble altruistic godlike all knowing, never wrong, infaliable culture. But in comparison to the muslim one, using the metric of reverence for life, they are superior. And that is my point.

"People are like smarties - all different colours on the outside, but exactly the same on the inside." - Me
"Learn to question, question to learn." - Sl8r
[ Parent ]

all life is not sacred (none / 0) (#400)
by annenk38 on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 11:34:01 AM EST

All life is not sacred. First, the US remains one of but a handful of countries that supports the death penalty. And second, in general, the foreigners are not considered to be fully human. So bringing death to them is not really murder.

And if my left hand causes me to stumble as well -- what do I cut it off with? -- Harry, Prince of Wales (The Blackadder)
[ Parent ]
2 words: Arabic Numerals (4.12 / 8) (#341)
by thePositron on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:57:51 AM EST

2 words: Arabic Numerals you know: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 5, 6, 7 8, 9, especially 0. What would western society, culture and the sciences be without them? I refer to arabic numerals because I think that it is easy to forget how intertwined and dependant todays societies are upon all of the world's cultures and that human society today is the manifestation of ALL of humanities discoveries via, science, art, religion, math philosophy, politics, music etc....
Every culture and society has contributed things of value and things that are rubbish. As a result of this fact, no one culture, race or society can claim absolute superiority. It seems to me that history teaches us that societies, cultures and empires ebb and flow. Unless we have conquered history I believe histories lessons are still valid. It also appears to me that cultures that allow for the synthesis of the best ideas, practices, inventions and discoveries of other cultures are the strongest cultures and societies.
IMO The decline of a culture and a society promptly begins when it deems it's artifacts and contributions as superior to other cultures and societies. This trait is as manifested in persons and groups of people is called hubris and to quote a biblical proverb "pride cometh before a fall".

As for soundnes and validity of the structure of Hanson's simplistic argument. I believe
The world is not reducible comparisons as simplistic as culture A is superior to culture B because the aspects "western culture (culture A)" called C,D,and E are relatively better than the aspects they are being compared to in "muslim culture (culture B)".

If one is to believe Hanson's argument and it's reduction of the world into such a simplistic argument using such a limited reange of values. Then I also believe one must also believe that a black and white TV is analogous to the whole of human perception and that there are no criteria for value judgments outside the black and white tv's range of displaying reality.
And that the ony basis for making a comparison is
2 types ofblack and white tv's.
In other words his vision is to narrow and I believe he presents the terms of the argument in such a constrained range not because he is stupid but because his opinion piece is meant to serve a purely political and possibly bigoted and hateful purpose.
The purpose being the dehumanization of whole classes and groups of people in order to justify inhuman acts towards the groups people classified as "inferior".
Since I believe these puposes are the aim of the authors argument I reject his argument as hyperbole in the service of atrocity.
This type of chest thumping does the world very little good and it leads to more violence and idiocy because it posits the notion that my way is better than yours therefore it is my right to run your life and kick your ass if you don't get in line with my way.
It's sort of like two kids arguing who's Dad would win in a fistfight adn the kid with the stronger Dad getting in a fight with the other kid because his dad is presumably stronger.




Of course it would be intellectually easy and make me feel nice and smugly safe if I could judge the world in this way and take Hanson's opinion piece prima facie, but I believe judgements derived using the criteria outlined above are really a mask for the author's attempt to scapegoat, present an intellectual dishonest argument and to appeal to the reader's presumably shared cultural superiority via a grandiose claim to moral superiority which then leads to a false sense of security for both the reader and author.

As one who seeks the truth and further understanding of other people. I reject
Hansen's simplistic view of the world and his attempt to demonize a whole culture and it's people.


(Please forgive any errors in this I am to tired to proofread it right now)




Zero. (none / 0) (#343)
by katie on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:14:21 AM EST

Romans did quite a good job of conquering the known world without the benefit of zeros.

The Aztec empire ran quite well for some centuries without the benefit of written numbers at all.



[ Parent ]
Imagine our life without them (5.00 / 1) (#348)
by thePositron on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:47:16 AM EST

What you say is true,
but Imagine our life without 0's.

I can say with some certainty that there would not be an internet.

For what it's worth I am not concerned with proving that my culture is supereior to Islamic culture I am concerned more with expanding and enlarging my culture to be more inclusive and adaptive therefore preserving it in the LONG RUN.
This means I attempt to see the benefits and detractions in both cultures.
Since I am a "westerner" so to speak I am an expert on my culture and I do not know enough about Islamic culture to say my culture is superior however I am more than qualified to rip my own culture to shreds and tp criticise propaganda in the guise of history lessons.

Hanson's chest thumping does not help our culture in the least bit and it comes across as a my dad's stronger than your dad argument therefore you have no right to compalin because my dad will kick your dads ass if you don't agree with me.

I firmly go by the notion planted Theodore Roosevelt when he said:
"Speak SOFTLY and carry a big stick"
The current crop of pundits and politicians seem to think that we should "Speak loudly and haughtily and coerce those who disagree with us with our big stick."

This is like painting a big target on your cheek and asking those who have less power to band together and just try to hit you in the face and knock you out.

In the long run this strategy will fail because it will then become a war of attrition which generally favors those with greater numbers.



[ Parent ]
Note on Teddy Roosevelt (OT) (5.00 / 1) (#351)
by thePositron on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:09:47 AM EST

http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/life/quotes.htm

"Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far"

During TR's term as Governor of NY State he fought with the party bosses, particularly Boss Tom Platt regarding a political appointment. Roosevelt held out, although the boss threatened, to "ruin" him. In the end the boss gave in.

According to Nathan Miller in his book "Theodore Roosevelt, A Life", page 337,

"Looking back upon his handling of the incident, Roosevelt thought he 'never saw a bluff carried more resolutely through to the final limit.' And writing to a friend a few days later, he observed: 'I have always been fond of the West African proverb: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." ' "

The proverb and the policy followed him into numerous instances in his career, including his policies abroad during his presidency.



[ Parent ]
Big sticks. (3.00 / 2) (#394)
by katie on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:49:26 AM EST

"This is like painting a big target on your cheek and asking those who have less power to band together and just try to hit you in the face and knock you out."

I disagree. This more like walking up to the biggest person you can find and hitting them, repeatedly, to see just how long it takes them to lose their calm demeanor and flatten you.

The first two, three punches they might smile at you and let you off. Eventually though, anyone's patience runs out.

The Palestinians, for example, seem to be trying to provoke the Israelis into killing them all. Currently there's political pressure on the Israelis to have their soldiers shelter from the stones behind their APCs and only occaisionally fire rounds at the crowds.

Eventually, someone will get bored of this. If the Palestinians keep on trying the patience of the Israeli army, sooner or later, they will get bored. That will be really horrifying day, because once the Isrealis lose patience, there isn't really any reason for them to ever actually stop shooting until run out of ammunition. The lucky few surviving Palestinians will find themselves stood in the ocean without homes, never mind homeland. Don't imagine that won't happen - the Israelis have won proper wars against well equipped troops whilst outnumbered six-to-one. Stone throwing youths are an annoyance exactly as long as the Israeli government is prepared to put up with that.

On the same vein, the US could just have turned Afghanistan into a big radioactive glass puddle, and to be honest that was what I was expecting to see happen. Before the dust cleared I was dreading what was to follow. The fact that the US limited itself to merely dropping multi-thousand pound bombs illustrates restraint of a kind.

Last August America had no intention of dropping bombs on Afghanistan at all. It was just one more dysfunctional country that try as might just won't be helped. In fact, they turned up and tried to help - against the Soviets and then just in general. Anyone recall before all this happened the Taliban whining about how aid conveys were being driven by women? Not that aid was arriving, because, after all, the country needed it. Not even that the Great Satan was feeding the people they couldn't. Just that the American aid agencies weren't oppressing their women properly.

But no, some of the people of the world seem hell-bent on seeing just what it will take for Bush to nuke something.

Presumably being dead but not the one having committed genocide makes you the winner in some moral sense.



No. I don't actually think force majeure is a good way to run the world, but it's what we have. Idealism's a great toy, but the real world is out there and it doesn't match with the ideal ones.


[ Parent ]
So you reject the basis by which.... (5.00 / 1) (#448)
by thePositron on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:48:58 PM EST

So you reject the basis by which the U.S. Empire was built for the bullying approach, thumping our chest screaming we are so great we are better than you approach?

There is a reason Teddy is on Mount Rushmore you know and it's not because he acted brashly and hit the world over the head with the growing power of the U.S.. Instead he chose the road of tact, humility, and diplomacy with the rest of the world which we are still benefiting from to this very day.

I don't think that it is idealistic to have power and not display it constantly in order to prove your military supremacy. This is the way of the wise. If I have a gun I don't brag about it and point it at people who don't have one to prove that I can kill them if an argument takes place.
I act humbly in the world and if messed with I take action. Pointing your gun at people and braggin about how great you are is psychopathic in my opinion.

The action in Afghanistan may be justified using Teddy's approach but I think the resulting chaos fromm our bombing has actually defeated our goal of capturing and killing the alleged perpetrators of the WTC attack. You also make the claim that we had no plans for military action in afghanistan before August but I believe that has been shown in some publications ( I don't have sources right now I will look them up and post citations) that the thought crossed the makers of U.S. policy in July ( I believe the statement to the Taliban was either they accept our offer and a carpet of Gold or we carpet them with bombs) and when the Taliban rejected the overture made by the Adminstration for the forwarding of a pipeline project through Aghanistan from the Caspian Sea.


All the threats following our bombing of Afghanistan are chest thumping threats meant to make sure everyone knows that we are the boss and that we run the world right now.
I don't doubt for a second that we do run the world and that we have the might to back it up but that is no reason to behave like an arrogant and brash people by making threats and deploying or troops in an ever wider area of influence( Georgia, Phillipines, Central Asian republics).


This approach creates more enemies and it makes few friends and I believe it will eventually drain us of our resources.

We cannot indefinitely support our current system of massive miliatary expenditures and deployment of troops throughout the whole world.

It will wear the empire down fromn within and our taxes will be so high that most americans will barely be able to feed themselves.

The wiser approach is to act humbly and if messed with unleash our power in measured and reasoned responses while ASSIMIlating the good aspects of each culture.

The U.S. is now constantly making threats and ithe pundit class keeps writing inflamatory rhetoric and I can't for the life me see how this us made us any safer in the long run. I believe it has done just the opposite.
Also thumping our chest about how great we are is the way of the braggart. I am sure you are aware of how irritating braggarts are.

Silently accepting the greatness of our society and culture and letting it's greatness be it's own messenger without the need to desecrate it's magnitude by ill conceived puffery is a very practical approach IMO not an idealistic one.



[ Parent ]
Re: Zero (none / 0) (#376)
by jolly st nick on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:42:18 AM EST

The Romans would have had much more difficulty conquering their neighbors if their neighbors were armed with two very powerful tools, strongly enhanced and enabled by positional arithmetic:
  1. Meta-empirical Engineering
  2. Double-entry book keeping

Meta-empirical engineering is a word I made up for something I don't know the proper term for. The Romans were superb empirical engineers. They had a long history of successively refined engineering designs. However, beginning in the 19th C and very much in the 20th C this mode of engineering was superceded by a kind of engineering that combines empirical experience with scientific induction.

Imagine an engineering school that did not require calculus, analytic geometry, or advanced analysis. Without positional arithmetic, doing useful work with these mathematical tools would become so difficult that they probably wouldn't be an important part of an engineer's intellectual toolbox.

Double entry bookkeeping is probably the most significant single management innovation ever. It allows very large enterprises to be created and effectively controlled; it makes joint stock companies practical. This makes both the public and private accumulation and management of capital more efficient. Capital enables and leverages scientific and technological innovation. This in turn makes countries richer and more militarily powerful.

Without zero, positional arithmetic, and negative numbers, double entry bookkeeping would be impractical.



[ Parent ]

[OT] double entry book-keeping. (none / 0) (#391)
by katie on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:25:25 AM EST

Double entry bookkeeping doesn't need negative numbers. In fact it doesn't even need subtraction, it's all set up to run off addition alone. Which is why the first mechanical desk calculators basically only did addition...

Double entry is, basically, only an extension of single entry - the main thing it gives you is the ability to find errors more easily. It was the formulation of accounting practice that happened to come along with DE bookkeeping that gave it the management power - the writing down of clearly defined rules for doing each action and a set of post-conditions to check.



[ Parent ]
Not so off topic. (none / 0) (#396)
by jolly st nick on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 11:08:24 AM EST

In a sense, you don't need negative numbers because the sign of a number is encoded in its position on the ledger. But you certainly do need subtraction. Not to record transactions, but, as you say, "find errors more easily".

I don't regard the process of finding errors as a minor point, and the format of recording transactions as the important point. It's quite the reverse, in my opinion. It is the ability to find irregularities that makes financial control of large enterprises possible.

Practicalities matter more than possibilities. You can do ray tracing using a mechanical calculator and a slide rule, it's just harder -- enough harder that nobody would have dreamed of doing it before computers. You can do accounting without positional arithmetic, but doing it with the same precision is just harder in the same way that it is a practical impossibilties. The parallel spread of arabic numerals and accountancy in the west are no accident; one enabled the other.

Is this really so off topic? The question is the relative merits of Western vs. Muslim civilization. The point being made is that if you are introducing various achievements as absolute evidence of Western superiority, it is only honest and fair to point out they are also built upon knowledge gained from Muslim civilization.

You may point out that the West had done more with this information than Muslim civilizations have in the recent era. This is fair enough. But for me the take home lesson from these examples is that connection between these cultures is an important one. Change doesn't happen everywhere at the same time.



[ Parent ]

Why? (1.00 / 1) (#355)
by Apuleius on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:16:43 AM EST

Why dig up old laurels? The Muslim World was the pinnacle of civilization once. Nobody denies that, including V.D. Hanson. It is a shithole now. Nobody can seriously deny that either. And the now is what matters.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Switched positions? (4.00 / 1) (#358)
by Niarb on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:37:37 AM EST

When I first started reading your post I thought you were agreeing with Hansons article. You said: "It also appears to me that cultures that allow for the synthesis of the best ideas, practices, inventions and discoveries of other cultures are the strongest cultures and societies." Your statement there is dead on. And I think that is what Hanson was getting at in his article. I think that, for the most part, capitalism allows the best ideas to surface. The same can be said for democracy... or at least of an open, secular democracy. That is exactly what the Muslim world lacks as a whole. So I think you CAN say, "Culture A is superior to culture B because the aspects "western culture (culture A)" called C,D,and E are relatively better than the aspects they are being compared to in "Muslim culture (culture B)"." Maybe the problem is the use of the word "culture". I wouldn't say one culture is better than another, but ones economic system and ones political system could be superior to another, because one might, as you say, 'allow for the synthesis of the best ideas, practices, inventions and discoveries...', while another system might instigate the decline of their culture by doing the opposite, by, also as you say, deeming "it's artifacts and contributions as superior to other cultures and societies." That's the Muslim world. That's Islamic fundamentalism.

[ Parent ]
The western values and "best ideas" (none / 0) (#380)
by nhl on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:05:59 AM EST

An open environment does indeed make it easier for the best ideas to surface. Alas, it also makes it easier for the worst of ideas to emerge. Especially in a capitalistic environment, where everything is measured in personal wealth contra the wealth of others, much of the openness of a western society is detroyed and abused by greed and the struggle for furthering oneself.

Not all noble thoughts and ideas are good in practice for a powerhungry mankind.

[ Parent ]
Didn't say it was perfect (none / 0) (#472)
by Niarb on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:00:31 PM EST

But it is certainly better than a repressive system. We at least have a chance of the best ideas floating to the top; there, there is no chance.

[ Parent ]
True of all types of dogmatic thinking (none / 0) (#454)
by thePositron on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:53:32 PM EST

What you have written about Islamic radicals is true of all types of dogmatic thinkers in both cultures including our own. Of course on some points I agree with Hanson but what I disagree with is his approach( which i believe to be based on a dogmatic set of beliefs about our culture) to the problems of preserving, protecting and expanding our culture.

There are dogmatic people in both cultures or systems so it's impossible to judge the whole merely by a few of it's most visible parts. It's like saying the Pacific Ocean is completely polluted because 2 drops of it are contaminated.

My responsibility is first to myself, second to my neighbors, third to the society I live in and 4th to the rest of the world. So I first exam myself to see what needs to be improved and changed ( I generally don't get beyond this because there is so much to do).I wish to see our culture and the parts of it that allow synthesis to occur to survive and thrive That means rejecting perceptions of our culture that deem it as superior to other cultures and not nitpicking what I don't like in other cultures to prove that my culture is superior in it's present state. The very act of pointing fingers and listing other peoples and cultures faults as an indicator that I or my culture is superior is the beginning of the end for all progress and growth for me and my culture. I believe Hanson's dogmatic polemic while bringing up good points, is indicative of the type thinking that will destroy the openess of our culture. It is my belief that the dogmatist's and true believers in our own culture are just as dangerous to our way of being and our culture are as are those who have declared themselves the enemy of our culture and society.

I also agree with your obseravtion that the problems which we face concerning the survival of the greatest values of our culture and society need to be broken down into their components i.e... politics, economics, religion, art etc.. in order for there to be a an approximate analysis of and comparison to other cultures and societies.

"Know thyself for better mental health" --unknown author
--unknown author



[ Parent ]
'arab' number system not arab. (4.80 / 5) (#367)
by aurelito on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:49:58 AM EST

the number system we use today was not invented by the arab world, but was rather invented in india and introduced to the west by way of arab merchants. the hindu are also the ones who introduced the concept of zero to the arabs, and, by extention, the western world.

[ Parent ]
Definitely, but the Arabs played a role ... (none / 0) (#443)
by Hobbes2100 on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:02:24 PM EST

I agree with aurelito because he (she?) is right. The Hindus did develop the number system we call "Arabic".

However, invention is only part of the story. It is not correct to say that the Hindus introduced these concepts (place valued numbers and the zero) to the West. The introduction was done by Arabs.

If you'd like a quick summary of the accomplishment of early Islamic civilization, I would recommend Chapter XII "Thought and Art in Eastern Islam: 632-1058" of Will Durant's "The Age of Faith" [this is volume 4 of "The Story of Civilization"]. There are plenty of references to keep you busy for ages, as well.

Regards,
Mark
Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? --Iuvenalis
But who will guard the guardians themselves? -- Juvenal
[ Parent ]

Islam is not just the religion of Arabs (none / 0) (#460)
by thePositron on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:29:19 PM EST

Islam is not just the religion of Arabs it is the religion of many Indians as well.

The 0 was first used in Sumeria and later it was elaborated on by the Indians and then the meme was transported to a large portion of the world by Arabic people.

Whatever the case is. My point was that every culture has contributred something of value to our culture which our culture has capitalized upon with great success. This is what I believe makes our culture great. Our culture is the result of thousands of years of influence, ideas and synthesis from all the great societies of the world. Claiming we have the best and the most superior culture by virtue of the fact we are the most powerful while capitalizing on the best of other cultures seems to be a very arrogant approach to our relationship with the CULTURES of the Islamic world. It is this attitude and approach to our disagreements with other cultures that I believe will cause our culture to stagnate and die if we let it take hold and dominate our societies collective conscious.

Source for info on the number zero:
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/tocs/history.middle.html



[ Parent ]
Should Disagree (5.00 / 1) (#497)
by Sattwic on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 06:52:38 AM EST

Politely Disagree The Indian Concept of Zero is only comparable to the Aztec/Mayan Concept of Zero. The Babylonian (you have mistaken it for Sumerian) concept of Zero postdates the symbolism of DOT (which evolved into the symbol '0') used in Ancient India. According to your own sources:
    http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/tristan02.17.99.html


[ Parent ]
I understand (none / 0) (#513)
by thePositron on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 04:31:02 PM EST

What I am trying to say is that everyone makes contributions and we all build on each others achievements. So taking the stance that one culture, race, religion, etc.. is counterproductive to the advancement of our culture and all of humanity.




[ Parent ]
Correction to above (none / 0) (#514)
by thePositron on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 04:32:33 PM EST

I meant to say:
So taking the stance that one culture, race, religion, etc..is superior os counterproductive to all of humaninity.

[ Parent ]
Actually this is a source of debate among scholars (none / 0) (#515)
by thePositron on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 04:55:38 PM EST

Actually this is a a source of debate among scholars. No one is absolutely certain about the usage of zero as a place holder to represent the concept of nothing.
If you research the topic further you will find that our present system of representing numbers is complex and it has relied upon the contributions of many cultures particularly from the east.

Anyway notions of races, cultures, religions etc..as being superior to others are absurd and they usually lead to wars and the death and stagnation of the culture that takes a position that it is superior.


[ Parent ]
Oh please... (none / 0) (#547)
by maunleon on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 10:48:59 PM EST

Here's my question for all the muslimophilliacs on this web site:

What has the muslim world done for the rest of the world in the past three hundred years? Have they maybe invented refrigeration? Uh, no. Pasteurization? Nope, it wasn't Louis Mohammed. Combustion engine? Hmm. nope. Look around you.

The question is not whether the Muslim world was once great. During the middle ages it was superior to Europe. Now the only major exports are hate and oil.

Who cares how it was once? My kids will not grow up in those times. My kids will grow up in a world where muslims are taught hate and will not think twice about crashing a plane in a building with my children inside.

May God have mercy on their souls. I am sorry that they think I hate them. I once hoped for a free and peaceful Palestine. Now I know that hate feeds the political machine in the Middle East, and even if the Palestine issue was resolved, they would just look for new confrontations to rally their turbaned lemmings around them.


[ Parent ]
Israel an open, western democracy? (3.28 / 14) (#378)
by redelm on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:56:07 AM EST

I have to take some issue with the statement that Israel is " an open, democratic, Western society". Unless, of course, you'd consider apartheid South Africa to be one too.

In fact, the Palestinians under Isreali rule probably suffer more restrictions than the blacks & coloreds did under apartheid. Not that oppression stopped either South Africa or Israel from prospering.



No luck here pal... (5.00 / 2) (#405)
by uriyan on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:07:10 PM EST

Well, you just didn't do your homework right. All citizens above 18 in Israel (both Jews and Arabs) have the right to vote and to be elected. There are several Arab parties in the Israeli parliament, which are obviously elected by Arabs.

If you meant to imply the Palestinians, they also have their own elected leadership. In which there are 28 heads of the Ministry of Education, no less, and there's no one man-one vote rule. Talk about democracy.


gantse jahr fraylech... gantse jahr fraylech...


[ Parent ]
Arab != Jew (none / 0) (#414)
by dru on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:32:56 PM EST

Um, all jews are not non-arab, and not all arabs are Muslim.

It's great that all citizens in Israel get to vote, except that all the people who live in Israel and Israeli-occupied territory aren't Israeli citizens. Isn't that convenient?

That's not even getting into the Palestinian elections, which the Israeli gov'nt has control over. Indeed, 30,000 or so Palestinians were denied the opportunity to vote the last time there was an election because of "security reasons". Indeed.
-- dru.ca
[ Parent ]
Arafat got 97% of the votes, where's the rigging? (none / 0) (#418)
by uriyan on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:58:24 PM EST

Well, I don't know from where you'd taken that figure, but even if it's true, there are 3 million Palestinians, let's say a third voted... Arafat won by 97%. Of course, the election was rigged, but by him, not by the Israelis.


gantse jahr fraylech... gantse jahr fraylech...


[ Parent ]
Disneyland is the threat, not B2 bombers (2.40 / 5) (#379)
by redelm on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 09:03:53 AM EST

I read somewhere an interesting anecdote [Dave Barry?] about how when Arab kids come back from Disneyland wearing Chicago Bulls baseball caps on sideways, the dads go crazy.

We have to recognise this holds some truth. American culture is very seductive and might be heavily resented and demonised. It is one thing to put up with a despotic ruler who probably doesn't have the inclination or ability to affect your family inside your home, quite another to lose your children to an alien culture.



Foreigners don't see the whole (3.50 / 2) (#397)
by DodgyGeezer on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 11:17:04 AM EST

I think American culture is only seductive to people who have never lived there. And of those who emmigrate to the US, they will try to overlook any shortcomings as they've already put so much effort into getting there.

I think the US is very good at putting on a show that depicts things in a perfect light. Disney is a very good example of a company that makes this an artform. Hollywood, who are one of the most visible parts of the US overseas, are extremely good at overlooking things. (e.g. A Beautiful Mind was portrayed as a true story, but in reality is only EXTREMELY loosely based on fact).

I think that a lot of other cultures don't try so hard to present things in such a favourable light. This leads their peoples unable to deal with the one-sided presentations and thus unable to see through to real truth. Americans on the otherhand have grown up with it, have seen reality, and so know how to deal with it, and in fact quite enjoy suspending reality and forgetting their problems for short periods of time. This is why the US culture seems so seductive.

Okay, maybe I'm only thinking of westerners, and not people from other areas who have a need for economic migration or political asylum.



[ Parent ]
Americans abroad (none / 0) (#406)
by redelm on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:08:35 PM EST

I think that American culture [such as it is] is also very seductive or at least very comforting for Americans themselves. Just look at Americans abroad.

Even on short trips, tourists will seek out Americana or close copies abroad. And much longer term expatriates show heavy withdrawal symptomes evidencing an addition.



[ Parent ]

Ex-pats have tend to have selective memories (5.00 / 1) (#409)
by DodgyGeezer on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:19:34 PM EST

As an emmigrant (or immigrant, depending on your perspective ;)) myself, I think one really remembers the best things of where one came from. When times are tough in ones new adopted country, one tends to get a little homesick. In reality, things would be just as tough back home, but perhaps in different ways.

Ex-pats can really do themselves favours but trying to be more objective by avoiding having a selective memory, and trying to focus on the good things about where they are, and the reasons why they moved there. (If they moved for the wrong reasons, then they should either decide to move back, or make a bigger effort enjoy where they are - prolonged pining for ones home country is stupid and only leads to misery and discourages full enjoyment of local life.)



[ Parent ]
culture, corporations and everything (3.00 / 2) (#407)
by fourseven on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:12:36 PM EST

sorry, this is a bit of an unorganized rant read if you wish. it may not make sense.

this brings an interesting train of thought to my brain station.. ever since i immigrated from eastern europe to canada, something was lacking in my picture of a complete life. sure, unemployment is lower, and there is a wide selection of consumer products. but culturally, there's a void.
there's one thing this continent has produced in abundance: consumer garbage. you may think you have culture, but it's all a joke. a few writers, a few movies. that's it. america produces nothing of quality. think about it: everything is made by corporations.. corporations are kind of like software programs, they pursue a single goal (profit) with machine-like persistance. when given a choice between profit and quality, they choose profit. those of you with formal computer science schooling may be familiar with "greedy algorithms" - and also familiar with the vast quantity of scenarios where greedy strategy does not produce optimal solutions, or no solutions at all.

hollywood is one big garbage dump. it may seem attractive to foreigners at first, because they never see the back.. only the shiny front. but out back, in the alley, it's the same shit as in russia, china or afghanistan. people are different, but they're strikingly the same. one thing has struck me: virtually all american movies portray things they way the authors would like them to be, while most non-american films portray things as they are. america seems to me a land of people lost in a dream, a fantasy of kinds. already in the sixties things were bad, so people took lots of drugs to change their perception of reality. didn't help much, fifty years later drugs are wearing off.. still, lots of people persist to think that all is ay-okay, american dream, america, stars and stripes and all that shit.

the terrorists did new york a bit of a favour smashing these towers, at least now the poorer people can see a little farther. walk down broadway ave, you cannot see the sky. the air is full of neon lights and tv screens, presenting the latest piece of fecies in radiant light. right there, hustlers on the street. beggars with bags on their feet, shiny rolls-royces.

so. if capitalism is so much better than tyranny/anarchy/communism/socialism, run this scenario in your head: right now you have quite a few very large corporations, and lots and lots of smaller ones. each corporation, by design, is geared to make profit, in order that it may make more profit later. the bigger the corporation, the bigger it's potential for profit. so it's natural that the large corporations grow faster than the smaller ones (not by percentage, but in overall "worth") in the process they either kill or buy out the smaller corps. so what about the long-term scenario? in the end, will there be only one company left standing? will it have sucked all the money unto itself? at which point people stopped believing in money, and the corporation disappeared? oh, i wish.

b.

[ Parent ]
You are misunderstanding what culture is.. (none / 0) (#420)
by RandomAction on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:02:13 PM EST

..it ain't just trashy films, Oprah and Art. Science, the justice system and other elements all form important elements of a 'Culture'. It's not as if Eastern Europe did all that well 'Culturally' under communism now is it?

[ Parent ]
culture and commies (5.00 / 1) (#432)
by fourseven on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:38:06 PM EST

hm.. you'd be surprised at the wealth of literature, poetry, film and theatre that the people produced. nothing inspires art like suffering. political sattire of these times has no equals.. the sciences were standing strong - it's not the funding, it's the people's thirst for knowledge. you will say "but american science is so much more advanced" - good.. now look at the last names of your "american" scientists.. most of them are immigrants from europe, asia and middle east. universities are free in europe, they are institutions of learning. in america, they are yet another country club. your education system is geared to make everyone equal - so the bright kids waste their potential alongside unwilling, lazy ones, in the hands of incompetent, disinterested teachers.
this is not a defense of communism.. just pointing out an interesting phenomenon. under communist rule, people had a sense of unity, there was a society, people took care of others. in a capitalist society, it's a ridiculous "everyone for themselves" - in which scenario everyone loses eventually.
the worst of your system has spread now to europe, like cancer. the fast food, the ego-serving mentality, the marketing. in short, your garbage. this is what you export to the world: your fecies. calling it culture, but note who does the calling: the profiteering companies. they will paint anything nice, just to sell it, quick, quick, make a buck. what, are you stupid, you don't want to make a buck? you take the world's resources, and throw back things you cannot use. all that, for softer toiled paper.
culture grows like a tree.. culture is a heritage, it's built upon previous layers.. but america never looks back, doesn't learn from history.. what's history, it's old, we cannot sell it..

hmm.. another rant.. how did this one slip by me?

b.

[ Parent ]
Sadly you have.. (none / 0) (#465)
by RandomAction on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:17:26 PM EST

..still not grasped what Culture is. I like Burger King and Steven Segal films. Communism has never offered anything to surpass them.

[ Parent ]
The Way of the Yanks is a Movie (5.00 / 1) (#434)
by epepke on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:50:10 PM EST

Three years ago, I would have agreed completely and empathized. I've always been at least an amateur anthropologist and a student of other languages and cultures, and I've always been dismayed by the lack of a complex mythology in American culture. I have also, however, been interested in various art forms that make high art out of junk, such as those of Frank Zappa and Philip K. Dick.

However, over the past three years, a lot of things have happened to me. Most of these have involved significant loss: a period of poverty, even homelessness, and loss of my family, possibly my last hope for a family. Some of them have involved gain: subsequent earnings and wealth to a point I would not have imagined; a period of emotional coldness, now undergoing a thaw where I am about to trade financial security for an uncertain but more human future. Now, I would agree in part, but I do not empathize.

Let's agree that, for the most part, America does not have culture, only junk. All right, but it raises the questions "what is culture" and "what is junk"? We'll start with culture first.

What is European culture? We know the answer. There are paintings, opera, classical music, theatre, all that good stuff. I like most of it. Where did they come from? Primarily, they came as works for hire that churches or governments commissioned or mentored. The character of the culture was determined by the taste norms of the people paying the bills. To be sure, there was always folk art, but most of that survives because some Great Composer or Great Painter noticed it and adapted it to his own ends.

What is junk? It's the real folk art, the portion not noticed by the Greats. Rock and roll. Country music. Jazz, at a time, and for that matter, anything that was primarily done by black people. "Real culture" still means, essentially, what white Europeans do, preferably French ones, with the occasional Italian or German. Occasionally, one of the French ones will adapt something Spanish-like, but it isn't right, and "toreador" isn't a Spanish word. Or an Elvis or Benny Goodman may come along and adapt what black people have been doing all along, sometimes adding some actual art, but mostly making it acceptable.

This brings us to another aspect of culture that people don't like to think about: the Cultural Festival. Europe is particularly well known for its Cultural Festivals, which are more commonly known with the simple name of "war." The plot of most European Cultural Festivals is the same. Act I is about a bunch of people deciding to go down the road to where people talk funny and look slightly different, kill them, and take their land. Act II is a gala pageant, with lots of great special effects, including Mustard Gas or Zyklon-B, or whatever is trendy. Act III, the denoument, involves all the newly homogenized local peoples who all look and talk the same, telling everyone how peaceful and wonderful they all are. Then there's a new cultural festival.

There have been many names for these Cultural Festivals: the War of the Roses, the English Civil War, the Hundred Years War, the Crusades, World War I, and World War II. America, with its European roots, tried out a couple too: the American World War and the Slaughter of the Indians. You will notice that I am describing very real events as if they were stage plays. This is deliberate, a direct response to your statement that American movies aren't realistic enough. Because, around 1900, we (or rather, mostly, Jewish Eastern European immigrants) decided that movies were more fun than Cultural Festivals, and you could put some red food coloring into Karo syrup and get something that looked like blood but didn't hurt as much.

Of course, the elimination of Culture hasn't been perfect in America. In the middle of Act II, the U.S. came in on a major Franco-Prussian festival, called the Great War. Europeans liked it so much, they decided to make a sequel, called World War II. The U.S. got involved with that one, too, and did a lot to avoid another sequel, which I don't think Europe will ever forgive. The U.S. also got involved in a Franco-Vietnamese production, and a Franco-Mideast production, for which we are still feeling the pain. Plus there have been some minor Cultural Festivals such as the War On Drugs, mostly resulting in a crime rate so appalling that, over a similar period of time, it kills almost 5% as many people that Europeans kill sporadically with their Cultural Festivals. We do, however, have a number of home-grown Festivals. You may have heard of the latest blockbuster, Enron, or the sex comedy Bill and Monica, or even the farcical Dubya Goes to Washington. However, as usual, someone tricked us into another Cultural Festival. Fortunately, Americans usually lose interest in these things after a while.

So, what am I getting at, except pointing out that sarcasm is alive in America? Simple. Junk, garbage, and corporations seem empty and bad, that is, until you consider the alternatives. If corporations went away, what would you have? Governments and churches, and the governments have tanks instead of junk bonds. "Hostile Takeover" means a rather different thing when you're thinking of 1990's Wall Street versus 1950's Hungary.

As The Boomer Bible says, the way of the Yanks is pure Hollywood. You can sneer at Hollywood, but it has certain advantages over Old World Pageantry.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
make-believe (3.00 / 2) (#451)
by fourseven on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:34:40 PM EST

well.. complex mythology had its time, now is the time for junk and excess. after that will come time for something else.
it's interesting how folk art ties into all this. in absence of conventional folk art, i guess all the mass-manufactured plastic crap must count as american folk art, on the merit that, well, the american folks made it. half true, because most of it is made in china.. but to american plans nonetheless.
but junk is more than these trinkets.. junk is kids toys that are made without any consideration for the kids. junk is a lincoln navigator suv. junk is all the stuff we can do -without-. in accepting junk into our lives, we willingly let our lives to turn into junk. i admire a poor ukrainian peasant far more than a wall-street banker. the former may be uneducated, simple, but he knows the worth of hard toil, and preciousness of life. the latter is educated and wealthy, some might say he has power. it would be more true to say that the power has him, because he is not in control.. his lizard brain is in control, following the false wants and desires he himself helped manufacture. he shows contempt for human life, not knowing that he is also human.
junk is marketing. people's every-day effort that goes towards crafting new and new ideas of how to push useless and harmful garbage down other people's throats.
the cultural festivals as you call them.. seems like your country is actively involved in broadcasting one, and writing scripts for at least a few more.. you have arguably the most advanced armed forces in the world, but what are they? nothing more than a gun in a capricious child's hands. you use your power to extort, exploit, force your way, and create more and more pressure, more and more differences. sure, you all see in on tv.. looks just like a movie, doesn't it. even the wtc attack looked kind of like a disaster movie.. i wonder how many companies sued the tv stations for not broadcasting scheduled commercials during that "prime time"
if corporations went away.. why do you expect the history to revert? corporations will be replaced with something else in due time, but it's unlikely that things that were will come back. part of the problem is that the things we do now, their effects will come later. the level of complexity is high enough to bar reliable predictions, so even though we often smell something fishy, we still go ahead, cutting the branch we sit on further and further.

this is where the coyote realizes he's running on air...

b.

[ Parent ]
The article you're thinking of... (4.00 / 1) (#412)
by hansel on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:30:54 PM EST

...is "In The Beginning Was The Command Line", by Neal Stephenson. He mentions the exact line you've recalled, while discussing cultural mediation.

It's a great read.



[ Parent ]
Thanks! (none / 0) (#428)
by redelm on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:00:21 PM EST

Many thanks for the reference. I was looking for it in all the wrong places :)

[ Parent ]
Heh (none / 0) (#429)
by hansel on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:12:41 PM EST

That's why your mustache is brown...

[ Parent ]
Scary: Michael Eisner, Fortune Magazine (none / 0) (#430)
by synaesthesia on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:15:35 PM EST

From Michael Eisner, CEO of Walt Disney:

"In my opinion America is hated not because of our ideology but because of our freedom, our lifestyle, and our products. The more people around the world can't have those things, the more they hate us. So the solution is to make our things available around the world."

Global Disnification is the solution to America's problems?



Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
Scary? Truthful (none / 0) (#535)
by A Trickster Imp on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 09:50:31 AM EST

The best way to spread Western tradition is to get the "ground up", "grass roots" infiltration of American products.

When they're all running around in blue jeans drinking Pepsi, and Islam is nothing more than a quaint, anachronistic "lifestyle choice", the way Christianity is here in America, then we will have won.

Yes, the Disney/Pepsi/blue jeans culture is superior in that sense.







[ Parent ]
Very unfair.. Highly biased.. !! (2.00 / 3) (#416)
by RandomAction on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 12:41:02 PM EST

..you're choosing arbitrary criteria to measure the relative value of different cultures, but that selection is itself culture biased. Democracy, free markets et al are all fine and dandy. For my part, I think the best single criteria to judge a culture on, is the percentage of its adherents getting in to Stovacore. It's that simple.

No basis for democracy in most of muslim world (3.25 / 4) (#439)
by Rainy on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:31:03 PM EST

I haven't studied this extensively but intuitively this viewpoint seems to make the most sense:

Most muslim countries right now don't have the cultural and economical basis for US-like democracy. When they (as well as african and south american countries) try to copy US and European success by establishing a democracy, they get disappointed with results and further, disappointed in concept of democracy itself. Then a dictator takes over and the country's even worse off because the monarchy it originally had would have preserved economical and social stability which in time would establish solid basis for US-like democracy. So, by establishing democracy prematurely these countries in fact push their prospects further into future instead. The trouble is.. US seemengly believes in this viewpoint BUT it has other possible interests in keeping current dictators and monarchs around - it may think that if they are replaced by a democracy, US will have to pay more for oil. So 9-11 is a matter of ObL doubting US motives. I think ObL is aware of the possible benevolent motives US may have, but he believes malicious motives are more important to US, and so US looks at the situation in some country and says, "No it's not time for a democracy there, they don't have economic and social basis", even though US knows there is, but just wants cheap oil to keep coming their way. Or, alternatively, ObL may think that both democracies and US-approved monarchies are bad for Islam cause they erode its religious devotion.

More to the point: the article says "inherently superior" - but does not explain what it means precisely. This could easily be taken by some sort of racism-colored worldview.

Israel has been successful 'cause people with social and democratic traditions firmly embedded in their lifestyles came to the new land and quickly created a western society there (with a little help from their friends here). Land dont' count, people do count, but not people's genetic footprints but rather their social and economical habits.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day

ObL's temper tantrum, beliefs, etc... (none / 0) (#441)
by urmensch on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:55:49 PM EST

I have yet to hear anything but general complaining from Osama bin Laden. To my knowledge he hasn't ever tried to communicate his viewpoints and problems with western culture in any way except violence.

his actions might make *some* sense if he issued a list of specific greviences that we could respond to.

it is impossible to tell whether ObL is aware of anything other than wealth and power until we hear something from him other than religious bullshit.


[to live outside the law you must be honest]
[ Parent ]
Not ready for democracy (none / 0) (#450)
by jolly st nick on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 05:25:43 PM EST

Most muslim countries right now don't have the cultural and economical basis for US-like democracy. When they (as well as african and south american countries) try to copy US and European success by establishing a democracy, they get disappointed with results and further, disappointed in concept of democracy itself.

OK, I'll buy this argument, if you can answer one question to my satisfaction: what system are these people supposed to live under in the meantime, that will "prepare" them for democracy?

The biggest problem in many countries is that the people live under corrupt administrations that siphon off resources that should go into development as graft. Under what system of government can the administration be held more accountable to the needs of the people than under democracy? I understand that accountability isn't a solution to most problems, but it is a prerequisite to solving them.



[ Parent ]

As I said, monarchy (none / 0) (#502)
by Rainy on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 10:21:05 AM EST

In the 3rd world setting, monarchy may in fact be less corrupt than democracy, and much more stable. If you're elected in a 3rd world country for a period of say 4 years, AND you're corrupt, you'll try to steal as much as possible in the time you have. A monarch, even if he is corrupt, will try to invest some effort in country's stability for the sake of staying in power. Stability breeds prosperity which in turn will create basis for a *successful* democracy. What I'm trying to say is that it's not immediately obvious to me that a stable monarchy in an agricultural country absolutely must be replaced with a democracy ASAP.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Wall Street Journal (1.71 / 7) (#444)
by Trollish Merchant on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:20:12 PM EST

That's enough, little boys and girls. Name calling won't get you anywhere in life.

Now, about this article, yes, interesting. It definitely shows that the WSJ is now just someone's mouthpiece. Someone really pissed off. Allow me to elaborate. First, they lost someone near and dear at the offices of the WSJ, you know, Daniel Pearl. Likewise, someone at the office or a close associate will stand up, wave their arms around, and yell about how life sucks. Same thing happened right after 9-11-2001 at FoxNews or whichever channel fired the woman who proclaimed something to the effect that all Muslims should be forcedly converted to Christianity. I'm sure someone here will do me the favor of linking directly to the K5 article detailing this one scene.

-----

Psst! I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Christianity (none / 0) (#534)
by A Trickster Imp on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 09:47:56 AM EST

> something to the effect that all Muslims should
> be forcedly converted to Christianity

God no! It took a thousand years of the dark ages for the Western tradition to overcome Christianity.




[ Parent ]
This guy is a military historian? (4.66 / 6) (#455)
by Sir Rastus Bear on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:04:43 PM EST

This guy is just massively full of shit.

"Values and traditions--not guns, germs and steel--explain why a tiny Greece of 50,000 square miles crushed a Persia 20 times larger."

The Persians were far from home, and consequently had a tenuous supply chain that the Greeks were able to threaten effectively. Far more of a determining factor than Greek "values and traditions". Basic strategy here.

And the Greeks did not "crush" the Persians anymore than the North Vietnamese crushed the US. Rather, they convinced them that the conquest was not worth the price.

And speaking of that, by Hanson's logic, the Vietnamese must be culturally superior to America.


"It's the dog's fault, but she irrationally yells at me that I shouldn't use the wood chipper when I'm drunk."

Yes, he is. (none / 0) (#457)
by Apuleius on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:10:09 PM EST

The crushing of Persia came after the Persian invasion, if you try to recall. Ever heard of Alexander?


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Yes, Alexander was all about values (none / 0) (#461)
by Sir Rastus Bear on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:33:54 PM EST

... seriously, I didn't see his statement as referring to Alexander, but more as referring to the Persian invasions. I read it this way because one of the significant values Hanson talks about is democracy. Not, frankly, one of the things we remember Alexander for.

My take on the statement is more along the lines of "the Athenians won because they were a free, democratic society which valued open discourse".

I agree with this to a limited extent ... an individual Athenian (during the Persian invasions) was probably a better soldier than the average Persian (who was more likely an unhappy conscript from some outlying part of the empire). But to say that this is the reason the Persians failed is a bit much.

If he is in fact referring to Alexander's conquests, I would be interested in knowing exactly which values and traditions he has in mind.


"It's the dog's fault, but she irrationally yells at me that I shouldn't use the wood chipper when I'm drunk."
[ Parent ]

Those would be the hoplite traditions. (4.00 / 1) (#463)
by Apuleius on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 07:00:35 PM EST

And though these developed in Greek monarchies and democracies alike, democratic values did have a major role. (See Anabasis)


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Is a hoplite what they make low-cal beer out of? (none / 0) (#471)
by Sir Rastus Bear on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 08:59:10 PM EST

I'm sure the hoplite traditions have much to recommend them, but there's a good case to be made that he specifically has in mind the Persian invasion here. Three paragraphs after the statement I originally called into question, in the same section, he says:

"Between Xerxes on his peacock throne overlooking Salamis and Saddam on his balcony reviewing his troops, between the Greeks arguing and debating before they rowed out with Themistocles and the Americans haranguing one another on the eve of the Gulf War ..."

He's been reading Herodotus ...


"It's the dog's fault, but she irrationally yells at me that I shouldn't use the wood chipper when I'm drunk."
[ Parent ]

Quibbling over a piece of poetic exaggeration (none / 0) (#503)
by jolly st nick on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 10:32:29 AM EST

I have to say that I really think that democracies are inherently stronger societies all things being equal. That is to say, any given society is going to be stronger if it adopts democratic values and systems.

However, this does not mean that any given democracy is going to be able to militarily defeat any given non-democracy. Or even that democracy is an inherently stable state apart from other considerations of the form of constitution or economic factors. Hanson simply greatly exaggerated his case in order to make his point in a rhetorically flowery way.



[ Parent ]

Wasn't aware this piece was a peom (none / 0) (#506)
by Sir Rastus Bear on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 11:26:22 AM EST

I agree with your points about democracies being inherently stronger.

Hanson's article appears to ascribe the military success of the Greeks directly to the "values and traditions" of their society ... as you say, a bit of an exaggeration.

Coming from someone who is billing himself as a "military historian", this just seems rather sloppy.


"It's the dog's fault, but she irrationally yells at me that I shouldn't use the wood chipper when I'm drunk."
[ Parent ]

Values like buggery? (none / 0) (#507)
by Emir Cinder on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 11:52:38 AM EST

Where does the sex with boys come in to this?

Perhaps that was the key to Athenian success.

[