Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Pathetic Spectacle in Egypt

I have a book on my shelf on the History Of Muslim Political Philosophy. These young Egyptians don't know their own culture..brought up on Hollywood, they think they can will anything. At one time it was nationalism, now it's democracy....Don't they realise they can't change their culture of 1,400 years? All they will achieve is a score of dead bodies and a date - and things will remain the same.

Every time we've overthrown a dictator in Bangladesh and erstwhile East Pakistan, we've repented at leisure. And Bangladesh is prime exhibit of how a 'democracy' can be ruled from Washington and Brussels through corruption of the intelligentsia. The only difference is that violence escalates under a democracy.

And the Egyptian people have been deluded into western modes of thought by the opposition. Since Ibn Hanbal and al-Ashari, nonresistance has been Sunni political doctrine. A veneer of democracy may emerge, as in Bangladesh and Pakistan, but the deeply rooted culture will remain.

What a pathetic spectacle!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Democracies are just as biddable

Bangladesh is a prime exhibit of how a democracy can be run from Washington and Brussels through the corruption of the intelligentsia.

These poor Tunisians and Egyptians actually believe they will have democracy and self-rule! The democracy will be bought almost overnight; the only thing that will change is that, instead of a secure society, they will have a violent one, riven by factions like dogs, just like Bangladesh.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Better Sixty Years Of Tyranny

Tunisia | Riots | Middle East | US | Democracy: "But one thing is clear from the “Tunisian example”: People in the Middle East have given up any hope that the United States can be a force for democratic change. As the uprising spread in Tunisia, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama stayed largely silent until the day Ben Ali fled. That was when Obama issued a statement condemning the use of violence against peaceful protesters and applauding “the courage and dignity” of Tunisians. By then, it was too late: The U.S.-backed dictator was gone, and the Arab world chalked up another example of how Washington favors stability over democracy.

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This analysis is flawed.

It is not only the US government that prefers stability over democracy: so do the Arabs, and other non-western people. Democracy is a (western) historical accident. "The forum polity – democracies and republics – owes its origin to two major accidents in human history: accidents that were unique to the western world, and which, indeed, created western civilisation in contrast to the others, which were all palace polities." These are my words, and the two unique events were the two Dark Ages: the one in Greece around 1100 BC to 750 BC, and the one in Western Europe. These events removed government for prolonged periods of time, ensuring a love of 'freedom', or suspicion and questioning of government.

The Tunisians revolted because they had been infected by ideas coming from the West. Otherwise, they would have endured their lot, and, therefore, no repression would have been necessary. It is interesting and important to note that during the long military rule of General Ershad there was no desire except among a handful of westernised Bangladeshi intellectuals to remove the dictator, and finally it was the donors that removed him. He did not need to repress at all because there was no one to repress: there was no opposition to his rule.

Even Imam Khomeini had to face criticism from the clergy during the height of his struggle against the Shah. "A certain akhund wrote to me a few years ago to ask me: "Why do you oppose the government? Do you not know that God gives authority to whomever He wishes?" writes the great Imam. Plainly the akhund was echoing Al-Ghazzali's dictum that one must never overthrow a ruler 'no matter how mad or bad'.
"Sixty years of tyranny are better than an hour of civil strife,"maintained al-Ghazzali.

In the Introduction to Sa'adi's Golestan, we find the poet referring to the king as "zel Allah tala fe arze": the shadow of Allah on earth". This implies complete obedience, and remember, Sa'adi had just lived through the Mongol onslaught and chaos. Imam Khomenie says, "Yes, the Islamic ruler is the shadow of God, but...."

"But now we find one of the `ulama (may God grant him mercy) saying: "If the Imam of the Age (pbuh) considers it to be the appropriate time then he will come. I cannot claim to be more concerned for Islam than he is and he is well aware of the present situation. Thus, he is the one who must make the first move to remedy our affairs and not I!" This is plainly a reference to the Shia belief in the return of the Mahdi. Not until he returns, bringing peace and justice, should one rise up against the authorities. "There are people among us who tell us we must swallow whatever poison the "holders of authority" wish to force down our throats, simply because they are the "authorities". We mustn't say a word against these tyrannical "authorities"".

He rebuts these arguments with his own, and I leave it to the reader to judge their effectiveness. All I am pointing out right now is that there is a considerable consensus among Muslim scholars that we should not rise against our rulers. Indeed, we must not even speak out against them: this leaves democracy out completely as a possibility.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Western Sanctions Terrorism

Timeline: Plane crashes involving Iran | Reuters: "Following is a timeline of aircraft crashes involving Iran in the past 10 years:

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14 crashes in ten years: that's quite a record for a wealthy country. In dirt-poor Bangladesh, there hasn't been a single plane crash in the last ten years (and more).

'Iran's civil fleet is made up of planes in poor condition due to their old age and lack of maintenance.

The country has been under international sanctions for years, preventing it from buying new aircraft or spare parts from the West.' Thus observes the BBC.

This is western sanctions terrorism.

In Iraq, the west murdered 1.7 million children with sanctions in 1991-2002. This is how they kill people: covertly. Even the Economist came up with only a one and a half page report on the genocide (September 14th, 2002, p 39). The west is a murderous and genocidal civilisation, that has been at it for 500 years.

We must stand up for the Iranians: these sanctions are inexcusable. Innocent men, women and children are being killed in these plane crashes. How long will this go on? It has already gone on too long.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ambrose Bierce on slavery in east and west

Online Reader - Project Gutenberg: "Because the brutality of the civilized slave owners and dealers created a conquering sentiment against slavery it is not intelligent to assume that slavery is a maleficent thing amongst Oriental peoples (for example) where the slave is not oppressed.

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I wish I had had the benefit of the above observation several years ago. In one pithy sentence, Ambrose Bierce, in his essay 'Civilisation' (collected in 'A Cynic Looks At Life') has summed up what took me years of study and reflection. Doubtless living in a slaving economy helped his perspective no end.

Slavery has been universal, but not significant. Only 1 per cent of China's population were slaves, as opposed to a third of Athens's. Indeed, it has been recognised by scholars that slavery created Greek democracy. The latter rested on the former, like a rose on a dung-heap. In Egypt, slavery was practically unknown. Some people point to the pyramids and ask, "Who built those", as one gentleman indeed asked me. Good question. Recent research has established that the pyramids had not been built by slaves.

Biblical narrative of the Jews' captivity in Egypt is interesting. It seems that the so-called 'slaves' had houses and could afford to offer sacrifices. Indeed,experts believe that the narrative prior to the taking of Canaan to be largely myth, in both senses of the word.

Slavery was a western product: after the Greeks, it disappeared under the Hellenistic monarchies, reappeared with the Roman Republic with a vengeance, disappeared under the Roman Empire, then reemerged with the Renaissance....This is western civilisation.

Interestingly, slavery coexisted with political freedom, and never arose under Empires.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Our Guantanamo?

Questions Remain About U.S. Commitment to International Human Rights Standards at Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal | War Crimes: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

This is a very important blog: it questions US commitment to upholding rights in the context of the Bangladeshi war crimes trial. "Pre-charging" detention has been claimed by most people to be a violation of rights: Guantanamo is the egregious example. Hundreds of innocent men have been kept there without being charged year after year. Is the US colluding in something similar in Bangladesh?

The arrested so far have not been charged with war crimes. They have been charged with another - unrelated - offence and are being held and, it is reported, tortured. The war crimes trial is already off to a dubious start.

China and Us

New Age | Newspaper: "China will give scholarship to 100 Bangladeshi students to study in China in 2011

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I remember how the Soviet Union used to offer scholarships to high-scoring students during the cold war. This, however, is not the Cold War Redux.

Bangladesh has a golden opportunity to move away from the India-America nexus and towards the China-Middle East one. An ambitious and patriotic army officer can save the nation like General Zia did, and, after a coup, snuggle up to China and the Middle East. These countries will have no objections to a coup, and a long military-led period of growth can begin.

It would be foolish of us not to take up this opportunity.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Terrorism by Sanctions

tehran times : 77 killed, 33 injured in Iran plane crash: "The Iranian airline industry, which is heavily reliant on the second-hand Russian planes, has suffered from a series of plane crashes in recent years due to its aging fleet of passenger jets seriously affected by the Western sanctions banning the sales of planes and spare parts to Iran.

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These 77 people who were killed in the Iran plane crash were murdered by the United States and its allies.

Iran is prevented from buying parts from and doing business with western suppliers. As a result, planes crashes are a regular phenomenon in Iran. What pleasure do the American people get in murdering Iranian men, women and children? What has Iran done to America? This is terrorism.

America armed Saddam and abetted in the murder of thousands of Iranians defending their liberty and country. Today, no foreigner can engage in financial transactions with Iran. I asked here in Bangladesh how I could send money to Iran from Dhaka; I was told that I couldn't. I wondered why, and I was told that dollar transactions have to go through New York.

Some of my happiest days were spent learning Farsi at the Iranian Cultural Center in Dhanmandi. What nice people they are! And what culture! Slowly, I began to be able to read Persian classics with the help of my teacher, Dr. Kulsum. Rumi, Sa'adi, and Omar Khayyam became accessible in the original. How can western literature compare or compete with Persian classics?

The only comparison possible is with Latin literature (and no doubt Greek, which I cannot read): there is a similar terseness and nobility of expression, both being Indo-European languages.

As for American literature, the less said the better: it is a derivative of a derivative culture, being derived first from English literature which in turn was derived from Greco-Roman literature. No one who has read Virgil's Eclogues will ever feel passionately about Wordsworth and Co. again, never mind the pathetic Whitman and Dickinson.

And yet the Iranian Cultural Centre hardly draws people who pass by without notice or pause: even the Alliance Francaise is full of young people learning another derivative language like English.

We prefer the murderers to the victims, however great.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Democracy and Violence in Latin America

A glance at the experiences of Latin American countries ‘before’ and ‘after’ democracy reveals an explosive growth in murder rates under democratic governments

Murder rates per 100,000 population in Latin America

[Late 70s –early 80s] Late 80s - early 90s
  1. Brazil [11.5] 19.7 [1964 –1985 Military rule]
  2. Mexico [18.2] 17.8 [1929-2000 Monopoly of power of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)]
  3. Trinidad and Tobago [2.1] 12.6 [1956-1986 30-year rule of the People’s National Movement]
  4. Peru [2.4] 11.5 [1968-1980 Military rule]
  5. Panama [2.1] 10.9 [1968-1978 Virtual dictatorship of Torrijos]
  6. Ecuador [6.4] 10.3 [1945-1979 Military rule]
  7. Argentina [3.9] 4.8 [1976-1983 Rule by military junta]
  8. Uruguay [2.6] 4.4 [1973-1985 Military rule]
  9. Paraguay [5.1] 4 [1955-1990 Alfredo Stroessner (president for 35 years) overthrown in coup by Gen. Rodriguez, later elected on 1st May]
  10. Chile [2.6] 3 [1973-1989 General Pinochet rules]
  11. Colombia [20.5] 89.5 [1957-1974 National Front’s monopoly; voter apathy threatens military involvement; voters confident in 1982 – ditto drug-traffickers]
  12. Venezuela [11.7] 15.2 [1969-1999 Two-party democracy: oil-bonanza creates privileged elite – glut stagnates economy till late 1980s; austerity leads to violence : constitutional rights suspended as armed forces restore order in 1990]

Sources: The Economist, March 8th, 1997, p. 48; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition; Britannica Books of the Year 1989 - 1991

Muslim Women Gain Higher Profile in U.S. -

Muslim Women Gain Higher Profile in U.S. - "we will have some communities in the future that have female imams

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These women praise the 'freedom' that American society gives them: the freedom to form associations, for instance. As I have argued elsewhere, freedom is an unimportant issue outside western civilisation because of the lack of large-scale slavery. But these women have become Americanised - indeed one of them is an American, and she longs to have a 'female imam'. Doesn't she know that innovation in religion is strictly forbidden in Islam?

“Muslims coming to North America are often seeking an egalitarian version of Islam,” says Ebrahim Moosa of Duke University. Implication: Islam outside America is inegalitarian. But egalitarianism is itself a western concept born out of slavery. Our societies are not equal/unequal but hierarchic. Every man has a superior in his mother and aunts, just as every woman has a superior. The notion of 'equality' is a non-concept: it can have meaning only for western Muslims or westernized Muslims.

If you wish to live in a slavery-infected society, go ahead, but keep the resulting ideological garbage to yourself.

It ain't over till he comes

"Now I'll never know how it ends!" exclaimed the irate husband, driving through the tangle of traffic.

His wife remained silent as long as she could, but he went on and on. "I'm sorry I turned off the PC, ok?" she finally burst out.

"Sorry? But how does it end? I'll never know!"

She sat silent as he went on complaining about the unknown ending. At last, she could take it no longer, and screamed out: "It was just porn! Don't you know how porn ends?"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Market for Western Exports

The American ambassador has been caught with his pants down by Wikileaks. He coerced the government of Bangladesh to give deals to Conoco Philips and Chevron; he also leaned on the government to buy Boeing.

As the credit crunch deepens in the first world, it will increasingly push deals in the third world: the economy has to move away from living off credit and importing goods, to saving and exporting. We can cheerfully expect ambassadors to be acting as Robert Clives.

The emerging economies, of course, have learned their lessons since 1998: never trust western capital. So who's going to borrow from the west, when its own consumers and firms would refuse to? You guessed it: flunkeys like us.

Noble as a Savage

The tale of the Comanches: The battle for Texas | The Economist: "the Indians waged a campaign of terror against white settlers streaming into the brand-new Republic of Texas. Rapes and scalps were common.

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'...the merciless Indian savages...'

This is the description to be found in the American Declaration of Independence, one of the most absurd pieces of propaganda ever penned. The line quoted sits oddly with how the Declaration begins: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...." But some are more equal.

The description of the 'merciless Indian savages' goes on thus: '...whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.'

Can we blame the Indian? He was merely defending his home, his territory, his way of life.

Today, replace the word 'Indian' with 'Taliban' or 'Afghan' and you have the old struggle all over again. But there has been an intermediate struggle, where the word has been replaced by 'Palestinian'. Mike Huckabee said that America and Israel are alike in that both were founded by people “escaping the galloping terror of tyranny”. Let me correct that: they were "running towards the galloping terror of tyranny".

"As against the Bedouins, our pioneers are in a position not unlike the American settlers against the Indians." These were the words of Louis Brandeis, the first Jew to sit on the Supreme Court (1916 - 1939). Jews were not escaping from any tyranny when people like the learned judge vigorously championed Zionism: they were heading towards tyranny.

The Indian, the Bedouin, the Afghan...the list is continuous. These people are the 'savages'. I do not see how these people can commit any crimes in defending their lands and their way of life.

May we be noble as the savage!

Friday, January 7, 2011

(Self-)Censorship in the USA

"Mr Pope had a plum job and respects the [Wall Street] Journal for being an honest newspaper. But all the same he had deep trouble with its editing criteria, especially regarding anything destined for its coveted front page. By means of omissions and headlines, editors, in his view, would turn out finished stories that were politically correct in the context of America’s pro-Israeli and anti-Islamist beliefs. The demand, particularly concerning Arab-Israeli affairs, was for upbeat stories reporting good news about what the author calls the “virtual world” of the peace process."

This extract is from a review of Hugh Pope's book "Dining with al-Qaeda" (Thomas Dunne) which appeared in the Economist (March 6, 2010).

This is how civil society, in the guise of the AIPAC and Christian fundamentalists, has turned newspapers into political mouthpieces. This was inevitable: "In no country in the world has the principle of association been more successfully used, or more unsparingly applied to a multitude of different objects, than in America," wrote Alexis de Tocqueville.

What is freedom to the Americans, is literally death to non-Americans. But for Wikileaks we would never have known that Israel deliberately maintained the economy of the Gaza strip "on the brink of collapse" without "pushing it over the edge," a leaked US diplomatic cable from 2008 showed.

This shows that the US government has been captured by civil society of a nasty type, and that US newspapers are unwilling to tell their readers the truth about the world.

In Bangladesh our biddable intellectuals are constantly touting the benefits of democracy and civil society to please their American masters, and so shut our eyes to the twin evils.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Joke That's 'Transparency International'

THOSE WHO BETRAYED GOT RICH: "Who were the winners? The rating agencies, the senior officers who walked away rich, the least moral appraisers, the least moral of the outside auditors at the big accounting firms. They were all the winners. They got rich by betraying their responsibilities.

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Every time Transparency International (Bangladesh) produces a report, I guffaw. TI chases gnats in the Third World while ignoring the elephants in the First.

TIB makes us the most corrupt nation on earth - a veritable Sodom (by the way, Sodom was not destroyed for sodomy). And then if we aren't the most corrupt, then we are at least as corrupt as we were last year, while some other Gomorrah has moved up the ladder. It's just a relation among countries, and tells us nothing about the countries themselves. Mount Everest is the highest mountain; buy that says nothing about Everest but something about it and other mountains. 'Bangladesh is the most corrupt country' says nothing about Bangladesh, but about a particular relationship with other countries.

And who finds these reports of interest? They are not even accurate.

In the United States, trillions of dollars have been lost through fraud and regulatory capture, and the world economy has been brought to its knees - and still the Third World is the most corrupt? Who writes these reports? You can't take TI seriously.

'And, of course, bottom line, all of these things are what the FBI aptly term the "epidemic" in mortgage fraud and warned in September 2004, in open congressional testimony, would cause a financial crisis if it were not dealt with.' Thus says William K. Black, an expert on fraud.

Thus, in 2004, the FBI knew something criminal on a gargantuan scale was afoot - and the regulators did nothing. That's a classic case of regulatory capture.

Mr. Black explains, in case we don't know how to count (and some of us, for instance at TI, don't): "...a crisis measured in trillions of dollars of losses—and a trillion dollars is a thousand billion...."

And that's dollars, not takas.