Friday, May 16, 2003

I guess my frustration with the pro-patriotism people really has to do with the fact that they're stuck on patriotism and can't get beyond it in terms of responding to 9/11.

American flags, woo hoo, you know a lot of progressives didn't have a problem with people showing solidarity and pride through displaying a flag, but we're now approaching the two year mark....right now we're less than four months away from 9/11's second anniversary----I'd think that two years would be enough time for folks to cool off, maybe read a book or two, and get on with life.

But to continue with the previous post: there isn't this huge islamic backlash against America. What there is are people who are living in desperate situations, which the US has contributed to, who tentatively give their support to Islamic fundamentalist groups because they think that they can help them out. Noam Chomsky, a name which right-wing people love, points out in article after article that when people take public opinion polls in the Middle East, they find that regular people agree with 1)the Islamic fundamentalist opposition to Israel, 2) the Islamic fundamentalist opposition to troops in Saudi Arabia, 3) the Islamic fundamentalist opposition to Iraq sanctions, and 3) the general opposition to corrupt government supported by the west which Islamic fundamentalists oppose, BUT when people are asked 4) would you like to live in a state governed by rules derived from Islamic fundamentalism, the amount of positive responses goes way, way, down.

To prevent another 9/11 from happening, then, a good start would be to address 1 through 3, so that 4 doesn't get any support. We're already doing some of it, but our control of Iraq negates a whole lot of it though.

Additionally, we have to be vigilant about keeping suspected terrorists out of the U.S. and keeping our eyes open for the obvious indicators that someone might be up to no good which were ignored before 9/11. And also about apprehending anyone who commits a terrorist act and bringing them before the World Court for justice.

There's probably no way to prevent people as individuals from becoming attached to Islamic Fundamentalism as a religious and political stance, anymore than there's a way to prevent people as individuals from becoming radical Trotskyists; that's an unwinnable battle that we shouldn't even think of fighting. But we can prevent those that do go that route from being able to function in an illegal manner by cutting the bases of mass support that they might enjoy through addressing issues like 1-3 above, as well as through common sense security measures. Not draconian police state security measures, but common sense security.

See, that's one issue where I radically part company with a lot of Americans-----I don't believe that the ideology is really that important. I don't believe that it's an ideology really representative of Islam as a whole, and neither do I believe that the reason that radical Wahhabis have taken to terrorism has to do with a failure of Islamic civilization. Both attitudes are somewhat popular, but they're mistaking the forest for the trees.

Paul Berman, that Harvard man of dubious journalistic achievement, who happens to write bad books that find their way into print, believes that the framework for 9/11 was started when the Islamist writer Sayyid Qutib, an Egyptian radical, started to outline a defense of Islamic civilization against capitalism and colonialism.

The truth is that Islamic countries formed a non-western culture block which had different beliefs and organization than the capitalist, christian, west; additionally, when the western nations started courting the countries of al-Islam, as they refer to themselves, with trading agreements and colonialist incursions, there was a reaction against this as they believed that adopting western capitalism would lead to the destruction of their social fabric.

There is not one iota of difference between this view on the part of Muslims in the 19th and 20th centuries and that of Pan-Africans, who believed the same thing in an African context, or that of Chinese Nationalists (and Maoists, to a degree), or that of the indigenous people's of the Americas, particularly in Mexico and Latin America where physical colonizing wasn't as thoroughly done, or Japan during the nationalist buildup......

I could go on with this, but it would be beating a dead horse. It's not that Islam is a failed civilization, it's that it's a different civilization and it saw no need to conform to the values and organization of a civilization pretty different than it's own. Same thing happened all across the globe, has been happening since the 19th century. People who want states which express democracy through terms based in Islam and through the philosophic and political heritage of Islam are no different than those Asian activists like Aung Sun Soo Kyi in Burma who want Democracy in Burmese Buddhist terms, or exiled Tibetans who want to preserve some of the cultural heritage of Tibet while meeting the Chinese half way in terms of political and social reforms.....of even of Sun Yat Sen, the great Chinese Nationalist leader....

Development on a people's own terms is not equivalent with failure, and non-development does not automatically equal resentment to the U.S. and Europe since, brace yourself, we're not the default position that everyone naturally agrees with. Iraqis aren't just Americans with a few layers of Arab culture on top.

There used to be a common belief out there that economic development was the property of the entire world, and not just something which Europe, having developed, should keep to herself and her colonies because it was SHE who did it, not them.
I think Kennedy said something about that.....

Suddenly we've done an about face; now, industrial capitalism is a sign of Western success, not just a fortunate discovery on our part, and it's thought not to be able to flourish anywhere that doesn't embrace Western values, thereby enshrining us as the permanent victors in the realm of economic development. But no one's actually tried out that proposition. There's no effort out there whatsoever to try to see if industrial capitalism or economic and technological advancement can flourish under a different cultural model; we just point at ourselves, point at the middle east, and say Ha! You're jealous of us, that's why you hate us!

If, on the other hand, you believe that industrial capitalism is the inheritance of the whole world, then it becomes clear that some attempt should be made to arrive at a state of parity between the West and everywhere else. Just as our developing of industrial capitalism doesn't imply that we should monopolize it, the fact that we arrived at it first doesn't mean that we should eternally be the prime beneficiary of it, with the other countries of the world in some way serving our needs.

I fail to see why western imperialism and neo-colonialism should exist. It used to be, not too long ago, that these ideas could be expressed and people wouldn't look at you like you were nuts, but selfishness reigns, and the world suffers.

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