Interchange with an Islamist Radical
An Interchange with an Islamist
The following records an exchange (with an individual whose name
has been suppressed) that arose as a consequence of circulating
comments outlined above on 4 April 2009.
Response 16/4/09 from
- and CPDS Reply of 17/4/09
Australia is not the only country trying to develop similar outreach
Unfortunately what you are suggesting is not a root-cause remedy
to the problem.
The bottom line is that for some strange reason butting-out of
the affairs of the Muslim World is not something the Australians,
Americans, British etc... are putting onto the table. It just is not in
your vocabulary strangely enough.
I don't know why it is not in your vocabulary to tell your government to
keep Australian troops in Australia!?
If in the estimation of the article "radical ideology holds that
Islam has been under physical and moral assault from non-believers"
then to put it simply why continue to attack, occupy and interfere in
How about just staying at home and not going around the world attempting
to impose your "way of life" on others?
What is wrong with Australians living according to their values,
Americans living according to theirs, the British to theirs, and the
Muslims in the Muslim World living according to their Islamic way of
Is the world that tiny that we cannot live and let live?
The only thing that is radicalizing people is this insistence in
interfering, occupying and imposing ones will on others.
[A Muslim Whose Ideal It Is To Be Living Purely According To The
Islamic Way Of Life Without Uncle Sam Butting His Nose In Where It
Simply Is Not Wanted.]
CPDS Reply of 17/4/09
your suggestion that people should not impose their
way of life on others. It deserves a considered response - which can't
I thoroughly agree with you that using force in
other countries is undesirable. However, as I understand it, there are
many reasons that countries do so. At times this might involve an
attempt to capture other territory / resources / assets or expand a
country's influence. Such motives were certainly common in history (eg
consider the spread of Islam in the 7th century, or the spread of
European influence around the world between 16th and 19th
At present, most major powers would claim that
their goal is defensive. For example, US strategists who are concerned
about the possibility of major future wars seem to take the view that
'pre-emptive (minor) wars' can stop the development of threats which
that lead to major future wars. They also respond (understandably)
to threats of terrorism which, in the current environment, are likely
to eventually result in the use of WMD. Though, most of the Islamist
extremists who have been responsible for attacks against Western
societies have probably been based in Western societies, the
grievances that motivate the extremists seem to arise from problems in
Muslim-dominated societies which are thus seen to need to be 'fixed'
to eliminate the terrorist threat - and this suits the Western
Islamist extremists because they hope such interventions will mobilize
many to their cause.
I suspect that we would both agree (and that
even US strategists are finally beginning to suspect) that pre-emption
and trying to 'fix' other's problems by the use of force is likely to
be counter-productive to everyone's interests.
The same weakness, of course applies, to Muslims
who might attempt to impose their way of life on others by force (eg
see comments about
No Dialogue: Only Da'wa -
which apparently was an extremist's virtual declaration of holy war in
force everyone to change to Islam; and claims
of violence on the borders between Muslim societies and many others
as attempts are made to expand the faith, perhaps at a cost
of about 250,000 human lives annually).
However, even without the complexity of force,
attempts to impose a different way of life may well
For example, the US's goal in Iraq was presumably
not only to eliminate the destabilizing influence on the Middle East
of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime, but also to impose
a successful political and economic system which could be a model for,
and thus potentially transform, the Middle East. However the US's idea
of such a system was democratic capitalism - because this is what
works in the US. But the domestic effectiveness of democratic
capitalism in the US (such as it is) depends on a large number of
cultural and institutional preconditions that were simply not
available in a country like Iraq (see
Fatal Flaws). Thus, even if there had
been no conflict involved, it is unlikely that the system that has
made the US successful could have been grafted into Iraq.
Change Can Be Beneficial
In history, peoples' ways of life have constantly
been changing as a result of external influences. For example
innovations such as agriculture, the smelting of iron,
industrialization etc have spread from their origins - because others
saw them to be advantageous rather than because they were imposed.
Similarly social innovations (such as companies) and intellectual
innovations (such as science) have been copied and enhanced by
societies other than those that originated them.
Even where change has been imposed by external
force, history shows that at times the effects can be beneficial. For
example, the British Isles has arguably been the most invaded region
on earth over the past 2000 years. But the people's ability (for some
reason) to absorb (rather than perpetually resist) whatever new
influences were thrust upon them by endless invasions created a
society which at one time was immensely successful - and whose
influence spread through the world and remains - eg through the free
association of 'Commonwealth' countries which based their political
and economic systems on the 'British' models that had emerged from so
many different sources.
Is Isolationism Feasible?
You suggested that the world should be big enough
for people to live and let live. I suspect that this is now
impractical, because improvements in communication systems and high
levels of international social, economic and political interactions
now make isolationism impossible.
Is Isolationism Desirable?
Also, while I don't agree with imposing changes (by
force or otherwise), I believe that it can be immoral not to attempt
to influence others' way of life - if that way of life causes others
to suffer disadvantages.
For example, indigenous communities world-wide want
to both: (a) maintain their traditional way of life; and (b) enjoy the
material benefits that can come from modernisation. A recent UN
declaration on the rights of of indigenous people seems internally
contradictory and a formula for perpetuating the disadvantages those
peoples suffer, and thus to be dubious morally (see
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples: Perpetuating Disadvantage?).
Culture is arguably a major factor in people's
ability to be materially successful and to live in harmony with
others because it affects people's goals and aspirations; the way they
understand reality (and thus how they go about solving problems, and
whether they can develop technologies); their ability to learn, to
cope with risk and to change; and the institutions their society
maintains. The fact that few want to consider the practical
consequences of cultural assumptions (out of a 'virtuous' desire to
'live and let live') may be the main cause of conflict in the world
Competing Civilizations). It is also
arguably the main cause of the humanitarian disaster reflected in the
existence of (about) 21m refugees in the world.
Cultural limitations affect Muslim dominated
societies in particular - ie people wish to maintain their traditional
way of life even though (for reasons that they presumably don't
suspect) it probably disadvantages them. This was the theme of my
earlier email (see above). As I understand the situation, the broader
world view that was constructed around the religion of Islam (which
perhaps simply reflected earlier traditions in the Arabic societies in
which Islam emerged) has imposed an inability to learn, adapt and
change on Muslim people that has unnecessarily disadvantaged them (eg
see also About
Arabic Thought and Islamic Science).
I don't accept your suggestion that "The only thing
that is radicalizing people is this [ie outsiders'] insistence in
interfering, occupying and imposing ones will on others". As I
understand it, frustration with the Muslim world's lack of progress in
recent centuries is the major problem - and, while it is convenient to
blame this on others' interference, this is not the real problem.
need the opportunity to work these things out for themselves, rather
than having change imposed. This was the reason for the process I
Discouraging Pointless Extremism,
which would allow the practical implications of the Islamist ideology
that seems to motivate extremists to be better understood by Muslims.
Pakistan's recent decision to allow the application of Shari'a Law in
parts of that country is likely to prove in 10-15 years time to have
been a useful step towards increasing understanding of the limitations
of Islamism - providing conflict can be contained.
problem is even more complex - because a desire to preserve a
traditional way of life from outside influence (ie for isolationism)
can lead to attempts to force others to change their way of life. I
recently saw a presentation (America's
Fate in the Coming Era of Chinese Hegemony) which suggested
that East Asian societies preferred dominance by China to the current
Western style world order because they like to be 'isolationist' (eg
they prefer outsiders not to mention internal 'human rights' abuses) -
and it is my understanding that they prefer this because they have a
different (ie communitarian rather than individualistic) notion of
what constitutes 'human rights'. However the presentation also
suggested that traditionally 'isolationist' China is now seeking to
become the world's dominant power - because the intensity and
immediacy of influences on it from the broader world have made
isolationism seem impossible.
is so, China's goal in seeking to change the nature of the global
order would probably not only be to create a global order in which Han
Chinese people were dominant, but also a world in which people would
in future not interfere in others' way of life. This was one of the
principles for collaboration that China's premier implied in an
address in Australia a few years ago (see
China as the Future of the World).
However this would; (a) involve not doing anything to help those who
were disadvantaged by their way of life; and (b) involve a system in
which social elites were regarded as the ultimate authority on the
nature of moral behaviour - outcomes that would probably be of some
concern to truly serious Muslims.
Response of 18/4/09 from
+ CPDS Reply of 18/4/09
that prompt reply.
It is great
that you thoroughly agree that using force in other countries is
undesirable. However you seem to imply there is a "but" with what seems
like a justification of doing so. I understand however that this is an
attempt at explaining why certain powers do so.
To use the
terms 'Islamic Extremists' is just a way of boxing of Muslims who do not
wish to comply with western interests into one box. This is classic
"divide and rule" that is being used in almost all western propaganda.
I would argue
that for Muslims, the ideal of living according to the Islamic Way of Life
as individuals, society, and state - is normal and everything pulling them
away from that ideal is extreme to them.
are involved in legitimate resistance also claim that their goal is
defensive. For example that their Jihad is against all the interference
and occupation in the Muslim World. Which is why for example they haven't
attacked Sweden. They argue that the current regimes in the Muslim World
are agents of the West imposed during the post-colonial era when the
Muslim World was occupied, divided and ruled. They also argue that the
current borders are also colonialist-imposed and to recognize them merely
You may know
about this since Australia was colonized too and now the occupiers rule it
to this very day. Even though they may have displayed some conjured-up
process along the way in order to make their occupation appear to be
are also responding (understandably) to the threats of western terrorists
who use democro-bombing as a terrorist weapon, the tools of which are B52
Bombers, F16s, Daisy Cluster Bombs, Uranium-tipped Missile, White
Phosphorous, which in the current environment actually are WMDs!
capitalist-extremists who have global reach have been responsible for
systematic terrorist bombings against Muslim Countries (Terrorism using
violence against others to pursue political ends), the grievances that
motivate them seem to arise from greed and hence the legitimate resistance
by Muslims in order to counter western-terrorism needs to be dealt with so
that the problem of so-called Islamic Terrorists needs to be
'fixed' to eliminate the legitimate resistance - and this suits the
Western Extremists because they hope such interventions will serve their
corporations so that things remain business as usual.
I agree that
offensive western terrorist attacks against Muslims ("pre-emption" is a
bastardized term) and trying to enslave the Muslim World by the use of
force will be ineffectual and is likely to be counter-productive to
weakness does not apply to Muslims as Da'wah by definition is an
'invitation' to embrace Islam - not imposing of a forceful conversion. If
there is anyone who would suggest conversion by gunpoint, the Muslims can
deal with that very easily, in fact the consensus is in our favor.
that in certain cases external forces appear to have benefited. In the
context of the Muslim World, Islam has never been a turn the other
cheek way of life.
Live and let
live does not necessarily equal isolationism, such an assertion is not
accurate. Yes we need to trade, communicate, travel etc. But this is
quite different to imposing a way of life, imposing a political system,
and subjugating people. Similarly there is nothing against material and
scientific progression which was seen even at the peak of the Islamic
Civilization, again another inaccurate assertion.
If in certain
situations you see it as immoral not to interfere. Then if "immorality"
is a benchmark then Islam has its own moral code and defines its own
morality which Muslims as followers of Islam are content with. i.e. we
need no help from you, so thanks but no thanks.
with your assertion
only thing that is radicalizing people is this [ie outsiders'] insistence
in interfering, occupying and imposing ones will on others" is somehow
not really what is causing radicalization. Islam is not against progress,
whether Muslims pursue progression is something for them to get on with
and has little to do with outsiders, except maybe when you do not want us
to have nuclear technology.
can be proven simply by pulling all western troops out of the Muslim
World, stop interfering in the affairs of the Muslim World including by
propping-up dictators. If your assertion is correct you'll have little to
worry about but at least the assertion is put to the test, something
that until now has not been done. Like I stated this is something
that just does not appear to be in your vocabulary.
It is as if
the policy is now "We will interfere, occupy and subjugate, and Muslims
can just put up with it or die".
CPDS Reply of 18/4/09
What I was trying to suggest is that there is a need to look within for
the major causes of the problems that Muslim dominated societies have
Living in accord with the Islamic way of life may seem normal and
desirable - but there are limitations in assumptions about the world /
universe generally that have been elaborated around Islam that need
reconsideration in my opinion. I have made some study of the path to
'progress' in both Western and East Asian societies, and can see serious
constraints in the assumptions that have been made by some Islamic
scholars. For example, while at one time scientific progress was led by
Islamic civilization, this did not result in all that much application of
the results and since that time assumptions seem to have prevailed which
impede progress even in pure scientific knowledge (see
It is of concern to me that those who promote Islamism (ie the adoption of
Islam as the basis of state power) do not seem to be asked to prove to
their followers that this would actually work in practice. The assumption
that all problems must be the fault of outsiders who (for some obscure
reason) want to 'enslave the Muslim world' is a convenient excuse for
ignoring such practical questions, but until it is challenged Muslim
people's situation is unlikely to improve.
You suggested that "Islam has never been a turn the other cheek way
of life". If this is so, and remains unchanged, I fear it will take Muslim
people a long time (perhaps forever) to get beyond real and imagined past
injustices to look at what is required for practical success.
Response of 23/3/09 from XXX
+ CPDS Reply of 23/4/09
Surely if all the interference comes to a halt. Then there is no one to
If the interference does not stop, then yes this could go on forever.
Nevertheless these matters should not be subject to the West's interference
nor should they await the West's approval.
Everything does not need a rubber-stamp from external forces. Muslims
should be left to get their own house in order.
CPDS Reply 23/4/09
Certainly being left alone to 'get on with it' would be of benefit - as
there would then be no one left to blame.
was the reason that I suggested that moves such as establishing a region in
which Shari'a law applied in Pakistan would be of benefit in demonstrating
whether Islamism would actually work. But whether such an experiment would
have any chance at all depends on eliminating violence - and it seems to me
that people whose world-view is based on the assumption that their problems
are the result of external oppression would have great difficulty renouncing
violence (and thus that they would not just be left alone).
Leaving people alone to 'get on with it' was the basis of the containment
policies applied to the former Soviet Union (for example). It took from 1917
to 1989 for Russian people to recognise that the communist model was an
economic and political failure - and for about half of this period the world
faced the threat of nuclear war. The world is going to demand a pretty high
standard of non-violence from any other system of experimental political
economy - because the risks otherwise will be seen to be too high in an era
in which WMD have proliferated.
is a situation were an Islamist model has been given a chance - and (as I
understand it) the outcome has been an economic disaster (and a social
disaster also if European journalists can be trusted as reliable observers).
Muslim people want to be left alone to 'get on with it' they simply need to
renounce the use of violence - like Ghandi did in his passive resistance
movement which saw India gain independence in 1947. However it is worth
noting that India took decades after being left alone to 'get on with it'
before it actually started to succeed.
suggestion is that Muslims would benefit by finding out now whether the
creation of an Islamist state would actually be worth achieving. My
suspician is that, if this were done, Islamism would be recognised to be
likely to reinforce the main causes of the political problems and economic
weaknesses that Muslim peoples have tended to suffer in recent centuries.
not do the 'thought experiment'? Outside interference can't prevent Muslims
from doing this.
Response #2 of
+ CPDS Reply of 27/4/09
As Malcolm X said: "We will be non-violent with people who are non-violent
What is currently occurring is a systematic attack on one Muslim Country after
Your suggestion implies to let the West attack, bomb, occupy and continue to
interfere - but Muslims must not resist, this assertion is ridiculous.
Why didn't Americans and the French get independence the "Ghandi" way?
Why should Muslims accepts governments in the shadow of occupation? (Whether
colonial or imperial?)
Renouncing violence is not a one-way street. The greatest perpetrator of
violence is the US Government and until it disarms and de-escalates its
war-machine it's going to be hated around the world.
The WMD-armed international state-terrorists should take the lead in
'renouncing violence', otherwise it pointless blaming counter-terrorist
insurgents who merely resist them with light weaponry.
The West can also stop living in the past and prove it by
disassociating itself from its predecessors not just by mere lip-service but
in practical steps. For example if Britain is no longer colonialist and see's
the colonial era as part of a dark gloomy past. Then it should for instance
declare the Balfour Declaration, Sykes-Picot Agreement and every other
colonial treaty or designs (apparent or secret) - null and void. Since
colonialism is just plane wrong!
But their actions to this day simply re-enforce these treaties and designs...
so who is living in the past I wonder?
It is like me saying the "Soviet Union is old news John, stop living in the
Anyway John we are merely discussing theories, neither you nor I decide what
the powers that be should or should not do.
I see this as a struggle for the US to keep its position as a superpower and
nothing more. Any perceived threat gets dealt with regardless of whether it
is good for people or not. If the US is so 'democratic' why have a Veto [aka
the power to cancel democracy] in the UN? That's not very democratic.
Self-interest is the bottom line and it doesn't matter who dies in the
I think there is now a better chance for non-interference in the Muslim World
due to the on-going recession causing the US to back-off as opposed to
doing so freely and voluntarily.
I think we will soon see the fall of a major client-state in the Muslim World
and the rise of a state based on Islam established on its ruins. Then Muslims
will be able to turn the tables and rightly so.
At that time we will see a social-political order based on our way of life.
That serves the interests of Islam and Muslims (first and last) as opposed to
What this means for the World is simply that:-
- It would have to tolerate an Islamic power conducting itself in
accordance with the Islamic Belief of its people according to their way of
- It should remain non-violent with it in order to expect the same
courtesy in return.
- Every issue in the Muslim World is an 'internal matter' and must
not be subjected to further interference.
- Such an Islamic power will abolish Fiat Currencies and will
establish and Islamic economy based on an Islamic Gold Standard, and all
international transactions will have to be settled in Gold including for
example Oil and Natural Gas. Oil might be traded for example at between 8-10
barrels per ounce of Gold.
- An Islamic State will not be a member of the United Nations or
signatory to any international treaty.
- It is within the right of such a state to purge colonial-imposed
borders between fellow Muslim territories. Denial of such a right would be
deemed a continued support of old colonial policies i.e. "divide and rule"
of our lands with the use of client regimes.
Such measures would give the Muslim World much needed peace, security and
stability - and see that the needs of the people such as food, clothing,
housing, health care, education etc are met and people can live in comfort and
CPDS Reply of 27/4/09
on the record as
suggesting that security / militaristic 'solutions' are unlikely to be
effective as a response to violence - and I would respectfully suggest that,
if you genuinely wish to advantage Muslim peoples, you could take a useful
lead in espousing a similar response to violence by others.
has not been alone in taking the view that "We will be non-violent with people
who are non-violent with us". Thus violence begets little but more violence.
someone breaks the cycle it will, as I suggested before, take Muslim people a
long time (perhaps forever) to get beyond real and imagined past injustices to
look at what is required for practical success. Yasir Arafat's was hopeless
in a practical sense when when given a chance to govern as the first president
of the Palestinian National Authority because the PLO had never seriously
studied the arts of peace, only the arts of war. It's situation was, of
course, complicated by conflicts between Hamas and Israel - but that problem
might have been greatly reduced if Arafat's regime had not been so ineffectual
in actually governing.
founded on violence tend to be be unstable - because people have long memories
and such regimes are seen to lack legitimacy. France established its First
Republic through revolution in 1792 - whereas Britain negotiated a similar
transition (from the ancient regime in which kings and nobility ruled
autocratically) with very little violence. France has had something like 5
subsequent revolutions. Britain has had none.
that you have some suggestions about how a future state based on Islam might
function, and would like to suggest that some of those principles need further
consideration. For example:
suggest that the regime would 'conduct itself in accordance with the Islamic
Belief of its people according to their way of life'. Where is the evidence
that this would result in success? My (undoubtedly-only-partial) understanding
is that any religion is
necessarily inadequate basis for government -
because of the mismatch between simple timeless religious principles and
governments' need to deal with rapidly changing and complex social and
economic systems. Moreover a key requirement for economic success is the
willingness / ability to change, and an Islamist regime that was primarily
intended to prevent change in people's way of life would guarantee economic
Problem in Extremists' Presumed Manifestos).
Serious study of many practical issues is vital (rather than simply
prescribing conduct in accordance with Islamic belief and traditional ways of
life), if any regime is really to "see that the needs of the people such as
food, clothing, housing, health care, education etc are met and people can
live in comfort and spiritual tranquillity". I would have thought that the
Islamic Republic of Iran already met your criteria, and so should be studied
closely. Concerning that experiment it has been suggested that:
there is conflict between those who wish to modernize and engage the modern
world and conservative authorities who believe that Islam has all the
answers. Everyone seems angry about something - eg economic mismanagement,
lack of opportunity, slow reform, lack of fun. Corruption is growing.
Traffic is gridlocked (Elliot T., 'In the shadows of the Ayatollahs,
Australian Financial Review, 7-8/12/02);
Islamist revolution in Iran reduced per capita incomes to 1/3 of what they
were previously ;
envisage a regime that adopts an Islamic Gold Standard - rather than a fiat
currency. This unfortunately creates difficulties in macro-economic management
because it limits scope for counter-cyclical public spending in the event of a
recession. The gold standard is widely seen to have been a major factor in the
Great Depression in the 1930s because it so severely constrained policy
responses to the economic downturn. This could be easily checked through
emphasis should not be placed on selling oil (whether for gold or for anything
there seems to be general recognition that the global
'peak oil' event is
approaching. For this reason, and also because the risk of political
instability in the Middle East has not been reduced, there is now a general
acceptance by developed economies of the need to develop substitutes that
will eliminate dependence on oil. The US has a fairly formal goal to achieve
this in 10 years. China has launched a major program to develop hybrid
vehicles (seen as the most promising alternative transport technology). The
net effect will be that: (a) the actual oil production in Muslim dominated
countries will start to decline in a few years; and (b) this won't cause
problems for anyone apart from countries whose economies depend on oil
reliance on natural resource wealth (eg oil) leads to failure in broader
economic development - because it necessarily results in the dominance of
local political / business elites (ie in client regimes) who provide poor
economic leadership (see
Comments on the Curse of Natural
might be better to consider what sort of world system would be effective,
rather than just refuse to be part of the UN or international treaties. Surely
there is a need for some sort of global framework - even if just for such
bodies as the FAO and World Health Organisation? The US has tended to shun the
UN and multilateral arrangements for about 20 years because it believed that
the institutions which it helped found in the in the 1940s had become
ineffectual. However this has hardly proven successful for US, and it is now
starting global re-engagement.
could a determination to 'purge colonial-imposed borders' between
Muslim territories be compatible with being seen to be non-violent and thus
worthy of a similar attitude by others? Unity within the Muslim world (and
thus scope for peacefully changing borders) seems to be a very scarce
Response of 28/4/09 from XXX
+ CPDS Reply of 28/4/09
As I recall the colonial-imposed borders were not put in place after a
peaceful referendum of the people.
So if they were not imposed peacefully why should they be removed peacefully?
I do not envisage it to be a problem for the masses, only for the
western-backed dictatorial regimes.
The Gold Standard has nothing to do with the great depression, or theories of
macro or micro economics. Gold is real tangible wealth and not pieces of
paper printed at will by a private bank.
It is this fiat system intertwined with interest based capitalist economics
which is causing the current recession.
Once the British followed by the Americans abolished the Gold Standard in the
30's it took a catalyst namely Saudi-oil to reinstate the dollar as the
The abolition of the Gold Standard was a great deception to pull the wool over
the eyes of the general public.
The US re-instated a partial tie to gold which subsequently was abolished by
Nixon. Paper money is simply not worth the paper it is written on.
Issues of political stability in the middle-east are in the long term only an
issue for the west. So long as the oil keeps flowing and the dictators serve
the interests of the west, this is deemed as "stability".
America was happy with Saddam, so long as the oil kept flowing and he kept
Iran at bay. The people suffering was irrelevant. America today has the
audacity to say that the brutal dictators of the Muslim World are the
"legitimate moderate regimes" and that they would be threatened by any
independent non-subservient Islamic replacement!?
Stability is what the Muslim World will achieve from unity under Islam -
unified lands, unified resources, unified currency, unified army, one leader
to unite us all. Whether this is deemed instability for the west, is entirely
depended on their attitude.
In terms of breaking the cycle of violence. I do agree with you. But in only
one way, the aggressor is the one who needs to stop.
That means all the Western countries keeping their troops within their own
homelands. As opposed to getting them killed in conflicts abroad aimed at
If the West stops terrorizing the Muslim World there will be no retaliation.
I believe this 100%, that if the West just pulled-out and went home the
Terror-Threat levels to their homelands would be reduced to ZERO.
The only issue is that this option is simply not on the table as far as the
west is concerned, hence the cycle of violence will unfortunately continue.
Fortunately I think the Muslims have more resolve than the West.
The problem is you think that a country like the "Islamic Republic" of
Iran meets my criteria, nothing could be further from the truth. UN Membership
for example is very problematic Islamically.
The problem is you are looking to compare Islam to secular religions. Islam
does not only deal with religious sphere of life, but every
sphere of life.
The problem is regardless of the theories of analysts of what an Islamic
Regime may look like. The west is happy to continue making direct
interventions into the Muslim World to prevent such a regime from rising up.
But if such a state on "based on religion" is going to be such a
failure, why are the west hell-bent on fighting to prevent its establishment I
Surely if you are that convinced it will be such a failure, then simply
pull-out, stop interfering, and 'sit back and watch' while an Islamic
Caliphate is formed.
If you know that "people have long memories" then why does the west
keep interfering, occupying, subjugating and killing?
When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan Jimmy Carter said: "It is a
deliberate effort of a powerful atheistic government to subjugate an
independent Islamic people"
Why should it be any different today when it is the U.S. and its Allies who
are the invaders in the Muslim World?
The truth is in fact in another speech by the very same Jimmy Carter in his
1980 state of the Union address:
"Let our position be absolutely clear; any attempt by an outside force to gain
control of the Persian Gulf region will be an assault on the vital interests
of the United States of America and such an assault will be repelled by any
means necessary, including military force"
It appears this is now also the case when it comes to an internal force
If the Americans are today using "any means necessary, including military
force" then surely it is the fundamental right of those who are subjected
to this state-terrorists use of force to defend themselves from this
"outside force" by any means necessary.
Your solutions John will only leave Muslims to continue being subjected to
more interference, occupation, killing, and being subjugated by outside forces
and their puppets it the region. That is an unacceptable inhumane state of
affairs. The Americans would not accept it if it happened to them, neither
would the British, and I am sure neither will the Australians.
Live an Let Live because the alternative that is unfolding looks like
it is going to be Live and Let Die.
Never point the finger at people who defend themselves and fight for real
CPDS Reply of 28/4/09
for clarifying where you think the world (or at least part of it) is heading.
Some observations are:
colonial-imposed borders could not be removed by force whilst maintaining that
regimes that sought to do so were non-violent and thus should be worthy of a
non-violent response from others. However, if democratic regimes were
established in such countries, then the masses would be able to express their
opinion directly about peaceful amalgamations. My understanding though is that
only about 15% of the masses would actually support the Islamist cause (ie
favour a system of government based on Islamic religious principles);
the nature of money and the way it is managed is a complex and vexed question.
However the gold standard is no panacea (eg see
The gold standard and the Great Depression,
and the Wikipedia
Great Depression article). Likewise
the current global financial / economic crisis is not simply a product of the
"fiat system intertwined with interest based capitalist economics" (see
Causes in Global
Financial Crisis: The Second Test). The global financial imbalances that
arise from the radically different financial / monetary systems that have been
the basis of economic miracles in East Asia are also particularly significant
Structural Incompatibility Puts Global Growth at Risk,
Financial Imbalances in
Global Financial Instability: A Many Sided Story);
than simply asserting that unity under Islamism and a Caliphate would be the
solution for the Middle East, I have been suggesting the need to perform a
'thought experiment' involving description of how such a system might work in
practice, and subjecting that model to critical review. If it could be shown
that it would work, and bring stability to the region, then strong outside
support would undoubtedly be available. As you noted access to oil has been
the main basis for the world's concern about the region's stability in the
past - and (though this will disappear in 10 years or so as oil becomes
strategically insignificant) there would be broad support for ANY model that
would bring stability in the meantime;
the traditional basis of US foreign policy was 'realism' - which involved a
willingness to work with dictatorial regimes (such as Saddam Hussein's)
because it was believed that there was no choice. However CIA analysts raised
concerns about the phenomenon of (so called) 'blowback' about 20-30 years ago
(ie that support for such regimes tended to generate outcomes which adversely
affected US interests). This led to a policy shift led by the 'idealist'
Neo-Cons who gained ascendancy under the second President Bush. Their
philosophy was that US power could be used to transform (rather than work
with) unsatisfactory local regimes - and so hopefully avoid 'blowback'. Iraq
was the big test of this theory. However, as I noted previously, there were
good reasons to suspect
that the model which the US believed to be the basis of its economic success
and political stability could not be grafted (hopefully as a model for future
success and stability in the Middle East generally) into a country that lacked
the necessary cultural and institutional preconditions;
homeland terror threat levels might fall dramatically if all outside
influences were removed from the Middle East, I suspect that the fact that the
Middle East would then be engulfed in wars for many years between Islamist
revolutionaries and existing regimes would cause continued concern. Measures
to eliminate dependence on Middle Eastern oil are only just starting to be put
in place, and won't allow indifference to the fate of the Middle East for
while you suggest that Islam is a religion which deals with ALL aspects of
life, my perception is that Islamic scholars have elaborated a broad world
view around the religion of Islam which lacks realism and thus severely limits
its likely practical effectiveness in terms of (say) political, educational,
scientific and economic affairs (see
Problems in Extremist's presumed Manifestos).
These are the problems that I suspect would emerge from a 'thought experiment'
about Islamism. As suggested above, few would be likely to resist an Islamist
basis for government in the Middle East if they could clearly see that it
might be successful in practice and bring peace and stability. At present all
that outsiders see is senseless violence, as no one has sought to publicly
make a case for the ideology that motivates 'resistance'. If Islamists could
demonstrate a reasonable case (which could withstand critical review) outside
support would be forthcoming. However my suspicion is that Islamism would fail
such a critical review - so Muslim dominated countries would then be able to
move on to more practical political alternatives.
Sharia 4 Australia?
Sharia 4 Australia? (email sent 20/1/11)
Re: Neighbour S.,
should step down and ‘let the Muslims take over’, The Australian,
I noted with
interest your reported suggestion in the above article that Sharia Law should be
adopted in Australia as an alternative to democracy. On the basis of this, and
another more comprehensive presentation of your case in
The Benefits of Islam in Australia, I would like to submit for your
- More than an idealistic account of Sharia Law is needed before Islamists are
likely to convince anyone that the adoption of Islamic law would give rise to a
system of political economy that would well work in practice;
- Coercive approaches to enforcing Islam (which Islamists’ goal of basing
government on Islam would take to a new extreme) are arguably: (a) a major
factor in the disadvantages that Muslim-dominated societies have suffered in
recent centuries; and (b) an ‘add-on’ to the original teachings of Islam,
reflecting the social context in which Islam emerged and the subsequent
speculations of some Islamic scholars;
- There would be value in considering how widespread adherence to Christianity,
and also democratic capitalism, can benefit (as well as stress) societies;
- While Australia faces social and environmental challenges, these need to be
addressed though institutions that are likely to work.
My reasons for
suggesting this, together with an interpretation of your arguments, are outlined
I would be
interested in your reactions to my speculations.
Argument and Comments
should step down and ‘let the Muslims take over’,
which you were quoted:
Ibrahim Siddiq-Comlon argues that only Allah’s laws should be obeyed. He
attacks Australia’s PM and Parliament, as the latter have no right to legislate.
They should step down and let the Muslims take over. Through Sharia4Australia he
is pushing for the introducion of sharia courts as the first step towards
Islamic law. Sharia is inevitable in Australia he suggests, and hopes for a
peaceful transition but notes that history suggests that a fight will be needed
to achieve this. Sharia4Australia’s main goals are to (a) persuade Muslims to
hate the worship of any God but Allah (including democracy); (b) advise elected
governments that they have no authority to rule; and (c) advise non-Muslims on
the benefits of sharia (eg stoning of adulterers, and cutting off theives
hands). Cutting off a hand can be merciful because it can expiate sins. Siddiq-Conlon
will join debate in Paramatta
organised by Zaky Mallah. Pro-democracy case will be argued by Jack Zedee
(army veteran, ‘concerned Aussie’ and member of Firearms Forum) . He sees Conlon
and Sharia4Australia as preaching hatred.
interpretation of key themes in ‘The
Benefits of Islam in Australia’:
Islamic Sharia Law in Australia should be adopted in Australia, because of the
social and environmental failure of Christianity and democratic capitalism. In
particular: (a) Islam is a total system for life which applies to both personal
and governmental affairs; (b) Islam is similar to the traditions of indigenous
Australians; (c) there has been a loss of values in Australian life; (d) Islam
prohibits vices / interest / homosexuality / exploitation for money / immorality
/ wife beating / over-indulgence / removal of clothing / rape / paedophilia; and
(e) Islam promote water conservation; and ethics in the workplace.
More than an
idealistic account of Sharia Law is needed before Islamists are likely to
convince other Muslims (quite apart from anyone else) that the adoption of
Islamic law would give rise to a system of political economy that would actually
work in practice. The fact that Islam is ideally a 'total system for life' (ie
is expected to apply to both individual and governmental affairs) and is
apparently enforced by communal or state pressure on individuals are arguably
the main, though not the only, causes of the economic and political difficulties
that Muslim dominated societies have experienced in recent centuries (see
Discouraging Pointless Extremism). The latter basically suggests that:
- even if they are well-intended, communal constraints on individuals to comply
with complex moral requirements impede the socially and economically disruptive
changes / innovations that are vital to economic prosperity; and
they were to succeed in imposing Sharia Law, Islamists would probably expand the
disadvantages facing Muslim-dominated societies (see also comments on the likely
adverse effect of
Unifying Religion and State in Indonesia through the creation of religious
A number of other
points that might be worth considering are that:
advantages that Western societies have enjoyed in recent centuries are probably
ultimately founded on the ability that Christianity provided for societies to
create simplified social spaces in which rationality could be a
reasonably-effective means for problem solving. Individuals are enabled to make
locally-rational decisions without having to second-guess the reactions of moral
or state authorities where: (a) the morality of people’s behaviour is promoted
by individual consciences responsible to God (rather than by communal or state
coercion); (b) there is a rule of law, and strict reliance on money as a measure
of value. This dramatically increased: (a) the effectiveness of individuals in
all walks of life; and (b) the benefits of education in enabling individuals to
use information – see
Cultural Foundations of Western Strengths. And governments can be more
effective in dealing with complex rapidly-changing social / economic systems
when they are not embroiled in enforcing individual morality or bound by
- There are undoubted serious social dysfunctions in Australia that have arisen
because many have drifted away from their ethical moorings (see
Moral Foundations of Individual Liberty). However these difficulties need to
be overcome without losing the political and economic advantages that derive
from legal and government institutions based on individual liberty (as
suggested, amongst many other things, in
A Nation Building Agenda);
- Humanity faces environmental challenges – just as it has more or less
continually since the agrarian revolution. However solutions to these challenges
will (as always in the past) be likely to require difficult technological
advances as well more careful use of the earth’s resources. Thus there is a need
to value social, political and economic arrangements that have best enabled
technological advances in the past;
- While I am anything but an expert on Islam, it seems that the interpretations of
Islam that involve a dysfunctionally-coercive approach to ensuring the morality
of individual behaviour (or imposing Islam by force) were not how Muhammad
initially presented his revelation, and are probably primarily a reflection of
pre-Islamic Arabic social traditions. Moreover, it seems that Islamic scholars
have erected cosmological interpretations around Islam to reinforce and
rationalize that coercive approach – and thereby rendered Islamic science
largely impotent (see
About Arabic Thought and Islamic Science). While Muslims who have studied
undergraduate science in Western universities appear to believe that the strict
determinism it implies supports Islamist political agendas, if they studied
further (eg in modern physics or in the social sciences) that naïve conclusion