Monday, July 30, 2012

Revolt of the Islamic Demogorgon

The spate of revolts across the Islamic world has been hailed as the Arab Spring by the Western media. "Spring" is a symbol of rebirth and has positive connotations. In the West, the focus of the largely liberal media has been positive; this is the Muslim world's version of the Reformation or the Enlightenment depending on who's talking. These revolts are mostly against either military dictatorships or minority ethnic monarchies. A revolt against a dictatorship or a monarchy is always a positive thing to a progressive. Anything is better than that right?

The Arab Spring began with Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor who grew tired of being forced to bribe the police just to sell his fruit. He refused to pay, and petitioned to see the governor. When he was refused, he set himself on fire and later died in a coma. Right from the start one should notice the difference between this sort of thing and anything that happened during the American Revolution. In fact, I don't believe this even happened in the French Revolution. It's hard to imagine any of the sans-culottes of revolutionary France burning themselves alive.

Bouazizi's act set off revolutions in several Islamic countries. There were successful violent revolutions in Tunisia and Libya. Western air forces and probably special forces participated in the latter. There was a largely peaceful revolution in Egypt where military dictator Hosni Mubarak of thirty years was forced to resign, probably because of pressure from the United States which funds Egypt's military to the tune of $1.3 billion a year. There was violence in several other countries, and the violent revolution in Syria is ongoing.

Western liberals and progressives believe a myth about history, namely that history is progressive. As history goes along, so the myth says, all societies advance inevitably towards their highest potential. As Percy Shelley makes clear, the horrors of the French Revolution were just birth pangs, a mere hiccup, despicable more because they held up the inevitable advance of society than any moral difficulties since of course Judeo-Christian morality and indeed morality in general must bow before the advance of the Demogorgon. Of course Western liberals and progressives know what any and every society's highest potential is: a socialist and secular Western civilization, if we could only get rid of those damn conservatives once and for all. They all agree that Western civilization is much farther along this path of progress than, for instance, the Middle East. So they all greeted the Arab Spring with the highest exultation expressing one of their deepest beliefs about human nature and history: all change is progress. Change is inevitable and it is always good. The only thing holding us back from utopia is various political bogeymen, the identity of which can be adjusted as temporary political needs require. It is based on real historical trends, at least in the West. Things have seemed to get a lot better in terms of our standards of living in the West and even in the world. In the leftist version of history, sometimes called the "Whig history" by conservatives, this progress is due to the advances of science or Reason. The view is superficially compelling, but it is an assumption about history rather than a conclusion drawn from it, and it is notoriously ethnocentric. It studiously ignores the history of the rest of the world as well as the real history of what made the West different from the rest of the world. Being completely devoid of understanding of the real history of the world, it always substitutes the myth of inevitable progress, not just for us but for the entire world. In the process it must assume that all peoples of the earth are essentially the same. Again, there is an element of truth to this. All human beings are fundamentally the same, but the Whig history ignores the fact that this similarity ends at the existence of free will and the ability to instantiate spiritual choices into the physical world. Those choices may very well be different, and they may be choices made by whole cultures and nations that lead to very different conceptions of what one's role in the world ought to be. Assumptions about the foundations of proper government can be even more diverse.

Currently Egyptian politics is even more convoluted than usual. What the West hailed as an Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood and other religious factions viewed as a great opportunity. Amazing how people who actually live in Egypt know their own country better than Western journalists. Actually, it's not that amazing. What the Western media failed to realize, these people immediately understood: the failure of the U.S. supported military regime was a major opportunity for Islamist advancement. Thus with U.S. help the Islamists took over in Egyptian elections.

George W. Bush believed this same myth, that all peoples are fundamentally the same. In this interview at about 2:30 in, Peter Robinson mentions the noted expert on the Middle East, Bernard Lewis. Bush immediately nods and says he knows and greatly respects the man. Then Robinson hits him with this quote:

PR: This is Bernard Lewis in 2011. Quote: "I don't know how one could get the impression that the Muslim Brotherhood is...benign...[This was the common media interpretation at the time, amazingly enough.] In genuinely fair and free elections [the Muslim parties] are very likely to win and I think that would be a disaster." Close quote. In Egypt in the presidential election, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood has now won.

GWB: Correct. 51-49.

PR: Disaster?

GWB: I think democracy is never a disaster. The disaster of course is that people would suspend or forego the institutions that are required for democracy to thrive and go back to the era where people's voices didn't matter. In other words, one of the things that we ought to be insisting upon, we the free world, is that there be certain elections, in other words four years from now or I don't know whatever the term is, but there ought to be certainty that the people then get to go to the ballot box to decide whether or not the current winner fulfilled his promises. So I think people ought to investigate carefully the promises made, and then help enable the Egyptian people to hold people to account for either meeting their promises or not.

PR: So more democracy not less?

GWB: I think so. Yeah absolutely. So the United States ought not to be in the position to say, okay, we're for elections just so long as the guy we want to win wins. What we ought to be saying is that we're for elections and give the people a chance to express themselves. I haven't studied the platforms of these candidates, but I bet that they're mainly about improving the lives of their fellow citizens.

Uh huh. Mr. Bush says we should "investigate carefully the promises made" and that he hasn't himself "studied the platforms of these candidates" but that he'll bet they would be mostly about economic prosperity. The new Egyptian President might be an important resource to consult:

In the 1920's, the Egyptians said:
"The constitution is our Koran."
They wanted to show that the constitution is a great thing.
But Imam (Hassan) Al-Banna, Allah's mercy upon him, said to them: "No, the Koran is our constitution."
-The Koran was and will continue to be our constitution.
-The Koran will continue to be our constitution.
-The Koran is our constitution.
-The Koran is our constitution.
-The Prophet Muhammad is our leader.
-The Prophet Muhammad is our leader.
-Jihad is our path.
-Jihad is our path.
-And death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration.
-And death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration.
Above all- Allah is our goal.
The shari'a, then the shari'a, and finally, the shari'a.
This nation will enjoy blessing and revival only through the Islamic shari'a.
I take an oath before Allah and before you all that regardless of the actual text (of the constitution)...Allah willing, the text will truly reflect (the shari'a), as will be agreed by the Egyptian people, by the Islamic scholars, and by the legal and constitutional experts.
Rejoice and rest assured that this people will not accept a text that does not reflect the true meaning of the Islamic shari'a as a text to be implemented and as a platform.
The people will not agree to anything else.

President Morsi took a literal oath while on the campaign trail to make the new Egyptian constitution reflect shari'a law. The Western press lamented the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in parliamentary elections, but took solace in the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood only won 37% of the vote and 49% of the seats. What they failed to mention was that the second highest total was an even more radical Islamist party adhering to Salafism. Together these two parties got 61% of the popular vote and 69% of the parliamentary seats, in addition to the Muslim Brotherhood candidate winning the presidency. Mr. Bush assumes that Mr. Morsi made campaign promises about improving the lives of Egyptian citizens. He may have, but he also promised to move the country in an Islamist direction. Which do the Egyptian people care about more: Islamic law or economic prosperity? At this point any objective observer would have to conclude that Islamic law is and will continue to be the dominating factor in any Egyptian democracy, as I believe it would be in any Muslim democracy. In the future we will see if Islam can support a free democratic republic. I believe it cannot and will not. When push comes to shove, Islam will have the priority, and Islam has right from the beginning depended upon coercion. Islam is not a peaceful religion. War is as important to their religion as Christ's resurrection is to Christianity, the proof of their rightness and the reason for the success of their founding prophet. 

The question here is not whether or not Egypt maintains a democracy. It could continue having these votes until kingdom come and the people would still vote for Islamist candidates. The question is whether or not Islamist government promising to implement shari'a law will lead to Western style republics with the freedoms we enjoy and take for granted. The period of this revolution in Egypt produced numerous accounts of the persecution of Coptic Christians who have lived in Egypt for centuries, and this persecution was not limited to mobs. The military responded to one complaint by killing even more Christians.

George W. Bush represented the United States of the 20th century very well. He was a center-right evangelical Christian with an extremely naive and uninformed view of the rest of the world and saw no contradiction between being a conservative and supporting all kinds of government spending and control. He believed that government should get out of the lives of Americans and into the lives of everyone else, except of course when government has a place in education, the economy and whatever else all the busybodies in Washington, D.C. told him. He equated democracy with freedom, a leap that cannot be supported if one's experience of the world is wider than the United States. These children of the so-called Arab Spring are Islamist to the core and will continue to be so. If all the governments of the world became democratic tomorrow, this would not guarantee world peace, as Bush amazingly states in the previous chapter of that interview. More likely it would mean another world war, just like the democracies of Europe engaged in after democracy became the norm in Europe. Why does Bush believe things that are demonstrably untrue?

Because he, like many conservatives and Christians, has thoughtlessly accepted the false premises progressives have been selling us for a hundred years. Our form of government is not the most fundamental characteristic of the American people, nor would it be for any other people in the world.  Our Christianity is fundamental. Please don't misunderstand me. I prefer our system of government. But the claim that a worldwide utopia will be the result if every nation on earth adopted it is lunacy. And the idea that we can make them adopt it is even more lunatic. Even if we succeed, as is claimed for Iraq, democracy is government by the people and the people are Muslim. Democracy is the worst gift we could have given them. If a failure, the entire region will become a power vacuum and plunged into war and instability until such time as seven strong men worse than the first take their place. If successful, we give them the sword with which to strike us. See how well they get along with us when they have lifted our system of free enterprise onto their society and become as economically successful as we are, which has already happened in places like Yemen, Qatar and Bahrain. See what happens when toothless secular Europe succumbs to their Muslim immigrant population. Once the opportunity exists to challenge the Great Satan militarily that challenge will come. Our pet the Islamic Demogorgon, praised by progressives of all stripes, will turn on us with an unfocused rage and animal viciousness unlike any the world has ever seen.

Now that's whack.