Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Dubious Term Called Westernization - V

I have never accepted that the foundation of Israel had any logic. But I have the same notion about Pakistan. I do recognize two key differences between the Jews and the Indian(negative identity but there was no alternative identity...post-hoc creations not withstanding) Muslims who respectively supported the Zionist movement and the Two-nation theory. The former experienced actual persecution the latter imaginary. Then of course the questions of the lands they claimed. However, the philosophy or the ideology behind both these creations were flawed. And here I don't recognize any other views.

But the unfortunate events in Gaza have raised many troubling questions in me. I'm a secondary citizen in any region that is controlled by movements based on purity and pollution of food and bed and identity discrimination. As an individual I'm only comfortable under atheist or secular or communist movements. It's tough for me to understand from my own default subhuman identity(in those societies) the human rights of people who support such despicable ideologies. How do I view the situation in Palestine.

Palestinians have too many alternatives. They have a secular party(I'm under no illusion that these are more secular than our right wing parties...but still), they also have a communist party. Why would they choose a fundamentalist party? However, Maju gave few reasons for the unpopularity of secular parties.

According to Maju, apart from the fundamentalist party all other parties are deep neck in corruption.

This fact is particularly pertinent here, I feel.

The Palestinian question is not a resolved issue. Corruption in such situations only plays in the hands of enemy. So why on earth secular parties controlled by generally highly educated members of the society do not see this but a fundamentalist party (with not so educated cadres) realizes it?

The obvious and probably the cliched observation would be, the corruption here is the indication of wavering identity which lowers one's ego. I would think there is a latent feeling among the seculars that since they are secular they are actually "low breed Westerners". In other words, the passion against an identity with which they feel they have certain kind of affinity may dilute the intensity. But because of identity discrimination the religious party does not have such troubling questions and hence comfortable with its identity.

This obviously raises the question what if there was no identity discrimination. Then the Islamists should show their true colours. In my opinion, they should not be consistently non-corrupt. I find a proof in Afghanistan. My reading of Afghan wars tells me wars between various Islamic groups were decided more with exchange of money than with exchange of fire.

But since "Westernization" is so recognizable word and "way of life" can Islamists be blind to it (as many of them appear to be educated)? The answer could be found in Indian Islamic preacher Dr. Zakir Naik's inane and incoherent defense of Islam. At one place he argues Europe and America are true when it comes to "Science and Technology" and Muslims are true when it comes to religion. No, it's not magnanimity on part of Dr. Naik to appreciate the Europe's achievement (I'm sure he isn't bothered about his identity as an Indian..far less understands it... or identities around the world). His blind belief in his true religion stems from his obvious understanding of the achievements of Europe and America in Science and Technology. He completely believes in stereotypical Westerners. Other identities just don't count. It is in the power of Islam's identity discrimination that he finds his solace.

The problem is already addressed in my previous posts.
- All types of knowledge can appear in every isolated human society. It's the dominant ideology that determines how a society shapes up.
- Sometimes it's just dumb luck that determines which ideology is chosen. I believe, West Asian literate culture mixed with tribal equality in European lands.
- But no ideology is an absolute identity of a particular society.
- In fact, these identities have forcefully suppressed other ideologies. And some of these lost ideologies could have become successful in other societies.
- In many regions a big chunk of the population even had a humiliating life because of the dominant ideology of the land. However, identity quest just overlooks this aspect.
- Many of the terms related to identity were coined by Europeans at certain points of time. That need not be carried forward as they aren't consistent or logical and more importantly aren't supported by genetic studies.
- I would think every one should identify himself/herself with multiple set of ideologies and probably with a regional identity that is devoid of any character. The latter is required because there is no single all accepting assimilating identity.

Where does that put me in the case of Palestine? Well, I'm still a subhuman in that society. I just don't have any questions to answer.

9 comments:

Maju said...

Intresting meditation. Not sure if I get all points but rather in agreement overall.

His blind belief in his true religion stems from his obvious understanding of the achievements of Europe and America in Science and Technology. The stereotypical Westerners. Other identities just don't count. It is in the power of Islam's identity discrimination that he found his solace.

That particularly ringed a bell in my mind. Other identites don't count, nor others' achievements either. No mention to China or India and their own cultural (and scientific too) merits, for instance. After all Islam is Western (Western Asian to be more specific) and the rest of the world is, as used to be for Europeans... remote and barbaric periphery, so to say. Islam was born in a Hellenistic reality (even the hijab is basically just plagiarized Greek "fashion" of that time), even if it has many peculiarities and turned extremely defensive and conservative after the Mongol invasion (and maybe the crusades too), losing most of its dynamism. Their concept of the "known world", the Oecumene of Greco-Romans is not substantially different from that of medieval Europeans, with remote and "exotic" India in the eastern edge of it, and China and Black Africa mostly out of the concept.

The difference is that, through humanism and illustration (and even through colonialism too maybe), Europe (the West, so to say) has (painfully at times) evolved to a greater acceptance of different realities. Gradually we have become aware that we use numbers invented in India, that print, paper and even bank notes were first developed in China (among other inventions), that phenotype does not determine what an individual or a nation can achieve, that most is cultural and historical, not religious or biological.

I don't think there's such trend in the Muslim world, at least outside of "westernizing" (i.e. secularist) currents. Stigmatizing secularism as "western" is certainly a method to hide one's contradictions and problems. True that western geopolitics do not help in that, hijacked as they are by neocolonialism and Zionism. But there should be no particualr reason for that conflict to be defined in ghetto terms like Islam (or whatever other privative and xenophobic identity). In fact that only helps to draw other non-Muslims towards "westernization" (for good or bad) and to divide the multiple peoples and cultures that would have strong reasons to oppose western neocolonialism ("divide et impera").

So, IMO, I'd say that Islamism plays in the hands of western imperialism, specially that of the USA (there are very few Muslims in America). It's the ideal foe: marginal, ghettoized, impossible to expand. The perfect common foe rejected by all major powers (Rusia, China, India) and most others.

Manjunat said...

Islamism plays in the hands of western imperialism, specially that of the USA (there are very few Muslims in America).

I suppose Secularism also plays in the hands of America/Israel(that's what you argued about secular Palestinian parties). I believe many Muslims also believe Seculars in their country are puppets of Americans. Now, if Islamic fundamentalism also work in their favour indirectly, there is no hope for Arabs.

Maju said...

I believe many Muslims also believe Seculars in their country are puppets of Americans.

Sure. Depends who and where. Hardly anyone could say that the Baathists or the POLISARIO Front are "puppets of Americans" or Zionists for the case, while this is very very clear with fundamentalist regimes like Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, etc.

Like with historical Fascism, there's nothing fundamental that separates Fundamentalism from the imperialist designs of great powers (mostly western historically but not anymore). Like Mussolini and Hitler could be for long pawns of the British Foreign Office in their struggle against socialism in Europe, Fundamentalists of all sorts are now often pawns of the CIA and the Mossad and their main goal is to end with Arabic nationalism (that has been a historical enemy) and, outside of the Islamic world, to create ideological confusion, promoting xenophobia and displacing the class war off the political and mediatic discourse.

The difference with the 1920s and 30s is that then the urban guerrilla ("terrorism") kind of warfare was not really well developed, neither in its genuine form nor in its manipulated one. It's a kind of warfare that evolved for other reasons maybe but that fits well the nuclear impossibility of waging any major wars. Hence it became common in the Cold War. But its effects are extremely limited unless you can really expand your base, generalizing the conflict into a revolutionary process. That's something that Al Qaida can't obviously do (too murderous, too thinly spread, too distant from whatever really is going on in the streets). And Al Qaida is that way because it is not meant to be anything else: just a destabilizing, divisive, provoking factor - not any real popular organization, no matter if it does feed on the naivety of many young religious fanatics and toys with some of the actual existing conflicts like Palestine, Iraq or Kashmir. It is just a macro-structure intended to centralize "terrorism" and to make it true terror with no real purpose other than spreading communitarian hatred and competing to some extent with real popular organizations of similar apparent ideology. Al Qaida has achieved nothing anywhere (and I do not mean succesful revolutions but just popular organization, potential to one day achieve such "revolutionary" goals), it has just promoted hatred and distrust between Muslims and everybody else, as well as among Muslims (along faction lines, between secularists and fanatics, between different factions of fanatics...) It is exactly the tool that Washington Tel Aviv and Riyad developed in the late Cold War, just that recycled for new extended purposes.

milieu said...

Libya's Muammar Qaddafi had an interesting op-ed in the New York Times.
here
It rejects the two-state concept in Israel. Ironic that this is coming from a muslim leader while during partition it was a large leadership of muslims who espoused it in India.

Manjunat said...

May be if India starts making the noise that Pakistan is a disputed territory, Qaddafi will be the first one to take up the cause of India. We never know.

Manjunat said...

Baathists or the POLISARIO Front are "puppets of Americans"

Baathists in Iraq hobnobbed with Americans during Iran-Iraq war.

Like Mussolini and Hitler could be for long pawns of the British Foreign Office in their struggle against socialism in Europe, Fundamentalists of all sorts are now often pawns of the CIA and the Mossad and their main goal is to end with Arabic nationalism (that has been a historical enemy)

Indeed, Jinnah could be also one of those long pawns of the British to keep India eternally struggling as it always feared Hindu-Muslim unity. Kashmir is in fact a non-issue here. I think you do agree with that 'cui-bono' but you tend to contradict yourself sometimes.

Maju said...

Baathists in Iraq hobnobbed with Americans during Iran-Iraq war.

True. Baathists of Syria did the opposite. This only shows how broken has been the Baathist party since the right-wing coup of Hussein in Iraq and the loss of pan-Arabic goals in Egypt.

Still Hussein was playing to become the "Prussia" of Arabia, so to say, or at least the "Savoy", placing Iraq as the main military power of the area and hoping to expand in ethnic Arabian territory, looking towards an eventual unification of Greater Arabia on an ethnic nationalist (and not religious) ideological fundamentals. This obviosly clashed with the neocolonialist interests of the USA and Israel, as well as with those of their puppets, like Saudia. So Bush Sr. laid him a trap in Kuwait in a moment when any other superpower's influence was almost null, as the USSR had just collapsed.

Indeed, Jinnah could be also one of those long pawns of the British to keep India eternally struggling as it always feared Hindu-Muslim unity. Kashmir is in fact a non-issue here. I think you do agree with that 'cui-bono' but you tend to contradict yourself sometimes.

Maybe.

In any case, I'd agree that the partition of India largely served the neocolonialist interests of Britain and its US ally and successor empire. Not that China has not benefitted from it anyhow.

Manjunat said...

Maybe.

In any case, I'd agree that the partition of India largely served the neocolonialist interests of Britain and its US ally and successor empire.


I beg to differ here. I think our basic ground to understand any social aspect should be;

1. there is no religion
2. there is no race

If you take the case of South Asia, the initial revolt against the British initiated because soldiers of the British army from both Hindu and Muslim background believed that the British dishonoured their religious believes. Therefore, the British were the victims of religious prejudices which, understandably, they could later use it for their benefits. Therefore, from an atheistic point of view, Hindus and Muslims were victims of their own ignorance. Similarly, British didn't create Jinnah but Jinnah was created because of natural religious divisions within the country.

If you observe the British history they gave independence to Ireland on a platter. The memory of past atrocities was only kept alive by religious divisions. A fact further illustrated in northern Ireland. However, that feeling was never strong among Scots and Welsh when religion still dominated the society. It's coming out only now. The fact is British didn't have any answer to these religious divisions in their own backyard. In these cases, the application of 'cui bono', just appears to be giving them some superhuman abilities to them(for better or worse) when in reality they themselves didn't know how to face those problems. What amuses me about 'cui bono' is it always choses the ultimate winner as the one responsible for any conflict. I think the mindset here is loser is always right and therefore can't be held responsible for the current situation. By the way, I'm not making any generalization that the opposite is the case.

Maju said...

Well, the religious fracture in Ireland was laregly product of English/British colonialism. Nearly all "Protestants" are descendants of British colonists and nearly all "Catholics" are native. In the late phases of the conflict, the IRA and Sinn Fein (a secularist Marxist bloc) made a strong effort to break the religious myth using the (arguably more appropiate) terms of Republican and Unionist, that have now become mainstream.

I use to think that in our time and age religion is just a fossil from the Medieval (or early Modern) past, specialy in regards to politics. Something as old as the unification of Germany was achieved only through disregard of religious differences and countries like the USA boast of their supposed religious tolerance (though the term "God" appears even in bank notes and they finally recognized the Fascist-created Vatican theocracy under Bush Jr.)

But then you see how religion can be sumonned again from oblivion when politicians find it fit, as happened in Yugoslavia, in order to reinvent the Croatian, Serbian and "Muslim" (sic) pseudo-ethnicities, all of which spoke the same language and had been living together in a secular state for many decades. Suddenly people who have not visited a temple ever were tagged by their mere surnames into being one of these three reinvented pseudo-ethnicities based on religion, just because politicians and secret agents found it fit. Would be laughable if not for the many deaths and destruction caused.

I knew a guy (was he named Boian or Goran?) who had all three ancestries and was therefore reruited into the three armies. He deserted from all them and we finally managed to get him into Catalonia, where I lost his track.

I imagine that in other, less industrialized, parts of the world, this religiously defined identity may be more important but doesn't make it less obsolete and past-ist. It is a conservative force that seeks to perpetuate religious regulations of civic life and, IMO, an intrusist enemy of democracy, egality and freedom.

Because you tell me: what does really separate a Punjabi Muslim from a Punjabi Sikh or a Punjabi Hindu? They all speak the same language, have roughly the same history and ancestry and have lived together for centuries in the same land. Same for Bengalis. In fact the partition of India caused a massive exodus of people from their ancestral homelands. Nowadays we would call that ethnic cleansing or genocide and would get very angry at its poor justification.

Is the Muslim/Hindu divide something that existed in India before the British Raj? Sure. But did the British move even a finger to secularize society at all? Nope. It was not their interest nor the spirit of their Empire: for them all Indians, Muslims or Hindus were just barbarians to rule and exploit from a safe ethno-culural distance and prejudice. Only those groups that challenged the Empire politically were in fact dealt with.

In contrast, Latin imperialism, for good or bad, has been more inclusive, assimilative. This can be seen in the Spanish and French empires and even in the more ruthless Portuguese one. It's surely a concept that directly derives from the Roman style of imperialism: the natives are somehow expected to eventualy become full members of the Empire via cultural and political assimilation (not this happens always, of course).

But US imperialism is more directly derived from the British model in any case. And pitting the Indians against each other on obsolete religious prejudices is as good as any other pretext for the all adagio of "divide and rule".

And that's also what they have been doing in Iraq, by the way: strenghing the already existent religious and ethnic divisions to make sure they can rule over the whole. They have not made Iraq more modern or more secular, rather the opposite. And they have a reason, an imperialist reason, to act that way.