Free Thoughts on Iran
Front Page | About FToI | Authors | Archives | Comment Policy | Disclaimer
e-mail

bra.gif By the Way, My favourite director is Luis Bunuel! | Main | Sufi Wisdom: Love ket.gif

February 16, 2004

Politics of Immanence, Politics of Transcendence
Peyman Vahabzadeh  [info|posts]

Amun Granting myself the luxury of succinctness, I would like to keep a simplistic dualism in the text that follows. When asked what kind of political ethics leads to democracy, we often tend to list such virtues as tolerance, respect of rights, non-violence, and so on, not knowing that these are nothing but the traits of a certain ontogeny of politics. Put simply, we have a tendency to see the ethics that informs the "democratic conduct" as the latter's conditions. What I suggest here briefly is that democratic or undemocratic conducts do not really stem from certain ethical principles; rather, such conducts and their ethical principles are nothing but expressions of two different ontological strands—each giving rise to one or the other political conduct. Let me call one the "politics of immanence"—that which makes undemocratic conduct possible—and the other the "politics of transcendence"—to whom democratic conduct owes its manifestation.

The politics of immanence is a politics of ultimate principles, in which the entire political edifice is (re-)instituted around a certain referential point—race, history, ethics or religion—that functions, in first glance, not only as the raison d'être of the existing regime, but also, more significantly, as the historical necessity for its emergence. The ultimate principles of such politics thus attain the status of uncontested knowledge to which the public subscribes en masse. But like any other principle claiming ultimacy, it is nothing but a phantasm—a mere assumption, an assertion, a claim—one which reigns supreme simply due to its success in excluding other, competing claims. Hence the monopoly of truth-claims gives this type of politics its "immanence": the principles upon which this politics is founded is never left out in the open where it can be contested. Rather, it is vehemently guarded with paranoia, lest contact with a foreign agent undermine its acclaimed purity. The Institution of an external "other" is first on the agenda of such politics. The resistance against a perceived "other" is the highest justification for the regime's policies. In the politics of immanence the borders are totally fixed, not only to guard the sovereign referent from the other outside, but more significantly, from the other inside.

The political regime thus edified creates the illusion of something "inside" that must not in any case be compromised. Sovereignty is achieved through the maximization of the perceived ultimate principles to most any area of social life. That is why politics of immanence cannot survive without the presence of an outside threat or a foreign agent—call it as you wish, no shortage of terms in this case—that apparently has sworn to undermine this phantasmic principle. How ironic that a regime based on a unique, immanent referent will cease to exist in the absence of a perceived threat from afar. The ultimacy of such principles now functions as the organizing truth by making a series of loose and unwarranted conceptual equations—and their identical social practices—with the supreme referent. Maximalist interpretations of the ultimate principles make these equations possible.

Intellectually, the principles of such political regimes can effortlessly be challenged (although in general not without considerable human cost). One simply needs to refuse the supreme referent and the regime will conceptually collapse. That explains why a regime of immanence has to be delivered with the forceps of a revolutionary fervour and needs to replace education, reflection, information and analysis with propaganda. The maximalized principle that governs this politics necessitates a majoritarian support based on the "legitimacy" of greater numbers. But whether the conceptual collapse of the regime, which can be delivered by any concerned and informed citizen, translates into social and political action—that indeed is a different question, although oftentimes such translation does take place.

The politics of transcendence should now be easy to sketch, since we can already tell what it is not. Such politics receives its principles from the treatment of an arrivant, a foreigner, lost stranger, the immigrant, or an "other." What is to be guarded is the process of receiving the arrivant, of recognizing the "other" as other, without trying to deny otherness. Thus the politics of transcendence is a politics that receives its legitimacy in the eyes of the outsider, here or there. The success of such politics is measured by the treatment of minorities, immigrants, the invisible, impoverished, injured and voiceless.

The politics of transcendence is based on the principle of inalienable rights. These rights require well-defined procedural thoroughfare accessible equally to both governing and governed. Thus the procedural legality of decisions remains highly at stake in such politics, lest a wrong turn undermine or reprimand the principle of transcendence—that is, the recognition of the "other"—upon which the entire political edifice based. Political life under such conditions necessitates the direct involvement of informed citizens, their continuous sobriety, unlearning discrimination and uncalled-for judgements, and finally, the neighborly treatment of each "other" and one another.

By way of concluding this note, alas, two caveats are in order. First, the two contrary principles of "immanence"—closure—and "transcendence"—openness—are not in actual cases mutually exclusive. Democratic or despotic societies retain both principles to varying degrees. That is why there is always the possibility that a despotic state may meet its own demise in the shadow of a rising democratic movement. It is, likewise, possible that a democratic state will degenerate into despotic reaction. Still, there are many cases in which democratic states advocate one or another despotic policy: just recently, a fanatical interpretation of secularism in France led to the enforced removal of religious apparel in arenas of public education (which in fact hides French nationalism—an ideology no less disturbing than any religious public manifestation).

This short reflection had the luxury of keeping them as neat binary terms—which is never the case. Secondly, the two types of politics, do originate in two seemingly opposing places. Contrary as they are, they have their origins in what is one and the same. For our deep concerns about the democratic impulse in Iran, these two caveats bear a message: that democracy cannot be simply achieved and institutionalized once and for all. Rather, it must be protected, cared for, deepened and radicalized. In the end, as often said, every people receive the kind of politics they deserve.

[The author of these lines wishes to apologize for the abstract nature of this article.]

Editor's Note: It is perhaps not quite possible to grasp the meaning of the keywords "immanence" and "transcendence" without taking a few courses in philosphy and theology, but in order to shed a light, however dim, on these concepts you may find useful to take a look at the following links:

- Immanence at the MYSTICA,
- Immanence from the Columbia Encyclopedia at encyclopedia.com, and
- Immanence from the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent.

Comments
Señor Græd at February 17, 2004 08:59 AM [permalink]:

A very quick note: Thanks for a serious article, Peyman. I should confess it's the first time I see the terms "immanent" and "transcendent" in the sense you have used them here, but I can be a big fan of binaries sometimes, simplistic as they may be. I should read your post again...

Wessie at February 17, 2004 12:14 PM [permalink]:

Not much time now for a substantive response to the "succinct" posting. ;-) However, democracy is based on a few—simple—principles.

The trouble with educated MEsterners is that they argue, like medievalists of old, in obfuscating language nebulous ideas, things akin to "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin"—while never taking the bull by the horns and DOING something.

High-minded language only obfuscates the obvious. "All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights."

Wessie

Señor Græd at February 17, 2004 01:19 PM [permalink]:

"All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights."

Not because she said it, but after re-reading Peyman's post, I was going to dispute this very claim. Babak Seradjeh, another thinker of your school, once argued that all tenets of democracy are reducible to the issue of Rights. I'd like to think that every democratic notion and practice has its roots in Equality. However, the axiom of Equality is nothing but a comforting convenient assumption; yet another "ultimate principle" that is, as far as I can see, based on nothing but the obviously wrong idea that humans are all created equal, while only some twins seem to be created equal. Since we're not equal in our potentials (some are smart, some are dumb, to use another simplistic binary), what then makes it necessary for us to deserve equal rights, equal treatment?

I would expound on this more, but it's a busy day here. But I'll write more later.

JFTDMaster at February 17, 2004 03:36 PM [permalink]:

Wessie: what you say is true in general about intellectuals as well i.e. obfuscating simple ideas in overly-complex language.
Yes, democracy should be examined in simpler terms.. individuals having rights is part of it: the persian empire was ruled by tolerant benevolent monarchies, and afterwards the greeks (who came up with individuals endowed with rights) had democracy: so there is a link there.


Now some comments on the article itself.

First with immanence? Apparently it means, "remaining within" ... What does that mean? Why would it impact a democracy?

"The resistance against a perceived "other" is the highest justification for the regime's policies."
- Separation into "us" and "them" is inherent in all human psychology, to some extent.. are not democracies bound by national identity? How is constant resistance against the "other" bound to the concept of immanence?

Lets look at history before the persian empire: the assyrian empire was based on ruthless military supremacy, "immanence", etc. Next came the persian empire: it was tolerant, more like a confederacy, and in way it was inclusive (people under control of Persia were slaves of the "king of kings" just like the native Persians were). And yet there was no democracy. Was the persian empire immanent or evanescent?

on immanence:
"The political regime thus edified creates the illusion of something "inside" that must not in any case be compromised."
- I suppose this is the main point of the article: states based on any ideology do not compromise on that ideology.

JFTDMaster at February 17, 2004 04:54 PM [permalink]:

on transcendance

"The politics of transcendence is based on the principle of inalienable rights."
- If you define it so.. and yet isn't the idea of all people having rights also an ideology?

Can an exclusive group based on ethnicity not be democratic?

"Thus the politics of transcendence is a politics that receives its legitimacy in the eyes of the outsider, here or there."
- Some states seek legitimacy in the context of universal morality, some use justification for violence based on supremacist ideology, some based on religion as an ideology, but even those states which are based on the idea of universal rights of all individual have an inherent, internal view of what is right and wrong. Is that not "immanence"?


"The success of such politics is measured by the treatment of minorities, immigrants, the invisible, impoverished, injured and voiceless."
- Again, the persian empire was not based on rights or equality, but on a somewhat "universal" and tolerant belief system, and on the understanding that accomodation of local groups will make the political authority of the "king of kings" only stronger. Do you consider the persian empire of that time to be "transcendant"?

What is democracy? Democracy is intimately linked to the concept of membership in society, to the idea that all citizens can vote. All members of society must have a minimal opportunity to participate in the system for democracy to exist.

And yet the idea of democracy was strongly promoted throughout the world today by nationalism, by the separation into "us and them", by the will of "the french people" or "the american people" to express themselves.

Does it require equality? In practice France is elite-based, and historically is less capable of integrating immigants from various religious/ethnic groups into members who feel part of the society. And yet it is a democracy. Britain became a democracy gradually from a monarchy, and is still nominally a democracy.

"democracy cannot be simply achieved and institutionalized once and for all. Rather, it must be protected, cared for, deepened and radicalized."
- Democracy depends on the value system within the political system.

There are a few steps before democracy becomes possible. One is the transition from a dictator-based authority to a system-based authority.
Another is the spread among the "average people" of literacy and thus ability to understand and effect the world.
A democracy in the long run is usually successfully guarded by a middle class. Democracy empowers "the people", and allows the political system to reflect the concerns of "the people" and to go through a learning process.
I think this is what makes a democracy: not the specific boundaries of who is included in "us".

JFTDMaster at February 17, 2004 04:55 PM [permalink]:

(I meant Britain is still nominally a monarchy..)

Wessie at February 18, 2004 01:22 AM [permalink]:

The issue of equality is equal rights to which we are all born—not equal abilities of talents, etc., Senior. Thus, in a democracy the richest man, the smartest, the dumbest, the handicapped, the talented—all are ideally treated equal under the rule of law. Now, in reality, that is not true. However, it is more true in a democracy than in any other system.

JFTDMaster "First with immanence? Apparently it means, "remaining within" ... What does that mean? Why would it impact a democracy?. . ."

Because EVERY creature is inherently democratic—born free. Democracy is immanent—within, whether it is suppressed by despots or not. That is why caged birds often don't sing and animals in zoos fail to breed and humans don't thrive without their natural born immanence to freedom and democracy.


"yet isn't the idea of all people having rights also an ideology? "

No! Because an ideology is a political theory or orientation. While rights are immanent or inherent within every creature—whether they are able to realize those rights or not.

"And yet the idea of democracy was strongly promoted throughout the world today by nationalism, by the separation into "us and them", by the will of "the french people" or "the american people" to express themselves. "

Not at all. If you live in those societies you will have rights. But, your rights will not be greater than those of others (unless you went to a Grande Ecole or Harvard—in which case you may have greater privileges, but not more rights. ;-).

Sharia law gives special rights to Muslims and lesser rights and status to dhimmis. We observe Muslims coming to Western democracies DEMANDING special rights as if there was sharia law in the Western land—rights that step on or even negate the rights of the others in the society. An example is the demand of Muslims to have gender separate swimming pools. Because democracy gives rights to all, and not just those belonging to certain groups it cannot accommodate special demands for extra rights by Muslims. Giving special rights to one group i.e. gender separate swimming—takes them away from others—which is undemocratic and unfair.

What is democracy? Democracy is intimately linked to the concept of membership in society, to the idea that all citizens can vote. All members of society must have a minimal opportunity to participate in the system for democracy to exist.

Nope! Democracy is based on rights as well as responsibilities. All people are created equal in rights, but their rights stop where the rights of others begin. That means everyone must practice personal responsibility or the whole system falls apart.

That is why Muslim lands don't/won't have democracy. Because the concept of personal responsibility is lacking. Muslims expect "magic" things to happen once they say, "We are now a democracy." This is very evident in Iraq, where the people have a child-like dream that with democracy everything will be "perfect"—and instantly. "Why can't the U.S. fix everything yesterday; after all, they sent a man to the moon." NOTHING democratic happens unless the people practice personal responsibility. We have yet to see that in Iraq or in other Muslims lands. People have the erroneous notion that democracy means you can do whatever you want—and to hell with the other guy. That, at its extreme creates anarchy.

"Inshallah" leaves everything to God—and no one is responsible for anything if everything is "God's will."


Wessie

Wessie at February 18, 2004 01:58 AM [permalink]:

I believe that Dr. Vahabzadeh is applying his thoughts on immanence and transcendence erroneously to democratic theory.

"That is why politics of immanence cannot survive without the presence of an outside threat or a foreign agent—call it as you wish, no shortage of terms in this case—that apparently has sworn to undermine this phantasmic principle. "

I find this completely wrong and off base. Immanence if the freedom to which we are all born—the freedom within. Regardless of external threat freedom is an inalienable right and immanent within all creatures—especially man.

". . .The politics of transcendence is based on the principle of inalienable rights. . . ",

The "politics of transcendence" is the belief in those inalienable rights and their attendant responsibilities.

"Still, there are many cases in which democratic states advocate one or another despotic policy: just recently, a fanatical interpretation of secularism in France led to the enforced removal of religious apparel in arenas of public education (which in fact hides French nationalism—an ideology no less disturbing than any religious public manifestation)."

The special "rights" demanded by Muslims, at the expense of others in society are not appropriate in a democracy! The veil is seen as the external manifestation of militant Islam—which threatens the secular, democratic state and seeks to overthrow it. Thus, Muslims cannot wear the veil in France— just as they cannot wear hijab in Turkey for the very same reasons. Both nations are within their rights to ban hijab because they are responsible for safeguarding the democratic rights of all citizens—not just Muslims.

Transcendence is generally seen in religious terms of going beyond this realm—beyond the ordinary to the unknowable. Given that freedom and democracy are imminent within every human being, one can hardly go beyond or transcend that—one can only aspire to it because one knows inherently of its truth.

The moment of transcendence for Muslims will be when they recognize that which is immanent in their persons—that they are born free and must practice personal responsibility in order to sustain democracy.

---

I certainly hope that you don't teach this shaky "democratic theory" to your students, Dr. Vahabzadeh.


Wessie at February 18, 2004 03:38 AM [permalink]:

Outgoing Iranian lawmakers made a bold, direct challenge to the country's supreme leader Tuesday, issuing a tartly worded open letter accusing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of leading "a system in which legitimate freedoms and the rights of the people are being trampled on in the name of Islam."

"Institutions under your supervision, after four years of humiliating the elected parliament and thwarting bills and restricting the legislature, have now, on the verge of the parliamentary elections, deprived the people of the most basic right: the right to choose and be chosen," the letter said.


Full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49077-2004Feb17.html

Ah, you see, they KNOW that rights and freedom are immanent, regardless of whether they can be free.

Wessie

Señor Græd at February 18, 2004 11:34 AM [permalink]:

"[I]n a democracy the richest man, the smartest, the dumbest, the handicapped, the talented—all are ideally treated equal under the rule of law."

Why?!

Wessie at February 18, 2004 03:03 PM [permalink]:

Because, Senior: "All men are created equal" and are endowed with certain "unalienable rights" by their creator—even some of the radical Muslims in Iran recognize they don't have their rights. Of course, the problem under Islam is that when "some" get their rights they won't give others their rights.

For EVERYONE to have equal rights one needs a democracy. Islam is not compatible with a democracy because, for example, women are given fewer rights than men under sharia—not "different" but equal, but definitely fewer rights. Therefore, if sharia is used as a "Bill of Rights"—there will be no equal rights. And thus, some people cannot pursue "Life, Liberty or Happiness," because they don't have equal rights .

Wessie

JFTDMaster at February 18, 2004 04:34 PM [permalink]:

Wessie: I do believe in democracy, and I do believe that men and women are equal, and all that.. and yet I think you are just confusing the issue even further than the article. Democracy and equality are separate issues: in a political worldview, one could have one, the other, both or neither.
Democracy developed in Greece, and the people who could vote were not only all male but they were mostly slave-owners as well. In recent history of the west, democracy was the same way, but over time, more people were included in the democratic process.

"Islam is not compatible with a democracy because, for example, women are given fewer rights than men under sharia—not "different" but equal, but definitely fewer rights."
- Equality under sharia law is impossible because sharia law mandates inequality of women. Democracy is also incompatible with sharia law: unlike in sharia law, in a democracy "the people" have a degree of input into decision making, and the government represents them.. but these are still separate issues.

JFTDMaster at February 18, 2004 05:32 PM [permalink]:

"JFTDMaster "First with immanence? Apparently it means, "remaining within" ... What does that mean? Why would it impact a democracy?. . ."
Because EVERY creature is inherently democratic—born free."
- Maybe I'm missing something, but my impression was that Peyman talks about immanence being undemocratic, and transcendence being democratic. You seem to be using completley different language, with different meaning.

Lets go back to beginning of society. At first what we are faced with is anarchy, with no law, and with individual people fighting over resources, territory etc. Then, for mutual benefit, people begin banding together in larger groups, for mutual protection, order etc. Eventually, as people band into larger groups, states are formed. Then, begins the process of evolution of states.

The total freedom you think is "god given" is what produces anarchy and disorder. State is an attempt to bring order.

Now a democratic state is a particular type of state in which individuals have more freedom than in a totalitarian system, and it is a more advanced system of government. The freedom in a democracy is only possible though the imposition of order by the state (ie. imposition of a man-made laws). So where exactly are the "immanent god-given inalienable rights"?

"NOTHING democratic happens unless the people practice personal responsibility. We have yet to see that in Iraq or in other Muslims lands."
- In the East, decisions are traditionally made by consent of the entire community, and adherence to community is important in arab tradition. In other cases (in west and in east), decisions are made based on ideology: that is what makes an ideology less compatible with democracy, no?

Wessie at February 18, 2004 08:53 PM [permalink]:

". . . Maybe I'm missing something, but my impression was that Peyman talks about immanence being undemocratic, and transcendence being democratic. You seem to be using completley different language, with different meaning. . . "

I use the SAME language with different—proper—meaning. JFTDMaster, my contention is that the author is inaccurate and just plain WRONG!

". . .Lets go back to beginning of society. At first what we are faced with is anarchy, with no law, and with individual people fighting over resources, territory etc. "

Not true! Listen, even animals and insects are organized into groups—highly effective groups— where the division of labor is practiced. There was no "anarchy" before there were "sophisticated" societies. Apes our closest relatives, for example, are highly organized. So are insects—look at bees or termites or fish. . .

BTW—there is NO true democracy—one man, one vote, in the modern world, except perhaps in some tribal societies.

". . . In the East, decisions are traditionally made by consent of the entire community, and adherence to community is important in arab tradition. In other cases (in west and in east), decisions are made based on ideology: that is what makes an ideology less compatible with democracy, no? . . ."

Contrary to what MEsterners and Muslims believe—an adherence to community is also very important in Western tradition. Societies don't become successful unless they are organized and have traditions. However, if "everyone" votes, then that transcends community. For example, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, gays, women, men, workers, professionals, etc. might all have a similar interest—such as that in Social Security and would vote accordingly. Ditto for national security and defense or national health insurance or taxes. These issues transcend community.

Fascist sharia, where no one has the rights s/he was born with, and no one is equal—is what makes Islamic ideology just plain incompatible with democracy.

Why is it that MEsterners/Muslims constantly want to make everything more complicated than it really is?

Democracy is simple! Everyone is entitled to equal rights because they were born with same—whether rich or poor, male or female, white or black, smart or dumb, able bodied or handicapped, one religion or another. No one is entitled to special privileges that would impinge on the rights of others. The secular rule of law ensures that all are treated equally under democratic law. Sharia law is inherently discriminatory because it gives Muslim males more rights than females, and all Muslims more rights that dhimmis or slaves.

Wessie

Wessie at February 18, 2004 10:29 PM [permalink]:

Dutch to kick out failed asylum seekers

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/02/18/wneth18.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/02/18/ixnewstop.html

If this idiot thinks that sewing his mouth and eyes shut as a form of protest will get him anything but scorn and disdain, he is sadly mistaken. Muslims who do such things are seen as frightening, threatening barbarians or just plain nuts.

Let's just say this confirms to the Dutch Burghers that they would not want this man to live next door to them. . .
---

Denmark to get tough on Muslim clerics

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1-1006054,00.html

---

Two of the most liberal nations in the world have had it with Islamofascists and the silent Muslims who support them!

"Fortress Europe."

I predict this will happen not only all across Europe, but all across the world with Muslims being shipped back to Islamia.

The more Islamic terror attacks, the faster Muslims will be repatriated to their own lands— where they can deny each other their rights and murder each other with impunity.

Muslims can "transcend" in their own lands. The West is clearly saying—do whatever you want, only do it far away from us! Don't come to the West claiming to seek "democracy" and then try to destroy our way of life!


Wessie

JFTDMaster at February 19, 2004 12:00 PM [permalink]:

Or, how about instead of shipping muslims out of europe... we support the strong pro-democratic movement of the people in Iran, help build a modern democratic state in Iran, which would encourage the Muslim in Europe as well to become more moderate.

Wessie at February 19, 2004 01:05 PM [permalink]:

Building a "strong democratic state in Iran" is the RESPONSIBILITY of the Iranians! We can "support" the building of such a state, but we cannot do it for them. Germany and Japan built their democratic states, the U.S. only helped.

Allah helps those who help themselves.

The world is TIRED of throwing good money after bad to fix despotic Islamic states. For decades we have been giving BILLIONS of dollars to Islamic states who do nothing toward development of democracies and the rule of law. Indeed, people in Muslim states have far fewer rights today than they had 20 years ago.

No, no, I agree that shipping them off—far away from the West—and leaving them to allah is the best way. Given that Muslims don't want to integrate into Western society, but rather they want Western society to change for them, WHY should we permit them to stay? Besides, Muslims are always saying we should "leave them alone."

I am all for that—and clearly so are many others, given that Muslims are being "repatriated"—deported. However, IF Muslims continue to suppor tIslamic terror or proliferate WMDs—all bets are off!

Wessie

Wessie at February 19, 2004 02:37 PM [permalink]:

Iran Announces Readiness to Sell Nuclear Fuel to International Buyers

"Iran's foreign minister says his country may be prepared to sell nuclear fuel to international buyers. The disclosure comes amid increased international scrutiny of Iran's nuclear capabilities.

"According to Iran's state news agency, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi says Iran has the potential to produce nuclear fuel and is ready to offer it on the global market. . . ."

http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=8244DC1A-3751-48C7-9082384D007B3696&Title=Iran%20Announces%20Readiness%20to%20Sell%20Nuclear%20Fuel%20to%20International%20Buyers&db=current

---
White House Concerned About Nuclear Discovery in Iran

Tehran's nuclear research reactor

"The White House says it is concerned about reports that U.N. inspectors have found parts of a uranium enrichment centrifuge in Iran. . . "

"The United States has said it is unimpressed by Iran's moves to open up its nuclear program to the outside world. A key U.S. diplomat said Thursday he has no doubt Iran is continuing to develop its nuclear program. U.S. officials believe Iran is using its nuclear energy program as a cover for its efforts to build nuclear weapons. . . ."

http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=50ACAE94-1505-47A7-AFE552BA4B9C9751

---

They can't and won't develop democracy or their economy, they can't and won't feed or educate their people—but, they can and WILL develop nuclear. Now that is progress!

Are you ready for those 72 raisins? Iran may help us all transcend—sooner rather than later. . .

tick, Tick—TICK!

JFTDMaster at February 20, 2004 03:35 PM [permalink]:

"The world is TIRED of throwing good money after bad to fix despotic Islamic states."
- Maybe the West should stop. In democracy, the state needs the support of the people, and the people need the state to provide services, national defense etc.
The dictatorship in Iran stays in power partially by selling oil to Germany, France, etc, that is why the dictatorship does not care what the people want/feel.

France, Germany, Britain and the US State Department should face the fact that "engagement" does not lead to reform: it leads to perpetuation of the regime.

Like you said: tick, tick, tick...

Wessie at February 20, 2004 04:10 PM [permalink]:

"- Maybe the West should stop. . . .France, Germany, Britain and the US State Department should face the fact that "engagement" does not lead to reform: it leads to perpetuation of the regime. . . "

Well, now that is interesting. Aren't you the one who was all for "engagement" and supporting the reformers? I am the one for leaving them alone—remember?

But, the oil issue is tough. They have to sell it—we have to purchase it. Oil, after all, makes the world go round. Life as we know it would stop without oil. No one on the planet can live without petroleum products these days.

AmericanWoman at February 23, 2004 12:54 AM [permalink]:

Is "the politics of Immanence" the same thing as "Groupthink?"

JFTDMaster at February 26, 2004 03:35 PM [permalink]:

"Aren't you the one who was all for "engagement" and supporting the reformers?"
- No. I'm for engagement with Muslims in general, not with the Iranian dictatorship (which has just proven to be unreformable). I support reform in Islam and in the interpretation of Islam.. I support people like Manji speaking out and demanding acceptance of human rights by other Muslims.
On the other hand, I do not think its practical (as you suggest) to ship muslims out of europe or to educate muslims out of their religion.

Tautologist at February 26, 2004 04:53 PM [permalink]:

JDFMASTER,
FYI, Manji is more of a noisy media celebrity than a real thinker who can reform anything including Islam. If you are really intrested in muslim intellectuals who are seeking new interpetaion of Islam and support human rights there are people, men and women, much more sophisticated and knowledgeable than Manji. Search more and you will find them.

Señor Græd at February 26, 2004 05:56 PM [permalink]:

I happen to agree with Tautologist here. Manji can deceive naive outsiders into taking her seriously (she has a body guard!) Her agneda is nothing short of ridiculous. For example, she wants to arrange an "Abrahamic Hajj". A pilgrimage to Mecca by not only Muslims, but Jews and Christians as well. As if there's nothing more urgent than having the Saudis lift the ban on non-Muslims' going to Mecca and Medina. It's laughable. If Manji's ideas can reform Islam, then pigs can fly. She says she can't go to Mecca and makes a lot of noise about it. But she could easily go, if she wanted to and if she didn't make such a big deal out of it. She wants to expose the Saudis. What she doesn't know, is what all fakes fail to realize: She will be exposed sooner or later. But not that easily. A media person, she's very eloquent and show willingness to engage with you in any argument with you... Read the joke at the end of his book, and ask yourself, what does that have to do with reforming Islam. Fluff. Fluff. Fluff.

Señor Græd at February 26, 2004 09:01 PM [permalink]:

Is it two hours yet? ;-)

For those of you who don't know who Manji is, here's her website, from which she aims to reform Islam and free it from its "troubles". You can even hear her voice there. Humbug, you think? Yeah, me too. Enjoy folks. http://www.muslim-refusenik.com (In Persian we have this proverb about those who want "to fish in muddy waters". Could someone out there please translate it for Wessie? Look at the cover of her book. For some reason, in general I tend to be suspicious of authors with their picture on their books. :-) )

Señor Græd at February 27, 2004 10:27 AM [permalink]:

I noticed that the following has appeared in another column (under the Buñuel-related entry):

And Senior Grad,
I'm not sure if you mean your questions or are just asking them to provoke a certain person, but here goes anyway: Even if people are not inherently equal, they should be given equal 'oppportunities'. This is a way of giving the 'market' decide , since anyone who is better can also go further.(Just like in economy, you prepare free opportunities for all (that is where the rule of some kind of law is needed and that's what differentiates trade from theft) and then let it go,since nature is the best judge from then on) Any other way would need some ad hoc deciding procedure which is definitely not perfect (and worse than the 'natural selection'), in which case you would end up with more talented etc. people getting even less rights than others. So equal rights are the ideal to move towards.
Saying it in another way,it is correct for the same reason that swimmers must stand in the same line and start at the same time in competitions.

End of quote.

Well, first of all, I'm not sure if Nature (or Society), left to itself, is the best arbitrator. Otherwise, no legal system would be necessary. So I guess we need a Theory of Justice: How things should be (handled) in society.

Now, "equality" is a very broad (and vague) term. I was asking, if we are not created equal (and we clearly aren't) why on earth should we be given equal opportunities? Will it not be a waste of resources to spend money for the education of the inherently stupid? My own answer to this question lies in practicality of it. We ordinary mortals have no way of knowing who has what potentials. (I don't know why I am thinking about education here, and not other rights!) So we assume, let me repeat, we *assume* that they are equal and let them use the resources equally. The ones who are better ("better" is a rather unfortunate choice of words, because different people have different aptitudes and you can't simply say X is smarter than Y; it's not a one-dimensional scale) will eventaully outgrow others. In that sense, all right, it seems the best solution is leaving it to the "nature", and "natural selection". But the question remains: In what areas should people, regardless of their potentials (or what noble person they descend from), be given absolutely equal treatment, and WHY? We may agree that all humans must enjoy certain "inalienable rights" (and let me reiterate that it is, IMO, just an *agreement* among us, and not referring to any higher truth about us humans *inherently* having some rights: the notion of right does not exist outside human societies!) , but in extreme cases, there seems to be room for disagreement. Some philosophers have argued that human infants who are very badly malformed or the old people who are in constant pain can be let go, and many people disagree. Look here:

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/2002/May02/Singer.htm