No Democracy in Middle East


Curiosity
#1

http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=2384603&page=1

Quote:

ABC NEWS

Why We Will Never See Democracy in the Middle East
Opinion by Steven Pressfield


September 11, 2006— - In the five years since 9/11, much looking-back has been done. The problem is we haven't looked back far enough. To understand the nature of the enemy in the Middle East and to evaluate the prospects for democracy and peace, we need to extend our gaze not five years into the past, but five hundred and even five thousand.
I've spent the last four years writing two books about Alexander the Great's campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, 331-327 B.C. What has struck me in the research is the dead-ringer parallels between that ancient East-West clash and the modern ones the U.S. is fighting today -- despite the fact that Alexander was pre-Christian and his enemies were pre-Islamic.
What history seems to be telling us is that the quality that most defines our Eastern adversaries, then and now, is neither religion nor extremism nor "Islamo-fascism," but something much older and more fundamental.

Tribalism


Extremist Islam is merely an overlay (and a recent one at that) atop the primal, unchanging mind-set of the East, which is tribalism, and its constituent individual, the tribesman.
Tribalism and the tribal mind-set are what the West is up against in Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, the Iraqi insurgency, the Sunni and Shiite militias, and the Taliban.
What exactly is the tribal mind-set? It derives from that most ancient of social organizations, whose virtues are obedience, fidelity, warrior pride, respect for ancestors, hostility to outsiders and willingness to lay down one's life for the cause/faith/group. The tribe's ideal leader is closer to Tony Soprano than to FDR and its social mores are more like those of Geronimo's Apaches than the city council of Scarsdale or Shepherd's Bush.
Can the tribal mind embrace democracy? Consider the contrast between the tribesman and the citizen:
A citizen is an autonomous individual. A citizen is free. A citizen possesses the capacity to evaluate the facts and prospects of his world and to make decisions guided by his own conscience, uncoerced by authority. A congress of citizens acting in free elections determines the political course of a democratic community.
Historian Steven Pressfield is the author of the just-release novel The Afghan Campaign. He has written four other historical novels including "Gates of Fire," "The War of Art," and "The Legend of Bagger Vance."
A citizen prizes his freedom; therefore he grants it to others. He is willing to respect the rights of minorities within the community, so that his own rights will be shielded when he finds himself in the minority.
The tribesman doesn't see it that way. Within the fixed hierarchy of the tribe, disagreement is not dissent (and thus to be tolerated) but treachery, even heresy, which must be ruthlessly expunged. The tribe exists for itself alone. It is perpetually at war with all other tribes, even of its own race and religion.
The tribesman deals in absolutes. One is either "of blood" or not. The enemy spy can infiltrate the tribal network no more than a prison guard can worm his way into the Aryan Brotherhood. The tribe recognizes its own. It expels (or beheads) the alien. The tribe cannot be negotiated with. "Good faith" applies only within the pale, never beyond.
The tribesman does not operate by a body of civil law but by a code of honor. If he receives a wrong, he does not seek redress. He wants revenge. The taking of revenge is a virtue in tribal eyes, called badal in the Pathan code of nangwali. A man who does not take revenge is not a man. Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the sectarian militias of Iraq are not in the war business, they are in the revenge business. The revenge-seeker cannot be negotiated with because his intent is bound up with honor. It is an absolute.
Perhaps the most telling difference between the citizen and the tribesman lies in their views of the Other. The citizen embraces multiplicity; to him, the melting pot produces richness and cultural diversity. To the tribesman, the alien is not even given the dignity of being a human being; he is a gentile, an infidel, a demon.
The tribesman grants justice within the tribe. In his internal councils, empathy, humor and compassion may prevail. Outside the tribe? Forget it. Can Shiites really sit down with Sunnis? Will the pledges of Hezbollah or Hamas to Israel prove true?
Historian Steven Pressfield is the author of the just-release novel The Afghan Campaign. He has written four other historical novels including "Gates of Fire," "The War of Art," and "The Legend of Bagger Vance."
The democratic virtues of the Enlightenment, the Rights of Man and the American Constitution are not virtues to the tribesman. They are effeminate. They lack warrior honor. "Freedom" to the tribesman means the extinction of all he and his ancestors hold dear; "democracy" and Western values are a mortal threat to the ancient and proud way of life that the tribal mind has embraced (whether Scythian nomads, Amazon warriors, or American Indians) for tens of thousands of years.
The tribesman isn't "wrong" or "evil." He just doesn't want what we're selling. We will not convert him with free elections or with SAW machine guns. To him, 9/11 is only the most recent act of badal in a clash that has been raging for more than two thousand years. We will not find the way to contest him, let alone defeat him, until we see the struggle against him within the greater context of this millenia-old, unaltering, East-West war.
Historian Steven Pressfield is the author of the just-release novel The Afghan Campaign. He has written four other historical novels including "Gates of Fire," "The War of Art," and "The Legend of Bagger Vance."

 
tamarin
Conservative
#2
Interesting in that tribalism in its milder forms- diversity and multiculturalism _ now drives the West. One can even see this twisted mindset in the huge gangsta crowd that now dominates N American musical and fashion tastes. It's all a throwback to a time thousands of years in the past. The West is marking time. A countdown to its own demise engineered by its guiding light, tolerance.
 
Said1
Free Thinker
#3
And no waiting for the Rhine to freeze, they can hop on a plane.

Pretty soon we'll have a national 'who's your babydaddy day'.
 
MikeyDB
#4

“A citizen is an autonomous individual. A citizen is free. A citizen possesses the capacity to evaluate the facts and prospects of his world and to make decisions guided by his own conscience, uncoerced by authority. A congress of citizens acting in free elections determines the political course of a democratic community.”

Sounds just fine but is the concept presented reflective of western democracies?

“A citizen possesses the capacity to evaluate the facts and prospects of his world” (part one.)

“Facts” as notions fall into two distinct categories. “Fact” is an experience of cognitive and sensory stimuli interpreted evaluated and tested with a system of priorities…Assessment of any potential threat or danger posed by this situation in this environment that may demand/require immediate action/response.

These kinds of facts are frequently characterized as “existential”, “sensory” “physical” “real” because these facts arise to awareness directly through the central nervous system.

These kinds of facts are present in everyone’s life and the experiences of the individual are influenced a great deal by the climatic geologic and cultural landscapes afforded each individual.

“Facts” accompanying elements of the social milieu comprised of codes of behaviour and value frameworks, morals and ethics (both accepted and rejected by “society”), taboos, beliefs (ideological), “understandings” (traditional and/or cultural imperatives),are facts which arise not from any distinct subjectivity but emerge through group majority expression and are frequently codified as “law”…(not to be confused with “justice”), and while as compelling as immediate sensory awareness, these kinds of facts aren’t available to rapid change and no immediate response is possible.

Therefore while every sentient human being, unimpaired through physical injury, deformity or disease, can respond to touching an ember or cradling a flower blossom in one’s hand, your skin color, your morphology, your gender and a number of other “physical” attributes are yours to deal with in the society in which you live, while someone whose skin morphology and gender is different than your’s, their experience in the same social milieu will be uniquely their own.

One of the fundamental difficulties with the notion: “make decisions guided by his own conscience, uncoerced by authority” (part two) inheres to the unspoken, the unacknowledged, the “knowing” between people exchanged as simply a nod. If you’re a black man living in New York city or Toronto or Montreal you’ve got a reasonable chance of hailing a cab that will stop and offer services for hire than you’d experience in Selma Alabama or Lincoln Nebraska.

This is a “fact” but it’s only a fact with consequence for someone with large amounts of melanin and although might be “appreciated” by someone without as much melanin in their dermis, it’s not a “fact” that will give rise to challenge for one while it will for the other.

Your physiology and morphology announce a great deal about you to the world….at least that’s what a great many people believe…..

So if you look like a Mohawk or a Cree, an Ojibwa or a Navaho that “fact” informs a particular cop or real estate agent or airline agent or landlord all about who you are. How you may be treated respected (or disrespected), served or ignored, tolerated or ostracized with enthusiasm.

If your bosom is ample and you enjoy other physical attributes that men find pleasing, you’ll have less difficulty finding work, won’t be considered bright-enough for advancement but championed as elegantly capable of typing filing or carrying a tray of food and dishes.

If you live in Harlem or Rio de Janeiro the slums look very similar out of the windows of skyscraper hotel windows observed by those happily spending five hundred and more a night for their indoor accommodations.

The great myth of this concept as presented is that the construct of a “melting pot” or the clumsier “cultural mosaic” of Canada unifies and includes everyone as an equal when we know that’s not really the case.

We are however free to elect the individual who has been able to influence coerce blackmail or steal enough money to set up a campaign and saturate the airwaves and media with enough of what a majority of citizens consider to be in their best interests while there are over a million people in Canada living in poverty. While the wealth of a nation is concentrated among a very few elite wielding their authority with vigour but little thought.

There is rampant injustice happening in our great democracies, and the consequences of the corruption underlying this embrace of injustice and prejudice is the myth that our security and our safety rely on our willingness to surrender to tribalism. A tribal definition defined and ever more subject to refining and re-definition as we embrace artificial moral and ethical constructs and willingly ignore reality.

This article is I’m afraid, a “bill of goods” and one can only hope that the disingenuousness implicit in the entire presentation is accidental.

“A congress of citizens acting in free elections determines the political course of a democratic community.”

And despite millions around the world in all the great democracies protesting the looming invasion of Iraq and witnessing the downward spiral of reason and tolerance, were completely ignored by the governments of these nations.

Great stuff this democracy….









 
Curiosity
#5
MikeyDB

I disagree for we are allowed to retaliate without threat of violence as far as my world exists right now in my democratically governed nation.

That is the difference.

The resultant problem is one of indifference. People have come to take their "benefits of democratic rule" for granted and consequently take no responsibility for the maintenance, upgrading, changing, and general upkeep to suit new situations.

Many people do not even vote nor can name any of the contested campaigns for which they have that special right - the vote - which can influence the outcome.

Lazy never won any races - or anything else.
 
elevennevele
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by Curiosity View Post

http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=2384603&page=1

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In the posting of this article (as far as what I've read of it) we are finally standing 'somewhat' on a similar page. I will say that there is a possibility for change in those societies. However, it is one over a length of time (much longer) where perhaps if these people were to discover economic equality with the west at some level. A greater standard of living for themselves. The byproduct might then be a shift from tribal ways to a more international type of community framework.

Societies are created out of the need for people to hold a kind of survival with their world. If the conditions of that world eventually mitigated the level of maintenance for that state of survival, then a greater concentration of individual endeavor can take place.

It doesn’t make sense in this instance that it can come via force. There is no such economic framework to reinforce individual equality — a true environment for the pursuit of such self-identity. Force in itself will only reinforce the survivalist tendency that will parallel a form resistance as their way of knowing how to survive becomes threatened without a reassured direction of replacement.

They see us as making promises of a better life, but they see results the same as we see them over here. Violent outcomes and people of their land being killed. ‘Their people’. It's hardly persuasive for a positive reception to our occupation and the change we say we bring with it. And so the violent continuum becomes self replenishing.
 
tamarin
Conservative
#7
And it looks to me like the 'safe' and 'democratic' West is on the run. Not good news for those who want to export what they're already losing.
 
MikeyDB
#8
So you're saying that the voice you raise in protest not being met with violent oppression is argument superceding all others? That this benefit of "democracy" prized so greatly by those who think it dutiful to impose this standard in nations regardless if the people they're imposing it on agree that this single great benefit is worthy of this acolade or not? Because you haven't personaly been hurled backward by a water cannon blast or suffered a weeks torment from tear gas after atending a protest at the Summit of the Americas where you more dutifully stood behind the baricades where the voice you had no opprtunity to add to the discussion could be more effectively ignored....

Where the decisions that direcly impact your quality of life...and yes that includes paying one terrorist while not paying another...for supporting one vicious regime in the world is necessary to protect our access to oil or coal or whatever it is that's being contested in Chile or East Timor or South Africa or any of an enormous number of nations and people living with the benefit of supplying the appetites of the wealthy at the expense and oppression of the poor is just given that your consumption and your safety your security arent affected.....

When a bannana republic falls to insurgents or civil rebellion and the corporations of the world claim a victory because cheap labor and produce harvested by slaves continues to deliver what you believe you're entitled to receive regardless of the suffering necessary to provide it...that that's outweighed by the fact that your protests aren't met with riot clad crowd control teams maintaining "order"...that's perfectly acceptable to you?
 
MikeyDB
#9
Astounding indifference.

Are those who’ve apparently already decided that western cultures and western societies enjoy some inalienable and fundamental right to their level of prosperity and consumption regardless of however many millions live under tyrannical regimes or live in forced labor camps or are subject to the caprices of “supply and demand” as dictated by the appetites of the wealthiest people in the world, surprised that so many people hate them?

Is the idea that it’s perfectly acceptable to bomb strafe and shoot people who disagree, who regard their mothers and sisters and brothers as every bit as loved and as valuable as the sons and daughters of the people who are dropping those bombs believe their children to be…. a completely foreign concept?

Yes perhaps retribution for injustice and oppression in the name of the Canadian or American “quality of life” is a difficult idea to synthesize amid the clamor generated by the toppling of the centers of western commerce, but is it really all that much of a surprise?

Is what we’re actually saying; “We don’t give a rat’s fart about your freedom and democracy so long as we can still enjoy the level of consumption of “prosperity” we’ve become accustomed to…. Even if that means yes we will kill those who deny us and we are prepared to take any measures necessary to protect that right including financial and military support for those prosecuting our will regardless of the practices of torture genocide and wanton destruction committed in the name of serving our ends, our desires???

Who is the barbarian here?


Who is so vicious that even if our appetites require denying other people of their humanity that that’s a price we are willing to pay?


And you people really expect to find peace?






 
Researcher87
#10
Quote:

Astounding indifference.

Are those who’ve apparently already decided that western cultures and western societies enjoy some inalienable and fundamental right to their level of prosperity and consumption regardless of however many millions live under tyrannical regimes or live in forced labor camps or are subject to the caprices of “supply and demand” as dictated by the appetites of the wealthiest people in the world, surprised that so many people hate them?


Is the idea that it’s perfectly acceptable to bomb strafe and shoot people who disagree, who regard their mothers and sisters and brothers as every bit as loved and as valuable as the sons and daughters of the people who are dropping those bombs believe their children to be…. a completely foreign concept?

Yes perhaps retribution for injustice and oppression in the name of the Canadian or American “quality of life” is a difficult idea to synthesize amid the clamor generated by the toppling of the centers of western commerce, but is it really all that much of a surprise?

Is what we’re actually saying; “We don’t give a rat’s fart about your freedom and democracy so long as we can still enjoy the level of consumption of “prosperity” we’ve become accustomed to…. Even if that means yes we will kill those who deny us and we are prepared to take any measures necessary to protect that right including financial and military support for those prosecuting our will regardless of the practices of torture genocide and wanton destruction committed in the name of serving our ends, our desires???

Who is the barbarian here?


Who is so vicious that even if our appetites require denying other people of their humanity that that’s a price we are willing to pay?


And you people really expect to find peace?

Perfect comment.
 

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