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post #81 of 84 (permalink) Old 05-02-2007, 02:09 PM
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Don't murder people who reject sharia and you're good to go. I don't give a damn if people want to worship God, Gods, no Gods, or The Divine Eggplants of Oshkosh. Just don't kill me for rejecting some medievalist's vision of cultural normality.

B
So you've had the eggplant in Oshkosh?
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post #82 of 84 (permalink) Old 05-02-2007, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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So you've had the eggplant in Oshkosh?
No, but I believe in It all the same!
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post #83 of 84 (permalink) Old 05-04-2007, 07:12 AM Thread Starter
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There Is No God but Politics

by Theodore Dalrymple (May 2007)

In my youth (in which I include my early adulthood), I read a lot of philosophy. In those days, I picked up books of metaphysics with an excitement that I cannot now recapture, and that completely mystifies me, indeed seems to me faintly ridiculous. I still cannot quite make up my mind, however, whether or not I wasted my time. After all, I was a medical student, not someone training to be an intellectual. I doubt that philosophy made me a better person, let alone a better doctor, but I suppose it is possible that it made me a better writer, which is not the same thing at all.

In those days, the Soviet Union loomed very large in all our imaginations. It was the ruffian on the stair of western civilisation, or a looming presence to the east. And that meant that, for anyone who wanted to understand the world, it appeared necessary to immerse himself in Marxism (actually, it was more important to read the history of the Russian intelligentsia from the time of Nicholas I than to read Marx), since the Soviet Union claimed to be a society founded on Marxist principles.

Marxist writers were not famed for their clarity or elegance of exposition. Indeed, clarity was rather looked down upon by them, for the dialectical nature of the world was inherently hard to understand and therefore to express. For Marxists, clarity was simplification, or worse still vulgarisation. It was the handmaiden of false consciousness that misled the workers into not being revolutionaries.

As with philosophy, I am not sure whether my efforts to understand Marxism were a complete waste of time, which I could and should have employed better. At any rate, when the Soviet Union collapsed, no thanks to my efforts to understand Marxism, I thought, ‘Well, at least I shall never have to struggle through any ideological nonsense again if I want to understand what is going on.’

How wrong I was! In short order, I found myself reading about Islam, a subject of great interest to scholars, no doubt, for nothing human fails to interest them, and of course also because Islam was the basis of great civilisations in the past, but not a subject (in my opinion) worth studying for any internal or new truths that it might be expected to yield me. No; I found myself reading about Islam because it had suddenly emerged as the next potential totalitarianism.

During my reading, I found myself swinging like a pendulum between taking Islam as a threat very seriously indeed, and not taking it seriously at all. The reasons for taking it seriously were that a large proportion of humanity was Muslim, that an aggressive and violent minority had emerged within that population with apparently very widespread, if largely passive, approval, and that the leadership of western countries was very weak and vacillating in the face of this, or any other, challenge. The reasons for not taking Islam seriously were that, in the modern world, it was intellectually nugatory, that the disproportion in power between the rest of the world and the Islamic world appeared to be growing rather than contracting, and that behind all the bluster about the certain possession of the unique, universal and divinely ordained truth for man was an anxiety that the whole edifice of Islam, while strong, was extremely brittle, which explained why free enquiry was so limited in Islamic countries. There was a subliminal awareness - and perhaps not always subliminal - that free philosophical and historical debate could quickly and fatally undermine the hold of Islam on various societies. Fundamentalism was therefore a manifestation of weakness and not of strength.

Recently, I have been reading one of Sayyid Qutb’s best-known books, Milestones. Of course, not being an Arabic-speaker, I rely on the accuracy of the translation. Qutb, who was hanged by the secularising nationalist, Nasser, in 1966, for allegedly plotting the overthrow of the government, was one of the most influential Muslim thinkers of the 20th Century. He did not start out as an Islamist, but became one partly in response to his sojourn in the United States. He was appalled by what he saw there as its moral laxity (though he went at a time now looked back on by moral conservatives as a time of great and even exemplary personal restraint, at least by comparison with the moral atmosphere of today). He was a cultivated man, and very far from an ignorant one. He did not deny, for example, the contribution that Europe (and America, which he regarded as part of Europe) had made: speaking of the Renaissance and the recent past, he said:
This was the era during which Europe’s genius created its
marvellous works in science, culture, law and material
production, due to which mankind has progressed to great
heights of creativity and material comfort.

He did not expect the Muslim world to equal the European world in wealth or power soon, but this did not worry him. Like many an intellectual from a materially backward society, at least by comparison with a much richer and more advanced one, he consoled himself with the spiritual superiority of his own society, at least in potential. (Actually, he was highly critical also of so-called Muslim societies, which he criticised for not being Islamic enough and for chasing after the false god of westernisation.)

Curiously, though, Qutb’s thought has many parallels with Marxism. Where Marx has Historical Inevitability, Qutb has God‘s Law. Marx, you remember, envisages a time when the state will wither away and history will end. In Marx’s vision, political power will have dissolved, and the exploitation of man by man will have ceased, to be replaced by the mere administration of things. (How anybody of minimal intelligence could have believed such a thing beats me.) In Qutb’s vision, all political power will have dissolved, replaced by man’s spontaneous obedience to God’s law. Just as the administration of things in Marx’s utopia will not confer power on the administrators, presumably because everything will be so plentiful that no one will be tempted to appropriate more than the next man, so in Qutb’s utopia no one will have to interpret the law and gain power from doing so. God’s law will be as evident as thing will be abundant in Marx’s classless society.

more at: There Is No God but Politics - New English Review
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post #84 of 84 (permalink) Old 07-21-2007, 12:16 PM
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Ataturk is turning in his grave watching religion take hold in Turkey. Islam is ruled by such lunatics that the whole idealogy should be scraped like communism. Good to see a wasted generation of youth due to Islam coming forward, taking secularism and making a change.

Fuel economy!! whats that??
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