Don't blame Sharia for the Islamic extremism - blame colonialism

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Sean in Ottawa
Don't blame Sharia for the Islamic extremism - blame colonialism

I think this is an interesting article:

https://theconversation.com/dont-blame-sharia-for-islamic-extremism-blam...

I realize most people here (myself included) already consider that most of the ills of the world are related to colonialism if not caused by it but this is an interesting argument that adds more support to this idea.

I want to add that the colonial division and dividing up of many parts of the world introduced violence in many places making the problems in the above article worse. As well, I would add that the continued exploitation of former colonies also added pressure and poverty that makes this issue worse.

However, I had not in the past connected the extremism of Sharia with colonialism. I find this argument persuasive.

What do you think?

cco

Şener Aktürk published something along these lines in 2015 (“Religion and Nationalism: Contradictions of Islamic Origins and Secular Nation Building in Turkey, Algeria, and Pakistan,” Social Science Quarterly 96, no. 3 (2015): 778-806, if anyone's curious). The basic hypothesis is that secularism triggers religious extremism. It's popular among those who want to absolve religion of everything, obviously, but it holds up to analysis about as well as saying racism is Barack Obama's fault, or the legalization of same-sex marriage created homophobia. The major driver of extremist Sharia in the Middle East is Saudi Arabia, which not only didn't adopt Western colonial law, it still doesn't have any written laws at all. Referring to "failed secular rule" while ignoring the extremists who caused it to fail is serious myopia.

Unionist

Thanks for that injection of historical truth, cco. Fully agree.

voice of the damned

After its 1948 founding, Israel debated the role of Jewish law in Israeli society. Ultimately, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and his allies opted for a mixed legal system that combined Jewish law with English common law.

In Latin America, the Catholicism imposed by Spanish conquistadors underpins laws restricting abortion, divorce and gay rights.

And throughout the 19th century, judges in the U.S. regularly invoked the legal maxim that “Christianity is part of the common law.” Legislators still routinely invoke their Christian faith when supporting or opposing a given law.

Political extremism and human rights abuses that occur in those places are rarely understood as inherent flaws of these religions.

No, not if a given religion is defined so as to include every single viewpoint represented within the faith. Obviously, the Christianity of Bill Siksay is not responsible for what the Christianity of Pat Robertson does.

But "the Christianity of Pat Robertson", taken as a faith tendency in and of itself, is indeed responsible for what the Christianity of Pat Robertson does. And to the extent that it has any relationship to imperialism at all, it is as a propoent of said endeavour, not a helpless victim warped by the forces of secularism from realizing its own true potential goodness.

Sean in Ottawa

cco wrote:
Şener Aktürk published something along these lines in 2015 (“Religion and Nationalism: Contradictions of Islamic Origins and Secular Nation Building in Turkey, Algeria, and Pakistan,” Social Science Quarterly 96, no. 3 (2015): 778-806, if anyone's curious). The basic hypothesis is that secularism triggers religious extremism. It's popular among those who want to absolve religion of everything, obviously, but it holds up to analysis about as well as saying racism is Barack Obama's fault, or the legalization of same-sex marriage created homophobia. The major driver of extremist Sharia in the Middle East is Saudi Arabia, which not only didn't adopt Western colonial law, it still doesn't have any written laws at all. Referring to "failed secular rule" while ignoring the extremists who caused it to fail is serious myopia.

No you missed the point if you think the main hypothesis of this article is that secularism triggers religious extremism. Not sure if that was what you meant by "along these lines."

The point here is that colonialism prevented Sharia law from developing leading to extremes. Without colonialism, the argument is that moderate Sharia-based non-colonial law could have developed and gained currency. It is possible that had it developed elsewhere, Saudi Arabia may have adopted it. In any case refusal to adopt it is the responsibility of those making the law and not religion.

With your summary, it is easy to see that you do (or will) not understand the article and as such your critique is not valid.

It is one thing to disagree with an argument after understanding it -- it is another to disagree with some straw man you have set up to be the thing you are disagreeing with.

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

Thanks for that injection of historical truth, cco. Fully agree.

Except he does not seem to understand the point that he is disagreeing with.

Sean in Ottawa

I think there is a problem here when taking an article written by a person from a colonized society claiming something in that society as havaing a relationship to colonization and denying it without even having recognized what the person was saying.

The least we can do is understand the point before shooting it down and establishing the superiority of our system - No?

swallow swallow's picture

I don't think the article blames colonialism for Sudan choosing European models. It blames Sudan's leaders for choosing colonial continuities over alternatives drawing on Islam. 

But the secular democratic states in post-colonial Muslim-majority (not Islamic) states did not fail because they were too secular - as cco points out. They were in some cases toppled by military coups. In other cases, Saudi-backed far-right fundamentalsit movements attacked and weakened them. 

Sean in Ottawa

swallow wrote:

I don't think the article blames colonialism for Sudan choosing European models. It blames Sudan's leaders for choosing colonial continuities over alternatives drawing on Islam. 

But the secular democratic states in post-colonial Muslim-majority (not Islamic) states did not fail because they were too secular - as cco points out. They were in some cases toppled by military coups. In other cases, Saudi-backed far-right fundamentalsit movements attacked and weakened them. 

The second paragraph points are not what the article was getting at at all. This was not about what caused the failure of these secular states. It was about the fact that Sharia did not develop moderately becuase it was pushed to the margins by colonial structures and that when it did come to power, for this reason, it was very extreme.

It is also possible that by adopting European systems, more people religious were more alienated from their own governments and more likely to reject them for the extreme. The argument being made here is that secularism based on local culture woudl have had a better chance of developing and surviving (complete with elements of Sharia) than a system imposed from the outside and then adopted in post colonial times.

The other point is that the extremes found in Western states that are based on a fundementalist reading of Christian faith are blamed on the people who brought those in rather than the religion itself, whereas the religion and not the people are accountable in Islamic countries. He is pointing to a double standard.

I brought this article as I think we have to be more open to how colonialism plays roles that we have not considered. Apparently the thesis is not one that some people here are open to hearing and understanding prior to critiquing. (I am not including you, Swallow, in this as at least it is clear you are thinking about this.)

I think people from imperialistic cultures should slow the criticisms down when hearing these types of arguments and be more open to the idea that the effects of colonialism goes further than we might want to think and not always in clear straight lines. The debt of colonialism means a duty to listen to this at least and consider it before rejection.

 

cco

I read it. I understood it. I disagree with it. I'll go over it again in more detail to try to clarify.

Mark Fathi Massoud wrote:
In maintaining colonial legal systems, Sudan and other Muslim-majority countries that followed a similar path appeased Western world powers, which were pushing their former colonies toward secularism.

But they avoided resolving tough questions about religious identity and the law. That created a disconnect between the people and their governments.

In the long run, that disconnect helped fuel unrest among some citizens of deep faith, leading to sectarian calls to unite religion and the state once and for all. In Iran, Saudi Arabia and parts of Somalia and Nigeria, these interpretations triumphed, imposing extremist versions of Sharia over millions of people.

In other words, Muslim-majority countries stunted the democratic potential of Sharia by rejecting it as a mainstream legal concept in the 1950s and 1960s, leaving Sharia in the hands of extremists.

This is simply historically ignorant. Mustafa Kemal, Ahmed Ben Bella, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, to pick three examples of secular post-imperial Muslim leaders, did not adopt secularism due to Western pressure.

Kemal was a fervent secularist who was fighting against the Ottoman Caliph, who, at the time, was actually supported in the dispute by the Entente powers, who thought he'd be a useful figurehead in establishing colonial rule over Turkey. The Kemalist Young Turks had an explicitly secular nationalist platform for liberating and reconstituting Turkey as a new nation-state. Ben Bella was an anti-colonial socialist who took his secular inspiration from the Soviet Union and Nasser's UAR. (If he were trying to appease the West, he probably wouldn't have welcomed hijacked airliners from Western nations.) Jinnah was trying to walk the line between appeasing Bengali secularists in East Pakistan and Saudi-backed fundamentalists in West Pakistan, which the military dictators Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan (no relation) were eventually unable to keep from erupting into the Bangladesh war.

In each case, the extremists were struggling with the secularists from the beginning. There was never a grand tradition of moderate sharia that was suppressed for the sake of colonial appeasement. Moreover, Saudi Arabia, then as now the primary financial and ideological supporter of extremism, was founded by Wahhabis riding on horseback from village to village, beheading everyone who was too moderate for them. That wasn't a reactionary movement against a pro-Western secular leader; no such leader ever ruled Saudi Arabia, because Saudi Arabia did not exist until Abdulaziz ibn Saud and the Wahhabis established it.

It's perfectly possible to oppose European imperialism without twisting history into pretzels to lay every atrocity in the world at its feet.

cco

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

The other point is that the extremes found in Western states that are based on a fundementalist reading of Christian faith are blamed on the people who brought those in rather than the religion itself, whereas the religion and not the people are accountable in Islamic countries. He is pointing to a double standard.

This is a quite valid point, which is why I've tried to stress the importance of Saudi Wahhabi influence, the indigeneity of Muslim secularist movements, and (in other threads) the active debate within the Muslim world between fundamentalists and liberals.

WWWTT

Here’s an odd thread babble. A thread about religion among many atheists. 

Anyways, I read the opening link and the author does two things I don’t like that tell me to take their article with a huge grain of salt!

First they use the term ssa. The they ignore Indonesia, the largest Islamic country in the world. Also a former European colony. 

And this is probably why

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3579/indonesia-sharia

 

 

 

Sean in Ottawa

WWWTT wrote:

Here’s an odd thread babble. A thread about religion among many atheists. 

Anyways, I read the opening link and the author does two things I don’t like that tell me to take their article with a huge grain of salt!

First they use the term ssa. The they ignore Indonesia, the largest Islamic country in the world. Also a former European colony. 

And this is probably why

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3579/indonesia-sharia

 

 

 

The writer was born in Sudan. What makes you able to dismiss him for what he calls parts of Africa?

WWWTT

From my understanding, Sudan is now split in two north and south. What part is he from? I’m guessing the northern. 

Either way this is my last comment in this thread, I give a ratts ass about religion 

JKR

WWWTT wrote:

I give a ratts ass about religion 

In many ancient religions they used to sacrifice animals like goats and cows. I've never heard of sacrificing rats! Especially their asses!! This must be some kind of new age religion???

NDPP

In a nutshell, 'extreme Sharia' is largely associated with Saudi Wahhabism which was weaponized by an imperialist West for its own purposes against the Muslim world. It's culture, funding and support of jihadi proxies in its failed Syrian regime-change project is only one of many examples of its usage. The Taliban 'blowback' is another.

Sean in Ottawa

WWWTT wrote:

From my understanding, Sudan is now split in two north and south. What part is he from? I’m guessing the northern. 

Either way this is my last comment in this thread, I give a ratts ass about religion 

At issue is the contention that even things assumed to be not related to colonialism are still influenced by it at least and in this case causation is alleged, however debatable.

I think that regardless of where you split this, there is a role of colonialism in the extremes of extremism. Probably in all cases.

Colonialism stunted the developments and practice of ideas outside European ones, it caused resentment and disconnections from the people in places that were not tending to extremism allowing the extremists to triumph in places where they did not. It facilitated a polarization and reactive force that permitted extremism.

Do we even have to speak of the many times imperialists allied themselves with extremes in their empires in order to break the majority? Skill-testing trick question -- name the date that this stopped.

I guess I am quite shocked that nobody here seems to accept these arguments and that we even have a person from another part of the world splitting parts of a country to decide on the legitimacy of an argument.

Yes religion is in many ways awful. Quite often religion gains power from a pressure on society. There has been no pressure stronger on much of the world than colonialism. The arbitrary trashing of local culture, language, beliefs, and even borders fueled massive reactions.

It sucks for post colonial Europeans to have to recognize some responsibility on their side when they are attacked by extremists. It really sucks that people on a progressive board that are supposed to be anti-imperialistic cannot accept the argument.

Sean in Ottawa

NDPP wrote:

In a nutshell, 'extreme Sharia' is largely associated with Saudi Wahhabism which was weaponized by an imperialist West for its own purposes against the Muslim world. It's culture, funding and support of jihadi proxies in its failed Syrian regime-change project is only one of many examples of its usage. The Taliban 'blowback' is another.

Crossposted with this -- I agree.

Sean in Ottawa

cco wrote:

I read it. I understood it. I disagree with it. I'll go over it again in more detail to try to clarify.

Mark Fathi Massoud wrote:
In maintaining colonial legal systems, Sudan and other Muslim-majority countries that followed a similar path appeased Western world powers, which were pushing their former colonies toward secularism. But they avoided resolving tough questions about religious identity and the law. That created a disconnect between the people and their governments. In the long run, that disconnect helped fuel unrest among some citizens of deep faith, leading to sectarian calls to unite religion and the state once and for all. In Iran, Saudi Arabia and parts of Somalia and Nigeria, these interpretations triumphed, imposing extremist versions of Sharia over millions of people. In other words, Muslim-majority countries stunted the democratic potential of Sharia by rejecting it as a mainstream legal concept in the 1950s and 1960s, leaving Sharia in the hands of extremists.

This is simply historically ignorant. Mustafa Kemal, Ahmed Ben Bella, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, to pick three examples of secular post-imperial Muslim leaders, did not adopt secularism due to Western pressure.

Kemal was a fervent secularist who was fighting against the Ottoman Caliph, who, at the time, was actually supported in the dispute by the Entente powers, who thought he'd be a useful figurehead in establishing colonial rule over Turkey. The Kemalist Young Turks had an explicitly secular nationalist platform for liberating and reconstituting Turkey as a new nation-state. Ben Bella was an anti-colonial socialist who took his secular inspiration from the Soviet Union and Nasser's UAR. (If he were trying to appease the West, he probably wouldn't have welcomed hijacked airliners from Western nations.) Jinnah was trying to walk the line between appeasing Bengali secularists in East Pakistan and Saudi-backed fundamentalists in West Pakistan, which the military dictators Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan (no relation) were eventually unable to keep from erupting into the Bangladesh war.

In each case, the extremists were struggling with the secularists from the beginning. There was never a grand tradition of moderate sharia that was suppressed for the sake of colonial appeasement. Moreover, Saudi Arabia, then as now the primary financial and ideological supporter of extremism, was founded by Wahhabis riding on horseback from village to village, beheading everyone who was too moderate for them. That wasn't a reactionary movement against a pro-Western secular leader; no such leader ever ruled Saudi Arabia, because Saudi Arabia did not exist until Abdulaziz ibn Saud and the Wahhabis established it.

It's perfectly possible to oppose European imperialism without twisting history into pretzels to lay every atrocity in the world at its feet.

Wow. Without unpacking the rest, the suggestion here that colonialism was not a significant factor behind what happened in Pakistan and the growth of extremism there is truly staggering.

As for Saudi Arabia, while the roots of the royal family do go back to the 18th century, the creation of the Kingdom, its borders and powers were facilitated and supported by colonialism (Britain).

As for Kemal, you seem to over simplify what he did and his approach. Yes, there was a great deal of secularism but certainly not a wholesale application of colonial structure. Read the six arrows of Kemalism.

Republicanism was one  -- it replaced the colonial structure even if it was secular.

Populism -- this in many ways insulated the new regime from the anti-colonial dichotomy and mandated the state to be close to the people

Nationalism -- It strongly opposes any kind of authority, oppression, colonialism, imperialism, etc., against the sovereignty of the people. It was specifically anti-colonial.

Laicism -- "The roots of Kemalist secularism lie in the reform efforts in the late Ottoman Empire, especially the Tanzimat period and the later Second Constitutional Era. The Ottoman Empire was an Islamic state in which the head of the Ottoman state held the position of the Caliph. The social system was organized according to various systems, including the religiously-organized Millet system and Shari'ah law, allowing religious ideology to be incorporated into the Ottoman administrative, economic, and political system." It was not entirely laissez faire though -- some aspects of secularism were mandated.

Reformism -- While the state was to be secular in many ways, the state retained supervisory authority over  religion. Despite protests this entered the constitution in 1961.Politics and religion -- Politicians are not allowed to claim to be the protector of religion.

But in any event the Turkish example is quite poor. At the breakup of the Ottoman empire Turkey became free of direct imperial control while the rest of the empire fell into direct colonial rule. Turkey for nearly 100 years was much less extremist than the parts of the Ottoman Empire that became colonies of European powers.

cco

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I guess I am quite shocked that nobody here seems to accept these arguments and that we even have a person from another part of the world splitting parts of a country to decide on the legitimacy of an argument.

Yes religion is in many ways awful. Quite often religion gains power from a pressure on society. There has been no pressure stronger on much of the world than colonialism. The arbitrary trashing of local culture, language, beliefs, and even borders fueled massive reactions.

It sucks for post colonial Europeans to have to recognize some responsibility on their side when they are attacked by extremists. It really sucks that people on a progressive board that are supposed to be anti-imperialistic cannot accept the argument.

I haven't seen anyone defend imperialism in this thread, merely debate whether it's responsible for Islamic extremism. This is touching on the fundamental question of agency and free will that's been a part of both Western and Eastern philosophy for millennia, and is debated at every criminal trial. Coming up with a poorly supported counterfactual hypothetical about non-European-influenced sharia that would've arisen if leaders in the Muslim world hadn't been infected by European concepts of secularism (when religion, as voice of the damned pointed out, was one of the key driving forces behind colonialism) doesn't really tell us anything. Even Edward Saïd would've rolled his eyes at that one.

It's a bit ironic that you and Massoud are using a concept that originates from Christian theology, that of original sin from which all evil emanates, with European colonialism in place of the apple. Of course, the fact the concept's common enough in Canada for a guy from Ottawa to borrow it for an anti-imperialist argument is the result of British and French colonialism. And Britain and France got Christianity from Roman colonialism. Except the concept of original sin itself was an Augustinian thing, and he was an Algerian Berber. Hmm.

Sean in Ottawa

cco wrote:
Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I guess I am quite shocked that nobody here seems to accept these arguments and that we even have a person from another part of the world splitting parts of a country to decide on the legitimacy of an argument.

Yes religion is in many ways awful. Quite often religion gains power from a pressure on society. There has been no pressure stronger on much of the world than colonialism. The arbitrary trashing of local culture, language, beliefs, and even borders fueled massive reactions.

It sucks for post colonial Europeans to have to recognize some responsibility on their side when they are attacked by extremists. It really sucks that people on a progressive board that are supposed to be anti-imperialistic cannot accept the argument.

I haven't seen anyone defend imperialism in this thread, merely debate whether it's responsible for Islamic extremism. This is touching on the fundamental question of agency and free will that's been a part of both Western and Eastern philosophy for millennia, and is debated at every criminal trial. Coming up with a poorly supported counterfactual hypothetical about non-European-influenced sharia that would've arisen if leaders in the Muslim world hadn't been infected by European concepts of secularism (when religion, as voice of the damned pointed out, was one of the key driving forces behind colonialism) doesn't really tell us anything. Even Edward Saïd would've rolled his eyes at that one.

It's a bit ironic that you and Massoud are using a concept that originates from Christian theology, that of original sin from which all evil emanates, with European colonialism in place of the apple. Of course, the fact the concept's common enough in Canada for a guy from Ottawa to borrow it for an anti-imperialist argument is the result of British and French colonialism. And Britain and France got Christianity from Roman colonialism. Except the concept of original sin itself was an Augustinian thing, and he was an Algerian Berber. Hmm.

No, it is borrowed from social/group psychology sociology.

These extremes are given their power as a reaction to colonialism, the anger and reaction that drives them is against colonialism. When we are talking about the stunting of progress we are talking about the stunting of spread of it. Certainly individuals may have ideas but the anger and counter reaction drives people to the extremes when otherwise they woudl not be there.

voice of the damned

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

NDPP wrote:

In a nutshell, 'extreme Sharia' is largely associated with Saudi Wahhabism which was weaponized by an imperialist West for its own purposes against the Muslim world. It's culture, funding and support of jihadi proxies in its failed Syrian regime-change project is only one of many examples of its usage. The Taliban 'blowback' is another.

Crossposted with this -- I agree.

I do too, at least in the case of the KSA, but that's not what the guy in your article is arguing, is it? My understanding is that he's saying that the west imposed secularism on the former colonies, and that fundamentalism developed as a reaction against that. Not that the west supported fundamentalism directly.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

No, it is borrowed from social/group psychology sociology.

Different academic lens give different perspectives none of which are true or false only incomplete by themselves. My lens is political studies/law so that explains why I often almost agree with what you say but I find the perspective is not the one I would have.

Sean in Ottawa

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

No, it is borrowed from social/group psychology sociology.

Different academic lens give different perspectives none of which are true or false only incomplete by themselves. My lens is political studies/law so that explains why I often almost agree with what you say but I find the perspective is not the one I would have.

The problem here is that many people are not focussed on completing the incomplete perspectives of others but instead concentrate on blasting them away under the assumption that their own persp[ective is so superior that nothing can be added to it. Also this site is almost completely nonfunctional becuase nothing is discussed that is not imediately derailed by someone questionning the legitimacy and voice of the speaker while refusing to discuss the content.

The site has turned into a circle jerk of mostly men trying to scream the others down not giving a shit if anything at all is left.

There was this idea a person was speaking about where people were told never to say no -- but instead to say "yes and" the idea that ideas can be built on, even the ones you disagree with. Instead of finding some shred in order to beat the writer over the head with it -- find something you agree with and say "yes, and" add your point of view.

There are a lot of people here but posters tend to fall into a few categories:

1) those who just post articles without comment

2) those who only post to be cute or funny

3) those who primarily are here to police comment -- focusing on finding something to atack -- even if it is not the main point. they are the ones who think that all discussions must be cleansed to meet the standard that they believe it should be. Ironically some of them pretend to believe in democracy and pretend to reject authoritarianism (just other peoples).

4) Those with a clear partisan agenda that has nothing to do with actually discussing anything -- all their posts add up to their party=right; other parties=wrong, evil, stupid etc.

5) Those who actually want to discuss things, learn and share; those who want to take the risk to explore ideas.

They get derailed, mocked and attacked by the others until they go away.

The conversation here sucks. It used to have a lot more people who fell into #5 than it does now. Many who fall into other categories once in a while talk about missing this person or that person or are delighted when one might be seen here for a moment after a while.

People start from a point of hostility to other posters' ideas that makes the official opposition in parliament look constructive. Those trying to discuss anything real end up so fed up and angry with the constant pointless shit that they are constantly aggressive with those who have been attacking them predictably.

The vast majority produce nothing in terms of ideas as it is more fun to reproduce ideas without comment and attack others.

This is where we are.

 

Paladin1

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

There are a lot of people here but posters tend to fall into a few categories:

1) those who just post articles without comment

2) those who only post to be cute or funny

3) those who primarily are here to police comment -- focusing on finding something to atack -- even if it is not the main point. they are the ones who think that all discussions must be cleansed to meet the standard that they believe it should be. Ironically some of them pretend to believe in democracy and pretend to reject authoritarianism (just other peoples).

4) Those with a clear partisan agenda that has nothing to do with actually discussing anything -- all their posts add up to their party=right; other parties=wrong, evil, stupid etc.

5) Those who actually want to discuss things, learn and share; those who want to take the risk to explore ideas.

They get derailed, mocked and attacked by the others until they go away.

The conversation here sucks. It used to have a lot more people who fell into #5 than it does now. Many who fall into other categories once in a while talk about missing this person or that person or are delighted when one might be seen here for a moment after a while.

People start from a point of hostility to other posters' ideas that makes the official opposition in parliament look constructive. Those trying to discuss anything real end up so fed up and angry with the constant pointless shit that they are constantly aggressive with those who have been attacking them predictably.

The vast majority produce nothing in terms of ideas as it is more fun to reproduce ideas without comment and attack others.

This is where we are.

 

 

Very insightful and observant post Sean.

 

Would you agree that members here who witness shitty behavior, bullying or specifically examples 3&4 you mention without getting involved or publically calling out the offending members are just as much a part of the problem?

Mobo2000

Sean:  I very much like and agree with this:

"There was this idea a person was speaking about where people were told never to say no -- but instead to say "yes and" the idea that ideas can be built on, even the ones you disagree with. Instead of finding some shred in order to beat the writer over the head with it -- find something you agree with and say "yes, and" add your point of view."

But mainly I just wanted to offer that I was enjoying and learning from this thread.   I hope it continues on the original topic.   In my view meta discussions that generalize a "character" to the board often just lead to bad vibes, as nobody is sure what poster or thread you mean specifically, and often assume the worst.   Personally I don't think there is anything to do but "be the change that you seek", as unsatisfying as that sometimes feels.   

Sean in Ottawa

Paladin1 wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

There are a lot of people here but posters tend to fall into a few categories:

1) those who just post articles without comment

2) those who only post to be cute or funny

3) those who primarily are here to police comment -- focusing on finding something to atack -- even if it is not the main point. they are the ones who think that all discussions must be cleansed to meet the standard that they believe it should be. Ironically some of them pretend to believe in democracy and pretend to reject authoritarianism (just other peoples).

4) Those with a clear partisan agenda that has nothing to do with actually discussing anything -- all their posts add up to their party=right; other parties=wrong, evil, stupid etc.

5) Those who actually want to discuss things, learn and share; those who want to take the risk to explore ideas.

They get derailed, mocked and attacked by the others until they go away.

The conversation here sucks. It used to have a lot more people who fell into #5 than it does now. Many who fall into other categories once in a while talk about missing this person or that person or are delighted when one might be seen here for a moment after a while.

People start from a point of hostility to other posters' ideas that makes the official opposition in parliament look constructive. Those trying to discuss anything real end up so fed up and angry with the constant pointless shit that they are constantly aggressive with those who have been attacking them predictably.

The vast majority produce nothing in terms of ideas as it is more fun to reproduce ideas without comment and attack others.

This is where we are.

 

 

Very insightful and observant post Sean.

 

Would you agree that members here who witness shitty behavior, bullying or specifically examples 3&4 you mention without getting involved or publically calling out the offending members are just as much a part of the problem?

No. Not everyone is able to and this is not their responsibility

I think that reaction is part of the problem and have been guilty myself - often. However, I think that these actions put people in a difficult position and feel the need to respond to not leave an attack against them - or a misinterpretation - there to stand. I also think that it is natural to be angry when really thinking about things and trying to come up with new ideas and having people just shoot at them without any interest than being oppositional.

I think the bigger issue is that people here seem to be only engaged constructively in the things they entirely agree with and are hostile to the extreme when something even marginally falls out of that. All to often they cannot see the hostility. I have found after defending against an attack I will hear some suggest that they were the ones being attacked even though the record is there.

I think that we also have to talk about the values here but not use them to beat each other over the head. So I had a person recently criticize an author from Sudan for using a word that was deemed by that person (not from Africa) as offensive (South Saharan Africa).  I think it is extremely positive to educate people about colonialism and words that come from that etc. but this should not go so far as rejecting commonly used and accepted terms as a means to eliminate discussion of whole articles and points of view. Progressive speech is not progressive when it is used as a weapon of supression of ideas that happen to come using those commonly understood words -- perhaps becuase the author wanted to be understood. In this last example the opinion of a North African speaking about the Muslim world was dismissed by a Chinese person becuase his language was not politically correct enough for his standards (not the standard of the board). In this sense the poster was a self-appointed moderator.

We are locked into debates about countries that we are not allowed to debate. The result is pileon-after pile-on to shut people up from saying any criticism -- no matter how well founded of certain governments or ideas. People could argue their point of view but this is not that it is silencing. Long threads about China for example where people are just driven off or subject to endless harassement if they say anything against that government. I know that a big story this last week was the Philipines saying that they could stoop to suicide missions to defend their islands against the Chinese -- but we are not allowed to acknowledge this story becuase it is not permitted to suggest that China could be aggressive to any other country. We cannot even discuss here the fact that china says the Arctic that Canada claims is international and is building ice-breakers to take advantage. We cannot discuss the 9-dash line that China is impossing agaisnt the wills of smaller South East Asian countries. However, it is correct to criticize India. I mentionned India and was subjected to several posts about how bad that country was. India was certainly as colonized as China- more so.

This place is collapsing becuase there is no constructive conversation possible anymore. You only say what is correct (and predictable here) to applause or submit yourself to an attack on whether you are legitimate in even speaking.

Racism, sexism, colonialism are all serious. But these are not for discussion so much as 2x8 lumber to beat other poeple with and there are people here whose purpose appears just to do that -- and almost only that. We have an international section but only one point of view on each country is tolerated and any others are subject to harassment until you give up. The assumption here is that the media bias of the MSM is so bad that we cannot even deconstruct ideas that might be informed by them and instead have to blow them out of the water without further comment. Nobody discusses the real content. I agree that the MSM is suspect. I do not subscribe to the point of view that everything it reports by definition has to be the opposite and wrong. It is biased. Here we have a bias enough the other way that there is defence from the biases in logic here. But we have gotten into the echo chamber that does not even allow for discussion.

If discussion is not permitted but only agreement then what is this place?

Also there is a left in Canada that is wider than what is permitted here and is still biased against by main stream media. In the effort to santize this place we are at the point where most of the left here is excluded as well -- as this place marginalizes itself. By not allowing a conversation that incorporates a variety of left voices this place has become less and less relevant while it ties itself in knots of indignation. Many things that cannot be discussed in the mainstream media cannot be discussed here becuase they are just shouted down - often on the technicality of a word that someone does not like. The aggressive voices here have sent most people who might have been more moderate and more willing to discuss packing.

What is left is a bunch of tiny people spoiling for a fight on their chosen split hair.

 

 

Sean in Ottawa

Mobo2000 wrote:

Sean:  I very much like and agree with this:

"There was this idea a person was speaking about where people were told never to say no -- but instead to say "yes and" the idea that ideas can be built on, even the ones you disagree with. Instead of finding some shred in order to beat the writer over the head with it -- find something you agree with and say "yes, and" add your point of view."

But mainly I just wanted to offer that I was enjoying and learning from this thread.   I hope it continues on the original topic.   In my view meta discussions that generalize a "character" to the board often just lead to bad vibes, as nobody is sure what poster or thread you mean specifically, and often assume the worst.   Personally I don't think there is anything to do but "be the change that you seek", as unsatisfying as that sometimes feels.   

I don't think you can be the change here. It is a dynamic of communication and needs cooperation. When the majority of what is here is the way it is now -- you can either fight it, comment on it, or go away. Tolerating it by trying to ignore it does not bring back conversations that are shut down. Being nice here means submitting to bullying and only talking about what they permit in the way they want -- allowing them to decide what is correct. In other words the change you mean to be that -- is in practice to stop posting and only read the few who are constructive -- that is if you can find them at all...

Pondering

To the original premise of the thread is that Muslim countries chose to stay with the legal systems of colonialism because it would have been too complex and difficult to switch to a Sharia based system. Sharia did not develop into a modern human rights based system because of this. This left religious extremists in charge of Sharia law which lead it to become fundamentalist. It's a theory but I think a weak one and very simplistic. There is no way to know how things would have developed had a different path been chosen. Had we not colonized, had former colonies decided to revamp their legal systems, we have no idea how those countries might have developed. I think it is worth questioning from an academic perspective, an intellectual exercise, but that's about it. 

We are (with our military partners) responsible for creating most of the refugees in the world. We are responsible for developing our weapons industry creating a dependency on selling them to regimes we have no business selling weapons to. We are responsible for allowing our corporations to rape countries of their wealth. We are responsible for trade deals that impoverish our own workers while taking advantage of slave labour in other countries. 

If we are responsible for religious fundamentalism it is rooted in the violence we have visited upon countries of which colonialism is but a part. The destabilization of countries through economic and military warfare feeds the rise of religious extremism. 

It's an interesting theory that had colonialism not happened there would have been a moderate Sharia so the fundamentalist one would not have developed or would not have spread so much. It is an esoteric thought exercise to me. It is along the lines of shoulda coulda woulda. There is plenty of stuff we are doing right now that encourages religious extremism. 

Mobo2000

Well, there's some truth to that Sean.   Personally my posting frequency is much more a result of my available time and energy than anything on babble.  I skim or skip the bad, and I still find lots of things here that are interesting or teach me something new, including this thread.   I hope things turn more to your liking here in future. 

swallow swallow's picture

Moderate systems grounded in Islamic principles exist & existed, they just don't get vast attention. 

They came increasingly under attack as colonialism faded. Colonialism can be blamed for lots, and should be, but developments like Saudi funding to Islamic conservatives should be blamed on Saudi actors, agents of their own history and it mere puppets. 

Vijay Prashad's The Darker Nations makes some good points on this. 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

swallow wrote:

Moderate systems grounded in Islamic principles exist & existed, they just don't get vast attention.

The last one hundred and fifty years is but a small part of the history of various forms of Islamic based law and governance. To me the question I have for Islamic jihadists is which caliphate do you want to emulate. The stories coming out of the cities in Syria showed that it is certainly not the tolerant progressive type.  Islamic traditions include examples that are as brutal as humanity gets and others based on the same "Holy Book" would be an improvement over most of the governments in the world. The modern brutal Saudi style is not the only example of that type or the late Ottoman however my favourite is the caliphate of Cordova. The Spanish Papists defeated it and then went on to commit one of the largest genocides in human history, based of course on the Pope's interpretation of his "Holy Book.".  So in many ways one might say the defeat of the moderate Islamic state led to the rise of colonialism.

By the beginning of the ninth century, Moorish Spain was the gem of Europe with its capital city, Cordova. With the establishment of Abdurrahman III - "the great caliphate of Cordova" - came the golden age of Al-Andalus. Cordova, in southern Spain, was the intellectual center of Europe.

At a time when London was a tiny mud-hut village that "could not boast of a single streetlamp" (Digest, 1973, p. 622), in Cordova "there were half a million inhabitants, living in 113,000 houses. There were 700 mosques and 300 public baths spread throughout the city and its twenty-one suburbs. The streets were paved and lit." (Burke, 1985, p. 38) The houses had marble balconies for summer and hot-air ducts under the mosaic floors for the winter. They were adorned with gardens with artificial fountains and orchards". (Digest, 1973, p. 622) "Paper, a material still unknown to the west, was everywhere. There were bookshops and more than seventy libraries." (Burke, 1985, p. 38).

In his book titled, "Spain In The Modern World," James Cleuge explains the significance of Cordova in Medieval Europe:

"For there was nothing like it, at that epoch, in the rest of Europe. The best minds in that continent looked to Spain for everything which most clearly differentiates a human being from a tiger." (Cleugh, 1953, p. 70)

During the end of the first millennium, Cordova was the intellectual well from which European humanity came to drink. Students from France and England traveled there to sit at the feet of Muslim, Christian and Jewish scholars, to learn philosophy, science and medicine (Digest, 1973, p. 622). In the great library of Cordova alone, there were some 600,000 manuscripts (Burke, 1978, p. 122).

This rich and sophisticated society took a tolerant view towards other faiths. Tolerance was unheard of in the rest of Europe. But in Moorish Spain, "thousands of Jews and Christians lived in peace and harmony with their Muslim overlords." (Burke, 1985, p. 38) The society had a literary rather than religious base. Economically their prosperity was unparalleled for centuries. The aristocracy promoted private land ownership and encouraged Jews in banking. There was little or no Muslim prostelyting. Instead, non-believers simply paid an extra tax!

"Their society had become too sophisticated to be fanatical. Christians and Moslems, with Jews as their intermediaries and interpreters, lived side by side and fought, not each other, but other mixed communities." (Cleugh, 1953, p. 71)

http://sunnah.org/history/moors.htm