Monday, January 15, 2007

Dictators Discover Religion

Saddam Hussein’s embrace of Islam was an example of the power of the Islam Revival. The Baathist dictators, who were once thought to be bulwarks against Islamism, no longer had the power to resist the revivalist movement that’s sweeping the Muslim world.

Even Communist dictators can’t ignore religion. We no sooner hear that Hugo Chavez calls Jesus “the greatest socialist in history” (HT Classical Values) but we read that Daniel Ortega has found religion. The January 13th issue of the Economist, says the candidate of “peace and love” has “made his peace with the Catholic church, backing a ban on abortion even in the cases of rape or when the mother’s health is in danger” (page 34.)

The leftwing cements its ties with the Jihadist enemy in what David Horowitz calls an Unholy Alliance; Ahmadinejad is embraced by Chavez and Ortega. One the right, D’Souza calls fundamentalist Muslims soul mates. And the Church enters the political fray, not to condemn Chavez, Ortega, or Ahmadinejad (who has genocide in his heart), but the execution of the vile and vicious ex-dictator of Iraq.

What's happening here? Perhaps the old dichotomies weren't as solid as many once thought.

35 Comments:

Blogger Weingarten said...

Jason writes that “Saddam Hussein’s embrace of Islam was an example of the power of the Islam Revival” that “Daniel Ortega has found religion” and concludes “Perhaps the old dichotomies weren't as solid as many once thought.”

I concur, yet this brings back the issue of how to characterize a country. In "What does Judeo-Christian mean?" I described America as having been, and continuing to be, a Christian country, because her fundamental aspirations were Christian. Others viewed America from the point of view of its government, which does not have an official state religion.

Isn’t it clear that although the governments of Iraq & Nicaragua are neither Muslim nor Christian, Iraq is Muslim (62% Shi’a, 35 % Sunni) while Nicaragua is Christian (90% Catholic, 10% Protestant)? (As an aside, Nicaragua is surely not Judeo-Christian.)

I suppose that those who gainsay my position will counter that Islam or Christianity is but one factor among many. However, here as well, I deny that we can understand what is occurring in these countries if we do not recognize their religion.

Again, I am not addressing whether religion is good or bad, but rather whether it is central to characterizing a country, for it constitutes its summa bonum.

1/15/07, 7:45 PM  
Blogger nanc said...

it is also said, "if a man doesn't work he should not eat."

weingarten? if i may call you that - religion is manmade, so is made to wear out. faith sustains through the ages.

1/15/07, 11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As many of these Countries are Catholic the current Pope has branded Liberation theology apostasy. It would be nice if the current Pope would excomunicate the vermin who spout this garbage like Ducky's favorite Catholics the Commienoll nuns.

As far as Saddam is concerned many people grasp at religion before the hangmans noose. No doubt our demented friend will claim Fidel embraced Christ before his end.

By the way if Cuban health care was so great why did Castro send out the hammer and sickle Commie SOS signal for Spanish doctors.It seems the scrpt about great medical care and everyone reads what they are told to read is BS.

Send the Duck to North Korea to live with Kim Jong Mentally Ill and the satrving peasants of North Korea.

1/16/07, 6:36 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Jason,
I'm not sure that Saddam truly embraced Islam. Rather, I think that he pretended to embrace Islam so as to solidify his power with the Sunnis.

As to Chavez and Ortega, they are all about weilding power. I'm guessing that they purport to be Roman Catholic. But are they merely nominal Roman Catholics? Certainly they don't seem to understand the meaning of "personal faith."

Perhaps the old dichotomies weren't as solid as many once thought.

I think that the thirst for power has become the overriding factor for all these rulers.

And the Church enters the political fray, not to condemn Chavez, Ortega, or Ahmadinejad (who has genocide in his heart), but the execution of the vile and vicious ex-dictator of Iraq.

The Catholic Church has long taken a position against capital punishment, as have some of the social-gospel Protestant churches. Ignoring the concept of justice in favor of "peace and light." I think so.

I need to read that link D'Souza link when I have the time. I'm interested to see how he draws the comparison.

1/16/07, 7:40 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Yes, I agree the dictators haven’t become devout. What’s new is their need to pay lip-service to religion. Saddam went on a massive mosque building program in the last decade of his rule. The Islamic revival was too great for him to ignore. Dictators still need to win the loyalty of a large fraction of the population.

This also suggests that something else is happening in return. The dictators hope to lessen criticism by wrapping themselves in religion. It must help. Religious leaders are silent when they otherwise would not be. One wonders if John Paul II would have been such an outspoken force against Communism if it hadn’t embraced atheism. As Beak points out, where are the condemnations today?

In the case of Islam, which is inherently a political religion, the mutual support is easy to spot. And it creates a protective shield against foreign criticism since we have a taboo against criticism of religions that is held over from our experience with religions that are private and personal in nature … or a new taboo found by the PC multi-cultural left if that religion is a foreign one.

Nanc raises a good point. Since Christianity is first and foremost concerned with faith and salvation to be rewarded in the afterlife, secular matters are left to the abilities of man. The founders didn’t try to resolve religious differences; they fought over laws governing human beings living with other human beings. Both loyalists and revolutionaries were, for the most part, Christian. Many of the leaders of the revolutionaries were deists and Unitarians.

Both traditional and non-traditional believers drew inspiration from many sources: Biblical, Ancient History, English History, and American Indian examples. To single out one isn’t easy. For example, many Colonials talked about a Republic of Virtue. They had notions of virtue that included hard-work and self-reliance. Luxury was often condemned as harmful to virtue. Farming was held in higher esteem than manufacturing and both held in high esteem than merchant trade. Where do these ideas come from? Some would say our Puritan background but you’ll also find these ideas in Cicero and Cato during the late Roman Republic that the founders, like Washington, read for inspiration.

However, the ideas of the Enlightenment were the new element that deserves singling out as a transformative element. Locke’s conception of self-ownership was still being understood. Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” was published in 1776 and was read by the time of the Constitutional Convention. Let’s remember that when our country was founded many states still had established churches; interest rates were fixed at 5% (higher in the south); free speech and the free press were still new notions not nearly as broad as we accept today. The implications of the new notion of liberty weren’t fully appreciated. To the extent they were understood, they remained, in part, an aspiration. It takes time to translate new knowledge into practice.

So, yes, Allan (Weingarten) there were indeed many factors. To pick one, say the British Enlightenment, (as I would) would require a substantial argument that it is central to the changes in worldview that underwrote the founding. One should demonstrate the ability of each religious denomination to harmonize their teachings with the new worldview. But that only requires the observation that respecting rights isn’t immoral. You can be sure that people didn’t agree with each other’s religion. But respect for freedom of conscience doesn’t require endorsements. Respect for rights doesn’t require respect for how each individual chooses to live their life. It was quite a profound shift in thinking.

Let me ask one question for everyone to think about: who was the most popular ethical writer in colonial times in the decades leading up to the revolution?

1/16/07, 9:02 AM  
Anonymous Bilwick said...

At home we have our "Social Gospel," religion+socialist economics+the Cult of the State. Sort of the Superstition Trifecta.

1/16/07, 9:38 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Incidentally, what does it mean to say “Nicaragua is surely not Judeo-Christian?” I’ve seen conservatives say that Latin America isn’t Judeo-Christian. Why not?

1/16/07, 9:43 AM  
Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

I will remind AOW and Jason of a basic difference between Catholicism and Protestantism.

Catholicism emphasizes the group and community and sometimes does it at the expense of the individual. This is also true of Islam and I assume it is why Jason calls it a "political religion".

The more evangelical a protestant sect, the more the individual is stressed at the expense of the group and the drift to nihilism accelerates.

As far as Hussein's hanging being "condemned" by the Church, Jason is delirious. It is Church doctrine that capital punishment is not permitted exept in extreme cases to maintain social order (the group again). Whether or not Hussein's execution qualified under that guideline is very murky.

I also fear that Jason has misread Adam Smith and doesn't understand Wealth of Nations as not only a way out of mercantilism but a clear championing of labor over capital. I suggest rereading it and living the life of the mind as you do so, Jason.

1/16/07, 10:48 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

The “Wealth of Nations” is massive and it is not one of the books I’ve had time to read. At my age I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to it. However, it is generally agreed that Smith advanced the cause of free trade. In his day the state often acted to help domestic manufacturers escape the rigors of competition from abroad. However, if this is correct, he opposed coercive labor as well.

Smith’s failure to understand the faults of the “labor theory of value” were not unusual. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that this theoretical problem was solved. It is often said that Marx built his theory on all the errors of his predecessors while failing to understand their achievements.

1/16/07, 11:08 AM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Hi Nanc. Yes, ‘Weingarten’ is preferred, but “You Can Call Me Al.” I concur that “faith sustains through the ages” but on this blog we have not been able to fruitfully pursue that theme, since we cannot even agree to permit a stipulative definition of the term. Consequently, I employ the less specific term ‘summa bonum’.

I concur with Beakerkin that “It would be nice if the current Pope would excommunicate the vermin who spout this garbage…”

AOW notes that Saddam “pretended to embrace Islam so as to solidify his power with the Sunnis.” However, that does not deny, but affirms the significance that Islam had and has in Iraq. Similarly, Chavez and Ortega are concerned with wielding power, but that affirms rather than denies the significance that religion has, when they purport to being Catholic. As Jason says “Dictators still need to win the loyalty of a large fraction of the population.”

Next, Jason writes, as expected, that “there were indeed many factors”, which does not address whether or not one of them predominated. In the realm of policy issues, one can only be developmental by addressing the predominant factors, rather than all of what is involved. Let us note that in previous discussions, the focus on the role of government did just that (and by so doing gave the impression that Christianity had scarcely anything to do with America). However in my view a better focus was culture and civilization (where Christianity was central to America’s aspirations). Thus, we agree that there are many factors, while disagreeing on which are primary (particularly in my focus on aspirations, and Jason's focus on Government).

Finally, the reason that “Nicaragua is surely not Judeo-Christian” is that it lacks the very qualities that make it that way in America: lack of imposition of values & beliefs, respect for the contributions of Judaism, the primacy of conscience, etc.

1/16/07, 11:19 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I don’t see how the belief that faith will bring salvation explains the unique ethos of colonial Americans and the ability to create a liberal order. Europe also believed in Christian salvation as did the Loyalists. So do Nicaraguans. Libertarians, monarchists, and socialists can and do believe in the redemptive powers of faith in Jesus. This explains many people’s piety but not their social relations nor the societal order that embodies their philosophy of living this life.

How do the Nicaraguans fail to respect the Old Testament? I don’t think their Bibles are abridged. As for the primacy of consciousness, they believe in the revealed word of God as does every other major denomination of Christianity.

I don’t doubt that each Christian denomination incorporates other influences. That’s the purpose of philosophy, even a religious philosophy – i.e to provide a integrative framework to understand life and the universe. But I suggest the other influences are the key to the culture. That’s why Colonial Americans didn’t try to iron out their religious differences. They could argue from reason and the evidence of history. Each person squared empirical conclusions with his own conscience … or within his own personal relationship to his deity.

1/16/07, 11:49 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I don’t see how the belief that faith will bring salvation explains the unique ethos of colonial Americans and the ability to create a liberal order. Europe also believed in Christian salvation as did the Loyalists. So do Nicaraguans. Libertarians, monarchists, and socialists can and do believe in the redemptive powers of faith in Jesus. This explains many people’s piety but not their social relations nor the societal order that embodies their philosophy of living this life.

How do the Nicaraguans fail to respect the Old Testament? I don’t think their Bibles are abridged. As for the primacy of consciousness, they believe in the revealed word of God as does every other major denomination of Christianity.

I don’t doubt that each Christian denomination incorporates other influences. That’s the purpose of philosophy, even a religious philosophy – i.e to provide a integrative framework to understand life and the universe. But I suggest the other influences are the key to the culture. That’s why Colonial Americans didn’t try to iron out their religious differences. They could argue from reason and the evidence of history. Each person squared empirical conclusions with his own conscience … or within his own personal relationship to his deity.

1/16/07, 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Bilwick said...

Jason, given your admiration of Rand, I'm surprised you didn't title this entry "'Attila' and 'the Witch Doctor' Join Forces."

1/16/07, 1:02 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Interesting thought but for a general audience the reference would be lost.

1/16/07, 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Bilwick said...

Well, sure, but the reactions from Mr. Ducky and Farmer John would have been entertaining.

1/16/07, 2:07 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch Two said...

Jason,
The dictators hope to lessen criticism by wrapping themselves in religion.

I'm not certain that what we're discussing here is anything new. The Roman Catholic Church was a major governing power during the Middle Ages when bishops owned or financed fiefdoms.

In some ways, Islam is much like feudalism.

Without separation of organized religion and government, abuses on both parts are bound to follow. Our Founders recognized that fact when they drafted the Constitution. As I see it, they were influenced by both the Enlightenment and the history of the problems with merging church and state. And, of course, the Enlightenment brought with it an emphasis on the individual. In some respects, Protestantism also emphasized the individual. How many of our Founders were Roman Catholic? Offhand, I can't think of one.

The history of Latin America has nearly always been filled with dictators and coups. Why is that? I'm not sure. But I think that it has something to do with what amounts to the caste system there; in Latin America, it is nearly impossible to rise from the class into which an individual has been born. Those individuals condemned to the low class are forever looking for a "leg up." I'm not sure that their search for a better life has anything to do with religion, though.

Certainly in Latin America the people (mostly Roman Catholics) can, according to Catholic doctrine, look forward to a better eternity; and so can Muslims. I see some common ground there--what amounts to the earning of salvation. Of course, Roman Catholics perform good deeds, whereas Muslims are guaranteed the best place in Paradise by their performing jihad--hardly a good deed in the eyes of those who are not Muslims.

Roman Catholic nations tend not to do well with democracy. Could that have something to do with the hierarchical structure of the church itself?

1/16/07, 3:45 PM  
Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Surah 2:25: "And give good news [O Muhammad] to those who believe and do good deeds, that they will have gardens [Paradise] in which rivers flow...."

Surah 4:57: "But those who believe and do good deeds, We will admit them to gardens (Paradise) in which rivers flow, lasting in them forever...."

----------------------
Sounds similar to Christian doctrine.

I will also remind AOW that two points need to be noted. First, there is no mention anywhere in the Koran of the actual number of virgins available in paradise, and second, the dark-eyed damsels are available for all Muslims, not just martyrs.

Relying on Daniel Pipes and Robert Spencer is a poor tactic if you really want understanding.

Surah 57:21: "Race one with another for forgiveness from your Lord and for Paradise, whose width is as the width of the heavens and the earth, which has been prepared for those who believe in God and His messengers...."

1/16/07, 4:36 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch Two said...

Duck,
Certainly portions of the Koran are similar to Judaism and Christianity. However, according to what I've read, the later portions (Medinan verses) abrogate the earlier portions (Meccan verses). Am I misinformed?

1/16/07, 5:43 PM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Consider the subject of how to characterize Iraq or Nicaragua. Some are of the view that we must consider dozens of factors, as though anyone believed that only a few existed. Yet invariably, there can be an endless panorama of particulars. Note that in but one facet pertaining to America, I mentioned over a dozen categories, going from the institutions of family & education, to the economy and houses of worship. *So there is common agreement among all parties that we can state scores of influences.*

Next, Jason writes “I suggest the other influences are the key to the culture.” Yet this begs the question of how one determines which influences are the key. This can only be decided by a desideratum. I gave mine as the ‘primary aspirations’. Jason can question this by claiming it is mistaken, and showing why; he might also present a different desideratum, and show why that constitutes the key. However, for him to say that my key is mistaken because there are many factors, while not saying that his key is mistaken for the same reason, does not constitute a sound method.

Allow me to return to a previous discussion, where (on 11/11/06) I argued that we should define ‘ideologies in general, and Islam in particular’ by their method. This desideratum was based on a moral perspective where the key was whether or not one initiated force. Jason countered that there were many influences, yet did not show why my desideratum was mistaken, nor why a different desideratum was the key.

On 11/12, I wrote about the same perspective by Paul Hollander, at FEE, who mentioned many particular features of what went into fascism & communism, with no mention of their method of initiating force. Of course on questioning he acknowledged that the method also mattered, and went on to smother it within a plethora of other factors regarding ‘practice’.

I question the argument against providing a key by stating that there are many factors, since it renders any key mistaken. It is also arbitrary since one can select any out of dozens of factors, to make a case. Nor does it permit resolution between different positions, since each selects some factors and not others, without justification for which are selected.

In sum, *if one seeks to characterize or analyze a societal issue, he needs to explain why he chose the factors that he did, and how to determine which are key.*

1/16/07, 6:02 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch Two said...

Jason,
I posted this at Beak's site as well...

THIS might be of interest:

President Hugo Chavez's announcement at this week's innaugaral ceremony of plans to create a network of "socialist cities" run by "people power" in Venezuela's unsettled interior has some critics concerned he is moving his country toward a Pol Pot-type system.

The anti-American leader told the Venezuelan national assembly that large tracts, each 38.6 square miles in size, would be developed as new egalitarian communities run without mayors or municipal governments.

"I invoke and summon the constituent power, the people's power, the real fuel, so that the engines I am talking about may lead us to a better future," he said at the swearing-in ceremony where he declared "the new era on the road to socialism."

"Those of you who want to know what type of socialism I have planned for Venezuela should read Marx and Lenin," he said....


------------------------

Totalitarianists buddying up, with or without religion?

Communism replaces God with the state, and Islam weaves as one fabric religion and the state. Either way, the state is supreme, isn't it?

1/16/07, 7:48 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Yes, it is the same ole communism. And he has popular support. We've never seen anything like this. But I still fear we're moving in that direction even if it is at a snail's pace.

I don't think he's the last Latin American dictator who'll go down this path. Notice that today's communists have dropped the "atheist-only" routine and they've gone throught an electorial process.

The jihadi in Europe will start paying lip-service to being "moderate" and they'll turn to the electorial process ... when they have the numbers.

Sheep's clothing can easily fool people.

1/16/07, 8:46 PM  
Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

AOW, that's a very critical point.
The sects which pay very strict attention to the latter are in fact those we call radical. They are beyond the pale as far as I can see. I absolutely do not disagree with you there.

However, they are a minority and far more find their doctrine in the early verses which are not , as you observe, all that different from Jewish and Christian religious thought.

1/17/07, 3:05 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch Two said...

Duck,
And "the real Islam" is ____________? Therein, IMO, lies the danger of imams being able to radicalize their congregations. I know that you have seen my recent posting as to what's happening in the UK.

A minority of billions is still a substantial number.

Those of religious bent will commit horrible deeds in the quest for eternal life.

1/17/07, 5:14 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Leftist dictators discovering religion is nothing new...

"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. . . As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people." - Adolf Hitler, Munich, April 12, 1922

Of course, Hitler was lying, as he wasn't any more Christian than his fellow bisexual methamphetamine abusing flophouse prostitutes in 1922, but the trend of religion being the refuge of scoundrels is certainly there.

If only there were real Christians in public life in Germany to call bullshit on Hitler's posturing. But alas, there were only Catholics.

1/17/07, 7:33 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Ducky is right about one thing: many Muslims want to ignore the odious aspects of Mohammad’s example during his tyrannical and homicidal rule in Medina. Some go so far as to just refer to the Meccan passages. Good for them. However, Mohammad was a military commander who slaughtered plundered and conquered. That has always been grounds for a militant supremacist ideology.

Even if one were a partial Muslim cherishing the early Meccan verse, there is still a shame that one’s religion can easily be used to justify horrible behavior. That’s even clear from the description of Mohammad’s rise to power in your favorite reference: The Venture of Islam. It’s true in Edward Gibbon’s chapters in the “Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire.” It’s always been understood to be a legitimate and often orthodox version of Islam.

Unfortunately, Ducky, the original example of Mohammad is too easily accepted. As I remarked over at AOW’s there was an article in the Guardian about how an imam was shocked to see the level of radicalism in the main mosques in Ireland. He sees his religion most likely based on the Meccan verses and he is distraught at how easily the original militant example of Mohammad is sweeping Ireland. He’s spoken out and has received death threats.

Ireland? What has Ireland done? Why there? This is what I’ve been telling people. It’s a revivalist movement of the original (i.e. Salafi) Islam. My neighborhood newspaper seller was shocked over the bombings in Bangladesh one day last year. Many Muslims who always maintained a partial practice and ignored or were in denial about the full example of Mohammad are totally taken aback.

Islam is suitable for such a belligerent supremacist ideology. There will never be “one version,” there will be many. But unfortunately militant versions are viable interpretations and they will easily come about with little or no prodding. That’s the nature of the texts. We can’t change that and neither can they.

1/17/07, 7:40 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

"... the trend of religion being the refuge of scoundrels is certainly there." - Beamish

That's right. I'm not saying they were really trying to practice the religion ... even in Saddam's case. I was going to add your next thought:

"If only there were real Christians in public life in Germany to call bullshit on Hitler's posturing."

Indeed. And that's the point. It pays to play the religion card; if so, it must be because religious leaders are silent if not out right supportive.

"But alas, there were only Catholics."

Woa! Wait a minute. There were many Lutherans, too. OK, not so many in Austria or Munich – which is where Hitler was in 1922 – but later in the rest of Germany.

Let’s also remember that Goerbels joined the movement because he thought it was the German road to communism. If I remember correctly, at one point Hitler considered creating a new Aryan religion but decided it was too ambitious. I don’t remember much about it. I also vaguely remember that he didn’t use religion too often. I suspect that if he did religious leaders could have to comment and he wanted to avoid that. I’d have to check on the frequency of his usage of religion as a prop. I suspect he played the socialist card (the volk) more.

Of course, socialist would say he was just paying lip service to socialism -- that he was all about power. Well that's true for Lenin, Castro, Pol Pot, etc. The question is why does it work?

BTW, anymore Catholic bashing and we’ll have “Pim’s Ghost” appear to kick some butt. She’s one tough cookie and I wouldn't give odds in a PG vs. Beamish match. ;)

1/17/07, 8:05 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I've crossed swords with PG in the past without loss of blood or sweat. I even gave her an alternate slogan for her t-shirt: "My church serves God every Sunday (bring your own toothpicks)." But, I don't have much of a beef with PG. Her lack of anti-Semitic feelings make her rather atypical of Catholics, and we probably both agree the Sedevacantists are the best targets for anti-Catholic sentiments.

Anyway, the fact is Hitler and the Nazis did not (and could not have) come to power in the German Reichstag without the deferential and compromised support of the Catholic Centre Party, who were seeking German diplomatic recognition of the Vatican (which occured with the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933).

Catholics got what they wanted in Nazi Germany.

1/18/07, 6:16 AM  
Anonymous Bilwick said...

My eyes sort of glazed over during the Catholic-Nazi part of the discussion; but I think the great conservative writer Erik von-Kuehnnelt-Leddihn (and I may be misspelling his moutful of a surname), author of the classic LEFTISM, once wrote a book in which he disputed the belief that German Catholics were the big Nazi supporters. If I recall correctly, he studied voting trends and found support for the Nazis significantly higher in the heavily Lutheran northern part of Germany than in the more Catholic south. EvK-L was a Catholic (he once said he wouldn't mind being descirbed as a "conservative Catholic anarchist," although he was also fond of monarchy), so he could have been biased. Anyway, I offer the above as simply food for thought.

1/18/07, 9:20 AM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Mr. Beamish points out how Hitler presented himself as a Christian. It is equally pertinent (in the same quote) that Hitler claimed to be "a fighter for truth and justice."

Jason writes that "Islam is suitable for such a belligerent supremacist ideology. There will never be “one version,” there will be many." Yet all forms of Islam concur that their faith be spread by the sword. I do not know of any sect (unless one considers the mystical Sufis) that renounce the method of coercion (save as a ploy to destroy their enemy).

Now one can address Catholicism, Christianity, fascism, socialism, the sects of Islam, and a myriad of complex forms. Yet instead, we could focus on the central issue, namely the rejection of Rand's principle of the non-initiation of force.

1/18/07, 9:57 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

From what I know the major schools of Islam believe in spreading Islamic domination (not religious conversion) by force or threat of force. I throw in that last trivial phrase to emphasize the bogus claim by Muslims that Islam doesn’t require the use of force … if you surrender willingly. Watch out for those footnotes in Islam. It’s part of the tacqiyya process to sucker the gullible (as Weintartan pointed out.)

Sociologically, there could be (I’m not aware of all the minor variants) Islamic practices that focus on the Meccan verses and I referred to this as a partial practice. I add this in for the sake of argument. Think of it as a hypothetical: what if a majority of Muslims could be sold on the reliance of only the Meccan versus? My answer above is: so what?

The example of Mohammad will remain an example of an imperialist supremacist ideology and it will underwrite the kind of behavior current events and history has shown time and time again. And those that embrace the full practice of original Islam are true Muslims. Even if one were to accept that they weren’t the only kind; one has to logically accept that they are a bona fide expression of the religion.

The whole debate about whether there can be a “moderate” Islam is a side show. The fact remains that there can be and there is a vicious oppressive supremacist practice that is and will always be a legitimate embodiment of the example of Mohammad. Islam will forever be stained with the example of Mohammad in Medina. Remember that the Islamic clock (i.e. calendar) starts with Mo in Medina.

1/18/07, 11:09 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

The principle of non-initiation of force is valid but it is derivative for Rand. Its importance is driven by one’s philosophy of life. For Rand the importance of reason as man’s tool of survival drives the rest of the argument. Survival, for Rand, means survive on the human level taking man’s life as the standard of value. This incorporates the dignity of living a life appropriate to man qua man, a phrase she likes to use.

This takes much explanation. For instance, Rand takes reason as being instrumental (purposeful would be better) but she rejects the “ideal vs. practical” dichotomy that consequentialists hold when they focus narrow ends as the criteria. She holds the principle of rationality to be the key virtue but she rejects the notion deontological viewpoint that virtue isn’t purposeful beyond itself. Rand sees virtue as potent and powerful.

Rand holds that reason requires liberty; thus life requires liberty. This is different from a view held by some conservatives that liberty is required to “get credit” for the moral act. Such a view accepts “non-initiation of force” but not because of the power of virtue; one could force others to do virtuous acts but they wouldn’t get credit. They might point out that it also doesn’t work as well but that’s a technical detail, not a moral argument.

Conservatives today, accept the leftist viewpoint that production is a practical matter. They see virtue as a personal matter aside from the requirements of material sustenance. These “spiritual” aspects tend to be in the realm of personal morality with a major emphasis on sexual morality. I happen to agree that there is a hedonistic aspect to our culture that is superficial if not grossly degrading. But this narrow focus is undermining the whole conservative movement (I’ve written a long piece on this but haven’t finished it yet.)

The left sees material production as amoral … if you consume it yourself. Somehow it becomes moral if you help others to consume it! The left’s position isn’t worth considering in and of itself; but they taunt the conservatives and conservatives flinch. Conservatives like to say “we do it without the state forcing us” so we “get credit.” The left isn’t impressed. They respond: who cares about credit when “people are hungry?”

Without seeing self-reliance and self-responsibility as a substantial virtue that serves the moral goal of self-preservation and self-fulfillment, conservatives will undermine the motivation for liberty. (There’s too much “self” there for some conservatives.) Notice how conservatives have caved to demands for social spending and regulation of economic activity. What’s called “economic liberty” just isn’t on the moral scale required for a vigorous fight against the demands from the left. This wasn’t true for our founding fathers.

My conservative readers are the exception, of course. They are fully committed to fighting for liberty and property rights. But I ask them what has happened to the righteous fight for liberty – economic liberty – by mainstream conservatives. Economic theory isn’t enough. It has to be a moral fight! Self-ownership isn’t just efficient, nor is it just an added blessing to living this life. It makes the living possible if we take that verb as an active verb. One doesn’t live one’s life if one doesn’t own it; one is merely on state controlled life-support. “Small government” and “non-initiation of force” just doesn’t convey the imperative by themselves. We need a full and vigorous moral fight that conveys the significance of the cause.

1/18/07, 12:02 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I'll be the first to tell you that if it doesn't deliver mail or warheads, the government has no business paying for it.

1/18/07, 12:27 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I wish the government just focused on delivering warheads. After 9/11, I had a dream. I dreamt that conservatives seized the occasion to point out that if the government becomes a jack-of-all-trades it will be a master of none. The focus on social spending consumes many legislators that the federal government isn’t focused on doing its primary job. I dreamt that conservatives rallied behind a “back to defense” focus for the federal government.

I was dreaming, as I said.

1/18/07, 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Hank Villard said...

You don't mention a big dictator who found religion: GEORGE W. BUSH, this guy is doing whatever he wants with the American People and budget, he is backed up by xtian fundamentalists, and he says to speak with god.

Hank

8/31/07, 10:06 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Bush isn't a dictator.

Religion is more center stage in American democracy, whether it's George Walker Bush or Barak Hussein Obama. Religion in the American Republic is a worthy topic. Both Bush and Obama advocate “big government” solutions. Perhaps there’s a correlation with overt religiosity and loss of liberty even in this mild form.

In the 20th century, dictatorships were generally secular fascist or communist. Today, the need for religious sanction means that these old forms continue but repackaged in religious terms. Those who thought that religion was the opposite of communism should reconsider the false alternative. Nations where a single religion dominates tend to be more likely to support dictatorship.

9/1/07, 8:04 AM  

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