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Islam and Islamophobia
Posted: 16 March 2007 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Doug said:

Not sure what any of this has to do with Islam, but somehow all your discussions end up at precisely the same place.

1) It has to do with Islam because we are talking about political Islam and the sociopolitical reasons behind both terrorism and Islamophobia (and for those who want to argue about the word phobia here, I admit that it may be the wrong word but we all know what is meant… A better world might be Islamo-bigotry or good ole words like racism and Orientalism and the like.)

2) If my sociopolitical ends were always different - if my understanding of politics, economics, and social systems always led me to different conclusions - than I’d hardly have much of a philosophy, now would I?  I thought a coherent philosophy must show some consistancy, no?

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Posted: 16 March 2007 06:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Doug said:

As you know, the communist ideal was to dissolve the state in a “democratic” worker’s paradise. The authoritarianism became necessary because—wonder of wonders—they found that nobody followed the script of throwing off the capitalist yoke and behaving like good stateless communists should.

The problem, as I have stated many times here, was because Marx called for a Vanguard Party to lead a Socialist State as a stepping stone toward democratic, stateless communism (which is really anarchism or perhaps libertarian-socialism).. but that was the big mistake.  It created, instead, a power elite and under Stalin - though he did get rid of capitalism while he was in power - this elite became totalitarian.  Power in the hands of a few will ALWAYS do that.. particularly while creating a non democratic state “as a stepping stone.”  Who would give up such power? 

Also, even Stalin did not abolish markets which is the key problem with capitalism… he just wound up putting the capitalist class at a dissavantage.  Post Stalin, as the USSR became a state capitalist society, the power elite became the party and the coordinator (professional) class… The working class never saw any power at all.

Doug:

You have already advocated the murder of innocents, I would hate to think of the sort of mechanism that would be put in place in order to coerce the mass of people to accept your so-called “inclusive democracy”. My own bet is that it would end up being just as totalitarian as the USSR or Maoist China.

I hardly think so.  Inclusive Democracy CAN’T become such because there is no power elite, no free-market capitalism, no state and no parties!  And I have NEVER advocated for the murder of innocents.. at least not any more than you have.  I merely defend the right of Palestinians to defend their lives and culture from genocide with violence if that is their only choice, while you have defended all sorts of murders you just happen to call other things (like war, state terrorism, etc.).

Doug:

Just to be absolutely clear here, there is a distinction between an “in principle” authoritarianism and an “in practice” authoritarianism. Communism and inclusive democracy are “in principle” non-authoritarian—that is, ideally, and following the strict dictates of their founders, they are totally democratic and just follow the free will of the people (or at least those people like “the workers” who are valued the most).

But Marx put up an impossible road block to communism via his party politics and state non-democratic socialism.  Fotopoulos’s ideas are not top down in this way.  You can not compare the two if you know anything about the latter. So your fears are unfounded.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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[quote author=“Barry”]And I have NEVER advocated for the murder of innocents..

Er, how about THIS thread, then? Let’s not start revising history here.

[quote author=“Barry”]But Marx put up an impossible road block to communism via his party politics and state non-democratic socialism.  Fotopoulos’s ideas are not top down in this way.  You can not compare the two if you know anything about the latter. So your fears are unfounded.

The question that Marx was trying to answer is how you get from here to there, especially given that nobody wants to do this except you. Marx had a program—forced indoctrination. The alternative is to give up the project as a fantasy.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 06:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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doug:

The question that Marx was trying to answer is how you get from here to there, especially given that nobody wants to do this except you. Marx had a program—forced indoctrination. The alternative is to give up the project as a fantasy.

And I am not Marx.. and neither is Fotopoulos or Hahnel or Albert, etc.  It is “fantasy” to folks brainwashed by what many have understood to be the dominant religion of western society - capitalism! 

Think out of the box, Doug!

And as I said, I defend the Palestinians’ moral right to their so-called terrorism.. and I agreed with Honderich’s points here.  This is too important and interesting a topic to be ignored for your political correctness. 

As for Fotopoulos, I have not talked to him about this and have not found convincing evidence of what he thinks along these lines.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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If it’s “politically correct” to be morally opposed to the intentional murder of innocent people, then call me politically correct.

It seems about the clearest sort of humanist position one could take. So I’d just call it humanist.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Barry said

I have never advocated for humanism to fit into this or that political mindset

:!:  :!:  :!:

Seems to me you’ve said repeatedly that only one political mindset is compatible with humanism, and if we don’t adopt it we’re not really humanists. Sure, you think we’d all naturally fall in line if only we read and understood the sources you get your ideology from, but you still make your goals and most of your methods a shibboleth for humanism.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 04:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Doug:

If it’s “politically correct” to be morally opposed to the intentional murder of innocent people, then call me politically correct.

Good then.  Let’s hear what you have to say about all the U.S. wars over the last 60 years, or of Israel’s murder record, or of England’s or France’s… Let’s see what you think about capital punishment.  Let’s see what you say about the sanctions against Iraq from 1991-2003 which took thousands of children’s lives.  Let’s hear about all the U.S. led assassinations and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.  Let’s hear your comments on the corporations which knowingly destroy the environment which has lead to many deaths and may lead to worldwide catastrophe - from Big Tobacco to Exxon/Mobil. 

Intentional murder of innocents is not just a Palestinian issue, Doug.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 05:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Brennon:

Seems to me you’ve said repeatedly that only one political mindset is compatible with humanism, and if we don’t adopt it we’re not really humanists. Sure, you think we’d all naturally fall in line if only we read and understood the sources you get your ideology from, but you still make your goals and most of your methods a shibboleth for humanism.

Again, this is not what I said. 

Let me put it this way.  I began not from political ideology, but from humanism.  I was a skeptic at 18, an agnostic at 22, an atheist by 29 and I recognized I was a humanist by 36.  I followed politics and economics and overall social trends from 18-36 as much as any other American (maybe a bit more), which is to say, not very much. 

9/11 changed things for me.  I realised that something was very wrong with the world that Tuesday morning and saw that my skepticism and atheism did not have many answers for me as to what that was. 

I began to research humanism’s origins and ideals much more deeply than before.  I saw science, reason, compassion and tollerence as only the tip of the iceberg.  I saw what kind of future society the folks who authored the manifestos (and other writings) wanted for humanity.  I saw the connections between the natural and social sciences and the way we organize society in the West and how we share natural and human-made resources… and realized that I finally was understanding why 9/11 happened ... Why much of what is wrong with human actions on Earth happen. 

I saw the interconnectedness of the social, political, economic… and why people believe and act as they do under pressure.  I began to understand the deeper, more systemic reasons for religion and faith.  I began to see what kind of creatures we are and how we respond to the environment around us, as well as how we might alter that environment toward a more humanistic future. 

I understand some, but far from all of what we need to do; but it is clear to me what we must STOP doing.  Ending capitalism and dominance-hierarchy are key to getting anywhere toward a better society… as key as getting rid of other cancers of human culture such as fascism, totalitarianism, disease, racism, gender bias, etc. 

To me, if we MEAN what our defining documents on humanism and our other writings on humanism from the Enlightenment to today say… If we mean to reach Kurtz’s “Planetary Humanism…” We need make the means match the ends.  THAT is doing humanism, Brennon.  Humanism can be anything anyone wants to call it, but if it is to be true to its origins and affirmations and goals, it must be so across the board…

If the humanists among us here can’t even agree to this, then I don’t belong here.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Religion and politics.
Both are a pox on humanity.
Get rid of one and the other may become just bearable.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 07:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Barry,

Look, I respect your vision. I like the idea that humanity might be able to finally create a society without the plagues we both deplore-supernaturalism, economic injustice, racism/sexism/homophobia, factionalism in general, exploitation and opression, etc. But human beings being what we are, our ends will not all be the same, and our means will vary even more. If you see only one way forward, then you will travel largely alone. The damnable thing about being a humanist is you have to accept and deal with real human beings and work them into any plan for the future. In this forum you are preaching to as close to the choir as you are likely to get, and you aren’t getting that many of us to join your denomination. So you either carry on alone, or you find arguments that are not only true to your vision, but effective. You find common ground where it exists and add your energy where actions can be agreed on, and keep nudging the consensus in the direction you think it should go. But making sweeping pronouncements from on high and claiming genuine humanism for yourself ain’t going to get anywhere. Add a dose of humility and a willingness to work with people you can’t instantly convert to your passion, and you’ll get farther.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 03:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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[quote author=“Barry”]Good then.  Let’s hear what you have to say about all the U.S. wars over the last 60 years, or of Israel’s murder record, or of England’s or France’s… Let’s see what you think about capital punishment.  Let’s see what you say about the sanctions against Iraq from 1991-2003 which took thousands of children’s lives.  Let’s hear about all the U.S. led assassinations and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.  Let’s hear your comments on the corporations which knowingly destroy the environment which has lead to many deaths and may lead to worldwide catastrophe - from Big Tobacco to Exxon/Mobil. 

Intentional murder of innocents is not just a Palestinian issue, Doug.

So let me get this straight. Your argument for murdering innocent civilians is that it is justified because other people may have murdered other innocent civilians ... or in the case of capital punishment and the like, that other people may have murdered other guilty civilians.

Brilliant argument, Barry, as usual.

rolleyes

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Posted: 17 March 2007 04:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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[quote author=“Barry”]Brennon:

Seems to me you’ve said repeatedly that only one political mindset is compatible with humanism, and if we don’t adopt it we’re not really humanists. Sure, you think we’d all naturally fall in line if only we read and understood the sources you get your ideology from, but you still make your goals and most of your methods a shibboleth for humanism.

Again, this is not what I said. 

Brennen is precisely right that it is what you have said. I am opposed to that political stance, and I am equally opposed to denying the facts.

[quote author=“Barry”]I understand some, but far from all of what we need to do; but it is clear to me what we must STOP doing.  Ending capitalism and dominance-hierarchy are key to getting anywhere toward a better society… as key as getting rid of other cancers of human culture such as fascism, totalitarianism, disease, racism, gender bias, etc. 

Capitalism, at least when practiced with the necessary controls (which it is not), is an essential, and on balance, beneficial practice. Nothing you have proposed even begins to replace it.

Dominance heirarchies do have an ill effect on social groups, however they are part of our genetic heritage. Anyone proposing a political system that assumes the eradication of dominance heirarchies is living in a fantasy world.

As for totalitarianism, looking at recent history, totalitarian governments are usually founded by people living in political fantasy worlds, believing that they can produce utopian societies. The totalitarianism comes about as the “necessary evil” to indoctrinate society and eradicate undesirable elements.

So the first thing we must do in the eradication of totalitarianism is to be very skeptical of all poltical quackery—people sellling the snake-oil of a societal cure-all.

As for fascism, racism, gender bias, homophobia and the like, we are in agreement.

[quote author=“Barry”]If we mean to reach Kurtz’s “Planetary Humanism…” We need make the means match the ends.  THAT is doing humanism, Brennon.  Humanism can be anything anyone wants to call it, but if it is to be true to its origins and affirmations and goals, it must be so across the board…

... and it would seem to me the first principle of any humanist system is that we should be opposed to the murder of innocents.

[quote author=“Barry”]If the humanists among us here can’t even agree to this, then I don’t belong here.

I do think you must ask yourself if your presence here is in any way truly constructive and useful, or if instead you are simply looking to poison the well for others with whom you disagree.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Brennen:

In this forum you are preaching to as close to the choir as you are likely to get, and you aren’t getting that many of us to join your denomination. So you either carry on alone, or you find arguments that are not only true to your vision, but effective. You find common ground where it exists and add your energy where actions can be agreed on, and keep nudging the consensus in the direction you think it should go. But making sweeping pronouncements from on high and claiming genuine humanism for yourself ain’t going to get anywhere. Add a dose of humility and a willingness to work with people you can’t instantly convert to your passion, and you’ll get farther.

Thank you Brennen for your response.  It is welcomed and fairly accurate (I wish I can say that about Doug’s, but I’ll get to his response in another post). 

A few thoughts:

1) Folks on these forums are not the closest I can get to preaching to the choir ... not really.  The crux of what I believe (and you seem to believe to a large degree) right off the top is not really what most folks on these forums would wish for. To be honest, I have lots in common with folks on these forums re naturalism, science, atheism and the like, but not much in common via politics, economics or other things.  In other circles - Left circles - I have much more in common with via these things, though certainly not across the board.  What I have found a rare person is one who thinks like me politically and economically AS WELL AS scientifically and “religiously.”  Most Leftists I meet are too often luddites or relativists and too many atheists I meet are often too conservative.  So to find people who see things as I do to any large degree - both philosophically and politically - is indeed a rare find.. But this does not mean I ought to jettison either or when I advocate for humanistic change.

2) I AM advocating for ideas which can be effective.  Indeed, to advocate for otherwise would be a waste of my time and yours.  :?

3) I am not making pronouncements from any place other than from the ‘here and now’ reality.  I do not see my ideas as pristine and other’s ideas as otherwise.  I have thought this through for many years and do not find my ideas very radical or strange ... and neither do many other folks on the Left.  What I see myself doing is matching the kind of wide-open humanism (atheistic, scientific, naturalistic) most of you see as humanism with the elements I think can lead us toward the kind of society laid out in multiple humanist writings.  Of course, I am gonna ruffle the feathers of many of the people who advocate for the type of humanism CSH promotes because I am going the extra step to make such humanism realistic and relevant to actual society - shaking the ivory towers if you will.  And I will frustrate other folks (folks who tend to be Left of Center or even Center at times), who have laid out some of the best political or economic ideas toward planetary humanism, because of my insistence on evidence over dogma, science over faith, and full naturalism over New-Ageism.  If only, I think at night as I dose off, both “sides” would get out of their boxes a bit more.

3) I am actually quite humble with Leftists re my ideas ... because all they need to do is to become more science-based.  I am humble with folks who are Leftists and scientific because these people are the ones whose vision might lead to real social change.  I guess I am less humble with atheists who call themselves humanists while arguing for Right of Center politics or economics.  To me, these folks get so many things much of the rest of America doesn’t, but they can’t see the connection to politics or economics.  I find this amazingly frustrating and ironic.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Doug:

Brennen is precisely right that it is what you have said. I am opposed to that political stance, and I am equally opposed to denying the facts.

Of course, I went beyond pointing out what I did NOT say, but spoke to what I DID say (and meant).  I did so even more in my response to Brennon just above. 

Again, I do NOT have a ‘political stance.’  I have a HUMANISTIC stance, and my “politics” follow from that stance.

Doug:

Capitalism, at least when practiced with the necessary controls (which it is not), is an essential, and on balance, beneficial practice. Nothing you have proposed even begins to replace it.

1) As I’ve said so many times, and as your pals Penn (and Teller) like to say.. BULL$HIT!  Capitalism is neither essential nor beneficial ... either with a “human face” put on it via social democracy, or not! 

And I have stated why I think this way and have pointed to more evidence than you have in making my argument ... you just have not read what I have.

2) Much of what I propose not only replaces capitalism, but allows for a much more humanistic society.  But even if I did not have any replacements, does that mean we keep what is diseased and never look for a cure?  Your opinion on this is meaningless because it is uninformed… Again, you have not bothered to read up on any of the real history/plans of libertarian-socialism, anarchism, Parecon, Inclusive Democracy, etc, etc, etc.

Doug:

Dominance heirarchies do have an ill effect on social groups, however they are part of our genetic heritage. Anyone proposing a political system that assumes the eradication of dominance heirarchies is living in a fantasy world.

Phew… More BULL$HIT!  Our heritage DOES include “genetic” hierarchy, but not “dominance” heirarchy .. that is caused environmentally.  Your Hobbes is showing again, Doug.  You are so brainwashed by Hobbesian (and capitalistic) dogma, that you can’t see the forest for the trees.

Doug:

So the first thing we must do in the eradication of totalitarianism is to be very skeptical of all poltical quackery—people sellling the snake-oil of a societal cure-all.

I agree!  But of course, I have never advocated for such utopianism.

Doug:

... and it would seem to me the first principle of any humanist system is that we should be opposed to the murder of innocents.

Yes, I am opposed to it.  But we live in the real world, as you say, not a fantasy world.  When you devise a plan to stop the murder of innocents I mentioned above, then I am sure the sort of murder I am talking about will also end.. and THEN we will be closer to planetary humanism. 

For instance, tell me how to humanise Israel so her actions do not create the actions taken by some Palestinians, and you will show yourself to be as humanistic as you say you are.  8)

Doug:

I do think you must ask yourself if your presence here is in any way truly constructive and useful, or if instead you are simply looking to poison the well for others with whom you disagree.

Um, this ‘well’ might already have been poisoned to some degree by angry-atheism, Hobbesianism and the religion of Capitalism.  I am trying to find a (constructive and useful) cure!  :twisted:

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Posted: 18 March 2007 03:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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After listening to Tawfik Hamid on Point of Inquiry this week, I thought of this thread. I read Deepa Kumar’s Islam and Islamophobia essay. It is hard to argue with her when she writes: “the role of religion in any society is best understood by examining the specific historical conditions that constitute that society. All the major religions of the world have undergone transformations in order to adapt to changing circumstances.” I think that Mr. Hamid would reply that Islam has yet to undergo such a transformation.

Kumar goes on to list five myths regarding Islam.

1. Islam is a monolithic religion:

Here she makes a good point. Not all Muslims are Arabs, and I suspect that Arabs are not even in the majority; the Sunni-Shia rift has become common knowledge; and so forth.

2. Islam is a uniquely sexist religion

While not unique, its sexism is particularly overt and thorough-going by Western standards. The examples of Western sexism given by Kumar are by and large history (she writes of a “bare” 300 years since a woman was burned for being a witch), whereas the Islamic sexism is very current. Prior to the American invasion, Iraq was a secularized Muslim state which allowed freedom for women that the conservative Islamists would seek to rescind. A useful view of the changes in Iran that followed the Islamic revolution is seen in Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis: the activities of women are curtailed, women whose dress offends the religious are endangered. Then there is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who continues to be the target of death threats. Can Kumar name a country and its religion that prohibit a woman from driving a car? Where a woman is prohibited from going unattended in public?

3. The “Muslim mind” is incapable of rationality and science

Again a good point on how Christianity (past, and present) resists advances in scientific knowledge. However, the West has had its Enlightenment, although that is being assailed; Islam had yet to have its Reformation or Enlightenment. Neil Degrasse Tyson remarked in Beyond Belief 2006 about the naming rights Arabic Islam has for things in every day use: Arabic numerals, algebra, algorithm, names of stars. That came to an end with Imam Hamid al-Ghazali (1058, 1111).

While I would not say that the Muslim mind is incapable of science (or rationality), Muslim scientists have yet to reclaim their scientific heritage.

4. Islam is inherently violent

Perhaps not: I was about to write that there is no current Western equivalent to the fatwa pronounced against Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, the murder of Theo van Gogh, the death threat against Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or the violent protests that followed on the publication of some cartoons by a Danish newspaper. Then I remembered the killing of a physician who performed abortions.

5. The West spreads democracy, Islam spawns terrorism.

I agree that a democracy-spreading West is a myth: over the years we have undermined democracies in favor of dictators whose aims coincide, for a time, with our own (think of Saddam Hussein).

I heard a suggestion that terrorism is the weapon used when other weapons are not readily available. But what is “shock and awe” if not terrorism on a grand scale?

Back to Tawfik Hamid: I was bothered by his vehemence, although my discomfort may be cultural. He speaks as a Muslim about sexism and violence as being inherent in Islam, and about the need to reinterpret Islam just as Christianity and Judaism have been reinterpreted.

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