Discussion in 'Latest US & World News' started by Thedimon, Nov 19, 2019.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are very, very different.. Of course its been years and years since I was in Iran.
They are different.
Maybe the Iranians majority which is the commonalty already realized that the notion of defeating first the West and Israel would lead towards a more promising future, is really a farce.
Being a properly trained 'cleric' (trained in a philosophy with strong strains of skepticism) doesn't make you any more inclined to believe in 'deities' than not being so trained. If only makes makes you more responsible to make sure any such 'deities' that may or may not exist, and on whose behalf you speak to the public, aren't imagined to be speaking out in ancient terms, or in terms which aren't inclined towards a properly defined idea of 'justice' (with its nebulous and ever changing contours and definition).
Let me put this directly to you: as an agnostic, who isn't inclined to see society governed by ancient rules and scriptures, I have more to fear from 'evangelical Muslims' running around reading 'scripture' literally than any of the clerics I described. And as someone who isn't interested in seeing society without any 'moral rules' because I see any society without some belief in such moral rules to be one that will come eventually unglued by the force of rampant individualism and self-interested behavior, with that tending towards a lot worse than even simple 'laissez affaire liberterianism' (which is good for some and not as good for many) and turn eventually into fascism and even worse (if everyone believes that the only 'good' is what is 'good for me', then those with power will want more power and things for themselves), I believe a system that combines a Platonic 'philosopher king' with the institutions of representative democracy is best in theory than any alternative. And a 'noble lie' will always be necessary for the institution of this "philosopher king', as Plato himself had realized in sketching out his ideas of justice and form of government in his Republic. (We haven't advanced as much in learning of things since Plato and all of philosophy is indeed in many ways a 'footnote' to what Plato had discussed).
While I like to believe there is a purpose in life, the idea of some deity saving me is certainly not part of my philosophy or ideology. I am quite at peace with things and even the 'inevitable end' you speak of doesn't appear so horrific to me as some make it out to be.
I am motivated by several issues. One of those you might glean from this real life conversation I was having a few years ago with a relative over drinks sittings in the balcony of my apartment in Tehran. We were both somewhat drunk (which I emphasize to help break down your presuppositions about people) but somehow ended up talking about the challenges of raising our kids. The issue we were discussing was this: loving our kids as we do, how can we teach them in good conscious the lessons about being 'good' and 'honest' and such, when we know that the best way to advance materially in society is being able to pretend to be those things sufficiently to 'defraud others' but being quite able to ignore all those rules and self-imposed constraints when necessary to move up (constraints taught based on ancient myths and legends and moral teachings in various societies which reflected a sense of the public good as opposed to the private interest)? My own view was that I am too 'selfish' ultimately to be able to even love my own kids if they are developed into totally self-centered creatures with no genuine sense of 'social responsibility' and if they aren't taught to be honest and truthful. That it doesn't matter even if those values hinder their progress at some point in time in the future. I cannot love even my own kids as much if they are reared to be dishonest and simply selfish.
I understand you don't have to be 'religious' to be honest. I was never raised to be 'religious' nor am I religious in any conventional sense. I believe, in fact, that being religious in the conventional sense even encourages being dishonest in some ways. But there must be some form of indoctrination that teaches people that the 'quest for truth' and an abhorrence for falsehoods is an ultimate good value that should not and cannot be breached by simple self-interest. Of course, 'laws' (even secular ones) can and do help in that regard, but the 'concept of law' cannot be entirely a positivist exercise where people calculate the pros and cons of observing it (and the chances of getting caught not observing it) in a purely self-interested manner without some 'moral' sense to 'buttress that up'.
There is more to why I believe any well-functioning society needs its own "Platonic guardians". Not all of that has to do with the 'search for good' but much of it ultimately has to do with the quest for truth and the need to make sure there is a meritocracy that prevents lies and falsehoods (often propagated to advance the selfish interests of some) aren't imposed on society as a whole through either 'democratic means' (means which will be corrupted by the greater power of vested economic interests and which will not be able to maintain even their 'democratic character' over time without such 'platonic guardians') or worse, by someone who attains power otherwise or democratically and becomes a tyrant for life.
Of course, a system with proper checks and balances is critical in this exercise. But part of those checks and balances require a Platonic institution to me anyway. And those wearing the 'robes' to dispense the 'law' and a sense of justice have always needed such 'symbols' to at least pretend to be speaking of some higher truths than material self-interests.
I am not properly trained to discuss when a sense of 'good and evil' develops in humans, but the instincts for empathy I have read are strengthened after a certain age. But I certainly reject the notion that ideas developed by those who aren't even looking for any sense of 'good and evil' to capture in some philosophy are going to be as much responsive to such notions as those who are looking for that sense. That is the key difference. Otherwise, as I have tried to tell you but you have ignored: 'religious' scholars is a label and they are (or can be in my philosophy) the same as the 'other scholars' you have in mind. The only difference is the desire to develop their theory with a higher good in mind, even if they couch and buttress ultimately with a 'noble lie' (or a 'noble belief'). To believe there is a higher good, or a higher order that tends towards that higher good, is not even a 'lie' in my eyes. It is not provable but it can be believed without any need to engage in lies.
I am against 'imposing' things on society, but make sure you are equally so inclined to prevent imposition of what you prefer on others as well.
"Pan-Arabism" was a creature of westernized, pseudo, nationalistic ideologies which arose from borrowing the sentiments developed in the West in the rise its own mythology of 'nationalism' and eventually fascism. All of that quite in opposite of the "Eastern renaissance" that I have in mind. I want to open this issue explicitly as it is actually quite important and relevant. This part of the story is something that needs to be retold and is relevant because it also relates to certain growing trends in the West right now.
The "past" you speak has reasons to become the 'future' of the West. The fascism and rampant nationalism you decry was the product of the logical extension of the anti-theistic aspects of what was otherwise the driving force for Western ascendancy, namely the 'enlightenment'. I need to cover this issue at greater length and will do so in due course. But "Trump" is actually quite a good example of it!
Then you agree with my point? Iran would be wise to limit outside influence, but do so within a principled legal framework.
What's your point?
You know, Iran has more crime than many countries (though not the U.S.):
Forget "U.S. standards." Iran is being pressured by outside forces and will no react by making an effort to limit foreign influence. If you applied U.S. standards, your elections might be dominated by foreign interests.
The sanctions definitely hurt Iran's economy.
There's no surprise in any of this.
So that was your point? Anyway, I am a lawyer so I definitely would agree with that!!!
That no one in Iran fears 'contacts' with people from outside. That 'contacts' with foreigners, including westerners, isn't something that gets people in trouble. Iran has more than 7 million foreign visitors each years, and while the bulk of them are from regional countries like Iraq, that includes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from western countries. In opposite of what you were implying, Iranians are quite open to meeting them, talking to them, inviting them to their homes etc. And Iranian law and practice doesn't prevent that at all.
Iran and the US share several things in common and have some things which are quite different when it comes to crime. What is common between them, unfortunately, is a major drug problem. Iran sits next to Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are major suppliers of opiates and drugs. We have a huge drug problem just like the US. And that accounts for the overwhelming majority of criminal cases in Iran. But unlike the US, Iran has very little 'violent crime'. And 'violent crime' rates in Iran are very low compared to most places in the world.
If we applied US standards, Iran's elections would be better protected from foreign interests. I know both systems well. You don't. The only part of Iran's system that is sufficiently insulated from foreign interference is the office of the Supreme Leader. Everything else operates under tremendous foreign influence, which includes a lot of corruption tied to such influence as well.
Read carefully what I posted. It wasn't just about the sanctions, which are tantamount to economic warfare on Iran. It involves a lot more that you prefer to ignore, some of it openly and without any apology, like offering $15 million to any Iranian who gives the US information on Iran's military or its oil industry and its practices. Or the repeated use of cyber warfare against Iranian military, economic, industrial and nuclear facilities.
You have it basically backwards in most respects. The majority of Iranians now realize better than ever that defeating the West and Israel is the sin qua non of them having any chance of a promising future. The real challenge for them is to figure out how to do so? Otherwise, having seen their 'olive branch' to the West rejected so rudely by the country that fancies itself as its leader, namely the US, with the rest proving impotent and incapable of doing anything about the US dictating to everyone else that they too can't trade with Iran, the idea that appeasing the demands by the West will somehow help anything no longer is supported by any significant numbers in Iran. That doesn't mean that there won't be a price to pay for standing up to the West and there won't be those who will resent having to pay that price. But the consensus in Iran right now (including among those who once cheered the JCPOA and the promised rapprochement with the West) is that such price notwithstanding, it is one that needs to be paid if there is any chance Iran will one day be able to see the West leave it alone.
In the meantime, don't fool yourself or allow yourself to be misled by the propaganda. Life in Iran is back to normal everywhere (except in isolated pockets in the border regions of the country). The only crowds you will see in Iran are those going to concerts or to sports matches. For instance, yesterday 70,000 people watched a football league match in Tehran at the stadium and many times that number were watching this game at home from their television sets. Elsewhere, millions across the country overall, were either attending other league football matches in stadiums in their respective cities or watching the games at home. Those who weren't were probably in shopping malls or in theaters or visiting friends and family or doing other things people do.
But most clerics have come to be clerics at least in part because they believe in deities.
Clerics associated with religions like Christianity and Islam that use ancient writings as the glue holding their faith together are tied to outdated beliefs.
Perhaps. Clerics maintain structures unhinged, unscrupulous, or ignorant true believers rely upon to organize politically.
Consider the history of the West. Society is much better for people in Europe and North America than it was even a hundred years ago when organized religion had more control of society.
Why would you assume surprise from me that you might be drinking alcohol?
I see education as progressive enlightenment, not inculcating beliefs.
No, indoctrination is not necessary or desirable.
I think we need a better education system, not oppressive guidance from elites. I've seen effective education in action and the positive values people carry through life.
Maybe they're looking for social harmony and human happiness. I know a Sunni "teacher" who believes homosexuals should be put to death.
A reaction to colonialism, no? Why did the Arab peoples in many parts of the greater Middle East oppose colonialism with Pan-Arabism? Why do you suppose you were left out of the Pan-Arab vision?
Where are you thinking you will extend your influence into countries where Shia are a minority? Why would you want to try?
I submit many Arab countries have been working with western countries to oppose you, especially some who have large Shia minorities.
I should think so. What are you selling they want to buy? They seem to see you primarily in religious terms, down to the man in the street.
Fascism was a reaction to the rise of working class people expressed as socialism. The capitalist system in most cases has been inclined to share income and wealth to prevent efforts to collectivize the economy. Will the capitalist system come to adopt fascism as the ability to monitor and control people using AI develops?
Fascism? No, I don't think so.
I haven't said Iran is hostile to foreigners. All I said is that in opposing foreign influence Iran should do so in a principled manner.
I think you're going to find other countries in your region, including those on your borders, aren't all that inclined to accept your leadership or wish for your influence.
Think how little crime you might have if you adopted better ways of dealing with drug use.
I suggested you take measures to limit foreign influence. Do you agree?
Why have you concluded I ignore or approve of efforts to disrupt Iran's political system? Whatever we say or do should be expressed openly.
I read your message on "Pan-Arabism" and I had this realization that perhaps you aren't even aware of the most profound and basic divisions in the Middle East, namely between Persian IRAN and Arab states. I say that because you have this idea the primary division between Iranians and Arabs is 'religion', whereas before Iran adopted Shia Islam and most Iranians rallied behind the Shia banner (in part to further maintain their separate cultural and national heritage), the distinction between Persians and Arabs was already a huge one politically, culturally and in may other respects. If you understand this distinction already, then sorry for misreading your message. But if you don't, you have just shocked me since I would have imagined any person of even modest education about the history and politics of the region would already be aware of this fact.
In any case, while I have no illusions about the limits of Iranian influence due to not merely the religious distinction but also the national and cultural one between Persians and Arabs, let me emphasize that this distinction is a critical and important one. A lot more important than some realize. It is not even merely about the fact that we trace our history differently and find our historiography defined by our national epic, the Shahnameh, and not by those sources which Arabs use (which include Semitic mythology largely in common with the "Judeo-Christian" mythology of the Torah and the Bible), or that we speak an "Indo-European language" while Arabs speak a Semitic language. Nor just the fact that before the Arab conquest of IRAN, various Iranians empires (beginning with the Achaemenid Persian empire, than the Parthian empire and then the Sassanian empire) had dominated the politics in our region for close to a thousand years. It is all those things, but ultimately, the fact that Iran's national identity and heritage was preserved (when all the other areas conquered by the Arabs became not just Muslim but Arab too) by stressing the non-Arab nature of Iranian identity. In other words, Iranian national identity itself found its greatest meaning after the Arab conquest by juxtaposing itself against those who were Arabs! This is an ancient national ideology and identity, but 're-born' following the Arab conquest of Iran through the Persian renaissance of the 9th and 10th century as it related to the Persian language, the rebirth of ancient Iranian mythology and historiography by the popularity of Iran's national epic, Ferdowsi's Shahnameh (Book of Kings) written in the 10th century, the rise of Persianate societies and their dominance in the Middle East for many centuries afterwards until the rise of westernization. And then, finally, the fact that the legitimacy of all previous (Sunni) "Muslim rulers" in the region were basically denied by the fact that Iranians rallied behind the Shia banner in the 16th century. Shia Islam was, first and foremost, a political ideology and its centerpiece (before it acquired its distinct 'theology') was a rejection of all those who had 'usurped' power following the death of the prophet Mohammad.
Anyway, I just wanted this point to be clear in case it wasn't.
Lets say you are right (which I don't concede to be true in every respect necessarily). My view is that the best path to the Eastern Renaissance I aspire to is for a different vision (or, actually, a more traditional, pre-westernization) definition of what it means to be a 'scholar'/'cleric'. The only difference being that certain walls erected which worked as barriers to the development of knowledge in these "Eastern universities" (which became 'religious seminaries' after the advent of westernized institutions of learning and westernized distinctions between 'secular' and 'religious), I submit, needed to be demolished and taken down. And that is my own aspiration: to see a reformation of the educational system of Iran's "clerics" (or traditional scholars). That educational system has many good things to its credit, but the dogmatic aspects of it need to be stricken down through a reformation of aspects of what is understood as Shia ideology or theology.
Lets assume you are right (you are right to some extent, but not entirely, and we might quibble over the reasons for any part that is better as well). But lets assume you are completely right. Even if that is the case, it is in my judgment only because the "good" aspects of religious traditions are still influential enough (even among people of more secular outlook) while its bad aspects have been limited through the assault on religious dogma (which I totally approve). But once that religious influence totally washes away, and people truly become atheists in every respect, I don't think the liberal humanistic tradition you prefer is the most likely ideology to emerge in practice. There will be much more likely winners in the ideological environment that will take shape.
I believe that the current trends divide societies in the west in 3 parts: one part that will be fascist (seeking control and domination as ultimately selfish interests tend in that direction). Another part will be a reaction to the nihilism and 'amoral' environment around it, which is manifesting itself in the rise of 'religious fundamentalism' in the US and some other countries. And these two will be competing or the 'hearts and minds' of the last, and perhaps, largest group. I call them "clueless" (after a Hollywood movie a couple decades ago by that name). People whose only focus is consumerism and being superficial.
But there is a long story that I like to recall for various reason regarding the rise of certain fascist ideologies in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I hope to get into that story at some point here as it is illuminating in certain respects but not told properly in my opinion. At least, I find it to be illuminating.
Who do you anticipate opting for your vision? Iranians? Iraqis? Others?
I think we're going to find out.
Clueless, fascist, or religious fundamentalist? That's it? Society here is far more complex and includes elements strongly opposing colonialism encouraged by proselytizing Christians. Your friends here include people (like me) who oppose interfering in your society.
There you go telling me what I think.
Religious differences are an important fault line helping drive the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, complicated by some 15% of Saudis being Shia. The Saudis fear religious opposition to their police state monarchy because liberal democracy and revolutionary socialism don't have the organizing strength to oppose their government. Worse still for the Saudis, Shia are located near the oil fields.
Of course. Iran is a democracy (of sorts) while Saudi Arabia is a kingdom under the ruling thumb a corrupt royal family. That's for starters.
Iranians aren't Arabs. People pulling on the levers of power here understand that even if the average American may not.
The Shia in Arabia are not a problem. Most are fairly successful in the oil biz or the merchant class.
To be absolutely honest there is a small group of Shia who won't go to school or work and they are at risk.. The tend to riot every time Iran burps, but they are a minority within a minority.
About 50 years ago the SAG began investing in housing, schools and infrastructure to make life better for them in the eastern province.. basically Hufuf and Qatif.
The Saudis reject the cutting frenzy.. Ashura Day.. and most Shia no longer do that. Thank God.
Years ago we drove into a Shia riot at the main gate.. they were jumping and screaming.. chanting, rocking the car and throwing rocks at the car.. They broke the window and our driver was cut before the Saudi police rescued us. They all has erections.. It was truly mob hysteria.. My father was in the front seat and pushing me down it back seat. Most Shia are not like that.. Thank God.
Is Iran now economically sound?,
why is it that President Hassan Rouhani increased gasoline prices? I guess is it because 60 million Iranians needed subsidies,
then why is it that you have to suffer when Iran is second in the world in terms of natural gas reserve and fourth in crude oil reserve? I think changes should be made for a whole lot of people already suffered just because of that animosity towards Israel creating so much sanctions and economic embargo punishing the regime and eventually the Iranian people.
This part of your post shocked me, literally. It made me wonder if you realize that Iranians aren't Arabs?
Let me give you the 'simple' answer to your question in this post. We 'were left out' of pan-Arabism because we aren't Arabs! Something you mentioned in your last post in passing, not showing enough appreciation of the issue still. We basically left ourselves out long before any 'pan-Arab' project found any modern expression, by refusing to become Arabs when basically every other nation and region the Arabs conquered during their Islamic conquests, became not just Muslim, but Arab as well. Anyway, while there is a lot more to be said about this fundamental misconception of yours (and more of it I will talk about later), start by reading my earlier post on the subject (post #236)
You are very right and very wrong
Iran is paying a huge price economically, ultimately, because of what you have phrased its "animosity towards Israel". That is true without doubt. You are right on this point.
Is this worth it? Not if the price being paid is really just about "Israel" and definitely not if it is merely about a dispute between "Israel" and the "Palestinians". To me, it is about a lot more but I will skip over that right now.
You are wrong to assume that most Iranians have decided that implies a need for Iran to 'cry uncle'. And you are wrong if you imagine the problems Iran does face have somehow crippled its society and economy. That is not the case either.
I am not trying to tell you what you think, but your comments shocked me (as I tried to explain in my post #244) and they still aren't all that informative on this issue. They don't show sufficient appreciation of certain things. The Arab-Persian divide is very important in understanding the history of the region. Much more important than any topic "de jour" that people are guided towards. You either "get it" or you don't. If you don't, you don't understand the region at all nor much of its history.
The other dividing line, a bit more ancient actually and predating the Arab-Persian one by at least 1,000 years, is the West-East divide. This divide took shape during the contest between the Greco-Roman world and IRAN for control of the region now known as the Middle East. Subsequently, it manifested itself in the various disputes which found themselves under the heading "Christendom" versus "Islam", and with the shift in the balance of power towards the West the past few centuries, in many of the other more historically recent issues that have emerged since.
To be able to have a productive conversation about the region and its politics, you do need to know the history of the region. That history, in any case, is actually very important to even appreciating your own history and is something I need to cover albeit hopefully in a manageable form.
And yet now they are protesting, because the gasoline prices should not go up, quite strange even with a country so wealthy with hydrocarbons, I could say they are even sacrificed for the notion of defying the West and Israel and the belief and undertakings thereof. Sorry to say that, but that is how as I saw it.
Here are two maps about the region (and beyond) before the 7th century.
One focuses on the Sasanian empire of IRAN (known as one of the "Persian" empires), which a depiction of the territories on the margins or periphery of the Arabian peninsula which came under various forms of Persian suzerainty (inner Arabia, however, was too forbidding for either Iran or the Byzantine empires to even attempt to conquer and rule).
The Sasanian Empire (Eranshahr or IRAN) at its greatest extent c. 620, under Khosrow II during the 602-628 Byzantine-Sasanian war, with the area depicted with lighter color with stripes ordinarily not part of the Sasanian realm (even if they were areas which were ruled by the Achaemenid Persian empire, which the Sassanian emperors claimed lineage and their mantle from).
This map looks at the two dominant empires in the region and beyond at the time.
These protests (all together) involved a very small percentage of Iran's population. Most Iranians sat out these protests, including even many opposed to the regime or were dis-satisfied with their conditions. This is the part which included a lot of propaganda effort by outside powers (and their sponsored or affiliated media) to try to use these protests and to portray them as something to rally people against the regime. And to present these protests as involving a lot more people than they actually did and reflecting the sentiments of many more people than it did. In the meantime, you had within a few days of these sporadic and small scale protests (mixed with subversive elements and their misdeeds) millions of people all across Iran which demonstrated against these protests which the Western media simply ignored.
There are many Iranians who are being 'sacrificed' (if that is the right term) for "defying the West and Israel". I can accept that as a correct statement. But that is been the case now for thousands of years: many people have been 'sacrificed' and have 'sacrificed themselves' to make sure IRAN can defy the foreign empire de jour trying to dictate things on IRAN.
There are a lot of elements at work in every society. But the ideology you represent is not going to have much potency in the environment that is surrounding it, with the forces being unleashed by it. While right now, the elements I mentioned have basically taken over the Republican party in the US, with the Democratic party standing in its opposite with a good claim to speak for the majority of people in the US (if not the majority of acreages that make up the US), eventually you will find the true liberal democratic tradition destroyed in the US and the West more generally. There are reasons, political, socio-political, economic, geopoliical, and historical, for this prediction of mine. But I admit it is just a prediction. Who knows, maybe (among many other things required for me to believe otherwise), the enforced 'oath of allegiance' to the Zionist project (and whatever it entails at any given time) will not be as enforced down the line. Maybe the 'anti-Semite" accusation will not be as powerful a tool as it has been and there will be room for those who openly oppose the Zionist project in American politics. Maybe there will be an event or events that will shoot down this HUGE corruption in American politics (unless you want this corruption because you favor imperialist agendas) the same way (aspects of) McCarthyism and the "Red Scare" mythology were shot down eventually in the 1950s? But you cannot have a coherent, true, liberal, humanist, tradition and ideology if you have to also serve as apologists for a neo-Nazi type ideology that backs up the Zionist project.
Separate names with a comma.