Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Slouching Towards Mecca?

Mark Lilla has a review of Michel Houellbecq's new book at the New York Review of Books.

Final paragraph:
"For all Houellebecq’s knowingness about contemporary culture—the way we love, the way we work, the way we die—the focus in his novels is always on the historical longue durée. He appears genuinely to believe that France has, regrettably and irretrievably, lost its sense of self, but not because of immigration or the European Union or globalization. Those are just symptoms of a crisis that was set off two centuries ago when Europeans made a wager on history: that the more they extended human freedom, the happier they would be. For him, that wager has been lost. And so the continent is adrift and susceptible to a much older temptation, to submit to those claiming to speak for God. Who remains as remote and as silent as ever."

Michel Houellbecq's own interview about his book was good
Why did you do it?
For several reasons, I’d say. First of all, I think, it’s my job, though I don’t care for that word. I noticed some big changes when I moved back to France, though these changes are not specifically French, but rather Western. As an exile you don’t take much of an interest in anything, really, neither your society of origin nor the place you live—and besides, Ireland is a slightly odd case. I think the second reason is that my atheism hasn’t quite survived all the deaths I’ve had to deal with. In fact, it came to seem unsustainable to me.
 
Personally, I think it doesnt matter. In fact, I have a cheerfuly optimistic pessimistic alternative: Whatever happens, some people will understand the technology and use it better> They will be the ones on top (even if they themselves are consumed by loneliness and unhappiness)...precariously and viciously balanced on top of vast mountains of bodies and civil wars... and masses of unhappy struggling infighting desperately envious Muslims who have no clue they are the ones that are supposed to be so close to submission and true happiness.
So there...
 
Photo by Sylvain Bourmeau

Friday, March 20, 2015

Empower women; let them marry out of their clan & race

I have excerpted several paragraphs (after the jump) of this excellent article where black women need to follow the footsteps of Asian women and start intermarrying at much higher levels.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

New Pundits- Asians can never be upper-class?

My friend, Shoaib, and I have started a new blog called New Pundits. The main advantage of NP is that it's WordPress, which I prefer much more to Blogger. At any rate NP is still very much in it's infancy. I believe we started BP around Christmas time 2010 so it's almost years on and still going strong. I'm a very big fan of the UNZ review, which is really becoming a staple of the alternative media scene and there is no reason in my mind why the fledgling Desi Diaspora shouldn't have something similar to that.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This is a rape culture

I'm not a big fan of the latest and newest terminologies that are bandied about by "social justice warrior" types. The issue is not the terminology taken literally, but its context. In the United States a focus on college campuses strikes me as fixating on a population less at risk, but class privileged. Rather, the more economically and socially marginal women, not women as a whole, is probably where the cultural focus should be. But these people are generally not in the limelight, and are not able to fluently deploy the verbal tools which the more educated are familiar with and understand and unlock keys of media attention (this goes to the issue that when a sex or race are viewed as a class as a whole without distinction resources and attention often go to its more elite segments).*

These terms become even more freighted when viewed in a cross-cultural context. Consider what is occurring in India, as one of the Delhi rapists has now spoken in a film. Man Convicted of Rape in Delhi Blames Victim:
You can’t clap with one hand,” said Mr. Singh, who was convicted of rape and murder, though he denied taking part in the assault. “It takes two hands. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 percent of girls are good.”

As abhorrent as the views are, we can't look away. They reflect real sentiments which must be abolished.

* Can you imagine that the UVA rape story could be transferred into a public housing project, and still be published in a high profile journal such as Rolling Stone?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Islam, ISIS and the Dream of the Blue Flower

First published on 3quarksdaily.com

A few days ago, Graeme Wood wrote a piece in the Atlantic that has generated a lot of buzz (and controversy). In this article he noted that:
"The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam"
The article is well worth reading and it certainly does not label all Muslims as closet (or open) ISIS supporters, but it does emphasize that many of the actions of ISIS have support in classical Islamic texts (and not just in fringe Kharijite opinion). This has led to accusations of Islamophobia and critics have been quick to respond. A widely cited response in "Think Progress" quotes Graeme Wood's own primary source (Princeton scholar Bernard Hakykel) as saying:
“I think that ISIS is a product of very contingent, contextual, historical factors. There is nothing predetermined in Islam that would lead to ISIS.”
Indeed. Who could possibly disagree with that? I dont think Graeme Wood disagrees. In fact, he explicitly says he does not. But that statement is a beginning, not a conclusion. What contingent factors and what historical events are important and which ones are a complete distraction from the issue at hand? 
Every commentator has his or her (implicit, occasionally explicit) "priors" that determine what gets attention and from what angle;  and a lot of confusion clearly comes from a failure to explain (or to grasp) the background assumptions of each analyst. I thought I would put together a post that outlines some of my own background assumptions and arguments in as simple a form as possible and see where it leads. So here, in no particular order, are some random comments about Islam, terrorism and ISIS that I hope will, at a minimum, help me put my own thoughts in order. Without further ado:
1. The early history of Islam is, among other things, the history of a remarkably successful imperium. Like any empire, it was created by conquest. The immediate successors of the prophet launched a war of conquest whose extent and rapidity matched that of the Mongols and the Alexandrian Greeks, and whose successful consolidation, long historical life, and development of an Arabized culture, far outshone the achievements of the Mongols or the Manchus (both of whom adopted the existing deeper rooted religions and cultures of their conquered people rather than impose or develop their own).
2. Islam, the religion we know today (the classical Islam of the four Sunni schools, as well as the various Shia sects) developed in the womb of the Arab empire. It provided a unifying ideology and a theological justification for that empire (and in the case of various Shia sects, varying degrees of resistance or revolt against that empire) but, at the very least, Islam and the nascent Arab empire grew and developed togetherone was not the later product of the fully formed other. Being, in it's classical form, the religion of a (very successful and impressive) imperialist project, it is not surprising that its"official" Sunni version has a military and supremacist feel to it. Classical Islam is not intolerant of all other religions (though it is in principle almost completely intolerant of pagans) but the rules and regulations of the four classical schools all agree on the superior status of Muslims and impose certain restrictions, disabilities and taxes on the followers of the "religions of the book" that they do tolerate. By the standards of contemporary European "Christendom", many of these rules appear tolerant and broad-minded; and since Western intellectuals (leftists as much, or even more than rightists) are completely focused on European history and culture (and therefore,on the achievements and deficiencies of that culture), this relative tolerance is frequently remarked upon as a stellar feature of Islamicate civilization. But it should be noted that this degree of tolerance is quite intolerant compared to contemporary Chinese or Indian norms and is horrendously intolerant compared to post-enlightenment ideals and fashions. The imposition of Ottoman rules today would be most unwelcome even to post-Marxist intellectuals if they had to live under those rules. Of course, this does not mean they cannot speak highly of these norms as long as they themselves are a safe distance away from them, but such long-distance  approval is of academic interest (literally, academic) and not our concern for the purposes of this post.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sometimes the Bible just gets it right

I can't claim to have read the Bible, the only books I read are book club prescribed ones and Holy Books haven't yet come onto the selection.
But I always turn back to my favorite chapter

Another Angry Voice on Podemos

Why the EU is damned to doom


On facebook I follow the extreme left page, Another Angry Voice, and they have a small piece on Podemos, the new left-wing party that's virulently growing in Spain (even more worryingly the party wants to call a referendum on the Spanish monarchy).

Podemos and the appeal of Pablo Iglesias

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Sam Manekshaw (and a comment from Major Agha Amin)

A post from Dr Hamid Hussain. A (typically earthy) comment from military historian Major Agha Amin follows below Dr Hamid Hussain's post.

Dear Sir;

A while ago, many officers asked about the controversies about Ayub Khan's selection and I wrote a piece that may interest those raising these questions.

Mr. Ardeshir's comment about Sam Manekshaw and Ayub Khan is incorrect.  It is related to Sam and Yahya Khan.  The real story is as follows;

In early 1947, Sam and Yahya were serving together at Military Operations directorate in New Delhi.  Sam owned a red James motorcycle that looked like the picture below;



Yahya fell in love with it and Sam agreed to sell it for 1000 Rupees.  In the chaos of partition, Yahya left for Pakistan promising to send the money from Pakistan but later forgot about the money.  After 1971 war, Sam once joked about the incident stating that '"Yahya never paid me the Rs1,000 for my motorbike, but now he has paid with half his country." In 2001, Pakistani columnist Aredshir Cowasjee went to India and met Sam.  Cowasjee remembered Sam's quip and offered to pay the money Yahya owed along with the interest.  Sam replied that 'Yahya was a good man and a good soldier.  We served together and he didn't have a mean or corrupt bone in his body'.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Trip to Pakistan

A heartfelt post consisting only of pictures and Urdu verses from Dr Hamid Hussain (about his latest trip to Pakistan). 

My recent trip to Pakistan was in the aftermath of the December tragedy in Peshawar.  More painful at personal level as it is my hometown but I and many had no illusions and though hoping against all hopes that this may be the last whole sale slaughter but we knew in our hearts that this is not yet the drop scene of the horror movie.  Surely, the ever enterprising militants showed up again and mowed down several Shia praying in a mosque in Hayatabad where brother and cousins of a very dear friend narrowly escaped death.   During my trip, many in different cities in Pakistan were kind enough to share their fears, anger and hopes with me and I’m thankful.  Sometimes few short verses give more meaning to feelings than lengthy explanations but off course it is only for Urdu readers. 
Regards,
Hamid

November 2009. Over ninety People killed in bombing of a crowded bazaar in Peshawar.
http://i.dawn.com/archives/2010/Website%20Metropolitan/81blast-608.jpg
زمیں سے آیے ھیں یا آسماں سے آیے ھیں
عزاب شھر پہ جانے کھاں سے آیے ھیں

Sunday, February 22, 2015

End of the Muslim Brotherhood

This is an old post and I would probably change some things now (and in fact, will change some things soon once I do a new post) But this was lost when the old Brownpundits crashed and I wanted to recover it. So here it is
Posted on October 7, 2013 by omar

Hussein Ibish has written an article on the decline and (impending?) fall of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Reports of their death may be exaggerated, but surely the “Islamist political party” project is not doing well in most places. Turkey will be cited as an immediate counter-example, but I think AKP just hasn’t had the chance to really become too “Islamic” yet. If and when they do (and pressure to do so is bound to come from within, unless the project falls apart so badly in the middle east that Turkey gets away without trying it), they will find themselves in trouble as well.

The problem (in over-simplified form):

Modern states and modern politics (not just all the complex debates about how power should be exercised, who exercises it, who decides who exercises it, the theories around it; but also the actual institutions and mechanisms that evolved) arose first and foremost in Europe. There are surely things about that evolution that are contingent and could have been different elsewhere, but there are also many very fundamental features of modern life (modern levels of knowledge, modern industry and organization, modern understanding of human biology, psychology, sociology etc) that will still hold no matter where they develop on this planet. This is an extremely dense and imposing edifice. You cannot reject it and be modern in ways most people do seem to want to be modern (I have NEVER met an Islamist who did not want an air-force). Some non-western countries have already managed that knowledge transfer (e.g. Japan, South Korea), others are getting there (China), others hope to get there someday (India?) but Muslims are notable for wanting to get there while remaining medieval in terms of theology, law and politics. And not just at the fringes. Fringes are fringes everywhere. But in the Islamicate world, this dream is mainstream.

Why? maybe because while no serious theory of politics developed in Islamicate religious thought (Ibn Khaldun is not religious literature), some dreams/fantasies of an idealized “Islamic state” were allowed to percolate. The deal was that the ulama would throw this dream around at each other and leave actual ruling to the rulers (who in practice were always and everywhere guided by existing Byzantine, Persian and Central Asian models and by “mirrors for princes” kind of literature, not by the dreamworld of the “rightly guided caliphs”). Every Islamicate empire down to the late Ottomans ruled in the name of Islam, but they did so using institutions and methods that were typically West-Asian/Central-Asian in origin. And then the Europeans took off (literally by 1903 but earlier metaphorically) and that whole world crashed and burned.

And out of this wreckage, somebody dug up the old stories of the rightly guided caliphs; It seems to me that early fantasists (like Allama Iqbal) took it for granted that a lot of this is just propaganda and we all need propaganda, so “ek hi suf mein khaRey ho gaey Mahmood o Ayaz” (a famous verse of Iqbal, describing how Sultan Mahmood and his “slave” Ayaz could pray in one row; the wonders of Islam, that sort of thing) but they fully expected reality to be much closer to London than it was to Medina (witness his approval of the Grand Turkish assembly). To them, it was more like Chinese or Japanese reformers creating their own version of what worked and getting out from under the imperialist thumb. I am sure Iqbal did not expect to be the leading poet of the Pakistani Taliban! But over time, stories frequently repeated can come to be seen as the truth. Islamist parties want to create powerful, modern Islamic states. But the stories they are using are more Islamic than modern. Far more so than the early reformers perhaps realized. The result is that every party is all the time in danger of becoming hostage to those espousing primitive notions of Shariah law and medieval political ideas. It turns out that pretending to have “our own unique genius” was much easier than actually having any genius that could get the job done. Human nature being what it is, the easy path was taken.