Sunday, March 30, 2014

'The clash of civilizations’ theory is absolutely and completely dead

It is far too early for a conclusive historical verdict on the wave of uprisings that have swept across the Middle East since a street vendor in Tunisia named Mohamed Bouazizi protested his unfair life by burning himself to death in December 2010. A half dozen Arab nations have been torn by massive popular uprisings, and no honest person can predict whether the eventual outcomes will be democracy, military rule, or something else again.
But one thing is certain; the “clash of civilizations” theory is absolutely and completely dead. The analysis, which was put forward in the early 1990s by the British-American Orientalist Bernard Lewis and by Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington, argued that something they called “Islam” was a monolithic force, which was hostile to the West due to wounded pride and deep feelings of inadequacy. “Islam” was also expansionist and prone to violence. Huntington’s most famous statement was “Islam has bloody borders.”
Genuine scholars, of the Mideast and elsewhere, challenged the theory right from the start. But the events of the past three years have shown just how preposterous it was. Let us start with Egypt. History continues there at a rapid pace, but for now trying to identify a unified, expansionist “Islam” is simply laughable. The Muslim Brotherhood might have fit the bill, but it has been outlawed by a pious army general with massive popular support – including from even the more conservative Salafi Muslims.
Clash of civilizations theory would also have predicted that Saudi Arabia, the heart of the world of “Islam,” would rally to the Brotherhood’s side. In fact, the Saudis hate the Brotherhood and are propping up the pious general with billions of dollars in aid.
And so on across the region. Where will the now 97-year-old Bernard Lewis locate the unified sinister Islamic juggernaut in the midst of Syria’s terrible civil war?
The evident absurdity of the theory should not hide how influential it was. Huntington launched it in the magazine Foreign Affairs, as an article that became the single most popular piece in the publication’s history. Bernard Lewis was feted in the mainstream media, appeared regularly on television, and advised the Bush administration before the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Forty years ago, I took a course from Samuel Huntington (and two other professors). It is hard to square the thin, gawky, bespectacled man I remember from the lecture room with the bloodthirsty, combative theory he helped come up with. Maybe he is lucky he did not live long enough to see his most famous intellectual contribution so convincingly destroyed.
Posted in Arab SpringEgyptMiddle Eastsyria

{ 48 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Krauss says:
    Nope, it isn’t dead for the reasons you cited.
    It is dead because the Arab world is largely devouring itself. The Arab world =/= muslim/Islamic world, of course, but it is the cultural heart of the Islamic world. Islam is, after all, the Arabic people’s religion.
    However, they are devouring themselves in large part because of religious differences(Sunni vs Shia) – and in this sense – Huntington’s thesis that the primary forces in the post-Cold War era would be religious, applies at the very least in the Arab world in this day. So it is correct in viewing the Arab world but not from a Western/world point of view, where Islam is not a threat and basically irrelevant/weak.
    So in that sense his thesis has been proved correct. But, of course, his thesis was a thesis which was supposed to cover the world, not the Arab world. Which is why, if you view it from the world wide perspective, it failed.
    For a world wide perspective, does anyone think China or the Latin American countries are obsessed with Islam? You can’t explain what is going on in Asia or Latin America using a fundamental cultural clash. Latin America isn’t really an influencer of culture in any real shape, anyway, nor do they have a special economic model that isn’t available elsewhere(and usually working better, such as China).
    The main challenge to the West is not the Arab world, which is incredibly weak and getting weaker by the day. The main challenge is China, basically.

    (India is essentially one giant Switzerland in terms of foreign relations).
    However, China’s not an ideological opponent the way the FSU was. It’s an economic, and within time, military, juggernaut which will force the post-war Western economic/political system to be changed.
    But Huntington dropped the ball on China, which Mearsheimer has not.

    (Then again, Mearsheimer came out relatively late with his analysis on China with his “China can’t rise peacefully” thesis. If he had come out in the early 90s with it, it would have been much more impressive).
    • Krauss says:
      Ugh, that was a fast affirmation. Usually it is much slower( allowing me time to edit stuff)!
      My basic point is that the theory isn’t useless; its only of limited use in specific circumstances/regions. This differs from the grand ambitions he had as the overarching frame of reference when thinking about the world.
      The left generally has an aversion of cultural explanations, for understandable reasons. But we should not shy away from them in these circumstances.
      Remember, Chomsky tried to explain what’s happening in I/P through a Marxist/economic model. As if the conflict was all about money!
      Zionism isn’t driven by money, there is a deep-rooted cultural driving force.
      Similarily, to explain the Arab world today by only using the old and worn models of imperialism and capitalism isn’t enough. Are attacks on Shia minorities based on a capitalistic framework? Are attacks on Christians in Iraq/Syria/Egypt the wishes of the U.S. military-industrial complex?

      Does the rise of Islamists in Iraq or Syria prove that oil is fueling the conflict? What about the rise of Islamism in Egypt these past few decades, which has no oil?

      People say, yes but what about the U.S. support for the military dictators! Then why isn’t the opposition secular? Are you telling me that the U.S. is forcing people to become Islamists?
      I don’t think anyone can hope to completely understand what’s happening in the Arab world, including every Arab intellectual, but I don’t think the case is strong for saying Islam/culture is not a very strong, indeed the primary, reason for the events recently. And in that sense, Huntington’s theory, while it has its flaws, can at least provide a different frame that is more useful than trying to explain it all than through capitalism or some other default explanation.
      • Krauss wrote:
        Remember, Chomsky tried to explain what’s happening in I/P through a Marxist/economic model. As if the conflict was all about money!
        Zionism isn’t driven by money, there is a deep-rooted cultural driving force.
        This has been one of my main complaints about Chomsky all along — and about standard issue Marxist analysis in general.
        Historical conflicts are based on a complex mix of factors — economic, class, ethnic, religious, cultural, etc. — powerful irrational or non-rational factors drive much of human behavior. One needs to take the trouble to sort all that out.
      • Krauss: ‘Clash of civilizations theory’ does not simply assert that “religion (or culture)” is “important.” If it did, no one would have paid attention to it. It asserted that “Islam” exists as a unified force, that “Islam” is angry and expansive, and that therefore “Islam” has “bloody borders.” There was plenty of evidence before the Arab springs that the theory was wrong, but the last 3 years have destroyed it, buried it, and shoveled dirt over its unlamented grave.
        • Castellio says:
          Having been there, maybe you can explain why the most spurious intellectual traditions always have such strong support in the elite universities?
          I am thinking of the “Clash of Civilizations” the “Defense of Austerity” and the “Neocon Worldview”.
        • MRW says:

          I remember brunches on the westside in the fall of 1990 when we all sneered at the ‘clash of civilization’ idea Lewis was advancing in an article in The Atlantic Monthly about Muslim rage. Guffaws over the bagels. Russia was breaking up, the German wall was down for about a year (IIRC) and we all rolled our eyes that this was going to be the next big thing that the neocons were going to stoke.
        • Krauss says:
          I agree and disagree. I agree with you concerning Huntington’s statement that Islam has bloody borders and this implication that it will become a world wide menace has largely been proved incorrect. The vast majority of Islamist terror is targeted at other muslims.
          But this is also consistent with what I wrote. Huntington’s theory was ambitious; it aimed to explain the primary force in the post-Cold War world. It failed to do that. (Of course, his defenders would say that it was indeed the case that he was correct, but only for the first 15 years or so).
          As for your final statement, I think you’re misguided.

          The Arab spring was an internal response, but the political forces that rose were by and large Islamists. Remember the secular hope of Egypt? Even Tunisia, long the Western hope for Arab secularism, has gone Islamist.
          My argument, in brief, is that Huntington’s thesis was wrongly named. It shouldn’t have been called the Clash of Civlizations. It should have been called the Clash Within Civilizations.
          It asserted that “Islam” exists as a unified force
          No, it never did that. Although if someone would want to be lenient towards you, that person could concede that Huntington, while acknowledging the deep rifts within Islam, still believed that the hatred of the West – as he saw it – would paper over these differences.

          This too has been proved wrong.
          But that is also consistent with what I wrote. Huntington was wrong in how he thought Islam vs the West would play out. He simply overestimated the Islamic countries, their coherency, but also their capabilities.
          But if you look at the Middle East now, how can you explain the inexorable rise of Islamism across the region? As I wrote previously:
          People say, yes but what about the U.S. support for the military dictators! Then why isn’t the opposition secular? Are you telling me that the U.S. is forcing people to become Islamists?
          The old left has no real answer to this, just like Chomsky is worthless in trying to explain Zionism within the stale “capitalism/imperialism” framework. Culture matters.
      • Walid says:
        “I don’t think anyone can hope to completely understand what’s happening in the Arab world, including every Arab intellectual, but I don’t think the case is strong for saying Islam/culture is not a very strong, indeed the primary, reason for the events recently.”
        Wrong call on that one. You underestimate the Arab intellect, especially that you include “every Arab intellectual” in your equally hasty re-think. Believing that you can unravel the collective Arab mind by dissecting its cultural characteristics for strengths and weaknesses, even on a localised level, is as faulty as the path that the 2 guys tried on a universal level and were proven wrong. Another that had latched on to the similar but absurd misconception that all 400 million Arab Muslims stretching from northwest Africa to the Persian Gulf covering 22 countries are of one culture and to know some in one country is to know them all was the late Raphael Patai. The Americans made their military officers take his courses in the “Arab mind” before sending them off to Iraq and they ended up with prize boners like Abu Ghraib. You are falling in the same generalizing trap.
        • Krauss says:
          The Americans made their military officers take his courses in the “Arab mind” before sending them off to Iraq and they ended up with prize boners like Abu Ghraib. You are falling in the same generalizing trap.
          Walid, again a total misreading of what I wrote. It seems you read what you’d like to read instead of what I actually wrote. I didn’t generalize over the “Arab mind”. Give concrete examples of how I did that, I’ll be amused to see you try.
          What I wrote, instead, is that to see what is happening in the Middle East cannot be explained by the old explanation models of capitalism or imperialism alone. They have their place, but just like Zionism, you have to include a much broader group theories, where culture plays a part.
          How is this, in your mind, somehow morphed into “this is how Arabs work”? I’m genuinely curious about this one, because I think this debate is important.
      • aiman says:
        Krauss, your meandering/stumbling/falling intellectualising aside, your persistent, stiff refusal to rubbish “every Arab intellectual” and his/her opinion each time he/she wrote a single point of view article on Mondoweiss smacked of something weird even before. Now here you go again. You may be a non-Zionist but your sources for your analysis are actually Zionist or at least were part of the intellectualising by the Eusten Left in the run up to the Iraq War. Your critique of Chomsky/his ideology cannot allow you to brush over other voices without that same concern. It’s like you showing off your knowledge by placing Chomsky’s book on a pile of books by persons you are psychologically unable, rather unwilling, to engage with. You also make sweeping brush strokes over “India”, forgetting how similar Indian Hindu nationalism to Muslim nationalism, Zionism of course takes the cake on that one, you don’t know what bad/evil choices (not circumstances, mind you) led to these ideologies. Neither your superiors Lewis nor Huntington had the answer, in Lewis it was all a matter of conceit. Perhaps you want to feel part of the Judeo-Christian civilisation but it doesn’t exist, it is a Zionist construct (Bernard Lewis) as admitted by the otherwise odious Harold Bloom. For all your blustering, I have one advice for you: read. Read better. The world is broader than you know.
        • Krauss says:
          Just a quick comment before I get to the more substantive parts.
          You underestimate the Arab intellect, especially that you include “every Arab intellectual” in your equally hasty re-think.
          your persistent, stiff refusal to rubbish “every Arab intellectual”
          Now let’s review what I wrote:
          I don’t think anyone can hope to completely understand what’s happening in the Arab world, including every Arab intellectual
          I don’t see this as an all-out attack on Arab intellectuals. I’m saying, nobody can completely understand what is happening in the Arab world, includingArab intellectuals. At least from my point of view, the way the sentence is phrased is that Arab intellectuals are best positioned of all of us to understand the region, and they understand it better than anyone, but even they don’t understand it completely.
          That’s the key word. I first thought that I was unclear in my language but when I reviewed it, nope, it’s pretty clear language to me. It’s not an attack on Arab intellectuals, and if you’re reading it that way you’re reading it wrong.
          P.S. aiman, I’m particularly pleased that a defender of a Holocaust denier like yourself is attacking me. I’m doing something right.

          (Reference. link to
          • aiman says:
            Krauss, how convenient of you to trot out the slander of Holocaust denial at a time when your argument lies in tatters. I’m glad you provided the link though, everybody can revisit your accusation. An incredibly serious accusation for which you need to hold yourself accountable.
  2. radii says:
    fascists never care about facts, only if words and ideas can be molded into a pretext and the neocons and israel see value in the propaganda of the “clash of civilisations” concept … they can and do hang their aggression and crimes upon it
  3. HRK says:
    Aren’t there all kinds of ideological (a subset of which would be theological) clashes going on in the world? Just because a conflict doesn’t lead to bloodshed doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a clash. Suppose a wrong is enacted on a population but done through all the correct legal channels?
  4. It is very difficult not to conclude that the ideas expressed by these two neocon giants and moral midget were essentially in the service of the military industrial Zionist insatiable need for a permanent war which was threatened by the end of Soviet .

    How otherwise ,they could have ignored the symbiotic relationship between the Islamic fundamentalism and the US establishment that was evident throughout last 40 yrs?

    End of history is not a new theme. Prior to the birth of renaissance, it was a common belief among European that the history was not moving any more and the end of the world was near with no further changes in secular or religious realms.They based it on the interpretation of the Book of Daniel of 4 civilizations ( Egyptian,Greek,Petsian and the last was Roman who they thought were part of ) .and the presence of continued warfare among the nations with no understanding of the world outside

    . History ended for some in Versailles, for some on the day Aztec surrendered and for other the day Peurto Rico changed hands. The wounded feelings of the defeated back then would come roaring back in the form of Chavez and Lulu with an undefeated flag . Same thing happened in China. None was expected.
    The court jesters my try to provide the justification and may try to soothe the conscience by demeaning the defeated and robbing them of hope . Some of them survive to offer contrition and inverted apology like Lewis did when he said he never supported Iraq war.
  5. Just the tip of the iceberg: intra-Jewish, intra-Christian, intra-Muslim, intra-European, intra-Slavic and intra-Asian cultural conflicts (dozens or hundreds of them — and leaving out conflicts *between* combinations of these groups).
    Next up on the Clashes of Civilizations menu: Euro-American vs. Zionist cultures — Israel probably needs to worry more about that developing situation than about its conflict with Islam.
    Contrary to the wishful thinking of many Zionists, Zionism is not in fact a core and secure component of Western civilization. One can already see the stirrings of a revival of various forms of ethnic nationalism in Europe — a phenomenon to which Zionists will not be able to object on intellectual or moral grounds.
  6. How so? Aren’t we seeing a split between Orthodox and Western Christian “civilizations” right now? If the idea was that different “civilizations” were always going to be in conflict, it’s wrong and silly, and maybe pernicious, but if the idea was that the lines of potential division in the world follow the borders between different religio-cultural blocs, there’s something to be said for it.
    What happened with this idea in the 1990s was typical of political-intellectual life, or just of human nature. The Cold War ends and ideological conflicts appear to dry up. Scholars and journalists ask, what might divide the world now, where might the next conflicts arise. They hit on the idea of different civilizations as engines of conflict and the idea takes off from there. It’s taken for a fact and used to explain whatever happens in the world. Speculation becomes 911 probably did a lot to make the idea more popular, and to many people, more convincing.
    I’m not sure we can wholly dismiss the idea of civilizational clash. Borders between “civilizations” are still places where conflict is likely to happen (the break-up of Yugoslavia, where Eastern Christianity, Western Christianity, and Islam meet did a lot to promote the theory), but any evidence that our future won’t be an endless war between civilizations is certainly welcome news.
  7. bilal a says:
    Huntington’s thesis absent the Islamaphobia was tautological; there are civilizations, and they clash. Russia is clashing with the West which wants all the Caspian Oil and Russian gas on its own terms (economic) but also opposes Russia on cultural grounds (Eastern Orthodoxy) vs European cultural marxism.
    This is the real fault line ; the clash of civilizations is between transnational cosmopolitan elites , the rootless intermediary parasites, and the fixed traditional culture hosts where real economic activity occurs : infrastructure, agriculture, and manufacturing . This is both an international and intra-national conflict between fixed populations and parasitism. How else to explain Rachel Maddow boosting al qaeda in syria and neo nazis in Ukraine ?
    Parasitical Economy as Political Exchange Value, JONATHAN M. FELDMAN

    link to
    America: “A Parasite On The World” By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

    link to
    Some right wing critics get the Clash:
    Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan is completely enamored with Russian president Vladimir Putin, and is particularly excited about his anti-gay crackdown. In his syndicated column today, Buchanan lauds Putin as a leader of “conservatives and traditionalists in every country” who are resisting “the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite” who push “abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, pornography, promiscuity, and the whole panoply of Hollywood values.”
    Putin is a champion of “conservatives, traditionalists and nationalists of all continents and countries” and has taken up their fight “against the cultural and ideological imperialism of what he sees as a decadent West,” Buchanan writes.
    • bilal a says:
      Zionism is but one expression of the clash and not causal:
      Slezkine argues that the Jews were, in effect, among the world’s first free agents. They traditionally belonged to a social and anthropological category known as “service nomads,” an outsider group specializing in the delivery of goods and services. Their role, Slezkine argues, was part of a broader division of human labor between what he calls Mercurians-entrepreneurial minorities–and Apollonians–food-producing majorities.
      Since the dawning of the Modern Age, Mercurians have taken center stage. In fact, Slezkine argues, modernity is all about Apollonians becoming Mercurians–urban, mobile, literate, articulate, intellectually intricate, physically fastidious, and occupationally flexible. Since no group has been more adept at Mercurianism than the Jews, he contends, these exemplary ancients are now model moderns.

      link to
    • This analytical model — transnational financial capitalists vs. everyone else — pretty much the entire world (including organic national cultures) — has some merit. It’s consistent with what we see going on the world around us. But it’s interesting that many of the leaders of that elite are Zionist billionaires (like Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban) who are driven by a powerful emotional commitment to the interests of a single small ethnic group and nation. There is a conspicuous cultural factor there.
    • American says:
      ”This is the real fault line ; the clash of civilizations is between transnational cosmopolitan elites , the rootless intermediary parasites, and the fixed traditional culture hosts where real economic activity occurs : infrastructure, agriculture, and manufacturing .”>>>
      That is the most accurate description of clashes.
      Intellectuals, thinkers and theorist and their theories are a dime a dozen—what it comes down to 90% of the time in clashes is one civilization’s/ people’s need/ desire to seize and monopolize resources for survival and/or greed and/or power.
  8. seafoid says:
    Another theory that died suddenly was Fukuyama’s notion that history was over.
    • ritzl says:
      Yep. Transitional, if not ephemeral, at best. My take was how can smart, published people be so categorically short-sighted. How can they simply and with a straight face, punctuate ongoing history?
      A personal awakening.
      • seafoid says:
        I read recently that thesurgeon general of the US declared infectious disease to have been conquered in 1967. Israel started the occupation the same year. The post war years were marked by utopian thinking. The establishment of Israel was very much of that time. AIDS came along to burst the surgeon general’s dream and justice is now rising to jolt Israel back to reality.
  9. piotr says:
    Conflicts, like other interactions, are more frequent among neighbors than among distant nations. The basic ways of “globalizing conflicts” is forcing themselves to be neighbors and/or overlords and trying to collect various squabbling parties as allies and their opponents as our opponents.
    First, the grand alliance concept as the guiding star of foreign policy is increasingly dubious. Right now our Administration tries to be more Ukrainian than Ukrainians: in latest news: of Ukrainian troops in Crimea, 1/3 wishes to switch to Russian army, 1/3 wants to rejoin Ukrainian military and the rest wants to go home. So we identified 1/3 of Ukrainian troops as our allies, but we cannot help them much. And if we could help, probably it would be just worse. Like we can help Israelis whom we identified as allies, and opponents as the lesser creatures (some enemies, some “do not care about them”).
    Using clash of civilization to cobble alliances is only good for the suppleness of our spices because it forces us to bent into a pretzel.
  10. Clashes within civilizations do not mean there is no clash between civilizations.
    • Citizen says:
      Yep. We all know the adage about 3 jews in a room, all with different perspectives. This does not account for how few jews have publicly stated their opposition to AIPAC as representing their interests. Look at where the Jewish money goes, e.g., to Jewish charities that send billions to the state of Israel every year, not to mention Adelson, Soros, Koch Bros, etc
    • seafoid says:
      The clash between hebrew speakers and english speakers is shaping up to be a classic.
  11. Keith says:
    The Clash of Civilizations “theory” is basically an ideological construct designed to promote an “us” (Judeo-Christians) versus “them” (Arabs/Muslims). If one can sell this hokum to the public, then it makes it a lot easier to justify imperial aggression in the Middle East as “defensive” (they hate us and are out to hurt us, etc). Also, it rather obviously makes supporting Israel against “them” much easier. It is basically a guide for the selling of US/Israel war mongering. No surprise that this is associated with Harvard, which provides imperial indoctrination disguised as education.
    • Citizen says:
      Interesting that the Ivy League colleges originated as WASP religious institutions, and now are Zionist to the core. What’s goose in US is not gander in Israel. The whole thing boils down to what’s good for the Jews? Hard to think more Americans (98% of US is not Jewish) don’t see this? Dummies. Given the lame goys, no wonder there’s Chutzpah.
      • tokyobk says:
        Everything you write is about a Clash of Civilizations, between the Jew and the Goy. Its equally boring. Not to mention its all about the white man finally rising up and taking back his place. Yawn there too.
        PS, its “2 Jews 3 opinions” not “3 Jews in a room” though I doubt the latter seems already to you problematic.
      • tokyobk says:
        …Your veil is thin and transparent.
        Why would it be surprising that Christian founded WASP organizations are Zionist when the majority of Christians and WASPs are still pro-Israel. (I agree this is changing, btw)?
        No, what you are saying is surprising is how these institutions are (supposedly) Jew to the core and you lament the passing of a great race and the end of quotas which maintained a tolerable number of aliens.
        • Cliff says:
          Oh but Burger King, if Citizen didn’t make these occasional comments, when would you ever comment on MW?
          It’s sick that you don’t know yourself without the threat (perceived or not) of antisemitism.
        • Citizen says:
          @ tokyobk

          No, the veil you see is your own. I didn’t say anything was surprising. I’m not a WASP nor a Christian. I do not lament the passing of any race. What end of quotas are you talking about? Quotas have not ended.
    • aiman says:
      Keith, I agree. In fact, Bernard Lewis advanced it in the service of Zionism. His formulation of “Judeo-Christian civilisation” when no such thing exists in the first place (the self-important Harold Bloom even admits so and for the reason that it helps Israel). Imagine, if someone had advanced the notion of conflict between Judaism, viewed as an outsider, and Christianity in Europe. And then that was used to attack Jews. Oh wait, some of that happened. People like Krauss here would cry anti-Semitism without saying things like “Judaism, after all, is these people’s religion” or opine about how Jewish boys rape Christian European girls in the ghettos.
    • puppies says:
      @Keith – ” an ideological construct designed to promote an “us” (Judeo-Christians) versus “them” (Arabs/Muslims)”

      Very well put. Now, while the same “clash” theory has been peddled under different forms for many centuries, the distribution was different. Up until the rise of the Zionist nonsense, “us” was Christian only, versus “them” Muslim and Jewish.

      One very important characteristic of Zionism was its declaring itself a representative of the colonialist West, ready not only to take charge of the imperial management of the lesser species of humans, but also to wage war against the Oriental, ignorant, dialect-speaking, peaceful and decent, “oriental” Jew averse to ever firing a gun. The undertow in Herzl and Weizmann’s writings is unmistakable.
  12. giladg says:
    Where does religion fit into James North’s comments? They don’t.

    The arrogance of secular (pseudo) intellectuals is astounding.

    The Arab world especially will make sure they have someone else to blame for their shortcomings. They only know how to blame the US and Israel, and this will not change. And if you know anything about the Middle East, you don’t judge events over a few years and determine they are trends. Assad the father killed 20,000 Syrians. Who believed that Assad the son, the enlightened doctor, would kill 150,000? Nothing’s changed.
    • K Renner says:
      >> The Arab world especially will make sure they have someone else to blame for their shortcomings
      Not true by any measure. Maybe in the minds of Israeli Jews or people who have antipathy towards “the Arabs” in general.
      >> They only know how to blame the US and Israel, and this will not change.
      Israelis only know how to blame Palestinians and Lebanese people and throw around accusations of “anti Semitism” at anyone who criticizes them on any consistent basis.
      Unlike what you said, what I said is actually an accurate statement. Why?
      Because that’s what you see most every time anything happens or someone criticizes the Israeli state.
      > Assad the father killed 20,000 Syrians. Who believed that Assad the son, the enlightened doctor, would kill 150,000?
      It must be a real blessing for sick people such as yourself. “I can chortle about the Syrian war and polarize it into something about those nasty Arabs killing each other!”
      Bugger off.
      > Nothing’s changed.
      Yep, everything concerning the situation in Syria can be boiled down to some Israeli talking piece meant to shit on the Arabs collectively. Good job, champ.
      • giladg says:
        Unfortunately Renner, history is dictated by radicals who are prepared to put their lives on the line. And unfortunately for both you and I, Islam seems to praise many who give up their lives in Jihad, with the promise of rewards in the afterlife. Therefor all it takes is for 10% of the population of a country to go the radical route and we all know that there are more than 10% in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Lybia, Iraq, Iran and so forth, who insure that the conflict is one based on a cultural divide and therefor the clash of civilization is assured to continue. As long as the majority remain silent, the radicals will have their own way. The radicals I am referring to care little about the internet and watching TV. They have other items on their agenda so be careful not to project your own experience onto them.
    • eljay says:
      >> The Arab world especially will make sure they have someone else to blame for their shortcomings. They only know how to blame the US and Israel, and this will not change.
      For over 60 years, Zio-supremacists have been blaming non-Jews for:

      - terrorism and ethnic cleansing committed by Jews;

      - land theft, occupation and and colonization committed by Jews; and

      - acts of wanton destruction, torture and murder committed by Jews.
      Zio-supremacists will make sure they continue to have someone else to blame for their shortcomings. They only know how to blame non-Jews, and this will not change.
  13. The Devil may wear Prada, but his money is as green as mine…
  14. dbroncos says:
    “Huntington, argued that something they called “Islam” was a monolithic force, which was hostile to the West due to wounded pride and deep feelings of inadequacy.”
    The Clash of Civilizations argument boils down to “they hate us because we’re free.” Such bullshit. Huntington apparently didn’t take seriously the words of Sirhan Sirhan, Imad Mugniah, Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, Aiman Al Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden etc… when they repeated over and over that they were motivated to kill Americans because if our support for Israel’s colonial enterprise. Huntington’s whole argument about Islamic hostilities towards the West is based on the actions of these men, among a handful of others, over the last 46 years. Yet he didn’t take into account what they’ve said about their motives. It’s not just that he painted the 1billion Muslims of the world as backwards and angry, he also hides from view the very small number of Arab Muslim terrorists who have killed Americans – the very people upon whom his whole argument is based.
  15. gamal says:
    for any one interested might i suggest looking up
    sadek al azm

    link to
    who can froget “tahalouf al iktaa wal bourgeousie” and “al mourakkab al siyasi al amni al mali” those were the days, or given present realities perhaps not.
    and to keep us up to date, Suzzane, who states the obvious elegantly and patiently,
    Suzzane Kassab: Contemporary Arab Thought: Cultural Critique in Comparative Perspective. CUP.
    “In the struggle for cultural decolonization, the former colonial power or the present neocolonial power, meaning the West in general, has been the main addressee and reference, even when it is being attacked. The exchange has often taken the form of the polemical, apologetic, and rhetorical debate “us versus them.” Both the actors in this struggle and the scholars studying it have directed their efforts at a one-to-one confrontation between the given society and the West in isolation from other comparable struggles in other societies of the postcolonial world. Although this isolationist approach is understandable, at least insofar as the actors are concerned given the West’s overwhelming impact on their real and intellectual lives, it has had detrimental effects on both actors and observers. It has accentuated the misunderstanding of these various cultural struggles and facilitated their reduction to some essentialist element or other, be it race, religion, ethnic origin, tradition, or language. In some instances, it has supplied false arguments for an unfounded exceptionalism. This isolationist approach has also prevented an exchange from taking place between peoples of comparable experiences and strivings, thus leaving a whole potential of sharing and learning untapped. Furthermore, it has averted attention from these debates’ decolonization context.
    Only a comparative reading of postcolonial discussions about culture can lay bare their postcolonial conditions and enable us to explore their systemic nature across regions and cultures. The many commonalities found in the cultural debates carried out in linguistically, religiously, culturally, and racially different regions clearly indicate that their issues and problems cannot be due—at least not solely and not deterministically—to the specific language, religion, culture, or race of a given region. Rather, the economic, political, and historical conditions of colonialism and neocolonialism have had and continue to have a most crucial role in producing them and shaping them. Moreover, the comparative perspective enables us to see the particular forms that debates surrounding cultural decolonization take in each region given the region’s particular historical, economic, social, political, and cultural characteristics. It helps clarify the specificities and particular challenges of each setting. Consequently, it can be a powerful tool against the various forms of culturalism, essentialism, and misplaced exceptionalism. Furthermore, bringing together several postcolonial debates can allow for a conversation to emerge between postcolonial thinkers and thus for a cross-pollination to occur among related concerns and kindred projects. By the same token, it can lead postcolonial actors engaged in cultural decolonization to have a wider perspective on their problematics and to grasp better the systemic nature of these problems. As a result, it can help them relinquish an often exclusive and essentialist fixation on the religion, race, and tradition of each of their societies and address the more fundamental nature of the cultural malaise found in the postcolonial predicament.
    More than any other regional debate, the Arab one has remained relatively unknown, misrepresented, isolated, and stigmatized with exceptionalism. It has generally been approached in an essentialist way that reduces its discourses to a certain literate Islamic heritage, with little attention paid to the context and historicity both of the discourses and of the heritage. This essentialist approach has confined the understanding of these discourses to an immanent, ahistorical tradition and has isolated them from other regional discourses. Yet the reading of Arab debates in conjunction with other debates such as the African, the Latin American, the South Asian, the Caribbean, the African American, and the Native American reveals important commonalities and shows that the concerns and patterns of these debates go beyond immanent traditions. Among these commonalities are the search for a thought of one’s own, which implies the search for ways of defining such a thought as well as the need to link ideas to concrete local realities and histories; the importance of contextualizing Western thought and of determining the parameters of the universal and the particular; the unveiling of the role of expanding capitalism and conquest in what is presented as “universal” thought; the importance of distinguishing fake Eurocentric universalism from the principles of universal reason; the concern with the pitfalls of self-affirmation manifested in chauvinism, parochialism, and the cult of difference; the caution against a culturalist-idealist understanding of the cultural malaise, oblivious of the global political and economic aspects of the dependency problematic; the challenges of traditionalization and modernization in the project of cultural decolonization; the need to ponder the place of gender in these questions of postcolonial cultural malaise and the call to rethink authenticity, cultural loyalty, and the nationalist community from a gender perspective; the necessity of double critique in the struggle against both external and regional hegemonic forces, on the one hand, and the internal repression and authoritarianism in postcolonial states, on the other; and, finally, the indispensable need for democracy as well as individual and civil liberties. In all these debates, the quest for a liberated, empowered, and distinct sense of self dominates, checked by a whole array of intellectual, cultural, economic, political, and often military challenges. This book examines contemporary Arab debates on culture from this broad perspective, benefiting from the wider, comparative understanding of the nature of these debates. The comparative reading sheds new light on the motivations, purposes, structures, and challenges of these postcolonial discussions of culture.
    This work is not a comprehensive intellectual history of the post-1967 era, but an examination of its cultural debates. It breaks new ground in the understanding of contemporary Arab intellectual life by viewing it from three original perspectives: first, it focuses on the self-reflective critical turn at a time when attention has almost exclusively been devoted to the ideological side of this intellectual life, whether Islamist or nationalist; second, it recognizes and examines the political understanding of the cultural malaise among critical thinkers, an understanding that has been systematically overshadowed by both actors’ and observers’ culturalist reading of the malaise; and third, it breaks the isolation in which the production and study of the Arab debates on culture have been hitherto confined, mainly by putting them in a comparative postcolonial perspective.
    Hence, the main questions the book explores are:
    How has contemporary Arab critique approached questions of cultural malaise? Which issues has it addressed, and what shape has this critique taken?
    To what extent and in what sense have Arab critical thinkers of the post-1967 era seen the cultural crisis as a political one? How old is this political perception of cultural problems in modern Arab thought, and what are its implications for the democratic struggle in the Arab world?
    How do the concerns expressed and approaches adopted in these Arab debates compare with debates in other postcolonial regions of the world, such as Africa and Latin America? What patterns of thought does such a comparison reveal across regions, cultures, religions, and races? What does it tell us about the postcolonial nature of the Arab debates, and what relevance does this telling have for our understanding of contemporary Arab thought?”