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14 December 2007

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Andy

Rhetorical question:

Which state is more theocratic:

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or Iran?

It seems to me there are good arguments either way....

Babak Makkinejad

David Habakkuk:

There is a distinctly German philosophical tradition which has its origin in the Middle Ages (13-th and 14-th Centuries). The philosophical tradition of the geographical areas that later came to be France & England was dominated by the empirically-based and precise thoughts of the Scholastic Philosophy. German areas, on the other hand, adopted neo-Platonism and some of the ideas of Averroes (ibn Rushd) purporting that opposites can be True depending on the different contexts [Religious Truths may not be Truths in Philosophy and vice versa]. It was this tradition of philosophical monism in the German countries that led to the Reformation and later to Hegel's Doctrine of the State and the corresponding denigration of the individual.

To this day, in Germany, children are taught of the Greatness of Rome. And one hears, even in Anglo-Saxon countries that Religion and Science each have their own different domains, and thus, by implications, their own Truths that could be in contradiction with one another. This is a rather astonishing viewpoint since it permits its adherent to believe contradictory statements simultaneously.

In respect to the opposition to the Christian Tradition, the thinkers had painted themselves in a corner; for doing otherwise would have meant that 1. The Reformation and the Protestant Churches were in Schism and 2. That the Enlightenment Project of creating a Godless Utopia has been a colossal failure. In fact, I think one may view the neo-conservatism as being yet another facet of the same die with fascism, communism, Arabism, etc. being its other faces.

Babak Makkinejad

Eric Dönges:

I raised this point because I think "Theocracy" is a term that is devoid of analytical content since under such a term states as diverse as the Papal States, Tibet, and contemporary Iran are characterized.

I cannot answer to your points regarding separation of powers [existing in contemporary Iran] and Freedom of Religion since you have used the qualifier "Real". What distinguishes "real" from "un-real" in this context?


In regards to your statement: "your authority derives directly from god" and the implicit objections in that statement - I believe St. Thomas already has convincing arguments and I respectfully suggest taking a look at his work.

I think it is clear to me that any number of states existing today are based on religion: Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, UK, Italy, Argentina [ where the President of the Republic has to be a Catholic].

Please do not underestimate the attraction of a political and social system in which all your actions are "godly", where there is no distinction between sacred and profane since the Spirit of God is imbuing all of the society - well at least that is the theory.


Babak Makkinejad

Andy:

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not have a defining document which characterizes that state; there is no constitution nor any Basic Laws. They may claim that the state is based on Islamic Law but that Law is not coherent and the Islamic Tradition does not have an authorative treatment -acceptable to all Muslims- as to what an Islamic State should be.

There is a constitution for the Islamic Republic of Iran which reminds me of the Thomist Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God and its devolution of the people. The Thomist Doctrine, as expounded in the works of St. Thomas, has many similarities with that of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

So the answer is that your question does not make sense since Saudi Arabia is not so constructed. I think the question can be posed for the following states: "Islamic Republic of Pakistan" (its offical name), "Islamic republic od Sudan", and "Islamic Republic of Afghanistan".

David W

Babak, you are very insightful, however, your thesis on American voters and the authoritarian power structure is incomplete--what you are missing is the voter fraud aspect.

Bush did not 'win' the the 2000 election, he was given the Presidency by extrajudicial fiat. Beyond that, the Republican National Party has been convicted of voter fraud in key states such as New Hampshire and Ohio, and have active efforts to 'shape' the voting pool (Rove's DOJ infiltration was designed to promote and systematize this disenfranchisement process). Also, the rush towards electronic voting machines is rightly seen by many as yet another back door for the Republican voter fraud--all in the service of winning elections while maintaining an illusion that there is significant popular support for their actions.

While voter fraud is a partisan Republican fundamental, the larger, and perhaps more insidious bipartisan scandal is (the lack of) campaign funding reform, and especially, the hideous legal ruling that 'money equals free speech.'

Curious

Shorter Andy:

I saw an Iranian clicking Autin Power Youtube clip. OMG, they are building "sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their head". Can we attack Iran now before they take over the world?

Everybody online:

whatta neocon crank.

I wonder if Israel nuclear scientists are as dumb as this guy. In that case, probably they have to test their nuclear head in India again. Probably half of them will fizz out.

Babak Makkinejad

David W:

But both parties are guilty of voter fraud [JFK wining Illinois by the 5000 votes cast Cook County - "they were good Democrats when they were alive, no reason for them to change their vote now that they are dead!"] in US and the attempt at changing the voting districts to ensure Republican or Democratic parties.

I think where you could criticize Repbulicans -excluding the Iraq War - was the impeachment of Mr. Clinton.

Charles I

Babak, America and its' democracy are not just a function of individuals acting a vacuum. Public opinion polls consistently demonstrate that a majority of the citizenry supports universal healthcare, jaw, jaw, jaw over war, war, war, campaign finance reform and an end to the criminalization of soft drug abusers.

But the corporation stalks society with all the rights and empowerment of the citizen yet none of the obligations. They cast no vote, answer no polls, but today are so trite yet omnipotent that the mightiest state creation has seen cannot oust a tinpot dictator, let alone fight a war or a hurricane, without them.

Ensconced astride the planet in a manner best suited to top-down consumption of our garden, they are now angling to take over the counting of America's votes, having got the counting of the quadrennial 1$bn purse for the top match down pat.

Walrus

The NeoCon intentions are patently clear and obvious and are out in plain sight for anyone who cares to look.

Their intentions are simply to maintain the status quo, and they are funded by folks who very much like the current status quo.

The collapse of the Soviet Union should have triggered a series of massive social shifts in America through the distribution of a "Peace Dividend" arising from the dismantling of much of America's Miliitary/Industrial defence complex, but for reasons I haven't researched or examined, successive Administrations failed to do this.

In 1999, the PNAC provided the intellectual rationale for continued defence spending, arguing that America should prevent the emergence of any challengers.

Bin Laden gave the Bush Administration authority to demonise muslims the world over and paint them as our convenient eternal enemy, thus of course making us cleave closer to Israel.

Please note that I am not just talking about continued defence spending, I'm talking about the NeoCons wishing to maintain America in a Time Warp to maintain their power and priviledge - that's what Orwell was talking about in "1984".

The issue that truly frighten the NeoCons is the possibility that Americans might find that European and other societies have a lot of attraction compared to American society.

These attractions include:

1. Healthcare systems that don't cost the earth and where the length of your life is not determined by the size of your bank account.

2. Open and Transparent election funding systems that do not leave elected representatives beholden to rich donors.

3 Transparent election processes.

4. Decent public education systems from kindergarten to University.

5. An intolerance of poverty and massive imbalances of wealth between the poor and the rich.

6. A concern with fairness, equity and social justice.

7. A progressive tax system.

However any time anyone trots these ideas out they are immediately labelled as "socialism" and like obedient Pavlov Dogs, Americans just look the other way.

Were it not for the NeoCons and the entrenched special interests they represent, you could have remade the country by now into something better, but I now don't think its going to happen, and as a result, at some point in the future there is going to be a confrontation in America between the rich and the poor.

Babak Makkinejad

Charels I:

Corporations do not vote; actual human beings do. It stands to reason to discount the polls and rely on the ballot boxes to conclude were the electorate is going.

David Habakkuk

Tom Griffin

I just got round to following the links you posted.

It's difficult to say much off the cuff, but you bring up a range of useful new angles on the English neocon connection -- a connection I have been starting to explore. Obviously, I must get hold of Roy Godson's book, and see how far it does or does not suffer from the pathologies of the Schmitt and Shulsky article.

As to the arguments about his brother Dean's Policy Exchange report on the availability of extremist literature in mosques and Islamic institutions in Britain -- again, I need to do my homework.

But a few minutes with Google was enough to inform me that Godson was one of those whom Martin Newland got rid of when he replaced Charles Moore as editor of the Daily Telegraph. Newland explained why in an interesting Guardian interview:

'I soon came to recognise we were speaking a language on geopolitical events and even domestic events that was dictated too much from across the Atlantic. It's OK to be pro-Israel, but not to be unbelievably pro-Likud Israel, it's OK to be pro-American but not look as if you're taking instructions from Washington. Dean Godson and Barbara Amiel were key departures.'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2004/nov/15/thedailytelegraph.mondaymediasection

David Habakkuk

Tom Griffin:

The Typepad anti-spam filter took exception to the length of my comments on your posts, so I have had to continue in a separate post!

The attack on the BBC 'Newsnight' programme over the Dean Godson report by the former Telegraph editor Charles Moore does I think bear out the argument I was making to 'Andy'. And ironically, it is Moore's own account which makes it somewhat difficult, on this matter, to accuse 'Newsnight' of bias. Explaining how the report was offered to 'Newsnight', Moore writes:

'Newsnight's people were enthusiastic, but on the late afternoon of the intended broadcast, they suddenly changed their tune.

'Policy Exchange had offered them many of the receipts it had collected from mosques as evidence of purchase; now they said that they had shown the receipts to mosques and that there were doubts about the authenticity of one or two of them.

'Given that the report was being published that night, the obvious thing for Newsnight to do was to broadcast Policy Exchange's findings at once, allowing the mosques to have their say about the receipts.'

This, in Moore's view, is outrageous. He concludes by saying:

"The BBC chose, in effect, to side with their extreme opponents and to cover up the report, because of an obsession about a few pieces of paper."

That a former editor of what is supposed be a 'quality' British paper should regard concern about evidence being forged as an 'obsession about a few pieces of paper' exemplifies how low some of the British and American 'right' have sunk. If some evidence is false, questions are obviously raised about whether other evidence may not be. One then has to ask whether the 'quality control' of the whole report is deficient -- to hark back to 'Martin K''s fascinating analogy between policymaking and industrial production. And one also has to ask whether those responsible for it may be more interested in propaganda than in analysis. Any editor worth his salt would need to as such questions, even if Godson's neocon background had not been so extreme that an editor of the Telegraph worried that he alienated the paper's natural Tory readership, and even if the family history was not such as to make the possibility that 'pysops' were at issue one needing proper investigation.

But here, one comes back to my argument with 'Andy'. My case is that the arguments used by Charles Moore reveal a patent lack of intellectual integrity. Accordingly, it seems to me perfectly relevant to mention the fact that the proprietor for whom he worked -- Lord Black -- is a convicted felon, a man whose idea of a free market economy was one in which company directors could diddle their shareholders to enable them to live the life of riley. Dean Godson was, I understand, special assistant to Black. Does 'Andy' think that in presenting the issues in these terms I am resorting to 'name-calling'? Perhaps he could tell me.

All this I think confirms my point that Kennan's fears were well-founded. The peerage used to the be the apex of a society which was, supposedly, based upon concepts of honour. It used to be expected of those who claimed or aspired to the status of 'gentleman' in Britain that they had some concern for standards of integrity and honesty. Obviously, often these standards were honoured as much in the breach as the observance. But they did mean something. We seem to have ended -- partly as a result of the corrupting effects of the Cold War, but also of course for many other reasons -- with a breed of people with not much more regard for truth than Stalinist hacks.

Tom Griffin

David Habbakkuk:

It's particularly ironic that Moore should be lecturing the BBC when he was the editor who printed the allegations that led to George Galloway's successful libel action against the paper.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4063455.stm

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad

Your arguments deserve a much more considered response than I can give them at the moment. But I think we will be returning to them, and there will be ample occasion to explore some of the issues in more depth.

One problem I have is philosophical ignorance. However, on some of the crucial historical issues, my views -- like yours -- have a great deal in common with those of John Gray. Putting the point tendentiously, perhaps, I think an approach to modern history which is 'scientific' in the sense appropriate to history leads one to stress the role of secularisations of religious ideas -- in particular Christian eschatological ideas -- in modern history. Here, ironically, historians drawing on anthropological ideas have only recently been catching up with the insights of contemporaries writing from religious perspectives who treated German National Socialism and Soviet Communism as perverse pseudo-religious phenomena.

To think this, obviously, is to think that secularisation has commonly been in part a fraud -- in that crypto-religious patterns of thinking actually survive, among other things generating very bad 'science': factual claims which are plain false, be it about the role of the class struggle in the French Revolution or about the sociology of Iraq. And these lines of naturally generate questions, both about the nature of human beings, and about the truth or falsity of religious belief.

In my case, it pushes back to a lot of questions about which I do not have clear answers. In a way, I suppose that this means that I am something of an Averroist, after all -- and think that the attempt to treat all kinds of knowledge as a unified field has very great dangers. I also think that we all have to make sense of these matters -- insofar as we can -- as inhabitants of specific traditions: so in some sense, right answers do depend on context.

A corollary of this view is that the project for the 'democratic' transformation of the Middle East is, in my view, not only utopian, but in some sense totalitarian in spirit -- in that it is based upon the assumption that we represent absolute truth to which all others must conform. The requirement is invalid, in that our claim to absolute truth is unjustified, and also utopian, because people cannot simply jump out of their cultural skins! And these are, in the end, matters which people from different cultures must work for themselves.

Andy
Does 'Andy' think that in presenting the issues in these terms I am resorting to 'name-calling'? Perhaps he could tell me.

Well first, no need for 'Andy' since it is my actual name. As to your question: no. My point, again, is there's nothing inherently wrong with using ideology/philosophy/what-have-you in arguments along with real examples showing a lack of integrity - intellectual or otherwise. The trouble comes when it is overused or used to replace an actual argument on merits. Your almost exclusive focus on ideological lineage and genealogy is all fine and dandy for the pleasant academic discussion we're having here (and I would agree with you on much of it) but is likely to go right over the top of Joe and Jane average citizen who don't know who Strauss is and furthermore don't give a damn. Such ideological genealogies have limits in any event unless one can demonstrate causation. For example, I used to work for a guy who was a prominent member of a motorcycle gang and in another job (construction) the owner was affiliated with the mob. In the very unlikely event I ever run for public office, I'm sure these associations will be trotted out as proof of "ties to violent gangs and organized crime" by political enemies. Guilt by association is inherently weak and must be well-supported to be even marginally effective.

Even when it is, Joe and Jane average citizen aren't likely to be swayed it unless they are already predisposed to - rather they are more likely to view YOU as an ideologue with your own agenda, biases and ax to grind. That is my point - effective arguments appear ideologically neutral and the more time one spends on ideology the less neutral one appears.

Now, tracing a person's ideological lineage is very useful, but not as a compelling argument in and of itself. Rather it's useful as critical background to, you know, formulate actual merit-based arguments! Knowing the ideological spin is necessary for taking an opponents argument, lies, spin or whatever apart but its use should be limited in the actual arguments themselves. Why? First, it gives the impression the writer is an ideologue which reduces credibility - pot calling kettle black and all that. In an ideological battle perception is important if your goal is to influence (as opposed to motivating the choir). Secondly, as I have said before, effort spent focusing on ideology is effort taken away from exposing flaws in arguments themselves. Showing that someone belongs to a particular ideology does nothing by itself to refute what they actually say or do because even die-hard agenda-driven people are not always wrong.

And that is really the basis for my criticism of Col. Lang's Kissinger piece. Along the continuum from pure ideology to pure fact-based analysis, I thought it spent too much time on the man and his ideological ties and not enough actually refuting what he said in the op-ed. Is that a subjective judgment? Certainly. Might reasonable people disagree with me? Of course. That is only to be expected.

As I said before, in my view this is really about tactics: Relying on exposure of ideological ties to one group or another as a means to combat your opponents lack of intellectual integrity is not going to work in the long run. What's it's going to do is make you look like them.


DH

CK:

"You may have noted that Imperialism (with respect to foreign policy) was an issue during the Election of 1900 here in the US, for example. Not a new issue....and there is most certainly a common thread of personalities running through the old "China Lobby," then "Vietnam Lobby," then Neocon Network."

Besides your closing example, would you please link a few names together that would thread through, say, the early 1900s to the present? Is there a book devoted to this subject that you could recommend?

Taters

Thank you Mr. Habakkuk.

I wonder if Pat Buchanan has been lurking here...yesterday I heard him on the radio referring to neocons as (paraphrased)wild eyed utopian idealists and compared them to radical Marxists. An analogy I have read from our most gracious host here.

rjj

I hope PL is able to benefit from Andy's more than generous guidance on

(1) the assessment of an adversary,

(2) the conduct of a battle,

(3) the construction of a rational argument, and

(4) effective communications with the average joe and jane.

Eric Dönges

Babak,

you are right that "theocracy" is a rather generic characterization that is not sufficient when looking at any society in detail - but your original question that I was responding to was why many people in the Western world see theocracy in a negative light. I am certain that the two big problems I have with theocracy - lack of freedom of religion, and lack of separation of powers - will be exhibited by all theocracies, regardless of their religious or cultural affiliations.

To your second point, for me, "real" separation of powers means that the different branches of government (judiciary, executive and legislative) are independent of each other and can thus act as a check on abuse of power. In the case of Iran, as I recall it, before the last general parliamentary elections the Council of Guardians simply banned a lot of reformist candidates for not being Islamic enough, thus guaranteeing a conservative electoral victory. This, for me, is a prime example of "unreal" separation of powers, because in practice, the Iranian parliament seems to be subservient to the Council of Guardians, and not its equal. Of course, we could now debate to which degree a "real" separation of powers is present in Western democracies, but that could fill a thread of its own.

Similarly, a "real" freedom of religion would mean that my choice of religion (or choice not to belong to any religion) would have no bearing on my legal standing. Thus, if certain political offices or government jobs are only open to people with specific religious affiliations, then there is no "real" freedom of religion. Again, we could fill an entire separate thread with a discussion about the degree of "real" freedom of religion in many supposedly secular Western democracies.

You note a number of states who base themselves officially on religion - but none of these is a theocracy, since in none of them the clergy have direct political power. In my opinion, this is because most people realize that removing the clear distinction between the profane and the divine will result in the divine being sullied by the profane, not the profane being hallowed by the divine.

Clifford Kiracofe

DH,

The subject is late 19th and 20th century US foreign policy/foreign relations and there is a vast literature in the academic world.

1. Specifically on the issue of Imperialism/Spanish-American War era, see
Chapter 11 "US Imperialism and the New Manifest Destiny 1897-1900" in Howard Jones "Crucible of Power. A History of American Foreign Relations to 1913" (Wilmington:SR Books, 2002). The chapter has an excellent bibliographical note. The Jones textbook is a standard college textbook which I use in class myself as it provides an excellent narrative and realistic treatment.

More specialized: the respected Harvard professor, Ernest R. May's classic "Imperial Democracy. The Emergence of America as a Great Power" (New York: Harper, 1961) and David Healy's "US Expansionism. The Imperialist Urge in the 1890s" (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1970). Both with extensive, although dated, bibliographies.

2. The foreign policy "debate" at the elite level for the period after World War I can be followed in part through a review of the journal "Foreign Affairs" published by the Council on Foreign Relations (New York).

3. On the China Lobby, a good start is Stanley Bachrack, "The Committee of One Million. China Lobby Politics, 1953-1971" (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976. See also, Lewis McCarroll Purifoy "Harry Truman's China Policy. McCarthyism and the Diplomacy of Hysteria 1947-1951" (New York: New Viewpoints, 1976).

4. Although many authors treat the imperialism theme in various segments of the period, I have not seen a comprehensive and authoritative book which analyzes US foreign policy elites in depth and imperial policy during the period 1897-2007. Some well known sociologists, such as C. Wright Mills and G. W. Domhoff, have looked into the theme of the "power elite."

David Habakkuk

Andy

1. You refer to my 'almost exclusive focus on ideological lineage and genealogy'. But my original post had nothing whatsoever to do with either of these things. I was restating the argument of my earlier analysis of the Schmitt and Shulsky paper about the combination of incompetence and dishonesty which characterises their discussion of Sherman Kent; and elaborating my argument that they were plain wrong about the evolution of Soviet military strategy. You told me that you found 'very little I can disagree with' in these parts of my argument -- although professing unfamiliarity with 'the details on Soviet conventional and nuclear doctrine.'

2. What gave you the idea that I was attempting to address the 'joe and jane average citizen'? Commonly, battles of ideas are won among the educated -- mass opinion follows. An obvious example is the case of Thatcherism -- the intellectual disintegration of the British left began years before 1979. Actually however, as a former leader writer of the Liverpool Echo, I think I could frame an argument about Strauss in terms that a popular audience would understand very easily.

3. The 'genealogy' I set out in a subsequent comment linked Strauss's early fascism, the Caesar-worship Bellow attributes to Allan Bloom, and Fukuyama's extraordinary view of the imperialistic military despotism of Napoleon as representing 'liberty'. You may not think this is an 'argument on merits'. I do. Similarly, there is a 'genealogy' linking Irving Kristol's early Trotskyism to strands in contemporary neoconservatism. I understand, incidentally, that he is not ashamed of his past totalitarian enthusiasms. I think he should be.

4. The argument about 'labelling and name-calling' is contentless unless one has a clearer idea of what in concrete terms constitutes 'labelling and name-calling'. Trying to tie the matter down, I gave you an example -- relating to Charles Moore and Dean Godson -- and asked you to comment. You did not.

5. Of course I've got my own 'agenda, biases, and ax to grind'. Anyone who has time to waste putting 'David Habakkuk' into Google could find about my agendas, axes to grind, and doubtless biases -- they're not hidden. What yours are puzzles me, I must admit. You make no attempt whatsoever to question my indictment of Schmitt and Shulsky's application of Straussian ideas to intelligence, but go into something of a huff when I point out clearly established facts about Strauss's original fascist convictions. There seem to me to be tensions here. Perhaps if you followed my example and posted under your full name, your readers would be in better position to make sense of them!

Clifford Kiracofe

Per Kojeve and foreign policy,

Shadia Drury's book "Alexandre Kojeve. The Roots of Postmodern Politics" (New York: St. Martin's, 1994) is essential reading. One could argue that the Iraq War fits into "Postmodern" politics and foreign policy in a Kojevean sense.

Part III treats "Kojeve's Influence in America" with Chapter 10 on Strauss, 11 on Allen Bloom, and 12 on Fukuyama.

Wolfie was the Dean of the presitigious Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). It was renamed the "Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies."
http://www.sais-jhu.edu/

Fukuyama teaches at SAIS and was quite involved with the "Princeton Project" which outlines and the (suggested) foreign policy for the US for whoever gets elected in 2008. Glancing at the documents one gets the impression of warmed over late 19th century British Liberal Imperialism, Neoconism and the like.
http://www.wws.princeton.edu/ppns/

The really serious study of Kojeve (which I had to borrow from a French colleague) is:
Dominique Auffret, "Alexandre Kojeve: La Philosophie, l'etat, la fin d'histoire (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1990). This large tome has it down in black and white, page after page after page.

IMO, it is essential to understand the impact of ideology on policy which is why DH's analysis is particularly valuable. A competent analysis of any country's foreign policy cannot be made without reference to the ideologies and policy concepts of the political elites...those who are in power and influence policy formulation and decisions.

I would again emphasize the intellectual role of the German Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss's mentor. Schmitt got Strauss his ticket out of Germany (a Rockefeller foundation grant to study in England) so that he could spread the poison. After laundering himself in England (working on Hobbes), Strauss unfortunately comes to our shores.

I will again emphasize Robert A. Goldwin was the key link between Cheney and Rummy and Strauss during the Ford Administration. We should be very clear as to the personalities and the ideology and the policy.

Babak Makkinejad

Eric Dönges:

Thank you for your comments.

I think your example regarding the Council of Guardians is not appropriate - that Council is still part of the Legislative Branch in the Iranian system. And in fact, there you have a good point for criticizing the Iranian system for excluding certain candidates and thus limiting people's choice - sort of like Mexico for most of the 70 years after the Mexican Revolution.

If, on the other hand, you look at the Iranian Judiciary you will see that it is quite independent of the executive or legislative branches - it sets its own agenda for harassing young women and the President and the executive branch are powerless to stop it! In fact, the Iranian system has one great advantage – it is truly government by grid-lock!

I do not believe that the "real" freedom of religion as you describe it is practicable among Muslim polities - I am not sure you have it very many states except perhaps a few anti-clerical governments in Northern Europe and in China or Japan where they do not comprehend religion as we do. And I doubt very much that any South American country will be considered to have "real" freedom of religion in your sense. And even if Europe there is a list of official religions that receive money from the various governments.

The people that you have designated by the name “ clergy” are not clergy in the Western sense; they not are stepping into the shoes of the Fisherman. They are Doctors or Masters of the Religious Sciences of Islam including the Islamic Law [sort of like Jewish Rabies]. There are people in Iran who have had Western-inspired education and those who have received their education in the traditional schools [which, by the way, to this day start with the Platonic Trivium]. I cannot find anything wrong with people with the Islamic Legal education to participate in the political life of their country.

Babak Makkinejad

Eric Dönges:

Thank you for your comments.

I think your example regarding the Council of Guardians is not appropriate - that Council is still part of the Legislative Branch in the Iranian system. And in fact, there you have a good point for criticizing the Iranian system for excluding certain candidates and thus limiting people's choice - sort of like Mexico for most of the 70 years after the Mexican Revolution.

If, on the other hand, you look at the Iranian Judiciary you will see that it is quite independent of the executive or legislative branches - it sets its own agenda for harassing young women and the President and the executive branch are powerless to stop it! In fact, the Iranian system has one great advantage – it is truly government by grid-lock!

Charles I

Babak re:

"Corporations do not vote; actual human beings do. It stands to reason to discount the polls and rely on the ballot boxes to conclude were the electorate is going."

Precisely. Notwithstanding their opinions and franchise they are going to hell in a handcart driven by corporations diametrically opposed to their interests.

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