Thursday, October 13, 2005

Tribal Politics, Islam, and Harriet Miers

There is an interesting discussion going on at Winds of Change about whether democracy will stop terrorism. I say that democracy's purpose is not to stop terrorism but to empower the individual so that he no longer supports terrorism.

Dave Schuler says in part:

You might like to take a look at a long quote from a book by Ernest Gellner I included in this post. A largely urban high theology has basically been overwhelmed by a rurally-based fundamentalist theology.
He says this to explain the descent in Islam from a city culture to a tribal culture.

Now mariana says in response:
haha Not according to Spengler's analysis.

"Revolt against usurpation, the revenge of the pure life of traditional society against the corrupt mores of the metropole, is the heart of Islam."
To which I respond:


It looks to me like two congruent ways of stating the same principle with a differing emphasis.

In Islam strict adherence falls away - Omar Kayham drinking wine - in the cities. Periodically the desert people take notice and "purify" Islam only to repeat the cycle.

If you are referring to the origins of Islam I'd have to say Spengler was correct.

If on the other hand you are looking at the cyclic history since its founding then Dave is correct.

Now it may in fact be correct that Mohammed came out of the desert to purify the cities and cleanse them of the cosmopolitan Jews. i.e. get rid of world culture. And make tribal culture the new world culture.

The difficulty is that the world is too big and complicated to be run as a tribe where every one is in contact with other tribe members. It is a problem of the span of control. Once intimacy is lost different rules become useful. Trust across family boundaries for instance. If you play by the rules of the game you need not be a member of the tribe.

This is much more powerful than having to trust your incompetent and thieving brother in law Ahamed with grain distribution because the better qualified person belongs to the wrong tribe.

Which brings me to the Miers nomination. Bush is promoting her as a member of his most loyal tribe. This is America. It ain't going to work.

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