The 10 step guide on how to convince yourself Syria is doomed

26 Feb

If, like myself, you are a die hard optimist, you believe in the Revolution, you think unknown and undefined freedom can only be better than a genocidal dictator, then you might be at awe with all the comments, beliefs, and analysis that state Syria, after Assad, is going to be worse. Here is a 10 step guide to help you convince yourself that Syria is doomed.

  • 1 – Revolution is a bad thing

At the very heart of the idea that “Syria is doomed”, there is a belief. It is a deep belief that Revolution is a bad thing for humanity. You will have to rewrite History accordingly, making all revolutions look bad. You do not have to go in depth into praising the old regimes for their achievement. That may come counter productive as you will appear as a supporter of the old regime. For instance, in Libya you could see hostility against the revolution divided in two separate trends:

– One insisted that Kadhafi was very kind to his people (Libyans had education, Oil was redistributed, he resisted bravely to imperialism, the great river project was something great etc.) This trend did not have that much success.

– The second trend insists that now Libya is a mess. Islamists are taking over, no central government, militias and bandits are ruling the country etc. This second trend is much more efficient as it will engage many more people.

So the idea is not to praise the old regime but to blame the revolution that put an end to it.
There is a long and furnished literature on how to blame the past revolutions, especially in French language. Because this country has a particular revolutionary past, anti-revolution forces had to develop a tradition of blaming the revolutions. This material will help you to pick another revolution in history and remind yourself how it always ends badly (always is the key word here). Here are some instance developed by the French tradition:

– 1789 French revolution ended up in decapitations, a period called “the terror” and the emergence of a new emperor that devastated Europe with his wars.

– May 68 revolution ended up in kids being abused and the end of authority of the masters in the schools. We can now admire the consequences such as the growing numbers of homosexual kids, growth of hip-hop music, joblessness, kids who can’t read, violent video-games and anti-racist movements that let Arabs invade our suburbs.

– 1917 Russian revolution ended up in communism that made 85 million dead.

  • 2 – Judge History

History does not judge. But thanks to gods, you can! In History, every event has a million or more different causes and creates a million or more different consequences. Hard to judge that. The trick is to make it simplistic enough so you can judge it. Try like that: every event is coming from one same cause and/or will lead to one same consequence. A bit lost? Here is how to apply the trick to the current Revolution in the Arab World.

The Arab Revolution is a historical event consequence of colonialism, of how independences were achieved in a cold war context, taking place in the beginning of the XXIst century in the midst of an economic crisis of globalised capitalism and communication revolution. It will have, (already has) huge and unthinkable consequences as it will see the emergence of new political forces in countries as different as Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrein etc. Hard to judge that so here is how you can read it to make it judgable:

– Revolutions are a western plot from the US and Israel to create war in the middle east and this will end badly because war is always bad and US and Israel are evil.

– Revolution were started by young westernised people who liked Facebook but are now confiscated by islamists who will impose Sharia law because they are better organised and Sharia is what Muslim people want.

– “Arab spring” turned violent and now it is a war (here you can also found instances of how things usually turn into war in the middle east). War is bad.

– Muslims throughout history have always been divided between Shiites and Sunnis; What is happening is part of this war between Shiites and Sunnis and it will become worse.

  • 3 – Arabs are different

Arabs are different than the rest of us. If you are an Arab and you read this post, that means you speak English so you are “westernised” enough to be different from the other Arabs. Arabs do not feel like us, they do not understand politics like us, they do not want what a normal human being wants.

Machiavelli had us explained some of the basics of politics: power is divided between those who want to oppress and those who do not want to be oppressed. You can do anything to a man, he wont mind unless you go after his house and/or family. These are basics for all humans but not for Arabs. Arabs like to be oppressed. You can seize their home and torture their families, they will love you as long as you blame “the West” and Zionists. Arabs are Muslims so what they want is Islam.

As a consequence, if you remove the secular dictator from an Arab country, there will be an islamic theocracy, like in Iran. Iranians are not Arabs but they are Muslims too so that makes them the same. Kind of… Also 1979 may be a bit outdated (10 years before the end of the cold war, 20 years before 9/11, 30 years before the Revolution) but it still works because Arabs do not understand History.

  • 4 – Become a geopolitical expert

It is not that complicated to become an expert in geopolitics. Here is what you need to do:

– Do not take into account the existence of individuals, human beings or free will. Consider that all humans are part of a bigger entity and only act to strengthen this entity: all Shiites think alike and want what is good for a greater Shia force. All Sunnis think alike and want what is good for greater Sunni force. All people in “the west” will act accordingly to “the west” interest. Take a map, draw big stains on it in different colours and forget that you just denied free will and free opinions to the millions of people living under the stains you drew.

– Take the name of a country or a big entity and add an action verb next to it (Russia IS; Syria WANTS, Iran HAS, United States of America NEEDS TO, China DOES, Saudi Arabia THINKS…)

– Try to think these countries are individuals, always and only driven by primary instincts of survival, expansion, gathering of resources or self interest: Russia IS trying to recreate the old USSR empire; Iran HAS oil; USA NEEDS TO get oil; Saudi Arabia THINKS Shiites are a threat; China DOES have a huge economic growth; Syria WANTS TO survive between surrounding forces, Shiites WORK for the expansion of Iran influence, Sunnis WANT Saudi Arabia TO HELP them against Shiites etc.

– Now picture the middle east as a big chess game (or Risk) and play with the pieces: countries, minorities and big entities.

– You can also draw yourself a map. Maps play a big role in geopolitics, so do not hesitate. Use nice colours and little icons. If you have computer or coding skills use them! That will give you the right to call your map an “infographics” and this title is much appreciated.

geopolitical map middle east and legend

If you have to debate with another geopolitical expert, do not panic. You will use the “yes of course but there is also the issue of” trick. See, geopolitics can only have one reading at a time that supersedes others. For instance, if it is about oil, it is not about Shia influence. If it is about Russia against the US, it supersedes Iran against Israel. This means that, in a geopolitical debate, you can always find a new issue that supersedes the one your opponent had chosen to explain everything. Remember to always agree with your opponent first as geopolitics is not a science and, therefore, can never be wrong. Here is how to do it:

1st geopolitician: US needs the oil in the middle east, this is the reason why they are allied with Saudi Arabia and invaded Iraq.

2nd geopolitician: of course, oil is the basic of US economy but one has not to forget the growing influence of Iran through Shiites. This influence is of great danger to Israel and Israel is prime US Ally in the middle east.

1st geopolitician: this is very true and one has also to keep in mind the nuclear issue. Iran wants to become nuclear and this is a great danger to Israel as well.

2nd geopolitician: Precisely! Nuclear Iran could pass nuclear bombs through the Shia crescent (Iran + Iraq + Syria + Hezbollah) and this would threaten directly the west interests.

1st geopolitician: Indeed! This is why the west will certainly try to ally with the new Sunni islamist government that took power after the Arab spring with the help of the west. In Syria, the west is helping Sunni rebellion, in Libya NATO overthrow Kadhafi and helped put Sharia, in Egypt they pushed Moubarak out: this means the west seeks to secure its interests by helping Sunni islamist to take over and ally themselves to these movements through Saudi Arabia which is allied to the west as well.

2nd geopolitician: surely but one has to distinguish between Sunni Salafi djihadis and Sunni Wahabbis, their interest may antagonise at some point in the future.

1st geopolitician: but the same distinction applies with Shiites. The Alawis that currently rule Syria are an offshoot sect of Shia that was long discriminated by sunnis. This is why they established a secular Baath party to stabilise Syria.

2nd Geopolitician: yes but one must not forget that Christians also helped to create the Baath party. Also in Iraq, Saddam Hussein was from the same village than Saladin, who was Kurdish…

If you are willing to write a geopolitical analysis, use the same trick as if you were debating with yourself. Add enough layers (Kurds, oil, Iran, nuclear, Israel, “the West”, islamists, al Quaeda etc.) so your analysis looks very complicated but examine each layer as if it was the one idea that could explain everything.

Becoming a geopolitics expert comes with huge advantages. You will experience this nice feeling of knowing how the world turns. You will also be able to initiate others and to gather disciples as you reveal to them the secrets that rule the world. People will look at you asking for your answers to their questions and this will give you a feeling of power and domination. Geopolitics is about great powers and entities struggling against each other so war is always the conclusion. You will thus predict that war is going to happen. If it is already happening you will predict that war is going to be worse. This gives you an enviable social position similar to those predicting apocalypse in the ancient times. Also you will always be right as it will be easy to find a war in the middle east that you can read according to your analysis.
Of course, once you are a geopolitical expert, there is no chance for you to believe that Arab Revolution can bring anything else than war, destruction and further struggle between great powers.

  • 5 – Arabs are all the same and have always been

This very fact allows you to use an Arab country to predict the sad developments of another Arab country. Syria, for instance, is going to be like Iraq or Lebanon where bloody civil wars ravaged the country for years. Now this may be hard as, of course, Iraq is not Syria and 2003 is not 2012 or 1975 Lebanon.

In Iraq, for instance, George Bush and neoconservatives invaded the country, divided it into three sectarian zones, dismantled the state and occupied the country for nearly 10 years. In Lebanon, Syria and Israel invaded the country and played proxy war through militias for 10 years. This, of course, has nothing comparable with Syria’s 2013 context. So the trick is to erase any context or history from the comparison by only mentioning the name of the country: “it is going to be like Iraq; it is going to be like Libya, it is going to be like Lebanon”. The key is to rely on what we saw on TV about these countries. Years of TV images of war and destruction happening every day have shaped the mind so when you say “Iraq” or “Lebanon” it triggers these images of Arabs killing themselves out of context.
The finest of all is reached when you used these countries as adjectives: Lebanisation, iraquisation, afghanisation (they are muslims too)… This will help you to see a never ending civil war looming in Syria.

  • 6 – Do not forget the sectarian thing

In the Middle-East, especially in Syria, there is plenty of different sects and minorities. Druze, Alawis, Shias, Sunnis, Christians, Armenians, Orthodox, Kurds.

The Assads, father and sons, were great at playing these against one another. They were Alawis but that sect became part of Shia after Hafez al Assad have asked Imam Musa Sadr a special fatwa on the subject. It now gives them in the media the title “offshoot of Shia sect”. They are ruling with the secular baath party but allied with Iran Theocracy and Hizbullah, the party of god. They were the centre of the Shia axis but helped and hosted the Hamas Sunni movement and sent Sunni djihadis in Iraq against the US. They were fighting Muslim Brotherhood and preventing Sunnis to establish theocracy in Syria but allied with Turkey and its moderate Sunni islamist AKP party. They were fighting Israel with words but refrained from any retaliation when Israel bombed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, killed unarmed Palestinians at the border in 2011 or destroyed a military facility in 2013.

Now if Assad is removed, it is only logical that things will degenerate and sectarian civil war will happen. Sunnis think like Sunnis and they will want to establish a Sunni country in Syria. Alawis think like Alawis, a long time oppressed minority that will try to keep Assad in power because he is an Alawi too. Druze and Christians will be caught in the middle and will have to fight back. Kurds will try to establish a Kurdistan, a thing Turkey will not let happen. Iran and Hezbollah will have to back Assad cause he is an Alawi and Alawis are Shiites. Saudi Arabia will back the Sunnis because they are Sunnis too…
Seeing Syria through sectarian eyes will help you see the logical sectarian civil war.

  • 7 – It is all about islamists

Now Muslims like Islam. Islamists want to bring more Islam. So Muslims are going to vote for islamists. Since the last 10 years and thanks to George W Bush “war on terror”, islamists have been the biggest threat against “the west” since… well since communism! A huge industry of private and public intelligence is dedicated to the islamist threat. Hundreds of thousands of intelligence agencies, think tanks, scholars, analysts, political advisers, specialised revues have, during the last 12 years, dedicated all their time and money to study, analyse, predict, assess or understand the islamist threat. Networks have been established, methodology has been developed, brains have been trained, money has been allowed, decisions (hard decisions like backing “secular dictators”) have been made and ears of the decision makers have been used to listen a certain music. Now what do you think this industry is going to produce when it focuses on Syria?

If you are fool enough to not speak about “the rise of the djihadi threat in Syria” you will be laughed at, no one will listen to you, you’ll get no funding, you will deny yourself access to 90% of any material produced about the middle-east during the last 10 years, and you will be crushed by any expert working in the islamist terror threat industry. Kind of stupid right? So let’s think and write about how the islamist djihadi thing is growing in Syria and how it has to be the main point of everything that is happening and will happen.

  • 8 – Switch for anti-imperialist… but not pro-regime!

If you have no opinion about Syria, you can choose to be pro-regime.

Syria is a secular country resisting to imperialist invasion launched by Zionist US backing Saudi Arabia and Qatar throwing wave of terrorists against the regime because they are zionist Sunni western bastards who want to destroy independent anti-imperialist anti-zionist secular Shia Syria. There is purposely no comma in the sentence you just read so you can chose to put some where you want to make sense of it. Sadly enough, the proud anti-imperialist regime is kind of shaking right now.

So becoming pro-regime is tricky: if you are too much into that kind of propaganda, you may read things like “Syria is resisting the imperialist plot; Syrian army cleared 2967 terrorist zones today, terrorists are loosing control, Assad launches new reform program that will solve everything etc.” If Assad saves Syria from terrorism, Syria is no longer doomed right? On the other hand, if you assume that secular anti-imperialist regime that protected minorities in Syria is about to end, you may be at awe with your pro-regime beliefs. The solution is to be anti-imperialist without being too much pro-regime. This will help you to see how bad is the US-Zionist plot and read on the internet about the horrible destruction and death the “imperialists” are causing, while avoiding the pro-regime material that says Assad is winning and Syria will become “stable” again soon. Syria is doomed, the US zionist plot will destabilise the region forever before starting a nuclear war against Iran for oil.

  • 9 – Be neutral and objective

It is quite simple to be objective about Syria, you just have to be neutral. Neutrality will lead to objectivity, it is a mathematical equation.

So take the “opposition” and give them five minutes to talk and state their point of view. Then take some pro-regime and give same the exact same amount of minutes to talk and state their point of view. The image you will get from that is objectivity.

As a collateral damage you will also get from that the impression that “Regime” and “Opposition” are two equal forces with both their reasons to fight each other. Because you are neutral, these reasons will appear to you completely irrelevant. Simply they just want to kill each other and they have to because they are two opposing forces.

Because you have to maintain strict neutrality, you will never be able to see a side better than the other. You will have to equate the war crimes, equate the military gain and losses, equate the amount of time given to one propaganda or the other. In the end, you will have the picture of two perfectly equal sides unable to win over the other: the very perfect everlasting middle east war you always dreamed about!

In war (and in history) usually, both sides are not equals and eventually you get a winner and a looser and war ends. There is an oppressor and an oppressed, a killer and a victim, one that make a genocide and one that is the victim of this genocide, one who attacks and one who defends, a conqueror against one who fights for his freedom, a master and a slave… It can be sometimes hard to recognise who is who so neutrality is the best solution. Ultimately you will have to mix black and white enough to achieve the perfect grey. To do that you may choose to make the oppressor look nicer but you risk falling into becoming pro-regime (beware number 8).

The other method is to make both sides look really bad. This is the best method as you can paint everything in black without caring too much for the perfect grey. Grey may be depressive but all in black is always better. So the Assad regime is really bad, it kills, genocides, tortures and commits mass massacres etc. but the “opposition” is also bad, commits massacres, kills, tortures. So both sides are equals (objectivity is maintained) and they are both equally horrible. This method is also perfect because you will have to insist on the human rights violations committed by the “rebels”. Depicting revolutionaries as a bunch of incapable militias plundering innocents civilians caught in the middle is also very interesting.

While engaging into this, you will launch a crusade against “Arab spring optimists” or “idealists”: any people who does not think Syria is doomed. There are not so many of them left but you can invent them with sentences like “everyone was very enthusiastic about the Arab spring at the beginning but now we clearly see that things are not turning well”. The sad and depressive future you insist on depicting is thus directly fighting optimism, your worst enemy. Even better, it is “realistic” because it will oppose to people you will name “idealists”. It will help shape your mind in thinking that your sad view is real, because you call it realistic and any positive view is idealist (thus unreal).

  • 10 – Abolishing time

What is happening now happened before and will happen again. It will end badly as it ended badly before and will end badly tomorrow. People should be happy with what they have, trying to reach imaginary goal or “freedom” is unrealistic. And you have to be realistic because we live in the reality and the reality is realistic. You know what you had yesterday, but you do not know what tomorrow will be made of. Syria was not such a bad place, they had food, electricity, water and they wont have it tomorrow because they are changing things today. Things were good in the past, at least not so bad. Because it was the past we knew what it looked like. But we do not know the future so it can only be worse. There is a chance things will not be worse but this is a very very small chance, ridiculous…

The key thing here is to predict future will be worse than the past. Or future will be as worse as the past was. Do not, in no case, allow dates or precise events into your mind. Future is future, present is what is happening, past is what happened. Never say for instance: “November 1st 1954 in Algeria…” say “Algeria war”. Do not distinguish between 1905 Russian revolution, February 1917 and October 1917 Russian revolutions, Lenin, Stalin, Krushtchov etc. Say: “Russian revolution that brought communism in Russia”.

Now applied to the middle-east, this trick is of huge benefits. You can in one sentence connect old Umayyad califate with today’s Syria. You can explain behaviors of Arabs today by instances that go back as far as Muhammad’s times! You can erase whole centuries, making colonisation vanish from memories, predict future of civil war in Syria for three or four generation without thinking that two years ago you were sure Assad would last for ever.

“The west” ideology part 1: What is the west?

14 Sep

Followig our undergoing research over the arab revolution, we came to challenge the very notion of « the west ». Historically wrong, geographically irrelevant, “the west” is in fact an ideology that is deeply damaging for the intellectual life and the human thinking.

The damages of this notion are not to be understated. It is used in hundreds of thousands of articles and books to think, conceptualize and understand the world’s politics. The notion is extremely ideological but nevertheless used and abused as if it was a reality: “the west” or “western” are never challenged nor defined in any piece that uses them. It can be seen as the greatest achievement of cultural hegemony over this century, submitting the thinking of everyone to an hill defined and irrelevant notion but powerful and overwhelming ideology.

Stuart Hall started to elaborate on the notion and we will use great parts of his article “the west and the rest”

This ideology is transmitted like a disease in any piece that will use “West; western, western countries, We (as west or as non west)” or any adjective or cultural references supposing a differentiation from “the west”.

Anyone deploying a discourse must position themselves as if they were the subject of the discourse. For example, we may not ourselves believe in the natural superiority of the West. But if we use the discourse of “the West and the Rest” we will necessarily find ourselves speaking from a position that holds that the West is a superior civilization.

And this happens whenever or wherever is “the west, west, western, us (as west)” is used: articles, information reports, diplomatic statements, conspirationist websites, political speeches… Its use have become so benine, so wide and so unchallenged that we can say this ideology has gathered the status of a cultural hegemony (Gramsci).

The problem is that this ideology is extremely fascistic, colonial, imperialistic, racist and inhumane. It carries in itself many threats that human thoughts should have eradicated: justification of slavery, crime against mankind, segregation, colonisation, religious superiority, racial inequalities, ethnic divisions and cleansing, and so on. Each time this very simple word is used, it carries with it a whole set of stereotypes and ideas.

What is “the west”?

To grasp definitions of what is “the west” one can rely on Hall. It also helps to understand what mechanisms are set into motion every single time “the west” is used, thought, spoken or written somewhere

The concept or idea of “the West” can be seen to function in the following ways:

First, it allows us to characterize and classify societies into different categories – i.e. “western,” “non-western.” It is a tool to think with. It sets a certain structure of thought and knowledge in motion.

Secondly, it is an image, or set of images. It condenses a number of different characteristics into one picture. It calls up in our mind’s eye – it represents in verbal and visual language – a composite picture of what different societies, cultures, peoples, and places are like. It functions as part of a language, a “system of representation.” (I say “system” because it doesn’t stand on its own, but works in conjunction with other images and ideas with which it forms a set: for example, “western” = urban = developed; or “non-western” = non-industrial = rural = agricultural = under-developed.)

Thirdly, it provides a standard or model of comparison. It allows us to compare to what extent different societies resemble, or differ from, one another. Non-western societies can accordingly be said to be “close to” or “far away from” or “catching up with” the West. It helps to explain difference.

Fourthly, it provides criteria of evaluation against which other societies are ranked and around which powerful positive and negative feelings cluster. (For example, “the West” = developed = good = desirable; or the “non-West” = under-developed = bad = undesirable.) It produces a certain kind of knowledge about a subject and certain attitudes towards it. In short, it functions as an ideology.”

“The west” can have a really restricted diplomatic reality somehow when referring to the voice of France, UK, and US at the UN security council. But the vague and non defined unification of their diplomatic stance and interests under “the west” sets the whole ideology in motion. The four ways described by Hall can be unleashed in the minds and the debates and one can choose to refer to one or more of the ways without need for definition. It is extremely rare (if it ever existed) that all countries in Europe + US + Canada + Australia can find a common politic or diplomatic stance or social common grounds. However, “the west” will be used and abused as referring to these countries.

Part 2 the origins of “the west”

 

Aside

“The west” ideology part 2: the origins of “the west”

14 Sep

The origins of “the west”

It is the colonial rule that established an artificial cultural difference between the west and it’s colonies. And in fact, the very idea of “the west” comes from colonisation. By colonising the new world, Europe started to get a sens of itself, its borders, its superiority and its mission in the world.

By analogy, national cultures acquire their strong sense of identity by contrasting themselves with other cultures. Thus we argue, the West’s sense of itself – its identity – was formed not o~y by the internal processes that gradually molded Western European countries into a distinct type of society, but also through Europe’s sense of difference from other worlds – how it came to represent itself in relation to these “others.”

The very origins of the west thus are together christendom and coloial expansion as Hall explains:

And Hulme speaks of ” … the consolidation of an ideological identity through the testing of [Europe’s) Eastern frontiers prior to the adventure of Atlantic exploration …. A symbolic end to that process could be considered Pius ill’s 1458 identification of Europe with Christendom” (Hulme, 1986, p. 84). But in the Age of Exploration and Conquest, Europe began to define itself in relation to a new idea – the existence of many new “worlds,” profoundly different from itself. The two processes – growing internal cohesion and the conflicts and contrasts with external worlds – reinforced each other, helping to forge that new sense of identity that we call “the West.”
(…) Michael Mann offers an explanation of European development by making a series of historical generalizations about long-term socio-economic and religious factors: Why is “Europe” to be regarded as a continent in the first place?

This is not an ecological but a social fact. It had not been a continent hitherto: it was now created by the fusion of the Germanic barbarians and the north-western parts of the Roman Empire, and the blocking presence of Islam to the south and east. Its continental identity was primarily Christian, for its name was Christendom more often than it was Europe.

The very first definition of west as “the west” comes from colonial Columbus achievements. As the western commercial route to the east was barred by the “new world” it became the western colony of “the old world”: Spanish expansion, slavery trade, stealth of gold and expansion of Christianity. “Indies” became “west indies” and so “the west” was born. The new world were to be divided between the powers of the Old World and, for the first time in history, all European powers shared a common sense of colonization.

The first age of colonisation brings to the west its first ideas. The specificity of “the west” is that, because it is never really defined, it can carry the very first of its ideas to our days. Thus, the “christendom” is still a reference for extreme right nowadays constantly refering to “the west’s christian roots”.

Second wave of colonisation will bring second wave of ideological composition to the west. To Christendom will be add racial inequalities and “the white man’s burdens” characterising second wave of colonial race.

“The west” becomes less aggressive but more paternalistic. The colonial power is the eternal father to the colony, the eternal children. It is the civilization and it is the burden of the white men than to civilise culturally inferior society. It is then established that one culture is superior and one is inferior. And now the superior culture is the colonial power : English culture is no superior to the French culture or the German culture but the white man as a whole is superior to the world.

It is also during this second wave that Orientalism is used as a political tool for colonization so the notion of « orient » or « the east » comes to unite « the west » as a concept collectively responsible for bringing civilization to the rest of the world.

In the golden age of colonisation (piking during 1930s), « the west » is perfectly coupled with racist notion of white man and it’s scientifically proven superiority over other races. Domination is the ransom of superiority: “the white man’s burden”. Orientalism and racism ideology lives a perfect love story as they are both enjoying cultural hegemony and can rely on historical proof that the white west is ruling over the non-white world.

The abolition of slavery created a void soon filled by racism. White can no longer dominate the black man because of pure economic reasons, it dominates it because his race is culturally superior and thus morally obligated to educate the non-white. Arabs are less black so they can enjoy a status of hierarchical superiority over the black. This status will be granted because “Arabs are muslims” so, even inferior to the white they still enjoy a better status because of their monotheistic religion that brings them closer to “the west” as Christendom. The colonial world was thus designed to reflect this hierarchy. In the Nation’s League charter, colonial mandates are divided in three classes: A, B and C according to the development reached by the people and the amount of colonization they would need to attain full development.

The character of the mandate must differ according to the stage of the development of the people, the geographical situation of the territory, its economic conditions and other similar circumstances.
Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory.

Other peoples, especially those of Central Africa, are at such a stage that the Mandatory must be responsible for the administration of the territory under conditions which will guarantee freedom of conscience and religion, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, the prohibition of abuses such as the slave trade, the arms traffic and the liquor traffic, and the prevention of the establishment of fortifications or military and naval bases and of military training of the natives for other than police purposes and the defence of territory, and will also secure equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of other Members of the League.

There are territories, such as South-West Africa and certain of the South Pacific Islands, which, owing to the sparseness of their population, or their small size, or their remoteness from the centres of civilisation, or their geographical contiguity to the territory of the Mandatory, and other circumstances, can be best administered under the laws of the Mandatory as integral portions of its territory, subject to the safeguards above mentioned in the interests of the indigenous population.

Extract of Article 22 of the covenants of the League of Nations

One can see how “prohibition of slave trade” becomes a natural basis for establishing the superiority of “the west” league of Nations through colonisation. One can also see how “the west” is able to fill the void in the ideology by reusing old concepts

Part 3: The borders of “the west”: cultures are different.

Aside

The “west” ideology part 3: the borders of the west, cultures are different

14 Sep

The borders of “the west”: cultures are different.

Border of the west are impossible to establish, unless you believe the world is flat as Thomas Friedman does.

They existed however during the cold war when countries attached to “the west” and countries attached to “communist” blocs were easy to identify. “The west” Cold War borders were necessary to replace “the west” colonial border suffering from decolonisation, independence and the emergence of the “third world” doctrine. This history of established borders has created a void since the end of the cold war, a void that had once again dire necessity to be filled. The ideology has to impose “west / non-west” borders on the most critical part of the globe: the middle-east. And this new border would help to reshape “the west” into the ideology we know.

What is the difference between a kebab and a gyros ?
It may seem a stupid question but the Gyros is west : it is Greek food and Greece is part of the west as it has invented democracy and, because the west claims domination over the concept it has integrated Greece as a “western” country.
Although the recent economic crisis in Greece and the debate over Greece leaving European Union gives us a good insight on “the west” ideology: capitalism sake will take precedence over historical claim on democracy in “the west” ideology.

This barrier has absolutely no ground : historically great part of the middle east was conquered and administrated successfully by Greek Alexander (a town name Alexandria in the very heart of non-western Egypt), the Romans, the Byzantine empire, the crusaders… Great part of « the west » then were conquered and administrated by “easterners” : Greece and Balkan region by ottoman empire, Spain by muslim states. Then again the east was conquered and administrated by « the west » : France in Morroco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon and Syria, British in Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, India and Egypt. Not only the concept of “west” is geographically completely irrelevant but also is the concept of west as sharing the same cultural roots or common historical development.

After the cold war the border became “cultural”. Thanks to Huntington (see next chapter) the “cultural” barrier has been established as between “the west” and “the muslims”.

Israel became the Symbol of this ideological use of artificial barrier. Although Israel has claim over “eastern” cultural traditions such as Humous and Shawarma, it claims to be the western vanguard of democracy in a region that would be hostile to it. After the creation of Israeli State, zionist ideology claimed the creation of a new Jew man, the Sabra: born and raised in Israel. A new Jew that would be the perfect achievement of Zionist ideology. This ideology was openly insulting the “old Jew”, the one born outside Israel and specifically the one who was seeking integration in his birth country rather than emigration to Palestine. After Eichmann’s trial, Israeli society discovered the horrors of the Shoah and decided to stop blaming the old Jews victims of the Shoah for having seek integration but rather to integrate the memory of Shoah, a purely european (western) history, as part of it’s national heritage.

It is at this point that the « west » as a border came back to zionist ideology which was initially seeking to establish a new country and a new Jewish race with it. The notion of West came back as a heritage, Israel being now the land given to Jews to repair the wrongdoings of the west toward them. Integrating the history of the Shoah forced Israel to define itself as part of “the west”. Now Israel uses « the west » as a ideological pilar to protect its democratic structure and to redefine the strategical alliance with the US as an ideological one. Democracy in Israel is obviously doomed because no democracy can survive apartheid but it is artificially maintained by the claim that Israel is part of “the west” and so its democracy would be a natural inheritance from its western roots. The artificial barrier also helped zionsim to avoid its full nazi development. By helping zionism to give up the idea of creating a new superior Jewish man, “the west” helped zionism to avoid the dangerous path of nazism and instead come back to a more common racist ideology, establishing racial and religious difference between the Jews (west) and the arabs (muslim non-west).

“The west” ideology in turn can benefit greatly from its association with Israel. Israel came to be the perfect way to integrate fully and positively the complete othering of the Jews. Israel is the Jewish ghetto of “the west”, a colonial gift to a people that racist christian white and antisemitic “west” never accepted and an amnesty for these crimes. The ghetto can then become part of “the west” while its people will forever remain foreign inhabitants: “Israel alliance with west” coupled with “Jews are Israelis” helps “the west” to deal with the perfect and positive othering of the Jews: Jews are not west. Antisemitism has gained a positive side: othering the Jew by providing him a ghetto and this ghetto applying the negative side of antisemitism to the Arabs.

As Said puts it, the Arab is now more and more receiving the negative antisemitic clichés while the Israeli Jew can receive the positive ones. Jews and Arabs together in the same place but a clear “the west” divide between them embodied by a concrete wall and barbed wire, between the good semite (the Jew) and the bad semite (the Arab): Israel is the perfect way for “the west” to get rid of the Jews while integrating them and all that without touching to deeply rooted antisemitic tradition.

This achievement was essential for “the west” survival as the west historically has to deal with the exclusion of the Jews. As Hall puts it:

It is also important to remember that, as well as treating nonEuropean cultures as different and inferior, the West had its own internal “others.” Jews, in particular, though close to western religious traditions, were frequently excluded and ostracized.
and, throughout the West, western women were represented as inferior to western men.

After the negative solution for exclusion of the Jews (genocide) has failed, “the west” could now expiate its crimes by supporting the positive solution: Israel.

“Israel as west” thus allowed “the west” to get easily rid of two huge stains. The Jews are no longer excluded because they now have a ghetto integrated into “the west”. But by fixing the border between “the west” and “the arabs”, “the west” was also able to get rid of the other problem: exclusion of the women. The woman are no longer excluded because one can point out how badly they are treated outside “the west” border: in Muslim world. All the extensive comments about how bad is the status of women in Muslim non western society helps “the west” to present itself as an ideology respecting women’s rights.

This is probably why the post revolutionary comment of Mona el Tahawy (“why do they hate us“) has generated such reactions: it was seen as the come back of the old critics of women condition in muslim society that carries all the “muslim/west” differentiation. Because this differentiation is essential to the “muslims = non western = not made for democracy” argument that is directly against the revolution, el Tahawy article was understood as carrying anti revolutionary idea. And somehow it did because el Tahawy also felt victim of “the west” cultural hegemonic system even if the goal of the article is to use revolution to get over “the west / the arab” difference about women’s rights.

Part 4: Cold War and how “the west” became able to hide what it was carrying.

Aside

The “west” ideology part 4: Cold war and how “the west” became able to hide what it was carrying

14 Sep

Cold war and how “the west” became able to hide what it was carrying.

After the second world war, the notion of « west » became a shelter and a refuge for all ideologies that should have been destroyed by the second world war. Racism, colonialism, imperialism, antisemitism, religious superiority hid themselves under the notion of « the west » until our age while the cold war will help « the west » to transform into a geographic, ideological and political reality.

During the Cold War, “the west” is together : the US alliance against communism, the old colonial power, the free market as an ideology, the cultural advance of American way (as a way to fight communism) and a neocolonial doctrine.

After the cold war the neoconservatives are going to use the “victory” over communism to establish the full supremacy of “the west” cultural hegemony. They will also in the ideology redefine the old ideologies that should have been destroyed so they can be seen in a new light and be fully integrated to “the west” with no need to hide: racism, antisemitism, colonialism, imperialism will enjoy a new momentum thanks to the new definitions neoconservatives will bring to them and the comfortable shelter of “the west” as a cultural hegemony.

First is the Fukuyama / Huntington debate that managed to hijack the historical understanding of the end of the cold war. When cold war ended, “the west” had a dire need for a new concept that will ensure it’s survival. How “the west” can survive if the eastern opponent (USSR, Communism) is no longer ?

Fukuyama would be the salvation. In his « end of history and the last man », he explains that « the west » as a civilization model would now establish its natural domination over the world because of its proven superiority. Here one find the basis for the continuation of the old themes: west as a superior civilisation which model will be naturally followed by everyone. What Fukuyama adds is the interpretation of the end of the cold war as the “victory” of “the west” and historical proof of civilisational superiority. Thanks to Fukuyama, the end of the cold war can be used to establish the natural hegemony and superiority of “the west”.
“The west” becomes now a civilization culturally superior and the US winner of the global cold war.

But Huntington was then needed with his clash of civilisation to give new borders to “the west”. If the west is to become a worldwide model, it could not be “the west”. Also “the west” center moving from old Europe to US shaked some borders that needed a redefinition frozen by the cold war. Cultural hegemony is established by Fukuyama but “the west” still needs an “other” to define itself as it always needed. So instead of the establishment of one civilisation model over the world, Huntingon theorises for a clash of civilisation. With Huntington “The west” finds it’s natural borders with the east. Huntington claims the existance of 5 or 7 different civilisation although, as Said perfectly identified in his “clash of ignorance” answer: the real thing is just between two: “the west” and “the muslims”.

In this vein all orientalism thinking would be now devoted to define “the west” as the perfect contrary of the muslim east. Orientalism offers a huge set of sterotypes “the west” can define against. Democratic (muslim are culturally suited for submission / dictatorship or islamist theocracy), progressive to women (muslim societies are oppressive to women), culturally advanced (muslims, after a great period of cultural achievements are now deep into darkness), white (muslims = arabs = not white), christian (muslims are muslims) etc. Bernard Lewis’ “roots of muslim rage” was essential for Huntingtonian clichés.

The most accurate critic of the horrific consequences of this Fukuyama / Huntington dialectic was provided by Benjamin Barber in his famous “jihad versus mac world”. But Barber himself was not able to resist the cultural hegemony: in march 2011 he was resigning from his position in a Gaddafist’s lobby think tank explaining that, despite anything, Saif al Islam was the only hope for Libyan tribal democracy.

With this development, “the west” became the ideology we know today. Racism and racial inequality have transformed into difference between civilisation and superiority of western civilisation. West is not necessarily white but white is definitely west. Antisemitism is very much alive but have become a total support for Israel in its most racist form. As proven by the incredibly antisemitic comment of Mitt Romney who dared declare Israel has more economic success because of “cultural” tradition. Because of the cultural hegemony of “the west” no one noticed how antisemitic this comment was. Imperialism is no longer aggressive nor it is the supreme stage of capitalism: it is a natural development any inferior civilization will achieve (Fukuyama) or really bad one will refuse (Huntington). Christendom and religious difference can come back in the frontline of “the west” ideology by the opposition to Islam. Opposition to Islam is also the easy way to hide racism against Arabs as now extreme right leaders can openly oppose “Islam” but a good old anti-arab racist comment can send you to trial. Oppression and domination of inferior people is legitimated by the cultural differences: Chinese are not slaves they are hard workers, Arabs are not strangled by oppression they are culturally not suited for democracy etc.

Part 5: Network of supporters

Aside

The “west” ideology part 5: network of supporters

14 Sep

Network of supporters

In this new form, this ideology will be supported by networks and relays that all find their interest in the establishment of « the west » as a cultural hegemony.

First neoconservatives that now found a new way to make sure that all the benefit they enjoyed during the cold war will not die with it. Because neoconservatives had to assume Reagan’s heritage and this is impossible in a non-cold war environment, neoconservatives had to elaborate and support the idea of « the west » as a civilization needing to win a war over the other dark civilization (war on terror for instance).

It will be supported by all extreme rights in Europe and in the US. The idea of the west is a very convenient way to keep the old racist and nationalist ideology without the need to redefine them after they have been proven utterly wrong to humanity during WWI and WWII. In using the cultural hegemony of “the west”, extreme right can advance identity politics into mainstream politics: if a normal right leader or center right newspaper says “we – as west” or “western”, extreme right circles can advance behind by saying out loud what everyone already knows: we are white, we are Christians, we are superior.

It will be supported by religion as a way to establish the belief of its cultural roots to civilization. Here again, religions found a convenient way to avoid the redefinitions and renewal or any thinking of its wrongdoings : how it allied with fascism, how it played little or no role or negative one in the independence of the colonies. Now Christianity is said to have saved the world from communism (a claim widely spread when pope Jean Paul II died) and Christianity finds convenient to be associated to « cultural roots » of the west. Religious radicals can now find their natural alliance with extreme right groups. Of course, “against the west” also accounts for 90% of radical Islam ideology.

Islamism also finds very convenient to be defined as the cultural hegemony prevailing in « muslim » countries. Algeria is a muslim country, Egypt is a muslim country, Iran is a muslim country, Morocco is a muslim country, Iraq is a muslim country etc. All these countries have huge history, intellectual and cultural production outside or intricate with Islam but to be reduced to « muslim contry » and their inhabitants to « muslim people » is extremely convenient for islamism ideology. They too can avoid a painful political redefinition and are being granted the hegemonic status by the west. As long as they are “against the west” they can rule over all muslim world.

It will be supported by capitalism and anyone thinking that free market is the best thing for humanity. Free market can impose its rule over the world but with respect to the « cultural differences » in civilisations. By selling prejudices the capitalism can impose its rule. As Thomas Friedman puts it with his genius all knowing mind, capitalism will act as a giant pizza dough :

“What is pizza? It is just a flat piece of dough on which every culture puts its own distinctive foods and flavors. So Japan has sushi pizza and Bangkok has Thai pizza and Lebanon has mezze pizza. The flat-world plateform is just like that pizza dough. It allows different culture to season and flavor it as they like.”

With its association with capitalism, “the west” shared its great respect for local cultural clichés:

China is not a bloody dictatorship ruling a billion of enslaved workers for capitalist industries all over the world : it is a lead by very clever communist elite that understood communism was wrong and transformed the country into a capitalist model enjoying the Confucianist tradition of hard working and obedient people. As long as capitalism respects “local cultures” it is sure to be the best model.

It goes to a point some can even praise the “non-western” capitalist model. For Stephen Halper, Chinese association of capitalism and dictatorship provides successful achievements that could overthrow “the west” hindered by its democratic culture. The Chinese model for Halper can become an efficient development model for other culture non suited for democracy: the Beijing consensus to win over the Washington consensus.

It will be supported, embodied and applied by Arab dictators who desperately need “the non-west” set of cultural clichés. If the west is democracy, the arab is dictatorship and they can legitimate themselves with that argument alone. In turn that argument is supported by all aforementioned groups. They will thus support the dictators as they are the living incarnation of the cliché they need.

It will be supported by a great part of “red-brown” extreme right thoughts that had found their way into extreme left circles: antisemitic infiltrated in pro-palestinan movements and conspirationnists mostly.

It will be supported by an influential network of private and public intelligence agencies. After 9/11, the Bush administration showered intelligence networks with gold so they can face the enemy (the non-western muslim terrorist). Great part of the budget of these agencies now depend on their ability to provide policy makers with non-western muslim terrorists (suspects, reports, investigation, analysis etc.) Ideological stance of policy makers focuses intelligence requirements on muslim terrorist and allow credits to it. In turn, these agencies and think tanks can provide poliy makers with overwhelming amount of ideologised material. The incredible credits neoconservatives devoted to the war on (muslim) terror created an intelligence monster that feeds on and defecates muslim terror.

Eventually it will be supported by any critics of “the west” who needs the existence of “the west” in order to critic its achievements and wrongdoings. “The west is imperialism” for instance will be hijacked by anyone interested in claiming “imperialism is the west”. Same for “the west is interventionist” for anyone who needs “foreign intervention is the west”. Chinese and Russian leaders are the vanguard of that trend. “the west” is for them a convenient tool to hide their own promotion of imperialism and intervention in foreign countries. “The west, is an ideology essential for dictators survival.

Part 6: the noble dictator

Aside

The “west” ideology part 6: the noble dictator

14 Sep

The noble dictator.

“The west” also sets in motion what Hulme calls “Stereotypical dualism”. It imposes on the mind a manicheistic division of good and bad. Thus: “the west” can be good or bad and “the non-west” can be good and bad depending of the ideology you want to support. For George Bush: west is good, non west is bad. For Bachar al Assad, west is bad, non-west is good. Two faces of the same coin. But the cultural hegemony of “the west” ideology allows this manicheism to replace real political analysis and thinking and to break political borders by giving the illusion of new ones. And this helps to explain how Bachar al Assad “non-west” fascism finds its way into some “west” left and progressive circles. The stereotypical dualism of “the west” created the “noble savage” and the transformation of “the west” as an ideology carried this notion to our days, creating the figure of the noble dictator.

Hall uses Hulme notion of stereotypical dualism to explain the emergence of the “noble savage” notion. Any discourses carries stereotypical dualism within itself and “the west” is no exception. It means “the west” and “the rest” carries both good and bad stereotypes: the west is the civilized world / the west is imperialistic.

By “stereotypical dualism” Hulme means that the stereotype is split into two opposing elements. These are two key features of the discourse of “the Other”:

1 First, several characteristics are collapsed into one simplified figure which stands for or represents the essence of the people; this is stereotyping.

2 Second, the stereotype is split into two halves – its “good” and “bad” sides; this is “splitting” or dualism. Far from the discourse of “the West and the Rest” being unified and monolithic, “splitting” is a regular feature of it. The world is first divided, symbolically, into good-bad, us-them, attractive-disgusting, civilized-uncivilized, the West-the Rest. All the other, many differences between and within these two halves are collapsed, simplified – i.e. stereotyped. By this strategy, the Rest becomes defined as everything that the West is not – its mirror image. It is represented as absolutely, essentially, different, other: the Other. This Other is then itself split into two “camps”: friendly hostile, Arawak-Carib, innocent-depraved, noble-ignoble.

It is with this stereotypical dualism that came to emerge the figure of the « noble other » or the « noble savage ». While the savage is uncivilized, cannibalistic, naked etc. the Noble savage is a being free from society, crimes, lust, hypocrisy etc. In turn, the image of the noble savage is used to point and criticize “the bad” side of “the west”.

“Heroic savages” have peopled adventure stories, Westerns, and other Hollywood and television films ever since, generating an unending series of images of “the Noble Other.”

The French Pacific explorer Bougainville (1729-1811) had been captivated by the way of life on Tahiti. Diderot, the philosopher and editor of the Encyclopedie (see chapter 1), wrote a famous Supplement about Bougainville’s voyage, warning Tahitians against the West’s intrusion into their innocent happiness. “One day,” he prophesied correctly, “they [Europeans] will come, with crucifix in one hand and the dagger in the other to cut your throats or to force you to accept
their customs and opinions” (quoted in Moorhead, 1987). Thus the “noble savage” became the vehicle for a wide-ranging critique of the over-refinement, religious hypocrisy, and divisions by social rank that existed in the West.

Many more in the enlgihtment like Montaigne’s in his lettres persanes will use the noble savage in the same way. And the figure of the noble savage then served political theorists to establish the state of nature hypothesis.

Kadhafi and Bachar al Assad have gathered the status of « Noble Savages ». They used their rhetorical political stance against « the west » to gather all the benefits of what-the-west-is-not. With this stance, they managed to serve as reference for criticizing « the west » not as an ideology but as a reality. Because the west is completely hegemonic and no one comes to put its reality into questions, Bachar al Assad or Gaddafi came to be the only ways to oppose the concept of « the west » : supporting them by giving them the status of the noble savage is a way to criticize « the west ».

Kadhafi went to embody the notion of the noble savage so deep that he insisted in presenting himself as a savage : dress, tent, amazon women bodyguards etc. Assad was less insistent on imagery and used « western » suits and « western » beauty criteria for his wife. However inisting on his Alawi origins still works as a local/ cultural / exotic non western criteria. He is against the west cause he is Alawi, « an offshoot sect of Shias » and, like other noble Shia savages such as Nasrallah or Ahmadinejad, he opposes “the west” for that reason. He’s motivations are as pure as his origins are exotic and local. And the legitimacy of Bachar an Kadhafi’s fights are based almost entirely on the noble dictator figure : Assad dictatorship is good, natural and pure because « the west » = democracy is bad and hypocritical.

“The west” is so hegemonic that figure of the noble dictator have become essential as a refuge to denounce the bad side of « the west ». In the hegemonic position of « the west » ideology, Assad and Kadhafi are the only way « the west » can be opposed politically. Many in the left do not want to oppose « the west » as an ideology but simply to expose the bad side of the stereotypical dualism. It is here where Assad and Kadhafi are most needed. Anyone using « the west » ideological framework can only end up with two position/ the west is good or the west is bad. Assad and Kadhafi fascisms are the glorious defenders of the other side of the coin : the west is bad.

Because of this hegemony, even progressive minds could lure themselves into supporting most fascist cause of Putin, Assad or Kadhafi. The « west is bad » side of the coin has become as hegemonic as the rest of the ideology: “the west” has to defend against “muslim” so “western dictators” are needed in the middle east. The middle-east has to culturally resist to “the west” imperialist aggression so “against the west” dictators are needed in the middle-east. It is how « the west » acts an ideological pillar of dictatorship in the arab world. It goes to a point that the revolution have place the dictators really at odds with this ideology. Now Assad has to claim that he fights against Al Quaeda terrorists (a very Bushian “western” stance) and the SCAF in Egypt ran rumors underground campaigns trying to spread the rumor that youth revolutionary movements were financed by the US. A very new “against the west” delirium for the Egypt military that gets 1 billion $ each year from the US.

All dictator have gathered the noble savage status, acting as protecting their savage people from the nocive “western” intrusion of “democracy” or “freedom” that are supposed to be contrary to “non-west = muslim” culture. It is how they serve the west ideology: reinforcing the ideological neoconservative cliché that democracy and freedom are “western” they can establish their authoritarian rule as a protection from such wrongs.

This ideology is not only extremely damaging for any human progress, it is also carrying in its womb the survival of numerous ideologies that the human thinking should have eradicated long time ago. Any report, information, article using the word “the west” without defining it contributes to the hegemonic position of this ideology. Spreads its sets of clichés, increase racists notions, feeds the extreme right and establish a mental border between humans harming the very principle that all humans are equals. What is happening is that “the west” ideology now struggles for its own survival. As soon as it is revealed that “the west” is an ideology that only rely on its own cultural hegemony, then its ugly face will be revealed. How it serves dictatorship, colonialism, oppression and racism. And the Arab revolution now acts as a force that challenges and fights “the west” cultural hegemony. “the west” is no longer democracy. The west is no longer the origin of freedom. The west is no longer fighting dictatorship. It also explains why “the west” will always oppose to any positive vision of the revolution. It will act as a way to support dictatorship (opposing the west) or to suppress the revolution (supporting the west and “stability” in the middle-east). This also gives a hint of how will work any article about the revolution mentioning “the west” or “western” without defining these ideological notions.