Islamic history, Political comment

The Contradiction Between Industrial Capitalism and Islam

A bit of a recap

People often get the impression that the middle east is somehow less societal than the west and the media certainly exacerbates this argument. Islamic countries are perceived as warlike and under-developed but even so, there is little doubt that they are part of the capitalist agenda.

The arguments presented in this blog have often revolved around Arab nationalism and its refusal to accept western monopolies; how the movement was influenced by the concept of communism and state socialism; not only in Syria and Egypt but in South Yemen. In Iraq Saddam Hussein, the former president, though a committed state socialist, attempted to unite the Arabic world under the banner of Arab nationalism, to combat radical Islam and form a separate economic bloc; of course Iraq was oil rich. Libya is somewhat different as I believe Colonel Gaddafi saw himself as African, though it is as well to remember, that a substantial part of the Arabic world is in that continent rather than in Asia.

The sociological debate

I happened to come across a comment by Peter Mansfield, who cites the marxist philosopher Maxime Rodinson, as saying the failure of the Islamic states to industrialise, was not due to western colonisation; apparently this differs from the view of many marxist writers. Out of context this does seem a simplistic view and unfortunately I haven’t the time or the reading material to explore the argument; so instead will outline some of the broader sociological debates surrounding Islam and capitalism.

Max Weber, born in 1864, was a  philosopher, who saw similarities between Calvinism (reformed Protestantism or Christianity) and Islam, for instance, both see god as omnipotent and transient. Calvinists believe that people’s destiny is determined by how they live their life on earth, whereas Islam sees god as predetermining the destiny of people, a factor, that possibly, limits their personal freedom.

Calvinism is associated with an afterlife for a chosen few, while the Islamic doctrine of predetermination, simply applies to life on earth, as the afterlife is guaranteed for everyone, who adheres to the religion. Weber believed this has a psychological effect, that produces a work or capitalist ethic (that I’d describe as a competitive edge), in Protestants; while Muslims focus on improving themselves and their society. The media often attributes suicide bombings to the guaranteed after-life of Muslims, without consideration for wrongdoings imposed on those people, by the west, through the role of capitalism.

Weber sees forms of feudalism as being a barrier to industrial capitalism, as the overlord is economically responsible for all its subjects. Islam is itself a form of feudal rule, as throughout its existence, there have been families and dynasties in control. Important also, is the way the law develops or is developed in relation to Islamic empires or states, as well as possible contradictions between sacred laws written in the Qura’n and those laid down by the Ulama.

As has been discussed previously there is also a lack of jurisprudence in much of Islamic doctrine. As western theology was influenced by other disciplines, such as logic and the social sciences, in the earlier centuries, Islam made no significant departures from a pure form of theology. At the same time, in the west, church officials became more bureaucratised and the legal system was infused with other systems, such as the Roman and Greek. In a nutshell by the 11th century, in the west, there was a clear demarcation line between the sacred and the secular, or the church and state.

Got to stop there but will return to the subject later, with a more in-depth account hopefully. I almost wish I hadn’t started down this road, as it is such complicated stuff. My degree is in law and I do have an interest in the philosophy of law, or jurisprudence, as it’s fascinating but, as I said before, have little info. or time.

It is cool to draw on the work of western philosophers and look at contrasts between Protestantism and Islam, as this explains loads and kind of bridges the gap between the monotheist (one god) religions. I say this because people in the west appear to fall for the rhetoric of the media that Islam is a separate religion from Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism, when there are similarities and differences between all four; as well as divisions within all four.

A few serious questions for Muazzim Begg

I feel it is appalling if you are responsible, even partially, for the situation in Syria. I never thought President Assad had such a good relationship with the British government to torture people for them, even before I heard you say this at a public meeting some years ago.

The whole question of the torture of prisoners from Afghanistan and Pakistan, was about money and political control, not ideology: it could have been any country in the region responsible. In any event it did not justify the invasion of Syria or the consequential displacement and murder of so many Syrian people. Britain itself is debating the use of water-boarding, at least on BBC radio 4 (the Moral Maze): so will be able to do its own dirty work in future.

Unfortunately I was not familiar with your ”charity” Cage, or at least its prominent role in propagating until the other night, when I heard it was you, who was arrested. The Islamic brothers themselves are uncomfortable with such radicalism and are probably regretting the situation in Syria. A united Islamic state is further away than ever and lets face it, attempts to implement it was not ultra successful the first time round.

I suggest to you that if you are guilty, you were manipulated by Britain, a very powerful state, that is expert in getting what it wants. If it did believe you were guilty of aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan they would have wanted vengeance. Britain does have currently a better relationship with Islam than, they do with Arab nationalism, so may have been happy about your activities in Syria, until you over-stepped the mark.

Syria is not your country mr.Begg;  just remember that, its tiny, poor and beautiful. Hope you are not responsible for the carnage there.

Remember Britain is ostensibly a very benign state and has spent centuries perfecting a style of government, that does not invoke huge dissent. The reality is though, it is hugely controlling and will not be made a fool of by anyone.

I might not write anything for a while as I am having an operation tomorrow, not life threatening but recovery might take a while.

No to NATO!!

There will be a NATO summit held in Newport and Wales is none to pleased. We plan to oppose this debacle. If you are interested see for further info.



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