Islam: what are we to do?

Islam: what are we to do?

We are living in a culture of tolerance and freedom in the West. We allow others to migrate to our countries and they often bring with them a clash of laws and values to our own. As we are preaching tolerance and ratifying this with racial vilification laws we are getting to the point where we are losing ourselves in favour of those who migrate.

It is difficult to have a debate between a secular person and a religious person because the basis for each of our ideas is founded in different styles of reasoning and different worldviews/paradigms. Perhaps we can try anyway? In fact, it is becoming increasingly necessary to bridge this paradigmatic gap. We need greater dialogue. We need greater understanding.

My perspective is based on the problems inherent in how to integrate society with fundamentalist Islam and how political correctness and racial vilification can create a tolerance of such radicalism to our detriment as a whole society. I appreciate that I am not an Imam Quran scholar – my references (in the article text below) however, did indeed come from the Quran (the English Translation by the Penguin Edition). But I will have a go, thus, and try to learn along the way. The following is from a recent discussion/ argument with an islamic commentator:

If you are going to say that ‘Islam is not at all like this – you people are ignorant’ then please tell us how you interpret the quotes referenced. I am struggling to find a better way to interpret them myself. Do you think the English translation I’ve referred to is somehow flawed? If so, then how?

My experience has been that extremists are somehow interpreting the Quran and associated texts differently to moderate and peace-loving Muslims. I would like to know what the main difference is. You cannot simply call us ignorant and not tell us why and how we are wrong. I would be remiss to convert to Islam myself as then if I questioned the religion and its texts after the fact, and decided to leave the religion, I may well be guilty of apostasy. This attracts the death sentence in your Sharia Court. Or are you living in a secular Muslim society which does not have a Sharia Court?
Are you arguing that Sharia law is a good thing? Or are you saying that only misguided muslims, like those in the previous Taliban-run Afghanistan would misinterpret Sharia law? Are you not aware that women are second-class citizens under Sharia and that their testimony is, truly, only half that of a man in its weight and power?

Please understand, again, that I am not saying other religious are better. In deed, the Jehovah of the Old Testament can be seen as a capricious, vengeful, jealous, violent and merciless god as well. Christ can be interpreted, not as fostering such old views, but of challenging them and instructing people to be peaceful and loving and not to be hypocrites. There would be inherent contradictions, therefore in the Bible; parts emphasising hatred and revenge and others love and forgiveness. However – the New Testament (of Gospels describing the life and teachings of Christ) in this way is clearly demarcated from the Old Testament (The Book of the Jews). I am sure that there are further contradictions in the Gospels about Christ as well. Again, I am not saying that any religion is better. However I would say that Christ never did tell people to kill each other for offending his beliefs. He preached tolerance and forgiveness, but also to stand up for against injustice, crimes against humanity, and call a spade a spade – as he indeed did so himself when he criticized the Jewish pharisees in their money lending in the temples.

In a sense, IF the Quran tells its believers to be equal, loving and peaceful and treat westerners / infidels and women with respect, and then in another section tells you to kill the infidel and beat the woman – this there is simply a contradiction that needs to be reconciled. I am sorry, but I cannot put in any other way.

Perhaps in this way, considering that all religions rely on ancient static documents then there is a problem with religion itself.

Perhaps this is why various Muslim sects interpret the Quran and associated religious texts differently – different parts are focused upon and others overlooked? Again I am not a religious scholar – just a man who would like to generate debate in this area and THEREBY learn more.

Additionally I am painfully aware that Islam has been exploited by some Western power groups – particularly the previous Bush Administration and USA war monger groups that profit on continual war and fear to control the people of America and capitalise on the poor of the world. I think this is absolutely terrible. I am also aware that many Islamic extremists have possibly been ‘set up’ by these ‘powers that be’ in the world as a scapegoat, just as the Jews were by Hitler and the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. We are also aware that the CIA trained and munitioned many such terrorists – and that the American covert dabbling and complicity has a lot to answer for in the current Global situation.
I am painfully aware that you and many other muslims would be worried, afraid and down right angry at this injustice – however by being Aggressive and /or not separating from solidarity with extremists then extremists and moderates alike may be equivocated accordingly.
I understand that I am raising more issues here, but burying our head in the sand and ignoring them in such a geo-political climate will not do any of us any favors.

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Islamic migrants are organized and united under common principles, and ironically, they are against assimilation and often preach intolerance of all others setting themselves against the countries they migrate to. As Westerners we are not united under a cultural identity and thus we are unable to push back against this tide of intolerance and oppression and we risk losing our countries and the liberties and values we have fought hard for over the centuries. For democracy to work we need debate and also an educated population. We need to take a position against the other. If we do not do this the other will take over. However if we debate, both sides are enriched with greater knowledge and the truth emerges between the two. It is as simple as this. However, if we have laws preventing us from speaking out against others (racial vilification laws which contradict freedom of speech laws) then we are not able to have any debate. We are not allowed to criticize the ways of others, even if they are disgraceful and violent in case we are deemed racist.  We are so afraid of being deemed racist that we tolerate discrimination and hatred against ourselves. Let's be clear - this is not about racism whatsoever, it is about our society, values and laws being under threat.

There are over 5o million muslims living in Europe. Australia is not in the same position, admittedly, as the muslim people are in a small minority and additionally to become a citizen and thus have the power to vote  for parliamentary representatives and leaders you must first take a pledge of allegiance. This is not the case in Europe and Britain: they have oppressed themselves under the auspices of post-colonial political correctness, a correctness based on guilt due to confessions of past misguided arrogance of Empire and imperialism. This correctness now favours everyone other than the native inhabitants of their own countries. Australia, conversely, has a pledge of allegiance - It is not necessarily called this, but new citizens must first swear to uphold the laws and values of the constitution and of the land, based on principles of equality and freedom.This is what thwarts religious fanatics from entering our land or at least having any political clout when they do.

If you don't first seek a pledge of allegiance in your country then you are opening your country up to people who would put allegiance to their faith, religious extremism or mother country ahead of the values and laws of the country they migrate to. Over time, with successive generations (very large numbers of offspring are typical) these views become more extreme (even if they were initially 'moderate') as people seek a group identity and sense of meaning and purpose amongst those who are alike. Unless explicitly contravened, the sense of a minority's difference to the majority is bolstered by simply being there in that country. The very nature of the Quran, their holy book, is also fundamentalist where the word of their God, Allah, is sacrosanct and indesputable.  The Quran means 'Recitial' as it is claimed that the messenger of Allah, the archangel Gabriel visited the prophet Muhammad in the 6th Century AD (CE) and told him to record and pass on Allah's laws. From this is derived Shariah Law. Shariah law is a system of laws based entirely on the Quran as well as the recordings of the life of Muhammad, in a document called the Sunnah. This is the reason why the religion itself, based on the Quran, does not encourage moderateness and will always have a tendency toward militant, fundamentalist, extremist fanaticism. The religion is fundamentally anti-democratic because Shariah law is based on indesputable divine laws which must be imposed without question and with a great degree of discrimination, absolute prejudice (to the point of death) racism, oppression and violence. Regarding gender equality, the Quran states:

Quran: 4:34 Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them.

In this verse we see a direct statement, from the mouth of God (if you are a believer) telling you that women are beneath men and that they must be beaten, not just if they 'misbehave' but if a man fears that a woman will misbehave and he is also directly instructed to isolate her and that she must be covered.

Regarding unbelievers, the Quran states this:

(4:51) Those that deny Our revelations We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. Surely Allah is mighty and wise.

From this section we see again a direct instruction from Allah that non-believers are not to be tolerated, as he himself does not tolerate them, and that they are only worthy of extreme punishment and pain.

Regarding terrorism and suicide bombers, again the Quran proclaims direct instruction which encourages barbarity:

(4:67)...Let those who would exchange the life of this world for the hereafter, fight for the cause of Allah; whoever fights for the cause of Allah, whether he dies or triumphs, on him We shall bestow a rich recompense.

We must understand that the idea of a paradise to attract terrorists and suicide bombers to kill themselves and others in the name of Allah, that this is not a twist of verse or an interpretation by a fundamentalist cleric. The instruction is pure and simple that suicide-homicide based in Allah's name is the highest honour and will be richly rewarded.

Regarding infidels (non-believers) the Quran is also extremely clear about how to deal with them:

(4:86) They would have you disbelieve as they themselves have disbelieved, so that you may be all alike. Do not befriend them until they have fled their homes in the cause of Allah. If they desert you, seize them and put them to death wherever you find them.

(4:87) ...lay hold of them and kill them wherever you find them. Over such men We give you absolute authority.

These sorts of calls to extreme violence and murder of unbelievers (the infidel) are hard to misinterpret (again not a suggestion but an absolute divine command if you are a Muslim because the word of Allah is irrefutable and perfect). The irony is that the meaning of the word Islam is 'way of peace' and the word Muslim means 'man of peace'. There is absolutely nothing peaceful about the above commands regarding how to treat others who are different to you, or in deed how to treat women related to you.

According to some outspoken critics, such as the Antitheist and Misoclere Society (empirical rationalists) amongst others amid a growing rebuttal against extremism, the foundations of the violence and oppression come from the essential nature of the Islamic religion itself as based on the Quran. Accordingly some think that the Quran is not a religious document at all as it does not adequately promote harmony and love or critical thinking as a basis of wisdom; rather it is a document commanding a fascist totalitarian regime, due to its negative and hateful didactic instructions, similar to manifesto documents of Nazism or Communism. The Quran does contain some positive elements: such as the instruction to look after orphans and widows, live a hygienic and disciplined life, to be fair in business and commerce dealings (it is forbidden to practice usury, which is the charging of interest for lending money) and also to treat travellers mercifully. However such notions are rather contradicted in subsequent sections with instructions to kill the infidel and oppress and beat the woman. I wonder what a devout follower is supposed to do if they came across an infidel adulteress who is also a travelling orphan? And if the terrorist who dies for the cause of Allah is actually female, is she also promised the virgin houri girls to tend to her in paradise? Do women (apart from the slave girls already there) even get into heaven?

If Western nations wish to preserve their freedoms they cannot allow such tyrannical extremists to enter their countries or live there. The religion of Islam has an innate tendency toward extremism and murderous barbarity because those who are true believers and followers of the Quran must do what Allah tells them to do - and this is not about loving thy neighbour as it contains direct instructions to murder infidels, which is categorically everyone else apart from them who live in the western nations they are migrating to. In summary, the Quran tells them to discriminate against women and beat them and also to kill all others who disagree with them. There is no room for debate. If one was to state they were a moderate muslim, they would necessarily have to state that they do not believe in the instructions in the Quran. Would any Muslim state this aloud?

We in the West must get serious about our political and democratic position based on freedom. We need stronger politicians who do not allow hateful and violent people to enter our countries and discriminate against we who already live in the country and have fought so hard to create and preserve its liberties. This is otherwise a crime against humanity and a complicit fostering of those who would bring down our societies and subjugate all of us to Shariah law wherever possible. We must get vocal. We must not let this happen. We have too much to lose.

Post script (from Blog feedback):

I agree - the vast majority of muslims are wonderful, loving, hard working, good hearted people. There may be 'moderate muslims' but they are contradicting their own religion by doing so, and there may be a tendency to resort to its extremes given certain conditions (as we see with disenfranchised marginalized or plain obsessive type and unintelligent muslims who become terrorists) - and you don't see many Christian or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist Terrorists now do you? You will find this is mainly because the holy books of these other religions simply do not preach hatred and violence toward women or non-believers. Jesus, for example, said 'let he who is without sin cast the first stone'.
My point is that Islam denies moderateness in and of itself because of the directness of its hate and violence-driven instructions, particularly regarding Westerners/ infidels (non believers), women, and petty criminals. There is no room for debate amongst these surahs. Non-believers are to be killed, women to be beaten and/or stoned to death for things like infidelity, and petty criminals are to have their hands cut off under Shariah law (I appreciate I am summarizing things here and there are mitigating circumstances accounted for under Shariah, but still.....). Under Shariah law, for example, in fundamentalist countries a womn can be raped then taken to a Shariah court, and as a woman's testimony is worth half that of a man's she is not able to have a comparative argument and he is able to state that she seduced him, or whatever, and thus justify the death penalty for her. There are clerics in the Muslim world who are arguing that women who wear a full hijab where just the eyes are visible, should only show one of their eyes as they would otherwise encourage men to rape them or at least have lusty unclean thoughts. Here we see that men are encouraged not to take responsibility for their own actions, rather to blame the woman for 'making them' lust after herand/or rape her. This is insanity.

I did not discuss Christianity or Judaism in the article, the reason being that my thesis was not about counterposing different religions and saying that one was better than the other for whatever reason. I was coming from a humanist western democratic perspective. I stated that Islam does not encourage moderateness because of the directness of its instructions 'from the word of God' requiring extreme prejudice and violence in order to be a true Muslim based on the instructions given. I was also stating that the problem with integrating Islam into western democracies is that as the religion is anti-debate there will be a tendency toward extremism over the long haul and also that Westerners need to have an opposition to this as democracy exists by virtue of debate. A turnary argument occurs amidst the binary opposition, and the truth is allowed to emerge within the discussion. No matter what argument is had, both sides will always experience a degree of education or enlightenment about their own view and the other's view, and the truth between it all, even if they deny this. The problem as I see it, and stated in the article, is that Western tolerance and political correctness denies us the ability to have this counter position and so radicalism continues rampantly unchecked even within Western nations. And in principle, it is my view that if a person migrates to another country then they ought to abide by the values and laws of that country; the country ought not change it self to cater for the migrant. This assimilation is not possible when the migrant's very religion tells them that non-believers will burn in hell and that if they are a true believer themselves that they should kill the infidel and thus be richly rewarded. If we have a pledge of allegiance then the migrant is at least forewarned and knows at the outset exactly where he/she stands. I have seen this, for example, as a domestic vilence worker doing groups with perpetrators who beat their wives in Australia thinking that it was their right to do so as per the Quran. Our secular laws and values had not been taught to them, as the values are only required to be stated in the pledge of allegiance if the person becomes a citizen, and as you know the migrant can live here as a permanent resident for as long as they like and there is no allegiance. I believe therefore, our allegiance needs to be claimed also for permanent residents as well.
BB.

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13 Responses

  1. RB
    However, the vast majority of Muslims in the world today are extremely moderate, and just as horrified by violence and oppression as Westerners. This, in much the same way as the vast majority of Westerns are moderate. Most Westerners never attend church and only pay lip service to some Christian customs, like Easter and Xmas. There are loud and noticeable radicals and fundamentalists in both the Muslim and Christian populations. It is also likely, methinks, that the fundamentalists of all religions are politically manipulated to cause unrest in the world. The actual truth of these matters is of course impossible to see in a world where the media is no longer free. The world by large is fed a biased version of the truth, and much is suppressed or twisted into outright lies. If we truly want to begin healing the unrest in the world today, we should focus on free and independent press, radio and TV. A truly free press is the most powerful weapon conceivable...the only thing capable of keeping governments and corporations in line. RB
  2. Ben
    Hello - I agree - the vast majority of muslims are wonderful, loving, hard working, good hearted people. There may be 'moderate muslims' but they are contradicting their own religion by doing so, and there may be a tendency to resort to its extremes given certain conditions (as we see with disenfranchised marginalized or plain obsessive type and unintelligent muslims who become terrorists) - and you don't see many Christian or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist Terrorists now do you? You will find this is mainly because the holy books of these other religions simply do not preach hatred and violence toward women or non-believers. Jesus, for example, said 'let he who is without sin cast the first stone'. My point is that Islam denies moderateness in and of itself because of the directness of its hate and violence-driven instructions, particularly regarding Westerners/ infidels (non believers), women, and petty criminals. There is no room for debate amongst these surahs. Non-believers are to be killed, women to be beaten and/or stoned to death for things like infidelity, and petty criminals are to have their hands cut off under Shariah law (I appreciate I am summarizing things here and there are mitigating circumstances accounted for under Shariah, but still.....). Under Shariah law, for example, in fundamentalist countries a womn can be raped then taken to a Shariah court, and as a woman's testimony is worth half that of a man's she is not able to have a comparative argument and he is able to state that she seduced him, or whatever, and thus justify the death penalty for her. There are clerics in the Muslim world who are arguing that women who wear a full hijab where just the eyes are visible, should only show one of their eyes as they would otherwise encourage men to rape them or at least have lusty unclean thoughts. Here we see that men are encouraged not to take responsibility for their own actions, rather to blame the woman for 'making them' lust after herand/or rape her. This is insanity. I did not discuss Christianity or Judaism in the article, the reason being that my thesis was not about counterposing different religions and saying that one was better than the other for whatever reason. I was coming from a humanist western democratic perspective. I stated that Islam does not encourage moderateness because of the directness of its instructions 'from the word of God' requiring extreme prejudice and violence in order to be a true Muslim based on the instructions given. I was also stating that the problem with integrating Islam into western democracies is that as the religion is anti-debate there will be a tendency toward extremism over the long haul and also that Westerners need to have an opposition to this as democracy exists by virtue of debate. A turnary argument occurs amidst the binary opposition, and the truth is allowed to emerge within the discussion. No matter what argument is had, both sides will always experience a degree of education or enlightenment about their own view and the other's view, and the truth between it all, even if they deny this. The problem as I see it, and stated in the article, is that Western tolerance and political correctness denies us the ability to have this counter position and so radicalism continues rampantly unchecked even within Western nations. And in principle, it is my view that if a person migrates to another country then they ought to abide by the values and laws of that country; the country ought not change it self to cater for the migrant. This assimilation is not possible when the migrant's very religion tells them that non-believers will burn in hell and that if they are a true believer themselves that they should kill the infidel and thus be richly rewarded. If we have a pledge of allegiance then the migrant is at least forewarned and knows at the outset exactly where he/she stands. I have seen this, for example, as a domestic vilence worker doing groups with perpetrators who beat their wives in Australia thinking that it was their right to do so as per the Quran. Our secular laws and values had not been taught to them, as the values are only required to be stated in the pledge of allegiance if the person becomes a citizen, and as you know the migrant can live here as a permanent resident for as long as they like and there is no allegiance. I believe therefore, our allegiance needs to be claimed also for permanent residents as well. BB.
  3. M.A
    Although this article is pretty good and is spot-on regarding Islam, it contains one major fundamental flaw, which summed up in the claim that "for democracy to work we need debate and also an educated population". No. Democracy is a "God that Failed"(As Hans Herman Hoppe put it in his book title) and is among the main things that got our civilization into this mess to begin with(And not only with immigrants, but the economy as well). Democracy needs to be abolished ASAP and replaced with the idea of freedom and the non-aggression principle(Not to be confused in any way, shape or form with pacifism). So long as we continue to believe in this failed paradigm of democracy, which serves as enabler of political correctness and wealth redistribution, our civilization will continue spiraling down the drain, and frankly, we will deserve every bit of shit that we get for it. Here's one good video which deconstructs statism(and democracy among it) pretty well, which I recommend watching for all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXNRzI64L9Q
  4. Ben
    Now there's a contribution MA. This comment I gather is disputing whether western democratic values and processes are a good idea afterall, compared to shariah law; and are democratic processes the best way to deal with funamentalist religious extremists. Regarding voluntarism as per the link you provided - do you think it is possible to implement voluntarism in reality? I gather this is basically anarchy as it calls for the removal of Government. Democracy is basically a collection of representatives of the people with agreement based on majority (with all the inherent problems with corruption and waste of resources). My understanding is that in ancient Athens where the idea of democracy first occurred in recorded history, the main reason for sending representatives into Athens was because it was logistically impossible for all citizens to attend themselves in order to make major decisions which would affect all. My major problem with a lack of government is that large scale operations and future planning would not have the same clout, where voluntarism would basically return us to village/crofter lifestyles and mindsets based on the here and now of our local environment. This is partly good as we would not waste resources and be overly greedy and exploit others who lived far away as we would be focused on our local environment and less inclined to destroy it; but big expensive projects (like creating rocket ships or hydrogen fusion based fuel or MRI machines) would not be funded. Perhaps it's the case that these big projects are essentially unnecessary and bring with them more problems than any help they give us? We would also be less protected from any fascist feudal overlord who managed to control the minds of large groups of people and train them in weaponry, in order to gain dominance. Surely dominance mindsets are based on underlying insecurity and psychopathology or at very best the incentive to dominate others before they dominate you - however, like it or not, such people and such mindsets do exist, have always existed, and I'm sure will always exist. This would return us to feudal society where might makes right, and individual human rights only carry clout if you are nurtured by a powerful overlord, or you are an overlord yourself. At least with government we do directly or indirectly vote for representatives, even if they are flawed there are checks and balances to some extent. At least organised crime and gangs (aka feudal usurpers) are kept in check to some degree. So if we accept that part of man's essential nature is to dominate and fight others, and to also harbour underlying contradictions and imperfections of character that manifest as interpersonal problems, I gather we start to look at best-fit and near enough models of social ordering rather than perfection. Putting all this together, I think a basic government with limitations of the power given to individual leaders is the best way to go (as the Australian constitution, for example, restricts the PM from breaching basic human rights and other protective general laws - and if any change is made to the constitution a referendum agreement from ALL states is first required; i.e. a majority in every single state and territory). So we start to talk about robustness of economic and democratic models and error / corruption minimization (rather than achieving perfection). Extending this basic government with checks and balances and an educated population; perhaps with technology fewer representatives would be required, as unlike Athens we have advanced communications technology and citizens could directly vote for laws and actions to undertake. However there is still room for corruption of individuals just as there is corruption of representatives. Again - not sure if this could be avoided, but perhaps minimized. I'm not sure if the above model could stop excessively powerful and dominating corporations from rising though. Corporations start to act like governments when they have so much money they can manipulate almost any outcome - like destroying competition by undercutting pricing, then creating monopolies and jacking up prices once all factors are owned. I suppose voluntarism could stop this from happening, as only government could enforce corporate ownership and priviledges. To add to basic government under a democratic review process as per above, more and more people could have the option to create alternative communities that exist as systems within the bigger system, based on trade and barter to avoid excessive tax, and voluntarism at that level. These would be kind of like communes, but not involving collective ownership of goods and production which breeds further corruption and laziness anyways. BB.
  5. M.A
    Ben, First of all I appreciate your reply, as much as it is riddled with the usual cookie-cutter fallacious arguments for statism which have been debunked to death by anti-statists ad-infinitum. That strikes me as if you didn't bother to watch the entire video of Jacob Spinney and jumped to conclusions without wattching it all, and If that is indeed the case, please do watch it all, and only then come back with a response to this long and detailed rebuttal which I am going to provide, despite the existence of many rebuttals by much better people than me, freely available on the Internet(Some of which I will link to through the post). "This comment I gather is disputing whether western democratic values and processes are a good idea afterall, compared to shariah law" Wrong. It's not a comparison of "western democratic values and processes" vs. shariah law. It's a complete repudiation of the idea of democracy, and the claim that it can somehow safeguard itself against sharia law. To claim that it's either the glorified mob rule we call "democracy" or shariah law is to blatantly commit a false dilemma, a logical fallacy which needs to be scrapped. "are democratic processes the best way to deal with funamentalist religious extremists" No, as evidence across the whole democratic world shows, democracy only serves to enable religious extremists under the dogma of political correctness, which every politician who seeks to maximize votes in the popularity contest must practice. "do you think it is possible to implement voluntarism in reality?" Not only do I think it's possible, but also an absolute necessity if we are to secure the survival of our civilization on the long run. "I gather this is basically anarchy as it calls for the removal of Government. " I don't like the label "anarchy" for a variety of reason(Mostly because it refers to 19th century Communist-inspired movements, which opposed the idea of hierarchy, rather than the state per se). But let's not get lost in semantics here and get it straight: Yes, I do think the glorified mafia we all know as "the state" needs to be scrapped. The state is a geographic monopoly on violence, which claims large chunks of empty land by fiat and coercively takes other people's property at the point of a gun in an extortion racket we euphemistically call "taxation" in order to fund itself. What's is there about this that so many people find so attractive? However, as the video above showed, it is certainly NOT calling for lawlessness, if that's what you mean. To claim that it does would be a major strawman on your part. "Democracy is basically a collection of representatives of the people with agreement based on majority" Yeah, in other words, mob rule. If I don't agree to what the majority in a certain geographic monopoly decided and don't want to take part in it, even if I am not forced to physically participate in it, I am still forced to pay for it, and if I don't, eventually men in uniform will come to my house to throw me in prison. If I resist that, they make sure to turn me into a Swiss Cheese. Now granted, that doesn't happen very often, but the inescapable axiom of statism is that every action of the state is backed by violence, which makes it nothing more than the most overglorified mafia in human history. And your understanding of Athenian democracy is also completely wrong, since Athens was a direct democracy, and NOT a representative democracy. And just like the representative democracy of our day, which is killing our civilization with a thousand cuts, the Athenian democracy was quite disastrous as well, and lead, among other things, to the execution of Socrates for questioning it. Democracy at its finest. "(with all the inherent problems with corruption and waste of resources)." So, you ARE indeed aware of these inherent problems of democracy, yet continue to zealously defend even in light of a better alternative. That is many anti-statists consider statism to be just another form of religion. "My major problem with a lack of government is that large scale operations and future planning would not have the same clout" First of all, I am not talking about "lack of government" per se, since there are many ways to form something that can be defined as a "government"(Again, that may be only a matter of semantics, but you get my point). What I am talking about is the lack of a coercive monopoly. If people aren't willing to engage voluntarily in "large scale operations" without a coercive monopoly dictating them to do it, then chances are that such large scale operations aren't necessary for the betterment of humanity. But this assertion is also blatantly false, considering the fact that there were and are many large scale operations carried out around the world without being dictated by a top-down coercive monopoly. Private companies, NGO's, non-profit-organizations, rings a bell? And what do you mean by "future planning"? Any "planning" by the state is bound to get in the way of a planning by individuals, and as such, would be nothing more than a coercive-collectivist decision by a group of "wise" Platonic philosopher kings/politicians/bureaucrats, and is almost inevitably and invariably bound to have unintended consequences. See this video with Walter Williams which brilliantly deconstructs the vicious idea of state-planning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1Z1sErkmKM "voluntarism would basically return us to village/crofter lifestyles and mindsets based on the here and now of our local environment" Like I said, since empirically, there are many non-coercive organizations out there carrying out large scale-operations as we speak, this claim is an outright FALLACY, so kindly avoid repeating it, because it doesn't cut any ice at all. "big expensive projects (like creating rocket ships or hydrogen fusion based fuel or MRI machines) would not be funded." Like I demonstrated earlier, that is an OUTRIGHT fallacy, since many big and expensive projects were carried out in the past without a state. If there a potential for a technological innovation which can be profitable due to high demand for it, there is no reason for this to not be carried out by private companies and entrepreneurs. Please see this video, which may address this fallacy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbR4cjA-Few And a bit longer video here, "The Myth of Science As a Public Good" by Terence Kealey: http://vimeo.com/4798314 Until this point, if you were ignorant of the counter-arguments, you could be excused for being honestly wrong, but from now on, to claim the state to be necessary for the progress of science would be an outright lie on your part. Ignorance is not a crime, but willful ignorance, combined with a strong opinion on the matter, is among the chief reasons why the human race is in such a bad shape(Not saying that it ever was in a great shape, though, don't get me wrong on that). "We would also be less protected from any fascist feudal overlord who managed to control the minds of large groups of people and train them in weaponry, in order to gain dominance" But that's PRECISELY what we have now with statism, which is maintained by collective ignorance AND force by "people trained in weaponry" by the state against those who would take their dissent to its logical conclusion by refusing to pay their tribute to the extortion racket. So to argue against statism by invoking statism is like saying that we need to kill ourselves on the spot because sooner or later we are gonna die anyway. "Surely dominance mindsets are based on underlying insecurity and psychopathology or at very best the incentive to dominate others before they dominate you – however, like it or not, such people and such mindsets do exist, have always existed, and I’m sure will always exist" So therefore, we need to give a bunch of people a bunch of guns...? What an utter and complete non-sequitir! Or perhaps somehow by the magic of democracy the people we elect somehow become incorruptible angels which have our best interests in their minds? This is the "original sin" argument, which is the most ridiculous and weakest cookie-cutter argument for statism there is, which feeds upon itself like a bunch of zombie piranhas. Here's two videos debunking it more eloquently than myself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_kxIQrm3s0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf79_DsTrQ8 "This would return us to feudal society where might makes right, " "Might makes right" is what we have now. As Jacob Spinney eloquently said in that video, quoting a popular adage attributed(Probably falsely) to George Washington, "government[In this context, state government that is, to avoid any further semantic confusions] is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force". And since statism is ENTIRELY predicated on coercion, and EVERY action of the state is backed by a barrel of a gun(Or the edge of the sword, as was in the past), to invoke the "might makes right" principle in order to argue in favor of statism, as some kind of danger that awaits us all if we don't have a coercive monopoly to run our lives is one heck of a sick joke. "and individual human rights only carry clout if you are nurtured by a powerful overlord, or you are an overlord yourself." Since I do not have the right to not have my property not confiscated to fund the extortion racket, and the state is the biggest violator of human rights in human history, your argument here is once again, self-defeating, like virtually all arguments in favor of statism. If there could have been a small, limited government that would defend the negative liberties of people without violating our property rights(Which is problematic in and of itself, since it cannot function without and without expanding into an apparatus of legal plunder, I could put up with that, but if history teaches us anything, is that "limited government" is nothing more than a pipe-dream, a unicorn. "Is Limited Government an Oxymoron?": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpmqy9tC4uI "At least organised crime and gangs (aka feudal usurpers) are kept in check to some degree." No, not really. They completely control the system, and commit all kinds of crimes against us(Most of which being the organized armed robbery in the form of taxation, but not only that) with impunity, and we are constantly said that all we need to do is "just vote for the right overlords to rule over us". What a sick joke! "So if we accept that part of man’s essential nature is to dominate and fight others," Even if we are to accept that(Although I am personally reluctant to do so, as I am not aware of any evidence to conclusively prove that), that only serves as an argument AGAINST giving a bunch of people a bunch of guns and have them tells us how to solve our problems. Because to claim otherwise, as if people somehow become better if we give them that power by some kind of magic of democracy, falls short of believing in gods, and I gave up any pretense of trying to believe in the gods few years ago, as I assume you did also. Now it's time to drop the silly belief as if there can be gods in governments or among legislators. There cannot. Once again, it's the self-refuting statist "original sin" fallacy. "and to also harbour underlying contradictions and imperfections of character that manifest as interpersonal problems" Now you are just babbling. What that has to do with installing a coercive monopoly to run our lives anyway? "I gather we start to look at best-fit and near enough models of social ordering rather than perfection." Perfection is something which statism strives for, yet constantly fails to deliver. Voluntaryism and the free-market gives the option to experiments with various models of social ordering, while statism seeks to impose one-size-fits-all solutions, which is why it ALWAYS fails to solve the problems it tries to solve, and creates even MORE problems, and then, it's mindless proponents claim that it's all because "we didn't give statism a chance", or "we didn't give the state enough money/power" and stuff like that. Indeed, statism is an irrational, anti-empirical, unfalsifiable religion: http://c4ss.org/content/5475 "Putting all this together, I think a basic government with limitations of the power given to individual leaders is the best way to go" "Limited government" has already been tried several times throughout history with the same result. At first it works great, the economy booms and everyone gets richer and then this spurs the state on to grow and plunder until everything collapses. It happened with ancient Rome, it happened with Britain and it's happening now in the US and the rest of the developed world, which is in huge unsustainable debt due to welfare statism. I do not want see this cycle repeated yet again. It has to stop. Statism must be done away with, and the sooner, the better. All of your suggestions for a "better democracy" are just desperate attempts to salvage this sinking ship, and they presuppose democracy and the state. They presuppose as if a coercive monopoly is needed to achieve our goals. It is NOT. There is no rational argument whatsoever to support that. The only reason you cling to that is the same reason people cling to religion, despite it being demonstrably false and ridiculous. It stems from nothing more than your emotional and mental attachment to the idea of democracy and the state. And that's all there is to it. "I’m not sure if the above model could stop excessively powerful and dominating corporations from rising though" It cannot. Corporations are a byproducts of the state, and are given their status solely by the state. Get rid of the state, and you will get rid of corporate power. In a free market, companies and individuals become rich by providing better services to the populace. In corporatism, they get state protection in the form of regulations, which only serve to protect them against competitors. "I suppose voluntarism could stop this from happening, as only government could enforce corporate ownership and priviledges." That's right! You're learning! ;-) "To add to basic government under a democratic review process as per above, more and more people could have the option to create alternative communities that exist as systems within the bigger system" Actually, the best system to have "the option to create alternative communities" is voluntarism. States only good to enforce one-size-fits-all solutions. And if there are people out there who want to experiment with "collective ownership", they are free to do so, as far as I'm concerned, and built voluntary communes based on that idea, so long as they don't coercively impose it on everyone else. If they can compete in a free environment and create prosperous communes like that, more power to them. *phew*, that was one hell of a long rebuttal! I do hope you take the time to read it all, and avoid repeating the usual statist fallacies that I debunked here. I know I may have been a bit harsh in some parts of it, but I hope you take no offense, and rest assured that I am only hostile toward those who are intellectually dishonest. Since you don't strike me as someone who is intellectually dishonest, I am pretty sure you are going to be able to realize the fallacies of your way of thinking after reading my rebuttal. Best regards, M.
  6. Ben
    Hello M.A. Your response was very informative and it has opened up a new interest for me about alternatives to some of the things many of us take for granted. It is good to 'remain in the qustion', and to be critical thinkers. This includes issus such as whether democracy is really the best system of government for society, or indeed whether government is actually required afterall. Now to give you some feedback regarding this experience. What I will say is that your approach is very hostile, a tone bordering on intellectual bullying. In my experience if you would like people to understand a new idea (such as voluntarism, as this was a new idea for me) it is not helpful to make them feel bad about being curious or venturing forth with potential ideas and questions on the subject, especially if you really do think something like voluntarism is essential to our very survival as a civilization. Clearly you are well versed in philosophy and argument. I remember when I studied some units in philosophy at university I found it remarkable how many of the professors were hostile and fierce as intellectuals; it was as if they had to be on guard their whole life, that if they put a foot (or a comma) out of place there would be a fierce reprisal by an aggressive supervisor (or father), to the point where intellectuals barely say anything new, much of the time, rather, they spend more time criticizing the work of others. I find that fear of reprisal does keep people in line, but in throwing the baby out with the bathwater it also shuts people down from venturing forth into further enquiry. In deed the whole subject becomes associated with the feeling of reprisal and we can lose interest in it. I remember reading Edward DeBono (who coined lateral thinking) - he stated that logic was one of the worst developments to befall man. He said that logic is basically the application of the word 'no' and cuts pathways of thoughtful enquiry that would otherwise be fruitful. This duality of yes / no, right/ wrong, good/ bad is often a construction and an imposition and I think it does cut off pathways of potential fruit - especially if we look at things like paradox. This fierce approach can make us rigid and unyielding, and bearing in mind this is a psychology website, I think it is often a defense mechanism to circumvent feelings of vulnerability. In many parts of your rebuttal, of course, you are right (your rebuttal was focusing on a small part of my article about democracy being a good system). Some of what I was saying in my response to you could be seen as falacious, and in deed I could have taken more time to become an expert in the field of voluntarism vs statism before I ventured forth a reply or futher questioning - but this is clearly unrealistic: if we waited until we were experts in fields before we ever spoke we would probably never have a conversation, we would, rather, just remain on guard and silent. It is not just about whether we are right or not; what matters equally is how we go about justifying our point of view and whether we are charitable regarding the other's - especially if we really want to open up debate on the matter with all good will. BB.
  7. EmJ
    What are you people? You are the most ignorant nation in the world and you act as if you could a circle from a triangle. What makes you think this article is spot-on? The verses, faulty and untrue? More so meanly interpreted by this conniving writer. The barbarity of Islam? Suicide in Islam is forbidden, any kind of suicide, bombing suicide especially. Where you get your information I have no idea. Those who commit the horrid actions in the name of Islam are only seeking to besmirch the name. Oh but the westerners are not at all barbaric, day and night killing innocents in Palestine and Iraq .Palestine was attacked becuase of its good location between Asia and Africa. America attacked Iraq because of it's wealth of oil. Millions and millions, who have no weapons but stones to defend themselves were tortured, starved and killed by Westerners. I read half of your nonsense article and I could read no more. My hand trembles with your unjust accusations while I type this reply. I live in a Muslim country, and Westrners here are treated with the utmost respect and recieved among us as our equals, because Islam says we are all equal except by our deeds. You have no idea what you are talking about. Please next time write about something you know. THE PERSON WHO TALKED ABOUT WOMEN BEING RAPED, OFCOURSE THEY ARE NOT TO BLAME. ARE U IN FULL COMMAND OF YOUR SENSES? WHAT IS WRITTEN IN THIS ARTICLE IS NONSENSE.
  8. Gemma
    People are too fearful. No-one has any real power to tell us what we can or can't say. I feel a lot of people don't really understand what being racist actually means. We are allowed to criticise others regardless of their religion, nationality, etc. But there is a huge difference between, for example, criticising a Muslim group for a wrong doing, and criticising a Muslim for being Muslim. People need to learn the difference and to stop being so fearful and hateful. Stop giving the power away. Fear and hatred only breeds more of the same. We should lead by example. Be tolerant. Be compassionate. Be understanding. And so on. It will be a very slow process but eventually, the message will get through and the world will become a far better place. Naturally, we do need to keep an eye on the extremists, and take action when necessary, but not to the extremes we have been seeing lately. I do agree we should not change our laws to suit immigrants. I agree we do need to do away with political correctness and all of that. We need to be free to speak our minds, but at the same time, we need to control ourselves too. That's something that Westerners currently have a huge issue with. Many Westerners will not control themselves. Look at the Americans for example. And at the BNP in the UK. These are just examples, but I'm sure you get my point. We can hardly complain can we?
  9. Ben
    thanks gemma, it's important to strike a balance and have informed freedom of speech.
  10. Ben
    Dear EmJ Clearly I have offended you - your nose has been put out of joint by the article on Islam. For this I am deeply sorry. I believe religion to be a private matter and that people should believe what they will. However there comes a time when public comment is required because beliefs and religions and their followers are generating so much risk for all people. I appreciate that the article may have some provocative points within it. When I read your comment and others like it I considered deleting the entire article, but then I thought again. With the issues you raise in your reply - will you please educate us if you think we are misconstruing the point and how exactly I am a conniving writer? Let us grow from the debate. May I assure you that I am certainly not trying to be conniving - but I am trying to write a cohesive article from a certain perspective. I think many westerners have stopped asking such questions in a public forum because we fear a death fatwa being put upon us by some Islamic religious authority. Before you say that all Muslims are peace loving and would never do this - this indeed happened to Salman Rushdie who wrote 'The Satanic Verses' which from memory, vaguely and poetically criticized the prophet Muhammad. The very fact that death is sought as a punishment for criticism by individuals like the Ayatollah, is proof of my concerns raised in the article. Rushdie's fatwa was only lifted when he converted to Islam! This was the only option available to him to protect himself and his family. May we also refer to the certain Danish cartoonist who drew caricatures of religious figures, Muhammad and Christ alike and a death fatwa was placed upon him by a certain Muslim authority. Whilst you yourself as a muslim may not have ordered the death fatwa, you are part of a wider religion which does. Does this make you guilty by association? I do not know the answer to this. . What I do know is that It is difficult to have a debate between a secular person and a religious person because the basis for each of our ideas is founded in different styles of reasoning. My perspective was based on the problems inherent in how to integrate society with fundamentalist Islam and how political correctness and racial vilification can create a tolerance of such radicalism to our detriment as a whole society. I appreciate that I am not an Imam Quran scholar - my references however, did indeed come from the Quran (the English Translation by the Penguin Edition). But I will have a go, thus, and try to learn along the way: If you are going to say that 'Islam is not at all like this - you people are ignorant' then please tell us how you interpret the quotes referenced. I am struggling to find a better way to interpret them myself. Do you think the English translation I've referred to is somehow flawed? If so, then how? My experience has been that extremists are somehow interpreting the Quran and associated texts differently to moderate and peace-loving Muslims. I would like to know what the main difference is. You cannot simply call us ignorant and not tell us why and how we are wrong. I would be remiss to convert to Islam myself as then if I questioned the religion and its texts after the fact, and decided to leave the religion, I may well be guilty of apostasy. This attracts the death sentence in your Sharia Court. Or are you living in a secular Muslim society which does not have a Sharia Court? Are you arguing that Sharia law is a good thing? Or are you saying that only misguided muslims, like those in the previous Taliban-run Afghanistan would misinterpret Sharia law? Are you not aware that women are second-class citizens under Sharia and that their testimony is, truly, only half that of a man in its weight and power? Please understand, again, that I am not saying other religious are better. In deed, the Jehovah of the Old Testament can be seen as a capricious, vengeful, jealous, violent and merciless god as well. Christ can be interpreted, not as fostering such old views, but of challenging them and instructing people to be peaceful and loving and not to be hypocrites. There would be inherent contradictions, therefore in the Bible; parts emphasising hatred and revenge and others love and forgiveness. However - the New Testament (of Gospels describing the life and teachings of Christ) in this way is clearly demarcated from the Old Testament (The Book of the Jews). I am sure that there are further contradictions in the Gospels about Christ as well. Again, I am not saying that any religion is better. However I would say that Christ never did tell people to kill each other for offending his beliefs. He preached tolerance and forgiveness, but also to stand up for against injustice, crimes against humanity, and call a spade a spade - as he indeed did so himself when he criticized the Jewish pharisees in their money lending in the temples. In a sense, IF the Quran tells its believers to be equal, loving and peaceful and treat westerners / infidels and women with respect, and then in another section tells you to kill the infidel and beat the woman - this there is simply a contradiction that needs to be reconciled. I am sorry, but I cannot put in any other way. Perhaps in this way, considering that all religions rely on ancient static documents then there is a problem with religion itself. Perhaps this is why various Muslim sects interpret the Quran and associated religious texts differently - different parts are focused upon and others overlooked? Again I am not a religious scholar - just a man who would like to generate debate in this area and THEREBY learn more. Additionally I am painfully aware that Islam has been exploited by some Western power groups - particularly the previous Bush Administration and USA war monger groups that profit on continual war and fear to control the people of America and capitalise on the poor of the world. I think this is absolutely terrible. I am also aware that many Islamic extremists have possibly been 'set up' by these 'powers that be' in the world as a scapegoat, just as the Jews were by Hitler and the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. We are also aware that the CIA trained and munitioned many such terrorists - and that the American covert dabbling and complicity has a lot to answer for in the current Global situation. I am painfully aware that you and many other muslims would be worried, afraid and down right angry at this injustice - however by being Aggressive and /or not separating from solidarity with extremists then extremists and moderates alike may be equivocated accordingly. I understand that I am raising more issues here, but burying our head in the sand and ignoring them in such a geo-political climate will not do any of us any favors. Sincerely, BB.
  11. Gemma
    I agree with a point EmJ raised: we are ignorant. I have long suspected that moderate Muslims do not condone what Islam extremists do. And EmJ has pretty much confirmed my suspicions. Perhaps if we can stop judging Muslims falsely, we can start to learn more about Muslims and their way of life, their religion, etc. Then perhaps we can stop being so fearful and reactive.
  12. Mark Towse
    Excellent article Ben, but I must pull you up on one statement:- "...you don’t see many Christian or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist Terrorists now do you?". I think the Palestinians might disagree with regards to Jews, the Burmese (Myanmar) Junta have literally terrorised an entire population for decades, and I struggle to extricate those stalwart Christans, Bush and Blair, from the term terrorists as they continue to occupy middle eastern countries after 10 years, even having killed now 1 in 20 Iraqi's. It would also be fair to remember my own Christian nation, England, terrorised, stole and butchered most of the World during the Victorian era - even effectively stealing Australia, America, India and New Zealand from their native populations - even going to war with China for the privillege of keeping hold of the Opium trade. The Spanish Christians butchered and terrorised the entirity of South America, where the marks of their brutality still show sore today. When you factor in Christian and Jewish slavery of native Africans, I think its fair to say that we, in fact, have to call Christians some of the bggest terrorists the world has ever known. You are perhaps mistaking a relatively minor amount of bombings by a nutty bunch of Islamic militants with wholesale, continuingly perpetrated, mass, systemic terrrorism. Don't get me wrong - Islam is fundamentally flawed, but evil and terrorism spam all religions, and those claiming to support 'peace and love Jesus' have continually been the biggest terrorists imaginable, and unfortunately I don't see this changing at any point in the near future. Oh yes, and we Christian countries also produce - along with Israeli Jews - most of the weapons in the world used to shoot, blow up, mine and gas our fellow men. Peace and love Man, yeah... :-)
  13. Ben
    Hi Mark! Long time no see - since the old Moorish Portugese monastery, I think. Thanks for your erudite reply to this article. I am aware that the article has a slight polemical tone to it, and I realise that no religion (especially as you have laid it out clear) is immune to terrorism... in deed now we are seeing bands of youth terrorising cities in England, for what seems to be no other reson than opportunistic rioting and looting, perhaps due to powerlessness, but also greed, a lack of boundaries and respect, and a lack of self discipline as well. Whilst there may be family of origin antecedents to their behaviour, we are all responsible for what we think, feel, say and do. Back to your response: Perhaps Christianity and other religions besides Islam (notwithstanding the Western attack in the Middle East - which is less along religious lines though, to be honest, and more about money and oil) have moved on from such Dark Ages, yet Islam is still to go through this time of evolution. Whilst many Muslims are lovely people, the major text itself does incite violence. The Old Testament is in places, probably, no better. The Jehova represented is somewhat violent, wrathful and capricious. Cheers Ben.

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