Danny Postel https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/679/all cached version 12/06/2018 10:08:52 en The conscience of Syria: An interview with activist and intellectual Yassin al-Haj Saleh https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/yassin-al-haj-saleh-nader-hashemi-danny-postel/conscience-of-syria-interview-with-act <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="p1">A popular Syrian intellectual responds to questions on the Syrian conflict and the west. Throughout, Yassin confronts <span class="s1">and</span><span class="s2"> </span><span class="s1">reframes</span> several western fears and constructs about Islamists, intervention and the development of the uprising.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/yassin.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="yassin"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/yassin.png" alt="Image courtesy of Yassin al-Haj Saleh." title="yassin" width="400" height="364" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image courtesy of Yassin al-Haj Saleh.</span></span></span></p><p><span>Danny Postel(DP) and Nader Hashemi (NH), co-editors of&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.bostonreview.net/br-book/syria-dilemma">The Syria Dilemma</a><span>, introduce Yassin Al-Haj Saleh:</span></p><p><span>Yassin al-Haj Saleh&nbsp;is often called the conscience of the Syrian revolution.&nbsp;Born in Raqqa in 1961, he was arrested in 1980, while a medical student in Aleppo, and imprisoned for his membership in a left-wing organization. He remained a political prisoner until 1996, spending the last of his&nbsp;</span><a href="http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/9744">sixteen years behind bars</a><span>&nbsp;in the notorious desert-prison of Tadmur (Palmyra).</span></p><p><em>Saleh has emerged as one of the leading writers and intellectual figures of the Syrian uprising, which began three years ago this week. In 2012 he was given the Prince Claus Award (supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs) but was<a href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/syrian-writer-in-hiding-unable-to-collect-award/story-fn3dxix6-1226467895126">&nbsp;unable to collect it</a>, as he was living in hiding in Damascus. Now living in exile in Turkey, Saleh writes for a variety of international Arabic-language publications. Along with a group of Syrians and Turks, he recently established a Syrian Cultural House in Istanbul called&nbsp;Hamish&nbsp;(“margin” or “fringe”). Saleh has published several Arabic-language books, most recently&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cihrs.org/?p=8177&amp;lang=en">Deliverance or Destruction? Syria at a Crossroads</a>&nbsp;(2014).</em></p><p><em>DP,NH: For many in the west, the situation in Syria looks very confusing. On August 31, 2013, for example, President Obama said the “underlying conflict in Syria” was due to “ancient sectarian differences.” It is often heard – both in official foreign policy circles and among leftists and antiwar activists – that there are “no good guys” in the Syrian conflict, that all sides are equally bad, and therefore there is no one to support. What do you think of this stance? How would you respond to those who say there is no one to support in Syria?</em></p><p><strong>Yassin Al-Haj Saleh (YS):</strong><em>&nbsp;</em>Actually I find it confusing that many people in the west find our situation in Syria confusing. Is it a matter of information and knowledge? I tend to think that it is a matter of politics. Confusion could be a function of a certain position toward our struggle: inaction, which in my opinion is the worst kind of action, not from our perspective as Syrians but also from a regional and international perspective, not to mention humanity and human solidarity with the oppressed.</p><p>Sectarian differences? What a subtle analysis! When an armed structure uses the supposedly national army, media organs, and resources to kill its own people when they oppose its tyrannical rule—this can hardly be considered a sectarian conflict. We’re not talking about just any structure—we’re talking about the repressive state apparatus of the Assad regime. It thus becomes absurd to explain the Syrian struggle in sectarian terms. To the best of my best knowledge, states are not sects, are they?</p><p>I am by no means turning a blind eye toward sectarian tensions and conflicts in Syrian society. Many writers,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lb.boell.org/web/52-801.html">myself included</a>, have written about sectarianism in Syria. My main conclusion is that sects are politically manufactured entities, and sectarianism is a political tool for controlling people, a strategy for political domination. It certainly is not a matter of social “differences” but rather a method for guarding social privileges and transforming a struggle against tyranny and manipulation into sectarian strife, a&nbsp;<em>fitna</em>. The word&nbsp;<em>fitna&nbsp;</em>has religious echoes about it, and it is remarkable that the ‘secular’ Bashar Assad used it sixteen times in his first speech after the beginning of the revolution on March 30, 2011.</p><p>Even now, after more than a thousand days of the Syrian struggle, it is still a tremendous political and ethical mistake to say that all we have are bad guys. The regime is essentially criminal and has no solution whatsoever to Syria’s many problems. I think those who says Syria’s sides are equally bad are the same people who believe in that despicable slogan of&nbsp;<em>realpolitik</em>: a devil you know is better than a devil you don’t know. Meaning the devil you know isn’t really a devil after all. It’s only the devil you don’t know who is the bad guy. This is bad politics, devoid of knowledge, devoid of human values.</p><p><em><strong><em>DP,NH:&nbsp;</em>The Slovenian leftist philosopher Slavoj Žižek wrote an article for&nbsp;<em>The Guardian</em>&nbsp;</strong><strong><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/06/syria-pseudo-struggle-egypt">characterizing Syria as a "pseudo-struggle</a>"&nbsp;</strong><strong>lacking a radical emancipatory voice. What do you make of that criticism?</strong></em></p><p><strong>YS:&nbsp;</strong>Firstly, he ignores how the Islamic faith can be a tool. This is a contradictory phenomenon to be sure, but a real one. Religion and religiosity can fuel emancipatory mobilization. Secondly, he fails to say anything about the origins of this situation in the country—extreme political poverty in particular (no right to freely gather, even in private places, no free speech or publishing). Thirdly and most importantly, the stance of Žižek and others like him does not help secular Syrians who are struggling against the regime. In fact this position serves to weaken us, and to make both the regime and the Islamists stronger. In effect they are saying that people who are interested in mass emancipation have nothing to do with "pseudo-struggles" and the right thing for them to do is to stay away from those struggles. This is irresponsible and insensitive to human suffering. Their recommendation—and I think this is the real criterion for evaluating the analyses of 'leftists'—is not that secular Syrians like us distance ourselves from the struggle, but worse: it is effectively to side closer to the regime. The regime is not only responsible for the pains of the Syrians over the past few decades, but also for the ascendance of the jihadi groups that Žižek complains about. The problem is not that such writers ignore something important about Syria, it is that they are ignorant of nearly everything about the miserable country.</p><p><em><em>DP,NH:&nbsp;</em>Give us a sense of your political biography. You were born in Raqqa in 1961. What were your political and intellectual influences as a young man? In 1980 you were arrested for your political activism and spent 16 years behind bars. What exactly were you arrested for? What was your group doing in that period? What was Syrian political life like at that time?</em></p><p><strong>YS:&nbsp;</strong>I was a member of one of the two communist parties in Syria when I was a student at the University of Aleppo, the Syrian Communist Party-Political Bureau. It opposed to the regime of Hafez Assad, and was struggling for democracy. I was influenced by thinkers like the two late Syrians Yassin al Hafez and Elias Murqus, and the Moroccan historian and political theorist Abdallah Laroui. To those of us seeking a better understanding of our social and historical situation, they offered a non-dogmatic Marxism with an orientation to our society and cultural problems. Under their influence, I decided I wanted to be a writer. We found ourselves enthusiastic about the Euro-communism of the 1970s and critical towards the Soviet Union. But our political identity was mainly built on our experiences of struggle against the tyrannical rule of Assad, the father. It combined a traditional leftist affiliation with a deep commitment to the people and an aspiration for freedom.</p><p>Before 1980 one could hardly speak of a political life in Syria. There was an alliance of seven parties, including the official Communist Party (who relied heavily on the Soviets). The alliance, the National Progressive Front (NPF), was under the leadership of the Ba’ath Party, and it was supposedly the frame for political life in Syria. Actually it was the frame for political death. Other groups who were steadfast in opposing the regime were sent to jail. So prisons and NPF have been the political institutions in the country for forty-one years now.</p><p>At the political level, we harshly condemned the regime and considered it to be responsible for the “social and national crisis” that broke out in the country between 1979 and 1982. At that time, the regime of Hafez Assad showed increasingly fascist tendencies—organized violence against any independent social or political activities, building “popular organizations” to contain society, from school children to universities to women to trade unions. It also fostered entrenched, widespread nepotism with a blatant sectarian element in it, and created a cult of Assad via its media, military, educational institutions, and in public spaces (statues, banners, photos, songs, “spontaneous marches”). In a few years, this led to a big political and social crisis and a violent struggle between the regime and the Muslim Brotherhood. By the time the regime won this battle through bloody means, which was widely ignored at the international level, it was already on its path of crushing all the remaining forms of political and cultural life.</p><p>The Syrian Communist Party-Political Bureau denounced the outburst of fascism and spoke in favor of a democratic change to enable Syria to avoid violence and to open the political system to the people’s organizations and initiatives. We took active part in the protests in many Syrian cities in 1980. I was myself a participant in those protests at the University of Aleppo. Afterwards, I was forced to live in hiding for two months until I was arrested on December 7, 1980. I was only one of hundreds of members arrested. I was less than twenty years old at that time and spent sixteen years in prison. [Syrian opposition leader] Riad at-Turk spent nearly eighteen years in solitary confinement.</p><p>After prison I became a writer and participated in many activities of the opposition. Sixteen years in prison is a long time, but it was a formative experience for me as a public intellectual and as an ethical agent in the struggle for change. At the same time, it was an emancipatory experience; through suffering, learning, and struggle I broke out of some of my internal prisons: that of narrow political affiliation, of rigid ideology, and that of the intellectual's ego. Perhaps the second most important influence on my political identity is the revolution that began in March 2011 and the open-ended and multi-leveled struggle that is going on in the country. I stayed in hiding in Damascus for two years, and for another six months in other parts of the country. My role was that of an intellectual and writer, not of a politician or a political activist. In the coming years, I intend to work on the cultural dimensions of the Syrian revolution since I believe culture could be a strategic field for our struggle for freedom and against fascism, both the Assadist and Islamist versions.</p><p><strong><em>DP,NH:&nbsp;Speaking of that “struggle for freedom and against fascism, both the Assadist and Islamist versions,” in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/syria-s-opposition-frustrated-by-its-reluctant-allies-1.1534968">a piece you wrote for the&nbsp;Irish Times</a>&nbsp;in late September, you described the jihadi elements in Syria as “enemies of the revolution” and you claim that they “in reality are more threadbare and less cohesive than the impression from afar portrays them.” It is false, you contend, to assert “that what is good for the jihadis is bad for the regime.” You say, “What is true is that what is good for the revolution, the Free Syrian Army and the democratic activists inside and outside of the country, is bad for the regime and the jihadis.”</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>Can you elaborate on this point a bit for those who might find it puzzling? To what extent are the democratic forces in Syria now engaged in a war on two fronts – one against the regime, and one against the jihadis? If the Assad regime were to collapse in the coming months, would there not be a second war in its aftermath between the democratic forces within the revolution and the jihadi elements? To what extent is that war already taking place? Doesn't this double-bind in which Syria’s democratic forces are caught call for&nbsp;<em>more&nbsp;</em>solidarity from internationalists on the outside rather than the defeatist turn away from the Syrian conflict that one finds more prevalent of late?</em></strong></p><p><strong>YS:&nbsp;</strong>Jihadi groups only started to appear in Syria many months after the beginning of the revolution. The worse the situation became for the majority of people, the better the conditions became for extremist jihadis. When the social environment is being destroyed and dozens of people are being killed every day all over the country while the world is just watching—this is the perfect world for nihilist groups. Their very doctrines are built on the assumption that the world is evil and plotting against them, as Arabs or Muslims. By the way, this paranoid worldview is shared by both the Assadist regime and the jihadi groups.</p><p>It should be clear by now that the regime is happy with the appearance of these groups because they enable it to sell the narrative of “war against terrorism” to those who are ready to buy it in the west and elsewhere. Some prominent figures in western intelligence and diplomatic circles are now calling for coordination with the Assad regime against terrorism. Having such a marketable commodity [the “war on terror”] enables engagement with influential international powers, something the regime constantly depends on to refresh its international legitimacy and renew its mandate for ruling the country. Staying in power “forever” is the highest aim of the Assad dynasty.</p><p>So it is expected that the regime will do its best to secure the production of this commodity on a massive scale. One needn’t revert to speculation or conspiracy theories about possible hidden ties between the regime and some of these groups. On January 21, based on western intelligence information,&nbsp;<em>The Telegraph</em>&nbsp;published&nbsp;<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10585391/Syrias-Assad-accused-of-boosting-Al-Qaeda-with-secret-oil-deals.html">an article about secret cooperation</a>&nbsp;between the regime and al-Qaeda, especially in relation to oil in the eastern part of the country.</p><p>Up until mid-autumn of 2013 I was in Raqqa,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/feb/19/raqqa-syria-town-islamists-video">where the formal headquarters of ISIS</a>&nbsp;[the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaeda splinter group] were based in the enormous building of the local government. Though the regime fighters decided it was strategically vital to attack a school in the first days of October 2013, killing around twenty students, and its helicopters dropped barrel bombs on civilian neighborhoods, the ISIS building was never targeted.</p><p>The best way to combat the fascist jihadi groups is to bring about radical change in Syria by getting rid of the regime that has ruled the country for forty-four years.The disappearance of the regime, with all its machinery of brutality and humiliation, will provide national and democratically minded Syrians and moderate Islamists with the mechanism to confront extremist and expansionist organizations such as the ISIS. This might trigger a process of tolerance and reconciliation among various Syrian parties and make the voices of reason and forgiveness heard—things that sound impossible now. While I was in Eastern Ghoota between April and July 2013, one day a member of the Civil Defence Units who was in charge of washing the dead and placing them in coffins, while carrying in his two hands a terribly mutilated body, looked into my eyes and said: “<em>Istath</em>&nbsp;(learned man), how could we deal with those who did this to the child? How could we live with them?” I had no words to say at that time. It is impossible for “<em>Istaths</em>” like us to do anything useful while the public killer is still in his post, progressing in his job of torturing, starving, bombing, and killing on a daily basis.</p><p>It is not only that the regime is benefiting from reactionary fascist groups openly expressing their enmity toward the revolution. Those forces who have adhered to the revolution are the ones who have been confronted by those nihilist groups. You perhaps know that the beginning of this year witnessed many battles against the ISIS in which many moderate groups participated, and the outcome was that the ISIS was pushed away from all of Idlib and many districts of Aleppo. This took place despite the war the regime is waging against these same districts. This is to say that with only one enemy to fight, it would be much easier for Syrians to fight parties like ISIS.</p><p>The general social law in Syria for the last three years, and indeed during the whole nightmarish Assadist decades, has been that extremism nurtures extremism. It is vital for the country that the source of extremism is dried up: the fascist regime has a whole complex industry of killing its wretched people, and the whole world now knows after the leakof 55,000 photos of 11,000 brutally tortured bodies. Sending this thuggish junta to the dungeon of history will be the first step towards the country’s recuperation. Only then can there be a dynamic of moderation and inclusion, leading to the isolation the most extremist groups. No moderation is possible in Syria without justice for the Syrian people. The relation between the concepts ‘moderation’ and ‘justice’ is clear in Arabic: The word&nbsp;<em>I’tidal&nbsp;</em>(moderation) is derived from&nbsp;<em>Adl</em>&nbsp;(justice); accordingly, injustices foster extremism.</p><p>What internationalist parties all over the world need to know is that there is nothing progressive or anti-imperialist or secular about the regime. It is a fascist regime, a deeply sectarian and deeply corrupt junta that is prepared to commit every crime to stay in power. In an interview on the day the Geneva II meetings began, an anchor from Sky News asked Assad adviser Buthaina Shaaban about the 11,000 killed in the regime’s factories of death. Her answer was: “And what about the fate of the Christians? Don’t you care about the fate of Christians? Do you know that eleven nuns are still kidnapped?” This is representative of the mindset of the regime. Commenting on the chemical massacre of August 21 in Eastern Ghouta, Shaaban said that those killed were children from coastal villages (meaning: Alawis) kidnapped, brought to al Ghouta, and gassed! Even the French colonialism that dominated Syria between the two world wars was not as efficient in its divide and conquer policy as the regime is.</p><p>It is also clear that the imperial powers are doing their best not to cause the regime to fall, or even to weaken it. Actually they’ve done exactly the opposite: they have not helped the Free Syrian Army or the Syrian National Council in establishing no fly zones and safe zones, which those groups have asked for since the autumn of 2011. Not a single Stinger missile was acquired by the FSA, though the regime has been using its jet fighters for more than eighteen months now.</p><p><strong><em>DP,NH:&nbsp;Would you agree that the situation you describe is reminiscent of the Spanish Civil War, in which the democratic forces within the revolution (the POUM, anarcho-syndicalists, independent socialists) were fighting Franco's fascists on one front but over time also found themselves fighting the Stalinists as well, who spent as much if not more energy attacking the independent and democratic forces of the revolution as they spent battling Franco? Do the democratic forces in Syria today find themselves in something of a parallel situation?</em></strong></p><p><strong>YS:&nbsp;</strong>Things are more complex in Syria today than they were in Spain three quarters of a century ago. It is not only that our jihadi “Stalinists” are a burden on the revolution (they are enemies of the revolution indeed); it is also that some of them are suspected of secret cooperation with the regime, and that the regime is doing its best to boost the cause of those who are supposedly its enemies. Besides, only the worst of our “Stalinists” and of course the fascist regime have foreign volunteers; we do not have democratic or republican foreign volunteers, as was the case in Spain. Perhaps the military weakness of the democratic powers in Syria is the main difference. Democrats in the country did not resort to arms to defend the people, even though many of them supported the popular struggle against the Assadist fascists. This is one reason—indeed the most important reason—why various sorts of Islamists are in leading positions in the armed resistance. The other reason is that the regime arrested or killed or exiled those who were in leading positions in the uprising. While this is good for the Islamists, it says a lot about the “secular” regime and its alleged opposition to fundamentalists. It is like Franco cultivating the Spanish Communist Party in order to blackmail Europeans and Americans into engaging and cooperating with his regime.</p><p>In the end Franco was a dictator, a very brutal one, but with a vision of Spain and its greatness derived from the vocabulary and ideals of the European Right at that time. In comparison, Bashar is not a nationalist in any meaningful sense; he is only a mass murderer, and he and his gang have no vision or any ideal whatsoever of Syria or of Syrian nationalism. His only sacred principle is power—staying in power until he dies, and leaving his post, not to just any young Juan Carlos but to his son, who is not coincidentally named Hafez.</p><p>There is a big resemblance, however, between the course of the Syrian revolution and war and those of Spain—the role of the democratic western powers towards the two cases: short-sighted, hesitant, lacking in vision and courage, counter-productive, and very selfish. This is harmful for us Syrians, as much as it was for Spaniards at that time, and days will prove that it will be harmful for the world at large.</p><p><strong><em><strong>DP,NH:&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.bostonreview.net/world/bosnia-and-syria-intervention-then-and-now">Michael Ignatieff has argued</a>&nbsp;that one reason intervention has not happened in Syria is because of the failure of the Syrian opposition. Comparing Bosnia to Syria, he observes:&nbsp;</em></strong></p><p><strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong><em>Intervention will not occur until interveners can identify with a cause that democratic electorates in Western states can make their own. In the former Yugoslavia it was the Bosniak Sarajevans who understood this clearly and helped to mobilize the outrage in Western countries that eventually made intervention possible. They had always stood for a tolerant, multi-confessional city and in retrospect they did a heroic job in making their cause Europe’s own. Intervention finally occurred in 1995, at least in some measure because international opinion identified the Bosniaks as a worthy victim who could be assisted in the name of a general defense of "European values." The massacre in Srebrenica and the market bombing in Sarajevo were triggers for intervention, but the ideological ground had been prepared in the West by Sarajevan suffering in the siege. For the moment, the Syrian opposition has failed in making their cause a universal claim.</em></p><p><strong><em>Can you comment on this argument? Do you agree that the Syrian opposition has failed in this regard?</em></strong></p><p><strong>YS:&nbsp;</strong>Well, the Syrian opposition has failed in translating Syria’s dreadful suffering into universal meaning. I noticed this myself when I came to Turkey. The Syrian politicians and activists here either deal only with official Turkish bodies or live within their own isolated communities. They hold sit-ins in various cities in Turkey, but with banners and slogans written only in Arabic, thus failing to reach the Turkish community with their message. It seems that the same holds true in France, where there is a well-established Syrian community with many intellectuals living there.</p><p><span>I think one reason there is a monologue rather than a dialogue is the default mode of interaction among Syrians: we have really lived for half a century in solitude. Probably ninety percent of Syrians have never known any political formation other than the Ba’athist regime, and perhaps more than 80 percent have known only the atrocious Hafez Assad and his horrendous son Bashar. Furthermore, in Syria and in the Arab world at large, there is a deep resentment toward the west because of contemporary traumatic experiences with the big western powers: the Palestinian issue is a major symbol of the rift between the two worlds and a dynamic source of Arab hostility to the West. It is also one source of hesitance in asking for western help. Nevertheless, Syrians have been realistic enough to ask for western help since the summer of 2011, even before they took up arms to defend themselves and even before they resorted to God as the only strategic depth from whom they demand support.</span></p><p>I would add that only recently, perhaps in the last few months, an increasing number of Syrians have begun to think that their cause, the Syrian cause, is a global one that requires them to think in global terms, to be interpreted in the same context of the liberatory struggles of the peoples of Eastern Europe or of South Africa. Things are changing at this level in my opinion, and maybe we shall see more Syrians fighting for their cause in the global arena.</p><p>But to come back to Ignatieff’s observation, I think the Syrian struggle says a lot not only about the Syrian opposition’s failures, but also about the failures of a western-centric approach. The western-centric approach expects the oppressed and the weak to view Western powers as if they are the conscience of the world, or the just sage you need to convince of the righteousness of your cause, and if you are patient enough and eventually win him over, he will act according to the principles of justice and human rights. I am afraid that this narrative is a fable. Palestine is a case in point here. The whole world knows very well about the plight of the Palestinians, and they know very well who the colonial power is that persists in eating away Palestinian land and resources, indeed their very existence. For Palestine, we have a 23-year-old “peace process,” the most ridiculous in history!</p><p>What choice do we have when a regime kills its own people with chemical weapons and the greatest power on earth is content with taking only some of the weapons from the hands of the criminal and without any sort of punishment? What conclusion will the war criminal draw from this other than that he can go ahead with his killing, using other weapons? Is it possible to interpret the American stance as saying “It’s OK to kill certain kinds of people. They are not the wrong people to kill. Why should we trouble ourselves and intervene on<em>their</em>&nbsp;behalf?”</p><p>By the way, military intervention was not indispensable and only few Syrians asked for it. What Syrians hoped for was some sort of military support, with which they would have achieved the task themselves. And I think this is exactly what influential powers did not want to see happen. It’s also important to state that the United States was not only reluctant to intervene in Syria, but it also pressured other parties—France, Turkey, and some Gulf states—not to offer efficient arms to the Syrian rebels. The present stalemate is not an inherent characteristic of Middle Eastern conflicts; it is something engineered by our putative American “friend,” the superpower. This is what Ignatieff’s approach misses.</p><p>What I want to say in summary is that however grave the deficiencies of the Syrian opposition are—and they are grave—it has been impossible for us to convince the “international community” that we are “victim(s) who are worthy to be assisted in the name of a general defense of ‘European values.’" I am afraid that when it comes to the Middle East, the Europeans are the first ones to abandon their proclaimed values. This must change, because only nihilist groups like al-Qaeda prosper under such circumstances.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>This interview was first published in the <a href="https://www.bostonreview.net/world/postel-hashemi-interview-syrian-activist-intellectual-yassin-al-haj-saleh"><em>Boston Review</em></a> on 12 March 2014.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/syria-freedom-forever/syria-in-context-of-arab-uprisings-0">Syria in the context of the Arab Uprisings</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nader-hashemi/syria-savagery-and-self-determination-what-those-against-military-intervention-are-mis">Syria, savagery, and self-determination: what those against military intervention are missing</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/civilresistance/stephen-zunes/opposition-to-intervention-in-syria-utilitarian-not-ideological">Opposition to intervention in Syria utilitarian, not ideological</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/gilbert-achcar/welcoming-vote-of-british-parliament-while-supporting-syrian-uprising">Welcoming the vote of the British Parliament while supporting the Syrian uprising</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Zizek intellectual Violent transitions Revolution Arab Awakening: violent transitions Danny Postel Nader Hashemi Yassin Al Haj Saleh Syria's peace: what, how, when? Wed, 26 Mar 2014 13:24:38 +0000 Yassin Al Haj Saleh, Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel 80330 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Mission accomplished? Syria, the antiwar movement and the spirit of internationalism https://www.opendemocracy.net/danny-postel/mission-accomplished-syria-antiwar-movement-and-spirit-of-internationalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Assad killing machine, which was overwhelmingly nonchemical to begin with, can continue unfettered on its rampage. The killing fields of Syria – no end in sight.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The American peace movement has been celebrating what it sees as its victory on Syria. “The US is not bombing Syria, as we certainly would have been if not for a huge mobilization of anti-war pressure on the president and especially on Congress,” <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/articles/us_not_bombing_syria_a_victory_against_another_us_war">writes Phyllis Bennis</a> of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). This represents “an extraordinary, unforeseen victory for the global anti-war movement,” she goes on, one that “we should be savoring.” Robert Naiman of the organization Just Foreign Policy <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/war-powers-resolution-syria_b_3916163.html">vaunts</a> “How We Stopped the U.S. Bombing of Syria”.</p> <p>This turn of events is “something extraordinary – even historic,” <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/10/an-extraordinaryturnagainstmilitaryintervention.html">writes my good friend Stephen Kinzer</a>, coming from a different but overlapping perspective. “Never in modern history have Americans been so doubtful about the wisdom of bombing, invading or occupying another country,” writes the author of the classic <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/overthrow/StephenKinzer"><em>Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq</em></a>. “This is an exciting moment,” he rhapsodizes, “the start of a new, more realistic approach to foreign policy.”</p> <p>The tireless progressive journalist David Sirota, whom I admire a lot, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/09/10/take_that_dc_gasbags_how_angry_americans_may_stop_a_disaster/">extols</a> “How the Antiwar Majority Stopped Obama.” The opposition of “angry Americans” to the administration’s push for a military strike, he contends, proved “absolutely critical” and is “why there now seems to be a possibility of avoiding yet another war in the Middle East.”</p> <p>I completely understand this jubilance. And yet it leaves me feeling uneasy.</p> <p>Let me be clear: I too was against the Obama administration’s proposed military strike on Syria. I thought it strange that after two and a half years of doing essentially nothing about the deepening crisis in Syria, the White House suddenly decided to act with such a sense of urgency that it was unwilling to wait for the United Nations inspection team to complete its job. As if the world should just trust American claims about weapons of mass destruction. That went really well last time.</p> <p>I also thought chemical weapons were exactly the <em>wrong </em>issue. To <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/why-is-there-a-red-line-on-chemical-weapons-but-not-on-70-000-deaths/275328/">paraphrase</a> Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Center, why draw a “red line” at the use of chemical weapons but not at 100,000 dead? Or at two and a half years of <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/why-is-there-a-red-line-on-chemical-weapons-but-not-on-70-000-deaths/275328/">crimes against humanity</a>? The vast majority of the civilians killed since the Syrian uprising began in March of 2011 have died by means of conventional, not chemical weapons.</p> <p>I agreed wholeheartedly with the <a href="http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/publication-type/media-releases/2013/mena/syria-statement.aspx">International Crisis Group</a> that the Obama administration’s case for action was based on “reasons largely divorced from the interests of the Syrian people,” who “have suffered from far deadlier mass atrocities during the course of the conflict without this prompting much collective action in their defence.”</p> <p>Hinging its case on chemical weapons turned out to be a huge strategic mistake as well. Russia cleverly short-circuited the Obama administration, taking advantage of the thinness of its case. So Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles will be removed from the equation – then what? The Assad killing machine, which was overwhelmingly nonchemical to begin with, can continue unfettered on its rampage. Chemical weapons issue – solved. The killing fields of Syria – no end in sight.</p> <p>Given this horrific picture, it’s hard for me to share the peace movement’s triumphalism. Yes, a US military attack was thwarted – good. But is that where the story ends?</p> <p>For libertarian isolationists like Rand Paul, paleocon America-Firsters like Pat Buchanan, and Realpolitik Tories of the sort who long dominated the Republican Party’s foreign policy apparatus, yes, the story ends in Washington. It’s all about us. People in far-flung lands are not our concern – not unless the vital strategic/national security interests of the United States are at issue.</p> <p>But for progressives, especially ones who profess the values of solidarity and internationalism, the story surely can’t end at America’s shores. Struggles around the world for justice and dignity matter to us. We believe that we have a stake in them and their outcomes. We take sides.</p> <p>Indeed the project that Phyllis Bennis directs at IPS is called <a href="http://www.ips-dc.org/mideast">The New Internationalism</a>. That’s a name with a noble legacy behind it. I was an intern at IPS 24 years ago. The recent death of longtime IPS fellow <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/anthony-barnett/saul-landau-american-leftist-1936-2013">Saul Landau</a> has brought me back to that time. Saul, whom I remember fondly, was a New Left Third Worldist par excellence. Solidarity with liberation struggles, especially in Latin America, formed the core of his politics. He wasn’t merely against US policy; he was passionately&nbsp;<em>for </em>emancipatory&nbsp;movements and leaders –&nbsp;Allende in Chile, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the FMLN in El Salvador.</p> <p>In the early weeks of 2011 progressive internationalists like Phyllis Bennis were decidedly <em>for </em>the Tunisian revolutionaries who rose up against the dictatorship of Ben Ali, the protestors in Tahrir Square who demanded the ouster of Egypt’s tyrant Mubarak, and those in Bahrain who demonstrated against the tyranny of the US- and Saudi-backed monarchy. Our position as progressive internationalists in those cases wasn’t primarily about the US – it was about supporting and sympathizing with popular struggles again authoritarianism and for human dignity.</p> <p>The Syrian uprising began very much <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/nader-hashemi/syria-savagery-and-self-determination">in the same spirit and as part of the same wave of revolts</a> across the Arab world. But the response of Western progressives to the Syrian case has been quite different. And the specter of a US military attack (predictably) sucked all the oxygen out of the room, imposing a kind of tunnel vision on progressives. “Where have these people been the past two years?”&nbsp;<a href="http://syriahr.com/en/index.php?option=com_articles&amp;aid=23&amp;Itemid=5&amp;task=displayarticle#.UkdB7WTXjbo">asks</a> the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in London. &nbsp;“It’s a bit late,” the organization inveighs, “to start marching for ‘no war in Syria.’”&nbsp;“What is emerging in the United States and United Kingdom now is a movement that is anti-war in form but pro-war in essence.”</p> <p>That may sound harsh and seem overstated, but it reflects a frustration that many Syrians share. The peace movement is emphatically against US intervention, but where does it stand on the struggle to topple Assad’s murderous dictatorship? How does it propose the bloodshed be brought to an end? What is to be done?</p> <p>There are no obvious, clear-cut answers to these questions, as Nader Hashemi and I recently stressed in an <a href="http://iranwire.com/en/projects/2567">interview</a>. These are vexing problems. This is why the book we recently coedited, <a href="http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/syria-dilemma"><em>The Syria Dilemma</em></a><em>, </em>brings together contending perspectives from twenty-two different thinkers and activists. “Morally serious people sharply disagree over what should be done,” we write in the book’s introduction. “There are compelling arguments on various sides of the issue.” Indeed there are roughly a dozen distinct positions in the book.</p> <p>But only having a position on what <em>shouldn’t</em> be done, while avoiding the question of what <em>should</em> be done, is a copout – and a betrayal of the tradition of internationalism. The question of what should be done is much thornier, to be sure — it requires more thinking, analysis, reflection, even soul-searching. In his exemplary <a href="http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/on-syria-what-to-do-in-2013/">contribution</a> to the book, <a href="http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/">Richard Falk</a>, one of the leading voices for peace and human rights over the last half-century, does exactly this. He wrestles with the conflicting issues at play and thinks hard about how the Syrian tragedy can be resolved. This is what internationalism demands we do.</p> <p>The Lebanese Marxist <a href="http://www.soas.ac.uk/staff/staff30529.php">Gilbert Achcar</a> goes further, <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/gilbert-achcar/welcoming-vote-of-british-parliament-while-supporting-syrian-uprising">arguing</a> that “it is the duty of all those who claim to support the right of peoples to self-determination to help the Syrian people get the means of defending themselves.” Achcar (author of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520280519"><em>The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising</em></a> and&nbsp;<a href="http://monthlyreview.org/press/books/pb0955/"><em>Eastern Cauldron: Islam, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq in a Marxist Mirror</em></a> and&nbsp;co-author, with Noam Chomsky, of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.paradigmpublishers.com/books/bookdetail.aspx?productid=143446"><em>Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy</em></a>) celebrated the British Parliament’s no vote on a Syrian military strike and yet is clear about his “resolute support to the Syrian popular uprising.”</p> <p>Of course there are many progressives, especially in the peace movement, who are uncomfortable supporting an armed rebellion or advocating the delivery of arms to one. We included two essays in <em>The Syria Dilemma </em>arguing against this course (one by <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/mar/04/syrians-arms-embargo-ask-russia-iran">Charles Glass</a>, one by <a href="http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/02/14/shopping_option_c_for_syria_arm_rebels">Marc Lynch</a>). OK, if that’s your view, then what would work better? The establishment of “No Attacks on Civilians” zones in Syria, as longtime humanitarian and peace activist Mary Kaldor <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/mary-kaldor/bordering-on-new-world-war-1">suggests</a> in her contribution to the book? Or something else?</p> <p>The point is to place the plight of the Syrian people front and center on the agenda and to think seriously about how to resolve it. More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed and nearly 7 million displaced from their homes, with an average of 5,000 fleeing into neighboring countries every day. The humanitarian horror is colossal.</p> <p>Back in 2000 I chaired a panel on Kosovo and the Left at the international conference of the <a href="http://www.radicalphilosophyassociation.org/">Radical Philosophy Association</a> in Chicago. Among the panelists was the Slovenian Marxist Slavoj Žižek. There was a moment in the Q &amp; A period that I’ll never forget. Someone in the audience began to articulate what was a widely-held position on the Left: that while Serbian forces had committed horrible atrocities in Kosovo, foreign military intervention would only make things worse and must be opposed. I say <em>began</em> to articulate because Žižek, having heard this argument before and knowing exactly where it was going, interrupted his interlocutor immediately after the preamble, just as the word “but” was on its way out.</p> <p><em>“And what do you propose should have been done about it?” </em>Žižek thundered with his characteristic intensity. It was one of those moments when time freezes. The room went silent. An uneasy moral clarity had been imposed on the discussion. It was disconcerting. It rattled everyone. And yet profoundly illuminating. It was a forceful, even performative statement, yet it wasn’t a rhetorical question. What, Žižek demanded to know, is your answer to the problem? (Tellingly, none was forthcoming.) If not <em>x</em>, then what? It’s not enough to stand <em>against</em> – we must also stand <em>for, </em>and think through what that means concretely, on the ground, where human lives are at stake.</p> <p>I want to put Žižek’s question to antiwar activists vis-à-vis Syria (leaving aside, for the moment,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/06/syria-pseudo-struggle-egypt">Žižek’s views on Syria</a>, which I will address in a subsequent piece).&nbsp;So you opposed a US strike on Syria. So did I. As well we should have. And that battle has been won. US military action in Syria is no longer on the horizon. So now what do we do?</p> <p>Mission accomplished, the peace movement seems to be saying as it takes its victory lap. But should antiwar activists feel quite so satisfied, as the death toll in Syria continues to mount with no end in sight?</p> <p>To be fair, some antiwar organizations point in the right direction, at least rhetorically. Peace Action <a href="http://masspeaceaction.org/3753">calls for</a> “real alternatives and solutions based on serious multilateral diplomacy, adherence to domestic and international law and massive humanitarian aid…as well as an arms embargo and a cease-fire.” But what if those appealing calls continue to go unheeded, as they have for the last two and a half years, despite all efforts – what then?</p> <p>“Dialogue, civil resistance, out-of-the box alternatives that no one expects to succeed—there are always other options,” reads an <a href="http://afsc.org/newsletter/toward-peace-and-justice-september-2013">e-blast</a> from the American Friends Service Committee. Are there really <em>always</em> other options? To its credit, the AFSC is <a href="http://afsc.org/office/syria">partnering</a> with the UK-based organization&nbsp;<a href="http://www.respond.org/">Responding to Conflict</a>&nbsp;“to support a network of courageous Syrian peacemakers who are working on the local level to build a future in which all Syrians can co-exist safely and peacefully.” I strongly support that kind of work. But what it if fails to stop the carnage? Then what?</p> <p>What if progressives devoted just a fraction of the energy and effort that went into mobilizing against a US military strike to the cause of bringing Syria’s nightmare to an end? It might not make a concrete difference – all the efforts to resolve the conflict thus far, including those of Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi, have come to naught (that is, the very efforts that antiwar groups continue to call for, as if they hadn’t been going on, and failing, for two and a half years). But the effort would at least be an expression of solidarity and internationalism. Factoring the Syrian people – who have been largely absent from the progressive discussion – prominently into the equation would represent a welcome departure from the solipsistic, US-centric tendencies of the American peace movement.
&nbsp;</p> <p><em>This article was originally published on</em> Critical Inquiry <em>on <a href="http://critinq.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/mission-accomplished-syria-the-antiwar-movement-and-the-spirit-of-internationalism/">Septenber 30, 2013.</a></em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia United States Syria Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Syria: a tale of two stuggles Violent transitions Geopolitics Arab Awakening Danny Postel R2P and Syria Syria's peace: what, how, when? Thu, 03 Oct 2013 22:19:17 +0000 Danny Postel 75831 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Who is responsible? An interview with Fred Halliday https://www.opendemocracy.net/danny-postel/who-is-responsible-interview-with-fred-halliday <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Fred Halliday, who died on 26 April, talks to Danny Postel about <em>realpolitik</em>, religion, universal rights and the pitfalls of the Left. He discusses the need to combine solidarity with critical distance, to know what is really happening in Third World countries. This interview, published in Salmagundi, not previously available on the web, was recorded on 23 November 2005, in Chicago. </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>Danny Postel</strong>: You were involved with New Left Review for 15 years but&nbsp;moved away from their worldview. What is your opinion now of where&nbsp;your former comrades are “at”? I’m thinking particularly of your old friend&nbsp;Tariq Ali, whose international popularity has soared since 9/11.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> I do not now share the major political orientations of the&nbsp;New Left Review. I resigned in 1983, after one of the journal’s periodic&nbsp;internal disputes. I find the direction they’ve gone most recently, in the&nbsp;last five to ten years, very disturbing, particularly around the issue of&nbsp;rights. But Tariq and I have known each other for more than 40 years.&nbsp;We were students together in the ’60s. We were active in the opposition&nbsp;to the U.S. war in Vietnam. And we’ve continued to cross paths in the&nbsp;British Left context. &nbsp;About 20 years ago I said to Tariq that God, Allah, called the&nbsp;two of us to His presence and said to us, “One of you is to go the left, and&nbsp;one of you is to go to the right.” The problem is, He didn’t tell us which&nbsp;was which, and maybe He didn’t know Himself. And Tariq laughed. He&nbsp;understood exactly what I was saying, and he didn’t dispute it.</p><blockquote><p>Read Danny Postel's tribute to Fred Halliday <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/anthony-barnett/fred-halliday-1946-%E2%80%93-2010?page=2#comment-528042">here</a>.</p></blockquote><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> What exactly were you saying?</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday: </strong>My view is that the kind of position which the New Left&nbsp;Review and Tariq have adopted in terms of the conflict in the Middle East&nbsp;is an extremely reactionary, right-wing one. It starts with Afghanistan.&nbsp;To my mind, Afghanistan is central to the history of the Left, and to the&nbsp;history of the world, since the 1980s. It is to the early 21st century, to&nbsp;the years we’re now living through, what the Spanish Civil War was to&nbsp;Europe in the mid and late 20th century. It was the kitchen in which the&nbsp;contradictions of the contemporary world, and many of the violent evils&nbsp;of the century, were cooked and then spread out. Just as Italian and German&nbsp;fascism trained in Spain for the broader conquest of Europe and the&nbsp;Mediterranean,the militant jihadi Islamists, of whom bin Laden was a part,&nbsp;received their training, their primal experiences, in Afghanistan. They have&nbsp;been carrying out this broad jihad across the Middle East and elsewhere&nbsp;ever since, including, of course, the attacks of September 11th. You cannot&nbsp;understand this unless you go back to Afghanistan in the 1980s.&nbsp;<br /><br />But who was responsible? Pakistani intelligence, Saudi Arabia&nbsp;and the United States. Read Bob Woodward’s book on Casey, The Veil,&nbsp;or Steven Cole’s book on Afghanistan, Ghost Wars. The U.S. was deeply&nbsp;implicated. My view is that anybody who could not see that issue then, or&nbsp;in retrospect, is objectively on the Right. And I think Tariq is objectively&nbsp;on the Right. He’s colluded with the most reactionary forces in the region,&nbsp;first in Afghanistan and now in Iraq. He has given his rhetorical support&nbsp;to the Sunni insurgency in Iraq—who have no interest in democracy or&nbsp;in progress for the people of Iraq whatsoever, whether it’s the Baathists,&nbsp;with their record of 30 years of dictatorship, or the foreign Sunnis with&nbsp;their own authoritarian project. The position of the New Left Review is&nbsp;that the future of humanity lies in the back streets of Fallujah.&nbsp;<br /><strong></strong></p><p><strong>Danny Postel</strong>: You mentioned the issue of rights. Where do you and the&nbsp;New Left Review diverge with respect to rights?&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> The issue of rights is absolutely central. We have to hold&nbsp;the line at the defense, however one conceptualizes things, however de-hegemonized, of universal principles of rights. This is how I locate my own&nbsp;political and historical vision—it is my starting point. What this means very&nbsp;practically, to cut a long story short, is the issue of intervention. It seems&nbsp;to me that certain interventions in defense of rights are justified—Bosnia&nbsp;and Kosovo, to take two obvious examples, or the defense of the Kurds&nbsp;in Iraq in 1990-1991. The New Left Review and others on that wing of&nbsp;the Left attack not just these particular interventions, but the very concept&nbsp;of rights—and are consistent in doing so. My fundamental disagreement&nbsp;with the Review, and with Tariq, is really about this.</p><p>But something very important happened between Tariq and&nbsp;me, which I think presages broader debates in the late ’70s, which was&nbsp;the Communist taking of power in Afghanistan, the subsequent Soviet&nbsp;invasion, and the support of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. for the&nbsp;Afghan Mujahideen. Having been in Iran, having seen the consolidation&nbsp;of Khomeini’s authoritarian regime, having stood on the streets of Tehran&nbsp;and seen 100,000 people shout “Death to liberalism!”, having been in&nbsp;the office of Iran’s main liberal paper when the Islamists came to close it&nbsp;down —a crucial moment in the consolidation of the Iranian regime—I&nbsp;was absolutely opposed to any support for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan,&nbsp;which I regarded as a reactionary Islamist project. I had plenty of criticisms&nbsp;of the Afghan Communist regime, but I thought they should remain&nbsp;and reform, and there should be a negotiated withdrawal of the Soviet&nbsp;forces. Tariq’s position, on the other hand, was: troops out of Afghanistan,&nbsp;period. In a British context, the analogy is troops out of Ireland, which I&nbsp;also disagree with. If I had to sum up what is for me the bedrock, personal,&nbsp;political experience, it is the Irish question. I grew up in Ireland. I think&nbsp;troops out of Ireland was a completely irresponsible slogan, just as I think&nbsp;troops out of Afghanistan was an irresponsible slogan.&nbsp;</p><p>You then had a succession of events in the 1990s which drove a&nbsp;wedge between myself and many people on the Left, both in the U.S. and&nbsp;in Europe and Britain, with whom I’d worked for years. I supported the&nbsp;move to drive Saddam out of Kuwait in 1991. Then there was the Bosnia&nbsp;intervention in 1995 and Kosovo in 1999.<br /><strong></strong></p><p><strong>Danny Postel</strong>: Afghanistan in 2001.</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> Indeed. So a series of conflicts on which Tariq and I found&nbsp;ourselves on different sides. He took a conventional anti-interventionist&nbsp;position, and I took a more complex position, guided not by the interests of&nbsp;the West but by what I saw as the interests of the peoples in the countries&nbsp;concerned. The issue of whether the U.S. should or should not intervene&nbsp;in a country is a contingent one. Each case has to be debated on its own&nbsp;merits. The key issue is not: Is the U.S. intervening? Nor: What are the&nbsp;U.S.’s motives? The key issue is will that intervention plausibly help those&nbsp;people or not? That’s the question.&nbsp;</p><p>But this also relates to another issue, which goes back to the New&nbsp;Left Review at its best. There was a very famous debate in the early ’80s&nbsp;about the nature of imperialism, sparked by a Scottish Marxist called Bill&nbsp;Warren, who wrote a book called Imperialism, Pioneer of Capitalism.&nbsp;What Bill argued, against dependency theory, and against facile nativism&nbsp;and facile anti-imperialism, was that not only was it the original position&nbsp;of Marx and Engels in the Manifesto and in Capital, but that historically,&nbsp;capitalism and imperialism had played a progressive role in transforming&nbsp;the world, in creating new classes, in spreading new ideas, in colonizing&nbsp;the Americas. And that imperialism has played a contradictory role, that&nbsp;not everything it did has been bad. It fought fascism in the Second World&nbsp;War, for example.</p><p>So the mere fact that imperialism was involved in the Kosovo&nbsp;intervention is not a reason to condemn the intervention—you have to&nbsp;have other criteria. It’s not that one is in favor of imperialism, but we have&nbsp;to problematize the issue of imperialism. So my disagreements with the&nbsp;New Left Review or with much of the U.S. left didn’t arise suddenly. And I&nbsp;haven’t flaked off to the right. They go back to a history of disagreements,&nbsp;and also to certain important theoretical disagreements.</p><p>And they are, to some extent, anchored in the Irish case. Who is&nbsp;responsible for the killing of 5,000 people in Northern Ireland for the last&nbsp;30 years? Sorry—it isn’t only British imperialism. It’s the intransigence&nbsp;of two loathing, militarized local communities, the Catholics and the&nbsp;Protestants. The British would love to have left. They’ve done some terrible&nbsp;things, but they’re not responsible for all the killing. The Catholics&nbsp;and the Protestants are responsible, not imperialism.</p><p>I feel much happier with a copy of the U.N.D.P. Human Development&nbsp;Report than with the New Left Review. Or with the very courageous&nbsp;three annual editions of the Arab Human Development Report, which&nbsp;itemize in a statistical, perhaps over-quantified way, things like women’s&nbsp;access to education, women’s access to politics, treatment of minorities,&nbsp;freedom of speech, fair elections, and the like.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> “Bourgeois” liberties.</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday: </strong>No, I don’t accept that category.</p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> I mean that in scare quotes: the crude, ultra-left way of&nbsp;dismissing such rights.</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> Exactly. And Marx himself had too much disparaging&nbsp;language of this kind as well. He doesn’t score very well on the issue of&nbsp;rights. Of course Lenin and Stalin and Mao score much worse. But I will&nbsp;barricade myself in my bunker with copies of the U.N.D.P. Report and&nbsp;with Amartya Sen’s and Martha Nussbaum’s attempts to define new forms&nbsp;of universal human needs, with feminists who are concretely engaged in&nbsp;social policy, as opposed to academics who are working on reconfiguring&nbsp;epistemology. We’re wasting our time.</p><p>Let us be clear about it: the U.S. role in international medical and&nbsp;family-planning policy, its opposition to contraception and abortion, and&nbsp;its mishandling of the issue of AIDS—it’s criminally irresponsible and&nbsp;will lead to the deaths of many millions of people. George Bush should&nbsp;be indicted for mass murder because of his policies on AIDS. As should&nbsp;the Pope—both this one and the previous ones.&nbsp;</p><p>So I’m not enamored of the U.S. policies in principle. Since the&nbsp;’60s I have worked on various aspects of the socialist and anti-imperialist&nbsp;project. I’ve lived and worked in a number of Third-World revolutionary&nbsp;countries. I did my thesis on the only Arab Communist state, South&nbsp;Yemen. I’ve lived in Cuba. I’ve been in Iraq. I’ve been in Afghanistan.&nbsp;I’ve been in Syria. I’ve been in Libya. I was in Nasser’s Egypt and Ben&nbsp;Bella’s Algeria. I’ve had quite a consistent interest in these states, and not&nbsp;just when things are going well, but also when things are going badly. I&nbsp;think there’s a lot to reflect on when it comes to solidarity with the Third&nbsp;World. I think solidarity is necessary. It’s an obligation. I don’t think it’s a&nbsp;deflection from domestic tasks. But I think that solidarity should be complex,&nbsp;not simple. One should not accept at face value what people who are&nbsp;struggling say: they may well be committing atrocities of their own. At the&nbsp;extreme end you have the PKK, the Shining Path, the Khmer Rouge and&nbsp;so forth. They may often be involved in inter-ethnic conflicts where they&nbsp;use a progressivist language to conceal what is in fact chauvinism towards&nbsp;another community. It goes for both Israelis and Palestinians. It goes for&nbsp;the IRA in Northern Ireland. It goes for the Armenians and the Azeris in&nbsp;Nagorno-Karabakh, and other cases. So solidarity should not be taken at&nbsp;face value. Solidarity should be critical of what people say and do, while&nbsp;also being guided by the longer-term evaluation of people’s interests and&nbsp;rights and material social progress. It also involves knowing about these&nbsp;countries. In so much “solidarity” work these days, people don't want to&nbsp;know what's actually going on in Third World countries.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> It tends to be more about the U.S. than about the people&nbsp;on the other side of the equation.</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> Yes. I, for my sins, began life in solidarity with Iran.&nbsp;When I first went to Iran 40 years ago, I was 19. I had in my suitcase a&nbsp;translation of Guerilla Warfare by Che Guervara. I took it through customs,&nbsp;and I had a meeting with somebody in a café in Tehran for 20 seconds at&nbsp;a designated time of day. I gave it to him, and that was the end of that.&nbsp;</p><p>To do the work of solidarity, you have to study the history and&nbsp;politics of these countries. One must say when one doesn’t agree with the&nbsp;actions of people in the Third World. I disagreed with Khomeini from the&nbsp;start. I certainly didn’t support the massacres committed by the revolutionaries&nbsp;in Ethiopia or in Afghanistan when I went there. One must express&nbsp;solidarity but also maintain a critical distance. But that involves knowing&nbsp;about these countries. In so much “solidarity” work these days, people&nbsp;don’t want to know what’s actually going on in Third World countries.&nbsp;People on the Left didn’t want to know what was going on in Iran in the&nbsp;’80s. They didn’t want to know what the Khmer Rouge were doing. They&nbsp;don’t want to know that the Cuban project is totally bankrupt, and most&nbsp;Cubans wish Castro had died 20 years ago, and now fear that when he does&nbsp;die the island will descend into violence. Most people who support the&nbsp;Palestinians don’t want to know that the second Intifada has been a disaster&nbsp;for the Palestinians—it has cost them economically very dearly—or that&nbsp;Arafat was a demagogue and an incompetent, and extremely corrupt. Or&nbsp;that Mao killed more people one way or another than Hitler and Stalin.</p><p>There are all sorts of intellectuals who criticize the New York&nbsp;Times and the London newspapers and the BBC for stereotyping and&nbsp;essentializing the Third World, which is correct to do. But why don’t&nbsp;they ever critique the Third World press? Why don’t they ever critique&nbsp;the chauvinism of the Islamists and the politicians in the Middle East?&nbsp;Why do they turn Al Jazeera—which I’ve appeared on —into some new&nbsp;saintly voice, when actually it’s a highly manipulative instrument of an&nbsp;authoritarian state? Let’s try and universalize our own allegedly universal&nbsp;principles. And this seems to me a place to start.</p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> What about the argument that we have to start at home—that we are more responsible for what our governments do because we&nbsp;pay taxes to them? As citizens of the empire, we have more control over&nbsp;what our governments do than what other governments do. How do you&nbsp;respond to that argument?</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> I respond to it by saying that it’s a very parochial argument,&nbsp;and inconsistent with internationalism. If women are being denied&nbsp;their rights in Afghanistan, if innocent civilians are being killed by both the&nbsp;Israelis and the Palestinians, don’t we, as citizens of the world, as citizens&nbsp;of countries which are signatories to the U.N. conventions, as people with&nbsp;an international moral conscience—don’t we have a responsibility both&nbsp;to speak and to act? Morality does not stop at the frontier’s edge. These&nbsp;principles are universal. It doesn’t mean that we do it without thinking,&nbsp;without listening. This is a curious contradiction: solidarity can become&nbsp;very parochial when it’s only about one side rather than the even-handed&nbsp;application of principles to all sides.&nbsp;</p><p>It may, as a pragmatic matter, be that you can influence your own&nbsp;side more. But I also know from working in the Middle East for decades&nbsp;now that if you’re in jail in Saudi Arabia or Iran, and you feel you’re&nbsp;forgotten, it means a lot to know that there are people in the West who&nbsp;are publicizing your case, who are protesting or sending letters, which&nbsp;never get answered. They just get binned. But people have not forgotten&nbsp;you. People are speaking. It makes a difference.&nbsp;I think underlying this response is a cop-out. It’s the refusal to&nbsp;do the work—the necessary intellectual work of actually knowing what&nbsp;goes on in those countries. It’s also a kind of inverted nationalism. We&nbsp;only care about our own governments. Whether Huntington on the Right&nbsp;or Chomsky on the Left, it’s the same principle. Nationalism and inverted&nbsp;nationalism: flip sides of the same coin.</p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> Speaking of Huntington, how do you view his ‘clash of&nbsp;civilizations’ thesis?</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday: </strong>It seems to me that there are two very important theses&nbsp;in Huntington which merit discussion calmly and in their own right, but&nbsp;not in the context in which he’s presented them. One, which he takes as&nbsp;axiomatic and is absolutely central to his work, is the proposition that states&nbsp;necessarily conflict because we live in an anarchical world. He doesn’t&nbsp;waste much time on this in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking&nbsp;of World Order, but it’s an underlying principle. His starting point isn’t&nbsp;really the clash of civilizations but the idea that conflict determines international&nbsp;relations. It’s a core assumption of realpolitik and one of the&nbsp;pillars on which the book rests. It’s a highly contestable proposition. I do&nbsp;not see the world as necessarily in conflict in this way.</p><p>The other key proposition is that culture or civilization—which&nbsp;normally means religion now—is a determinant or major influential factor&nbsp;in relations between states. This is a matter for empirical investigation.&nbsp;Let’s take the history of Europe in the 20th century. The major wars have&nbsp;not been intercultural wars. We’ve slaughtered each other to the tune of&nbsp;70-80 million, but not over culture. Say what you will about the Ottoman&nbsp;Empire, but if you look calmly at the history of military, diplomatic, and&nbsp;commercial relations between the Ottoman Empire and Europe for 400&nbsp;years, up until the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, you’ll see that&nbsp;the modern empire formed alliances with different European states: with&nbsp;Germany one minute; with Britain another; with Russia another. In other&nbsp;words, culture and religion were not major factors in its foreign policy.&nbsp;So we’re not looking at a fault line. We’re not looking at something that&nbsp;is historically determined.</p><p>Let me be banal. There are 55 Islamic countries—55 members&nbsp;of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the main loose commonwealth&nbsp;of Islamic states set up in 1969. Does culture play a role in&nbsp;their foreign policy? Well, to some degree, yes, but in two very specific&nbsp;regards. First of all, as a form of solidarity, either at the popular level or at&nbsp;the state level: support for the struggling Muslims in Palestine, Kashmir,&nbsp;Bosnia, or Chechnya. Some Muslim states do this some of the time. And&nbsp;at the popular level, there is a sentiment of transnational, pan-Islamic&nbsp;solidarity. It’s quite a strong one now, more so than ten or twenty years&nbsp;ago. But it’s not the determinant factor.</p><p>Look at Iran. Iran’s constitution enjoins it to give support to&nbsp;struggling Muslims around the world. And it does support the Palestinians.&nbsp;But in Chechnya it supports the Russians. In Nagorno-Karabakh it&nbsp;supports the Armenians, even though the Azeris are Shiites. In Kashmir it&nbsp;supports the Indians. In Sinjiang, it supports China. So Iran does not allow&nbsp;purely cultural or religious solidarity to determine its foreign policy. The&nbsp;same goes for the other states, for whom trade and military advantage,&nbsp;and inter-ethnic rivalry with each other, are just as important.</p><p>Then we come to the second way in which culture matters: as a&nbsp;form of legitimation. So the Saudis say they are the protectors of the holy&nbsp;places. The Iranians say they represent the vanguard of Islam, which is&nbsp;why they make such a hullabaloo about Palestine: it’s an issue on which&nbsp;they can make themselves look good, like they tried to do on Salman&nbsp;Rushdie. But that doesn’t mean that it determines their foreign relations.&nbsp;If we ask why Iran appears to be moving towards the acquisition of at least&nbsp;the capacity to have nuclear weapons, it’s nothing to do with Islam. It’s to&nbsp;do with interstate policy: the fact that Pakistan has nuclear weapons, that&nbsp;Israel has nuclear weapons, that Iran’s been invaded several times in the&nbsp;last century. So once you get specific and stop engaging in Huntington’s&nbsp;kind of grand narrative generalizing, things come into sharper focus.&nbsp;Huntington’s thesis, it should be noted, is very popular with Islamists,&nbsp;as it is with Hindu nationalists and radical Shintoists in Japan.<br /><strong></strong></p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> Just as Edward Said’s Covering Islam was popular with&nbsp;clerical hardliners in Iran. But should a thinker be held responsible for all&nbsp;of the uses made of his ideas?</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> I don’t think so. But I do think Huntington has allowed&nbsp;himself to be used in an extremely irresponsible way. He has thrown&nbsp;fat into a fire that was to some extent already there, and just allowed it&nbsp;to burn. Since September 11th he has turned around in interviews and&nbsp;elsewhere, without any self-criticism or sense of social or international&nbsp;responsibility.</p><p>But I think the real concern that underlay that book is not in an&nbsp;analysis of the Middle East, about which he knows nothing, by the way.&nbsp;It’s not even in an analysis of international relations. It’s a concern about&nbsp;the decline of white hegemony within the United States. That’s now been&nbsp;made explicit in his new book, but it was already clear in The Clash of&nbsp;Civilizations.</p><p><br />&nbsp;He’s basically saying those guys out there are overtaking us.&nbsp;The Taiwanese mathematics levels at age nine are three times ours. The&nbsp;Chinese are advancing. There are all these other cultures out there. We’ve&nbsp;got to get our act together in the U.S. That’s the punch behind The Clash&nbsp;of Civilizations.</p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> So you see the two books as companion volumes, in a&nbsp;sense?&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> Yes, the two go together. The new book [Who Are We?]&nbsp;fulfills the first one. I felt that that was the agenda from the beginning: it&nbsp;was a concern about multiculturalism in the U.S. But he doesn’t do the&nbsp;work. In The Clash of Civilizations there are a few pages about the Middle&nbsp;East, which are just third-rate Orientalism in the bad sense. He’s taken a&nbsp;few bits out of context from Bernard Lewis at his worst, and turned this&nbsp;into the axiom of the book. In his new book, he’s talking about Latinos&nbsp;in America. There are something like 455 magazines and newspapers in&nbsp;Spanish produced in the U.S. He doesn’t read one of them. He doesn’t&nbsp;read Spanish. He relies on a few stereotypes. He simply hasn’t done the&nbsp;work. It’s a form of American narcissism. The people are out there. You’ve&nbsp;got to go and study them. You’ve got to do the work.&nbsp;</p><p>A colleague of mine put it very well the other day. He’s a young&nbsp;British guy who studies China. He said, “What’s all this stuff about clash&nbsp;of civilizations? It’s very simple. You go to the library. You read the books.&nbsp;You read the history. You learn the language. You go and live in those&nbsp;countries. And on the basis of that, you understand them.” That’s what&nbsp;we should be doing, and getting away from all this meta-stuff. It doesn’t&nbsp;get us anywhere.</p><p><strong>Danny Postel: </strong>In Islam and the Myth of Confrontation and elsewhere&nbsp;you’ve argued that the whole debate in Middle East studies, the Orientalism/anti-Orientalism paradigm that has held for the last 20-25 years—that&nbsp;is to say, in essence, the debate between Bernard Lewis and Edward&nbsp;Said—is moribund.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> Well, in one sentence, I think the Said-Lewis debate is&nbsp;a diversion from the job of analyzing and engaging in critical solidarity&nbsp;with the peoples of the 22 countries of the Middle East. It’s a debate about&nbsp;method. It’s a debate about what other people in the West have written.&nbsp;It’s a debate about perceptions.&nbsp;</p><p>I knew Said, who was a friend until the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait,&nbsp;and then he stopped talking to me. Lewis was a teacher of mine. I greatly&nbsp;respected him. I think his good works are very good indeed, as Said’s literary&nbsp;work is very well worth reading. But their debate is counterproductive.&nbsp;They don’t offer, for instance, alternative explanations of the rise of Arab&nbsp;nationalism, or of the administrative system of the Abbasid Empire, or the&nbsp;role of law in Shiite conceptions of politics, or the role of ethnicity in the&nbsp;modern Middle East. They don’t put side by side rival, substantive analyses&nbsp;of the issues that students of the Middle East should be engaged in. For&nbsp;a long time, neither of them actually wrote about what was happening in&nbsp;Middle Eastern societies. They wrote about meta-issues —which are not&nbsp;trivial, but some of these meta-issues should be discussed in a philosophy&nbsp;department. I mean, they’re important issues and they should be discussed&nbsp;by people who are professionally competent in them. But they’re not to&nbsp;do with Middle East studies. They’re relevant to Middle East studies, but&nbsp;they’re not what we should be doing. My view is that they’ve polarized&nbsp;the debate and made it about diversionary questions — not trivial questions,&nbsp;but diversionary questions. They’ve also introduced an element of&nbsp;bitterness—personal and also ethnic bitterness—into Middle East studies&nbsp;in the U.S., which has been very damaging. And the net result is that&nbsp;Middle East studies has spent 25 years looking in the wrong place, instead&nbsp;of getting on with the job of analyzing these societies. Middle Eastern&nbsp;studies is not a U.S. monopoly. Who do you guys think you are? There&nbsp;are lots of scholars in Europe who don’t fall into these traps, neither the&nbsp;Orientalist nor anti-Orientalist straightjackets.&nbsp;</p><p>I must say I’m struck by the culture of anathematization I find&nbsp;in American academic life. There is a culture of the witch hunt, whereby&nbsp;people are said to have defected or gone to the right. It affects the discussion&nbsp;of many issues. There’s almost a joy in saying X has ‘defected,’ Y&nbsp;has ‘capitulated,’ Z has ‘sold out.’ Aren’t people allowed to change their&nbsp;minds? The world changes. People do too. The Left does not have a monopoly&nbsp;on truth or analysis or morality.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> You’ve argued that the work of the late Maxime Rodinson&nbsp;offers an alternative to the Said-Lewis framework. But his work had relatively&nbsp;little impact in the English-speaking world. How might the landscape&nbsp;of Middle East studies have been different had Rodinson become a point&nbsp;of reference in this debate the way Said did?<br /><strong></strong></p><p><strong>Fred Halliday: </strong>Maxime Rodinson was a French Marxist Orientalist of&nbsp;working-class, Jewish origin. Among other things, he studied ancient&nbsp;Semitic languages, and for many years, taught ancient Semitic languages&nbsp;and archeology in Paris. He wrote a number of major books. One was a&nbsp;biography of the prophet Mohammed, a very astute interpretation. It was&nbsp;used throughout the Arab world as a textbook for many years, until 1999,&nbsp;when in Cairo, the Islamists objected to it being used as a textbook. The&nbsp;President of Egypt himself intervened to call on the university to ban it,&nbsp;on the grounds that it was insulting to Islam, because it talked about trade&nbsp;routes, and it talked about the influence of Christianity and Judaism on&nbsp;Islam, because it applies psychoanalysis to the Prophet, and so forth. The&nbsp;second major book he wrote was called Islam and Capitalism, which is&nbsp;an engagement with Max Weber’s argument that there was something&nbsp;wrong with Islam which had prevented it from being capitalist and believing&nbsp;in economic development and profit. Rodinson showed that this was&nbsp;absolutely incorrect in terms of the ways in which Muslim economies&nbsp;had developed in the Arab world, in Iran, in South Asia, over centuries,&nbsp;but also that doctrinally there was absolutely no objection, including no&nbsp;objection to the taking of interest.&nbsp;</p><p>Rodinson’s importance lies in his refusal to accept the polarization&nbsp;of the Said-Lewis debate. He remained a Marxist, but a guilty one,&nbsp;because, as he once said to me, “I joined the Communist Party in the most&nbsp;disgraceful year, 1937, at the height of the Stalin purges. And I left in the&nbsp;most disgraceful year, 1957, a year after the invasion of Hungary.” But this&nbsp;guilty conscience also served him well. Then we come to his interventions&nbsp;on the Arab-Israeli question, which, for me, were paradigmatic. I came&nbsp;into Middle East politics through Iran in the mid-’60s, but after 1967 you&nbsp;couldn’t ignore the Palestine question. And very importantly for British&nbsp;people of my generation, the clarification of our views on the Palestine&nbsp;question coincided with and went along with clarification of our views&nbsp;on the Northern Ireland question.&nbsp;</p><p>But again, you were faced with a political minefield in which each&nbsp;group accused the other of being fascists and murderers, and denied the&nbsp;other’s rights. But by about 1970, we had all come to the view that, in both&nbsp;cases, there were two communities, lots about them you could criticize,&nbsp;lots of historical questions to be asked—but in the here and now, they were&nbsp;both communities with equal national rights. In the case of Palestine, this&nbsp;meant two independent states. And in the case of Ireland, it meant equal&nbsp;political rights within Northern Ireland up to when the majority chose to&nbsp;change the status of Northern Ireland. You got away from the stuff about&nbsp;which one was there first, or who was massacred most, or what their holy&nbsp;books say, or who were collaborators with imperialism—all such questions&nbsp;were secondary. The key question is, you have two communities which&nbsp;meet minimal criteria of self-determining peoples. And on that basis,&nbsp;you accord them equal rights. And secondly, you critique the chauvinism&nbsp;and the fake justifications and the violations of the rules of war of both&nbsp;sides.&nbsp;</p><p>Which is why I say that on neither Ireland nor Palestine-Israel&nbsp;has anyone said anything interesting for the last 35 years, because they’re&nbsp;stuck in their bedrock positions. You have to remember that before 1967,&nbsp;certainly in Europe, virtually everyone on the Left was pro-Israel. Then&nbsp;there was a kind of flip after 1967: with the Cold War and so forth, more&nbsp;people became pro-Palestinian, and many denied Israel’s right to exist.&nbsp;In the last eight to ten years, we’ve gone backwards. I’m hearing arguments&nbsp;from both the Israeli and Arab sides which I thought we’d got over.&nbsp;The level and tone of polemic in the U.S. and in Europe on the Palestine&nbsp;question has degenerated enormously since the collapse of Camp David&nbsp;and the rise of the second Intifada. I find that much of the stuff put out in&nbsp;the name of Palestine is so irresponsible and sometimes racist. I also find&nbsp;the degree of anger and the one-sidedness of Israelis, and from pro-Israel&nbsp;people in the West, very disturbing.</p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> You’ve argued that the paradigms of the Cold War have&nbsp;remained with us despite the Cold War being over, and that it’s high time&nbsp;to “bin the past,” as you put it.</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday</strong>: I spent a lot of time in the ’70s and ’80s analyzing the&nbsp;Cold War, the arms race, their impact on the Third World, Third World&nbsp;conflicts and so forth. And then ’89-’91 happened, and I spent time in the&nbsp;1990s analyzing both the collapse of Communism and why it happened,&nbsp;and trying to show how my particular theory of international relations and&nbsp;social change could explain it better than its academic and political rivals.&nbsp;Including my rivals on the Left, who argued it was because of the peace&nbsp;movement, which was a nice explanation. I wanted to emphasize the historic&nbsp;importance of the end of the Cold War. I tried to explain the collapse of&nbsp;Communism. I tried to explain why I thought this was a historic watershed,&nbsp;as important as the end of the First or the Second World War.&nbsp;</p><p>But I missed something: that the legacy of the Cold War lives&nbsp;on. I only came to realize this really ten years afterwards.&nbsp;<br /><strong></strong></p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> How so?<br /><strong></strong></p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> For example, the way in which Rumsfeld and his friends&nbsp;exaggerated the Iraqi threat—that was just a replay of threat exaggeration&nbsp;in the Cold War, including saying we were tied. It was a rerun of the threat&nbsp;inflation of the ’70s and ’80s.<br /><strong></strong></p><p><strong>Danny Postel: </strong>Eliot Weinberger describes Rumsfeld and Cheney as a&nbsp;Ford Administration sleeper cell.<br /><strong></strong></p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> I like that. But also on the other side, within the anti-globalization movement, a whole set of assumptions about the critique of&nbsp;capitalism. Fine, you’re against capitalism, but in the name of what—given&nbsp;that the socialist experiment of the revolutionary kind failed and failed&nbsp;badly? It failed necessarily and not contingently. There’s a naïve, unreconstructed&nbsp;quality to the radicalism of the anti-globalization movement.&nbsp;There’s a continued worshipping of Cuba, of Che Guevara, and now of&nbsp;Hugo Chavez. People are completely stuck in the past. There’s a lack of&nbsp;critical and informed interest among the anti-globalizers in the history of&nbsp;socialism, in the flawed history of internationalism.&nbsp;</p><p>So I realized that the Cold War continues to dominate our thinking.&nbsp;There are what I call three dustbins which still exercise their hold&nbsp;on us. We cannot understand the contemporary world if we don’t see the&nbsp;degree to which the legacy of the past — above all, the Cold War — still&nbsp;affects thinking about politics in the contemporary world.&nbsp;</p><p>The three dustbins include, very crudely, the legacy of communism,&nbsp;which includes dreadful inter-ethnic conflicts, some of which&nbsp;are frozen but some of which are certainly not, and which are going to&nbsp;continue in Central Asia. They’re hopefully frozen in the Balkans, though&nbsp;we don’t yet know, and not frozen in the Horn of Africa for long. Another&nbsp;consequence of Communism’s collapse is in the uncontrolled spread of&nbsp;nuclear materials around the former Soviet Empire. The creation not of&nbsp;democratic or liberal states, but of highly corrupt and manipulative states&nbsp;in many cases, including Russia itself: we don’t know where Russia is&nbsp;going. There’s a very deep and dangerous resentment at the popular level&nbsp;about the West, about America, about Europe, which could, in the long&nbsp;run, transfer into quite dangerous foreign policies. So Communism left a&nbsp;dustbin, even as it collapsed as a state system.&nbsp;</p><p>The U.S. dustbin—the Western dustbin—is a faith in the efficacy&nbsp;of the market, which was the great ideological battering ram against&nbsp;Communism. One would have thought, looking at what’s happened in,&nbsp;say, most of Latin America or in many other countries, that there would&nbsp;be serious questions about the Washington consensus.&nbsp;</p><p>There is the continued legacy after the end of the Cold War of&nbsp;the groups of murderers and brigands who the U.S. set up to fight Communism,&nbsp;particularly in the period of the Reagan doctrine. In Southern&nbsp;Africa —in Angola and Mozambique—these people still have enormous&nbsp;social and political influence. In the case of Afghanistan or the Middle&nbsp;East, the use of right-wing Islamism against Communism in the ’70s and&nbsp;’80s has sown a terrible harvest. And let’s start not with Al Qaeda but with&nbsp;what happened in Saudi Arabia. Faced with the Arab socialist revolutions&nbsp;in Egypt and Yemen in the ’50s and ’60s, the Saudis promoted Islamic&nbsp;education: universities which taught only Islamic law, Islamic thinking.&nbsp;And they trained people who are completely incapable of having a job in&nbsp;a modern society, and who have a paranoid and completely uneducated&nbsp;world view. They are a recruiting ground for bin Laden and his people.&nbsp;Bin Laden is the illegitimate child of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald&nbsp;Reagan.&nbsp;</p><p>So then the third dustbin is the dustbin of the anti-globalization&nbsp;movement.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> Do you still call yourself a socialist?</p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> I don’t, because I think it’s too easily misunderstood.&nbsp;I associate myself with much of the radical critique of capitalism. But&nbsp;much of what socialism tried to be—planning society, promoting equality—I agree with. But I can’t associate with either the authoritarian or&nbsp;the ineffective trends which have defined socialism in recent decades.&nbsp;The anti-globalization movement has taken over a critique of capitalism&nbsp;without, to a minimal degree, reflecting on what actually happened in&nbsp;the 20th century. You can’t denounce capitalism in the name of a radical&nbsp;alternative without thinking about what happened when we tried a radical&nbsp;alternative. You can’t denounce rights as an imperialist creation without&nbsp;asking, well, what would a world without the concept of rights be like?&nbsp;You can’t support every ethnic and nationalist group around the world who&nbsp;shows up at Porto Alegre and then say this is all part of some emancipated&nbsp;caravan, given that they may hate each other, they may want to oppress&nbsp;women, they may be against modern medicine and so forth.&nbsp;</p><p>I fell into the trap as much as anybody else. In 1991 Communism&nbsp;collapses and you say: right, this is a new world. Things have changed.&nbsp;But what happened to the Left? They woke up like Rip Van Winkle around&nbsp;1999 and started repeating the same things that were said 20 or 50 or 100&nbsp;years ago. They haven’t learned from their past. Two themes that are particularly&nbsp;important in my work are the use of violence and internationalism.&nbsp;Internationalism is a wonderful idea. I would die for internationalism. But&nbsp;Stalin defined internationalism as unquestioning loyalty to the USSR. Mao&nbsp;and Castro used internationalism as a manipulative instrument of state. I&nbsp;read the stuff coming out of Porto Alegre and my hair falls out. I see people&nbsp;saying, for the first time I’m in a global movement committed to social&nbsp;equality and radical change. Well, sorry, there was socialism. There was&nbsp;Communism. And they made a mess of it, and you better study it before&nbsp;jumping up and saying that you’ve suddenly discovered the solution to&nbsp;everything.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> What alternatives might there be, Fred? If the Marxist-Leninist&nbsp;revolutionary model is dead, and actually existing Third Worldism,&nbsp;i.e. the anti-globalization movement, is deeply flawed, as you suggest,&nbsp;what’s left? Is social democratic tinkering the only available path left?&nbsp;What other models are there for the Third World today?&nbsp;<br /><strong></strong></p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> We cannot look at the world as a place that can just be&nbsp;managed. I hate it when people say: but we’ve now got past the age of&nbsp;ideologies and utopias. Thank God now, we’re not. People aspire to a different&nbsp;world. People want a different world for themselves and for their&nbsp;families. That’s why they migrate in awful conditions. That’s why they’ll&nbsp;work in shitty jobs in New York and London to send their money home.&nbsp;That’s why they join and support Al Qaeda. We have to recognize that.&nbsp;<br /><br /> We live in a profoundly and increasingly unjust world. On the other hand,&nbsp;we have to have policies that are realistic. That doesn’t mean complacent.&nbsp;I very much like the distinction made by British social scientist Gary&nbsp;Runciman between what is implausible and what is improbable. He said&nbsp;we should go for changes that are implausible but not for those that are&nbsp;improbable. For example, abolishing cervical cancer for every woman&nbsp;in the world is possible, even if it’s implausible. We have the technology.&nbsp;It won’t require much money. It requires political will. Providing&nbsp;universal primary education is implausible, but is possible. Abolishing&nbsp;all major indices of difference between men and women in public life in&nbsp;our societies is possible. But it is not possible to have an equal world. It&nbsp;is not possible to abolish the state.&nbsp;</p><p>So there are plenty of goals which don’t conform to seizing the&nbsp;barricades, grabbing the radio station and executing the President of the&nbsp;ancien regime but which are radical or revolutionary and would make a&nbsp;significant difference. And then I come back to a question which I still&nbsp;regard as open, and which I think Marx regarded as open, which is: what&nbsp;is the full potential of capitalism properly directed? Is Jeffrey Sachs right?&nbsp;I’m not sure if he is or not. Can we, through the U.N.D.P. Millennium&nbsp;Goals and through a huge change of priorities and effort, but within the&nbsp;resources we have, actually lessen and gradually reduce the division between&nbsp;rich and poor countries in the world? I don’t think it’s impossible.&nbsp;I think it’s improbable, but it’s not impossible. The fact is each year, the&nbsp;gap is getting wider. And yet compared to what you’ve got in Russia, or&nbsp;what you’ve got in Africa, or what you’ve got in Latin America, this is a&nbsp;relatively desirable model, if a very boring one.</p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> You wrote a book on Arab migrants to the UK. What’s&nbsp;your take on the riots engulfing the suburbs of Paris?<br /><strong></strong></p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> One response is to be comparative and to say that in every&nbsp;major developed country, there are divisions which combine ethnic and&nbsp;social factors, and also generational factors, and are spatially configured&nbsp;within major cities, which lead not only to exclusion and resentment&nbsp;and lack of employment but lack of employability, because if you don’t&nbsp;have the skills and the work discipline, and are generally marginalized&nbsp;and isolated, things will periodically explode. It’s true in Britain. It’s&nbsp;true in Germany. And now in France. It’s part of this broader problem of&nbsp;the changing nature of industrial society. If there were ten million new&nbsp;jobs in the car industry or in traditional smokestack industries in these&nbsp;countries every year, or in the coal mines, the problem wouldn’t arise to&nbsp;the same degree.&nbsp;On the other hand, one lesson which I learned from my work&nbsp;on the Yemenis, who were, other than the Chinese, the first Third World&nbsp;and the first Muslim group to migrate to Britain, going back a hundred&nbsp;years, is that it’s very hard to understand these communities if you don’t&nbsp;know and haven’t lived in the country from which they come. If you don’t&nbsp;know the language, if you don’t know the social customs, there are many&nbsp;things you get wrong, including the thinking that forms people’s behavior.&nbsp;Many behaviors are taken to be traditional but in fact may be something&nbsp;new. This is true, for example, of the eating practices and some religious&nbsp;practices of the Yemenis in England but not in their home country. There&nbsp;are many instances of syncretism. In the case of France, you have this&nbsp;whole identity known as Beur, which is not French, but it’s not Algerian&nbsp;either—the language is a mixture of the two, as is the music.&nbsp;<br /><strong></strong></p><p><strong>Danny Postel:</strong> A kind of neo-traditionalism, if you will.<br /><strong></strong></p><p><strong>Fred Halliday:</strong> Neo-traditionalism or neo-authentic. Insofar as there is&nbsp;a political element in this—insofar as the political campaigns espoused&nbsp;by these groups reflect political campaigns inspired or even directed from&nbsp;home: in the case of British people of Pakistani origin, there’s no doubt&nbsp;the campaign against Rushdie and the campaigns of Kashmir, and now&nbsp;the campaigns against the Iraq War, have roots back home because these&nbsp;political parties from Pakistan organize in Britain, as they have a perfect&nbsp;right to do. But in the case of France, I don’t think that’s the case. Many&nbsp;of them are children of what were known as the Harkis, who were actually&nbsp;Algerians who fought for the French. So they’re not being manipulated&nbsp;by the Algerian government or by groups back home.<br />&nbsp;I certainly think the riots express a long-term social problem&nbsp;within developed countries, but that will feed into the broader problem&nbsp;of relations between Europe and the Muslim world. Europe can’t insulate&nbsp;itself. After all, the French political system was convulsed by the Algerian&nbsp;war of independence of 1954 -1962. And the British faced a huge defeat&nbsp;over the Suez war of ’56. The Spanish monarchy fell in 1931 in part&nbsp;because of failures in the war in Morocco. The Soviet Union didn’t collapse&nbsp;because of Afghanistan, but it certainly played a role. And Turkey&nbsp;has been part of the European diplomatic and strategic scene for three or&nbsp;four hundred years.&nbsp;So we are inexorably and historically linked to that part of the&nbsp;world, let alone through issues of migration, environment, energy and so&nbsp;forth. And we have to deal with it. But here we come back to my core&nbsp;professional and personal point, that you have to train people who know&nbsp;about these countries. Not the simplifications of Huntington or of bin&nbsp;Laden—you need people who know about the history, people who know&nbsp;the languages, people who are engaged seriously in discussion of substantive&nbsp;issues, be it trade, security, education. And there is no substitute for&nbsp;this intellectual, professional, academic task.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;That, to me, is the vocation of an internationalist intellectual:&nbsp;beyond supporting human rights in these countries, actually to try and&nbsp;promote informed discussion, which may feed into public debate and into&nbsp;education and so forth.</p><p>And meanwhile, the chauvinists and the simplifiers have their&nbsp;way, compounded by those on the Left whose view of internationalism&nbsp;and solidarity is simply to denounce their own governments, not knowing&nbsp;anything about what’s happening in places like Cuba or Cambodia or&nbsp;China.</p><p>I very much like the famous mistranslations of the 20th century.&nbsp;I particularly like the first Chinese translation of the Communist Manifesto,&nbsp;which was done by Chinese students in Japan from Japanese in about 1910.&nbsp;And instead of saying “Workers of the world, unite—you’ve nothing to&nbsp;lose but your chains,” it said, “Scholars of the world, unite—you have&nbsp;nothing to lose but your shame”!&nbsp;</p><p>The shame is not doing the work. The shame is not listening&nbsp;to other people. The shame is not saying what you think. The shame is&nbsp;running after fashions of Left or Right. The shame is wasting your time&nbsp;in a kind of public, theatrical pugilism of the kind which too many of my&nbsp;British friends in the United States seem to have fallen into.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Read Danny Postel's tribute to Fred Halliday<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/anthony-barnett/fred-halliday-1946-%E2%80%93-2010?page=1#comment-528042"> here</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Conflict Democracy and government International politics human rights global politics conflicts; the middles east; middle east democracy & power Danny Postel Thu, 29 Apr 2010 19:50:50 +0000 Danny Postel 53997 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Danny Postel https://www.opendemocracy.net/author-profile/danny-postel <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Danny Postel </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-firstname"> <div class="field-label">First name(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Danny </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Postel </div> </div> </div> <p>Danny Postel is&nbsp;Associate Director of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.du.edu/korbel/middleeast/index.html" target="_blank">Center for Middle East Studies</a>&nbsp;at the University of Denver's&nbsp;Josef Korbel School of International Studies. He is the author of&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/R/bo4343049.html" target="_blank">Reading "Legitimation Crisis" in Tehran</a></em>&nbsp;and co-editor, with Nader Hashemi, of&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.mhpbooks.com/books/the-people-reloaded/" target="_blank">The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future</a>&nbsp;</em>and&nbsp;<em><a href="http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/syria-dilemma" target="_blank">The Syria Dilemma</a>.&nbsp;</em>Formerly senior editor of openDemocracy, he is a Contributing Editor of&nbsp;<em><a href="http://logosjournal.com/" target="_blank">Logos: A Journal of Modern Society &amp; Culture</a>&nbsp;</em>and a blogger for&nbsp;for<em><a href="http://critinq.wordpress.com/" target="_blank">Critical Inquiry</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://truth-out.org/author/itemlist/user/47700" target="_blank">Truthout</a>,</em>&nbsp;and the&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danny-postel/" target="_blank">Huffington Post</a></em>.&nbsp;His website is&nbsp;<a href="http://dannypostel.homestead.com/" target="_blank">here</a>.&nbsp;On Twitter: @dannypostel</p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Danny Postel is&amp;nbsp;Associate Director of the&amp;nbsp;&lt;a href=&quot;http://www.du.edu/korbel/middleeast/index.html&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Center for Middle East Studies&lt;/a&gt;&amp;nbsp;at the University of Denver&#039;s&amp;nbsp;Josef Korbel School of International Studies. He is the author of&amp;nbsp;&lt;em&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/R/bo4343049.html&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Reading &quot;Legitimation Crisis&quot; in Tehran&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/em&gt;&amp;nbsp;and co-editor, with Nader Hashemi, of&amp;nbsp;&lt;em&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;http://www.mhpbooks.com/books/the-people-reloaded/&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future&lt;/a&gt;&amp;nbsp;&lt;/em&gt;and&amp;nbsp;&lt;em&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/syria-dilemma&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;The Syria Dilemma&lt;/a&gt;.&amp;nbsp;&lt;/em&gt;Formerly senior editor of openDemocracy, he is a Contributing Editor of&amp;nbsp;&lt;em&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;http://logosjournal.com/&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Logos: A Journal of Modern Society &amp;amp; Culture&lt;/a&gt;&amp;nbsp;&lt;/em&gt;and a blogger for&amp;nbsp;for&lt;em&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;http://critinq.wordpress.com/&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Critical Inquiry&lt;/a&gt;,&amp;nbsp;&lt;a href=&quot;http://truth-out.org/author/itemlist/user/47700&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Truthout&lt;/a&gt;,&lt;/em&gt;&amp;nbsp;and the&amp;nbsp;&lt;em&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danny-postel/&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;Huffington Post&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/em&gt;.&amp;nbsp;His website is&amp;nbsp;&lt;a href=&quot;http://dannypostel.homestead.com/&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;.&amp;nbsp;On Twitter: @dannypostel </div> </div> </div> Danny Postel Fri, 26 Mar 2010 13:12:32 +0000 Danny Postel 51097 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ramin Jahanbegloo, Hossein Derakhshan and openDemocracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/jahanbegloo_postel_3930.jsp <p>Hossein Derakhshan&#39;s article in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> (&quot;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/jahanbegloo_courage_3873.jsp">Ramin Jahanbegloo: the courage to change</a>&quot;, 4 September 2006) recalls nothing so much as Milan Kundera&#39;s <em>The Unbearable Lightness of Being, </em>a novel set shortly before, during, and after the Soviet Union&#39;s 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.<em> </em></p> <p>The <a href="http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780060932138/The_Unbearable_Lightness_of_Being/index.aspx" target="_blank">novel&#39;s</a> protagonist, a Prague surgeon called Tomas, had written a somewhat elliptical magazine article critical of the invasion. That article would come back to haunt him: although it had been his one and only foray into the Republic of Letters, the authorities insisted that he retract it if he wanted to maintain his job. &quot;The pressure to make public retractions of past statements - there&#39;s something medieval about it,&quot; the hospital&#39;s chief surgeon says to Tomas in breaking the news that the interior ministry has directed him to have Tomas write a retraction. &quot;What does it mean, anyway,&quot; he asks, &quot;to &#39;retract&#39; what you&#39;ve said?&quot;</p> <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b><a href=http://www.postelservice.com/ target=_blank>Danny Postel</a> is senior editor of openDemocracy</b></p> <p>The article he is responding to here is: </p> <p>Hossein Derakhshan, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/jahanbegloo_courage_3873.jsp">Ramin Jahanbegloo: the courage to change</a>" <br />(4 September 2006) </p> </div> <p>Deploying sham sympathy for Tomas (an age-old interrogation technique), an interior-ministry agent asks him if perhaps he had been duped by the editors of the magazine in which the offending piece appeared. &quot;Did they put you up to it?&quot; &quot;To writing it? No. I submitted it on my own,&quot; Tomas replies. But the agent will have none of it: &quot;You have been manipulated, Doctor, used.&quot; What&#39;s more, the agent explains, &quot;Whether you meant to or not, you fanned the flames of anti-Communist hysteria with your article.&quot; <br /></p><p>The agent gives Tomas one final chance to comply: all he has to do is sign a statement that has been prepared by the ministry itself. The letter contains a denouncement of the intelligentsia for wanting to see the country sink into civil war. He insisted that Tomas had naively let himself &quot;be carried away&quot; by others &quot;who had consciously distorted his article and used it for their own devices, turning it into a call for counterrevolution.&quot;<br /> <br /> The icing on the cake comes when the interior ministry agent attempts to assuage any concerns Tomas might have about the text having been prepared for him. &quot;Think it over,&quot; he assures him, &quot;and if there&#39;s something you want to change, I&#39;m sure we can come to an agreement. After all, it&#39;s <em>your </em>statement!&quot;<br /> <br /> In the end, Tomas decides against signing the letter, as a result of which he is consigned to washing windows for a living. Had he decided to sign it, however, we can easily imagine one of Kundera&#39;s characters heaping praise on Tomas for doing so, commending him for his &quot;courage to change.&quot; </p> <p>This, of course, is precisely what <a href="http://hoder.com/weblog/" target="_blank">Hossein Derakhshan</a> has done in his eerily titled, and bizarrely argued, article on Ramin Jahanbegloo. </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Ramin Jahanbegloo, heads the department for contemporary studies at the <a href=http://www.iranculturestudies.com/english/01_introduction.html target=_blank>Cultural Research Bureau</a>, Tehran. He was arrested in Tehran on 27 April 2006, and released on 30 August 2006.</b></p> <p>Ramin Jahanbegloo writes in openDemocracy:</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2067">America's dreaming</a>" (August 2004) &#150; an exchange of letters with Richard Rorty</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2632">Iran's conservative triumph</a>" (June 2005) &#150; a contribution to a symposium among Iranian intellectuals about the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad</p> <p>Ramin Jahanbegloo's website is <a href=http://www.iranproject.info/topfram.htm target=_blank>here</a></p> <p>For protests about the arrest of Ramin Jahanbegloo, click <a href=http://www.payvand.com/news/06/may/1077.html target=_blank>here</a> </p> <p>openDemocracy published a petition signed by writers and scholars in support of Ramin Jahanbegloo's release:</p> <p> "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3578">Ramin Jahanbegloo: an open letter to Iran's president</a>"<br /> (24 May 2006)</p> <p>Danny Postel's interview with Ramin Jahanbegloo in <em>Logos</em> (5/2, 2006) is <a href=http://www.logosjournal.com/issue_5.2/jahanbegloo_interview.htm target=_blank>here</a></p> <p>Also in openDemocracy: </p> <p>Rasool Nafisi, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3867">Ramin Jahanbegloo: a repressive release</a>" <br />(1 September 2006) </p> </div> <p>Let&#39;s be perfectly clear about this: Derakhshan asserts that Jahanbegloo&#39;s &quot;confession&quot; was authentic - Indeed even &quot;the possibility of it being imposed on him by his interrogators&quot; is, according to his logic, &quot;rule[d] out&quot;. The most obvious and immediate question involved is: how in the world could Derakhshan lay claim to such knowledge, let alone rule out the very <em>possibility</em> that Jahanbegloo&#39;s &quot;confession&quot; was coerced or imposed? <br /></p><p>Essential to Derakhshan&#39;s assertion is his view that Jahanbegloo is in fact guilty. Of what? Of &quot;indirectly helping the Bush administration in its plans for regime change in Iran through fomenting internal unrest and instability.&quot; And how, precisely, did Jahanbegloo do that? By conducting &quot;comparative analysis of socio-political change in contemporary east-central Europe and the Islamic Republic of Iran&quot; with &quot;financial support&quot; from American think-tanks. <br /></p><p>The publication of Derakhshan&#39;s article has <a href="http://www.iranian.com/Mohyeddin/2006/September/Derakhshan/index.html" target="_blank">prompted</a> a mixture of bewilderment and outrage from across the world. But most puzzling - indeed troubling - for many readers is the article&#39;s appearance, of all places, on <strong>openDemocracy</strong>. Consider the juxtaposition of the phrase &quot;free thinking for the world&quot; adorning the magazine&#39;s logo with Derakhshan&#39;s disparagement of an intellectual engaging in &quot;comparative analysis of socio-political change in contemporary east-central Europe and the Islamic Republic of Iran&quot;. Perish the thought that a scholar should be free to undertake such studies and explore such terrain <em>openly.</em> </p> <p>Consider, as well, the juxtaposition of <strong>openDemocracy </strong>having published an <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/openletter_3578.jsp">international appeal</a> demanding Jahanbegloo&#39;s &quot;immediate, unconditional release&quot; - an appeal signed by editor-in-chief Anthony Barnett and editor Isabel Hilton - and Derakhshan&#39;s contention, in those same pages, that Jahanbegloo belonged behind bars after all and was right to &quot;confess&quot; his crimes. </p> <p>Many people, myself included, think <strong>openDemocracy </strong>owes its readers an explanation for its decision to publish an article that justifies the repression of intellectual freedom - a position that stands in direct contradiction of the magazine&#39;s core principles.<br /> </p> <p>Take the following sentence from Derakhshan&#39;s final paragraph: &quot;Thanks to the work of the reformists who governed the country until 2005, Iran has passed the stage of state terror.&quot; Questions of political disagreement aside, one might think that a claim such as this might raise a red flag or two - that upon reading it an editor might think to check it against reality before running it. One doesn&#39;t have to be an expert on Iran to be struck by the claim&#39;s dubiousness. <br /> <br /> A brief glance at the Human Rights Watch (HRW) website would have turned up the report <em><a href="http://hrw.org/backgrounder/mena/iran1205/" target="_blank">Ministers of Murder: Iran&#39;s New Security Cabinet</a></em>. A quick consultation with someone like Hadi Ghaemi, HRW&#39;s Iran researcher, would have yielded the following statement: &quot;Iran has by no means passed the stage of state terror. The potential for it is quite present, particularly with people such as [Ahmadinejad&#39;s interior minister Mustafa] Pour-Mohammadi in positions of power.&quot; </p> Instead, the handling editor let a patently suspect, if not indeed preposterous claim about a deadly serious matter slip through. This is, I&#39;m afraid, well beneath <strong>openDemocracy</strong>&#39;s<strong> </strong>normally high standards.<strong> </strong>Its readers deserve better - beginning with an open explanation.<br /><br /> </div> democracy & power middle east democracy & iran Danny Postel Creative Commons normal Thu, 21 Sep 2006 23:00:00 +0000 Danny Postel 3930 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ramin Jahanbegloo: an open letter to Iran's president https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/openletter_3578.jsp <p>Open Letter to President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad</p> <p>CC: Chief Justice, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi</p> <p>Mr President Ahmadinejad: </p> <p>We the undersigned appeal for the immediate, unconditional release of prominent scholar and public intellectual, Dr Ramin Jahanbegloo who was arrested at Tehran's international airport in late April 2006. On 6 May, minister of intelligence, Hojatoleslam Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, confirmed Dr Jahanbegloo's arrest, implying that he is being held in custody for "having contacts with foreigners." </p> <p>For almost four weeks, however, Dr Jahanbegloo has been detained without a court order, official charges, legal representation and the privilege of family visitation &#150; all basic requirements for the due process of law. Dr Jahanbegloo's arrest and continued detention clearly violate the Islamic Republic's domestic laws and Iran's international legal obligations, particularly as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. </p> <p>News of Dr Jahanbegloo's arrest has reverberated among academicians and other intellectuals worldwide. A philosopher committed to the principle of non-violence, Dr Jahanbegloo has worked tirelessly to foster cultural understanding and dialogue between Iranians and other societies. </p> <p>Significantly, as director of the Cultural Research Bureau in Tehran, he has conveyed to myriad readers, students and scholars the complexity of Iranian civilisation and its rich contributions to humanity. Dr Jahanbegloo's effort to illuminate and share Iran's culture and history with others has earned him deep respect and admiration among both intellectuals and laypeople from diverse corners of the globe. Not surprisingly, those who follow his work, both in Iran and abroad, are shocked and disappointed by this unlawful treatment of Dr Jahanbegloo. Scholars travelling to and from Iran are especially concerned about this matter and contend Dr Jahanbegloo's arrest will deter such exchanges and scientific research. </p> <p>In short, we believe Dr Jahanbegloo's detainment demands your intervention as soon as possible to resolve this matter properly, ensuring his prompt release. </p> <p>Respectfully, </p> <p>John Abromeit, Collegiate Assistant Professor of Social Sciences, University of Chicago<br /> Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Fellow and Lecturer in International Relations, University of Oxford<br /> Fariba Adelkhah, <em>Directeur de recherchè, Centre d'ètudes et de recherches internationales, Sciencespo</em>, Paris<br /> Janet Afary, Professor of History, Purdue University; President, International Society for Iranian Studies<br /> Mahasti Afshar, Director of Endowment, Los Angeles Philharmonic <br /> Wali Ahmadi, Professor of Near Eastern Studies, University of California-Berkeley<br /> Shahab Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies, Harvard University<br /> Kazem Alamdari, Professor of Sociology, California State University<br /> Nozar Alaolmolki, Professor and Chair of Political Science, Hiram College<br /> Aziz Al-Azmeh, Professor of Humanities, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary<br /> Farrokh Alemi, Professor of Health Administration and Policy, George Mason University<br /> Leila Alieva, Political Analyst and Director of Center for Strategic and International Studies, Baku, Azerbaijan<br /> Jon B Alterman, Director of Middle East Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC<br /> Abbas Amanat, Professor of History, Yale University<br /> Camron Michael Amin, Associate Professor of History, University of Michigan-Dearborn <br /> Fariba Amini, President, Non-Profit Foundation for Educational Progress<br /> Masserat Amir-Ebrahimi, Independent Social Science Researcher, Tehran<br /> Hooshang Amirahmadi, Professor and Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Rutgers University<br /> George Andreopoulos, Professor of Political Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York<br /> Kenneth Anderson, Professor of Law, American University and Research Fellow, Stanford University<br /> Maboud Ansari, Professor of Sociology, William Paterson University Kwame Anthony Appiah, University Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University<br /> Celia Applegate, Professor of History, University of Rochester<br /> Jonathan Arac, Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University<br /> Said Amir Arjomand, Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology, State University of New York at Stony Brook; President of the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies<br /> Kamran Arjomand, Middle East Special Collection, State and University Library of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany<br /> Stanley Aronowitz, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, City University of New York Graduate Center<br /> Ronald Aronson, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Wayne State University<br /> Timothy Garton Ash<br />, Professor of European Studies, University of Oxford; Director of European Studies Centre and Gerd Bucerius Senior Research Fellow in Contemporary<br /> History, St Antony's College, Oxford, England<br /> Daryoush Ashouri, Freelance author and lecturer<br /> Ronald D. Asmus, Executive Director of German Marshall Fund of the U.S. <br /> Arjang A. Assad, Professor of Management Science and Senior Associate Dean, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland<br /> Sidney Aster, Professor of History, University of Toronto<br /> Touraj Atabaki, Professor of Modern History, University of Amsterdam; Senior Research Fellow, International Institute of Social History</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div> <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>The subject of this appeal, Ramin Jahanbegloo, heads the department for contemporary studies at the <a href=http://www.iranculturestudies.com/english/01_introduction.html target=_blank>Cultural Research Bureau</a>, Tehran. He was detained on 27 April 2006.</b></p> <p>Ramin Jahanbegloo writes in openDemocracy:</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2067">America's dreaming</a>" (August 2004) - an exchange of letters with Richard Rorty</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2632">Iran's conservative triumph</a>" (June 2005) &#150; a contribution to a symposium among Iranian intellectuals about the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad</p> <p>"<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3154">Stronger demands for democratisation</a>" (22 December 2005) &#150; a contribution to a symposium on what 2006 has in store</p> <p>Ramin Jahanbegloo's website is <a href=http://www.iranproject.info/topfram.htm target=_blank>here</a></p> <p>For protests about the arrest of Ramin Jahanbegloo, click <a href=http://www.payvand.com/news/06/may/1077.html target=_blank>here</a> </p> </div><p>Julian Baggini, Editor, <em>The Philosophers' Magazine</em><br /> Bahman Baktiari, Professor of Political Science, University of Maine<br /> Sindre Bangstad, PhD Fellow, International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), Leiden University, The Netherlands<br /> Ali Banuazizi, Professor of Cultural Psychology, Boston College<br /> Bat-Ami Bar On, Professor and Chair of Philosophy, State University of New York at Binghamton<br /> Anthony Barnett, Editor-in-Chief, <b>openDemocracy</b>, London<br /> Golbarg Bashi, Visiting Scholar, Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University<br /> Subho Basu, Assistant Professor of History, Maxwell School, Syracuse University<br /> Zygmunt Bauman, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Universities of Leeds and Warsaw<br /> Asef Bayat, Academic Director and Professor, International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), Leiden University<br /> Marrieluise Beck, Member of German Parliament<br /> Maziar Behrooz, Assistant Professor of History, San Francisco State University<br /> Alina Belskaya, Program Assistant of Transatlantic Center &#150; The German Marshall Fund of the US<br /> Caroline Bergaud, Project Manager of Friends of Europe, Brussels<br /> Rima Berns-McGown, Lecturer in Historical Studies, University of Toronto<br /> Richard J Bernstein, Professor of Philosophy, New School University<br /> Michael Bérubé, Paterno Family Professor in Literature, Pennsylvania State University<br /> Rajeev Bhargava, professor of political theory and Indian political thought, University of Delhi<br /> Cyrus Bina, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics and Management, University of Minnesota<br /> Stephen Blank, Professor of Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College<br /> Joel Bleifuss, Editor, <em>In These Times</em><br /> Mansour Bonakdarian, Assistant Professor of History, Hofstra University<br /> Mohammad Borghei, lecturer, Strayer University<br /> Daniel Born, Editor, <em>The Common Review</em>, The Great Books Foundation<br /> Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Professor of Political Science and Director of Middle Eastern Studies Program, Syracuse University<br /> Paul Bovè, Professor of English, University of Pittsburgh; Editor of <em>Boundary 2</em><br /> Peggy Boyers, Executive Editor, <em>Salmagundi</em><br /> Robert Boyers, Professor of Arts and Letters, Skidmore College; Editor of <em>Salmagundi</em><br /> Christopher Brooke, Lecturer in Politics, Magdalen College, University of Oxford<br /> Martin van Bruinessen, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Utrecht University, and ISIM<br /> Donald Burke, PhD Candidate, Social and Political Thought, York University and Instructor at the Ontario College of Art and Design<br /> Ian Buruma, Writer and Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights and Journalism, Bard College, New York<br /> Martin Butora, Founder and Honorary President of Institute for Public Affairs, Bratislava, Slovakia<br /> Charles E Butterworth, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Judith Caesar, Associate Professor of English, American University of Sharjah<br /> Peter C Caldwell, Professor of History, Rice University<br /> Colin J Campbell, PhD Candidate, Social and Political Thought, York University, Toronto<br /> Robert L Canfield, Professor of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis<br /> Roane Carey, Senior Editor, <em>The Nation</em><br /> Taylor Carman, Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy, Barnard College<br /> Dipesh Chakrabarty, Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago<br /> Anthony Chase, Assistant Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs, Occidental College<br /> Ranjit Chatterjee, Professor, Lado International College, Silver Spring, MD<br /> Houchang-Esfandiar Chehabi, Professor of International Relations and History, Boston University<br /> Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology<br /> Shahram Chubin, Director of Studies, Geneva Centre for Security Policy, Switzerland<br /> Nicola Clase, Chief Foreign Policy Adviser of Moderate Party, Sweden<br /> Richard Pierre Claude, Emeritus Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park<br /> John P Clark, Professor of Philosophy, Loyola University New Orleans<br /> Andrei Codrescu, Editor of <em>Exquisite Corpse</em>; MacCurdy Distinguished Professor of English at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge<br /> JM Coetzee, Writer, Nobel Laureate in Literature, 2003<br /> Joshua Cohen, Professor of Philosophy and Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Editor of <em>Boston Review</em><br /> Juan Cole, Professor of History, University of Michigan; President, Middle East Studies Association of North America<br /> Sarah Conrad, PhD Candidate, York University, Toronto<br /> Gregory B Craig, Attorney, Williams & Connolly, LLP</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia University<br /> Pezhmann Dailami, Independent Scholar, Schwerin, Germany<br /> Fred Dallmayr, Professor of Philosophy and Political Science, University of Notre Dame<br /> Evan Matthew Daniel, Tamiment Library and Robert F Wagner Labor Archives, New York University<br /> Mark Danner, Professor of Human Rights, Bard College<br /> Arthur Danto, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University; Art Critic, <em>The Nation</em><br /> Mehrdad Darvishpour, Professor of Sociology, Stockholm University, Sweden<br /> Dick Davis, Professor of Persian and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Ohio State University<br /> Rochelle Davis, Professor of Anthropology, Georgetown University<br /> Natalie Zemon Davis, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emeritus, Princeton University<br /> António Borges de Carvalho, Vice-President of <em>Comissã0 Portuguesa do Atlântico</em><br /> Xavier Decramer, Project Manager of Friends of Europe, Brussels<br /> Vasilikie Demos, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Minnesota<br /> Benj DeMott, Editor, <em>First of the Month</em><br /> Georgi M Derluguian, Professor of Sociology, Russia<br /> Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Professor of Philosophy, Northwestern University<br /> Thanos Dokos, Director of Studies, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, Greece<br /> Ariel Dorfman, Walter Hines Page Research Professor of Literature and Professor of Latin American Studies, Duke University<br /> Slavenka Drakulic, Writer and Journalist, <em>Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst</em>, Berlin<br /> Shadia Drury, Canada Research Chair in Social Justice, University of Regina, Canada<br /> Ronald Dworkin, Frank Sommers Professor of Law and Philosophy, New York University Law School; Jeremy Bentham Professor of Law and Philosophy at University College, London</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Shirin Ebadi, Lawyer and the 2003 Nobel Laureate for Peace<br /> Umberto Eco, Writer; President of the <em>Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici</em>, University of Bologna<br /> Goudarz Eghtedari, Producer of Voices of the Middle East, Portland, Oregon<br /> Maryam Elahi, Director of Human Rights Program, Trinity College, Hartford<br /> Lazar Elenovski, President of Euro-Atlantic Council of Macedonia<br /> Jon Elster, Professor of Political Science, Columbia University<br /> Christoph Emmrich, Professor of Historical Studies, University of Toronto at Mississauga<br /> Matthew Engelke, Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics<br /> Nader Entessar, Professor of Political Science and Law, Spring Hill College<br /> Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Writer, Germany<br /> Mohammad Eskandari, PhD Candidate in Geography, Clark University<br /> Mary Selden Evans, Editor and Independent Scholar</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Fataneh Farahani, PhD Candidate in Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, University of Stockholm, Sweden<br /> Mansour Farhang, Professor of Political Science, Bennington College<br /> Farideh Farhi, Adjunct Professor of Political Science, University of Hawai'i at Manoa<br /> Grant Farred, Editor, <em>South Atlantic Quarterly</em>, Associate Professor of Literature, Duke University<br /> Fatema Soudavar Farmanfarmaian, Soudavar Memorial Foundation<br /> Dieter Farwick, Global Editor for World Security Network Foundation<br /> Tarek Fatah, Journalist and the Host of <em>Muslim Chronicle</em>, Toronto<br /> Luc Ferry, Philosopher and former Minister of Education, France<br /> Nathalie Furrer, Director of Friends of Europe, Brussels<br /> Carlos A Forment, Professor, <em>Centro de Investigacion y Documentacion de la Vida Publica</em>, Buenos Aires<br /> James Franklin, Professor of Politics and Government, Ohio Wesleyan University<br /> Ralf Fuecks, President, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Amir H Gandjbakhche, Senior Investigator and Chief of Section on Biomedical Stochastic Physics, National Institutes of Health<br /> Mark Gasiorowski, Professor and Director of International Studies Program, Louisiana State University<br /> Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Director of the W E B Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University<br /> William Joseph Gavin, Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern Maine<br /> Norman Geras, Professor Emeritus of Politics, University of Manchester<br /> Hadi Ghaemi, Human Rights Watch<br /> Sasan Ghahreman, Journalist and Publisher, Afra Publishing Co, Toronto<br /> M R Ghanoonparvar, Professor of Persian and Comparative Literature, University of Texas at Austin<br /> Halleh Ghorashi, Professor of Management of Diversity and Integration, De Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands<br /> Amitav Ghosh, Writer<br /> James C Gibson, Associate Clinical Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University<br /> Joan Gibson, Professor of Arts and Letters, York University, Toronto<br /> Sander L. Gilman, Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, Emory University<br /> Carlo Ginzburg, Professor of History, University of California at Los Angeles<br /> Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism and Sociology, Columbia University<br /> Joshua Glenn, Journalist, <em>Boston Globe</em><br /> Anthony Gottlieb, Executive Editor, <em>Economist</em><br /> Ezzat Goushegir, Playwright and Lecturer, DePaul University<br /> Peter Gran, Professor of History, Temple University<br /> Fuat Gursozlu, Graduate Student in Social, Political, Ethical and Legal Philosophy, Binghamton University</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Jürgen Habermas, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Frankfurt<br /> Saeed Hagh, Security Architect, Symantec Engineering, Australia<br /> Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, Visiting Scholar, Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology<br /> Levon Haftvan, Artistic Director, Lemaz Production Co, Canada<br /> Ian Hacking, Professeur au Collège de France; Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto<br /> Rick Halpern, Bissell-Heyd-Associates Professor of American Studies; Director, Centre for the Study of the United States, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto<br /> Egbert Harmsen, PhD Candidate, International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), Leiden University<br /> Gita Hashemi, Lecturer in Humanities and Visual Arts, York University, Toronto<br /> Hormoz Hekmat, Editor, <em>Iran Nameh</em><br /> Agnes Heller, Hannah Arendt Professor of Philosophy, New School for Social Research, New York and member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences<br /> Jessica Henderson, Project Manager of Security and Defense Agenda, Forum Europe, Brussels<br /> Susan R Henderson, Professor of Architecture, Syracuse University<br /> Isabel Hilton, Editor, <b>openDemocracy</b><br /> Gur Hirshberg, PhD Candidate, Georgetown University<br /> Richard P Hiskes, Professor of Political Science, University of Connecticut and Editor of <em>Journal of Human Rights</em><br /> Stephen Holmes, Professor of Law, New York University<br /> Peter Hudis, Writer and Editor, <em>News and Letters</em><br /> Lynne Huffer, Department of Women's Studies, Emory University<br /> Alice Hunsberger, Lecturer in Islamic Subjects, Hunter College, City University of New York<br /> Jana Hybaskova, MEP, EPP / ED, Member of the European Parliament and former Czech Ambassador to Kuwait</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Hussein Ibish, Senior Fellow, American Task Force on Palestine & Executive Director of the Foundation for Arab-American Leadership<br /> David Ingram, Professor of Philosophy, Loyola University, Chicago<br /> Brad Inwood, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Ancient Philosophy, University of Toronto<br /> Micheline Ishay, Professor and Director of the International Human Rights Program, Graduate School of International Studies, University of Denver</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Bruce P Jackson, President of Project on Transitional Democracies, Washington, DC<br /> Mohammad R. Jahan-Parvar, PhD Candidate of Economics, University of North Carolina<br /> Michael Jarvis, Assistant Professor of History, University of Rochester<br /> Jennifer Jenkins, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Modern German History, University of Toronto<br /> Hans Joas, Professor of Sociology, University of Erfurt, Germany<br /> Tony Judt, Professor of History and Director of Remarque Institute, New York University<br /> Neil Jumonville, William Warren Rogers Professor and Chair of History, Florida State University<br /> Mazda Kahnamuyipour, English Literature and ESL Teacher, Toronto<br /> Yahya Kamalipour, Professor of Communication; Managing Editor of <em>Global Media Journal</em>, Purdue University<br /> Mehrangiz Kar, Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard University<br /> Kazem Kardavani, Writer and Researcher<br /> Persis M Karim, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, San Jose State University<br /> Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, Professor and Founding Director, The Center for Persian Studies, University of Maryland<br /> Massoud Karshenas, Professor of Economics, University of London<br /> Malavika Kasturi, Assistant Professor of History, University of Toronto<br /> Linda Karvinen, Senior Manager of Security and Defense Agenda, Forum Europe, Brussels<br /> Homa Katouzian, Editor, <em>Iranian Studies</em>, The Middle East Centre, St Antony's College, University of Oxford<br /> Thomas Keenan, Director of Human Rights Project, Bard College<br /> Craig Kennedy, President of German Marshall Fund of the US<br /> Arang Keshavarzian, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Concordia University<br /> Jeffrey Ketland, Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Edinburgh<br /> El-Farouk Khaki, Refugee and Immigration Lawyer and Secretary General of Muslim Canadian Congress, Canada<br /> Mina Khanlarzadeh, PhD Candidate in Physics, Clark University<br /> Nasser Khadjenoori, Chief Operation Officer of Source Code Corporation<br /> Mohamed Khimji, PhD Candidate in Social and Political Thought, York University, Toronto<br /> Laleh Khalili, Lecturer in Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London<br /> Shahram Kholdi, Graduate Teaching Fellow and Ph.D. Candidate, University of Manchester<br /> Mehdi Khorrami, Associate Professor of Persian Language and Literature, New York University<br /> Mana Kia, PhD Candidate in History and Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University<br /> Azadeh Kian-Thiebaut, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Paris VIII<br /> Mark Kingwell, Professor of Philosophy, Trinity College, University of Toronto<br /> Janos Kis, Professor of Philosophy and Political Science, Central European University, Budapest, Hungry<br /> Gavin Kitching, Professor and the Head of the School of Politics and International Relations, University of New South Wales, Australia<br /> Eva Feder Kittay, Professor of Philosophy, Stony Brook University<br /> Leszek Kolakowski, Philosopher, Fellow of the British Academy; Fellow of the <em>Académie Universelle des Cultures</em>; Foreign Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences<br /> Joachim Krause, Professor and Acting Director of the Institute for Political Science, University of Kiel<br /> Helmut Kremling, Professor of German, Ohio Wesleyan University<br /> Grigorijs Krupnikovs, Board member, Latvian Transatlatic Organisation<br /> Rebecca Kukla, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Carleton University<br /> Ludger K&#369;hnhardt, Director of the Center for European Integration Studies, Germany</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Habib Ladjevardi, Director of Iranian Oral History Project, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University<br /> Abdol-Karim Lahidji, Lawyer and Vice-President of the International Federation of the Human Rights<br /> Ernesto Laclau, Professor of Political Theory, University of Essex<br /> George Lakoff, Professor of Philosophy, University of California at Berkeley<br /> Vinay Lal, Associate Professor of History and Asian American Studies, University of California at Los Angeles<br /> Tong Lam, Assistant Professor of History, University of Toronto<br /> Stephen N. Lambden, Research Scholar, Ohio University<br /> Joanne Landy, Co-Director of Campaign for Peace and Democracy<br /> Sandra Lane, Professor and Chair of Health and Wellness, Syracuse University<br /> Roland Le Huenen, Professor and Director of Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Toronto<br /> Isaac Levi, John Dewey Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Columbia University<br /> Rick Lewis, Editor, <em>Philosophy Now</em><br /> Leonard Lewisohn, Lecturer in Persian, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter<br /> Jeffrey Librett, Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Oregon<br /> Julie Lindhout, President, The Atlantic Council of Canada<br /> John Lloyd, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University <br /> Bert Lockwood, Distinguished Service Professor and Director of Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, University of Cincinnati Law School</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Kenneth Iain MacDonald, Professor of Geography and Program in International Development Studies, University of Toronto<br /> Alasdair MacIntyre, Senior Research Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame<br /> Ali Akbar Mahdi, Professor of Sociology, Ohio Wesleyan University<br /> Mojtaba Mahdavi, Lecturer in Political Science, University of Western, Canada<br /> Charles S Maier, Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University<br /> Richard Manning, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Carleton University<br /> Farid Marjaee, Urban Planner, Toronto, Canada<br /> Hamid Marjaee, NGO volunteer and former board member of FoodShare, GreenSaver, East Toronto Green Community, and Regional Council of the Central YMCA, Canada<br /> Gyorgy Markus, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Sydney, Australia<br /> Michael R Marrus, Professor of History, University of Toronto<br /> Mehrdad Mashayekhi, Visiting Professor of Sociology, Georgetown University<br /> Rudi Matthee, Professor of History, University of Delaware<br /> Elzbieta Matynia, Associate Professor of Sociology and Liberal Studies; Director of Transregional Center for Democratic Studies, New School for Social Research<br /> Robert W McChesney, Research Professor of Communications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign<br /> Bill McKibben, Scholar in Residence, Middlebury College<br /> Eduardo Mendieta, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Center, Stony Brook University<br /> Sarianna Metso, Associate Professor of History and Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto<br /> Mihajlo Mihajlov, Vice President of the Democracy International, Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro<br /> Farzaneh Milani, Director of Studies in Women and Gender; Professor of Persian Literature and Women Studies, University of Virginia<br /> James Miller, Professor of Political Science, New School for Social Research; Editor of Daedalus, American Academy of Arts & Sciences<br /> Charles Mills, Professor of Philosophy, University of Illinois-Chicago<br /> Kenneth Mills, Professor of History and Director of Latin American Studies at Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto<br /> Margaret A Mills, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Ohio State University<br /> Nima Mina, Professor of Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London<br /> Yassaman Mirdamadi, Director of Testing Services, University of Arkansas<br /> Guive Mirfendereski, Lawyer and Independent Scholar<br /> Ali Mirsepassi, Interim Dean and Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University<br /> W JT Mitchell, Professor of English and Art History, University of Chicago, and Editor of <em>Critical Inquiry</em><br /> JJ McMurtry, Lecturer, Business and Society Program, York University<br /> Minoo Moallem, Professor and Chair of Women Studies Department, San Francisco State University<br /> Fatemeh Moghadam, Professor of Economics, Hofstra University<br /> Valentine M. Moghadam, Unesco, Paris<br /> Hassan Mohammadi, Professor of Economics, Illinois State University at Normal<br /> Jawid Mojaddedi, Assistant Professor of Religion, Rutgers University<br /> Afshin Molavi, Author and Journalist<br /> Fereshteh Molavi, Yale University Library<br /> Mahmood Monshipouri, Professor of Political Science, Quinnipiac University<br /> Norma Claire Moruzzi, Associate Professor of Political Science and Gender and Women's Studies, University of Illinois<br /> Greg Moses, Independent Scholar, Austin, Texas<br /> Chantal Mouffe, Professor of Political Theory, Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster<br /> Cas Mudde, Senior Lecturer in Political Science, University of Antwerp<br /> Ahmad Kazemi Moussavi, Professor of Islamic Studies, International Islamic University of Malaysia<br /> Makau Mutua, Professor of Law and Director of Human Rights Center, State University of New York at Buffalo</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Negin Nabavi, Fellow at Middle East Center, University of Pennsylvania<br /> Steven Nadler, Professor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison<br /> Azar Nafisi, Director of the Dialogue Project, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University<br /> Afsaneh Najmabadi, Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard University<br /> Siamak Namazi, Editor, <em>Iran Strategic Focus</em><br /> Ashis Nandy, Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi<br /> Arash Naraghi, PhD Candidate in Religious Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara<br /> Mohamad Navab, Professor of Cardiology, University of California at Los Angeles<br /> Alexander Nehamas, Edmund N. Carpenter II Class of 1943 Professor in the Humanities, Princeton University<br /> Antonio Negri, Political Philosopher, <em>Collège International de Philosophie</em> and the Université Paris I<br /> Astrida Neimanis, PhD Candidate in Social and Political Thought, York University<br /> Mohammad-Reza Nikfar, Independent Scholar and Philosopher, Cologne, Germany<br /> Azam Niroomand-Rad, Professor and President of International Organization for Medical Physics, Department of Radiation Medicine, Georgetown University Medical Center<br /> Mehdi Noorbaksh, Associate Professor of International Affairs, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology<br /> Lida Nosrati, Graduate Student of Translation Studies, York University<br /> Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Claus Offe, Professor of Political Science, Humboldt University and Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany<br /> Douglas D Osheroff, Department of Physics, Stanford University<br /> Victor Ostapchuk, Associate Professor of Turkish and Ottoman Studies, University of Toronto</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>George Packer, Staff Writer, <em>The New Yorker</em><br /> Michael Palamarek, Instructor at the Department of Sociology, Brock University, Canada<br /> Orhan Pamuk, Novelist, Turkey<br /> Firoozeh Papan-Matin, Assistant Professor of Persian and Iranian Studies, University of Washington at Seattle<br /> Misagh Parsa, Professor of Sociology, Dartmouth College<br /> Trita Parsi, Johns Hopkins University-SAIS<br /> Anja Pistor-Hatam, Seminar f&#369;r Orientalistik, Universität Kiel, Germany<br /> Jean Pedersen, Associate Professor of History, University of Rochester<br /> Rick Perlstein, Freelance writer, Chicago, Illinois<br /> John Perry, Professor of Persian, University of Chicago<br /> Christopher Phillips, Society for Philosophical Inquiry/Socrates Café<br /> Jon Pike, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Open University, UK<br /> Terry Pinkard, Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University<br /> Jo-Ann Pilardi, Professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies and Director of Graduate Program in Women's Studies, Towson University<br /> Robert B. Pippin, Professor of Philosophy, University of Chicago<br /> Jaleh Pirnazar, Professor of Near Eastern Studies, University of California at Berkeley<br /> Katha Pollitt, Columnist for <em>The Nation</em> magazine<br /> John P Portelli, Professor at the Department of Theory & Policy Studies; Co-director of the Centre for Leadership & Diversity, OISE/University of Toronto<br /> Danny Postel, Senior Editor, <b>openDemocracy</b> <br /> Moishe Postone, Professor of History, University of Chicago<br /> Nina Power, Middlesex University, London<br /> Hilary Putnam, Cogan University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Nasrin Qader, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, Northwestern University<br /> Sholeh Quinn, Associate Professor of History, Ohio University<br /> Emran Qureshi, Wertheim Fellow of Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Sina Rahmani, Graduate Student, Department of Comparative Literature, University of California at Los Angeles<br /> Nasrin Rahimieh, Dean of Humanities and Professor of Comparative Literature and English, McMaster University, Canada<br /> Ahmed Rashid, Journalist and Author, Pakistan<br /> Ali Rahnema, Professor of Economics, American University of Paris<br /> Marcus Raskin, Co-founder and Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies<br /> Asghar Rastegar, Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine<br /> Jonathan Rée, Visiting Professor of Philosophy, Roehampton University and the Royal College of Art, London<br /> James A Reilly, Professor of Middle Eastern History, University of Toronto<br /> Yann Richard, <em>Professeur d'ètudes iraniennes, Institut d'Etudes Iraniennes</em>, Sorbonne nouvelle<br /> Thomas M Ricks, Independent Scholar, Iranian Studies<br /> Andras Riedlmayer, Bibliographer in Islamic Art and Architecture, Aga Khan Program, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University; President, Turkish Studies Association<br /> Monica M Ringer, Professor of History and Asian Languages and Civilizations, Amherst College<br /> Dona Robati, Poet and Journalist, Shahrvand Publication, Toronto<br /> Bruce Robbins, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University<br /> Trevor John Robertson, PhD Candidate in Social and Political Thought, York University<br /> Joel Rogers, Professor of Law, Political Science and Sociology, University of Wisconsin at Madison<br /> Richard Rorty, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and Philosophy, Stanford University<br /> Herbert Roseman, Graduate student in Philosophy, Columbia University<br /> Jonathan Rosenbaum, Film Critic, <em>Chicago Reader</em><br /> Jalil Roshandel, Visiting Professor of Political Science, Duke University<br /> Jamie P Ross, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Portland State University<br /> David Rothenberg, Professor of Philosophy, New Jersey Institute of Technology<br /> Matthew Rothschild, Editor, <em>The Progressive</em> <br /> Barnett R Rubin, Director of Studies and Senior Fellow, Center on International Cooperation, New York University<br /> Bruce Rutherford, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Colgate University</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Nader Sadeghi, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology/Surgery, George Washington University<br /> Shadi Sadr, Human Rights Lawyer, Tehran<br /> Farian Sabahi, Professor of Islamic Studies, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy<br /> Ahmad Sadri, Professor of Sociology, Lake Forest College<br /> Mahmoud Sadri, Professor of Sociology, Texas Woman's University<br /> Elli Safari, Film producer and director, The Netherlands<br /> Marshall Sahlins, Charles F Grey Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology Emeritus, University of Chicago<br /> Karim Sadjadpour, Iran Analyst, International Crisis Group<br /> Niaz Salimi, President of Muslim Canadian Congress and Director of Centre for Thought, Dialogue and Human Rights in Iran<br /> Poupak Salimi, IT Consultant , Toronto, Canada<br /> Roger Savory, Professor Emeritus of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto<br /> David Sayer, PhD Candidate in Social and Political Thought, York University<br /> Mohsen Sazegara, Visiting Scholar, Yale University<br /> George Scialabba, Book Critic, <em>Boston Globe</em><br /> Richard Schmitt, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Brown University<br /> Stephen Schlesinger, Director of World Policy Institute, New School University<br /> David Schweickart, Professor of Philosophy, Loyola University<br /> David Scott, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University<br /> Richard Sennett, Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics<br /> Hamideh Sedghi, Associate Professor of Political Science, Villanova University<br /> Omid Payrow Shabani, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Guelph, Canada<br /> Adam Shatz, Literary Editor, <em>The Nation</em><br /> Martin Shaw, Professor of International Relations and Politics, University of Sussex<br /> Hassan Shaygannik, Professor of International Political Economy, Florida Atlantic University<br /> M Rahim Shayegan, Musa Sabi Assistant Professor of Iranian, University of California at Los Angeles<br /> Thomas Sheehan, Professor of Religious Studies, Stanford University and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Loyola University Chicago<br /> Amir Soltani Sheikholeslami, Human Rights Activist, Blue Initiative<br /> Amir Sheikhzadegan, Lecturer and Post-doctoral Researcher, University of Zuich<br /> Scott Sherman, Contributing Writer, <em>The Nation</em><br /> Faegheh Shirazi, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin<br /> Sussan Siavoshi, Professor of Political Science, Trinity University<br /> Stefano Silvestri, President of Institute for International Affairs, Italy<br /> Marta Simidchieva, Division of Humanities, York University, and the Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto at Mississauga, Canada<br /> Margaret Simons, Professor of Philosophy, Southern Illinois University<br /> Peter Singer, Ira W DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University; Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, Australia<br /> Peter Sloterdijk, Professor and Rektor, <em>Staatliche Hochschule f&#369;r Gestaltung Karlsruhe</em><br /> Monika Smetana, MA Graduate Candidate in Social and Political Thought, York University<br /> Jay Smith, PhD Candidate in Social and Political Thought, York University<br /> Naghmeh Sohrabi, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Middle Eastern Studies, Brandeis University<br /> Ebrahim Soltani, PhD Candidate in Political Science, Syracuse University<br /> Lucia Sommer, Artist and Writer, Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester<br /> Stanley Crossick, Chairman, Belmont<br /> Arian Starova, President of the Albanian Atlantic Association<br /> Ilan Stavans, Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture, Amherst College<br /> Karsten Struhl, Porofessor of Philosophy, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York<br /> Zohreh T Sullivan, Professor of English, Comparative and World Literature, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign<br /> Adam Sutcliffe, Lecturer in Early Modern European History, King's College London</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div> </p></div><div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Also in openDemocracy:</b></p> <p>Rasool Nafisi, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3545">The meaning of Ramin Jahanbegloo's arrest</a>" (16 May 2006)</p> </div><p>Poopak Taati, PhD in Sociology and Journalist, American University<br /> Ara Tadevosyan, Director of Armenian Mediamax news agency<br /> Victoria Tahmasebi, PhD in Social and Political Thought, York University, Toronto<br /> Kamran Talattof, Associate Professor of Near Eastern Studies, University of Arizona<br /> Mohamad Tavakoli, Professor of History, University of Toronto; Editor-in-Chief, <em>Comparative Studies of South Asia, Middle East and Africa</em><br /> Charles Taylor, Professor of Philosophy, McGill University, Montreal<br /> Abdulkader Tayob, Professor in Social Processes in Modern Islam, ISIM, Radboud University, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Nijmegen, Netherlands<br /> Sherman Teichman, Director of Institute for Global Leadership, Tufts University<br /> Tzvetan Todorov, Director of Research at the <em>Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique</em> (CNRS), Paris<br /> Chris Toensing, Executive Director of Middle East Research and Information Project, Washington, DC<br /> Nayereh Tohidi, Visiting Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Keddie-Balzan Fellow, Center for Near Eastern Studies at University of California at Los Angeles<br /> Michael Tomasky, Editor, <em>The American Prospect</em><br /> John Torpey, Professor of Sociology, City University of New York Graduate Center<br /> Alberto Toscano, Lecturer in Sociology, Goldsmiths College, University of London, New Cross<br /> Nhung Tuyet Tran, Assistant Professor of History, University of Toronto<br /> D Alissa Trotz, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Equity Studies, University of Toronto</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Sanam Vakil, Professor of Middle East Studies, Johns Hopkins University<br /> Mehrdad Valibeigi, Professorial lecturer of Economics, The American University<br /> Farzin Vahdat, Post-doctoral Associate, Middle East Council, Yale University<br /> Philippe Van Parijs, Professor of Economic and Social Ethics, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium and Visiting Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University<br /> Haleh Vaziri, Media & Public Researcher, Independent Scholar<br /> Dusan Velickovic, Editor and publisher, <em>Biblioteka Alexandria</em>, Serbia & Montenegro, Independent Publishing House, Alexandria Press<br /> Andrew Wachtel, Dean of The Graduate School; Bertha and Max Dressler Professor in the Humanities and Director of Center for International and Comparative Studies, Northwestern University<br /> Immanuel Wallerstein, Professor of Sociology, Yale University<br /> Michael Walzer, Professor of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton<br /> Victoria Weafer, PhD Candidate in Philosophy, Columbia University<br /> Jeff Weintraub, Political Theorist, University of Pennsylvania<br /> Cornel West, University Professor of Religion, Princeton University<br /> Robert Westbrook, Professor of History, University of Rochester<br /> Melissa Williams, Director of Centre for Ethics and Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto<br /> Ellen Willis, Professor of Journalism, New York University<br /> Richard Wolin, Distinguished Professor of History, Comparative Literature and Political Science, Graduate Center, City University of New York</p> <p><div align="center">* * * </div></p> <p>Santiago Zabala, Researcher in Philosophy, Pontifical Lateran University of Rome<br /> Krzysztof Zanussi, Professor, Silesian University in Katowice; Film Director and President of "TOR" Film Studio, Warsaw<br /> Hassan Zerehi, Journalist and Editor-in-Chief of <em>Shahrvand</em><br /> Linda Zerilli, Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University<br /> Howard Zinn, Author and Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Boston University<br /> Slavoj Zizek, Professor and Senior Researcher of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia</p> </div></p> democracy & power middle east russia & eurasia democracy & iran Danny Postel openDemocracy Original Copyright Tue, 23 May 2006 23:00:00 +0000 Danny Postel and openDemocracy 3578 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The 'end of history' revisited: Francis Fukuyama and his critics https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-fukuyama/intro_3493.jsp <p>Francis Fukuyama's name is once again everywhere. His latest book (titled <em><a href=http://yalepress.yale.edu/YupBooks/book.asp?isbn=0300113994 target=_blank>America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power and the Neoconservative Legacy</a></em> in the United States, <em><a href=http://www.profilebooks.co.uk/title.php?titleissue_id=344 target=_blank>After the Neocons: America at the Crossroads</a></em> in Britain) has provoked a firestorm of debate in and beyond Washington. A trenchant "goodbye to all that" to his erstwhile comrades in the neo-conservative movement, it has been reviewed in virtually every organ of political commentary, canvassed on countless blogs and websites. </p> <p>It would be false modesty for us not to point out that <b>openDemocracy</b> was ahead of the curve on this: a full eighteen months ago, in October 2004, we prefigured the current row in an article &#150; "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2190">Fukuyama's moment: a neocon schism opens</a>" that anatomised Fukuyama's defection and quickly became a reference-point in the flurry over it. </p> <p>But this is not the first time the political cosmopolis has been abuzz over Fukuyama. In the final months of 1989 his unusual essay "<a href=http://www.viet-studies.org/EndofHistory.htm target=_blank>The End of History?</a>" came to occupy centre-stage in the cultural conversation of the time and turned a previously unheard-of policy intellectual into a fixture of the zeitgeist. "Within a year", as Perry Anderson put it in his book <em><a href=http://www.versobooks.com/books/ab/a-titles/anderson_p_zone.shtml target=_blank>A Zone of Engagement</a></em>,"an arcane philosophical wisdom had become an exoteric image of the age, as Fukuyama's arguments sped round the media of the globe." </p> <p>That an article published in a relatively obscure journal (<em><a href=http://www.nationalinterest.org/ME2/default.asp target=_blank>The National Interest</a></em>) that relied pivotally on the ideas of an enigmatic philosopher (<a href=http://www.iep.utm.edu/k/kojeve.htm target=_blank>Alexandre Kojève</a>) could have made such an imprint around the world &#150; and before the Internet was around to disseminate it instantaneously &#150; was an extraordinary event. Fukuyama expanded the essay into a book, <em><a href=http://www.sais-jhu.edu/faculty/fukuyama/the_end_of_history.html target=_blank>The End of History and the Last Man</a></em>, published in 1992. If its impact was less sensational than the original article's, it was even more ambitious in scope: and its release occasioned a reprise of debate and criticism. </p> <p>Now, some seventeen years after the appearance of the article and some fourteen years after the publication of the book, Fukuyama critically revisits and reconsiders his argument in light of some of the criticisms levelled against it and in light of world affairs over the last decade and a half. The occasion for this reconsideration is the publication of a new paperback <a href=http://www.simonsays.com/content/book.cfm?sid=33&pid=515284 target=_blank>edition</a> of the book, for which Fukuyama has written a new Afterword. </p> <p><b>openDemocracy</b> is excited to be publishing that text, along with an accompanying symposium on it. We have invited a distinguished international ensemble of thinkers to weigh in on Fukuyama's reconsideration of his thesis. We will publish their pieces &#150; twelve in all &#150; along with a reply by Fukuyama himself at the forum's conclusion. </p> <p>The participants in the symposium come from across the globe: France (<a href=http://www.ceri-sciencespo.com/cherlist/roy.htm target=_blank>Olivier Roy</a>), the Netherlands and Argentina (<a href=http://sociology.uchicago.edu/faculty/sassen.html target=_blank>Saskia Sassen</a>), Egypt (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1146">Saad Eddin Ibrahim</a>), Britain (<a href=http://politics-ir.arts.unsw.edu.au/staff/kitching.html target=_blank>Gavin Kitching</a>, <a href=http://www.polisci.ucla.edu/menu/people/faculty/anthony_pagden.php target=_blank>Anthony Pagden</a>, <a href=http://www.rogerscruton.com/ target=_blank>Roger Scruton</a>), Jamaica (<a href=http://www.columbia.edu/cu/anthropology/fac-bios/scott/faculty.html target=_blank>David Scott</a>), Pakistan (<a href=http://web.gc.cuny.edu/anthropology/fac_asad.html target=_blank>Talal Asad</a>), India (<a href=http://www.history.ucla.edu/lal/ target=_blank>Vinay Lal</a>), Canada (<a href=http://www.uregina.ca/arts/CRC/ target=_blank>Shadia Drury</a>), and the United States (<a href=http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~history/facultyPage.cgi?fac=maier target=_blank>Charles Maier</a>, <a href=http://its.law.nyu.edu/faculty/profiles/index.cfm?fuseaction=cv.main&personID=20000 target=_blank>Stephen Holmes</a>). They also represent varying intellectual disciplines: history (Pagden, Maier, Kitching, Lal), sociology (Sassen, Ibrahim, Roy), political science (Drury, Holmes), anthropology (Scott, Asad), philosophy (Scruton), and middle-east studies (Roy). </p> <p>We welcome readers to read, engage with and respond to this vital dialogue as it unfolds over the next two weeks. It promises to be the most bracing and most stimulating discussion yet of Fukuyama's landmark but largely misconstrued idea. <div><div class="pull_quote_article"><p><b>Also in openDemocracy on neo-conservatism, American foreign policy, and global politics:</b></p> <p>Danny Postel, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1542">Nobel lies and perpetual war: Leo Strauss, the neocons, and Iraq</a>" <br />(October 2003)</p> <p>Mark Blitz, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1577">Leo Strauss, the Straussians and American foreign policy</a>" <br />(November 2003)</p> <p>Danny Postel, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2190">Fukuyama's moment: a neocon schism opens</a>" (October 2004)</p> <p>John Mearsheimer, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2522">Hans Morgenthau and the Iraq war: realism versus neo-conservatism</a>" <br />(May 2005)</p> <p>Ivan Krastev, "<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=3486">The end of the 'freedom century'</a>" <br />(April 2006)</p> </div><p><b>A disturbing force</b></p> <p>In his new Afterword to <em>The End of History and the Last Man</em>, Fukuyama addresses the many misunderstandings and misrepresentations to which his thesis has been subjected. There is no need to cover the ground the author himself traverses, but it is worth noting briefly how pervasive such readings were. Indeed, to quote <a href=http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/Elberg/Anderson/anderson-con0.html target=_blank>Perry Anderson</a> once again, upon first encountering it the "great majority of Fukuyama's commentators in the world's press greeted his argument with incredulity". Indeed critics from across the ideological spectrum &#150; left, right, and centre &#150; were at once flummoxed and incensed by the thesis. </p> <p>Many interpreted Fukuyama literally to mean nothing else was going to happen anymore &#150; or at least nothing important. Not so: what he meant was not that historical <em>events</em> would stop happening but rather that, with the collapse of Soviet communism and fascism before it, there were no major competing visions to liberal democracy as a system and thus that we had reached an end-point in our "ideological evolution" as a species. One can of course debate that proposition &#150; as several of the participants in our symposium do &#150; but <em>that</em>, and not something else, is the proposition. </p> <p>Many others read the thesis as a form of unbridled American triumphalism, an unqualified celebration of the United States model of capitalist democracy, end of discussion. Not so: in fact, Fukuyama asserts that "the European Union is a much fuller real-world embodiment of the concept than is the contemporary United States." Moreover &#150; and this aspect almost entirely evaded comprehension &#150; the second half of the book's equation, the "last man", is in fact a dark cloud looming over the end of history: the spectre, taken from <a href=http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nietzsche/ target=_blank>Friedrich Nietzsche</a>, of life stripped of great passions or of ideals worth struggling for &#150; a bloodless bourgeois routine of consumption. </p> <p>The attacks on the thesis were manifold. It was not only those on the left but several conservatives who reacted with suspicion. <a href=http://www.gov.harvard.edu/faculty/shuntington/ target=_blank>Samuel Huntington</a> detected more than a whiff of Marxism in the argument. (Indeed Marx does figure in Fukuyama's mosaic, along with Hegel and Kojève, as an exponent of the <em>progressive</em> view of history that sees human societies <em>evolving</em>, moving in a particular direction and toward a goal, albeit not the one Marx envisioned.) </p> <p>I tend to agree with Anderson's claim (Anderson being a <a href=http://www.newleftreview.net/NLR23501.shtml target=_blank>Marxist</a>, incidentally) that "the outcry his original thesis provoked was a token, not of its ineptitude, but of its disturbing force." There was in fact an unmistakably disturbing force to Fukuyama's argument &#150; but it was precisely that disturbing force that was most arresting and challenging about it. Whatever one made of Fukuyama's politics, his argument confronted us with a set of first-order, big-picture questions &#150; about where we were "at" historically, about the <em>meaning</em> of the dramatic global events of the period, about the direction in which the world was moving, about the possibilities available to us. Even if one disagreed with Fukuyama's answers to these questions, these were &#150; and indeed remain &#150; essential questions, ones that are rarely posed with the boldness and clarity Fukuyama's thesis possessed.</p> <p>Needless to say, <a href=http://www.sais-jhu.edu/faculty/fukuyama/ target=_blank>Fukuyama's</a> thesis was &#150; is &#150; open to any number of objections. To his credit, in his essay he engages what he considers the most penetrating of the objections levelled against his argument over the years. He takes those objections seriously and proposes possible ways out of the dilemmas they identify. As our symposium will demonstrate, yet further objections will remain after the exercise. I know I'm not alone in looking forward to Fukuyama's response to his interlocutors. <b>openDemocracy</b> is proud to present this clarifying intellectual dialogue. </p> </div></p> democracy & power The Americas francis fukuyama: the end of history revisited Danny Postel Creative Commons normal Mon, 01 May 2006 23:00:00 +0000 Danny Postel 3493 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 'Conscripts of modernity: the tragedy of colonial enlightenment,' David Scott https://www.opendemocracy.net/arts/anticolonialism_2777.jsp <div class="full_image"><p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/content/articles/2777/images/0822334445.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg" alt="" width="555" border="0" /><br /></p></div><div align="center"> <b>&#147;Conscripts of modernity: the tragedy of colonial enlightenment&#148;</b> <br /><b>by David Scott</b> <br />Duke University Press | November 2004 | ISBN 0822334445 </div> <p></p><p></p><p> </p><table width="555" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="5" border="0"><tr><td width="185"> </td> <td bgcolor="#E0EFF8" width="185"> <div align="center"> <font size="3"><strong>Buy now: </strong><a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&amp;camp=1634&amp;tag=opendemocracy-21&amp;creative=6738&amp;path=ASIN/0822334445/qid=1124911941/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl" target="_blank">UK</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.co.uk/e/ir?t=opendemocracy-21&amp;l=ur2&amp;o=2" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&amp;camp=1789&amp;tag=opendemocra0a-20&amp;creative=9325&amp;path=tg/detail/-/0822334445/qid=1124911845/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14?v=glance%26s=books%26n=507846" target="_blank">US</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=opendemocra0a-20&amp;l=ur2&amp;o=1" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&amp;camp=1789&amp;tag=opendemocra0a-20&amp;creative=9325&amp;path=tg/stores/static/-/gateway/international-gateway/ref=gw_subnav_in" target="_blank">Worldwide</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=opendemocra0a-20&amp;l=ur2&amp;o=1" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></font> </div> </td><td width="185"> </td> </tr></table><p></p><p> </p><p><b>Recommended by <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/Danny_Postel.jsp">Danny Postel</a></b>: &#147;This book is fascinating, and I recommend it highly. It is about the legacy of anti-colonial struggles and their overall failure to realise the emancipatory ideals they upheld. To make sense of this, Scott proposes that what he calls the spirit of &#145;romantic anti-colonialism&#146; be replaced by a tragic sense of history. He interweaves a reading of C.L.R. James&#146; classic study <i><a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&amp;camp=1634&amp;tag=opendemocracy-21&amp;creative=6738&amp;path=ASIN/0140299815/qid=1124912871/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_2_1">The Black Jacobins</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.co.uk/e/ir?t=opendemocracy-21&amp;l=ur2&amp;o=2" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></i> with Hannah Arendt&#146;s <i><a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&amp;camp=1634&amp;tag=opendemocracy-21&amp;creative=6738&amp;path=ASIN/014018421X/qid=1124912971/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_2_1">On Revolution</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.co.uk/e/ir?t=opendemocracy-21&amp;l=ur2&amp;o=2" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></i>. Tremendously thought-provoking and relevant.&#148; </p><p><b>What the publisher says</b>: &#147;At this stalled and disillusioned juncture in postcolonial history &#151; when many anti-colonial utopias have withered into a morass of exhaustion, corruption, and authoritarianism &#151; David Scott argues the need to reconceptualise the past in order to reimagine a more usable future. He describes how, prior to independence, anti-colonialists narrated the transition from colonialism to postcolonialism as romance&#151;as a story of overcoming and vindication, of salvation and redemption. Scott contends that postcolonial scholarship assumes the same trajectory, and that this imposes conceptual limitations. He suggests that tragedy may be a more useful narrative frame than romance. In tragedy, the future does not appear as part of a seamless forward movement, but instead as a slow and sometimes reversible series of ups and downs.&#148; </p><p><b>About the author</b>: David Scott is Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. He is the author of <i>Refashioning Futures: Criticism after Postcoloniality</i> and <i>Formations of Ritual: Colonial and Anthropological Discourses on the Sinhala Yaktovil</i>. He is editor of the journal <a href="http://www.smallaxe.net/home/smallaxe.html">Small Axe</a>. </p> Culture arts & cultures book of the week Danny Postel Original Copyright Wed, 24 Aug 2005 23:00:00 +0000 Danny Postel 2777 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fukuyama's moment: a neocon schism opens https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-election2004/article_2190.jsp <p>The Iraq war opened a fratricidal split among United States neo–conservatives. Danny Postel examines the bitter dispute between two leading neocons, Francis Fukuyama and Charles Krauthammer, and suggests that Fukuyama’s critique of the Iraq war and decision not to vote for George W Bush is a significant political as well as intellectual moment.</p><p> Over the last two years, the term “neo–conservative” has come into sharper focus than at any other point in its roughly <a href="http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/000tzmlw.asp" target="_blank">thirty–year</a> history. The neo–conservative movement has exerted greater influence on United States foreign policy since 9/11 than it was ever previously able to do, the Iraq war being its crowning achievement. </p><p> Coinciding with this ascendancy has been an unrelenting stream of criticism directed at neo–conservatism, from virtually every square on the ideological chessboard. Such sorties have become something of a rallying–cry among much of the left. Neo–conservatives either ignore left–wing criticism (a luxury they can well afford) or else chew it up and spit it out: the more vitriolic it is, the more emboldened it makes them. </p><p> Some of the most savage reprisals against the neocons, however, have come from the right. I have <a href="http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&amp;name=ViewPrint&amp;articleId=7602" target="_blank">written</a> elsewhere of the ensemble of realists, libertarians, and “paleoconservatives” who opposed the Iraq adventure and the doctrines that justified it, and of <a href="http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&amp;name=ViewPrint&amp;articleId=7876" target="_blank">other</a> conservatives who fear that the neocons and their war will sink Bush’s presidency. </p><p> Neo–conservatives are no less sanguine about attacks from this political direction: as if to say “bring it on”, neocons are armed with <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/frum/frum031903.asp" target="_blank">counterattacks</a> about the variously amoral, isolationist, nativist, unpatriotic, even anti–Semitic nature of the conservative cases against them. </p><p>If you find our election coverage unique and valuable, <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/SUPPORT8.html" target="_blank">subscribe</a> for just £25 / $40 / €40. You’ll gain access to the easy–to–read PDF of this article.</p> <p>But the latest salvo against the war and its neocon architects has stung its targets like none other has done. That’s because the critique <a href="http://www.sais-jhu.edu/faculty/fukuyama/" target="_blank">Francis Fukuyama</a> has advanced is an inside job: not only is its author among the most celebrated members of the neo–conservative intelligentsia, but his dissection of the conceptual problems at the core of the Iraq undertaking appeared on the neocons’ home ground. “The Neoconservative Moment,” his twelve–page intervention into the Iraq debate, was published in the <a href="http://www.nationalinterest.org/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=92CC3CD2669245CFBCA1759C597E9A1E&amp;nm=Articles+and+Archives&amp;type=Publishing&amp;mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&amp;mid=1ABA92EFCD8348688A4EBEB3D69D33EF&amp;tier=2&amp;did=B49CAEA7CA8146BD97F19460EE246A59&amp;dtxt=Summer+2004">Summer 2004</a> issue of <a href="http://www.nationalinterest.org/ME2/default.asp" target="_blank">The National Interest</a>, a flagship conservative foreign–policy journal. </p><p> This, in short, is different. Fukuyama is – to use a phrase patented by Margaret Thatcher – one of us. He’s part of the club. Indeed, he’s played as prominent a role as any of his co–thinkers in fostering the life of the neo-conservative mind since helping define the post–cold war moment fifteen years ago with his famous “end of history” <a href="http://www.viet-studies.org/EndofHistory.htm" target="_blank">thesis</a>. </p><p> That’s why the neocon world is abuzz about Fukuyama’s jab, and about his decision not to support Bush for re–election. “I just think that if you’re responsible for this kind of a big policy failure,” he tells openDemocracy, “you ought to be held accountable for it.” </p><p>Breaking ranks </p><p> In “The Neoconservative Moment,” Fukuyama turns a heat lamp on the cogitations of one thinker in <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/opinion/columns/krauthammercharles/" target="_blank">particular</a>, Charles Krauthammer, whose “strategic thinking has become emblematic” of the neo-conservative camp that envisaged the Iraq invasion. Krauthammer, one of the war’s most vociferous advocates, had somewhat famously fancied the end of the cold war as a “<a href="http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19910201faessay6067/charles–krauthammer/the–unipolar–moment.html" target="_blank">unipolar moment</a>” in geopolitics – which, by 2002, he was calling a “unipolar era.” In February 2004 Krauthammer <a href="http://www.aei.org/publications/bookID.755/book_detail.asp" target="_blank">delivered</a> an address at the neoconservative <a href="http://www.aei.org/default.asp?filter=all" target="_blank">American Enterprise Institute</a> in Washington in which he offered a strident defense of the Iraq war in terms of his concept of unipolarity, or what he now calls “democratic realism.” </p><p> Fukuyama was in the audience that evening and did not like what he heard. </p><p> Krauthammer’s speech was “strangely disconnected from reality,” Fukuyama wrote in “The Neoconservative Moment.” “Reading Krauthammer, one gets the impression that the Iraq War – the archetypical application of American unipolarity – had been an unqualified success, with all of the assumptions and expectations on which the war had been based fully vindicated.” “There is not the slightest nod” in Krauthammer’s exposition “towards the new empirical facts” that have come to light over the course of the occupation. </p><p> Fukuyama’s case against Krauthammer’s – and thus the dominant neo–conservative – position on Iraq is manifold. </p><p> Social engineering </p><p> Krauthammer’s logic, Fukuyama argues, is “utterly unrealistic in its overestimation of U.S. power and our ability to control events around the world.” “Of all of the different views that have now come to be associated with neoconservatives, the strangest one to me was the confidence that the United States could transform Iraq into a Western–style democracy,” he wrote, “and to go on from there to democratize the broader Middle East.” </p><p> This struck Fukuyama as strange, he explained, “precisely because these same neoconservatives had spent much of the past generation warning...about the dangers of ambitious social engineering, and how social planners could never control behavior or deal with unanticipated consequences.” If the US can’t eradicate poverty at home or improve its own education system, he asked, “how does it expect to bring democracy to a part of the world that has stubbornly resisted it and is virulently anti–American to boot?” </p><p> He didn’t rule out the possibility of the endeavour succeeding, but saw its chances of doing so as weak. Wise policy, he wrote, “is not made by staking everything on a throw of the dice.” “Culture is not destiny,” but, he argued in tones echoing his former professor <a href="http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20000501fabook704/lawrence-e-harrison-samuel-p-huntington/culture-matters-how-values-shape-human-progress.html" target="_blank">Samuel Huntington</a>, it “plays an important role in making possible certain kinds of institutions – something that is usually taken to be a conservative insight.” </p><p>Nation–building </p><p> The only way for such an “unbelievably ambitious effort to politically transform one of the world’s most troubled and hostile regions” to have an outside chance of working, Fukuyama maintained, was a huge, long–term commitment to postwar reconstruction. “America has been involved in approximately 18 nation–building projects between its conquest of the Philippines in 1899 and the current occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq,” he wrote, “and the overall record is not a pretty one.” </p><p> The signs thus far in Iraq? “Lurking like an unbidden guest at a dinner party is the reality of what has happened in Iraq since the U.S. invasion: We have been our usual inept and disorganized selves in planning for and carrying out the reconstruction, something that was predictable in advance and should not have surprised anyone familiar with American history.” (There are, it should be noted, serious doubts about whether democratisation is the real agenda of the regime–changers. Click <a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0304.marshall.html" target="_blank">here</a> and <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1542">here</a> for two skeptical views.) </p><p> But unlike many conservative critics of nation–building – the aforementioned realists, libertarians, and paleocons, for example – Fukuyama believes there are cases when it is necessary, indeed vital. While he argues that America “needs to be more realistic about its nation–building abilities, and cautious in taking on large social–engineering projects in parts of the world it does not understand very well,” he sees it as inevitable that the US will get “sucked into similar projects in the future,” and America must be “much better prepared,” he warns, for a scenario such as the “sudden collapse of the North Korean regime.” </p><p>Legitimacy </p><p> Krauthammer and other neocon advocates of the war – <a href="http://www.ceip.org/files/publications/Kagan_ParadiseandPower.asp" target="_blank">Robert Kagan</a> most famously – have <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/16059" target="_blank">turned</a> anti–Europeanism into a sport, arguing that Europe’s doubts about Iraq reflect a plate–tectonic shift in consciousness and signal a cleft in transatlantic relations of epochal significance. </p><p> Fukuyama doesn’t dismiss this argument entirely, but sees a sleight of hand at work in its rhetorical deployment in the Iraq debate. If Krauthammer, rather than summarily spurning continental arguments as just so much bad faith and responsibility–shirking, had instead “listened carefully to what many Europeans were actually saying (something that Americans are not very good at doing these days), he would have discovered that much of their objection to the war was not a normative one having to do with procedural issues and the UN, but rather a prudential one having to do with the overall wisdom of attacking Iraq.” </p><p> Krauthammer’s almost principled disdain for European sensibilities is particularly problematic, Fukuyama argued, when one considers that “the European bottom line proved to be closer to the truth than the administration’s far more alarmist position” vis–à–vis weapons of mass destruction (WMD). “On the question of the manageability of postwar Iraq, the more skeptical European position was almost certainly right.” Despite this, Krauthammer proceeds “as if the Bush administration’s judgment had been vindicated at every turn, and that any questioning of it can only be the result of base or dishonest motives.” </p><p> Fukuyama, in contrast, exhorts the US to confront these errors head–on, realising that they have “created an enormous legitimacy problem for us,” one that will damage American interests “for a long time to come.” “This should matter to us,” he inveighs, “not just for realist reasons of state (our ability to attract allies to share the burden), but for idealist ones as well (our ability to lead and inspire based on the attractiveness of who we are).” The US must “spend much more time and energy” cultivating “like–minded allies” to accomplish “both the realist and idealist portions” of its agenda. </p><p>Israelpolitik </p><p> Finally, Fukuyama argues, Krauthammer and other neo–conservatives misconstrue the nature of the threat facing the US today, in part because they view American foreign policy through the prism of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Krauthammer’s hard line, Likudnik position on Israel “colors his views on how the United States should deal with the Arabs more broadly.” Krauthammer once quipped in a radio interview that the only way to earn respect in the Arab world is to reach down and squeeze between the legs. (His exact wording was slightly less delicate.) </p><p> Fukuyama questions the logic of transposing this Ariel Sharon style of thought to US strategy: “Are we like Israel, locked in a remorseless struggle with a large part of the Arab and Muslim world, with few avenues open to us for dealing with them other than an iron fist?” In an argument echoed by <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2081">Anatol Lieven</a> in his book America Right or Wrong, Fukuyama asks: “does a strategic doctrine developed by a small, vulnerable country surrounded by implacable enemies make sense when applied to the situation of the world’s sole superpower…?” </p><p> Calling for a “more complex strategy” that “recalibrates the proportion of sticks and carrots,” Fukuyama argues that “an American policy toward the Muslim world that, like Sharon’s, is largely stick will be a disaster: we do not have enough sticks in our closet to ‘make them respect us’. The Islamists for sure hated us from the beginning, but Krauthammerian unipolarity has increased hatred for the United States in the broader fight for hearts and minds.” </p><p> In his response to Fukuyama, published in the current (Fall 2004) issue of The National Interest, Krauthammer polemically dismisses Fukuyama’s arguments with words like “bizarre,” “ridiculous,” “absurd,” “silly,” and “odd in the extreme.” Fukuyama, he writes, has “enthusiastically joined the crowd seizing upon the difficulties in Iraq as a refutation of any forward–looking policy that might have gotten us there…” As for Fukuyama’s claim that the fecklessness of the reconstruction effort was “predictable in advance,” Krauthammer writes: “Curiously, however, Fukuyama never predicted it in advance. He waited a year to ascertain wind direction, then predicted what had already occurred.” </p><p> On Fukuyama’s argument about the role of Israel, Krauthammer accuses his interlocutor of “Judaizing” neo–conservatism. “His is not the crude kind, advanced by Pat Buchanan and Malaysia’s <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/asiapcf/southeast/10/16/oic.mahathir/" target="_blank">Mahathir Mohamad</a>, among others, that American neoconservatives (read: Jews) are simply doing Israel’s bidding, hijacking American foreign policy in the service of Israel and the greater Jewish conspiracy.” “Fukuyama’s take,” he writes, “is more subtle and implicit.” </p><p> What makes Fukuyama’s argument “quite ridiculous,” Krauthammer contends, is that at the vanguard of the policies in question are Bush, Blair, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. “How,” he asks, “did they come to their delusional identification with Israel?” “Are they Marranos, or have they been hypnotized by ‘neoconservatives’ into sharing the tribal bond?” </p><p> Inside or out? </p><p> Just how deep into the body of neo-conservatism did Fukuyama’s knife go? Is he himself still a neocon? Fukuyama is ambiguous on this point. Others are less so. </p><p> On the one hand, Fukuyama claims he’s starting from faithful neo–conservative axioms and simply drawing different conclusions about their application in the specific case of the Iraq war. “One can start with premises identical to Krauthammer’s…and yet come up with a foreign policy that is very different from the one he lays out,” he writes. </p><p> “I still consider myself to be a dyed–in–the–wool neoconservative,” he <a href="http://www.inthenationalinterest.com/Articles/October2004/October2004Fukuyama.html" target="_blank">told</a> an audience in August. </p><p> In the same stroke of the pen, however, he writes (in “The Neoconservative Moment”) that “it is probably too late to reclaim the label ‘neoconservative’ for any but the policies undertaken by the Bush administration” and doubts whether the vision he proposes as an alternative to Krauthammer’s “will ever be seen as neoconservative.” Then again, he concludes, “there is no reason why it should not have this title.” </p><p> In his National Interest response, Krauthammer (who declined openDemocracy’s request for an interview) writes that Fukuyama’s “intent is to take down the entire neoconservative edifice.” Indeed, Krauthammer’s counterpunch is shot through with the conviction that, notwithstanding his interlocutor’s pronouncements to the contrary, this is anything but a family quarrel: Fukuyama’s train, he believes, has pulled out of the neoconservative station. </p><p> Why Fukuyama Matters </p><p> <a href="http://political-science.uchicago.edu/faculty/mearsheimer.html" target="_blank">John Mearsheimer</a> thinks Krauthammer is on to something. </p><p> “Fukuyama understands, quite correctly, that the Bush doctrine has washed up on the rocks,” the University of Chicago political scientist and author of <a href="http://www.wwnorton.com/catalog/fall01/002025.htm" target="_blank">The Tragedy of Great Power Politics</a> tells openDemocracy. Fukuyama’s essay provides a “great service,” he says, in making plain that the neo-conservative strategy for dealing with Iraq has “crashed and burned.” Fukuyama is “to be admired for his honesty here. He is confronting reality.” </p><p> The significance of Fukuyama’s intervention, says Mearsheimer, goes beyond its being the first in–house, intra–neocon dispute over Iraq. “It’s not only that he’s a member of the [neoconservative] tribe going after another member of the tribe; [Fukuyama] is one of the tribe’s most important members.” Indeed, he says, Fukuyama and Krauthammer are without a doubt “the two heavyweights” of the neoconservative intelligentsia, and their debate is about “terribly important issues, issues of central importance to American foreign policy.” </p><p> Mearsheimer agrees with Krauthammer that Fukuyama’s critique threatens to dismantle the neo-conservative project. First, he says, Fukuyama is challenging “the unilateralist impulse that’s hard wired into the neoconservative worldview.” Second, Fukuyama disputes the argument that the Iraq war would create a democratic domino effect in the Arab–Islamic world. These, says Mearsheimer, are “two of the most important planks” in the Bush doctrine and in the neo-conservative Weltanschauung. </p><p> Fukuyama also possesses what Mearsheimer calls a “very healthy respect for the limits of military force.” “I think you cannot bring about democracy through the use of military force,” he <a href="http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2004/688/intrvw.htm" target="_blank">told</a> the Cairo–based weekly <a href="http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/" target="_blank">Al–Ahram</a>. Then there is Fukuyama’s point about the limits of social engineering and his argument regarding the neocon tendency to conflate Israel’s security threats with those of the United States. </p><p> Taken together, says Mearsheimer, this band of criticisms makes Fukuyama’s case nothing less than devastating. “This is not just a minor spat within the camp. This is consequential.” </p><p> High stakes, hard words </p><p> The Fukuyama–Krauthammer exchange has generated considerable buzz within Washington. “The foreign policy establishment are paying attention,” National Interest editor John O’Sullivan tells openDemocracy. The exchange, he says, is “generating debate and discussion more generally” as well. </p><p> “It was about time somebody out of this circle broke out and dealt with reality,” says Gary Dorrien, author of <a href="http://www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/959_reg.html" target="_blank">The Neoconservative Mind</a> and <a href="http://www.routledge-ny.com/shopping_cart/products/product_detail.asp?isbn=0415949807" target="_blank">Imperial Designs: Neoconservatism and the New Pax Americana</a>, of this “first crack in the dyke.” “I’m not surprised that he’s the one who did,” Dorrien tells openDemocracy. “He was never the hard–line ideologue that most of them are.” </p><p><a href="http://www.davidfrum.com/" target="_blank">David Frum</a>, a daily <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/frum/frum-diary.asp" target="_blank">National Review Online</a> columnist for and former Bush speechwriter currently at work on a history of foreign–policy decision–making in the Bush administration, thinks l’affaire Fukuyama will take on greater significance in the event of a Bush defeat. “If Bush loses and Republicans turn against the war and decide to blame somebody for [it],” he tells openDemocracy, “then intellectually they’re going to end up unraveling the chain of reasoning that led them to Iraq. At that point, they’re going to start looking for some kind of alternative. I don’t think right now you can point to Fukuyama and say, ‘it’ll take them here’,” but Fukuyama’s arguments “may become more attractive,” he says. </p><p> Frum, who continues to support the war and thinks Krauthammer makes “intellectual mincemeat” of Fukuyama in their exchange, says he “would find it hard to believe” if the two men were still friends. (Fukuyama tells openDemocracy that he and Krauthammer have not spoken since the shootout began.) Frum attributes the rather rancorous tone of the debate – particularly, one must say, in Krauthammer’s reply – to the magnitude of the issues. “We’re fighting right now over who’s going to control the fate of the [Republican] party. There are large stakes.” </p><p> Fallout </p><p> Fukuyama does plan to respond to Krauthammer’s essay, in a forthcoming issue of The National Interest. “There’s a little bit of an implication that I’m being anti–Semitic and I really do think I need to talk about that,” he tells openDemocracy. </p><p> He admits to being “a little bit disappointed” that Krauthammer didn’t employ “a more neutral tone,” he says of his old friend. “On the other hand,” he says, “that’s his style. He does this to everybody. I don’t know why I would be exempted.” </p><p> What does Fukuyama make of Krauthammer’s claim that “The Neoconservative Moment” amounts to an attempt to raze the Neocon Palace? “The zealousness of many people who wear the neoconservative label for the war in Iraq has done more to undermine neoconservatism than anything I possibly could have said,” he rejoins, adding that a dose of introspection might do them well. </p><p> “That’s the thing that strikes me – it’s the same thing that strikes me about President Bush, as well,” he says. “I would forgive a lot if any of these people who were very strong advocates of the war showed any reflectiveness about what’s happened or any acknowledgement that maybe there was something problematic in what they were recommending. Krauthammer doesn’t do that, and President Bush doesn’t do that. I take that as a big flaw. It seems to me it’s not going to help their case to keep insisting that they were right about everything.” </p><p> Absent from Krauthammer’s reply, says Fukuyama, “was any acknowledgement that any of my points had any validity, or that the way the war developed led to any rethinking of anything.” </p><p> Neo–conservatism faces a test, says Fukuyama. Either it will adapt in the face of changing realities on the ground or “stick to a rigid set of principles.” The outcome, he says, will “mean either the death or the survival of this movement.” </p><p> <span class="blockquote-new">A paradigm shift? </span></p><p class="blockquote-new"> Why didn’t Fukuyama voice the doubts he says he had about the war in the months leading up to it, when the debate was in full stride? “I didn’t think it would do any good for me to come out against it because everybody was so determined to do it,” he says. And so I thought, ‘well, let them have their chance.’ I was not certain about the outcome. I thought the probabilities of it working out were not sufficient to justify taking that kind of a risk.” </p><p class="blockquote-new"> For Fukuyama, the prospects of a Bush victory in the presidential election are troubling. In the Financial Times (<a href="http://www.sais-jhu.edu/pubaffairs/SAISarticles04/Fukuyama_TFT_091404.pdf" target="_blank">14 September 2004</a>) he wrote: “The Republican convention outrageously lumped the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq war into a single, seamless war on terrorism – as if the soldiers fighting [militant Iraqi Shi’a cleric Muqtada al–Sadr] were avenging the destroyers of the twin towers. This has, in fact, become true, but only because mismanagement of the war has created a new Afghanistan inside Iraq.” He concluded: “if Mr Bush is returned with a large mandate in November, the administration will have got away with a Big Lie about the war on terrorism and will have little incentive to engage in serious review.” </p><p class="blockquote-new"> Though Fukuyama says he will not be voting for Bush, he refuses to affirm whether he’ll cast his ballot for Kerry. “There are things I really don’t like about Kerry, either,” he says. While the Bush people “have been much too willing to use force and to use it recklessly,” the Democrats, he says, “still have this big problem about using it at all. I wish there were someone who had a better balance between the two positions. ” </p><p class="blockquote-new"> And yet, Fukuyama <a href="http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/Printer&amp;cid=1079583004276&amp;p=1006953079845" target="_blank">told</a> the Jerusalem Post in March 2004 that electing a Democrat to the White House “will make a difference.” “[S]ince it is not the Democrats’ war,” he said, “if they have to face a really stressful situation a few years from now, it would be easier for them to walk away than it would be for a second Bush administration.” </p><p class="blockquote-new"> In April 2005, Fukuyama will give a series of lectures in which he intends to address “more systematically” his criticisms of the Iraq adventure and its neo–conservative architects. </p><p class="blockquote-new"> Does Fukuyama regard the recent turn of events – his critique of the war, his debate with Krauthammer, his opposition to Bush’s reelection – as signaling something of a paradigm shift in his self–understanding? “I don’t know whether it’s going to prompt the shift so much as reflect the shift,” he explains. “I’ve been moving towards an interest in development questions over the last few years,” he says. </p><p class="blockquote-new"> Indeed, he explores the politics and economics of international institutions at some length in his recent <a href="http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cup_catalog.taf?_function=detail&amp;Title_ID=4186&amp;_UserReference=E1B5F4D02EB8AAA3417ACC5E" target="_blank">State Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century</a> and will continue to do so in 2005 when he takes over as head of the <a href="http://www.sais-jhu.edu/programs/i-dev/index.html" target="_blank">International Development Program</a> at <a href="http://www.sais-jhu.edu/" target="_blank">SAIS</a> (Johns Hopkins University’s <a href="http://slate.msn.com/id/2108510/" target="_blank">Paul H. Nitze </a>School of Advanced International Studies), where he is currently a professor of international political economy. </p><p class="blockquote-new"> “I think one of the big divides in the world is between people who primarily do security studies and people who do development. And I think one of the reasons the Bush people got into so much trouble is they put people who knew security in charge of what was really a big development project. These are people who had not spent a lot of time in East Timor or Somalia or Bosnia, watching how these things are done,” he says. “I think that was one of the big problems.” </p><p class="blockquote-new"> ----------------------------- </p><p><span class="blockquote-new"> Have you clicked through from <a href="http://www.aldaily.com/" target="_blank"><em>Arts &amp; Letters Daily</em></a>? Welcome! Why not look at what the rest of openDemocracy has to offer? Click <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/home/index.jsp" target="_blank">here</a></span> </p><p>&nbsp;</p> The Americas election 2004 democracy & power Danny Postel Creative Commons normal Wed, 27 Oct 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Danny Postel 2190 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Noble lies and perpetual war: Leo Strauss, the neocons, and Iraq https://www.opendemocracy.net/faith-iraqwarphiloshophy/article_1542.jsp <p>Are the ideas of the conservative political philosopher Leo Strauss a shaping influence on the Bush administration&#146;s world outlook? Danny Postel interviews Shadia Drury &#150; a leading scholarly critic of Strauss &#150; and asks her about the connection between Plato&#146;s dialogues, secrets and lies, and the United States-led war in Iraq.</p><p> What was initially an anti-war argument is now a matter of public record. It is widely recognised that the Bush administration was not honest about the reasons it gave for invading Iraq. </p><p> Paul Wolfowitz, the influential United States deputy secretary of defense, has acknowledged that the evidence used to justify the war was &#147;murky&#148; and now says that weapons of mass destruction weren&#146;t the crucial issue anyway (see the book by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, <i>Weapons of Mass Deception: the uses of propaganda in Bush&#146;s war on Iraq</i> (<a href="http://www.prwatch.org/books/wmd.html" target="_blank">2003</a>.) </p><div><div class="pull_quote_article">For a short biography of Leo Strauss, and a guide to recent commentary on his influence on US neo-conservatism, see the end of this article.</div><p> By contrast, <a href="http://www.uregina.ca/arts/CRC/" target="_blank">Shadia Drury</a>, professor of political theory at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, argues that the use of deception and manipulation in current US policy flow directly from the doctrines of the political philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973). His disciples include <a href="http://www.defenselink.mil/bios/depsecdef_bio.html" target="_blank">Paul Wolfowitz</a> and other neo-conservatives who have driven much of the political agenda of the Bush administration. </p><p> If Shadia Drury is right, then American policy-makers exercise deception with greater coherence than their British allies in Tony Blair&#146;s 10 Downing Street. In the UK, a <a href="http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/" target="_blank">public inquiry</a> is currently underway into the death of the biological weapons expert David Kelly. A central theme is also whether the government deceived the public, as a BBC reporter suggested. </p><p> The inquiry has documented at least some of the ways the prime minister&#146;s entourage &#145;sexed up&#146; the presentation of intelligence on the Iraqi threat. But few doubt that in terms of their philosophy, if they have one, members of Blair&#146;s staff believe they must be trusted as honest. Any apparent deceptions they may be involved in are for them matters of presentation or &#145;spin&#146;: attempts to project an honest gloss when surrounded by a dishonest media. </p><p> The deep influence of Leo Strauss&#146;s ideas on the current architects of US foreign policy has been referred to, if sporadically, in the press (hence an insider witticism about the influence of &#147;Leo-cons&#148;). Christopher Hitchens, an ardent advocate of the war, wrote unashamedly in November 2002 (in an article felicitously titled <a href="http://slate.msn.com/id/2073634/" target="_blank"><i>Machiavelli in Mesopotamia</i></a>) that: </p><blockquote> &#147;[p]art of the charm of the regime-change argument (from the point of view of its supporters) is that it depends on premises and objectives that cannot, at least by the administration, be publicly avowed. Since Paul Wolfowitz is from the intellectual school of Leo Strauss &#150; and appears in fictional guise as such in Saul Bellow&#146;s novel <i>Ravelstein</i> &#150; one may even suppose that he enjoys this arcane and occluded aspect of the debate.&#148; </blockquote> Perhaps no scholar has done as much to illuminate the Strauss phenomenon as Shadia Drury. For fifteen years she has been shining a heat lamp on the Straussians with such books as <i>The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss</i> (<a href="http://www.uregina.ca/arts/CRC/book_politicalideas.html" target="_blank">1988</a>) and <i>Leo Strauss and the American Right</i> (<a href="http://www.uregina.ca/arts/CRC/book_americanright.html" target="_blank">1997</a>). She is also the author of <i>Alexandre Koj&egrave;ve: the Roots of Postmodern Politics</i> (1994) and <i>Terror and Civilization</i> (forthcoming). </div><p> She argues that the central claims of Straussian thought wield a crucial influence on men of power in the contemporary United States. She elaborates her argument in this interview. </p><p> <b>A natural order of inequality</b> </p><p> <b>Danny Postel:</b> You&#146;ve argued that there is an important connection between the teachings of Leo Strauss and the Bush administration&#146;s selling of the Iraq war. What is that connection? </p><p> <b>Shadia Drury:</b> Leo Strauss was a great believer in the efficacy and usefulness of lies in politics. Public support for the Iraq war rested on lies about Iraq posing an imminent threat to the United States &#150; the business about weapons of mass destruction and a fictitious alliance between al-Qaida and the Iraqi regime. Now that the lies have been exposed, Paul Wolfowitz and others in the war party are denying that these were the real reasons for the war. </p><p> So what <i>were</i> the real reasons? Reorganising the balance of power in the Middle East in favour of Israel? Expanding American hegemony in the Arab world? Possibly. But these reasons would not have been sufficient in themselves to mobilise American support for the war. And the Straussian cabal in the administration realised that. </p><p> <b>Danny Postel:</b> The neo-conservative vision is commonly taken to be about spreading democracy and liberal values globally. And when Strauss is mentioned in the press, he is typically described as a great defender of liberal democracy against totalitarian tyranny. You&#146;ve written, however, that Strauss had a &#147;profound antipathy to both liberalism and democracy.&#148; </p><p> <b>Shadia Drury:</b> The idea that Strauss was a great defender of liberal democracy is laughable. I suppose that Strauss&#146;s disciples consider it a noble lie. Yet many in the media have been gullible enough to believe it. </p><p> How could an admirer of Plato and Nietzsche be a liberal democrat? The ancient philosophers whom Strauss most cherished believed that the unwashed masses were not fit for either truth or liberty, and that giving them these sublime treasures would be like throwing pearls before swine. In contrast to modern political thinkers, the ancients denied that there is any natural right to liberty. Human beings are born neither free nor equal. The natural human condition, they held, is not one of freedom, but of subordination &#150; and in Strauss&#146;s estimation they were right in thinking so. </p><p> Praising the wisdom of the ancients and condemning the folly of the moderns was the whole point of Strauss&#146;s most famous book, <i>Natural Right and History</i>. The cover of the book sports the American Declaration of Independence. But the book is a celebration of nature &#150; not the natural rights of man (as the appearance of the book would lead one to believe) but the natural order of domination and subordination. </p><p> <b>The necessity of lies</b> </p><p> <b>Danny Postel:</b> What is the relevance of Strauss&#146;s interpretation of Plato&#146;s notion of the noble lie? </p><p> <b>Shadia Drury:</b> Strauss rarely spoke in his own name. He wrote as a commentator on the classical texts of political theory. But he was an extremely opinionated and dualistic commentator. The fundamental distinction that pervades and informs all of his work is that between the ancients and the <a href="http://www.semcoop.com/detail/0226776891" target="_blank">moderns</a>. Strauss divided the history of political thought into two camps: the ancients (like Plato) are wise and wily, whereas the moderns (like Locke and other liberals) are vulgar and foolish. Now, it seems to me eminently fair and reasonable to attribute to Strauss the ideas he attributes to his beloved ancients. </p><p> In Plato&#146;s dialogues, everyone assumes that Socrates is Plato&#146;s mouthpiece. But Strauss argues in his book <a href="http://www.semcoop.com/detail/0226777014" target="_blank"><i>The City and Man</i></a> (pp. 74-5, 77, 83-4, 97, 100, 111) that <a href="http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/t/thrasymachus.htm" target="_blank">Thrasymachus</a> is Plato&#146;s real mouthpiece (on this point, see also M.F. Burnyeat, &#147;Sphinx without a Secret&#148;, <i>New York Review of Books</i>, <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5444" target="_blank">30 May 1985</a> [paid-for only]). So, we must surmise that Strauss shares the insights of the wise Plato (alias Thrasymachus) that justice is merely the interest of the stronger; that those in power make the rules in their own interests and call it justice. </p><p> Leo Strauss repeatedly defends the political realism of Thrasymachus and <a href="http://www.the-prince-by-machiavelli.com/summary-of-the-prince-by-machiavelli.html" target="_blank">Machiavelli</a> (see, for example, his <i>Natural Right and History</i>, p. 106). This view of the world is clearly manifest in the foreign policy of the current administration in the United States. </p><p> A second fundamental belief of Strauss&#146;s ancients has to do with their insistence on the need for secrecy and the necessity of lies. In his book <i>Persecution and the Art of Writing</i>, Strauss outlines why secrecy is necessary. He argues that the wise must conceal their views for two reasons &#150; to spare the people&#146;s feelings and to protect the elite from possible reprisals. </p><p> The people will not be happy to learn that there is only one natural right &#150; the right of the superior to rule over the inferior, the master over the slave, the husband over the wife, and the wise few over the vulgar many. In <i>On Tyranny</i>, Strauss refers to this natural right as the &#147;tyrannical teaching&#148; of his beloved ancients. It is tyrannical in the classic sense of rule above rule or in the absence of law (p. 70). </p><p> Now, the ancients were determined to keep this tyrannical teaching secret because the people are not likely to tolerate the fact that they are intended for subordination; indeed, they may very well turn their resentment against the superior few. Lies are thus necessary to protect the superior few from the persecution of the vulgar many. </p><p> The effect of Strauss&#146;s teaching is to convince his acolytes that they are the natural ruling elite and the persecuted few. And it does not take much intelligence for them to surmise that they are in a situation of great danger, especially in a world devoted to the modern ideas of equal rights and freedoms. Now more than ever, the wise few must proceed cautiously and with circumspection. So, they come to the conclusion that they have a moral justification to lie in order to avoid persecution. Strauss goes so far as to say that dissembling and deception &#150; in effect, a culture of lies &#150; is the peculiar justice of the wise. </p><p> Strauss justifies his position by an appeal to Plato&#146;s concept of the noble lie. But in truth, Strauss has a very impoverished conception of Plato&#146;s noble lie. Plato thought that the noble lie is a story whose details are fictitious; but at the heart of it is a profound truth. </p><p> In the myth of metals, for example, some people have golden souls &#150; meaning that they are more capable of resisting the temptations of power. And these morally trustworthy types are the ones who are most fit to rule. The details are fictitious, but the moral of the story is that not all human beings are morally equal. </p><p> In contrast to this reading of <a href="http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/hfs.cgi/00/14230.ctl" target="_blank">Plato</a>, Strauss thinks that the superiority of the ruling philosophers is an <i>intellectual</i> superiority and not a <i>moral</i> one (<i>Natural Right and History</i>, p. 151). For many commentators who (like Karl Popper) have read Plato as a totalitarian, the logical consequence is to doubt that philosophers can be trusted with political power. Those who read him this way invariably reject him. Strauss is the only interpreter who gives a sinister reading to Plato, and then celebrates him. </p><p> <b>The dialectic of fear and tyranny </b> </p><p> <b>Danny Postel:</b> In the Straussian scheme of things, there are the wise few and the vulgar many. But there is also a third group &#150; the gentlemen. Would you explain how they figure? </p><p> <b>Shadia Drury:</b> There are indeed three types of men: the wise, the gentlemen, and the vulgar. The wise are the lovers of the harsh, unadulterated truth. They are capable of looking into the abyss without fear and trembling. They recognise neither God nor moral imperatives. They are devoted above all else to their own pursuit of the &#147;higher&#148; pleasures, which amount to consorting with their &#147;puppies&#148; or young initiates. </p><p> The second type, the gentlemen, are lovers of honour and glory. They are the most ingratiating towards the conventions of their society &#150; that is, the illusions of the cave. They are true believers in God, honour, and moral imperatives. They are ready and willing to embark on acts of great courage and self-sacrifice at a moment&#146;s notice. </p><p> The third type, the vulgar many, are lovers of wealth and pleasure. They are selfish, slothful, and indolent. They can be inspired to rise above their brutish existence only by fear of impending death or catastrophe. </p><p> Like Plato, Strauss believed that the supreme political ideal is the rule of the wise. But the rule of the wise is unattainable in the real world. Now, according to the conventional wisdom, Plato realised this, and settled for the rule of law. But Strauss did not endorse this solution entirely. Nor did he think that it was Plato&#146;s <i>real</i> solution &#150; Strauss pointed to the &#147;nocturnal council&#148; in Plato&#146;s <i>Laws</i> to illustrate his point. </p><p> The real Platonic solution as understood by Strauss is the <i>covert rule of the wise</i> (see Strauss&#146;s &#150; <a href="http://www.semcoop.com/detail/0226776980" target="_blank"><i>The Argument and the Action of Plato&#146;s Laws</i></a>). This covert rule is facilitated by the overwhelming stupidity of the gentlemen. The more gullible and unperceptive they are, the easier it is for the wise to control and manipulate them. Supposedly, Xenophon makes that clear to us. </p><p> For Strauss, the rule of the wise is not about classic conservative values like order, stability, justice, or respect for authority. The rule of the wise is intended as an antidote to modernity. Modernity is the age in which the vulgar many have triumphed. It is the age in which they have come closest to having exactly what their hearts desire &#150; wealth, pleasure, and endless entertainment. But in getting just what they desire, they have unwittingly been reduced to beasts. </p><p> Nowhere is this state of affairs more advanced than in America. And the global reach of American culture threatens to trivialise life and turn it into entertainment. This was as terrifying a spectre for Strauss as it was for Alexandre Koj&egrave;ve and <a href="http://www.semcoop.com/detail/0226518892" target="_blank">Carl Schmitt</a>. </p><p> This is made clear in Strauss&#146;s exchange with Koj&egrave;ve (reprinted in Strauss&#146;s <i>On Tyranny</i>), and in his commentary on Schmitt&#146;s <i>The Concept of the Political</i> (reprinted in Heinrich Meier, <i>Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue</i>). <a href="http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/k/kojeve.htm" target="_blank">Koj&egrave;ve</a> lamented the animalisation of man and Schmitt worried about the trivialisation of life. All three of them were convinced that liberal economics would turn life into entertainment and destroy politics; all three understood politics as a conflict between mutually hostile groups willing to fight each other to the death. In short, they all thought that man&#146;s humanity depended on his willingness to rush naked into battle and headlong to his death. Only perpetual war can overturn the modern project, with its emphasis on self-preservation and &#147;creature comforts.&#148; Life can be politicised once more, and man&#146;s humanity can be restored. </p><p> This terrifying vision fits perfectly well with the desire for honour and glory that the neo-conservative gentlemen covet. It also fits very well with the religious sensibilities of gentlemen. The combination of religion and nationalism is the elixir that Strauss advocates as the way to turn natural, relaxed, hedonistic men into devout nationalists willing to fight and die for their God and country. </p><p> I never imagined when I wrote my first book on Strauss that the unscrupulous elite that he elevates would ever come so close to political power, nor that the ominous tyranny of the wise would ever come so close to being realised in the political life of a great nation like the United States. But fear is the greatest ally of tyranny. </p><p> <b>Danny Postel:</b> You&#146;ve described Strauss as a nihilist. </p><p> <b>Shadia Drury:</b> Strauss is a nihilist in the sense that he believes that there is no rational foundation for morality. He is an atheist, and he believes that in the absence of God, morality has no grounding. It&#146;s all about benefiting others and oneself; there is no objective reason for doing so, only rewards and punishments in this life. </p><p> But Strauss is not a nihilist if we mean by the term a denial that there is any truth, a belief that everything is interpretation. He does not deny that there is an independent reality. On the contrary, he thinks that independent reality consists in nature and its &#147;order of rank&#148; &#150; the high and the low, the superior and the inferior. Like Nietzsche, he believes that the history of western civilisation has led to the triumph of the inferior, the rabble &#150; something they both lamented profoundly. </p><p> <b>Danny Postel:</b> This connection is curious, since Strauss is bedevilled by Nietzsche; and one of Strauss&#146;s most famous students, <a href="http://www.selu.edu/Academics/Faculty/nadams/educ692/Bloom.html" target="_blank">Allan Bloom</a>, fulminates profusely in his book <i>The Closing of the American Mind</i> against the influence of Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger. </p><p> <b>Shadia Drury:</b> Strauss&#146;s criticism of the existentialists, especially Heidegger, is that they tried to elicit an ethic out of the abyss. This was the ethic of resoluteness &#150; choose whatever you like and be loyal to it to the death; its content does not matter. But Strauss&#146;s reaction to moral nihilism was different. Nihilistic philosophers, he believes, should reinvent the Jud&aelig;o-Christian God, but live like pagan gods themselves &#150; taking pleasure in the games they play with each other as well as the games they play on ordinary mortals. </p><p> The question of nihilism is complicated, but there is no doubt that Strauss&#146;s reading of Plato entails that the philosophers should return to the cave and manipulate the images (in the form of media, magazines, newspapers). They know full well that the line they espouse is mendacious, but they are convinced that theirs are noble lies. </p><p> <b>The intoxication of perpetual war</b> </p><p> <b>Danny Postel:</b> You characterise the outlook of the Bush administration as a kind of realism, in the spirit of Thrasymachus and Machiavelli. But isn&#146;t the real divide within the administration (and on the American right more generally) more complex: between foreign policy realists, who are pragmatists, and neo-conservatives, who see themselves as idealists &#150; even moralists &#150; on a mission to topple tyrants, and therefore in a struggle <i>against</i> realism? </p><p> <b>Shadia Drury:</b> I think that the neo-conservatives are for the most part genuine in wanting to spread the American commercial model of liberal democracy around the globe. They are convinced that it is the best thing, not just for America, but for the world. Naturally, there is a tension between these &#147;idealists&#148; and the more hard-headed realists within the administration. </p><p> I contend that the tensions and conflicts within the current administration reflect the differences between the surface teaching, which is appropriate for gentlemen, and the &#145;nocturnal&#146; or covert teaching, which the philosophers alone are privy to. It is very unlikely for an ideology inspired by a secret teaching to be entirely coherent. </p><p> The issue of nationalism is an example of this. The philosophers, wanting to secure the nation against its external enemies as well as its internal decadence, sloth, pleasure, and consumption, encourage a strong patriotic fervour among the honour-loving gentlemen who wield the reins of power. That strong nationalistic spirit consists in the belief that their nation and its values are the best in the world, and that all other cultures and their values are inferior in comparison. </p><p> <a href="http://www.aei.org/scholars/scholarID.34/scholar.asp" target="_blank">Irving Kristol</a>, the father of neo-conservatism and a Strauss disciple, denounced nationalism in a 1973 essay; but in another essay written in 1983, he declared that the foreign policy of neo-conservatism must reflect its nationalist proclivities. A decade on, in a 1993 essay, he claimed that &#147;religion, nationalism, and economic growth are the pillars of neoconservatism.&#148; (See &#147;The Coming &#145;Conservative Century&#146;&#148;, in <i>Neoconservatism: the autobiography of an idea</i>, p. 365.) </p><p> In <i>Reflections of a Neoconservative</i> (p. xiii), Kristol wrote that: </p><blockquote> &#147;patriotism springs from love of the nation&#146;s past; nationalism arises out of hope for the nation&#146;s future, distinctive greatness&#133;. Neoconservatives believe&#133; that the goals of American foreign policy must go well beyond a narrow, too literal definition of &#145;national security&#146;. It is the national interest of a world power, as this is defined by a sense of national destiny &#133; not a myopic national security&#148;. </blockquote> The same sentiment was echoed by the doyen of contemporary <a href="http://www.straussian.net/" target="_blank">Straussianism</a>, Harry Jaffa, when he said that America is the &#147;Zion that will light up all the world.&#148; <p> It is easy to see how this sort of thinking can get out of hand, and why hard-headed realists tend to find it na&iuml;ve if not dangerous. </p><p> But Strauss&#146;s worries about America&#146;s global aspirations are entirely different. Like Heidegger, Schmitt, and Koj&egrave;ve, Strauss would be more concerned that America would succeed in this enterprise than that it would fail. In that case, the &#147;last man&#148; would extinguish all hope for humanity (Nietzsche); the &#147;night of the world&#148; would be at hand (Heidegger); the animalisation of man would be complete (Koj&egrave;ve); and the trivialisation of life would be accomplished (Schmitt). That is what the success of America&#146;s global aspirations meant to them. </p><p> Francis Fukuyama&#146;s <a href="http://www.semcoop.com/detail/0380720027" target="_blank"><i>The End of History and the Last Man</i></a> is a popularisation of this viewpoint. It sees the coming catastrophe of American global power as inevitable, and seeks to make the best of a bad situation. It is far from a celebration of American dominance. </p><p> On this perverse view of the world, if America fails to achieve her &#147;national destiny&#148;, and is mired in perpetual war, then all is well. Man&#146;s humanity, defined in terms of struggle to the death, is rescued from extinction. But men like Heidegger, Schmitt, Koj&egrave;ve, and Strauss expect the worst. They expect that the universal spread of the spirit of commerce would soften manners and emasculate man. To my mind, this fascistic glorification of death and violence springs from a profound inability to celebrate life, joy, and the sheer thrill of existence. </p><p> To be clear, Strauss was not as hostile to democracy as he was to <a href="http://www.semcoop.com/detail/0847686922" target="_blank">liberalism</a>. This is because he recognises that the vulgar masses have numbers on their side, and the sheer power of numbers cannot be completely ignored. Whatever can be done to bring the masses along is legitimate. If you can use democracy to turn the masses against their own liberty, this is a great triumph. It is the sort of tactic that neo-conservatives use consistently, and in some cases very successfully. </p><p> <b>Among the Straussians</b> </p><p> <b>Danny Postel:</b> Finally, I&#146;d like to ask about your interesting reception among the Straussians. Many of them dismiss your interpretation of Strauss and denounce your work in the most adamant terms (&#147;bizarre splenetic&#148;). Yet one scholar, Laurence Lampert, has reprehended his fellow Straussians for this, writing in his <i>Leo Strauss and Nietzsche</i> that your book <i>The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss</i> &#147;contains many fine skeptical readings of Strauss&#146;s texts and acute insights into Strauss&#146;s real intentions.&#148; <a href="http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/archives/2003/09/30/news/8663.shtml" target="_blank">Harry Jaffa</a> has even made the provocative suggestion that you might be a &#147;closet Straussian&#148; yourself! </p><p> <b>Shadia Drury:</b> I have been publicly denounced and privately adored. Following the publication of my book <i>The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss</i> in 1988, letters and gifts poured in from Straussian graduate students and professors all over North America &#150; books, dissertations, tapes of Strauss&#146;s Hillel House lectures in Chicago, transcripts of every course he ever taught at the university, and even a personally crafted <a href="http://www.hegel.org/om/" target="_blank">Owl of Minerva</a> with a letter declaring me a goddess of wisdom! They were amazed that an outsider could have penetrated the secret teaching. They sent me unpublished material marked with clear instructions not to distribute to &#147;suspicious persons&#148;. </p><p> I received letters from graduate students in Toronto, Chicago, Duke, Boston College, Claremont, Fordham, and other Straussian centres of &#147;learning.&#148; One of the students compared his experience in reading my work with &#147;a person lost in the wilderness who suddenly happens on a map.&#148; Some were led to abandon their schools in favour of fresher air; but others were delighted to discover what it was they were supposed to believe in order to belong to the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2003/05/04/weekinreview/030504_STRAUSSIANS_GRAPHIC.html" target="_blank">charmed circle</a> of future philosophers and initiates. </p><p> After my first book on Strauss came out, some of the Straussians in Canada dubbed me the &#147;bitch from Calgary.&#148; Of all the titles I hold, that is the one I cherish most. The hostility toward me was understandable. Nothing is more threatening to Strauss and his acolytes than the truth in general and the truth about Strauss in particular. His admirers are determined to conceal the truth about his ideas. </p><div><div class="pull_quote_article">Respond to this article, and debate Strauss, philosophy and politics in our <a href="/forums/thread.jspa?forumID=87&amp;threadID=41851&amp;tstart=0#">forum</a>. </div><p> My intention in writing the book was to express Strauss&#146;s ideas clearly and without obfuscation so that his views could become the subject of philosophical debate and criticism, and not the stuff of feverish conviction. I wanted to smoke the Straussians out of their caves and into the philosophical light of day. But instead of engaging me in philosophical debate, they denied that Strauss stood for any of the ideas I attributed to him. </p><p> <a href="http://www.iupui.edu/~philosop/llampert.htm" target="_blank">Laurence Lampert</a> is the only Straussian to declare valiantly that it is time to stop playing games and to admit that Strauss was indeed a Nietzschean thinker &#150; that it is time to stop the denial and start defending Strauss&#146;s ideas. </p><p> I suspect that Lampert&#146;s <a href="http://www.semcoop.com/detail/0226468267" target="_blank">honesty</a> is threatening to those among the Straussians who are interested in philosophy but who seek power. There is no doubt that open and candid debate about Strauss is likely to undermine their prospects in Washington. </p><p> </p><table width="550" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="5" border="0" bgcolor="#99CCFF"><tr><td> <div><div class="pull_quote_image"><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/content/articles/1542/images/leo.gif" alt="Leo Strauss" border="0" /><span class="image_caption"><div align="center"><i>Leo Strauss</i></div> </span> </div><b>Who is Leo Strauss?</b> <p> Leo Strauss was born in 1899 in the region of Hessen, Germany, the son of a Jewish small businessman. He went to secondary school in Marburg and served as an interpreter in the German army in the first world war. He was awarded a doctorate at Hamburg University in 1921 for a thesis on philosophy that was supervised by Ernst Cassirer. </p><p> Strauss&#146;s post-doctoral work involved study of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, and in 1930 he published his first book, on Spinoza&#146;s critique of religion; his second, on the 12th century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, was published in 1935. After a research period in London, he published <i>The Political Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes</i> in 1936. </p><p> In 1937, he moved to Columbia University, and from 1938 to 1948 taught political science and philosophy at the New School for Social Research, New York. During this period he wrote <i>On Tyranny</i> (1948) and <i>Persecution and the Art of Writing</i> (1952). </p><p> In 1949, he became professor of political philosophy at the University of Chicago, and remained there for twenty years. His works of this period include <i>Natural Right and History</i> (1953), <i>Thoughts on Machiavelli</i> (1958), <i>What is Political Philosophy?</i> (1959), <i>The City and Man</i> (1964), <i>Socrates and Aristophanes</i> (1966), and <i>Liberalism Ancient and Modern</i> (1968). </p><p> Between 1968 and 1973, Strauss taught in colleges in California and Maryland, and completed work on Xenophon&#146;s Socratic discourses and <i>Argument and Action of Plato&#146;s</i> Laws (1975). After his death in October 1973, the essay collection <i>Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy</i> (1983) was published. </p><p> <b>Recommended articles on Leo Strauss, neo-conservatism, and Iraq</b> </p><p> M.F. Burnyeat, &#147;Sphinx without a Secret&#148;, <i>New York Review of Books</i>, <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5444" target="_blank">30 May 1985</a> [paid-for only] </p><p> Stephen Holmes, &#147;Truths for Philosophers Alone?&#148;, <i>Times Literary Supplement</i>, 1-7 December 1989; reprinted in Stephen Holmes, <i>The Anatomy of Antiliberalism</i> (<a href="http://www.semcoop.com/detail/0674031857" target="_blank">1996</a>) </p><p> <a href="http://www.scholarsatwright.org/pippin.html" target="_blank">Robert B. Pippin</a>, &#147;The Modern World of Leo Strauss,&#148; <i>Political Theory</i> Vol. 20 No. 3 (<a href="http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0090-5917%28199208%2920%3A3%3C448%3ATMWOLS%3E2.0.CO%3B2-Q" target="_blank">August 1992</a>) [affiliate only] </p><p> Gregory Bruce Smith, &#147;Leo Strauss and the Straussians: An Anti-democratic Cult?&#148;, <i>PS: Political Science &amp; Politics</i> Vol. 30 No. 2 (<a href="http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=1049-0965%28199706%2930%3A2%3C180%3ALSATSA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-0" target="_blank">June 1997</a>) [affiliate only] </p><p> Michiko Kakutani, &#147;How Books Have Shaped U.S. Policy,&#148; <i>The New York Times</i>, <a href="http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60B11FA3F5C0C768CDDAD0894DB404482" target="_blank">5 April 2003</a> [paid-for only] </p><p> Alain Frachon and Daniel Vernet, &#147;The Strategist and the Philosopher&#148;, <i>Le Monde</i>, <a href="http://www.counterpunch.org/frachon06022003.html" target="_blank">15 April 2003</a> </p><p> James Atlas, &#147;A Classicist&#146;s Legacy: New Empire Builders,&#148; <i>The New York Times</i>, <a href="http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30D16F93E580C778CDDAC0894DB404482" target="_blank">4 May 2003</a> [paid-for only] </p><p> Jeet Heer, &#147;The Philosopher,&#148; <i>The Boston Globe</i>, <a href="http://www.boston.com/globe/sunday/print_archives/051103_index.shtml" target="_blank">11 May 2003</a> [paid-for only] </p><p> Jim Lobe, &#147;The Strong Must Rule the Weak: A Philosopher for an Empire,&#148; <i>Foreign Policy in Focus</i>, <a href="http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2003/0305strauss_body.html" target="_blank">12 May 2003</a> </p><p> Seymour Hersh, &#147;Selective Intelligence,&#148; <i>The New Yorker</i>, <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/printable/?fact/030512fa_fact" target="_blank">12 May 2003</a> </p><p> William Pfaff, &#147;The long reach of Leo Strauss&#148;, <i>International Herald Tribune</i>, <a href="http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0515-09.htm" target="_blank">15 May 2003</a> </p><p> Peter Berkowitz, &#147;What Hath Strauss Wrought?&#148;, <i>Weekly Standard</i>, <a href="http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/717acusr.asp" target="_blank">2 June 2003</a> </p><p> &#147;Philosophers and kings,&#148; <i>The Economist</i>, <a href="http://www.economist.com/world/na/displayStory.cfm?story_id=1859009" target="_blank">19 June 2003</a> </p><p> Steven Lenzner &amp; William Kristol, &#147;What was Leo Strauss up to?&#148;, <i>The Public Interest</i>, <a href="http://www.thepublicinterest.com/previous/article1.html" target="_blank">Fall 2003</a> </p><p> Laura Rozen &#147;Con Tract: the theory behind neocon self-deception&#148;, <i>Washington Monthly</i>, <a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0310.rozen.html" target="_blank">October 2003</a> </p><p> </p></div></td></tr></table><p> </p></div> Ideas The Americas iraq: philosophy in war faith & ideas Danny Postel Creative Commons normal Wed, 15 Oct 2003 23:00:00 +0000 Danny Postel 1542 at https://www.opendemocracy.net