May 7, 2007


Are the Arabs already extinct? (Spengler, 5/07/07, Asia Times)

Nothing less than the transformation of Islam from a state religion to a personal religion is required for the Arabs to enter the modern world, [the Syrian poet] Adonis told Dubai television:

I oppose any external intervention in Arab affairs. If the Arabs are so inept that they cannot be democratic by themselves, they can never be democratic through the intervention of others. If we want to be democratic, we must be so by ourselves. But the preconditions for democracy do not exist in Arab society, and cannot exist unless religion is re-examined in a new and accurate way, and unless religion becomes a personal and spiritual experience, which must be respected.

The trouble, he added, is that Arabs do not want to be free. Asked why Arabs glorify dictatorships, Adonis responded as follows:

I believe it has to do with the concept of "oneness", which is reflected - in practical or political terms - in the concept of the hero, the savior, or the leader. This concept offers an inner sense of security to people who are afraid of freedom. Some human beings are afraid of freedom.

Interviewer: Because it is synonymous with anarchy?

Adonis: No, because being free is a great burden. It is by no means easy.

Interviewer: You've got to have a boss ...

Adonis: When you are free, you have to face reality, the world in its entirety. You have to deal with the world's problems, with everything ...

Interviewer: With all the issues ...

Adonis: On the other hand, if we are slaves, we can be content and not have to deal with anything. Just as Allah solves all our problems, the dictator will solve all our problems.

The fact that the Arab world's most distinguished man of letters has rejected the premise upon which US policy is founded - that traditional Islam and democracy are compatible - one would have expected from American critics a better response than silence.

Thus the (probably accidental) genius of siding with the Shi'a.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 7, 2007 8:11 AM

Enough modern-minded clerics need to get together and issue a fatwa saying there are no demons living in your nose and you can skip that part of the ritual.

Once 1 part goes, the rest will follow.

Posted by: Sandy P at May 7, 2007 8:49 AM

Just as Allah solves all our problems, the dictator will solve all our problems.

Have those two solved all their problems?

Posted by: Brandon at May 7, 2007 10:46 AM

I'm with Brandon - except the proper question is "has any Arab problem been solved, by Allah or anyone else?"

Posted by: ratbert at May 7, 2007 12:40 PM

Unfortunately, I think it is likely that the "Arab problem" will be solved sometime in the next 2 or 3 decades.

By the West.

But this time it won't be smallpox-laden blankets.

Posted by: ray at May 7, 2007 12:51 PM



Posted by: Gideon at May 7, 2007 1:04 PM

One of the poet's lines is quoted by Spengler:

"Refusal is my melody"

Quite descriptive of the Arab condition, especially as regards Israel.

Another line speaks of the sick joy of death - something the Arab world has been living with for a long time. When Golda Meir said that there would be peace once the Arabs began to love their children more than they hated the Jewish children, she probably didn't count on almost 40 years of institutionalized sick joy.

This is why there isn't much difference between Nasrallah and the Ba'athists in Damascus who use him. It's why Al Qaeda and Saddam and the mullahs in Iran have connections that are 'deeper' than any link or leverage the West thinks it can use to reform Islam. It's why Israel doesn't know what to do anymore, politically or militarily - fighting an enemy who takes joy in death (meaningless death especially) is exhausting. They can't kill them all.

The story of Adonis (Ali Ahmed Said) is revealing and depressing. What (or who) will come after the Arab extinction?

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 7, 2007 10:43 PM

One huge difference--nationhood.

Posted by: oj at May 8, 2007 6:39 AM

You say the Shi'a; I say the Sunni.
You say Taqiya; I say the Sufi.

Let's call the whole thing off...

You say Khariji; I say Alawi.
You say the Druze; I say Wahabbi.

Let's call the whole thing off...

Posted by: Barry Meislin at May 8, 2007 7:07 AM