Islam

The Middle East Needs Capitalism!

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doing god's work
cwgoodroe/foter.com

The Centre for Policy Studies' CapX, a news service "for popular capitalism," has a piece up by Guy Sorman making the case that as a religion, Islam is a far more "pro-business faith" than Christianity (having been founded by a trader and lacking a so-called "idealization of poverty"), and that only popular capitalism can save the Arab world. Sorman rightly identifies the root of the "Arab Spring" protests of 2011:

[The Arab Spring's] true origins should never be forgotten: the economic frustration of the people. The hero  of the uprising was a young Tunisian student by the name of Mohamed Bouazizi who tried to start a modest business by selling fruits and vegetables on a street cart. After he was arrested by police for not showing the right bureaucratic authorisation, Bouazizi committed suicide by setting himself on fire.

Spontaneously identifying themselves with Bouazizi, young Arabs by the millions took to the streets all over the Arab world. The revolt was most acute in Egypt where, not by coincidence, popular capitalism happened to be the most severely repressed under Hosni Mubarak. A survey by the noted Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, before the Arab Spring,  revealed how opening a modest bakery in Cairo required two and a half years in order to obtain all the necessary legal documents, most of them delivered by petty and corrupt state bureaucrats. The creation of a larger business which might have a chance of competing with a state monopoly proved to be forbidden in Egypt. With varying degrees, this remains the prevalent situation in all Arab countries.

Sorman argues, correctly, that there can be no peace in the Middle East so long as the governments in the region repress people's economic ambitions.

The whole thing is worth a read here and provides an interesting perspective on what kind of relationship with the U.S. would most benefit the region (peaceful trade, hardly a component of "isolationism").

Via the Twitter feed of Daniel Hannan, a Conservative member of the European parliament who represents a portion of England.

Related: Reason on occupational licensing.

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  1. as a religion, Islam is a far more “pro-business faith” than Christianity

    Maybe in some vague theoretical way, but not in practice. Islam has that problematic ban on interest, and (much of) Christianity has the famous Protestant ethic, which often does business very well. I’m all in favor of Islamic countries having freer economies, but let’s not fool ourselves.

    1. “Islam has that problematic ban on interest,”

      X-ians did too, for quite a while, which is one reason the Jews ended up in the money trades.
      I think the reformation ‘reformed’ that, and of course, Islam has yet to have anything like a reformation.

      1. Yeah he did say “but not in practice”.

        His protestant ethic is bullshit though. All the Mexicans (catholics) I know have excellent work ethics.

        I think the protestant work ethic goes something like this:

        “Hey you, lazy Irishman. Go die in that mine or you are fired.”

        “But sir if i die I won’t be able to feed my family”

        “Fucking lazy Irish. You are fired.

        1. His protestant ethic is bullshit though

          A Protestant culture of work does not preclude others from having or developing one as well.

          I think the Protestant Work Ethic is a primarily a result of the concept of predestination which was big in Protestant cultures at a critical point in history. If your circumstances on Earth are predetermined by God and thus you are understood to be deserving of whatever they are then anyone with a lick of sense would predestine their butts off to make sure they are not on the bottom of the pile economically or socially. A pretty cruel push but history seems to bear out that it was an effective one.

        2. I didn’t mean to suggest (and I don’t think Max Weber did, either) that only Protestants can have a work ethic, just that there is something about Protestantism that seems to often be associated with being good in business.

          1. *Lights the EvH signal*

            1. Do you mean the Rodney Stark signal?

              http://www.amazon.com/Victory-…..+of+reason

              1. No, I meant that as a devout Catholic, I wouldn’t be surprised if you took issue with the notion of a specifically Protestant (and not generally Christian) work ethic.

                1. Eh, the notion has some difficulties. Stark has some alternative explanations.

          2. I am still calling bullshit.

            The only people who talk about the protestant work ethic are the protestants. ie English and Germans.

            And one look at history would make it seem it had more to do with Germany and England’s military and colonial ascendancy then anything to do with their religion.

            In the US it also conspicuously coincides with a time when protestant nativists were showering hate upon catholic immigrants.

            I seem to recall stories about lazy ass pilgrims who only started to work once they were allowed to own land and keep the benefits of their labor (see Reason thanksgiving youtube video on the pilgrims) and lazy ass workers in colonial New England who would only come to work 4 days a week and were fall on their face drunk for at least 2 of those days.

            1. military and colonial ascendancy then anything to do with their religion.

              Yes, and from whence did this ascendancy spring?

              The only people who talk about the protestant work ethic are the protestants.

              I don’t think that it’s a line of bullshit, I think that it was a cultural phenomenon that existed, on the other hand I don’t think that it is the sole reason for their success, either way: I’m a Buddhist.

              1. Yes, and from whence did this ascendancy spring?

                The same place Viking, Roman and Hittite ascendancy sprang: The Protestant Work ethic?

                1. The same place Viking, Roman and Hittite ascendancy sprang: The Protestant Work ethic?

                  So some cultural thing that which helped them to out-compete their neighbors.

                  Is it just the word Protestant that’s sticking in your craw or what? I mean, the results of Whatever It Was are pretty much unarguable. It’s just a term for the culture/sub-culture that sprang up starting around the mid 17th century. Maybe we can instead just call it the Anglican Engergizer Bunny Effect and call it a day?

                  1. So some cultural thing that which helped them to out-compete their neighbors.

                    Technical military advancement above their neighbors.

                    Unless you consider boats, centurions, and 3 man chariots cultural things.

                    1. Boats, Centurions, Hittite Chariots are useless if you are unable to produce them sufficiently or do not know how to best use them. It is the fusion of technological and cultural achievement (for a certain value of achievement in many cases) that causes a group to stand out historically. Also an energetic culture tends to stumble upon these things with greater frequency, as well as make better use of them when they do. Imperial England vs. various Chinese Dynasties, for example.

                      Going back to the Anglican Energizer Bunny Effect, I think you are mostly stuck on the words, for some reason. I think your quip in the beginning (die Irishman) was very reasonable, and not divorced from the AEBE at all, but was, in fact, a part of it, which was where my comment about the importance of the doctrine of predestination and it’s social effects came in.

                      We never got to that part though. Too bad.

                    2. as well as make better use of them when they do.

                      The Vikings, Romans, and Hittites were pretty damn slow in getting around to using them.

                      Also your example of England vs. various Chinese Dynasties is interesting.

                      China was ham strung by their government so it was not a cultural thing it was leaders who outlawed expansion, exploration, and inovation while Imperial England had mercantilism, privateers and property rights.

                      Essentially you just disproved the protestant work ethic. It was not Calvin’s claim that man had no free will that unleashed English ascendancy but in fact freedom of individuals to pursue their own aims and retain the profits from their ventures. (though in the case of English colonialism it was pretty fucking nasty to those who happened to own that property prior to English ships showing up on the horizon)

                      You do not need a cultural change to achieve that. You just need a government that does not say “no” and “mine”.

                      The Irish, Italians, Jews and a shit pot of other peoples who came to the US with little or no exposure the protestant work ethic yet built and thrived proves this. Not culture but freedom.

            2. Surely you realize there are a lot of Catholic Germans.

              And wasn’t Max Weber looking at two German-speaking cantons of Switzerland when he werote his famous work on the subject?

              1. Surely you realize there are a lot of Catholic Germans.

                Yes my dad was raised by one of those.

                And i think because my dad inserts “German” for “protestant work ethic” gives me insight into how much bullshit it is.

            3. “In the US it also conspicuously coincides with a time when protestant nativists were showering hate upon catholic immigrants.”

              True, and here is what I consider to be a bit of context –

              -these immigrants came to a country where the Protestant majority was already being propagandizes about alleged Catholic conspiracies to send Catholics to take over the country

              -some of the Irish immigrants were really the poorest of the poor, fleeing the Famine – and among these were some non-upstanding individuals for whom the hard-working majority took the blame

              -Protestant America was coming off a *huge* bender, the Prots were awash in alcohol, and the evangelicals were starting temperance and prohibition movements. While there were Catholic temperance people, the new awareness of the drinking problem meant Prots got to single out Irish and Germans for their whiskey and beer.

              1. True, and here is what I consider to be a bit of context

                I think you missed the most important bit of context:

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=768h3Tz4Qik

          3. I think that, to some extent, the idea of a Protestant work ethic is related to the number of non working holidays in Catholicism, at least at the time of the Reformation. The Church forcing people to take a large number of holidays when they needed to work to survive helped the Protestants along quite well.

            1. when they needed to work to survive helped the Protestants along quite well.

              And the fact that the protestants won the 30 years war had nothing to do with them surviving better then the catholics?

              You do have to have a population surviving in the harsh winters of Germany prior to the reformation in order for 25% to 40% of them to die during it.

    2. I think the worse impediment for Islam is no conception of separation of religion and state. It’s hard enough to get out from Ceasar’s thumb, but when what’s God’s is Ceasar’s and vice versa good luck.

      1. “I think the worse impediment for Islam is no conception of separation of religion and state.”

        Neither does the Church of England. The head of state is the head of the church, an old German lady named Elizabeth.

    3. slam has that problematic ban on interest

      Who needs interest when you can collect a heavy tax from the infidels?

    4. Indeed. It is intellectually dishonest to advance that argument and not attempt to discuss the very strong Islamic prohibitions on usury (riba, considered a sin on par with murder and idolatry) and “speculation” (maysir), which under the strictest interpretation, includes things like insurance and investment, as well gambling.

    5. The protestant work ethic is horseshit that Max Weber basically just pulled out of his ass on a bad day.

      That said, the idea that Islam can be considered pro-business when they do not allow interest payments is ridiculous. Because they do not allow interest payments, Islamic banks end up with really bizarre and pointlessly complex ways of lending money and making profit which makes the banks far less efficient than in the West.

    6. “Christianity has the famous Protestant ethic, which often does business…”

      Surprising how quickly the discussion degenerates into a tiresome comparison of religious values. From the very first comment. CNN itself couldn’t do better.

      Surprising too, especially in a self styled libertarian board that the essential support by the West of the Saudi ‘royals’ doesn’t come in for any scrutiny or questioning.

    7. ” Islam has that problematic ban on interest,”

      Problematic? Maybe you should familiarize yourself with petrodollar recycling. In practice, the ban on interest doesn’t prevent those with money to lend from earning interest. Just ask the Saudi royals, or your congressperson, who is doubtless on the same gravy train.

  2. Sorman argues, correctly, that there can be no peace in the Middle East so long as the governments in the region repress people’s economic ambitions.

    While this is true, libertarians who hold free market capitalism as the solution to everything are a bit shortsighted. First, they seem to only partially understand the reputation capitalism has.

    Parts of the world have every reason to be wary of Western/American culture and ideas. We have exploited large parts of the world ruthlessly, and a lot of that was done nominally in the name of capitalism or free trade. So, the words associated with free trade have connotations attached.

    This is a big reason Marxist ideas were so attractive in the third world. It came paired with anti-capitalist, and imperialist, rhetoric.

    People in America and Europe barely know what capitalism looks like. How do you expect the people of the Middle East to adopt it, not to mention the corrupt governments who have no intent on willingly giving up their authority?

    1. So, deposing the democratically elected leaders of Iran (1953) and Iraq (2003) were bad ideas?

      Let the blowback resume.

      1. Saddam was an elected leader just like Kim Jong il.

        He came to power through a military coup, and didn’t even bother with a mock election until after the Gulf War.

        Even when you sort of have a point, you manage to screw it up.

        1. I’m guessing you’re new here. You’re talking to a troll. He manages to “screw up” a lot of things. Don’t bother arguing in good faith with that one.

      2. Sad dam was elected democratically? Right. With 107% turnout.

      3. Palin’s Buttplug|7.19.14 @ 8:29PM|#
        “So, deposing the democratically e…”

        Fuck your daddy, turd.

        1. I keep BP blocked as a rule, but I had to check after reading this comment. That might be an all new level of evil-derp from him. Wow.

          Poor Saddam. šŸ™

      4. Saddam only won 8% of the vote.

        1. And turd only read 8% of your post!

      5. If only Saddam was still in power, the Middle East would be a paradise.

  3. Everyone needs capitalism. We should try it here if we can get the government the fuck out of the way.

  4. “Sorman argues, correctly, that there can be no peace in the Middle East so long as the governments in the region repress people’s economic ambitions.”
    This is just a small fraction of the problem with the Middle East (ME). Most of the ME has Islam to deal with. Islam does not welcome, and indeed is suspicious of, freedom of any sort, whether it be capitalism, religion, the press, etc.. I can not name too many ME countries that embrace capitalism unless of course they would tax the profits very heavily. Many Arabs leaders, but not all, are in favor of a strict authoritarian state as witnessed by their histories since 1945. Although I would like the arab nations to welcome capitalist ideals into their culture, I doubt very seriously that will happen in our lifetime due to the religious and cultural differences between the West and the ME.

  5. The use of pro-business is problematic since we’re supposed to be pro-market, not pro-business. And markets will deliver what consumers want, which may not be more material things. That’s an important distinction to make when discussing religion. Theoretically, it is entirely possible for some segment of the population to derive utility from poverty and asceticism, and it’s important to stress that it’s a choice that a market-oriented society supports.

    A feature of Christianity is that it places an important emphasis on rejecting idleness and not burdening the Christian community when one could fend for themselves. Poverty is not about refusing to produce but voluntarily relinquishing some of your income and being wary of luxuries that primarily serve as wasteful signals (of course renaissance churches were a major exception). There are also many admonishments in Christian history to maximize one’s income, which is again pretty good.

    More generally, most religions are flexible enough that you can’t really make firm predictions.

    1. ^This. It’s frustrating that fellow libertarians often forget this fact. I suspect that genuinely free markets would destroy a lot businesses.

      1. Absolutely. Both Chrysler and GM would have been replaced by small, upstart companies years ago if it weren’t for the government idiotically bailing them out. The cab companies would have been gutted if it weren’t for the incredibly unfair medallion cartel that basically keeps out competition.

    2. In this context, I think “pro-business” is sensible. It’s used in terms of culture, not political policy. More about the legitimacy and the art of doing business, the economic relationships between people (secular and separate from cultural, religious or political relations), the norms surrounding business and contract as opposed to familial or religious norms.

    3. The issue with the Middle East is not that they don’t have wide spread capitalism, its that they don’t have the institutions and legal structure to support capitalism.

      Property rights, contract law, and some good old fashion negative rights would do the trick.

  6. “Sorman argues, correctly, that there can be no peace in the Middle East so long as the governments in the region repress people’s economic ambitions.”

    OK, that’s nice and probably true. Now, how does that happen?

  7. “Sorman argues, correctly, that there can be no peace in the Middle East so long as the governments in the region repress people’s economic ambitions.”

    OK, that’s nice and probably true. Now, how does that happen?

    1. Dubai is rich, capitalist, and extremely repressive.

      1. “In 2013, the Norway-based Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) released its annual International Human Rights Indicator (IHRRI) report, which ranks the United Arab Emirates first among Arab countries and 14th globally for respecting human rights. The next Arab country on the list, Tunisia, was ranked at 72.”

          1. Tallest midget.

            The court system comprises Sharia courts and civil courts. The Personal Status Law, which is based on Sharia and was enacted in 2005, regulates matters such as marriage, divorce and child custody. In criminal matters a woman’s testimony is worth half of that of a man before a court.[62] Sharia courts have exclusive jurisdiction to hear family disputes, including matters involving divorce, inheritances, child custody, child abuse and guardianship of minors. Sharia courts may, at the federal level only, also hear appeals of certain criminal cases including rape, robbery, driving under the influence of alcohol and related crimes.[63]

            Homosexual relationships are illegal: article 80 of the Abu Dhabi Penal Code makes sodomy punishable with imprisonment of up to 14 years, while article 177 of the Penal Code of Dubai imposes imprisonment of up to 10 years on consensual sodomy.[64] Foreigners generally receive deportation, which is sometimes temporary.[65] Prospective foreign employees infected with hepatitis, tuberculosis, or HIV will not be given work visas and have to leave the country.[66]

            During the month of Ramadan, between sunrise and sunset, it is illegal to publicly eat, drink (even water), or smoke. Exceptions are made for pregnant or nursing women, as well as children. This applies to non-Muslims as well as Muslims, and failure to comply may result in arrest.

            Wikipedia

            1. Number one in the middle east, yes its a thing of tallest midget but its amazing that the free market does so much without a Republic at all. I’m not saying its a Libertarian Paradise, I’m saying a free market/ capitalism goes a lot farther then people give credit for and would do wonders for the middle east to embrace even if other structural reforms do not occur.

            2. Palin’s Buttplug|7.19.14 @ 8:33PM|#
              “Tallest midget.”

              Ass-lickingest turd.

      2. Palin’s Buttplug|7.19.14 @ 8:24PM|#
        “Dubai is rich,”

        8%, turd.

  8. After he was arrested by police for not showing the right bureaucratic authorisation, Bouazizi committed suicide by setting himself on fire.

    Jesus chased the moneylenders from the Temple presumably for not having a license too.

    1. I’m no Biblical scholar, but I think that was for misusing the Temple.

    2. You are a fucking idiot.

      They were not moneylenders they were money changers. Roman coins had pagan symbols on them so if a Jew wanted to make a donation to the temple he had to trade his roman coin for coins without pagan symbols on them so as to not take the pagan symbols into temple.

      And he kicked them out not because he was offended by the practice but because they were doing it on holy ground.

      1. If I remember correctly, the implication of the passage is that the money changers were also cheating people (“Den of Thieves”).

      2. Jesus also kicked out the money lenders because they were doing business on the sabbath which was not tolerated in Judea at the time.

    3. Palin’s Buttplug|7.19.14 @ 8:19PM|#
      “After he was arrested b”

      Fuck your daddy, turd.

  9. OT: You need to check your male privelege at the door, homies.

    So here are 10 simple ways that men can combat sexist entitlement in public:
    1.Don’t Act Like the World is Your Living Room, and Call Out Men Who Do
    2. Using Your Voice: Step Up and Step Back
    3. Work to End Street Harassment
    4. Refuse to Use Sexist Language, and Call Out Men Who Do
    5. Keep Your Clothes On
    6. Be Publicly Trans*-Inclusive
    7. Demonstrate Clear Consent
    8. Strive to Be an Ally to Women in Social Spaces
    9. Talk About Male Entitlement with Other Men
    10. Talk to Boys and Young Men About Male Entitlement in Age-Appropriate Ways

    1. Demonstrate Clear Consent

      Oh, I get clear consent. Hi Five!

      1. From what I’ve observed over the years, women are only “harrassed” by men they think are icky.

        1. And sometimes, some of them don’t even realize it until the morning after they thought he was just ducky!

    2. 2. Using Your Voice: Step Up and Step Back

      What does that even mean?

      5. Keep Your Clothes On

      yup modern feminism is nothing more then a resurgence of Victorian era class-ism and morels.

      Can’t have those lowly hairy brutes displaying their sweaty bare chests and disquieting a ladies heart.

    3. So here are 10 simple ways that men can exist in feministopia:

      1.Emasculate yourself, and others, when you can
      2. Seek beta status,
      3. Impose yourself on our behalf
      4. Edit yourself, and chide others for their thought crimes
      5. Think beta, act beta
      6. Be an attention whore
      7. don’t rape people
      8. Kiss some ass, where ever you can
      9. Act as our agent, work on our behalf
      10. Emasculate every one, regardless of age. Help our poisonous ideology metastasize.

      1. He probably sits down to pee.

    4. “After the tragic mass murder in Isla Vista, CA…”

      Listen up, people, I’m trying to SAVE WOMEN’S LIVES!!!

    5. 10. Talk to Boys and Young Men About Male Entitlement in Age-Appropriate Ways

      So, like, just go up to boys and start talking about male entitlement at them?

      1. “But, officer, I was just trying to raise his awareness!”

      2. “Son, let me tell you about male entitlement. It’s the coolest thing ever. EVAR!!”

    6. I’m a loudmouth, and it’s easy for me to dominate conversation. But you know what I’ve noticed? Far more men are this way than women.

      And every hetero man in a relationship with a woman just did a massive communal facepalm.

      1. Yeah seriously, wtf. All my ex wanted to do was talk on the phone, and absolutely I hate talking on the phone.

    7. What kind of nonsensical faggoty shit are you talking about?

      1. See? This is just the sort of attitude that results in women being killed.

        1. I laughed.

        2. Bitches gotta go sometime, right?

      2. And this is why there are no libertarian nonsensical faggots.

    8. 6. Be Publicly Trans*-Inclusive

      You know, they used to send people who claimed to be Napoleon to an asylum.

  10. having been founded by a trader

    err…

    That same trader who also conquered Arabia.

    My understanding of trade through Arabia at the time and after was that it involved using military might to stop other traders.

    1. He also supposedly robbed caravans for a while. Of course, that assumes he existed at all. There’s more than a little question about that. The early history of islam is quite murky and intriguing. I highly recommend this book:

      Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins by Robert Spencer

      1. I think nearly all historians accept that Muhammad existed. You’d probably find more who question Jesus was a real person than Muhammad. Just sayin…

        I think a lot of people are very focused on Islam. We take it for granted that they have always been the same sort of religious fundamentalists we have around today.

        They were very open to new ideas once upon a time. As recently as the Ottoman Empire.

        I’ll go back to beating the same drum. A lot of the region’s ills can be traced back to Western imperialism.

        1. You’re completely right about Islam once being a more open religion than Christianity was at the time, but most of the problems with the modern Muslim world is the fault of Ottoman imperialism, not western imperialism. As the Ottoman Empire decayed it got more fanatic and that fanaticism seeped into the Middle East.

          I’d also like to point out that the Ottoman Empire got as far West as the gates of Vienna and would have attacked Italy by sea if they hadn’t lost at Lepanto. I don’t think you can blame the Middle East’s problems on western imperialism when the imperial power that controlled the Middle East for 500 years was actively trying to conquer Europe.

          1. As the Ottoman Empire decayed it got more fanatic and that fanaticism seeped into the Middle East.

            At the same time, many of the Arabs who were unhappy under the Turkish yoke believed that returning to a more militant and “authentic” Islam would be the way to secure their independence. This occurred around the same time as the Deobani movement had the same idea in British Raj-era India.

          2. As the Ottoman Empire decayed it got more fanatic and that fanaticism seeped into the Middle East.

            Yeah, pretty sad considering that at the height of its power it was one of the more tolerant places on earth: Jews fled there from Spain; the Ottomans granted women rights they really weren’t supposed to have under Islam.

            don’t think you can blame the Middle East’s problems on western imperialism when the imperial power that controlled the Middle East for 500 years was actively trying to conquer Europe.

            This is also an excellent point. It really is amusing/infuriating to read history books which condemn the Spanish for the reconquista (and I’m not endorsing everything the Spanish did). It’s almost like the Muslim kingdoms somehow just emerged fully formed on the Iberian Peninsula.

            1. “It’s almost like the Muslim kingdoms somehow just emerged fully formed on the Iberian Peninsula.”

              Half the fun of historical grievance-mongering is to start the tape at just the right point.

              1. Not only half the fun. It’s often the only practical way to grievance-monger.

            2. The difference between Us and Them: Part MCMLXVI

              Us: The reconquista is ancient history

              Them: First Syria, then on to liberate al-Andalus, insha’allah!

              1. +1 Dar-al-Islam

          3. Two more brief comments on imperialism.

            1. Lepanto was important in the 16th century but Charles Martel’s victory at Tours (Poitiers) in 732 was important in an earlier age. Europeans really lived with a fear of Muslims for almost 1000 years.

            2. I think another big issue for the Ottomans was the Russians. Once the Russians kicked their butt in the late 18th century, they used that leverage to elevate Orthodox Christianity which was really driving a stick into the eye of a lot of Muslims.

          4. The British and the French kinda did fuck up the decolonization process after WWI

            1. True on the British & the French. Although they were sticking their fingers in the pie long before that: their support for the Greek Revolt was weird, really went against their claims to want a stable region and was more about facing down the Russians. And the intervention in Egypt throughout the 19th century was less than helpful.

            2. but most of the problems with the modern Muslim world is the fault of Ottoman imperialism, not western imperialism.

              I’ say yes and no. The weakening of the Ottomans from the 18th century on played a large part in the regionalism you are talking about, and the development of new ideas.

              When posed with the threat of Christian nations with superior military technology, the Ottoman Empire failed to reform itself. It also allowed for competing ideas to enter.

              You also then had the direct interference of the 19th century in Egypt, Syria, Iran etc. So, you have Muslims being kicked around by Christian nations, and those that responded with religious entrenchment gained ground because resentment of the West grew on into the 20th century.

              So, no, history isn’t as simple as the evil West screwed everything up. Ottoman policy/failures were a large part of what happened, and they were guilty of the same sort of imperialistic actions prior.

              I’m not making moral statements. I’m just pointing out that Islam does not necessarily = the religious whack jobery we see today.

              How to get back to a more enlightened approach or rebuild relations (important, in my view) is, admittedly, a tough question. I don’t have a great answer for that.

          5. I don’t know about fanaticism but it was an English officer by the name of Lawrence who taught the Arabs how to fight and win at modern asymmetrical warfare.

            Though I think he was kind of inventing it at the time.

          1. Yes, they clearly cut the throats of Oxford historical scholars who question Mohammed’s existence. I hear Harvard had the same problem.

            1. OK, I get the sarc, but ask Salman Rushdie about Islam’s tolerance for dessent.

              1. It was predestined. After all, Salman Rushdie means ‘someone who is in a rush to die’.

            2. Really? Would you mind posting these brave scholars names?

        2. “I think nearly all historians accept that Muhammad existed. You’d probably find more who question Jesus was a real person than Muhammad. Just sayin…”

          Questioning the historical existence of Muhammad results in riots, fires, bombings, and credible death threats. One really has to give a shit, enough to risk that… and find Muslims academics who are willing to assist in suck blasphemy… Sooo… there’s that.

          1. Eh…I think we’d have plenty of people who would question it still. We have non-Islamic primary sources from the time period that talk about him. That’s solid evidence to me.

            1. That he never existed.

              No sources from the time of the Arab conquest of Syria mention Islam or Muhammad at all.

        3. I think nearly all historians accept that Muhammad existed.

          Yeah but they probably disagree with Islam’s teaching that he was some sort a-religiouse proto-muslim untouched by other religions.

          I am kind of interested why he has so much Jewish and Christian stuff in the Quran. Was he a Jew? Was he raised Christian? Was a he Pagan that just read a lot?

          1. The explanation I’ve heard is that he hung out with some of the Christians and Jews of the Arabian penninsula – what people like me would call unorthodox – and picked up stories from what people like me would call uncanonical Christian books.

            1. Fuck it’s been nearly over (double-fuck) 20 years since I read up on the origins of Islam, but, and please correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t he originally try to co-opt the local Jews into his budding religion and their rejection of him and his shtick what began the Islamic animus against them?

              1. Well that, and the fact that some of the richest tribes in Arabia at the time were Jewish merchant tribes, so Mo needed an excuse to seize their wealth.

            2. So what religion was he raised in? He had parents and a tribe.

              They didn’t raise him as blank sheet atheist.

              1. Muhammad was an orphan, actually, who ended up by raised by his uncle in Mecca. He was a member of the Hashemite tribe (the kings of Jordan claim direct descent from him). He was raised in polytheistic Arabic paganism, of which each city-state had their own favored god (like ancient Egyptian religion and old Hinduism). The name of the city god of Mecca was, wait for it, Allah.

                1. The name of the city god of Mecca was, wait for it, Allah.

                  So basically the same thing that happened with the Jews in Canaan and their god Yahweh 2 thousand years prior.

                  1. err make that closer to 1000 years prior.

                  2. So basically the same thing that happened with the Jews in Canaan and their god Yahweh 2 thousand years prior.

                    You got it.

          2. Was a he Pagan that just read a lot?

            He was raised a pagan, but he was illiterate. At that point in history, there were a lot more Jews in the Middle East than in Europe. He would have had daily contact with them as an urban merchant in Arabia.

            1. Heroic Mulatto|7.19.14 @ 9:26PM|#
              …”At that point in history, there were a lot more Jews in the Middle East than in Europe. He would have had daily contact with them as an urban merchant in Arabia.”

              There were also various X-ian sects, offshoots from the original junior myths emphasizing one aspect of the myths or another.
              That’s the reason it took the meeting in Bone’ to select the ‘correct’ myths for the new testament; Trotsky was ousted!

              1. Every time you write x-ian I read it as Ixian. Afraid if you write out the whole word that you will summon Jesus or something? Typing those six letters just wears you out and you will require a nap?

                I find my fellow atheists who are so secure in their beliefs that they must constantly attack the religious quite amusing. Don’t ever stop.

                1. Marshall Gill|7.19.14 @ 11:26PM|#
                  “Every time you write x-ian I read it as Ixian.”

                  Well, now you’ve learned something new, right?
                  ————————
                  “I find my fellow atheists who are so secure in their beliefs that they must constantly attack the religious quite amusing. Don’t ever stop.”

                  So a statement of historical fact is ‘attacking’ something?
                  I find some atheists amazingly apologetic, as if maybe they hope a skydaddy will grant them special favors.
                  IOWs, buzz off.

                  1. Yes, tHe force that created all of time and space is a ‘skydaddy’. What a narrow mind.

                    1. ^?
                      You think it was a herd or unicorns?

          3. I am kind of interested why he has so much Jewish and Christian stuff in the Quran. Was he a Jew? Was he raised Christian? Was a he Pagan that just read a lot?

            My own view of Muhammad – as a trader, he would have interacted with Christians and Jews (this much we can say safely, he obviously knew of them).

            I view him as perhaps the greatest conqueror in human history because he developed a monotheistic faith that stuck while also fostering an attitude of relative tolerance in his followers towards those conquered.

            So, he established a religious system based on zealotry that also forced its followers to show the two major religions they would interact with what was, at the time, a high level of respect.

            The jizya also encouraged conversion of those conquered people over time.

            I don’t think anyone but radical Muslims view Muhammad as untouched by the other faiths. I think that would be odd even for Muslims, really.

            1. From the hadith of ibn Sa’d concerning the slaughter of the Qurayza tribe:

              “The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, authorised Sa’d ibn Mu’adh to give a decision about them. He passed an order: He who is subjected to razors (i.e. the male) should be killed, women and children should be enslaved and property should be distributed. Thereupon the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: You have decided in confirmation to the judgement of Allah, above the seven heavens. The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, returned on Thursday 7 Dhu al- Hijjah. Then he commanded them to be brought into al-Madinah where ditches were dug in the market. The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, sat with his Companions and they were brought in small groups. Their heads were struck off.

              Such a mensch, this Muhammad!

              1. As opposed to his contemporaries? Alexander the Great is known as a relatively benign conqueror, and some of his campaigns bordered on genocide. The Romans? Sacking cities and selling the populations into slavery was the standard of the day.

                I view Muhammad as a political leader who disguised his pretexts in religious prophecy, so maybe its easier for me to hold him up to a historical standard.

                Christians certainly weren’t as tolerant of other religions, and they didn’t grant as many rights to women, or oppose slavery for those who shared their faith.

                1. You’re playing loose with history if you cite Alexander and the Romans as “contemporaries” to Muhammad. And it’s not like as if Emperor Ashoka hadn’t already been dead for 600 years by the time Muhammad came onto the scene.

                  1. Thanks for that brilliant insight. The standards of the 4th century BC weren’t much different than those of Muhammad’s time. I also made sure to mention the Christian treatment of pagans and Jews because I could see this retort coming.

                    What conqueror do you want to talk about? Is Charlemagne close enough for you? How about his massacre of the Saxons? Belisarius close enough?

                    1. The standards of the 4th century BC weren’t much different than those of Muhammad’s time.

                      Balderdash. By the time of the early medieval period, in the West, feudalism had altered the conduct of war. Most warfare was conducted between nobles with armies composed of feudal levies. While a feudal lord’s manor might be sack, nobles had the right of ransom and it was a big deal if this right wasn’t respected. Likewise the feudal contract ensured that commoners weren’t often harmed as the conceit of feudalism was that it was the lord’s responsibility to protect the serfs from harm in exchange for their military service and agricultural labor. If a feudal lord had recently taken possession of a land and went of a campaign of rape, how could he justify his position as lord?

                      What conqueror do you want to talk about? Is Charlemagne close enough for you? How about his massacre of the Saxons? Belisarius close enough?

                      I don’t see how tu quoque proves your point. Especially considering the example of Ashoka was brought up in my last post. You can argue that what Muhammad did was relative to the time, but under no definition that I know of, could you honestly call them tolerant.

                    2. I don’t think anything you just said had anything to do with the points I raised. At all. First, I’ve already pointed out an even later Christian conqueror who conducted campaigns aimed directly at civilian populations who were also pagans.

                      I also think you are ridiculous to bring up Ashoka period. The loose accounts we have of him don’t paint a pretty picture until he converted to Buddhism. What we do know is that he conducted pretty brutal campaigns of conquest that involved the slaughter of civilians.

                      Ashoka only came to power by killing off his rivals. Not much different than Muhammad’s campaigns against his fellow Arabs.

                    3. I don’t think anything you just said had anything to do with the points I raised.

                      I wasn’t aware you had a point other than lukewarm apologetics for moral relativism.

                      First, I’ve already pointed out an even later Christian conqueror who conducted campaigns aimed directly at civilian populations who were also pagans.

                      And? A pox on both their houses.

                      I also think you are ridiculous to bring up Ashoka period. The loose accounts we have of him

                      “Loose accounts”. That’s funny considering we have more evidence for the existence of Ashoka than that of Muhammad.

                      don’t paint a pretty picture until he converted to Buddhism.

                      THAT’S THE POINT!

                    4. “Loose accounts”. That’s funny considering we have more evidence for the existence of Ashoka than that of Muhammad.

                      Your point is that Buddhism, which developed out of an entirely different cultural tradition and really didn’t stop Indian rulers from suppressing their own people or carrying out bloody campaigns…proves that at the time of Muhammad, Muhammad acted worse than was typical of a political leader?

                      That’s a very weak argument. The answer is in the question above. Indian rulers, ironically enough, liked religions that fostered placidity in their people and reinforced their class structure.

                      It’s funny how Ashoka became a patron of Buddhism, a religion of peace, after he already conquered most of India…

                      Despite Buddhism and Hinduism being the dominant faiths in India, you still had brutal warfare. Explain to me your point again?

                      “Loose accounts”. That’s funny considering we have more evidence for the existence of Ashoka than that of Muhammad.

                      I never questioned his existence which we know of because of his desire to carve his words into stone. Like all true holy men!

                      You can call my position moral relativism. I think people who interpret history with their own modern beliefs come away with a skewed version of reality that in its most extreme cases can be very dangerous.

                    5. Your point is that Buddhism, which developed out of an entirely different cultural tradition

                      And yet one closer in proximity and belief than that of early medieval Western Europe.

                      Despite Buddhism and Hinduism being the dominant faiths in India, you still had brutal warfare. Explain to me your point again?

                      OK, since you seem to be slow, I’ll explain it one more time in simple, monosyllabic Anglo-Saxon. The point is that Ashoka was one example of a ruler who chose to repudiate violence. An exemplar who existed around 600 years before Muhammad. You act as if Muhammad couldn’t help but to be a product of his time, and that’s bullshit. Your opinion of Arabs must be very low to deny Muhammad moral agency. He chose to be a violent a brutal warlord, yet you act as if he was some sort of sub-human inherently violent ape-man who is as beyond judgement for his actions as a tiger is when it pounces on its prey.

                    6. I never questioned his existence which we know of because of his desire to carve his words into stone. Like all true holy men!

                      I never said he was holy, and yet the stone edicts are more evidence than we have for Muhammad. Try not to act all butthurt.

                      I think people who interpret history with their own modern beliefs come away with a skewed version of reality that in its most extreme cases can be very dangerous.

                      Your projection is delicious! Look, engage in all the Cordoba Initative-style historical revisionism you want, but don’t expect me to take part in your farce.

                    7. I’ll explain it one more time in simple, monosyllabic Anglo-Saxon. The point is that Ashoka was one example of a ruler who chose to repudiate violence. An exemplar who existed around 600 years before Muhammad

                      He repudiated violence after he obtained his ends, and violence would have only upset the order he established. This is exactly what I said in the previous post, and you obviously missed the sarcasm tied to that question. Maybe Ashoka was a true believer. I don’t know. Alls I know is that there wasn’t much need for violence after he conquered Kalinga.

                      And yet one closer in proximity and belief than that of early medieval Western Europe.

                      So, you are of the opinion that the Middle East had closer ties to India than Europe? India had little more than peripheral contact with Arabs compared to the surrounding region which had been conquered by Greeks and Romans prior to Muhammad. Christianity wasn’t only in Western Europe…there’s so much wrong with this statement. There’s also rather daunting geographical barriers between India and the west.

                      What you really just said is they are all east of Europe and oriental in nature or something…

                    8. He chose to be a violent a brutal warlord, yet you act as if he was some sort of sub-human inherently violent ape-man who is as beyond judgement for his actions as a tiger is when it pounces on its prey.

                      I’ve actually argued that compared to those around him, he was actually benevolent. Because he was. He came from a tribal culture that survived on trade, and pillage. They were, like a lot of nomads, raiders. A large part of their economy was based on the spoils of war which included captives. To his west he had the Byzantines (who I’ve already mentioned for their own willingness to be brutal), and the Persians who had been rivals for centuries.

                      When it comes to the monotheistic religions he used as a template (which also contradicts the ridiculously ignorant claim that the Arabs were somehow closer to India culturally), his attitude towards non-believers was markedly tolerant.

                      The only way to call his attitudes intolerant is to judge him on cultural changes that took place in last few centuries in the west. Religious tolerance is the exception throughout history, not the norm. So is leniency to the conquered.

                      and yet the stone edicts are more evidence than we have for Muhammad.

                      We have no reliable historical accounts of Ashoka’s reign. I never even remotely questioned his existance. Instead of trying to turn this into a pissing match, how about you show some intellectual honesty?

                    9. Look, engage in all the Cordoba Initative-style historical revisionism you want

                      Historical revisionism is claiming that in the 6th century, anything Muhammad did was outside the norm.

                      Fact or fiction – it was better to be a Jew under Islamic rulers than Christian up until, oh, let’s say, the 19th century…

                    10. Historical revisionism is claiming that in the 6th century, anything Muhammad did was outside the norm.

                      Uhh, dude you were just claiming as much right here:

                      I view him as perhaps the greatest conqueror in human history because he developed a monotheistic faith that stuck while also fostering an attitude of relative tolerance in his followers towards those conquered.

                      So which is it, Muhammed was outside the norm in the form of tolerance, or he wasn’t outside the norm?

                      Or hey, I don’t know, maybe you are just backpedaling from a position that anyone even vaguely familiar with either Mid-East history or Islam would know as fucking farcical and you don’t have the intellectual integrity to admit as much?

                    11. Balderdash. By the time of the early medieval period, in the West, feudalism had altered the conduct of war. Most warfare was conducted between nobles with armies composed of feudal levies.

                      The Saxons who invaded England after the Romans left disagree with you.

                      In fact all of Europe that invaded all of Europe and then got invaded again by all of Europe after the romans left disagrees with you.

                      Seriously what the fuck are you even talking about?

                      The Europe of 500-600 AD was not a nice place.

              2. To be fair, he used the term “relative.” That sort of brutality wasn’t uncommon virtually anywhere at the time, and for the most part, conversion of the populace to Islam in conquered territories was a gradual process that lasted centuries.

                1. conversion of the populace to Islam in conquered territories was a gradual process that lasted centuries.

                  I think that had less to do with any real benevolence on the part of the Islamic invaders and more to do with the limits of power. People are attached to their faiths and be they pagans in Lithuania, Copts in Egypt, or Moriscos in Iberia there is only so much an invader can do directly to an unwilling population. The same could be said for any number and type of invaders over history. The exceptions being the sort of places that tended to convert their occupier (Rome, China, Persia) rather than the reverse.

                  As for the brutality, well, the Islamic invasion of India might be the all time most evil shit ever done, but there is a lot of competition for that title, so mostly it’s a judgement call.

                  1. I think that had less to do with any real benevolence on the part of the Islamic invaders and more to do with the limits of power. People are attached to their faiths and be they pagans in Lithuania, Copts in Egypt, or Moriscos in Iberia there is only so much an invader can do directly to an unwilling population

                    I’ll take a more cynical approach. The Christians and Jews were a source of extra tax. Early Muslim conquerors wouldn’t have wanted conversion because it would have meant having to grant more rights while being able to extract less wealth.

            2. Mohammed is one of histories greatest monsters. Islam is a plague upon mankind. And REALLY shirts on womankind.

              On a side note. My treatment for ‘The Adventures of Transgender Mohammed and his Pal Pedobear’ has been going over like a lead balloon in every pitch meeting I’ve had in the Middle East. Would make a great Saturday morning cartoon show for the kiddies there.

              1. And REALLY shirts on womankind

                I don’t know how I suddenly became the defender of Islam around here when I tend to loathe religion in general, but for a long time Islam improved the lives of women in the conquered territories. A lot of the things associated with Islam predate it and became codified later.

                What was progressive in Muhammad’s time is obviously not so now. But the only way to call Muhammad a ‘monster’ is to ignore the standards of the period he came from.

                Western culture has admired men far worse than Muhammad.

                1. “but for a long time Islam improved the lives of women in the conquered territories.”

                  “..women and children should be enslaved and property should be distributed…”

                  Yeah…

                  1. Yes, that’s horrible.

                    It was also more typical than not of warfare. Slavery was a massive part of the ancient world which Islam and Muhammad actually took a relatively progressive stance on. This despite the fact that Arab culture was predicated on tribal conflict and the spoils that resulted.

                    It’s possible to hold modern beliefs about human rights, and to keep perspective when looking back at history. If you are going to condemn the Muslims or Muhammad for their behavior, then I hope you at the least do the same with the great Western civilizations and early Christians.

                2. Given the infestation that is Islam, and it’s perpetual state of war on earth, tht there isn’t anyone worse than Mohammed.

                  Also, what do you think of the cartoon idea?

          4. I am kind of interested why he has so much Jewish and Christian stuff in the Quran.

            Corning, you really would be interested in the Spencer book. It’s clear the Koran was assembled from various sources, including some Christian ones, and edited at various times. This is why very early Korans are rarely exhibited: they vary from the canonical version. The evidence indicates that Islam is an offshoot of Christianity. There’s a coin showing a man with both a crescent moon and a cross.

            As for Mohammed existing, the evidence is fuzzier than you might think. In any case, the first biography of him was (IIRC) 100+ years after his death. Intriguingly, in the first 70+ years of the Arab conquest after his death, none of the conquered peoples mentioned Mohammed, Islam, a new religion, or a holy book associated with the conquerors. It looks like the Arabs invented/adopted Islam to justify their conquests some time after it was supposedly born.

            1. That is terribly bad history. I wouldn’t be so quick to rely on the word of someone like Spencer, who as someone fanatically opposed to Islam has a bit of an axe to grind, when analyzing the existence of the central figure of Islam. There are multiple non-Islamic sources referring to Muhammad and/or Islam in the first few decades after his death, including one less than 5 years after. We also have a Quranic manuscript that was likely (75% probability, according to carbon dating) written prior to 646 AD, with a 99% probability of being written before 671 AD.

              http://tinyurl.com/8rngrtn

              http://tinyurl.com/pzbhd8e

              1. Of course Spencer has an ax to grind, but the book has plenty of references to scholarly sources. But thanks for your links.

    2. St. Paul’s day job was making and selling tents all over the Roman world.

    1. Yes, because the way to invoke sympathy for the Palestinian cause is to transform downtown Paris into Karachi.

      Brilliant!

    2. That has to be the largest collection of assholes ever assembled (outside of a Jimmy Buffet concert).

    3. Thank god Mexico is on our southern border.

      1. Funny, I was thinking the same thing earlier today. Whatever problems exist, we could have done much worse with our neighbors.

        1. ‘Pick your enemies wisely’.

    4. How is this possible? The French banned pro-Palestinian protests.

    5. Police launch tear gas into crowd. Crowd attacks police. Self styled libertarians here unanimously take the side of the police. Anti-statism has its limits.

      1. So, still a tedious mendacious twat I see.

        1. “So, still a tedious mendacious twat I see.”

          Why change a winning formula? You still a phoney baloney libertarian?

          1. Yeah, I knew you’d respond.

            It’s nice to see that everyone else has caught on to your act and have stopped responding to your troll attempts though.

            I guess my education campaign exposing you for the dishonest piece of shit you are worked, with the help of Sevo and Brian of course.

            1. Thanks for elevating my humble contributions here to the status of an “act.”

              You overestimate honesty, take it from a Trueman. I’m one of the few here who posts under his real name.

              While it’s true that very few substantive comments come my way in reply, this site at least hasn’t kicked me off. I was at the National Review commenting on the global warming issue and returned after a few hours to see that everything I’d posted, maybe 10 to 15 comments had been deleted by a moderator.

              “I guess my education campaign exposing you for the dishonest piece of shit you are worked”

              I’ll bask in your glory later, but for now could you recount your proudest moment in this campaign of yours? You’ll really have to remind me.

  11. Humphrey Bogart once said,

    “The whole world is 3 drinks behind”

    I would offer,

    “The Islamic World is ~600-700 billion drinks behind”

    It may not solve all (or any!) of their problems, but for fucks sake, at least they’d have booze to go with them.

    1. I’d hate to see what a mean Islamic drunk is like.

    2. If hashish turns them into Assassins, what do you think alcohol will do?

      1. Turn them into those annoying Saudi students down the hall?

  12. Israel has a thriving capitalist economy with stocked stores, successful businesses, a high standard of living, and modern convenience…and the rest of the middle east despises them for it. For capitalism to thrive, the concepts of equality, personal property, and individual prosperity have to take root. Won’t happen.

    1. Actually, none of the institutions that offer annual rankings for economic freedom offer Israel the praise that you do. In fact in 2013 it was placed next to Jordan in one of them. I live in Jordan, and believe me it’s not a compliment to be ranked beside them.

      I just looked up the 2014 rankings and the Fraser Institute places them at number 49, right after Albania and Bulgaria…..not exactly the “vibrant” economy many people, including on here, describe. It’s a socialist shit-pile that depends on aid from the U.S. and other western countries, and its citizens are mainly a bunch of leeches. Comparing them to Hamas and Fatah may make them look good, but that is a very low bar.

      1. “It’s a socialist shit-pile that depends on aid from the U.S. and other western countries, and its citizens are mainly a bunch of leeches. Comparing them to Hamas and Fatah may make them look good, but that is a very low bar.”

        And it’s a shame that the bar is low enough that Israel looks good.
        The fact is, Israel is as good ad it gets in that neck of the woods.

  13. Rock and Roll never forgets dude.

    http://www.AnonToolz.tk

  14. Early Islam and the Birth of Capitalism:
    Benedikt Koehler at the Legatum Institute (1′ 09″ 51sec)

    http://youtu.be/Sav7V4S2q0M

    Ramadan Kareem!

  15. I am a big believer in the determination of every person to find economic opportunity. But it seems to me that a good portion of the “Arab unrest”, at least as it is directed towards the West, comes from hatred and contempt for “infidels” on the part of militants. How do you factor this into the equation?

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