Thought Archive

Friday, September 19, 2008

Send him back...

This upsets me very much

Azerbaijan is secular state where - rightly or wrongly from conservative points of view - gays are not only not left to leave freely, they thrive in our environment. They occupy TV channels and own clubs - no officially sanctioned persecution is even on the cards. But of course we are Muslims, so we should be treating minorities badly, we are monsters. The one party that is truly persecuted in Azerbaijan is Armenians, for obvious reasons.

Of course, speculation on ethnic, political and religious persecution is rife, for poor and useless people to enjoy opportunities of the West. Recently I was approached by an future asylum seeker fromAzerbaijan who wanted to fake his nationality to become an Armenian.

Britain, send this guy back to Azerbaijan - or, maybe keep him - we have enough mouths to feed.


NoolaBeulah said...

Maybe he should say that he's an Armenian gay.

Hazar Nesimi said...

THis will be unbeatable, and of course he will live off generous pension from grateful Britain. Maybe even make a buck from a book "A gentle sheep in the Country of Wolves". I know for fact some people who made themselves Armenian (or Jewish) to emigrate. The sort of asylum policy that exists in Britain is prone to so much abuse that you end up with exiled extremist preachers on one side and all sort of useless folk on the other.

NoolaBeulah said...

At moment after reading your reply above, I came across this quote. "Having come to Britain from Russia in 1852, Herzen had suggested that 'the English don't give asylum out of respect for us the asylum seekers, they give it out of respect for themselves, because they invented the idea of personal liberty'."

It's Tom Stoppard talking about why he wrote The Coast of Utopia, a 9-hour play about 19th Century Russian radicals, part of which is set where most of them ended up, in London. I would like to believe it is (or at least, was) true.

Note, by the way, The Guardian's intro to the piece, which tries to make it sound as if Stoppard is mounting a campaign against the US. Actually, he mentions it once. Just by-the-by.

NoolaBeulah said...

Stoppard says elsewhere in the article, "For me human rights simply endorse a view of life and a set of moral values that are perfectly clear to an eight-year-old child. A child knows what is fair and isn't fair, and justice derives from that knowledge."

That is very English and wonderfully naive at the same time. Read his biog and it makes sense.

Hazar Nesimi said...

You did not attach the link to Stoppard's article, btw.

Why do you think Europe, but britain especially is so insisting in attaching so prime importance to spreading human rights beyond her borders. Why not define human rights as not something universal but uniquely home-grown, partially alien to other civilizations. Why not allow Wahhabi radicals to rot and die in Moroccan jails, not harbor theman d not shed crocodile tears about children of Darfur. Many world problems would go away with this relativistm.

NoolaBeulah said...

What a excellent question!

As Tom Stoppard mentions in that interview (which, BTW, is here - sorry about that), we have never made up our minds ourselves what their status is.

You see, historically, human rights have a religious foundation. If every being has a soul, then every being is equal before God. We, like you, got this from Judaism. It is not a coincidence that the diaspora Jews after the destruction of the temple were among the first groups to ban slavery (AD70) - and it was for this specific reason.

Now, if the foundation of human rights rests with God, then they apply as much to an Amazonian Indian as they do to me, even if he doesn't know it. The UN Declaration of Human Rights doesn't mention God, but it was basically an Anglo-Saxon document and its certainty is based on that unacknowledged religious certainty.

My materialist mind, however, tells me that human rights exist on the Earth and have force because of one factor: Western power. If it had been the Chinese who had initiated the Industrial Revolution instead of the British, then there would be so such thing as human rights. They have importance only because the culture of which they were born is the dominant one, economically, culturally and militarily.

However, this relativistic path is a dangerous one. If we follow it and divide the world into Us and Them, then what constraint would there be on the powerful? Take an example: Abu Ghraib.

Everyone seems to treat that as proof positive of the evil of the Americans. It is the opposite. The fact that it occurred is completely unsurprising. The important point is that they fixed it. It was possible to hold them to account. But on what terms? Human rights, understood as universal.

It may be illogical, but I don't think the West can think of them as culture-specific (even if that was the path of multi-culturalism). It would be too big a step - it would be the surrender of all idealism.

Riri said...

Am not sure about that joke that is the UDHR Noola. OK it is good in the way you describe, but am not at all convinced that this the best we could come up with. I think it has been used more to benefit the powerful by giving them moral high ground then really to establish justice and hold the powerful accountable.

I have no doubt that there are loads of decent people out there who genuinely believe in Human Rights, but I think that this idea has lost a lot when it became a political ideal - everything politicians touch turn to poo (excuse my French).

As a materialist, you should know that there is actually no such thing as human rights in our world, there cannot be. The whole idea is absurd from a materialist point of view. Religion correctly identified human rights as a metaphysical, spiritual ideal because there are too many constraints in the physical world which make human rights as they are understood today an impossibility.

And I do not think the powerful have the right to ackowledge that I have rights they will not violate. Becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy dunnit.

NoolaBeulah said...

But don't you as a Muslim believe that everyone has a God-given soul; ie that they are ultimately responsible for their actions to Him? That is the foundation of human rights. That is why slavery was abolished (at least from most of the world). Once you have the God-given soul, I can't see that it's possible not to have some concept like human rights.

I think you are a bit hard on politics, which, after all, is just humans coming to the best arrangements that they can given the circumstances. Political power is inevitable; the question is merely how to channel and limit it. Some form of individual rights is one means of doing that.

Riri said...

Well Noola, of course I believe in a God-given soul and that everyone is accountable to God. But I am not the problem I am, the problem is those others who do not believe in that, the UDHR is not going to change anything in this regard although it might help some lucky cases which happen to catch the corrupt media attention.

Am sorry am very cynical about the whole human rights moralizing talk. I find it fundamentally contradicts the prevalent materialist worldview we are living through today. You cannot be no more of a bunch of matter particles and have a soul. You cannot have your cake and eat it. You cannot be human in the modern sense of the word and have 'rights'.

In fact, I tell you what, an idea just occured to me. It is out of guilt and anticipation of the horrors of materialist worldview that the UDHR was born. Now we need such a document as the UDHR because Holy Books are not effective and nobody really believes in personal accountability of individual souls for the simple reason that there are no souls, just bodies. Politics replaces God, and it is failing. The next age will be that of Science and that will be our undoing, ironically.

The thing with God is that alright it hasn't really worked globally as a deterring concept, but ironically, just before we go extinct and auto-destruct, we might just realise that it was the best alternative of all - but we will only admit that when we're facing certain catastrophy. It has all been prophesised before, all been said and done, but we still have to do it.

Like religion, the UDHR is a self-fulfilling prophesy I tell ya!

NoolaBeulah said...

"You cannot be no more of a bunch of matter particles and have a soul. You cannot have your cake and eat it. You cannot be human in the modern sense of the word and have 'rights'."

This is, indeed, the point. I suspect it's part of the reason the Americans are still able to do something, while the Europeans talk. The Americans still believe in the source of 'soul', while the Europeans try to legislate it.

Which is why I believe that, if Europe has any future, it will come back to God, most probably in the form of the Catholic church. If it doesn't, it will sink into solipsism and just annoy everyone for a long time before sinking into the primeval slime of its paperwork.

Riri said...

I don't think the way back to God is that easy Noola. The thing with faith is that you cannot switch it on and off, I think Europe has gone too far, beyond the point of no return. The more people sink in materialist idolatry, the less chance they will have of ever reconnecting with metaphysical contemplations - it is not even conscious and God is not really that remote (remember the fish and water analogy?). Religious scriptures tell us that Prophets also appear in depraved, decadent and excessively hedonistic societies. This is because once we reach that point, there is no way back for us on our own (except for some isolated cases which do not constitute the norm) - divine intervention is required. Will there be? I don't know, part of me hopes so, part of me cannot believe there will be (maybe because as a modern product I still find it almost impossible to believe that God ever spoke to humanity even though I believe He exists and He takes interest in us and in all His Creation - contradictory I know).

Mind you, Islamic tradition has it that Jesus the Messiah will return one day and it will be a major sign of the end of time.

Riri said...

And then all religions in their infancy suffer persecution until they gain influence and start attracting political savvies. This too is significant - God will always be opposd by the hedonistic materialists. Materialism offers an illusion of security, power and comfort that is very real because it can be touched, smelled and tasted. The empiricists in us die hard.

NoolaBeulah said...

Only one point. You paint empiricism as the baddie - it surely isn't. Its relation to reality must be a strong one because, obviously, it works. At least in the sense of getting things done and providing a means of sharing knowledge.

The problem may well be not empiricism itself, but its misuse. You could put this in 2 ways. One is: in the epistemological hierarchy, it has been enthroned whereas it should merely be an instrument in a higher cause (this is the church's position, one which I'm sure most Muslims agree with). The other way of putting it would be that it is asked to deal with questions for which it is not 'fit for purpose'.

The Big question then becomes, what is the vision that should guide empiricism, or what is the means/method/instrument that is best suited to ask those 'other' questions?

In the west, for the past 200 years, that other vision has been found in politics (because religion had not been able to deal with the power that empiricism had created). But this caused more problems than it solved.

So the question becomes, can a reformulated religion do that job, or will something else need to be found?

Riri said...

So the question becomes, can a reformulated religion do that job, or will something else need to be found?

Not it cannot because there is a fundamental problem with religion and it is that it stipulates a transcendant entity which dictates things to us and this cannot and will never sit comfortably with empiricism. The only reformulated religion Europe will accept is a godless one (and there are already many burgeoning all over) and of course the potency of religion (and its power of destruction) all lie in the concept of God itself. The idea of God is to deflect our worshipping committments away from the material realm for obvious reasons, if that goes, religion becomes utter nonsense (in a real gigantic unredeemable way this time).

Then you have to consider the religious - what sort of believer will accept that their religion is reformulated? IF God made a poor job of formulating religion, what man could do a better job reformulating it?

Unless by 'reformulating' you mean presenting religious concepts with more modern terminology and parables? Finding a novel way to communicate religious concepts? That too will be tricky, but there are scientists attempting to argue the case for altuism on Darwinist grounds - they're having a lot of difficulty persuading the masses whom they had spent a lot of effort convincing that they are a natural miscarriage and selfish bastards at that.

I do not think empiricism is bad, it is we who are bad. Everything we touch seems to turn to ash and dust. Our ancestors were every bit as empiricist as us but all empiricism did for them was to persuade them they will never know enough, which is what empricism ultimately is here for: a hobby to enjoy while we wait for something to turn up. Now empiricism is the end in itself - a matter of life or death, literally. Takes the fun out of it dunnit.

Alternatively, we could reverse the process and push individuals back together in communities, encourage basic and simple living which could hopefully re-create primitive living environments and re-kindle the religious instincts. But the rich and powerful will never allow it because it will mean the end of politics as we know it.

Hazar Nesimi said...

Well, we started by quasi-gay bashing and moved into complexities of religion. I'd say - enough! To each his own.

The Modern world, friends is not so modern after all and technology is just a smokescreen - we are all just as religious, faithful, superstiious, caring andhateful as our ancestors were. Dont be fooled by sterile scientific rationalist minority of senseless robots - most of us are beatiful as we are, messy and contradictory beings.

Riri said...

But isn't that worrying Nazim? If we have evolved materially, why are we not evolving spiritually?

I like your optimism, which I share parly, but you cannot deny that there is some confusion today and if not religion, then politics has to be re-thought. Economics has shown its dismal failure, politics has followed as it was almost entirely based on economic theorizing. Religion and spiritual values have been so ignored, and then relegated to the back shelves through systematic securilization, helped along by globalization (or is it the other way round)?

I think our world is more open than it was ever before, there is more need than ever to think about new ways to promote sustainable peace because what happens in one corner of the world, will impact many other parts.

I do not believe the conspiracy theories that there is one elite which is planned and plotting to enslave us all, but the current elites would be mad if they weren't thinking of new strategies to diffuse a global thinking paradigm. But what would it be based on? I think it will be Science (especially biology and particle physics) and as more and more new issues will arise because of technological advances (ethical and moral amongst others), religious values will become increasingly irrelevant or relevant (for the religious) - regardless of how we deal with this, it will be the end for us.

Anonymous said...

-Speed of Light

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