Sunday, 27 November 2016

Oiling the Gears of Islam's Demise

It seems that a polarization has developed between the counter jihad, which is generally conservative based due in part to the Left’s unwillingness to face up to the doctrinal roots of Islamic terror and supremacism, and environmental concerns which are generally liberal based due in part to the Right’s reluctance to take climate change and other environmental concerns seriously. I have noticed in articles and comment threads that those concerned about the spread of Islam are dismissive of environmental concerns and there are large numbers on the left dismissing concerns about Islam as the ubiquitous “racism” or the nonsensical condition called “Islamophobia”. Dedicated counter-jihadists such as Melanie Philliips, Pamela Geller and Daniel Greenfield adopt this position. It is a great shame that this polarity has developed because environmental concerns could drive behaviour that would greatly undermine the global jihad.

A tendency with writers such as Phillips, Geller and Greenfield (whom I greatly admire for their counter-jihad efforts) is to dismiss climate change as a bogus threat cooked up by phoney science for some obscure agenda of weakening the West. They argue that climate change, if it exists at all, is a problem so far removed in the future that it needn’t concern us as much as militant Islam, which could kill us now. They dismiss the computer modelling of climate change as a hopelessly flawed science that can tell us nothing.

This is not a rational or scientific attitude to the problem. Climate change science and computer modelling are extremely complex and scepticism is always a good attitude for scientific research. But outright denial and dismissal of research is not scepticism, it’s just a declaration based on some other belief external to the research. The only rational posture towards climate science is to recognise its complexity and to be willing to take on board what the most likely outcomes are based on probabilities.  To deny climate change outright is as irrational as to believe it without question.

The other question is the extent to which climate change, if it is happening, is caused by our emissions of greenhouse gases. To some extent this is a side-issue. If the climate is warming, we need to do whatever we can to counteract it, for our own sakes as much as anything else.

But concern about global warming and concern about the global jihad are not in opposition. They complement each other rather well. The global jihad that we now face has largely been funded with oil money from Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Qatar is a principal funder of the Muslim Brotherhood among many evils. Many western governments have been seriously compromised by the power of oil money from repressive Muslim countries and by the mass immigration, segregation, and developing sectarianism that they have facilitated. How many universities now have some dependence on money from these sources? How is this affecting the research that they do and the research they don’t do? How is it affecting what is taught and what is not taught? In his book, “The War of Ideas”, Walid Phares has shown just how pervasive and powerful these effects are.

There are now technologies on the market which can reduce our dependence on oil. See this video for solar roofs being developed by Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal. This integrated house/car system points the way to reducing our reliance on oil and other fossil fuels. This sort of thing should be very welcome news to the counter-jihad community as it would effectively reduce the funding of the global jihad by oil states. What’s not to like about that? But I fear that many who are serious about the Islamic threat are too ready to poo-poo the more liberal agenda of reducing greenhouse gas emissions whereas the two aims of countering global jihad and avoiding damage to the global eco-system dovetail rather well.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

An Exploration of the Politically Correct Worldview

Individuality has ceased to exist. We are seen only as representatives of groups. Groups have different levels of power and status in society, and globally. When a member of a powerful group speaks to a member of a less powerful group, it is automatically oppressive. The dominant group member lacks awareness of this because his membership of a more powerful group renders him blind to it. It is only through some form of sensitivity training (which consists largely of indoctrination into the politically correct worldview) that he can become aware.

This way of viewing people only as members of groups is one-sided and one-dimensional and has the effect of nullifying the value of personal effort: “You think you got where you are through your own efforts? No, you’re just a member of a privileged group.” Or as Obama said, “You didn’t build that.”

Less powerful groups suffer from oppression in various forms, one of which is simply the way they are perceived by members of more powerful groups. They suffer under “structural inequalities” that maintain and manifest this oppression. Their situation has nothing to do with personal effort or ability; to suggest that it does is proof of the blindness to structural inequality that typifies members of powerful, privileged groups. In fact, to make such a statement is sufficient to define you as a member of a privileged, “oppressor” group. This group can remain unspecified but if you are white, male, and middle-class you fit a convenient stereotype of privilege (politically correct people are not supposed to stereotype people but this one is an exception. If you are privileged, you cannot reasonably defend yourself against stereotyping. This is an aspect of the double standards that PC people feel OK about.) It is part of the PC worldview that those who belong to privileged groups do not deserve justice or even plain decency.

Although we are, in theory, all equal there is now a moral hierarchy which is inversely proportional to your position in the hierarchy of structural inequality. Those at the top of the structural hierarchy are those with the lowest moral status, and vice versa. This echoes what Bertrand Russell called the “superior virtue of the oppressed” (he did not mean it literally).

Although some people might believe that people at the top of the structure might actually be there because they are talented, hard-working, and get on well with others, the truth is that nobody is at the top who has not trodden on others to get there. Furthermore, the nearer to the top you are the more out of touch and blind you are to the oppression below. Bear in mind that we’re talking about group characteristics not individual traits. Individual traits are screened out of this worldview.

The hierarchy is not only defined in terms of wealth; that is a simple view of structural inequality. Inequality is also defined and expressed in terms of various social constructs (which for the most part are purely arbitrary) such as gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, culture, sub-culture, religion, etc.

Muslims benefit a lot from this because they look oppressed but for the PC mind it must be nothing to do with their culture or religion. That is dominant group talk; no, it must be caused by oppressor groups like neo-cons and Zionists.

As is widely known, victim groups overlap in particular individuals and to the extent that you belong within the intersection of one of more oppressed groups then you are that much more oppressed and have that much more moral status. This status means you deserve that much more redress and compensation from “the system” (in fact you can screw “the system” to your heart’s content without compunction) and you suffer that much more and must be that much braver when interacting with a member of a dominant group. If that person belongs within the intersection of many overlapping dominant groups (e.g. White, male, middle-class) then the oppressiveness of the interaction will, on account of this, be that much greater.

Many of those in victim groups have an obvious interest in supporting this worldview (even if they do not really share it). It improves their self-image and reputation as helpless victims of structural inequality and gives them a sense of moral superiority over those in the oppressor groups.

But what of the white, middle-class people who in theory belong to an oppressor group but reject the privilege it offers; those who ardently support the oppressed and hate their oppressors?

These are more difficult to understand as there is no obvious self-interest. We know they tend to be idealistic and utopian; they tend to believe there are no innate differences of ability or character (and don’t you dare try to test the truth of this through objective research); they tend to believe the world will move in the direction of greater equality and that this constitutes progress; they tend to believe that society is socially constructed through narratives and that by changing narratives we can change society; their moral priorities tend to be dominated by protectiveness towards those they define as oppressed and a correspondingly strong desire not be oppressive themselves. As they often belong to privileged groups they feel the risk of being oppressive very keenly and work assiduously to avoid it.

The ways in which they do this are:


  • To be very solicitous towards members of victim groups
  • To hold a lot of animosity towards oppressor groups and to advocate for oppressed groups
  • To be hostile to their own privilege group(s)
  • To reject their membership of privilege groups. This is ultimately impossible and is the cause of a conflicted identity in these people
  • They identify more closely with the oppressed groups as a way of rejecting their own privileged groups and as a way of identifying with the higher moral status of the oppressed
  • As moral status becomes a more important part of their identity they become more self-righteous; as they become more self-righteous they become more judgmental and damning of oppressor group members, to the extent that they eventually demonize them
  • Once they have demonized members of oppressor groups they often adopt the view that the end justifies the means. This leads them to sympathize with terrorists (“terrorism is the weapon of the dispossessed”) and enjoy a sense of identification with the terrorists’ hatred of their own society
  • By being so opposed to their own privileged in-group they gain additional moral credit for being wholly identified with “the other”; they feel free from the taint of “otherizing”

By identifying so much with out-groups, the PC mind is afforded a great deal of reassurance that it is not being ethnocentric. To be ethnocentric is a kind of cultural egoism and this attitude is anathema to the PC mind. Unfortunately, as research on minimal groups has shown, the tendency to see one’s in-group as preferable or superior is almost impossible to avoid. It occurs even when people are assigned to groups randomly and know they have been assigned randomly.

A very useful strategy for those wishing to avoid this tendency is to develop a habit of in-group rejection and out-group preference. Once this habit has been practiced for a reasonable length of time it becomes almost as automatic as in-group preference; the trick has probably been accomplished by identifying out-group as in-group and in-group as out-group. I think the PC worldview relies a great deal on this psychological manoeuvre.

By adopting a habit of in-group rejection, the PC person feels virtuous, rebellious, and proud. He develops an attitude towards the in-group that is a default for members of out-groups and thus feels comfortable identifying with their sense of in-group supremacy and their negativity towards his own in-group.

Once embarked on this journey of rejection of their own group membership and identification with the superior moral status of oppressed groups they are likely to adopt the view that their own society is not only no better than others but is actually worse. Certainly from a moral standpoint this tends to be seen as true. This has been elucidated very well here so I won’t dwell on it now. Suffice to say that much of the tu quoque arguments we hear from PC people are evidence for this underlying moral assumption. Moral assumptions are often expressed in rationalizations which is what most of these tu quoque arguments amount to.

What of those from oppressed groups who think like members of privileged groups? The classic case is the black man who rejects the worldview of structural inequality and argues for the importance of personal effort. This is anathema to the PC worldview which can only think in terms of collective effort. Personal effort represents disloyalty to the oppressed group as it reinforces the narrative of the dominant group that personal effort is important. Black people who think this way are likely to be branded as Uncle Toms or coconuts. They are casting themselves dangerously adrift as they effectively reject the cozy worldview of an oppressed group member yet have no real friends among the dominant groups who will never truly accept them. Obviously by aspiring to be members of the dominant group(s) their moral status is compromised.

An international moral hierarchy begins to emerge wherein the most powerful nations are the most oppressive and they have the lowest moral status. This is particularly true of Israel which from this perspective is an extension of the USA which is face to face with one of the (or even the most) oppressed groups that has ever existed and therefore the one with the highest moral status, the Palestinians. As such, they can do no wrong and to criticize them for anything would be to expose one’s own moral blindness and insensitivity towards a truly oppressed people.

Given their lofty moral status, the Palestinians can do whatever they like without fear of moral opprobrium whereas Israelis, being members of the group labelled “Israel”, are subject to demonization. Their own history of real oppression over 2 millennia counts for nothing. Their moral status is purely a function of the present calculus of oppressor status as opposed to oppressed. Their achievements in building a prosperous and free society by their own efforts in the face of intense opposition from all around them also counts against them.

What can one say to break the spell?


Perhaps, for a start we have to speak to them in terms that they worry about. This does not include true and false or even right and wrong to a great extent because they have a clear view of who is right and who is wrong which is decided purely on the basis of group membership.

They usually worry about being oppressive. They might take an accusation of stereotyping quite seriously. With their worldview built of groups in which individuality disappears they are certainly vulnerable to this accusation.

They are also vulnerable to the charge of demonization. This is something they do based on group membership and their own sense of high moral status as a consequence of identifying with oppressed groups. They may well be taken aback if this is presented as a moral flaw.

If groups lose their high moral status the more powerful they become, then it should follow that as Muslims become more powerful they will lose their high moral status in the PC mind. If we couch our objection to Islam in terms of power and oppression over weaker groups, this should resonate with the PC mind. Of course, we always have to reckon with a great deal of dishonesty and evasion.
The PC care very much about their worldview. They need it to be validated by others. They are therefore highly resistant to information which runs counter to it. The persecution of minorities by Muslims does not fit into their worldview so they pay no attention to it.

We could therefore accuse them of caring more about their worldview than about people who are really oppressed or about understanding the real causes of their oppression.

We could argue that their worldview is blinding them to the reality of real oppression, as distinct from the largely imaginary oppression that they fume about. They therefore betray the cause of combatting oppression.

This brings us to the heart of the current fight against oppression: the fight against Islam. Islam is the major source of oppression, both in terms of its oppression of Muslims and non-Muslims. The counter-jihad movement seeks to defend people of today and of tomorrow against this oppression. The PC people, blinded by their worldview, will have none of this; Muslims are the victims of our oppression as far as they are concerned and anyone who is against them or their religion is an oppressor; someone of low moral status, fit to be demonized.

The PC person would claim to not be self-interested but this is untrue. Their self-interest is certainly concerned to maintain their worldview and their favorable view of themselves within it.

Can they be accused of moral cowardice? By failing to challenge their worldview; by remaining one of the herd; by failing to challenge any aspect of the herd’s thinking? Well, yes.

PC is now a major form of oppression in itself. Its Kafkaesque rules of conforming are highly oppressive to the ultimate minority, the individual. It outlaws opinions that do not fit its worldview and therefore removes freedom of speech.

It constrains people’s thoughts by enforcing a worldview upon them; demonizing them if they fail to conform (think of the enforced diversity training for deviants); or through prosecution. This now manifests itself in “hate speech” charges against those who see Islam as a threat to free societies (Geert Wilders, for example). It is thus an ally of the greatest engine of oppression today: Islamic jihad.

One simple way to undercut PC habits of mind is to just say what we see and say what we do not see. This is not to argue that what we see is correct; it is simply to report honestly what we see and what we don’t. This a way of subverting the PC worldview because the PC worldview is a highly fabricated distortion of reality which seeks to conform to a worldview shared by others; it is a worldview sustained by the conformity of many millions of people. We can provide a quiet example of innocent non-conformity instead. It’s a return to childlike honesty which reports that the emperor has no clothes.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

One

It was wholly unexpected.

40 years ago I craved such an experience but had given up on the idea; the path was strewn with paradoxes and deceptions; it appeared to require that I become a far better person than I could ever hope to be. And was any of it true anyway?

But whilst on holiday, preceded by a beautiful dream and an experience of the night sky 2 days before, it came. I had an experience of cosmic Oneness which put me in an ecstasy; the ground of all being was divine bliss, a bliss that is infinite and ever-lasting. I don’t know how long this experience lasted but it must have been about half an hour. It has transformed my perception of everything.

I wrote the following:

I felt Truth kiss me in the night; her kiss was pure and infinitely Light;
In that moment she taught me this: “The essence of Nature is infinite bliss.”
Both the I and the Me obscure Divine Reality,
But Beauty and Truth combined illuminate the mind.

What I experienced was cosmic unity, eternal and infinite. It was an experience shared by many mystics, saints, and poets. In his book, “The Varieties of Religious Experience”, William James quotes the words of Dr Bucke, a psychiatrist who had such experiences himself and studied those of others:

“The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is a consciousness of the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe. Along with the consciousness of the cosmos there occurs an intellectual enlightenment which alone would place the individual on a new plane of existence-would make him almost a member of a new species. To this is added a state of moral exaltation, an indescribable feeling of elevation, elation, and joyousness, and a quickening of the moral sense, which is fully as striking, and more important than is the enhanced intellectual power. With these come what may be called a sense of immortality, a consciousness of eternal life, not a conviction that he shall have this, but the consciousness that he has it already.” [p.384 from the chapter on Mysticism]

One thing I have written about frequently on this blog is the paradigm shift from the Ptolemaic geocentric model of the universe to the Copernican. A shift which I often liken to our need to be less ego-centric. Ironically, it was by stepping back into a pre-Copernican view of the universe that the ground was prepared for the experience of cosmic Oneness. I saw a devotional universe in which all things were participants and expressions of the same blissful order.

The question obviously arises as to whether this is a special form of perception or a special form of deception.

My view is that it is a form of perception that occurs when the normal ego-based consciousness yields to a non-egoic form of consciousness. Instead of seeing things from the point of view of our limited, temporal ego we see them from the point of view of a universal self or non-ego.

This is why we cannot will these experiences. The will is of the ego and the ego is precisely that which needs to get out of the way.

I’ve been a big fan of Sam Harris and have dabbled with his advice on meditation. This video was an eye-opener for me (payment is required but for me it was money well spent) and his recommendation of D. E. Harding’s, “On having no head” was highly useful for developing the right kind of focus (away from the ego).

The key feature of this non-egoic perception is Oneness, a sense that all is one, one is all and that there is absolutely no separation from it.

The Third Patriarch of Zen puts it this way:

“When the ten thousand things are viewed in their oneness,
We return to the origin and remain where we have always been…
One in all,
All in One-
If only this is realized,
No more worry about not being perfect!
When Mind and each believing mind are not divided,
And undivided are each believing mind and Mind,
This is where words fail,
For it is not of the past, present or future.”

Quoted in Aldous Huxley’s “Perennial Philosophy” (p.89 - Chapter “God in the World”)

If the ego stands in the way of such experiences how are we to overcome it? This is the question of all true religion.

Goethe said,

“From the compulsion that all creatures binds, who overcomes himself his freedom finds.”

The “himself” here is the ego.

I am not a Christian and have been agnostic regarding God but I can see how many of the teachings of Jesus represent genuine guidance towards the Divine Reality. I’ve never understood the doctrine that he died to save us from our sins; it strikes me as a genuine misunderstanding.

“For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:25

My reading of this is that the rich man has an augmented ego. He is self-satisfied and proud. It is this that blocks his path to the Kingdom of God, the experience of Oneness, which he can only reach via an absence of ego.

The dominance of the ego has to be overcome. This is scary for us because from an egoic point of view the ego is all that we are. It is vital to understand Jesus’ emphasis on humility and his own profoundly humble example.

This is also why Pride is the number one deadly sin. You’ll notice it is not murder. The deadly sins are really concerned with what blocks our way to the Divine Reality and they do this because they are all aspects of egoism, and Pride quintessentially so. Pride is that quality of puffed-up-ness which prevents us from passing through the eye of the needle.

The great Christian thinker, C.S. Lewis writes, in Mere Christianity, that pride is the "anti-God" state, the position in which the ego and the self are directly opposed to God: "Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind." Pride is understood to sever the soul from God, as well as His life-and-grace-giving Presence. (from Wikipedia “The Seven Deadly Sins” see Hubris.)

Other examples of Jesus teaching humility are:
- “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”
- “Address the mote in your own eye before the beam in another’s”
- “Blessed are the meek”
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit”
- “Blessed are the pure in heart”

Humility is the prime cardinal virtue. It describes that state of the ego as softened and pliable like water. In this state it has transparency and the ability to allow other things to pass through it; things like light and heavenliness. It is the truly religious throughout the centuries who have cultivated this state.

Beauty has the power to soften and sometimes overwhelm the ego giving rise to powerful experiences of Oneness.

The Seven Deadly Sins are correctives to egoism.

In Milton’s Paradise Lost, Lucifer becomes the fallen angel on account of his pride. Pride severs his relationship with the divine order and precipitates his fall from grace. The egoic and non-egoic are on a see-saw, the more one is up the more the other is down.

Conversely, in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice we experience the uplift afforded by the overcoming of pride by love.

Which brings me to Muhammad. I don’t know what happened to Muhammad in his early days as a religious teacher but during the later Medinan period he is clearly aligned with the ego, the anti-God state.

Islam became an entirely egotistical religion, almost a religion of the ego and the will, and it was overseen by an egotistical God of arbitrary will, summed up by the ubiquitous boast of “Allahu Akbar” – our god is greater.

Muhammad’s intense pride can be seen in his inability to bear the criticisms and mockery of his detractors. He therefore had them assassinated.

He identified the goals of his own will with the directives of divine will. Divinity in his mind was almighty and arbitrary, a supreme ego akin to his own. The Islam of Muhammad is a massive ego trip.

Whereas Jesus illuminates the world by reflecting the light of divinity, Muhammad darkens it with his nefarious, egotistical will.

That Muhammad divided the world into those who accepted his prophetic status and those who did not was evidence enough of his falsehood. The attribute of Divinity is Oneness not Twoness.

The Deadly Sins of the Ego are: Pride, Gluttony, Avarice, Sloth, Envy, Anger, Lust.

Muhammad appealed to his followers in terms that would satisfy their egos and the deadly sins. The promise of worldly wealth and grandeur; the promise of sex slaves to satisfy their lust; the opportunity to get the better of those who were more successful; the promise of an afterlife modelled entirely upon the appetites of the ego: virgins, wine, unlimited sensual pleasures.

He raved about the torments that would be suffered by those who failed to accept him and continually encouraged his followers to gloat on them, indeed one of the great pleasures of the afterlife would be to see them suffer. This is egoism pure and simple.

He taught that “those who believe” should hate everyone else: Divisive not unifying.

I believe you will search the Koran in vain for a scrap of spiritual guidance. This is because, for all its bloated pretensions, it is a book of the ego not one of divinity.

One of the greatest teachings of Jesus was to guard against self-righteousness. Islam gives its followers much of the appearance of spirituality. Slavish devotion, obsessive rituals, fasting, prayer, modesty of dress, external cleanliness, but the inner fruits of its doctrines are pride and contempt for others. This is a wholly unspiritual outcome.

With the doctrine of voluntarism, Islam has even developed a metaphysics of egoism. According to this metaphysics, no event occurs in the universe that is not specifically willed by Allah. Allah is not subject to any constraint such as the laws of Nature, to suggest so is to suggest his absolute will is not absolutely powerful. "Inshallah" is the appeal to Allah's supreme egoism.

Because it has no spiritual truth it has to resort to force and coercion. Devoid of truth it deploys the ultimate fallacy – the argument of the stick (argumentum ad baculum).

The Koran is not one of the world’s documents of the spiritual life. It is rather a testament to the egoism of one man – Muhammad.

Muhammad, whose ego was so lustful he married a girl of six and found a “divine” reason (a “revelation”) saying that he should have his cousin’s wife, Zainab.

This is not the behaviour of a spiritual guide but of a wholly unspiritual egoist. Muslims should be told this in no uncertain terms whilst they have time to rectify their lives in accordance with better principles.

I think the fundamental idea behind the Islamic project is to create a sacred space that is unassailable; logically, a world dominated by Islam would be unassailable. The only snag is it wouldn’t be sacred. Islam as it is now constituted is a massive ego-trip. Ego-trips aren’t sacred.

Islam has burst through the centuries building exponentially upon the first ejaculation of Muhammad’s rapacious ego. That is really all it is; an elaborate extension of his ego.

Islam now stands face to face with a decadent de-Christianized West. Our politically correct culture has descended into a farce of ego protection wherein certain groups of people are protected from the beneficial pain of corrective truth – a dismal fact that ensures our descent into ever greater pretense and untruth.

There is a grain of goodness in political correctness in so far as those who are politically correct are often trying to protect those they see as weaker than themselves. We should guard against the pride that can grow from being better educated, better qualified, better mannered, or better financed than others but the game of PC has become an absurd circus of protecting the egos of others from harsh truths. We know truth when we hear it; when know it when we see it (though we’ll often turn away quickly). It has an undeniable resonance. Those people would be far better off left unprotected that they might feel the force of truth to diminish their egos. They would then, less full of pride, be beacons of truth themselves.

The Christian preoccupation with not straying into egoism has an echo in the orientation of the cultural left. The left is always referring us back to our own cultural failings when we point out the failings of other cultures. Political correctness is to some degree a corrective against cultural egoism; likewise the constant reiteration of tu quoque arguments: “what about the Crusades”, “what about the slave trade”, ”what about colonialism” etc.

Where there might have been an element of nobility in this tendency it is also a great falsifier. Truth must prevail. Ignoring the faults of others whilst constantly inflating our own may feel like a kind and noble thing to do but it has the awful effect of falsifying reality and energizing the egoism of people whose culture already renders them proud and contemptuous of others.

And yes, there is much to be said for concentrating on putting our own house in order. However, we cannot do that if some egotistical savage has destroyed the house.

One of the easiest forms of pride to fall into is in-group supremacy. Here again, the Left is frequently urging a corrective but it becomes overly negative towards the in-group and overly flattering towards out-groups. When this flattery is directed towards those of a supremacist culture it makes their cultural egotism even more bloated.

Western hedonism may be little better in terms of educating us away from the ego but it does have the merit of leaving individuals at liberty and not inducing intolerant expressions of piety - although the new piety of political correctness is a strong contender. The culture of the West has also allowed the possibility for cultural self-criticism to exist. This is a direct product of the non-egoic teachings of Jesus. Christianity, being a true expression of divinity, puts us on guard with respect to our ego, both the individual and the collective form.

The question is now whether we can regain enough awareness of what we are really about to return to non-hedonistic, non-egoic terms of existence and prevent a worldwide slide into the abyss of Islamic egotistical totalitarianism.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

A Verse

Muhammad was an egoist and therefore not divine,

His influence for centuries has never been benign.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Sam Harris provides an Antidote to Cognitive-Egocentrism

Reading from the latest edition of the ISIS magazine Dabiq, Sam Harris takes us with chilling lucidity into the mind and worldview of the jihadist.


Are you constantly exasperated by people's inability to step outside their 21st century Western worldview and put themselves into the mind of a devout Muslim? Do you wish politicians and media would stop talking about "alienation" and "poverty" and "lack of opportunity" because these are largely irrelevant to our understanding of the devout Mohammedans and their motives and aspirations? 

These are all aspects of cognitive ego-centrism - the inability to step outside our own worldview in order to put ourselves into the worldview of another, especially when that other has a very different worldview to our own. 

What is it like to adopt a perspective on life (and death) which is essentially medieval, but nonetheless real for that?

Listen to this 42 minute podcast by Sam Harris in which he asks his listeners to stop imposing their worldview onto the jihadists and accept what they say about themselves to be true and truly felt.



Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Sun Goes Round The Earth



When we are children we have an intuitive common-sense view of the Sun’s orbit around the earth. Based on our personal experience of the Sun’s journey, this is a reasonable conclusion to reach based on limited knowledge and experience; it is a conclusion that was reached by millions of people well into the 17th century, many of them very clever. 

We can call this the naïve view of the Sun's orbit.

Today, many in the West form an intuitive common-sense view of Islam based on their personal experience of Muslims as neighbors, colleagues, or fellow citizens. They reach conclusions which are reasonable based on their limited knowledge and experience; it is a conclusion reached by millions of people today, many of them very clever. We can call this the naïve view of Islam (which may actually be shared by many Muslims).

Whilst failing to make any serious study of the subject of Islam, or deliberately avoiding it, they arrive at the conclusion that Islam is much the same as any other religious belief system. If they are generally positive about religion this conclusion will be broadly positive; if they are generally negative about religion, it will be broadly negative but only in the same terms as every other belief system.

I would argue that we can discern two major differences of orientation to the understanding of Islam. The first is the naïve view, the second the systemic.

The naïve view has the following characteristics:
  1. It focuses on individuals and judges the whole of Islam by the behavior of a few individuals.
  2. It focuses on Muslims living nearby who are experienced directly and judges Islam in terms of their behavior.
  3. It does not see any characteristics arising from Muslims in the aggregate.
  4. It sees a plurality of attitudes rather than a coherent body of beliefs and believers.
  5. It sees Islam in terms of other more familiar religions such as Christianity and Judaism
  6. It is blind to the difference in behavior when Muslims are in a minority compared to when they are in a majority. (Because of this and (1) and (2) above, it reaches a conclusion about Islam based on a few individuals from the least threatening manifestation of Islam).
  7. It is present rather than historically oriented.
  8. Views Islam as whatever individual Muslims think it is.
  9. Sees Islam as reformable and capable of change towards non-Muslim norms.
  10. It is cognitively ego-centric, which is to say it attempts to understand Islam in terms of the non-Muslim observer who is ignorant of Islamic concepts.
The systemic view has the following characteristics:

  1. It looks upon Islam as an immutable system of laws and beliefs.
  2. It sees Islam as a self-organizing system which uses and is formed of individual Muslims in the same way that an organism is composed of cells and various sub-systems yet behaves in a manner that goes far beyond the activity of its components. In this view, Islam as a system has goals that go beyond those of its members.
  3. It looks at the behavior of Islam as-a-whole over the duration of its existence; at how that behavior is typical, predictable, and arises from the interaction of immutable laws and beliefs with historical circumstances .
  4. The immutable laws and beliefs inform the system in a similar way to how genetic code informs an organism or software informs a computer system; this information determines the system’s behavior and forms its identity.
  5. It looks at Islam in its totality; both near and far; both then and now; both as a collection of individuals and a coherent system which organizes those individuals.
  6. The systemic view is highly cognizant of Islam’s “rule of numbers” as Raymond Ibrahim has called it: that the greater the proportion of Muslims in a society, the greater the likelihood that they will persecute and conflict with non-Muslims. This arises from the attitudes towards out-group members that are engendered by the immutable laws and beliefs.
  7. The systemic view is also highly cognizant of the differences between Muslim behavior as a minority and as a majority. This view is reinforced by knowledge of Muhammad’s own behavior when he was weak compared to when he was strong; and it is reinforced by knowledge of the changes to the message and temper of the Koran when Muhammad’s situation changed from one of vulnerability to strength.
  8. The systemic view is also aware that although we may talk of “immutable laws”, this does not mean the same rules apply everywhere and in all circumstances in the way that Christianity suggests love and forgiveness should be principles applied in all situations. Islam includes the rule that rules can alter depending on circumstances so that what was forbidden in one circumstance can become obligatory in another. It all depends on what is most advantageous for Islam as a totality. This apparent pluralism can easily mislead those who hold the naïve view of Islam into thinking that Muslims can pick and choose, that Islam is whatever individual Muslims think it is.
  9. Islam is therefore capable of change but not towards non-Muslim norms; only in pursuit of systemic Islamic goals; the ultimate goal being total control of everyone. The rules are immutable but they are also conditional. This conditional immutability gives Islam formidable flexibility in pursuit of system goals.
  10. From the systemic perspective, the differences between Muslims are simply aspects of the system which serve the ends of the system as a whole; they serve to confuse non-Muslims and camouflage the underlying jihad-oriented reality.
In my opinion the naive view is mistaken. It is similar to the view that the Sun goes round the Earth. We have to get people to make a paradigm shift in their thinking which is similar to the paradigm shift that occurred in our view of the sun’s orbit. When I was a child I thought as a child...

To understand that the Sun does not go round the Earth what did we need to know?
  1. That not everything in the universe orbits the Earth; in fact, only the Moon does.
  2. That in our Solar System the planets orbit the Sun.
  3. That our Earth rotates on its axis which creates the illusion that the Sun orbits the Earth.
In other words, we had to understand that we exist within a planetary system and that the Sun only appears to go round the Earth. 

My observation is this: we have to have an understanding of the system as a whole in order to overcome the natural illusion of the Sun orbiting the Earth. 

It’s the same with Islam: we have to have an understanding of the origins, the theology, the history, and the conditional, circumstantial character; situational programming; adaptive unfolding; in short, we have to understand the systemic nature of it. I would go further and say that it is impossible to understand what's going on in relation to Islam without this systemic perspective.

I tried to make this point in Refusing Galileo’s Telescope but it suffers from being rather a lengthy essay.

As a starting point with someone who has the naïve view of Islam we can ask them how they understood the Sun’s orbit as a child: Did you think the Sun went round the Earth?

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Pope Francis Rebuffed by Islamic State


In a very clear illustration of the disconnect between Western liberal (Marxist, progressive) worldviews and that of the most rigorous Muslims, Pope Francis has received a firm rebuttal of his pie-eyed view of Islamic terrorism and the Islamic State. In his recent visit to Poland, Francis has set out in mind-boggling clarity just how far from reality he is. He put forward his belief that all religions are by their very nature peaceful and that the world is not at war due to religious ideology but due to the love of money.

Muslims become terrorists not because their religion teaches them to kill non-believers but because they have lost all hope, due to such things as poverty and alienation. Raymond Ibrahim reports on the Pope's views here.

But Islamic State beg to differ and demonstrate their impatience with the obtuseness of Pope Francis, however much he offers to uphold the Western elites' blindness to reality on their behalf. They point out what those of us in the counter-jihad have been trying to communicate for years: their religion obliges all true Muslims to wage war against non-believers until "all religion is for Allah". It is terribly simple to understand but astonishingly hard to believe. Read their statement here.