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Star: سقف الكفايه

In Uncategorized on March 15, 2012 by Star-Light

 

انتهيت مساء أمس من قرائة احدى روايات الكاتب السعودي محمد سعد علوان. رواية “سقف الكفايهكانت هي اول كتاب اصل فيه الى الصفحه الاخيره منذ بداية هذه السنه, فقد بدأت بها اواخر اشهر السنة الماضيه, فاخذت مني قرابة الاربع اشهر حتى تمكنت من الوصول الى جلدة غلاف النهايه.

 

رواية “سقف الكفايه” ما هي الا بركان حب, يثور تاره عند الحديث عن جرح لم يلتئم بعد على جدار قلب ناصر الهش, لتتقاذف معه حمم الدموع ويغطي حزنه وألمه مدينة فانكوفر بأكملها ليحولها الى رماد. ويهدأ تارة اخرى بعد الجلوس اما شاشات الذاكره ليمشي شريط ذكريات مها فيهدأ بظهورها. مها سبب الثورة والهدوء, جعلت من نفسها عقيدة اعتنقها ناصر ورتل صلواتها بلا فهم لمبادئها وأصولها. الهجره كانت هي الحل الوحيد من وجهة نظر ناصر لردم فوهة هذا البركان الثائر, لكن ما زادته الهجره والاغتراب الا حنيناً اكبر الى الوطن و ايماناً اعمق بالعقيده. يلتقي هناك بميس”تنغل” التي احتوته واحتوت جرحه بقلب ام حنونه , و العراقي “ديار” الذي حاز على افضل شخصية بالنسبة لي بين صفحات الروايه ال 470 .

 

انا لست ناقده, ولا اعتبر نفسي من القراء الجيدين, لكن “سقف الكفايه” استلذيت معها بكل حرف ومعنى, فابدع محمد علوان في الوصف الفلسفي واللغه, فكانت لغة بسيطه بمفردات سلسه وجميله , لكن المبالغه في سرد حبه لحبيبته واشتياقه كان مللاً بالنسبة لي وهذا سبب اخذها مني اشهر حتى انهيها, فلم استطع الجلوس لساعات وساعات لقرائة صفحات وصفحات لحالة لا تتطور او تتغير, فقررت اخذ جرعاتي من اللذه على فترات متقطعه .

 

شدتني كثيرا شخصية ديار العراقي, فقد تجسدت فيه حالة العراق وتاريخها. فما وصلتي عند نهاية خط شخصية ديار بان العراقي معدوم الاستقرار, مسلوب المستقبل, مغسول الفكر برغوة الطائفيه لتتحكم وتوجه المواطن العراقي لابادة من يختلف معه وان كان اقرب الناس له. كبير جدا بالنسبة لي ان اصيغ مشاعري في جملة تنصف العراقي وانا التي اذيب كتلة العنصريه التي كونها المجتمع بداخلي واتحاشى متعمده اذابتها من على اثر جرحي الذي سببه الغزو العراقي الغاشم على الكويت. لازلت اتصارع داخليا بين الاحاسيس والافكار لكن ما نجحت فيه هذه الرواية بانها جعلت من شخصية ديار اول عراقي اعلن حبي له بغض النظر عن ما احمله بقلبي وذاكرتي من الم على وطني.

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Freedom of Speech

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2012 by Star-Light

It has come to my attention that a great portion of the Twittersphere is casually bandying about the term, freedom of speech, without any respect to history or even to material reality. No ideology, no matter how generous, is ever divorced from the socio-historical reality that allowed it to rise in the first place; and to overlook this reality—because the teaching of this ideology is wonderful to some people—is to blind ourselves into subjugation and further manipulation.

Over time, the battle between a ruling elite and a population of governed individuals took on many shapes and forms. As always, no matter what the elites were composed of (wannabe-gods, kings, religious prophets, bureaucrats, military commanders, businessmen, or politicians) they have always worried about the destruction of the status quo. Fearing the loss of their privilege, elites have always prevented certain forms of discourse that may endanger their position. You may go through all of history and you will never find a socio-political order that was immune to all forms of expression, and thus, allowed an open-ended freedom of speech. There will always be some topics that are off-limit, no matter what the order is composed of.

Another thing to keep in mind is that governance of a population does not only occur from the top level (the elites) downwards (the population). Yes, elites do create their own class of law-enforcers (courts, police, army, secret service,) but they also create the environment that would allow mere civilians to uphold laws as well (schools, homes, mosques/churches). In other words, when someone violates the tenets of allowed-speech, he or she won’t just suffer the wrath of official law-enforcers, but also the ire of their own class, from family members, friends, teachers, or strangers who overhear them in a coffee shop. This makes it extremely juvenile to speak of exploitation as a binary opposition between “oppressors and oppressed.” Even more ridiculous to demand freedom of speech.*

To talk about “freedom of speech” we have to, first, address “freedom.” What is freedom? What are its limits, if it has any? With what language should we define it? (And by that I mean, with what “discourse”?) Liberal, religious, Middle Eastern, Western, scientific, secular, anarchic, personal, relational, and so on. Most importantly, what can history tell us about the way that our desire for freedom has been used and abused by intellectuals and politicians alike?

Liberalism was born with the French Revolution whose motto was “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” Its aim was to eradicate the absolute rights of monarchs to rule (because Kings were thought of as God’s reagents on Earth at the time), in addition to the dogmatic sway of religion in political and civil affairs. Instead of all prior justifications of human inequality in spiritual terms (God had said a King was better than a carpenter, God had said a man was better than a woman), Liberal thinkers began preparing a secular constitution that would ensure the equality of all individuals to share civil rights and responsibilities. This didn’t mean that the wealth of the nation was divided equally among civilians. Rather, it meant that all individuals will have the same chances of participating in the legislation of laws, and everyone, without exceptions, would be held accountable for breaking these laws. It meant that there will be rich people and poor people, but that now, the justification for economic inequality will not be made in religious terms, but in secular terms. For instance, “Poor people are poor not because God created them that way, but because they are lazy, stupid, and wasted all their opportunities.”

Capitalism is the socio-economic manifestation of the ideology of liberalism. Religion, with its emphasis on the poor, discarding of material wealth, charities, and communal nature threatened the individualistic, material, and unequal structure of capitalism. And thus, while liberal intellectuals and politicians cried “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” they barricaded religious conservatives from their freedoms, they demeaned them, and waged an ideological war upon them. While all this was happening, human beings were treated worse than cattle, and were sold as cheap commodities in the slave market. Liberalism, history proves, is not only capitalist and averse to religious freedoms, but decidedly Western. The war for freedom of speech was equally a war against the freedom of expression of some members of the human race.

Fast forward to the 1960s. All over the world, counterculture erupted. Women demanded better representation in governments, workplaces, homes, and the media. Gays, blacks, Latinos, and other minorities also wanted a slice of the pie. They became anti-establishment. They were the opposition. They demanded freedom of speech. They called the white male European a murderer. They insulted their governments for curbing their humanity. They discarded religion. They embraced sexual promiscuity. They stomped all over tradition, norms, and moral codes of conduct. This was freedom of speech for the minorities, but decidedly not for the establishment.

This attitude continued in the seventies, and yet, while all minorities were gaining affluence, the Middle East’s humanity waned. Why? Because when Anwar Al-Sadat came to power in 1970, Israel had consolidated its invasion of Palestine. He roused the oil-producing Arab nations and held an embargo in 1973 that incurred a slew of offensive and violative reactions from the West. Again, history proves that freedom of speech was not only offensive to the other but it also limited other forms of expression.

In the 80s, Ronald Reagan came to power (1981-1989). He gave white, Christian, patriarchy freedom of speech again. If gays, women, blacks, and atheists had the right to express their views even if it meant offending and criminalizing the other, then he had the right to use the same discourse too. Talk shows embraced this notion of freedom of speech, inviting members from the Ku Klux Klan (The KKK) who were violently opposed to the Civil Rights movement that allowed minorities more socio-economic privileges, and who used terror and murder against minorities, in conjunction with Civil Right activists, such as gays, women, blacks, or atheists. Talk shows thought they were embodying the exact definition of freedom of speech: white supremacy had as much right to be freely expressed as multiplicity. While Arabs, at the same time, were described as savages, sexually promiscuous freaks, who threatened to dismantle the great stride of Western liberalism. So even when freedom of speech meant that the KKK had a right to express its racial and bigoted position, it meant that it still contained within it limits of expression!

So what version of freedom of speech are you on about? When you rant like a petulant ignoramus calling on the Kuwaiti government to grant you freedom of speech or democracy, demanding a blank get-out-of-jail-free card to allow you to spew any form of anti-law and anti-order sentiment that pops up into your empty brain, do you think you have a god-given-yet- assuredly-secular-right to this demand?

Freedom is a very delicate word that entices the deepest and most powerful human sentiments. For some, freedom constitutes the freedom of religious worship. For others, it embraces a looser more fluid, secular life. Your idea of freedom is cultivated by the media, the books, and the friends you spend time with.

Stop regurgitating the same old broken phrases. Freedom is the ability to adapt, to change, to learn, to grow, and to enhance our human living standards. Freedom of speech should not allow the criminalization of a class of individuals who happen to occupy a position of some sort. When Lenin came to power in the Soviet Union he exterminated the bourgeoisie class in an attempt to secure the rights and freedoms of the proletariat. The 60’s oppositional lingo should be gone like the era itself. We also shouldn’t articulate the farcical dimension of the 80’s freedom of speech.

We live in a nation-state. We have a responsibility to the people within our parameters. How can we ensure an upgrade for their living standards? How can we secure our nation? How might we bend and flex the rules in order to allow more tolerance?

I can assure you that you will achieve none of the above by continuing to use the same vague and damaging discourse.

 

Light’s out.

 

 

* Michele Foucault has taught us that we should instead focus on “micro-politics,” Antonio Gramcsi expressed the complexity of hegemony, and it was Louis Althusser who brought to our attention the functions of ISAs, Ideological State Apparatuses, and RSAs, Repressive State Apparatuses.

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Light – Al-Bidun revisited.

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2012 by Star-Light

Don’t ask me to take sides. This is not a football match. We’re not cheering two teams in a stadium who play by general guidelines. And we are not independent spectators. This is a serious, complex issue, and it should be debated as such.

Anyone who talks about the Bidun as a particularly Kuwaiti problem, who demonizes Kuwait’s government and its people in one instance, and who suggests that the only way to fix the problem of the stateless people in the country is to nationalize them, and thus, to offer them the same privileges as Kuwaitis by nationality, is missing the big picture.

And anyone who says that the Biduns deserve the mistreatments, that they are brigands and spies from axis nations who aim to penetrate the national security of the country, who have burned their passports in the hopes of living the luxurious life of the Kuwaiti middle class is an ignorant racist.

First, the concept of national borders, rather than facilitating movement between modern states, restricts and controls people’s movements. The aim of any national identity is to differentiate a particular group of people from another. In other words, all national identities limit humanity and movement. Hegemonic orders embraced the passport / national identification system to secure the status quo (if the government was Sunni, it could withhold nationalities from non-Sunnis, for example, and thus prevent them from being seen, heard, or even acknowledged). All nations do this because the structure of the creation of the modern state is meant to do this. In addition, the world is arranged in such a way as to create and maintain class difference. In global capitalism, there will always be rich nations and poor nations. There will always be dominant orders whose aim is to expand and globalize their influence, and there will always be nations in which leaders enforce poverty. These poor nations will have abhorrent lifestyles and governments, yet it is by the good grace of these richer nations that poor nations are kept poor. Thus, richer nations will bestow some “charitable endorsements.” Even if some of it was exchanged as food, clothing, or housing, the bulk of the money will not go to the people of the poor nations, but to the leaders as stipend to keep the leaders happy with the poverty level of the nation.

To speak of “Human Rights” in this repugnant system is like talking about religious tolerance under Nazi rule. It just does not make any sense. It will never be acknowledged. It will only be used as a political discourse to perpetuate different exclusions and dehumanizations.

Now let’s go back to the Bidun, or the stateless people of Kuwait. They say there are more than one hundred thousand of them experiencing inhumane conditions. By that they mean that they are not issued a passport so they don’t travel, they are not given free education, or free healthcare. The biggest argument is that they have lived more than 20 years in the country, begetting one generation after the other, and thus by default, they should be issued a national identity. But the question is: have you asked America how it deals with Illegal Immigrants? In 2008, the Center for Immigration Studies estimated America’s illegal aliens as 11 million! Can America nationalize all these people? Does America even want to do so? Provided you bring up the discourse of Human Rights, will America budge? Will America cry “Because we are pressuring Kuwait to deal with their stateless problem, it is unethical of us to maintain our illegal alien issue unresolved?” They won’t. Even Democrats who appreciate civil liberties won’t say that. Why? Because Human Rights is one thing, and maintaining the structure of the (inhumane) Modern Nation state is another.

I always think about the Palestinians: driven out of their homes by the same people who are the biggest supporters and sponsors of human rights and civil liberties. But in today’s world politics transcends idealism. Politics is set in stone. Humanity is disposable. The Palestinians, like the illegal aliens of America, and the Bidun of Kuwait will not attain their rights through the advocacy of their humanity—unless it politically benefits the sponsors of Human Rights organizations. If governments of nation states believed in the people’s humanity they would not spend most of their income on warfare.

Now what is remarkably frustrating, is hearing that the Bidun have a right to peaceful protests. OK. You protested peacefully for months. Did it help your cause? No. In fact, with the politically charged environment all over the Middle East, these peaceful protests only helped to tap into the hegemonic order’s insecurity. We know the system is corrupt. We know that governments put no value on human lives. Yet we are intellectuals. We know this to be wrong. We know this to be repulsive. We know that innocent lives have been and will be lost if this subjugation continues. And we want to help. How in the world are you helping the Bidun if you rationalize their case in the following:

There are more than one hundred thousand Biduns in the country. If the government nationalized 35-40 thousand of them, it will radically reduce the treasury of Kuwait. They know their case is complicated, but all they want is to protest peacefully. Is that so bad?”

God damn it. You guys are intellectuals and that’s the best you could do?

Every protest, if it intended to get some effective results, needs to have specific goals. Nationalizing 100 thousand individuals who represent an inherent fear in the hegemonic order will never pass; unless this entails a creation of a new citizenship with the most minimalist privileges a government can poop out of its constitutional mumbo-jumbo, telling the world we fixed the problem and maybe even getting a Nobel Peace Prize, while in realty revoking even more freedoms from the bidun to remind them to sit in their place.

Their slogan is the worst: Better Death than this Humiliation.

…..

Yes.

Yes this is quite a potent message.

Merge “Better Death than this Humiliation” with “All We Ask For are Peaceful Protests,” and you will get the most progressive and most future-wielding slogan that has come across the country. Not even the Decenters “Irhal” or “Abdicate” has a clearer and more productive message.

Eschew idealism!

Embrace strategic politics.

Number one: name specific changes (e.g., an introduction of a merit system in which all Biduns who prove themselves in one field or another get a citizenship—for instance, Fahad Al-Enizi who plays in Kuwait’s national team—and mix that with affirmative action programs, sponsorships, and Pro-Bidun organizations). In a separate goal, push for the nationalization of all bidun husbands of Kuwaiti women, and all their kids in the spirit of national unity. Then establish an economic quota for nationalization: i.e., any bidun who has above so-and-so in the bank has to be nationalized because he’s contributing to the economic growth of the country. Then establish an age quota for nationalization: i.e. any bidun who lived in Kuwait over so-and-so years deserves the citizenship. And so on and so forth. Clear set goals that are individually small and doable, and together, will resolve the issue over time.

Number two: suggest a specific quota of nationalization per year—so as to not conflict with the country’s so-called battered economy. Eg. To nationalize only five to ten thousand Biduns a year in relation to the merit system mentioned above.

Number three: change your entire campaign look from “we are poor and helpless individuals who can only appeal to the idealistic vision of equality” because it won’t do well in politics. I suggest rephrasing the campaign slogan to:

وحدة وطنية

Kuwait Unity

Now wage the campaign on all fronts:

a)      Let some of you continue with exploitation politics (to emphasize the hardship, the subjugation, etc) but don’t let that override the message of the campaign.

b)      Let others fetishize your pain (Black is power kind of thing, or hybridity is powerful, or girl-power), E.g. use nationally Kuwaiti writers, actors, teachers, philosophers, etc, to talk about the issue in an idealistic light. Not to emphasize the exploitation, but to focus and project the admirable qualities of the Bidun.

c)      Employ a third faction to produce a plethora of possibilities and solutions. Let each member of this faction associate himself with a political party and narrate the problem and the solutions in different languages: eg. go to the ikhwan and discuss it in religious terms, go to the liberals and discuss it in terms of civil liberties and democracy, go to the business men and highlight what the creation of a new nationalized class would mean to business, go to women and treat it as a women’s right thing, and so on and so forth.

d)      Associate with the governmental bureau that actually deals with the nationalization processes and track your progress.

e)      Most important of all, is disengaging from minority politics (e.g. associating oneself with the hardships in Syria or Bahrain). Why? Because nationalization is exclusion. And in order to get on the good graces of the government, one needs to display a heightened level of national loyalty.

Again, I say all these things need to occur strategically and not essentially. And for the love of Nutella, stop it with the binary language!

Light’s out!

Ps: I should add that if the government has clear proof that some of the bidun are not stateless and that they do have passports from Syria or Iraq, they should present this proof to these nations and discharge the people.

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Light – The Argument For/Against Gay Marriage

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2012 by Star-Light

As usual, this site is never about taking sides; it is instead concerned with exposing some otherwise obscure historical facts that might help you hone your own arguments on the topic.

What is marriage? If it constitutes a close and intimate union in which two people breed and raise children, then let us remember that in ancient times royals married blood-relations to maintain their wealth (eg. In Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra married her younger brother). Apart from incest, polygamy and homosexuality were also rampant. These views echoed through the sexual fluidity of the ancient Gods (eg. Zeus copulates with his own sisters or daughters). That is to say that they were “normal” at the time. In other words, the behavior of the people went in unison with their own ideologies of divinity.

The Abrahamic religions intended to regulate society (the way that the government of China, say, establishes a fine for the second child). It is important to note that these older times saw a much higher degree of mortality rates as well as of diseases. Hence, they regulated the institution of corporeal union among humans. In this light, they regarded man and woman the principal participants in this affair. Why? Because, on the one hand, it establishes strict moral codes for each gender (a woman bears kids, thus, she needs to be hidden and shouldn’t attract attention from other males, thus she needs to close her legs when she sits, thus she needs to lower her voice when she talks, thus she needs to avert her eyes, thus she cannot wear makeup, thus she needs to be obedient to her husband’s commands, and so on and so forth, each moral code builds upon the stark division of sex in order to clarify and regulate everyone’s task in society). On the other hand, it ensures that the covenant of a particular religion (Jewish, Christian, or Muslim) continues to grow in number and expand in influence. If more humans experienced sexual fluidity and mingled bloodlines, it would grow increasingly difficult to regulate society, or even to maintain its development.

However, while homosexuality is highly discouraged by these Abrahamic religions, both incest and polygamy (and one might add age of consent) enjoy more freedom in their application. For instance, Islam allows family cousins to marry though they descend from the same bloodline; it allows a husband to take up to four wives simultaneously; and it does not penalize a sixty-year-old from marrying a young girl who hits puberty at, say, ten-years of age. Why? Because while questionable every one of these points leads to the expansion of the Islamic state through more births. Hence, while marrying a cousin may increase your chance of carrying a disease, it still contributes to the making of more Muslims. The same goes with polygamy as well as the lack of age of consent. Homosexuality, on the other hand, not only contributes to the stunting of the growth of society (because gay people can’t technically give birth), but it also mitigates the importance of marriage, which is so profoundly important that Islam regards it as fifty percent of anyone’s religion (for instance, if more people realized that not everyone has to have kids, this will jeopardize the enlargement of the religious state).

It should be clear now why religion opposes homosexuality. The question is, then, why should gay people want to get married? And why do they wish to do so within the same religious institution that deems them sick, abnormal, or even sinful?

The answer is two-fold: for social and economic privileges.

We live in a time in which, while societies generally browse religious discourse, they obey the rules of a secular, global economy in the end. This means that many rules, which seem in the first glance, as religious-based, are at the end determined by economic and political knowledge.  Society offers married couples economic privileges: such as, an increased paycheck or a home. It also acknowledges particular advances for spousal inheritance. Gay people lose on all these economic goodies.

The other argument is social. Homosexuality deviates from the norm. And as it is not grounded in a religious union at the end, it appears to the naked eye as erratic and mercurial. Hence, most people confuse homosexuality with promiscuity. This makes them fear homosexuals. Why? Because how would a wife know who to prevent her husband from seeing after work or traveling with? Moreover, how could she know for sure that the “gays” won’t disrupt the sanctity of her marriage—since they obviously don’t hold marriage in high esteem or else they would have become straight? Thus, homosexuals desire social acceptance and inclusion. They argue for marriage to show heterosexuals that “they are just like them,” capable of maintaining long term relationships, and thus, abiding by the same moral code, and experiencing the same fears and insecurities. When disputing gay marriage, in the West, they may argue that it equates to polygamy (which is what Rick Santorum said a couple of days ago). But the argument holds no sway in an Islamic society which does not regard the multiplicity of partners as immoral. It is true that there is a limit (four wives simultaneously, and never more than one husband), but the fact that it legitimizes the theory itself is testament to its “normalcy.” In other words, Islam assumes that having more than one partner is quite within human nature; but in order not to mess up society’s structure, some rules need to be issued to maintain its regulation. Similarly, in Western societies, there is technically no law against the bedding of various people. You can have a boyfriend of many years and cheat on him without having to subject yourself to either religious or social scrutiny. If you were married, your husband might choose to divorce you. If you were dating, he can’t appeal to society or to his Church.

Some people, who hope to discourage homosexuality, associate it to bestiality.  This is also the tresult of Abrahamic thought. Again in Ancient Greece, Zeus (King of the Gods) was quite used to copulating with humans in animal form (eg. Leda and the Swan). Think of all the pagans who worshipped one form of animal or another. It is with the Abrahamic narrative of creation, however, that Man realized that God had created animals for his use and that he was a Master over these animals.

In sum, the case for gay marriage cannot merely consist of “consent.” Moreover, the argument against it cannot herald “abnormality” as a determiner (in fact, the fluidity of sexuality is, historically speaking, much more natural than the regulatory aspect of religious discourse whose discrepancies showcase its weakness). Gay people can tap into the variants of Abrahamic teachings and unravel these unnatural regulations (they could untangle the argument against polygamy for instance, by noting that modern science can identify a baby’s DNA, and that large populations do it anyway). Religious people, on the other hand, can tell homosexuals to stay away from their own religious institutions, because no matter how homosexuals like to assume that religion is inclusive, the historical case differs dramatically.

Light’s out.

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Light: Believers and Non-Believers

In Uncategorized on January 1, 2012 by Star-Light

This post is not about taking sides (which should be familiar to you by now); instead, it aims to show you some discursive tangents that might expand your own ideas on the topic.

How might one prove the objective existence of something? And how might one then negate that proof? In the past, superstition and science were interchangeable. Opinions passed as facts and vice versa. In the Greco-Roman Empire, the birthplace of Western Philosophy, thinkers struggled to represent reality through language. One line of thought, made popular by Plato, was that the tangible world (the things we see, touch, hear, taste, and smell) is merely a faulty copy of an ideal world—one that exists outside of the realm of the real world. His own student, Aristotle, argued that in fact our method of deduction should be the other way around: in order to prove if something exists or not one should first rely on his empirical faculties to prove if it exists or not. And since we cannot prove that an Ideal world exists beyond this Real world, the Ideal world doesn’t exist.

Note: In the past, religious scholars used to use “wind” as an example. They said, you cannot see the wind, but you can see its effect on the leaves as it rushes by. This is their “proof” of God’s work on earth. Technically, you can “feel” the wind, even if you cannot see it with your naked eye, which constitutes another empirical fact for its existence. Then of course science created tools to help break down air into molecules and atoms. Another example is, “If a tree falls in the forest, and you neither see it nor hear it, does it really fall?” Today there are satellites in outer space monitoring the planet. This is still all highly empirical, and thus, cannot connote the existence or the hidden work of the Ideal.

This battle continued over the ages, wreathing and intertwining with other ideologies and ways of life. For instance, the Christian scholars of the Dark Ages admonished science due to its resemblance of and proximity to witchcraft. But the Arab/Islamic scholars of the same period figured out an equation to maintain their religious faith and cultivate science’s new discoveries. Simply put, they advocated science in every field and scope. But they maintained that Islam, while grounded on the historical tangibility of the life and teachings of Prophet Mohammad, is also founded upon “faith.” The five elements in which faith is necessary are: the belief in God, his angles, his holy scriptures (The Torah, the Bible, and the Koran), his prophets, and in judgment day. None of the aforementioned elements warranted scientific proof for them. Being a Muslim meant that you had to “believe” in their verity (and of course to perform the rest of the religious teachings). All else was open for questions and doubts, such as: did the earth move around the sun, or what is the other way around? Are we meant to cure the sick, or is that God’s punishment for them? Should we control the weather? And so on.

European Enlightenment intended to break away further from the clutches of religion. They wanted science to be the determiner of all things. They thought that the mere belief in God’s teachings meant that we were reducing our knowledge. In some ways they have succeeded. Today we do ask whether God created Adam and Eve as humans, or whether they evolved over time. In other ways they haven’t. For instance, religious thoughts are still quite dominant in many areas of the world, including the West’s main superpower: America.

Today’s raging debates include many offshoots of Platonic or Aristotelian views (Materialism VS Spiritualism). Should one live life according to one’s own senses in relation to the material and tangible quality of the world? Or should we acknowledge the shortcomings of science and rely on a higher power, an ideal, unprovable creator and controller of all things “real.”

Science can almost explain what happened when the world began (The Big Bang Theory). But they cannot explain how that itself began. What created the nothingness from which the bang emerged? And how was it that these elements merged and collided and became planets and stars and gravity and life? How they follow specific rules and mathematical projections? How is it that, while this world is well-structured, it also suffers great bouts of pure chance and coincidences? What happens to us after death? What were we before death? What is a soul? How can we make one, if that is even possible?

Atheists tell believers “God doesn’t exist.” But in all honestly, they cannot “prove” that, just as much as believers cannot “prove” His existence either. Atheists say “There’s nothing after death, it’s just darkness,” but they cannot prove that, just as much as believers cannot prove their narratives of life after death.  Believers can tell you what God had said about life after death, and since they never question the verity of God’s scriptures, they take that as a point of beginning (kind of like Plato: they start with what they believe to be true, then use their material senses to prove it in real life). Atheists are also certain because they realize that they will never be able to prove something exists in the Real world if, technically, it exists outside of the real world.

There are some who separate God the creator, from God the controller. They think that, while it may be possible that something powerful created this world, it is not possible, considering all the bloodshed and evil, that there is a divine power overlooking and controlling the world. But the question is: can they prove that distinction? No. Others believe in a multiplicity of Gods, but they cannot prove any of their existences.  They are countered by those who say, “If there was more than one God then the world would be in chaos because a ship cannot have more than one captain.” Technically, the world is and always has been in chaos. And second, that is not a “proof” that only one God and not more than one exists.

So believe that God exists if you are a believer. And believe that God doesn’t exist if you are an atheist. Because neither of you has yet produced tangible proof for your own views.

Light’s out.

Articles

Light – On the Bidun

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2011 by Star-Light

So let’s talk about what’s happening now. The Bidun are human beings who are neither blessed with a holy lineage ( not like the Shi’ites’, for instance, who associate with the prophet’s bloodline); nor with business acumen (such as non-Kuwaitis who managed to gain wealth through trade or profession); and as they cannot lay claim to a particular nationality (such as the Palestinians whose lands were forcibly taken from them) they cannot invoke the discourse of the 50s and 60s–that is, to beseech the world in terms of their “national” cause.

The only mantra left for the bidun to embrace, is the 17th century’s liberal philosophy, which prioritizes the human as such: a human, not a demi god, not a king, not French or German, or male or female, but human.

Well…. We all know how that went right? First, liberalism was born with the massive industrialization of slavery. Yes. Slavery. Liberal philosophers talked about the dissolution of social borders between Europeans (and Americans), although they phrased it as the dissolution of borders in the world. However, they literally couldn’t see black people (or Orientals) as “humans.”Fast forward through America’s Civil War, WWI and II, and then the fifties. Even today, with a black American President and many influential black entertainers, America and the rest of the world still haven’t fully recognized black people as “normal” people. And of course, today we have all sorts of exclusions and exploitations that aren’t only based on the color of one’s skin.

The thing is that these institutions which advocate the rights of the underprivileged are mostly funded by rich people who continue to exploit and oppress heedlessly. Think of this: a billionaire who makes his money by sponsoring the introduction of designer clothes in the country. He could have 2 Nexts, 3 Debbenhams, 4 H&Ms, and so on. Now he simply pays for the stock and sells it in his country. The question is: where is this stock made, and by who, and how are these people actually treated? The answer is most likely that these stocks are made in a poor country (China or Bangladesh) by young kids, or women, or very poor men, who suffer inhumane working conditions and who at the end are not given enough money to sustain a healthy and balanced diet. Why? Because this is called cheap labor. The cheaper the labor, the more profit you make when you sell your stock in richer countries. Now this man becomes a billionaire. But he doesn’t want the stigma of his title so he becomes a philanthropist–contributing generously to charities and to institutions with the express aim of defending “Human Rights.”

So is the discourse on “Human Rights” really as idealistic as we wish it to be? Is it really going to defend the biduns? Is that really in the institution’s favor?

In truth, no such thing can make sense in the corrupt system we call global capitalism which is fundamentally based on the demonization and exploitation of groups of people.

Why does Kuwait not recognize the bidun? Simply put: they constitute 10% of the population who need to be treated as the 17th century’s “poor;” a hereditary cast of poor people that could be called upon to do the “dirty and drudgery work of hard labor” to maintain the well being of the capitalist nation. It will also prevent 10% of the population who have not been raised in a quasi-Western milieu from mingling with the more “modern and civilized individuals” who have been raised on the doctrines of the capitalist ideology. In other words, to maintain Kuwait’s business drive and economic prosperity it is rather paramount to hierarchicize the value of human life . For example, rich people’s lives are more important than the poor because they actually control the means of employment, and thus, the livelihood of the poor. Get it?

But truthfully, the biggest objection they have against the nationalization of the bidun is that 10% of nationalized bidun means a 10% radical loss in the national treasury. Kuwaitis are not finding homes, or jobs, as easily as they like, and you want to decrease their chances by another 10% after telling them they have a right to their wealth by virtue of their nationality (which is a capitalist ploy to prevent people from questioning the inequity of wealth)? Of course they’ll throw a hissy fit.

When women protested for their rights, they were already topping many of the socio-economic positions. More over, a great number of upper-class women had joined the March protests (I know cause I was there). For the world, this was a gendered victory. For the intellectual who is cognizant of the totality, this was simply another economic triumph. Rich women made it possible to attain another position on the socio-economic ladder. As the prospects of the females from lower-classes, well, that remains to be nil. You see, if a father beats his daughter, or a husband beats his wife, or a mother abuses her daughter, or a sibling, and so on, and if the woman did not have ownership of her own bank account, the police will do nothing. If she was rich she could seek the courts for refuge by depleting her bank account even if it meant risking social stigma. But if she was poor, or if she was rich but couldn’t control her own income, she would suffer the abuse alone.

The bidun’s agitation couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment for capitalist nations who find that the wellfare system minimizes their chances of gaining even more wealth. They will then fund the Human Rights organizations, and reiterate their “Peace and Prosperity in the Middle East” until Kuwait recants its wellfare system.

The Play

The Actors

Human Rights organizations which are funded by wealthy capitalist nations (HRO).

Kuwait which learned from the 90s that you could not count on Arabs or Muslims because they contributed and facilitated the Iraqi invasion, in otherwords, they embraces a quasi-Western capitalist system because they were betrayed by both Arab Nationalism and Islamism.

The Dialogue

HRO: You have got to nationalize the bidun because they are humans.

Kuwait: We’re sorry. Our economy is already tasked as it is and we cannot afford the 10% of non-Kuwaitis to be treated as Kuwaitis.

HRO: Well you shouldn’t have this system in the first place. Cut down your government spending. Your public hospitals, public education, public everything is bad anyway. Cut it. Make it private. See your private institutions? They’re proficient and productive. So rather than spending more governmental money for another 10% of Kuwaitis, you’ll be gaining 100% from the public sector.

Kuwait: Where will I put them? I cannot afford to give them similar housing as I do my own people.

HRO: Who said you have to offer anyone anything? Your job is to make sure your people play by the rules. You’re not Santa Clause. And even Santa only gives the gifts to good kids, and he does that once a year. You’re spoiling Kuwaitis. Money. Homes. Education. Free health care. No wonder your economy is tasked and your people are rotten.

Kuwait: We’re different.

HRO: We are the children of the whole world. Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis. Be modern. Be democratic. Stop living in the past.

Kuwait: But Saddam, the Arab, the Muslim, he invaded us…

HRO: He is also dead and gone. And so should your ideology. Now let’s shake on nationalizing your bidun, cutting government spending, revitalizing your economy through competition and hard work, and let’s introduce a payroll tax to the middle and lower classes.

***

And then we well have our own versions of Oliver Twists slumbering around sparkling malls….

You have been illuminated.

Light’s out.

Articles

Light – On Race

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2011 by Star-Light

I was thinking of today’s events and decided to recall the historical significance of “race.”

Long ago, people worshiped Gods. Many of these cultures supposed that these Gods visited Earth and copulated with humans. Remember Hercules? He is only one such example. I am not saying this is true or not true. I am talking about history. And, historically speaking, many cultures over the years believed that the divine, whatever form it/they took, somehow copulated with humans. The result of this union was usually a demi-god. A man who was more than a man and less than a God. In other words, this man might have more powers than the average human–he could be faster than others, stronger than others, he may heal the sick, he may fly, he may disappear, and so on–but he was not quite a God because people saw him getting sick, tired, hungry, or saw him perish at the end. This idea (which continued with Christianity who defined Jesus Christ as the son of God) laid a huge emphasis on “blood.” That is, on race. Race was prioritized because it contained superpowers, or powers of divinity. Jesus was a Shepherd (meaning he wasn’t rich), and although he died without begetting anyone, he still came from a line of holy beings anyway. After Jesus, Islam considered Prophet Mohammad, not as the son of God, but as the last holy messenger of God because he also came from that bloodline. Hence, he was a man who had more wisdom and more powers than others. The main rift in Islamic thought is between the Shi’its and the Sunnis, and it is caused by the perception of the value of race. Hence, the Shi’its valued the bloodline of the Prophet and consider (some of) the Prophet’s  descendants holy; while the Sunnis regarded the Prophet alone as holy, while his family members were blessed, but humans.

Somewhere along the lines of history, the holiness and purity of race became equated with class. Thus, the richer the man, the purer his race. None more so than kings and queens who were then thought to be “ordained” by God. In other words, the king occupied the position of the priest/pope/prophet who was previously thought to have been chosen by God to be his regent on Earth. This made his bloodline sacred. Hence, the upper-classes (who dressed in a manner that differentiated themselves from the “poor”) married from their own class.

Then global capitalism came, advocating the separation of the economy from traditionally racial ideologies. Capitalism told the people: it doesn’t matter who your father is, or what your brother does, or what is in your blood, all that matters is that you work hard and make lots of money. Remember the American Dream?

Thus two ideologies competed: blood as sacred irrespective of the socio-economic status; and the validity of economic wealth detached from the bloodline.

Every era, age, or historical period usually has competing ideologies. At certain points one or more ideology may gain prominence (like “Arab Unity” in the fifties and early sixties). In the beginning of the modern era, in the Arab world, race mattered because it was equated with wealth. For instance, Egypt’s aristocrats were above reproach because they had money, not because they descended from Prophet Mohammad’s bloodline. And here nationality and national borders play a part in defining not only one’s immediate identity, but also his ancestors’ racial lineage.

For instance, Kuwait had a bigger landscape. A couple of skirmishes with Saudi Arabia, some squabbles, and Western-influenced treaties reduced the size of the landscape. The people who had previously been Kuwaiti beduins, roaming the desert with their flocks of sheep and camels, were suddenly documented on paper as Saudis. Some of them were undocumented and, hence, became stateless.

I guess it just goes to show you the fragility of the racial discourse.

Light’s out.