Thursday, May 03, 2007

There's Tradition, and there's Tradition....

Some Sunnis in Iraq want to recreate the Caliphate, not just in Iraq but around the world, entirely, everywhere, for everyone, for you and yours. Well, it's better than America, right? All that Yanqui imperialisma, the fascist bullying, the death-camps outside Washington, D.C., the black helicopters ....

Tradition, that's what we need. Back to the Golden Age when men were men and sheep trembled.

Here's a snapshot of Iraq today, Ames, Iowa tomorrow.

The aim of the "state" is to recreate a Sunni land in the image of Arabia at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, turning back the clock in a way that the Taleban tried to do in Afghanistan.

The puritanical movement enforces a rigorous version of Salafist Islam, banning men from shaving their beards, having short hair like American soldiers or even smoking. Men caught repeatedly smoking have their index fingers rammed into metal pipes and then snapped, while cigarette shops have been torched.

The rules have often been taken to absurd extremes. Greengrocers in the Caliphate told The Times they had been ordered not to sell bananas in public because they were deemed obscene, while for similar reasons cucumbers could not be sold next to tomatoes, which are deemed to represent femininity.

At the most extreme level, shepherds have even been ordered to cover the nether regions of their goats to avoid offending strict Salafist sensibilities. A doctor from Baquba who recently spoke to The Times said he always written off such absurd tales as rumours. But driving in a shared taxi through a village near the provincial capital of Diyala he saw a goat wearing boxer shorts and started laughing.

"The other passengers told me to shut up, or it could cost me my life," he said.

Edicts have also been issued banning the use of ice, as the Prophet would not have had access to chilled water. While seemingly ridiculous, the rules are often enforced by brutal extremists who fail to see the absurd side of their regime.

There's tradition and then there's tradition. Let's make sure we cover it rightly so as not to offend our own sense of right and wrong. "Traditional" culture is all too often a thin cover for the worst excesses of the entrenched power of primitives who will not give up their terroristic hold on the lives of the primitives they control. All that will rip the strangling hand of the reactionaries from the throats of the peasants and folks like me is Force. One cannot and should not reason with savages who hold the lives of million, even billions, or even one man in the death grip of slavery. "Behead those who insult Socrates."


truepeers said...

Well the reactionary is not really at home in tradition, as much as in an exised and idealized part of it. He belongs to tradition in the same way as Stravinsky's violent, blatantly sacrificial, primitive modernist masterpiece, the Rite of Spring.

If these Califascists were really with tradition, no one would be laughing at the goats in boxers; it would be old hat.

Anyway, I don't want to live under Islamic traditions, but I suppose I would if I were a sincere Muslim. Then I would claim that Islam was "liberating" in its slavery to Allah.

I have no problem hoping Muslims will convert to the tradition in which freedom is given its greatest respect. Freedom is essentially a product of covenanting, as opposed to ritualistic codification; and the tradition of covenanting, of valuing the continually unfolding partnership of God and man, belongs to one monotheist theological tradition, and not another. We should avoid freezing concepts like "tradition" in metaphysical straitjackets. The meaning of "tradition" changes as per historical context; that's tradition.

truepeers said...

I should add that at the time of its unveiling, the self-deluding "avant-garde" of Paris thought the Rite of Spring the ultimate in modern liberation. It is only after the sacrificial horrors of the 20thC that we can now see that it was in fact the esthetic ultimate in reactionary violence, however truly innovative in some respects was that work of art. Yet true liberation and tradition went together, say in composers like Messiaen.

Is the pyramid - i.e. blood altar - on top of that modernist architectural monstrosity, Simon Fraser University, a sign of modern liberation or reaction? I think the free and truly advanced would have preferred a more traditional center for a more traditional quadrangle.