dimanche 26 septembre 2010

Towards a New World Order.

By : khairi janbek.

Taking a general view of international relations as they have developed from ancient times to this day, it is very easy to see that such relations form a continuous chain of conflicts, wars, and bloodshed, which has claimed heavy tolls on human lives-not to mention the destruction of material and cultural values. Therefore, the question arises if whether it is still possible to humanise international relations. I mean the question is not really a simple one, because the idea of" humanitarian' is inseparable from the notions of morality and faith.

Today, the moral side of the activity of states on the international arena cannot but cause extreme anxiety. We have to confess that, estrangement from universal human values and from the principles of humanism has always been inherent in the foreign policy of states, making thus, inter-state relations heavily dependent on the notion of balance of forces. So, all that is availbale now, is the reductionism in relations between states, into levels of brinkmanship, and the brandishment of all sorts of weapons of mass destruction.

The nature of the confrontation is indicative of the absence of the international will, to seek alternative ways of developing relations among states in order to settle vital issues for the continued existence of our world. Clearly, new opportunities have opened up today to establish fruitful cooperation amanog states, with the full realisation, of greater inter-dependence among them. Therefore and in this context, it should be inadmissible to contaminate the sphere of cooperation, with cultural differences, as well as use and abuse culture in order to build up tension and mistrust in relations between states.

This in turn, pre-supposes a change in definition when it comes to the concept of foreign policy. Meaning basically; the renunciation of outsated ideas, cultural stereotypes and myths that have outlived their time. It will involve the common rejection of imposing on the world; one's own exclusive values and ways of thinking, while calling in the same vein the recognition of the pluralistic nature of the world, and the freedom of every people to take the road of its own choice for development.

In essence, a paradign shift from the notion of balance of power to a balnce of mutual interests is urgently required for the basis of inter-relations among states.

samedi 25 septembre 2010

Freedom: A Slavery of Choice?.

By: khairi janbek.

This subject is the most difficult to tackle, because it stretches the intellect of the best thinkers, let alone that of a humble pretender and novice like yours sincerely. Therefore, Please try to understand that I gave it my best shot, though my best shot may well not be good enough.

In most of our judgements about people we assume that, in some sense they chose freely to do what they did, or to believe what they do. We punish, condemn, or blame individuals for making certain choices, and decisions, and insist that they ought to have done something else, and if they had they would then be deserving of rewards and praise.

At the same time that we conduct ourselves morally and legally on the basis that human beings are free agents, and can make decisions of their own free will, we are being more and more aware that this sort of assumption is very wrong, because individuals are often more victims of cirsumstance and determinations beyond their control, than responsible agents.

The problem of judging the extent to which our so-called voluntary choices and actions really are voluntary, in the sense of being completely free, becomes even more difficult to decide when we know that we make the choices that we must make according to the factors which have influenced our development.

So, in order to to be morally responsible for some action, you must take that action freely. For example, if you see me drowning in alake and you are tied to a tree on the ground and cannot free yourself, then you are not morally to blame for not rescuing me. Likewise, if you are brainwashed, and ordered to commit a crime, you are arguably not responsible for committing that crime, because your freedom was impaired.

On the one hand, the world is deterministic. Therefore, given the way the world has been in the past and the pyhysical laws that govern it, there is only one way the future can be. Consider that also applies to your personal actions. At the moment just before you perform some action, given the way the world has been in the past and given the physical laws of the universe. there is only one possible outcome. Right now, it is physically determined what you will do at every moment in the future.

Does determinism of this sort erase moral responsibility?. If you commit some morally bad action, could you plead that the physical laws and past history of the universe were so configured that there was no alternative?

If you believe that free will and determinism are incompatible, then you must deny determinism or deny moral responsibility. If you deny determinism, then you have to believe that there is genuine causal indeterminism in the world, introduced by free agents like us; and the future history world is left indeterminate by the natiral laws, and we determine it through our actions. if you deny moral responsibility, you must hold that the world is deterministic and that therefore we lack free will. I would say personally, we are deterministically free agents. In other words, we are choiceless in the fact of having a choice.

vendredi 24 septembre 2010

Quasi-Democracy and Public Opinion.

By: khairi janbek

usually, democratically elected governments are very sensitive about public opinion polls, because simply they indicate where the government stands, as far as the people are concenrd, and what policies are likely to make it popular or otherwise, in the eyes of the electorate; if of course, it intends to stay in power or run for re-election.

In quasi-democracies however, an appointed government does not really have to listen to the opinions of the people, but rather worry about implementing its policies without reproach from the leaders appointing it, with the least interference of the window- dressing parliament. Therefore, public opinion polls under such circumstances, albeit representing the mood of the people, at the end of the day are nothing more than an exercise in self-whipping or at best, a process of venting popular frustration when required.

So where does this issue leave the question of democracy between the demand curve of the people and the supply curve of the government in the political marketplace of a quasi-democratic country?. One can only assume, that governments under such conditions hope that at one point, the people will not be able to distinguish between what they are fed; food or statistics!!.

jeudi 23 septembre 2010

Terrorism and Rationality.

By: khairi janbek.

As a phenomenon, terrorism has actually existed throughout history. from the anti-Roman Jewish Sicaris, to teh Assassins of the Olf man of the Mountain, from the act of terror which precipitated the First World war, to the 9/11 attacks on the US. One can argue that, the success of a terror attack lies in the fact that it is an irrational act. In other words, terrorism is an irrational phenomenon and can afford to be so. While on the flip side of the coin, no state or country involved in fighting terrorism, can afford to be irrational, without actually committing itself to acts of state terrorism.

Therefore, the war against terror attempts to utilise rational methods in order to fight irrational ones, giving the impression that, there is np balance in this equation since rationality and irrationality are incompatible. But what can those countries achieve; while fighting terrorism, if they don't resort themselves to irrational methods?.

As we delve deeper into the issue, we find definitions of the terrorism phenomenon, actually reflecting the priorites and particular interests of the specific organs behind them. for instance, the US Department of Defense defines terrorism as " The unlawful use of, or threatened use of force, or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological obejectives". While the UN General Assembly's definition of aggression, provided an important caveat for " Peoples under colonial and racist regimes or other forms of alien domination, to seek support" in their struggle for self-determiantion.

So where do we draw the line between terrorists being criminals, lunatics, nihilists, or simply political actors of a particular type, and people who struggle to liberate themselves from foreign oppression and exploitation, with the right ot use all methods at their disposal; including force?. I suppose, which side of the fence the individual is standing on, determines where to draw the line.

If we look at the dictum "No prohibition without definition", This picture does not become in any sense , a theoretical challenge to the international community, but rather a blunt reality that must be dealt with urgently, in order to dry up the swamps of terror, where its incubators emerge on daily basis.

mercredi 22 septembre 2010

Religion, Civilization, and Dialogue.

By: khairi janbek

Examining the overall religious scenario, one cannot fail to notice that, in religion there seems to prevail a paradoxical situation today. In general, religion is losing its grip in some areas, and simultaneously tightening it in different areas. In some sections of society; in almost all religions, ther seems to be a powerful swing back in the direction of dogmas with medieval rigidity and intolerance of opposition.

On the moral side, religion is on the retreat; crime is rampant, truth is disappearing fast, equity and the deliverance of justice are on the verge of extiction, social responsibilities to society are being ignored, and selfish individualism is gaining strength in its stead, even in those countries in the world which otherwise claim to be religious.These and many other sopcial eveils may well be considered as signs of decadent society. If moral values in any religion form the life and soul of religion itself, then a progressive strangulation of these values can lead us inevitably to conclude; that while the body of religion is being ressurected, the soul is fast ebbing out of the body. So what we observe in religion today; the so called revival of religion, becomes tantamount to resurrecting dead corpses so that they walk around like zombies.

In other areas, long stagnation and lack of exciting developments, generate negative consequences on the religiously inclined people. Miraculous things which they expect to happen, do not take place. The bizzare phenomenon of supernatural intervention in world events, to change the world to their liking does not materialise. They want to see strange prophecies fulfilled in order to give credence to their faith, yet nothing materialises. Those are the people who provide the cannon fodder to the cults of death and destruction. The urge to escape from the past from the present generates the desire to fill the void in expectations with something new.

Evidently, the world has changed with great speed since September 11th., and even lately with the caricature crisis. Therefore, we must stop and wonder, how it is possible to shift the issue of religion from being a major part of problems between civilizations, to being a major part of the solution to those problems. Hardly anyone among us, even with rudimentary knowledge about the essence of the various religions, would mnot recognise that fact that, the world's great religions are all absed on profound notions of justice, peace and goodwill.

At the sam time, although religion can be viewed as a force for peace, it can also be an incentive to conflict. In fact religion can be idetified as the source in the overwheliming majority of conflicts raging currently in the world. Wihtout seeing while believers prefare conflcit as an option, it may well be impossible to understand the cause of a given conflict, much worse, we cannot even begin to appreciate what religion can or cannot do in order to ameliorate it.

At least in the three Abrahamic faiths, there is authorization to use force by one people against another. But at the same time, they can inspire visionary people to commit themselves to a future of tolerance, justice and peace. Therefore, it is essential, in this day and age, to refelect seriously on the subject of religious partizanship in politics, and work earnestly to transcend the religious dictums which govern political issues.

In a sense, religion should be taken out of the fray, in order to become a source and a vehicle of mediation in conflict limitation or even resolution, as religion plays a very potent role in many societies, and when utilised in the context of honest brokerage and goodwill, it can achieve far better results than conventional diplomacy, which is governed by the rules of expediency.

As for the advocates of inter-faith dialogue, there seems to be a tendency of separating between individual action and the system of faith itself. The separation is usually justified by saying that, it is important to separate both aspects in order to protect the faith, since an incomplete effort, or any mistake will lead up to an incomplete faith. But if we continue to follow this pattern of reasoning, we shall end up afraid for our own respective faiths, mindful about protecting our beliefs, and consequently insecure in our various civilizational outlooks.

What kind of dialogue can be pursued between the faiths, when our main concern becomes the preoccupation with defending our faiths, and justifying or denouncing actions attributed to them?. Afyter all, the term dialogue means the promotion of those values in the various faiths, which contribute to the enhancement of our commonalities, but not a vehicle for defending or explaining our respective faiths.

mardi 21 septembre 2010

This may get you to think.

It has been said before that anyone who gives people the illusion that they are thinking will be loved by them, whereas anyone who actually prompts them to think will be hated by them.

It si very much talked about in universities on how exciting it is to think. One obviously cannot claim that thinking has no excitement or satisfaction, but we really don't think in order to enjoy ourselves, rather in order to understand life, which is troubling and problematic. In other words, we think because we are compelled to. Therefore, while we are thinking we should not need to tell ourselves that we are having fun, but it should be enough to realise that we are behaving with the seriousness, rationality, and discipline that any situation requires of us.

In this context, and under the assumption that our social order depends heavily on tradition and habit (both being resilient to genuine change), Arab society may have an inherent bias against original thoguht. Add to that the urge for modernity, which created the need for quick, reliable information, along with the advent of technology, which made attaining sometimes irrelevant information much easier; we find the Arab mind compelled to look for solutions to its problems, rather than, think of the problems themselves.

Needless to say that, only a few great thinkers and demi-Gods create profound ideas and illuminate reality, and thus guide action and research. But the fact that the most influential thinking is done by a few demi-Gods, does not mean that all others need not think, and that Arabs particularly don't need to think at all. For one thing, the great thinkers do not agree, and often offer different and contradictory ideas. So how can we decide which ideas to accept, if we don't do some thinking of our own?. Furthermore, how do we become willing to commit ourselves to certain ideas, instinctively and unconditionally, knowing only too well that we haven't experienced the minimum of the labor and doubt which has originally gone into creating them?

The history of political thoguht shown how doubt continuously pursues though, and frequently overtakes it. There is no more agreement concerning political truth now, than there was 2,500 years ago, when politcial thought probably took shape. There is even less agreemtn over economic mantras.

Consequently, it is exceedingly necessary for us to try reasoning the ultimate ends, and fundamental assumptions governing our lives. The lack of collective thinking in the Arab world, has produced personalities which manage the various systems, and consider the defficiencies in the systems they manage, as remediable only within the confines of the precription ideas they adhere to. Which opens further the gates of parasitical intellectual appropriation. In the mean time the rest of the citizenry, end up with compulsion, submission, and admission of defeat.

Is it what they prescribe, to be sold as compatible with our nature?. Swallowing policies lock, stock and barrel without any thinking, will never release the energies of the Arab people towards a socially beneficial direction.