A Conference in Venice – Part Three!

“Irak sotto nueva dittatura”

Well, well, Venice is still capable of boisterous pronouncements I see. This graffiti scribbled in bold red on a hapless wall in Old Venice is proof enough that no matter how old a city gets and not matter how senile, it is still capable of making such boisterous pronouncements. The words of defiance streaming out of Damascus then, should come as no surprise.

The words and addresses if the conference organizers and participants, in contrast, were thankfully much more humble, albeit, at times, they could still be too apologetic.

“Modernization is not synonymous with westernization.” Said one of the speakers. Oh really. Can anyone name one thing that is modern but not Western? Whenever I ask this question, people are often tempted to refer to Japanese ingenuity. Obviously they haven’t heard of Commodore Perry and gunboat diplomacy.

Will gunboat diplomacy work with a certain country I wonder? It might be worth considering.

The problem with reform in the region, the reason why we don’t have enlightened despots at work, is simply the total corruption of our political and economic elite. We have thieves and thugs for decision-makers, avaricious morons for policy advisors and dreamy nincompoops for technocrats. How on earth can we modernize with this lot? Add to the mix the highly illiterate and unskilled populations, and the conflicting interests and strategies of the superpowers, and the net result is: the Broader Middle East and North Africa Region – a black hole “glittering” in the heart of the world.

Ideas anyone? Independent media outlet for liberal actors. Multitasking. Capacity Building. Carrots & Sticks. Etc.

Wanted: a democracy that does not change anything, that does not upset any scheme, that does not antagonize any elite, that does not contradict American and European interests, not to mention Israeli interests, and these days, Chinese interests, Russian interests, and soon Indian interests and nuclear Iran’s interests. In brief, all interests, except the people’s interests. They don’t really count, do they? After all this is the Broader Middle East and North Africa Region. Democracy is not going to change that, is it? Well, it’s not supposed to, damn it.

I knew from moment one at the conference that I was not going to take part in any of its debates. And I didn’t. The only thing this lot of dissidents, activists and oppositionists can cooperate on is to organize more conferences and issue more memoranda.

No, this is not because we are complete morons, albeit, and for the record, some of us indeed are, but because we are all stars now, stars in the firmament of our growing discontent. Stars can orbit, collide with and cannibalize each other, they don’t cooperate together. This is not part of their basic qualities, nor is it a skill that can still be learned, not in our age group anyway.

Still, at one point, I was tempted to ask the Question: how can a haphazard groups of westernized liberals attempt to transform a society that rejects them on all levels? For once, I’d want to attend a conference that is squarely centered on this very issue. We are the only people that can help modernize our societies, but our societies continue to reject us, because we are too modernized, i.e. westernized (even though some of us are not really worthy of the epithet, but that’s another issue reserved for the times when we can feel more free to vilify each other, as honest dissidents and activists would and should). So how can we do it?

“Politics is dead in our part of the world.” Indeed. But, how can we train a new generation of political activists, of liberal political activists to be exact? The problems have been diagnosed a thousand fold, but so far few brilliant suggestions for solutions have been made.

But perhaps, we don’t need brilliance. Perhaps we are already doing a lot of the hard work, to no avail. Perhaps what we need is exactly what we cannot have at this stage: luck. Albeit we are all willing to be lucky, otherwise we won’t be in this “business.”

And I have been very lucky so far my love, haven’t I? My helplessness continues, but my luck never runs out.

Now that this conference is over, and I am back home, and I have finally emerged from that long series of interconnected illnesses, and just before I leave you for another conference, I can tell you, even promise you, this: nothing in the world is more real to me than you. You are my first priority, and you will soon be my last. I am going out of “business,” my love. But I plan to do it with a bit of style. You know me. I just can’t help it.

13 thoughts on “A Conference in Venice – Part Three!

  1. There is a cabal of elitists in the world who control the central banks in many/most countries. The currencies are printed and circulated at interest with no intrinsic value. These monies are loaned into circulation at interest and inflated over time. This scheme is designed to subtly seize the assets of any land so afflicted. Governments are financed which impliment socialism and are not responsive to rights in an effort to perpetuate this scheme.Withn my country, the United States, our constitution does not allow fiat currencies, only species currencies, as a safeguard against such seizures. However, over the course of time, Congress was bought off via the lack of a restriction allowing them to issue “bills of credit.” Now, both major parties have been bought off and the scheme continues in pertutuity. One way to stop the evil governments in the Mid East and in Africa is to stop loaning them money and require them to affect capitalism for their funding. This will force them to free their countries and acknowledge rights. Unfortunately, I do not see this happening any time soon as there is no shortage of people who just want power and to rule over their oppressed populations. The way to overcome this is to educate the new generation in the rational fundamentals of freedom, capitalism, and rights. My best suggestion is to study the non-fiction works of Ayn Rand.—Dan

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  3. Nice thought: how can a haphazard groups of westernized liberals attempt to transform a society that rejects them on all levels? I just hope that answer is not “you can’t”. The ‘western’ society concept does not exist. The societies that we consider to be ‘west’ are modern and not western. Qualifying them of western is often use to relativize their modernization in order to relativize the universal concept of liberal democracy and human rights.European societies were ‘western’ a very long time ago, when they had a system of values that was not universal. With modernization, these values were replaced by democracy and human rights, and these societies evolved from western to modern. Same for Japan. It eve. The arab societies on the other hand are not modern but eastern meaning they still abide by their traditionnal, relative and non-universal system of values.

  4. Here’s what I think Ammar. You need to refute the claim that modernization consist of westernization. Well start to explain that the West does not exist as a specific civilization. The real western civilization, let’s call it Occident, existed when Ancient Europe was dominated and united by the church. It was a period when people could get burned because they were thinking differently. This looks like the Sharia, not like Civilization. The values of Civilization (or modernization if you prefer) came and updated all the old European culture. Since then, Europe kept some part of its culture that were not related to these old values (like food, language, architectural achievements etc…). Same for Japan : values were erased but the culture was kept. The same will have to happen in the Orient (don’t accuse me of orientalism). Everything in the current culture that is not compatible with modernity must be erased. The same happened to the Western civilization. This is a modernization not a westernization process. Occident became the west, a geographical location nothing more. Old Orient needs to become the east. To do that, you must attack the core of the oriental culture: its values. This will take time and will not be easy (it wasn’t easy to remove the old values in Europe). Attacking things such as corruption and nepotism is superficial. It is the values that must be changed, the kernel of Islamic identity. If it’s not modern (modern being defined by places like Europe, North America, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea etc…), it must be removed.Huntington was wrong. All his civilizations are local. He failed to talk about the modern, unique and universal Civilization. Calling it western because it was discovered in Europe is a gross misrepresentation. People who mix between modernization and westernization do this on purpose, to present universal values as relative.In other words you need a cultural revolution to reject the archaic order.

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