Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Pious Lady And Her American Sons

I know a devout Muslim lady who says her prayers five time - sometimes six times - a day, and observes all the fasts no matter how unwell she is.

And she is proud of her sons because they live in America.

She is proud, no doubt, of the fact that her high-income earning offspring pay high taxes to fund Israel's wars against Muslims and America's murder of Muslim children. They have sworn an oath of allegiance to Eblestan.

As a devout lady, she should hang her head in shame that her children live in dar-al-harb. If we, as individuals, would abstain from praising these people, we would achieve a necessary internal rebellion: we should, on the other hand, praise the person who studies abroad and then comes back to serve the country.

If we do not achieve an internal revolt against the west, we shall remain slaves.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

OCHLOCRACY (article)


(click above for article)

Events in the Middle East and elsewhere are being increasingly shaped by the crowd. Since the French Revolution, the crowd has emerged as a legitimate force, not always with happy consequences.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The People of Egypt and Israel

We thought that America-backed dictators and their regimes were for Israel: now that Hosni Mubarak is gone, and the military has affirmed its ties to Israel, did The People object?


Apart from the Muslim Brotherhood, I doubt if anybody in Egypt cares about the Palestinians. In fact, it would be easier to run a corrupt democracy than a corrupt autocracy, for then the west would have The People's consent to their pro-Israeli policy.

If there's one thing worse than a corrupt autocracy, it's a corrupt democracy: we know; in Bangladesh, we know.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

We have our own political philosophy

Most people in the Muslim world don't know that we have our own political philosophy. If we had followed our own ideas, we would not have been in the mess we are in. If we had listened to al-Ghazali, then these two begums in Bangladesh couldn't have buggered the nation (my metaphors are a bit mixed, forgive me).

If we had listened to al-Ghazali, then the Middle Eastern dictators would not have needed coercion to stay in power; if we had listened to al-Ghazali, Tunisians would not be leaving their country by the thousands.

We have a rich array of political philosophers, but most agree on one thing - nonresistance to the ruler. To them, a democratic revolution would have amounted to bida.

How long will we let the western world and their paid local lackeys shove John Locke and John Stuart Mill up our collective backsides? If we don't guard our rear, nobody will. The question is: do we enjoy being buggered?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chaos after the Revolution

Radio New Zealand : News : World : Hundreds of refugees flee Tunisia by sea: "'Like I feared, the huge political and social crisis in countries in the Maghreb is triggering a mass escape towards Italy, especially from Tunisia,' Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said on Friday.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Meanwhile, back where it started, chaos rears its ugly head: refugees flood the Italian island of Lampedusa after the 'revolution' in January.

Why don't people think before they act?

Friday, February 11, 2011


'Egypt is Free,' crowds chant after Mubarak quits - Yahoo! News: "The protests were started by a small core of secular, liberal youth activists organizing on the Internet who only a few months earlier struggled to gather more than 100 demonstrators at a time. But their work through Facebook and other social network sites over the past few years built greater awareness and bitterness among Egyptians over issues like police abuse and corruption.

'Facebook brought down the regime,' said Sally Toma, one of the main protest organizers.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

This Associated Press report is hard to believe. How can anyone be so naive?

Let's see what they are saying: A bunch of children on Facebook enlightened their elders (who rarely use social networks) and the poor (who are rarely, if ever) connected as to what was going on in their own country, such was the secret efficiency with which the regime had been operating. Of course, before these kids used Tweeter and Facebook, the average Egyptian lived in complete ignorance of what was happening: they knew Mubarak to be a nice guy, and then suddenly they see on Facebook (which they rarely use, remember) that that was not true. A people's coup takes place in Tunisia, the kids (left alone by the hideous regime to do their missionary work, remember) congregate people, and, well, the rest is contemporary history.

Anyone who swallows this should stop taking hashish.

There has been a persistent pattern of anti-government protests by the 'mob' (a French innovation) since the Berlin Wall collapsed. In Bangladesh, a democratically elected government was brought down after three months of intense street agitation amounting nearly to civil war - one in which the people had no interest whatsoever. In the Philippines, the democratically elected government of Joseph Estrada, the people's darling, was brought down by the middle- and upper-classes (it was dubbed a 'cell phone' revolution; the people lost because at the time sell phones were too expensive!). In Indonesia, thanks to IMF mismanagement, a mob overthrew General Suharto (and investment has never recovered while corruption has remained the same). In Kyrgyzstan, an autocratic government was overthrown by a mob of a couple of thousand, an event repeated a few years later against a democratically elected government. In Tunisia, a mob overthrows a dictator; a bigger mob overthrows the president of Egypt. In China, a mob had tried something similar, but not comparable (see J.M.Roberts' History of the 20th Century). In Iran, a mob tried to overthrow the regime.

Rule by the mob - ochlocracy - is here.

Mind you, the mob has always been there, wherever cities had sprung up. We remember the Roman mob that had to be appeased with 'panim et circenses'. And Lisan al-Din Ibn Khatib's (1313 - 75) advice to the Caliph Harun al-Rashid was this: "The common people may be simple, but they are quite powerful, especially when they act collectively. If the king is faced by them as a rioting crowd, he should be diplomatic with them and stick firmly to his position until they disperse." And then? "The king should strike hard at them and leave no room for mercy towards them."

But what is new is that the mob is no longer seen as illegitimate: a rabble is held to be legitimate just because it is a disgruntled group, as opposed to an individual. The mob, and mobocracy, is here to stay, thanks to the French Revolution, and western ideology. The Americans have been caught on the back foot, but it was their ideology of democracy and people power and mobocracy that has unleashed the mob.

How long will it be before the mob becomes illegitimate again? For that we have to await the decline of western civilisation itself. What these Egyptians have done, is to betray the values of their own, benign civilisation by espousing western ideas of freedom and equality - values observed in the breach, as we have seen.

The Wise Hindu Lady

I suddenly recalled LotikaDi (perhaps the events in Egypt triggered my memory). She was the mother of one of my students, and she was Hindu. After the BNP-Jamaat alliance came to power in the election of 2001, a widespread pogrom against the Hindu minority was initiated by the thugs of the parties. Women were raped, houses and people were burned, owners evicted - because the Hindu community tends to vote for the (then) opposition, Awami League.

This lady, a history graduate and a music teacher, had the wisdom to realise that a return to military power would be best for her community - and for the whole society.

I have never ceased to respect her.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Corrupting Morality

If I tell you to give $100 to a third person because then I will give you $200, are you being moral or corrupt? For this is how NGOs are financed by western donors. This is the final corruption: the corruption of morality.

Suppose, then, I tell you to preach democracy, and you get a further $100, are you sincere in your preaching? Psychologists call this 'cognitive dissonance' and it has been found that the lower the reward for lying about your true feelings, the greater the stress. No wonder donors pay handsomely to reduce stress.

What is at work here is that you never internalise the morality: it remains external and your whole life a sham. This is what western donors and we have done to ourselves.

Then I say, if you say anything about Palestine in public, you will lose all your $200, then naturally you clam up about Israel and Palestine. This is what has, in fact, happened: there is never any public discussion on Palestine in Bangladesh, according to the Palestinian Embassy. The anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat goes unmarked and unnoticed, year after year, while the death of a democracy activist the preceding day in 1987 is regarded as a holy event.

Of course, there are subtler forms of corruption. I might tell you that if you speak about Palestine (in public), I will not give you a scholarship to a prestigious western university, or finance a junket abroad, or I'll blackball you from all academic events.

Thus, the finest part of our society - the thinkers - are the most corrupt.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Getting To Know The General

I had the privilege of meeting General Ershad, our former dictator of nine years, at his suite in Baridhara.

During the conversation, I asked him if he was aware of Muslim political philosophy. He grinned and said he knew nothing about Muslim political philosophy.

This was unfortunate ignorance on the General's part, for his long and fruitful rule rested on no ideology. He had built, as he told me, 8,000 kilometres of highway, 3,000 MW of generating capacity...all of which I knew to be true.

Nevertheless, he had groped towards an ideology: he amended the constitution to make Islam the state religion, for instance. He was seeking a rapport, a religious rapport, with the people.

More interestingly, the General tried to tap into the people's native Sufism. As the reader may know, Islam was spread in South Asia by Sufis, dervishes, ascetics. I know the son of a holy man whose father's death is still celebrated as an urs and to which many people come - including Hindus. This is very common here.

The holy man whom General Ershad cultivated was the Pir of Atroshi, famed as having a jinn of his own. It was said that he could not leave his khanqua because then he would be killed by jinns, or something of the sort. A friend of mine, Samuel Peter Landell-Mills, did his PhD thesis (unfortunately unpublished, with a copy on my shelf) on the pir as part of his work on Islamic holy men. He used to regale us with vivid descriptions of the pir's goings-on: thousands used to flock to his dargah, from president and bureaucrat to humble shopkeepers.

However, this holy man was unable to help the General keep his throne. For the power that matters in Bangladesh is of a less mystical nature: it is the power of western donors. And as soon as the cold war was over, they pulled the rug from under him.

Now, to get back to the General's suite. If the General had implored Muslim political thought, and insisted on the philosophy of nonresistance that sunni thinkers have insisted on, then the donors might not have been able to use a rent-a-crowd of students to overthrow him on December 6, 1990.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Death Of A Civilisation

The events in the Middle East have upset me no end: I see in these 'people's insurrections' the death of Muslim civilisation.

Over 1,400 years, Muslim thinkers from Ibn Hanbal to al-Ghazali to ibn-Jamma have painstakingly, bit by agonising bit, built up an edifice of political thought: the repeated injunction of that body of thought has been that one must not resist a leader.

In Bangladesh, a land of 140 million Muslims, it has become received wisdom to celebrate the overthrow of a military ruler. I know pious Muslims, who say their prayers five times a day and observe every fast during Ramadan, who accept calmly and casually an insurrection against a Muslim military ruler. These people have wholly, knowingly or otherwise, accepted the odious political philosophy of John Locke. Indeed, it is to be doubted if these people are Muslim at all.

It seems that the west has conquered us with its ideas, money and military might - the first copiously assisted by the latter two. We have been bought and bribed. I fear that the murder of Muslim civilisation by the west is not far distant.

However, recent events elsewhere give me pause and hope: China once embraced a disgusting western philosophy which led to the death of millions of Chinese. But today China is beginning to cast off its slavery to western ideas, and has happily rediscovered its Confucian roots. Will such a rebirth happen in the Muslim world?

Perhaps it will; perhaps it won't. Either way, by then, I will be six feet under the earth.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Prometheus Unleashed

"Man, who wert once a despot and a slave;
A dupe and a deceiver; a decay;
A traveller from the cradle to the grave
Through the dim night of this immortal day:"

I once used to thrill to these lines; indeed, I was once awe-struck by Shelley's 'Prometheus Unbound', from which these lines have been quoted.

Notice the use of the past tense: man is no longer a dupe and a deceiver: he has achieved moral perfection by means of Prometheus.

The moral is that man, suitably emancipated from the tyranny of religion and custom, will one day arrive at perfection. This was a dangerous doctrine whose danger became manifest only in the twentieth century.

Even today, while the pursuit of The New Man has largely been abandoned outside Cuba and North Korea, the Perfect Institution is still reverentially sought. Man (and woman) this time will achieve perfection in the Perfectly Democratic Society. Indeed, such Societies already exist; it is not mere Utopianism.

It has been only sixty-five years since the most terrible war in history was fought (one in which religion as Shelley knew it played no role), and only twenty since the end of the quest for the New Man with all its attendant horrors on all sides.

Can anybody really believe that western civilisation has achieved Shelley's vision of a sanitized human nature? No more repugnant a spectacle than the west has ever presented itself to the human gaze.

"...Prometheus is, as it were, the type of the highest perfection of moral and intellectual nature impelled by the purest and the truest motives to the best and noblest ends." Thus we see Shelley celebrate his ideal in the introduction. This gives me the shivers: here we have a portrait of a semi-divine character filled with limitless energy working towards man's salvation.

Doesn't that accurately describe those westerners who would 'make the world a better place'?

"We owe the great writers of the golden age of our literature to that fervid awakening of the public mind which shook to dust the oldest and most oppressive form of the Christian religion. We owe Milton to the progress and development of the same spirit: the sacred Milton was, let it ever be remembered, a republican and a bold inquirer into morals and religion. The great writers of our own age are, we have reason to suppose, the companions and forerunners of some unimagined change in our social condition or the opinions which cement it. The cloud of mind is discharging its collected lightning, and the equilibrium between institutions and opinions is now restoring or is about to be restored.*"

Good God! If only he could have foreseen the horrors that were to come from these 'institutions and opinions'. Recently, more than a million people have been wiped off the face of this earth by a benign force determined to improve a Middle Eastern society. And we have neocons like Amartya Sen, recently seen in Bangladesh hobnobbing with an indicted murderess, proclaiming that we are all ready and willing and waiting to embrace democracy: through suffering and mistakes (like those million deaths) we shall aspire towards a higher order, the Perfect Man.

*Indeed, Milton was probably the first neocon, the first proponent of the universality of democracy. He said: "Surrounded by congregated multitudes, I now imagine that . . . I behold the nations of the earth recovering that liberty which they so long had lost; and that the people of this island are . . . disseminating the blessings of civilization and freedom among cities, kingdoms and nations."



An Interview



[The People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the Democratic People's Party (DPP) are both fictionalized names of real parties. This manoeuver has been undertaken to protect the identity of the student politician, who is now undergoing his umpteenth rehab.]

“1987. Age 13. Class 8. I was mildly involved. From 1988 I joined the PDP, when I was in class 9.
“Family. I didn’t used to get along with my father. Normal with my mother. Normal with my brother. My brother knew about it a little; my studies were not being hampered by politics.

“Since I was in class 6, I had been observing the activities of the DPP with distaste. I used to avoid the party....

“1988. Age 14. Disgusted with the DPP, I myself created a group against them at school. This group used to print anonymous leaflets against the DPP. We used to prevent other boys from joining the processions organised by the DPP.

“1988. I knew a student worker of the PDP personally; he lived in my neighborhood. He organised a committee for me at my school. After the committee was formed, we printed posters and leaflets using the name of the PDP. Apart from the movement at school, I would take my boys to participate in movements conducted by the PDP outside school. Nobody at home knew because I would stay home at night, and was active only during the day. My grades started getting worse. I missed classes. Teachers would harass students belonging to the PDP, not because the students would not study, but because the teachers belonged to the DPP.

“1989. Age 15. The first ‘action’ at school. The boys of the DPP always came to school organised, in a group. We took an action against this. We decided we wouldn’t let the other boys enter school that day. Some boys used to stay at the school hostel. During the afternoon tiffin period, I left my pipe-gun and cocktail with my boys who stayed at the hostel and some of us left. We missed class that day. The other boys got wind of this, and they told their teachers that there were arms at school. If they didn’t get rid of them, they would inform the police. The teachers then started to question us. Then my boys put the arms in a sack and dumped them. So the teachers didn’t find anything. Then my boys showed the DPP’s papers to the teachers.

“The next day, the school was full of the DPP boys. On that day, I arrived at school at 9:30, long before classes started. We used to hold our meetings on the roof of the nearby market building. On the way there, the boys surrounded me. I ran. I reached the roof. We decided that some of us would have to attend class, no matter what it would take. After two of us entered class, the teacher started accusing us of wrongdoing. Then the teacher beat me and the other boy, and tore our hair.

“How I got hold of arms. The aim was to organise a program at school, save money and buy arms. The teachers tried to stop us, but we went ahead with the program. We also collected tolls [=extortion money] from businessmen in the area. Then we bought arms from an ironsmith. Pipe-gun, 250 takas ($4.5); cocktail, 1100 takas.

“After this episode, the PDP started giving us total assistance. They started to send boys from the armed cadres, or cells. They were our age; they didn’t attend school. Their sources of income were gambling, black marketing in cinema tickets, mugging, selling drugs, and extorting money from hawkers and shop-owners. These were ‘taxes’. Taxes were collected on a fairly regular weekly basis. The cadre boys would receive tax proportionate to the area they could control.

“1990. The aim was to disrupt the meeting of a prominent leader of the DPP. The DPP also had their armed cadres guarding the place. I now joined the student wing of the PDP. We led a procession towards the meeting. But the police stopped us. From then on the mid-level leaders of the student wing gave me a pipe-gun.

“1990. Age 16. I got into college in August. November. The anti-Ershad movement began [General Ershad was dictator at the time]. Everyday, we threw bombs at police cars, barricaded the roads and violated curfews to lead processions, then run.

“Nobody at home, except my brother, knew about my participation in these activities.

“Ershad broke up his own student body and harassed the other student bodies. He had broken up his student body, but he employed his own parties’ students as goons. These goons would beat us up in front of the police and walk around openly with arms. Besides, during election Ershad used to steal votes. All these things made me and my friends react to them. I reacted by joining the oust-Ershad movement.

“Ershad fell. The election came. There were two candidates for the party nomination, Ahmed and Azam [names disguised]. I was on Ahmed’s side. But he didn’t get the nomination. Then Ahmed got another candidate, Afzal [name disguised], from [a third] Party to run against Azam, so that Azam couldn’t win. My friends and I began to work for Afzal. The party members knew about all this, but nobody would talk about it openly. During the election, we used to break up the offices of the DPP.

“27 February. Election day. We went from door to door and picked up people in rickshaws and got them to vote. The rickshaw-fare was paid for by the party. We got people from slums to give false votes. We cast false votes ourselves. The election ended.

“1991. 1st year college. Age 17. The two factions formed during the election started to bicker. There were 50 boys in my group. The other side had around 10 or 12 boys. We threw them out of college. Then they started attacking us at sudden intervals. They used to beat us up when we went out. We used to get together before coming to college and stuck together even inside the college. We couldn’t go out of the college alone.

“We hadn’t yet had our Fresher’s Welcome. Using the welcome as an excuse, we collected money from the students. Later, we collected money from students when they sought admission to college, around Tk.1200-Tk.2000 per head. We bought arms with the money, mostly bullets and powder. That was what we did the whole of 1991.

“April. I learned from one of the boys that the other faction had taken over the college. This information turned out to be wrong, as I discovered after coming to college. I beat up the boy who had misinformed me. He became furious.

“July. Three months later, one night some boys from the other faction came to my house and called me out. I wondered to myself, 'Let’s see what they are going do to me.' A shopkeeper in my area had warned me earlier not to leave the house. They broke the lights and darkened the street. Fourteen boys slapped and hit me and beat me up with the blunt end of hockey sticks – they hit me everywhere, on my head, chest, arms, legs, body.... Sensing an opening, I sneaked out. I ran to the party’s central secretary at the college. I couldn’t stand on my feet; the secretary took me to a doctor. One of my boys got wind of what had happened, and they seized the area. I went home at midnight. The groups were agitated, and senior members came and got us to make up. But the resentment lingered in the area for fifteen to twenty days. We had made up only on the surface; inside we were angry.

“Family. Before this incident, I didn’t use to talk much with my family. I used to come home at night just to eat and sleep. There were no words spoken between me and my father. On that night, when I came home, I had to knock a long time before my father opened the door. He wouldn’t let me in. He said, “You go wherever you like, I have nothing to do with you”. When he saw what shape I was in, he softened a little, and let me in.

“In 1991, I had no feeling for anyone at home. I just lived there. Even if my father hadn’t allowed me in that night, I would have stayed somewhere else. I didn’t care. There was only one thought on my mind: how was I going to get even with those boys? My mother was crying, and nursing me. My brother was lost. I had to stay home for fifteen days in order to recover. Then my father’s affection for me increased. But I felt nothing for anyone. After fifteen days, my father sent me to another town to my grandfather’s place. I stayed there two months. I lost touch with the party. I used to stay home, rest, read books and go out now and then.

“Two months later. October. Things had cooled down. I returned. I wasn’t interested in the party like before. I kept thinking about only one thing: how to get more arms and recruit an armed cadre of boys.

“December. Two of the boys who had beaten me up were hanging around in my area. Four of us beat them up good and proper: we used hockey sticks, knives, and cola bottles. The doctor gave one of them 48 hours to live. They both survived.

“I couldn’t stay home after this. Most of the time, I would stay out. I would return at midnight, and leave at dawn. One night, on my way home, I was shot at, but they missed. I ran. Things went on like this.

“One day there was a shootout between us and them. We made up and things cooled off, more or less.

“January, 1992. One day, the DPP boys picked me up from the back of the college and beat me up in a college room and locked me in. My friend’s brother was a leader of the DPP. He got me freed.

“February, 1992. I formed my own gang of boys at college, mostly boys of my own class. I would recruit boys who were reckless and wild. They had a kill-or-be-killed mentality. I used to get into trouble with the party over these boys. I used to get into trouble over other things, like power, admission of boys to college, money, arms....

“March. The intermediate exams drew near. I had to study. I lost the power I had. I appeared for the intermediate exam in commerce, got a second division.

“August. After the exam, I got back to the party. I’d lost my earlier power. I started afresh to acquire power. I became insubordinate; I would refuse to listen to commands from the top. I would send boys from my own group, or simply say no.

“One day, in a procession led by the DPP, three boys belonging to that party were shot and killed. I wan sent there by command from the party bosses. I didn’t want to go there, but I had to. I knew there would be violence, even murder. However, I went in the morning and came back in the evening. The murders happened at night.

“I wanted to give up the party, but I couldn’t, I was too involved. I needed protection. My frustration mounted. I started taking drugs. I used to take drugs before the exam, but for fun. Now, it became a regular thing. After taking drugs at night, I would resolve not to take anymore. But even if I somehow managed to stay home all day in great agony, I couldn’t stay at night. This is how things went on.

“I went back to my grandfather’s place. I took the drugs with me.

“I used to feel very helpless at the time. I wanted my father’s help. But he didn’t understand that. He would only give me orders. I grew more desperate, more angry with my father.

“October. I went to my uncle’s house in another town. I felt terrible that night, but I was under control. I stopped taking drugs for three months at a stretch. I wanted to join the army, but that didn’t work out. From January I started taking drugs again right until June. My grandparents caught on. They told my parents; I stopped again.

“After June. I still take drugs. I feel very frustrated. Now I regret everything. What have I done with my life? And for what? I could have done better in my exams. The whole family – cousins, aunts, uncles – have become aloof; they avoid me. They think I am a goon. And this causes enormous frustration. I start taking drugs whenever I get frustrated. I am studying for my bachelor’s exam in commerce, but my heart’s not in it. I study just because I have to. I have no interest in commerce, but I don’t know what I want. I can’t sleep at night; I have nightmares. Most of the time, I see people fighting. I don’t want to rejoin the party. Now I realise what the party has done to my life. Now I want other boys not to get involved in politics, but I can’t quite put it into words.”

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Advice from Ibn Khatib on How to Deal with Mobs

'The common people may be simple, but they are quite powerful, especially when they act collectively. If the king is faced by them as a rioting crowd, he should be diplomatic with them and stick firmly to his position until they disperse.' And then? 'The king should strike hard at them and leave no room for mercy towards them.'

This was Lisan al-Din Ibn Khatib's (1313 - 75) advice to the Caliph Harun al-Rashid.

Hosni Mubarak would do well to listen to these words; he has time on his side; let him be moderate now until the crowd is exhausted, and afterwards he can pick off the ringleaders by night.

Incidentally, this is exactly what the regime in Tehran did: they exhausted the young boys, and then brutalised them. It seems to have worked.