I gave a little speech at the Hollywoodism 3 Conference here in Tehran a couple of weeks ago. We are hard at work trying to convert the taped footage into uploadable videos, and that will happen, inshallah, in due course. But I thought I’d post the text of my speech here for those who are interested. The context is that we had a panel which I had called Tissue of Lies, the aim of which was to address any and all of the hasbara lies told about the Islamic Republic, from the Nuclear Dossier issue and the Sedition of 2009 (the CIA/ Soros putsch following the 2009 elections), to issues such as the Sakineh Ashtiani and Ja’far Panahi memes, with the hope of disabusing the brainwashed masses of their erroneous positions. (OK, so we were aiming too high!) We had such luminaries as Mohammad Marandi, Foad Izadi and Nader Talebzadeh on the panel, who could address specifics much better than I ever could; and so I thought I would limit my contribution to the foundational differences that exist between our Islamic civilization and culture and that of the West’s. Once this theoretical distinction is understood, all of the “issues” can be processed more fruitfully within the new framework, including, for example, the Baha’i question, or the question of the rights of minorities more generally, religious or otherwise.
On the Baha’i Question
Different worldviews or cosmic orientations will naturally provide different perspectives on the nature of reality and answers to questions such as who we are, where we came from, where are we going, or indeed, whether it even makes sense to pose such questions (to which the logical positivists answer in the negative). Different cosmogonies and anthropogonies necessarily entail different cosmologies and anthropologies, eschatologies, psychologies and so forth, which in turn give rise to different values, value priorities, and different ethical and legal systems.
If we believe with the materialists that we each are a collection of atoms and molecules whose random motions bring about an illusion of being and existence in its modern adumbration of a skin-encapsulated egoic Tension between libidinal and super-egoic forces, an epi-phenomenon floating on the fringes of the Big Bhang, if you will, then our approach in forging our foundational or constitutional law will be one wherein our conception of freedom, for example, will play a determinative role, as it will be defined and guided by the criterion of that which minimizes this Tension); whereas if we hold, on the other hand, that we are a creation of an all-powerful and all-wise Creator, Who in His Wisdom, has set a Veil before us between the Two Worlds of His creation (that of this world and the world of the hereafter) as a temporary Cloaking Device which effectuates the ability and the freedom of will to choose between right and wrong; and having set this Veil, has positioned man as His Vice-Regent within a universe that has a moral texture and basic nature – a universe which works according to Sacred Laws which He has determined we are to live by, just as the manufacturer of an automobile determines that its engine runs best with a certain grade of motor oil; and that the Maker of this universe with a social moral order has sent its User’s Manual to His creatures through the ages by way of perfect beings called prophets which He created as such so that they can act as conduits to channel His Will to the rest of His creatures who are made as fallible and imperfect beings who are in need of Guidance from the Beyond; if we believe all this, then obviously, that which will play a determinative role in the forging of our constitutional law will be, to stick with the earlier metaphor, the ‘User’s Manual’, that is, the Revelation of the Will of our Maker as to how we are to conduct ourselves, both individually and as a community. Thus, differing Sources of law will obtain, given different cosmologies and anthropologies, and these Sources will give rise to legal and ethical social systems whose precepts, tenets, creedal bases and values will be at variance with each other.
Traditional societies have understood this, and while Christendom and the realm of Islam were frequently at war with each other, they understood that each culture and civilization revolved around its own sacred pole or axis mundi, and there was a de facto recognition of the multi-polar nature of sovereignty in the world, with authority being absolute within each domain or compass. The problem that modernity has confronted traditional societies with (besides species extinction, rainforest depletion, weapons of mass destruction, and so on), is its dynamic to impose its ethical system, which is based on the Enlightenment and Age of Reason fallacies of universally and eternally valid values on others, irrespective of the religions or ways of life of other cultures and civilizations. At root, it is these two fallacies (of the universal and eternal applicability of one’s values to other cultures) that gave rise to and is the dynamo of such institutions as the League of Nations (which morphed into the UN), NATO, the IMF and the World Bank, and other ancillary establishments such as the Royal Institute for International Affairs, the Trilateral Commission, and so on, with their impossible fantasy project of One World government.
Different value systems will process issues differently. So with regard to the issue of minority rights, for example, one of the important differences between religious communities and modern society is their level of purposiveness. In other words, a “community” truly worthy of the name is actually united not just around a common heritage, ethnicity, race, or creed, but it is one which shares a joint purpose and goal (such as living within the Sacred Law given by God to man as the User’s Manual which enables him to conduct himself in such a way as to return back to his Maker). Or to put it another way, religious communities share a telos as well as an ethos. The religious community is a purposive community or a nation united under a common purpose, and from its perspective, the term ‘community’ is properly applied only to a society who not only has an ethos or culture, but to one which also has a telos or purpose. Having an ethos is a mere prerequisite of having a telos, intention, resolve, purpose, will and direction. Not all societies are purposive, but all purposive societies have a culture.
So now. Everything changes in the “religious rights” or “human rights” or “Women’s rights” equation when you allow for this one variable among many, because the entirety of the presumptive framework is different in a purposive community. In modern societies, everyone is going in their own direction, and in their self-definition, the moderns characterize this as latitude and freedom of movement. But from the perspective of Islamic civilization, it is the difference between, say, a Zen Buddhist monastery that is intent on a long-term spiritual exercise that requires silence and intense concentration, and a kindergarten full of screaming kids or a coed schoolyard full of teenagers pumped full of testosterone and estrogen, Ritalin and high-fructose corn syrup.
Now if a bunch of unruly punks went pussy riot in the kindergarten or schoolyard, to use the metaphor from Michael Jones’s speech on Monday, it would not make much difference to the achieving of an objective in the schoolyard or kindergarten playground, as there is no objective there to speak of; but if these same punks went pussy rioting all over the purposive community’s face, that is a different proposition altogether. The Baha’i pseudo-religion was to Shi’a Iran as the disruption of the “feminist punk-rock collective” Pussy Riot was to the services in the Russian cathedral or at St. Peter’s. The Baha’i quote “religion” went pussy riot all over our face, to the imperial beat of an English snare drum, using Her Majesty’s amplifiers cranked full blast. Her majesty also donated the road crew and threw in a couple of crew sluts for good measure. For the benefit of the uninitiated, the crew sluts are also known as the BBC Persian and Voice of America satellite networks. Now in Zen Buddhism there is a concept called ‘No Head’. And I don’t know if you are aware of this… but in Islam, when someone says ‘No Head’ it usually means that a sword has been drawn. Caveat Vendor!