COLLOQUIUM Abrahamic Model and the Future of Zionism - Part II

FROM BOB CRANE

Moin, you are quite right that the modern concept of the “nation state” is a natural evolution of society’s response to civilization’s demands.  This use of the term “evolution,” however, assumes that the modern secular concept of “civilization” is good and that therefore whatever leads to it is progression toward a higher goal. 

  We could easily reverse the premise of your argument by arguing with Ibn Khaldun that the elimination of religion as the primordial motivation of human community invalidates your conclusion as an oxymoron.  Ibn Khaldun was considered by Arnold Toynbee to be the first historian to analyze human affairs analytically and from the macro view of entire civilizations, by which he meant the highest level of human identity other than humankind as a species.  Ibn Khaldun was indeed pragmatic in avoiding the preconceived ideas of what we nowadays would call ideologues, those who fit all facts into their preferred theory of reality, whether it is the superiority of a tribe or king or the teleological determinism of a religion that calls for ultimate perfection on earth.  From this objective pragmatism, secular scholars have concluded that he was one of themselves and therefore was the first modern historian and first modern sociologist.

  In fact, Ibn Khaldun was a devoutly religious person and ascribed the dynamics of civilizational rise and fall to the purity of the religious impulse in human community.  He used the term asabiya to describe this, which his secular admirers usually translate as “tribalism,” and they praised him for attacking it.  This is a legitimate translation of the term, but this was not the way Ibn Khaldun understood it, and therefore he did not attack it.  According to his analysis of history, whatever changes in society undermined the society’s higher vision could not be evolutionary because lower vision or lack of a vision other than mere survival would destroy the society in a process of inevitable devolution.

  In effect, if Ibn Khaldun were to confront the ruling secularist paradigm today, he no doubt would praise the rise of loyalties to broader and broader identity groupings, but he would condemn the constriction of any identity grouping by calling it a state. 

  A nation, according to Rene Guenon, who is probably the most profound historian of civilizations, in his book The Reign of Quantity, published in 1947, defined a nation as a people with the same sense of history, the same values in the present, and the same hopes for the future.  This is a purely qualitative definition and has influenced my thinking ever since I first read it as a teenager the year it was published.

  In contrast, a state, as defined by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which ended thirty years of war between Catholics and Protestants in Central Europe, is delimited by geographical boundaries and exists only to the extent that its rulers, however chosen, exercise physical control over the majority of this territory.  A state therefore is based on physical power alone.  Furthermore, and this would be critical to Ibn Khladun’s condemnation of the very concept, the modern concept of state, which was inconceivable theretofore in human history, was created purposely as a substitute for God.

  We can argue over whether Hobbs, Locke, or Marx were the most deluded in understanding the dynamics of civilization.  They all agreed on one basic premise, however, that authority comes from man and not from any higher source.  They talked peripherally about natural law, but they understood this as what humans would naturally create from their own reason.  They talked about liberty, which then became the center of discussion in secular political science.  Their challenge was how best to structure politics and economics to maximize la liberte and Freiheit.

  Ibn Khaldun was not opposed to liberty in the pursuit of one’s own interests, but for him it had meaning only within a higher framework of just order or ordered justice. No doubt he would have preferred the term freedom.  Jeremy Henzell-Thomas tells us in a companion colloquium on the subject that freedom refers etymologically to liberty within the constraints of social responsibility.  Raising either value, liberty or freedom, to an ultimate value would not be a mark of evolution in human affairs but the surest sign of devolution into chaos.  This is precisely why the Founders of America in the preamble to the American Constitution listed justice as the first of the five purposes in forming a more perfect union and listed liberty last.

  The worst of all combinations would be a religious state, which by definition would elevate the guardians of a particular religion to the level of ultimate authority with the right to impose their religion as a manmade ideology on everyone within their internationally recognized territorial jurisdiction.  This is why America’s Founders, and perhaps especially Jefferson, insisted not only on freedom for religion in society, without which he said no people could remain free, but on freedom from the imposition of any particular religion, because such an imposition would destroy the universal religious freedom on which all human dignity and human rights depend.

  Whether the state as a substitute for God is based on an ethnic group or a particular religion as its authority, the result is the same, namely, the denial of justice.  Justice, of course, has no meaning without awareness of a higher source of truth than human reason, because otherwise justice would mean only what I want to impose on you either for my own good or for my view of what is good for you.  Raising a nation to the level of God and calling it a nation-state is no better than raising a religious ideology to the level of ultimate reality and calling it a Muslim State, a Jewish State, a Christian State, or a Hindu State.

  You contend that “the nation state does not detract from the acceptance of the sovereignty of God,” and you support this assertion by pointing to the Constitution of Pakistan which starts with the statement, “All sovereignty rests with Allah.”  My answer is that actual observance of this political statement would mean that Pakistan is not a “state” in the secular definition of the term.  Pakistan might be a nation with a system of governance based on recognition of a higher source of authority than its own founders.  As such it would be a national polity or a system of community governance or simply a society that was specifically and uniquely created de novo, as was the United States of America, to promote the five universal purposes enumerated in America’s constitutional preamble, namely, justice, order (domestic tranquility), defense, prosperity (the general welfare), and the “blessings of liberty.”

  The original Jama’at al Islami in India was correct in saying, “The entire world is a mosque, don’t ask for a state.”  This does not mean that the Muslims at that time did not have a right to self-determination.  The fifth of the seven universal principles or maqasid of Islamic law, the maqsud haqq al hurriya, requires respect for political self-determination, meaning political freedom, at every level of human community.  Assuming the Islamic provision that there are or can be ascending levels of political self-governance, the practical question therefore is how can one best achieve such self-determination while respecting the other six universal principles, known nowadays as human rights.

  Jinnah led the movement for state sovereignty as the basis for a new civilization linked to the broader Muslim umma (and not, by the way, to a caliphal state of global proportions).  This was all the rage then in Western secular thought.  In contrast, the Badshah Khan, whom you know I consider to be the greatest of all Pakistani leaders, joined forces with Gandhi at a time when the Mahatma supported various degrees of communal autonomy in a single sub-continental civilization.  Jinnah wanted delimitations in self-defense out of fear, whereas the Badshah Khan wanted to expand human community in a vision of hope.

  We can argue whether in retrospect Jinnah or the Badshah Khan was the wisest statesman.  Gandhi changed his mind to support Jinnah and was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic as a result.  If Jinnah had not won out, perhaps the Badshah Khan would have been assassinated too for his dreams.  “What if” scenarios are useful as mind games, but no-one ever knows the future from the perspective of either the past or the present.

  The question in the world today is whether we can afford not to dream and hope and pray for a better world, because not to do so might end all hopes for civilizational evolution or even bare survival for centuries to come.  The microcosm for the future is the Holy Land.  The clashes of civilzational paradigms there are more extreme than anywhere else in human history.  This is why the issues we are discussing in this colloquium under the rubric of the Abrahamic Model are so important.


FROM NORMAN KURLAND

In response to Moin, my point was not an attack on nation-states per se but on any system that puts the sovereignty of any state above the sovereignty of the human beings whose lives are affected by the activities and laws of that state.  The ideal is a state that serves the people and is given its state powers from and by consent of the people, in contrast to every state of which I am aware in which the power of the people is subordinate to the power of the state.  It is a question of whether the rights of the people are derived from the state or from a source of Justice that is higher than the state or any person who rules on behalf of the state.  The founding fathers tried to set up a constitutional system in which the power of the state flowed from and is dependent on the power of the people.  The Just Third Way is a way to return to those ideals as described in the matrix at http://www.cesj.org/thirdway/comparison3rdway.htm  Under the Just Third Way religious freedom is protected by the economic autonomy of every citizen having equal access to the power of private property in the means of production and natural resources.  Otherwise, the leaders of the state, no matter how holy, are vulnerable to becoming corrupt and oppressive of the rights of those who are powerless.


FROM MOIN ANSARI

Norm: Thank you for that clarification. I agree with many things that you said in your response to my reply. However there are many in America and the Islamic world that continue to debate whether “law of ‘man’ “, supercedes “law of God”. Many in the Evangelical Red States do not agree in allowing abortion since it violates “law of God”. Many evangelicals want America to be a “Christian state” and may succeed in doing this if present Red colorization of states continue. We saw this happen in India where a communal party was able to rise to power from 2 seats in parliament to 240 seats and eventually form a “Hindu” government. The same happened in Hitler’s Germany and Italy. Voting spawned dictators with devastating consequences for millions of people.

I have tremendous respect for the constitution of my sweet land of liberty. Our constitution has some very strong points. The bicameral legislature patterned on the “Indian confederation” balanced the rights of the individual states vs. federalism and has been emulated around the world.

The government evolved to allow the Supreme Court as an equal and third wheel of government, even though this was never the intent of the original framers of the constitution. Our glorious Constitution was based on the Magna Carta. The most important part of our constitution is chapter 39 taken from the Magna Carta.

“Nullus liber homo capiatur vel imprisonetur aut disseisietur de libero tenemento suo, vel libertatibus, vel liberis consuetudinibus suis, aut utlagetur, aut exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur, nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legale judicium parium suorum, vel per legem terr.”

In English this shows up as “No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or be disseised of his freehold, or liberties, or free customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any otherwise destroyed; nor will we not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land.”

I know you will have conniption fits when you read the following, but it is based on well research and documented facts. Contrary to popular belief, the original was not even written in English. It was translated into Latin from the original Arabic. “Trial by jury” was of course an Arab invention popular in Al-Andulusia (Spain).  The Magna Carta was taken from the much despised and misunderstood Shariah Law. See John Maksidi’s research consecrated and published in the North Carolina Law journal (copy can be retrieved or mailed to you).  The Bill of Rights were taken from Ibn Tufail, Ibn Haitam and canonized (“canon’ is from the Arabic word “qanoon”) by Hamilton and Jefferson as the Bill of Rights.

I disagree with you on the fact that “the founding fathers set up a constitutional system in which the power of the state flowed from and is dependent on the power of the people”. These particular ideas may work well as candy for 8th grade (his)tory books but it is a bit far removed from reality. For a dose of reality, we need to know that the word “democracy” does not appear in the constitution of the United States.

As historians Charles Austin Beard and Mary Ritter Beard wrote (1939): “At no time, at no place, in solemn convention assembled, through no chosen agents, had the American people officially proclaimed the United States to be a democracy. The Constitution did not contain the word or any word lending countenance to it, except possibly the mention of ‘We the people,’ in the preamble ... When the Constitution was framed, no respectable person called himself a democrat.”


The USA was created as “republic” not a “democracy”. The word democracy was coined in the late 40s to “manufacture consent” for the war against “fascism” and “Nazism” to spread “democracy” and freedom in Europe.

James Madison’s Federalist Paper #10 discusses the issue of Democracies. In it he states: “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of Government, have erroneously supposed, that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions and their passions.” We can see from this that Mr. Madison would never have advocated a pure Democracy for his new nation. http://www.wealth4freedom.com/truth/13/DEMvsREPUB.htm

About 370 BC, Plato wrote: “A democracy is a state in which the poor, gaining the upper hand, kill some and banish others, and then divide the offices among the remaining citizens equally.”

Alexander Hamilton, in debate, said: “Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate government.”

“Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the” Ayn Rand

There are serious flaws in the US constitution, which allows a majority to completely over-rule the rights of minorities or allows a minority opinion to be imposed on the majority if the vote is split. For example, if there are 3 candidates in an election and two get 30% of the vote and the third gets 40% of the vote. Now the person with 40% of the votes gets elected, even though 60% of the people opposed his election. This taken care of on the French and German constitutions by having run-offs.

How about a few quotations demonstrating the disdain our founders held for democracy?
James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 10: In a pure democracy, “there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.”
混 At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said, ” ... that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.”
John Adams said, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
׷ Chief Justice John Marshall observed, “Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.”
In a word or two, the founders knew that a democracy would lead to the same kind of tyranny the colonies suffered under King George III

Not to digress to far, but this is very similar of “manufacturing consent” to spread “democracy” in the Middle East, where we support a minority non-pashtun government in Afghanistan and are now in the process of replacing a secular government with a pro-Iranian ayatollah led theocracy in Iraq. In fact all the founding father, Jefferson, Hamilton repeatedly spoke up AGAINST “democracy” as a system of government for the USA.

However I agree that a system of government however imperfect that strives to allow people to control the government may work well in literate societies. Our glorious experiment in democracy is surely a beacon to the world and yes it is based on the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions.


FROM BAKIR HASSAN

Dear Bob, First of all, I would like to thank you for your scholarly contributions.  I have enjoyed reading your inputs and pray that Allah [swt] will reward all of you for your time and good efforts. 

Although you were discussing many good topics, you have dealt only with the symptoms not the essence.  Without sheding light on the Real Essence, without exploring the purpose behind the Creation of this entire existence, without clarifying the Divine goal set for humans on this earth, this colloquium will go nowhere.

The Just Third Way is self-contradictory.  While it acknowledges the Creators Omnipotence, it ignores His own Writ, and places a man-made plan instead.

The Abrahamic Model is reversing the Divine Order; which places Mohammad as the Model for mankind, not Ibrahim. 

Man cannot supersede the Almighty Creator.  Both plans are impractical.  As a Sufi, you should understand what I am talking about.


FROM BOB CRANE

Moin,

  Thanks for setting the record straight on majoritarian democracy, which all of America’s founders said was the worst possible form of government.  For them democracy means rule by the demos or people, which in turns means rule by the despots who can manipulate the people, as in the French Revolution.

  Nevertheless, you are reading too much into Norm’s statement: “The founding fathers tried to set up a constitutional system in which the power of the state flowed from and is dependent on the power of the people.”  One should distinguish between power and authority.  The American constitution provided a political process designed to be sure that political power would not originate at the top of society in an oligarchy, i.e. special interests, but rather would proceed from the bottom of society, i.e., the majority of the people properly funneled through a system that would protect against mobocracy.

  This procedural system limited to political power is quite different from what I would call the substantive system of justice, which was the primary purpose of establishing the American system of government.  All of America’s founders said they were establishing a republic, which by definition means that ultimate authority comes from God.  The task of the legislators is to translate this into law, and the task of the judiciary is to apply the intent of the legislators.  America’s Founders trusted the people to submit to this ultimate authority if they were properly educated.  Education, according to Jefferson, means education in virtue, and the maintenance of virtue in an entire people is possible only within a framework of higher religion.  This, I believe, is what Norm Kurland is talking about.  The entire purpose of the American republican system of government is to assure that the “law of man” does not supersede the “law of God.”

  Also I think that the last two paragraphs of your reply should be reserved for another email.  Ayatollah Sistani knows better than most how dangerous the de facto Iranian system of government is, simply because he experienced it.  Muqtedar al Sadr, for one, may like the Iranian system, but he is limited in his power by the wisdom of Sistani. 


FROM NORMAN KURLAND

Brilliant reflections on the nation-state system, Bob.  Within the framework of a more perfected Abraham Federation, the sovereignty and “unalienable rights” of each person (which are derived from the Creator) are on a higher level than than any nation-state, including the United States.  No nation-state is legitimate in my eyes if one group or the leaders of any religion or set of spiritual beliefs gains the power to deprive other individuals or groups of fundamental human rights. 

Under the Abraham Federation, Justice would reign supreme and man-made laws and institutions would have to conform to Justice or those laws and institutions or be transformed through acts of social justice.  The nation-state should never be worshiped as a modern “golden calf”.  It should be respected as a useful tool, always imperfect but always an object to be refined and perfected based on human experience to conform to universal principles of Justice. 

I agree with you about Hobbes and Marx but I think you’re too harsh on Locke, who I believe would have joined us in the Just Third Way.

I will send your excellent exchange with Moin to others in the Just Third Way network.  Congratulations.

Bakir,  with all due respect, your sudden reversal on the Just Third Way (http://www.cesj.org/thirdway/comparison3rdway.htm) makes no sense to me and offers no guidance to me on how to, for example, deliver Peace through Justice in Iraq, let alone the world.  What principles of the Just Third Way do you specifically oppose and why?


FROM BOB CRANE

Syed Bakir,

  The biggest issue that I have seen during the past thirty years is indeed whether the Just Third Way is merely manmade and for that reason can develop into a false god inspiring a false religion, like Neo-Conservatism.  Norm does have some sympathies for the Neo-Conservatives, but he has not become an ideologue.  I believe he is merely using human reason to derive structures that best serve the universal principles of justice common to all the world religions.

  These principles derive from divine revelation designed to guide humans who otherwise might not on their own come up with these principles and apply them.  The purpose of the revelation is the essence of justice and is not our responsibility.  We can only deal with the applications or as you put it the “symptoms.”

  The Prophet Muhammad is the perfect model for mankind, but he taught, based on revelation, that he was not introducing anything new but merely clarifying the original revelation to Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.  The original model of the Abrahamic religions is Abraham, ‘alayhi salam.  If one understands Islam, one will understand the Abrahamic model.


FROM NORMAN KURLAND

Dear Moin,

Let me clarify my position.  I agree with you that the founders of America rejected a pure democracy and attempted to establish a constitutional republican form of government.  They were fully aware of the dangers of the potential tyranny of the majority and carefully attempted to erect a system of governance where concentrated state power would be held in check horizontally by three co-equal branches at the Federal level and vertically through a minimal and expressly defined set of functions at the higher national level and a high degree of relative autonomous governance at the level of each state. 

When Lincoln used the term “of the people, by the people and for the people” he was using language that I believe expressed the original intent of the founders.  When I used the phrase “political democracy will not work without economic democracy” I use the term “democracy” in the same way as Lincoln, that is, a structured pulverization of political power and economic power to prevent concentrations of power in the hands of an elite.  Only such a structured pulverization of power, as I read the history of America, would provide the framework for a government of limited and well-defined powers and protect the “inalienable rights” articulated in the Preamble and the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.  I suggest you read William W. Crosskey, Politics and the Constitution, University of Chicago Press, 1956, a classic analysis and documentation of the “original intent” of the founders.  Crosskey, under whom I studied the “strict constructionist” interpretation of constitutional law, points out how the legal positivists at Harvard Law School departed from the original intent of the founders to push “the living constitution” school of constitutional law, resulting in a constitutional system today in America that is totally unpredictable and unprincipled.  Today the constitution is what a majority of five Supreme Court Justices say it is.  Compare this chaos at the highest judicial level with the original intent of the founders as expressed in the Preamble: “We the People, ... to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty ... ordain and establish this Constitution ....”  When you read this language next to the Ninth Amendment (“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”) it seems clear to me that certain fundamental rights belong to each person and come from a Higher Source that created all human beings and the rest of creation.  No king, no religious authority, no majority, no earthly source can grant these fundamental rights to every living person.  They can promote, teach and protect these rights, but they cannot create these rights.  That is the model of the American Constitution and should be the principles for designing a new Constitution for Iraq and any government that wants to affiliate with the Abraham Federation, which is a synthesis of the best principles of the past for nation-building and governance “of all people, by all people and for all people” for the Third Millennium and our posterity.  Again, the Creator is the highest and ultimate source of all forms of sovereignty (i.e., power), the individual human being is the highest sovereign on earth, and all laws, institutions, governance systems are mere human artifacts or tools to enable all individuals to realize their fullest human potential, dignity and responsibility to the Creator and all creation.

When we talk politics, we are talking about power and the most ideal way to structure power relationships.  The good and just society, in my opinion, structures human power from the bottom up.  Societies vulnerable to corruption channel human power from the top down.


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