Friday, February 06, 2004

Rough draft. I'll fix it later when I'm sober.
Last night's post originally included some glib commentary asking why more classicists and philosophers haven't been flocking to Iran. I've been asking this myself for months but a bit on NPR a couple of days ago came close to making the same point. The report dealt with the scholastic debates on justice and Sharia that are ongoing in the country. The example used in this case was one of filial piety. Does a father have the right to kill a son whom he thinks has committed a serious crime? What should be the role of the state? Is the state the father to the man; and if so, therefore also to the son?

One of the problems with almsost all modern theory, and the theory of liberalism in particular, is that it refuses to distinguish various forms of violence. Barbarism rules not by injustice, but by harsh justice.
Monarchy is not fascism. History is full of barbarians for whom we still have great respect, and it is not just that history loves a winner. Catholic Spain brought forth both great crimes and great art. So has the United States. The Soviet Union produced both violence and beauty, at the beginning. Fascist Germany produced only violence.

The struggle happening now in Iran is not between good and evil, or even between the honest and the corrupt, but between two definitions of just order. There is corruption, but is there more in Tehran than in Washington?

Another point. This is not like the ramblings of the Lubovitcher Menachem Schneerson or the leader of some other minor religious cult. Nor is it akin the politics of the 21st century Catholic church, which is mostly followed for entertainment purposes at this point. [In this Mel Gibson probably would agree. He takes his religion very seriously. He's a smart man and a decent filmaker. Anti Semitic and reactionary or not, he may have made a very good movie. I'm very curious to see if he has]

What is important to understand, in Iran and Iraq, is that this is not a debate among intellectuals, but among families. That's the point that Samira Makhmalbaf makes in The Apple, and that the authors of the letter to Sistani make. That's the point Riverbend makes every time she writes anything and pushes the post and publish button.

More later.

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