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An optimistic diary (for once)

by Jerome a Paris Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 06:44:30 AM EST

I'm usually known as one of the doomers'n'gloomers on the blogs, with diaries and comments on the economy heavily leaning towards negative views. And to a large extent, I still stand by these positions and fully expect (i) the economy to dive again and (ii) an even worse financial crisis coming our way.

I'm also part of the peak oil / peak resources crowd, and do not consider our current civilisation, especially as hundreds of millions in emerging markets rush to embrace it, to be sustainable. The Chinese and Indians and others cannot all live with the same resource consumption as we currently have in the West, and something will have to give at some point.

And this is a matter of years rather than decades, and most of us here will get to see that problem 'solve' itself. And of course, climate change adds a whole other dimension to that emergency.

But, surprisingly, I also have a number of arguments to be optimistic for the medium term, ie that let me hope that I will not spend my late years in poverty and/or in the middle of societal collapse.


First, on the economy. The one thing I would like to point out is that we lived, in the past couple decades, at a time when several unique factors combined to create a kind of "perfect storm" which brought us the biggest bubble in history.

  • the first factor has been the end of the Soviet Union, and the discredit it brought to economic theories competing with "free markets." Coming at a time when our keynesian-drive economies were going through various strains (stagflation, etc - arguably brought about by our first collision of the industrial age with serious resource constraints), it provided fertile ground for ideological proponents of privatisation, deregulation, tax cuts, unfettered free-trade and pro-corporatist policies. The left has been struggling to fight back against the "socialism = fail, markets = freedom" meme reinforced by the powerful symbolism of the Berlin Wall falling; markets - in an extremist, ideology-driven version pushed by corpocratists and oligarchs - took over, in particuar financial markets, which have extended their reach into every aspect of our lives and have become the only judge of any and all public activity;
  • the second factor has been the rather brutal entry on the global market of the Chinese and Indian workforces. When you increase the supply of a good, in this case labor, its price tends to go down, and this is what has happened, in the form of outsourcing, unemployment and/or stagnant wages in the West. It was made easy by free trade and capital flow liberalisation in the newly emerging markets, and faster thanks to the progress in telecommunications and travel. This trend is partly linked to the first one above, but it is largely a matter of chance that China's opening to the world happened right at the time when its working age population was growing;
  • the third factor is that our economies benefitted from a "last gasp" in the availability of resources - it is hard to underestimate the boost that was provided by (i) the North Sea and Alaska/Gulf of Mexico (domestic oil, accessible at no political cost, which helped make it look like the oil scares of the 70s were just a one-off) and (ii) the incredible growth in Chinese coal production in the past 10 years (ALL of the world GDP growth in that period can be explained by higher primary energy availability, which has come exclusively from higher Chinese coal output); the past 30 years were therefore a period when both labor and energy were plentiful, and thus (relatively scarcer) capital could dictate its terms;

This period is coming to an end.

Resource constraints are reasserting themselves. The extremist push by the largely parasitic oligarchic class to capture an ever increasing chunk of wealth is being stopped by the fact that parasites are only successful when they don't kill their host, and right now the middle classes whose productivity they have successfully harnessed for their sole benefit are barren. China's drive to do all our pollution for us is choking the country. Their coal is likely to run out soon, at current rates of production, and production growth. And, more importantly, they are undergoing a major demographic transition, as a result of the one-child policy of the past decades. Their working age population will soon decline - the all-important 20-39 demographic is already declining.

Right now, it doesn't look like things will soon turn out badly for the oligarchs. After all, they managed to  increase their grip on our politicians during the great financial crisis, imposing a bailout of themselves over actually saving the economy. The political classes, mass media and more generally the Serious People all think that things are going well and that their ideology has been, once again, successfully pushed onto a hapless populace.

And we haven't fully paid the price of the excesses of the past decade. The mountain of debt which was used to hide the wholesale looting of the middle classes is still hanging over us; the prosperity of the future which has been captured already by the wealthy through financial shenanigans will not be available to us now, barring a massive debt repudiation which applies to other instruments than our pensions ; the resource constraint, which temporarily subsided as the economy crashed is still waiting for us around the corner.

So, why the optimism?

  • as noted, the consequences of the Chinese demographic transition are hard to overstate. Labor constraints are going to become a global reality once again, as no other third world country will be able to replace the Chinese on anything near the scale required. With increasing wages in China many things change: the lure of offshorisation fades, Chinese domestic demand (suppressed so far) will increase, and the Chinese themselves are going to ask for better environmental and work standards. This will translate into more demand for Western workers, and thus an end to labor cost erosion - and to living standards stagnation;
  • the resource constraint is going to become a permanent feature, forcing us (and the Chinese) to change the structure of our economies. Pain, but also a lot of economic activity, will come from our necessary adaptation to lower energy availability. A lot of work will be required on infrastructure and green technologies, both of which are (i) jobs intensive and (ii) structurally hard to offshore.  And they require investment in the real economy, which is exactly what the oligarchs have been skimming off on. And it's not like they will have a choice: you cannot cheat the laws of nature like you can cheat the "laws" of economics; and the so-far compliant/distracted/fearmongered populace will balk at doing without electricity or blaming brownouts on brown people...; it's already happening: more wind farms have been built than traditional power plants in recent years in the West, while oil and electricity consumption are dropping quite spectacularly;
  • and the good news is that we actually have the technologies available to do the transition. We know how to do building weatherisation; we know how to scale up renewable energy; we know how to do public transport and smart grids: what's been missing is the political framework to make it happen.

Right now, it may look like if anything, the political framework is still moving in the wrong direction and, worse, if there is any popular backlash, it seems more likely to come in the form of a reactionary populism (ie scapegoating, fearmongering fascism) than the required progressive soak-the-rich kind. But while you can debase a currency and lie to people, you can't cheat with nature. You can't print megawatthours or joules or molecules of helium or rare earth metals. You can't drink poisoned water or non existent water. At some point, the very survival of any form of public authority will be at stake, and politicians will suddenly remember that States have incredible powers, do not actually need to be subversient to short term private oligarchic interests, and will start yielding that power towards strategic objectives.

And when the goal is full scale mobilisation towards survival, resources will go where they need to go, not to death-inducing capture by parasites.

Of course, this begs the question of what will trigger this survival mechanism. Do we need to get to the brink, and see thing worsen yet again (possibly a lot more) before we get there? I guess this is where my optimism comes in: I think the natural constraints are going to come for a while in the form of steadily increasing constraints (via prices, for instance) rather than outright shortages, and this will trigger enough action to move us on a different path, even if this is not immediately obvious. Oil at $70 per barrel in the midst of a massive recession and demand reduction is an unmistakable sign. Or, in other words, the one hundred billion euros in the stimulus and TARP that went to renewable energy and bailing out GM will matter more, ultimately, than the trillions handed out to banks and bondholders, as one created or saved vital industrial infrastructure while the other just moved some electrons around, with no large scale long term consequences in the real world. And if it takes yet more trillion-scale hand outs of fiat money to the parasites to authorise yet more real investment, this is the sneaky route that our adaptation to reality will take.

Or who knows, maybe we'll get a real leader one of these days, able to steer us away from the wall before we actually hit it and get hurt. Now believing in that would be wildly optimistic!

Display:

Using me as a banker to get these built surely qualifies as "sneaky". But it's happening (with my help, as an advisor to the project):


C-Power confirms $1.23bn loans for Thornton Bank


C-Power has pinned down €950m ($1.23bn) in loans for the second phase of Belgium’s Thornton Bank, in what amounts to the largest financial package ever assembled for an offshore wind project.






Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 01:53:02 PM EST
thanks for this expression of the ambiguous future we all face.

just as your diary about obama did a few days ago, this essay has a wide balance of thought, straddling as they do the gulf of doubt as we confront the facts that can no longer be spun so successfully, and the existential worry that there will be no leader of the psychological astuteness and calibre to guide us to an intelligent navigation between the scylla of resource depletion/climate change and the charybdis of repression, xenophobia and fascistic chortcut 'solutions' to the challenges.

we desperately need this kind of wide balanced stance to understand the scope of the issues, and the range of possible pathways out of this dichotomy, and the subsequent sense of paralysis that comes with ignorant denial.

there will be a great need to run to one or other of the poles to find safety in extreme 'certainties', when on consideration, i believe we need to dialogue from a middle way, splitting the differences, making the necessary compromises with the facts on the ground and the rigid mindsets that find it impossible to pull out of the swandive we're in.

this diary, and Jerome's trajectory in general, offer real, sound ways forward out of this paralysis without sacrifice of beliefs or identity, just sacrifice of impatience and fanaticism.

the facts on the ground, as they accelerate the drama, will do the rest to push social change, as the examples of win/win policies emerge as concrete proof of seriousness, as lights ahead to pilot by.

as my new sig says, we have to practice holding apparently contradictory concepts without coming down in hard judgment, and the easy refuge of absolute, but ultimately unpragmatic opinions, satisfying in their simplicity, but impractical in the present reality. it's a reflection of the epically crazy chances we are taking as a species, potentially extinguishing ourselves through greed and mental laziness.

kudos, J... your overview and breadth of vision continues to inspire this reader, and from the comments, i dare say many more.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 07:51:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This just about covers my views - although infinitely better expressed.

The least violent manifestation of the 'survival mechanism' is where individuals are affected in their own lives and come to realise that their life cannot go on as it is. It is at that point that these individuals need options. It is our work, as I see it, to make sure options are available.

Catastrophes, of curse, work faster.

Now, there are arguments as to whether these options should be made available to politicians, the media, academia or corporatists - or Joe Schmoe in Cleveland.

The argument you lay out is equally understandable and powerful for the first 4 target audiences. Joe is a trickier problem - but a little bit of animation or other chunking of cognition might help ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 02:18:23 PM EST
Sven Triloqvist:
Catastrophes, of curse, work faster

Is that what they call a Freudian typo? ;)

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 04:15:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not with Sven, I suspect.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 04:52:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Problems with the homonculus ;-) Pure typo.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:55:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... for Jo Shmoe in greater Cleveland, by coincidence, the following works well for factory farms:



I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 02:28:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All good points, and I grant that it is conceivable that the world economy can respond to looming resource and labor constraints and be put on a sustainable basis in the medium term.

But what about the oligarchs? In the last ten (30) years, they've managed to capture an ever larger share of the world's wealth, and the bailouts, as you note, rescued them at the expense of our societies. It seems to me that unless some effective wealth transfer mechanism can be put in place, the transition to sustainability will mean plunging the masses into poverty while leaving the oligarchs ensconced in their position.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 04:26:24 PM EST
We've already discussed before (and indeed I wrote about) the necessity to kill the host to get rid of the out-oc-control parasites, but it is also conceivable that it won't be required.

As I noted in the dKos thread:


[The optimism is] about the fact that (some) politicians will realize, at some point, that it is better for them to betray the oligarchs in the pursuit of populism in the form of actually sensible (for the common good) policies.

Because, make no mistake, they absolutely have the power to take on the oligarchs on and win. The politician who would run on a simple plank: annul Goldman Sachs' banking license (ie sentence them to death) would be elected in a landslide. And it would be exceedingly easy to do, once in power.



Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 04:53:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We need to identify a minimum set of priorities and goals that will enable us to successfully influence policy and then recruit as many individuals and groups as possible to support helpful action. Below are the first thoughts that come to me:

# ONE: Most of our current problems are the consequences of the transformation of our societies into adjuncts to the economy, a process that began in earnest in the 19th Century and is now almost complete. That transformation involved subordinating all aspects of our societies to the requirements of an industrial market economy, which has since evolved into a global financial market economy that cannot presently be regulated by any single country.

The consequences of this transformation has been the commodification of human labor and of nature, in addition to money. These three are treated as commodities even though they are not created for the market. The consequences of this fact has led to the destruction of social values and the destruction of nature. By treating money, which properly is a relationship between people, as a commodity we have created an unstable system of exchange and storage of value that accentuates the destructiveness of the commodification of land and labor.

The way out of our problems involves a second transformation into a society which makes appropriate provisions for the needs of business but also provides for the needs of the individuals and the environment and provides a monetary system that can be a predictable basis for exchange and for storage of value. The idea that the mechanisms of the market can do this by themselves has proved to lead to repeated disasters. The chief mechanism through which these disasters have been brought about has been the wide spread belief that markets are self regulating in the face of the fact that powerful interests and individuals have, de facto, come to be able to regulate these markets in their own short term interests.

# TWO: Like it or not we are all in this together. Solutions have to help everyone, not just the very few. Call this Wealth And Its Discontents.

There are numerous high net worth individuals that have an understanding of this and who have a corresponding concern for the futures of their descendants. Their support is crucial if the mass of the people are to be adequately informed. This is a much more functional use for their wealth than just donating half to charity.

# THREE: It is imperative that we create mechanisms of governance that allow policies to be discussed and adopted on a rational basis and with the informed consent of the broad population. The fact that this seems oxymoronic is the chief part of the challenge facing us.

Punt.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:55:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I admire your tendency towards optimism, I wish I could share it.

The crash will be in slow motion, but the momentum will be sustained throughout impact. Just because the US or UK/PIGS cease to be able to afford oil, it doesn't mean their economies have the capacity to respond quickly, or at all. The infrastructure needed to sustain food and energy supplies and keep streetlights and televisions on is very reliant on a transport network that will rapidly (in terms of societal response) cease to function. There will be no gentle descent, it will be like hitting a concrete wall.

and china will keep on going, until its environmental legacy hits it hard. I appreciate that you say there are already movements to get it to clean up its act, but we're talking about trends that are  generation away form having any impact and the emergency in china is imminent; they are losing their farmland and water supply now. Today. A decade from now, china will be hell on earth and they simply don't have the time or the will to stop it happening.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 04:28:17 PM EST
I'm not optimistic: I agree with you that they are going to hit the wall hard. I'm not sure there's much we can do about it in the West, but we should try to seize the opportunity to do something new then when that happens, supposing it doesn't drag us along.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 04:55:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the 1930's, among the countries that hit the wall the hardest was the US, which had in the past few decades overtaken England as the largest economy in the world.

Hitting the wall hard means a lot of pain for an extended period of time ... but does not predict whether or not the country that hits the wall hard will finally pick things up and get a workable replacement in place for the former broken one.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:20:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree, except that I don't even think it will be gradual.

The "tipping point" will be demonstrated by one of the three (previously four, but spiritual death now discounted) horsemen of the apocalypse. Personally I think the plague is the most likely to hit first, but there are plenty of indications that famine might be the winner (e.g. rapid growth of wheat rust). And with plenty of nukes still out there, and Russia and the U.S. way up there on the energy supplier list, there's a chance that the next phase of the oil wars might go over the edge. Any of these could kick in quite rapidly.

Not to mention climate change, overpopulation in general, and our unanimous western move towards fascism...

by asdf on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 09:59:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A couple of side points.

  1. The odds of nuclear war in the 60s and 80s were non-negligible. The reality-based bet would have been to expect wipe out. But that didn't happen, for various reasons.

  2. Western Culture has been completely poisoned by Christian notions of apocalypse. Bizarrely, this means that irrational fear of apocalypse is a huge driver of both political and financial policy. It seems to be literally impossible for the supposedly scientific and rational West to imagine a future without apocalypse now.

It's as if everyone is dreaming, and sustainable futures can only become thinkable after the nightmare runs to its inevitable conclusion.

But that plan is based on the supposedly rigid inevitability of narrative logic, and not on the more flexible not-quite-inevitability of rational planning for likely consequences.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 10:11:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps you're correct. However, human history seems to suggest that we are more likely to wait until it's too late before we decide to do anything. A fairly large percentage of scientists (with relevant expertise) are saying that we are close to the climate change tipping point. So when does the "not quite" part of not-quite-inevitability of rational planning kick in?

A decade from now is too late, so apparently the prediction is conservatives of the world will in the next half-decade do a voluntary about-face and become uber-conservationists?

by asdf on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 09:27:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Too late for what? Too late to make an easy transition to a sustainable economy? That's already the case. Too late to prevent the global climate from reaching a point where we can not predict its future behaviour from our present knowledge? Possibly. Too late to prevent the planet from becoming unsuitable for human habitation? I doubt it.

The notion that there is some cut-off after which apocalypse is inevitable is false. The apocalypse comes on a sliding scale from "mildly unpleasant" to "planetwide extinction event."1 We're already some way past the point where "mildly unpleasant" has become inevitable, but not even the most pessimistic modelling assumptions forecast that climate change will lead to global human extinction.

And the notion that there is some cut-off after which apocalypse is inevitable is unwise as well: We may have reached a cut-off point where it will be impossible to preserve species X and Y in their natural habitats, but we may be able to preserve species Y in artificial habitats and preserve species Z in its natural habitat. To simply throw our hands in the air and despair over that which it is too late to salvage is to abscond from our obligations to that which remains salvageable. (And, incidentally, to insist that the sky will fall if we do nothing NOW is apt to be "disproven" when we do nothing and human civilisation does not end - even if it continues in a poorer and much diminished form.)

The analogy with peak oil is appropriate, I think: Twenty to thirty years ago (the replacement time scale for most infrastructure), we reached the point where it became too late to take the easy way in dealing with declining future oil production. If we want to take the hard way, we'd better get started right about now. But even if we let the window of opportunity for dealing with peak oil the hard way close on us, there will still be a choice between more or less painful ways of dealing with it. Dithering may have ensured that there will be pain, but that does not mean that expeditious action won't prevent even greater pain.

- Jake

1Technically, we're already living through a planetwide extinction event - humans are an invasive species that displaces local fauna and alters habitats to an extent that causes mass extinction. But that is only tangentially related to the discussion of climate change.

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 02:49:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"...not even the most pessimistic modelling assumptions forecast that climate change will lead to global human extinction."

By itself, climate change does not threaten human extinction. That is, we are not going to fry to death on a 200 degree earth. However, the side effects are likely to. I'm sure you're aware of that people like Frank Fenning, James Hansen, and James Lovelock, reputable and knowledgeable scientists, do discuss openly the likelihood of a massive human extinction event within the lifetimes of people alive today.

http://www.physorg.com/news196489543.html

The problem is that there is so much inertia in the systems, both political and atmospheric, that quite drastic decisions made today can only lessen the horrors of 2100.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/06/climate-change-commitment-ii/

There is an interesting point here about risk management: Is it better to tell the whole truth, and risk panic, or is it better to tread a careful line and hope to convince people to do what is needed, even after the point of no return has been reached?

by asdf on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 10:23:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Judging by earlier collapses, I think extinction is unlikely even in the case of civilization collapsing. (Unless a collapse triggers all-out nuclear war.) A collapse could kill something like 99,99% and you would still have 600 000 humans getting by somehow. Plenty enough to survive for a race of large mammals, at least 20 times as many as there are currently pandas in the world.

asdf:

There is an interesting point here about risk management: Is it better to tell the whole truth, and risk panic, or is it better to tread a careful line and hope to convince people to do what is needed, even after the point of no return has been reached?

To convince a person, you have to meet them where he or she is, not where you are. So unless you are in the privileged position to talk to humanity all at once, I do not think that really is choice.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 03:59:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For some reason I retain a basic optimism as well, at least as to the possibilities. In fact, I believe that the quality of life for all CAN be much better, and that it eventually will be. There remains the questions of how large a human population will remain to enjoy those better conditions and the severity of the process that gets us there and these are hardly trivial concerns.

China's effective working population is only a small fraction of its total, only about 11% currently have the equivalent of a high school education and 57% remain rural. This implies that social policy shifts towards greater support of public education constitutes low hanging fruit. I think that the near term problems in China are more likely to be the result of increasing wages due to quality of life concerns, the possibility of economic disruption due to failure to adequately regulate finance and development and the problems of finding external vent for their manufactured goods, though the switch to domestic growth certainly has strong potential.

Certainly watching current brand new ghost cities develop into thriving, functioning and populated metropolises will be interesting, but China has actual needs for modern housing, so it could be more a problem of matching things up. A major theme could be the increasingly stark contrast between urban and rural living standards, which China is addressing via granting credits to rural Chinese for purchase of appliances such as refrigerators and televisions. But what about opportunities for the children of the rural dwellers?

At least China has gotten the growth rate of its population under control. The same cannot be said for India, which still has relatively rapid population growth, though it too has a rapidly growing economy. Both will be severely challenged by resource constraints, including arable land and adequate water, as well as by the impact of pollution and global warming.

In the end it might be the USA, blessed with abundant arable land and water as well as potential renewable energy resources, that will fare the worst as it fails to successfully oppose a pending murder-suicide on the level of the national society by the current economic elite. We are certainly far advanced into the destruction of the economy and society on the behalf of a blind and/or indifferent financial establishment.

On the bright side, should the USA go into a socio-economic death spiral that should reduce our global footprint in several categories, which could be advantageous to other areas. Or we could manage to pull our heads out of our asses in time to save ourselves. More improbable things have happened.

   

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 04:51:45 PM EST
European Tribune - Comments - An optimistic diary (for once)
Oil at $70 per barrel in the midst of a massive recession and demand reduction is an unmistakable sign.

If the natural gas price were in its historic relationship with the crude oil price I would agree totally.

But I suspect that a good part of the crude oil price's defiance of gravity may well be derived from financialisation of the oil market, and 'macro' scale modern market manipulation by producers propping up the market price with zero interest money borrowed from ETFs via financial oil leasing.

The copper market was manipulated in a very similar way by Sumitomo/Hamanaka for ten years with the connivance of investment banks, five years of which was after the whistle had been blown.

The glut of distillates at the moment may be a sign that a period of unstable equilibrium in the oil market is heading for a discontinuity.

On the other hand, you may be absolutely right.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 05:06:52 PM EST
Given the move into the commodities markets by so many investors in the last five years and the rather small total size of some of the commodities involved I think it has become prudent to always keep in mind that the market price in any given commodity might be an illusion that is the result of a manipulation. Depending on the motives for the investment the commodity involved may be priced too high or too low, depending on whether the futures money is in long or short positions.

Consider that the tin market and the copper market have rather dramatically been shown to have been manipulated and that the coffee market in Europe is showing strong signs of having been successfully cornered. Then apply the "Rule of Cockroaches". I suspect that many commodities are only realistically priced when there is a "market event".

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 07:32:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the price dynamics of natural gas have been dominated in the past 2 years by the unexpected emergence of shale gas in the US - there has been a temporary, but very significant, surplus of natgas, thus leading to lower prices, and disconnecting gas prices from oil prices. There are simply not enough players able to arbitrage away the difference.

And lower natgas prices in the US are passed on partially to Europe as these past two years were supposed to see massive arrival of Qatari LNG into the US, volumes which instead went to Europe and helped depress prices there to some extent (at least in the UK, but less in Europe where prices are more dominated by oil-indexed Russian contracts).

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 04:16:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. I was aware of that, but it's useful to have verification by an expert.

But my point is that the market architecture of the natural gas market is structurally different in that it has not become financialised in the way that the oil market - which is also oversupplied, but no-one knows how much - currently is.

My thesis is that the crude oil market has been systemically manipulated by producers for some time, funded by 'free' money from ETFs.

I have seen no refutation of this, and via the FT Alphaville blog, directly and indirectly received considerable agreement.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 07:39:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I fail to see why shale gas should be a temporary solution (except that it, like tar sands, will run out some time in the long run). The resource base is huge, and while the individual wells decline at an incredible pace, you can drill an incredible number of new wells. Indeed, you have to do that. That only tells me Baker Hughes will be busy in the future.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 10:43:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... historical relationship with oil production ... non-traditional natural gas is about 1/5 of the US EIA gas estimates.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:26:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With increasing wages in China many things change: the lure of offshorisation fades, Chinese domestic demand (suppressed so far) will increase, and the Chinese themselves are going to ask for better environmental and work standards. This will translate into more demand for Western workers, and thus an end to labor cost erosion - and to living standards stagnation;
I've read that there's plenty of scope for companies to seek out cheaper labour within China. Wages in major cities and export-oriented regions like Guangdong are high by Chinese standards, so companies are beginning to move to inland provinces where wages are lower. In particular, 'dirty' industries are migrating to poor provinces where officials will turn a blind eye to pollution in return for jobs.
by Gag Halfrunt on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 06:44:56 PM EST
True enough, but there's been a reason why all the industry development has been in the coastal regions -- with associated population migration--, rather than in the hinterland: transport; most of the goods from China are shipped from ports like Shanghai or Guangzhou.

Cheap products and razor thin margins do not leave space for expensive transport costs. The infrastructures in the Eastern and Northeastern regions are not up to the task either. So yes, there are resource limitations here too.

by Bernard on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 04:52:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Give it another 15 years and they'll have run out of poor inland Chinese as well. Then only Africa is left.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 10:45:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... which has now grown to be almost identical to the World's Economy ... has gone through a number of hegemonic transitions, but only one since rising to the status of the dominant economic center of the world, the transition from the British to the US.

However, hegemonic transitions are not mechanical processes, and while in most cases one hegemon has been supplanted by another, in the case of the first World War, the Napoleonic Wars, Britain "succeeded itself" as hegemon (which is not to say world dictator but rather first among equals in the peculiar balance of power politics that has characterized the Atlantic Economy).

The US has a needle that could be threaded to succeed itself as hegemon, involving abandoning the peculiar base-network empire and its peculiar presumption that the purpose of empire is to create a place to dump production rather than as a source of tribute and giving up fruitless adventures in Southwest Asia in favor of building up genuine win-win international political economy in the South Atlantic.

Its an unlikely prospect, but then the fact that a hegemon has only succeeded itself the once suggests that its always an unlikely prospect.

The other plausible candidates for hegemon are China and the EU, with China the more likely because Europe as the center of the world as a whole rather than fighting each other for who will be the center of the world is a rather novel concept, while to say that China as the center of the world is a well established concept is putting it extremely mildly.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 12:32:15 AM EST
Not to mention the fact that quite a lot of places still remember what it was like to have Europe at the centre of the world, and most of them would probably really rather prefer it to not happen again...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:24:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... occupy the primus inter pares position without it feeling like the European empires of the 19th and 20th centuries would be one of the major hurdles for the EU to clear on the way.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:39:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As long as the European Union will remain open to new members, the risk of a new European empire will be low, because its normal expansion mechanism will be through integrating new countries in a democratic way. If the EU stops welcoming new countries, it might very well turn into an imperialist hegemon. That's one of the reasons I am in favour of Turkey joining the EU. In the longer term, I hope it will develop into a Euromediterranean union including North Africa (when they meet the Copenhagen criteria).

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 04:14:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the Mediterranean is the natural next step for 'Europe'

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 04:17:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting you think that. I would have thought that the natural next step for EU expansion would have been: the Balkans, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia. Then... Why not China - instead of North Africa?
by vladimir on Thu Aug 26th, 2010 at 02:56:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All in due time.

The EU is integrating the Balkans. Belarus has internal obstacles to EU accession that the EU has only limited power to resolve. Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia cannot be admitted without Russian agreement, meaning that if and when Ukraine enters, it will be in a package deal with Russia. And Russia has other options that she may want to pursue, including Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 26th, 2010 at 06:27:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure. Don't you think there are also "obstacles" (important, daunting, ... Perhaps insurmountable) with the integration of Turkey and North Africa?
by vladimir on Fri Aug 27th, 2010 at 01:03:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are always obstacles. If there were not, they would already be members. But the EU has more tools available to influence developments in Egypt than in Belarus. And Russia is a viable geopolitical power bloc in and of itself, whereas North Africa is not.

Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive. There is a very large number of barriers to clear, both in the prospective members and internal to the EU before we can expand beyond the Balkans anyway.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 27th, 2010 at 05:51:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of Turkey and North Africa, what is the interest of creating a single socio-economic sphere with 250M additional people who:
  • on average have a standard of living which is close to 10% of ours
  • do not share our cultural heritage
  • have socio-political orders which are completely different from ours

Personally, I'm not convinced of the need for the EU to constantly seek expansion. Don't we have enough difficulty managing our own internal problems - from monetary and fiscal union to military integration to social policy, etc.?

Whose interests would be served by integrating weak states at Europe's periphery? The boardroom technocrats in Brussels? European business elites? Or European society at large? And what is it that "total integration" offers that bilateral agreements in the political, military or economic spheres can't offer?

The desire to constantly "expand Europe's reach" is an empire building endeavor... or a self assigned evangelical mission to convert the "indigenous masses" to accept the values of our "economic theocracy". But entropy has ways of imposing its laws when there is economic, political or military over-reach and I'd rather hang on to what we have now and improve it rather than risk regressing and losing it all.

by vladimir on Fri Aug 27th, 2010 at 11:30:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of Turkey and North Africa, what is the interest of creating a single socio-economic sphere with 250M additional people who on average have a standard of living which is close to 10% of ours

That we have four thousand kilometres of border with them. A 10:1 wealth disparity is not sustainable between direct neighbours. And that which is not sustainable will not be sustained. The advantage of integrating them is that we will be able to influence the pace and route towards sustainable shared prosperity.

do not share our cultural heritage

Define "cultural heritage."

have socio-political orders which are completely different from ours

So do Russia and several Balkan countries.

And what is it that "total integration" offers that bilateral agreements in the political, military or economic spheres can't offer?

A set of interlocking agreements covering economic development, human rights, environmental protection, commerce regulation, foreign relations, tax rules, infrastructure standards and mutual recognition of citizenship is total integration.

The advantage of doing it in a multilateral rather than a bilateral framework is bilateral relationships tend to devolve into suzerain-client relationships, whereas in multilateral relationships it is possible to build in safeguards against this development. From a leftist point of view, neocolonial client relationships with the North African states is obviously undesirable.

But entropy has ways of imposing its laws when there is economic, political or military over-reach

India has a unified government (more or less) that covers a population a third again as large and on a comparable land area.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 27th, 2010 at 12:02:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the logic of expansion is to integrate our neighbours because we share borders, then - as I said - we'll soon be integrating China.

If differences in income among neighbours are unsustainable, then how do you explain current differences in EU-African incomes given that we've been neighbour for how many thousands of years?

You want me to explain the cultural differences between Europeans and North Africans? You can't be serious...

by vladimir on Sat Aug 28th, 2010 at 08:41:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the logic of expansion is to integrate our neighbours because we share borders, then - as I said - we'll soon be integrating China.

No we wouldn't. Russia basically stops at the Urals - after that, there's a couple of thousand kilometres of tundra before you reach urbanised areas again. Even if Russia were interested in joining the EU, which I would not take for granted, we'd have to go through Iran, Pakistan, India and Indochina to get a natural border with China.

If differences in income among neighbours are unsustainable, then how do you explain current differences in EU-African incomes given that we've been neighbour for how many thousands of years?

By noting that (a) until about two centuries ago, there was no really noteworthy difference, (b) the differences only reached their present order of magnitude about fifty years ago.

The observant reader will note that this coincides pretty much precisely with the period during which (a) the European energy footprint expanded monotonously and (b) Europe and North America developed global empires. Are you willing to bet that we can maintain similar disparities in the face of a collapse in our ability to maintain global imperial control?

You want me to explain the cultural differences between Europeans and North Africans?

Yeah, I would. Mostly because I'd like to see whether you can point to actual differences, or you're just going to trot out the lazy right wing agit-prop about the Scary Muslims.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Aug 28th, 2010 at 12:41:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
???
by vladimir on Mon Aug 30th, 2010 at 02:55:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is not a terribly helpful response. Perhaps you could indicate which part of the post you found confusing?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 30th, 2010 at 12:40:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since you asked, I'll tell you what I found 'off' in your statements:

Firstly, the difference in wealth between European states and North African states does not go back only 50 years and is not only a product of imperial control of energy resources. African companies can buy energy on the free market the same way as Western companies which buy energy the same way as Chinese companies - which today are the world's largest consumers of energy. Do the Chinese have imperial control of energy resources? No. I'm digressig...

The difference between European and African wealth goes back hundreds (if not thousands) of years and is a product of the quality of land, labour and capital use, the level of development of trade & commerce and the nature of the social order (laws, governance, infrastructure, ...). Just check out your history books.

Regarding the cultural differences and scary Muslims (as you refer to them)... It seems that as soon as one is not praising Muslims, one is a right wing Nazi bigot. It's like being branded a "homophobe" just because you're heterosexual.

You can ask the Armenians, the Greeks, the Copts, the Serbs in Bosnia and Kosovo, the Christians in Lebanon, the Jews in Iran or the Belgians in Molenbeek whether they fear Muslims and many will tell you that they do. Does that make them Nazis? In your books, it would seem so.

And finally, coming back to the real issue here, which is the nonsense of propagating the merits of EU-N.African union... I'll just say one thing: it would be absolute folly giving North Africa's + Turkey's 280M people almost equal voting rights in EU institutions on issues pertaining to our way of life (retirement, investments, taxes, resource allocation, social orientation) given that our cultures are so different and that the priorities of our two societies are so different. If it's'a LONG term project, then wake me up in 500 years when it's on the agenda (if we're still around). It's such a no brainer really.

by vladimir on Mon Aug 30th, 2010 at 02:51:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Firstly, the difference in wealth between European states and North African states does not go back only 50 years

The observant reader will note that what I actually wrote was:

(a) until about two centuries ago, there was no really noteworthy difference, (b) the differences only reached their present order of magnitude about fifty years ago.

Emphasis added for, well, emphasis.

and is not only a product of imperial control of energy resources.

The raw materials footprints of the countries involved say otherwise.

African companies can buy energy on the free market the same way as Western companies

Indeed, African companies are able to buy energy on markets set up by Euro-American powers, that follow Euro-American rules and that clear transactions in Euro-American currencies...

The law is equal for every man: The rich man is as prohibited as the poor man from sleeping under bridges and begging for bread.

But even if we accept, for the sake of the argument, that the markets are not tilted in favour of WesternTM former and present colonial powers today, that still leaves a gap of a hundred, maybe a hundred and fifty years where WesternTM countries had monopoly access to the most concentrated and easily accessible energy reserves. Exponential growth being what it is, a constant head start translates into an exponentially increasing gap in absolute terms.

Chinese companies - which today are the world's largest consumers of energy. Do the Chinese have imperial control of energy resources? No. I'm digressig...

Actually, they do, by proxy. China operates within the American colonial order. It collects and processes tribute for the US, and keeps some of the proceeds for itself. Obviously, however, this is only an option available to a moderately powerful country - you can only proxy for the colonial overlord if you are not yourself a colony.

The difference between European and African wealth goes back hundreds (if not thousands) of years

Well, no. As late as the early Renaissance, North Africa was at least as wealthy as all but the most powerful city-states on the Northern shore of the Mediterranean. It really is only with the voyages of discovery (and attendant colonial acquisitions) that the Northern side of the Med began to pull ahead.

and is a product of the quality of land,

The soil and climate of the Southern shore of the Med is comparable to the Northern shore in most places, and superior in some.

labour and capital use,

Which is restricted by capital and raw material availability, which again brings us back to the advantage Europe accrued from raping the Americas, India and Sub-Saharan Africa...

the level of development of trade & commerce

Which, again, is not noticeably different between the two shores of the Med until trade with the colonies opened up.

and the nature of the social order (laws, governance, infrastructure, ...).

Comparable until the late Renaissance.

Just check out your history books.

See, there's this thing with history books: They normally gloss over such little details as the displacement of the North American population and the scramble for Africa...

Regarding the cultural differences and scary Muslims (as you refer to them)... It seems that as soon as one is not praising Muslims, one is a right wing Nazi bigot.

Yawn. While straw men are vaguely amusing the first time around, this one really is sort of old.

it would be absolute folly giving North Africa's + Turkey's 280M people almost equal voting rights in EU institutions on issues pertaining to our way of life (retirement, investments, taxes, resource allocation, social orientation) given that our cultures are so different

Eh. You still haven't pointed out any cultural differences at all, apart from the fact that the countries in question have a majority Muslim population. Which really doesn't count for much of anything.

and that the priorities of our two societies are so different. If it's'a LONG term project, then wake me up in 500 years when it's on the agenda

Poland was a third-world country in the fifties and sixties (and culturally still is in many respects). Now, I happen to think that Poland was admitted too soon, but certainly not by an order of magnitude...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 30th, 2010 at 03:39:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I said, there are three fundamental reasons why North Africa and Turkey should not be considered for EU membership:
  1. Economic: the financial burden on the EU would be enormous, resulting in a decreased standard of living for many, many decades, while investments are poured in to these regions in order to modernise their industrial base and infrastructure.
  2. Cultural: Islam is a vector of intolerance towards non Muslims (which most citizens of the EU happen to be). It has been in the past. It is today. It's written in the Koran and preached in mosques. Sharia is officially used as the source of criminal and civil law in most of these countries... which is of course, incompatible with our Western European traditions.
  3. Political: governments in North Africa and Turkey are authoritarian in their spirit and their practice. In short, they are light years away from European democratic models and are anything but supportive of freedoms of thought and expression.
by vladimir on Tue Aug 31st, 2010 at 02:39:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Economic: the financial burden on the EU would be enormous, resulting in a decreased standard of living for many, many decades,

North Africa has the second-largest untapped energy resource on the planet. In this century, energy is going to be a crucial constraint on industrial production. You either neglect this fact in your economic analysis, or you assume that Europe will be able to secure unrestricted access to said energy without any substantial progress towards economic equality between the Northern and Southern shore of the Mediterranean.

Or, to put it a little more bluntly, you are either in denial of the energy constraint on European industrial production, or you are proposing classic colonial expropriation of North Africa's energy resources.

Cultural: Islam is a vector of intolerance towards non Muslims

If Islam were an important causative factor in promoting intolerance, then we should see similar hostility in Muslims who live in Europe. We don't, so it isn't.

Sharia is officially used as the source of criminal and civil law in most of these countries...

The civil and criminal law of an EU member must be in compliance with European federal law. And I really don't see a "Sharia opt-out" to have a snowball's chance in a blast furnace.

which is of course, incompatible with our Western European traditions.

I assume that you do not count Poland as a "Western" country, then? Or is Catholic Sharia OK?

Political: governments in North Africa and Turkey are authoritarian in their spirit and their practice. In short, they are light years away from European democratic models and are anything but supportive of freedoms of thought and expression.

Again, the civil and criminal law of an EU member state must be in compliance with the EU treaties. Similarly, corruption and police impunity must be brought down to tolerable levels prior to entry. And the EU is unlikely to repeat the mistake (made during the accession negotiations for Eastern Europe) of granting points for effort rather than results.

It may be that one or more North African states will decide that these requirements are too onerous, in which case they are free to pursue their interests elsewhere, including in a looser cooperative framework with the EU and/or other interested parties. It may be that those who seek membership despite these hurdles will take five hundred years to reach compliance with the membership criteria. It may be that they will take fifty years to do so. The only thing that is certain in this matter is that the more the EU has to offer, the greater our influence in the region.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 31st, 2010 at 09:47:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Catholic Sharia? You can't be serious. Besides abortion being banned in Poland under the pressure of the Church, to my knowledge, the two situations are anything but comparable. First, the Polish Constitution does not put Canon Law of the Vatican above National Law! Second, the Polish government doesn't fund Canon Law courts to arbitrate civil and/or criminal cases. What are you talking about?

So, North Africa is rich in natural resources and the EU needs to integrate this region so that we can avoid colonial expropriation of their natural resources. How noble! I have a simpler idea: the EU can enact a law which levies a 100% tax on all energy imports from North Africa and finance development projects. Then everyone will vote for you because we'll all be paying 3 Euros a litre of gas instead of 1,50.

If I understand correctly, you're suggesting that the legal, political and religious system in these countries will have to adapt to EU norms before they can be admitted to the Union. In other words: we're gonna tell them how to organise their governments and run their societies. That's a neo-colonial idea if ever there was one. I have a simpler idea: focus on putting your own house in order before telling your neighbours where to pee.

by vladimir on Tue Aug 31st, 2010 at 01:42:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Catholic Sharia? You can't be serious. Besides abortion being banned in Poland under the pressure of the Church, to my knowledge, the two situations are anything but comparable.

You're right, they're not comparable. Poland has considerably more pronounced theocratic tendencies than, say, Egypt (which is better compared to a Latin American banana republic than to Mideastern theocracies).

So, North Africa is rich in natural resources and the EU needs to integrate this region so that we can avoid colonial expropriation of their natural resources. How noble!

So you're in favour of colonial expropriation of other people's resources? That's the sort of attitude that makes white people unpopular, y'know.

I have a simpler idea: the EU can enact a law which levies a 100% tax on all energy imports from North Africa and finance development projects.

It is possible that there are more moronic ways to encourage economic development in North Africa, but off the top of my head I cannot think of any.

Then everyone will vote for you because we'll all be paying 3 Euros a litre of gas instead of 1,50.

You believe that internal combustion engines will remain an economically viable option for the majority of our transportation needs?

That's cute. In the real world, however, internal combustion engines are between a half and a full order of magnitude less efficient per ton- or passenger-kilometre than electric vehicles, so internal combustion is only really justified in airplanes and heavy, independently operating machinery like agricultural combines and heavy earth-moving machinery. It is not a serious item on any retail budget in a sustainable political economy. (Not to mention the fact that said internal combustion engines will run on ammonia rather than gasoline, and I really don't want amateurs dicking around with an ammonia power engine...)

If I understand correctly, you're suggesting that the legal, political and religious system in these countries will have to adapt to EU norms before they can be admitted to the Union.

To an extent.

In other words: we're gonna tell them how to organise their governments and run their societies.

No, I'm telling them that if they do this, then they are welcome in the European Union. If they do not wish to do this, but wish to remain in a trade and economic development framework, then they are welcome in that sort of integration with the European Union. And if all they want is a mutual defence pact, then the EU should be open to that.

How far they wish to pursue integration is up to them. I'm just confident that the EU can offer the best deal on the table. But if they disagree, well, they're sovereign states.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 31st, 2010 at 03:40:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'm not in favour of colonial expropriation or slavery of any kind. And the point of my comment had nothing to do with combustion machines (which I see you have a mastery of). It was simply to say that the impact of the policy you recommend would be to increase energy prices. That's all.

Imposing a levy or tax on energy imports is from being a dumb policy. This is regular coffee policy in any government: Tax A to finance B through fund C. Plus, it's much much simpler than working on integrating 280M people and their government infrastructure into the EU. Really.

by vladimir on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 03:59:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Should read: Imposing a levy or tax on energy imports is FAR from being a dumb policy.
by vladimir on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 05:22:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was simply to say that the impact of the policy you recommend would be to increase energy prices. That's all.

My policy will not cause energy prices to rise. Energy prices will rise when energy becomes a scarce resource. The only way you can prevent energy prices from rising is by making energy a non-scarce resource, and the only way to make energy a non-scarce resource is to suppress third-world demand. Which is one of the essential points of a colonial relationship.

Imposing a levy or tax on energy imports is from being a dumb policy.

I did not say that it was dumb policy, only that it was dumb policy if the objective is to industrialise North Africa.

Plus, it's much much simpler than working on integrating 280M people and their government infrastructure into the EU.

It would also have been much, much simpler to not integrate Eastern Europe into the EU. And it would have been even simpler to never expand it beyond the original coal and steel communities, since France and Germany would then not have to support underdeveloped countries like Spain and Great Britain. In fact, it would have been much, much simpler to never start the EU in the first place and just de-industrialise Germany along the lines proposed in the Morgenthau Plan. Of course, in that case we would probably be having another major European shooting war right about now, but at least we would have been spared the mental anguish of redefining what it means to be European...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 06:58:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only way you can prevent energy prices from rising is by making energy a non-scarce resource

I see you believe that supply and demand make the world go 'round. Viva free market economics! Are you denying that governments can have an impact on market prices of goods and services?

I did not say that it was dumb policy, only that it was dumb policy if the objective is to industrialise North Africa.

Are you suggesting that International Development Banks have had no impact on the economies of underdeveloped countries? EBRD, ADB, IFC, WB, etc. - not to mention all the bilateral funds that exist. They have, regardless of the fact that they're also used as political leverage by the West.

we would probably be having another major European shooting war right about now

Talk about a strawman... here it is.

by vladimir on Thu Sep 2nd, 2010 at 02:32:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only way you can prevent energy prices from rising is by making energy a non-scarce resource

I see you believe that supply and demand make the world go 'round. Viva free market economics!

No, I just believe that the laws of physics are not negotiable, and that economic rent follows the constraining factor of production.

Of course, another way to make energy a non-scarce resource is to artificially constrain the availability of another resource - typically money - in order to induce a general industrial depression. But somehow, I don't think that's what you were getting at.

Are you denying that governments can have an impact on market prices of goods and services?

Of course they can. But only within the limits set by physical reality - and physical reality imposes a lower limit on the real cost of the constraining factor of production.

I did not say that it was dumb policy, only that it was dumb policy if the objective is to industrialise North Africa.

Are you suggesting that International Development Banks have had no impact on the economies of underdeveloped countries?

No, I'm saying that punitive tariffs on the imports of underdeveloped countries do more harm to their industrial production than comparable development credits can compensate for. An economic policy proposal must be evaluated in full, and the net impact of the full policy you proposed is negative.

we would probably be having another major European shooting war right about now

Talk about a strawman... here it is.

At the moment, the US Navy controls Suez and Gibraltar. At some point in the not so far future, the US Navy will cease to be a reliable guarantor of European interests in the Mediterranean region, either because the US Navy ceases to be reliable due to a generalised economic collapse of the US, or because American and European interests diverge too greatly for the transatlantic alliance to remain viable.

The EU can secure Gibraltar, and there's not much anybody can do about it. But Suez can easily spark a shooting war.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 2nd, 2010 at 03:32:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But Suez can easily spark a shooting war.
Nah. Most ships are too big for Suez nowadays, and instead go by way of Cape Town.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Sep 4th, 2010 at 12:18:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Islam were an important causative factor in promoting intolerance, then we should see similar hostility in Muslims who live in Europe. We don't, so it isn't.

We DO see hostility of Muslims in Europe, even though they're just a minority. We hear it in violent North African rap, see it in urban anarchy, and most telling of all, we witness it in many European mosques which are infiltrated by Wahhabists financed by Saudi Arabia. Why do you think the French government is getting involved in building "official" mosques? So that it can pick, choose and approve the Imams who preach in them. So that it can put an end to calls for Jihad in France.

If Islam were so tolerant as you seem to imply, how do you explain that Asia Minor, which was populated by 80%-90% Christians up until the 14th century is now 99,8% Muslim. How do you explain the genocides against the Greeks and the Armenians? How do you explain Ataturk's famous comment that "Now that we are all Turkish, now that we are all Muslims, we must be secular"? How do you explain the concept of Dhimmi in the Koran which relegates non Muslims to second rate status... a concept which was instituted into Turkish law until the 20th century... and is still an integral component of Sharia. How do you explain that the Koran openly calls for combating all non believers? How do you explain that there are NO churches, NO synagogues and NO places of worship to any God other than Allah in Saudi Arabia? How do you explain that Lebanon's Christian population is dwindling? Or Iraq's? Or Iran's?

I'd really be interested in reading a diary explaining how and where the tolerant side of Islam expresses itself? It's just beyond me, but I'd really like to understand.

by Lynch on Tue Aug 31st, 2010 at 03:16:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We DO see hostility of Muslims in Europe, even though they're just a minority. We hear it in violent North African rap,

As opposed to the entirely pacifist (Christian) American rap culture?

see it in urban anarchy,

Where? I am aware of no case of urban anarchy in Europe that are not fully explained by class conflict.

and most telling of all, we witness it in many European mosques which are infiltrated by Wahhabists financed by Saudi Arabia.

Ah, so now we've narrowed it down to a claim that a certain Muslim sect is overtly hostile to European civilisation, and that said Muslim sect is funded and supported by a specific foreign country. This is, of course, correct. It is also altogether different in scope and peril to a generalised Muslim hostility.

Incidentally, most North African governments view Wahhabism as a form of sedition.

(By the way, I'm happy to see that you've realised that Iran is not, in fact, funding Wahhabist mosques, on account of Wahhabism being a Sunni sect and Iran being run by Shias...)

Why do you think the French government is getting involved in building "official" mosques? So that it can pick, choose and approve the Imams who preach in them.

This is an excellent idea. They should do that with Christian churches too.

If Islam were so tolerant as you seem to imply, how do you explain that Asia Minor, which was populated by 80%-90% Christians up until the 14th century is now 99,8% Muslim.

By noting that the Ottoman Empire was violently intolerant of Christianity in the 15th century. There were various reasons for this, of course, but I don't doubt that Islam as then practised was one such reason.

Incidentally, during the 16th century, Christianity was violently intolerant not only of pagan beliefs in the colonies but even of other versions of Christianity (see, e.g., the counter-reformation). So if you are going to claim that Ottoman Turk repression in the 15th century has modern relevance, well...

How do you explain the genocides against the Greeks and the Armenians?

As a nationalist project. Genocides were quite popular among nationalist movements at the time, although they usually had the good sense to practise such predilections abroad rather than at home.

How do you explain Ataturk's famous comment that "Now that we are all Turkish, now that we are all Muslims, we must be secular"?

See above. Violent nationalist movements were not uncommon in Europe at the time.

How do you explain the concept of Dhimmi in the Koran which relegates non Muslims to second rate status...

If by "explain" you mean "make excuses for" then I don't. I simply note that dogma says a lot of things, and religious groups are usually rather selective in their citation practise. Whether this is hypocritical or simply a genre convention of religious exegesis is a question that I will refer to theologians.

a concept which was instituted into Turkish law until the 20th century...

You really don't want to compare Turkey in the 19th century to Europe in the 19th century vis-a-vis general respect for human rights in general and the concept of second-class citizens in particular. That would be an own goal.

and is still an integral component of Sharia.

Sharia, however, is not an integral component of the main strands of North African jurisprudence, and has not been since Nasser.

How do you explain that the Koran openly calls for combating all non believers?

How do you explain Article 1, Section 2 of the Augsburg Confession? To take just one major Christian document of modern theological relevance.

How do you explain that there are NO churches, NO synagogues and NO places of worship to any God other than Allah in Saudi Arabia?

By noting that Saudi Arabia operates on Medieval Savings Time - when it's 12 noon in London, it's 1,000 AD in Riyadh.

By the way, since we're discussing North Africa, at what point did Saudi Arabia acquire a Mediterranean deep water port, again?

How do you explain that Lebanon's Christian population is dwindling?

Several major Christian sects sided with the Phalangists during the civil war. That was a bad pick, in more ways than one. I don't know whether it's a dominant causative factor, but it is a confounder that you will have to correct for if you wish to claim a significant trend.

Or Iraq's?

Iraq does not exist as a coherent political entity at the moment. The territory formerly occupied by the Iraqi state has undergone a series of ethnic cleansings following the erasure of the Iraqi state from the world by an American colonial expeditionary corps. (You may have heard these ethnic cleansings referred to as "secterian violence," although this is a somewhat misleading label.) And while Iraq still existed, it was run by a less than perfectly functioning government, shall we say.

Incidentally, when did Iraq obtain a Mediterranean deep water port?

Or Iran's?

In the first part, I do not have the liveliest of confidence in the accuracy of statistics on the religious demographics of Iran, or any other state in which "apostasy" is a criminal offence.

In the second part, Christianity is actively persecuted, alongside Sunni Islam, members of unauthorised Shia denominations and assorted other religious groups.

Iran, you will note, also does not have any Mediterranean deep water ports.

I'd really be interested in reading a diary explaining how and where the tolerant side of Islam expresses itself?

Broadly the same way the tolerant side of Christianity expresses itself: By not sticking its nose in the running of government or the conduct of people's private lives.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 31st, 2010 at 04:56:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm happy to see that you've realized that Iran is not, in fact, funding Wahhabist mosques

I never said that Iran was funding Wahhabist mosques.

a certain Muslim sect

I would definitely not refer to Wahhabists as being a "certain Muslim sect". The fact is that it's quite mainstream on the Arabian Peninsula and Afghanistan. Furthermore, its influence has been rising fast in other parts of the world thanks to the aggressive, expansionistic vision of its cash drenched financiers.

they should do that with Christian churches too

Your blunt insinuation that Christian churches promote the same kind of zeal against Muslims as do Wahhabist Mosques against non Muslims is a mix of the grotesque and the ludicrous. It's quite evident that you don't attend Sunday Mass - and that's of course, your prerogative. But I'd like to know whether you have EVER in your life attended a celebration of Mass. And if you have, what kind of anti Muslim preaching did you hear? And if you did, what kind of Mass did you attend, dear Sir? Perhaps you are referring to hear-say you caught wind of on Al Jazeera?

Whatever the roots of your beliefs, this type of comment can only be borne out of genuine ignorance or total bad faith.

Ottoman Turk repression in the 15th century

15th century? Are your talking about Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938)? Mr. Sierra, the latest and Final mass expulsion of Christian Greeks from Turkey took place in the 20th century. More precisely, it was between 1915 and 1925, that some 500 000 Greeks were murdered or died under the Turkish sword. Frightening killing fields, mass executions and torching of Greek cities are documented in chilling detail, should you care to research the subject. This European genocide of non Muslims took place only 85 years ago... with absolutely no repentance from Turkey's leadership, which till this very day considers that it was justifiable policy implemented in the interests of the Turkish nation. In fact, in 1998, the Turkish Parliament passed a resolution stating that "there was no historical basis to accuse Turkey of perpetrating genocide against the Greeks" and asked the Greeks "to apologize for the large-scale destruction and massacres that Greece perpetrated in Anatolia". Bring them into Europe Mr. Sierra!

You believe that it is precisely because the Turks are Muslim that they should be in the EU. For, as the logic goes, once in the EU, we shall be better able to project our policies to the rest of North Africa and the Middle East. Yet, that logic is flawed, as your apologetic stance regarding Turkey's recent past proves. Instead of luring Turkey to Europe's flute, you are pushing Europe to Turkey's fiddle.

Sharia, however, is not an integral component of the main strands of North African jurisprudence

Yes it is. In Egypt (since you mentioned Nasser) Sharia is inscribed in the Constitution as being THE supreme source of the law.

Augsburg Confession

This is a Lutheran interpretation of the Bible which is rejected by the Catholic (and Orthodox) Church. By comparison, the Koran (in other words, the equivalent of the Bible and not some sect's interpretation of it) explicitly calls for the elimination of the infidels ad nauseam. It's a root cause, as opposed to a peripheral extrapolation.

we're discussing North Africa

We're also discussing Islam as a religion which is intolerant of non Muslims. If my understanding is correct, Muslims do live in Saudi Arabia. Do they not?

by Lynch on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 12:13:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I never said that Iran was funding Wahhabist mosques.

No, you just implied it:

The problem is that these people (Fahd & Co, the Iranians, ...) are financing the building of mosques throughout the Western world... and financing fanatic Imams who preach hatred and Jihad against the people and governments of the countries they live in.

I would definitely not refer to Wahhabists as being a "certain Muslim sect". The fact is that it's quite mainstream on the Arabian Peninsula and Afghanistan.

[Citation Needed]

Oh, and when did "mainstream on the Arabian Peninsula and Afghanistan" become coterminous with "Muslim?"

Furthermore, its influence has been rising fast in other parts of the world thanks to the aggressive, expansionistic vision of its cash drenched financiers.

[Citation Needed]

Your blunt insinuation that Christian churches promote the same kind of zeal against Muslims as do Wahhabist Mosques

I don't insinuate that. I simply note that smothering Christian churches is also a good idea.

But I realise that to some people, bigotry is an irregular verb: I'm a traditionalist, you're orthodox, he's a bigot.

But I'd like to know whether you have EVER in your life attended a celebration of Mass.

That would happen to be none of your business. But I am familiar with the liturgy of the Scandinavian Evangelical-Lutheran tradition. Less so the Catholic tradition, which is what is relevant to discussions of France. But on the other hand, the Catholic Church has a somewhat higher political profile - and it's a homophobic, sexist and HIV/AIDS denialist organisation. Hence my desire to bring its teachings into line with the policies of the secular state.

Ottoman Turk repression in the 15th century

15th century? Are your talking about Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938)? Mr. Sierra, the latest and Final mass expulsion of Christian Greeks from Turkey took place in the 20th century. More precisely, it was between 1915 and 1925, that some 500 000 Greeks were murdered or died under the Turkish sword.

While I realise that the post that you respond to is on the long side, if you had but stayed your quill until the very next paragraph, you would have seen the following discussion of the Armenian genocide, which is also applicable to the ethnic cleansing of the Turkish Greeks:

As a nationalist project. Genocides were quite popular among nationalist movements at the time, although they usually had the good sense to practise such predilections abroad rather than at home.

This European genocide of non Muslims took place only 85 years ago... with absolutely no repentance from Turkey's leadership, which till this very day considers that it was justifiable policy implemented in the interests of the Turkish nation. [...] Bring them into Europe

You seem to be rather selective in your selection of early 20th century genocides. You might want to read up on Belgian and British activities in the Congo River basin in the same period. Something about throwing rocks and living in glass houses comes to mind...

You believe that it is precisely because the Turks are Muslim that they should be in the EU.

You will have to provide a quote by me to that effect. I believe that Turkey should be offered EU membership, if and when they fulfil the membership criteria, because Turkey is in the European sphere of interest (it's also in the Russian and Persian/Arabic sphere of influence, but I happen to be a European, not an Iranian or Russian).

Yet, that logic is flawed, as your apologetic stance regarding Turkey's recent past proves.

I am not engaged in apologetics for genocide here. I am simply noting that as long as Europe remains in denial of genocides that are orders of magnitude greater, then presenting Turkish historical revisionism as an insurmountable obstacle to successful European integration is... less than perfectly convincing, shall we say.

Sharia, however, is not an integral component of the main strands of North African jurisprudence

Yes it is. In Egypt (since you mentioned Nasser) Sharia is inscribed in the Constitution as being THE supreme source of the law.

The Egyptian constitution says a lot of things. It also stipulates that the multi-party system is the political system of the republic. Of one hundred and twenty-six articles of the Egyptian constitution, Islam is mentioned precisely three times, in a total of two articles.

By comparison, the Danish constitution stipulates that executive power resides with the king, and that the king has veto powers over any legislation. It also mentions the king more times than I could be bothered to count.

From this exercise in comparative constitutional exegesis, one would get the impression that the Danish king wields greater power over Danish society than Islam does over Egyptian society. If one were inclined to believe that the wording of the constitution is more important than the actually existing institutional power relationships, that is.

Augsburg Confession

This is a Lutheran interpretation of the Bible which is rejected by the Catholic (and Orthodox) Church. By comparison, the Koran (in other words, the equivalent of the Bible and not some sect's interpretation of it) explicitly calls for the elimination of the infidels ad nauseam.

So? Have you ever read that trippy story in the back of the Bible about the whore of Babylon and all that jazz? Oh, and while we're on the subject of comparative theology, the New Testament is peppered with references to the continuing validity of Old Testament canon law - which is about as full of barbaric practises and calls for genocide as any text you'd care to mention.

we're discussing North Africa

We're also discussing Islam as a religion which is intolerant of non Muslims. If my understanding is correct, Muslims do live in Saudi Arabia. Do they not?

If my understanding is correct, Christians do live in Utah. Do they not?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 02:04:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Follow-up to discussion with Jake Sierra (see above)

You just implied [that the Iranians were financing Wahhabist Imams]

No I didn't. What I said was that the Saudis and the Iranians were both financing radical Imams and the building of new mosques throughout Western Europe and the United States. While the Saudis are promoting Wahhabism, the Iranians are financing Shiite Islam - which is characterized by an equally intolerant and Jihadist strain.

[it's influence has been rising fast in other parts of the world] Citation needed

You really need a citation that this firebrand form of Islam is the fastest growing in Europe and the US? While I don't have updated statistics on the numbers of Imams, the flows in their bank accounts or the content of their preaching (our governments and media go out of their way to avoid compiling and publishing statistics of this genre) I do follow (albeit, superficially) who has been financing Islamic expansion in the Balkans, Europe and the US over the past decade.

For example: just take a look at the controversy regarding the NY Ground Zero Mosque. Indications are that the Saudis are financing the 100M$ needed to build Cordoba Centre. When questioned on the source of funds, Imam Rauf has remained surprisingly mute. Now, if the Saudis aren't financing it and considering the political controversy created by this issue, why don't the sponsors just come out clean and publicize who really is behind this mosque?

I don't insinuate that. I simply note that smothering Christian Churches is also a good idea

This is really the crux of the matter. In Europe and the US, you won't be treated as a second rate citizen because you're an atheist, a Muslim or a Jew. On the other hand, if you live in Turkey, in Saudi Arabia or in North Africa, your individual freedoms will be significantly reduced if you're NOT Muslim. In fact, they'll also be reduced if you ARE Muslim, compared to the freedoms you enjoy in Europe.

But regardless of the individual choice that you have in Europe to live completely free of the Church's dogma, you Mr. Sierra, nevertheless want to smother Christian Churches. And what about Muslim mosques? Would you want to smother them too? Or would you prefer to encourage their propagation, in the name of tolerance and freedom?

Whatever your views are, they're certainly not what one would refer to as "liberal", nor do they promote the ideal of individual freedoms. In short, they are characteristic of plain vanilla authoritarianism. If you don't cherish (read: value and protect) your freedoms Mr. Sierra, they might very well disappear.

The Catholic church [in France] has a somewhat higher political profile

How interesting. Perhaps you would care to explain?

[the Catholic church is] a homophobic, sexist and HIV/AIDS denialist organization

First of all, you can be an In The Closet Gay or Out Of The Closet Gay and still receive the Sacraments. Second, the Catholic Church has absolutely no leverage over your private life. If you want to be a flaming drag queen, what's the Catholic Church going to do? Burn you at the stake? Just do it sweetie. Who cares?

On the other hand, I'll wager you a hundred bucks that you'd end up in jail - if not dead - in less than 60 minutes if you were to attempt going to a restaurant dressed as a she-male in Rabat, Tripoli, Cairo, Mecca or Teheran. But hey, I don't want to confuse you with the facts... let's just smother the Church and bring Mecca to Europe instead. That'll definitely contribute to a more open and tolerant European society. Won't it Mr. Sierra?

Now tell me, just how is the Catholic Church a sexist and HIV/AIDS denialist organization?

hence my desire to bring its teachings into line with the policies of the secular state

Is this the definition of megalomania... or is it just a contradiction in terms?

Turkey should be offered membership, if and when they fulfill the membership criteria

And that's not going to be any time soon. So it's really quite futile discussing Turkish and North African integration into the EU while it's only a pipe dream of a handful of Globalist Illuminati.

...presenting Turkish historical revisionism as an insurmountable obstacle to successful European integration

It's not only about historical revisionism. It's about human rights and individual freedoms. Something you don't seem to value that much, given you desire to "smother" people's freedom of religious expression.

... in the Egyptian constitution, Islam is mentioned precisely three times

I haven't counted, and I sincerely doubt that you have. Regardless... it could have been mentioned only once. What's important is when and where it was mentioned. In this case, it was to reaffirm the supremacy of Sharia in the interpretation of civil and penal law.

the Danish King wields greater power over Danish society than Islam does over Egyptian society

Well, that just comforts my thesis that political and economic union between Europe and North Africa is just a far off pipe dream that exists only in Lala Land.

... the story about the whore of Babylon and all that jazz

I don't know the Whore personally, nor have I yet heard the jazz that you claim will accompany her coming. I do, however, know her metaphorically; she is an allegory of greed and vice. Most often, the Whore refers to Rome's brutality and evil during the 1st century AD. When Calvinists speak of the Whore, they usually refer to the Roman Catholic Church. Still others refer to Jerusalem...

Exactly why is it that you are bringing this Whore and her seven headed beast to the discussion?

Old Testament canon law - which is about as full of barbaric practices and calls for genocide as any text you'd care to mention

Now I'd really be interested in learning more about that. Perhaps you would care to educate me?

For your information, the notion of Canon Law was formulated in the 1st Century AD by the Apostles.
The Old Testament didn't have Canon Law. Maybe you are referring to the 10 commandments?

Christians do live in Utah. Do they not?

And precisely what has Utah's government been doing to promote its radical, firebrand Christian beliefs in other countries around the world?

by Lynch on Thu Sep 2nd, 2010 at 02:15:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Saudis and the Iranians were both financing radical Imams [Citation Needed] and the building of new mosques throughout Western Europe [Citation Needed] and the United States. While the Saudis are promoting Wahhabism, the Iranians are financing Shiite Islam [Citation Needed] - which is characterized by an equally intolerant and Jihadist strain [Citation Needed].

Seeing as most European Muslims are from parts of the world where the majority religion is Sunni Islam, and that those who are from Iran are usually here because they have a... strained relationship, shall we say, with the current management in Tehran, I find that hard to believe without references that are a little more substantial than your say-so.

You really need a citation that this firebrand form of Islam is the fastest growing in Europe and the US?

Yes. Yes I do. Because I have yet to see any actual numbers on that, only a lot of agit-prop from more or less overtly racist groups.

For example: just take a look at the controversy regarding the NY Ground Zero Mosque.

Which is not actually a mosque and is not actually located next to the former WTC complex... So what sort of sources, precisely, have you been relying on while "following (albeit, superficially) who has been financing Islamic expansion in the Balkans, Europe and the US over the past decade?"

Indications [Citation Needed] are that the Saudis are financing the 100M$ needed to build Cordoba Centre. When questioned on the source of funds, Imam Rauf has remained surprisingly mute. Now, if the Saudis aren't financing it and considering the political controversy created by this issue, why don't the sponsors just come out clean [sic] and publicize who really is behind this mosque?

Which is still not a mosque. And it might be because they don't consider agit-prop from birfers, teabaggers and Faux "News" to qualify as "controversy." Biologists do not, as a rule, waste their time on debunking every Creationist manufactroversy either. Does this make biology somehow suspicious?

In Europe and the US, you won't be treated as a second rate citizen because you're an atheist, a Muslim or a Jew.

Riiight...

And this is just Europe. Head over to Dispatches from the Culture Wars and poke around their archives for just a little bit if you want American examples.

On the other hand, if you live in Turkey [Citation Needed], in Saudi Arabia or in North Africa [Citation Needed], your individual freedoms will be significantly reduced if you're NOT Muslim.

You keep confusing Turkey, North Africa (which is actually five different countries...) and Saudi Arabia. This is broadly similar to confusing Russia, Alabama and the Visegrad Group.

But regardless of the individual choice that you have in Europe to live completely free of the Church's dogma, you Mr. Sierra, nevertheless want to smother Christian Churches.

Yes. The American experience in not doing so indicates that failure to smother the political aspirations and social role of the dominant religious groups compromises people's ability to live completely free of their dogma.

And what about Muslim mosques? Would you want to smother them too?

Which part of

Why do you think the French government is getting involved in building "official" mosques? So that it can pick, choose and approve the Imams who preach in them.

This is an excellent idea. They should do that with Christian churches too.

did you find it hard to understand?

Whatever your views are, they're certainly not what one would refer to as "liberal", nor do they promote the ideal of individual freedoms. In short, they are characteristic of plain vanilla authoritarianism.

You got all that just from my desire to see religious movements removed from the political scene?

The Catholic church [in France] has a somewhat higher political profile

You're funny. The Catholic Church has a higher political profile, full stop. If for no other reason, then because it has a coherent transnational organisation, something no other religion can boast (unless you consider the Moonies, Scientology et al to be religions - for myself, I view them more as sophisticated Ponzi scams).

First of all, you can be an In The Closet Gay or Out Of The Closet Gay and still receive the Sacraments.

I wasn't discussing theology. I was discussing politics. And in its political lobbying, the Catholic Church is consistently homophobic and sexist.

Second, the Catholic Church has absolutely no leverage over your private life.

Except, of course, if I live in Poland, the Baltic rim or Central Europe, where it practises hate speech from the pulpits. Or do you believe that hate speech does not lead to hate crime?

But hey, I don't want to confuse you with the facts... let's just smother the Church and bring Mecca to Europe instead.

Again, which part of

Why do you think the French government is getting involved in building "official" mosques? So that it can pick, choose and approve the Imams who preach in them.

This is an excellent idea. They should do that with Christian churches too.

did you find it hard to understand?

Now tell me, just how is the Catholic Church a sexist and HIV/AIDS denialist organization?

Google is your friend.

Turkey should be offered membership, if and when they fulfill the membership criteria

And that's not going to be any time soon.

How long ago would you have said the same thing about Croatia? 1993? I fully expect to be alive in 2030.

...presenting Turkish historical revisionism as an insurmountable obstacle to successful European integration

It's not only about historical revisionism.

But that was the argument addressed in that paragraph. I am sorry that not every paragraph can engage with the totality of your argument... such as it is and what there is of it.

It's about human rights and individual freedoms. Something you don't seem to value that much, given you desire to "smother" people's freedom of religious expression.

Where did I say that I wanted to smother people's religious expression? That's a futile and counterproductive thing to try to do.

I just want to smother any chance of political organisation around that religious expression. You are making the classic Enlightenment mistake of assuming that the individual is sovereign - social context matters in whether religious practise is a harmless pastime, as is the case in most of Europe, or a serious threat to the public welfare, as is the case in most of Africa.

... in the Egyptian constitution, Islam is mentioned precisely three times

I haven't counted, and I sincerely doubt that you have.

You would be wrong.

See, modern internet browsers have this fancy free text search function that can highlight matches to a specific text string. In this case "Islam". Go try it out.

Regardless... it could have been mentioned only once. What's important is when and where it was mentioned. In this case, it was to reaffirm the supremacy of Sharia in the interpretation of civil and penal law.

Article 2, in total:

  • Islam is the religion of the state and Arabic its official language.

  • Islamic jurisprudence is the principal source of legislation.

(the single other mention is a genuflection to Art. 2).

The makeups of the executive and judicial systems are detailed in Part Three, which is actually surprisingly good, for a police state.

Exactly why is it that you are bringing this Whore and her seven headed beast to the discussion?

Because it's the part of the New Testament where the American Taliban find scriptural support for most of their more retarded ideas.

Old Testament canon law - which is about as full of barbaric practices and calls for genocide as any text you'd care to mention

Now I'd really be interested in learning more about that. Perhaps you would care to educate me?

http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/

For your information, the notion of Canon Law was formulated in the 1st Century AD by the Apostles.
The Old Testament didn't have Canon Law. Maybe you are referring to the 10 commandments?

Please forgive the inadequacy of my familiarity with theological terms of art. I was thinking about Judges, Leviticus and a couple of the other places that fundagelicals like to cite. But the whole book is full of barbarisms, as one would expect from something that's about as old as the Iliad, and from a considerably more backwards culture.

Christians do live in Utah. Do they not?

And precisely what has Utah's government been doing to promote its radical, firebrand Christian beliefs in other countries around the world?

That whooshing sound was the sound of a point sailing waaay over your head.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 2nd, 2010 at 04:02:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I find that hard to believe without references that are a little more substantial than your say-so.

You need references? They're all over the web! For a start, go to Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosque
Saudi influence
See also: Wahhabism
"Although the Saudi involvement in mosques around the world can be traced back to the 1960s, it was not until later in the twentieth century that the government of Saudi Arabia became a large influence in foreign mosques... An estimated US$45 billion has been spent by the Saudi Arabian government financing mosques and Islamic schools in foreign countries...building as many as 1,500 mosques and 2,000 other Islamic centers..."

And this is only official government financing, which doesn't take private donors into account.

Yes. Yes I do. Because I have yet to see any actual numbers on that, only a lot of agit-prop from more or less overtly racist groups.

While there are some far right, racist groups that are vocal opponents of Islam's spread in Europe, I note that a majority of Europeans from France to Switzerland to Germany to Denmark are concerned with the growing number of insular, intolerant, Sharia practising communities which live outside of the legal and social frameworks established by our governments. 65%+ of Europe racist? No. These people just don't want to turn the clock back 1000 years in their own countries and see their civil liberties reduced to shit.

Which is not actually a mosque

Cordoba House is not a mosque? Oh yes, I heard that it was a multi confessional edifice to peace and mutual friendship. Next thing you know, Cordoba house will become a Church. Tell me, who is financing this Muslim center of religious teaching (which, of course, is NOT a mosque)?

And this is just Europe. Head over to Dispatches from the Culture Wars and poke around their archives for just a little bit if you want American examples.

These are not authoritative references, nor do they come even close to proving that there is some sort of underlying mass racist movement in Europe or the US. And, by the way, Gipsies are mainly Christian.

You keep confusing Turkey, North Africa (which is actually five different countries...) and Saudi Arabia.

Cheap shot. Kindergarten level at best (and I'm flattering you).

Yes (I want to smother the Church). The American experience in not doing so indicates that failure to smother the political aspirations and social role of the dominant religious groups compromises people's ability to live completely free of their dogma.

I have an idea for you. Why don't you focus on smothering Islam?

Which part of (putting Churches under government control) did you find hard to understand?

The part that explains why. You haven't provided any citations of hate speech in the French Catholic Church... or any Christian Church for that matter.

You're funny. The Catholic Church has a higher political profile, full stop. If for no other reason, then because it has a coherent transnational organisation, something no other religion can boast

No, you're funny. You're confusing social profile with political profile, the latter being in the domain of the legislative and executive branches of the state's apparatus, where the Catholic Church in France is officially and effectively absent.

I wasn't discussing theology. I was discussing politics. And in its political lobbying, the Catholic Church is consistently homophobic and sexist.

More homophobic and sexist than Islam?
Or less homophobic and sexist than Islam?

if I live in Poland, the Baltic rim or Central Europe, where it practises hate speech from the pulpits.

Citation needed.

How long ago would you have said the same thing about Croatia? 1993? I fully expect to be alive in 2030.

Croatia? I would have said that immediately following German reunification. But maybe I'm just visionary. Turkey in 2030? If that wet dream of yours materializes, it will be the end of Europe. I, for one, will fight it with all I've got - and I'm not alone - judging from recent discussions I've had with some French Parliamentarians and Senators.

But tell me, public opinion is largely against integrating Turkey. So what's the plan? A major propaganda operation to brainwash the dumb European public into thinking that integrating Turkey into the EU is good for them? It sounds like: "Screw the people. We, the self proclaimed Brussels Elite know what is best for the dumb masses!"

(I don't want to smother the Church...) I just want to smother any chance of political organisation around that religious expression.

What started off with a burning desire to smother the Church has morphed into a benign desire to eliminate its influence from political life. You will concede that there is more than a simple nuance that separates those two concepts. When one engages in rhetoric, it's important to have clarity of thought and expression.

(Religion is) a serious threat to the public welfare, as is the case in most of Africa.

Good! So it would appear that you DO understand the underlying reasons why I'm hostile to bringing North Africa (or Turkey) into the EU.

(On the Egyptian Constitution) The makeups of the executive and judicial systems are detailed in Part Three, which is actually surprisingly good, for a police state.

You may find the Egyptian constitution fantastic for all I care. The fact of the matter is that Sharia (the site where you did your search refers to "Islamic Law" what in fact is Sharia in Arabic) is THE ultimate source of legislative interpretation and is administered through Islamic courts which are financed by the state. What was that you said about wanting to smother... (or was it eliminate) religion from the political sphere? Why don't you write a diary about the influence of Islam in the Egyptian political sphere?

(Referring to the Whore of Babylon) Because it's the part of the New Testament where the American Taliban find scriptural support for most of their more retarded ideas.

Now that is the funniest, most ridiculous sentence I've read in a long time.

That whooshing sound was the sound of a point sailing waaay over your head.

Back to kindergarten you go Mr. Sierra.

by Lynch on Sat Sep 4th, 2010 at 08:07:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You need references? They're all over the web! For a start, go to Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosque
Saudi influence
See also: Wahhabism

Which part of

the Saudis and the Iranians were both financing radical Imams [Citation Needed]

did you find it hard to parse?

While there are some far right, racist groups that are vocal opponents of Islam's spread in Europe, I note that a majority of Europeans from France to Switzerland to Germany to Denmark are concerned with the growing number of insular, intolerant, Sharia practising communities which live outside of the legal and social frameworks established by our governments.

A growing number of Americans believe that Iran is going to nuke Tel Aviv first chance it gets. Ain't it amazing what a concerted, unopposed campaign of malign slander can do to a population? I find it rather fascinating, although it has obviously troubling implications for the viability of Really Existing Democracy...

Cordoba House is not a mosque?

That's right. It's not a mosque. What wingnut hate-site told you that it was?

Tell me, who is financing this Muslim center of religious teaching

The centre is under no obligation to disclose its funding under American law.

If you want a law stating that all charitable contributions from foreign sources must be declared, then I'm all with you. But until and unless all non-profits have to declare funding sources, singling out a community centre on the sole basis that it is run by Muslims is simple harassment.

And as it happens, I Googled a couple of the names on the Cordoba House website, and turns out that the founder is an imam of the Sufi school. He actually seems like a pretty reasonable guy. Anyway, I did a little more digging to figure out what kind of fish a Sufi is. Turns out that it's exceedingly unlikely that there's Wahhabi or Saudi money in that project, since the Saudis and the Wahhabi are violently opposed [.pdf] to Sufism.

You keep confusing Turkey, North Africa (which is actually five different countries...) and Saudi Arabia.

Cheap shot.

Uh, no. You keep making bold claims about Egypt and backing them up with references to practises in Iran, making even bolder claims about Iran and backing them up with references to practises in Saudi Arabia.

Yes (I want to smother the Church). The American experience in not doing so indicates that failure to smother the political aspirations and social role of the dominant religious groups compromises people's ability to live completely free of their dogma.

I have an idea for you. Why don't you focus on smothering Islam?

The two are not mutually exclusive, and extremist Christianity is a greater force for evil in the part of the world I happen to live in.

Which part of (putting Churches under government control) did you find hard to understand?

The part that explains why. You haven't provided any citations of hate speech in the French Catholic Church... or any Christian Church for that matter.

Five seconds of Google.

No, you're funny. You're confusing social profile with political profile,

That distinction is another Enlightenment fallacy - that the State is the sole entity with the capacity to exercise power.

More homophobic and sexist than Islam?
Or less homophobic and sexist than Islam?

More homophobic and sexist than the state churches of Western Europe. Which is the appropriate baseline. "They do it too" is an argument that is normally abandoned sometime around the third grade.

if I live in Poland, the Baltic rim or Central Europe, where it practises hate speech from the pulpits.

Citation needed.

Polish Woman Denied Abortion Awaits EU Judgment

Money quote:

Tysiac's case against her gynecologist drew national press coverage as well as public censure. After 60 Catholic women's groups in Poland launched street protests and a media campaign against her, Tysiac said her children started being harassed in school.

More generally, the far-right parties League of Polish Families and the PiS are heavily intertwined with the Catholic Church, and the League, at least, sports a youth organisation (All Polish Youth) that apparently finds it perfectly justified to commit violence against civil rights demonstrations.

How long ago would you have said the same thing about Croatia? 1993? I fully expect to be alive in 2030.

Croatia? I would have said that immediately following German reunification. But maybe I'm just visionary.

Ah, of course. Being Mooslim is so much worse than participating in a brutal ethnic cleansing...

But tell me, public opinion is largely against integrating Turkey.

shrug Public opinion used to be against gay marriage and legal abortions too. Public opinion changes, and the integration of North Africa has economic and strategic reality on its side.

So what's the plan? A major propaganda operation to brainwash the dumb European public into thinking that integrating Turkey into the EU is good for them?

The plan is to start by not further propagandising against Turkey. More generally, the plan is to split away support from ugly parties and their panderers by rolling back the neoliberal disaster policies that create insecurity and fear for the future. At the same time, the plan is to deepen commercial, infrastructural and diplomatic links with Turkey. When visiting and doing business with Turkey is as natural and commonplace as visiting and doing business with Greece or Romania, much of the fear and hostility will abate.

What started off with a burning desire to smother the Church has morphed into a benign desire to eliminate its influence from political life.

Where did you get the "burning desire" part from? You proposed an excellent way to combat the infiltration of extremist Islamic organisations operating out of a hostile, anti-democratic dictatorship. I just noted that we have an extremist Christian organisation operating out of a hostile, anti-democratic dictatorship, and suggested that we apply the same instrument to that problem.

(Religion is) a serious threat to the public welfare, as is the case in most of Africa.

Good! So it would appear that you DO understand the underlying reasons why I'm hostile to bringing North Africa (or Turkey) into the EU.

Well, in my mental geography Africa starts at the Sahara and Asia at the Urals. Your mileage may vary. But yes, the countries of North Africa would need to develop a relationship with their religious groups - the dominant as well as the minority ones - that is compatible with modern European civilisation.

You may find the Egyptian constitution fantastic for all I care. The fact of the matter is that Sharia (the site where you did your search refers to "Islamic Law" what in fact is Sharia in Arabic) is THE ultimate source of legislative interpretation and is administered through Islamic courts which are financed by the state.

Actually, the Islamic courts are lower courts with limited jurisdiction, whose decisions can be appealed to real courts, operating under ordinary secular law.

The problem with Egypt is not, as far as I can tell, in its constitutional law. Rather, it is in the fact that the government appears to regard constitutional law in much the same way most Europeans regard traffic regulations.

What was that you said about wanting to smother... (or was it eliminate) religion from the political sphere? Why don't you write a diary about the influence of Islam in the Egyptian political sphere?

You mean beyond the fact that my area of expertise is in economics and natural science, not comparative law? Really, the only reason I'm schooling you here is that you are making such basic mistakes as would embarrass any half-way informed European citizen.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 4th, 2010 at 10:58:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr. Sierra.  Denigrating others obviously gives you a hard-on. I find that kind of interaction primitive. So I will not engage. Just get this: you educated nobody with your flat claptrap.
by Lynch on Sat Sep 4th, 2010 at 04:25:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  • You've claimed that Iran funds extremist Imams in Europe and the US. You have never produced a shred of evidence, or even informed speculation, that supports this.

  • You've claimed that as long as the Cordoba House community centre does not disclose its funding sources, it is reasonably to suspect that they are being funded by Saudi Arabia and Iran, despite the staggeringly monumental improbability that a Sufi of Sunni parentage would be funded by either of the two, let alone both.

  • You've claimed that Egypt is a theocracy that places Islam above secular law, despite being shown - repeatedly - that Egypt in fact places civil law above Islamic law (to the extent that Egypt operates according to the rule of law at all, which is somewhat questionable).

  • You've claimed that Turkey is an Islamic country despite the fact that Turkey is an explicitly, even militantly, secular country.

  • You've claimed that the Roman Catholic Church is not an HIV/AIDS denialist organisation, and that it does not promote hate speech in Eastern Europe.

Yeah, I can see why you'd prefer to not engage...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 4th, 2010 at 05:43:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And you claim that the Bible calls for genocide.
You claim that the Americans call for fighting the Whore of Babylon when they go to Afghanistan
You claim that the Catholic Church had a political profile in France
You claim that the Canon Law originated with the Old testament
You are ignorant of Wahhabist overseas expansion (you needed a citation)
You claim that Sharia is not an integral component of jurisprudence in North Africa - even though it's inscribed in Egypt's constitution (I'll gladly research the others just as soon as I have some time)
You claim that Ottoman rule was intolerant of Christianity in the 15th Century - and that this intolerance has NO RELEVANCE to modern times (like 85 years ago is ancient history)
You claim that propaganda is behind American people's belief that Iran will nuke Israel as soon as it has the bomb... when all you need to do is listen to Ahmedi Nejad's ranting about the destruction of Israel.
And I can go on.

Yes Mr. Sierra. Claptrap. You couldn't educate a kindergarten.

by Lynch on Sun Sep 5th, 2010 at 03:33:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And you claim that the Bible calls for genocide.

Where did I claim that?

Not that it doesn't. In fact, pretty much the whole of Exodus is about murdering more or less innocent civilians and stealing their land.

You claim that the Americans call for fighting the Whore of Babylon when they go to Afghanistan

You ever been to FreeRepublic?

You claim that the Catholic Church had a political profile in France

I claimed that the RCC had a political profile in Europe. France has been reasonably successful in suppressing it. But the RCC is a transnational organisation, so if the suppression effort stops it'll just infest France again.

You claim that the Canon Law originated with the Old testament

No, I claimed that the Old Testament contained religious laws that the New Testament acknowledges. Which is true.

I accepted your correction of the relevant theological terminology - a correction that is irrelevant to the substance.

You are ignorant of Wahhabist overseas expansion (you needed a citation)

You lie. I demanded a citation for Iranian overseas expansion. Which you have still not provided.

You claim that Sharia is not an integral component of jurisprudence in North Africa - even though it's inscribed in Egypt's constitution

It isn't an integral part of jurisprudence in Egypt, outside certain limited areas such as family law (where religious jurisprudence is not uncommon even in nominally democratic countries - see, e.g., California's Prop H8).

You claim that Ottoman rule was intolerant of Christianity in the 15th Century - and that this intolerance has NO RELEVANCE to modern times (like 85 years ago is ancient history)

You claimed that the genocides of 85 years ago were Islamic genocides against Christians, when in fact they were nationalist genocides against what was perceived as foreign nationals. You also studiously ignore the fact that core members of the European Union committed genocides orders of magnitude worse at the same time, and are still in flat denial of this fact.

You claim that propaganda is behind American people's belief that Iran will nuke Israel as soon as it has the bomb... when all you need to do is listen to Ahmedi Nejad's ranting about the destruction of Israel.

Actually, Ahmedinejad has never called for the destruction of Israel, as anybody who follows Middle East politics even casually knows perfectly well. Unless, of course, they're relying on the American propaganda press for their information.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 5th, 2010 at 06:44:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You ever been to FreeRepublic?

So what? You ever been to www.jihadwatch.org?

by Lynch on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 at 02:22:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, pretty much the whole of Exodus is about murdering more or less innocent civilians and stealing their land.

What? Exodus is what backs your claim that the Bible calls for genocide? The Exodus of the Jews from Egypt is a simple historical recital in the Old Testament... a romanced version, or a legend if you prefer. Who is calling for genocide here?

Plus, given that it's the Old Testament, it has considerably less theological value to Christians than the New Testament.

by Lynch on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 at 02:36:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, how about the plagues and Pharaoh and his army getting swallowed up in the Red Sea? I don't know if it qualifies for genocide, but it was pretty radical.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 at 03:14:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well Pharoah & Co did sort of have it coming... I mean they WERE screwing around with God's Chosen People and all ;o)

Jokes aside, you're right: it's pretty radical. But while God was punishing the Egyptians (which God being God can do) He wasn't calling on man to take other man's life. Don't forget that the 6th Commandment is: You shall not murder.

by Lynch on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 at 03:41:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, God being God can do things like the Flood or the fire and brimstone on Sodom. But there are again and again stories among the legends of the Chosen People in which the main point is to go out and smite the uncircumcised. Even with the jawbone of an ass, like Samson, who slew a thousand men with it...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 at 03:57:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well Pharoah & Co did sort of have it coming...

The pharaoh was a tyrant, not an elected leader of all those whose sons were supposedly killed in the last strike; and even if the fathers had been guilty, not the sons themselves; and anyway by that time, the Bible describes God as a psychopath making up an excuse for himself by hardening the pharaoh's soul (free will what was that) who would have relented otherwise already. So you will have a hard time justifying the "& co".

He wasn't calling on man to take other man's life.

Not in that passage. Alas, in the passages on the demise of the Canaanites...

Genocide call #1 and genocide #1:

Numbers 21
Arad destroyed
..."If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy [a] their cities." 3 The LORD listened to Israel's plea and gave the Canaanites over to them. They completely destroyed them and their towns

Genocide #2:

Deuteronomy 2
Defeat of Sihon King of Heshbon
...32 When Sihon and all his army came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz, 33 the LORD our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. 34 At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed [c] them--men, women and children. We left no survivors.

Genocide #3:

Deuteronomy 3
Defeat of Og King of Bashan
...There was not one of the sixty cities that we did not take from them--the whole region of Argob, Og's kingdom in Bashan. 5 All these cities were fortified with high walls and with gates and bars, and there were also a great many unwalled villages. 6 We completely destroyed [a] them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying [b] every city--men, women and children.

Genocide call #2:

Deuteronomy 7
Driving Out the Nations
1 When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations--the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you- 2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. [a] Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.

Genocide call #3 -- this time against infidels:

Deuteronomy 13
Worshiping Other Gods
...15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. Destroy it completely, [a] both its people and its livestock.

Genocide call #4 -- this one is rather explicit that women, children and even livestock is to be exterminated:

Deuteronomy 20
Going to War
...10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.
 16 However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy [a] them--the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites--as the LORD your God has commanded you.

Genocide #4:

Joshua 6

1 Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
...21 They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it--men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

Genocide #5:

Joshua 8
Ai Destroyed
...24 When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the desert where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it. 25 Twelve thousand men and women fell that day--all the people of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed [a] all who lived in Ai.

Genocide #6:

Joshua 10
Five Amorite Kings Killed
28 That day Joshua took Makkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho. Southern Cities Conquered  29 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Makkedah to Libnah and attacked it. 30 The LORD also gave that city and its king into Israel's hand. The city and everyone in it Joshua put to the sword. He left no survivors there. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.

 31 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Libnah to Lachish; he took up positions against it and attacked it. 32 The LORD handed Lachish over to Israel, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah...

 34 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Lachish to Eglon; they took up positions against it and attacked it. 35 They captured it that same day and put it to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it, just as they had done to Lachish.

 36 Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron and attacked it. 37 They took the city and put it to the sword, together with its king, its villages and everyone in it. They left no survivors. Just as at Eglon, they totally destroyed it and everyone in it.

 38 Then Joshua and all Israel with him turned around and attacked Debir. 39 They took the city, its king and its villages, and put them to the sword. Everyone in it they totally destroyed. They left no survivors. They did to Debir and its king as they had done to Libnah and its king and to Hebron.

 40 So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded.

Genocides #7 and #8:

Joshua 11
Northern Kings Defeated
...11 Everyone in it they put to the sword. They totally destroyed [b] them, not sparing anything that breathed, and he burned up Hazor itself.

... 14 The Israelites carried off for themselves all the plunder and livestock of these cities, but all the people they put to the sword until they completely destroyed them, not sparing anyone that breathed.

...21 At that time Joshua went and destroyed the Anakites from the hill country: from Hebron, Debir and Anab, from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua totally destroyed them and their towns. 22 No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod did any survive. 23

...oh, and the psychopath God was making up excuses again:

20 For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Genocides #9, #10, #11:

Judges 1
Israel Fights the Remaining Canaanites
...8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire.

...17 Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their brothers and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed [c] the city.
... 23 When they sent men to spy out Bethel (formerly called Luz), 24 the spies saw a man coming out of the city and they said to him, "Show us how to get into the city and we will see that you are treated well." 25 So he showed them, and they put the city to the sword but spared the man and his whole family.

Genocide #12 -- this time not at the command but due to a trick of God:

Judges 9
Abimelech
...42 The next day the people of Shechem went out to the fields, and this was reported to Abimelech. 43 So he took his men, divided them into three companies and set an ambush in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he rose to attack them. 44 Abimelech and the companies with him rushed forward to a position at the entrance to the city gate. Then two companies rushed upon those in the fields and struck them down. 45 All that day Abimelech pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.

 46 On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith. 47 When Abimelech heard that they had assembled there, 48 he and all his men went up Mount Zalmon. He took an ax and cut off some branches, which he lifted to his shoulders. He ordered the men with him, "Quick! Do what you have seen me do!" 49 So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelech. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire over the people inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.

Genocide call #5 -- the most explicit:

1 Samuel 15
The LORD Rejects Saul as King
2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy [a] everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.' "

This is then followed by Genocide #13 -- which, well, was not completely complete, the very reason Saul was rejected by God:

7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves [b] and lambs--everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.

 10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11 "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.

Agag was then slaughtered by Samuel.

Genocide #14:

1 Samuel 27
David Among the Philistines
...8 Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. (From ancient times these peoples had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.) 9 Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive

Genocide #15 and #16:

1 Chronicles 4
Other Clans of Judah
...41 The men whose names were listed came in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah. They attacked the Hamites in their dwellings and also the Meunites who were there and completely destroyed [h] them, as is evident to this day. Then they settled in their place, because there was pasture for their flocks. 42 And five hundred of these Simeonites, led by Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi, invaded the hill country of Seir. 43 They killed the remaining Amalekites who had escaped, and they have lived there to this day.

In conclusion: the OT is a horrific, barbaric, genocide-advocating ancient text. Just like the Koran or the Bhagavad-Ghita.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Sep 10th, 2010 at 07:19:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. God calls for the destruction of the 7 Canaanite nations (on moral grounds) in the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 20, paragraph 7 which states: "but thou shalt utterly destroy them: the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee". To the Jews, this command is the source of Mitzvot 596.
by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 02:38:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, you finally admit that the Bible advocates genocide (based on a twisted "moral" of collective guilt that involves even newborn children and livestock). It appears that you have no problem with it, and I guess you are okay with slavery for non-Canaanites, too.

Next, you can deal with the fact that it's not just Canaanite nations under the genocide threat -- e.g. the Old Testament's own Jihad call in Deuteronomy 13. Or point to the New testament passage that invalidates any of this for Christians.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 09:28:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're putting me in the dock are you? I have no problem with what? A text that's 3500 years old?
by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 10:34:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lack of reply on Deuteronomy 13 and its continued validity noted -- you put yourself in the dock without any help from me.

I don't understand the relevance of the age of the text to your approval of genocide and slavery on "moral grounds", unless you think genocide was right back then but not now.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 11:47:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the OT is a horrific, barbaric, genocide-advocating ancient text. Just like the Koran or the Bhagavad-Ghita.

And there are only about 2000 years which separate the writing of the Old Testament (13th century BC) and the Koran (7th century AD).

by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 02:41:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, the texts you refer to are the oldest of the Old Testament, dating back to the 17th or 18th century BC.
by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 06:20:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope.

Dating the Bible - Wikipedia

The Bible is a compilation of various texts or "books" of different ages. The dates of many of the texts of the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) are difficult to establish. Textual criticism places all of them within the 1st millennium BC, although there is considerable uncertainty as to the century in some cases.

...There are currently four broad approaches to the question the date and method of composition of the Torah. All place it within the 1st millennium BC, with the final text reached by the 5th or 4th century BC, but the dates for its oldest portions vary as much as between the 10th and the 4th centuries BC.

Deuteronomist - Wikipedia

The Deuteronomist (D) is one of the sources of the Torah postulated by the Documentary Hypothesis (DH). Martin Noth argued that there was an underlying unity in language and cultural content of the books from Deuteronomy to 2 Kings (Noth 1943). He presented the persona of "The Deuteronomist" as a single author who was using pre-Exilic material but was editing and writing in the age of Babylonian exile, the mid-sixth century BCE. Others suggest that "the Deuteronomist" is a close-knit group of Temple scholars rather than a sole individual. Some[1] suggest that the same source may also have written the account of Jeremiah. Since Noth's work, some scholars attribute two separate stages to the text, a first (referred to as Dtr1) and second (referred to as Dtr2) edition of the text, although most still consider that both editions were the result of the same author.

...According to the narratives of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, in 622/621 BCE, Josiah's high priest Hilkiah found part of the Torah in the Temple, a mainly spartan and empty building. In reaction to the text, King Josiah again centralised the religion, and destroyed places and objects of worship which were neither the Jerusalem Temple nor specified to be housed in it. Since before the 5th century scholars (such as Jerome) have insisted that the text found by Hilkiah was the law code of Deuteronomy. Scholars allege that the text was written at Josiah's instigation and "found" to justify his actions.

According to the documentary hypothesis, the priests of Shiloh wrote the law code to support their views. The code was written to support the king, a centralised religion, Levites generally rather than just Aaronids, and a balance on the king's power (for example by supporting a militia rather than an organised army) due to the way in which kings had previously treated them.

D then created, according to the hypothesis, a history of rulers, judging them by their actions according to the code, culminating in Josiah. D inserted the law code at the start, framed as Moses' last words since D was not trying to change the pre-existing JE account.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 09:09:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope.

Dating the Bible - Wikipedia

the youngest book included in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) is the Book of Daniel, dated to the 2nd century BC.

There are only about 900 years between the writing of the two texts. Not that the age of the texts changes anything about the horrific, barbaric, genocide-advocating and ancient nature of these texts still approved by living religions today...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 09:16:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not according to Baruch Spinoza and Richard Simon. Neither according to André Chouraqui. Apparently, Wikipedia isn't all that scientific in the texts it offers its readers.

According to Chouraqui (whom I would trust more than Wikipedia): "The War of the Kings (Gn14) was written in Akkadian (or Canaanean) and translated to Hebrew at a later date; estimated between the 20th and the 16th century BC."

by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 10:29:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well how can that be right? according to Rabbinical teaching, the first books were written down after the revelation of the commandments to Moses. and those were written in 1312 BCE

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 10:41:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL, what a spectacular non-sequitur! Whether you just don't understand your own sources or spin on purpose, this was on par with the work of creationists:
  1. You cite the very two 17th-century scholars who started the text analysis that led to the Documentary Hypothesis (which I quoted from Wikipedia).
  2. You quote Chouraqui regarding a passage in Genesis, whereas the discussion was about passages written by the Deuteronomist.
  3. You apply a sentence about a single chapter of Genesis, plagiarised by a late Bible author, to the entirety of the Old Testament...
  4. You present Chouraqui as an analyst of the origin of the OT, whereas in truth he is a translator who only summarized the research of others in a preface, and even indicated that while he acknowledges the fragmentary origin of the text, he concerns himself with the text itself...

Entête
   C'est alors que Baruch Spinoza et Richard Simon ouvrent la voie à un courant de pensée qui aboutira à la théorie documentaire, adoptée aujourd'hui par la quasi-unanimité des exégètes: le Pentateuque n'est pas l'oeuvre d'un seul homme, Moshè; c'est une collection d'écrits rédigés, au cours des siècles, par de nombreux écrivains. Les exégètes fondent leurs conclusions sur des anachronismes, sur l'alternance dans le texte de noms différents pour désigner Dieu, sur la diversité du vocabulaire, du style, et même de l'inspiration. Auprès d'un premier document dit yahwiste (J), il existerait une source élohiste (E), un document sacerdotal (P), et enfin une tradition deutéronomiste (D), tout entière contenue dans le dernier livre du Pentateuque.
     Si le morcellement de l'ouvrage semble indéniable quant à son origine, le texte, cependant, résiste à ce traitement de la critique. Il garde une incontestable unité et ne cesse de s'imposer à nous, tant par son contenu que par son style et sa composition.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 11:41:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<BLOCLQUOTE>2.You quote Chouraqui regarding a passage in Genesis, whereas the discussion was about passages written by the Deuteronomist.</BLOCLQUOTE>

I stand corrected.

<BLOCLQUOTE>3.You apply a sentence about a single chapter of Genesis, plagiarised by a late Bible author, to the entirety of the Old Testament...<BLOCLQUOTE>

LOL. No, I don't.

<BLOCLQUOTE>4.You present Chouraqui as an analyst of the origin of the OT, whereas in truth he is a translator who only summarized the research of others in a preface, and even indicated that while he acknowledges the fragmentary origin of the text, he concerns himself with the text itself...<BLOCLQUOTE>

LOL. I quote Chouraqui as opposed to Wikipedia. If you read the book Entête, you must have also read the "commentary" which relates to the language and substance of the text. Chouraqui goes way into the domain of interpreting.

by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 12:54:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL. No, I don't.

LOL, everyone can see for themselves.

I quote Chouraqui as opposed to Wikipedia.

And dig your own grave doing so. Wikipedia summarizes research on the matter at hand with references, Chouraqui's unreferenced preface from over 60 years ago is not a summary of any research of his own and is irrelevant to the matter at hand.

Chouraqui goes way into the domain of interpreting.

Which is irrelevant to the subject of the age of the text, but thanks for playing. It is now completely clear that you are out of your depth on all the subjects touched (the Koran, Egypt, Turkey, the Bible, etc.), and regularly confuse matters (Wahhabis and Iran, Turks and Muslims, Genesis and Deuteronomy and so on) but just can't admit it and learn.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 01:15:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, research moved on since Chouraqui's time, and even the plagiarised old Accadian text version was challenged:

Abraham in History and Tradition - Wikipedia

Abraham in History and Tradition (Yale University Press, ISBN 0300040407, 1975) is a book by biblical scholar John Van Seters.

The book was a landmark in Near Eastern Studies and Biblical archaeology, since it challenged the dominant view, popularised by William Foxwell Albright, that the patriarchal narratives of Genesis can be identified on archaeological grounds with the Mesopotamian world of 2nd millennium BC. Van Seters noted that many of Albright's parallels were vague, and fit other regions than Mesopotamia and other times than 2nd millennium. Specially devastating was his analysis of Genesis 14, where he pointed out that the political situation described in Genesis 14 - a Near East dominated by a coalition led by Elam and including Hatti, Assyria and Babylonia - is not confirmed by any monuments, king lists, or other historical and archaeological sources. Van Seters also pointed out that the ten kings mentioned in Genesis 14 cannot be found in any ancient documents outside the Bible.

The book was also a criticism of the school of Tradition history advanced most notably by Hermann Gunkel and Martin Noth: Van Seters "argues that Noth's (1948) idea of a "pentateuchal oral tradition" is flawed both historically (with respect to the history of Israel) and analogically (given Noth's comparisons with the development of Icelandic saga) [and] contends that traces of folkloric structure do not make it inevitable 'that the tradition as a whole, or even [certain] parts of it, derive from a pre-literate period'". [1] Van Seters instead proposed that Genesis was an essentially literary work, but one based on a process of supplementation by successive authors rather on a redactorial process (i.e., on the combination of separate documents by an editor or editors). This in turn amounted to a major challenge to the Documentary Hypothesis, the dominant theory concerning the origins of the Pentateuch.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 01:32:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now isn't this a much more appropriate (and civilised) way to engage in dialogue? Thank you for this pointer. You are clearly initiated in biblical studies... and as you know, one can spend an entire lifetime studying only Genesis... so there's no need to be arrogant with people who know less than you on a given subject.
by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 01:55:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, I was thinking about the second half. The one where they arrive in the promised land, brutally murder all male inhabitants, rape the female inhabitants and steal the land.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 at 09:37:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brutally murder? What, as opposed to 'gently murder'?
Rape the female inhabitants? No. There was no rape.

After the Exodus, God instructs the Jews to destroy the Canaanites because the land of Israel (which is sacred land) 'vomits' pagan, idolatric and incestuous practices.

About a hundred years later, this same sacred land 'vomits' the Jews (under God's command) for comparable offences.

by Lynch on Tue Sep 7th, 2010 at 03:39:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rape the female inhabitants? No. There was no rape.

You're right. It was a different genocide where they took the conquered population's women as their wives. The Canaanites were simply massacred down to the last child.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 8th, 2010 at 09:40:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, this is your "proof" that the Christian (and Jewish) God calls for genocide. Tell me, as a Christian or a Jew living in the 1st, 10th or 21st century... who is it that God is calling me to "brutally murder"?
by Lynch on Thu Sep 9th, 2010 at 02:41:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lynch:
Tell me, as a Christian or a Jew living in the 1st, 10th or 21st century... who is it that God is calling me to "brutally murder"?

Well, maybe not God, but his representatives on Earth did organise quite a number of massacres. Do you want a list?  

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Thu Sep 9th, 2010 at 03:41:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No...
This thread got started when I stated that "the Koran explicitly calls for the elimination of the infidels ad nauseam"... and you responded by stating (first implicitly, then explicitly) that the Bible too calls for Genocide.

Hence my question that you didn't answer: who is the Bible calling on me to "brutally murder"?

by Lynch on Fri Sep 10th, 2010 at 01:18:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Infidels who don't voluntarily submit to slavery. See passages quoted upthread.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 09:30:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, since he's imaginary, he's probably not calling for you to murder anyone. There is rather a history of people imagining that he told them to kill other people though.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Sep 9th, 2010 at 06:22:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, this is your "proof" that the Christian (and Jewish) God calls for genocide.

No, it is an example. Anybody with the google-fu of a three-years-old can find others in a heartbeat.

Tell me, as a Christian or a Jew living in the 1st, 10th or 21st century... who is it that God is calling me to "brutally murder"?

Palestinians, homosexuals and medical doctors, to take just three that the American Taliban seem to be able to find scriptural support for murdering with dreary regularity.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Sep 10th, 2010 at 05:05:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... since you mentioned the Wahhabi, let's take a look at their American equivalents: The Reconstructionists. These nice guys believe that God calls for stoning of adulterers, overthrow of democratic government and its replacement with rule by divine right and assorted other funny things.

Oh, and did I mention that some of the more prominent madmen in that sect (Rushdoony [late, unlamented] and Ahmanson [at large] in particular) have their money all over the American Christian Right - from the Teabaggers to the Creationists? Saying that they own the American right is obviously misguided, but they are a comparable influence to - say - Mr. Scaife, and about as malign.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Sep 10th, 2010 at 05:12:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Palestinians, homosexuals and medical doctors...

Oh really? Where? Proscribing homosexuality is not the same as calling on His followers to exterminate homosexuals (and medical doctors??). WTF?

seem to be able to find scriptural support for murdering with dreary regularity

Yeah. SEEM to be able to find. But DON'T.

by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 02:50:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh really? Where? Proscribing homosexuality is not the same as calling on His followers to exterminate homosexuals

That's a theological argument that you should be having with your Reconstructionist brothers in the faith, not with me. You wanted to tar all of Islam with the Wahhabi just a couple of posts ago. Well, turnabout is fair play.

(and medical doctors??). WTF?

A recent example of Christian political murder. A less recent example.

Yeah. SEEM to be able to find. But DON'T.

Says you. There's plenty of Islamic scholars who are equally insistent that the Wahhabi and their kindred spirits to be theologically misguided. But apparently Islam is responsible for every extremist sect, while Christians are permitted to simply disavow the theology of their bomb-throwers and move on. Perhaps you would care to enlighten me as to why this is not a case of blatant special pleading?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 09:19:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No. I'll tell you what I have a real problem with. People like you who spew hate against Christians, while systematically turning a blind eye to Muslim extremism - whether it's in Europe or elsewhere. I certainly denounce any and all forms of Christian fundamentalism, but I don't feel threatened by it for two reasons:
  • First, because the social orders we live in are clearly and unambiguously secular
  • Second, because when I go to Church (and I've done it all: Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox... European, Russian, American) I don't hear hate coming out of the preacher's mouth. That doesn't mean it never happens - but it's rare.

On the other hand, the separation between the state and Islam is anything but clear in predominantly Muslim states - including Turkey. In fact, it's anything but clear in Muslim dominated communities in Europe. Islam's presence in state affairs results in reduced rights for both non Muslims and Muslims (compared to the rights we have in Europe or the US). Hate speech against Western Civilization, Jews and Christians is common in mosques. Even political leaders such as Erdogan preach against the integration of Muslims into European societies (see his speech in Cologne in 2008 to a group of 20000 Muslims).

But you, for some reason, go out of your way to defend Islam point blank - and refuse to see any threat whatsoever that Islam may pose to the freedoms that we have (and that we should cherish) in Europe. That's what I have a problem with.

by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 11:02:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The victims of the Belgian - and other - sexual Catholic abuse scandals will be touched by your concern.

So will Tony Blair, whose dedication to the separation of church and state forced him to hide his religious crankiness from the public while it also led him into supporting a psychotic war after 'praying to god for guidance'.

As for 'Islamic fundamentalism' - that didn't actually exist as a viable or influential political movement until the CIA decided it would be a useful stick with which to whack the Soviet pinata until it disgorged those useful oil territories in the 'Stans.

Cue cash and weapons in return for drugs.

And here we are.

Is there anyone here who isn't familiar with Mossadeq's secular but oh-so dangerously left-leaning Iran?

Are you really so ignorant and naive that you don't realise these idiocies aren't fundamentally about religion?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 11:31:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Erdogan preach against the integration of Muslims into European societies (see his speech in Cologne in 2008 to a group of 20000 Muslims)

Do you have a single claim that has anything to do with reality (rather than distortions at hate sites like Jihadwatch)? Erdogan's full speech can be read in German here. He didn't speak about Muslims, he spoke about Turks. And he spoke out against forced assimilation -- in particular, the right to use Turkish as mother language. This passage of contention was in the middle of a longer talk on integration in host countries, complete with learning the local language, going to schools, serving the local economy, and taking part in social life including getting elected in local elections.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 12:00:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, the one single religious reference in the entire long text is when Erdogan lauds the "Alliance of Civilisations" initiative he started with Spain's Zapatero...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 12:03:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,534519,00.html

The prime minister goes on to address the integration of Turks in Germany. "I understand that you are sensitive about the issue of assimilation," Erdogan says. "No one can demand that from you." Assimilation -- in other words, conforming to German culture -- is a catchword that Turkish immigrants associate with their fear of losing their national identity. Erdogan does not repeat the controversial demand he made to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, when he called for the founding of Turkish-language educational institutions in Germany. Today, he only says: "It is your natural right to teach your children their mother tongue."

During his long speech, Erdogan plays the integration card as he sees fit. He makes conciliatory noises, but he stops short of making a plea for assimilation. Although much remains vague, at times he takes a pragmatic tone. "Take advantage of Germany's educational institutions," he says. "It's a disadvantage if you don't speak the language of the country." Nevertheless, his speech, in which the phrases "we Turks" and "the Germans" appear again and again, does deliver a clear message: You may live in Germany, but you are Turks -- and I am your prime minister.

The original text in German also quotes Erdogan as adding:

"I understand very well the sensitive point of assimilation. No one can expect you to tolerate assimilation. No one can expect that you submit to assimilation. Because assimilation is a crime against humanity. You should be aware of that."

by Lynch on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 04:25:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I really don't understand why you insist on using secondary sources when there is a perfectly fine link to the primary source in a post that I know you've read, because you replied to it.

But here we go again:

I understand the sensitivity you show towards assimilation very well. Nobody can expect you to tolerate assimilation. No one can expect from you that you submit to an assimilation. Because assimilation is a crime against humanity, you should be aware. But we must also take note of the following: you can in today's Germany, in Europe today, in today's world, no longer be regarded as "the Other", as one who is only here temporarily. Consider The Turkish community has spent fully 47 years for this country. Not only in Germany, many European countries is approaching the number of our citizens, almost five million. It is noteworthy that despite this huge operation, despite the numerical strength, certain basic problems in these countries are still not on the agenda. Of course, our children will learn Turkish. This is to share your native language and it is their natural right, your mother your children.

However, if you learn the language of the country where you live, or even a few more languages, you would benefit from it in every way. Look, many of our children here learning at an early age no foreign languages. These children are confronted with German only when they start school. And that means that these children have in comparison to the other students the school career with a handicap of one who begins from scratch. But it would be for you and your children in any way be beneficial if you exploit the opportunities offered by the local school system.

In the Germanic language group, there is a distinction between integration - conforming to the laws and etiquette of society - and assimilation - wholesale replacement of language, mannerisms, cuisine and so on. The line is somewhat fuzzy, and on many individual issues reasonable people can disagree on what is a matter of personal taste and what is a breach of etiquette.

I personally find that framing somewhat contrived, but that's the context he speaks into.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 06:44:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This assimilation-integration thing must be embedded in a Germany context. The fall-back position of German conservatives after the abandonment of the guest worker fantasy was that immigrants indeed have to choose between identities: be a German, or be a Turk. In their view, there is no such thing as having both; someone claiming a German identity while not ready to let loose of the Turkish one is a 100% Turk in disguise to get the benefits of German citizenship. Or, at least, that's the ideology behind their categorical rejection of double citizenship a few years earlier, and later expressed views on education and 'leading culture' followed from that. This is what Erdogan reacted to.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 06:02:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
People like you who spew hate against Christians,

Hate? That's an interesting claim. Perchance you'd want to quote me on some of that?

I certainly denounce any and all forms of Christian fundamentalism,

So you denounce and reject the Vatican's meddling in the electoral politics of Ireland, Spain and Poland? Or do they not qualify as "fundamentalist?"

but I don't feel threatened by it for two reasons:
First, because the social orders we live in are clearly and unambiguously secular

Of course it is. Just as clearly and unambiguously secular as Turkey or Egypt.

Second, because when I go to Church (and I've done it all: Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox... European, Russian, American) I don't hear hate coming out of the preacher's mouth. That doesn't mean it never happens - but it's rare.

And I suppose that you have also been to mosques and heard Islamic sermons? Or are you basing your double standard purely on your greater familiarity with Christian liturgy?

On the other hand, the separation between the state and Islam is anything but clear in predominantly Muslim states - including Turkey.

[Citation needed]

In fact, it's anything but clear in Muslim dominated communities in Europe.

As opposed to those Catholic dominated communities where secular law is held in the highest possible regard, and priests are remanded into the custody of secular authorities at the first suspicion of criminality?

Islam's presence in state affairs results in reduced rights for both non Muslims and Muslims (compared to the rights we have in Europe or the US).

Yes. The meddling of religious groups in the affairs of secular civilisation usually results in reduced liberty for the citizens. This, however, is common to all religious groups, and the EU has thus far been able to deal with even the aggressive religious imperialism of the Vatican. In terms of funding, organisation and access to influential political operatives, the political Islam lobby is light-years behind the Vatican, so it is not easy to believe that it will be an insurmountable problem.

Hate speech against Western Civilization, Jews and Christians is common in mosques.

[Citation needed]

Even political leaders such as Erdogan preach against the integration of Muslims into European societies (see his speech in Cologne in 2008 to a group of 20000 Muslims).

I don't know where you get your information, but I would suggest allowing your subscription to lapse. Because you are severely misinformed. Die Welt has the speech to which you refer. This is the pertinent couple of paragraphs, courtesy of GoogleTranslate:

I understand the sensitivity you show towards assimilation very well. Nobody can expect you to tolerate assimilation. No one can expect from you that you submit to an assimilation. Because assimilation is a crime against humanity, you should be aware. But we must also take note of the following: you can in today's Germany, in Europe today, in today's world, no longer be regarded as "the Other", as one who is only here temporarily. Consider The Turkish community has spent fully 47 years for this country. Not only in Germany, many European countries is approaching the number of our citizens, almost five million. It is noteworthy that despite this huge operation, despite the numerical strength, certain basic problems in these countries are still not on the agenda. Of course, our children will learn Turkish. This is to share your native language and it is their natural right, your mother your children.

However, if you learn the language of the country where you live, or even a few more languages, you would benefit from it in every way. Look, many of our children here learning at an early age no foreign languages. These children are confronted with German only when they start school. And that means that these children have in comparison to the other students the school career with a handicap of one who begins from scratch. But it would be for you and your children in any way be beneficial if you exploit the opportunities offered by the local school system.

I'm not sure what, precisely, you find objectionable here?

But you, for some reason, go out of your way to defend Islam point blank

Eh, no. Better luck next time.

You entered into a discussion on the viability of the integration of North Africa with the European Union with a series of claims based on the presumption that most of North Africa is populated by extremist regimes pandering to a barbaric culture of hateful fundamentalists. This is simply not the case. You further insinuated that the New York Cordoba House project had Iranian and/or Saudi funding, despite the fact that anybody with ten minutes to look them up on Google and even a superficial understanding of the political picture in the Middle East will realise the staggering, monumental improbability of this proposition. And you trotted out the oft-debunked Ahmedinejad speech gambit. Then you tried to insinuate that Erdogan has been fomenting a Muslim fifth column to resist integration into European society. When in fact he explicitly advocated integration into European society.

Have you considered that perhaps what you construe as apologetics for Islamic fundamentalism is merely an attempt to disabuse you of silly, factually inaccurate and paranoid propaganda?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 12:44:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I suppose that you have also been to mosques and heard Islamic sermons?

In fact, I would have been interested in witnessing prayer in a Mosque. But, last time I was in Morocco, I was forbidden to go into a Mosque because I was obviously not Muslim. So much for tolerance.

You need a citation for hate speach? You yourself agreed that it was a good idea for the French state to finance Mosque building so that it could impose hand picked Imams and do away with calls to Jihad. But now, you need a citation. A short memory won't get you far.

Even in Syria, the government has recently started installing cameras in the country's mosques so as to monitor extremist groups (BBC source - last week).

And when was the last time YOU participated in Mosque prayers?

by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 01:04:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You need a citation for hate speach?

No, I need a citation for hate speech being more common in mosques than in churches. Which is a stronger claim than the simple occurrence of hate speech.

You yourself agreed that it was a good idea for the French state to finance Mosque building so that it could impose hand picked Imams and do away with calls to Jihad.

Well, no. I agreed that it would be a good idea for the French state to finance mosque building so that it could impose hand picked imams and do away with calls for political activism and reactionary bullshit from the pulpit. Political activism and reactionary bullshit are somewhat broader categories than calls for jihad. Although calls for jihad are, of course, a subset of political activism and reactionary bullshit.

Even in Syria, the government has recently started installing cameras in the country's mosques so as to monitor extremist groups (BBC source - last week).

"Even" Syria installed cameras in mosques? Last time I checked, Syria was a military dictatorship. I didn't realise that it was unexpected for military dictatorships to bug religious gatherings...

And when was the last time YOU participated in Mosque prayers?

That would be precisely as much your business as when I last attended a Christian church: None whatsoever. I am not the one peddling anecdotes pertaining to the relative abundance of gore in the liturgy of Islam as compared to Christianity.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 04:06:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me tell you about propaganda. My (pretty, young) nice finished medical school last year and landed a job in Molenbeek. Was so harassed (jeered, stared down at and otherwise bullied) by the local community that she ended up wearing a hidjab - just to be left alone. Couldn't handle it anymore after 6 months. Resigned and is looking for a job elsewhere. But of course, this is just propaganda, isn't it? It's just so politically correct to shut up and smile.
by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 01:11:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What has that to do with any of your blatantly false claims about Iran, Ahmedinejad, the 'Ground Zero Mosque', the Koran, Egypt, Turkey, Erdogan, and so on in this thread? And based on your record of gross distortions in this thread, we should believe that this anecdote is a precise account of events and is evidence for anything because?...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 01:22:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What does it have to do with the rest?
Absolutely nothing. We were talking about the North Pole and Cheddar cheese.
by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 01:30:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, you admit that you fell for erroneous propaganda on that rather long list you call "the rest".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 01:35:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you telling us that a young (christian, supposedly) woman is forced to wear a hidjeb in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean (Brussels)?

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 02:57:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No. Where did you read that she was 'forced'?
She decided of her own free will, so as to be left in peace.
by Lynch on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 03:57:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All the Abrahamic religions have an atrocious attitude towards women. And certainly misogyny and homophobia is more blatant (and probably more widespread) in the Arabic cultural sphere.

And if you had made the case from the outset that North Africa had a severe problem with gender equality, democratic accountability and human rights in general, nobody would have gainsaid that. Those are concerns that the EU tackled poorly in the Eastwards expansion. It's perfectly reasonable to demand safeguards against repeating the Polish mistake of granting admission to a country whose political culture is severely lacking.

But that is not what you were arguing. You were arguing that there is an essential character flaw in Islam that is not present in Christianity and which makes North Africa impossible to integrate into the EU. Not just today, or tomorrow or this decade or while they adapt their legal and political systems to European norms. But permanently and insurmountably. And that's the core of my disagreement with you: I do not see a difference in kind between Russia, Egypt and Poland - only a difference in degree.

Of course, it does not help your credibility that you elected to repeatedly bring utter garbage to the table, in the form of baseless slanders against Erdogan, paranoid and delusional insinuations against the Cordoba House, long-debunked urban legends about Ahmadinejad and flat untruths about Egypt.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 03:53:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel

Check Ahmedinejad's "World Without Zionism" speach.
In fact, just type "Ahedinejad Israel" in Google and learn. You've really got nerve defending this guy.

Paranoid and delusional. LOL.

by Lynch on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 05:12:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now you're lying again.

I do not and did not defend Ahmadinejad. I disabused you of a couple of urban legends and exaggerations about him. There are plenty of valid criticisms of both him and the Iranian government. But you're not presenting any of them, because you insist on couching the discussion in terms of the abiding malice of Islam, rather than the specific, tangible political conflicts that occasion objectionable behaviour.

That being said, the only really damning quotes you've linked to are a few from late 2005 and early '06 in support of holocaust denial. These have a very specific origin as a response to the cartoon jihad. And while using holocaust denial to make a cheap (and misguided) political point about European hypocrisy vis-a-vis freedom of speech is outrageous, it is somewhat less outrageous than holocaust denial just for the sake of it.

Oh, and it seems like he's a 9/11 troofer. Which is of course ridiculous, but fairly harmless.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 06:30:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now you're lying again.

No, Mr. Sierra, I can't accept. It would appear that the one who is lying again is you.

Just a couple of comments above, you wrote:

Actually, Ahmedinejad has never called for the destruction of Israel, as anybody who follows Middle East politics even casually knows perfectly well. Unless, of course, they're relying on the American propaganda press for their information.
- Jake

Ahmedinejad explicitly called for Israel's destruction in 2005, and this call has been relayed by the international press - not just the American press.

Here's an RFI link in French:
http://www.rfi.fr/actufr/articles/070/article_39445.asp

And this ranting didn't stop in 2005 - as you seem to imply, but continues to this very day.

Here's a Belgian link of one of his speeches in February 2010 where he says that "Israel has no reason to exist".

http://www.rtbf.be/info/monde/po/pour-m-ahmadinejad-israel-na-plus-de-raison-detre-192386

Just you keep finding excuses for Mr. Ahmedinejad & all will be well.

by Lynch on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 02:12:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Im sure we've covered on more than one occasion that this was originally from a mistranslation, taken out of context. The fact that reporters translate from english to their native languages rathet than arabic is hardly surprising in the current economic climate in the media world.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 02:34:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahmedinejad explicitly called for Israel's destruction in 2005

You insist on repeating this urban legend as if it were true. It's not. Note that Juan Cole, unlike Wolf Blitzer, actually understands Farsi...

Here's a Belgian link of one of his speeches in February 2010 where he says that "Israel has no reason to exist".

Did the DDR have any reason to exist? More to the point, would it be honest to construe a call for the DDR to cease to exist (in, say, 1987) as a call for the extermination of a third of the German people?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 02:43:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, given that it's the Old Testament, it has considerably less theological value to Christians than the New Testament.

Like that bit about homosexuals, or that bit about abortion?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Sep 9th, 2010 at 06:04:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And which religion have you heard of lately which advocates homosexuality and encourages abortion?
by Lynch on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 02:53:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And why is the existence or lack thereof of such a religion at all relevant to anything other than the satisfaction of our curiosity as to the arcana of comparative theology?

The applicable standard is respect for human rights and human dignity - not "but everybody else does it too."

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 09:26:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The second word of the first sentence of the Moroccan Constitution is ISLAMIC.
An Islamic and fully sovereign state whose official language is Arabic, the Kingdom of Morocco constitutes a part of the Great Arab Maghreb.
Maybe you would like to give us an interpretation of that?

Source: http://www.al-bab.com/maroc/gov/con96.htm

In December 2007, the Moroccan court of justice sentenced six men to jail terms of between two and ten months for the crime of homosexuality. In Morocco as in most Muslim countries, homosexuality is technically a crime. Morocco isn't like Egypt where the police actively hunt gay men by luring them with internet ads and arresting them when they turn up for a meeting. Imams and other religious figures likely insisted that the men in the video be punished to remind Moroccans not to get too cocky in flouting the religious stipulations which form a large part of Moroccan law. Legally, Morocco is a conservative Muslim country with a penal code rooted in Sharia law.

Source : http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/the_gaze_of_strangers_morocco_male_love_and_moder nity

by Lynch on Sun Sep 5th, 2010 at 05:43:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, Morocco and Libya practise Sharia.

When was this in dispute? You were bullshitting about Egypt. Egypt, as you may recall, is a sovereign country located in the Southeastern Mediterranean.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 5th, 2010 at 06:47:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.france24.com/en/20100823-pope-france-roma-deportations-ump-clergy-sarkozy-church

The Pope has joined the growing chorus of French clergymen who have rebuked Nicolas Sarkozy's government over its policy of sending Roma people back to their home countries.

by Lynch on Sun Sep 5th, 2010 at 06:20:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A red herring. Supporting human rights for one group does not excuse hate speech against another group. Supporting human rights is the default position that should be expected of all conduct. The fact that the Catholic Church wants to advertise its commitment to the human rights of the Roma while spreading malicious hate and inciting violence against homosexuals and doctors who provide reproductive care does not make it virtuous. It makes it hypocritical.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 5th, 2010 at 06:51:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see you have actual access to the Vatican's Top Secret Plan to eliminate all Roma from Western European Civilisation.
by Lynch on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 at 02:20:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...not to mention that the Catholic Church around here is not 100% Roma-friendly...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Sep 10th, 2010 at 07:23:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you ever heard of the Rat Lines run by the Vatican to smuggle Catholic Nazi collaborators out of Eastern Europe after WWII?
by vladimir on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 at 07:02:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a matter of fact I know of the Rat Lines. It was one of the darker and more shameful periods of the Catholic Church. That said, what happened should be analysed in context: many of those who were saved through the Rat Lines deserved to face justice. But many others, who were innocent, would have been slaughtered by Stalin's Communists or Tito's Partisans, simply because they were Catholic and regardless of their actual roles during the War.
by Lynch on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 at 02:18:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
integration of North Africa has economic and strategic reality on its side.

Maybe, maybe not.
But what it doesn't have on its side is the fast growth of hard line Islamic movements, from Erdogan's Justice and Development Party in Turkey to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
by vladimir on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 at 06:49:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whether you'd call Erdogan a hard-liner is a matter of judgement, I suppose. Personally, I don't think he has much of his original ideology left at this point - few politicians of his seniority have. But whatever the case, there are light-years between Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 at 10:14:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lynch:
genocides against the Greeks

What genocide against the Greeks?

Could it be the Population exchange between Greece and Turkey that is referenced?

The convention affected the populations as follows: almost all Greek Orthodox Christians (Greek- or Turkish-speaking) of Asia Minor including a Turkish-speaking Greek Orthodox population from middle Anatolia (Karamanlides), the Ionia region (e.g. Smyrna, Aivali), the Pontus region (e.g. Trapezunda, Sampsunta), Prusa (Bursa), the Bithynia region (e.g., Nicomedia (İzmit), Chalcedon (Kadıköy), East Thrace, and other regions were either expelled or formally denaturalized from Turkish territory. These numbered about half a million and were added to the over one million Greeks already cleansed by the Turkish army before the treaty was signed. About 500,000 people were expelled from Greece, predominantly Turks, and others including Greek Muslims, Muslim Roma, Pomaks, Cham Albanians, and Megleno-Romanians.

Yes, it was horrible, but to pin in on islam 1) ignores nationalism as a causative factor and 2) ignores that at the time it was Greece that was invading Turkey, not the other way around.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 04:09:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe he's thinking of the massacre of tens of thousands at the capture of Tripolitsa in 1821? No, that was Turks and Jews being massacred by Greeks. I guess that isn't what he had in mind.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 04:26:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just look up the Greek genocide in Wikipedia, and you'll discover something that you are apparently totally unfamiliar with. It might even be useful.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_genocide
by Lynch on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 12:16:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was aware of this. Now you could you explain why this has anything to do with Islam, and if it has, why Tripolitsa is not about Orthodox Christianity, or the WW2 massacres of Serbs are not about the Catholic Church and the Franciscan order. To the extent that it is about religion, I don't see much to chose between the religions, with the exception of the Jews who haven't had the power to  do such things until recently. But they are making up for lost time...

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 02:39:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the panoply of belief systems commonly lumped together as "pagan" have also been out of power for a long time.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 03:01:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it was Greece that was invading Turkey, not the other way around

Indeed, just like the Allies invaded France in 1945.
I suppose the Greeks were also invading when they fought the Turks in Constantinople in 1452.

by Lynch on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 12:15:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can ask the Armenians, the Greeks, the Copts, the Serbs in Bosnia and Kosovo, the Christians in Lebanon, the Jews in Iran or the Belgians in Molenbeek whether they fear Muslims

You forgot: the Croatians, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Romanians and all the others who lived through 500+ years of Muslim Turk domination in the region. Once you've finished talking to these people, you can interview Philippine Christians, Hindus, Buddhist monks in Thailand, Timorese Christians, Nigeria's Christians, ...

by Lynch on Tue Aug 31st, 2010 at 02:41:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Croatians? They were the ones joined with the Muslims in murdering Serbs in Pavelic's Croatia.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Aug 31st, 2010 at 02:55:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure were. They were also the ones who destroyed Mostar fighting against the Muslims.
by Lynch on Tue Aug 31st, 2010 at 03:17:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your point is?...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 31st, 2010 at 06:36:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That people generally do stupid things whenever given the chance...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 04:40:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can tell you that the situation in Bosnia is very tense, both between Croats and Muslims and between Serbs and Muslims. Islam has made great gains in Bosniak society and is supported by Imams and newly built mosques finance not only by Saudi Arabia but also by Turkey and Iran. From the Bosniak Muslim political leadership, there is mostly talk of war, revenge and the vision of Muslim pure Bosnia and Herzegovina. Talk from Serb leadership in RS is for a referendum on independence (as was granted under Dayton provisions). Croats are keeping quiet while de facto and de jure integrating Croat regions of Bosnia into the Holy Catholic Motherland.

Sandzak is another interesting stretch of land in Serbia inhabited by non Albanian Muslims, where the Turkish government is investing hard cash (why there? one might ask, if Turkey is secular). A couple of weeks ago there was a visit to Sandzak by Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs, hosted by Tadic. What was bizarre was that at the summit, there were ONLY Turkish flags. Exit Serbian flags. If you follow the region's politics, you'll notice that Tadic and Jeremic (Minister of Foreign Affairs) are in bilateral summits with the Turks like twice a month! Now, what could be going on here?

by vladimir on Wed Sep 1st, 2010 at 03:48:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the Balkans are already on the road to integration, so it's no either/or, but I think it's more likely that North African countries could be integrated than Russia or even former Soviet Republics like Belarus or Ukraine. These are more integrated with Russia, and I just don't see Russia joining the EU in any way, and subsuming its institutions and power in such an organisation.

I don't see Turkey doing it either, to be honest, and it would be a real question for Egypt.

But in a 50 year timeframe, cooperation and links will deepen between the EU and all of these, but it is more likely that the Mediteranean countries can be interested in joining the EU than the others. Turkey has pushed to get in for ages, but I'm not sure they really understand how much they'd need to subordinate their sovereignty to Brussels on many things.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Aug 29th, 2010 at 03:40:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What about the African Union, which at least in theory aspires to become like the EU? North African countries could not join your "Euromediterranean union" and remain in the African Union.

Morocci could join the EU, though, as it is the only African state that hasn't joined the AU. However, it's hard to imagine that the EU would think about admitting Morocco unless the Western Sahara issue were settled. (And the AU's recognition of Western Sahara is the reason why Morocco is not a member.)

by Gag Halfrunt on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 05:20:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What about the African Union, which at least in theory aspires to become like the EU?

There's two thousand kilometres of nothing between North Africa and the AU. And, unlike the Mediterranean, Sahara doesn't even have the redeeming value of enabling bulk transportation of goods with minimal energy and manpower input.

And, well, the AU isn't terribly enticing as economic blocs go...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 05:25:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the EU's Mexico/SA.

And it has resources, including metals, energy (potentially), diamonds, and basic food stuffs.

And a cheap labour force.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 08:00:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
And a cheap labour force.

Indeed, and a growing one at that.

The African population of one billion is expected to double in the next 50 years. What will that do to labor supply?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 12:22:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on how far inland it expands and on how able (and willing) local political bodies will be to plan infrastructure and industrial plant with manufacturing in mind. You can have a billion people in a land-locked country, but unless they have a rail line, a road or a navigable river to get their produce potential buyers, they are not in the global labour force.

And it depends on how successfully the people who would really rather see Africa continue to be a resource provider, rather than a place of manufacture, are going to be in sabotaging industrial development there. So far our Dear Leaders have been depressingly successful at that sort of exercises.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:02:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think here the argument is that North Africa is potentially the EU's Mexico and sub-Saharan Africa is potentially the EU's Central and South America.

Of course, sub-Saharan Africa's external economic relationships could potentially be dominated whichever potential hegemon can offer a relationship that drives progressive development in sub-Saharan Africa ... and there is no guarantee that all regions of sub-Saharan Africa will swing the same way.

One substantial advantage of an African Union over a West African, Central African, East African, or Southern African Union is that the African Union poses no risk of going anywhere, so it can be trotted out as evidence of government support of Pan-Africanism without ever forcing a government to change any of its policy to actually support African Union.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:32:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One substantial advantage of an African Union over a West African, Central African, East African, or Southern African Union is that the African Union poses no risk of going anywhere, so it can be trotted out as evidence of government support of Pan-Africanism without ever forcing a government to change any of its policy to actually support African Union.

The Foreign Office is pro-Europe because it is really anti-Europe. The Civil Service was united in its desire to make sure that the common market didn't work. That's why we went into it.

[...]

It's just like the United Nations, in fact; the more members it has, the more arguments it can stir up, the more futile and impotent it becomes.

- Sir Humphrey



Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 05:13:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's one huge problem with that analogy, though.  South America has at least a few countries with generally functioning governments, infrastructure, and educated populations.  Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela have their problems, but they're nothing on the order of that faced by Nigeria or Kenya, let alone Rwanda, or basket cases like Zimbabwe.

The West has done nothing to help, and a lot to actively hurt Africa.  But there is a lot of domestic state-building that the peoples of these countries need before they're going to be comparable to much of South America.

by Zwackus on Fri Aug 27th, 2010 at 01:31:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The African Union is not one sovereign state.

The African Union (abbreviated AU in English, and UA in its other official languages) is an intergovernmental organization consisting of 53 African states. The only African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002,[4] the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states. The AU's secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Read more...

The geographic "distance" between Morocco and AU member states is defined by the (disputed) boundaries of that nation, not "two thousand kilometres of nothing."

Here's recent news from "nothing," where no "North Africans" need apply to "Black Africa."

The Joint Military Staff Committee of Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger will be based in Tamanrasset. They want to increase co-operation and move towards joint operations against terrorism, kidnappings and trafficking.

Militants have exploited a lack of co-ordination in the past, evading capture by crossing from one state to another. The US and other Western countries have warned that unless the governments of the region join forces, al-Qaeda could turn the Sahara desert into a safe haven and use it as a base for launching large-scale attacks.

Read more...



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 11:31:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... here's another one:

For transportation and communications purposes - in other words, for the drivers of economic and political integration - North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa might as well be different continents. In fact, integration would be easier if Sahara were a navigable water body, since overland transportation is a real PITA compared to sailing.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 12:51:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, it is a miracle that peoples of "North Africa" have any idea that the desert is not the end of the world.

Thank god, Columbus discovered Cape Town.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 03:53:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice try, but that ain't the point. The point is that from any technical, economic or practical perspective, the Mediterranean is quite simply a smaller barrier to integrate across than the Sahara.

Of course, North Africa should be perfectly free to pick their alliances, or remain alliance-free for that matter. And Europe should support North African political and economic development under whatever banner it takes. Not just for altruistic reasons either - stable, prosperous neighbours make for a better neighbourhood.

... But if I were sitting in a government office in Cairo or Tunis, I know which compass point I'd place my bets on.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 04:45:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes, I understand the "point" of the pop density map is to dramatize natural barriers, oceans of sand and sea, languages and tyrannies, religions and so forth, between civilized peoples. The natural barrier between North Africa and Europe is smaller than the barrier between North Africa, therefore Europe, and "Black Africa" is insurmountable. Regardless of whatever.

Reflecting on a trope of 18th century neo-Hellenistic phases of humanity would be comical if it were not 2010 and its repetition so eurocentric, mindless, and creepy.

So where we will disagree apparently is in acceptance of a foregone conclusion: the necessity of "integrating" Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lybia, and Egypt with Europe for all practical, technical, and economic intents and purposes of a plan devised by the Club of Rome and the Union for the Mediterranean, programmed by M. Sarkozy (UMP). <insert concern troll>

The only purpose I've read at ET, until  Melanchthon alluded to consummating "centuries of shared history, economy and culture," is to expropriate energy resources in the Sahara which --you've illustrated so graphically-- are obviously idle inspite of Europe's great time of "decarbonised" fuel needs.

60 years ago it was rubber and oil. 100 years ago, iron ore and oil. 200 years sugar and slaves. 400 years ago, gold.

The PwC business case, "100% Renewable, a roadmap to 2050 for Europe and North Africa," is here. This is a thoroughly researched strategy for expropriation, where "the integration of North Africa and Europe" is nothing more than "the smooth flow of electricity and revenues" to Europe to be consumed.

This story is credible. This story is consistent with compulsive, acquisitive premises of industrial governance. It kinda squeals for lipstick.

Like European investment banks supporting "North African political and economic development" because Algeria, Lybia, or Egypt are close, good neighbors.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 01:46:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and the only reason the EU expanded to Central and Eastern Europe was to take over the exploitation structure put in place by the Soviet Union to the Wes's benefit.

Are you saying that there is no path to genuine cooperation between Europe and Africa, because it can only be about exploitation of Africa by Europe? Or what?

The Mediteranean basin was a single world centuries ago, and the links have never really left. Quite frankly, quite often it feels like there is more in common between a Marseillais, a Sicilian, a Tunisian or a Lebanese than between a Marseillais and a Dane...

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:52:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... of a thread some time ago (hello Migeru!) where Mig produced an interesting outline/map for Europe of economic/cultural areas based upon watersheds, river basins, natural barriers etc.

I have been focusing my efforts for some time on the historic 'Hanseatic' area around the North and Baltic Seas, but extensible to (say) Ireland, Iceland, Faroes and so on.

It seems to me that the Mediterranean basin is in many ways a more natural geo-political, cultural and economic nexus than the national and international accidents of history we have.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 09:27:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I cannot speak to the vagaries of continental European alliances with Russia or against the USSR.

Unless you care to discuss adventures in Angola.

Are you saying that there is no path to genuine cooperation between Europe and Africa, because it can only be about exploitation of Africa by Europe?

If there were a "path to genuine cooperation" --in contrast to resource exploitation and postcolonial suzeraignty-- it would be self-evident at this point in time in the "genuine" integration of cultural and material enterprises among and between peoples in Africa and Europe.

We be celebrating "liberalization" of capital flows and human migration assured by intergovernmental administration of EU and African Union members. We would be celebrating the resolution of COP15.

But no.

And I am walking a ring of a self-deception about "natural" barriers to cooperation. The fantasy that French West Africa does not exist. But a cosmopolitan metropolis of antiquity is risen.

To serve the purposes of a Greater Europe.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 11:21:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cat:
If there were a "path to genuine cooperation" --in contrast to resource exploitation and postcolonial suzeraignty-- it would be self-evident at this point in time in the "genuine" integration of cultural and material enterprises among and between peoples in Africa and Europe.

It is true that the current relationship between European countries (mainly France and the UK) and most of the Sub-Saharan African countries is still shamefully neocolonialist.

But do you mean that because a genuinely cooperative relationship doesn't exist, it cannot exist? At the end of the 1940s, one could have said a European Union was not possible...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 11:46:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
re: "But do you mean that because a genuinely cooperative relationship doesn't exist, it cannot exist?"

As I've described "a genuinely cooperative relationship": Not in my lifetime.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 12:15:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cat:
Not in my lifetime.

Ah, but I was thinking long term. And, as Jérôme Keynes would tell you: "In the long term, we're all dead"...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 12:24:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe has been evil and will always be evil. I get it. What are you doing on European Tribune, exactly?

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:04:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had supposed for the many of the reasons you continue to post at dailykos.

Now I know better.

good-bye.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 12:20:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that I'm not writing that nothing good could ever come of any policy coming out of America, just because it is coming out of America. I've been critical of policies, and politicians but I don't think I've ever written on dKos "whetever you do, it's bad" like you basically did about Europe in this thread.

So,non the comparison is not valid.

In any case, I'm not denying Europe's colonialist past, nor the continued exploitative beahavior of many of its companies in Africa today, but your blanket rejection that anything done with Africa is going to be exploitative by definition is just not acceptable.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 07:10:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That sounds awfully like love it or leave it...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 01:34:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but there is no room for manoeuver in Cat's position.

It's a different thing to say "there is a significant risk, given the past and some still current European behavior in Africa, that a partnership would end up being unfair" and to say "any partnership will be exploitative because that's what Europeans are and do"

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 07:12:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and if you dare suggest that North Africa joining a Euro-Mediterranean union might make sense economically and politically:

That's your inner, patronizing imperialist speaking


"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 07:28:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I fear that it has more to do with self regard and aspiration than with analytic rigor. What Cat was saying comes from perspective highly critical of US and European civilization and its impact on the rest of the world. She cited Edward Said and, to the extent that I understand Said, seems to be mostly consistent with that approach.

While many of us in the US and Europe are critical of the nature of our societies and do not wish them to continue to have the impacts that they have had on much of the rest of the world we have been signally ineffective in bringing about such change -- to the extent that total system collapse is more likely than orderly internal change.

This is not to say that Jerome, Melanchthon and others are not sincere in their desires to bring about such change, but that has not made it so. I took Cat's comments as being directed at the fact and the likely probability of outcome concerning the relationship between the USA, Europe and Africa. On that I personally suspect she is right. "Not in my lifetime" -- unless via collapse. The poison in the soul of our shared cultures is deep and at the root of its organization. We all have to take responsibility for that, whether we are benificiaries, victims or both.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Sep 8th, 2010 at 12:34:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a very real risk that any such relationship will be exploitative. The industrial development business is overrun with economic hit men, pork barrel and assorted other colonial nastiness.

However, the risk of an exploitative economic relationship is, I would argue, an argument for increased involvement of people who are not in favour of colonialism and who know how to spot an economic hit man and beat him at his own game. Because if we do not beat the economic hit men in some way, we'll end up with this, at least if history is any guide:

another scenario would be that Siemens et al build multi-billion-dollar facilities but keep complete control of it, without tech transfer or ownership, and thus it's them selling both to Spain and Algeria even if they also pay rent for the desert land;

Now, project finance and economic and political integration isn't the only battlefield in this particular revolution. But it's an important one, and one that we should not abdicate entirely simply because the rules are tilted against us.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 8th, 2010 at 02:05:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had wondered where you had gone for part of the final third of August. Part of the answer was found when I read the last 20 or so comments on JaP's diary. Sadly, I also found what had happened to Cat, though trouble seemed to be simmering the last time I looked.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Sep 8th, 2010 at 02:31:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that part of the final third of August would probably be the part where I had no internet ;-P

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Sep 8th, 2010 at 10:46:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
???
by vladimir on Mon Aug 30th, 2010 at 03:00:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So North African countries are being used in neo-colonialism to extract their resources. And that is happening right now. Then what would be wrong with the North African countries joining the EU? What is wrong with getting the vote?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 04:44:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The natural barrier between North Africa and Europe is smaller than the barrier between North Africa, therefore Europe, and "Black Africa" is insurmountable. Regardless of whatever.

Very few geographic features are truly insurmountable in the face of the full engineering capacity of a determined modern industrial state. That does not, however, mean that surmounting them would be the wisest use of that engineering capacity.

So where we will disagree apparently is in acceptance of a foregone conclusion: the necessity of "integrating" Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lybia, and Egypt with Europe

There are very few foregone conclusions in international politics. As I said, the states of Northern Africa remain more or less sovereign, and are free to align themselves with whomever they please. If you see anybody offering a better deal than Europe is, please let me know.

for all practical, technical, and economic intents and purposes of a plan devised by the Club of Rome and the Union for the Mediterranean, programmed by M. Sarkozy (UMP). <insert concern troll>

Eh, no. Club Med predates Sarko by a decade or so.

The only purpose I've read at ET, until  Melanchthon alluded to consummating "centuries of shared history, economy and culture," is to expropriate energy resources in the Sahara

Expropriation is one possible scenario, though not one that is likely to involve full integration.

But hey, why not ask Portugal whether they think that integrating with the European community has resulted in an expropriation of their natural resources, or whether Spain believes that they have been treated to a poor deal with their EU membership? Last time I checked, no European country except England had anything resembling the shadow of a majority of its population that was in favour of leaving the EU.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:59:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine. Credit to Chirac. What difference would it make to your ability to acknowlege the historical, geopolitical significance of its institution and its instrumentality for implementing Desertec? Which is literally the framework, infrastructure, of a Greater Europe.

"As I said, the states of Northern Africa remain more or less sovereign"

I read that. You do not question the necessity of imperialism, although you also remarked earlier,

quite a lot of places still remember what it was like to have Europe at the centre of the world, and most of them would probably really rather prefer it to not happen again...

and

Overcoming that hurdle would require Europe to overcome a substantial internal hurdle as well: To realise how other people feel about last time Europe had empires.

My impression is that most Europeans remain in flat denial of most of the two or three centuries preceding the last world war. Europe cannot reassure former colonies of our benign intentions if we don't display some measure of awareness of historical reality.

Are you joking or do you mean to adopt a patronizing attitude toward the self-determination of nations "invited" to join the EU?


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 11:49:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's take a hypothetical example of economic integration:

Algeria, wanting to reduce its dependence on imported coal, decides to install solar panels to provide electricity. Algeria does not possess the capacity to manufacture solar panels domestically, or the capability to build that capacity. So in order to obtain that capacity, they borrow a suitcase full of either US$ or € and hire a bunch of American, SE Asian or German engineers to build them their factories and train their workforce to use them. Why not engineers from Sub-Saharan Africa? Because they don't precisely have a surplus to lend out.

In order to repay the loan, they need hard currency. For sufficiently long amortisation times, they might be able to pay out of the ForEx savings from not having to import coal. But let's say that they want to get out from under the debt relatively quickly so as to not present a target to ForEx piranhas. So they want to sell some of the electricity that they produce. Who are they going to sell it to? The Americas? Russia? Good luck making that economical. The Middle East? The rest of North Africa? They have equivalent solar resources within shorter transmission range. Sub-Saharan Africa? They have superior resources within shorter transmission range. So they make a thirty-year take-or-pay contract with a Spanish utility that rolls out some HVDC cables across the Med.

Net results: Algeria gets electricity paid for by Spanish electricity consumers (and Australian coal miners). After amortisation is complete, Algeria also gets ForEx revenues that can be used to make other infrastructure projects happen that are beyond the technical capabilities of indigenous industry. Algeria gets indigenous solar panel production capacity. Spain gets solar power cheaper than than they would if they had to install the panels at their own latitude. Everybody gets to benefit from the displacement of coal power with solar power.

What, precisely, is wrong with this picture? (Except from the perspective of the Australian coal miners...)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 12:45:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
re: "What, precisely, is wrong with this picture?"

It's delusional.

The scenario is predicated entirely by the assumption that the only value of power generation to Algerians, for example, is the market value of surplus capacity, stock, and distribution ("Who are they going to sell it to? The Americas? Russia?"); and energy export is a prerequisite of "economic integration" signified by some amount of EUR reserves accumulated entirely as revenue share of exclusive marketing to EU customers.

That's your inner, patronizing imperialist speaking obliquely about the intractable problem of increasing energy consumption in Europe. This golem cannot conceive of an African nation obtaining project financing to acquire a discrete productive means and extinguish debt. It cannot conceive of any competitive supplier of plant and equipment other than the tools in its chest. Precious hates BRIC brac.

Do you know much wind capacity is actually installed in Algeria? Could you estimate much more renewable energy will Algeria require to (1) replace fossil fuel marked-to-OPEC (2) service its public and private sector population over 80 years or so? This last goal is the most important measure of civilization, by the way, beside industrial capabilities and excess manufacturing capacity, exemplified by Algeria's partners in "economic integration."

Some information is in the Desertec prospectus, for example,

In 2050, we envisage that the EU-NA power system will have a total electricity consumption of at least 5000 TWh/a, with approximately 25% of this demand in [ALL OF] North Africa and the remainer in Europe. In total, only 60% (3000 TWh/a) of the system-wide electricity supply is produced in Europe, whereas 40% (2000 TWh/a) is produced in [ALL OF] North Africa.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 02:37:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not quite clear on what you think is wrong with a 75/25 split in electricity usage between the present EU and North Africa. North Africa has pretty precisely 25 % of the population of the combined EU+NA system. So, ceteris paribus, we should expect it to have 25 % of the electricity usage. Maybe differences in demographics would tilt the population ratio to 70/30 in 2050, but that's still close enough for corporate work.

The fact that North Africa will have a greater share of electricity production relative to population in an EU+NA system than the EU is not so different from the fact that Italy, France and Spain have a larger share of EU wine production relative to population than Finland, Sweden and Norway. I'm sure that Finland could make fine wine, if they threw sufficient resources at the problem. But that would hardly be the smartest or the most elegant way to provide Europe with wine...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:22:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"project finance"?

Project finance is exactly what Jake described, and you actually could not get project finance in Algeria for a big investment project like he describes but based on local demand, because project financiers want to see high probability cash flows to be in a position to lend, and for some reason (European oppression, probably, they don't trust the locals to pay them back, and require export contracts backed by creditable parties to provide these.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:08:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That and the fact that they usually demand €-denominated loans, which means that the project had damn well better have a €-denominated cash flow sufficient to retire those loans on schedule. Otherwise, you're setting yourself up for a currency crisis and the accompanying IMF euthanasia of your economy and political sovereignty structural adjustment program.

Unless, of course, one thinks that it's a brilliant idea to deliver developing countries into the waiting arms of an economic hit man.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:15:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I may raise some more sceptical aspects: this picture would be nice, if it is realised like that. However,

  1. that needs Algeria to consciously follow its interests (and its leaders to resist bribes): for, another scenario would be that Siemens et al build multi-billion-dollar facilities but keep complete control of it, without tech transfer or ownership, and thus it's them selling both to Spain and Algeria even if they also pay rent for the desert land;

  2. I do think that Spain has enough solar resource (and a good one at that) to supply itself;

  3. I am not convinced that the Desertec plans are much more than greenwashing for the companies involved, that is: if realised, it may not grow beyond the scale of a few GW;

  4. Algeria is a bad example, because the government doesn't like Desertec.

Then again, I don't see how Desertec would bring EU integration any closer...

Finally, a nitpick:

Sub-Saharan Africa? They have superior resources

Actually, no: they may have a higher angle of the Sun in the sky, but clouds, too.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:14:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
another scenario would be that Siemens et al build multi-billion-dollar facilities but keep complete control of it, without tech transfer or ownership, and thus it's them selling both to Spain and Algeria even if they also pay rent for the desert land;

Yes, that is another possible scenario. Our job as lefties is to make sure that's not the way it turns out.

I do think that Spain has enough solar resource (and a good one at that) to supply itself;

OK, point. I originally used Libya and Italy, but the fact that Libya has oil means that they have access to hard currency to fund the project without building new export infrastructure (ditto for Egypt and the Suez canal), which complicates the argument a little without adding anything substantial to the conclusion.

I am not convinced that the Desertec plans are much more than greenwashing for the companies involved, that is: if realised, it may not grow beyond the scale of a few GW;

I wasn't talking about Desertec specifically - rather, I was thinking a Gazprom-style sovereign utility on the African side and a Ruhrgas-style quasi-sovereign utility on the European side. That seems to have worked out well enough for Russia, and anything that could survive the Yeltsin years is surely a solid design. And solar power - particularly solar power for export via HVDC lines - is an infrastructure business in the same way that natural gas is: You can only sell the power in the places that you have power lines to, and the infrastructure represents a substantial up-front cost.

Unlike gas, however, it does not run out, so if you take good care of your infrastructure, you can keep using it essentially forever. Which in turn means that as soon as it is fully amortised, it makes free electricity in perpetuity (or until Sahara gets a cloud cover or the Earth's axial tilt changes - but in both those cases you'd have to reevaluate your business model for other reasons...).

Sub-Saharan Africa? They have superior resources

Actually, no: they may have a higher angle of the Sun in the sky, but clouds, too.

I was thinking about the Sahara here as well: From a pure production perspective, the smart way to power sub-Saharan Africa would be to start from the south end of Sahara and work your way North. And you'll run out of solar panels long before you reach the border.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:42:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nitpicking your nitpick:

According to your map, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan, which are not usually seen as North African countries, are located in the maximum solar potential zone...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:43:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nitpicking the nitpicked nitpick: I countered "superior", not "up to just as good" :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 04:28:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would really like to nitpick your nitpicking of my nitpicking of your nitpick, but the scale of you map doesn't allow it... ;-)

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 05:16:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Use this!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 05:23:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks! Then Chad and Sudan are the winners... ;-)

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 05:41:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is not a creation of Chirac, it's EU policy. Sarkozy tried to hijack the EU process for his personal glory (so what else is new) but the EU-Mediteranean cooperation process is not particularly a French-led one. If anything Spain has probably shown more consistent interest.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:10:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nomads and their trade caravans have been criss-crossing the Sahara for centuries, way before the Europeans. But the Sahara -- like the Atlantic Ocean -- has been a natural barrier.
by Bernard on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 05:07:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the 1500's, obviously the economic integration of North Africa into the Sahelian trading system was by no means trivial, but that was then and this is now. The Sahelian trading system no longer exists as a major economic force.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 05:31:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BruceMcF:
the Sahelian trading system

A significant part of it being slave trade...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 08:36:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... a size preserving map of the world ...

... to remind us of the size of territory that we are bundling into one economic union for the convenience of not having to grapple with four or five regions each as big or bigger than Peninsular West Asia, aka "Europe".

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 10:58:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are few economical and cultural links between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, even if some countries share a same religion. In fact, as far as I know (I lived several years in North Africa) there is little love between North Africans and Black Africans.

On the other hand, economic, demographic and cultural exchanges between North Africa and Europe have been going on for centuries. Today there are very dense economic and cultural relationships. Indeed, one might say that the North African and European economies are very much integrated: many supply chains both in the manufacturing sector and in the services sector link the two sides of the Mediterranean sea. And it will be more and more so through common projects(Desertec comes to mind) and increased immigration (as soon as we get rid of Sarkozy and Hortefeux).

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 08:33:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know a few Europeans, Italians and French my age, whose parents are comfortably retired in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, for example. Why do you refer to "North Africa" as if the region were a nation-state?

Are these the "North Africans" to whom you refer who have no love for "Black Africans" and foresee economic integration with the EU where none exists now?

How do the various departments and francophone West Africa fit this world view of Greater Europe apart from "Black Africa"?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 11:00:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who said North Africa is a nation-state? North Africa is a geocultural region.

North Africa's economic as well as political integration with Europe was already extensive during the Roman and Byzantine empires (well, only for 9 centuries...).

Today, the North African countries' economies are strongly linked to the EU: it is their first supplier and customer, let alone the remittances from immigrants. And a lot of families have ties on both sides of the Mediterranean.

As far as I know, few people in North Africa feel they have a common destiny with the rest of the continent. And I have witnessed a significant trend of racism against Black Africans in Morocco and Algeria. That might have changed...

French West Africa ceased to exist in 1958. Are you refering to the Economic Community of West African States or to the West African Economic and Monetary Union?

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 12:16:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... in Francophone African nations is far more pronounced in Central Africa than in West Africa.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:36:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I typed "as if" in response to your remarks. I also modelled with examples the scope of specificity that I hoped you would add in your reply to furnish stereotypical claims about "North Africa." I seek information from you that recognizes variances in economic and political conditions among the nation-states said to comprise that region.

Similarly, I seek some specificity in remarks that characterize division of the continent as "North Africa" and "Black Africa." While I am well aware of the convention in Anglo-European Literature to segregate historical "Arab" settlements from others, south of the Sahel, the significance of this language of preference among economic partners for European "integration" is not immediately clear to me, considering historical, economic relations between "black" nations of "West Africa" and sub-Saharan Africa and imperial Europe up to and after wars of independence.

So, no. I do not refer to the Economic Community of West African States or to the West African Economic and Monetary Union. My article selection is not arbitrary; it offers a context to evaluate the extent of cultural and economic privileges enjoyed by "protectorates" today which may distinguish nominees.

By refering to a particular group of nation-states that complement the arbitrary division of the continent into "North Africa" and "Black Africa," I seek to understand better your criteria --being stereotypically representative of antiracist France, as it must be-- for EU election of trade partners in Africa to EU "integration."

Please do not hesitate to say if proximity and port facilities of partners to EU borders are the crucial criteria, after all.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 02:46:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cat:
proximity and port facilities of partners to EU borders are the crucial criteria

That, and centuries of shared history, economy and culture. Add to that population mingling... Whereas the colonisation of Sub-Saharan Africa lasted less than a century.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 03:31:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
less than half a century? Really?

Darn. I've quoted B. Davidson more than once. My mistake. I should make myself familiar with Article 4 approved texts.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 04:09:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't you read? I wrote less than a century. I was referring to the French (and British) colonisation that started in the second half of the XIXth century. Which means that, for inland countries, colonisation began around 1870-80 and ended in 1958.

By the way, the law created a public uproar and was finally repealed

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 06:01:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah! You are correct. You typed "less than a century." And the "the positive role of the French presence abroad, especially in North Africa" has been roundly disputed since the repeal of the law of official history.

Pardon me. I cannot read.

And I am a mediocre typist.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 12:24:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... theoretical atmosphere there ... I hung around with African students in both Knoxville, TN and Newcastle, NSW, and in a smaller African community, students from all over sub-Saharan Africa hang out together, party together, braid hair together, do favors for each other ... you can go ahead and claim it was externally imposed, but being amongst it, it looked awfully self-organizing.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 05:45:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pardon. What am I claiming is "externally imposed"?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 09:55:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[quote] While I am well aware of the convention in Anglo-European Literature to segregate historical "Arab" settlements from others, south of the Sahel, the significance of this language of preference among economic partners for European "integration" is not immediately clear to me, considering historical, economic relations between "black" nations of "West Africa" and sub-Saharan Africa and imperial Europe up to and after wars of independence. [/quote]

You are saying that the normally closer relationships between, say, Ghanaians and Mozambicans than between Ghanaians and North Africans is to be understood primarily in terms of an imposed convention from Anglo-European literature

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 10:23:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah. That is an interesting interpretation, though I didn't intend to characterize "normally closer relationships" between "black" nations at any point in history.

More to my point is the contrast of races in European literature between all "black" societies and those of Arabic speakers anywhere -- but particularly in the "Dark Continent" --who have been identified with the "Caucasian" race in the rise of indo-european civilizations. And by rise, I do not mean perfunctory admiration for the material culture of the "Golden Aga of Islam," but the establishment of arcane academic disciplines to specify the taxonomy of in racial superiority flowing by conquests --first order colonization-- northward from the Upper Nile.

That is to dismiss depradations upon societies that do not flatter "universal" Indo-European mythos.

Systematic destruction of the Ottoman empire throughout Mediterranean Europe (e.g. "classical" Greece) and Africa (e.g. all of "North Africa") describes concisely the impetus of "shared history" culminating in glorified expeditions to Egypt and Algeria.

The introduction to The Protestant Ethic, for exmple, offers a conventional smorgasboard, as it were, of Occidental genius "refined" by international trade and philosophical appropriation up to the day it was published.

Edward Said, of course, takes on in great detail the purposes of Orientalism in literature (and propaganda) of the 19th century to the present.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 10:17:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cat:
Systematic destruction of the Ottoman empire throughout Mediterranean Europe (e.g. "classical" Greece) and Africa (e.g. all of "North Africa") describes concisely the impetus of "shared history"

Being repeatedly at war with each other doesn't mean countries do not share a common history, culture and even economy: European kingdoms have been at war for centuries. By the way, the Ottoman empire was seen as a European state until its end: during the XIXth century, it was nicknamed "the sick man of Europe". Political and military alliances were made with it (by France and the Republic of Venice, for example) and there was a huge volume of trade with it throughout its history.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 11:28:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes! I noticed. It's a chronically ironic condition of European relations to peoples around the world implies... war.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 11:56:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unlike the rest of the world, which always lived in peace.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 11:57:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no peace. There is just war.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 12:36:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't you know that war was invented by Europeans and that they forced other civilisations to adopt their war culture?

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 12:53:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Cheyenne might dispute the assertion that Europe invented war. But they did fail in persuading others to adopt war as a social reference ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 01:08:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... Peninsular West Asians (aka Europeans) have been wrong about the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa would seem to be a total red-herring in this context.

Five hundred flawed or flat out wrong explanations for why the bulk of the population of sub-Saharan Africa today have greater cultural affinity for each other than for North Africans does not disprove the cultural affinity.

Pan-Africanism has always solicited and accepted support in North Africa, on the basis of the hope for strength in numbers if nothing else ... and because there are indeed borderland affinities in countries like Mali and Chad, and of course it elides the Sudan problem ...

... but the base of Pan-Africanism is sub-Saharan Africa.

For instance, if UEFA invited in the North African nations, it seems likely they'd leave CAF in a heartbeat. In sub-Saharan Africa, it would be a fraught and heavily politicized issue, with money dueling against heart.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 02:30:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't intend to characterize "normally closer relationships" between "black" nations at any point in history.

Another way of saying the point is, why in the hell not?

If talking about whether the idea of sub-Saharan Africa is a "real" thing in the here and now, or just a conceptual artefact of Europeans inspired by false theories of "race" ...

... wouldn't the first thing to look for be whether there is a cultural affinity among the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa?

When their nation does not make the World Cup, or if their nation makes the World Cup and then gets eliminated ... if there is a team remaining from Sub-Saharan Africa, people from all over Sub-Saharan Africa cheer for that team.

Of course, its not to say that history does not matter. As my wife says of the people of the Maghreb, they are the people who captured the sister of her grand mother into slavery, and somewhere in the world there are cousins that they know nothing about.

Were the Arab slave traders working on a slave raid somewhere near the bend in the River Congo necessarily from the Maghreb? Were they perhaps from a country like Yemen in the Arabian heartland rather than a country like Morocco in the Maghreb?

For the question at hand, what matters is more that the Maghreb tends to be viewed in Sub-Saharan Africa as a collection of Arab countries that happen to lie on the African continent.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 02:00:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't believe that imperialist and hegemon are intrinsically entangled under 21st century conditions in the way they were under 17th, 18th and 19th century conditions.

So whether the EU occupies the role of hegemon in the World-Economy and whether the EU attempts to behave as an imperialist power are two different questions, and my suspicion is that the answer to the first is only yes if the answer to the second is not only no, but also demonstrably so in a way that allays old memories of colonial imperialism.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 11:28:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ssshhh! The European Union is the real Foundation. We are building a commercial hegemon to prepare the coming of the second global empire...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:50:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, but where is the Second Foundation? That is always the question.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 05:45:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So whether the EU occupies the role of hegemon in the World-Economy and whether the EU attempts to behave as an imperialist power are two different questions, and my suspicion is that the answer to the first is only yes if the answer to the second is not only no, but also demonstrably so in a way that allays old memories of colonial imperialism.

In any given part of the world, yes.

However, it is perfectly possible to rely on economic development, cultural exchange and mutual support in one part of the world, and play the Great Game in another part of the world. The premier contemporary example would be the US: American policy towards most of Europe has been based largely on projecting soft power into those countries (and hard power against their enemies), whereas Latin America and most of Sub-Saharan Africa have been subjected to much more canonical imperial strategy.

The pros and cons of these different approaches are pretty clear: Soft power is a lot more durable in the face of (relative or absolute) decline. Europe remains fanatically loyal to the US, despite having no particularly convincing geopolitical reason for this any longer. Latin America, on the other hand, is in the next best thing to open revolt against the American world order. On the other hand, soft power is a bit more subtle and requires greater finesse. While the US was still able to consistently project hard power into Latin America, their colonial tribute largely arrived on time and in the specified quantities. The European clients, on the other hand, have occasionally been more reticent about providing their tribute (usually manpower and political air cover for playing the Great Game).

My fear is that while Europe will probably continue to rely on soft power in our own immediate sphere of influence - it works well, and few are willing to argue with success - it will be tempting to take shortcuts further abroad. With all the pernicious consequences for both the locals in those places and for European political culture that aggressive imperialist strategy usually entails.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:27:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is already SOP. In Washington, I suspect the neocons have always considered Iraq and Afghanistan to resource wars for oil, gas and drugs.

While EU support has been half-hearted in most countries, I'd guess most professional diplomats know a resource war when they see one, and they understand that the rhetoric about trrrrra was always a useful lie for public consumption.

The oil majors have been playing their own hard ball version of the Great Game around the Caspian and in the Middle East since the start of the last century.

You don't need a ground war to play bad cop. Assassinations, terrorism and political gerrymandering work just as well.

The EU currently has the advantage that as long as the US is prepared to do the overtly ugly stuff it can pretend to be a beacon of civilisation in a cruel world.

Considering how Iraq and Afghanistan have played out in the EU, I wouldn't expect that to last if US military dominance crumbles.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 07:56:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... US international economic policy is for, which is the pursuit of profit by transnational corporations that by accident of history happen to be headquartered in the US.

If US international economic policy was for job creation and pursuit of national interest, it is possible to pursue economic relationships that are in the national interest of Latin American and sub-Saharan African nations, and soft power is far more effective when pursuing mutual advantage than when, as at present, attempting to mobilize private interests in the international arena to counter the national interest of the international "partner".


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 02:35:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Overcoming that hurdle would require Europe to overcome a substantial internal hurdle as well: To realise how other people feel about last time Europe had empires.

My impression is that most Europeans remain in flat denial of most of the two or three centuries preceding the last world war. Europe cannot reassure former colonies of our benign intentions if we don't display some measure of awareness of historical reality.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 05:21:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I beg to differ. At least in France, probably thanks (!) to the defeat in Indochina and the Algeria war, there is a widespread negative opinion about colonialism and the French colonial history, except for a shrinking group of former colonists.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 06:19:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... interminable meddling in the national affairs of former colonies, though it does ensure that a pretense of a request for assistance from the former colony precedes the most visible interventions.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:38:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but what we call Françafrique is a policy maintained by the political and economical ruling élites (from the right and the left, alas!). Most of the French people have no sympathy (or don't care) for these neo-colonialist practices.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 02:02:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's just reiterating your comment and my reply in one place. The fact that the French populous is not into it does nothing to prevent it from happening, it only modifies the way that it is portrayed to the public.

In Congo-Brazaville, CAR, Chad and Gabon, whether or not the French public supports French policy makes very little difference.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 05:28:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Certainly, and I don't disagree. But I was answering Jake's claim that
most Europeans remain in flat denial of most of the two or three centuries preceding the last world war


"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 05:52:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... but also likely not very necessary to his thesis if government policy proceeds in indifference to the view of the majority of the populace.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 09:07:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

In order to project a non-hostile, non-threatening image, all of the following must be true:

  • Actual, objective policy towards the rest of the world must be non-hostile and non-threatening. Good PR can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but if you're holding a loaded gun to their head, you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

  • The political institutions must be able to articulate their policy in terms that do not carry associations to previous hostility. Having a nitwit like Tory Bliar saying that he's proud of the British Empire is not helpful, regardless of actual policy and his influence on it.

  • The parts of civil society that interact with the rest of the world - engineers stationed abroad, businessmen attending conferences, producers of cultural products that can be expected to find their way across borders, even simple tourists - must meet the rest of the world with an attitude that does not carry associations to arrogant colonial overlords.

If any of these fails signally and consistently, projection of soft power fails.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 03:10:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The bottom line is that as far as Washington, London, Paris, etc are concerned, it's still the 19th century.

The fact that their populations are living in the 21st is neither here nor there - the decision makers don't much care what their populations think.

This single fact has more predictive power about likely future foreign and domestic policy than almost any other.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 08:01:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the decision makers don't much care what their populations think.

Until that fact changes, not much else will.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 01:34:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So everyone agrees: it's doom. Or not.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 04:37:32 AM EST
... but the rest of the world might escape! Woot!

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 11:29:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The economic course of the last three decades is rather obviously based on unsustainable tricks. Is there really no high concern of what comes after foreseeable deluge? Elite calculations may show that critical dangers may be most effectively used for a transition to some neo-feudalism. Whatever happens, some are always better off. It's not even polite to mention concerns of the Club of Rome. Quite a revenge of rich fools.

An promising turn of events requires quite a lot of organization. How many are willing to contribute, how much?

by das monde on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 06:07:50 AM EST
... and what they can accomplish with a rabble of corporations each fully willing to sell out anyone and everything for a good quarterly report are two different matters.

If powerful men always set aside the defense of their individual prerogatives in defense of their class as a whole, Poland might well have had many more decades of independence than they had in the early modern period.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 11:32:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's actually more than a few decades of unsustainable tricks, it's a couple of centuries of them. A much-quoted article from 2002 by Gigi Richard summarizes the problem: Industrial farming is fundamentally unsustainable, and while it has held off the predictions of Malthus for quite some time, the best estimate of the carrying capacity of the planet is about four billion people. We have six billion. We are past the tipping point.

http://www.iere.org/ILEA/leaf/richard2002.html

by asdf on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 09:16:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is just wrong. And I keep running into it, over and over. Farming is not going to collapse due to peak oil, energy constraints or soil destruction or what have you.

Since the discussion is currently about north africa I am going to point out an interesting company currently building things there:
http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/
What this does is turn a patch of desert, which has extremely low biomass, into an extremely high yield agricultural production area. The inputs are steel, glass, and labour and modest amounts of electricity, and if it becomes nessesary, this will scale to feed any number of humans the planet will ever see, forever.

by Thomas on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 06:08:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I agree with you on your medium-term optimism, especially about the increasing necessity of a low-carbon social life, but not on the first two historical factors that supposedly forms the basis of the current and recent bad bubble times:

* the first factor has been the end of the Soviet Union, and the discredit it brought to economic theories competing with "free markets." Coming at a time when our keynesian-drive economies were going through various strains . . . stagflation, etc .... the Berlin Wall falling . . .

The above appears to refer to the period between the late 1970s and about 1990, when state-directed Japanese and East Asian 'tigers' were the wonder of the economic world. But what was all that the mainstream U.S. media taught its citizens (I don't know what was being taught readers in Europe) then about the Japan and east Asian success story: 1, they were 'cheating'; 2, they were so different from us culturally that we could never do as they were doing.

The above is just the best example of the larger point: it wasn't what was happening in the larger world that turned us toward Milton Friedman's economics, it was power: who controlled the media and who increasingly controlled the academy. The interpreters of our economic reality and determiners of our 'common sense' about that became decisively more conservative, especially around the mid-to-late 70s.

Stagflation was the excuse not the reason. If anything, if labor had had the upper hand power-wise during that crossroads time, the U.S. could have used stagflation as a reason to adopt the state-directed economic policies of the country that was kicking U.S. economic ass back then. Many were arguing exactly that back then and all through the 80s. But we didn't. Greater short term profits were to be had by cutting labor costs and off-shoring capital . . .

* the second factor has been the rather brutal entry on the global market of the Chinese and Indian workforces. When you increase the supply of a good, in this case labor, its price tends to go down . . .

This, of course, ignores the role played by the destruction through various means of protection of the working classes of the high-wage countries (tariffs and quasi-tariffs, controls on exporting capital). Which, of course, is related to the destruction or near-destruction of those nations' labor unions and their political power. Supply and demand determining wage levels is a 'natural law' but one routinely squelched by policy while labor had the power to make that happen.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 11:54:56 AM EST


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