Article7

Response to Article1

By DDD

2/28/94

 

Here is ghandchi’s response to DDD:

 

 

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Below, what I have previously written is marked with "S", and

DDD's response is marked with "D"

 

S) I am presenting a new angle in my whole posting and my

S) angle is to view our history from the viewpoint of someone who

S) thinks everyone has had choices; and has made right and wrong

S) choices; rather than seeing things as inevitable.

 

 

D) Mr. Ghandchi wrote an interesting posting on the sensationalist

D) trend of Iranian intellectuals. I should add that I have a

D) deterministic view on this free will theory. We should realize how

D) a dictatorship brutalizes and radicalizes its opposition. A

D) dictatorship doesn't give room for liberal personalities to grow.

 

I agree with you that dictatorship doesn't give room for liberal

personalities to grow and thus radicalizes the opposition.  It is like a

cult that does not let a liberal approach to counter the brainwash of

its members to succeed; and helps the growth of extremism among

the cult's opposition.  And we both agree that the latter, after

success, will in turn become something similar to the former.

 

Now my alternative is to forgo rapid success.  Yes, just accept that

your efforts may not even make a difference.  But know that if even

partially successful, the result will be of a more lasting kind in the

conscience of the society.  True if the social conditions internally and

externally are more favorable to moderation, you have more chances

to succeed.

 

Also true, that if extreme dictatorship prevails, the majority of the

people may go for the radical alternative anyway; and afterwards no

one will even remember people like you ever existed.  But if more

people be carefree about all this disdain; and just follow liberalism

for believing in it, one day, their society may actually become a

moderate society.

 

In Europe, the period of the revolutions had the preceding of

Renaissance, Reformation, and a long period of liberal action.  Still,

the French Revolution brought tyranny.

 

You may ask me that in the US history, both the War of

Independence and the Civil War were radical solutions to the

problems of colonialism and slavery; and still the country did not fall

into a dictatorial rule afterwards.  I would say that the European

immigrants had their liberalism exercised and foundation layed

out long before coming to the States.

 

Moreover, the immigrants had mostly escaped Europe because of

persecution.  Also in the American colonies, they worked for a

moderate solution for a long time, e.g. House of Burgess.  Actually

Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence, details all the liberalist

efforts of the founding fathers, before resorting to a radical solution.

 

Jefferson is not just giving the background efforts as an excuse to

justify the Revolution.  The preceding liberalist work was actually so

strong that it restrained the post-revolutionary states in every

sphere.  I think if otherwise, their radical solution would have given

the same result as the revolution of many other colonies where

dictatorship resulted from independence.

 

D) If we look at Bolsheviks in Russia we can see how Tsarism allowed

D) only people with organizatory capabilities under its dictatorship

D) to rise among the social democrats. It was Stalin who sat

D) with the organisatory responsibilities and power and not

D) people like Pelkhanov. It was because only brutal personalities

D) like Stalin could organize under that brutal circumstances.

D) This gave Stalin after the revolution the leverage to

D) wipe out any moderate personality. So Tsarism carries a lot

D) of responsibility for how the opposition came to develop.

 

You are right.  I couldn't have put it any better.  Definitely Plekhanov

would never have had the slightest chance of a success that his

colleagues in Sweden had, never.  But again I ask, couldn't he still be

like Amir Kabir or Torgot (French intellectual of Amir Kabir’s Caliber

before 1789 Revolution); and couldn’t he have stood up for liberalism,

although without fully succeeding.

 

True he did stand up to Lenin and he did say that Lenin's Bolshevik

path would end up in tyranny.  But his own ideology (Marxism) also

was far from Liberalism (please refer to Kolakowski's MAIN

CURRENTS OF MARXISM, Daniel Bell's THE END OF IDEOLOGY, John

Kenneth Galbraith's THE ANATOMY OF POWER, and Alvin Toffler's

PREVIEWS AND PREMISES for detailed analysis).

 

Needless to say, in a place like Sweden, the non-democratic aspects

of Marxism were dropped and its social justice aspects were

highlighted.  Whereas in places like Russia, the non-democratic

aspects were highlighted as pre-requisites for any justice.  For

example, Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program, not a major work,

but its admiration for theory of dictatorship of the proletariat was

highlighted by Lenin, Stalin, and many other Russian and Chinese

Communists.  Whereas many of the European Marxists such as

Kautsky tried to hide it [Marx’s Critique of Gotha Program], and

many other European Marxists openly opposed the theory of the dictatorship

of the proletariat.

 

D) The same is true during the Shah time and among many

D) Middle East countries. Liberal ideas were and are prosecuted. But

D) liberal personalities are inherently more difficult to

D) organize and less adventurist and courageous than extremists.

 

Again I agree.  But I still think that even in the worst conditions one

has a choice to follow the road of Amir Kabir or the road of Mirza

Reza Kermani.

 

D) Let us see what is happening in Israel today. Israel is responsible

D) for radicalizing  and brutalizing Palestinian opposition.

D) When even the liberal literature was forbidden under Shah's

D) regime we could not expect more of our illiterate and uninformed

D) intellectuals! of Course the transitory nature of our economy

D) had also created a lot of social classes in movement which

D) itself made extremism a more natural choice.

 

Again I agree with you that extremism has a much much better

chance to succeed than liberalism in highly polarized societies such

as Iran.  But does that mean that one cannot use what one has

between the two ears and find the third, fourth, ... alternatives.  The

choices do not have to be collaboration versus extremism.

 

I actually, as you have perceived, strongly believe in free will.  My

belief is not just philosophical, although it has been brought up even

centuries ago by our own intellectuals Avicenna and Farabi.

 

I also have reviewed some recent biological research, which argues

that the more a species is advanced in its nervous system, the more

distance exists between what evolution is genetically expected, and

what the organismic evolution is in real life.  They say the difference

is due to the impact of the brain and its ability to make choices that

are not genetically pre-determined [Please see a good report on this

in the Scientific American  See THE MOLECULAR BASIS OF

EVOLUTION in Scientific American, 10/95, Vol253, No4.]

 

The above is why I always stress what we all have between our two

ears, and what a difference it would make to us and to our world, if

we also believed that to think about more choices in response to any

situation and not caving in to the paths that we have invisibly

always accepted, and this can a make a whole world of difference in

our future.

 

D) I believe those who have lead a people towards victory against

D) a dictatorship aren't always qualified to run the country after

D) the overtaking of the power.

 

Again I agree.  That if a revolutionary path is chosen and a new state

is formed, one should not sit down and regret.  One can again try for

the growth of liberalism.  It has taken at least four centuries for

England to become a liberal state, and definitely still not the ideal. 

How long will it take for Iran?  I do not know.

 

I just would like to add another point.  Many times the significance

of Renaissance, Reformation, and Industrial Revolution are

understood very well when examining the growth of liberalism in

Europe.  One element that I see often neglected is the significance of

the start of rationalism in the Catholic Church itself and specifically

the role of St. Thomas Aquinas in it.

 

St. Thomas Aquinas was one of the highly respected fathers of the

Church.  Jesuits pay a lot of tribute to his works [see the superb

work of History of Philosophy (9 volumes) by Jesuit Father

FREDERICK COPLESTON for morv edetails.]

 

St. Thomas Aquinas highlighted the rational dialogue in the Catholic

Church.  What I see some of our supporters of IRI are doing

nowadays, which I welcome.  Why?  If you see in the European

history, Luther who was the leader of Protestantism, was more

hardheaded in his approach to rationalism and science than the Pope.

 

For example, Luther strongly opposed the Copernican Theory, on

biblical basis, and was always against rational discussions about

religion.  In his theories, the religious beliefs were accepted as truths

of heart and not because of rational discussions .  What centuries

later, one even sees in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's path of heart, yet in

secular form.  In contrast Voltaire, although again a secular writer,

for the same issues, similar to the St. Thomas Aquinas, but centuries

later, appealed to reason and mind rather than appealing to the

path of heart.

 

But the rationalists of the Catholic Church, such as early father St.

Augustine (very much like our Imam Mohammad Ghazali), and later

on the St. Thomas Aquinas, pioneered discussions of religious issues

in a rationalist fashion.  These people, in contrast to the Protestant

Revolutionaries, contributed the most to the growth of rationalism

and liberalism in the future Europe.  Their impact on the scholarly

works of Jesuits is undeniable to this day.  Pay a visit to the

University of Santa Clara in the South of the SF Bay Area to see it for

yourself.

 

I place a very high value in rationalist discussions of many of our

theologians in Ghom. Am I asking for a flame? :).

 

 

Regards,

- SG

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