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November 02, 2006

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james higham

Melanie is right on this, as are Tom Paine, Johnathan Pearce and Minette Marrin. It's the loss of moral code which is the essential problem - the economics will take care of itself. As for movement to the west being yardstick, people over here are a case in point - dollar signs in the eyes and massive credit debt when they get to Britain. Working two jobs plus overtime, hocked up to the neck and paying one credit card using another is not living - it's subsisting.

Will Williams

Your comparison will only work when there is a state with both a comparable material standard of living and a day-to-day following by most of the poplulation of the principles of that faith.

Will

Paul Evans

Yeah but, yeah but, yeah but (and here comes the Stoppervision riposte), the imperialist so-called 'democracies' have exploited Muslims, conducted proxy wars and installed their own repressive puppets in Muslim countries. This is why Muslims are forced to migrate.

It's all about oil. Where have you been, man?

*stepping out of role* for the avoidance of doubt

chris

Will - you've made exactly the mistake I was anticipating someone making.
It's no coincidence that the secular west is richer than religious societies. One reason for this is that the same independence of thought that leads to the decline of religion also causes the entrepreneurship and scientific know-how that leads to economic growth.

Jim

"we have clear evidence - revealed preference - that western values are superior to Islamic ones"

Not sure it's that simple. A Muslim friend of mine says one of the things he likes best about Britain is the freedom to practise his religion free of harassment and sectarianism. Opposing 'Islamic values' with 'Christian values', as Melanie Philipps wants to do, would probably mean *greater* harassment and sectarianism, and drive people like him away, though presumably that's exactly what she wants.

Bishop Hill

Chris

The fact that independence of thought makes the West rich doesn't necessarily mean that muslims are coming here for independence of thought. More likely they are coming here for the money.

james higham

...It's no coincidence that the secular west is richer than religious societies...

Britain is a religious society - C of E. Officially.

Gracchi

I find it odd that people can't defend secularism- strikes me that there are quite obvious things to defend and that they are not difficult to see. Ronald Dworkin argued for some of them as outlined here http://gracchii.blogspot.com/2006/10/neocons-defence-strategy-attack-neo.html
sorry for plugging a blog entry from my own but I couldn't be bothered to retype it. I think that S and M is quite right on this- and that Phillips is definitely wrong.

chris

The numbers from the middle east since many of the middle eastern countries do have extensive welfare systems, systems more extensive and better funded, thanks to the oil wealth, than the welfare state in the UK. Therefore these immigrants cannot simply be attracted to living on handouts.

dearieme

"Britain is a religious society - C of E."
Except Scotland, Wales and NI, of course.

Matthew

People shouldn't link to Melanie Phillips, or discuss her articles. She is simply a bigot - recently she was complaining about Muslims LIVING in Oxford!

Courtney Hamilton

"Melanie should look less at heads, and more at feet, as the feet are moving to the west".

Indeed, anyone who has anything going for them heads straight for the West.

Will Williams

Chris, it's nice to be first, anyway.

My sympathies lie with secularism, with attendant tolerance and, in many cases, removal of power from organised religion.

I can only think of two points to respond.

1. Didn't the same entrepreneurship arguments used to be made, until the '60s, to jusify the triumph of the protestant work ethic of the north-west European states over the catholic south, only to disappear in the 70s and 80s.

2. The United States, without a state-supported religion, but with a lot of power resting in organised religions, is, at least, one of the West's most sucessful entrepreneurial and scientfic countries. Most of one's work colleagues there go to their places of worship once a week and pray regularly. Perhaps their blend of belief and tolerance is, in a utilitarian way, better?

angry economist

I just can't imagine why we want some of the values of Christianity or Islam in our society any more. Religions developed in ancient historical and medieval times, with moral codes which rely a lot on supressing the freedom of the non-elite rulers, or upholding parochial dominance in society.

For me - much of religion is an expression of political power as much as a moral, ethical or spiritual belief and is ridden with inconsistencies and hypocrisy. Its when religious fervour crosses the boundaries into my own commonsense beliefs and ethics of what's right and wrong, that I want the religious folks to just f*ck right off and leave me alone.

My central belief is that many religions were developed as a tool of political control and supression as much as any spiritual guidance.

PS Its a classic mistake to suggest that Islam is homogenous. Sunni, Shia, Sufi, and many other offshoots of course. Just like Christanity is very fragmented and secularised.

Also been reading a lot about history of islamic nations, and their history has loads of guys warring with other guys in the name of religion, but really after plunder, empire and power (e.g. Tamerlane aka Amir Temur). Renders the Caliphate idea redundant really - there's never been one that has not been a cobbling together of compative princes, sultans and amirs constantly undermining each other and in waiting to take over other territories.

Bob

Although I am completely on your side, Chris, it seems to me that the migration figures cannot be taken of evidence in the way you say. Secularlism may have been a factor in the West's relative wealth, but it is surely the latter that is the real pull?

Secondly, one of the values of Britain's gentle version of secularism is that it allows fundamentalism to flourish, thus perhaps planting the seed of its own demise... (I don't really believe that actually.)

chris

Let's say you're right, Bob, and suppose too that our secularism has nothing to do with our greater wealth.
There's still a message in the figures - people's preference for Islamic societies over liberal democratic ones isn't so strong that it can't be overcome by money.
This alone is surely interesting.

Rob

You could make the same argument about the Goths invading the Roman empire, or the Europeans invading the Americas, or the Mongols invading most of the Asian continent. Once you get a number of aliens sufficient to have political leverage, and to be able to replicate conditions back home, from the alien's perspective there is nothing to be lost by going to the host society, and much to be gained in terms of social welfare, money, etc. As far as I can see, the figures you give more support Melanie Phillips argument that we are being colonised, and not yours that these people are all big fans of the British culture, and just want to fit in.

Sue Rochester

It's simple really. If you're going to be an ordinary (ie poor) person, where is it better to be one? Halfway up a mountainside with no running water and intermittent electricity and family making demands on you all the time, or in a cold, grey Northern climate where you can rely on the electrical supply and running water and a ready supply of food in the shops all the year round, with a variety unsurpassed back home. I've lived in third world countries and I can tell you in terms of material comfort, there's no comparison. I don't know about social welfare, it may be better for some people in some Muslim countries but for the average country dweller it's usually just a bedframe in a corridor. (Bit like our hospitals are these days, dome to thing of it). Alsdso, don't forget, law enforcement and social discipline is arbitarary in these places. Our Police may be bastards but at least they have the idea of the Rule of Law. (Heaven's, I sound like Mrs Blimp! But, it's really true. If I was raped in Pakistan or Dubai I wouldn't even bother reporting it to anyone. Remember those four nurses who were found guilty of murder in Saudi Arabia about twenty years ago? They were eventually pardoned by the King. How medieval is that?)

Brendan Russell

Melanie Phillips is a mad bigot who gives comfort to the likes of the BNP with her anti-Muslim rants.

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