A Constructed Complex Adaptive Invasive Strategy for Cultural Transmission

Here is a really salient article from Nadim Shehadi on the current KSA v Qatar confrontation, where he breaks down the nuances of the conflict.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia, between whom the conflict is most bitter, are also the closest: they share the same Wahhabi beliefs, and Qatar’s ruling family, the Al-Thani, claim direct descent from Imam Abdul Wahhab himself.

While Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, together with Egypt, are leading the charge against Qatar this time, they also have their own differences. A conference in Chechnya last year, in which the UAE played a prominent part, brought together about 100 Islamic scholars including ones sponsored by the Egyptian government, who declared that Salafi and Wahhabi doctrines are not part of mainstream Sunni Islam, effectively excluding both Saudi Arabia and Qatar from the definition. This is equivalent to delegitimizing the Al-Saud’s claim to their rule, much worse than any sin that Qatar has committed.

Their disagreements are serious. At the root of the dispute is a policy debate on how to deal with issues such as the various forms of radical Islam. Their similarity lies in that they all firmly believe that they are the main target of Islamist radicalism whether Sunni or Shia. Where they differ is in how to deal with the phenomenon, with approaches ranging from appeasement to co-option and suppression. They have different policies wherever the Muslim Brotherhood is involved, so they support opposing sides in Egypt, Libya, Turkey, Syria and Palestine. Qatar acts much like marginal states in Europe, such as Norway or Switzerland, maintaining relations with all sides while trying to play a mediating role.

The problem with salafi and wahhabi doctrines is that they provide a nourishing intellectual, cultural and emotional substrate for jihadism, and also that they are an integral part of Islam.  Jihad is in the DNA of the Quran…and oppression of the ummah acts like a trigger for the expression of salafi-jihadism.  And its impossible to get rid of jihad without rewriting the Quran.  Currently the GCC countries are pointing the finger at each other over the spread of islamic terrorism– who is the biggest terrorist enabler.  I think it depends if spreading wahhabism is equivalent to spreading salafi-jihad (aka islamic terrorism)?  Since it is the basic substrate.

The biggest challenge the Gulf states face is not invasion by Iran, it is their population’s growing sympathy with radicalism and this is linked to Iran’s actions in the region. Images of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp together with Hezbollah and other Iranian-sponsored militias ethnically cleansing areas of Sunnis in Iraq or participating in starvation sieges in Syria expose the failure of the rich Gulf states. This in turn serves to delegitimize Saudi claims to leadership of the Sunni Muslim world that radical movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State group are challenging.

I think Shehadi’s analysis is very cogent in the restricted neighborhood of the ME, where there is a Shia/Sunni conflict, but its interesting to observe what is happening in the broader theater of dar ul Islam.

In the broader theater, Sunnis are massively dominant in places like Indonesia and Africa, where the Shia/IRG is not a neighborhood threat.  There are for example, 80 million sunni muslims in Nigeria, and there are 202.9 million sunni muslims in Indonesia.

 

I thought these comments from Dr. Davidson were very interesting.

He is citing data from this article about Jakarta’s recent election.

JUST A FEW months ago, the governor of Indonesia’s largest city, Jakarta, seemed headed for easy re-election despite the fact that he is a Christian in a mostly Muslim country. Suddenly everything went violently wrong. Using the pretext of an offhand remark the governor made about the Koran, masses of enraged Muslims took to the streets to denounce him. In short order he lost the election, was arrested, charged with blasphemy, and sentenced to two years in prison.

This episode is especially alarming because Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, has long been one of its most tolerant. Indonesian Islam, like most belief systems on that vast archipelago, is syncretic, gentle, and open-minded. The stunning fall of Jakarta’s governor reflects the opposite: intolerance, sectarian hatred, and contempt for democracy. Fundamentalism is surging in Indonesia. This did not happen naturally.

This is a persistant adaptive strategy of invasive cultural transmission.

Saudi Arabia has been working for decades to pull Indonesia away from moderate Islam and toward the austere Wahhabi form that is state religion in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis’ campaign has been patient, multi-faceted, and lavishly financed. It mirrors others they have waged in Muslim countries across Asia and Africa.

“The educational network spreads itself.”  That’s very good.  Indonesia has a large “malleable muslim majority”– 202.9 million muslims.

In his book, Shadow Wars, Dr. Davidson also writes about how KSA exploits the hajj to fund terror groups.

This shows that KSA’s demonization of Qatar as a terrorist-funder is really just misdirection.  What Qatar does sponser is anti-KSA dissent.  Like Shehadi’s description of Qatar as the Switzerland of the GCC, Qatar hosts al Jazeerha, saudi dissidents, bahraini and yemeni dissidents, and the MB.  This is also an example of  how KSA’s physical possession of the ka’bah is used to exploit the hajj as a conduit to fund minority or sectarian muslim demographies to destabilize the ruling regime, (Dr. Davidson’s second strategy).

Here we have House Muslim & perpetually wrong pundit Shadi Hamid on Whats Different About Islam in Indonesia and Malaysia — not going to be that way much longer IMHO.  Actually, doesnt the Jakarta election blow up his whole thesis?  Indonesians used the blasphemy law on the books to sentence the ex-governor to 2 years in prison.

What distinguishes Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as their electorates, isn’t some readiness to embrace the gradual privatization of religion. The difference is that their brand of Islamic politics garners much less attention in the West, in part because they aren’t seen as strategically vital and, perhaps more importantly, because the passage of Islamic legislation is simply less controversial domestically. There has been a coming to terms with Islam’s role in public life, where in much of the Middle East, there hasn’t — at least not yet.

This is entirely wrong– KSA is exploiting the shariah “on the books” to transform univerisities to wahhabist institutions, to sentence the ex-governor, to pull Indonesian culture and society in the direction they want it to go.

I would love to have data to measure the spread of wahhabism through Indonesian culture– in contemporary Indonesia KSA is employing the first strategy…seeding the large malleable muslim population with wahhabism using educational and clerical networks.  This is a complex adaptive strategy using a mixed system of oblique, lateral and vertical transmission, and its condensed and amplified by the convolution of education and religion.  KSA is funding universities and mosques– two primary and co-dependent centers of social influence.  The strategy of offering scholarships and study in Mecca to the brightest students– brilliant.  An engineered meritocracy where wahhabism becomes the highest layer of the clerical class structure.

I would employ Cavalli-Sforza’s useful criteria-

Relationship of teacher and taught.

Age differences of cultural generations

Numerical relation between teacher and taught

Complexity of society, social structure and hierarchial layers

If I could get a capture I could build the transmission matrices to do generational iterations.  How cool would that be?  We are entering A Golden Age of Data, where data is going to be cheap and abundant and available to all.

Even to Shadi Hamid.

Editor’s note:  I’m told the Chechnya conference that UAE participated in was organized by Kadirov (Putin), and run by largely Sufi scholars.  Probably not very influential on the main [sunni] population of dar ul Islam, and directed explicitly at Putin’s current growing problems in Chechnya and Inghusetia.

 

Shadi Hamid is Wrong Again

Why does the Atlantic pay Shadi Hamid?  He’s like the King of Wrong on both American government and Islam.  The only thing i can figure out is that Hamid is the token soi disant muslim.  Here is the latest affront to our intelligence.

Presidentialism can work fine when there is basic consensus over what it means to be a citizen and what it means to be a nation. But the United States no longer enjoys such a consensus. The country is now polarized along cultural, ethnic, and ideological lines. There are, quite literally and not just figuratively, two Americas.

The consensus in a presidential system depends on electoral parity, which is increasingly a thing of the past in America.

In a complex adaptive system like US government the Cooperation/Competion Paradigm is critical for an equilibrium system.  (note: all CA systems are either equilibrium systems, in transition, or non-equilibrium systems– what the legendary Hungarian mathematician John Von Neuman called “non-elephants”)

Dr. Baranger:

Finally, there is one more property of complex systems that concerns all of us very closely, which makes it especially interesting. Actually it concerns all social systems, all collections of organisms subject to the laws of evolution. Examples could be plant populations, animal populations, other ecological groupings, our own immune system, and human groups of various sizes such as families, tribes, city-states, social or economic classes, sports teams, Silicon Valley dotcoms, and of course modern nations and supranational corporations. In order to evolve and stay alive, in order to remain complex, all of the above need to obey the following rule:
Complexity involves an interplay between cooperation and competition.
Once again this is an interplay between scales. The usual situation is that competition on scale n is nourished by cooperation on the finer scale below it (scale n+ 1). Insect colonies like ants, bees, or termites provide a spectacular demonstration of this. For a sociological example, consider the bourgeois families of the 19th century, of the kind described by Jane Austen or Honore de Balzac. They competed with each other toward economic success and toward procuring the most desirable spouses for their young people. And they succeeded better in this if they had the unequivocal devotion of all their members, and also if all their members had a chance to take part in the decisions.
When the US had rough electoral parity there was incentive to compromise.  But as the GOP remains lily white and the percentage of non-hispanic caucasians continues to drop, a presidential system devolves towards a zero-sum game, and the only way for republicans to “win” is to cheat (Sinner in TFT), or not to play.  This was apparent in the republican house over the last eight years.  Going forward the GOP has to worry about demographic doom, coming not just from the death cross with majority minorities, but from the increasing correlation between liberal voting patterns and educational attainment, revealed in the 2016 election.  Currently 70% of the US adult population doesnt have college degrees, but that number decreases by millions every year, as even conservative families push their children into degree programs.  Does anyone really believe that good 21st century jobs wont require college?  And young people go to college for the most part– not the olds.  A tribe without reps cannot survive.
In the EEA it was beneficial for h. sapiens sapiens to evolve 2 distinct phenotypes (call them red and blue) to maximize benefit from competion/cooperation (note: this is not genetic determinism because the four paths of heredity include environment).  Like our self-destructive lust for sugar and fat these two phenotypes are still with us.  But the red phenotype is losing relative fitness in modernity, causing the system to dis-equilibriate.  So Hamid is wrong when he says this is “culture, ethnicity, and ideology”– the polarization is phenotypical.  The two sides are literally incomprehensible to each other, the polarization gap is so wide.
I agree with Hamid that the only way to preserve democratic values going forward is to create a parliamentary system–  but the Founders made it extremely difficult to change the constitution.  Good luck explaining that to the republican base, people wholly incapable of understanding how health care, evolution, or climate change works.
Unlike most Americans I do believe in evolution though:

Why Rod Dreher is Woefully Wrong

The intransigent stupidity of the Right never fails to amaze me.  Normally I dont read pundits like Rod Dreher but these were linked on seriously slow-witted Shadi Hamid‘s TL.  Consider these two articles from “The American Conservative”: The Douthat Scenario is Coming True and Islam is the Last Badass Religion.   Both articles comprise a sort of protracted moan about the decline of christianity in the US.  Unsure what Dreher is recommending– possibly Christianity as a state religion? But wouldnt that be anti-constitutional?

Anyways, I can enlighten these simpletons about cause with science (see Pascal Boyer: Religion Explained and Scott Atran: In Gods We Trust).  Although it seems Hamid should know this (since he claims to be muslim) the core difference between Islam and modern christianity is the method of salvation.  Indeed Hamid even discusses this in his sillie book, but only in the context of the separation of church and state.  The thing about salvation by faith alone is there is no penalty for defection.  Once upon a time (before the born-agains, protestants and evangelicals) Catholicism was “badass”.  Because the penalty was excommunication.  But now– theres no penalty– murderers and rapists on death row can be born again with Jesus and go right straight to heaven.  Secular atheists dont believe in heaven so its even easier for them.  And then there is the “no religious affiliation” cohort.

Peter Beinart– Over the past decade, pollsters charted something remarkable: Americans—long known for their piety—were fleeing organized religion in increasing numbers. The vast majority still believed in God. But the share that rejected any religious affiliation was growing fast, rising from 6 percent in 1992 to 22 percent in 2014. Among Millennials, the figure was 35 percent.

Islam requires both works and faith, something christianity jettisoned a while back.  And being a martyr is definitely a major work.   Heres Dreher, still not getting it:

That’s something I respect about Muslims in general: they take their faith a lot more seriously than we Christians do. The only forms of Christianity that are going to survive the dissolution now upon us are going to be those that are serious about the faith, and incorporate it into disciplined ways of living. What would it mean for Christianity to be “badass”? Not violent, or intimidating, or cruel, but serious and countercultural. This is one reason that Orthodox Christianity is so attractive to men. It sets serious challenges in front of you — fasting, prayer, and so forth — and expects you to rise to the challenge. It’s not rigidly dogmatic and moralistic, certainly, but it’s not sentimental either. It sees the Christian life as a pilgrimage toward God in which we die to ourselves every day. That’s not Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. That is the faith.

Good luck reinstating salvation by works into fat lazy xenophobic American christians.  Because that is what it will take.  The other problem is demographics, which political “scientists” like Shadi Hamid never talk about.  Although there is rough global numerical parity between christians and muslims, the distribution is vastly different, as is the TRF (total reproductive frequency).  Muslim populations are more concentrated, younger, and make a good case for religion emphasizing muslim over race, while it is very apparent that white christians are not the same as black christians, or south american christians the same as african christians.   In christianity race mostly trumps religion.  And Islam is growing by attracting new adherents while christianity is losing reps to “unaffiliated”.

And finally here is a new paper “The Evolution of Extreme Co-operation via Shared Dysphoric Experiences”.  Certainly right now MENA is one big war zone full of many dysphoric experiences for sunni muslims.

One type of extreme co-operation is obviously martyrdom.

So unless Dreher has an idea for giving the Benedict Option some teeth (listening to an atheist and a maftoon dissing Islam isnt going to cut it) christianity will continue to decline vis a vis Islam.

tant pis, but that’s how evolution of religion works.

 

 

Liberal Democracy Isn’t Nimble– Its Dead

I found this Atlantic article very disturbing, especially where Hamid claims that American liberal democracy is somehow “nimble”.

The very fact of Donald Trump’s victory is proof that American democracy was more nimble that many assumed.

This is a patently ridiculous statement–  Trump’s victory is proof that an unqualified, incompetent, compromised and very possibly unstable candidate could leverage Citizens United and the RNC rules to capture a party nomination by force.  If anything it represents the abject failure of American liberal democracy in the 21st century.  The media did not do their job, the GOP did not do its job, the system simply didn’t work as intended.  Not WAI.

This is my reveal from the election– liberal democracy is a Terrible Lie.  Liberal democracy worked in America as long as there was rough demographic parity between the two camps.  But there is nothing for Jefferson’s Noble Yeomen Farmers in the future but economic, scientific, cultural and academic pain.  The promise of liberal democracy, “that all men are created equal” is simply untrue.  Liberals have long believed that environmental disadvantages could be leveled by laws and civil welfare– conservatives believed that “attitude” and personal initiative could level environmental disadvantages– both are dead wrong.  Because its not possible to level the genes (yet).

Going forward the critical discriminator isn’t race, gender or ethnicity– its educational attainment.   This is why conservative pundits are talking about trying to impose quotas of conservative professors in universities or creating an alternative to academe.

Or if liberal democracy isnt dead, its at least gravely wounded.  Can it recover?

The greatest fear of the Founders, their bête noir, was a demogogue seizing power.  Perhaps Hamid needs a American History or American Government class.  I don’t see any other way to read Trump’s election than as a profound failure of what the Founders built.  It remains to be seen how antifragile the American representative republic is going forward– can it self repair or will it self destruct?

Because the dis-equilibriation of red/blue America is going to become more severe going forward.  If we cant put out a trash fire in our own back yard how do we sell liberal democracy to the rest of the world?

I think we cant– we begin the slow fall to a liberal supermajority or charge into another civil war.  Because there is nothing liberal democracy has to offer the side that is losing the demographic battle.

Jules Vernes was prescient.

 

 

Understanding Erdogan: A Primer for Aspiring Western Putschists

I am seeing so much unhelpful verbage vomited out by the cottage-industry jihadologists like Shadi Hamid on the failed Turkish coup that I have to correct the record.  First, this is an enormous blow to Barack Obama and the US covert plan to create a “moderate” Islam (See Rand).  Second, the failure of the coup was utterly predictable in the sense that ever since the Sisi coup in Egypt Erdogan has been preparing for an attempt like this, and probably even before, given the history of military coups in Turkey.

One of the most important things Erdogan has done was the formation and fierce support of loyal religious police and intelligence services to counter the military.  The police and intel agencies subscribe to a traditional conservative islamic ideology which is very different from Güllenism– which is a kind of reform or “pluralist” Islam designed by Rand Corporation (see Fixing Islam) and covertly promoted by the US.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 9.16.04 PM Police praying.                 So here is the first difference: Sisi had both the military and the police, and the intelligence branch on his side.  But Erdogan had the support of loyal police and intelligence forces.  This is why we saw the putschists attacking not just the presidential palace and parliament, but Police and Intelligence Headquarters.  When the military coupists fired on the crowd the attempt was finished– the Egypt military never fired on the crowds in Tahir– nothing deligitimizes a coup attempt like live fire on civilians.

Although the elements that made up Sisi’s coup are roughly equivalent to the turkish putschists– secularists, military, deep state– there is a major difference btwn the islamic defectors (Noor Party in Egypt) and the turkish islamic defectors (Güllenists).  That is, public support by KSA.  Although the US was secretly very much in favor of the coup in Turkey, it could not be seen as publicly supporting it for a variety of reasons: NATO, Incirlik base, Syrian refugees, etc.  Obama had hoped for an eventual “soft” coup and the ascendency of güllenist “reform” Islam– this is now delayed for at least 50 yrs.  Who knows what Obama had to promise Erdogan to get Incirlik opened again before IS slaughtered all his kurdish mercenaries.  But if Erdogan really wanted Gülen I am positive Obama would have had to give him up.  The failed coup also showcased Incirlik value as hostage– it hosts some 50+ NATO nukes and is the lichpin of Obama’s kurdish mercenary protection plan.

I don’t think its in Erdogan’s advantage to extradite Gülen and try him– what he is doing is much more powerful– purging guellinsm from the military, the judiciary, and most importantly from academe.  In Egypt Mubarak currated appointments of jurists to Al Azhar for 30 years– creating a sort of statist reform Islam that Sisi has been able to exploit.  Now even Gullenist intellectuals are barred from leaving the country.   Erdogan is simply using Gülen to embarrass Obama.  The overture to Russia is just insurance.  Obama thought he could bully/persuade Erdogan into doing any thing Obama wanted– that relationship is shattered now.  Erdogan is rightly suspicious, and will be even more careful going forward.

The second difference is social media and flash mobs.  Ataturk was a dictator that outlawed the arabic alphabet and the adhan– both of which Erdogan has restored.  It is ironic especially that the adhan was used to call flash mobs to the street to protest the coup.  Westerners seem to have a terribly hard time  distinguishing between forced secularism of tyrants and consent of the governed (democracy).  What actually destroyed the coup was  a single CNN Turk anchorwoman and Erdogan facetiming his citizens on an iphone.  I hope she got a medal.

When Sisi prepared to slaughter the peaceful protestors in Rabia square he shut down the cell towers– so the world wouldn’t see him burning muslims alive in tents and bulldozing their bodies.  A big mistake of the putschists was failing to shut down the internet.  So the coup was defeated by social media and flash mobs, while Erdogan’s loyal police and intel forces stood off the putsch long enough for Erdogan to mobilize the citizenry.  The funniest thing to me is now that Erdogan has reaped incalculable power gains from the failed coup, there is all this western conspiracy theory about how the coup MUST have been staged!  Because western sympathizers could never have possibly executed so poorly– 911 truthers is the best analogy.

To me the most important outcome of the failed coup is the epic destruction of güllenism– practically eradicated from Turkish society and culture, demonized and deligitimized for the next half century at minimum.  The validated purge of discredited gullenist professors, jurists, and intellectuals on a vast scale…it says to me that Erdogan learned a great lesson from my hero Malcolm X.

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