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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘religion’

The Meaning of Charlie Hebdo…for Islam and the West

The power of the web has been demonstrated very powerfully the last 5 days in just how many cogent positions have been staked out so rapidly re the Charlie Hebdo murders. It also says something about how powerfully the shootings in Paris have touched so many Westerners emotionally to galvanise such strong responses. That in itself, though, is part of a disturbing narrative that feeds into the terrorists’ hate-fuelled ideology. Just 17 people are massacred in Paris and the Western media – formal and social – goes into meltdown. In comparison the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights documentation of over 76,000 deaths in 2014 in the Syrian conflict – the vast majority innocent civilians – warranted around one smallish article per newspaper – eg: The Guardian’s 28 lines – or one short item per news broadcast. The subtext of this comparison is that French lives are worth an awful lot more than Syrian lives – and this comparison is then easily meta-stated into the Western media being racist, anti-Arab, anti-Islamic, etc, etc. It’s one more piece of evidence to support such frames of reference from a line of evidence that notably includes the Americans counting Western lives lost in Iraq 2003-2011… Read More

Will the West seize the Opportunity the Peshawar Massacre may offer…?

Could it be that the horrendous events in Peshawar this week might just become a turning point in the rise of violent Islamist extremism…? A ‘watershed moment’?, as Aamer Ahmed Khan postulates for BBC News. That great founding father of Sociology Émile Durkheim (1893) stated that when a particularly horrific crime takes place, there is often a drawing together of the community in a shared revulsion and outrage of the crime. This strengthens social cohesion – the sense of belonging to a community. For a day or 5 it may seem as though much of the world is a community – united and cohesive in its collective horror, outrage and sadness at the school massacre in Peshawar. Such is the public abhorrence that the pressure put on Pakistan’s politicians and military commanders may actually lead to them taking concerted offensive action against the Taliban. For too long Pakistan’s leaders have been divided amongst themselves as to whether the risk of trying to use the militants to exert influence in the region (especially Afghanistan) was worth the terrorist atrocities committed on Pakistani soil and the opprobrium of the Americans…or they were simply indifferent to what the Taliban (either side of the border)… Read More

No More Mosques!

On a walk this morning I was surprised to see a National Front (NF) sticker on a post box proclaiming ‘No more mosques!’ (The design was identical to the flag above .) Firstly I didn’t even know the National Front were still going – I thought they were long ago eclipsed by the British National Party (BNP). Apparently the NF are still in some kind of business – though they seem to be riven by the most egomaniacal RED-driven in-fighting! Check out http://www.national-front.org.uk/ to view their sorry state. Secondly I was surprised to see the sticker in the Greengates part of Bradford, close to where I live. While there was some trouble in the area at the time of the 2001 ‘race riots’, Greengates appears to have little or no racial tension.  It is a largely mixed area of lower middle class and upper working class. The population appears to be mostly white – though there are a number of Asians living in and around the area – as evidenced by the wide array of clothing and skin colours to be seen in the Greengates Sainsbury’s.  Everything from shorts and vests to shalwar kameez and even full burkas can be found in the supermarket… Read More

What Kind of Endgame? What Kind of Syria?

Of course, you can find a steady drip of news from Syria if you look for it; but there haven’t been that many front page headlines about the Syrian conflict since the US stepped back from the brink of a missile attack in the Summer. Under tentative Russian protection, the Syrian Government appears to have co-operated fully with the United Nations weapons inspectors who are reported to be making good progress (BBC News, 2013b) While no one should underestimate how dangerous the inspectors’ task is – and they haven’t yet been able to access some sites which are in highly-contested areas – their success has been without the kind of nightmare casualties I envisaged in Putin a 2nd Tier Thinker. (The BBC’s Jonathan Marcus (2013b) was just one expert who foresaw similar scenarios.) So far the weapons inspectors have done remarkably well, the Syrian Government is credited with meeting its obligations to the UN Security Council and Vladimir Putin with getting them to do that…and the world has breathed a collective sigh of relief. Given the commercial media’s RED/ORANGE rapacious appetite for new and exciting events to draw in the audience, it’s not too surprising the media’s attention has largely gone elsewhere.… Read More

Could the Increased Islamist Presence provide a Way Out of the Syrian Impasse?

In the wake of the Russo-American agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons, the war rumbles on, with a daily litany of shelling of civilians, torture, rape, murder and summary executions beyond the normal carnage of government soldiers and rebels butchering each other on whatever street, field or town square is their latest battlefield. Especially given the short timeframe for the identification, acquisition and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, the United Nations’ weapons inspectors have a truly daunting task ahead of them. A task the diplomats and the politicians may not appreciate the difficulty of. Paradoxically, given the Americans’ apparent readiness to resume the threat of missile strikes, it may be ‘their side’ – the rebels – which most jeopardises the inspectors’ mission. As Bashar al-Assad’s military have pretty much held together as a disciplined military force, the Russians will be able to lean heavily on the Syrian Government to let the inspectors get on with their job. However, the rebels are said to have fragmented so much that there may be up to 1,000 different groups now ranged against Assad. How on earth is any kind of centralised control going to be exerted on them to stop them hindering the inspectors? Without sufficient… Read More

Meanings in the Blood and Turmoil of Egypt

BBC journalist Tim Whewell has posted a brilliant and provocative analysis of the current crisis in Egypt entitled: Egypt Crisis: does Political Islam have a Future? In it Whewell characterises the conflicts which have erupted in Egypt as first the demand for the removal of Mohammed Morsi a month or so back by secularists and since then the demand for his reinstatement by Islamists. The desperate determination of the Egyptian secularists is summed up in Whewell’s piece by the Royal United Services Institute’s Shashank Joshi: “What we’re seeing is a coalition of liberal, secular, youth, revolutionary groups…who have decided that what they value is secularism at all cost, even if the cost is the shredding of every other liberal value that they hold.” While the brutality of the military in repressing the Cairo Islamists is shocking and has drawn condemnation from right around the world, there is ambivalence towards it from many Egyptian secularists. There is real distrust of the Islamists; and the fear meme has spread virally, as Whewell indicates when he says: “President Morsi was removed as much through fear of what he might do in the future as anger over what he had done already.” The Egyptian crisis… Read More

Do Arabs need a New Awakening to win True Democracy?

by Gerald Butt annotated by Keith E Rice Gerald Butt wrote ‘Do Arabs need a New Awakening to win True Democracy?’ as the BBC’s Middle East correspondent. It was published on the BBC News web site on 16 August 2012. Reading it, I was mightily impressed that Gerald’s understanding of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ effectively provided a Spiral Dynamics analysis of the phenomenon – though without the jargon and the concepts. Accordingly, I contacted both Gerald and the BBC who gave me permission to republish his piece here, annotated with a Spiral Dynamics/Integrated SocioPsychology commentary. (The text of my commentary is in red.) Gerald’s piece is timeless in its analysis of conflict between different value systems and the sheer lack of other value systems – vMEMES – hindering the progress of peoples – in this case, the Arabs – in achieving Democracy as we in the Modern West understand the term.  I am deeply indebted to Gerald and the BBC for their permissions. ________________________________________________________________________  Arabs in several countries around the Middle East are relishing the prospect of a new era built on political reform and democratic rule. This craving for democracy was motivated by a desire to throw off the shackles of the past and finally… Read More

Well, are the Arabs ready for Democracy?

On 22 February David Cameron, in an address to the Kuwaiti parliament, hit out at suggestions the Middle East “can’t do democracy”, saying: “For me, that’s a prejudice that borders on racism.” Even at the time it was blatantly clear that such statements were part of his and French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign to persuade the United Nations to approve military action against the forces of Muammar Gaddafi viciously and bloodily repressing pro-Democracy rebels across Libya. A little over 6 weeks later, as NATO tries not to apologise for bombing the hell out of the first armoured column the hard-pressed Libyan rebels have been able to assemble in what is now a de facto civil war…as revolutionary Tunisia and revolutionary Egypt wonder what on earth to do next now they’ve gotten rid of their dictators…and Syrian security forces exterminate yet more pro-Democracy protestors on the streets of Deraa, I’d argue it could be construed as racist not to ask the question: “Can the Arabs do Democracy?” After all, thousands of Arabs have died over the past 3 months in the name of Democracy. If we’re not to devalue their lives, we have to ask whether their sacrifice for their cause is justified.… Read More

David Cameron’s right about Multiculturalism BUT…

This past weekend David Cameron pushed forward considerably ideas his predecessors Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had been moving progressively towards …. In essence, this is to say pretty explicitly that, if you want to be British, you need to buy into the British identity and British values. (Ironically, freed from the collective responsibility of Cabinet, Blair on these issues is almost certainly well to the right of Cameron these days – see: ‘Radical Islam’ and the Return of Tony Blair). Cameron criticised ‘state multiculturalism’ and argued the UK needs a stronger national identity to stop people turning to extremism. With MI6 warning last week that Britain faces an “‘unstoppable wave of home-grown suicide bombers”, Cameron could hardly have ignored the threat from radicalised young Muslims; and it seems logical to ascribe their lack of identification with ‘British values’ as one cause of their radicalisation. In his speech on Saturday (5 February) Cameron accused multiculturalism of leading to a Britain of ‘divided tribes’. The prime minister posited that the multiculturalist dogma, which increasingly dominated political and social thinking from the early 1970s on, had meant the majority had to accord each minority ethnic group respect and the freedom to pursue its… Read More

‘Radical Islam’ and the Return of Tony Blair

Wow, Tony Blair sure is back in the news in a BIG way! First the Gordon Brown-bashing memoirs, then having eggs and shoes thrown at him in Dublin on Saturday and being a star guest yesterday on the inaugural showing of the new breakfast programme, Daybreak. And, of course, in the Sunday Telegraph both he and Brown were bashed by former Chief of the General Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt for failing to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq adequately. (Dannatt was in uncompromising mood, blaming Blair and Brown explicitly and personally for needless deaths.) Perhaps the most interesting set of comments to emerge from the seemingly endless round of interviews the former prime minister has conducted were those to do with ‘radical Islam’ and the threat that would be posed by a nuclear Iran. Talking about radical Islam in general, he described it to ABC News as “…the religious or cultural equivalent of [Communism] and its roots are deep, its tentacles are long and its narrative about Islam stretches far further than we think into even parts of mainstream opinion who abhor the extremism but sort of buy some of the rhetoric that goes with it.” Blair told the… Read More