So that old agent provacateur extraordinare, Tariq Ali, has attacked the naming in Benazir Bhutto’s will of 19-year-old son Bilawal as her successor as leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, describing it as “a digusting medieval charade”
(His article was the front page lead story in the New Year’s Eve edition of The Independent – and he appeared on that morning’s editon of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, reiterating his position.)
In describing the succession of Bilawal as “medieval”, Tariq was spot on! Moreover, his description of Asif Zardari, Bhutto’s widower (and Bilawal’s father), as a “feudal potentate” – a Lord Chancellor or Grand Vizier? – who will run the party until his son is old enough, is also pretty close to the mark.
Where Tariq misses the point is to call it “disgusting” and a “charade”.
He goes on to say: “How can Western-backed politicians be taken seriously if they treat their party as a fiefdom and their supporters as serfs, while their courtiers abroad mouth sycophantic niceties concerning the young prince and his future?”
The point is: this is very much how the politcians in Pakistan must act if they wish to design an alternative government to the military dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf!
Tariq goes on about the need for democracy in Pakistan. Though he doesn’t use the exact words, he seems to mean Western-style liberal democracy. (Interesting, given his history as a Trotskyist and onetime leading member of the International Marxist Group!)
Presumably the kind of democracy that Pakistan doesn’t seem to aspire to, given the convoluted history of corrupt (or allegedly-corrupt) elected despots and military dictators who have ruled the country for most of its post-colonial existence.
Presumably the kind of democracy the United States has failed to impose on Iraq, demonstrating for all the world to see that you cannot impose a system of government the vast majority of the people are not prepared to tolerate – no matter what George W Bush and his groupthink cronies might believe! (Even if you have the mighty muscle of the American army to back you!)
Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, when he was very much the bête noire of the British establishment, Tariq Ali appeared to be driven by a RED/BLUE vMEME harmonic, a skilled and cunning advocate of a Marxist-Leninist approach to society and government. These days there appears to be a decidely-GREEN tinge to his thinking; but that thinking still appears to be resolutely 1st Tier.
Drawing at least in part from his experiences in helping to design the early-mid-nineties transition in South Africa, Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck (2002b) is in the process of developing what he calls Stratified Democracy. This requires consideration of which are underpinning and driving a particular mindset. This can be illustrated by looking at the 4Q/8L schematic Beck (2000b; 2002b) developed from applying Spiral Dynamics to the work of Ken Wilber. Check which vMEMES are driving the cultural mindset (Lower Left); then check which kind of societal institutions vMEMES create (Lower Right) to get a ‘best fit’.
While Beck has yet to produce defining statements about Stratified Democracy (and there will need to be a number of them!), effectively he means matching the form of government of a society to its cultural mindset.
Once you look at Pakistan from the perspective of 4Q/8L, it is no surprise that a large number of people (especially the rural poor and the urban disenfranchised), led by the PURPLE vMEME, focus on the charisma and magic-making power of their leaders (to whom they feel affiliated by tribal loyalty or some other form of belonging). To such mindsets the personal power and responsbility a Western-style liberal democracy would give them is nothing like as attractive as seeing the ‘magic’ qualities pass from generation to generation in a dynastic manner – as it is perceived it has from Benazir’s father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, to her and hopefully now will to Biliwal.
This mindset is ripe for exploitation by RED. (And Benazir clearly had plenty of that – just look at her fatal to-hell-with-consequences exposure of her head from her protective vehicle so she could revel in her followers’ adulation!)
The most recent modern example of a true RED feudal kingdom was Saddam Hussein’s pre-invasion Iraq, where his generals played the role of the ‘noble lords’ – frequently plotting against him and periodically being culled by their master. The hapless Iraqi people played the abused serfs. Saddam threw away an estimated 100,000 lives in the 1991 Gulf War and then diverted much of the revenue from the Oil-for-Food Program away from its intended recipients (hungry and sick Iraqis) and into his own coffers. Why? Because he was ‘king’ and he could do what he liked.
(The problem with a RED feudal kingdom is who occupies the throne. King John had a good head for finance and knew when to cede just enough power to keep power. And it could be argued Benito Mussolini was doing reasonably OK until he started trying to impress Adolph Hitler.)
Yet did the Iraqis eagerly grasp the chance for Western-style liberal democracy the invading Americans offered them in 2003-2004? No. Rather, there was a centring lower down the Spiral as PURPLE tribal loyalties (exacerbated by BLUE religious divides) re-emerged in the absence of a ruthless monarchial figure. (To some extent, the picture of re-emerging PURPLE tribal/ethnic loyalties after the death of strongman Marshall Tito also helps explain the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.)
Multiple vMEME leaders
Of course, to see societies as simply dominated by PURPLE’s tribal loyalties or RED’s power pecking order is too basic.
Islam provides a strong BLUE veneer in many countries in the Middle and Near East; and the lawyers’ protests, which contributed significantly to the development of the present crisis in Pakistan, were a real manifestation of BLUE outrage (admittedly stirred up by some RED demagoguing!) at Musharraf’s removal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry.
Nor is the Western world of liberal democracy free from strong PURPLE influences. Though ORANGE uses her to generate large amounts of revenue from tourists, the majority of Britons still favour having a queen of royal lineage and there is some considerable anticipation of Prince William ascending the throne (assuming Charles can somehow be bypassed!). As for the United States, how many Americans liked to think that they were on the verge of having their very own dynasty in the Kennedys…? While the second Bush has lost so much favour it’s unlikely that line will produce another president in the near future, a number of people are getting very excited about the prospect of a second Clinton in the White House. (There does indeed appear to be ‘magic’ in a name!)
So an effective leader needs to be able to talk multiple vMEME languages. Neither of the Bushes were good at it. Tony Blair, prior to tripping himself into Bush Jnr’s Iraq trap, excelled at it. Talking revenge and justice (RED/BLUE) with Bush post 9/11 and then using some very different BLUE memes from the Qur’an to persuade Muslim world leaders not to oppose the American invasion of Afghanistan.
Benazir Bhutto could talk GREEN human rights, ORANGE money opportunities and BLUE military processes with Western leaders. In Pakistan she became the princess apparent, ready to ascend the throne and rule like a queen, a PURPLE/RED harmonic just right for so many of her people.
Had she lived and been elected, she may have been sensitive enough to Western pressure to keep it clean this time and possibly even help lay the foundations for the dominating Pakistani mindset to move higher up the Spiral. Though would she would have been any better than Musharraf at dealing with the dysfunctional BLUE of Isamic extremism…?
Tariq Ali would appear to have been so sucked into BLUE/GREEN ideals of Western politics, he has lost touch with his own origins. Benazir passing the claim to the throne to Biliwal, with Zardari as Grand Vizier, might indeed seem “a digusting medieval charade” to Western eyes immured in liberal democracy. But, to the medieval eyes of the Pakistani rural poor and urban disenfranchised, it makes a lot of sense.
With a cultural mindset (Lower Left) largely in the PURPLE-RED zone, Western-style liberal democracy (created by BLUE and ORANGE and refined by GREEN) is quite simply a mismatch for Pakistan. The form of government (Lower Right) must match the mindset and needs of the people to be governed in the first place. Then the higher vMEMES of the leaders can aspire to development of the cultural mindset.
Tariq Ali, for all his considerable intellectual prowess – like so many decision-makers and commentators in the West – needs to understand this intuitively if he is to make sense of what is happening in Pakistan (Afghanistan, Iraq, etc).
Don Beck and Elza Maalouf of the Centre for Human Emergence Middle East anticipate significant work in the Palestinian territories (including addressing aspects of Palestine’s relationship with Israel) during 2008. It will be interesting to see how the concepts of Stratified Democracy develop further from that work.
Sunday, January 6th 2008 at 14:51
Philip introduced the concept of ‘true leaders’ and also stated his non-acceptance of Bill’s statement (in Philip’s words), “given what human nature is, there will always be domination–and followers who know their place”. And, yes, there are probably ‘true leaders’ and, yes, hierarchical relations are may be not hard-wired inherent in human nature but … the reality on the ground is that (a) most leaders are not behaving as Philip’s true leaders; (b) billions of people live in hierarchical relations of some kind (from based on brute force to the spiritual guru-follower relationship and some more); and (c) plenty of education is just another form of manipulation (go talk to some libertarian homeschoolers for some contrarian views on education).
An idealistic view of how things could / shoud be combined with some kind of ‘anger’ / non-acceptance of current problems is great but without a profound grounded incorperating of current reality, any change / transformational initiative is bound to fail, irrespective of how good the method / methodolgy (in this case SD i) is.
Sunday, January 6th 2008 at 14:25
You say that given what human nature is, there will always be domination–and followers who know their place. I don’t accept that! Nor do I accept that the particular perversion of the spiral that has appeared under capitalism is definitive. The state can only whither away tangentially. If it whithered away overnight, there would be chaos. At the same time, the whithering of the state will require leaders who are committed to raising the consciousness of the masses. These leaders are not philosopher kings but educators determined to build a society founded on equality and true freedom. Leaders like this appear every day and their number continues to grow. Certain nations, particularly in South America, are showing signs of breaking away from the influence of the US empire that has for generations actively suppressed them. -Phil L.
Bill Hajdu wrote: Marx wrote about the withering away of the state. The validity of this can be checked by looking at what is. I made two trips to Vietnam this year and am married to a Vietnamese. The Viet Cong won their war to liberate the oppressed classes. What they then did was to make themselves the dominant class. That is just how it works.
Sunday, January 6th 2008 at 13:34
Hi Keith, Albert Camus has said (and I’m sure Tariq Ali would agree): “It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.” I am afraid B Bhutto’s sordid history, however much she may have benefited some of her more impoverished citizens, clearly puts her on the side of the executioners, so our first duty is to criticize her and her methods of using and acquiring power.
Democracy requires what Etienne Balibar has called “equaliberty,” a combination of freedom and equality, and any leader that steals the wealth of a country or aggrandizes herself is accomplishing neither. True leaders do not seek to lead others by “representing” them within existing political institutions but by winning them to a common framework of intervention and collective action that seeks to create the equaliberty required by true democracy. What counts for these leaders is not the adulation of the masses but the development of rank-and-file self confidence, consciousness, and ability to self-organize. Usually true leaders will come into conflict with the bureaucratic elements of their own movements.
Spiral dynamics may serve as a tool for them, but always as a means of understanding the mindset of those they are trying to educate, never with a view to more effective manipulation. We can regret B Bhuttos death only because it is likely to lead to an even worse situation as those who follow her attempt the same manipulative, medieval (Machiavellian) tricks that she was using to consolidate her power. -Phil L.
Saturday, January 5th 2008 at 13:31
Spiral Dynamics…” offered to the dominant class as a tool for perfecting their Machiavellian leadership abilities.” Can you elaborate on this?>>> It takes a lot of clarity and discernment to make it through the above statement without getting lost as it has an abundance of loaded words.
Spiral Dynamics certainly is a tool, and a valuable one for evaluating human structures, functions and motivation. Dominant class conjures up all sorts of connotations,all negative. I would argue there is always a dominant class, a point eloquently made by Johann Galtung with his model of the center and periphery. The closer people, organizations and nation-states are to the center, the more power they have. Those in the periphery have little to none. I see this operating even in my household consisting of two generations along with several renters.
Marx wrote about the withering away of the state. The validity of this can be checked by looking at what is. I made two trips to Vietnam this year and am married to a Vietnamese. The Viet Cong won their war to liberate the oppressed classes. What they then did was to make themselves the dominant class. That is just how it works.
One more thought. Hell yes Spiral Dynamics is Machiavellian. That is both good and bad and in the same was as The Prince. The findings of SD do indeed provide a wealth of insight useful in leading people, as does The Prince. The “evil” in Machiavelli was eloquently identified and expounded upon in MacAlystair’s (spelling?) After Virtue. They are both concerned with efficacy and not at all with ethics.
SD has not obviated the need for Plato’s Republic. That does not make SD evil. It does get us back to Keith’s comment noting that it all depends on who is doing the ruling. SD can help us identify who and their vMeme. Then ethics must be applied to evaluate whether or not the ruling class is providing good government. In the past there were comments indicating Yellow in general is better, that is, more moral than “lower” vMemes. I would argue it does indeed have the potential to create greater good—and evil. I don’t think the dark side (ever) goes away as human kind progresses up the spiral.
Friday, January 4th 2008 at 10:25
“The new international system led by the United States is an old imperial system using new tools … combining seduction with repression, infiltration and domination with allegations of partnership … and breaking up countries while calling on nations to rally against hegemony. The United States is inciting minorities, provoking border troubles, and encouraging ethnic and sectarian sedition as well as civil war. It is trying to separate Arab societies from Muslims societies. It is doing so through fanning nationalism, targeting the minds of youth, undermining the value system, and spreading feelings of frustration.
The West pretends to be benevolent, but it has divided the world into two parts. One is the West itself ‘that must remain strong, rich, armed, conquering, and productive.’ The other is the rest of the world ‘that must remain weak, poor, disarmed, invaded, occupied, and consuming.’ The West is ‘trying to impose its vision through force, just as it is perpetuating disparity among nations. The forms of exploitation may have changed, but the system remains the same. It is a system based on racist concepts. It adopts the ideas of Darwin and Nietzsche, with the West always acting at the center, always at the helm. It is survival of the fittest, and the West wants all others to remain unfit,”
— Mohammad Mahdi Akef, Muslim Brotherhood supreme guide, weekly address, from ikhwanonline.com ( Is “Brotherhood” with America Possible?* khalil al-anani, 2007-03-01 (Thursday), World Security Institute) http://www.worldsecurityinstitute.org/temp/ArabInsightVol1No1.pdf
Friday, January 4th 2008 at 12:23
Hi, Zanshin Re: the US and Iraq …we’re straying somewhat from the original blog. But perhaps not that much considering how much the US is focussed on events in Pakistan and wanted a deal between Musharraf and Bhutto. The World Security Institute columnist writes in Dependency Theory terms like he’s a descendent of Andre Gunner Frank! Clearly he sees the situation in Marxist dialectic conflict type terms. Such writing, as old Karl admitted only too readily, is necessarily jaundiced by situational prejudice. And that can easily produce exaggeration, if not outright lies.
Nonetheless, I have to say I have some considerable sympathy with the view expressed. There’s a huge amount to say about how the old colonialism of the Europeans has re-emerged (at least in part) as the new colonialism of America and the multi-nationals. But, to really understand attitudes and behaviour, you have to look at the underpinning deep motivations. The core of thinking in US foreign policy and the globalisation policies of the multi-nationals is led by the ORANGE vMEME, using RED-dominated thinkers like Bush and the BLUE-based structures of the military to carry out its aim of developing wealth for itself by using others. When little GREEN surges put Democrats like Bill Clinton in power, you can get some slight restraint of the CIA and some high profile/(usually) low action concerns expressed for human rights abuses. The US is, of course, in a dangerous quandry. If GREEN really took hold in American foreign policy thinking, then that would allow the BLUE-ORANGE of China and possibly even India to exert more economic (and possibly) military aggression.
We really need quality 2nd Tier thinking on the world stage – which is why I have high hopes of Nelson Mandela’s embryonic Elders project.
Friday, January 4th 2008 at 09:55
Kieth wrote, But, be cautious about confusing the message with the messenger.
Zanshin: I agree, and as Marshall McLuhan said: “The medium is the message”. And this message, see my first posting, is not lost on the Iraqis and on others.
Yes. I just had Condoleezza on the phone 10 or 15 minutes ago, and I told her, “Listen, he’s [= Nuri al-Maliki] got to be replaced.”
— Bernard Kouchner, French Foreign Minister, interview with Newsweek http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20438312/site/newsweek
“There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin. They should come to their senses.”
— Nuri al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq, at a news conference. http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-iraq,0,5985818.story
Friday, January 4th 2008 at 09:42
Keith wrote, Although personally I’ve been impressed with some of the ‘big picture’ thinking Musharraf has put forward in interviews, his government is a military dictatorship (primarily BLUE and typically dehumanising in its attitude to people).
Zanshin: Regarding the big picture thinking, I agree. One example for me was his willingness to resolve the Kashmir conflict with India. Regarding his government being a military dictatorship, It might be a necessary step (one of many) between the transition from a tribal culture towards a more ‘Western / humanistic’ style democracy. In Musharraf’s own words, “”This army is an integrating force, the saviour of Pakistan [ … ]Without it, the entity of Pakistan cannot exist.” “The army has played an important role in the integration and development of Pakistan.”
Musharraf’s parting message to the army M Ilyas Khan, 2007-11-28 (Wednesday), BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7117524.stm
Thursday, January 3rd 2008 at 12:50
It is, of course, a sad comment on the functioning of neoliberal democracies when because of inherent inequalities (which are, after all, the root cause of different levels of “spiral” development), spiraldynamics can be offered to the dominant class as a tool for perfecting their Machiavellian leadership abilities. -Phil L.
Friday, January 4th 2008 at 13:26
Hi, Phil (4 above!)
Spiral Dynamics…”offered to the dominant class as a tool for perfecting their Machiavellian leadership abilities.” Can you elaborate on this?
It seems to me, as I tried to say in the original blog, the problem is principally ‘who’ is leading ‘whom’. Since RED self-expression and ORANGE vision are key qualities in leadership – but those vMEMES are clearly self-oriented, it’s not really any surprise that most ‘leaders’ have a substantial personal element in their leadership agendas. Plato, who abhorred democracy as the worst possible of all forms of government (see ‘The Republic’), advocated the idea of ‘philosopher-kings’ to rule. a kind of benign Fascism, I guess.
In modern Spiral terms, we could advocate leadership from the 2nd Tier – or, at least, leaders having advisors capable of 2nd Tier thinking. But that’s no guarantee you’d actually get 2nd Tier thinking! Then such an arrangement would be bad-mouthed by GREEN-led egalitarians as ‘2nd Tier elitism’!
Thursday, January 3rd 2008 at 12:38
In light of the following report (posted on the WSDG yahoo group), your analysis regarding Bhutto sounds about right. -Phil L.
— Khurram Husain wrote: To: From: Khurram Husain Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2008 13:54:55 +0000 Subject: [WSDG] Bhutto Again, a hastily written note.
I have just returned from covering Bhutto’s funeral, and thought folks on this list should know a couple of things. Regards, Khurram Husain Dawn News Karachi
The Tiger and the Tigress
I never knew Benazir Bhutto. Never met her, was never her guest. I have no personal anecdotes to tell about her. Following her assasination, there has been a flood of commentary and analysis worldwide, almost all of it trying to leverage a personal connection, a moment spent over tea with her, an evening as her guest, an interview conducted months ago. The personal touch is clearly important in these times, towards solidifying her memory. But much of it is missing the point, since Benazir Bhutto was as much a phenomenon as a person.
On the night of the 27th, I was told by my assignment editor to get ready to leave for Larkana to cover her funeral. It was my first time there, and what I saw I will never forget.
The attendance at the funeral was clearly in the tens of thousands, mostly people from her hometown, close family and friends. Funerals in Pakistan are typically a private affair. What struck me was the nature of the chants that rose up from the crowd. Pieced together, the chants provide us a clearer picture of what Benazir was. There were two categories of chants. One spoke directly to the idea she embodied, and the other to her directly. “Kal bhi Bhutto zinda tha / Aaj bhi Bhutto zinda hai” (yesterday Bhutto was alive, today too, Bhutto is (still) alive) On the face of it this chant sounds a little bizarre. Bhutto clearly is dead, as is his daughter. But the people behind the chant were not talking of Bhutto the person, whether the father or the daughter. They were speaking to Bhutto the idea. Bhutto the idea is somewhat typical of third world populism.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the first politician (besides Mujibur Rehman from East Pakistan in the late 1960s) who awakened the masses to the idea that the state belongs to them, and they have a right to expect and demand that its affairs be conducted in such a manner as to keep their interests, hopes, needs and aspirations in the forefront. He did this by introducing a notion of populism that is so powerful that it reverberates to this day. Bhutto is not just a leader, articulating some promises. In fact Bhutto is the embodiment of the will of the people, the body through which the people live and breathe. The people are an extension of his body, and he has completely immersed himself in them. “Tum kitne Bhutto maro gay / Har ghar say Bhutto niklay ga” (How many Bhutto’s will you kill? / From every house, a Bhutto will emerge) What he awakened was a tiger of popular hopes that has been the bane of Pakistani politics ever since.
From its inception, to its dismemberment in 1971, Pakistan’s politics were managed by a combination of a landowning elite and the military. To this combine, Bhutto said things such as this: (translated) “People say there is only one Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. I tell you there is not one, but two ZulfIqar Ali Bhutto’s. One is me. And the other is you!” For the first time in the 1970s, the tiger of populist politics awoke in Pakistan. Many of the people at the funeral represented the lowest of the low in Pakistan. A few weeks ago I had met with the Director General of the Federal Bureau of Statistics. We were discussing poverty and its measurement in Pakistan. He told me how the poverty line is drawn up by the government. And then told me how the government machinery goes about measuring those who live on or below it. Below the mass of those surveyed, he told me, is a grouping that is never measured. They live so far below the poverty line that the machinery of the bureau cannot reach them. For policy purposes, this mass of people is practically invisible. “We have no idea what is going on at that level, no idea how many people there are, what sort of lives they live, how they earn, anything. We know nothing about them,” he told me. At the funeral, I got a glimpse of this mass.
Senior politicians and party leaders would pull up in the Land Cruisers and Hilux four by fours, climb down imperiously, and glance around at all the TV cameras present, expecting an interview. But vanloads of people arrived inconspicuously. I saw them in their hundreds. Old men with weather beaten faces, hands hardened from years of manual labor on the farms, grizzly beards and deep mournful eyes. They walked silently past the cameras into the mausoleum. I walked in after them. Quietly they formed a ring around the grave of Benazir Bhutto. One amongst them, clearly a prayer leader of some sort, stepped forward, and began reciting a prayer. And then a hundred gentle sobbing sounds rose up from the ring, as they stood, with hands raised in prayer, and quietly sobbed by the graveside while the prayer lasted. Then they turned and left, shuffling to the doorway where their shoes were, quietly putting on their rough leather sandles, and crowding back into the vans that had brought them here, packed tightly inside. “Why are you here?” I managed to ask one. “To pray for Mohtarma Bhutto” he replied. “What did Bhutto mean to you?” “Bhutto made us human, before him we were nothing more than animals.” “How did he do this?” “He gave us the vote.” And then he hurried off to his van, that may or may not have waited for him. It didn’t matter that the person he was praying for was not the Bhutto who gave him the vote, but the man’s daughter. She was the repository of the Bhutto legacy, the embodiment of the popular will following her father’s execution. And therefore, the inheritor of his legacy.
The enormity of the Bhutto phenomenon opened up before me, as I saw more and more such processions go into, and quietly leave the mausoleum. These people had travelled for five to six hours, one way, packed tightly in these vans, just for those twenty minutes of prayer by the graveside of the leader whose father had elevated them into the ranks of humanity. The chant rang a lot more true for me when I saw this. Bhutto is more than just a name for his followers. It is an idea. An idea of peoplehood that is unique to third world populism. An idea held together by the imagery of Shia Islam. This is the other thing to note about Bhutto. The central place of religion in giving life to the idea. The imagery and symbolism of Shia Islam lends itself very well to the politics of populism and insurrection, of rule by the people for justice. Sunni Islam, on the other hand, shuns imagery and symbolism in favor of language and law, and lends itself more to the discipline and regimentation of authoritarian politics, of rule by Generals and Jurists, who do not always get along.
These two have struggled hard in Pakistan, and Bhutto was a central figure in mobilizing the populism against military rule. In the 1980s, it was Benazir Bhutto who inherited this struggle and carried it forward, against the Sunni authoritarian regime of General Zia ul Haq. Much of the life and energy of that movement reverberated inside the mausoleum as her body was pulled out of the ambulance and lowered into its final resting place. “Ya Hussain! Ya Hussain!” shouted a cohort. Bhutto, father and daughter, were not Shia themselves. Neither is Zardari, her husband. In fact, they come from a part of upper Sindh where the distinctions between Sunni and Shia are very blurred, where Islam is mostly a religion of shrines and saints. But the imagery of Shia Islam reverberates well with the politics they represent. Even at the historic press conference where her husband, Asif Zardari presided, the imagery of Shia Islam was invoked. “Benazir’s sacrifice was like the sacrifice of Hussain,” he told the assembled press corps that had come from all over the world and crowded hard around the table. The point was largely lost on most of them. To her followers, it doesn’t matter that her track record, twice in power, is full of examples of corruption and misgovernance. To them, she was their voice, their only voice, and the fact that she lived was all that really mattered. And on her death, the biggest question on their mind was who will take her place.
When her 19 year old, first year student at Oxford university, Bilawal, appeared and sat before the press corps, news that he was the heir apparent had already leaked out. His hands shook as he read his prepared statement, and as soon as he finished, he dropped the paper he was reading from and clasped his father’s arm. His father took control of the proceedings after that. When he announced that Bilawal will head the party, but will first complete his education, and that he has agreed to change his name to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, he added this note: “Because this is Pakistan, and symbols matter over here.” Immediately a group of PPP workers broke out in a full throated chant: “Zinda hai Bhutto! Zinda hai! / Kal bhi Bhutto zinda tha! / Aaj bhi Bhutto zinda hai!” (Bhutto is alive! He is alive! / yesterday too Bhutto was alive! / today too, Bhutto is alive)
The torch had been passed. A new body had stepped forward to be the repository of the people’s will. As the powerful chanting washed over the crowded press corps, I could see on his youthful face a mixture of exhiliration and fear. Exhiliration at the position to which he had been hoisted. And fear of the tiger that it was now his turn to ride.
Tuesday, January 1st 2008 at 11:50
Keith wrote, “Yet did the Iraqis eagerly grasp the chance for Western-style liberal democracy the invading Americans offered them in 2003-2004?” Another perspective is, “The “Interim Government of Iraq” endorsed in the resolution had no credibility or popular constituency within Iraq and was headed by an acknowledged agent of the CIA who was flown in with the invasion forces. The “multinational force” entrusted with “promoting security and stability” is the same force that unleashed this war on Iraq in the first place and continues to wage it today. The condemnation of terrorism in Article 17 does not, and legally cannot, deprive the Iraqi Resistance of the fundamental right to resist the invasion and occupation of their country that is guaranteed by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
By its refusal to turn over any real power to legitimate representatives of the Iraqi people or to the UN, the Bush administration has squandered the legitimacy it sought to gain by this resolution as well as precious time and many more lives.”
source: The Crime of War: From Nuremberg to Fallujah Nicolas J. S. Davies, 2005-02-01 (Tuesday), Zmag http://zmagsite.zmag.org/Images/davies0205.html
Thursday, January 3rd 2008 at 09:29
Thanks for these well-referenced insights, Zashin. The Pakistani example is, I think, typical of the kind of thuggery that police and neo-government agencies tend to get involved in when government/leadership is in the RED-BLUE zone. (From 1920s Italy to Soviet Russia in the 1930s to Chile in the 1970s – just some examples!)
Although personally I’ve been impressed with some of the ‘big picture’ thinking Musharraf has put forward in interviews, his government is a military dictatorship (primarily BLUE and typically dehumanising in its attitude to people). While healthy BLUE tends to have very good control systems, the further out from the centre you go – as in the countryside – the more opportunity there usually is for local ‘warlords’ driven by RED, to become agents of the BLUE centre and interpret BLUE’s commands to sustain order in whatever particularly unpleasant way it likes. So, while Lieven’s proposition is decidely brutal, it’s hardly surprising.
As to the Iraq issue, not for a second am I pretending that the agents of ‘democracy’ in the form of the American occupying administration and its puppet governments are in any way legitimate. (Personally, I think the whole Iraq invasion was a comletelely botch in virtually every respect, a creation of blind groupthink!) But, be cautious about confusing the message with the messenger – as it so often is! The messenger (effectively the Americans) might be repugnant to a great many Iraqis; but their message of Western-style liberal democracy was championed (at least nominally) by some prominent and seemingly-highly-regarded Iraqi politicians. By and large the message has failed to catch on and many Iraqis, led by PURPLE, reference their tribal or slum area leaders for what they should think about things and how they should vote in the pseudo-elections. If a full vMEME mapping via a 4Q/8L schematic had been done of Iraq when contemplating the invasion, I’d wager the past 4 years would have gone very differently and a great many lives need not have been lost quite so needlessly.
Tuesday, January 1st 2008 at 11:24
Regarding democracy in Pakistan I found the following quote of Anatol Lieven, professor and Chair of International Relations and Terrorism Studies, King’s College London, rather insightful.
As I always say when people ask can there be free and fair elections in Pakistan, I say No but the most important reason for that is to give an example, what would happen to someone from the countryside who tries to set up an agricultural trade union and, of course, you need trade unions if you’re going to have a secular social democratic movement which can compete with the Islamists for a reformist vote. Well, anyone who knows Pakistan knows very well what would happen. First he would be beaten up as a warning, then his wife and daughters would be raped as a warning, then he would be shot.
source: How Pakistan Works, Anatol Lieven, 2007-12-05 (Wednesday), Chatham House.