Let me thank Bill for giving me the tip to republish my archive so that my permalinks would be restored. They appear to be working again. Also, I greatly the exchange that we written on our respective blogs. Here's the latest post
Allow me to gently chide Bill, I don't- and I'll presume that our respective readers don't- regard him as an amateur hack. On the contrary, I enjoy regularly visiting his site; dropping off a quick comment and engaging in the occasional exchanges. Indeed, in contrast to recent events, I've always found Bill to be intellectually honest and a careful reader of the topics under debate.
Bill does make an excellent point about the 20th being the most intolerent period in human history. However, Napoleon would've never signed a Magna carta but ironically he did revoke the disqualification that the Europeans Jews had suffered ever since the Disasporia. Nonetheless, I won't quibble with his major point.
Bill is more well-read than I am with respect to Islam; however, there does seem be something within the various schools of religious thought- the Sufis being the better known exception- that seeks to arrest any change or evolution. Perhaps, Bill is quite right that this drive toward stasis is external to Islam; no doubt the incorporation of Platonic or neo-Platonic thought into Islamic religious thinking and philoosphy had a much greater impact than it did for Western Europe. However, I see his point about how medieval Christanity was far less tolerent of deviant sects than Islam was with respect to the people of the book. However, I could make the argument that past heresies like the Donatists, the Monantists and the Catars (Albiginisans), for example, represented real threats to not just to religious orthodoxy but also the political foundations of Christian society. In any case, with the exception of the assassins, Modelm society appeared to have been fortunate in not having to deal with religious heterodoxy.
C'est ironique que les Nord-Américans considèrent Montréal comme la ville la plus française du continent (bon oui après Québec pour apaiser l'habitants du capital) mais l'affichage des rues est typiquement nord-américan: c'est-à-dire que certaines rues n'ont pas un affiche ou ils se trouvent dans de coins où il y a des lumières et non pas au coin de bâtisses comme en Europe.
Je ne suis pas le premier à noter ou le protester. Fernando Diaz-Plaja dans son livre les Sept pêchés capitaux et les Américans avait déjà remarqué déjà 40 ans auparavt que les rues et les villes nord-américanes sont axées pour l'automobile. Donc il est plus convénient d'afficher les noms des rues dans des intersections.
Sauf que cettee prcatique n'est pas pratiquer de façon constante (et ne me parle pas de la numération d'adresses civiles de édifices) et pour des visteurs c'est profoundement exaspérant de ne pas trouver une indication sur quelle rue on se trouve sauf quand C'est trop tard.... Je me demande si c'est vraiment coûteux de clouer de grosses plaches en 'marbre' au coin de bâtisse afin que tant les conducteurs que les piétons visisteurs d'une ville puissent s'orienter plus facilement.
Hier, les nouvelles qu'en Alberta il y a eu un cas de la vache folle a fait les manchettes et l'une des médias. C'est vraiment triste car jusqu'au moment que le dollar canadien rébondissait et que les Américains devraient payer un plus cher leurs importations de boeuf, on se ramasse avec cette crise. Et pour le moment, les viandeculteurs perdent leur plus grand marché: les État-unis. Les Japonais ont, également, interdit l'importation du boeuf canadian.
Heureusement, cette vache n'a pas encore été rentrée dans la chaîne de production aliémentaire. Cependant, les gouvernements fédéral et albértien, nous cachent la vérité. Ils savent très bien où la maladie a pris ses origines, qui alimentait les vaches avec la nourriture interdite. Que les gouvernements ne veuillent pas divulger le nome c'est une chose mais de nous empêcher de connaître exactement où exactement la maladié avait débuté c'est dangereux. Papa opine que doit avoir tous les renseignements dès hier. On verra de coment les gouvernements géreront cette crise.
Bill wrote a rebuttal to my May 20th post (archives are stil problematic but I'll give Bill's tip a try). In general, I agree with him that Jews had an awful time during the medieval period in Europe. However, I still disagree with him of just how relatively more tolerent medieval Islamic society was in comparision to European society. I'm not denying that Islamic society was ahead of the Europeans; it was.
And the Moselms did much to preserve the scientific thought and writings of the Ancient world. Islamic scientific thought- and I include math, astronomy and geography- was one of our transmission belts that led to the Renaissance (though Amin Maalouf in his classic Les Croisades vues par les Arabes; English translation claims that the Islamic society began to show the signs of stagnation as early as the tenth century) It just that we, Westeners have a hang up since the Enlightenment about the Middle Ages which we view as the garbage can of history. We tend to forget that the Middle Ages isn't just about the Inquisition, persectution of the Jew, the near continuous conflicts against heresy and schisms but it's also the period of the cathedrals, the Livre des Heures, the universites and the self-governing professions; of an incipent industrial revolution; of the Magna Carta and the development of constitutionalism.
I suppose my main reason for disagreeing with Bill is that European society was tolrant in its own partiular manner. How else can we understand how much the Church and the State tolerated litigations by the intermediary institutions like the trades, the religious orders, the universities? As tolerant as Islamic society was in the medieval period, it was simply impossible to imagine one of the caliphs signing a document similar to the Magna Carta or the various constituent parts of Islamic society defending their well-defined spheres sometimes by laws sometimes by arms against the umma or the caliph. That litigatious spirit prevalent througout medieval Europe laid down the foundations of its modernity. Islamic tolerence ensured peace and tranquility to the polity all right; and left the people of the book unmolested so long as they abided by their disqualifications imposed by the dimmitude. Thus, there was never any need to thrash out rights, duties and limits of public authority or the public role of religion. Islamic thought froze the society of the 7th century in time; hence, the caliphs or any political authority couldn't reform due to changing circumstances. Or if they did they had to assuage the imams who would often reject the reforms because change was intrinisically bad. Or else the latter were ignored until the traditionalists rallied enough influence to stimie the reforms. In sum, Islamic tolerence decayed because the political authourities were prohibited by religious strictures from ever changing society no matter how obvious the needs for reform.
The Inquistion was an ecclesistical court. Specifically it's what the lawyers call a court of attribution. A law establishes the courts existence and then lists what areas of law it has competency to decide cases. If it errs in the determination of its competency, then its decision can be appeale or even annuled for being outide its powers (ultra vires in the legal jargon)
Thus, Inquisition was a legal creature subjet to law and thus limited by it. Further, contrary to public opinion, it wasn't the KGB of its time; rather the Inqusitions did serve as one of the foundations continetial Europe's judicial system of examining magistrates. Moreover, the Inqusition even had a rudimentary due process procedure that was quite advanced for its time.
The fact that the Inquisution was a judical body is signficant; it meant that it had to follow its own laws and procedures. Even though the medievals were fearful of the inqusitors, they did have recourses to limit its authourity and the kings' lawyers would also ensure that the Inquistion didn't cross the line into purely civil law cases. If you think today's society was litigatious; the medievals were even more robust in protecting their rights.
If one looks back at the history of the Inqusition, we see a lot of conflicts and the organization was sometimes hamstrung in enforcing orthodoxy; in fact there were long periods where it was pratically moribund. Eventually, it was abolished and today the word Inqusition and related words are harsh insults. The institution's perception contrast to jihad where even some Western scholars try to downplay the overt military overtone and dilute it to that of an inr struggle à la Christian or Buddist monantism.
I'm not downplaying the negative legacy of the Inquisition and how it was often used by people and kings to besmirch rivals or to settle scores but the Inquisition never had universal jurisdiction. In Latin America, theorteically the Inqusition had competency but the Spanish and Portuguese monarchs never authourized the inquisitors to establish a court there. By contrast, jihad (and by extension the dimmitude) does have univeral jursidiction because it's the duty of all Moslems to bring the jihad to the Dar el Harb (the West being the region par excellence) Reality has intruded since the 7th century and most Moselms seem to eschew the militaristic aspect of the jihad; yet it hasn't been totally repuidated. In the 1860s, the Druze massacred large numbers of Maronites and reading through the accounts; one is struck at both how the psychological effects of the dimmitude still prevailed and Turks- who were ostensibly the neutral imperial power- ensured that the Maronites were totally disarmed in the face of the Druze.
As terrible as the Inquisition was, it had the paradoxical effect of pushing Europe to become more tolerant; Moselm tolerance simply reinforced the contradictory sentiments of psychological insecurity and of pride at being dominant over the book of the people.
Owaldo Sobrino ha escrit un article força interessant sobre Kennedy. Fa alguns dies que s'ha revelat que Kennedy ha tingut una mestressa molt joventa. Era una passant de 19 anys i molts comentaristes ha remarcat les semblances entre l'embolic amorós de Kennedy i Clinton.
Aleshores, Sobrino reflexiona si la vida privada desordenada de Kennedy- la seva infidelitat maritial, la seva drogaqdicció per un mal d'esquena i les mentides perpetuades per els medis de communicacions a l'època, anticipà un canvi fondamental que es mostraia a través la revolució 'sexual' o n'era pura coïncidència. Invita als historidors culturals a investigar la casualitat
Doncs aceptaré l'invitació i specularé si la vida dissortada de Kennedy anciptà o no la revolució social del anys 60. Personalment opinio que es tracta d'un canvi fondamental que ja feia anys que es manifestava entre els rics i els marginats (cantors, actors) però que la dinamica democràtica difonia progressivament a les altres clases sociales. En fet, la Prohibició de 1929-1933 comença aquest canvi però no es veia tan clarament com avui; la Depressió i la Segona guerra mondial parà de manera obertament aquestes canvies però encara influïen de manera indirecte.¿Perquè la Prohibició? Perquè la modificació constitucional que prohibiria la producció, distribucció, venta i beguda de l'alcohol solucionà un problema que realment no existia. Doncs, la gent es rebellà. Deafortunadament, aquesta rebellió permetà el bandols a organitizar-se per vendre l'alcohol il.legalitzat. L'auge del crim organitzat desencadendaria un succesos d'conseqüències: la corrupció, la violència, el refus d'obeir les lleis. Ademés, amb la venta del alcool seguira la venta de droges il.legals ara com l'heröina, l'haxix, la cocaïna. En fet, es descuida que l'Edat de jazz fou la primera vegada en quant una part de la populació començaven a prendre droges fortes. No descuidem que Billy Holliday era un drogaadicta del heröina; Gene Krupa no podia percussar aquest solos sense haver près un mica de cocaïna. Cab Calloway cantà el Reefer madness.
La popularitat de la heroïna etc s'explica pel traumatisme de la Primera guerra mondial i el fet que els sobrevivints en sofrien l'estres post-traumatic que no era gaire conegut a l'època. També molts artistes justificaven a predre droges per a esdevenir més 'creatius' o per donar un xic d'autencitat del artista marginalizat.
El món no tingué temps a recuprar del traumatisme de la Primera guerra mundial quan la Segona esclatà. L'endemà de la Segona guerra, la gent volien posar un mica d'ordre i temps aprés 6 anys de guerra en condicions duríssimes i amb l'Holocausta. Però era massa tard car els canvis socials eren irrevocables. Ja als anys 50 el moviment Beatnik es publicava poemes que extol.laven l'haxix. Beatty Fridman i Simone de Beauvoir publicaren els seus treballs proclamen una sexualitat més llibertària. Doncs, la revolució social i sexual del anys 60 ja eren anunciats feia 30 anys endarrere.
I read both Ralf's and Lexington's posts about Bush's tendency to personalize international relations via a country's leaders. I agree with Lexington's assessment on Clinton's relations with the European leaders. There's no question that the Europeans- both ordinary and elite really miss Clinton and loathe Bush.
In any case, I wanted to add my own perspective as a foreigner of Bush's tendency to personalize international events. My own view is that I'm increasingly leery. I have no objections if Bush and the Administration want to sanctions sanction those countries and leaders that opposed the war and were quite disrespectful towards Americans. However, respect is a two way street. The current Administration had not think that the world will brown nose America. Indeed, the Administration's decision to delay the ratification of the free trade treaty with Chile to send the former's disapproval of the Chilean opposition to the war and its desire to give inspections more time, is frankly counterproductive. It's not just America that's reassessing its international relations; the world is too. And a lot of pro-American countries will become increasingly wary of wanting to deal with the Administration. Those countries could easily fall into the black list depending on what they did or not which Bush takes personally.
Canada's another country that's in the black list and like Germany, there was a disconnect between the government and a good portion of the population (Quebec's opposition added an ingredient of tension but one that could've ben overcome by invoking international law arguments). However, as some Canadian officials coldy put it: even if Canada had contributed 50 000 troops to the Iraqi war, Canad and the U.S. would be no closer to resolving the various trade disputes over softwood lumber and wheat exports.
Further, like Germany, Canada has also quietly contributed to the war on terror. For example in the summer Canada will take over the ISAF leadership from Germany and deploy the largest contingent in Afghanistan. Canada also plays a major naval role in the Persian Gulf; the country is also in Bosnia and the number of troops isn't large; it's still a major committment.
I think that Bush is also slowly strating to relaize that there are limits to personalizing international affairs. As I've repeated rather boringly at my blog, the Americans and French will have to swallow their distaste and work together once again. I'm not saying that both countries will have warm relations but at least a workable professionalism is adequate enough.
Last week, Bill Allison wrote a post reflecting on Disaffected Moselm's article on tolereance in Moselm society in the medieval period. I wrote to Bill and made an off handed comment about his thesis. I must admit that I was surprised that he was surprised at my comment. I was going to elaborate more about how the Inquisition was somewhat ineffectual in enforcing tolerence in contrast to the dimmitude. However, I decided to wait for Bill to respond and now that he has I wish to respond and comment additionally.
Bill is quite right that tolerance in Moselm society during the medieval was somewhat more enlightened than contemporary Christendom. However medieval Modelm tolerence was founded on rather dubious foundations. First, the effectiveness of the dimmitude is primarly psychological. Thucyledies pointed out tat if a person is physically defeated he accepts his defeat; but that he's legally wronged, he won't sleep or eat until the injustice is rectified. Hence the second atitude explains why the Western Christian when they began to settle in the Mideast on a more permenant basis exacted from the Moslem rulers concessions that their fellow Christians would no longer be subject to the dimmitude.
The Arabs invaded the Mideast and Northren Africa and defeated the various armies. So the defeated peoples accepted their plight; however, the victorious Arabs made sure that the defeated populations would never challenge the Arabs again and ensured that they'd suffer permenant disabilities and perpetual indignities. Throughout the period of Modelm ascendency there would be the occasional slave raids (razzias) to remind the Christains just how precarious their position is and the tolerance can be revoked at anytime. Second, the dhimmitude reinforced the Moslem belief that their ascendency would be perpetual and the rules laid down to the people of the book would stay frozen in time. Unfortunatly for the Moselm, they forgot that laws may stand still but men always evolve.
Third, ironically enough, the dimmitude was also to assuage the Moselms' sense of low self confidence. How does this square with the second point? At first, when the Arab Moselm conquerted the Mideast and North Africa, they were a minority and typical unsophisticated nomads of the Volwanderung. Hence they felt really uncomfortable and by imposing the various inhabilities: Christians can build or repair their churches or monestaries, Christians couldn't ring Church bells least the Moselms fall into apostasy and so on.
These disabilities don't strike me as that of confident conquerer no matter how much Bernard Lewis claims these these only had symbolic and social significance (which I respectfully disagree; the disabilities were- and remain-quite practical and tangible in everyday life). Indeed, even during the period of Islamic asendency that low self-confidence still indirectly gnawed at the Moselms. Bernard Lewis cites 2 examples in his The Muslim discovery of Europe The first was that the general Moslem juridical opinion was that it was impermissible for a Moselm to live under the rule of a non-Moselm no matter how benevolent and tolerent. In fact, the majority opinion held that it was better to live under Moslem tyrrany than under Christian justice. The second example is that of an Arab commentator who was alarmed at how the Crusader overlords treated the Moselm peasents humanely and were better off than those under their correlgionists' rule. So tolerance wasn't just a monopoly of the Moselms.
So how does this long excursion relate to the Inquisition? The answer is for a later post.