Sunday, February 03, 2008

Mistrust, conspiracy theory, and fatalism

Came across a passage in my current reading which captured some of what I've observed as I work with Iraqi local nationals and with the Iraqi National Police.

"Conspiratorial thinking has broad roots in the extreme fatalism and hostility to individualism that may be a characteristic of Islamic culture generally. The idea of submission to the will of God is the passive counterpart of the quest for martyrdom in His Cause. Both undermine the modern notion of people as actors, makers of their own history, manipulators of nature, responsible ultimately only to themselves. Pan-Arabism enriches this legacy by setting up a yawning chasm between its ultimate goals and existing realities. The chasm grows with time creating an even more conducive atmosphere for "thinking" conspiracies.....

-p.100, Republic of Fear, the politics of modern Iraq, by Kanan Makiya

Are people wondering why things are going slowly here? I'm not sure one can overstate the collision of cultures that is going on between the U.S. and western philosophical and political approaches and those of the local cultures and leaders here.

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