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Re: dialogue of civilizations?
by Boris Stremlin
07 May 2002 08:01 UTC
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On Sun, 5 May 2002, Seyed Javad wrote:

> Greetings,
> The term 'civilizatinality' is not my own invention. A. J. Toynbee, in
> one of his most perceptive observations argues that:
> '' The misleading feature is the fact that, in modern times, our own
> Western civilization has cast the net of its economic system all around
> the world, and this economic unification has been followed by a political
> unification on the same basis which has gone almost as far ... that all
> the states of the contemporary world form part of a single political
> system of Western origin ... while the economic and political maps have
> now been westernized, the cultural map remains susbtantially what it was
> before our Western society started on its career of economic and
> political conquest'' (1947, Cited in Tahir Amin, 1991. 14)

I'm not sure what point is being contested by using this quote as an
example.  I'm not contesting the existence of "civilizationality" (though
it is an admittedly clumsy term), but I don't see the Toynbee quote
illustrating the usage of this term

> Before going any further, Boris should give some definition about
> 'Islamists' and what is 'Islamicity'?

An Islamist is probably best defined as someone who believes in the
promulgation of shari'a as the universal law code.  I don't know what
"Islamicity" is, so I'll leave that for Seyed Javad to define.

> The second point is related to
> Islamicity and Democracy.  Boris argues that Chinese and Islamists are
> against 'Democracy'. Who are they? Name please?

Like most political concepts, democracy can of course be defined in a
variety of ways.  The variant typically rejected by Islamists and Chinese
communists (not "Chinese") is usually associated with with multicandidate
and multiparty elections, and in the case of Islamists, also takes issue
with popular sovereignty.  As an example of an Islamist theorist who
rejects this idea of democracy as "Western" see Manzooruddin Ahmad.  As
for the other example, one might look at the speeches of Jiang Zemin
(available via links on the People's Daily website -


In a speech entitled "Principle of Democracy Essential for Handling Wold
Affairs", Jiang defines democracy as the recognition of all nations as
"equal members of the international community" which "have the right to
take part in and handle world affairs... This is the principle of
democracy in handling world affairs".  Jiang thus circumscribes democracy
in the context of international relations; "matters that fall within the
scope of sovereignty of a country should be managed only by the government
and people of that country".  It seems that Jiang is deliberately evasive
on the issue of whether democracy applies within sovereign states or not.

But the issue is not whether one of these definitions is the right one.
It is simply whether the notion of civilization finds an outlet in the
writings of theorists and officials of the "South" as well as the "North".
On this question, we might cite Jiang, who is unequivocal:  "It is
essential to fully respect the diversity of different nations, religions,
and civilizations".

  As far as Islamicits are
> concerned if 'Demo' (people) is to be considered as equal to the
> territorial collection of individuals within the system of 'state' then
> Islamicits are against Democracy.  Becasue the scope of 'Demo' in Islam
> is not decided by 'imposed modernity' of Russian (Tzarsim, Bolshevikism),
> British Colonialism, French Imperialism, or American Imperialism.  A look
> at the invention of African, Asian, Central Asian, and Latin American
> states would reveal that what is called 'Demo' is an invention of
> Colonial power than other things. For instance, what is Iraq? What is the
> difference between an Iraqi and a Jordanian or for that matter an
> Egptiyan?
> Last but not least; I think all Thrid-Worldist intellectuals should  try
> 'not' to make another Europe or America in Asia or Africa. What's the
> use?

I think the above statement only underlines my point re: civilizations.

Boris Stremlin

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