The Sultan's New Armour

In the east, there was a land where the travellers were wayward; they built their shops here and there wherever they pleased and built wonky, bumpy roads that made no civic sense. They hid behind women, to them the sight of a withering lady breaking her back building roads or operating machinery to make clothes for the settled folks in the west was the epitome of empowerment. They had made a mockery of their religion, its vocabulary was now a word used in the same breath as an STD, a slogan or any vile socially retarding factor.

In this land The Fools ruled the roost. The Fools had an aptitude for enfooling the travellers in the land. They played upon the traveller’s difficulties, marketing them in other lands as poverty, all to collect a few chips. You see poker was their game of choice and there were only two players in the game that mattered all that much, The Grunts and The Ogres.

One day a new Sultan spoilt the plans of The Ogres and The Grunts and took the throne in a diplomatic coup, courtesy of the palace guards and some of the settled folks over in the west. Ironically this was much to the traveller’s relief, the travellers you see were a divided, confused and confusing bunch. He told them how he would treat their waywardness and set up a fairer poker game.

He huffed and he puffed and he blew a lot of houses down, but in his haste he fell prey to the grudges of some of the fools and his huffing brought ruin upon many of the travellers. The travellers had grown accustomed to paying tribute to the Head of the Ogres and the Head of the Grunts, The Sultan though to himself, “If I were to make these creatures disappear I wonder what would happen?” What happened was that a few interested poker players in the settled lands to the west ganged up on him.

Undeterred he next thought that he could set up an alternative party of fools and marketed this idea among the second rate Grunts and Ogres. This would, he imagined, test the loyalties of Gruntkind and Ogrekind and offer them a path to redemption.

The Sultan’s viziers were a motley crew, some had tried to be Grunts then Ogres but failed to win enough chips from the travellers to sit at the poker table. Some had spent their lives accumulating chips quite happily spending them converting travellers, while others had spent most of their lives trying to avoid enfoolment. Here they were playing cards without really understanding the rules of the game. It was a time of much learning and foolishness.

The Sultan’s guards were essentially what kept him on the throne. They weren’t too bright but did have some good intentions and administrative discipline. Here is an example of the kind of idea that would emanate from their minds.

As the travellers were wayward, they needed to be shown the straight path. A new uniform was suggested, so armouries and tailors across the land were ordered to make new garments. They set upon this task with glee, finding new inspiration in this empowering environment. Shoes and shirts of iron were made and a magnetised monorail designed to help the travellers to the straight path.

But it chaffed.

The chaffing was reminiscent of garments that the travellers’ fathers’ and grandfathers’ had worn before. However they could not quite remember as The Grunts and The Ogres had spend a lot of effort in erasing history and writing themselves up quite splendidly in its place. The weight and the poor articulation of the new armour made it difficult to move, both physically and mentally. Perhaps one blessing was that they could not move too far in a wayward direction, but for travellers in the habit of running people in circles for a living this was very annoying.

Both the rich and the poor travellers found that the chaffing led to bleeding and they weren’t sure that they had enough clotting agent in their system to grow any further. The rich occasionally protested at their own bleeding, pointing at the wounds of the poor to complete their intellectually self-satisfying indignation.

Some of the more playful travellers analysed the monorail and did not like its destination point, they found that there they would be like able to wander around and continue making a mess of things and benefiting from the confusion in between. The Elves had been driven quite paranoid by the passing of time and were now were content just to survive, they had nearly all died out, been driven out or humiliated by The Ogres and The Grunts. Never mind The Elves.

The guard’s game of choice was golf…


On Ed Husain's book

I hope i don't ever come to write or participate in the construction of such a publication.

He has clearly made some poor choices in his life, a good thousand or so of which can be found in the pages of the Islamist. He was 'extremist' in his behaviour as an 'Islamist' and now as an anti 'Islamist' hell bent on destroying whatever his foggy little mind conceives of as Islamism.

On reflection though, how does one progress Islamic thought and practice without going all unethical and opportunistic. This chap obviously felt the 'normal' channels were not working and something drastic needed to be done.

Publishing such an 'islamist kiss and tell' so publicly is the most brash and tabloidy behaviour. But when you have been hurt, when the community's ears seem shut with lead, when the neocon aligned are goading you to write something 'courageous', when you fancy a career break, when your publishers are guiding you....

oh well i think there is a whole load of excuses for my brother to go through before i get to my final point.

That was a low class move 'Ed'. Kaan dhore maaf chao.

To Muslims who feel islamically moved but fed up with the foolishness and baggage present in much Muslim organisation work... i suggest just getting along with what you are doing as best as you can. Show your quality and if folks like your moves they will adopt whats useful to them. That is of course if you have anything whatsoever to contribute and fancy doing the hard work. Don't punch outside of your weight category because you look like a fool and make matters worse.

on to Post Islamism now.

Uncle Tom to Ganj Control 2

Come in Ganj Control, come in! do you read me?
What do you mean you are having trouble deciphering my brain patterns? It is I Uncle Tom come in .......

Went to the Power and Participation Research Centre in dhaka yesterday. picked up a publication of theirs called 'unbundling governance'. Looking in the bibliographic references there's Bourdieau, Foucault, Gramsci, North and Putnam. Very 'SOAS(bourieau, foucault, gramsci) student went to LSE(north+putnam) for an MA' but nevertheless a couple of rungs up from the usual CPD drivel that passes for research and advocacy in the development industry here.

There is a chapter on NGO politics and some attempts to derive new indicators rather than slavishly ape world bankspeak. Ideas of Institutional quality, Interface quality and Civic quality are built upon rather large amounts of data collected according to some pretty involved methods..

At first glance the chapter on civic quality looks like a missed opportunity. I found it unnecessarily quantitative, and that is used strange choice of 'values' categories, the aspiration of 'religious activity' was pushed into the 'Social Role' cluster etc. On the sunny side, there is some data there to mine if only i decide that its believable. Im glad that someone in Bangladesh has decided that investigating the dreamscape and the valuescape of the people is important and that development reesarch should be just about counting poor people.

Anyway, more on that later in anyone is interested. Oh and theres this Bangladesh Freedom Federation publication on small arms and political violence in Bangladesh. Through a trustworthy analysis of lots of data across the vilence spectrum and a universalistic mindset it concludes that the biggest culprits perpetrating violence, killings and terrorism in bangladesh are the centrist elements (the two big parties) not the so called islamists and leftist loons.

In the other end of the scale....

Got hold of a pile of arse monthly magazine called ICE Today. ICE stands for Information, communication and entertainment. What a waste of paper, and 50tk! I could have had several short rickshaw rides for that much! The problem with ICE is that it doesnt know what its about. Its pretty much all adverts and sucking up.

There is a proliferation of publications in English in desh. From piles of arsestyle like ICE, to a well conceived business monthly, from a telecoms industry publication to a highly poncy arty farty publication and nacent new-wave current affairs analysis. Its a sign that the hegemony of the established rags like the Daily Star (good quality production but questionable loyalties and patterns of behaviour) might be nearing an end.

Strange things about desh.

How comes that in the kremlin of uk capitalism, Canary Wharf, Muslims can take time to pray jumma, but in dhaka airport the muslim staff dont have the same option? How is it that in dhaka, a secular american NGO will have a prayer room, but a leading english paper will not, and that the namazi employees of that paper will warn newcomers not to say they are going to the mosque?

Slappage is required here methinks.

oh, and why is every asking me what i think of HT?!?!?

oh (2) Jamaat-e-Islami will you stop monopolising the Islamic space! It is getting very annoying.

Misc observations on the caretaker government that ive heard since getting here.

"Bhaiya, if you saw Sylhet Town you would think it hade been struck by a hurricane!", in referece to the bulldozing of illegal constructions.

"This is good pyscologically for the people, we need these guys(CTG) to stay in power for longer to institute democratic modification to the electoral power architecture and order the different scales of election so they leave us in a better condition" (i paraphrase)

"They are making such a big deal about investigating years old company files that they are creating more opportunities for corruption because govt officials can demand higer bribes on account of the greater likelihood of jail. Business people are scared."

"The biggest problem is getting good people into politics, the CTG think they can destroy the 2 parties, but i tell you this is very bad for the future of the nation. Dr kamal was such an oustanding man but when he split with the awami league and stood for election against a thug, he lost his deposit. bangladeshi people only vote for big parties."

"They are arresting people without due process some even unjustly"

"Because the shops close so early at 7 pm, the money circulation has decreased. Businesses are a more cautious now and slower."

"Tasneem Khalil (CNN stringer,HRW activist, daily star journo who was arrested then released) was asking for it"

I find that the negative comments usually come from people with a stake in the status quo. They really worry who is holding the power. I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round...


Exerpts from Education in Islamic Society (Progressive Islam Journal, 1945) and Intellectuals in Developing Societies (1974)

This post is a bit bookish and relates to Islamic Education, Foolishness and Corruption.

So...... i was in the library and picked up a book by some scary sounding neocon Singaporean thinktank on 'Seeking Integrated Knowledge and Success in Madrassah Education in Singapore'.

One of the papers was by a man i respect and in it he cites the Late Syed Hussain Alatas (Author of the Myth of the Lazy Native, Captive Minds, Intellectuals in the Developing World, the Sociology of Corruption).

I have heard about the Progressive Islam journal in conversation before, but i havent had a chance to read it directly or indirectly. Anyway, before some essentially secular people some confused people and some downright opportunist jumped on the 'progressive' bandwagon.... say 50 years ago when the world was very different there was this journal that Prof Alatas was involved with for many years. theres two quotes....

The most urgent problem for the world of Islam today is the formation of new elited who are very learned in the Holy Quran, the Hadith, the Sunnah of the Prophet, the Sharia and last but not least in the affairs of modern science and philosophy.

Islamic education shall aim at a harmonious formation of the human personality. This education shall not only strive for the harmony of thought and action, instinct and reason, feelings and emotion, but also for depth of knowledge and beauty of character. One can experiance harmony also in a negative way. the Islamic concpet of harmony includes the formation of a certain type of character rooted in humility towards God, love towards fellow creatures, perseverance in times of affliction, honesty, decency, uprightness, courage to say the turth, a balanced attitude towards issues which involve human emotions etc. Thus education without an emphasis on character formation has practically no value in Islam.

Syed hussain was a humourous man as well as a profoundly challenging one. Here are some quotes from 'Intellectuals in developing societies' 1974 ( he actually wanted to call the book 'revolution of the fools' but the publishers didnt have the same sense of humour).

I really want to render this onto the web, but i dont fancy typing all day. I'll leave the empirical case studies he cites and grandstand his understanding of the fool.

The essential chatacteristics of a fool are,
  1. that he is not able to recognise a problem
  2. if told to him he is not able to solve it
  3. he is not able to learnt what is required
  4. he is also not able to learn the art of learning
  5. he usually does not admit he is a fool
A man does not become a fool if he does not know everything, for no one can konw everything. Similarly, a man is not a fool if he lacks experience, for a surgeon doing his first operation does not need to be a fool. A man is not a fool if he does not attain what he strives for owing to lack of opportunity as in the case of bankruptcy owing to uncontrolable circumstances rather than mismanagement. Neither failure nor success, knowledge nor ignorance, consitututes the ontological essence of the fool. An ignorant, illiterate man need not be a fool if he has the ability to learn and successfully makes use of the opportunities to hand.
In developing societies four types of administrators and political power holders can be found. They are
  1. the intelligent and honest
  2. the intelligent and dishonest
  3. the foolish and honest
  4. the foolish and dishonet
When a fool is corrupt and mischievious, this corruption and mischief bear the trademark. If he is honest, sometimes his honesty results in difficulties.
Later on he supplements the five characteristics of the fool.

To complete the above we should add the following
  1. a fool does not think contextually both in terms of space and time, and in the dynamic interrelationship of factors
  2. a fool reacts only to the immediate and cannot see beyond
  3. a fool has a mind that thinks in terms of limited causes and not of successive causes and effects
  4. a fool is a creature of habit and is not critical of the foundation of his own thinking
  5. a fool cannot reflect upon a problem or a situation
  6. a fool is inconsistent
  7. a fool is not analytical in his thinking but descriptive
  8. a fool lacks mental energy and always follows the line of least resistance, and
  9. a fool cannot speak at a high level of abstraction without contradicting reality.
These qualities isolate the fool from the intellectual and intelligent man whose traits are the very opposite.

and to conclude, the origins, effects and the need to study this further.

..after the independance following the 2nd world War, there was a sudden increase inthe volume and intensity of administration and other decision-making contres covering diverse projects which were introduced in increasing number by the newly independant state. During this period there was a shortage of intelligent manpower to deal with the sudden increase of planning and administration, both in the official and private realms, in the newly independant states. Hence the rise to power of the fools. Once the fools come to power, they perpetuate their own breed. With the fools came nepotism, provincialism, parochial party politics, to condition selection and ascent in th ehierarchy of administrative power. Fools cannot cope with a situation where merit and hard word are the criteria of success, and so corruption is the hallmark of the rise to power of the fools, making farce of government tenders and leading to beurocratic intrigues to gain office or promotion. Where fools dominats it is their values which become society's values, their consciousness which becomes society's consciousness.

Modern Western political science has focussed attention on the problems of legitimacy, the problems of systems of government, the problem of participation, and a host of other porblems. But it has not focussed attention on the problem of manpower with reference to the fool. No matter what the system is, be it democracy, a dictatorship, communist of liberal democratic, the factor of the fool is significant. Any system dominated by fools will not work. The fool cannot awaken resistance against injustice and cannot fight against corruption. Last but not least, he cannot inspire. His pronouncements, however doctored they may be with statistics, facts figures, concepts and plans, cannot call forth great actions.

In the Court of Firaun

Based on some notes on a Hasina performance at lse and delivered in a post hoc looking at notes, navel gazing, stream of conciousness style.

The QnA was prelude to an interesting evening with mates thinking about bangladesh and the stagnacy of thought there. Uk citizens rarely face agents of bangladeshi mayhem face to face. This was a chance.

Pola uddin was not a good chair she lacked backbone and the political position to be ruthless and paxmanesque. An unscheduled West bengali professor from the lse vigourously praised hasina on the quality of the lunch she provided him last year when he was in desh. I think Hasinas crew hegemonised the student society throughout the proceedings.

Her speech was read out in english, she struggled with it like i must have read out arabic to my maulvi saab when i was little, Allah grant him long life! I dont think she had written it herself. In QnA she complained that she been affected(deafened in one ear) by a grenade attack so she needed a lot of real time explanation/translation/filtration/prepping(?) of the audiences questions from both pola uddin and the prof dude. I swear that when she sat down after her speach and opened her mouth to laugh she resembled one of those proffessionals who cast spells on people.

The Speech consisted firstly of the great acheivements of her party and secondly of how its the only democratic party and the sins of the previous government. She refers to the bnp not by name but as a quasi military force. Next she lauded her own uncompromising leadership to foil nefarious plans,read out a lot of bulletpoints on what her party will do when it is elected, makes an effort to get in key buzz words of secular democracy, internal party democracy and what not. It wasnt very interesting, but she knew she was at the lse and 'i am the daughter of..' arguments wouldnt work. The funniest bits of her proto-manifesto were that the Awami League would have an independant foreign policy and institute egovernance.

she claims satelite tv, mobile telephony and even microcredit as her parties innovation (though reading the lectures of akhtar hameed khan, the father of development in bangladesh, AL people were interested in the Comilla model before the 1970 elections) and that between 96-2001 there were no session jams in the educational system. I dont have the info to verify. but given her 11 000 then 22 000 figure for prisoners of war/razakars in the same sentance and the 21 000 figure she gave a day later at soas i think she has as much numeracy skills as her late father (this is a problem wrt our science being taken seriously).

Hasina dodged the harder questions either because she failed to detect their subtelty or because she has no shame. Questionners from the audience were selected by pola uddin on some femenist criteria, even they had no chance to tell her she wasnt answering the q. It was an unequal platform.

Hasina was quite sly with the dr yunus/shudkha issue. interesting. i guess thats how ideas move on and bouce around. Nobody in the secularist camp talks about micro credit as a bad thing untill Dr Y wins a prize from some white people and has a go at politics. Now her party people dont beleive in that form of microcredit and are telling their urban allegedly educated followers to actually investigate whether there is much poverty alleviation going on there. (Grounds 27% interest 10% forced savings, first installment due 1 week after loan is taken) Therefore the sheep following her can claim moral and islamic ethical supremacy over any party that Dr Yunus might form.

Hasina invented a word 'abusement' (how the sharia casues ladies in villages to commit suicide) which an inarticulate guy then adopts in his question (which is show 'me your proof!' to which hasina points to a case study, not to religious text, taking advantage of the guy's simplicity to avoid upsetting muslims). During his attempt to ask a question, an audience member (blind awami leaguer) accused this guy from EAST LONDON of not being a bengali and physically accosted him. I think he might bump into a lamp post some time soon.

On religion in general she did the liberal fudge on Islam. 'Our people are religious minded'' ' the people need to know what Islam is' 'religion shouldnt be used to punish people'. Patronising and ignorant remarks. Clearly this wasnt going to lead onto a discussion of the systemmatic destruction of the bengali islamic leaning intelligensia and their replacement with a bunch of whores.. oh well.

more questions

A deshi tory (WTF?!?) asked her why all the parties couldnt ally on issues like anti poverty and terrorim. she fudged it by saying they could not deal with parties that nurture terrorism. Then she tries to convince us that her mohajote (awami league plus all the loony lefties you can imagine) was a unity platform for that dialogue.

Arab dude asks about the roadmap for elections. she personally wants them in june this year (the sooner the better fro the awami league cos all the bnp are in jail!). she says 'why do they need 18 months, we liberated our country in 9 months' <>

She played carefully with caretaker government issues, defended student politics (she was a DU student in 71) and blamed all the ills of the society on military and quasi military(BNP) governments.

Awami leaguer love-in basically.

TBH my expectation was low and i wasnt suprised. I was a little suprised by the amount of blind supporters she still has and the vengfulness some people my age (freisheis) feel for razakar demons, but i should know better by now.

To her credit she was quite adept at avoiding anwering questions and telling people what she thought they wanted to hear. I hope you realise how hard it is for me to make that compliment.

I dont trust her. I wish i could point to a better alternative stream but i cant. the bnp can't even muster a website. Bangladesh is pretty screwed if these kinda folks are its leaders. these people who change what they say every day, lead people to beleive they are secular one day, make alliance with religious people the next, say that the shariah causes girls to commit suicide the next moment and then preach about secular democracy. I would have liked the Awami Muslim League back in the day, Suhrawardhy, Maulana Bhashani, Ataour Rahman Khan. Giants. Now its Goats.

I am thankful to god that they have no power over me, that i have the power to know who i am and refuse to let these people define me and my history.

I am still a political orphan and would appeal to people not to be cast under her spell. hate them , despise them or grudgingly accept them, the AL are strong now, empowered by its leaders shenanigans in the west, by singing 'Talibanisation' to the think tanks of london and washington, by the clumsiness of the CTG attempts to take these ladies out and londoni money.

People will vote for them in an emotional way because they feel that its Mujib who got them a country. Sherebangla, suhrawadhi at co dont even get a look in, however superior they were. I feel that so long as the deshi people are kept in the dark about their history and educated badly many of them will continue to beleive the history they are fed.

There were no questions on corruption, no answers to questions on whether she deserved to be head of her party on merit or whether she had personalised bangladesh too much.

LSE Bsoc you got hijacked by Hasina propaganda!

oh well.


So and So

So yeah. So and so said so and so, and so and so said so and so about so and so saying so and so.