Sunday, May 30, 2010
In the preface to “The Heart of Islam,” you say you wrote all your works to preserve tradition. What does tradition mean to you and why is its preservation so important?
The English word tradition is used in different ways, including customs, habits and historical transmission, but for me tradition means a reality of sacred origin which is given to humanity through revelation. Through preservation and application of that teaching, of that sacred instruction, our civilization was created. The same is true for the Western civilization. The Christian civilization was created by the coming of Christ. That is the beginning of the Christian tradition, and then it created the Western civilization with many forms of sacred Christian architecture, theology, ethics and forms of social structure.
How did the West come to this point?
In a sense, if we speak in Islamic terms, the leaders of the society in the West decided to sacrifice the akhira to the dunya completely [Nasr is referring to Quran 2:86, which reads: “These are the people who buy the life of this world (ad-dunya) at the price of the Hereafter (al-akhira).”] The great German poet Goethe in “Faust” speaks about this. Faust sells his soul to the devil in order to get power and technology. So everything is sacrificed for material ends and earthly human welfare. But we also have spiritual needs.
Can we update Western democracy into a new system where our spiritual needs are also provided for?
First of all, democracy is a method; it is not a value system. It is a method of government, and it is a question of having more people participate.
Democracy is also not ideal in the West. Money is much more powerful than the individual. We see this in the US. You cannot even participate in a nomination for a party unless you’re a millionaire to begin with.
See herethe complete interview.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
One thing is crystal clear: in Argentina, football has temporarily displaced reality. It's like a breather in the history of a country otherwise so embroiled in conflict and in-fighting, like the eye of a hurricane. This is particularly clear in the run up to the football World Championships.
A few years ago, during the 2002 Championships, I saw an Argentinian advertisement on Spanish television which showed this perfectly, with that – seemingly unavoidable – aesthetic blend of heroic song and tears (In Argentinian football, crying is a very male activity). In the advertisement, a World Cup final is taking place between Brazil (joy) and Argentina (sadness). The score is still 0:0 (a state of uncertainty) when Argentina gets a penalty kick (the miracle). Time seems to freeze in front of the TV set (the possibility of the final blunder). At this moment there is a power cut (the crisis), and only an old man (wisdom) on the street with a transistor radio pressed to his ear – by the way, I could never understand how people could listen to football matches on the radio, abstractly deciphering a figurative game – hears the result and croaks "gol", after which young people (the future) stream onto the balconies, unfurling flags. The cry ("Argentina", "Argentina") spreads from mouth to mouth, swelling to a song intoned by a million throats.
The message is clear: only football can wrench Argentina from its present darkness, this country that once exported beef and now exports football meat. Needless to say, Argentina did not win the World Cup in 2002. But it was world champion in 1978 and 1986, and very nearly again in 1990, so hopes are high for 2006. One thing's for sure: if Argentina does win, it will be to revel in the tragic possibility of losing again in 2010.
It's a commonplace that every country has the government, and the football team, it deserves. The Argentinian team – representing an almost pathologically psychoanalytical country – will once again fluctuate between depression and nervous breakdown. It's an unpredictable team, at times weary with gloom, at times foaming over with ebullience, exposed at every moment to the blustering elements and doomed to existential catastrophes.
The team selection represents all Argentinians, with their extreme historical cycles, their ups and downs, their triumphs and turpitudes. More than that: it embodies the Pavlovian desires of Argentinians to yell doggedly "Argentina! Argentina!" (the call of salvation alluded to in our national anthem) without really knowing if it is love or horror that makes them so hopelessly devoted to football and their country. In short: everything is possible with this team.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
What Bicentennial? Are we talking about national independence? We (Trans. note: the argentinians) have been independent very few times in our history. Those times are counted with the fingers of one hand. At some point our nation was independent during the government of Juan Manuel de Rosas; the Anglo-French blockade in 1848; with President Julio Argentino Roca and his highly controversial "Conquest of the Desert"; with Roque Saenz Peña, the only argentinian President wounded in combat; for a brief period during the government of Hipolito Irigoyen and, during the first government of Juan Domingo Perón. In other words, we've reached some platitudes in our history with few unfinished projects of national independence, but never a real and permanent one.
From Buela, Alberto "Bicentennial a Politically Correct Idea" see here
The Real Kirchner's Argentina
Argentina is in the grip of a classic wage-price spiral, with unions holding the country to ransom and inflation at 30%, members of the opposition and critics are routinely described as anti-patriotic coup-plotting "golpistas", corruption is rife as huge public projects and concessions are handed to cronies with no real competetive tendering and a complete absence of anti-monopoly legislation to keep them in check, the kirchner's estimated personal swiss-held wealth is now in the tens of millions and of extremely dubious provenance, the Malvinas are invoked just as they were by Galtieri to induce patriotic sentimen while the nation's wealth is robbed, sold and pawned in what the Economist has described as "a serial asset-grab" in order to fill the coffers of what Cristina has described with Orwellian cynicism as the "bicentennial fund", which will be used as her campaign fund, as the poor are bribed with hand-puts and freebies (including free laptops no less!) into voting the Kirchner's back into power at the elections next year.
* The picture depicts a massive metal replica of Argentina's Constitution – in flames