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Monday, January 29, 2007

The Caliphate, or why Adam Smith and Karl Marx were wrong 

Followup. A bit more on the political theory of the Caliphate:

Hizb ut-Tahrir says that Muslims should abolish national boundaries within the Islamic world and return to a single Islamic state, known as "the Caliphate," that would stretch from Indonesia to Morocco and contain more than 1.5 billion people.

It's a simple and seductive idea that analysts believe may someday allow the group to rival existing Islamic movements, topple the rulers of Middle Eastern nations, and undermine those seeking to reconcile democracy and Islam and build bridges between East and West....

"The Caliphate is a rallying point between the radicals and the more moderate Islamists," says Stephen Ulph, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation. "The idea of a government based on the Caliphate has a historical pedigree and Islamic legitimacy that Western systems of government by their very nature do not have."

But unlike Al Qaeda, Hizb ut-Tahrir believes it can recreate the Caliphate peacefully. Its activists aim to pursuade Muslim political and military leaders that reestablishing the Caliphate is their Islamic duty....

The Caliphate was created after the death of Islam's founder Muhammad in 632 AD. During the following centuries the Caliphate expanded Islam's territories by conquest and treaty to cover most of the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa. As the Ottoman Turks lost ground to the West, they increasingly donned the cloak of the Caliphate. In the 1920s, Muslims throughout the British empire, particularly in India, used the restoration of the Caliphate as an anti-colonial rallying point....

Hizb ut-Tahrir promises that a revived Caliphate will end corruption and bring prosperity...

Here is a description of the Caliphate's solution to poverty:

Lining up patiently together with old ladies, foul mouthed youths and people reeking of alcohol, a highly qualified engineer waits his turn in the queue to collect his 'dole' otherwise known as 'job seekers allowance'. This scene is not uncommon in the Western world where graduates and professionals from all manner of fields find themselves without work and struggling to make ends meet. For some professionals the handout from the dole office every Wednesday morning is what barely keeps them afloat until the next week....

A particular view towards the economic problem has dominated Western economies since the time of the founding father of capitalist economics, previously a Professor at Glasgow University, Adam Smith.

In 1776 (CE) Smith published what became the bible of capitalist economics, 'An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations', it articulated his laissez faire view towards the economic problem.

In essence capitalist economists believe that the economic problem is caused by the unlimited needs of people and the scarcity of resources, this leads to the dilemma of how to bridge the gap between the two - how do people get their needs satisfied? In answer to this question, Smith developed the 'invisible hand theory'. It denotes that if the economy is left to run in a free manner the resources will be distributed fulfilling the needs of society almost in an automatic way.

The basis of the theory is that by focussing on production the gap between the unlimited needs and limited resources is lessened, it is assumed that people will work to achieve their own interests. By working and earning a wage they can in turn purchase the goods and services they require. This has also come be known as 'trickle down economics' where the focus is on increasing the size of the cake, believing that it will somehow trickle down into the bellies of the hungry.

However the theory is not that simplistic, in order to explain the 'invisible hand' the price mechanism is seen as key. It is seen as the incentive for production, the regulator of distribution, and the link between the producer and the consumer i.e. it is the means which achieves a balance between production and consumption.

The price mechanism is cited as the incentive for production because the principal motive for people to undertake any productive effort or sacrifice in view of the capitalist economists is material reward. The Capitalist economists exclude the possibility that man expends effort for a moral or spiritual motive. They consider that man expends his efforts to satisfy his materialistic needs and wishes only....

Western societies have high levels of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) yet still have high levels of poverty as was established earlier. This fact itself disproves the 'invisible hand theory' and the free market as the solution to the economic problem....

An increase in the level of production leads to a rise in the level of the wealth of the country and does not necessarily lead to the complete satisfaction of all the basic needs of each and every individual. A country could be rich in its natural resources, as in the case of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, but the basic needs of most of their citizens are not satisfied completely....

Due to an attitude previously seen in the pre-renaissance bigotry of the Church in repressing the philosophers who questioned the unquestionable, this new clergy of economists today do not question their bible written by Adam Smith. This religious adherence blinds them from admitting the failures of their fundamental philosophy. It is this fact that has led to their failure in dealing with poverty on the streets of Britain and in the West....

[W]elfare legislation and the concept of the welfare state itself were 'ad-ons' to the capitalist economy spurned by a pragmatic approach to stem the tide of Socialism....

Although the cause for poverty in the west is the capitalist economic philosophy, Western economists fail to look at any other alternative apart from Socialism. They only see two paradigms for the economy, Capitalism or Communism. I recall a discussion with my previous economic lecturer where I put forward the ills of Capitalism, after debating the points exhaustively he said, 'Capitalism is the best of the worst'. I then went on to explain the Islamic economic system as an alternative, it became obvious that he had never considered Islam as having any alternative nor had studied it.

Leftist movements, thinkers and writers are increasingly voicing their opinion against the inequalities created by Capitalism. However they too like my economics lecturer cannot see any other alternative and therefore call for the reformation of Capitalism. We need to articulate the Islamic economic system as an alternative to the mass of economic problems that face the world today....

Islam views the economic problem in a radically different way than Capitalism and Socialism. Islam focuses on the distribution of wealth not just the production....

Islam looks at every individual by himself rather than the total of individuals who live in the country. It looks at him as a human being first, who needs to satisfy all of his basic needs completely. Then it looks to him in his capacity as a particular individual, to enable him to satisfy his luxuries as much as possible. The purpose of the economic policy in Islam is not to raise the standard of living in the country without looking to secure the rights of life for every individual completely. Nor is it just to provide the means of satisfaction in the society, leaving people free to take from such means as much as they can, without securing the livelihood right for each individual. Rather, it addresses the basic problems of everyone as human beings, then enabling each individual to raise his standard of living and achieve comfort for himself.

More here.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Information on the greatest 20th century U.S. president here)

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