Archive for June 15th, 2022

MBS: Make Saudi Arabia Into An Open Society.

June 15, 2022

What’s the way out for the world? More advanced thinking, as produced by direct democracy. The Open Society, was practiced by Athens, 25 centuries ago, and extolled by general Pericles and his thoughtfull spouse, the great philosopher Aspasia: “Our city is thrown open to the world, though and we never expel a foreigner and prevent him from seeing or learning anything of which the secret if revealed to an enemy might profit him.” The Open Society is a crucial ingredient in real democracy.

Arguably the two most successful polities the direct descendency of which we presently enjoy, Greece-Rome and Qin, practiced quite a bit of the same openness, buttressed by legalism. Rome copied deliberately the leading, most democratic Greek City states. China and Europe then descend from then most-Open Societies, Qin, Greek democracies and their Roman parrot.

Athens’ power rested on high tech, her navy, and silver mines (the latter paying for the former; slaves operated the mines). 

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salam (MBS) has been the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia. He has modernized this fascinating realm with violent enthusiasm. It is unlikely he could keep on modernizing without violence: a Saudi king was assassinated by a nephew, a little while ago. MBS has many enemies inside the Royal family, let alone in the rest of Arabia… naturally he has to look terrifying to insure his own safety. Authentic progressives must agree that more progress is to be had with MBS than with regressive raving maniacs mad with god… who have often been the alternative.

***

MBS should make Saudi Arabia into an Open Society. This is the best, safest solution. How safe is that for the Saud family? How safe is it for Arabia?

Arabia is so backwards in mentality, from Wahhabism, that it will take a long time to effect change, and MBS and eventual successors, should, and could lead the charge. So as change leaders, they would be safe for a long time… considering the long way to go.

A precedent calling for forging ahead arises from the French Revolution. Louis XVI of France’s error was to stop half-way: Louis saw the need for change, his wife read the most recent subversive literature (Voltaire, Rousseau)… and Louis had not wanted to be king. Conscious that French plutocrats had to pay taxes (they were exempt and the US war of independence had ruined France), Louis decided to start a revolution. However, when he found that it involved a constitutional monarchy, he tried to stop the revolution. One thing led to another, many heads got cut.

Emperor Nicholas II of Russia had the same exact problem: Nicholas instituted democratizing reforms, so democratizing that the Kaiser and the Prussian General Staff thought that their own military dictatorship was undermined by them. However, after the Germans declared war, Nicholas abandoned all and any reforms… although he was stridently and extensively warned of the danger of doing so… for years.

So the advice of progressives to MBS should be for MBS to lead the change and the charge, and not falter: be both the autocrat in chief, and the revolutionary leader. He can then argue that he inherited the problem, and nobody is in a better position to solve it. He can also argue he needs muscle to do so against the old believers (Peter the Great of Russia had the same problem) and various plutocrats who inherited wealth and power too. A show of goodwill will bring forgetfulness, and redemption. An Open Society is always smarter and, as catastrophic changes are sure to pile up, as climate change accelerates, Saudi Arabia needs all the brains it can get. MBS can stay the brain in chief, even if rough. Open up!

***

Some are particularly resentful because a Washington Post journalist was cut up, more or less alive, and MBS had something to do with it, considering some of his subordinates did it (all of SA is subordinate to MBS!)

Well, yes, sure. And also MBS is criticized for the war in Yemen with opponents, the Houthis, propped by Iran. MBS was allied with the UAE. I am no specialist of that conflict. Obama sent drones and hunted Al Qaeda in the Bin Laden ancestral home region…. busting the occasional weddings, killing hundreds. I don’t see why Obama gets a pass for killing wedding parties of thoroughly innocent people, hundreds of innocents whom Obama ordered killed, while MBS is vilipended because some Saudi security tortured one opponent to death. If it turns out, it’s Obama and the US Deep State who got MBS and the UAE in Yemen.

Indeed, Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when Houthi insurgents—Shiite rebels with links to Iran and a history of rising up against the Sunni government—took control of Yemen’s high altitude capital and largest city, Sana’a, demanding lower fuel prices and a new government. After failed negotiations, the rebels seized the presidential palace in January 2015. President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government resigned. Beginning in March 2015, a coalition of Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia launched a campaign of economic isolation and air strikes against the Houthi insurgents, with U.S. logistical and intelligence support… So MBS’ Yemen adventure started in Washington.

***

There is a big difference between very discreetly expressed view points of MBS, and say the rehashing of atrocious mass-murdering world-imperial Kremlin propaganda to which Pope Francis abandonned himself recently, in a most un-Christian and thoroughly regressive way. The Pope said that a big “very wise guy” told him that NATO was “barking at the gates of Russia”. It apparently did not come to the attention of the geographically unaware Pope that Russia is all over Eurasia, over 11 time zones. The Pope doesn’t realize that it is immoral that a country owns so much real estate conquered over dozens of ethnicities… Even Lenin and Stalin understood this… But the Pope doesn’t.

So MBS? MBS has a difficult situation. The Pope doesn’t. And Putin threatened the entire planet with “radioactive ashes” if it doesn’t obey him, in an attempted return to the maximal expansion of the Kremlin empire achieved when Europe conquered Africa… to pacify and modernize it… Whereas Russia was establishing its Nineteenth Century empire for strictly genocidal purposes over many old nations (including the Balts, Poland, Ukraine… not just Tatars and Chechens).

No evil of that order with MBS, but a will to progress. So give him reason to progress more. The same applies to other authoritarian regimes progressing out of tenebrous pasts…

Patrice Ayme

Mecca at night. The scale is enormous. Kaaba, the Cube, is the 13 meter tall black building at the center of Islam’s most important mosque, the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is perfectly visible in the center of the photograph. The cult of the meteorite at the center is older than Islam. Many buildings from Mahomet’s time have been destroyed to be replaced by modern ones, sadly. It’s also sad that non-Muslims are forbidden in Mecca. It would be good to open that up. Any savage can penetrate Christianism’s most sacred buildings (although not all).

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