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Piketty: Rise of ISIS due to Inequality

000ike
Posts: 11,196
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12/1/2015 4:06:14 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Here's a highly provocative suggestion by Thomas Piketty. He claims that the Middle East has the highest level of inequality in the world, as arabian oil monarchies with small populations like the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait amass a highly disproportionate share of the region's wealth. Meanwhile, the majority of people in the region live in destitution, caught in constant war. Piketty argues that these circumstances are facilitated by western alliances, economic interests, and military intervention in the region, and that this might be what's causing the rise of radical islamism.

Specifically the article states: "Piketty is particularly scathing when he blames the inequality of the region, and the persistence of oil monarchies that perpetuate it, on the West: 'These are the regimes that are militarily and politically supported by Western powers, all too happy to get some crumbs to fund their [soccer] clubs or sell some weapons. No wonder our lessons in social justice and democracy find little welcome among Middle Eastern youth.'"

You can read the full summary here: https://www.washingtonpost.com...

Unfortunately, it seems that Piketty's essay itself is written in French, and hasn't been translated.

What makes this argument interesting is that it really shows how much we take it for granted that the explanation of religious zealotry is sufficient to explain the wanton evil perpetrated by groups like ISIS. And come to think of it, is religion even really sufficient to account for the crusades? Violence and evil require proximate ends, not distant salvation, and deep seated social ideologies not mere faiths. Perhaps it really is a mistake, then to keep calling this Islamic extremism, when Islam may not really be the efficient cause.

Anyway, at the very least Piketty's theory adds new insight to the issue.

Thoughts?
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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12/1/2015 4:34:57 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Of course he'd say that. The man knows no other tune.

His theory is pretty plausible, although I'm not sure how he expects to prove it. There are many ways to interpret this data. For instance, one could argue that the military intervention required to keep in power those driving the inequality is what gave rise to ISIS, rather than the inequality itself. Or that the unstable political climate fostered both economic corruption (and thus inequality) as well as the rise of radical Islamist groups unrestrained by outside forces. It becomes messy very quickly.
ShabShoral
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12/1/2015 4:36:26 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
The rise of ISIS is due to the choice of individuals to support ISIS. No further reduction is possible.
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dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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12/1/2015 4:37:38 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/1/2015 4:36:26 AM, ShabShoral wrote:
The rise of ISIS is due to the choice of individuals to support ISIS. No further reduction is possible.

What has philosophy done to your brain?
ShabShoral
Posts: 3,235
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12/1/2015 4:38:32 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/1/2015 4:37:38 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 12/1/2015 4:36:26 AM, ShabShoral wrote:
The rise of ISIS is due to the choice of individuals to support ISIS. No further reduction is possible.

What has philosophy done to your brain?

Coming from a self-professed believer in the idea that rocks are conscious.
"This site is trash as a debate site. It's club penguin for dysfunctional adults."

~ Skepsikyma <3

"Your idea of good writing is like Spinoza mixed with Heidegger."

~ Dylly Dylly Cat Cat

"You seem to aspire to be a cross between a Jewish hipster, an old school WASP aristocrat, and a political iconoclast"

~ Thett the Mighty

"fvck omg ur face"

~ Liz
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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12/1/2015 4:40:14 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/1/2015 4:38:32 AM, ShabShoral wrote:
At 12/1/2015 4:37:38 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 12/1/2015 4:36:26 AM, ShabShoral wrote:
The rise of ISIS is due to the choice of individuals to support ISIS. No further reduction is possible.

What has philosophy done to your brain?

Coming from a self-professed believer in the idea that rocks are conscious.

If they aren't conscious, then why did people keep them as pets?
ShabShoral
Posts: 3,235
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12/1/2015 4:41:11 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/1/2015 4:40:14 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
If they aren't conscious, then why did people keep them as pets?

I... I don't actually have a good rebuttal. You're right, I'm sorry.
"This site is trash as a debate site. It's club penguin for dysfunctional adults."

~ Skepsikyma <3

"Your idea of good writing is like Spinoza mixed with Heidegger."

~ Dylly Dylly Cat Cat

"You seem to aspire to be a cross between a Jewish hipster, an old school WASP aristocrat, and a political iconoclast"

~ Thett the Mighty

"fvck omg ur face"

~ Liz
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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12/1/2015 4:43:05 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/1/2015 4:41:11 AM, ShabShoral wrote:
At 12/1/2015 4:40:14 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
If they aren't conscious, then why did people keep them as pets?

I... I don't actually have a good rebuttal. You're right, I'm sorry.

In the future, please do a better job of checking yourself before wrecking yourself.
Fly
Posts: 2,045
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12/1/2015 5:43:01 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/1/2015 4:06:14 AM, 000ike wrote:
Here's a highly provocative suggestion by Thomas Piketty. He claims that the Middle East has the highest level of inequality in the world, as arabian oil monarchies with small populations like the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait amass a highly disproportionate share of the region's wealth. Meanwhile, the majority of people in the region live in destitution, caught in constant war. Piketty argues that these circumstances are facilitated by western alliances, economic interests, and military intervention in the region, and that this might be what's causing the rise of radical islamism.

Specifically the article states: "Piketty is particularly scathing when he blames the inequality of the region, and the persistence of oil monarchies that perpetuate it, on the West: 'These are the regimes that are militarily and politically supported by Western powers, all too happy to get some crumbs to fund their [soccer] clubs or sell some weapons. No wonder our lessons in social justice and democracy find little welcome among Middle Eastern youth.'"

You can read the full summary here: https://www.washingtonpost.com...

He could be on to something in many respects. But there are many individual cases which contradict his hypothesis. While Piketty emphases the importance of education, there are many cases of well educated violent extremists-- Bin Laden was one. And regarding prosperity, there are many cases of prosperous individuals going to join violent extremists-- again, Bin Laden was one. There ARE more examples if anyone is in doubt!

Iran is no stranger to the West's meddling over oil, and it actually opposes ISIS, so there is an example of a more general contradiction to Piketty's points.

Unfortunately, it seems that Piketty's essay itself is written in French, and hasn't been translated.

What makes this argument interesting is that it really shows how much we take it for granted that the explanation of religious zealotry is sufficient to explain the wanton evil perpetrated by groups like ISIS. And come to think of it, is religion even really sufficient to account for the crusades? Violence and evil require proximate ends, not distant salvation, and deep seated social ideologies not mere faiths. Perhaps it really is a mistake, then to keep calling this Islamic extremism, when Islam may not really be the efficient cause.

Anyway, at the very least Piketty's theory adds new insight to the issue.

Thoughts?

I disagree on it being a mistake calling it Islamic extremism. Obama is actually making a mistake by avoiding that. He should identify it as IslamIST extremism-- the desire to extablish a Caliphate, to be specific on the difference between Islam and Islamism. To combat a threat, we have to understand the nature of the threat, and we do not do that by avoiding the nature of the threat! IMO, probably the biggest threat of Islamism is that its adherents view martyrdom as a pathway to their eternal reward; they are quite willing to die in order to further their cause. The other big threat is that they seem effective at getting new recruits to their cause.
"You don't have a right to be a jerk."
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Romanii
Posts: 4,852
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12/2/2015 8:32:55 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/1/2015 4:06:14 AM, 000ike wrote:
Here's a highly provocative suggestion by Thomas Piketty. He claims that the Middle East has the highest level of inequality in the world, as arabian oil monarchies with small populations like the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait amass a highly disproportionate share of the region's wealth. Meanwhile, the majority of people in the region live in destitution, caught in constant war. Piketty argues that these circumstances are facilitated by western alliances, economic interests, and military intervention in the region, and that this might be what's causing the rise of radical islamism.

What makes this argument interesting is that it really shows how much we take it for granted that the explanation of religious zealotry is sufficient to explain the wanton evil perpetrated by groups like ISIS. And come to think of it, is religion even really sufficient to account for the crusades? Violence and evil require proximate ends, not distant salvation, and deep seated social ideologies not mere faiths. Perhaps it really is a mistake, then to keep calling this Islamic extremism, when Islam may not really be the efficient cause.

I don't see the theory as being plausible at all. Income inequality has always been around, yet we've never seen anything like ISIS rising. Historically, the inequality gap has been much worse -- the concept of "closing the gap" didn't even exist until very recently. On the other hand, Wahhabi Islam has NOT always been around -- it is a relatively new feature in the Middle East, and surprise surprise, its rise to prominence correlates directly with the rise of Islamic extremism in general. It just doesn't make any sense to say that income inequality is more at fault here than religious zealotry, especially considering that the majority of people joining the radical cause come from wealthy, educated families in countries with Sharia-inclined authoritarian governments (http://www.debbieschlussel.com...). But you're right. It's not religious zealotry alone -- sects like Wahhabism would never have been able to gain so much traction if it were not for state actors like Saudi Arabia actively facilitating their spread. The downfall of the political & religious institutions which had traditionally maintained stability in the Middle East is what really allowed for a perversion of Islam like Wahhabism to become so popular.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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12/2/2015 7:45:32 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/2/2015 8:32:55 AM, Romanii wrote:
At 12/1/2015 4:06:14 AM, 000ike wrote:
Here's a highly provocative suggestion by Thomas Piketty. He claims that the Middle East has the highest level of inequality in the world, as arabian oil monarchies with small populations like the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait amass a highly disproportionate share of the region's wealth. Meanwhile, the majority of people in the region live in destitution, caught in constant war. Piketty argues that these circumstances are facilitated by western alliances, economic interests, and military intervention in the region, and that this might be what's causing the rise of radical islamism.

What makes this argument interesting is that it really shows how much we take it for granted that the explanation of religious zealotry is sufficient to explain the wanton evil perpetrated by groups like ISIS. And come to think of it, is religion even really sufficient to account for the crusades? Violence and evil require proximate ends, not distant salvation, and deep seated social ideologies not mere faiths. Perhaps it really is a mistake, then to keep calling this Islamic extremism, when Islam may not really be the efficient cause.

I don't see the theory as being plausible at all. Income inequality has always been around, yet we've never seen anything like ISIS rising. Historically, the inequality gap has been much worse -- the concept of "closing the gap" didn't even exist until very recently. On the other hand, Wahhabi Islam has NOT always been around -- it is a relatively new feature in the Middle East, and surprise surprise, its rise to prominence correlates directly with the rise of Islamic extremism in general.

That's a good point. However, you have to keep in mind that historically, violence has been far more prevalent as well. It didn't necessarily take the form of terrorism, but it was there nonetheless. But yeah, I think at best you could say that inequality was the tipping point that set in motion something that was close to happening anyway.
imabench
Posts: 21,220
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12/2/2015 8:25:56 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/1/2015 4:40:14 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 12/1/2015 4:38:32 AM, ShabShoral wrote:
At 12/1/2015 4:37:38 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 12/1/2015 4:36:26 AM, ShabShoral wrote:
The rise of ISIS is due to the choice of individuals to support ISIS. No further reduction is possible.

What has philosophy done to your brain?

Coming from a self-professed believer in the idea that rocks are conscious.

If they aren't conscious, then why did people keep them as pets?

Because they'll never pee on your rug that you bought 3 days ago for $700 :P
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dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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12/2/2015 10:19:28 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/2/2015 8:25:56 PM, imabench wrote:
At 12/1/2015 4:40:14 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 12/1/2015 4:38:32 AM, ShabShoral wrote:
At 12/1/2015 4:37:38 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 12/1/2015 4:36:26 AM, ShabShoral wrote:
The rise of ISIS is due to the choice of individuals to support ISIS. No further reduction is possible.

What has philosophy done to your brain?

Coming from a self-professed believer in the idea that rocks are conscious.

If they aren't conscious, then why did people keep them as pets?

Because they'll never pee on your rug that you bought 3 days ago for $700 :P

lol I'm sorry