Channel: Zaid Shakir
The Irony of Democracy, can it be resolved? A Zaytuna Faculty Lecture by Imam Zaid Shakir.
The Zaytuna Faculty Lecture Series presents lectures by Zaytuna College faculty members exploring a variety of contemporary topics.
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Salatu was Salam ala rasulillah.
First I want to say a welcome to everyone who's joining us online. I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Adrian woodsmith. I'm the coordinator of student life here at zaytuna College.
A mom's aide is one of our professors here is a tuna. last term, he taught a course, on the introduction, it was an introduction to political science. And one of the books that the students read for this course was called the irony of democracy in Sharla. Today's lecture will be on reconciling the irony of democracy. In addition, in addition to welcoming you to, to this to this talk, we'd also like you to welcome you to is the zaytuna College Library here. And we'd like to remind you that that this is an important project that's going on here in America right now, and especially in the Muslim community. zaytuna College needs your support in three areas. First, we
need your hours. So please keep us in your prayers. Second, we need your financial support as we move to the next stages and trying to purchase a new building in the next coming year.
We have an event in San Jose on the 18th of February, so please join us if you'll be around. See there's a tuna Facebook page or there's a tuna website for more information. And third,
if you are interested in applying, please consider a tuna and see the website and the Facebook page for more information. Now without further ado, here is a mom's age checker
Bismillah menorah hemal hamdu Lillahi Rabbil alameen wa Salatu was Salam ala CD mursaleen Sayidina Muhammad wa ala early he was sotheby He will send them tested him and kathira Robin Allah calhanoglu chameleon Barry legionary will check all the missile panic subhanak Ellen Seaton and alikhan to come and eat out enough sick Allahumma salli wa sallim wa barik ala Sayidina Wahhabi Vina Mohammed wala early he was on V. SLM test Eman kathira A salam wa Alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh
Alhamdulillah Alhamdulillah. Hindi hadn't only had one con una tarea, Lola and Haryana la Alhamdulillah Hilaire De Anza, Allah Allah up the hill kita polymyalgia lu Elijah at hamdulillah romblon me now. So before going any further
before I forget, I like to reiterate what Adrian mentioned in his introduction, if you're anywhere in the vicinity of San Jose, California on February 18, to join us 630
at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose building zaytuna College brick by brick so this is a fundraiser and and and from consciousness raising event.
To help pave the way for the tunas move to our permanent home what will be in sha Allah tala be owning what tofield what tayseer
then Allah subhanho wa Taala permanent home. So as was mentioned, this particular talk
and the first of two actually this subject in sha Allah tala will be divided into two lectures, the first the sort of theoretical foundation and framework for looking at how we as Muslims in America can develop a viable American Muslim politics. And so, as opposed to trying to present somewhat of a theoretical framework, and then trying to go through practical steps that we can take to build a viable, identifiable American Muslim politics, and shortchange the latter, I decided to really deal with that latter subject, developing a viable American Muslim politics and a separate lecture so that we can really get into that subject and present some concrete ideas for our collective
consideration. inshallah. So this lecture originally I we entitled it resolving the irony of democracy with the question mark, and subsequently changed to just the irony of democracy in lieu of the fact that it seems so difficult to solve that irony. So proposing
We can resolve it might have been, in the view of some a bit pretentious.
Hence the question mark law. So can it be resolved.
And as was mentioned, this arises from the course I taught, taught last semester in one of the course books or textbooks, the irony of democracy, and
a sense of frustration that often arises when the subject is approached, if,
and we'll get into it if the elites control everything, are the masses therefore helpless? And so this is a question we want to look at. But before doing that, want to reiterate, for those who are in the class and present the idea for those who want want more not what is the irony of democracy. So we start by defining irony, so irony is when a word or concept is used, in opposition to its literal meaning. So we sometimes will hear something we say that it's ironic that you would say that, because what you're saying, contradicts the meaning of your words, or your words contradict their apparent meaning in the context that you're using them, or the idea that they conveyed is
contradicted by reality. So this is the essence of irony. Democracy is from the word demos are the critical word rather, as demos, demos, being the common people and more specifically, the common people in a Greek city state, in the ancient Greek, the time of the ancient Greek city states, so the ordinary people will call, referred to as the demos. And so democracy, the rule of the ordinary people. So it's from here that the irony of democracy arises historians, political scientists, and others who have studied
be that what appears to be popular rule be that dictatorship, totalitarianism, whatever form of authoritarianism, whatever form of political rule, we look at, have discovered that inevitably, a small elite will dominate any political system or any polity, and even in a system that labels itself and advertises itself or presents itself as a democracy, as more elite will dominate that system, and it is their decisions that lead to the perpetuity of the system itself. So the a system called a democratic system, such as here in the United States, inevitably, according to
political theorists, will devolve into the rule of a small elite. And perhaps more significantly, the nature of the rule of that elite will articulate itself based on the interests and values of that elite, and not the interests and values of the overwhelming mass of common people. So here's where the irony of democracy exists. A system that posits rule as is commonly presented of, by and for the people depends on the decisions of a small elite, whose values and interests do not reflect those of the people. So this is the essence of the irony of democracy. The system is called the rule of the people. It's advertised or presented as rule, government rather, of buying for the people.
But in reality is not the people whose values are whose interests are critical for the preservation and perpetuity of the system, rather a small elite, a elite, whose interests and values are reflected in the nature of the rule. Now, as we went through those introductory ideas in the textbook and in the classes,
those who were in the class did the reading, which everyone did, as reflected in the outstanding test scores. Generally speaking,
you encounter the name Robert Michaels, Robert Michaels, European political sociologist, actually, who posited an idea called the iron law of oligarchy
And that is that any effort to organize human beings will inevitably culminate in the creation of a small group that will dominate that organization. So, the iron law because in his research and presentation, this is inevitable in any human organization, and a state being a human or organization is no exception. In fact, states because there are large organizations require bureaucracies and bureaucracies are even more prone to the iron law of oligarchy in that, in a bureaucratic setting,
major decisions have to be made daily.
And depending on the nature of the bureaucracy, sometimes several times a day, though critical decisions that have to be made, may consulting a large disorganized body, as represented by the people in that context will be unrealistic and literally impossible. So, if to keep this organization running, we need to make decisions on an hourly basis, and minimally on a daily basis, to consult all the people who are represented by this organization is impossible to get into develop the communication networks to track them all down to communicate the issue, to get the feedback, and then to record that, and then act on the basis of it in a large organization is literally
impossible. So, in that states, breed bureaucracies. And then that in that bureaucracies are organizations within organizations that are even more prone to the iron law of oligarchy, all of this points to rule by a small group, an oligarch. And in Michael's view, any claim of a democratic system is a force for this very rule. So in this country, actually, more insightful people will argue that, in fact, America is not a democracy, it is a what
Republic is a republic, not a democracy, Republican Representative rule,
and not direct democracy. Now, in that this situation prevails in the nature of organizations and states, and particularly here in this country, activists, organizers, students can become very frustrated in that elites control the media. And the elites controlling the elites control the media. It is their interest that determines what is news and what is newsworthy.
elites control the electoral system, and is their interest, their money, their organizational organizing ability that's critical to the determining who gets elected, or in some instances, who gets selected as in the selection of 2000. And
it is their interest in their values that determine what sort of policies are pursued, and that elites control interest groups. And their interest are more
determinant in terms of the range, setting the range of policy choices.
Again, this points to a small oligarchy. And that oligarchy in many instances, as we see in the issue, issue after issue of special interest and their role in our political system.
They work for themselves, and they advanced their interest be that Wall Street. So a small elite spends their money in the in the presidential campaigns to lobby Congress to urge the type of legislation that led to the massive bailouts that then benefited themselves. So it wasn't that the our political system is so magnanimous
that our political leaders decided you know what, those guys on Wall Street really deserve help.
We should reward their recklessness. We should reward their irresponsibility we should reward their virtuous behavior with a trillion dollars of taxpayers money, adding to the public debt, burdening future generations of ordinary people.
demos with a mountain of debt. What a great thing to do, let's go for it. No, it didn't go down like that went down in that these guys have paid me millions of dollars to obtain to office. And if I stand any chance of being reelected, it's in my best interest as I see it to do their bidding. Hence, the balance.
So Congress is an elite as we study in an elite in and of itself with its own narrow a worldview, and it's set itself is a membership beholden to other elites. The President is primarily a manager or arbitrator of a competition between various elites. And we can see that in President Obama's State of the Union address last night, how many of you listen to President Obama's, all of you didn't listen to
you excuse there's no political science course this semester. So.
But one example of arbitrating between the interests of disparity leads, the oil industry of very powerful and influential elite
is competing against the environmental interest groups, this era club, the wilderness Foundation, etc.
So if everything goes to big oil,
the environmental groups control a lot of votes.
If every and those votes will be turned against the president, potentially,
if everything goes to the environmental groups, Big Oil controls a lot of money,
and that money will be used to help defeat the president in the election later this year. So what do we get in the speech, we get
mentioning of the rejecting the XL pipeline,
a victory for the environmentalist vote we get a promise to open up 75%
of our public lands for oil exploration.
a payoff if you will to big oil. So in the same speech, we get these two contradicting contradictory messages, a message to the environmentalists that would be deemed very positive, a message to big oil that for those who support big oil would be deemed very positive, and we'll come back to this issue a little later. inshallah Tada. So the President is arbitrating the disputes. The Supreme Court itself is an elite nine people, nine people who can nullify the will of a popularly elected president, by declaring an executive order, or a bill that's been signed into law by the President to be unconstitutional that can negate the will of a popularly elected Congress that can relate
negate the will of popularly elected school boards, and state legislators or city councils. So nine people that's in the lean in and of itself, but that elite also serves the interests of particular elites, because in that presidents who represent their political parties and their political parties represent a platform of divergent interests, interest groups, and presidential Supreme Court appointments are highly political. And we can see the so called liberal conservative
breakdown in the court reflecting the appointees of liberal or conservative, Republican Democratic or Republican presidents. So even that elite of nine individuals currently
is responsive to other elites, and we see that in decision
after decision that comes out of the Supreme Court. So, bureaucracies again, as we mentioned in the context of the iron law of oligarchy, constituting an elite. So if we look at all of this elitism in the system is very easy to become frustrated, in terms of what can we as the masses,
do work can the advocates of change who want to change this system somehow dual? Are there any meaningful prospects of change so this is the something want to look at but before we do that want to briefly detour and take a look at the Quranic view of elite rule for the Muslim view of elite rule. The Quran bears out the principle that rule in a society and a polity will reflect the control of an elite. So this idea has credence in terms of reflecting the Quran in many Tamia in his book on
political or political rule in Islam as the as the Sharia
mentioned at the very beginning, I think I photocopied those pages for the class last semester that the basis of Islamic rule is founded predicated on two verses and the court n the first which is the second of the verses in order. Yeah you Hello, Edina mn Tierra la Tierra del Sol will Emery minko.
So all you who believe which is half of the verse in reality, oh you who believe, obey Allah obey the messenger and those in authority amongst you. So a lot of times Allah is urging the faithful. The masses of the believers yeah you helina eminonu to obey
poulan Embrey minquan after Allah Thailand the Messenger of Allah. Well, ulin Emery minko who are the lil amor most of the commentators the overwhelming majority mentioned, and Omar Ah, oh, well early on that the political leaders and the scholars, the political leaders and scholars, so a lot Tyler's urging the masses yeah you Khalid Dena Amman, are you multitude of believers
at Tierra la headwear to rasulillah Emily minko. So they'll all be the messenger and those in authority over you.
So this argues for this dichotomy between the elite only and remain calm and the masses and you hella Dina and Ella, Dena, Amman, the believers. So Allah tala also urges though the political leadership
to be just in their dealings and their role over
the believers. So this is the first verse in the La Jolla model come into a dual m&a deal and he has
come to being a nurse and mobile app. In Nola Hani, your ego can be in a lawyer careless me on basura. So Allah commands you,
referring to the leaders in the La Jolla motoko. And to adult amenities that you deliver the trust to their rightful possessors will either have come from Bella ness. And so here this tells us the address is to the leadership. For a lot Allah says when either and when you rule or judge between people that you do so with justice with come from veneziane Mobile apple.
Most Excellent is what Allah commends you to undertake in the line and you're able to come be Verily Allah is all hearing or seeing an ally kanessa Mian basura. So a lot commands the two sides in this relationship,
that you have responsibilities and then you have to work together when the political systems break down, when the masses and the elites do not work together.
So a lot of time It says, and Emily Tamia mentioned this verse also in his introduction
Love the messenger sallallahu alayhi wa sallam where this elite mass dichotomy is mentioned. And it also implies that this elite is a small percentage of people and the masses represent the overwhelming majority.
One indication of that is one of the words that has tremendous political relevance is sad as sudo which can mean rain so in Arabic language usually when they're talking about scholars are talking about a political system. That's a heaven the dawn said he don't see Ballard in math that this
administration or system is raining in a political in a particular land by way of example, and the Varmus said it and from this we get say it and one of the definitions of say it, as mentioned by Mt. voran the sound a lot of SAE do, yes. sudo serveware then s so the say it in this context, the political leader is one who reigns or rules over the mass of the people. Yes, sudo sadden ness. So, so add from sweat. So when there's a mass and undifferentiated mass, such as birds, you see them coming over the horizon is a black mess. So So from that we get so bad. So, so bad, we'll have them sweat and ness. So the overwhelming mass of the people so the say it one of the meanings of say it
in our class last night when too many others, one of the meanings as say you do your sudo sawada ness is the one who rules over the mass of the people. So this is something that indicates Not only is this mass dichotomy, a mass elite dichotomy prevalent but it indicates that this elite is a small group, and the masses represent a far far
larger group. Now on something else that's relevant in this verse and perhaps a separate lecture we can look at this in terms of the Sunnah of Allah how Allah tala deals with nature, nations. One of the things
that this verse implies
is a laws intervention in the political process, or in historical affairs.
An example of that
and mentioned the verse a lot Tyler says, elite masses also but also divine intervention, a historical process. So another verse were mentioned in terms of making clear this elite mess dichotomy a lot of Tyler mentioned in the Quran work at Delhi can well Li Baba Varley Mina Baba so does do we give some oppressors
rule over others vema Bhima candle ESC boom okay then you can well the Bhagavad Ameen bada bing I can see moon verse do we give some oppressors authority over others based on what they themselves have earned. So a lot of time and this is so we get the elites Bhavani mean the masses Baba so some we give rule over others be my can we actually boom because of what the ladder have earned.
But the idea of divine intervention in his store in history, what can that he can do? Well, he saw a lot says thus do We the Royal we so sluman Maliki so refer into a law singularly but magnifying his station. And this is the best understanding some people they read.
Work Adela can wenli along the angels, but that analysis breaks down. And that when we say
well how lochness somehow where it will art. So did the angels and all of these other forces participate in the creation of heaven and earth? Allah tala created the heavens and earth in any case. So our law says new welney we give authority to some others. So there's divine intervention in the historical process. And this is something we should be cognizant of as we try to understand history. And again, this is something we can talk about in great detail in terms of the sooner of a law. The idea of
A small group ruling. And the large body and mass being ruled over is also reinforced by the idea in classical Muslim political system of theory rather, of a group that's referred to in terms of selecting the leadership. Hello, Halliwell.
So the people who lose how your Hulu and buying or your iPad, but people lose and bind. And so those people are the elite, who would be somewhat
to a certain extent, not in terms of how they're elected, but in the role that they perform to our American Electoral College. So electoral college are an elite who are selected, who actually choose the president.
So the electoral college and there have been instances where the electoral college is going against the popular vote. Generally it doesn't. But in theory, it can. Because why is the founding fathers determined that the masses can't be totally trusted?
So we might have a firebrand, like Ron Paul, for example, endorsing Ron Paul,
who people might say, you know, no income tax sounds like a great idea.
And eliminating the fed a private bank that holds our entire financial system hostage
that has absolutely no public control might not be a bad idea.
So the people might elect someone like Ron Paul, seeing that thinking all of these things aren't bad ideas at all.
Then the electoral college says electing Ron Paul is a bad idea. Because we work for the Fed.
and we benefit from that income tax. So you know, what
we feel is much wiser, as opposed to a president.
Like Ron Paul, at America has a CEO, like Mitt Romney.
So that's your President, folks.
That can happen in theory. The point is, though, those people who are bankers, who are
public figures, who are wealthy individuals, who are business people, those are the people who are the constitute the Electoral College, a similar strata of Muslim society, are the people constitute an old Hollywood actor.
And they are the people who are charged in the political the classical political theory of choosing this full time. And that's not always the case, there are other methods but the classical presentation of the idea.
the the idea of a lot harlot intervening in history is a real idea. And again, this to elaborate on it require a separate presentation. Also, that
people the action of people
is part of the process of how law affects outcomes. So the first verse, the earlier verse, we mentioned, one can only can when Lee Salatin says we place some oppressors over others bothered volley, min Ababa, demand can we exceed wound based on what they themselves have earned. So the actions of the people
are part of this process of tolia that a lot of time refers to here, the process of putting those in charge because of what they have learned, ultimately is from Allah subhanho wa Taala. But the actions of the people play a role and this is again illustrated in another verse that makes it clear and is more commonly referenced in this context. In Allahu Allah you will how you may be a Coleman had tell you how you met, the unforeseen him alone will not change
the state of people until they until they change that what they change what is in themselves. So a lot Tyler ultimately is affecting the change, but the people's actions and their state has a role in that process. And an Aloha, aloha vocabularly can do well Lee
No more Halla lair you have a you may be a Coleman had tear your hair, you may be on fusi him, Allah will not change the state of people until they change that which is within themselves. So again, this is a separate issue, we just wanted to touch on these points, to give insight into the idea of elite mass, that dichotomy being something that's recognized. And that has import in classical Muslim political theory, and a very big import. And again, this could possibly be a separate talk, what I want to do for the balance of this particular talk is to go back to our contemporary events. And back to the subject of the question of what can the masses do? So answering this question, I
call your attention to two recent events when we refer to already and that is President Obama rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.
The second the recall, of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the recall petition. So each of these events gives us tremendous insight into the nature of mass action, and the potential efficacy of mass action in that, in each of these instances, very powerful and entrenched
in the former case, big oil,
which lobbied Congress, to the tune 42 oil companies lobbying Congress with $60 million
to get the XL pipeline through. And so when you see
with his game face on saying this fight isn't over.
And we're going to get this pipeline and even today, they're reviving the fight.
You know why?
As a popular singing group, one said,
Sometimes I wish I was the president. So I could show you have your money spin, can we be fun.
So that's how your money is spent.
And that's why you have people lining up ready to fight. Because you're getting phone calls, I didn't pay you to lose this battle.
I paid you to win.
And to win it.
But a different outcome for now prevailed. So in that it was possible, maybe temporarily to defeat the pipeline, despite the money, the influence the lobbying the pressure, from Big Oil, despite the congressional strength of the Republican Party, who lined up across the board against the project. So how's it possible to defeat it? It was possible defeat it to defeat it
by doing several things, one developing a grass roots movement.
bipartisan grassroots movement.
So this is the first thing particularly in which state
XL pipeline, Keystone XL pipeline, the state of Nebraska.
The sand hills in Nebraska are prime grazing land. So there are a lot of ranchers there, ranchers tend to be republicans
like to chew tobacco.
So you have republican ranchers, who said you're not bringing a pipeline through my ranch.
Secondly, the sand hills are a national treasure. And one of the great sources of pride for Nebraskans this very unique landscape, very unique ecosystem. The second thing the sand hills are located over a massive aquifer, one of the largest aquifers in the United States, the Ogallala Aquifer. And so environmentalist ranchers, homeowners, most virtually all of their drinking water all of their irrigation water, all of the water to water their lifestyle
comes from the ecosphere, one oil spill, and the atmosphere. It's not like oil going on the surface of the ocean, which causes enough damage, but eventually some of it through the sunlight, the movement of the waves, it breaks up oil that sinks in underground into an aquifer. There's no escape, that aquifers ruined. So environmentalists, the ranchers, the homeowners who get their drinking water from the Ogallala Aquifer, all came together form the grassroots movement that joined with other activists from the environmentalist community to do a several things, one thing, high profile demonstrations and mass public actions focused on the white house itself. So last fall, if
you recall, there were massive demonstrations, there was a human chain that was constructed around the White House. And I believe it was several layers deep, there were so many people participating, to protest the urge because President Obama, by executive order could in the pipeline. So Trans Canada is trying to bring the tar sands some of the dirtiest oil on Earth,
from northern Canada and northern Alberta, primarily down through the center of this center of America, to the Gulf, to do what to help meet America's energy needs no to be exported to foreign nations. So the whole idea that this pipeline is critical for America's energy security is a lie. This pipeline is critical for oil companies to be able to export this oil internationally, to the highest bidder.
The idea that pipeline will create jobs, it will create 1000 to 1400, temporary jobs, how many people does it take to lay a pipeline, need the crane operator, the truckers bring the pipes in.
So you're not creating any significant number of, of jobs. Hence, the argument bipartisan, that this is not good for the economy and is potentially ecologically disastrous. So that's one thing they were able to do the second thing to build this grassroots movement that focused on high profile actions at a very
identifiable place, the White House, so it's hard to it was hard to keep those actions out of the news. The second thing, the activists working at the grassroots, especially locally in Nebraska, were able to do were to network with national organizations such as the Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups that have a massive nationwide constituency, and also have significant money to help assist in publicity and educational campaigns. So these are two critical fac factors.
grassroots movement, number one, and forming Coalition's with organized, established organizations. NGOs, grassroots movements are generally spontaneous.
When that spontaneity and the energy that that spontaneity involves links with established organizations, their financial and human resources, votes and money,
then great things happen. The second issue the peer of the petition, recall, Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, the Republican Governor Scott Walker,
won the last gubernatorial election in Wisconsin. But he very quickly betrayed the voters by hastily working to implement the agenda of big business of corporate America, specifically, and we see this happening all over the country, eliminating public unions and eliminating collective bargaining, which have is eliminated will effectively destroy public unions. So destroying public unions. Why would that be such a big priority for big business
to destroy public unions to destroy collective bargaining? Why would that be such a big priority for big business?
Exactly. If I have to bargain with the company as in
Individual, I only have so much weight.
Is it my way more than heroin, I still only have so much weight.
But if I'm bargaining
with 1000s of other individuals, collectively, my weight increases exponentially. And my ability to gain concessions that are beneficial to the working individual, increase exponentially. That's one thing. Another thing, if I'm able to eliminate public our collective bargaining, and therefore destroy one of the last remaining rationales for the existence of a union,
what do I effectively do?
Consider, I give you a clue. Consider the chart of the principal funders of the respective political parties.
Who are the principal big money, contributors to the Democratic Party
The unions, chart unions, all of these unions in the millions they give the AFL CIO Fatah remember? Yes, he just holding that shyness is a part of faith at higher minimum, amen. Allahu Akbar benesch had Jamie and be a Nicki Minaj. Well, hamdulillah
Nam. So you deny the Democratic Party, which for the last 6070 years, has been the principal defender more effectively in the earlier part of that period, then the ladder of workers in this country. And then there's nothing to stop corporations from
doing their will. So this was a big priority. Scott Walker immediately began to take steps to eliminate public unions, teachers unions,
government workers, unions, and collective bargaining. And the people reacted with the two things that were effective in the campaign to stop the park pipeline, a massive grassroots movement that focused on a high profile
location that was impossible to keep out of the news. What was that location?
Now the Wisconsin Capitol Building, the people occupied the Capitol building, and took over the headlines for for several weeks. So a massive grassroots movement. And then they linked with national unions and tapped into their reservoir of votes and money.
And as a result, you got a the largest recall petition in the history of the United States. To give you an example, how large how many times larger is California than Wisconsin?
So California was 38 million people. Wisconsin, what? Five, 6 million, let's say I don't know exactly, folks. So how you guys don't know stuff.
But let's say let's say California is
six times larger than Wisconsin. That's not unrealistic. California being six times larger. The recall of Gray Davis was based on a position petition of half a million voters, the recall of Scott Walker, it was constant. The petition had over 1 million registered voters,
over a half of those who voted in the general election. So this is unprecedented in terms of the numbers. And what made that possible. grassroots movement
focused on a very newsworthy location, combined with joining forces with nationwide organizations and tapping into their resort their reservoir of human and financial
strength. So from this, we can get insight
into what's necessary for the masses to have an effective impact on
political system, grassroots movements,
that are capable of generating a lot of media attention.
And that alert the political elite, so the political elites in Wisconsin and the political elites in Washington DC, in the case of the pipeline, particularly the president with power, we're alerted, we have an alternative set of elites behind us
who support our issue. And we also have a lot of votes. And so there will be political consequences if this issue is not resolved in a way that's pleasing to our interest. And so this is this is very important.
These two factors coupled with the third, in each of these instances,
the grassroots campaigns, in addition to their networking activities, were able to start a national conversation.
And this is very important. This is something the occupy movement has done. So the occupy movement in terms of tangible political change has done very little. But the occupy movement has sparked a discussion around the growing inequality between the rich and poor that exists in this country. And that discussion made its way to the President's address. One of the most significant things he talked about specifically without mentioning the occupy movement was the growing inequality in this country, and its implications for the future stability of the country. And the future stability of you listen to the speech, you heard President Obama over and over refer to an America that's built
to last. Familiar and america that's built to last,
a future stability and america that's going to be stable,
is going to have to take a be aware of this dichotomy between the growing disparity between the wealth of the elites and the increasing poverty of the masses. Because what does this lead to? Historically?
does it lead to mass rule
leads to revolution.
And revolution leads to one set of elite be that Lenin's Vanguard party, disposing with another set be that the Tsar and the political infrastructure around the Tsar
be that the the nationalist regime in China being replaced by the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong,
threatens to come to power.
So the reigning elites began to seriously consider how can we resolve this issue in a way that will be acceptable to those who are bringing pressure on this system, and acceptable to those elites that dominate the system. And so conciliatory leads in the late 1800s, the early part of the 20th century, there was a very powerful socialist movement here in the United States. They have presidential candidates that had some of the most widely circulated national newspapers, and magazines and other publications, that are very charismatic figures, such as Eugene Debs and others.
There was a viable Communist Party.
And the pressure that they generated in the system
could have been potentially revolutionary pressure. But that pressure was de diffused, how is it diffused it was diffused through the New Deal. What was the New Deal? The new deal was a compromise with the workers and the organizations representing the workers.
But a compromise that allowed the leads who dominated the system to maintain their position within the system. If that compromise wasn't made, there possibly could have been a revolution
in this country, and then as opposed to the New Deal, maybe you would have had a socialist or communist regime.
So an understanding those dynamics, and then are petitioning the elites in a way that alert them to the importance of their compromising on the issue
is critical. The argument is made now because the elites fill, they're so powerful, and so unchallenged, because there's not a viable socialist movement. And there's not a communist movement to speak of, there is not any significant populist movement, they can do what they want. And so these inequalities can continue to grow. This is a very, very dangerous situation. But in a conversation has started. Now, I'm going to stop here. But
building on this foundation,
we want to look at in the context of a grassroots movement
in the context of
linking effectively with established organizations,
and then in the context of starting a national conversation around issues of relevance to American Muslims, but issues that transcend the Muslim community, how Muslims can begin to develop a meaningful American Muslim politics. So that's the subject of the next the final lecture, in this two part series. I'm going to stop here and then we'll open the floor for for some discussions, questions, answers, some food for thought, inshallah, to Allah latonya give you all tofi Allah bless you, bless your family, bless you studies, a lot Allah bless your efforts to draw new to him, which is a big part of our life, and so should be a big part of everything that we do, including our
academic endeavors. So we'll stop here. That's the next talk. So the next talk on this basis, foundation that we endeavor to lead up to, culminating with the idea that these two very effective mass grassroots campaigns that represented the interests of the masses, why they were effective, we said, grassroots movement, grassroots movement that is newsworthy, because it was structured in a way to focus on very newsworthy locations, the White House and the Wisconsin State House. Secondly, developing
meaningful alliances and common ground with established organizations and therefore being able to utilize their networks of human and financial resources. And thirdly, starting a national conversation. For each of these instances. A national conversation ensued in the instance of the pipeline,
what is the ultimate interest? How how, what price should we be willing to play pay ecologically for an imagined energy security? Because at the end of the day, oil and gas are a stopgap measures?
So this conversation has started in the ladder instance?
The Do we have to balance state budgets? on the backs of working people?
begin to envision a political situation where workers have no ability to come together collectively to enhance their power? So again, these are national conversations that were accelerant catalyzed by these two events. Is it possible for Muslims here in America to engage in similar political organizing? That's the subject of the next talk. So any questions, comments, additions, subtractions, deletions.
Food for thought, yes.
more effective, do you want to organize yourself the pressure on particular
or financial institution
to do that on a small local level or to try to do that nationally.
occupy it used to come so general that obviously their main points about it that you know trying to affect change in certain
Right, it has to start locally. This is critical this why we focused on these two events. The Wisconsin, the movement there started locally in Wisconsin, right there in Madison at the statehouse. And the XL pipeline is started locally in Nebraska. If it weren't for the activists in Nebraska building a bipartisan opposition to the pipeline, it would have gone through. But when it became clear that the governor, his job was in jeopardy, every state senator who supported the pipeline openly, their jobs are in jeopardy. And the US representatives in the House and the Senate, their jobs were in jeopardy. The message was sent. And a response was was was garnered. So it's
critical to start locally, at the end of the day, as is often said, all politics are local.
to us. Absolutely. And that's a various
assessment of the occupy movement, one of its shortcomings. Yes. Anything else?
Should we make strange music dddddd?
When I tried, when I don't follow politics, I know I'm uninformed. But when I do follow, I feel like I'm missing.
Something like you pointed out like if, like a random governor in like Rhode Island, is to be like dismissed or displaced or something. Like I can't figure out what that means, like in, in like the big scheme of things. Like, how am I supposed to, like if I go on CNN or something? It's just the same thing. Everything is the same?
How do I piece together?
everything that's going on? That's the whole point of an uncommon introduction.
The question is,
is stated that sometimes there are people who, when they don't follow politics, they feel they're uninformed. When they follow politics through conventional means, they feel a medium media. They feel the misinformed. So what is one to do if one finds oneself in that situation? This is goes back to an uncommon introduction to American politics, how can we develop a theoretical framework that informs us as to what's really going on. And once we have that theoretical framework, that framework then allows us to understand to view and to interpret issues and events. So it's very important to have some sort of theoretical framework, and that that framework is as balanced as possible. And
then using that framework to understand what's going on. And so then when we see the media, and we see that there's certain messages that are repeated over and over again, when we hear political politicians speak, there are certain buzz words that are repeated over and over again, why does every time President Obama gives a major address, be it in Cairo, or be it in the State of the Union, there has to be a statement of our ironclad commitment to Israel's security.
Why? So if we understand the role of interest groups,
and how they influence the present the system, even if they represent a small constituency, then we can understand not only a PAC in terms of American Israeli relations, we can understand the NRA,
the National Rifle Association, which is considered the most influential and powerful interest group in Washington, DC, and we can understand why whenever there's one of these mass killings.
What do we have right after the mass killing bid in Columbine? Being in Arkansas via whatever?
What do you have right after
you have a rally? They brought Charles Charlton Heston to Colorado to affirm the rights of Americans.
In other words, the NRA is protecting your right to bear arms, even if someone who's bearing arms just went and shot up a school or university campus. Don't allow this, to let them big government take your guns.
And so understanding how these interest groups work, we can understand why politicians make these statements. And we can understand why no one in Washington will take on the NRA.
And so the most important thing is to get a theoretical framework where we can understand how interest groups influence the system, how Congress actually works. What is the role of the president and arbitrating between conflicting interests? And once we have that theoretical framework, then we can begin to understand meaningfully what's going on in the news. And when we can say confidently via the president speech, be it a bill that's passed, beard or bailout, that that's a bunch of BS.
And I know it's a bunch of BS, because the framework that I've developed to assess and analyze these events leads me to understand why that's being said, why the what's actually being stated, is not a reflection of the interests that are being served, and not a reflection rather of the interest of the people at large. So developing a theoretical framework allows us to see beyond the news. heroine has his hand up.
You had your hand.
Oh, you just said okay. mazhab.
The belt develop help. Jim.
De Shuker argue that ordinary people were able to keep some of their jobs.
I think those are those are good examples. So these efforts to in the name of stopping piracy, censor the internet,
generate a lot of resistance. But the most effective resistance come from the masses or elites
from the masses. So you and I, saying we're against this bill was more effective than Wikipedia and Google shutting down for a day.
Wikipedia and Google mass or elite,
me small group of individuals that was far more effective and sent a far more powerful message than 200 million angry Americans.
Because Google represents a lot of money.
And Wikipedia represents a lot of people. How many people use it every day?
So when Wikipedia says this, and we're upset,
that carries a lot more weight than just 200 million on organized people saying we're upset
because Wikipedia now can translate that mass unrest into tangible political proposals, which they did.
And were the opposing elites responsive and flat. That was the third issue I want to mention where the opposing the elites responsive.
They were responsive. One bill died and the other one is is reformulated to such an extent is unrecognized among probably die also. So they were responsive.
And so I think that illustrates the point we were trying to make earlier.
One more question, time for Mark. Yes, sir.
This one comes from the machines are faced with a question that they feel that Muslims ought to hold
unified political opinions, in other words, their own platform, like, I feel mostly too often carried to the left, due to the xenophobia of the right. But take that away. And I think there's good room for having different positions on issues and policies. I just fear a, quote, Muslim.
That's an excellent question, I think is very important for us as Muslims as a community, to see what positions are in the interest of our community, and how those intersect with other communities out there, and then begin building coalitions based on that agenda. And in some issues, we might come down to the right, and other issues, we might come down to the left, generally,
socially, Muslims tend to come down on the right. And politically, especially in foreign policy, Muslims tend to come down on the left. And you see that clearly, before September 11, and the subsequent war on Muslim countries and the
draconian measures directed indirectly. Now, I don't know how you get away with that. But I'll do it anyway, directed indirectly, at the Muslim community. I say that because directly the Patriot Act, the recent indefinite detention, or that's not directly directed at Muslims. The latter is directed at a disappearing middle class, their homes keep disappearing, their savings keep disappearing, their retirement funds disappearing. What do you think those rightful owning, red blooded Americans are going to do sooner or later,
they'll start organizing militias. And and and maybe start a revolt. So this is telling you if you get serious about organizing, you'll be entertained, detained indefinitely, because you'll be labeled as a supporter of terrorism.
As the ultimate target, the Patriot Act and the detention and deportation push through rushed through ostensibly in the name of fighting the Muslim threat, who though has it been directed against the Latino community? Over the last two years alone, 1 million over 1 million Latinos have been detained and deported under Obama. So this is why I say directly, only indirectly directed at the Muslim community. And saying that I confused myself and lost my point.
What was that? What was the question?
All right, right. Right. Right. So before September 11, and all these indirect direct attacks on the Muslim community, Muslims were unify to the right. At least most Muslims of immigrant backgrounds,
supported the Grand Old Party, the GOP.
Muslims took great pride in being the kingmakers, we had a 60,000 Muslim black vote in Florida for bush
18 months later,
that pride disappointed less than a year later, actually,
is our for
those 60,000 votes on there. Gore wins, gore's President Bush is not selected by the Supreme Court.
But Muslims were to the right, so that liberal bias was in there, after September 11. And all of these measures directly indirectly targeting the Muslim community, Muslim shifted
to the left, and political concerns, especially foreign policy and security related issues became a primary concern and
90% of the Muslims who voted and 2008 voted for President Obama. So I think these are real issues, but it only shows that people ultimately will vote on what they perceive to be the interest. What it behooves us as a community to do is to look at our interest more systematically. And then as opposed to responding and an ex post facto manner to events and an a priori fashion, develop our own agenda. See, where are those
Count what common
programs policies we share with others and then build alliances with those others. And inshallah, this is what the next lecture will focus on specifically, because you really want to look at this issue in a concrete way and present some concrete inshallah thought out
recommendations in that regard.
So, on that note, the Did you all, a wonderful evening,
may you be blessed, may you be too blessed to ever be stressed. And may Your comfort and relaxation allow you to successfully pass every test? Well, hamdu Lillah wa Salatu was Salam ala rasulillah. Again, reminding anyone if you're going to be anywhere near San Jose, California, February 18, around 6:30pm and come by the Fairmont of San Jose. So you can participate in buildings, a ton of college brick, by brick by brick was Salam Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. I
want to remind all of you online and of course, all the students, please keep Stay tuned in your doors, we could certainly use them. Also consider financial support and at least showing up to the to the banquet in San Jose on February 18. And thirdly, please get the word out and consider applying if you have not done so all information can be found on the zaytuna website, or there's a tuna Facebook page and check both of those places for upcoming announcements about the other lectures in the co founder lecture series.