Run Away Underclasses


I’m reflecting on this column by my acquaintance, Mustafa Akyol:

The aristocracy of the Muslim world doesn’t not want confrontation. It’s obvious.

The elite, the educated, the *landed*, those with something to lose, those who find the best aspects of Islamic history in science, commerce, scholarship — they recognizing the absurdity of the open confrontation with the West being promoted by their own underclasses. All the West has to do is lose patience.

But the elites seem powerless to stop the pull of these mal-incentives. Islam as an ideology is too appealing to the underclasses. (Anyone gets redemption by becoming an enforcer of Islam — the stricter the interpretation, the nobler the violence.)

So there’s a fundamental incentive problem. It appeals to the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

Here’s a theory of recent history to test: the brain drain of Islamic aristocracy from the Middle East into the West left the inmates running the asylum. The best of Islamic society was not present to suppress stupid interpretations of their beliefs, and now they’ve coalesced from a religion to an ideology to a movement.

(An interesting aside: Early incarnations of Islam strictly reserved for the upper classes, and considered it absurd to share the revelations with the underclasses. In the words of Haille Mariam-Lemar​:

—-“ISIL/ISIS/IS are actually theoreticians of democracy. Within islamic theology they belong to a historical tradition called khajirites. The khajirites combined radical democracy with literalism. This is why the middle eastern tyrannies are so frightened of them. As anyone familiar with islamic history would tell you the early islamic caliphates viewed islam as a property of the arab aristocracy and opposed mass conversion. The aristocrats were opposed by the khajirites who argued that any man, even a black slave, can become a caliph so long as he has the requisite theological training and is elected.”—-)

The appeal to the underclasses, and specifically, the licensing of bad behavior among the underclasses gives Islam an irreparable incentive problem.

Communism is similarly broken (for this and MANY other reasons). The worst people have license to use excuse their personal failures and use violence against imagined enemies.

A third instance of this theme: It seems a similar incentive problem exists in the victim narrative adopted by parts of the black community in the US. Look at how Richard Sherman’s very gentle self-reflection of violence in his community is perceived as utter betrayal:

Look for what ideologies do to underclasses — to people who are not that good at life, and tend to cling to just a few actionable ideas in their heads as if they were liferafts — because in the confusing, dangerous worlds they perceive, boiled-down ideologies ARE liferafts.

(h/t Curt Doolittle​)

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