Hazem Saghieh

About Us and the Damned West: Yesterday, Today, and Always

That we are all born with two eyes and one tongue suggests that looking and observing take precedence over speaking - that every time we speak, we should observe twice, and that we should observe twice before speaking once.

Many in our region do not act on this premise in the slightest; as civil wars, millions of refugees, and extreme poverty crush the Arab Levant, the number of voices eulogizing the West increases. They see nothing in this West but a source of misery: its misery, ours, and the entire world’s.

We have all the righteousness, virtue, and beauty. Our history had been impeccable until the West arrived, and our culture had remained perfect and most refined up until that moment. Political life in the region has only seen oppression, subjugation, or wanton aggression in the form of news about others, and we had never been anything but the force of justice and truth in any of the struggles we waged or were involved in.

This consciousness, very much rekindled today, is little more than a drab reiteration of antiquated legends pitting a god of good against a god of evil, of which Zoroastrianism had been considered the ultimate formulator in the ancient past. However, it is also imbued with something of the Biblical story about humanity falling from heaven because of the original sin. This sin, in our case, was nothing other than the arrival of the Western serpent, which has poisoned and continues to poison all every moment and space.

However, this consciousness is killed by the very legend that it is founded on. Indeed, if the West has the capacity to perpetrate all of this evil, continuously and tirelessly, what is the point of standing against it? Would it not be better for everyone to recognize this reality and give in to this fate? On the other hand, if we are always an object, and are incapable of becoming a subject in confronting an omnipotent and omnipresent West, then why strain our hearts by assuming that what has never happened before will happen now.

In any case, such fairytales are thrown around by journalists, artists, partisan activists, and university professors today; some of them live in the West, where they are afforded freedoms that exist nowhere else in the world. Among them are Islamists who believe that the ultimate aspiration we can seek is to live in a state ruled by the Guardian of the Jurist and his sheikhs, others are nationalists, some of whom still believe in high and low blood lineages to this day.

And almost all of them agree that the regimes currently ruling over Syria or in North Korea lay the most fertile ground for human development. Naturally, they are all also opposed to "Westerns’ racism," without doubting for a second it could be racist on their part to put hundreds of millions of Europeans and North Americans in the same cursed category (with the obvious exception of Noam Chomsky, the only survivor).

Westerners came only into this world to ruin it, and history is used, munificently and without restraint, to make this point. However, their history, in addition to its biased curation, is completely ahistorical; how can judgment be passed on the West, in its entirety and in all of its phases, without addressing its major junctures, and the novelties brought about the emergence of the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, or the division of labor and bureaucracy...?

Moreover, critics can find many political and non-political faults with Western countries, but the use of epithets like "enemy," "infidel," "rogue," "plunderer," "imperialist," and "satanic" raises some concern when they are only used in describing the West.

How can we adjudicate history without the histories of medicine, hospitals, paved roads, schools, newspapers, technology, the status of women, infant mortality rates, the average human lifespan, and of course freedoms, the status of minorities, and the destination sought by asylum seekers and migrants?

Of course, among these anti-Westerners, especially among those who teach in the West, one can find academics who spend their time inflating marginal and fleeting phenomena in order to conclude that we had been the ones to liberate women, who were only enslaved by the arrival of the West, and that those fleeing their homes are only doing so to escape the West's imperialism.

However, these people have five tongues and half an eye. Even worse, they think that the recipients of their rhetoric similarly suffer from weak vision and a poor sense of observation, also relying on oratory virtuosity to persuade others. In this vein, an Iraqi leader who is also fiercely opposed to the West, in a caricatural culmination of this kind of history, managed to accuse the Israeli Mossad of having assassinated Imam Ali bin Abi Talib.

Here, among this collection of lunatics, searching for adherents of theories of history and the civilizational transformations would be futile. One would not find Spenglers, Toynbees, Sorokins, or even Huntingtons, among them, nor figures from China or India, who are portrayed as challenging "Western dominance" with the sword of actual achievements in industry and technology.

What one finds, on the other hand, is a mix of idleness and a deep sense of defeat, behavior brimming with hypocrisy, and strong propensity for suicide shielded by a life sustained through admiration of models of resistance to "Western hegemony". But with these models having become historical excrements, be they Bolshevik, Stalinist, Hitlerian, or Maoist, Khomeinism is now the only pathway to a resplendent future!